Monday, October 31, 2011

Vito's first official Halloween!

Actually, the first one was October 2010, but last year, Vito was just nearly 3 months old and Vince and I were in a very sour mood because our finances were drained to almost zero because of someone else's medical emergencies. So this year, to compensate, we decided that Vito has to have a great Halloween!

Thank goodness his friend Justin had a birthday party!
Hi! I'm Tigger. That's because I was born in the year of the Tiger. No, we're not Chinese. 
Here is my barkada: Enzo as a policeman, Alfonso as an Angry Bird and Sophia as a fairy.
Mama kept saying Enzo had the best costume.
Isn't MY costume cute? Mama even voted for Enzo, not for me! Why?!
It's a good thing they had iced candy. It made me feel lots better.

We all had to join the costume contest. I won!
I still can't believe Mama voted for another boy.
And here's the rest of the crazy crowd! Justin is Woody and the blond princess is Masha.

The little guy won two costume contests. The second one was the day after this so we just dusted off his Tigger costume and sent him off. He came back with tons of candy and strutting about while yaya said Vito walked onstage all by himself (I had to stay home because I'm on bed rest). His Papa and I are very proud. And after the second time he brought home his prize, we have a better understanding of that horrific show Toddlers and Tiaras!

How about you? Hope you can share your kids' costumes, too! Leave a link so I can check them out! Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vito Sales: future football star!

This post is brought to you by Adidas.

One of the reasons why we gave Vito his name is we wanted it to stand on its own, ya know, in case he becomes famous one day. For example, if he becomes a rock star or a football star, the chants that will reverberate will be "Vi-to! Vi-to! Vi-to!" It stands alone compared to, say, Mark and John and Allan and Michael, nice names but very common names.

So there I've confessed it--we have superstardom dreams for our boy. When prenatal Vito was kicking about ferociously in my tummy, I decided this little boy is going to be a football player one day. His Lolo Mon and his Papa used to play soccer so it's not unlikely Vito will follow suit. Especially since, at just 14 months old, he learned to kick a ball!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book review: Love You More, a story about the divine surprise of adoption

I know I haven't been updating the blogs. I thought I would be blogging like crazy actually since I'm on bed rest. But I have turned away from the computer (I have to sit on a chair for computery stuff!) and taken a couple of books to bed and read and read and read.

The iPad's been great, too, for blog hopping and games, but not so great at blogging. The auto-correct feature annoys me plus I like typing with crunchy keyboards. You know, when I type, I want each letter to go clackety-clackety-clack.

So anyway, I finally read Love You More. It's a book I got for free from BookSneeze. Yep, they give away books to bloggers in exchange for reviews. How cool is that?!

The first book I asked from BookSneeze is Love You More by Jennifer Grant. It's Jennifer and her husband David's journey into adoption. Having three kids, they certainly didn't "need" to adopt a child but as it turns out, a child--whether adopted or born--is a story of true love, and Jennifer talks about how they felt the deep need to search for their daughter Mia, how they found her in Guatemala, and how she is just the perfect addition to her already beautiful family.

Jennifer also talks about the difficulties faced with adopting a child--from disapproving family and friends, the horrors of finding out about the terrible state orphans are in around the world, the expense, the qualification process, the long wait, the awkward but thrilling first interaction, the adjustment, and the judgmental opinions of other people when they see that your child looks different from you and the rest of your family.
My free book from BookSneeze!

It's a great story! I wish Jennifer had included more situations and conversations instead of just writing it like an essay. It was okay actually until she included an epilogue, which detailed a girls' day out to the salon, just mommy and two daughters--one very white, the other very brown. The interaction with the manicurist was very interesting. So I felt that Jennifer could've sprinkled the entire book with vignettes like that because then she's not just talking about it, she'd be weaving a story. Technically, that would have been better but, hey, it's still a good read. It made me cry thrice!

As a mommy, my heart was broken by the stories of abandoned and unloved children. I was also crying because most of these mothers gave up their babies because they were forced by their families, their poverty, their culture. It's horrible. No child should be punished for that! And yet Jennifer says adoption is not for everyone. She firmly emphasizes that you should adopt because of love, not out of pity or charity or guilt or a desire to save the world. So, funnily enough, I chose Love You More so that I can learn more about adoption and came away from the book knowing I'm not the adopting kind.

I've been interested to adopt a child or two since 1998, when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It's a disease of the uterus lining, the endometrium, which instead of the lining shedding just once a month (we all know that as the menstrual period), the lining sheds constantly. I won't die from this, it's just painful and inconvenient, and if left untreated, likely results to infertility. No biggie! Especially since I've been a good patient, the endometriosis is managed very well--there is no pain, no bleeding and no cysts. But since that 1998 diagnosis, I figured that should I become infertile and want kids, well, adoption was obviously my choice.

After reading Jennifer's lovely story, I realized adoption isn't for me (or maybe not yet). The book made me seriously think about my own motivations for adopting a child and, to be very honest, I wanted to adopt so that I could help a poor kid out. I thought it would be wonderful to take in a child that nobody wanted. I also actually liked the idea of "choosing" a child and discovered, to my shame, that I thought it very similar to shopping. You see, with a biological child, you never really know what you'll get--a boy or a girl, cute or not, healthy or not--but with adoption, well, you can see what you'll get.

It's horrible, I know. That's why I'm glad I read Love You More because this book really made me confront some certain not-so-nice things about myself. It showed me that adoption isn't charity. Adoption is love. It's parenting. It's commitment. It's family. And until my heart is big enough for that, then I should just help by donating to charities and orphanages, pushing for the RH Bill, and raising awareness about the plight of orphans and the poor.

To know more about Jennifer Grant and her book, go to her website
To get your copy of Love You More, buy from Amazon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time for me to start using Palmers Oil

I wasn't very religious with applying the creams and lotions last time I was preggy. Even then, I only have a few stretch marks--inner thighs and bikini line--and they've mostly faded now. So I don't really care much about stretch mark-prevention now that I'm pregnant again.

Until I saw that Palmer's came out with this oil:

It won't only prevent, it can also treat! Scars (even acne scars), stretch marks, dry skin, damaged skin, fine lines--bring it on! Palmer's Cocoa Butter Skin Therapy Oil with Rosehip seems like a wonder oil!

Here's more from the press kit Rustan's sent me:
It’s lightweight and preservative-free formula contains an exclusive blend of key ingredients. Theobroma cacao seed butter is extracted from roasted cocoa seeds to produce an emollient that softens skin. Sesamum indicum seed oil creates a barrier that locks in moisture, while Tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E) and Rosehip oil acts as an antioxidant with healing properties.

The active ingredients combined with the goodness of natural cocoa butter, rosehip oil, Vitamin E and natural oils produces a unique rapidermal absorption system that quickly penetrates without the usual icky greasiness, leaving skin moisturized silky smooth, clear and radiant. In fact, many users noted having a less oily face and expectant mothers have used the oil to effectively prevent stretch marks. With Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil’s non-staining formula, you also need not worry about your clothes. 

Has anyone actually tried this? It's P495 for the 60ml bottle (P695 for the 150ml one) so I wanna know if this works first before I go off and buy. But I really really really want this to work because this oil will simplify my beauty routine--and when you're pregnant, with a toddler, a business and a career, that's huge! Instead of scar remover for this, moisturizing lotion for that, anti-aging here and lightening there, I'll have everything in one golden bottle!

Palmer's Skin Therapy Oil is available at Rustan’s Department Stores: Makati, Shangri-la, Alabang Town Center, Robinson’s Place, Gateway Mall, Cebu and all major department stores and supermarkets nationwide, outside of Rustan’s.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

These shoes remind me of the happiest place on earth!

This post is brought to you by Adidas.

One of my happiest memories is when Vince's parents brought the entire family to Hong Kong Disneyland in November 2008, some time after my 32nd birthday and a few weeks after my mother died. I desperately needed cheering up and that trip was just the medicine.

Since then I associate my birthday and happiness with Disneyland. I totally fell in love with Disneyland. I told Vince I want to go to all the Disneylands in the world. In fact, when we applied for our US visa in 2009, I told the guy behind the window, "No, no real reason. I just want to see Disneyland." Ten-year visa approved!

Anyway, I've been meaning to go every year but I got pregnant November 2009, was a mom to a newborn in 2010 (and completely financially wiped out, too, because of my father's double amputations), and now... It's 2011, I'm turning 35--a milestone!--and I'm on bed rest because I'm pregnant again. Geez. At this rate, the next time I see Disneyland will be when I'm 40.

So when adidas sent me photos of their Mickey and Minnie shoe collection, a happy (and wistful) sigh escaped me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

All about the first 10 weeks of my second pregnancy

I'm 10 weeks pregnant today. Hooray! Now if only this pregnancy could be as stress-free as the first one!

Vince asked me some time ago why I wasn't as happy about this pregnancy as I had been the first time around. I assured him that I was waaaaay happier this time actually and refreshed his memory on how I was terrified when I was pregnant with Vito. This time, having been there and done that, there is no fear.

Until the sixth week came along. Just as I was about to announce the happy news all over the blogs and social media, the way I did with Vito, I started spotting. At first it was just a little blood but as the days passed, my undies became bloodier and bloodier. I Googled it and forums said bleeding is normal so I put off going to the OB since I didn't want to seem alarmist. That's okay with a first-time mom, not for a veteran, I thought. But on the seventh day of bleeding, I had to use a sanitary napkin. There was a disquiet in my heart and so we immediately went to my OB, who promptly scolded me.

"Bleeding is never normal in a pregnancy, " Dr. Rebecca Singson said. "At the first sign of blood, go to your doctor! This is a threatened abortion."

My heart sank. I underwent a TVS and it showed I had a subchorionic hemorrhage (read more about SCH here). The blood clot was as big as my baby. We had to reduce that clot to nothing so that it won't threaten the growing fetus. In some cases, the clot grows with the baby and compresses against it, leading to miscarriage. We didn't want a miscarriage. We wanted this baby!

What comforted Vince and me was that the scan also showed a little egg-shape with a strong heart. It looked like a lone caviar, black and round and clear, with a pulsing center. Beautiful! Nevertheless, we both decided to postpone announcing anything until the baby pulled through.

Well, that all changed when I was hospitalized last week for bleeding. I still wanted to keep it a secret but people from work were getting alarmed at my "sickness." I had to say something. So there. I announced the happy news! Except that the happiness is tainted by so much worry.

So now I have to take medication that costs us P10,000 a month. Then there's the regular ultrasound scans to monitor the SCH. Sometimes the scan shows the SCH has diminished; the last one showed the clot grew. Every visit to the doctor is emotionally harrowing. All these on top of the usual lab tests and prenatal vitamins. The financial cost is mounting. But we don't mind, we don't mind. If it's all going to lead to a healthy pregnancy then what's money? Besides, we have everything we need... except to be worry-free. We desperately need Wiggle to be okay.

This emergency ultrasound showed a little baby wiggling its butt!
So here we are, two weeks away from the end of the first trimester and still not out of the woods. It is so strange because here I am bursting beyond happiness while simultaneously stressed and afraid for my child's life. It's hard for me to blog because blogging is very personal so it doesn't distract me from my worries. Work has been a better distraction so even if I'm on bed rest, I've been working working working.

But it's impossible to forget that we're fighting for someone's life here. Sometimes I tell Wiggle, "You fight, anak. It's so nice out here. You've got the coolest parents in the world and the most amazing big brother. We'll give you an incredible life!" And I imagine that the little one wiggles in response, the way he/she did when we thought we'd lost him/her last week and then everything is all right again.

Everything will be all right.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Please report this Facebook profile

Today, I received an email from a very concerned reader, Amina, who told me that someone named Jamie Palanca is using my photos on her Facebook account and passing them off as her own.

Since I wasn't friends with this woman, I couldn't see her other photos but Amina told me that in the other photos, Ms. Palanca claimed Vito as her own, except that she named him Savannah Lauren. And as you can also see from her comment below, she also claimed Vince as her husband.
Talagang angkinin ang asawa't anak ko, ha!

I am not very upset. This is something unexpected, after all. That's one of the consequences of putting your life all over the Internet. I was telling my friend Jill that it's kinda funny, kinda creepy, kinda flattering (although why did she use that unflattering photo?!) but mostly very sad and pathetic. So, guys, don't worry. I'm cool!

My cousin Diana pointed out, however, that while it's great I'm not blowing my top over this, she said that Ms. Palanca is an online seller. If she happens to be an unscrupulous person (and she very well may be because if she can lie about this then she can lie about anything), then she might be running off with people's money. And then what if a swindled customer saw me or my family somewhere and gets angry and attacks us? Put that way, that is a very scary scenario.

Well, folks, please do me a HUGE favor and report this person. Kindly go to her Facebook page (click here) and, on the left side of the profile, somewhere under the profile pic, click on "Report/Block" and say this person is pretending to be me. Thank you!

P.S. Please don't post harsh words on her wall. I know some of you are very protective of me (thanks!). I think it's a very sad thing she had to do this so let's just wish she finds a great husband and make gorgeous babies and have a fabulous life so that she wouldn't need to pretend to be me!

P.P.S. I wouldn't have known about this if it weren't for Amina. Thank you! You know, despite this, I'm still very glad I blog because I have people all over the world who truly care for me and my family. I am very blessed!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The worst-kept secret in the world!

If you've been following me on Twitter and reading my strange status updates on Facebook, you might've guessed correctly what's been up with me lately. Or, if you're like some people who got alarmed, you'd think I'm dying.

I've been talking about certain foods not being allowed, gaining weight rapidly, feeling nauseated and tired, taking medication, visiting the doctor, and being told by said doctors to stay in bed and rest. A lot became very concerned when I said on Facebook that I just came from the hospital last Tuesday.

To a lot of people, this sounds like a dire medical condition. To a majority of women, all these sound mighty familiar because I just described what it feels like to be pregnant.

Yes, folks, I'm pregnant again. And we're so very excited!

I wanted to keep it a secret and then surprise you all with a big belly, a la Beyonce at the MTV VMAs but I was getting messages of concern from brand managers and advertising clients and I didn't want them to think I was sick! That's very bad for business (exhibit A: whenever Steve Jobs took a medical leave, Apple stocks went doooown).

So there. I'm pregnant! Let's all be happy! And pleeeeeeease pray for my little wee Wiggle!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vito goes shoe shopping!

Last weekend, Vince and I took Vito shoe shopping. My boy has big feet. He has already outgrown shoes meant for 18-month-old kids, and he's only 14 months!

So, dressed very casually in shirts and shorts (Vito donned his Future Azkal shirt from Mothering Earthlings, Mothercare shorts and now-too-tight Hubsche Ginoble shoes), off we went to Jump at High Street and was absolutely delighted to find a well edited selection of kids' shoes there.

Here I am with my new adidas Star Wars sneaks!
I'm also picking out new sandals for Mama.
Mama's gotten chubby! There's a big reason why! But I can't tell yet.
Mama and I always sit on the floor when we put on shoes.
And no, Mama never brushes her hair!
Testing these black Ipanemas. Very comfy!
Mama, Papa, buy these, too!
Okay, shopping's done. Let's go home now.
Papa, stop taking pictures!
Fine. I'm going to the car. You follow. Bye.

It's so uncanny how our son is just like us. Vince and I like shoes and style. The kid's barely out of infancy and already he's got an eye for cool shoes! I'm so proud!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vito weaned himself. Just like that.

I've been feeling down lately. Vito decided, on his own, to wean, and I'm feeling bereft. I wasn't ready. I was imagining, preparing, even anticipating all the stories of my fellow breastfeeding mommies who suffered sleepless nights, crying babies, and the anguish and drama of weaning. Instead, I had Vito who, around two weeks ago, just stopped nursing. No drama.

I've tried forcing him to nurse but that only resulted to either chuckles from him or a really annoyed baby and a painful bite. I am now expressing my milk and pouring that into his goat's milk formula. It's my way of thinking he's still getting lots of human milk goodness. But I can only express an ounce a day now so I feel that it isn't enough.

Why did he stop? Well... I really don't know. My husband and friends have theories and they all sound sound. I don't want to elaborate yet on the theories but pretty soon I will talk about the BIG REASON why I think Vito weaned on his own. But for now, I am in a bit of mourning because I really loved breastfeeding my baby boy and I miss it terribly.

P.S. I also noticed something really curious. Now that Vito's on formula, his breath changed. It's not exactly adult stinky but it's not as fresh anymore. When Vito was about to start on solids, my friends said, "As soon as he eats solid food, he'll get bad breath." Didn't happen! So they all said, "Well, wait till he starts eating meat!" Again, it didn't happen! But now on a diet with very little breast milk, his breath has finally lost its baby goodness!

So this is what they meant about breastfed babies smelling better, and not just the poop. The breath smells better too. Now I'm even sadder! I miss breastfeeding and I miss my super sweet-smelling baby!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vito's first black shoes. They go with everything!

Remember when I was looking for shoes to match Vito's Boston Celtics onesie?

Well, a kind reader sent Vito shoes! Ines Lovina Santiago, thank you! We love the Silly Souls shoes you gave Vito for his birthday. We even had a photo shoot!
Outfit post!
Another pose from the back
Front view. The laces and Velcro locks make this shoe impossible
to kick off! Little feet are safe!
Side view. Yes, you read that right. It says Boob Man. Because
breastfeeding Vito loves the boobie!
Bottom view. Thin soles make for a nearly barefoot experience--great for
developing feet. Red traction pads make walking secure. 
Action shot! As you can see, even running down an incline is no problem for my
super active one-year-old Vito!

Vito loves his Silly Souls Boob Man shoes. He wears them every day! They're supposed to be for 18 months and older but my nearly 14-month-old son has such big feet, he already fits into these shoes and soon enough, he'll outgrow them. I think it's time for me to buy more Silly Souls!

Silly Souls is available at all JUMP outlets and at Ines' In The Crib online shop.

UPDATE: To the ones who asked why Vito's hair grows so slow, these photos were taken in August, right after his birthday. It's October now. Vito's hair is currently 2 centimeters long.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It ain't all roses

This is just a rambling sort of post.

Yesterday, Hannah of Flair Candy saw me and Vince and our boy Vito. Now, Hannah is one of the country's power bloggers. I met her in October 2009 when we were part of Nuffnang Philippine's representatives to their first ever Blogger Awards held at Singapore. She asked me, almost three years married at the time, if I had any kids. I shuddered and said, "Nope, no plans on having kids ever!" One month later, I was pregnant.

So yesterday, when Hannah saw me with Vito, she teased me about that. Believe me, a lot of people have thrown my words to my face again and again over the last 19 months and I accept it all with good nature. But have my views on motherhood changed? Not at all.

What people don't know is I never wanted to be a mother not because I hate kids or because I think motherhood is overrated; I didn't want to be a mom because I think it's the hardest job in the world and I just don't think I'm qualified for it. Even now!

I told this to Mia Cruz, the editor of Smart Parenting, and she said, "That's great you think that way. A lot of people just enter into parenting thinking it's all cute and wonderful. It's really a lot of responsibility."

And now that I'm in the thick of it, it really is the hardest, most nerve-wracking, most tiring thing I've ever done. Of course it's also cute and wonderful and fun and incredibly joyful but let me tell ya, there are many days when I really miss the ten-hour sleep, the smoking, waking up at noon on weekends, the towering heels, the stylish clothes, the just-get-up-and-go-to-the-movies, the freedom. Actually, I don't need all that. I just want to sleep for ten hours straight again!

So do I regret becoming a mommy? Of course not. And that's no defensive chuva. I love being a mom, which is still a surprise to me. But I confess that I did spend the first five months of my pregnancy with Vito sad and scared. Well, to be completely honest, I was unhappy throughout the pregnancy. I wept in Vince's arms, wailing, "My life is over! My life is over!" Mommy friends and friends who were trying to have kids would scold me harshly or gently, depending on my mood, "Be grateful!" But I wasn't. I was terrified. It's hard to be grateful for something you never asked for.

Then Vito came and he's just such a joy. He's also such a handful. Every day, I thank God for giving me not what I wanted but what I needed. I certainly never thought motherhood was for me so thank goodness God's a whole lotta smarter than I am!

I'm still terrified, though. Parenting is never-ending vigilance, which is very very exhausting. So I still won't go around telling people, "Have babies! They're the best thing ever!" Yes, they sure are nice but, boy, taking care of them is not for the faint-hearted. Have kids when you're ready. What does ready mean? I don't exactly know but it sure has something to do with selflessness. Even now, I battle with my selfishness every moment! But that's what being a parent means and if you can give up yourself, then you can have kids!

Okay, rambling ended. Time to cuddle the baby! Happy weekend!