Thursday, September 22, 2016

The end of Brangelina and how it's made me think of marriage

I should be blogging about our recent staycation at the beautiful and wonderful Ascott Makati. And I should be blogging about my cooking and mealtime and dining tips because of my blog sponsor, Jolly. And I should be getting my Ask Frances post up and ready for publishing tomorrow... but I'm not. I can't. Because Angelina and Brad are no more!!!

To most of you who have been following this blog, you'd know that in my past life, I was the editor-in-chief of OK! magazine. My stint in OK! began during the wildest days of Hollywood—Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's reality TV marriage, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's whirlwind romance, and the never-ending Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie-Jen Aniston saga. My goodness. Some of the very best days in my life!

So I just can't remove myself from all the gossip sites this week because Angelina just divorced Brad! And in the most ruthless and shocking way, too—just like what Katie did to Tom.

If Angelina does it like Katie, Brad will never see those kids again (Although he'll fight for custody, says TMZ). Yes, didn't you know? Katie annihilated Tom in such blitzkrieg fashion that he agreed to all her terms of the divorce within a few weeks and now he hasn't seen Suri in years. Years. His only biological daughter. And we used to say Katie was a brainless zombie.

I'm pretty sure Angelina will demolish Brad, too. She's doing it now in the media. Master manipulator Angelina Jolie is one of the very few who came out of a lurid affair splashed all over the tabloids as a saint. Remember her moniker in the height of her mistress days? Santa Angelina. However does a mistress become a Santa Angelina??? Easy. Befriend media, send gifts, always be available for calls and clarifications, but always have a story about your charity, UN work, movie work, dying/dead mother, and beautiful kids. Change the story. I know this because I was in the thick of it in an international OK! conference, where the editors of the other OK! franchises were stunned at how Angelina always made the story about her goodness, not about the affair. And all those millions upon millions she and Brad made whenever they got pregnant, gave birth, and adopted! Brilliant!

I don't hate Angelina, okay (even though I'm Team Aniston all the way!). I have utmost respect for her. In fact, I think of her whenever Taylor Swift flounders about controlling her image. I always think, "Learn from Angelina, Tay!" The only person I can think of these days who is master at manipulating media, controlling her image, and milking said image for millions of dollars is Kim Kardashian West.

And Angelina's doing it now again. She released news of her divorce on a Tuesday, so all the print media have gone to bed and now can't really come out with the story till next week. So again she gets to control the narrative. Brad is left reeling and angry, upset that her wanting to have sole physical custody and then insinuating that Brad has a nasty temper and uses drugs implies to all that he is a danger to their kids. Wow! What a nasty reason to end a marriage, if true! And no, it's not because he allegedly cheated on her (not true at all!), but it's fascinating that the cheating news came out almost exactly the same time Angelina allowed TMZ to break news of her divorce. Hmmm.

It's getting ugly. And that makes me sad. There are kids involved. Six beautiful kids. And didn't this story start in such a—er, breaking up the Aniston-Pitt marriage aside—didn't this love story start in such a beautiful way? Two gorgeous and sexy people meet and fall in love, do charity work together, and raise a family together, while traveling the world as possibly the coolest family ever.

Woah. All this Brangelina news is seriously giving me intense Throwback Thursday feels. It's also making me terribly sad because while I wasn't a fan, those kids and their obvious affection won me over. I love a love story. Don't you?

My takeaway from this (and from every Hollywood divorce) is this: Don't forget your love story, don't forget why you fell in love in the first place (the past), don't forget the plans you made together (the future). Marriage is hard. I know. I'm married! Vince and I have gone through struggles. We're changing, our life is changing. It's so easy to drift apart. That's why you have to commit every day. Sometimes, I refuse to commit. That's when I complain, I bitch, I refuse to serve him. Sometimes he doesn't commit by doing the same thing. It happens. No one's perfect! But when we both fail to commit every day for days and days, then that's when real trouble sets in. And we have to guard our marriage against that. Let's make a stand to protect our marriages!

Monday, September 19, 2016

I see you, mommy

There's this beautiful poem by Abi Oborne of the blog Like Real Life going around the mommy circles and I'm reposting part of it below. Please read the rest of it on Abi's blog!

It's made me cry because I've felt that sometimes, that nobody sees me—the mama who is awake in the middle of the night, checking if her kids are cold, patting them softly back to sleep when they wake from nightmares, praying over them, breastfeeding, working in the dark so the kids won't wake up, crying and praying when the clients don't pay and the bills are here, chatting with the kid who wakes up and asks questions about life at 3 a.m., rising again when another kid asks for water, and basically not sleeping at all.

My nights are always chaotic but sweet.

But I also know that people do see me, the mommy me. Because I go on Facebook or Instagram in the dead of night and I post a status or share a photo and guess who likes and comments? Mommies, too. Yes, all of us moms awake in the wee hours of the morning. We silly, wonderful, exhausted, tireless, blessed mommies!

I see you. Thanks for seeing me, too. If only on Facebook! If only here on my blog. Thank you, fellow mommy.

Nobody saw you
Nobody saw you,
nobody at all
at 3am when
they woke again.
Nobody saw you
picking up the peas,
wiping up the beans,
emptying the laundry basket,
taking out the bins
and again.
Nobody saw the crust of toast
that fell out of your bra when you got undressed at night,
such a glamorous life
being mum
wiping noses
washing faces
trying to stay calm.
(for fuckssake)
Nobody saw you
when you were so bored of playing princess ninja pirate turtles
but you said, ‘ok,
just five more minutes,
just one more time,
just one more go,
just one more round’
and then said it again ten minutes later.
Nobody saw you
holding the toddler who wouldn’t be put down
but also wouldn’t go in the buggy
but also wanted to walk but only in the opposite direction
and ‘oh look!
a stick/discarded lolly/dog poo/pebble/cigarette butt/the sky!’
Nobody saw you holding the sick bucket in the night
or on the way back from school
nobody saw you holding a jacket,
a rucksack, a book bag, a sunhat,
a scooter, the baby, a half-eaten apple
and an art project made out of three cereal boxes taped together
and covered in glitter glue,
holding soft little hands at bed time,
holding angry little bodies still kicking and shouting,
holding it together,
holding on,
holding a hungry little head
to a boob as hard as concrete
in those early days
of chaos.
Nobody saw you winding the bobbin up
and winding it back again
and pointing to the ceiling
and pointing to the floor
and pointing to the window
and pointing to the door.
Nobody saw you when it was raining again
and the kids were sick
and you didn’t leave the house for three days.
Nobody saw that.
Nobody saw how many times you watched ‘The Gruffalo,’
on the third day,
how many times you read about what happened to igglepiggle’s blanket
or the one about the inappropriate pets
sent by the zoo.
Nobody saw you in the car
when you dropped the baby off for the first time
when you promised yourself you wouldn’t
but you cried all the way home
all the same.
Nobody saw when you were empty
but you gave something
but you made something
but you thought of a game
but you said sorry to a little face
for being cross, for snapping again.
I haven’t seen you for a while
we haven’t chatted for too long
but I when I see those lovely pictures of your kids
you post sometimes
I feel like I am seeing you,
(continued here)

Good night, dear mommies! Try to get some sleep. God bless us all!

Friday, September 16, 2016

My 6 staycation secrets revealed!

My family is going on a vacation. Hooray! We've been so busy this year, we never had a chance to plan a proper holiday. But now we found a free weekend and we blocked it off for some family fun time. It's just a staycation actually. When you're a mom of little kids, travel is both fun and exhausting. Some parents don't like traveling with their young kids because it truly can be a stressful experience—lots of worrying, luggage and money involved haha. 

When I was still a new mom, I had actually planned on avoiding travel with my kids until they were 8 or so. It seemed like a waste of money because in my mind, they're not going to remember anything anyway. But when Vito was 7 months old, we had to fly to Cebu and my family had such a fun time. Then when he was 11 months old, we had to go to Bali for a wedding, and Vito's brain and motor skills seemed to progress faster. Then when he 2-and-a-half, we went to Tagaytay and his verbal skills were suddenly on display when he was confronted with animals in a zoo. Yes, our previously non-talking child was forced to speak because he had to tell us he was afraid of animals! So even if I really don't like traveling with kids, I see the huge benefits traveling has on the kids' development and the family dynamics. So... we travel!  
Vito's trip to Cebu was full of firsts: first plane ride, first hotel, first beach.
Bali hai! Our first family trip abroad was to Indonesia. Vito loved Bali!
Our first family trip together (when we were still just four!) was to Tagaytay. That road trip forced Vito to talk!

We've gone to many places near and far since but for this short weekend coming up, we decided on a staycation in the city. I'll tell you why in a bit as I reveal my 6 staycation secrets!

#1 Research for attractions.
My first step is always asking myself and my kids, "What do we want to see or do?" For our upcoming trip, I had to consider these: (1) Vince wants to go eat at Antonio's and I want to check out Tagô so that means Tagaytay; (2) the boys want to go back to Peacock Garden in Bohol and I needed to restock on my favorite Bohol Bee Farm honey so that means Bohol; and (3) I saw that we had a lot of gift certificates that needed to be used and we wanted to eat the President's steak at Myron's so that means Makati. I decided on the last because the kids and I haven't been feeling well lately and maybe it's a good idea to stay near home and hospital, so Makati staycation it is!

#2 Look for hotels nearby.
Makati is teeming with hotels but I wanted a hotel that's super near where we wanted to be. Like, we wouldn't need to go take the car anymore. Especially because of the traffic and the parking! 

Because I know Makati almost like the back of my hand, I immediately knew my choices will be limited to hotels attached to or walking distance to Glorietta. So that's Ascott Makati, Holiday Inn, Dusit Thani, Fairmont, Raffles, Discovery Primea, and Makati Shang.

If I'm visiting a new place, however, Google is my friend! Booking sites like Traveloka have filters in their search tool so you can easily narrow down the hotels you want. 

#3 Check if these hotels are kid-friendly.
It's not enough that the hotel is near. When you have a family, especially with little ones, a hotel needs to be family-friendly. That means no-smoking floors, a kiddie pool, a play area, and even a babysitting service (although this isn't my concern because we just bring the kids with us everywhere!). 

Something I also look for is if the hotel is okay with feeding little people for free. Or even letting kids stay in the room. Some hotels really don't want kids around. Don't pick those hotels and then insist on bringing your kids. It's just not going to work out!

What helps me determine if a hotel is family-friendly is the hotel website itself. Look at the pictures of the pool. Check how many people the room can accommodate. Travel blogs also offer a ton of reviews. I love travel blogs!

#4 Book online.
Soooo many discounts online! Hotel websites will always have a promo or offers to entice you to pick them over the others. Booking sites also have huge discounts. Some of the hotels I found on Traveloka have discounts of up to 30%! 

It's especially cheap now because it's off season, being the rainy season, so you can find lots of goodies online. Easy, convenient, and fast! I love shopping online!

#5 Bring your kids' favorite things.
Don't bring them all, and don't bring the toys that will fall apart (no Legos!). But do bring one thing from home that will make them not miss home too much.

#6 Plan but be flexible.
It's always good to have an itinerary when you're somewhere new since this will keep you from wasting time asking each other, "Where will we go? What will we do? Where will we eat?" But whenever there are kids in the party, it's also a good idea to be ready to throw out those plans. Kids are known to get tired, fall asleep standing up, and throw tantrums. When that happens, you need to let go of the plans and go back to the hotel room. After all, that's what room service is for!

I hope you liked my tips! They're not so genius but they are practical, especially for moms. I can't wait for our staycation. I'll definitely tell you all about that holiday. Have a good weekend!

P.S. I like writing travel articles! Maybe I should do travel blogging!