Monday, February 25, 2013

Befuddled mom-to-be? Anmum to the rescue!

This post is brought to you by Anmum.

I wasn't expecting to be expecting when I was expecting. So when the preggy stick confirmed I was indeed expecting, I panicked. I was living quite the unhealthy lifestyle when I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant. I may not have been doing drugs or drinking alcohol but I was smoking, sleeping late, and skipping meals (plus, when I did eat, all I ate was junk). I was terrified for my baby!

My OBG back then prescribed prenatal vitamins plus Anmum Materna. He was concerned that I was so skinny. At the same time, he assured me that I shouldn't worry so much since, to my great benefit, I found out I was preggy very early on. Most women don't know they are with child until the third, fourth, even fifth month! So in my case, I can still fix my life so my baby (perfect little Vito, as it turned out!) can be nourished.

If you're trying to have a baby (or even if you're not but you're having sex), you should make sure you're getting enough folate in your diet. Folate in the very early stages of pregnancy means your child will be spared from brain and neurological defects and even cleft lip and cleft palate. So get folate-addicted! That means eating tons of green leafy veggies, citrus fruits, papaya, beans, peas, lentils, corn, liver, peanut butter, and folate-enriched bread. Seriously though, who eats all of that every day?

Anmum has a spankin' brand new website that will help women trying to conceive, are pregnant, and are new mommies. For example: the one-minute folate test. Very useful! It told me my current diet is woefully inadequate. While Vince and I have decided we're happy with two babies, we aren't exactly saying no to more. So maybe I should drink Anmum again! Haha.

Anyway, I like Anmum's website because back when I was pregnant the first time, I didn't really know a lot about being pregnant. And I'm a smart, educated woman! It was a really scary time. I wanted to know everything about pregnancy, child development, good health and nutrition, childbirth, parenting!!! It's a good thing I can afford books and I have 24/7 access to good websites. Many women have nothing but their moms, aunts and kapitbahay.

Yep. I said it. Look, the women before us are great but they came from a time when they believed in paglilihi. They didn't breastfeed. They loved formula milk. They believed in stuff like wearing necklaces will result to your child's cord wrapping around his neck in utero or putting laway on your baby's forehead will cure colic. Ya, cute stuff. Harmful stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2013


It was doppelganger week on Facebook last week. I don't really care to know which famous personality I look like (I've heard the gamut from AiAi delas Alas to Dayanara Torres). All I care about is someone really adorable looks like me.

I guess this means I'm cute! Happy weekend, mommies and daddies and babies!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Plans and dreams and hopes

Is it possible to love someone you've never met? A little boy that I've loved since I first read his story on The New York Times died last week.

I have loved Ronan since that sad evening I learned that he had Tay-Sachs, a fatal genetic disorder, an incurable disease. His mommy, Emily Rapp, said she didn't expect Ronan to reach his third birthday. True enough, Ronan died aged 2 years and 11 months. He's just a few months older than my Vito. Maybe that's why I'm so affected.

After I read the article, I spent many nights weeping over Ronan as I read Emily's blog. Finally, Vince told me to stop reading his story because I was then 2 months pregnant with little wee Wiggle and Vince didn't want me so upset. "It might affect the baby," he said.

So I put away Emily's blog, rose above my grief, went about my life, enjoyed my Vito, gave birth to Iñigo, ended my magazine career, began a new one, but Ronan stayed with me. In very many ways, Emily and Ronan's story changed how I parent.

Many parents ask me what our plans are for Vito and Iñigo—where will they go to school, have we checked out preschools, have we bought education plans, what do we want them to be when they grow up. Do we feed them organic food, are we enrolling them in music classes, dance classes, gym classes. When I just smile and say, "Oh, I don't really think about those things," a lot of the parents are dismayed at me. I guess, because of this blog, I have inadvertently built this image that I am a parent who wants nothing but the very best for her children, and for me to say that I don't really think—and therefore don't really care—about those things destroys that image.

I am a mommy who does want the best for my little boys. But I have learned from Ronan's life and from my mother's death that there is only one thing certain—that the future ends in death and I must love the people in my life today, while they are still here, while I am still here. I didn't do that for my mother. It is my only regret.

I don't plan too far ahead. I think it's a waste of energy. My plans for my sons involve only what they will eat for their next meal, if they'll go to the playground, if they'll take a bath. So if the plan was to eat squash but the kids suddenly decided they wanted nuggets, then nuggets it is. I spoil my children silly because I always have this terrible thought that this will not last forever. Happily, Vince doesn't have my baggage. So he's the normal parent—he insists on a routine, he piles the grocery cart with yogurt and bananas for the boys, he checks the developmental milestones, he does Papa Preschool, he mulls over good schools, he saves for the rainy day, he dreams, he plans, he hopes. I am grateful my boys have their father.

I do nurture dreams, but they are dreams that my boys will grow up to be wonderful men, happy with their choices, whatever they may be. I tell Vince, "I only have one dream actually, that I will like my kids and that they will like me." Yes. I love my kids, sure, but I also want to like them when they grow up. For example, I know my parents loved me but they didn't really like me—I was way too different from what they thought a daughter, a woman, would be. They didn't understand me, and you can't like what you can't understand. But they loved me, and that's all that really matters.

My hopes are only concrete in this: I hope desperately that Vito and Iñigo will be safe and healthy. I am very specific when I pray: "Protect them. Keep them safe from harm. Make them invisible to evil. Don't let accidents and sicknesses touch their bodies." Then I launch into a long list of what I hope God will protect them from: open windows, slippery floors, table corners and edges, the bath water, sick kids on the playground, accidents brought on by their exploring, impatience of their yayas and even their parents, and so on. Other than that rather specific list, I have learned to let go of every other hope. My dreams for my boys are vague. My plans are only for the here and now, and the plan is to love them every moment.

So I'm a strange mother that way. Maybe some of you think I'm a bad mother that way. But my sons are happy and healthy. They like shouting with joy. The days are always reverberating with exuberant shrieks. They are always tumbling all over me, Vince, each other, laughing. And their happiness and health are enough to convince me I am a good mother. For now. I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

* * * * * * *
If you would like to help fund research on finding a cure for Tay-Sachs disease, kindly donate here.

Good-bye, dear Ronan. Thank you for teaching me to love my sons.

*photos from Emily Rapp's blog, Little Seal 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What my boobs are for

On Facebook last week, Chronicles of a Nursing Mom posted the story of Kathy Chua-Grimme. She wanted to breastfeed her baby girl while they were out shopping at Festival Mall. But since there was no breastfeeding lounge and because she was gawked at by other shoppers, she was forced to retreat to a toilet stall and sit on the floor to nurse her baby.

A lot of mommies sympathized with her and said she should just use a nursing cover or borrow a shop's dressing room or hide in a quiet restaurant. Other moms called for Festival Mall to build a breastfeeding lounge while commending other malls for already installing nice nursing rooms.

This is how I feel about it: Whenever and wherever you are, just pop out the boob and nurse your baby!

I know how Kathy feels. I have nursing covers. I have special clothes with built-in flaps so I can cover my baby's face. I wrote to Power Plant Mall to ask them to build a breastfeeding lounge (Power Plant's Tin Coquiero told me they are now building two!). I have been there—trying to feed my baby while covering myself up and getting stared at by people, knowing that they're not thinking, "Oh, what a great mom she is!"

I struggled for a while. It was especially difficult when the boys didn't want to hide under a cover anymore. They wanted to observe the world as they ate. How do I breastfeed and be modest at the same time?

You know what, I just realized and embraced that the two don't belong together. A mother shouldn't have to think about modesty or being decent or offending other people. All a mother should be thinking about when her child is hungry is, "My child is hungry. I must feed him!" No hiding, no shame.

Bottled Up! from mire molnar on Vimeo.

You know, I never had boobs. I was a flat AA. That's flatter than flat. That's almost concave! Then I got pregnant and now I have breasts. Obviously, they're not for sex or for my husband's pleasure or so I can look good in V-cut tops. Those are just the happy by-products of having swelled up mammary glands!

But the real reason I have breasts is so I can feed my children the best possible food I can give them. Any biologist or scientist or doctor will tell you that breasts are for feeding your young. So when my children ask for milk, I have to feed them. Don't take that away from me. Don't take that away from my kids!

There's no such thing as a Gruffalo!

Well, actually, yes, there is, and the Gruffalo is here in Manila! Raaaawr!

Vince, Vito, Iñigo and I went to our first ever play as a family last night when we watched The Gruffalo at Rockwell Tent. We had such a great time! Little Vito, all of 2 and a half years old—was so affected, he kept rushing to the stage whenever Mouse was in danger! The other kids had to be restrained, too! It was that good!

The Gruffalo is all about Mouse who went to the deep dark wood in search of nuts. She meets Fox, Owl and Snake—and all of them love a tasty rodent for a snack!—but she scares them away with a made-up monster called the Gruffalo. But is there such a thing as a Gruffalo?

Find out with your family and see the play yourself! The play is a West End musical adaptation of the children's book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. I like it because it's about imagination, quick thinking and courage in the face of danger. I want my boys to value those!

The Gruffalo definitely made an impression on Vito. When we asked him if he liked the play, he gave us an enthusiastic nod and a "Yeah, yeah!" That's so great! Can't wait to take him to see the musicals in West End! Vince and I did that on our honeymoon and loved it immensely. It's nice to see that our kids appreciate it, too.

You must watch The Gruffalo! Bring your kids! We did and we had so much fun. It's on a limited run here (only this weekend!). The tickets range from P900 to P2,200 but Rockwell Tent is so small that even if you get the cheapest tickets, it's fine. We got the second row and Vito still charged the stage anyway. So did the other kids. After a while, since your kids are out front already to see Mouse and her adventures up close, it kinda doesn't matter where you sit!

Buy your tickets from Ticketworld now! There's a great promo right now: Buy 3 tickets and get an extra one for free. So if you're a family of 4 like us, go watch it now. If you can't watch the play, do buy the book! Happy weekend, mommies!

P.S. Thanks, Daphne and Alicia, for this treat!

P.P.S. I know the kids look upset in the pictures haha but that's because this was when the show had ended and they were looking forward to ice cream but their blogger of a mommy just had to insist on taking pictures!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy birthday to the father of my children!

To the man who encouraged my dreams and pushed me to succeed, who believed in me when no one else did...

To the man who wrote me poetry, serenaded me with his guitar, and read bedtime stories to me over the phone long long ago because I couldn't sleep...

To the man who kept asking me to marry him for 7 years, and finally married me, then gave me a beautiful home, and keeps it orderly and fixes all the broken things...

To the man who was and still is so madly attracted to me despite my pimples, white hair, crazy hair, sick days, fat days, flatulent pregnant days, and horrible post-partum days...

To the man who makes me laugh every day and makes our kids laugh every day and is just about the funniest, smartest guy I know...
To the man who gave me my beautiful boys and is such a hands-on father to them and is the only other human being who loves them as much as I do (possibly more since you're more maalaga than I am!)...

Happy birthday, my dearest Vince! Thank you for the love and the laughter!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trollbeads for the creative mommy (yes, it's a giveaway!)


Happy Valentine's Day, mommies! To celebrate, Topaz Mommy and Trollbeads are giving away a bracelet to a lucky mommy reader!

I'm so excited because moms will love a Trollbeads bracelet—it's so perfect for celebrating milestones. Trollbeads is the original bead-on-bracelet brand from Denmark. They say that every story has a bead, and you can craft your own bracelet with beautiful beads for each beautiful memory, making your bracelet unique. It's your story!

Here are a few sample beads that moms will love:


Here's my starter Trollbeads bracelet that I got for free (thanks, Trollbeads!):
Wraparound leather bracelet.
Fill up the entire length with beads!

Want your own free Trollbeads bracelet? Well, bring out the artist in you! Because each Trollbeads bead is a work of art, we want you to show the world how creative and crafty you are. So do these steps:

1. Share photos of yourself being crafty with your kids on your Facebook profile. Add a short description (i.e. "Decorating cupcakes with my two girls," "My kids and I are making a scrapbook of our vacation," "Painting my little girl's room with rainbows!") 

2. Like the Facebook page of Trollbeads Philippines and Topaz Horizon.

3. Tag Trollbeads Philippines and Topaz Horizon on your photo so we can see your entries. Only one (1) entry per reader will be accepted.

Sample entry: "Decorating cupcakes with my two girls because I'm a creative mommy and I want to win a beautiful bracelet from @Trollbeads Philippines and @Topaz Horizon!"

Trollbeads will announce the winning lucky mommy on their Facebook page one week from now. That's next Thursday, Feb. 21. 

There's no need to campaign for your photo to win (hooray, you don't have to beg your friends to like your photo!). Trollbeads will choose the creative mommy. Winner will then visit the Trollbeads store in Robinsons Magnolia (soon to open in Glorietta, too!) so she can choose the beads of her personal stories. Have fun creating your stories!
To know more about Trollbeads, check out their official Facebook page or visit the official Trollbeads website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Photo dump!

I have more giveaways coming up but let's take a break from all that brand business and talk about what this blog is really about—my little boys!

I have hundreds upon hundreds of photos of Vito and Iñigo but these will do for now. Just want to share random stuff my kids have been up to these past few weeks. I usually post photos on Twitter (it's immediate!) so do follow me there. 

Vito running around in Bonifacio High Street.
Vito built this garage for his cars.
Vito watching a Toy Story clip on my computer while Iñigo explores the LEGO tub.
Dear Iñigo! Even his tears are round!
Where's the baby? Thanks, Kat, for Iñigo's cool onesie!
Vito, Mozzarella Bear and Woody enjoying our new bedsheets.
Iñigo enjoying brunch with mommy and her friends.
Vito trying on my nail polish. He saw me painting my nails and wanted his done, too.
Iñigo enjoying photo shoot of Cristina Gomez, soon on my Manila Bulletin column!

I love how my life now is so full of my kids and my friends and yet I am working full time, too. It's so wonderful I've been able to find that elusive balance. It's not easy. Every day is a juggling day but I can't complain. I really can't complain!

Monday, February 11, 2013

What happened at the SM Babies launch

Good news, mommies! SM decided to glamorize their baby offerings with adorable but still affordable baby things. They gave this new line a simple and quite prosaic name: SM Babies. To launch this, SM Babies got some cool mommies and their babies for a photo shoot. To see the gallery, go to the Facebook page of SM Babies!

Anyway, I was invited to the chic launch at the Manila Peninsula. The theme was high tea so guests were encouraged to come in pretty dresses and to wear the fascinators that were enclosed in the invitations. I love wearing fascinators! I wish it were de rigueur here. I'd wear fascinators and hats all the time!
Here I am with ARC PR's Krissy and Kira.
Cute, stylish, comfy, formal, casual. SM Babies—they've got it all for your baby!
I love the preppy sweater and jeans combo!
I had to take a photo of these mannequins. They look so much like Iñigo!
Businesswomen moms! That's (from left) Rone of Mothering Earthlings, Cai of Paper Chic Studio,
Jen of Next9 Baby and Karrots of Live, Love, LOLz. 
Celebrity mom Andi Eigenmann with her daughter, Adriana. She's upset at all the bright lights
and strangers that swarmed around them. Poor baby. interviews Andi.
Moms on the panel. Host Issa Litton interviews Lexi Schulze (my former boss!), Amanda Griffin and Andi Eigenmann.
Christian Bautista serenades the mommies.
With the Smart Parenting magazine staff.

I mingled a lot. I've been around apparently. I knew people from magazines, websites, blogging, newspapers, PR. I mingled so much, someone thought I was the brand manager of SM Babies! Well, I'm not haha but it did dawn on me that if I ever should make Topaz Mommy into a brand, I already know a lot of people who can help me! Very encouraging!

Anyway, SM Babies is such a cute new line. I'm definitely checking out the collection when we go to SM Megamall next week. If you see me and my kids, say halloooo!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Topaz Mommy met my lucky contest winners!

This was such a lovely evening! I met the winners of my recent giveaways, one here on the blog and one over at my Facebook page. That's Rocel at left and Bella on the right. Rocel won the Crosswinds Resort Suites giveaway while Bella won the Sheridan Palawan Resort giveaway on my Facebook page (and that is why you should like my Facebook page!).

I was supposed to send them their gift vouchers but when I asked them for their addresses, I found that we were all neighbors! So serendipitous! So I asked them both to just come on over to the house for a little dinner party. They both said yes hooray!
Oops! Sorry for how I look! I had a stressful day. Iñigo's yaya decided to up and leave that day. So I was running around like a headless chicken, getting her documents ready, checking her things, etc etc. And of course I had to do all that while caring for Iñigo since she was focused on packing and leaving.

Okay, that's a story for another day. But I felt a bit embarrassed that I had really special guests coming over—my dear blog readers!—and I looked like a mess! I didn't even have time to brush my hair! I was also planning on cooking my famous spicy tuna pasta for Rocel and Bella but, well, it didn't happen. So I just ordered pizza. Hardly impressive. Buti na lang Rocel brought ensaymada and the best chocolate crinkles ever while Bella brought this adorable cake.

The 3M is Bella's three boys. They came over and played with Vito. Rocel has a little girl but she stayed home. Here's all of us moms and boys.

Thanks for coming over to claim your prizes, Rocel and Bella! Thanks for the dessert and, best of all, for the great conversation. I had such a nice time! It didn't feel like meeting each other for the first time. I felt like we'd known each other for so long, that's how comfortable we all were. I should do this more often!