Thursday, August 30, 2012

My yaya bible

Well, you know I've had some yaya woes but finally, finally, finally, I think I've hired two women who are good.

A big chunk of my problem with my yayas before was I hired out of desperation. So when they turned out to be less than ideal, well, I really shouldn't blame anyone else but myself. I haven't lived with household help for over 20 years so I seriously did not know what to look for in yayas and how to manage them. This was a huge headache. As in iniiyakan ko ito. Ask Vince. He's been witness to my crying fits all because I have no idea how to make utos! He'd say, "Just manage them." And I'd sob, "I. Don't. Know. How!!!"

So thank goodness for Good Housekeeping's The Maid Manual. This is not a press release, a sponsored post, or a favor to my company. I picked up this book in desperation and read read read it. I even took down notes! See above photo!

The book details everything from how to hire yayas, what to look for and what to look out for, what questions to ask during the interview and what salary and benefits to give them. Then it told me what chores should be done (who knew light switches need a regular wiping down?) and how to schedule these chores. Then it lists down what to do if yayas want to ask for a loan, get sick, want to resign, fight each other, etc!

I also learned how to treat household help—I'm the employer, not the slave master, the mother, the bank or their friend. So keep it professional! This seemed like common sense but part of why I had a hard time managing them is I didn't know how to treat them. Since they lived in my house, I figured I'd be a mommy to them. You know, we're all one big family here. So I spoil my yayas. Bakasyon ng 5 days? Ok! Salary advance? Ok! Uwi sa Friday, balik sa Monday morning, every weekend, but buo ang sweldo? Ok! Hindi mo kaya bayaran ang utang mo? Ok! Gusto mo ng flatscreen TV, makeup, moisturizer at perfume? Ok!

Hindi joke yung TV.

Now, after reading The Maid Manual, I am not stupid anymore. By being armed with knowledge and a shift in attitude, my relationship with my help is professional and therefore simpler, easier, happier. Thank heavens! So to Good Housekeeping and Tisha Bautista, thanks!

P.S. Sa mga nawindang na namimigay ako ng TV, it was a 2-year-old TV I won sa raffle. We have a big TV sa living room and that small one sa bedroom. Yaya said hindi naman namin ginagamit yung TV sa kwarto so hiningi niya. Binigay ko. True story.

UPDATE: Just asked Summit Books. The Good Housekeeping's Maid Manual and Smart Parenting's Yaya Manual are available at National Bookstore and Fully Booked. You can also check out Summit Media's booth at the Manila Book Fair, Sept 12-16, at the SMX Center.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The blog post that didn't make it

I was looking at my drafts and saw this forgotten post. It was the post I was writing the night my contractions suddenly attacked. I wasn't able to finish writing it because it was time to go go go! 

Let me share it with you...

May 10, 2012
10 PM 
I'm 39 weeks pregnant! Came from Dr. Singson's clinic this afternoon and she said I was 2 cms. dilated and could give birth anytime tonight till Sunday! She even felt Wiggle's head. He's coming out! We're sooo excited! 
I don't feel any contractions yet, however. So let's all keep calm now haha. Then again, with Vito, I was already 3-4cms dilated and contracting according to the fetal monitor thingie. The nurses kept asking me if I'm in pain, "Most moms are hyperventilating at 4cm." And I kept telling them, "Nope, I don't feel anything." 
I am suddenly not ready. I still have some house repairs, meetings, magazine editing, errands... So after impatiently telling Wiggle to come out, now I'm like, "Wait!!!" But he will come out when he wants to! 
The only thing making me sad is I'll be separated from my darling Vito when I'm at the hospital. The longest we've been apart is maybe 6 hours and I've never spent a night away from home since he was born. So I'm feeling very melancholy. Still excited, of course, but sad, too. I'm going to miss my little boy!

Oh, that was such a bittersweet weekend. I was deliriously happy that I gave birth to another perfectly adorable boy and yet I was terribly sad that my other perfectly adorable boy wasn't with me.

Because I didn't want Vito to feel like his parents disappeared, I asked Vince to go home every evening while I was at the hospital. So it was just Iñigo and me at night. I would coo at Iñigo one minute then cry for Vito the next!

That for me was the most painful part of this second childbirth. This was physically more painful than my first, which was weird, but emotionally, I was a wreck. I missed my Vito and Vince so much! I'll try really hard to never sleep a night away from my boys from now on!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Toy Expo!!!

I wish Toy Kingdom's first ever Toy Expo happened before Vito's birthday. We really truly literally spent a LOT at Toy Kingdom in the first two weeks of August buying everything Cars. Then when Vince and I checked out the Toy Expo last Thursday, we were blown away by the Cars merchandise!!!

Of course, since there's Cars, that means there's a lot of Disney stuff. Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh... You name it, they had it! Nickelodeon was also there. And Transformers and Marvel and Ben 10 and so much more!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Vito's 2nd birthday party! Part 3: The birthday party!

And here we are! The party for Vito's 2nd birthday! It's so chaotic! So let me tell you all about that happy crazy day with just photos...
Birthday boy approves the silly highway I made for his party!
And that's all a tired mommy needs to know!
First guest! Pretty little Sjofn with her gift—a big box of Mega Bloks! 
Vito is a generous kid. He shares his beloved toy cars with Sjofn.
Next to arrive are Cathee with her adorable kids, Masha,
Nikolai and wee little Ivan!
This is the very articulate Sophia. Her mommy Earl couldn't go.
This is from Tita Claire and Alfonso. It's a Human Nature grooming set for kids!
Vito's playmates and their pretty mommies! 
As with the first birthday, we ordered our menu (spinach lasagna,
mac and cheese, chicken fingers) from Almost Gourmet.
The guests, big and small, loved the food!
Super cutie Nikolai tries on Vito's Cars Champion cap. Check out his cool Spidey shoes!
Nikolai and Masha try out Vito's car.
Alfonso's turn!
Sophia next! Justin gives her a push.
Sjofn with Mack and Vito with a deflated balloon 
Vito's eyes went very big and his smile went very wide when he saw this huge
McQueen cake from Goldilocks! It's chocolate sponge cake. 
Blow out the candle!
But Vito is mesmerized by the huge toy car on top of his cake.
So this time, Mama had to help with blowing out the candle. 
This is a huge cake. After serving everyone and giving platefuls of cake to the guards,
we still have a lot leftover!
Vito makes faces at the mirror, to Tita Paola's amusement.
Frazzled but happy mommy! Super conked-out baby brother.
Family photo! Maybe we should've had this taken before the party haha!

"Whew! Boy, what a big day I've had!" 

Happy birthday, dearest Vito! We're so glad you had fun with the people you love, even if you screamed at each other and grabbed toys from each other and basically spent the afternoon running around like crazy. We love that you enjoyed yourself, we love that you have friends, we love that you're a wonderful, sweet, generous, funny and happy little boy. We wish you joy, peace, good health, protection, and an abundant life!

Vito's 2nd Birthday Party! Part 2: The party preps

Now that Vito's celebrated his mini-party, time for Mama and Papa to prepare for the big party. And by big party, I mean his party for his 6 mini-friends. Yes, we think 6 guests is a LOT. We can't imagine those kiddie parties that have hundreds of guests!

So last year, I handmade the invitations. Now that I have an infant and a toddler, I can't be a domestic goddess anymore. Plus, it's kinda hard to draw Lightning McQueen! Here are the invitations we got from Toy Kingdom:
Vito loves Lightning's grin. I love the reds. It's a happy invitation!
My added touch is coloring in the word "FRIENDS".  
There's a lot of party giveaways at the store but these were the only age-appropriate ones for Vito's guests.
I put the giveaways in brown paper bags and personalized each!

I must confess that while I love how easy party planning and decorating is with the stuff we found at Toy Kingdom, I did long for making the party more personal, the way I did with his first birthday party. So the night before the Cars-themed party, I decided—on a whim!—to make a center piece for the table. Don't think it's a big deal! It's actually kinda crappy haha. I just suddenly decided on it and made do with whatever materials I found in the house.

But first! Here's what inspired me to take on this little crafts project:

I was singing it, thought of Vito's birthday, that it's such an apt song for the passages of life and before I knew it, I was rummaging in the crafts box! This took just 20 minutes. Really easy, really for the lazy mommy! I used the BlackBerry to take photos because I was too lazy to take the five steps to my writing desk and get the camera!
I reused the extra gray felt paper that I used for the Totoro invitations from last year's party.
I cut little strips of masking tape to make the broken lines in the center of roads.
Measuring tape is a crafty mommy's best friend! 
One side done!
Here's what it looked like!

Voila! Well, I glued the highway to a piece of heavy white paper to ground it. Then I taped the highway to the center of the table. It looked really cute!

But! But! But! It was a major FAIL! Seriously. What was I thinking?! You put toy cars on a table and what will a roomful of little boys do? Climb the table and get the cars!!!

Next post: The gifts from Papa and Mama! Oops, Vince says I shouldn't post about the many gifts we gave our boy so let's go straight to the party!

Vito's 2nd Birthday Party! Part 1: The birthday day

Boy, what a week last week was! My dearest firstborn turned 2 years old on August 13, Monday, but his party was going to be on Friday the 17th. So Vince said we should have a weeklong celebration, and, boy oh boy, was it a celebration!

This post will be all about Monday, Vito's birthday.

We just had a teensy weensy party. Just Vito, Papa Vince and Mama F. Oh, and Yaya Juliet, of course! The night before, we decorated the house with pennants and a birthday banner.
I Tweeted this the night before his birthday. Mega Cars party for our Vito!
Vince happily put up the pennants. These made the house look so festive!

When Vito woke up at 5am, oh how he danced and jumped when he saw the house festooned with his favorite Cars!

Then we brought out our little chocolate truffle cake from Mary Grace Cafe. Vito's expression was priceless. He looked extremely pleased and surprised! He loves loves loves the birthday song!

He was so thrilled that he was able to blow out the candle that we did it again!

Funny silly boy! He was soooo happy. Then Papa Vince took out the first gift (yep, first gift. We gave Vito a gift for five straight days!). A drum! This is a really cute drum. And I love how big the drumsticks are. Except that Vito and I use them as pretend microphones and interview each other haha.

And that's the first part! Haha I just noticed that Vito wasn't dressed for the occasion. This was really just a small private party. It's a good thing mixing prints is a trend!

Next post: The party preps!