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The Best Christmas Gift from Above

Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the world, and definitely my favorite season! Back when I was a child, I remember doing a countdown as early as 60 days before Christmas. I loved receiving gifts from my grandparents, aunts and uncles and I always enjoyed shopping and wrapping gifts for my brothers and cousins with my Mom.

Every year is different but this Christmas is particularly special and memorable for our little family of three. We're now four! Our little bundle of joy, Samara Akasha or Kassy for short, was born on December 14, 2012, 9:30 AM at the Immaculate Conception Medical Center via LCCS (Lower Cervical Cesarean Section). Her body measurements at birth are 33.5cm (Head Circumference), 33cm (Chest Circumference), 30.5cm (Abdominal Circumference) and 54cm (Body Length). She weighed 3.3kgs.
The Cesarean Section was supposed to be until four days later (December 18th) but contractions started on the evening of December 13th. I thought it was just the watermelon I had during dinner that night, but the contractions became more painful and frequent at dawn. I finally called my OB-Gyn Dra. Marlene Palilio 6:00AM in the morning of December 14th, when I'm really really sure that it's more than just Braxton Hicks. She ordered to go to the hospital immediately. 

We reached the hospital at 9:00AM and before I knew it, baby Kassy is already crying her lungs out in the delivery room. With my first born and my first C-Section, I was put to sleep. But this time around, I was awake the whole time. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Martin Domingo was nice, documenting Kassy's first few minutes out of my womb with his reliable camera. He even showed me a video of Kassy crying while being bathed in the nursery. (Doc Martin gave me the printed souvenir photo the next day when he visited me in my room.) Everything happened so fast and I was taken to my room in less than an hour! The C-Section itself only took a maximum of 20minutes, and I think I spent another 30minutes in the recovery room.

The anesthesia made me dizzy though, I vomited twice while in the delivery room and one more time in the recovery room. It also made my skin itchy all over, especially my face! And even though the room was fully air-conditioned, I was bathed in sweat. All because of the anesthesia, the nurses said.

Anyways, back to baby Kassy, a Newborn Screening (NBS) was done on December 16th but we don't have the results yet. Please join my family in praying that the results of Kassy's NBS are favorable. Also, my baby did not pass the Otoacoustic Emissions Test or the Newborn Hearing Test and she needs a follow up test within one week. She's scheduled for a re-test on December 22nd. Again, I hope everything turns out well for my little girl.

How about you? What's the best Christmas gift you ever received?

Miss Fox New Year Giveaway (CLOSED)

It's only several days more before Christmas and before we know it, 2012 is no more and we'll be saying Hello to year 2013. How about kick-starting the new year with another giveaway? This time, the prize is for men. So if you're thinking of getting a late Christmas present for your husband, father, son, brother, a male friend or for yourself, do join this giveaway. Who knows you might just snag this special item for free?!

What's Up for Grabs?

Miss Fox would love to share one bottle of Astaire 50ml, a perfume for men from their Mister Fox line. Astaire is a limited edition perfume launched in Miss Fox Facebook page but still not available in their online store.

About Astaire

Astaire is dedicated for the quintessential gentleman. It is an elegant brew of White Musk, Vanilla and some spicy and woody notes like blood mandarin and cedar. Just like Fred Astaire, its namesake, it is effortlessly classy and sexy.

Top Notes: Aldehyde, Orange, Sea Notes, Nlood Mandarin
Middle Notes: Neroli, Cedar
Base Notes: White Musk, Tonka Bean, Cedar, Amber, Vanilla

How to Join?

Head over to the Rafflecopter below to join. This giveaway ends on January 2, 2013. Open to everyone with a Philippine address.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About Miss Fox

Email Address: missfox(at)missfoxstore.com
Miss Fox Store
Miss Fox on Facebook
Miss Fox, Perfumes Made with Kisses in France!

Do check out Miss Fox store for the whole range of affordable perfumes for men and women. Good luck! :)

Amara Akasha

A very quick post! :) Just sharing a photo of my little princess, Amara Akasha. She was born last Friday, December 14th, 2012.

Thank you everyone for the prayers and for leaving comments on my posts. I will try to visit everyone as soon as I can.

God bless everyone! From our family to yours... :)

How to Create a Google+ Page for your Blog

Google+ is the newest social networking craze these days, and more and more companies and brands are using it not just for interaction with customers and end-users but for SEO purposes as well. Gone were the days when Google Page Rank determines the importance and authority of a website, soon enough Google+ will be the ultimate tool to measure a website's trustworthiness by analyzing behavior and keeping track of relationships of one G+ user to another.

Google+ basically works like the Facebook Recommend button. Once you hit that G+ icon, you're letting Google know what sort of things and content you are interested in. Google in turn, will provide you with search engine results that are highly relevant to your interests.

If you don't have a Google+ page for your blog yet, it's time you see its importance in branding and authority. Below is a tutorial on how to create a Google+ page for your blog.

Open your Google+ Profile

(Assuming you already have a Google+ profile.) To do this, access your gmail, click your profile picture located at the top right corner of the page and click View Profile.

On the sidebar at the left, hover your mouse to the More button and click the Pages icon. Now you are ready to create your G+ page, click Create New Page.
 Pick a Category

Available categories are Local Business or Place, Product or Brand, Company, Institution or Organization, Arts, Entertainment or Sports and Other. I choose Other for my blog.

Add Info

Fill out the form with your blog name and URL, choose the audience for your blog content and make sure to agree to Google's terms and click Continue

Get Started

Now you can start customizing your G+ page by adding a cover photo (ideally sized  885x180), a logo or icon, blog description and contact details. Once you're satisfied with how it looks, click Finish.

And you're done! Easy, right? You can now begin to add content, promote your page and socialize. Adding content is very similar to social sites like Facebook. You can add your blog posts, photos and videos and share with your Circles. Have fun!

PhilRice Tower Lighting 2012

I still remember how I accepted a job offer from the Social Security System (SSS) Cabanatuan City Branch in 2005 only to find myself back at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) again after a couple of weeks. Why? Simply because it's more fun in PhilRice! Haha. Too bad I had to leave my job there and decided to be a work-at-home Mom and Wife for my boys.

Anyway, PhilRice held its 20th Tower Lighting Ceremony last December 7, 2012 spearheaded by Executive Director Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. It's an annual event conceptualized by Dr. John C. De Leon in 1992. More than 500 guests troop to the main gate this year to witness the amazing fireworks display, the creative tower lights design and this year's new addition, the flying Chinese lanterns. The event also featured drum and lyre presentations by pupils from Maligaya Elementary School, a mini parade, food stalls and kiosks, "baratillos", garage sales, dancing and singing contests and a live band who played for guests until midnight.

This 2012, the tower was designed to highlight National Year of Rice (NYR) 2013 as declared by President Benigno Aquino III via Proclamation No.494 to enlist the support of farmers, consumers, and policy-makers in the country’s endeavor to be rice self-sufficient. The theme's slogan is “Sapat na Bigas, Kaya sa Pinas”. Very catchy, isn't it?

Below are some of the photos taken by Architect Rene Bajit during the event. (Thanks, Ka Rene!)

So, until next year... Merry Christmas and Happy 27th Anniversary, my beloved PhilRice!

Mummy Makeovers: Post Pregnancy Procedures

We all know that carrying a baby for around 9 months, and then giving birth, can have damaging effects on women's bodies. Because of this, many women's self esteem and confidence suffers, because they feel so self conscious about how they and their bodies look.

Varicose veins, weight gain, cellulite, loose skin, and stretch marks, are just some of the more common problems that post pregnant women suffer from after giving birth.

The good news for them is that there are a number of procedures aimed specifically at pregnant women, looking to improve the appearance of their bodies after birth. These treatments and procedures have been labelled as "mummy makeovers".

These makeovers have been designed and created, as a way of restoring women's bodies, back to their former glory, before they became pregnant. They achieve this by combining a number of treatments and procedures over various periods of time. Either short, or long term, depending on their clients specific requests, and finances.

When is the best time to have these procedures? 

This answer really depends on what procedure you are having done. If you are looking for a tummy tuck, it is best to wait until you are certain that you will not be having any more children in the future. If you are looking at having Botox and Dermal filler treatments, then as soon as you finish breast feeding these treatments are perfectly fine. With liposuction, and breast augmentations, it is best to wait around 6 months after giving birth before having these procedures.

What do these so called "mummy makeovers" consist of?  

Basically, these makeovers and treatments consist of:
  • Botox and Dermal filler injections
  • Laser skin tightening, for cellulite and stretch marks
  • Liquid liposuction for body shaping
  • Skin rejuvenation.
Why are women having these treatments? 

As we mentioned earlier, carrying a baby, and the sleepless nights that follow, can take a real toll on your body. Women look tired, run down, unhealthy, and feel self conscious, and down about themselves. By having these treatments, they can begin to look and feel great again. Not only will they look great, they will also feel great, as their self esteem will have no doubt sky rocketed since having these makeovers.

Are these treatments painful? 

Many people believe that having major cosmetic surgery performed is a really painful ordeal. The truth of the matter is, it really isn't as painful as people believe, and certainly not more painful than child birth. They will however, require a week or two afterwards to recover and heal completely.

Are these procedures worth it?

 Many women who have these treatments and procedures, will almost certainly tell you that, yes they are. They are not very painful, reasonably priced, don't require much downtime afterwards for healing, and can make a world of difference in how you look, and feel about yourself.

Overall, post pregnancy makeovers, and surgical procedures are proving to be a worthwhile investment for self conscious new mothers, from all over the world. The makeovers have breathed new life into these women, and are helping to prove that, just because you are a mother, you can still look beautiful and feel great about yourself.

Games to Encourage the Kids to have Fun Cooking

This is a guest post by Cormac Reynolds.

Give your children some inspiration to want to start cooking by giving them fun things to do in the kitchen.  Pretend to your kids that you are finding it very difficult coming up with things to cook in the kitchen and ask them to think of ideas.  You never know they may surprise you and make you a lemon cheesecake or some other indulgent dish.

Some kids are just not interested in cooking so in this case introducing them to cooking games can be a way of getting them to experiment with cooking. 

Let’s look at some easy cooking games that the kids will enjoy:

3 Foods 1 Dish

This is a fun game for the entire family.  The idea of this game is to pick three items and put them into a basket or even a bowl and cover them.  When it comes to cooking a dish let the kids pick one item out of the basket and they have to use it in their next dish.  Who knows if there is a lemon in there, you may get a lemon cheesecake.  The surprise element adds a touch of fun.

Name the Spice

Another fun game for both the kids and adults!  Choose a number of spices and allow the kids to add these to a dish.  Foods to cook include soup, spaghetti bolognaise, and chilli to name a few and allows a variety of spices to be added.  This is where the fun begins.  When it is time to serve the food it is the family’s chance to guess the spice or spices that have been added to the food.  The person that wins and guesses the spice correctly can win a prize.  Maybe first slice of pudding!

It is important to note that only spices that will go with the foods are included, because before you know it a bottle of chilli could be added to your dish. 

Challenges are Good for Kids

It is providing these challenges to your children that can get them excited about cooking.  What child does not like playing games?  Cooking can be fun and allows your child’s imagination run wild in the kitchen and see what recipes they come up with.  Who knows they may be the next Junior Master Chef. 

When it comes to desserts, we have mentioned lemon cheesecake, but there are so many creative recipes that allow kids to be creative.  Get them to make cupcakes and let them decorate the cakes themselves with sprinkles, icing and sweets.  Let them make their own designs and then enjoy eating them afterwards.

Not only will the kids enjoy playing the games in the kitchen but they will enjoy spending time together as a family.  It is this quality time that will be welcomed by all members of the family, while also allowing them to feel comfortable within the kitchen environment.

About the Author: Cormac Reynolds loves food and enjoys much of his time in the kitchen. He works at Anchor Dairies.

Placental Grading and its Purpose

I can't hardly wait to see and touch my baby. It should've been today (December 8) if not for the result of my most recent ultrasound last Tuesday. Turned out that my baby is not ready to born yet.

According to both my OB-Gyn and my Sonologist, I have a Grade III placenta already but my baby's features seem to be around borderline term only which means that there is still risk that her lungs are not fully-developed yet. Of course, I wouldn't want to take the risk for any reason at all. I want my baby to be safe. So here I am, waiting for a few weeks more. I just couldn't contain my excitement here.

Placental Grading and its Purpose

Placental Grading by ultrasound is a method used to grade a placenta based on its structural changes. It is done to determine the age or maturity of the placenta, assess the fetus' gestational age and to predict fetal lung maturity.

Placental Grading System

Grade 0 - The earliest of the placental grades, usually within the late first trimester to early second trimester. No calcium or fibrinoid depositions were seen and the placental surface was smooth.

Grade I - Mid-second trimester to early third trimester. Some diffuse calcium and fibrinoid deposition.

Grade II - Late third trimester till delivery or around 30 weeks until delivery. Beginning formation of septa, at the maternal side clear calcium deposition.

Grade III - The highest grade. Late third trimester till delivery or around 39 weeks. Cotyledons are present, a great number of calcium and fibrinoid deposition at the maternal and fetal sides, with infarcts and 'holes' by sectioning.

Final Impressions:

Pregnancy uterine 37 weeks AOG by fetal biometry.
Cephalic presentation, singleton, live female fetus.
Estimated fetal weight = 2,898 GMS. +/- 423 GMS.
Good heart activity - 129 BPM
Active fetal movements.
Adequate amniotic fluid volume AFI = 11.6 CM.
Placenta posterior, Grade III, no previa.
EDD: January 01, 2013.

My OB-Gyn has made it clear to me that a C-Section at the wrong time have a risk of fetal prematurity so accurate timing is of dire importance. With that said, we have re-scheduled my C-Section on December 18th tentatively (I'm around 39 weeks pregnant by then).

So until then. We're all very excited to meet you, Baby Amara!

Miss Fox: Perfumes Made with Kisses in France!

Though I've always been a loyal Clinique fan, I find it so much fun to try different fragrances just to satisfy my insatiable sense of smell. I'm a fan of perfumes and colognes that have that ability to capture my senses and evoke nostalgia.

Last week, I ordered Miss Fox's Classique 50 ml Parfum from Miss Fox Store. And after 5 days of waiting, it finally arrived. Yay! The staff of Miss Fox are very sweet that they included samples of other variants so I can try them as well. So aside from Miss Fox Classique which I ordered, I also received stocking stuffers of Summer Fling, Midnight Mischief and Mister Fox Classique which was only released last Monday.

Who is Miss Fox?

Miss Fox is a perfume boutique founded in 2012. Their perfumes are made with kisses in France and lovingly packaged in Manila. Miss Fox's mission is to add some feist and flirting spirit in every girl's life.

Miss Fox Line
Classique - A brew of currant, vanilla and raspberry. A sweet smelling perfume perfect for both day and night. 
Midnight Mischief - Spicy, woody with a hint of fruit - a teasing concoction of black currant, raspberry and cedar. Use sparingly, it's a very potent love potion!
Summer Fling - Instant mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from Mr. Lifeguard! Minus the drowning in the deep salty sea, Of course! Fruity, fresh with the flirty combination of green apple, cucumber and rose to make him come hither!
Hey, Sugar! - Don't blame us if the hot quarterback is all over you. You smell like caramel, French bon-bons and vanilla for crying out loud!
Mister Fox Line
Classique - A very happy brew of citrus, marine and other sea notes, MR FOX captures the just-got-out-of-the-shower fresh and sexy scent.
Astaire - Dedicated for the quintessential gentleman. It is an elegant brew of White Musk, Vanilla and some spicy and woody notes like blood mandarin and cedar. Just like Fred Astaire, its namesake, it is effortlessly classy and sexy.
Things to Note:

Scent: The scent is good, wholesome and sweet. Something that my teenage sister would find appealing. I actually bought this for her and I know that she'll be as happy and satisfied as I am.

Packaging: The bottle is super cute as well as the label. The box's design is pretty and the inner part is lined with bubble wraps. But for some reason, might be due to courier's mishandling, the top and the bottom parts are already creased and wrinkled when I received it.

Price: Php 400.00 per bottle, plus shipping fee.

Payment Options: G-Cash, BDO, Paypal, Credit Card

Delivery: They ship orders via Xend. Orders may take 2-3 days within Metro Manila and 3-5 days for provincial addresses. No shipping on holidays.

My Verdict:

Miss Fox perfumes would make perfect gifts for perfume lovers in your shopping list this Christmas. There are enough variants to choose from so you can match the scent according to the recipient's personality. Needless to say, there's a Miss and Mister Fox for every body.

To have an idea on how Miss fox perfumes smell like, please check out the Miss Fox website for the fragrance notes of each variant.

Miss Fox Store Contact Details:

Miss Rossanne Pendoza
Miss Fox Store
Miss Fox on Facebook

5 Things I Will Miss About Being Pregnant

Me, 27 weeks pregnant
I can feel it. My pregnancy is drawing to a close and I am starting to feel emotional again. After 9 months, 3 of which were spent in bed with morning sickness, back pains and everything that goes with it, I'm now ready to pop in several days.

According to the ultrasound, and to the pregnancy app I installed in my android phone, my due date is still a few weeks away, December 26th. But my baby is now full term - in her 37th week, and since I will be delivering via C-Section anyways, I am thinking of having the operation on December 8th. Yes, yes, yes... While celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It's my Mom's idea, actually. Seconded by my Mother-in-Law. But We'll see after my checkup, as I'll be finalizing my birth plan with my OB-Gyn this afternoon.

There are lots of things I cannot do and not allowed to do, while I'm pregnant. Long travels, rigorous exercise, and the list goes on. My physical activity is a bit limited, because I'm having a more difficult pregnancy this time. But once my baby is out of my womb and in our arms at last, I know I'll miss many things and feelings associated with being pregnant. 

On my 32nd week!
5 Things I Will Miss About Being Pregnant

Unlimited sleeping hours. Short naps in the morning, longer naps in the afternoon, and a good night's sleep. I think I'm getting 12-15 hours of sleep every day which is just too much! But who cares? I'm enjoying it and I know that after my maternity leave I couldn't afford the same luxury anymore.

Cravings and Unlimited Calories. I'm stuffing my stomach with all the food I want these days, unlike my first pregnancy where I kept myself on a diet so I can have a normal delivery. My Mom keeps on telling me to go ahead and eat everything I like, I'll be CS'ed anyway.

The Royal Treatment. Believe it or not, my husband meant everything he said the day my pregnancy was confirmed - that he'll treat me like a Queen. I'm not allowed to do any housework except sweeping the floor and some minor cleaning. Never touched the laundry and the dishes in 9 months. He does almost every thing in the house including bathing our son. I just came to realize that men can keep promises afterall.

First Bonding Moments with Baby. From the flutters and kicks that are very subtle at first, to the UFC-caliber kicks and elbows I'm getting right now, and the hickups, I'm all gonna miss them. The feeling that something beautiful and alive is inside me is just priceless. Most of the times, I just lie in bed with my husband and my son on both sides - giggling, laughing and having a great time feeling all the actions inside my belly.

The Anticipation. We've been really looking forward to welcome the newest member of our family. Whenever I see my husband and our son, I can feel their excitement - knowing that this coming Christmas, our little princess will be celebrating with us, too. Our extended families feel the same excitement as well. In fact, they already included our little princess to our gift exchange this Christmas Eve!

I can think of many others, but these are the things I'll miss most. For now, I'm trying to savor everything about being wonderfully pregnant while I can knowing that this might be my last.

How about you? Mommies, what are things you miss most about being pregnant?

Polymer Clay Charms DIY Kit WINNER

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who joined the Polymer Clay Charms DIY Kit Giveaway sponsored by Provenance 1800 Designs and Crafts. I've only started blogging around mid-October and I'm overwhelmed by your support. We've gathered 1,603 entries. Yay!

So, without further ado and on behalf of Provenance 1800, let's congratulate our winner:

Congratulations, Nerissa Maquera! You won the Polymer Clay Charms DIY Kit from Provenance!

Please check your Inbox for my email. Thank you very much to all who participated. Until our next giveaway!