My All-Natural Cleaning Day

It’s Saturday! Happy weekend everyone!
Last Thursday was my rest day from work, so I decided to do some major cleaning around the house. Before doing so I was regularly searching for all-natural cleaning tips because I wanted to avoid using too many chemicals, especially on the floor. So let me share how I managed to clean my house with next to no chemicals.
When Typhoon Glenda decided to visit we stayed at my mom’s house for a week because, well for one there was no electricity (and it took seven days for the power to come back), and second was because I was dead scared of being alone with my son during a blackout while my husband was at work.
So anyway, when we came back I noticed how messy the house was but could not find time to clean in between taking care of my son and working at night, so after putting Ethan to sleep last Thursday evening, I thought to myself:
“There’s no better time than now”.
Armed with a mop, broom, several rugs and a good Spotify playlist, I decided to get to it.(Though I did clean at night, I took these pictures the next morning, I figured you’d appreciate bright pictures)

Goodness! Pardon the dirty phone! I’m not a fan of pop music, but the Mood Booster playlist has got a lot of good tunes.

 

I decided to start with the living room, where Ethan spends most of his time. The first thing on my agenda was to clear out my son’s crib and put it away for good. He doesn’t sleep nor play in it anymore and we turned it into a temporary toy box which has now become an eyesore. I bought this big plastic basket at Ace Hardware for P149 to replace the bulky crib. This will make it easier for me to pick up his toys since I can carry the basket anywhere in the house. With the crib gone we have so much more room in the house, but then it made me realize how fast my son is growing up! *tears*

 

I also decided to clean the toys so that they would be nice and clean the next morning for my son’s playtime. For plastic toys without batteries, I simply took a basin and filled it with water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid and left them to soak for a few minutes. I always use Human Nature’s Dishwashing Liquid on all of my son’s things, from his plates and spoon to his bottles.. and now his toys! After giving them a good soak I rinsed them all and left them on a towel to dry. As for his plastic toys with batteries, I simply wiped them with a clean rag dipped in a mixture of water and vinegar, avoiding the mechanisms. Vinegar is a staple in most natural cleanser recipes as it disinfects and deodorizes. If you’re skeptic because of it’s smell, don’t worry because the sour smell dissipates as it dries! I promise!
Next, I worked on cleaning tables and shelves in the living room. I’d normally use Pledge to wipe surfaces but this time I used this natural Homemade Pledge recipe I found online.. where else but Pinterest! This recipe worked well and smelled clean and fresh because of the lemon juice (yes, you can use it in place of the lemon oil, but I’d recommend not to store it for a long time).
(I didn’t get to take a picture of my DIY Pledge, but you can check out Pinterest for tons of recipes with pictures. The one I used was this one)
 After rearranging some furniture and displays, I moved on to the kitchen and dining area where Ethan also likes to hang out (they’re connected to the living room). I always keep the kitchen clean, so I didn’t have to do much here. I simply arranged some of the plasticware and cleaned the greasy stove with some baking soda and dishwashing liquid. And as for the dining area, I decided to get rid of some clutter and store them properly in the cabinets. I also used the Homemade Pledge on the dining table.

Greasy no more! Apply a mixture of baking soda and dishwashing liquid, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe with a damp clean cloth!
After I was done with the kitchen and dining area, I was already feeling tired so I decided to end my cleaning day by sweeping and mopping the floor. I used to mop the floor with a mixture of water and bleach, but I’ve grown to hate the smell. Then I came across this recipe on Pinterest (again) and decided to try it out since I had all the ingredients in my kitchen.Click here for the recipe.

Most of these type of recipes require distilled vinegar, but I am yet to come across it in our local supermarkets. I find that common vinegar brands work fine.

Stash these in your kitchen the next time your floors need a good clean! Baking soda, dishwashing liquid and vinegar!

 

I found this mixture to be very effective in removing dirt and it did not leave any strong smell. The smell of the vinegar was evident at first but as it dried only the scent of the dishwashing liquid remained. I will definitely use this again!
Though it was tiring I was glad that the few hours I spent were productive and the house looks much better! I’m planning to tackle the bedroom on my next rest day, especially the cabinets! I’ve come across a few awesome organization tips and I’ll be sure to share them once I try them out!
Have you tried green, natural recipes to clean your home? How did it go?
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Bonding Before Bed

I’m fascinated with how much has changed ever since Ethan turned one. He can now walk and he loves to explore. He can even “bless” (hand gesture as a sign of respect) and wave goodbye more frequently now. But what I love the most is how much more affectionate he has become which has led to more frequent bonding. He loves running to us, hugging our legs in excitement and he loves hugging even more at bedtime.
When Ethan was about two months old, I began to establish a night time routine which we managed to follow religiously. We’d wipe him down with warm water, change him into pajamas, give him a bottle of milk then sing him to sleep. Previously he would just fall asleep from all the singing, but now he loves cuddling next to me and sometimes even pats my arm or tummy – as if I’m the one who needs to go to sleep! It’s funny but adorable. Cuddling with him helps ease my stress from the day’s chores and it has become something I always look forward to before we sleep.
That’s not all though. Remember his separation anxiety that I mentioned in a previous post? Well, he doesn’t like sleeping next to anyone else  now but me and my husband. Ever since our yaya left my mom has been helping me look after him on days when I have to work. Recently when I slept over at my mom’s house with Ethan, I had to wake up in the middle of the night for a call with a client and asked my mom to switch with me so Ethan wouldn’t be alone. When I went back to the bedroom to get something I saw Ethan next to my mom, taking a close look at her face and when he realized it wasn’t me he looked around and started crying. I had to put him back to sleep!
I hope this isn’t just a phase and that he remains as affectionate as he grows up. Though his attachment to me may prove to be troublesome eventually, with some people discouraging it, I’m just going to enjoy all the night time cuddles and hugs right now. I reckon it’s just a great way to bond with him in a quiet manner – no toys, no singing Pororo, no TV. Just us, lots of lullabies, a story and a prayer before bed.
How do you bond with your baby?
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My Son’s First Birthday Supplier Reviews (Part 1)

Hi mommies! The past few weeks have been extremely busy for me because I was preparing for my son’s first birthday. Now that it’s over I’m happy to say that it was a great success!

My favorite photo! Ethan’s hair looks weird because I had to cut it the night before
due to an eye infection. Obviously, I didn’t do a good job!

Like I did with his Baptism, I’ll be sharing my experience and his first birthday supplier reviews for the benefit of other mommies who are currently planning birthday parties!

SUPPLIERS
 
Fun Ranch Alabang (Venue, Food, Balloons, Entertainment, Giveaways for Kids)
Chef Doks (Styrofoam Cake, Cupcakes, Giveaway Cookies)
DIY Venue Styling
 MVP Photography (Photo Coverage)
GAMZ Photography (Photo Booth and Tarpaulin)

Since this will be quite a lengthy review, I’ve decided to divide it into two posts. This first part will consist of my reviews for all the services provided by Fun Ranch. The rest will be covered by my next post, so please look forward to that!

FUN RANCH ALABANG


Venue

Since we are now based in the South, we had to look for venues within the Alabang – Las Pinas area. My husband and I decided not to hire a caterer this time and try something different. We wanted a venue that was kiddie-friendly – where kids can be kids. Not some fancy function hall. I was eyeing Shakey’s but there weren’t any Shakey’s branches around the area that were big enough to hold parties. I also inquired at Shakey’s Evia and they claim they only hold parties during weekdays, which was odd because most kiddie parties are held during weekends! So I had to cross Shakey’s off my list.

Now if you hang out or drive by Westgate regularly, I’m sure you’ve noticed the big barn behind SnR. Yes, I’m talking about Fun Ranch Alabang. I never knew they held kiddie parties until I looked them up online. Eventually I decided to pay them a visit and inquire about their kiddie party packages.

Party inclusions and freebies

I was assisted by Vener during my first visit to Fun Ranch and he gave me a leaflet with information to get me started. I would have loved to post a photo of the leaflet, but it’s now full of scribbles and stuff you can barely make out what it says so I’ll just explain everything as best as I can.

Update: I found a brochure with no scribbles! It’s different from the one they gave me, though. But for blogging purposes I guess this will do.

Fun Ranch Alabang has five rooms: Main Barn (80 pax), Skye’s Room (50-80 pax), Upper Barn (150-200 pax), Sunny’s Room (100 pax) and the Grand Barnyard (150-200 pax). Take note that the fee you pay for the venue is consumable for food and drinks (except Sunny’s Room, at least that’s what it says on the brochure). Weekend afternoons have the most expensive rates. We rented out the Main Barn on a Saturday between 2-5PM and it cost us P35,000. Also keep in mind that these rates are subject to 10% service charge.

Main Barn
Main Barn
Stage, with relatives helping with the set up.

The Main Barn was definitely enough to fit up to 60 of my confirmed guests, but I’m, pretty sure more than 60 arrived. Venue wise, I really liked Fun Ranch. The Main Barn was spacious enough especially for running kids. It was clean and everything was neat EXCEPT for the area near the bar (where they prepared the drinks, non alcoholic of course)! I had guests sitting across the bar and we could see mops and cases of empty bottles and whatnot. Ugh, I had to ask them to move so that they wouldn’t lose their appetite. Also some of the seats are worn out, but it wasn’t an issue for me, just an observation.

Another thing I would like to point out is how the staff is strict with the schedules. Since our party was only until 5PM, we had to wrap up even before then because there was another party at 6PM and they had to start prepping. This means that while your party is still ongoing they will start asking some guests if they can start arranging the tables for the next party. Now, you might find this extremely annoying, being rushed and all, but in my case I couldn’t blame them because our party started late – like almost an hour late, because most of my guests were late. Sigh. So anyway, that’s another thing to keep in mind when you decide to hold your party at Fun Ranch.

Venue Rating: 4/5
The location was convenient, it was spacious enough for my guests and was kiddie friendly. Would I hold another party here? Nah, I guess once is enough.

Food

When I was researching about the food at Fun Ranch, I barely found any detailed reviews. I couldn’t get any food recommendations so I had to rely on their suggested “Favorites” while keeping my budget within the P35,000 consumable rate.

Since the party was held in the afternoon, I decided to go for a merienda menu. They offer plated food options and buffet options for meals, so it really depends on how you’d like the food to be served . If you decide to have a buffet, the food can be ordered for 15, 30, 50 or 100 pax. For example, you can order 100 pax of one food then 50 pax of another as long as your total does not exceed the consumable rate, otherwise you will have to pay extra. For the kids, I opted for the plated menu, specifically Combo 2: Fried Chicken, Party Style Spaghetti (you can also opt for Carbonara), French Fries (or Popcorn) and Iced Tea. It costs P175 per combo meal, so I ordered 15 for the kids. This way their food gets served right at their tables and the amount of food is just enough for one kid.

As for the adults and the rest of the guests, I chose to go buffet style. Here’s the list of food I ordered:

Carbonara (100 pax)
Chicken Cordon Bleu (50 pax)
Pork BBQ (100 pax)
Fish Fingers (50 pax)
Burgeritos (50 pax)
Bottomless Iced Tea (50 pax)

The food. We didn’t get a photo of the Carbonara, though.

I have to say that all the food was “so-so”. Most of the food was a bit bland, the Pork BBQ was quite good though. What I like about Fun Ranch when it comes to food is that they can refill in case you run out of food, for an additional fee of course. But hey, it beats the embarrassment of running out of food and letting your guests go hungry! There are certain foods though that they cannot refill on the spot like the Chicken Cordon Bleu, they will advise you which ones can be refilled during the party. Another thing I really appreciated was how the staff kept me informed if I was about to run out of food or drinks. For example, I decided to order only 50 pax worth of drinks and then just add more if I needed to. The staff did not just go around serving extra bottomless iced teas to everyone, rather they took note of how many were served and immediately informed me when they were closing in to 50, then they would ask my permission first before serving more. The same goes with the food. They made sure I was updated about how much more food we had. I was too busy talking to my guests that I didn’t have time to take care of that, it’s a good thing that they did it for me.

Fun Ranch also offers food carts like cotton candy, mini hotdogs, pop corn, ice cream, etc. and can be covered by the consumable rate. Unfortunately, I did not have enough in my budget to rent one, but I guess we had enough food already which was good enough for me.

Food Rating: 3/5
The service was great, but I can’t say the same for the food.

Balloons

This was one of my major disappointments.

Before I continue, let me explain that Fun Ranch has this policy wherein they charge a corkage fee of P1000 for any services/products that you avail from other merchants. This only applies to services that they already offer themselves.

So anyway, balloons. I decided not to look for another supplier and just avail their in-house balloon packages instead. I was thinking, they’re just balloons and all balloons are the same so it shouldn’t be a big deal. Right? Wrong.

Their cheapest package was P5000. I actually found it to be expensive, but when I browsed OLX.com.ph for balloons suppliers they were charging around the same figure so I decided to stick with Fun Ranch and avoid corkage fees. I decided on the colors and tweaked the package to remove the balloon centerpieces and balloons on sticks so I could add more to the floating balloons. They even offered me a free mini balloon arch for the cake. During the party, my first observation was that the balloons were of poor quality. I mean, the colors weren’t as bright and they easily popped. I know it’s what balloons do, but so many popped during the party. I was glad I removed the ones from the table centerpieces because we had a lot of babies at the party and I didn’t want the balloons popping in their faces! It was a major letdown, especially since we really didn’t have a theme and I was relying on the balloons to make the place nice and colorful. There was also a pattern they were supposed to follow, but they didn’t and just randomly strung the floating balloons together. Oh well.

Balloon Rating: 2/5
Low quality balloons for P5000? Never again.

ENTERTAINMENT

Fun Ranch offers a wide array of entertainment options, from mascots, face and nail salons to animal shows. I never realized that these things cost so much until I planned this party. Here’s the list of activities and entertainment:

I chose the first option which included the party host, magician and balloon twister (not mentioned in the brochure) for P8500. I figured that with only three hours, a magic show and party games would suffice to keep people entertained.

Host. I forgot the host’s name, my bad! But she was pretty good. She approached me before the party began and explained the program she had planned. What I appreciated was that she was able to adjust the schedule for all activities even though most of my guests were late. She was friendly, she smiled a lot and she spoke English well. The games she conducted were typical party games but she brought an interesting twist to each one. She managed to get my brother, Chef Doks, to dance. LOL!

With the party host

Balloon Twister and Magician. I have to say, he was the highlight of the party. Most of the guests stood up from their seats just to get a closer look at his act. Even some Fun Ranch guests who happened to pass by stopped to watch. His tricks weren’t mind-blowing, but were definitely entertaining. He also encouraged the participation of a few kids. I didn’t realize that he was also the one twisting balloons earlier during the party. It helped keep the kids entertained while we were waiting for the other guests to arrive.

Entertainment Rating: 5/5
My guests were happy, that means they did a great job!

KIDDIE GIVEAWAYS

I have to admit that a week before my son’s birthday I still had no clue what I would purchase for giveaways. Many people suggest going DIY with cheap finds from Divisoria, but I just don’t have the time to go all the way there. I then realized that I saw sample lootbags at Fun Ranch, so I decided to avail those instead.

Fun Ranch offers two types of lootbags – a small backpack with goodies (P150 each) or a tote bag with goodies (P100 each). Actually, the goodies are the same either way, consisting of crayons, a coloring book and a random toy. I availed the tote bags and just added a pack of candies and cookies that we packed ourselves. The giveaway cookies were by my brother, Chef Doks.

Tote bags
Giveaway cookies. Gingerbread cookies topped with fondant

Giveaway Rating: 3/5
The contents of the tote bag could be better, but I personally found them good enough.

That concludes my review for Fun Ranch. It definitely is convenient holding your party here since they offer a lot of services as a one-stop party venue, however, I personally feel that they could improve some of their services and products to make the whole experience better and not just “so-so”. I guess the biggest pro here is the customer service provided by the staff. They were very accommodating and friendly.

I hope you all found this review useful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Or better yet, try contacting Fun Ranch if you have specific questions.

Please check out my next post, because I’ll be giving away a Fun Ranch referral slip which will get you freebies when you decide to hold a party at Fun Ranch! Do check it out!

Fun Ranch Alabang
836-9387
www.kidsrulehere.com

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Surviving Without a Yaya

It’s been a while! I’m currently working on a LOOOOONG post about my son’s first birthday suppliers and I’m only halfway through because I’ve been so busy. I know it’s my same excuse every single time, but come on, we’re moms!

My son being adorable.

So anyway, I couldn’t focus much on blogging lately because I have to take care of my son full-time since my yaya (nanny) walked out on me. She was the first yaya I ever hired and honestly, she was good. She was always proactive and she didn’t require as much supervision. What I didn’t like about her was that she had this nasty attitude where she would always make snide comments while she’s next to the person she’s making fun of.

“Naku si Mama mo hindi nanaman daw magkakanin! Haha sige panindigan niya lang yan!”
(Your mom’s not going to eat rice again! Haha she should stick to that!)

I was right next to her when she said that. I was avoiding rice at the time because I was watching my weight as I was starting to gain dramatically. She did this to other people too. It became so annoying but I had to put up with it because I knew how hard it was to come by good help. One weekend I decided to let her take her day off because I needed her to be around the following weekend for my son’s first birthday. She left on a Saturday evening then promised to be back by Monday morning.

Then she pulled off a classic.

She texted me Monday morning claiming she couldn’t return yet because she had to bring her son to the doctor. I had to give her the benefit of the doubt, she used the “my child is sick” card and it would be cruel of me to accuse her of lying. Long story short, she didn’t come back and she spread stories about how I would make her starve and that I was hiding the coffee. Seriously? We always had food in the kitchen and I always bought coffee and left it on the dining room table. Why would I hide the coffee?? It turns out that the real reason why she did not come back was because she was offered a higher pay at another household. I couldn’t compete with that, so we just decided to let her go and look for a new yaya.

It’s been three weeks since and we still haven’t found a new yaya.

My husband and I decided to “wing it” for now until we could find one. It’s been pretty tough because we both work full-time and we both work night shifts – which means we both need to sleep during the day. What’s more is that our son is now more active than ever and he refuses to be left in his crib. He has this urge to always walk and follow us around the house even though he’s not used to being on his feet yet.

So how do we manage surviving without a yaya? We take turns looking after our son. I work from home from 9PM-6AM so right after work I look after him – feed him breakfast, wash and prepare his bottles, give him a bath and cook lunch. He tends to wake up earlier than 6AM so I let him watch some nursery rhyme videos on our iPad while I finish my shift. While I’m on baby duty, my husband sleeps from 6AM when he arrives from work until about noon. After lunch and washing the dishes, we switch and I get to sleep until about 5PM. My husband then starts to prep for work and leaves at around 6PM. I put my son to sleep at around 7:30PM but sometimes he doesn’t fall asleep until 8:30PM. Once he’s asleep I start prepping for work. If he cries in the middle of the night I take a real quick moment to put him back to sleep then get back to work.

Has it been easy? Absolutely not. But these things happen and we need to adjust, even if it makes us twice as tired as before.

I have to say though that being “yaya-less” has given me the chance to bond more with my son. Ever since he turned one, he’s become more affectionate but has also entered the separation anxiety stage. I’m glad that I am able to address his needs at this stage and that I am able to realize his changing needs as well. For example, as I mentioned earlier my son has this urge to walk all the time. Here in our house there really isn’t enough room for him to do that, so his yaya just lets him stay in the crib which makes him cry and fuss a lot. When the yaya was gone and I took over, I realized that I needed to find a way to let my son practice his motor skills so he can start walking. I started moving furniture around to make enough space for my son to walk around and play. Ever since then we has improved dramatically and he isn’t as fussy as he used to be. He enjoys the freedom to walk and play outside the confines of his small crib.

Do you think my yaya would have done the same thing? I don’t think so. There’s just these things that only us parents can and will do for our children. Now that I have realized this, I’m thinking of not hiring a yaya anymore. I’ve also grown to love the quality time I get to spend with my son. I guess that’s what tops it all off, like the proverbial cherry on a sundae.

Was there a time when you had to manage without a yaya? How did it go?

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Our Little One’s First Trip to the Beach

Hi mommies!

Summer is close to an end but I still can’t get over my son’s first trip to the beach! This was a family outing I planned with my parents for Holy Week (yes, another late post. sorry!). Since my dad has good connections we were able to book overnight accommodations at Acua Verde Beach Resort which is located in Laiya, Batangas.

At the beach with my little man.
Let me share more photos with you! 🙂


Acua Verde is two or three houses away from Acquatico Resort and they’re owned by the same person. Acua Verde is smaller and not as fancy as Acquatico, but still offers quality accommodations and services.
Waiting for check-in time, someone looks impatient!
My handsome little man!
Walking on sand for the first time, he’s not sure how to react.
..but it looks like he ended up enjoying it!
Passing time at the mini-playground. He’s scared of going down the slide.
Drinking milk like a boss.
The resort’s reception area. There’s a fish pond where you can feed the fish!
Getting settled in our rooms. The rooms are small, good for up to three people, but you can request for additional mattresses.
That’s me with my little man.
Acua Verde does not have it’s own swimming pools. However, the owners allowed us to enter Acquatico to use their pool.
Our curious little one playing at a fountain.
Beach front cabanas at Acua Verde. I got up early with my son to reserve a good spot.
Exploring the cabana.
Tired from playing on the beach.
Enjoying the beach with his Dada.

The experience was great. The rooms were neat, the food was delicious and the resort is even pet friendly. One downside though was that they didn’t have their own pools. I’m not fond of Laiya’s white beach because the sand is coarse with so many itty bitty rocks, but I really can’t hold the resort responsible for that. All in all, we had a amazing time and I’d definitely recommend Acua Verde for a quick beach getaway in the Laiya area.

Interested in visiting Acua Verde? Check out their website at http://www.acuaverderesort.com.ph

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