Monday, March 31, 2014

Shoe shopping at TOMS

A couple of weeks ago, my boys and I dropped by Nothing But H2O to get me a swimsuit since we were going to Batangas for the weekend. We were really just going to get the swimsuit but we bought TOMS shoes for Iñigo as well.

Here's what we got Iñigo:

And here's what I want for Baby Chicken:
Isn't that adorable?! I didn't buy it, though. I'm hoping that we'll get this for Baby Chicken as a gift when he's born (attention: aunties and uncles!).

I also saw these and wanted them desperately but—big sigh!—heels are no longer a part of my wardrobe:

I need summer shoes, you know, shoes that are meant for comfort and casual walks and sun dresses and sunny weather. And I'm loving the Spring-Summer 2014 collection of TOMS, especially when they sent me their lookbooks. Here are my favorite styles:





In my home, there are a lot of TOMS shoes. We support TOMS's advocacy of providing a pair of shoes to a less fortunate child with every pair of TOMS you buy. Some of my mommy friends think that TOMS is an expensive shoe, but we buy it not just for the comfort and the fun styles, we also buy TOMS because we know we're actually buying two pairs of shoes. That's why they're not cheap.

My husband and my kids are TOMS fans. I'm a fan, too, so TOMS sent me this pale orange pair.
Background courtesy of Iñigo's scribbles =)

Thanks, TOMS!!! You know my favorite color! So now I have new summer shoes. But something tells me I'll go buy those wedges anyway!

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

I took the Sangobion Challenge to love life!

This post is brought to you by Sangobion.

I'm so happy to say that Sangobion is partnering with Topaz Mommy again!

As I told you before, I've been taking Sangobion since 2009, when my OBG prescribed it to me when I first got pregnant. Now I'm pregnant again and I'm still taking Sangobion! It's the organic iron multivitamin that has really helped me in my roles as wife, mom, homemaker and career woman.


Of course, I can be all healthy physically but if my mind and attitude aren't positive, then life will still suck anyway. Since getting pregnant with my third baby, I've been short-tempered. It's really because I'm overwhelmed. I have to take care of so many things and of a lot more people now, and being pregnant makes the task more difficult.

So when Sangobion challenged me to Go Love Life, I just knew what I had to do: Change my attitude. I'm really lucky—I have a caring, hands-on husband. I have two beautiful and smart and precocious boys. My third pregnancy is healthy and without complications. We live in a cozy and fully owned home. My husband and I get to do what we love for a living. Why am I being whiny and annoyed?!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking cute in my Elin maternity dresses!

Hooray! I'm finally at that stage in my pregnancy where I don't look "Oh, are you pregnant or did you get fat?" but I'm not yet "Omigod you look so big, when are you going to pop?"

Yes, mommies, I'm finally in my second trimester! This is the easiest time to look cute and cuddly, and it's even easier now that I have Elin maternity wear in my wardrobe (thanks, Elin!)

For my first look, taken in February when I was 5 months pregnant, I wore the Georgia dress. This is the fatigue color, but I also have it in blue and black. As you can see, even when you're no longer pregnant, it will still remain in your closet:

On a pregnant body, it looks like this:
I hiked up the hem, by the way. It actually ends just above your knees but I like showing off my legs—the only part of me that doesn't look pregnant haha—so the hem is tight enough to slide up your thighs and stay up. Sexier look for sexy mommas!

For my second look, taken this March now that I'm 6 months along, I'm wearing the Amanda dress. This time the skirt is long and modest but I got this because am loving that deep V neckline. Great for showing off growing cleavage and for easy breastfeeding access when the baby arrives! Yes, you can also wear it when you're no longer pregnant!

My Amanda is a startling pink. It looks so much better in person! When I wore it to an event, everyone LOVED it. It's really such a pretty dress! I like the black, too (although I don't have it yet) but I do suggest you get this color. It's very vivid, not saccharine.

Oops, sorry, my kids were fighting. Vito was telling Iñigo here, "She's my mama. Mine only! She's mine!" And the little one was panicking. And I was thinking they were so silly and adorable. I did scoop them up after this and assured them that I belong to them both!

Anyway, I love my Elin dresses! I'm so glad they picked me as their brand ambassador because their dresses are so soft and cool and comfortable on my changing body.

Do check out the dresses and shirts for pregnant and nursing women on Elin.ph now. Happy shopping!

*model photos from Elin.ph

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Family fun at Pinto Art Gallery!

We just came home from Batangas but before I talk about our trip south, let me tell you about our trip east! I grew up in Antipolo but I've never really explored the hills of my childhood home. So I've been bugging Vince for maybe 10 years or so to go on an Antipolo road trip.

Finally, last month, we did! We were really just there to visit Papa but it was such a lovely Sunday afternoon and we decided, my younger brother and I (because he was bored since his wife was out of town), to drive up to Pinto Art Museum. We're just in pambahay haha because we really didn't think we were going anywhere but Papa's house.

Here are a few photos of our gorgeous art-filled afternoon:
When I'm a donya na, I will have a huge garden and have a four-poster bed in the middle of it.

A few of my favorite sculptures. Vince and I realized that we were more interested in sculpture than paintings.

There is a baby inside the tummy of that sculpture. The boys were freaked out. They thought it was a monster, so I had to explain to them that the woman and I were the same, that we were both pregnant and there was a baby inside me, too. Vito's reaction: "Ewww."

Iñigo: "Dodo."

Vito: "Horse!"
Vito: "Dead guy! Sword killed him!"
Iñigo: "Torto!"

The balcony sits on top of a waterwall. My boys look so tiny! (P.S. Don't worry about Iñigo—my sister is holding him. She just knelt down and hid when we took this photo.)

With Vito and my younger siblings, Jacqui and Theodore. Jacqui is a theater actress, Theodore is a musician.

Pinto is a 2-hectare estate so be prepared to do a lot of walking. Since it's on the side of a hill, there's a lot of stairs to climb and sudden drops. So if you're bringing your kids, be very vigilant. There's not just the art you have to make sure they don't destroy but also lots of steep stairs to navigate.

All over the property are several buildings housing paintings, sculptures and installations. There are viewing decks, too, for appreciating the vast gardens and the far off Manila skyline.

Me and my boys! Vito didn't like his picture taken. That's his thing now.

Iñigo enjoying a tiny fountain. He must've spent an hour there! Silly rabbit. He got so soaked, too!

After Pinto, Theodore said he knew this place called Tamerlane that served really good food, so we agreed to eat there. It was a carinderia!!! I didn't think a place called Tamerlane would be a carinderia haha. So after our hoity-toity afternoon browsing through art, we had grub haha.

It was very good grub, too. Tamerlane is an inihaw place and wala silang spoon and fork so kamayan talaga siya. Grabe super sarap! The best stuffed squid I've had in my life! And I've eaten at really expensive places but I have never had stuffed squid like that! Best squid ever. We had pork barbecue, the squid, some big fish... Gosh, I don't remember. Theodore ordered a lot. We also had tons of rice. After all the climbing up and down we did, we were famished! We ate so much! Iñigo had so much fun playing and eating with his food. Vito, my more sophisticated son, wanted a spoon. Oh well!

And that was our family fun at Pinto Art Museum! Happy weekend, dear readers!

UPDATE: Here's more on Tamerlane's Ihawan written by my friend Jennie Aspacio on her blog, My Tummy is Full. It's really a carinderia, okay, so manage your expectations! I was a little freaked out when we parked haha because hindi na ako sanay sa carinderia and then wala pang kubyertos. But it's super worth it, friends! The food is super sarap and super mura pa! Diba I said Theodore ordered a TON of food? There was 7 of us (8 if you include Baby Chicken in my tummy hehe) and our bill was only P1000!!!

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Smart introduces service that nurtures a safe and connected family

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications.

Commercial muna!

As you all know if you just look at the top ad of this blog, Smart is my sponsor. Hooray! Thanks so much, Smart, for believing in Topaz Mommy! 

Anyway, last week, Smart hosted a lunch for a mommy bloggers so that we can tell our dearest readers about their Family Ties Plans.

At first, I didn't really think the plans applied to my family. My kids are ages 3 and almost 2 so they don't need phones yet, while Vince and I work from home so if we needed to talk to each other, we walk a few steps and we're in each other's face. That's it!

But I'm glad I went to the lunch anyway because I found out how other mommies used their Family Ties Plans. One mommy said the plans are very useful for yayas. When mommy's out of the house for work or errands, yaya can always call if needed. Hindi na applicable yung "Wala akong load, ma'am" excuse! Another mommy says the unlimited calls and texts are priceless because her kids can not only call her for tutoring but they can also MMS their homework to her so she can help them out while she's out!  

Families are offered two postpaid lines:
  • Family Ties Plan 900 includes unlimited calling within the family circle, unlimited SMS to Smart subscribers, and 200 all-network texts, as well as 100MB of free data for each line every month.
  • Family Ties Plan 1800 comes with unlimited calls and texts to all Smart subscribers, 200 free all-network texts and 300MB of free monthly data for each line.
Both plans come with three lines and three smartphones of their choice. Initial phone models include the O+ USA 8.2, O+ USA 8.31, Lenovo A269i, Alcatel Magic, Lenovo A369i and the O+ 8.37. 
But families with more than one child can also enjoy these perks since you may add up to six additional lines per subscription by just adding P300 per line for Plan 900, and P600 per line for Plan 1800.

To maximize your postpaid plans, you can subscribe to various call, text and data packages through Smart Postpaid Flexibundles, which can be easily availed of via SMS.


What got me interested was the Vodafone Guardian App. I don't need this yet but I think you mommies of school-age kids with phones will be pleased to know that Smart has partnered with Vodafone by exclusively offering the Vodafone Guardian App. It's pre-installed on smartphones available under the Family Ties Plans and does the following:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why the youngest child is special to mommies

There's an older lady in our condo complex who runs the neighborhood grocery and canteen. When I was first pregnant, she always asked how I was, if I was excited, if I'm okay. She always gave me extra food. "For the baby," she said as she rubbed my belly. "So he'll be healthy and strong!" The second time I was pregnant, she said she wished it was a girl so I can stop having babies. This third time I'm pregnant, when she saw my little belly bump, she frowned in disgust and almost spat out, "You're pregnant again?!"

She's not the only one. People don't congratulate me anymore with this third baby. While I don't feel the need to be congratulated, I don't need to see the looks of incredulity either. When they find out that it's not only my third, but that it's another boy, they all look disappointed, like I failed them for not making a girl. They say, strangely, "A boy again? But I wanted a girl!" They say in a matter-of-fact tone, "So you'll try again? Because you want a girl, of course," because of course a third boy must've been a massive disappointment.

These days, I just say thanks for the old things people donate then I quietly give them away to charity. There are no new things for my third boy, no showers, no gifts, no excitement. On one hand, I'm glad because I like to do my own shopping, but on the other hand, I feel sad that Baby Chicken isn't as anticipated. People say things like, "How is Vito handling it?" or "Poor Iñigo, he'll be a middle child!" or "Shouldn't you go look for work?"

Well, Vito's excited. Iñigo will be fine since I'm a middle child and I'm fantastic. And, guys, my husband and I are not kids anymore. We're old. We have money in the bank and investments and life insurance policies. And we do have work. We just work at home.

Mother of men, that's me!

Sometimes I feel I'm being defensive, like I have to defend my being pregnant, like I have to apologize for having another child. I'm quiet about this pregnancy as a result, because people don't seem to be happy about it, like they're the ones who are carrying this baby while taking care of a preschooler and a toddler and a house, like they're the ones putting away money for my kids' future, like they're the ones stuck at home raising my boys. I don't know why people dump their fears on me.

The fact is Vince and I wanted this third baby. We may have discussed gender but all we really wanted was another baby, no matter what genitals it came with. I want a fourth baby actually but Vince joked he wants his wife back. We made a decision based on our longing for more children, on our current lifestyle and earning capacity. Oh, we do get tired and exasperated having these demanding boys in our life! But we are also beyond happy. So much joy and gratitude that the boys are ours and that we can give them a good life, a really good life! And now our happiness will be threefold! How crazy lucky are we?!

So I don't want to be made to feel guilty for having another child. I don't want to defend our decision. I don't want to be made to feel shame for something we wanted and we prepared for. And yet, sometimes when I review my Facebook updates, I see my defensiveness, my barely concealed anger at those who tell me they feel disappointed I'm having another boy, that Vince and I should look for jobs because there are now three mouths to feed. I don't want to care but I do—oh how I do!—because this baby means just as much to me as my other two children, and I don't understand why people don't want him and I don't understand why people need to tell me that. Yet I am cowed into submission. I don't talk about the pregnancy so much, I downplay my joy, I talk about Vito and Iñigo more because they're more interesting to people.

At night, when I feel Baby Chicken kicking away in my tummy when everyone's asleep and the world is dark and quiet and it's just him and me, I feel bad for him, that he isn't as celebrated as his brothers were, that his welcome to this life isn't as warm. And I promise him, "No hand-me-downs for you. Everything new for you! I'll love you so much! Don't mind what that old lady in the canteen said. Your Papa and I wanted you from the very start. Don't mind what those people said. We love that you're a boy! Don't mind anything. We're not disappointed! We're ready for you and we love you no less! If no one else will love you, your Papa and I and your older brothers will."

I'll make up for it, my youngest boy. I will.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Smart's new promo may get your family in their ads!

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications.

Smart has an online promo called #SmartFamilyTies. Here's what you have to do:

The first theme is graduation. This is currently running until March 21. Ads featuring the graduation theme winners will run on March 28 – April 5. The next themes will be summer, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc. Smart will be announcing the themes and I'll make sure to tell you mommies about it.

Prizes are free phones, gift certificates to restaurants, and an overnight stay at Sofitel for the whole family! Hooray!

Smart announced this promo yesterday at a lunch at Romulo Café in Makati, which I attended with other mom bloggers.
I did this! Because I love my blog sponsor! Thanks, Smart, for making me Live More!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

7 diaper tips and tricks

This post is brought to you by Pampers.

In one of my Pampers posts, someone asked me how she should properly dispose soiled diapers when she and her baby are out and I said, "Scrape off the poop into the toilet, flush, then wrap up the diaper in a plastic bag before throwing it in the trash can so that you won't stink up your host's bathroom."

That simple tip made more than a few moms to exclaim, "Wow, I never thought of flushing the poop! I never thought of wrapping the diaper in plastic!"

Well, here are a few diaper tips and tricks I picked up from other parents and from the Internet:

1. New moms are told to buy diapers in bulk for greater savings. But when you have a new baby, you don't know yet which diaper will be the right one for your child. With my first baby, we bought a big pack but we ended up not using that brand because Vito kept leaking. We tried cheap diapers, expensive diapers, cloth diapers until we finally found the right one. So buy just small packs at first till you and your baby find the right one, then buy in bulk to save money.
Only stock up once you find the perfect diaper for your kids.

2. A changing station is a sanity-saver. It should be a good height so you won't break your back, and it should have space for everything you need—diapers, wet wipes/wet cotton balls, diaper rash cream, et al. Everything must be within reach since it is never advisable to leave a baby on the changing table while you run to the bathroom for tissue or to the closet for new diapers.

3. Never ever leave baby on the changing station or elevated surface (like the bed) unattended! If you must go get something, bring baby with you. If you can't place the baby on the floor.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Preparing the boys for their new baby brother

This post is brought to you by Green Cross Insect Repellent Lotion.

My blog sponsor Green Cross asked me to talk about preparing my kids for the new baby's arrival because they have an article on their Mommy PROs app over at their Facebook page ("When Baby #1 Becomes an Ate or Kuya") and they wanted me to expound on the topic, too. I should be an expert, right, since Vito took to Iñigo quite well, despite these photos saying otherwise:
Unhappy Vito when Iñigo was a newborn.
Naughty Vito happy to sit on his baby brother.

But I'm really no expert. Vito was only 22 months old when Iñigo was born but he processed the change in his life quickly and took to his role as big brother with relish. His ability to get over himself and welcome Iñigo with love is a testament to his own emotional maturity and empathy. Vince and I don't really have anything to do with it. We did follow some tips and tricks from other parents:
1. Tell everyone your baby is in contact with (yayas, grandparents, aunts and uncles, your friends) never ever to tease your child about the new baby. For example, "Mommy will have a new baby soon. Mommy won't love you anymore!" You shouldn't tease your kid either. Your child will feel threatened and will resent his new sibling. 
2. Make your child feel excited about the new arrival. This can get tricky because if you get him too excited ("You'll have a new playmate! You'll have a best friend forever!") and then the baby comes out and is basically a screaming, pooping, crying blob for the first six months, your firstborn might think you were lying to him haha. 
3. Give your eldest child a gift from the baby. Everyone gave this advice, so days before I was due to give birth, we bought a Lightning McQueen toy for Vito and packed it in the hospital bag. When Vito came to see his new baby brother, Iñigo had McQueen in his hand (well, kinda haha) and we told Vito that his brother had a gift for him. Vito was thrilled to bits, and that relationship was off to a great start!

Like I said, I'm not so worried about Vito. First, he's already gone through this. Second, he's almost 4 so he understands that he's got another sibling coming. Last, he's actually excited about the whole thing. He keeps patting my tummy and talking to Baby Chicken and saying, "I love Baby Chicken." Sometimes he yells to the little guy inside, "Come out, Baby Chicken! Come out now!" And I go, "Not yet, not yet. He's not big enough." And then he'll go yell again to my tummy, "Eat, Baby Chicken! get big now!" Silly Vito.

As for Iñigo, well, I'm worried about that bunny.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mid-pregnancy report!

Okay, whew, I've been gone for a week here! That's because I'm updating my lifestyle blog, Topaz Horizon. Ever since I became a work-at-home mom, my life has been more mommy than anything so I've been neglecting Topaz Horizon for, like, a year (whaaaaaat?!). So if you miss mommy me, jump on over to glamorous me (haha) because my life is not all about my kids, ya know!

So! Where were we? Oh yes. Mid-pregnancy report. Right. I'm 21 weeks now, just past the halfway point of my third pregnancy. This pregnancy is going by really fast, mostly because I'm preoccupied with the two kids already living so largely and loudly in my life, and partly because, well, it's the third time around. Nothing's a surprise really.

A few days ago, Vince and I dropped off our two boys at their grandparents' house and went off to St. Luke's Global to have our congenital anomaly scan. That's when a sonologist peers in the womb to check on the baby, ya know, if the baby has all its parts. I always find this scan so stressful. But, thank God, everything's there: the brain, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the spine, the arms and legs, hands and feet, all ten fingers and all ten toes, the kidneys, the stomach, the four-chambered heart beating so strong and steady, and the penis.

Yes! Yes! We're having another boy!
Another one of these cuties!

We're so happy!

Vince was hoping for a girl and I wanted one, too, because I had found the most perfect name in the whole world for a girl. It's so perfect that every time I see other girls' names (including mine), I sigh wistfully. But a boy is fantastic! Three boys! Wow. Crazier times ahead! We can't wait!

Now we just need to find a name for the new little boy. Vince is already busy with that. He's always the one excited with the names of our kids. I love him for being even more excited than me haha. Four months to go! Can't wait to meet the little cutie!

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

7 common mistakes moms do in taking care of their baby's skin

This post is brought to you by Pampers.

Sometimes I still can't believe I'm the mother of two babies. There's another one coming in the middle of this year, too, and we can't wait for the little one's arrival. If someone from this time went back into the past and told the younger me that I was going to be a mom of three and that I'd actually like the whole idea of it—poop and all—the younger me would never have believed it.

Unlike a lot of girls, I never thought motherhood was in my cards. For one thing, I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 22. It's a disease of the uterine lining that makes the woman bleed too much and too often, causing blood cysts to form and attach all over the reproductive system (sometimes even on other systems). The cysts and scarring eventually make getting pregnant impossible. While the bleeding and pain definitely had to be addressed, the eventual infertility never bothered me. For one thing, I never liked kids (I kinda still don't actually, hehe, I just like mine!) so a future without kids looked fine and dandy to me.

Imagine how I felt when the pregnancy test said I'm positively pregnant with Vito! I freaked out. I was 33, I've had endometriosis for over a decade. Pregnancy wasn't supposed to happen! So I devoured all the pregnancy and new-mommy books. I gobbled up every baby-care article I found on the Internet. I asked my old yaya (the one who took care of me and my brothers) to come teach me how to be a mom.

I'm so glad Yaya Marita was there to help me. I didn't know how to take care of babies at all. There was a lot of stuff I would've done wrong, were it not for her guidance. So when my blog sponsor Pampers asked me to write about common mistakes moms do when caring for their baby's skin, these are what I would've done but didn't, thanks to my expert Yaya M!

Vito at 4 months.
Giving baby daily baths. Especially with newborns, baths aren't necessary at all. It's not like they roll around in the dirt in their first few days, even months! In fact, until their umbilical cord (or, in the case of circumcised boys, their penis) is healed, don't get baby wet at all. Just a sponge bath is all the wee one needs. When the umbilical cord has fallen off, baby still doesn't need a daily bath. Maybe twice or thrice a week will do.

Using regular soap. Baby's skin is a lot more tender than ours so don't use regular soaps on them. Some germaphobe parents will even use antibacterial soap! Don't do it! In fact, pediatricians say clean water is fine. Only use the mildest baby cleanser when baby is dirty, and they usually don't get into that state until they're walking and tumbling and feeding themselves. Even then, just soap the dirty, sweaty parts (hands, butt, feet, knees, neck) and just use water on the rest.