Two days ago, for our last full day in Taiwan, we decided the nicest way to end our trip would be a visit to a traditional teahouse for dinner. Slow, quiet, and relaxing – to some extent when traveling with kids, the Yao Yue Teahouse is the perfect setting for winding down an eventful trip. Located about 20 mins from our hotel in Ximending district, the drive up the mountain is dark and secluded. The only thing I would’ve changed about our visit to Yao Yue would be that we went much earlier when the sun was still up so that we could enjoy the lovely view coming up the mountain and at the teahouse itself.
Yao Yue, which is nestled into the side of a steep mountain boasts amazing views of nature. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see those views, but we definitely heard and felt it. When we arrived it was raining, gently, and luckily the trees made for good shelter down the hiking path to the teahouse. A traditional, wood-filled cabin, the floors creaked as we walked over to our table and the smell of aged bark blanketed the room. The windows were left open and chilly breezes came bursting through every few minutes. It reminded me so much of the US during Autumn.
Once seated, I got to ordering right away. First thing to arrive was the tea set up with a booklet of easy instructions. They have you preform the tea ceremony yourself, so you can truly enjoy an immersive experience of proper tea preparation. While I prepared the tea, Luca walked around by himself, mostly looking out the windows into the darkness of the forest. Luca is really in-tune with nature and the sounds of insects and birds are what he loves the most. So this is definitely the place for an earth child, or any child really!
When the food arrived I honestly expected nothing of it, but boy was I wrong!
I would say the food we ate here was surprisingly one of the best meals we’ve had in Taiwan!
It’s simple Chinese comfort food, the must orders being the sweet potato pancake and handmade steamed buns! Gobble! Would we visit this place next time we’re in Taiwan? Yes! 100%! And we’d definitely make sure to go during the afternoon, preferably around 3pm. But don’t worry if you come late, Yao Yue is open 24 hours of the day!
A beautiful, quaint wooden cabin, with so much character and delicious food. A Taiwan Must See!
Located at the beautiful, free-spirited, Acacia Waldorf School in Santa Rosa. The Balik Bookid Halloween fair has been something I’ve been looking forward to since I saw their posts last year! Unfortunately for me, last year’s tickets sold out before I could grab any… so this year I made sure to turn my notifications on for any of their posts and I was happy to be able to grab tickets the first day they went on sale. I wasn’t sure of how many people would be coming with us, so I grabbed 6, just in case. My total bill was around P2,000, not bad!
I’m always looking for some nice things to do with the kids in Manila, or the Philippines in general. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve just recently found a new love for living in the Philippines. After my intense infatuation with wanting to move out of the country, for the sake of the kids, I’ve only just realized that we actually have it SO GOOD HERE! The award for the cleanest air in south east Asia, cheap air flights to any nearby Asian country, having the world’s most beautiful beaches, some of the most intense mountain & volcano ranges to hike, nannies, the list goes on!I find the most important selling point of the Philippines would be the communities of people who are passionate about organic, natural- living, free of judgement. I find this rare in other parts of the world.(The judgement part).
And from these wonderful communities, events like this come full circle for everyone to enjoy. The Balik Bookid fair is committed to hosting an environmentally friendly, all natural event. From the food vendors, product merchants to each attraction, the Balik Bookid fair is a plastic-free event. You’re asked to bring your own bag, water bottle, and even utensils!
We enjoyed so thoroughly the carabao rides, horse rides, petting zoo, and zip lines for the kids. As well as the shopping, where I picked up some children’s books and non-toxic nail polish (which we also carry at The Chai Nail Spa) from local vendors. I loved the kombucha from Wholesome Table so much, I had two servings of it!
Everyone had such a wonderful time, including the nannies. I cannot wait for next years Balik Bookid event! And now I’m off to see if sending Luca to school here is an actual possibility…
On January 25th, 2019 at 2pm, bathed in warm water and showered sunlight, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl via water birth at St. Luke’s BGC.
Note: This is a blog post about how a traumatic first birth influenced my decision to “birth gently” the second time around. My medicated birth happened in Cardinal Santos, and my water birth at St. Luke’s BGC.
Now, the last time I made an entry onto my website was last year when the first symptoms of pregnancy started to take a toll on my body. This time, and very much unlike my first, I experienced headaches, migraines, extreme nausea and fatigue all within the first few weeks of my first trimester, starting when we were vacationing in Morocco. Having just recovered from a laparoscopic surgery a month prior, which removed a small grapefruit sized endometriotic-cyst from my ovary, I was totally unprepared for pregnancy. I was also totally unaware of how much one pregnancy can differ from another. With my first born, the pregnancy was easy, I had bounds of energy, and I never experienced any nausea or pains. But an easy pregnancy doesn’t mean a less traumatic birth.
My first traumatic birth
A quick replay on my first “text-book” birthing experience: I arrived 6cm dilated with little discomfort, I wanted to brith without the use of drugs, but was talked into a pitocin drip to make my contractions come stronger and faster, the artifical breaking of my water bag, an epidural, and some other Iv’s for things like dextrose. (Insert eye roll). During my labor I couldn’t eat or drink, I couldn’t stand up to walk and stretch for 6 hours, I was hooked up to a machine which was very uncomfortable around my belly and made breathing through a contraction a little bit distressing. I felt like I was being prepped for a surgical procedure!
A lot of this could’ve been avoided had I chose to water birth with my first, but I didn’t because like many first time moms, I was terrified of what to actually expect and I put 100% of my trust into my medical team rather than my own intuitions.
I do have to give credit to my OB at the time, a loving and patient woman who spent all her time making me feel as comfortable as possible after the birth, the real traumatic part. Once my son came, we were briefly given skin to skin contact, literally for a moment, while I received stitches from an episiotomy, which I was given without my consent. Then I was whisked away, and separated from my son, to a “recovery” room, even though I protested and requested to stay within reach of my baby at all times. I was “required” by the hospital to be held in a room with other recovering patients for 2 hours – with no one I knew from my family to accompany me. This was just the beginning, and I suppose was the onset of what was to be a very traumatic recovery which spiraled me into postpartum depression for the next 3 months.
Once I was in my private hospital room I could finally feel the stinging pain of the episiotomy stitches, hitting me like a bus, once the epidural wore off. And because I was STILL hooked up to an IV and had a catheter still in my spine, I couldn’t walk, sit up or stand without yelping in pain and discomfort.
When they wheeled my son into my room, it was like I hardly knew who he was…
As harsh as that sounds, imagine laying in bed with the worst pain you could imagine, too tired, too anxious, hungry and have all these hormones rushing through your body trying to stabilize themselves after being pumped with this drug and that – let alone YOU JUST GAVE BIRTH! And now, oh NOW, they expect you to feed a crying baby by shoving your tender, and if you were drugged with pitocin, swollen breasts into a tiny little mouth.
Postpartum depression & an unsuccessful breastfeeding journey
“Breast is best” – we all heard it, so naturally I was determined to give my baby the best start I could. Little did I know at the time I was pressuring myself into what would be, what I call, the lowest lows of my life, when they should’ve been the happiest. I don’t want to point fingers here, like to the over judgmental lactation consultation who didn’t have any children of her own. Or to my helplessly inverted nipples, lack of information or support as to how to latch properly. Or to the nurses who, when I was having a hard time latching my son, just brought in donated breast milk and fed it to my baby without consulting me or lending me a breast pump instead. Or to all the unnecessary “residents” who would pop in and out of my room like I was some guinea pig whose breasts could be poked and prodded at at all times of the day.
It was only when I met my doula for my second birth, where I learned that Pitocin and other drugs that are commonly administered during labor could affect my breastfeeding experience and its long term success. Quoted below from a very informative article, backed by studies:
Pitocin can interfere in the early postpartum period, leading to adverse effects on long-term breastfeeding success, and therefore the overall health for mother and baby.
Needless to say that my breastfeeding journey was crippled from day one and the trauma that ensued in the next few months had sadly found its way well into my second birth. Before I gave birth the second time, I knew from the get-go I was going to be formula feeding. I knew this because I was unsuccessful the first time and because I was terrified of having depression again. But because of my drug-free, supportive water birth I was able to breastfeed longer than I expected I would. Baby girl had no trouble latching, and I had immense support from lactation consultants at St. Luke’s BGC and from my doula and OB.
A challenging, but blissful water birth
After having a water birth, I truly believe this is how all births should be experienced. From the moment I came in at 7cm dilated, I was cared for and, I dare say, loved by all the nurses, my doctor and doula. I labored in all sorts of positions, walking, standing, squatting – in water and out. Whatever felt comfortable, that was the position I was getting into. This time I wasn’t confined to a bed and I wasn’t hooked up to IVs or machines.
I felt my baby and I could move freely and openly, together, getting the work that needed to be done, done, without the help of drugs or doctors
Sure, I screamed, I moaned, and to my horror I bled all over the floor leaving a natural mess all around the birthing suite. The nurses and my doula were kind and supportive, quickly cleaning up after me and assuring me that “it’s fine, it’s natural. Don’t be ashamed.” This time, I was treated as a powerful woman going through a spiritual process rather than just another patient in the hospital.
I ate fruits and drank water as freely as if I were laboring at home. I was also able to listen to music and use essential oils to ease and calm me in between contractions, these things would never be allowed during a “text-book” labor. When I labored for my first pregnancy, I was put in a room with just a nurse, and no one, not even my husband was allowed to accompany me for the first few hours. This time I had my doula who constantly had her hands on me for each contraction, sending me her supportive love and energy. I was allowed to have anyone I wanted in the room with me…
My husband, though, stayed in the corner, and that’s just where I wanted him, because I wanted to do this alone, I wanted to prove to myself after all my lows from my first birth, “you are worth it, you are powerful, you are capable!”
When the contractions got stronger I jumped in the water. It didn’t necessarily help with the pain of the contractions, I was surprisingly more comfortable outside the water, but I knew I would tear because the episiotomy I had with my first birth would have to give way… so I rode on the chance that birthing in the water would soften the skin. I did eventually tear in the water, but this time it was only 2nd degree and after the stitching, the healing was much easier than my episiotomy.
When my daughter was out, we had at least 30 mins of skin to skin contact, unlike the few lousy mins I had with my first. I was also able to walk right away, without pain, and we were even discharged the next day! The best part about this birth was being able to have my baby kept in the room with me at all times, even for all her testings. She never left my side.
There’s not much to say about a water birth other than it is what it is. Birthing is a natural process, women over hundreds of thousands of years have birthed, what we now call, “gently”. Birthing in a calm, safe environment has always been the norm, before the introduction of medical intervention. I’ve experienced both, and if I had 10 more babies I would want to birth them all in the water, hopefully catching the next one with my own hands!
When we arrived to the Ritz, it was 2am and we immediately passed out for the night. The next day, and for the rest of the trip, our room was a complete mess so I didn’t take any photos of the inside… Rest assured the inside is just as beautiful as the rest of this resort!
We got the ground floor room with straight access to the private lagoon, which is not actually private to only you but shared with about 6 other rooms which isn’t too bad!! Even though all therooms were booked on our floor, we only saw other people in the lagoon once! It feels completely private, and even if all the guests of the rooms on our floor were in the lagoon, it’s so large you wouldn’t feel bothered at all.
Ubud is the perfect one-stop-shop for food, culture and nature. It was quite a drive from our area in Nusa Dua, about an hour and a half drive considering the traffic. One of our first stops in the mountain city was a restaurant with floating cabanas on a large koi pond. At the Bebek Teba Sari Resto most of the architecture is built with, and inspired by bamboo huts! The food was also very local, fresh and delicious! We ordered a beef and watermelon salad, chicken satay with peanut sauce, I also had a roast chicken, and then my favorite for dessert was black glutinous sticky rice with some ice cream on the side!
The beauty of this place is that it sits right next to a tropical plantation. We were able to get some beautiful shots of the landscape with our drone!
I used to be one of those people who thought vitamins were superfluous and just another thing to stress out about. It wasn’t until I experienced my own health crisis, and during my enrollment at a health coaching school, did I realize the importance of vitamins and how they would soon make an impact on my own personal health when I needed it most. Speaking from my own experiences and after much trial and error throughout my health journey, I found these products to be the constant in my self care routine.
Below are the supplement vitamins I take daily, along with a women’s multivitamin (which is not pictured). I make sure to take a multivitamin everyday, but I don’t take my supplement vitamins everyday. Below I’ll note which days I choose to take my vitamins, why I take them, and where I buy them! Before picking up any of these vitamins, its important to speak to your doctor especially if you are pregnant and nursing! Enjoy!..
Yesterday we spent the evening out on a boat to watch the pyrolympics fireworks shows put on by the countries Philippines and Switzerland. It was a beautiful 3 and a half hours spent with close friends, some wine and music.
This was set up by my husband as a post Valentine’s Day present, and also happened to fall on the first day of the Chinese New Year. It’s so refreshing to celebrate two New Years every year, I personally set different goals for the Western New Year and for the Lunar (Chinese) New Year. Some of my Lunar resolutions this year are to meditate more often and to spend far more time in nature…
It’s common to base a new relationship off of the quality and duration of the courtship in Asia.
Some courtships lasting from a few months to a few years! In my own case, my husband courted me for 6 months.
During the duration of a courtship, it is common and OK for the lady to entertain more than one suitor. Meaning if you have 3 men courting you, it is totally OK to go on dates which each of them to find that winning guy! Asian men really want to make a show of their efforts and intentions with the lady they’re pursuing to prove that their love is true…
From December to Febuary 28th Manila Ocean Park is running a PROMO 80% off ticket prices! My husband has his doubts that they will ever charge full price, but either way, we paid for the full pass to see all the exhibits at only P995 a person! If you’re child is over 2 feet tall you will have to pay full price for them…
(Please forgive the mud on the windows, we are still installing the grass.) ^
Our 5th, but not yet final, home
My husband and I have enjoyed 4 homes together in the last 7 years. That might sound like a lot but being an expat who is now living on the other side of globe, I’ve come to miss certain things that I had in my home when I was growing up in the states. (Not that I at all miss the States). Living in a city as dense as Manila, it has been hard for me to accept certain living customs, but I love Asia and it has become my personal mission to find a home for my family that meets all of my criteria…