Thursday, November 28, 2013

Family fun at Hong Kong Disneyland 2013!

Exactly one month ago, our little family went on our first ever trip to Hong Kong Disneyland!!!

Thanks so much to Mom and Dad, the whole Sales family (Mom, Dad, their four children and spouses, and all eight grandchildren!) flew to Hong Kong, checked in at Disney's Hollywood Hotel, and just spent the next three days being happy!

Now, we have like a billion photos but I'm grabbing the ones that Vince posted on Facebook. So if you're friends with Vince, you've seen these. If you aren't friends with him, don't request him to add you haha. Also, I'm only posting photos of my boys since they aren't in school yet. Vito and Iñigo had such a great time with their cousins so too bad because they have such fun pics together! But I now have a policy of not posting photos of school-age kids on my blog (unless the kids have moms who are bloggers posting their kids' photos publicly).

Okay, here we go!
Here we are in the Cathay Pacific plane to Hong Kong. It's Iñigo's first ever flight, and first ever trip abroad! Vito's been on planes before (Cebu, Singapore, Bali before he was a year old) but I think he doesn't remember those trips, so this plane ride was exciting for him, too.

Here we are at Hollywood & Dine at our hotel. The diner was our first stop because we arrived at Hong Kong at around lunch time. Vito was sooo excited! Okay, I'm going to use "excited" a lot in this post!

The kid can't read yet but he perused that map like a pro anyway. He is sooo cute!

After lunch, our rooms still weren't ready so we roamed the huge gardens behind the hotel. There was a pool, a playground, lots of little hills that Vito loved to explore, and these cars that Iñigo posed on. He's sooo cute!

(Check out this video of my boys waiting at Hollywood Hotel's lobby!)

Okay! Rooms are ready! On our way up, Vito saw Mickey Mouse. He was sooo starstruck! He actually held his fist in his mouth to keep himself from shouting for joy! He also met Goofy. Okay, Mickey being the STAR, you'd need a ticket to get your photo with him. Goofy, being, well, Goofy, he just hangs out in some sunny corner and you can just sidle up to him and get your pic taken. Like so!


So we all settle in, rest a little, change into new clothes, then we all took the shuttle to Disneyland. We have really awesome photos of Vito telling Mickey Mouse to get down the fountain (here's a sample pic) because he didn't think it was safe haha. I'll dig them up later. In fact, I have no photos now of our first day at Disneyland! I'll put them in my next newsletter so I hope you subscribe now!

Anyway, we rode a lot of rides. Vito loved Autopia, both boys loved Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Iñigo loved Cinderella Carousel so much that he started shrieking when the ride was done and I had to prise his little chubby fingers from the post. Vito called Sleeping Beauty Castle, "Sofia the First Castle!" and then he promptly fell asleep in our stroller while we waited for the Halloween Parade. When it finally lumbered by, Iñigo didn't seem impressed haha. Then Vince and I went back to the hotel with the kids, while the rest of the family stayed till the fireworks show.

Good morning! Today's plan was to take the train to Toy Story Land and spend the entire day there. The boys LOVE Toy Story! We took the train, Vito saw Tinkerbell on the way and he was so starstruck, he blushed haha. Then when he saw Toy Story Land, he was just overwhelmed.

He's staring at his shadow, sorry! But he really was super excited!!! Vince and Vito rode the Slinky Dog Spin (Iñigo was asleep in his stroller), then they lined up for this monster: The Toy Soldier Parachute Drop!

It was really high! My mommy heart was both freaking out and proud! My three-year-old boy laughing with delight and dangling his feet while he went up and down that scary ride! He wasn't even scared. Such a brave boy!

We had a snack with Mom and Dad after this exhilarating ride, Iñigo woke up and wanted a toy so Lola gladly obliged him a Woody plushie. Thanks, Mom!

Then we rode Mystic Manor, which Vito did not like one bit. It wasn't really scary; I think he just didn't like the part when the cockroaches streamed out and then you get sprinkled with water. Iñigo didn't have an opinion haha.

After that, we all had lunch together. We did a bit of sightseeing then it was Vito's turn to nap in the stroller. While he napped, we shopped.  Check out my new favorite watch!

It looks like a Cartier tank watch haha. I wear it every time we go out now. It reminds me of our magical time together. Happy happy time!

About to watch "Festival of the Lion King." Great show! The kids loved it!

Then we met the rest of the family in front of Sofia the First's castle. I mean, Sleeping Beauty's castle haha. That's Iñigo's Ninang Anj, who blogs at From A, to Zo. I think they're looking at the birds or planes here.

We spent the late afternoon just resting our dead feet really. Even the boys! They're so happy and so cute. Vito looks sooo sleepy here. But when some kid tried to grab Iñigo's new Lightning McQueen toy, Vito stepped in. I love how protective he is of his brother!

Family pic! We're so happy! We're so tired!!!

But we had just enough energy for one more ride: Orbitron. There was no line, you see, so we figured we'd give it a whirl. But funny Iñigo. He nursed while we were spinning around and fell asleep! Silly baby!

So we went straight home to the hotel again while the rest of the clan went off to explore the other rides. We thought the kids would collapse in bed but noooo, they were business as usual: Disney Junior on TV, Power Rangers on iPad, toys on the bed. It was like we never left home! But fall asleep they finally did.

(If you follow me on Instagram, you'd have seen these pics and videos of our trip as they happened so follow me!)

Good morning! Today's plan was just to pack and go to the airport early and shop at Duty Free. So we had a huge buffet breakfast at Chef Mickey. Aww, I love this family photo. Look at Iñigo, still in his pyjamas haha. He is sooo cute!

At the airport. We had lunch at Pop-eye's. The boys ate so much chicken! Why do my kids eat so much???

Then Vince and I shopped. Vince doesn't like exchanging what's left of our HK dollars because lugi so he really makes it ubos. We bought candy and chocolates.

Vito whiled away an hour on the iPad then he went looking for the rest of the family.

He found Zo, the son of Anj. They really got along swimmingly on this trip!

Darling Iñigo watching TV at the Children's Lounge.

My boys. My joy. My heart.

Soon after this photo was taken, we flew home, which is, in my opinion, still the happiest place on earth!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Topaz Mommy and other mom bloggers talk about Fabella Hospital

This post is brought to you by NIVEA Baby. 

Yesterday, I told you about what I saw at Fabella Hospital. Today, I'll share with you NIVEA Baby's purpose for renovating the hospital: to give moms and babies a brighter experience.



Isn't this such a great cause? I'm so proud to be part of this campaign!

To know more about #CaringBeyondSkincare, please like the Facebook page of NIVEA Baby Philippines. I did! It's got a lot of useful tips for moms like us who care so much for our babies!

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Monday, November 25, 2013

The day I met the moms and babies at Fabella

This post is brought to you by NIVEA Baby.

Just before my birthday, NIVEA Baby took me and other mom bloggers Jackie Go of Go, Jackie Go!, Neva Santos of Manila Mommy, and Jemimah Mendoza of eSuperMommy, to Fabella Hospital. I confessed to you before in this blog post that I was afraid to go because I knew I was going to get my heart broken. But off we went on that early morning and I actually am glad I went.

At Fabella, we were told by NIVEA Baby not to cry or feel sad when we meet the moms. We can't make them feel like we're sorry for them. We should give them dignity. I didn't really feel sorry for them. In fact, I was surprised at how happy I felt when I saw the babies. They made me want to have more babies! I wanted to scoop them all up and inhale their newborn scent and just coo and gaze and kiss them. Mwah mwah mwah! Of course I didn't (I forgot to bring alcogel so I didn't want to spread my germs), although the moms were happy to share their babies.  

Okay, this is going to be a photo-heavy post so I'll just do captions!

Meeting the moms and babies
Very steep and high stairs! Imagine if you're heavily pregnant or you just gave birth! Well, there are a couple of elevators but those are mostly used for those in beds and wheelchairs.

Dark and sad hallways. This leads to a ward. Flickering lights, too. Very Silent Hill. Except it wasn't silent in this hospital! Why? Because it was filled to the rafters with moms and babies!

New moms lined up to have their babies checked. I know that this sight may induce feelings of sympathy but, dear readers, there were soooooo many babies, I could smell that fantastic newborn scent everywhere! The air was just redolent of new baby smell! I was so happy!

New mommies with new babies. Well, these aren't their first kids. More like their third or fourth or fifth. They confessed that they had no money and that life was hard but I love how they just smiled for the camera!

That's Mommy Jem with other new mommies. And all the moms were breastfeeding! Hooray!

Super young moms with their first babies. They were too in love with their newborns to talk to me!

Mothers and babies share beds, usually two moms in one bed so they mostly sit up so their babies can lie down.

Babies left on the bed by their moms during visiting hours. Visitors aren't allowed inside the maternity ward. Too crowded. And it's safer and more secure this way. But I just found it sad—for the moms, dads, babies!—that the moms have to leave their kids while they go out to entertain their visitors.

Lunch time! While the hospital provides three meals a day, visitors supply moms with much-needed water and snacks. Diapers and other essentials are passed on, too.

New arrivals! So many moms and babies are wheeled in! Like, there was a line!

Look! A family planning desk in the ward. The moms told us that they get counseling and are offered ligations.

Fabella Hospital has a good breastfeeding policy. It was so encouraging to see all the moms offering their breast to their newborns!


Things that still need improvement

Friday, November 22, 2013

Don't stop giving!

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications.

Today marks the second week since Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda obliterated Central Visayas. All the stories are gripping but the ones that hit me most are the stories of mothers losing their children, fathers desperate to protect and to provide for what remains of their family, parents burying their children, parents reuniting with children they had feared dead. I've been crying and praying and sad and happy from all the stories I'm reading!



One happy story is told by Gina Ladrera through CNN (click here for the article). Gina is a domestic helper in Hong Kong but she rushed home to Leyte—and how she got to her town Tanauan is a story of courage itself!—to find her family. Thank God they were all alive, her husband, their two kids, and her in-laws. Hers is a happy story but we don't know yet if it will have a happy ending since they are truly starting from nothing. That's where we come in. We have to continue helping our fellow Filipinos in Central Visayas!

There's a ton of ways to continue helping. I love how my Manila-based cousins, who speak Waray, are volunteers who greet the refugees arriving in Manila. Their ability to speak to the stricken people in their dialect comforts the survivors immensely. 

Tons of donation boxes are also at malls and other establishments just waiting for your nice clothes, good food, water and other items. Then, for those of us who are stuck at home here and all over the world, we can send airtime load through BayadLoad, a mobile money service of Smart Communications, Inc. 

More after the jump!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mommy blogger mojo going, going, going...

Hey mommies, I know I haven't blogged in a week. All the stuff that's been happening to our country has me really sad. I've been spending a lot of time online but mostly just reading everything about Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, the survivors, the dead, the corruption, the politics, the petty, the profound. So instead of blogging, I've been reading and spending a lot of time on Facebook.

Not to say that I've been depressed. Yes, some of the news are depressing. I also heard from a cousin that not everyone in our family (Beltran, Custodio, Advincula) survived the typhoon after all. The ones who did survive are either busy rebuilding or are here in Manila now. So life goes on. Even in the face of tragedy, life does go on. Some think that's a curse, but it is actually a grace. To be given another shot at seeing the beauty of life, even in minute moments, is a gift. Thank God for that.

Yep, life goes on. So I really do have to update this blog! And I have to make my newsletter! I have so many things happening in my life right now that I'm getting overwhelmed, each day I miss blogging means the news is getting stale! I might end up not telling you anything!

For example, in the midst of the sadness, an amazing happiness blossomed. I'll tell you about that soon. Right now, I'm too tired to go into all the marvelous details. Plus, I have a ton of sponsored posts to do for Vicks, SMART, NIVEA Baby and Green Cross! Plus, I have work! But I'm so tired and sleepy and nauseated and sleepy and tired and happy and sad and... Basta I'll blog this weekend!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

What your donation to UNICEF buys Yolanda's victims

I'm sure everyone is doing their part to help the victims of the horrific Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that obliterated Central Visayas and Palawan last weekend. I'm happy to report that all my cousins and aunts and uncles and their kids who live in Leyte (Tacloban, Palo and Tolosa) and Samar (Llorente) are alive. They have nothing left but we are just all so happy they are alive!

Anyway, like I said, I'm confident we are all doing our part to help our fellow Filipinos. It's encouraging to see people donating goods, volunteering to pack these goods, driving all the way to Leyte and other affected areas to distribute these goods, giving money to relief agencies, volunteering their services as doctor or nurse, spreading information. One of the many agencies I trust is UNICEF. Here's their update four days ago:

Therapeutic food for children, health kits, water and hygiene kits to support up to 3,000 families in the affected areas have already been mobilized from supplies available in the country, with distribution prioritized for the Tacloban area as soon as access is possible.

"We are rushing to get critical supplies to children who are bearing the brunt of this crisis,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Hozumi. “Reaching the worst affected areas is very difficult, with limited access due to the damage caused by the typhoon to infrastructure and communications. But we are working around the clock to find ways to get these supplies to children as quickly as conditions allow."

UNICEF’s warehouse in Copenhagen is airlifting US$1.3 million worth of additional supplies for another 10,000 families, including those affected by the recent earthquake in Bohol. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins, and micronutrient supplements.

"As we get a better picture of the impact of this devastating crisis, it is clear that even more children are affected than first thought," said Mr. Hozumi. "UNICEF is doing all it can to reach these children, as quickly as possible with critical supplies, to protect their health, safety and wellbeing in the difficult days ahead."

Here's what a sample kit looks like:

Here's another more current report from UNICEF: "Aid is getting through." It details what happened in the first few days (blocked roads and floods prevented aid) but now that roads were finally cleared, they are now blocked by the survivors walking to look for aid. So aid is getting through! It's just chaotic now but our help is getting to the survivors! Don't lose hope! Let's keep on giving!


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Saturday, November 9, 2013

One month sick!

This post is brought to you by Vicks Vaporub.

Today, November 9, officially marks the day when I became the brand ambassador of Vicks with a fun media launch at Makati Shangri-la. Well, it was fun except that I was a bit distracted because my little boy Iñigo was home sick while I was at work. That's why I won't forget the exact day when our family became sick because it was the day of the Vicks launch!

First it was Iñigo who went down with a bad cold and fever (Oct 9), then Vito two days later (Oct 11), then Vince and me the week after (Oct 15). Then around Oct 23, our health improved a few days before we went to Hong Kong Disneyland! But as soon as we landed here in Manila (Oct 28), we got sick again! And now, we've been sick for 10 days! It's just a nasty cold, don't worry. We're not dying (nervous laughter) but this sure is a bummer.


Sigh! I'd do anything to get better! But a virus is a virus. There's nothing to do but let it run its agonizing course. But I did find this interesting:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Smile! Your wishes just may come true!

This post is brought to you by LOTTE Xylitol.

I've been told my best feature is my smile. My husband thinks it's my legs. I think it's my nose haha but I do believe a smile is the best beautifier and fashion accessory. A face instantly brightens, an outfit transcends trends, a room is lit up, a friendship is struck, doubts are banished, hope is restored, courage renewed. That's the power of a smile!

Lotte Xylitol, which I am so proud to be an ambassador of, believes in the power of a smile of course! As the best dental gum in my opinion, Lotte Xylitol cares for strong teeth, fresh breath, and a clean and healthy mouth. They also care for mommies and daddies and our kids. They also care about making our wishes come true!

This Christmas, Lotte Xylitol is granting wishes because they want us to smile. You know, just typing that makes me smile! This year has been such an amazing year of my dreams coming true and my wishes granted—I've been smiling all year long!

Now Lotte Xylitol will make your children's dreams come true with their Wish Upon a Smile campaign! All you have to do is...

1. Be a parent of a 5-10 year old child.
2. Live in the Philippines.
3. Like the Lotte Xylitol Facebook page.
4. Submit a photo of you and your child with your best smiles.
5. Answer the question: "What would make your child smile this Christmas?" and add the hashtag #XylitolSmile.

Here are my examples:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The stylish mommy's equivalent of candy this Christmas!

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications.

iPhones of course!!! I love my iPhone5. It's really helped me as a mommy blogger! I can check my email everywhere, take instant photos and videos of my kids if my Panasonic camera's out of reach, and share these adorableness on all my social media platforms.
I got that image from imore.com. They did a comprehensive comparison of the iPhone 5s amd iPhone 5c so you can decide for yourself which sweetie to buy. Click here to read more: "Which iPhone model should you get?"

Once you've decided, make sure you get your iPhone from SMART!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Subscribe to the Topaz Mommy newsletter!

Halloo everyone!

I know I've been gone forever. I have had the most wonderful week—we went to Hong Kong Disneyland and then we vegged out at home for days and days after because we were (and still are) so tired.
Disneyland was decorated for Halloween so we kinda look like we visited the dead!

How was your two long weekends???

Okay, I have to do sponsored posts this week for SMART, Xylitol, NIVEA Baby and Green Cross. I'm so thrilled I have new blog sponsors! I can continue being a stay-at-home mommy for a while longer! But that means I won't be able to post about our Disneyland trip till next week.

But!!! I just created a Topaz Mommy newsletter. It's the coolest news because a newsletter means you can get...

1. a peek at upcoming posts. Sometimes I have a lot of posts ready for publishing but since sponsored posts are scheduled, I wait a while. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can see upcoming posts before other readers do! So my first newsletter has photos of the Disneyland adventure. If you want to see, subscribe!

2. to see extra photos that I don't post on the blog. Lots of photos mean the page is harder to download. So I try to keep the photos at just 10 per post. Sometimes I go beyond that because I have so many nice pictures! If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can finally see the tons of photos I don't get to publish on the blog!

3. to join giveaways since I'm planning to stop doing giveaways on the blog and just do it for my subscribers. I don't like doing giveaways on my blog because giveaways attract "professional contest joiners." You know, they're just on the hunt for prizes and freebies. So annoying! Why? Because I've had some really great prizes and the winners are not my regular readers! I think my regular readers should be the one winning my special prizes! If you subscribe to my newsletter, you'll be part of the select few who are automatically joined in my giveaways!

There's a lot more I'm planning for my newsletter subscribers. Discounts and freebies from my sponsors. Links to blogs, articles and news that I'm reading that week. OOTDs, more photos of my kids, etc etc! It's so exciting!

How do you subscribe?

Go to my sidebar on the right. There's a space there that looks like this:

Enter your email address and you'll get my weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox! Sign up! It will be your little birthday gift to me!

UPDATE! 
I send newsletters every Wednesday! So if you signed up after Nov 6, you'll get the second newsletter next week and no, it won't be about Disneyland anymore!

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