Caspian is Home and We’re Learning How to Care for an Infant in the USA

At about 4:45 am on Sunday, 18 Nov 2018, my wife woke me up and told me “It’s time!”

I got up quickly and wiped away all traces of sleep from my eyes. Our second child was on his 39th week in the womb and we have waited a long time for this moment.

Cha then woke up Coco and asked him to prepare to leave. Thankfully, a friend of ours–another Filipino family in our apartment compound knew about Cha’s situation and agreed to take care of him while we are at the hospital.

Over the past several months, we have tried to prepare Coco for the day that we will leave him at a friend’s house. When that time came, he picked up his toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bunch of other toiletries as we were leaving. Our bags were already packed and in the car, so we simply left the other toiletries that Coco brought out.

We arrived at the hospital and the nurses started monitoring her vital signs. Before long, we checked in to her room.

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We’re on the Third Trimester!

Cha’s tummy keeps growing and our little one keeps moving inside her womb. She says that Baby no. 2 moves and kicks way more than Coco did. Maybe that’s a warning that he will be even more active than Coco is!

Two boys in the house after November. We’ll have double riot at home! We have a year or so before baby no. 2 starts crawling and walking and making lots of mess at home.

We’re away from family when Cha gives birth.

About 2 months ago, we asked my mother if she could file for a leave of absence from her teaching job in the Philippines so she could visit and help us. She applied for a visa. And got a resounding, inexplicable NO. She applied again. The result was another NO!

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Kindergarten Blues: Bus or Car?

Coco’s school is close enough to our apartment. It’s a little over 2 miles away. When we were preparing him for Kindergarten, we talked about the transportation situation. Metro Nashville Public Schools a school bus for kids who live within a certain distance from the school.

For the first month of Kindergarten, we told him that I will drop him off at his school in the morning. And in the afternoon, he will ride the bus home. He agreed.

Every time he gets home in the afternoon, he rides with a bunch of other kids from our apartment complex. He has made some friends, and so the bus ride is pretty enjoyable for him.

It was perhaps a little too enjoyable that he said he wanted to ride the bus in the morning, too!

That presented a bit of dilemma for us.

He tends to wake up in the morning and being the 5-year old that he is, he would dawdle. He wanted to spend an extra 5-10 minutes lying in bed, half-asleep, when we try to wake him in the morning.

And then, he would spend another 25-35 minutes eating breakfast. Then, another 30-40 minutes to take a bath, brush his teeth, and prepare for school! That pretty much ensures that we leave home just in time for us to arrive about 10 minutes before his class time.

For him to ride the bus, we needed to adjust our morning routines at least 20 minutes earlier! That would be even tougher in the winter!

But to be honest, I like driving with him, then dropping him off at school.

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Coco Goes to Kindergarten!

It just feels like yesterday when Coco started attending Pre-School! A week ago, he started attending Kindergarten! Thankfully, I had a full week of vacation before he started school. I came from a 2-week long work trip to South Africa. So we caught up a bit, played a lot, went on a picnic by the lake, and before we knew it, we needed to buy school supplies!

Supplies, supplies, supplies!

The Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) provide the list of supplies we needed. We logged on to the web page of his school and downloaded the list. The supplies he needed include the following:

  • 2– White Avery “View” 3 ring binders (1 inch size)
  • 4 – Wide-Ruled composition books (black & white)
  • 2 – Packs of wide ruled loose leaf notebook paper
  • 24 – Glue sticks (Elmer’s preferred)
  • 1 – Pair of scissors (Fiskars suggested)
  • 1 – Box of 24 count crayons (Crayola strongly preferred)
  • 3 – Boxes of 8 count classic crayons, Regular size (Crayola strongly preferred)
  • 2 – Boxes of 8 count classic crayons, Large size (Crayola strongly preferred) No JUMBOS
  • 3 – Packs of white unlined index cards
  • 2 – Packs of washable markers (Crayola strongly preferred-1 box classic colors & 1 box bright colors)
  • 2– Packs of dry erase markers with chisel tip (Expo strongly preferred-ALL BLACK-4 per pack)
  • 2 – Large erasers (2 or more in a pack)
  • 2-Packages of Mixed Construction Paper(9 by 12)

Strongly Encouraged Items:

  • 1 – Pair of headphones with strip across the head (no ear buds)
  • 2 – Boxes of Ziploc slider bags – Gallon Size
  • (suggested for ease of children’s use)
  • 2 – Boxes of Ziploc slider bags – Sandwich Size (suggested for ease of children’s use)
  • 1 – Pack of baby wipes or cleaning wipes (Antibacterial or Clorox suggested)
  • 2- Rolls of paper towels
  • 1 – Container of hand sanitizer, Large size
  • Paper Plates -Colored Copy Paper -Treasure Box Items

We were starting to get the hang of this process.

Off we went to Walmart to buy his school supplies!

It was Tennessee’s tax free weekend. We ended up saving at least $20 on taxes for our son’s school supplies! In addition to the school supplies, we bought a couple of shirts (with collar) that will serve as his daily uniform. This school thing can be a bit expensive. At least we don’t need to pay for any fees for him to go to school!

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Dental Care is So Expensive in America!

In the Philippines, most families don’t really pay for health insurance and dental insurance. But in America, it’s very difficult if you don’t have one. The cost of healthcare without any insurance could be so high that you may end up paying thousands of dollars!

Our 4-year old son started complaining about his teeth. So we went to a dentist for a consultation. His dentist recommended that they put a crown on 6 molars – 2 on each side on the lower set of his teeth; and 2 on the upper right molars.

The next step was to ask for estimates from the dentist and our dental insurance plan how much it would cost. You see, even if you pay for a dental insurance, it would still cost a lot to avail dental services.

So we waited for a little bit. Then a letter came in the mail. To do a Pulpotomy and crown two of his lower left molars, it would cost a total of $831! I know I’ve said I should not convert from dollars to pesos, but man, that’s more than PhP41,000! I could have replaced all of my teeth and more!

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5 Things I Learned about Fatherhood after 5 years of being a father

My son turned 5 earlier this year. They grew up so fast. He is also pretty tall for his age. He probably got the tall genes from my wife’s side. Her brothers are 6 feet tall and even her sisters are pretty tall. She is the shortest one in their family.

Kids grow fast! You blink and they grow taller, they start saying weird, cool, unintentionally profound words that take you aback. I can’t believe that 5 years ago, my son weighed just over 6 pounds. Now, he’s close to 50 pounds! Carrying him can feel like a serious workout. I remember throwing him up to the air, then spinning with him round and round our living room. I can’t do that anymore. He’s too big and heavy now!

Here are 5 things I learned about fatherhood.

You will feel inadequate and if you had any daddy issue growing up, they will show up and scare you.

I was 30 when my son was born. I am probably late to the fatherhood game compared to some of my high school friends. But I still felt inadequate when I first held him in my arms. So many insecurities, fear, and worry raced through my head.

Growing up, my own father was disciplinarian and enforced an old-school, spanking discipline strategy. At some point, I felt so far away from him because of that. My relationship with my father improved over time as I matured. But I had this real fear about discipline. What if I end becoming a strict, spank-em disciplinarian, too? Will my son hate me when he grows up? Will I ruin his childhood? So many questions. Will I be able to provide for his needs and some of his wants?

After 5 years, I still have some of those fears. Maybe, they never really go away and as fathers, we try to deal with these emotions as best as we could. I’m not an expert. Maybe no one ever really is. But I understand fatherhood a little bit more.

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13 Bible Verses on Fatherhood

The Bible contains a lot of wise words to help us live our lives. I know that some sections of the Bible require closer reading than others. But I have found the following verses helpful in understanding my role as a father.

A lot of these verses came from Proverbs, and most of those have to deal, one way or another, about discipline.

Children are blessings to a father. Having children is a gift from God. It is a big responsibility, I know. But it is also full of joy and fulfillment.

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Pregnant Pinoy in America: We are Expecting!

When Cha and I got married, we talked about the number of kids we wanted to have. Both of us didn’t want to have a huge family (thankfully!) although she has 5 siblings. I only have 2 siblings. I wanted to have 3 kids, but she wanted 2.

I am not the one who will carry the baby for 9 months then risk my life to deliver them. In the end, we agreed to have 2 kids, with 3 or 4 years between them. In 2013, our son Coco was born and he changed our lives for the better. He brought so much joy and happiness in our lives.

Postponing our next Baby Project

We planned to have another baby when he was 3 years old. But our plans had to change because we ended up moving to the USA in mid-2015. We thought we were going to postpone having a baby for a year. After all, moving from the one country to another is a BIG move.

But our waiting season turned out longer than we planned. In 2017, we felt that it was time to try and have another baby. So we prayed and tried. We had to wait some more.

Since we have a family prayer time together before bed, Coco got to pray for a baby brother or a sister. After almost a year of praying, he just couldn’t seem to wait anymore.

Coco (to me and Cha): “Where is my baby sister, we pray and pray but she’s not yet here.”

Me (trying to stifle laughter): “Anak, we need to be patient and wait.”

Coco (with some hand waving and a big pout): “But I can’t wait anymore!”

Nanay: “Let’s keep praying and waiting anak, hopefully she will come soon.”

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How to Save Money on Children’s Toys in the USA

Sometime in 2016, a friend stayed over at our home for an evening. He saw our son’s room and all the toys that he had there. This friend works as a Principal of an elementary school in the Philippines. He said: “Wow, your son’s room and toys look like a full play area for a kindergarten in the Philippines!”

We laughed at his statement at the time. It’s true, our son has a lot of toys. And the good thing is that we did not pay full price for those toys. In most cases, we got those toys at a bargain. If you also have a small child, here are some tips to save money on children’s toys in the USA.

Here are some of the toys we got from different sources and the corresponding price:

Train and Activity table: $40 Craigslist
Hot Wheels Playsets: $20 from Craigslist
Various robots and cars – got it from Goodwill thrift stores

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6 Tips for Parents on Kids’ Use of Smartphones or Tablets

Parents of young kids often wonder how to regulate the screen time of their kids. It’s no longer a matter of whether kids should have access to tablets or smartphones. It’s now a matter of regulating that access.

Kids as early as one are now watching videos so their parents can do their chores or work at home.

Here are some tips for parents on kids’ smartphone use.

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