Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Time flies

Vito at Iñigo's one-month check up:

Vito at Iñigo's eighth-month check up:

Too fast, too fast, my dear little boy! Don't be in such a hurry. Mama can't catch up!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Babywearing love!

This is me and 2-month-old Iñigo. He's 8 months old now and I miss this closeness we had back when I was still wearing him. I could still wear him now but he's too big to cuddle like that. Babywearing a tiny baby felt like being pregnant again, only this time, I can look down and kiss his forehead.

I get asked a lot about babywearing. I think that's because I used to say my firstbornVito hated the stroller, which prompted people to remark, "So how did you get around? You carried him?!" Yes, this was always asked in horror. Yup, we carried him in our arms. I guess that's how my skinny arms got big.

Back in 2010, I tried using a sling that Next9 so kindly sent me but, having no coach to teach me, I didn't know how to use it. Vito was always struggling in it. I was insecure about it. Yaya said Vito didn't have air. So I gave up.

Then Iñigo came along and by the time I was about to return to work, he still refused to drink expressed breastmilk from the bottle. He only wanted me! I had no choice but to bring him to work—the office, to meetings, to events!—with me. I didn't want to bring along a cumbersome stroller everywhere I go so it was either baby sling or resign from my job!

This time, I asked The Painter's Wife to help me. I'm sooo lucky that Eliza dropped by the house to personally teach me how to use the ring sling and the Saya (a more snug kind of sling). I'm sure she doesn't offer this personalized service often since she already has babywearing classes but try asking anyway!

I love babywearing because my hands are mostly free (I still keep at least one hand supporting baby's butt if I'm standing). I was able to type, eat, shop, write. I was also able to nurse Iñigo discreetly. And it was the easiest way to keep him asleep since my motion rocked him. I love having him sooo close to me. Like I said, it felt like being pregnant again but with the pleasure of actually cradling my baby in my arms.

There are many types of slings but I was most comfortable with the ring sling. So the great thing about babywearing classes is you get to try out many slings first before committing to buy one (or two). While slings are waaaay cheaper than baby carriers and strollers, you still want to choose the right sling for you and your baby.

One thing you must be aware of is not all baby carriers are safe. If done incorrectly, baby might suffocate, slip out and fall. Positioning of baby, snugness of sling, etc must be correct at all times! Actually, in these photos, you'll see that Iñigo is still positioned a bit low (he must be high enough that I can kiss his head without bending). Oops! I had the pics taken before I adjusted him! So do try to attend a babywearing class or ask an expert to coach you. Here's a guide: http://www.thebabywearer.com/articles/HowTo/Positioning.pdf.

Don't let that scare you! The benefits of babywearing—an ancient practice worldwide that we must revive—are amazing:
  • The carried baby feels secure and therefore cries less. 
  • Because he is at the same level as mommy, he is more engaged with and alert to his surroundings, making carrying time learning time.   
  • Properly carried (baby's face completely visible to carrier), the baby sees the face of mommy or daddy and develops interpersonal skills earlier and faster.

I'm glad I wore Iñigo. I don't regret not wearing Vito since, in his case, we carried him a lot, too, but without the convenience of a sling. Do try babywearing, too!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Plans went awry


Crazy busy January. This was not how I imagined my January. I thought I'd be a housewife—cooking, fixing up the house, organizing, going to the playground with the kids, going on romantic dates with the husband.

I did do all the above plus met unbelievable weekly (sometimes daily!) deadlines for magazines, the newspaper column, websites, blogs. Plus meetings with clients. Plus events. Plus prayer meetings. Plus dates with friends. Plus being with family.

I am no longer sleeping. I am busier now than when I was employed!

I should be happy. And I am! It feels so good to be writing again! And it feels so good to the ego to be so wanted, you know?

But this was not how I imagined my January. I didn't imagine (or want) to be busy. I thought I'd be a housewife! I planned on being a donya! Pa-parlor-parlor lang, ladies' lunch with my friends that I never see, do crafting, finally read the many books I've been buying over the years, finally read the magazines I subscribe to, bake desserts, take classes in this and that, do a Kapitolyo eating tour with Vince, visit museums with the kids, travel with my boys, mani-pedi, massage, yoga... Leisurely life lang naman ang plan ko for 2013! Been busy since 1999 dammit. I've earned my rest!


Must reassess things.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My secret shopping place is Watsons

Okay, been gone for a week. Had unbelievable deadlines. Still do. I shouldn't be blogging since I have two more deliverables that are due. This WAHM life, it ain't as easy as I thought it would be. It's not stressful—not at all!—but it is really difficult to work when you have cuties like this little guy around all the time. Very distracting!
This was last month, just before Christmas. Iñigo looks even bigger and cuter now!

Anyway, we were at Watsons because I periodically stock up on hand wash and wet wipes. I use all sorts of alcohol-free wipes, and Watsons wipes are inexpensive but strong and wet. Some wipes tear easily and some wipes are not wet, so annoying! Vince and I are also huge fans of hand wash. We always appreciate hand washes from his aunts from the States (they smell really yummy!), but Watsons has a good collection of inexpensive hand washes so we hoard those.  

The great thing about my Watsons hoard is when visitors come by the house, I have an instant goody bag. Ya, I'm like that. I like sending away people with stuff. Must be the effect of all the press events I've attended through the years!

Anyway, these photos were taken at Watsons Podium. Really just wanted to capture Iñigo being a cutie patootie (and me being absolutely so not photo-ready!) but as I was looking at it, the background caught my attention.

That's beauty queen-turned-TV host Venus Raj and her mommy. They're part of Watsons campaign and I remembered that Watsons sent me behind-the-scenes photos of the campaign! Here they are!




Grabe, hindi talaga Photoshopped! Look at the behind-the-scenes pics. They look exactly like the finished product! If that were me, oh, super dami pang dapat gawin—minimize tummy area, slim down arms, remove acne scars, etc. Christine Jacob-Sandejas and her husband Paco Sandejas, and Venus Raj and her mommy are perfect Watsons brand ambassadors because they look so healthy and alive. How does one become a brand ambassador? Parang type ko yan!

Anyway, Watsons is promoting three health programs: Compliance Packs, Buy Generics & Save Packs, and Watsons Health Packs.

Buy Generics & Save Packs - Mommies, this is good news for us! The best medicines from trusted pharma companies like Unilab, Ritemed, Sandoz, UHP, Pharex and others are up to 80% off!

Health Packs - But it's always best to prevent illnesses, diba? So Watsons came up with conveniently packed adult vitamins and over-the-counter medicines so our families stay strong and healthy.

Compliance Packs - This program naman is for our parents. These are prescription meds for elderly illnesses (like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol) priced up to 80% less than the leading brand! Plus, patients are reminded to strictly comply with their prescription.

This is such good news to us mommies!!! For more info, check out Watsons on Facebook.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Who wants to honeymoon in Tagaytay's Crosswinds Resort Suites? UPDATED with winner!

CONTEST IS CLOSED.

I do! And now that it's finally cool here in Manila, I'm imagining how blissfully chilly it must be in Tagaytay. Sooo perfect for cuddling with the hubby! And if that's something you want to do, too (with your hubby, not mine!), then this just may be your lucky chance to win a...

Yes, my mommy friends, Topaz Mommy, together with Crosswinds Resort Suites and Deal Grocer, is feeling romantic and wants to spread the love by giving one lucky mommy a night at the beautiful Crosswinds Resort Suites in Tagaytay!

This gift voucher is inclusive of: set breakfast for 2 persons, a spacious studio with a fully equipped kitchen (in case you really want to hole up and just cook your food so you won't need to go out!), use of the facilities, and car service within Crosswinds.
If you can't bear to be away from your kids, the room is big enough for a family of 4. Two kids (10 years old and below) may stay in the room for free!

So how do you win this mini-honeymoon? Via Twitter!

1. Follow @DealGrocerPH and @FrancesASales on Twitter.
2. Tweet this: "@DealGrocerPH & @FrancesASales are giving away a mini-honeymoon at the Swiss-inspired Crosswinds Resort Suites! http://www.mommytopaz.com/2013/01/who-wants-to-honeymoon-in-tagaytays.html Pls RT!"

OR in case you don't have Twitter...

1. Like Deal Grocer and Topaz Horizon on Facebook.
2. Post this as your status: "@Deal Grocer and @Topaz Horizon are giving away a mini-honeymoon at the Swiss-inspired Crosswinds Resort Suites! http://www.mommytopaz.com/2013/01/who-wants-to-honeymoon-in-tagaytays.html"

That's it!

I'll announce the winner next Wednesday, Jan. 23. So one lucky mommy can have a lovely getaway because she deserves it! Mwah!


Update: Jan. 23
The winner of a mini-honeymoon is...
Rocel B. Alba-Villasis!



Only TipTap Soft Soles for Iñigo's cute feet!

After I posted the funny photos of my family trying desperately to have a nice Christmas picture, many mommies sent questions about Iñigo's cute shoes. Well, I'm glad you asked because Iñigo only uses the coolest and cutest baby shoes ever: Tip Tap Soft Soles!

"Yes, for my cute baby feet, I only use Tip Tap Soft Soles. They're soft and thin-soled so my developing feet can actually feel the floor. That way, my muscles form well. Because the soles are slip-proof, I can take my first steps with confidence. I also think they're yummy—I'm forever stuffing a shoe in my mouth! But I'm not scared because they're made of non-toxic materials so I can chomp on them all I want!"

"Now excuse me while I figure out how to tie my laces."

Sooo cute! Iñigo's reasons for loving his Tip Tap shoes are all good and sound but his silly mommy loves Tip Tap because of the cool designs! My baby's wearing loafers at our photo shoot and corduroy booties on our sofa. Loafers for when he feels preppy, cords when he feels hipster! He has a few more in his closet but they're still a size or two big. I'll show them to you later on when they finally fit!

Seriously, I do love Tip Tap not just because they're stylish but also because they were designed for baby feet. It's very important that the sole is flexible. Studies have shown that those rubber shoes, Crocs and the like may protect the feet by being thick but that very thickness prevents the muscles and bones of your chid's feet and legs from developing correctly. Had I known about Tip Tap in 2010, I'd have gotten them for Vito!

You can get Tip Tap Soft Soles from Mothering Earthlings (they're on a mega sale!), Zalora and from Tip Tap's Facebook page. Their FB page also has a list of department stores and toy shops that carry their crazy cute shoes. Shop away!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Absolute-ly pure!

This post is brought to you by Absolute Pure Distilled Water.

This post, as I'm sure you've noticed from the title, is made possible by Absolute Pure Distilled Water. And I'm happy to do a sponsored post for Absolute because it's the water Vito first drank!

As I mentioned before, I mixed fed Vito when he was around 5 months old—mostly my breastmilk but if my stored expressed milk ran out, then he had goat's milk formula as back-up. To make his formula milk, I had to choose the cleanest water I could find and after tons of research (yes, all this for water!), I decided on Absolute.

Feeling Judy Ann Santos lang naman ako!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mommies, care to have a face lift?

I'm 36 years old. I've been told that I look young for my age, and that statement, while kind, always discombobulated me. What does 36 look like anyway? I mean, to me, this is what 36 looks like:

Isla Fisher

Reese Witherspoon

Ali Larter

Alicia Silverstone

That's 36. Look at them. They're my age and we're all in the same stage in our lives, come to think of it. Stable career, wives and mommies. Yep, that's what 36 feels like. But hey, if that's what 36 looks like, well, I need some improvement, starting with my tummy! But thanks, everybody, for saying I look good for 36. Whatever that means haha. 

PR maven Vangie Ruiz invited me and Inquirer's beauty columnist Kinny Salas Amparo (standing).
So speaking of improvements, I was invited to have an intimate chat with another fabulous wife and mom, Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo. She's not my age, she's older, since she's the same age as my husband's eldest sister, Lizelle. But looking at her flat tummy and slim legs encased in metallic trousers and her feet in zebra-print Gucci heels, wow, she looked really good. Especially since she has a 3-month-old baby!

Dr. Aivee is the glamorous woman at left. In other news, I just want to say this was no makeup day!
Thank you, Clarisonic! You are worth every dollar I spent on you!

I was so inspired when I talked with Dr. Aivee. She's one of the most in-demand dermatologists in the country, with a celebrity following, with the most amazing and luxurious clinic I have ever seen. But what's so cool about her is that she's built her career around her family. Her schedule accommodates her children, her clinic was designed to be a second home (with a playroom!) so her preschooler and toddler can play and she can breastfeed her baby. Wow! I'm also getting there. I am building my career around my family now and it isn't easy but I know I'm on the right path.

Anyway, Dr. Aivee invited us over to her posh clinic because she was so excited about Ulthera. It's this new treatment that uses ultrasound technology to lift saggy skin. In the old days, if you had droopy eyelids, falling cheeks, loose neck, etc, you had a face lift. Dr. Aivee says, "A face lift is when we cut your skin off, stretch it, staple it behind your ears, then trim the excess skin away." Yes. If that description didn't appeal to you either, then Ulthera is for you!

It looks like the prenatal machine!
Ulthera is a nonsurgical and non-invasive treatment for the face and neck that uses ultrasound to lift and tone loose skin. Mommies, I'm sure you know what an ultrasound is because we became good friends with that machine when we were pregnant! So we know that this is safe.

Ulthera works by using ultrasound waves to look into the layers of the skin and to stimulate collagen production where it's needed. No guessing involved, just precise targeting of what you want improved. For example, a lot of us have double chins. Or our eyelids have begun to droop, making our eyes smaller. Or you have fat cheeks. Ulthera can specifically target the problem area and in just one session. The best part? No downtime and a lot less expensive than a face lift!

So here's what to expect: tightened skin, facial muscles lifted and toned. What I like about Ulthera (although I haven't tried it) is the fact that the change is gradual. You'll never be accused with an embarrassing, "May pinagawa ka sa mukha mo, no?" Dr. Aivee says you see the effects at around 2 months after the procedure, and that as time goes by, your face looks better and younger. If you have low EQ, then that may not be good news for you. But if you're fine with delayed gratification, then Ulthera is perfect.

Actually, you don't need to wait for your face to go south before doing Ulthera. Dr. Aivee says, "What's great about Ulthera is it can be a preventive treatment. So you won't look drastically changed or stretched, unlike with a face lift. Just one treatment and you'll look fresh." Dr. Aivee also says that she has a lot of teens who come in and get Ulthera since the treatment is also great for contouring faces, you know, so that your cheekbones and jawline get emphasized.

So, mga mommies, if you feel a need to touch up here and there (I think my eyes might need some loving actually), head over to Dr. Aivee's clinic for a consultation. For locations, schedules and appointments, go to her website.


*Photos courtesy of Spectrumed. Celebrity photos are the most recent ones of the stars. Grabbed from JustJared.com. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vito's super cute pillow

My eldest boy is very much like his father. They are sooo alike, it's creepy cute! One of the things they have a penchant for is finding soft things for their hard heads. They love soft pillowy things!

That's Vince resting on our fat wabbit Galady, years and years ago.

And lookit who found a new pillow!
Iñigo happily investigating his ELC play mat.
When suddenly Vito sits on him! We say, "Vito, no! He's just a baby!" We say this all the time these days!
So Vito slides down with an audible "Aaaah!" Look at that satisfied grin!
Iñigo tries to wiggle free and resume his play, to Vito's annoyance!
Iñigo wriggles away, with matching angry squeal!
Vito sighs and rolls down to Iñigo's thighs, which are hefty anyway so Vito is happy again!

Silly Vito. Any chance he gets, he makes Iñigo his pillow. Good thing the baby is sturdy. He actually seems to like all the cariño brutal he gets from his older brother! Cute little boys!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Welcome to the 'hood

Got this from coolest mom on the block, Daphne.



It's the motherhood
It's another 'hood
I'd like to welcome you
But now you're here for good!

Gotta smile at the threat and promise in that chorus! If you're a newlywed or single but having unprotected sex, think really hard about getting pregnant because it's not easy at all and neither is being a mom. But, hey, it's not called the best job in the world for nothing!

P.S. Let's revisit The Parent Rap for another laugh!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Writing my Life List

Martine of Dainty Mom suggested that I write a Life List. She brought it up when I was at her WAHMderful Workshop a couple of months ago. A Life List is a list of dreams and goals, more popularly known as a Bucket List, and I was pretty much excited to list down mine.

Well, it's been a few weeks now and I find myself stumped in the most wondrous way possible. I don't have a life list because I already have everything I ever wanted! I even have more than I wanted. It's insanely amazing!

  • I never believed in marriage nor in true love but of all the fantastic luck in the world, I found my The One and he married me and I am amazed at how much true love has changed my life.
  • I never wanted children but God gave me two adorable, incredible little boys who are my pride and joy every single day. I don't even know why I avoided having kids! They are precious to me!
  • I've always wanted to live in a condo because the homes I had lived in before, I never felt safe. We were always robbed or there were always Peeping Toms. Now I live in a beautiful home in the sky and we own it! No rent, no mortgage!
  • The one country I wanted to see since I was a little girl was England. And I've always wanted to travel alone and then with the love of my life. I've been to England for work (went alone) and for my honeymoon (with the love of my life obviously!).
  • All I ever wanted to do in life was write. When I was growing up, people discouraged me, saying writing won't earn me money. Well, I'm doing what I love and what I do pays the bills and a few luxuries! 
  • When I was 13, I declared that I will be a newspaper columnist of a national broadsheet by 30 and a magazine editor of an international title by 35. Well, I became the editor-in-chief of the Philippine edition of OK! first (at 30) and then a columnist for Manila Bulletin much later on (at 36). 
  • I also wanted my work to come out in big magazines. Well, I've been published in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Seventeen, Smart Parenting, Candy, Preview, Entrepreneur, Total Girl and K-Zone. That's pretty much a list of the biggest magazines in the country! It wasn't easy, not at all, but hard work does pay!

I'm not bragging. Believe me when I say that. It's good that we list down our blessings; that way we stop wanting what we don't have. That way, we think, "I am so blessed! I will be grateful!" instead of whining and feeling sorry for ourselves. By listing down my blessings, I'm made aware that I am living the life that I always dreamed about and I believe I deserve this life because I worked hard for it.

Well, I feel I deserve everything except my husband and my kids. I don't know what they're doing in my life. They are the most amazing, most wonderful, most beautiful people in the world and God gave them to me. Silly, selfish, nasty me. I know who I am and I am not the greatest person ever and yet God must see something good in me because He rewarded me with Vince, Vito and Iñigo.

Sometimes I cry at night because I'm scared I'd lose them. I can lose everything—the condo, the career, the travel, the everything—but isn't it ironic that the two things I never wanted to have (marriage and kids) are the two things I now cannot live without? Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way; but God directs his steps." Either God has a strange sense of humor or He just wanted to teach me that I can write a Life List as long as the rainbow but what really matters in life are few: love, family, health, friendship, faith. These are what we should want and cherish above all things.

Of course it's not bad to want things. I'm still thinking of my Life List! Like maybe, no pimples ever and see all the Disneylands in the world or feature Oprah on my column (!!!). It's always good to dream. But I'm putting love, family, health, friendship and faith on the top of that list. If the dream doesn't involve them, then maybe that shouldn't be part of my Life List!

Okay, now I'm excited to write down my Life List!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking back, moving forward


If I were the glass-half-empty kinda person (and to be very honest, I actually am), I'd look back at 2012 and think, "What a bad year." I had a delicate pregnancy, I had hired a bad woman to take care of Vito, I had a hard time juggling work and motherhood, and OK! magazine got killed off.

But 2012 was actually pretty fantastic. Incredible! My pregnancy got better, I dismissed the bad maid and learned such good lessons from that experience that the yayas I have now are beyond great, God sent ladies of faith to me who are now my prayer partners and friends, my second life dream—to be a newspaper columnist—came true, Vito continued to grow more amazing, and sweet darling cutie pie Iñigo was born.

My life is full. Too full, in fact. So for 2013, I'm decluttering, discarding, simplifying. And that will apply to all—stuff, processes, relationships.


Simplifying doesn't mean living on one pair of shoes. But it certainly means 30 pairs is a lot, especially if I use just 3 pairs! Same applies to my bags and clothes. I've started unloading stuff actually. Gave away around 50 dresses and a few shoes to my sister and niece. They looked great in my clothes! The rest I donated to charity. Already I feel lighter and better!

Simplifying doesn't mean it's the easier way, though. For example, I order a lot of fast food because for a busy mom like me, it's the easier option to actually cooking food. But homecooked food is healthier and cheaper and better for me and my family. So that's what I aim to do!

Simplifying means giving more time to the people and things that matter most. Something I should remember this year since job offers are coming at me left and right. I'm grateful, of course, but I wanted to spend more time with my kids! So I should carefully choose what I'll work on and to keep in mind that I wanted a life devoted to my young sons. It's really helped me make good decisions, by the way!

Simplifying also means cutting off complicated and negative people from my life. That includes Facebook. I won't say anymore but if you're on Facebook, I'm sure you understand the stress! I'm just going to quietly block, unfriend and hide.

So that's my goal this year! I feel better about 2013 already! What is it about this year that makes me so happy? Oh, I know—my husband, my kids, my friends, our good health! They're all I really need. Simple!


*image from MelindaBunyard.com