Monday, April 29, 2013

Vito attacks Iñigo!

On a regular day, the kids are both in shirts and diapers, their hair matted with sweat and whatever food particles they raked through it. Their shirts are stained. Their mouths smeared with juice or milk or cookies. And when they become messy like that, they start acting feral and attack each other! Vito especially likes to stalk his baby brother.

After we tell him to leave his little brother alone, Vito waits a bit then lunges again!

I don't blame Vito. Iñigo is so irresistible!

Sigh. I love it that my boys love each other so much!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Topaz Mommy is a media partner for fab mommy event Mom & Me!

Hi mommies! I'm so excited about this upcoming event! Mom & Me is an event specially offered to moms and kids. It's a month from now but I'm already promoting it because Topaz Mommy is an official media partner! This is my first time to be a media partner so I think the organizers of Mom & Me had it up to their ears with all my questions. I'm so sorry about that! But thanks so much for thinking of me for this event!

I was also supposed to give a talk at the event, which my husband urged me to do since this means I can get to meet my readers, invite more people to read the blog, and basically raise the profile of Topaz Mommy (which of course means more awareness and income!). I was planning to talk about earning money from home or how to be a supermom even when you're actually super walang alam haha but something came up so I had to back out of the talk (sorry again, Mom & Me!). I'll just have to think of another way to promote Topaz Mommy!

Meanwhile, here's what you can expect from Mom & Me:


Summer is almost over – it's time to snatch up some worthwhile quality time with your kids before you send them off to school! Share bonding moments and enjoy activities with your little ones at Mom and Me on May 25 and 26 (from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) at Rockwell Tent, Makati – a last hurrah for the summer and the special Mommy month of May.  

This event aims to foster the relationship of moms and kids through activities that both can do together. While kids can learn from independent play as it nourishes creativity and imagination and organized activities with other kids as in summer classes, when parents and kids do activities together, it gives them a common sense of purpose and a goal. Kids love receiving the affection and undivided attention of their parents, and want to be able to spend as much time with them as possible. 

Let Mom and Me jumpstart your daily family play-time with a weekend full of bonding activities! The event is participated in by supporters of mom-child activities. 

Choose between a relaxing yoga or fun Zumba workout sessions led by Beyond Yoga, or do both! Learn what kind of dishes you and your little tots can do together with McCormick. For something more exciting, Coach Stauro of Coach and Kids, Inc. will teach moms and kids how to kick and punch with a taekwondo demonstration. Young Artist's Studio will spark your and your little one's creativity with a workshop session on painting, drawing and coloring together. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

La Pomme Kids

Hi mommies! I want to tell you all about La Pomme for Kids. It's an online shop filled with handmade Pinoy goodies for the home. Then why does it have a French name? Pourquoi, en effet? Well, the mommy behind this adorable shop is Apol Lejano-Massebieau. She married a French man and moved to the South of France many years ago. She's also the sister of a good friend, Jing.

I remember reading Apol's blog (a lovely blog on motherhood and the simple life) and she was ranting about how the French was telling her how to cook rice and Apol was so exasperated. You don't teach an Asian how to cook rice, sweetheart!

Apol, her husband and their daughter, Lilou, have now moved back here, to Bohol. There they employ artists and artisans to make beautiful objects for the home. I'm so inspired! I want to do the same—sell handmade or Pinoy-made things!

You can shop for La Pomme for Kids online. Or, you can also browse the products yourself live on May 1! Let's go!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Topaz Mommy is shopping at Taste Central!

This post is brought to you by Taste Central.

I have a new favorite online shopping place. It's Taste Central. I signed up in February and then I got a box of goodies from them, which thrilled me to bits. I love how Taste Central offers the good stuff. Not ordinary stuff. The really good stuff!

So I already have on my wish list some goodies for the home and kitchen which I blogged about over at Topaz Horizon. Taste Central enjoyed my post so much, they asked me to check out the selection for moms and kids. That made a lot of sense since I am, after all, a mommy. Oh my, oh my. I think I'd rather buy for my boys! The stuff they have for kids are so cool and cute! Here's what's on my new wish list:

Babiators Junior - Soooo cute! I really want to get baby aviators for my kids, especially Vito because Vito loves sunnies.
Vito had yellow-rimmed Ray-Ban Wayfarers, which he loved to wear all the time, but Iñigo grabbed at them one day and one of the temples broke off. So it's time to replace them with unbreakable sunnies designed especially for kids!

Weplay Basic Motor Skills Set - Always a good idea if you have active kids in the house and they're still developing their basic motor skills! Basic motor skills include climbing, jumping, balancing, coordination, walking up and down stairs. Plus, it stimulates their imagination since they can build buildings, towers, bridges!

Weplay Putt Putt Balance Board - This is for kids aged 3 and up. Vito's still 2-and-a-half while Iñigo is just about to turn one year (gasp!). So it's not really needed yet. But I still think it's cool to have!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Preparing for our mini day in the sun

Today is the last day I'm applying tretinoin on my face. Tretinoin is my beauty secret now. My pimples are gone, my acne marks are lightening, my skin is looking tight! Miracle cream! But tretinoin also makes skin very sensitive to the sun so I'm discontinuing use this week because, in a few days, my little family is off to Edsa Shangri-la Hotel for a retreat!

To protect and care for our skin, I'm bringing these:
My family loves NIVEA. We've been using NIVEA products even before we were a family! Their products just really work. For our pool escapade, I already packed the NIVEA Sun Kids Swim & Play Sun Lotion, which has SPF 50+. But I'm also bringing this along. It's a spray!

My problem with lotions, you see, is my kids never sit still long enough for me to apply everywhere. Okay, not just my kids, make that "my boys." Yes, their father included. I'm hoping this spray, which is also cooling and refreshing, will be the solution!

These are for me. Like I said, my face is tretinoin-ed now so it's very sensitive. I usually use Kiehl's or Lancome for my face but those are expensive haha so for maximum sun exposure, I'm going to need a more affordable sunscreen that I can pour on my face but is just as effective. Celeteque! I'm going to put this baby on my face and neck and then I'm going to top that with Benefit Hello! Flawless Oxygen liquid foundation with even more sunscreen and then I'm going to put on a big hat.

I hope no one mistakes me for a Korean or a Japanese. Every single time I put on my big straw hat, people think I'm Korean or Japanese!

Then, after all that sun exposure, I'm going to soothe my skin with Celeteque's After-Sun Gel and pamper my hair with L'Oreal Professionnel's Mythic Oil. I've heard so much about this oil but I've not tried it. I'm so excited to try it out this week at Shangri-la!

The baby's excited to try out the products, too! I'll tell you all about our poolside adventure next weekend! Meanwhile, enjoy this one!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Our family day at Power Plant

Power Plant is our mall. Well, we don't own it haha but we've been patrons for maybe a decade or so now. Anyway, if you ever want to meet me or see the kids, just hang out at Power Plant and we're sure to bump into each other.

In fact, I've met many blog readers at Power Plant—while lined up at Rustan's grocery, at Fully Booked, while eating at Cibo Bimbi, and especially at Baby Co. Women just come up to me, say hi, say, "Oh, hi Vito! Is this Iñigo?" and then they chat with me about marriage and my kids and I'm smiling and nodding but my thought bubble is, "OMG, do I know this person?!?" Haha. Yes, pleeeeease magpakilala kayo, mga mothers! I'm super friendly (unless the kids are having a tantrum or I'm paying bills, then hindi ako namamansin haha!) so do please say how we know each other.

Anyway, so today, after a week of confinement at home (Vince was sick), we ventured out and had the most incredible fun. Either we have really simple joys or we've been cooped up too long because we had such an amazing day!

First, we ate lunch at Cibo Bimbi. We always eat here. Always!
Iñigo was bored by this time.
Vito didn't want his picture taken!

Then we went to Build City to buy the boys LEGO. Iñigo may still have the smallest hands but he plays with the LEGOs just the same. He always imitates his older brother!

Then we trooped off to Powerville. It was Iñigo's first time on rides! We've been here before, with just Vito but I remember him getting dizzy on the ride so we never went back. But today, we asked Vito if he wanted to try the rids and he said, "Yeah!" We got a VIP pass (it makes the most sense, mas matipid super) and the kids rode almost everything! It was crazy!
Vito chose a pink Cadillac for his first ride.
Vito got dizzy on the carousel. Poor baby!
For his next car ride, Vito asked for Iñigo to join him.
They kept pushing buttons and steering the wheels.
Iñigo did everything Vito did. Soo cute!
These didn't impress the boys so much haha.
Chewbacca didn't move, which was ok. I didn't want to ride it!

Vito and his baby brother had so much fun! And what happens to little boys who had so much fun?
At Gong Cha, Vito had his fresh milk while Iñigo slumbered. 

What a great day. I live for days like this! I hope your weekend is just as lovely!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Soul tired

Yesterday, I brought Iñigo to the playground just before the end of an incredibly tiring day. Having small children, every day is an incredibly tiring day but yesterday was unusual because even my soul was tired.

I said hello to the other children, to the yayas, to the other mommies. Then I saw my Praying Wives friends Earl and Claire. I didn't say anything. I didn't even frown. I know I smiled, I know I did, so I don't know why Earl looked at me and said, "Come here. You need a hug."

And she hugged me tight and I thought I was going to collapse then and there in complete exhaustion. But she held me up and she said, "Let it go. Let it out." And I did.

Dear God, I love my family and I am beyond grateful I have my beautiful boys. They are more than enough! And yet You, in all Your wisdom, also gave me friends who can see right through my soul and hold my head up during those times when motherhood threatens to drown me. Because You know that I can't do it all. Thank You for sending me real-life angels to help me look up and beyond the nitty-gritty and see how truly blessed I am.

God bless you, Dada, Cathee, Earl and Claire! You have saved me from the brink many times!

Monday, April 15, 2013

On TV to talk about my new life as a WAHM

I forgot to tell you about my guest stint on UNTV's breakfast show, Rise & Shine! I was invited by host Hilary Ann Isaac to talk about being a work-at-home mom. Yes, that's what WAHM means.

I told the person who contacted me, "But I've only been doing this for a few months. I don't know what to say!" And he replied, "It's okay. We have another more experienced WAHM. You can be the inexperienced one." Hahaha!

Well, it turned out I was the only one who showed up. So I was pretty nervous. I was up next after the cooking segment and I was getting butterflies in my tummy. I thought that was rather strange since I've been guesting on TV shows and radio programs for years and years! Then I realized I always appeared on shows before to represent a brand or a company. I've never represented ME. That kinda made it really scary!

This is Louella Cordova. As you can see, she is covered from head to toe. I didn't get the memo that UNTV was a Christian channel and everyone's strongly discouraged from exposing skin. So I was very conscious of my bare arms and legs!

Thank goodness Louella and Hilary are the funniest, most dynamic and truly entertaining TV hosts I've ever met! They put me at ease immediately! But they gave me a throw pillow to cover my legs first haha.

They asked me why I chose to leave the workplace, how can a mommy earn from the home, how does one work and be a homemaker at the same time.

Here I am talking about resources, how important it is to read books, ask advice from fellow WAHMs and look up helpful websites. I said that working from home is still as busy but in an office, you have a boss who tells you what to do, gives you deadlines, does a performance review. When you're a WAHM, you're the boss and employee. So no one's there to tell you what to do, how you're doing or even to nag you when you're feeling lazy. It's all up to you!

I hope I still made WAHMing a fun thing to do. I loved being a career woman and I do not regret putting my career before everything when I was younger. But when the kids came, I decided on a new arrangement—I still wanted my career but I also wanted to be with my babies. Thankfully, I was prepared for the transition. It took a year to prepare! So if you're also planning on becoming a WAHM, take careful steps as early as now!

Louella, me and Hilary. They're the best TV show hosts ever! They're so upbeat and their rapport with each other is amazing. You should watch them in action!

That's the guy who cooks. I didn't get his name! Anyway, watch Rise & Shine every weekday from 8am-9am on UNTV!

Thanks, Rise & Shine, for having me on your show. Sa uulitin!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anmum app for pregnant mommies!

This post is brought to you by Anmum.

This is not me!
Let's get this out of the way: I am NOT pregnant. But I have to finish my sponsored post series for Anmum, hence all these Anmum preggy posts!

You know, when I first got pregnant with Vito in 2009, I felt so relieved that there was a wealth of information online from credible parenting and health websites. The pregnancy was a complete shock so I was so unprepared—I didn't know anything about pregnancy, proper nutrition, giving birth, and post-natal care! It's a good thing that my husband bought an iPad because I relied on that mobile device—aside from my OBG and the What to Expect books!—for all my pregnancy concerns.

Now, pregnant women are even luckier. Anmum is offering the Anmum Pregnancy App, the handy mobile tool to help you with your journey into motherhood!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Balik Alindog Project: Clear up the tired mommy face

Balik Alindog. I got that term from Mommy Fleur. She keeps talking about it on Facebook so I finally decided that I'll do the same. I'm going to get off my lazy ass and make myself drop-dead gorgeous! First on the list: Do something about my pimply face!

I have always had acne. It's a hormonal thing. But my late 20s till I got preggy at 33 was a great time since I was on the contraceptive pill. With my hormones under control, my skin was great. Then I got pregnant and, boy oh boy, my face just exploded. Even when I went back on the pill, I couldn't use the skin-clearing kind because I'm breastfeeding.

The great thing is I found Clarisonic. My Clarisonic Mia has improved my skin drastically. I'm not pimply anymore! But now I have a new problem—now that my face isn't red and raw, I can see the damage: scars, sun spots, dark spots, pregnancy warts, and the unevenness brought about by just being sleepless and tired and old. Yes, motherhood.

Now, I'm tired of looking tired. I'm tired of covering up my scars with concealer. And I want my husband to still think I'm beautiful! I especially want my sons to have a beautiful mommy. I've been offered free treatments from various big-name centers but they want to laser off my face or use sound waves on it or Botox it. Vince glowered at me, "Promise me you will never do anything unnatural to your face. Promise me!!!" So I did.

As I was resigning myself to looking tired and scarred for the rest of my life, my friend Marcie Linao dropped by the house a few weeks ago, looked at my face and said, "Mare, gusto mo pumunta sa derma ko?" See? It's gotten that bad that someone actually wanted me to go to a derma! After interrogating Marcie about her derma ("No lasers? No Botox? No scary machines?") and being assured that it's just simple facials and at-home medications, I went to Marcie's derma, Dr. Yanee Vasquez of Aesthetic Science. I went just before Holy Week. I wanted to be able to hide during the first stage of treatment. Thankfully, treatment involved just a thorough cleansing and digging out of blemishes, and a couple of simple peels to bring out my fresh skin. Dr. Yanee said there's a lot to do (sigh!) since we have to undo sun damage. She said, "The only real and effective anti-aging cream is sunblock. Lots of it. Apply in the morning and reapply in the afternoon. Even when you're just inside the house!"

As of today, two weeks after my first treatment, my face is almost done peeling. It feels so smooth—no bumps! And my scars and freckles are disappearing. I'm so happy! And I did nothing scary or expensive or major. What a relief!

I'm really looking forward to Dr. Yanee's promise that I'll be more beautiful. No pimples, less scars, no spots, fresh-looking, with tight, even and glowing skin! She said it will take us a while, around 3 months for initial visible improvement, and then it'll get better throughout the year! I can already see improvement at just 2 weeks. So I'm very excited, not just for me but for my husband and kids, too. My boys are going to be extra proud!

Aesthetic Science is at Jupiter Street, Makati City. Call for an appointment.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Work-at-home mom, 2 babies, no maids

I just described myself.

I actually like having no maids. I've said that before and I'll say it again: Life is better without strangers in your house. Especially strangers you treated kindly, as part of your family, and then they go and steal P10,000 from you just like that.

Life is so much better. If you call a not-so-clean house and fast food meals a better life. Well, fellow blogger Tara of Chronicles of Vanity came by the house a couple of days ago and she said our house was clean. Hooray! I hope you meant it, Tara! And thanks so much for bringing us food!

To be fair to me and Vince, we do the chores and I cook as much as we can but our time is really divided between the kids and our work. Household chores can wait! And between chores and sleep, you can bet which one wins!

But life is so much nicer. The kids are happier. Their parents are happier. There's no pakikisama now. We have privacy again. We feel secure. We know what exactly is happening with the babies. Sigh! If only we didn't have to work! Seriously. If we had all the money in the world, we will NOT have household help. We'll cocoon ourselves, take care of the kids ourselves, cook, clean, everything! It's just that we have to work.

We really want to continue with this no-maids arrangement. Aside from what I said in the previous paragraph, we'd save a ton of money, especially with that Kasambahay Law, which is hard on the budget. Vince and I have admitted we do need a housekeeper who can clean maybe twice a week. Maybe a babysitter for some afternoons so Vince and I can work. But we can't find anyone who wants that arrangement! Do you know anyone who can come in just a few times a week?

Anyway, I was thinking that my word this year was simplify. To be very honest, my life wasn't getting any simpler. I'm busier now than I was when I was employed! And so many fabulous things are happening because of my blogs! My life was getting more exciting!

Then the theft happened. Suddenly I had no household help. Meetings were cancelled. Deadlines were missed. Work truly took a backseat. And you know what? Life is so much simpler and sweeter. Of course, I'm more tired. I can't even find the time to brush my hair. But I'm happy. Maybe this is how this year is supposed to be.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Judy Ann Santos, Ryan Agoncillo and kids on Smart Parenting

And I wrote the cover story!

This was a great interview because Judy Ann remembered me! She was actually happy to see me again. I first interviewed Judy Ann three years ago (see here). Back then, I had a hard time interviewing her. She was pleasant and all but I felt like she was giving me canned answers. But now, with this interview, she was candid and happy and confident. She admitted it later, too. She said she used to be so insecure—yes, even though she's a superstar!—and she would be so guarded about her image. But when she became a mother, she truly found who she is and she doesn't care anymore about what people think of her.

She told me, "Nakuha ko na ngayon yung confidence that I’ve been looking for the past how many years of my life. Ngayon lang ako confident sa kung sino ako, kung ano ako. I’m 35, turning 35 this year. How else can I reinvent myself? Sa papaano pang paraan ko pa maipapakita sa mga tao na I am more than this? But the again I realize that there’s nothing to prove anymore. I don’t have to prove anything. The only thing I have to prove now is I have to prove to my children that I am a good mom and a good wife to my husband. Wala na akong ibang tao pang kailangan isipin."

That's what motherhood did to me, too! It gave me a new power, a new confidence. Judy Ann and I talked about that, too. How motherhood made us "unpleasant" in the sense that we're no-nonsense, no-bullshit now. Don't waste a mother's time!

Judy Ann and Ryan got so gigil with Iñigo. But they're not so hot on having another kid just yet. They're happy with the dynamics of their family now. I guess it must be so annoying to be asked about having more kids all the time but I had to ask.
More children? (Laughs out loud) We’re thinking, we’re thinking about it, maybe one more pero it’s easier said... Well, yung done thing, easy lang naman din yun (laughs). Yung pagpapalaki, yun ang the hard part. Now kasi parang perfect balance na tig-isa kami ng bata lalo na kapag nasa trips kami abroad. Siguro by the time na magkaroon kami ng pangatlo, si Yohan would be talagang overly independent already.    
Well, I was going to bring this up. When we were both pregnant...  (Laughs) Yes!
Sabi mo sa akin na ipagsusunod-sunod mo... Oo, naisip ko rin yan.  
Para isang payatan na lang. Oo nga. 
O, ako ang nag-ganun. Here he is, the second one! Ako ang nagpabuntis agad. Oh, ikaw pala yung nakinig sa sinabi ko! 
You wanted sunod-sunod para isang payatan lang and I thought that’s a great idea. Obviously, hindi ko siya nagawa (laughs)!

More photos from the shoot here.
I interviewed Ryan, too. That guy is so smart. It was really refreshing talking with him because he's also not bullshitting you. He reminded me of Vince actually!

For more about the Agoncillos, grab the April issue of Smart Parenting now!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pregnant? Don't eat for two! Autism is linked to obesity in pregnancy

You know how everyone tells you to eat and eat and eat when you're pregnant? Don't do it. My OBG, Dr. Rebecca Singson, actually put me on a diet when I was pregnant both times. She told me, "I want you to gain between 25-30 lbs only. It gets dangerous if you go beyond that." I gained 33 lbs for each pregnancy (Oops!). She said big pregnancies puts women at risk. You get high blood pressure, which can endanger your life and the baby's life. You get diabetes. You'll have a hard time delivering vaginally. You get fat.

But here's another alarming reason why you should stop shoveling food into your pregnant body: Your child may suffer autism. Research, and this was research reported last year, has shown that there is a link between autism and being fat before and while pregnant.

Here's screencaps from the Wall Street Journal article:

Autism now affects 1 in 50 kids. That's alarming. I know 6 kids with autism. Everyone says autism is an epidemic. But it's not contagious. So why are more and more kids getting diagnosed with this condition? Well, I believe it's because we're a generation that eats a lot. That's just what I believe. Science hasn't pinpointed the exact factors that cause the condition, but if research has found that being fat before you got pregnant and while you were pregnant raises the risk for autism to a whopping 60%, then, mommies, watch your weight! That's 60%! That's a huge risk!

Of course, there is still no single reason why our kids have autism so, moms, never ever think it's your fault. There's genetics, there are environmental triggers. Studies have shown that autism happens more in kids with older moms, or moms who lived near a highway, or moms who didn't take prenatal vitamins, or if the gap between the kids was less than a year. Guess that means we should all clean up the environment, plan our families, and have kids in our 20s. Oh dear.

I guess I shouldn't get pregnant anymore. I may have had healthy pregnancies, with my weight controlled, but I'm 36, I live along EDSA, my Papa has diabetes and there's autism in the family, too. Genetics, check. Environmental triggers, check. Getting pregnant is not so good an idea anymore for me!

But if you're a woman wanting to be a mom or you're pregnant, be vigilant and watch your weight! Now more than ever, we must have healthy pregnancies—eat healthy, eat moderately, take prenatal vitamins, exercise. Again and again, I can't stress it enough, watch your weight!

April is Autism Awareness Month. Read up on the condition. Learn how you can lower your unborn child's risk, how to check your child for early signs of autism (early diagnosis and intervention can make a huge difference!), how to get help and treatment, and how to treat children with autism and their parents (with kindness and compassion, of course!).