Saturday, June 29, 2013

Our happy Papa's day

Vince doesn't think much of Father's Day. He thinks Mother's Day is an important day and moms should really be treated super special but daddies, well, daddies shouldn't be fussed over. It's a guy thing, ya know. Despite that gruff attitude, Vince still super loved his Father's Day because we had so much fun fussing over him hehe!

First, Vince was very excited to buy his Father's Day gift: audioengine 5+ bookshelf speakers. Really amazing speakers! He got them from Dexterton in Greenbelt 5 and he was like a kid in a candy store. While he was talking shop talk with the Dexterton guy, the little boys explored the shop.

They had a little too much fun exploring! It's a miracle they didn't break anything! Anyway, with his spankin' brand new speakers all wrapped up in a box, Vince was a happy camper and ready for a big lunch! Since we are big fans of Cibo, off to Cibo we went.

We like Cibo because they like children. Cibo is obviously a family restaurant. Their paper mats are meant for coloring, they have crayons, they have high chairs that are actually clean, their service staff know how to treat kids. So we often eat at Cibo!

On Father's Day, they had a special meal for daddies so Vince got a big plate of juicy pork steak. That's Lombatine Di Maiale on the menu. I had my usual chicken sandwich and the kids had chips and spaghetti.

After our happy lunch, the boys burned it all off by running around the atrium and climbing up and down the stairs.

I met a really cute young lady, by the way! She's the daughter of a blog reader and we had our picture taken together and she said thank you and off she ran. (Hi, dear blog reader who I didn't meet! You have the most amazing daughter. She's so well mannered, confident and well spoken. I hope you said hi to me, too!)

After the big lunch and all that running around, we all went home. It wasn't even yet 1 pm and yet we've already done a lot, we were home, in bed for a nap, listening to awesome sound from the new speakers, and just amazed at how incredibly happy we are.

I'm incredibly happy that I have a husband who's the father I always imagined fathers to be. He's given me an awesome life, a very comfortable life. He encourages me, even pushes me to go after my dreams. He is full of wisdom and humor and life. He takes care of me and our boys. He is very hands on with raising them, giving them baths, washing their butts, changing their diapers, teaching them new skills, feeding them. Watching him loving me unabashedly in front of our sons and watching him being just as generous with his love to our boys is a great comfort and joy to me. Vince is an awesome father. My sons are in good hands.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My happy birth experiences can be yours, too

A story that I will never ever get tired of telling is the story of how I gave birth to my boys. I gave birth to Vito in 2010 and I gave birth to Iñigo in 2012. Both were incredibly easy births. But I was told by my OB that I made it easy. I found that a wonderful affirmation since I was prepared for the movie birth—the screaming, the huffing and puffing, the sweat, the tears, the cursing at the husband. Instead, I gave birth the Scientology way.

Say whut?!

Nope, I'm not a Scientologist. But I remember when Katie Holmes was preparing to give birth to Suri. News reports were splashed all over the tabloids that Scientologists had a silent birth policy—that's women should be silent while giving birth. Scientolgists explained that the passage of a child into the world should be a peaceful and joyful experience, that a screaming mother would traumatize the baby. Of course, everyone ridiculed the "cult" for that. I was one of them. Then five years later, I gave birth and while it wasn't totally quiet (I was joking with the medical team), I realized that it is possible to give birth calmly and happily.

Actually, when I saw the video of Kourtney Kardashian giving birth, I really got envious. I wanted to give birth that way. Put on my makeup while contracting, calmly choose nice clothes to wear to the hospital, reassure everyone around me, be gorgeous while I'm pushing, then actually reach down and pull out the baby myself! Kourtney did it to both her kids! She totally became my idol after that. It truly is possible to give birth calmly, happily... and in style!

Of course, no birth is exactly the same. While Vito's birth found me joking with the doctors and nurses while I was pushing, Iñigo's was excruciating. When the OB did an internal exam, she said she felt the baby's back or butt. Uh oh. She said she might have to reach inside with both hands to turn the baby. OMG! But while Vince and I were waiting, Iñigo couldn't wait. My body pushed him out (nope, I didn't push at all) and I felt every mighty painful contraction. That was kinda awful. Fortunately, because it was my second time, I wasn't so freaked out. I had a really good attitude about it so no trauma.

I guess I'm sharing this because I have a couple of friends about to give birth and they are terrified. I've assured them and encouraged them and even tried my best to make birth sound like the most exciting thing in the world. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it's unpredictable. Yes, things can go wrong. But fear makes it worse. Fear robs you of the joy of the occasion. So try not to be afraid.

I was fortunate enough to have supportive women who told me giving birth may be painful but nature designed a woman's body to bear children. In fact, someone told me—bless her soul—that giving birth will be my moment of glory. I will never feel as powerful and as tender, as god-like and as human. So instead of fearing childbirth, I was anticipating it.

Welcome to the world, Vito!

If you're a mommy about to give birth, congratulations! Don't be scared. Arm yourself with knowledge about the childbirth process. Exercise and have a healthy pregnancy. Discuss your birth plan with your doctor but don't get too attached to it in case circumstances demand for a change in plans. If you must undergo CS, trust that it's the best decision since your doctor won't recommend it if it's not necessary. Just make sure it's the doctor's decision and not yours. A lot of women opt for a CS so they won't feel pain but a CS is major surgery that should be your last resort. Click here to know why.

If it makes you feel better, go get a great haircut, get a Brazilian wax, bring pretty bedsheets for your hospital bed, or bring calming scented candles to your birthing pool if you want a water birth—nothing is too silly or frivolous. You're ushering a life into the world! That's powerful magic!

Most of all, remember that giving birth is natural to your body. You have to trust your body that it will do what it was meant to do. You are a warrior, mommy! Be brave and own the changes happening in your body. Fear will freeze your body. Panic will make you lose focus. Instead, listen to your body, be alert to the changes, feel the flow and ebb of the pain. The pain is actually exciting since you know that as the pain sharpens and gets more frequent, that means only one thing: your baby is coming! And that is the best news in the world!


*Katie, Tom and Suri photo from Just Jared, Kourtney photo from Glamour.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Praying Wives and kids at ACE Water Spa

I don't have photos of the water spa. There's like this huge sign in there that says no cameras, no cell phones, no everything. One look at that and you think, "WTH? What are they hiding in there?" Nothing really. Just really fabulous pools of heated, swirling, pounding water that is just about the most relaxing massage on the planet! 

It's really relaxing. We've been there twice and Iñigo always falls asleep in the water. The first time was with my Praying Wives group and some of our kids. The second time was with my Vince and our sons and his friend Jukka and his gorgeous family. I have photos of the first trip to ACE Water Spa here.

Well, photos of us at the buffet since no cameras allowed in the pool area. The food is really good, too! I didn't expect it to be haha but for P550 a head with drinks pa, it's a really good spread. Here's Iñigo getting candy from Kuya Justin.
Aww! What a good kuya! Good job, Justin! You're just like my Vito, always sharing. Well, Vito shares everything except the iPad haha.

Here are my good friends! From left, that's Maan with her sons Ezekiel and Ethan, Cathee with her eldest daughter Masha, birthday girl Claire, me with Iñigo, Tricia, and Dada with her unico hijo Justin.

We super loved ACE Water Spa! We used a deal group to get discounted tickets. I don't remember which kasi si Dada ang bumili ng coupons. But ACE has a fantastic VIP Card that I'm thinking of getting. It's like a buy one-take one treat! Maybe I'll buy one when we go this week!

I hope you're having a good week, mommies! My family just came from a lovely vacation and I have hundreds of photos to go through! Will definitely blog about it as soon as I resize all of the fab pics! Enjoy the rest of the week!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I want to be a WAHM and a CEO!

That's why I'm going to this workshop:

It was around 2008 that I decided I wanted to work from home. I liked my job then—I loved it!—but at the same time, I knew I didn't want to be a magazine editor forever. I didn't want a more glamorous job. I actually wanted to teach. There's a language school for Koreans in the condo where I live and every time I passed it, I thought to myself, "I could teach English to Koreans. I can also teach Creative Writing from my house." That was actually my first job—I worked for an online school for Koreans. Then in my second job as a preschool teacher in Ingenium School in Marikina, I taught Creative Writing for Kids during the summer. So teaching is something I do well.

Then in mid 2011, I accidentally started a satchel business that became too successful. My supplier couldn't keep up with the demand, I got overwhelmed, I didn't have a business plan, I didn't know what to do! So that business survived just a few months. Too bad. I could've been rich by now had I only known how to run a business!

So now that I'm working from home, I have big plans for Topaz Mommy. I want it to be the platform for my planned ventures—speaking engagements, brand ambassadorships, product lines, and of course, a writing school. Except that I'm scared stiff to even start anything because of what happened to the satchel business.

I'm really hoping the "WAHMeo Workshop Series: Brand and Build Your Online Biz!" will finally make me stop dreaming and start doing! I've attended a Manila Workshop just before I quit the corporate world. I went to "It's a WAHMderful Life: Real Ways to be a WAHM" because I was scared to quit my office job. Well, look at me now. I'm living the WAHMderful life! I even got featured in a magazine because I'm a fab WAHM! The workshops work!
For more details, click here.



Click here for more details and to register. Hope to see you at the workshop!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nikki's adorable baby shower

My friend Nikki is a few weeks away from popping out a baby boy and we're all so excited for her and her hubby, Bern! Last weekend, an adorable baby shower was thrown for the expectant couple and Nikki said I can share the happy news with all of my lovely readers.

Here we are at the photo wall. Rocco will be the new baby's name. Rocco means "rest" and I find that especially calming and meaningful especially after all the yearning and waiting that his parents went through. Now Nikki and Bern's hearts can rest from the yearning because now a new emotion will fill their days: delight!
With my own baby boy. My other baby boy preferred to play with his Papa and cousins.
With dear friends, Nicole and Kat.
The baby shower was held at Mom & Tina's Pasig. I love that place! Their event space is big and bright, the food is really good, and their staff so nice and helpful. Kat's sister, Nina Dy, decorated the venue. The theme was shabby chic and little lamb.
The pennants are book pages printed with silhouettes of farm life.
Centerpieces are balls and flowers made of yarn, wood blocks, bottles wrapped in twine.
The gift table. Mine is the one with the flower!
Lamb cookie souvenirs! The signs are for the photo wall.

Here are Nikki and Bern's guests arriving. Boys and girls came! Usually, baby showers are a female affair but since Bern is very actively involved in all things involving his baby, he had to be there. So the guys came over, too!

Iñigo loves his Tita Nicole! We had a mini date the week after. Nic is soooo good with kids, especially little boys. She can entertain them for hours!

Tita Elaine is getting married soon! Tita E, Iñigo can walk na. Just saying hehe

Honeymooners Mitor and Kabbie. We were talking about marriage and kainis kasi Mitor never makes patol kay Kabbie pag feel ni Kabbie mang-away (we all have those days, right? Right?). He just understands that she's tired or stressed then bakes her muffins. Whut?!

Actually, Bern is the same way. He doesn't bake (at least I don't think he does) but he's very maasikaso kay Nikki. So maalaga. These guys are soooo devoted to their wives! My hubby's devoted to me, too, ha. This is not a read-between-the-lines thing! But Vince is more of a practical carer. He makes sure we're all safe, he'll fix whatever's broken in the house, he cleans up after us, he makes sure we're all fed and bathed. But he doesn't hold my hand if I'm feeling out of sorts. He lets me sort that out myself hahaha.

Anyway! Back to the shower! There was a lot of yummy food. Of course! Mom & Tina's never disappoints. There was a lot of games and prizes. There's guess the celebrity pregnant mommy, what's the baby animal name, which kid belonged to which popular TV family show, etc. In these next photos, Nikki and Bern had to compete against each other and show who's more ready to have a baby. Like, how do you burp a baby? Nikki won. Or Bern let her win haha.
They were really cute. They were very demure about it but they were obviously excited about their baby. We're excited, too!

Here's the opening of the gifts. I got little Rocco a googoo&gaga onesie with matching shoes. I'm so happy (and relieved haha) that they both liked it. They're such a stylish couple! They'll definitely have super stylish kids. At least while Rocco still allows them to dress him. My Vito, who's almost 3, used to dress super cute. Then when he turned 2, he decided he dresses himself or he goes nekkid haha. Buti na lang Iñigo is still like a baby doll!

Nikki and Bern, we're excited to meet Rocco! It's the final stretch so get a lot of rest and sleep and couple time. Pretty soon, you'll be suffering sleepless nights, exhaustion and delicious, delirious and addicting love!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Topaz Mommy's ad rates going up in July!

Topaz Mommy is getting more popular! Since my ad rates are based on my page views, my rates are going up in July!

Book your ads, sponsored posts, giveaways and reviews now while it's still cheap! I have the cutest media kit (I'm very proud of it!) that I'd love to send to brands and parenting blogs interested in advertising on Topaz Mommy. Please email me at frances@topazhorizon.com to find out how we can work together.

Exciting times!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

St. Luke's Global City's breastfeeding policy

I am so proud I gave birth in this hospital. SLMC Global City is a huge reason why both my children were breastfed.

I was never separated from my babies.

They were placed immediately on my chest as soon as they came out of me. They latched onto my breast and stayed there for a few minutes while Vince and I cooed and giggled.

My babies were roomed in with me.

We had lots of time to bond and get to know each other right after birth. The nurses really left us alone. This allowed me and my kids to rest.

A lactation consultant came in to teach me how to massage my breasts, to check if I had milk, to see if there was proper latch. I was also assured that I can have breastfeeding support even after discharge. I didn't need this, though, since I was lucky enough to have no problems with nursing.

I'm a successful breastfeeding mother because of my determination to nurse, the support of my husband, and the encouragement and strong breastfeeding policy of the hospital I gave birth in.

I encourage all pregnant moms to check the breastfeeding and rooming-in policies of your hospital. They really are a huge factor in your breastfeeding success!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I'm a Sangobion brand believer!

Okay, mommies, nag-level up na si Topaz Mommy!

I am now a brand ambassador for iron booster and vitamin and mineral supplement Sangobion. Hooray! Sangobion would rather call us "brand believers." And it's true, I do believe in Sangobion!

I was anemic before. Always had low blood pressure. It's so low that whenever health professionals took my blood pressure, they got worried haha. It was always fine with me but when I got pregnant, my OBG told me to take Sangobion because I needed to boost my iron for all the blood my body will be making. So I took Sangobion. I'm still taking it today because I'm breastfeeding and baby Iñigo needs iron, too!

Anyway, Sangobion launched its brand believers recently at a lovely lunch at Manila Peninsula. Mommies, I felt so special! A party just for us! Mega thrill si Topaz Lola! Thanks so much, Sangobion, for treating us so well!
Here I am with the other Sangobion brand believers: (from left) me, Cheska Garcia Kramer, Jenni Epperson, Rowena Wendy Lei, Christine Dychiao and Jackie Go. Not in photo is Amanda Griffin Jacob and Giselle Sanchez.

Amanda left early while Giselle had to prepare for her comedy act, Salaminkera. It's a 45-minute play about a magic mirror that shares the different kinds of women who peer into her mirror. They're usually tired, sleepless, pale, unattractive! What's the solution? Well, a healthy diet, exercise and Sangobion, of course!

It's not corny, promise. Giselle did a great job making beauty and health super funny and entertaining! Here are a few snaps from her show:

And here's the special invitation to the media for the preview of Salaminkera and brand believer launch.

But here's your own invitation!
Yes, you can still catch the show later today at SM Megamall A. It will be shown for free to the public at 5pm. So if you're at Megamall later, go to the lower ground floor to watch Giselle's Salaminkera! There'll be booths and other fun activities plus tons of freebies! Go go go!

Like Sangobion's Facebook page. They have an exciting promo: A trip for two to Bali!


P.S. For more photos of Salaminkera, click here. Here's the event on the Philippine Daily Inquirer and on Kristn.com. Nasa news na siya hehe so seryosong endorser na ako! Bili-bili na ng Songobion!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The evils of milk marketing

My friend asked me yesterday, "What milk do you give your kids?" It's hard to reply because I think, even though it looks like a simple question, it actually has a very complicated answer.

I give Vito fresh milk. He weaned suddenly when he was just 13 months old. Absolutely refused to drink my breastmilk. So I just gave him goat's milk formula, which he had drunk sporadically since he was about 5 months old. It was the standby milk in case I was away from home too long and my expressed breastmilk ran out, which was rare. So a small can of goat's milk formula back then would last us two to three months. But when he weaned, he was consuming 10 cans a month. No kidding. We were spending a minimum of P4000 a month on goat's milk formula.

We can afford it but I didn't want to spend that much money. That's crazy money! The pedia said that since Vito was already 18 months old, he can drink ordinary milk. He didn't need formula. She said he hasn't needed formula since he turned a year old. Plus, he should be drinking just 16 oz of milk a day. That's just 2 glasses. So Vito drinks fresh cow's milk twice a day. That's it. When I have extra expressed breastmilk, I sneak it into Vito's milk!

I give Iñigo breastmilk. Mine. I give him fruit juice and I've given him a few sips of fresh milk but he prefers mine. So mama's breastmilk pa rin. And I'm not quitting nursing anytime soon.

Okay, now here comes the difficult part.

I've been feeling guilty about something. A few weeks ago, I blogged about NIDO sending us milk samples. The milk was clearly for preschoolers so I thought there was nothing wrong about writing about it. It's not infant milk. It's not even toddler milk. But then I got an email this morning, which I'll paraphrase:
"I saw that Vito and Iñigo are drinking NIDO. Why did you choose this milk? I'm thinking of weaning and I'm choosing what milk to give my one-year-old baby and I find that the formulas are very expensive. Since you give NIDO to your kids, I'll give NIDO to mine."

Oh no. No. I do NOT give NIDO to my kids. Nowhere in the blog post did I say that they drank NIDO. I even said that Vito and Iñigo do not drink formula or special milk for infants and toddlers. All I said was Vito wanted to taste the chocolate flavor. He did taste it but he didn't like it. But you'll have to take my word for it because I deleted the blog post before I could do more damage.

I am very upset because I didn't think the post could be harmful. For me, the milk was for preschoolers. But because I posted a photo of my kids playing with the boxes (they weren't drinking it!), readers who did not read the post thought my boys drink formula/special milk and, more alarming, thought of giving formula/special milk to their babies.

I'm not saying formula is evil. I will never say formula is evil because my Vito drank it. But I will say that I feel very guilty that one reader (and I hope it really is just one reader) was swayed by clever marketing that also swayed me. I'm a smart woman but apparently, I wasn't smart enough to see this. My stand on breastfeeding was compromised and I apologize if my integrity was compromised. I didn't see the harm because it was clearly preschool milk! But apparently many mothers don't see the difference and this upsets me.

Breastmilk is best for your children. It will always be the best starting food for your kids from birth to early childhood, even preschool years. If you can breastfeed up to the school years, then that's great. If you choose to give formula to your kids, then please do so upon the advice of your pediatrician. That's the reason why I never say the brand of goat's milk formula that Vito once drank. I don't want moms to go and buy milk that my child's pedia recommended for him. I believe that formula milk is like prescription drugs. They should only be given upon the advice of a pediatrician. I know that's a controversial stand but that is what I believe.

Again, I apologize if my integrity was compromised.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kasambahay Law infographic

The Kasambahay Law took effect yesterday. I've not talked to a lawyer about the law, as I had said I would. I was about to but then my household help stole money and gift certificates from me and ran off into the sunset, so I didn't need to anymore. If you're having a hard time understanding the law, ABS-CBN came up with a pretty neat infographic:
To see the full infographic, CLICK HERE.

Whew! I'm sooooo glad I don't have a kasambahay right now. We've not had a maid or yaya since the last week of March and, hey, we're still alive and well! In fact, the kids are healthier (or, as everyone exclaims, Vito and Iñigo are fatter now), happier and smarter.

But not all of us have this no-maid lifestyle. Even I don't know if I can go on like this. If you've noticed, I haven't blogged here for more than a week. That's because with all the child-caring, housekeeping, cooking, errand-running, and writing that I've been doing, blogging naturally will be the last on my to-do list! So if I want to blog—and earn—more, I should hire help. I'm also pretty sure that when I start working outside the home again (sooner or later, I know I will), I'll have to hire a kasambahay.

I honestly don't want to hire a yaya or maid anymore because of the Kasambahay Law. It's not because I don't think kasambahays shouldn't have any rights. Even without that law, I've treated my household help so well. And what do I get in return? Theft, nasty gossip, petty fights, lies, laziness, greed, a sense of entitlement to what isn't theirs, disrespect, poor treatment of my children... The list goes on.

Anyway, I know a LOT of you are writhing in agony because of this new law. Sigh. This law wasn't made for us; it was made for better tax collection. Seriously. How does this law make life easier for the employer? The employee? If you're looking for work but you don't have a birth certificate, medical clearance, SSS, Philhealth and PAG-IBIG, you're automatically undesirable because a potential employer will think, "Oh dear heaven, I have to pay for all those requirements!" If you're a yaya or maid and your employer raises your salary to P5,000, does that mean more money for you and your family? No, that means you now have to pay the government taxes and SSS, Philhealth and PAG-IBIG now. Tell me, will any kasambahay rejoice in that?

Still, it's good that the law protects household help from abusive treatment. Actually, our laws have always said it's criminal to abuse any person—whether he works for you or not. And we have labor laws naman. But I guess it's good that there's a special law so that we all know how our household help should be treated, which is decently and humanely. It's so sad that people have to be reminded about that.

UPDATE: Here's a great article so you can fully understand the Kasambahay Law (click here!)