Friday, March 30, 2012

My dream bedroom for my growing family

I'm lucky enough to live in an old condo. By old, I mean it was built in the '90s. That means it's quite roomy--spacious hallways, big rooms, big kitchen. I love it! Right now, however, it's starting to feel really cramped because we have a little boy lording it over our 2-bedroom and 2-bathroom home. In just 6 weeks, it'll be two little boys!

So a few months ago, Vince and I went house hunting with Vito. We saw a few townhouses that looked great but they just didn't offer the convenience of our current apartment, which is really 5-10 minutes from everything. That's a huge plus for me--even though I'm a full-time working mom, I can always just pop in and see my family anytime throughout the day so I feel like a housewife, too! Best of both worlds really.

The most practical solution is to stay where we are now and maybe move when the boys start going to school. Since that's years from now, we'll just keep our second bedroom the way it is (playroom and Vince's study) and convert our master's bedroom into a family-friendly space that everyone--boys and one gorgeous girl haha--will enjoy!

That's why I joined the Ethan Allen design challenge. All I had to do was design a room around an Ethan Allen piece and, if the judges like what I did, I get to bring home a beautiful bed!

I've talked about the whole contest here and here. And here are a few more behind-the-scenes photos:
Fixing the hood of the Moses basket Wiggle will sleep in.
I brought my own steamer so I can steam out the creases.
Yes, kinareer ko talaga siya! So sana ako manalo!
Vince framed B&W photos he took of Vito.
I brought white flowers (yes, they're real!) to breathe life into the space.
And here's the final room! I think it looks amazing! It still looks like a master's bedroom but there are spaces that are clearly devoted to our babies and to relaxation. I love how everything here--except the major pieces--are really my things. The books, the vases, the sheets and pillows, the photos, the boxes, the rocking horse, the cradle. It already looks like home!

Sigh. So pretty! I'd like to thank my talented husband Vince for this room's design actually. I'm really not a home person. I'm glad I live in a beautiful home but it's really Vince who likes going to furniture shops, watching home design shows and doing the decorating and the cleaning. I just really live in his house!

And while everyone tells us a pretty home isn't a good idea when you have small kids, we're glad to report that in our case, that's not true. My son, at just 19 months old, is so used to living in a nice place that he appreciates nice things! He loves being in beautifully decorated spaces. He loves sheets with high thread count. He loves lolling about our new sofa from Denmark (yes, we waited three months for it to arrive on local shores!). We really believe we have to expose our kids to beautiful things so that their taste is molded early on. So yes, this bedroom is a great room for a family with small kids!

Anyway, voting ends today! So if you haven't voted for my room yet, kindly go to Ethan Allen's Facebook page and LIKE my room. Thanks! I'll know on Monday if I got that bed. Wish me luck!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finally nesting

I didn't feel any nesting when I was pregnant the first time around. Then, at about two weeks before I gave birth, I finally got a yaya, got her room ready, prepared my hospital bag, and went out and bought a crib. That wasn't nesting, though--that was suddenly realizing that the show was about to start and I can't dilly-dally any longer.

With Wiggle, I thought I'd feel the same way, especially since there's nothing to prepare really since we already have Vito's things. It was actually Vince who was nesting--he really wants a carpenter to fix up the house, have a professional wash all the curtains, etc. I took note of all his wishes and promised him I will get to it as soon as I am up to it. See? No nesting at all.

But surprise, surprise! This week, I finally felt it. Actually, I felt its full force hit me, because in hindsight, it's been creeping up on me all along. I think it began in late January, with the Moses basket, which I bought a few days after I wrote that post. Then I suddenly started selling and giving away things around February because I wanted to (1) make space for the new arrival and (2) make money for the inevitable costs a new baby comes with. Then this month, when Ethan Allen had its design contest and I saw a chance to have my dream bedroom setup for my family, I joined.

This week was when the withdrawal emotions hit. If you have a pet mommy cat or mommy dog (or watch Nat Geo at least), you'd know what I mean. You know how when an animal is about to give birth, it goes into hiding? Well, that's how I'm feeling now--I want to stop all forms of communication with the outside world, hide in the bedroom and wait in silence. It's driving me crazy because of course I still have magazine work, blogging responsibilities and other societal obligations!

Not just that, sometimes, I even feel like hiding away from Vito! I just want to be alone with Wiggle and prepare for his arrival. I just want everything to be utterly quiet for my little baby. And since that is completely impossible, I'm going nuts. I am dreading post-partum depression because, having gone through it before, I recognize it with alarm. I am already feeling its cold, sad fingers, yes even now when I haven't even given birth yet.      

I do feel joy and anticipation for Wiggle. In fact, I can't stand the excitement! I want to see him and hold him! But I also feel sadness that I can't welcome him the way I want to--quietly, secretly. I think I feel this way because Wiggle's life started so precariously. I bled so much, until the fourth month. I never knew if he was going to stick around or go. This pregnancy was emotionally draining. Plus, there's stress from everywhere! I feel like my baby is threatened by all these outside stresses. And I guess that's what makes me so protective of Wiggle.

Protective or not, I know I won't be able to have the secret birth I want anyway. I am already dreading the fanfare, the pressures of social media announcements, the obligations of a religion I am not a member of. As the due date approaches, I get more excited. I also get sadder because I know I can't escape the inevitable. I just can't. People won't understand.

Did anyone else feel this way? Did you want to have a quiet birth and savor your sweetheart and keep him all to yourself? Or does every expectant mother in the world want to throw a huge party as soon as they pop out the baby?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And the winner of the Belly Buds is...

Cherry Tan!

Hatch & Latch wanted the selection of the winner to be completely random so I turned to Randomizer and this is what it said:

Lucky #7 is Cherry and she will soon receive her very own set of Belly Buds!

Congratulations, Cherry! Send me a message over at my blog's Facebook page so we can talk about how Hatch & Latch can send your prize.

Now for those of you mommies who didn't win, don't worry! I have another giveaway this weekend! Didn't I tell you I have so many goodies in store for you and your kids? I think I'm finally on my way to becoming the Oprah of blogging!!!

*While there are 41 comments, I input 40 as the data since there was one mommy who entered her name twice. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

There went our weekend plans

We had many plans for this weekend. Go visit the zoo, attend an open house of a preschool, check out a couple of food fairs. But if there's one thing parenthood has taught me is you can make many plans but something is bound to happen that will upset everything. This weekend, Vito suffered his first fever ever. And our world tumbled over.

Vito's always been a strong and healthy boy, beating colds and infections like they were nothing. The worst that ever happened to him was that stomach trouble a few weeks ago. But even though he was sick then, he still played like he wasn't. Yesterday, Vito did nothing but cling to me. We were very alarmed.

Our pedia, Dr. Cricket Chen, wasn't so alarmed so that was a comfort. She advised homeopathic medicines and paracetamol. Vito gobbled up a couple of the homeopathic gummy bears and cried when we gave him the Biogesic orange-flavored drops (which he actually liked, he just won't admit it). All sorts of horrors threatened our imagination--dengue being the worst--but this morning, Vito woke up bright and early and back to his silly and funny and demanding and tantrum-y self. It's like the fever never happened. Like I said, Vito's always been a strong and healthy boy.

Vince and I are limp with relief. And gratitude. Funny how parenting makes us so damn proud (just look at our boy!) and then an illness will bring us to our knees just like that. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world has ever made us feel more powerful and just as helpless as our children have made us feel (yes, Wiggle's dramatic first few months in my womb was no walk in the park).

It's been a very emotional weekend, exhausting. I did anticipate we'd have an exhausting weekend, but it was supposed to be a happy one. Well, it did end up a happy weekend after all. As long as Vito's okay, then it's a happy day!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

32 weeks pregnant!

Hello! Hello! My goodness, I may not have been blogging but I have been so very busy with this mommy blog. I've been getting so many requests from mompreneurs to sponsor giveaways and to post product features that I've been answering emails all the time and completely forgetting to blog. I thought that if I did a giveaway every 2 weeks, it would make my readers happy, but now I'm thinking this might be backfiring on me. Why? This blog is beginning to look like a contest/promo blog and not a mommy blog!

Oh, I just want to give back to my readers, ya know? So many of you are so kind to me and my family. Especially when I was still pregnant with Vito--I was getting gifts practically every week from strangers! I'm still getting gifts now from my readers and I'm really moved by your love for my family. Thank you!

Well, I'll just give you an update of my pregnancy. I'm 32 weeks tomorrow, Friday. I'm 137 lbs. These are my most recent photos, taken by my blurry Blackberry camera, but I was 30 weeks pregnant here:
This was from our staff shoot.
Loving my Kate Middleton waves!
Here's a photo of when I was 33 weeks pregnant with Vito:
I was reading that 33-weeks-pregnant post and found it both sad and funny that I had all these plans to go to the derma for my face, beauty center for laser and whitening treatments, and the gym to get trim again. Well, as soon as Vito popped out, I just had no time. And even if I did, I'd rather adore him!

So with Wiggle, I do have plans to beautify after I give birth but I also think that a toddler and a newborn will keep me very very busy! So if I start posting photos after May, then June, July to December of myself looking terrible, you know why!

I know I haven't really talked about my second pregnancy. I've been hoping to be more sharing but I still find myself wanting to keep Wiggle all to myself. But here's a little bit about my second boy:

  • His 4D ultrasound showed that he's just as adorable as Vito (they look alike!) but his face is sweeter, his lips fuller. 
  • He's still quite the wiggly baby but he's not as strong a kicker as Vito had been in my tummy. Wiggle moves in gentle waves. Vince calls Wiggle a mellow baby.
  • Wiggle likes to settle on the left side of my tummy so I always lie down on my left. But when he's active, he likes to "attack" my right side, just under the ribs. 
  • We already have a name for him but, as with Vito, we want to meet him first and see if the name fits.

One more thing, my arms are aching to hold my Wiggle! When I see infants or hear a crying baby, my arms tingle. Is that weird? So I just wrap my arms around my belly and tell my little boy that Mama and Papa can't wait to see him and hug him and kiss him and love him.

Well, eight more weeks! We can't wait!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Belly Buds for you, pregnant mama! (Oh, yes, it's another giveaway!)

This post is brought to you by Belly Buds from Hatch & Latch.


I am super loving the lovely nursing tops (hooray for fashionable breastfeeding!) and a fantastic multi-way dress I recently got from Hatch & Latch, a fab online shop for mommies and babies. But I'll talk about the clothes in another post. Today, I'll tell you all about how Hatch & Latch wants to give one lucky Topaz Mommy reader a Belly Buds unit!
What is Belly Buds? It's a set of speakers made especially for your growing baby while he's still in your womb. You attach the specially designed speakers to your tummy and play music for your baby or play pre-recorded messages from your hubby or the grandparents so that your baby gets familiarized with your loved ones' voices even before he's born.

Turn, baby, turn!
When I was pregnant with Vito, and even now with Wiggle, I didn't play any music to my preggy belly. Mostly because I'm not a fan of ambient music really, unless I'm alone. You see, I kinda have a hard time hearing things so if I'm talking with someone, I can't have music playing. So I only have music on when I'm alone. And I'm never alone apparently!

However, when I was about 8 months pregnant with Vito and he was still in a breech position, someone suggested I play music down there--ya know, near the opening!--so that Vito's head will follow the music. So I got the iPad or my phone, placed it somewhere between my legs and played music. Sure enough, Vito turned! So that's another use for the Belly Buds and without the inconvenience of having a gadget between your legs! If your baby is still in a breech position, just stick the speaker pads onto your lower abdomen and press play.

Long-distance love from Papa 
With both my pregnancies, I had the benefit of having Vince close by at nearly all times (I'm never alone, remember?). He'd talk to my burgeoning belly. Vito always responded to Vince's voice. If Vito, back then known as Jelly Bean, hadn't moved in hours, all we need to do is get Vince talking to my tummy and Jelly Bean would start kicking like crazy! Now that he's out and about, Vito's very close to his Papa.

So I feel for those mommies whose hubbies are OFWs or seamen or work a shift that takes them from their wives' side. But that's where Belly Buds come in. Belly Buds has a free online recording service called VoiceShare--just let your husband record himself talking to your baby, singing lullabies, telling your baby all about his job and why he's far away but that he loves both of you super duper. Then play that precious recording to your tummy! What a gift!

Smile for the 4D, baby!
Some ultrasound clinics I've visited before use bells to "wake up" a baby that they're scanning. That actually annoyed me when I was having my scans done. It was so noisy! And I was thinking, "You're making that baby unhappy with that abominable racket!" But the technicians and nurses tell me the noise works--the baby does turn towards the sound. Interesting.

Well, I wish I had Belly Buds whenever we had Wiggle scanned! With Vito, well, he always seemed to sense where the camera is (if you've been reading my blog long enough, this won't surprise you) so his prenatal scans were never a problem. But Wiggle, oh Wiggle! I mentioned on this blog somewhere that Wiggle seems to not want publicity, right? Well, whenever we went for an ultrasound, he always turned away. His 4D last month was quite frustrating since he kept turning his back on us. But after almost an hour, he finally did give us a glimpse and we saw a baby that looked just like Vito! Imagine if we had Belly Buds!

You can also record your own voice--maybe reading stories or singing lullabies--so that you can let your little one listen to you even while you're napping. If Lolo and Lola are far away, get them to tell stories, too. There are a lot of uses for these little speakers and if you're preggy just like me, here's your chance to win your very own set of Belly Buds!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The winner of the baby footwear prize from Mothering Earthlings is...


She won a pair of Tip Tap baby shoes and a set of Funky Feet Not Quite Shoes socks from the really fab mommy-and-baby online shop Mothering Earthlings!

Remie, congratulations! You have a little shoe-a-holic because your baby's not even born yet and you already bought goodies for its footsies! So Rone of Mothering Earthlings and I decided that you have to win the prize. Email me within the week, okay?

To the other mommies who joined, wow, you are shoe-a-holics extraordinaire, too! Thank you for relieving me of my guilt whenever we buy expensive shoes for Vito! Anyway, I still have another contest to announce tomorrow (wow, one after the other!) so try your luck again. For me, I really enjoy it when you share your lives with me via the comments section. So please keep joining, commenting and visiting Topaz Mommy!

Meanwhile, here's a great guide from about choosing shoes for toddlers (click! click!). I think we're a little heartbroken that hand-me-down shoes are a big no-no. We always used that reason to splurge on Vito's shoes--ya know, little Wiggle can use them next--but Vito wears his shoes so much and so often that we kinda knew they're not fit to be given to anyone after!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Inglesina Stroller mega-sale!

Just a public service announcement for all the parents who are looking for strollers: Mothercare is having a huge sale on their Italian-made Inglesina strollers!!!

Here's a quick summary of each type to help you pick:
The Swift...

  • is lightweight at 13 lbs.
  • locks automatically into a small and compact package for easy storage and transport
  • comes with easy-to-use umbrella-like folding system
  • is well padded with leg support for your child

The Trip...

  • is lightweight at only 5.9 kg
  • has the umbrella-like folding system
  • has these premium features: bumper bar, rear wheel suspension, 4-position backrest and adjustable foot rest
  • comes with extended canopy and rain cover--ready for any weather changes!

The Twin...

  • is for those with twins! 
  • is also for those with kids quite close in age so the little ones can chat and keep each other company while strolling!

(So maybe this is what I should get? My boys will only be 21 months apart! Will think about it.)
The Zippy...
  • features the umbrella-folding system that closes in a snap using just one hand.
  • is just 40 in. high so it doesn't take up much space in the trunk of your car or the overhead storage bin in a plane.
  • is super comfortable with rich padding

Mothercare's Summer Stroller Sale is just in time for... summer! The Inglesina strollers are perfect for those families with very young children and yet won't let that stop them from traveling. Yes, it's stopped me! I have a toddler and he never took to strollers (but maybe that's because his stroller was a 10-year-old hand-me-down?) so when we went abroad last year--without a stroller--we had such a difficult time! I swore I'd never do that again! It's just insanity to lug along bags, suitcases and baby!!!

But now, after seeing the huge discounts and also feeling the urge to get out of town and hit the beach, well, I just might visit Mothercare and check out their Inglesina strollers!

Mothercare branches are in Greenbelt 5, Shangri-la Plaza, Robinsons Galleria, Trinoma and SM Masinag. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Because Mama took away the makeup brushes

Vito is still not over his strange habit of cleaning his cars. And since I rescued my brushes from him (but I still think I need to buy new brushes), he's resorted to his hairbrush:

That's a baby brush from The Body Shop. Because Vito's hair is so fine (like mine!), we still use it on him. All of his playmates have thick lush hair. My darling baby boy has been blessed with every amazing gift--except hair!

P.S. What's the best makeup brush? How many do I need anyway?

P.P.S. Don't forget to join my fabulous baby footwear giveaway!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Handling a toddler's tantrums

Vito's only 18 months old but his Terrible Twos stage started early--maybe at 15 months. We're not surprised, Vince and I. We both have spectacular tempers, volatile and fearsome when unleashed, so to see it in our little boy is not so shocking. In fact, it's a bit easier to handle because I put myself in Vito's shoes and respond to him the way I want to be treated when I'm furious. And how is that? With absolute calm and patience.

Still, I am always on guard when Vito is in full tantrum mode, knowing that I can never allow myself to become angry, too. You see, I come from a family that has anger management issues and some family members are quick to use their hands and fists at the slightest provocation. I still remember my Mama saying ominously, "Stop crying or I'll really give you a reason to cry." To my recollection, she always just issued that threat, never truly carried it out, but I speak for myself and not for my siblings. Well, Mama changed when she became a Born-Again Christian, so I'm glad that conversion of faith happened. And, for the record, my Papa has always been a kind and gentle man. Sadly, for other members of my family, no amount of studying the Bible or attending church changed their abusive ways.

So with that family background, I am very wary of my temper. I've actually changed, too. I think age and happiness have a lot to do with it. When people say, "Look at how you took to motherhood. You should've done this when you were younger!", I disagree. I think that if I had gotten pregnant in my 20s, I think I'd have made a horrible mom. Not that I'm saying young moms are horrible--I'm just talking about me. The younger me wasn't really a nice person. She had a lot of issues.

Now that I'm a mommy to a little boy who's very much like Vince and me, I'm very very patient with him, very self-aware. I give myself (not him!) time outs, meaning if he's screaming his head off, I put him down on the floor and breathe in and out calmly. I try to remember that when I'm very upset, it's because
a) I'm not getting my way
b) no one understands me,
c) I'm tired and frustrated or
d) I'm unhappy.

Because of those self-realizations, I know that it's extremely frustrating for Vito to not get what he wants, to have such limited vocabulary and to be unable to express himself and his needs fully. I'm an adult so I can stand back and understand him as another person. I'm also his mother so I can empathize and stretch the limits of my patience and understanding because I want him to be happy.

So the things that help me handle my toddler's tantrums are:
1. Mommy timeouts
2. Putting myself in his shoes
3. Reminding myself that I'm his mother

Oh, and there's one more thing that helps: prayer. Prayer helps big time. I'm no saint and sometimes even with that list up there, I can feel my patience running dangerously thin. Sometimes, it does snap. I haven't done anything I'd have regretted but I've felt things that I wish I didn't. So I pray, pray, pray. I start praying when Vito starts his tantrums. And I've found that just saying, "Lord, please help me!" is enough to calm my frazzled nerves.

I believe God really does help. After all, with all the sins I've committed against Him, He's had a lot of practice being patient with me. I believe He pours on me His parental patience and that's what keeps me sane with Vito!

P.S. Vito's not having a tantrum in that photo, by the way! He's just being lazy after playing with his toy car. But, yup, that's what he looks like when he's throwing a fit!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Topaz Mommy's baby footwear promo: Win Tip Tap Soft Soles + a set of Funky Feet Not Quite Shoes from Mothering Earthlings!


One of my mommy friends is the gorgeous and smart, entrepreneurial and fabulous Rone, who calls her kids earthlings. She has this wonderful mommy+baby online shop called Mothering Earthlings. That's where I got Vito's Tushy Wushy cloth diapers, No Paparazzi tee (full cute outfit here!) and Future Azkal shirt.

The good news: Mothering Earthlings will give away a pair of Tip Tap Soft Soles baby shoes plus a set of Funky Feet Not Quite Shoes socks! *exact designs will depend on the gender of the winner's child
Tip Tap Soft Soles

Funky Feet socks

All you have to do is leave a comment below answering this question:
Just how Imeldific is your earthling?

Rone answers: "I’m Imeldific. I don’t deny it.  I have around 50 pairs of shoes.  When the earthlings were little I went crazy with the cool little sneakers and soft sole shoes for babies. Time to ‘fess up and admit your earthlings most Imeldific moment.  A ridiculous amount of shoes for a person that can’t even walk? Crazy designer shoes for drooling baby more interested in eating them? Boots in the tropics?"

Well, my own Vito owns a few pairs of cool shoes himself! Everyone rolls their eyes and says, "He'll only use them for a month and then his feet will grow!" Well, they don't know that my son has a very active social life. He's out twice a day, every single day visiting his friends. And of course he has to wear shoes! And not just any shoes. 

My son likes to go shoe shopping and that kid's just like his Papa Vince--he likes expensive footwear! Like adidas, Hubsche and Ginoble, Salt Water Sandals, Ipanema, and his absolute favorite: his yellow corduroy TOMS.

So, dear Topaz Mommy readers:
How much do you spend on baby shoes? 
How many pairs does your baby own? 
What's the most expensive, most ridiculous baby footwear your baby has? 

Leave your answer in the comments section. Rone and I will pick the five most Imeldific answers and then we'll pick the winner from that batch! Contest will run from now till March 16. Why March 16? Well, I'll be 8 months pregnant that day. That's all really! Good luck, mommies!

P.S. Don't forget!

UPDATE: The entries are coming in! So fun to read them, too! But I decided I'm not going to publish the comments until March 16 para walang pataasan ng ihi ehehehe. I guess I shoulda asked for photos pala para I have proof that your babies are shoe collectors! But it's okay. I believe you, mommies. All I can say, after reading the first comments, I shouldn't feel guilty about buying Vito his pricey shoes kasi mas grabe pala kayo mag-shopping!!! Love it!