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A Momma Abroad is where I share my perspective of life abroad and my love for the Philippines, there is so much to love!


Settling In: A Toddler's Room Made Of Stories

Settling In: A Toddler's Room Made Of Stories

"Settling In" is a series that aims to share ideas and ways to help you settle into your new home and life in Manila, or abroad anywhere I suppose. My constant companion the last few weeks has been a book discussing ways to plant roots in your new residence. Melody Warnick, the author of "This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science Of Loving The Place Where You Live" suggests a place is nothing in itself, it is what you make of your space! Contributing to that same mentality, Live Free Miranda suggests you paint, hang art and plant trees in your new home. I would also like to add using local products to decorate to include your new culture or geographical area. For this second part of 'Settling In' we transitioned Wells' baby room into a toddler room. 


Wells' room really is a melting pot of old, new and well loved items all mixed into one. Some pieces were even hand-me-down items I got when Aaker was born over seven years ago! No matter the price tag or how well used the item, they each have a story to tell.


I met Naomi in a bootcamp class I was teaching after the birth of my third baby. As social media plays out, she had seen a photo of me in her gym with a group of women and messaged me, "Hey! I live in that building. What days do you teach classes? I'd like to come to your next one." From there it was a fast friendship. We had each moved around a bit and had young babies but this didn't simmer down our hunger for exploring and adventures. When schedules would permit we would market hop buying way too many baskets and other cute bobbles along the way. (this is a reoccurring theme- me and baskets.) On one of our market trips, Naomi told me the story of starting a textile business while living in Jakarta, I was beyond fascinated! She would take the multiple hours long bullet train to Bali and meet with her makers all while baby wearing an infant. Duduk, Naomi and her partner's line, made it all the way to Manila landing in L'Indochine a few years back. I scooped up the pieces I could. When I see the yellow canvas book basket I think of friends. I think of Char and Leona, two dear friends who created my most happy space in manila. I think of Naomi, her friendship and remember that moms are more than 'just a mom.'


My Story

I've always had a love for details. My paternal grandmother, Grandma Smith, and I didn't have a particularly close relationship and at times I wondered how I fit into the Smith family. But on occasion there were these moments when I knew I came from her stock. The way she dressed the table for family dinners, her sun room, the porcelain doll collection lining her stairs and the culminating cue that we shared heritage, her wrapping room! That wrapping room was the adult version of my Hello Kitty, Sanrio Surprises and Lisa Frank stationary collection. (I was born to live in Asia, even office supplies make me kilig.) The cold flooring and slightly dank smell of that room still hold fresh in my memory. I remember my Grandma Smith granting me permission to take home some ribbons and wrapping paper from that room. It was as if she gifted 8 year old Amber bricks of gold! I get excited over cute, pretty and handmade.   

The love for all things kawaii grew and overflowed into home decor. Perhaps in my next season of life I may even take up interior design, for now it is just a creative outlet. I have become quite soft to the natural and rattan products of the Philippines. Again, I feel as if I was predestined to live here with my love of textiles and local furniture - it's in my blood. When I found a rattan and furniture suki a few months back Marie of Pottly and Tubby reached out to me about a collaboration - I couldn't believe it. Were my passions and dreams actually coming true because of an artisan I found in Quezon City? Yes, yes they were. The children's pedal chair (and kids peacock chair coming in another post!) was a baby labored out of love for a new culture, a new way of life and a creative outlet. When I look at that pedal chair and think of my story intertwined in its fibers I can quite literally feel my heart palpitate. 



I wasn't kidding when I said this toddler's room is made of stories. Words are a peculiar thing. They have almost no tangibility but the feelings they invoke are real and effervescent. One of my most valued friendships was made fruitful because of words and a love for stories. 

Micah is a funny woman. She is honest and real with a keen ability to tell you how it is. Free of of hurtful intentions, only allowing the honesty to pull you in closer, it's a safe place. As a frazzled mom of two young boys I would sit at a story circle led by this momma bear of 6 whose vocabulary exceeded that of a schooled professor. Despite her impressive lexicon, I watched her act a fool reading the silliest of children's books. Fart sounds, loud sounds, whispers and mice voices all belted out of Micah's mouth. I sat in amazement - she was speaking my language! Stories are a way to engage with all ages. Reading to my children is an escape. So, I surround my toddler's room with books, stories and witty words and think of Micah and story time.     




Playful details are the way to go for a kids room. If they can't play with it, it doesn't belong. 



The clicking sounds of the food pedals, the slack of the thread being pushed back and forth and the fear of fingers getting chopped off! These all swirl in my head when I think of visiting Baguio's Easter Weaving Room. As with my wrapping paper, I love a good textile and the Philippines has great textiles! You won't find a room in my home that isn't donned with Inabel or Abaca. 



Space seems to be a reoccurring theme with all individuals in our home. My husband is strong with the force, Aaker loves space, Oz loves what Aaker loves and Wells loves Goodnight Moon. I am partial to my own love of space with these moon paintings by Stella Marie Baer.  Reusing the La Luna download from the older boys room I went for a bigger size and blew it up to poster size. I have a thing for mobiles so I cut out some stars and sewed them to create a garland.  



In my life before Manila and kids, I was an educator for special needs children. Raffi was our jam. His music has come full circle now that I sing his lyrics with my babies in Manila traffic. The words tug on my heart a little. 

Everything grows and grows
Babies do
Animals too
Everything grows

Everything grows and grows
Sisters do
Brothers too
Everything grows


WELLS 2015


WELLS 2017


And that, my friends, is how we made a toddler's room from stories. 

  • Lamp from All Home. If you haven't been to All Home you should visit! It has an impressive selection of all home needs, even music and sports equipment.

  • Play mat and pedal chair from Pottly N Tubby.

  • Storage cabinets and play camera/phone from Le Petit Mamon.

  • Crib from Craig's List 2010

  • Curtains were in the home when we moved in.

  • Mobiles from AWCP Women's Bazaar and Hobbes and Landes Warehouse sale.

  • Rocking chair was a gift from a friend that was made in White Plains.

  • Little green rocking chair is from Mandaue Foam.

  • Inabel blankets can be purchased all over the metro or online for a great price from KartonPh. They deliver with 1-2 days and allow cash on demand.

On Top Of The World, Even If Just For A Morning

On Top Of The World, Even If Just For A Morning

We Snuck Away For The Weekend

We Snuck Away For The Weekend