Monday, June 29, 2015

My #SmartLife!

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications.




As a SMART subscriber, I'm living the #SmartLife. You know what it's like? Fabulous!

No office? No problem. I can work from home.

No car? No problem. I can always Uber.

No idea where a meeting with a client is? No problem. I can Google its address and Waze my way there.

No idea what time I'll get home because of horrific traffic jams? No problem (well...). I can always entertain myself with Facebook and reading my favorite blogs.

But I will confess that there's one part that's not so fab about it:

A video posted by Frances (@francesasales) on

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taking back my joy

I'm going to come right out and say it: the past year has been tough. I use "has been" instead of the more definitive "was" because I'm still wading out of this but I see the light at the end of the tunnel and that light grows stronger and brighter each day so I know I'm coming out of the woods and the trying times are going to be over.

What happened?

Well, I got pregnant and it was a miserable pregnancy. Lots of health issues that I didn't talk about publicly because I was afraid verbalizing problems may attract my biggest fear, which was losing the baby. Thankfully that didn't happen and I gave birth to Piero, the happiest little boy in the world but, woah, three kids is suddenly a LOT.
December 2014

I used to think that I can write a book on how to juggle motherhood, marriage, homemaking, career and gorgeousness because I truly believed I had it all. Happy and still very sexy marriage? Check. Adorable, healthy and smart kids? Check. Lovely home? Check. Fabulous career? Check. Still smokin' hot even though I'm a mom? Check. Then the third baby arrived and everything unraveled.

Sex? What sex? You know what a sexless marriage is? It's not fun and it's not intimate. Adorable kids? What adorable kids? They exasperate, infuriate and defy me every day. Lovely home? Well, it's a mess. Legos, crumbs, rice, smelly socks everywhere. Not even my favorite scented candles can smother the smell of those stinky feet and sweaty little bodies! Fabulous career? What career? With three little boys and the last one being a tiny baby, my career fell many slots down my priority list. And smokin' hot? I can't even find the time to shower or brush my teeth. My belly still looks like I just gave birth and everything is flabby and soft.

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I am a wife. I am a mom. I have a wonderful husband. I have three healthy and amazing children. I live in a beautiful home that's fully ours. I have a job that allows me to stay home with my family. I look fine for a 38-year-old woman. I am healthy. I am alive!!! But this past year, all I focused on was not the abundance of this glorious life but the imperfections of it. The mess. The missed opportunities. The little irritations. The busyness. The exhaustion. The feelings of ugliness, resentment, despair.

Then one day, a little verse that I love came to me gently as I was flipping through inspirational blogs. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." 

This is a favorite verse because I loved the promise when Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Growing up poor, I always wanted that abundant life. Then my eyes wandered to the part of the verse that I always ignored: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy," and I realized that I do have this abundant life. My God! How You have blessed me! But instead of feeling gratitude and wonder at my abundance, I have allowed Satan to steal my joy, kill my spirit, and destroy my peace.

March 2015

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I see now that the past months have been filled with God's calling to me to come out of my malaise. Old friends like JaneMartineGinger and Nicole came calling, encouraging me to focus anew on things I love outside my family, which is blogging and writing. Then God sent new friends my way like Cheka, Rica and Marilen, who talked with me about family and marriage.

I'm sure they didn't know what I was going through and they may not know that God was using them to get through to me, but as we talked about random things online, on the phone, when we see each other, I was refreshed, revived, renewed. And I resolved to take care of myself, my home, my marriage, my passions, my blessings. And I resolved to ignore the negative people, the little irritations, and the whispers of discontent that come my way.

I will fix my eyes on God. I will fix my eyes on my family. I will fix my eyes on loving and positive friends. I will fix my eyes on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), and those are my children, my husband, my friends, my God. Nothing else should matter!

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My husband is also hard at work with me, making sure this family will be strong and stable. We had our unspoken resentments, which eventually blew up into big fights where ugly words were flung at each other. We simmered in fury and disappointment.

Then just recently, as summer waned and the rains came, Vince and I had a long talk about commitments and vows and how we are afraid we're losing each other. We're together 24/7 but those hours are filled with children and work and we hardly have time to catch our breath so when the rare instances we find ourselves alone together spring upon us, we don't know what to do. We were fast becoming strangers. So we talked and talked and talked, and held hands, and cried, and laughed, and promised we were going to be together till death do us part. Not for the kids' sake, but for ours.

Vince and I are on a mini honeymoon now. Just here at home. We send off the kids to the playground and we relish our alone time together. It feels like we're rediscovering each other and I won't say anything anymore but we are definitely no longer just roommates!


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So yes, it looks like I'm coming out of the woods. But not through my own strength. Whether they were aware of it or not, my husband, my always-forgiving kids, and my friends all helped me along the way. But definitely it was God, patient and calm and steadfast, who pulled me out of that darkness.

As I type this, the day is coming to an end, I'll be faced with yet another crazy evening of a noisy, messy dinner, kids who refuse to sleep because they want one more story, and I will be tired and exasperated, but I will remember (and I hope Vince reminds me should I forget!) that I am living the very best days of my life. The very best.

Don't lose sight of that, Frances! These days will not last forever—the exhaustion of it, the fleeting joys of it. Just cling to God because it is only through Him that I can be the best wife, mother, friend, and me that I can be.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." So there, dear mommy friends, God is with us!

Now I gotta go prepare dinner. Time to soar!


(I found so many old photos I've never shared with you! That's why the pics here are of us with different hair haha. Do you want me to share more?)

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Yummy recipes made from leftovers

This post is brought to you by Electrolux.

My family does not like leftovers. So I try to cook ulam that's just enough for all five of us and our two kasambahays. But sometimes there are still leftovers. Ang hina talaga namin kumain! Even the kasambahays don't eat a lot kasi both of them are scared to get fat. What!?

So the leftovers don't get eaten and then on weekends, I clean out the ref and I find forgotten leftovers of I don't even remember when I cooked them and of course, I throw them away. It is a terrible thing to throw away food kahit na it's not a lot of food. Madalas it's just a half-eaten chicken nugget or a cup of spaghetti sauce or two matchbox-sized pieces of adobo pero wala ng sabaw. Yung tipong "Isang kagat na lang, hindi pa inubos," or "Nahiya pa sa last piece!"

To minimize us throwing out perfectly good food, I have a few ideas on recycling leftovers:
These are pizzas my sons made out of leftover spaghetti sauce, hotdogs and chicken nuggets.
I used leftover rice to make this cheesy chicken and rice casserole. Recipe here.
I used leftover rice and chicken to make this delicious risotto. Recipe here

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your precious moments captured by Pampers


This post is brought to you by Pampers.

Because I have a baby who will turn one year old in a week, I'm still not over with firsts. First step, first walk, first word, first everything! 
First time at an airport!
First plane ride!
Well, to be honest, my youngest, Piero, isn't the only one with firsts. My two older kids, Vito and Iñigo, have their firsts, too!
First time to draw on fogged up glass.
Piero's first time in a jacuzzi.

It's so fun watching my boys grow and make their way into the world. I'm also so glad I have a husband who loves capturing these firsts (and seconds and thirds!) with his camera. We have thousands upon thousands of photos of our kids! We literally wipe out our budget when it's time to print the photos and fill up the albums and picture frames! 

Many of our friends remark on how diligent we are with our family's photos. Well, it's all Vince. He LOVES looking at our kids and crying over them hehehe. He super adores the boys and we're so lucky he works from home because he's always there to capture these fun and fabulous years.

If you want beautiful photos of your family, too, I highly recommend getting a good camera. Vince's camera is an Olympus OMD EM5 while mine is an Olympus EP3 (but I use my iPhone 6 camera more). That's why our photos are soooo clear and bright and beautiful. It's really worth it to splurge a little on the best camera you can afford because our kids are growing up so fast. We must take photos of them!

But if getting a camera isn't an option right now, get diapers instead.

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that right. Pampers, only the world’s leading diaper brand and my baby boys' diaper, brings you the very first Pampers First Family Photo Shoot in select stores in Metro Manila! Pampers will offer a free photo shoot done by professional photographers and you get two wet-proof family portraits that can last for up to 100 years. A hundred years!


To avail of this promo, simply buy Pampers Baby Dry or Pampers Premium Care jumbo or super jumbo pack at the following supermarkets:


Plus, if you have water-damaged photos of your baby, Pampers can help you restore and even transform them into waterproof portraits! Just bring them to the Pampers Baby Dry Wetproof Milestones Photo Restoration Service booth for evaluation. Don’t forget to label the back of the photo with your name, complete address, contact number, email address, and signature. Once qualified, photos will be processed and sent via courier to the written address. 


Get a portrait that you can cherish for generations. For more details, visit the Pampers Facebook page.  

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Please read the mechanics of this promo after the page break.

BTS on the Mango OOTD of me and my boys

A few people commented on the tantrum photo of Piero that I used in two blog posts recently. What was happening there, they asked? Well, toddlers have tantrums, you know. "But Mr. P is such a happy baby! Why would he have a tantrum??" Well, because he's still a normal human baby and he throws a fit every now and then—on a daily basis in fact!

Dearest darling readers, kayo talaga, ha. Just because I post photos of my family always smiling doesn't mean we don't cry, we don't get mad, we don't fight, we don't yell in frustration or weep in exhaustion. We're just like you, struggling to get through the day! Neither am I projecting an image of utter happiness if I choose to just post photos of us smiling away. I mean, kadiri naman if I post pictures of myself when I'm crying, right? For me, posting drama and nega stuff is more papansin. Plus, I'm so ugly pa naman when I cry! Yuck.

Anyway! The story of that tantrum photo is we were doing a sponsored post for Mango for my lifestyle blog Topaz Horizon, and I got a few matching outfits for me and the boys. Piero would have none of that stylish nonsense.

Here he is refusing to pose with me. He'd rather crawl around and about. And my face, right? Blank stare. Dead eyes. Panis smile.

Vito's face says it all actually.

This shoot is going nowhere!

Buti na lang I had one kid who saved the day mostly because he liked his outfit.

And kisses!

Whew!

My kids actually love being on my blogs and on Instagram. They just don't like trying on clothes! There goes my plan to make them models! Sayang. Cute pa naman sila.



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Sunday, June 21, 2015

To the best father in the world

On Friday night, after we arrived home from our trip out of town, I fell asleep exhausted. I was squeezed in between my just-as-tired sons and my last thought was, "I have to get up and unpack the wet clothes." But I faded to black.

Naturally, as soon as I woke up at 5 in the morning, I scrambled out of bed to do just that. I didn't need to, however. The wet clothes were in the laundry room, hung and dry. The suitcases were unpacked. The dirty clothes in the hamper. Nearly everything already packed away. I had nothing left to do. And there, in the growing light of the day, I thanked God for my husband, Vince.

My Vince is a man of few words. Well, spoken words. He's a writer so he has a lot of words in him! That's what made me fall in love with him in the first place. As the years passed, I found many more reasons to fall in love with him but nothing prepared me for the love I feel now for him when he became the father of my children.

He is always serving us, me and the kids.

He lets me nap, which, as all moms of little kids know, is a huge deal.

He takes care of the kids so I can work or go to the salon or see my friends. Many people always ask me, "How can you leave your kids with Vince? I can never leave my kids with their daddy. And no yaya? My kids will die!" I never know how to respond to this.

He washes butts, changes diapers, gives the boys their baths. In fact, the kids prefer baths with their Papa.

He's an amazing bedtime story storyteller, the entertainment-provider, the cool parent, the enabler of all things fun.

He taught Vito how to read!

He's always the ones teaching the kids things. He insists he's not a patient man but whenever I see the boys after I wake up from my nap, they always have a new skill, a new game, a new word, a new happiness, all because their Papa taught them something while I was sleeping.

He's the one in charge of toilet-training. In fact, he's the one in charge. Period.

Vince is all that and more. Every day he inspires me to become a better parent because he's the one with the tender heart, the bigger patience, the resolve to try again and try better if he failed.

I thought Vince got lucky when he married me haha. So glad to know that I'm really actually the lucky one. Happy Father's Day, my love! Thank you for always being there for me and our boys. Thank you for being more than the world's definition and expectation of what a daddy should be. You always did do more than what was asked of you. We love you!

A video posted by Frances (@francesasales) on



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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tantrum over

Halloooo dear readers! Okay, I just finished replying to all the lovely comments on my tantrum post last week. Tantrum post? Yes. Remember when I raged about how I believe honesty is the best policy when it comes to blogging and how I railed against being held up as an inspiration? Yes, that post.

It wasn't just Piero who was behaving badly last week.

Ngayon na nahimasmasan na ako at matapos kong basahin lahat ng opinions niyo, I realized I was being childish. What could possibly be wrong with my readers wanting me to be inspiring? It's not like you asked me to be evil or be perfect or be a saint.

The tantrum happened because last month, perhaps because it was Mother's Day month, I got a number of emails telling me I was an inspiring mom. At first, I was elated and then I felt embarrassed and then I panicked. Two letters (and the readers who sent them said I can paraphrase) tipped me over the edge:

  • "I gave up my job because of you. I was so inspired that you are enjoying your kids! I admit that my situation is a little harder than yours as money is tight, but I am with my baby and that's what matters."
  • "Like you, I never wanted to have kids. But I see you so happy with your three boys that I was inspired to start my own family! My boyfriend is thrilled that I finally agreed to have his babies!"

I replied to them in panic: "DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR JOB IF MONEY IS A PROBLEM!" and "DO NOT HAVE KIDS! THEY ARE SO EXHAUSTING!"

I seriously believed I was ruining people's lives!

(Please don't make decisions because of my decisions!)

My two readers and I had a little back-and-forth where they reassured me that Mommy is not starving and Mommy Wannabe is planning to have kids a few years after the wedding pa naman. But before we had those email exchanges, I wrote the blog post.

Now that time has passed and you have so generously told me that I'm inspiring not because I'm amazing, but it's precisely because I fail so many times (thanks a lot haha) that inspires you. Well, the fact that I either try again or I shrug it off and say, "That didn't work so eff it! On to the next adventure!", that's what you find great about this blog.

So, yes, if living honestly—from the things I buy and products I use to my sometimes brutal, always beautiful thoughts on marriage and motherhood—is inspiring, then I can do that. I can certainly do that. It's not always going to be pretty over here, it's not always going to be amazing and it's never going to be perfect, but it will always always be real.

Whining done, tantrum over. Thank you for being patient with me, my dearest, dearest readers!

P.S. Martine de Luna of Make It Blissful wrote today about how to manage our expectations when our favorite bloggers change. I liked it very much especially since in my previous post, one of my readers called out breastfeeding moms who now like formula. I think Martine addressed the issue well—people change, people choose what they want to show the public, the world of blogging has changed itself and some have adapted (like me, I now have a lot of sponsored content)—but these don't mean the blogger is now fake.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

School bags... for me!

Hahaha, sorry, this is obviously a post too late for the school year as I am sure you're all done with your shopping. But I was scouting for schoolbags for Baby Magazine (I'm the market editor, that means my job is picking all the products featured in the magazine) and I saw some really nice bags and I wished I was a little girl right about now because I'd have loved to tote these to school!

Zoo Pack Zebra little kid backpack, Skip Hop, P995. Available at Mothercare.
Love how graphic this is! Love the corduroy snout and the leaf sticking out of the mouth.

Orange Fox toddler backpack, SoYoung, P2,150, Available at Rustan's.
A closer shot. The canvas is oiled so it's waterproof and stain-proof. 

Pink Fawn insulated cooler bag, SoYoung, P1,350. Available at Rustan's.
Lots of compartments inside. And lots of love, too! 

These bags and more of my picks will be featured in the July-August issue of Baby Magazine. Make sure to grab a copy so you can check out all the adorable animal-themed bags I picked out.

Meanwhile, my boys were so lucky to get nice bags from their fans. Thanks so much, Wildkin, Lily & Tucker and Avon!

Vito picked out this Wildkin bag for himself (robots are very cool for Vito), and this is his schoolbag for the new school year:
The Wildkin Pack n Snack Backpack, P1,400.
To see more designs and to order, go to the Facebook page of Wildkin Philippines.
This is a Lily & Tucker bag and I picked out the dinosaur print for Iñigo even though he isn't going to school yet (he's only 3!).
Lily & Tucker Medium Backpack, P1,099.75
To see more designs and to know where to buy, check out the Facebook page of Lily & Tucker.
We got a set of Avengers bags from Avon and the boys loved them! But I kept only the troller and the backpack (the rest I gave away) because Vito decreed these bags are for traveling.
Call your Avon lady to order!

If you want me to do a detailed review of the Wildkin and Lily & Tucker bags, just tell me! I like them both very much!

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Piero's baptism

Before Piero turns 1 next month, let me share with you his baptism this summer. It was at Christ the King Greenmeadows and we had our reception at Basil White Plains. It was just family and it was lovely. Thank You, God, for our families. They are such a blessing!

The baby boy was a bit cranky because mid-morning is his nap time.
With Piero's ninangs, Tita Jacqui and Auntie Reza.
With his paternal grandparents, Lola Digna and Lolo Mon.
Piero was asleep during the entire ceremony!
My happy family. Except Iñigo hehe. He didn't like his monster shoes.
At Basil. We liked the homey feel and the delicious food. 
Mr. P is awake for lunch! OOTD is knit cap and shoes from Rustan's Baby, shirt and suit from Periwinkle.
We bought these a few days before the baptism. Crammers forever!
My sweet baby darling boy!
My heartwarmers!
Iñigo in a better mood heehee.
With Lolo Jules and Ninang Jacqui.
Iñigo making kulit with Tito Ted!
With Tita Rose, Tito Ted's pretty love.
Iñigo with Tita Jacqui and cousins, Ate Nicole and Ate Rachel.
Vito and his Ninong Ted and Tita Rose. They're taking silly selfies.
Piero and Auntie Lizelle's amazing cupcakes!
The Amper family.
The Sales family.
My sons in the car as we drove home. They are the sweetest little boys, so loving and affectionate with each other. I don't know what we ever did to deserve these three. 

Thank You, God, for my Vito, Iñigo and Piero. May they get to know You and love You. May they seek Your will and follow it all their lives. May You bless them with good health, surround them with love all the days of their life, and keep them in the shadow of Your wings. Bless them, Father, and bless us, their parents, so we may guide these precious boys into life everlasting with You. Amen!


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