Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Birthday thoughts

I'll be 36 years old in 8 days!

I have a great marriage, two beautiful children, a lovely home, a passion in writing that actually pays the bills (despite what everyone told me!). My life is amazing.

But... this year hasn't been easy. I had a very delicate pregnancy. I bled often, up until the fourth month. It came to a point where I emotionally distanced myself from Wiggle so that if I lost the baby, I wouldn't feel so bad.

Then my bag business was a huge source of stress. Maybe that contributed to the constant bleeding, I don't know, but killing the bag business was the right decision. Work hasn't been easy either. I won't talk about my job but wow... All I can say is it's been really tough this year.

At home, well, Vito's first yaya left us due to a family emergency. I was still bleeding and on bed rest that time but because of the sudden yaya departure, I had to get up and take care of Vito. Thank goodness that Baby Wiggle wasn't harmed even though I went against doctor's orders. We got a yaya three weeks later but she turned out to be a major pain in the ass and then a monster. We fired her and hired new yayas a few weeks later. But we had to let go of them, too, because their medical tests showed they both had TB. It took us another few weeks (and by this time, I had already given birth to Iñigo!) to find a new yaya.

All those times we didn't have household help, Vince and I were exhausted to tears. I remember this one time when I had to chase after Vito to wash his butt because he pooped and he was so quick and I was so pregnant and I just couldn't take it anymore. I sat down on the floor and just sobbed. It wasn't just Vito that upset me—it was my life. I was really in a dark place early this year and I soldiered bravely on, but that day, with my uncooperative Vito, I had to just let it all out. I was so overwhelmed. I felt that my life seemed to be crashing around me.

I think I bawled for 5 minutes straight. I was so tired and upset. Vito, then just 17 months old, slowly approached me and after staring at me, hugged me then took my hand and led me to the bathroom where he lifted up his shirt and pointed to his butt, all with a big smile on his face. And a ray of light shone through my fog of misery!

This year had been extremely difficult. I don't really talk about it on my blogs but I'm sure you have an idea since I did mention my troubles now and then. This year had been a big mess for me emotionally and I realize now that it's because God was forcing me to set my house in order. I've made some big decisions as a result. Huge decisions! Can't talk about them yet but I will, I will. Soon!

For now, all I can say is my 35th year was stunning in its triumphs and tribulations. I think my 36th year will be much better. Waaaaaay better. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Krim tragedy: No judging please, just love and prayers

The murder of two little kids, 6-year-old Lucia Krim and 2-year-old Leo Krim, by their nanny is every parent's nightmare. It's been haunting me all weekend. The New York Times story on it is heartbreaking. The mom, Marina, is a blogger, too, and she describes the bliss of caring for her three beautiful kids. The blog was also used by NYT as a source of quotes, one of which was a sweet ode to little Leo, just a month younger than my own Vito.

When I read the part where neighbors saw Marina with "a towel over her head, clinging to her one surviving child, being escorted by police to a waiting ambulance..." and that earlier "'She was screaming... She was not lucid,'" I cried. I think I would go insane if I ever... I can't even say it. But I knew she clung to her surviving child, not only because she had only one child left; she clung to her because if she didn't, she would lose her mind.

Unlike Marina, I'm a working mom. I hire yayas to help with the care of Vito and Iñigo. And you all know I've had my horror story early this year with Vito's Yaya Grace, a horror story that pales in comparison to what the Krims are going through. After Grace, I've been very careful with the hiring process but I still have fears so here's what I've done:

1. I hired two yayas. In truth, we don't need two yayas. Vince works from home. I work across the street and I shuttle back and forth every couple of hours. But I like to have a lot of people caring for my kids. Because caring for kids is not a joke. It is tough. It is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. There should always be a reliever, in case someone loses their patience.

2. Even I don't like to be left alone with my kids. For one thing, I'm sickly and clumsy. What if I trip and hit my head and die? What if I get a bad asthma attack? Same goes for my yayas. I always want at least two adults with the kids at all times.

3. I am very kind to my help. And I ask Vito to be kind to them and I ask them to be patient with my children. Even then, whenever Vince and I are home—which is often—we take over the childcare and just ask the yayas to clean the house, nap, go shopping.

It is my hope that all of the above will protect my kids from harm. But the Krims were good to their nanny, too. Marina gave up her career so she can be a stay-at-home mom and care for her kids herself. She only hired the nanny when Leo, her youngest, was born. And even though she had the nanny, she was still hands-on, always with the kids. Except for that one tragic afternoon when she left Lucia and Leo with the nanny to attend to her third child, 3-year-old Nessie.

While this tragedy has stunned everyone, some parents have used this to further their agenda.

There's a lot of that on the comment sections of every story on this tragedy. That one above is from People. Marina (or someone in her family) shut down her blog because it was getting lots of hate in the comments, blaming her for leaving her kids to a nanny.

Shame on every person who self-righteously turns up their noses and says, "That's why I gave up my career because I can never think of leaving my kids with a stranger!" I heard that all the time when I told people about Yaya Grace. Really. Thanks so much for the judgment. You really all helped a lot.

Well, guess what, statistics show that more children are abused and killed by their own parents and relatives than by nannies and strangers. Let me say that again: Statistics show that parents are more dangerous to their own kids than strangers. So to all the people out there who think career women are bad mothers, just stop. Marina Krim is a stay-at-home mom, a housewife. She loves her children, she gave up everything for them, and this still happened.

We don't need to understand what happened. We don't have to use this tragedy to assure ourselves that we made the right choices or to make others feel guilty about theirs. We can do all we can to protect our kids and things like this will still happen.

I'm trying not to let the Krim child murders make me suspicious of my own yayas. That's not the correct response. I did discuss it with them. I asked them to always be open and honest with us, to ask for help if they need it, to knock on our neighbors' doors if they feel overwhelmed and we're not home to relieve them. And then there's really nothing left to do but to pray ever so hard for our kids' safety and protection. Let me share again with you my prayer of protection:
Dear Father in heaven, I know You love my children more than I ever could. And so I know You will grant this prayer. Please keep Vito and Iñigo safe from harm. Protect them from accidents. Protect them from themselves, from others who may harm them, protect them even from us, their parents, if we should be impatient and angry. Keep their bodies strong so that no sickness will afflict them. Cover them in the blood of Your Son, Jesus, so that they will be invisible to evil. Let Your angels watch over them. And may they always feel Your presence and goodness so that even when Vince and I are not around, they will feel safe and hidden away. Amen.
God, please keep our families safe! And comfort the hearts of Marina and Kevin and their little Nessie. I don't know how anyone could ever recover from this horrific loss but may they feel the love, kindness and support of the world who grieves with them.

Nov 9: Update on children's memorial plus nanny's motive here.

*photo of Krim children from The Telegraph UK.

Finding focus

Thanks for all the feedback on my dilemma about sponsored posts. I'm glad they don't bother you. I did say that maybe I'll only do sponsored posts/press releases/freebie product features on Fridays but when I listed down all the press kits I've received and have NOT blogged about, well, the list is 30-items long. If I crossed out just one item on that list every Friday, we'd be in mid-2013 before I'm done! And that's just for the 30 press kits already received. I get an average of two every week. My Fridays-only rule simply will not do!

So as I was figuring out this new problem, the answer hit me right smack between the eyes. I'm a magazine editor so I'm going to tackle this like a magazine editor! A magazine is half editorial content and half advertisements. Thereabouts. Readers pick up a magazine for the features, yes, but they also check out what products are new and available. Readers don't like it if there are too many ads but neither do they like a magazine if it's just stories (they'd have bought a book instead!).

So that's what I'll do. Write as usual and then insert product features/PRs in between. Obvious solution, I know. My problem really was just I have said yes to too many nice small businesses and I've begun feeling guilty. But I think it's time to reclaim my blog, to take back control. I think it's time to say no. Nicely, of course, but writing posts takes time and time is valuable. My time should not be so freely given and my time must not be given for free.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What to Expect says...

You oughta follow me on Twitter!

So happy they think I'm worth following. I was already happy when WhattoExpect.com found my blog this year and proposed to sponsor a giveaway of their books. Then after that successful partnership, I thought I disappeared from their radar. Guessed wrong. Yey!

Plus, I got really thrilled when author Heidi Murkoff replied to my Tweet:

As a great lover of books, a writer and a mommy, I think this is huge. Mega huge! I'm a happy mama!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cutie new Stache onesies for Iñigo!

Stache Baby is sending a cute onesie to our big baby boy and I can't choose what to get! Mommies, help!

I like this because Vito already has a tux shirt! He and Iñigo will look so cute!
So adorable! But it's very easy to be calm with Iñigo since he's very gentle.
Cool and cute! I think I like this in black font.

Really LOLed at this!

Yes. The Sales brothers are in town! 

Chrystel of Stache describes their onesies and bibs as "for the mums and dads in pursuit for cool baby clothes that effectively defines your lil’ ones character. Our products are designed to give your child style, taste and a sense of humor in a somewhat bland baby world."

Ya, baby clothes are so blah. Stache has mustache designs (of course, hence the name!), superhero, and Gangnam styles. There's stuff for baby girls, too, but I'm not interested haha. Chrystel says, "Our collections have a chic, whimsical and witty feel while taking into consideration the parent’s sense of style with a baby or toddlers desire for fun. You'll love the baby and toddler apparel and accessories that we carry and we hope that they tickle your soul."

Another great thing about Stache is you can customize your onesies and shirts! You can choose the color, size of the design and its position on the clothing! Plus, you can also design special onesies for your newborn (name, birthdate, photo!) and shirts for your toddlers for their birthdays. 

You can find Stache via their Facebook page, at Lazada and soon at Mothering Earthlings. Have fun shopping!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Caring for my babies' bums

This post is brought to you by Johnson's Baby.

Iñigo is turning 6 months old in 3 weeks. That means he'll start eating solid food. Hooray! I am super excited. I've already planned what he's going to eat—rice gruel, mashed up potatoes, carrots, squash, sayote, bananas, mangoes!

Just like what his Kuya Vito ate, Iñigo's first food will be homemade and cooked by myself. I like to peel, steam and mash up the food myself. This way I can be sure that there will be no preservatives, no salt, no sugar added to my babies' food. Just pure goodness!

However, no matter how pure and unadulterated the food I give my kids is, I noticed that as soon as Vito started eating solids, he got diaper rash. I guess the new food changed his pee and poop so that his sensitive baby skin reacted to the new stuff in his waste. I battled with diaper rash for months! Every time I introduced a new food to Vito's diet, his butt and singit and sometimes even his pototoy would get a rash!

So now that it's Iñigo's turn, I'm ready to face diaper rash! This was how I combated Vito's diaper rash:
  1. I used cloth diapers. This forced me to change Vito's diapers often. Many times, parents and caregivers just let the baby stew in his diaper because disposable diapers now are so good that babies don't feel icky when they're wet or when they pooped. Cloth diapers rule!
  2. I searched for a disposable diaper that Vito's skin didn't react to. You see, his rash could also be an allergy to the diaper! I bought a lot of different diapers and when I finally found the disposable diaper that Vito was hiyang to, we stuck to that!
  3. I used zinc oxide for his bum. We have a lot of tubes of zinc oxide actually. You really can't make tipid with this cream. You have to coat all surfaces!

Johnson's Baby sent me a complete primer on how to get rid of diaper rash. It's very interesting, mommies! They got a dermatologist, Ma. Victoria Dizon, MD, FPDS, to give us tips:
  • Change diapers often
  • Cleanse skin thoroughly to remove contaminants. However, water and soap are too harsh and don't restore the skin's pH balance.
  • Use infant wipes soaked with an emulsion-type watery/oily lotion. Do not use ordinary wipes with alcohol or mineral oil.
  • Zinc oxide heals skin.
  • Baby powder removes excess moisture on the skin. It acts as a dry lubricant for areas that rub against each other, like the singit. Plus it's cooling, soothing and drying.

So cleanse with the right baby wipes, protect skin with baby powder, heal with zinc oxide. Sounds simple enough!

How cute naman ni baby Bacchus! Dear Johnson's Baby, I think you'll agree that baby Iñigo will make a great Johnson's Baby baby, too!

By the way, Johnson's Baby's Complete Care Powder already has zinc oxide plus magnesium steareate, which repels moisture. I use Johnson's Baby Cornstarch, though, since my family has a history of asthma. Even though Johnson's Baby assures us mommies that talc does not harm the lungs at all, I still prefer cornstarch. That's what my parents and grandparents used on me! If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for my babies.

To learn more about preventing and treating diaper rash, check out Johnson's Baby Complete Care System. You can also go to their Facebook page for more tips and promos.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Losing focus

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This blog is getting impersonal, which really saddens me. On one hand, I'm ridiculously happy that my mommy blog has grown more than 100% since end of 2011. But on the other hand, the rapid growth has resulted to a lot of gifts (that I have to blog about, of course) and sponsored posts and contests. I find myself just talking about these things when all I really want is talk about motherhood and my beautiful kids!

I'm not complaining. At least, I don't want to. Am I lucky or what, right?! My blog is getting lots of attention. That's a good thing! I'm getting gifts and income. That's even better! But at the same time, I feel like my voice is drowning in the sea of branding.

I guess I just need to think about how to balance this. Do the contest and sponsored posts bother you? Can you still hear me? I don't want to give up the sponsored posts because they earn money, and—I'm a homemaker!—I need that income! Maybe I should just do a maximum of 4 sponsored/gifted/contest posts a month. After all, my loyalty is to you, my reader, and to my mommy self. Let's make ourselves happy first by talking about what matters most to us—our families. I'll deal with the brands later.

Big heavy sigh.

Okay, I'm done. I've reminded myself why I have this blog. If I ever start straying from this blog's purpose, tell me in the comments section using ALL CAPS!!! And thank you, everyone. You've been really good to me. Love you all!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let your baby be the star of a Johnson's Baby video!

This post is brought to you by Johnson's Baby.

Yes, you can make your baby star in his very own Johnson's Baby video with the help of this really cool app on the Johnson's Baby Philippines Facebook page! All you have to do is upload 4 photos of your baby and one photo of you with your baby!

I think Iñigo would make a great baby model. He's very agreeable. Very mellow, very gentle. He laughs and smiles a lot. If your baby's the same, he or she just might have a future at baby modeling! But as I've said on this blog before, baby modeling isn't easy. Long hours, harsh lights, lots of strange new faces.

But it would still be grand to have your baby star in a TVC, right? Then thank Johnson's Baby for making this easy to do! Here's the list of easy steps:

Up still makes me cry!

Vito was watching this with me. When he saw the young Ellie and Carl, he shouted happily, "Mama! Papa!" So cute to see he recognizes that his parents' love is the same as Ellie and Carl's. Then when he saw them getting old, he sat up very straight and cried, "Oh no! Oh no!" And then, in a panic, "No, Mama! No, Papa!"

Again, I cried. Well, not at that moment because I found Vito's reaction hilarious. I cried later on. I don't know how my son understood the concept of old age. Or maybe he didn't think it was old age, maybe he thought they were just getting unattractive? I don't really know.

What I do know is Vince and I will get old. One day, we will die. I just pray—and I pray this very often and very earnestly!—that God keep us alive and healthy up until our sons have families of their own. As soon as they have new people in their lives who will love them and who they'll love, I'd be glad to leave this earth and float away. But not before then!

Friday, October 19, 2012

ATTN: Breastfeeding moms--I have an Anmum Lacta giveaway!


As a busy mommy of two little boys, I have a hard time eating healthy food. I actually have a hard time eating, period. Iñigo seems to have this strange sixth sense—whenever I sit down to eat, he wakes up and cries! What is up with that?!

I really should eat healthy food so that I won't get so tired easily. Moms need good fuel to survive the day! What makes it more important in my case is I'm exclusively breastfeeding Iñigo. Yes! He's already 5 months old and we're still going strong! He's getting greedier, though. I really have to be a healthier eater! This is something I'm feeling really guilty about.

So imagine my surprise when Anmum sent me two boxes of Anmum Lacta. I Googled how Iñigo and I can benefit from drinking it:

Anmum Lacta is the only milk specially formulated for breastfeeding mums, Anmum Lacta boosts your daily intake of Gangliosides - which promote your child’s brain cell connections.

It also contains Sialic Acid and Essential Fatty Acids, both building blocks for your child’s brain. With reduced fat and lactose, Anmum Lacta is low on calories, but high on taste.

Well, I started drinking my 2 daily glasses of Anmum Lacta. I like the "reduced fat and lactose" part since I can get healthy and give good milk to my baby without getting fat and suffering a bad tummy! 

Now here's better news! Are you a breastfeeding mama? Then join my Anmum Lacta giveaway!

Here's how:
1. Like Anmum Mommy Circle on Facebook.
2. Go to my Facebook page, Topaz Horizon.
3. Type this on my wall: "I'm a proud breastfeeding mama, a reader of Topaz Mommy and a member of Anmum Mommy Circle!" Make sure to tag (@Anmum Mommy Circle)!

That's it! I'll pick 3 mommies who will win 2 boxes each of Anmum Lacta. Contest ends 5 days from now. Join me on my quest to be a healthy breastfeeding mommy!

UPDATE: The winners are Gynne Leang-Lim, Gerilen Elinessete and Michelle Chua Parcia!

UPDATE AGAIN, JAN. 22, 2015:
I don't know where Anmum Lacta is sold. Some readers said drugstores like Mercury Drug. 

If you can't find Anmum Lacta, try lactation goodies like Mommy Treats or lactation pills like Motherlove More Milk from Hatch & Latch. You can also just eat manok with malunggay! I ate so much malunggay, I never had problems with my milk supply. Plus, malunggay is soooo healthy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My babies

Halloooo, mommies! Sorry for not updating here. I've been having a blast over at Topaz Horizon. Go check out my personal silly blog to know what I've been up to (new blog design! makeovers! photo shoots! fashion!).

But despite my crazy life, I never forget that there's only one important wonder in my world—my family. So you may think I have such an exciting day but there's only really one way I want to spend my day.

I just want to be with my babies.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Trick or Treat for UNICEF!

Actually, let's rephrase that title. How about just TREAT, no tricks?

Last week, UNICEF launched this really cute activity called "Trick or Treat for UNICEF Superheroes Campaign." Vito and I were invited but we weren't able to attend. You know, I am starting to feel bad about this—I RSVP to people that I'll go to their events and then, you know life with little kids, something comes up and I suddenly can't go!

Anyway, Trick or Treat for UNICEF is a great activity for your kids, especially if your family celebrates Halloween with costumes. Last year, Vito a.k.a. Tigger won two costume contests...

...but this year, we'll have no costumes, no candy. We'll collect money for children in need instead!

At the launch, UNICEF lined up all the kids who registered for the campaign and gave them orange Trick-or-Treat collection boxes. They also gave the kids IDs and T-shirts so that they can be identified as bona fide donation collectors for UNICEF.

This is Lizzy Borromeo, 9, and her sister Sophie, 7. They're wearing the orange shirt. I guess that shirt will be Vito's costume this year (I hope they have toddler sizes!). Anyway, Lizzy says, “I like [the campaign] because I can help other children so they can go to school just like us."

And if you're wondering what the TOT4UNICEF collection box looks like, then look below. From left: Mary Joy Canon-Abaquin, Multiple Inteligence School; Rianna Trinidad, Multiply.com; Karen Fagara, SM Megamall; Daphne Oseña Paez, UNICEF Special Advocate for Children; Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Country Representative; Nona Go, SM Megamall. Karen, Daphne, Tomoo and Nona are holding the little boxes.

Even though we weren't able to attend the event, we still have a chance to participate in this campaign. In fact, we're going to Megamall on Wednesday to pick up a TOT4UNICEF kit for Vito. Join us and get a kit for your kids, too!

The TOT4UNICEF kits are already available at the UNICEF booths near Toy Kingdom (Bldg A, lower ground floor). The kits are free, one kit per kid, and then your kids can go and collect donations from you, their aunts, uncles, lolos, lolas, neighbors, yayas!

Tomoo Hozumi says, "With their energy and enthusiasm, [kids] can collect donations that will contribute to better health, nutrition, water and sanitation and protection of other children. It is an example of kids helping kids, as it has been practiced since the Trick-or-Treat campaign was started in the United States more than 60 years ago."

We definitely want our kids to help other kids. This is a lesson in compassion and generosity that we parents should not fail to teach. Plus, it'll be fun! I think I'll go ask Vito's friend, Enzo, if we can borrow his policeman costume from last year. I bet that will make collecting money from our families and friends more fun!

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.unicef.ph or call 758-1000.

*event photos courtesy of UNICEF

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vito and Iñigo's names in felt

Isn't this sooo cute?

These adorable names are made of stuffed felt cloth. They are hand sewn and we love them. We hung them (with ladybug push pins) on the kids' bedroom door and they're just so happy to look at. Plus, Vito points out the letters of his name so we also use them as teaching material. I'm so happy I found these on eBay!

Background: I was looking for felt cloth online because I wanted to buy cloth to make flags and banners for my kids. I was thinking of doing a little DIY project for future parties and birthdays and I love felt because the colors remain vibrant for years. So if I have pennants like this in the photo below, I can use them over and over for every special occasion!

Anyway, as I was browsing online, I found Ria, a seller on eBay who makes names made out of felt. I thought it was the cutest thing and immediately bought her services for my sons' names. I forgot to buy an ampersand (&), though, but Ria kindly added the & at no cost. Good thing because, as Vince said, "It'll look like we had 4 kids instead of 2!" Hahaha!

Ria is also a mommy like me. She already has a little girl and with another baby girl on the way! She said she taught herself to sew because "I wanted to have nice [clothes] that fit well without needing to pay for custom work labor," Ria told me. "I also make curtains, sofa covers, bed sheets, lunch bags, etc. But for now, these are mostly for family or for our home."

One time, while Ria was shopping, she saw felt letters and had a eureka moment. "I saw these letters but I felt the limited colors and price and additional charge for every add-on was impractical. I thought it was easy to do, so I bought some samples and studied how they were made." And then she started selling on eBay and that's how I found Ria!

Ria said, "Sewing is a hobby that hopefully, after I give birth, I can concentrate on to make into a small full-time business already." I love entrepreneurial mommies! I plan to be one myself soon!

You can order your kids' names from Ria, too (email her at abs.greatfinds@gmail.com). Each letter is just P45. That's why I ordered my sons' complete names! These will make great gifts this Christmas, too. So affordable and so happy and so cute!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

At Iñigo's baptism reception

The only photo we have at the church!
This is going to be a strange post on my baby's baptism because I don't have any photos of the ceremony itself. We forgot to give our cameras to our family for photos. Oh well. So I'll bombard you with photos of the party instead!

We had Iñigo's party at Mom & Tina's Pasig. Initially, we had wanted it at Café 1771, same place where we had Vito's baptism reception, but the café was booked and I had to look somewhere else. Now I'm really picky about places. There has to be parking (because I hate going to places and then there's no parking!), the place has to look great in photos (because in the end, photos are your tangible memories of the day), and of course the food has to be fantastic.

I asked my Twitter followers what their suggestions are and I scratched off all those that didn't meet the criteria above. Then my magazine's beauty editor, Elaine, suggested Mom & Tina's. Vince and I went to do an ocular and a taste test (a.k.a. lunch with the kids) and Mom & Tina's passed with flying colors!

This is what Mom & Tina's is famous for:
That's a chocolate cake, a carrot cake and a caramel cake. All are divine. I'm salivating while I type this. I think I'll hop on over to Mom & Tina's for breakfast and cake soon!

We wanted a menu that both kids and grownups will enjoy. So we had mac and cheese, fried chicken and fries, soup, salad, barbecued pork ribs and Java rice. So delicious! We ordered food for 50 people. Well, 46 guests arrived and yet we had so much food leftover that almost all the guests took home a bag of food!

This is Lola Digna and Lolo Mon, Vince's parents. And that's super cutie Iñigo! He's really into sucking his fingers now.

There's Vito and his Sales cousins (from left) Kevin, Joe and, hidden by Vito, Zo. Save for one girl, all the Sales kids are boys. I like that. Vito will have lots of older boys to look out for him. He particularly gets along well with the eldest boy, Joe.

This is the Amper family. From left: Iñigo, Vince, Migs, Yvonne, Vito, me, Theodore, Jacqui and, sitting down, Papa. We're missing a few members. I just want to state how absolutely cute my husband is! Oh, Iñigo's wearing the exact same outfit Vito wore on his own baptism. But since Iñigo's fatter, we had a bit of a struggle putting these on haha.

These are my friends! And, pretty soon, my business partners!!! From left: Pat and Kat, Kabbie and Mitor, Bern and Nikki, and Nicole. Oh, and there's a frazzled me! I gotta say I have really good-looking friends. I like to surround myself with beautiful people!

Vince's friends are out of town or out of the country. We missed them so!

These are our beautiful neighbors! From left: Earl and Judah with their Sophia, Vince and me with Vito and Iñigo, Cathee and Andrei with their baby Ivan breastfeeding under her nursing cover, and Paola and her Sjofn.

This is Vito's posse of 2-year-olds. From left: Vito, Sophia, Alfonso and Sjofn. They are eating candy. They are so cute and sweet!

This is the Power of a Praying Wife prayer group with our kids and hubbies! Boy, those men are lucky! Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." Not only are the women in that photo smart and gorgeous, we also gave birth to their amazing children and are storming the gates of heaven for blessings on our men!

Sweet Sophia and Sjofn. Both decked out in flowers. Sophia is 3 weeks older than Vito and Vito is 2 weeks older than Sjofn. Sigh! If we could only have a little girl of our own, too!

These are the most delicious cupcakes I've ever had in my entire life! My sister-in-law Lizelle and her daughter Elizabeth baked them especially for Iñigo's baptism. These are rich, moist, heavy chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy buttercream frosting. Perfection in a box!

Vince and I decided we'll give these away as Christmas gifts. If you want to order, tell me! Lizelle's cupcakes are not just fantastic, they're also still affordable. I keep telling her to raise her prices!

Oh! This is our candy bar from Kendi Cart. And that's Vito, its first customer haha. The candy bar was a huge hit! We got it from a CashCashPinoy deal. We've never heard of Kendi Cart but I figured I'd get the cheapest package just for fun. Boy, did we have fun! The cheapest package was a cute table covered in your theme color with pretty jars filled with enough candy for 50 people. Well, the kids kept getting candy and every guest got a bag of candy and there was still lots of candy left over! Kendi Cart gave us all the candy. It's now a week and half since the party and we're still swimming in candy!

The party was a success! We know this because no one wanted to leave. We had to shoo them away since we only rented the place for 3 hours haha. Everyone was stuffed full of good food, good conversation and lotsa love. That's the kind of party Vince and I wanted and we got exactly what we wanted!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pulling the soul. Falling into place.

Ohhhhh my. I haven't been updating as much here as I've been doing so over at Topaz Horizon. My life's been pretty hectic lately. Oh, if I could only tell you!!! I will, I will. One day soon!

For now, I am in love with my life. What I can tell you is my life is so incredibly exciting right now. And I'm not talking about parties and glamorous stuff and all that fluff. I'm talking about LIFE! You know, the real stuff. The stuff that matters. Marriage. Children. Friends. Faith. Love.

My soul is being pulled by love for my family and by writing. The two passions of my life. My purpose for living! And finally finally, my life is coming together. It's taken almost 36 years but now things are clicking into place so fast, it's so terrifying and thrilling!

I opened myself up to God early this year. I told Him, "I want to do something that will mean something to my husband and my children. I want to use the talent You gave me but I also want to be with the family You've blessed me with. I want to be where I can glorify You. I want You to use me to be a blessing to my family and to others using the talent You gave me."

Be careful when praying a prayer like that. Because when you give up control to God, He'll take you on a crazy ride! Anyway, until I can actually talk about these amazing things, let me just give you an update!

Because of my dear neighbors, I've been hosting a Bible study group at my home since July. We're tackling the book, The Power of a Praying Wife, and this has changed our lives and our marriages. We feel that God is really moving in each of our lives! It's almost frightening! So much has been improved, changed, uplifted, removed, empowered, enriched... and it's only been two and a half months since we started dedicating our lives and marriages to God. This is beyond incredible.

Vito is growing up so fast. He's supposed to be in his Terrible Two's stage but for us, honestly, it's been the Terrific Two's! He's just this wonderful little boy who never ceases to amuse and amaze us. He's such a good big brother. He's only 2 but he helps care for Iñigo. He entertains him, talks to him, tries to carry him haha. He's really such a great little person. I feel so blessed he's ours.

As for Iñigo, oh, he's just this beautiful baby boy, always so happy and calm. He rarely cries. He's always laughing and smiling. He's such a gentle soul. He was baptized last Sunday. We had an amazing time with our families and friends. I'll write about that this weekend.

There. That's my life. It's so full, my heart can't contain it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Buy a work of art from UNICEF's Auction for Action!

UPDATE: The auction raised P2.85 million. Wow! So amazing! So many children will be helped!

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting the UNICEF team at the press lunch for its second annual Auction for Action. October is National Children's Month (I didn't know that!) and UNICEF decided to celebrate children by raising funds to help in their protection, education and care. As a mommy, how can I not be part of this wonderful activity?

So I'm glad Daphne Oseña Paez invited me for a sneak peek at the items up for auction. Daphne curated the 70-plus pieces in this year's fundraiser. I was giddy to go because:
a) I wanted to see the UNICEF headquarters. I wanted to work in UNICEF when I was a kid!
b) I was excited to check out the art up for auction this year since I salivated over the art sold last year
c) I was ready and willing to spread the word about this worthy cause to my fellow mommies!

Here are the media (TV, print and blogs) gathered at the UNICEF offices. I used to work in PR and this is a good turnout.

As with last year's auction, Filipino artists contributed to the cause—their painting, jewelry, sculpture will be sold on eBay and all the proceeds will help fund the programs of UNICEF. UNICEF's Tomoo Hozumi says, "Buy a beautiful item and help children at the same time. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations. The funds raised will go towards education, health and nutrition, protection and emergency programs for children who are... most in need."

The theme for this year is PLAY. Yes, playing! When I was a kid, the adults were always saying, "Don't go out. Don't play in the mud. Don't dance in the rain. Don't play with those kids. Don't make up things. Don't climb trees. Don't don't don't!" Well, had I known back then that kids have the right to play (yes, it's a human right!), maybe I'd have been a happier kid!

I think it's lovely that UNICEF chose play as its theme. Daphne says that the importance of playing "to a child's well-being and healthy development cannot be over-emphasized." That's true. I seriously believe that a lot of today's problems with kids—bullying, boredom, obesity, violence, selfishness—can be solved by a huge dose of running around under the sun.

My Vito is 2 years old. Everyone warns us about the terrible twos. True, he has his tantrums, but he throws them maybe twice a month. Yes. No lying. And when he does have a fit, the cure for it is me saying loudly, "Let's go out and play!" Vito is also a happy kid, eats a ton of food but isn't fat, shares his toys, is very social, and has a healthy interest in the world and learning about it. All because he plays outside, plays with other kids, and plays with his parents.

Daphne adds that play "lends itself well as a theme for our premiere artists to work with." True, the items up for auction are so fun! Here are just some of the beautiful items you can own: