Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 more ways to use rubbing alcohol

This post is brought to you by Biogenic Alcohol.

As a Biogenic Ambassador, I use lots of alcohol. Use, not drink hehe. Never drink rubbing alcohol!

Yes, we're talking about rubbing alcohol today! And I'm really happy to share with you these 10 ways I use Biogenic in my home. I'm sure you also have lots of other reasons for buying a big bottle of alcohol for your house, right? It's not just for the first aid kit, right?

Oh no! What to do? Don't worry—Biogenic to the rescue!

I already wrote about keeping my home and my kids healthy and safe (10 Ways I Keep My Home Healthy and 5 Simple Ways to Keep Our Kids Safe from Germs at School), so today I'll tell you all about the other ways I use Biogenic.

1. Hairspray fallout remover
Because I have such flat, thin, limp hair, I employ hairspray to keep whatever body I forced into my hair (via mousse and blowdrying) with some generous blasts of hairspray. Hehe, matrona helmet! The problem is hairspray coats everything around me—sink, mirror, doorknob, my makeup containers, everything!—in a fine sticky mist. So a quick wipe on these surfaces with tissue moistened with Biogenic instantly removes the sticky spray fallout.

2. Faucet cleaner
This is connected to the tip above but I gave it special mention because alcohol makes chrome fixtures extra shiny. I don't actually know why. Try it!

3. Deodorant alternative
Hehe sorry TMI. But we're all girls here, right? I don't use deodorant. I don't have body odor. Promise! I just quickly wipe my underarms with a cotton ball wet with Biogenic. What causes body odor is bacteria, so if your armpits are germ-free, there won't be odor!

4. Phone and keyboard sanitizer
Because fingers and faces are oily, this oiliness transfers to things you touch. Like your computer keyboard and your phone. My face is extra oily, like you can't imagine, so I hate using my phone for calls because it sticks to my cheek and then it's an oil spill. So gross. My instant solution to removing slime and grime? Biogenic.

Oh, and let me take this opportunity to show you my Biogenic ad out now in the August issue of Good Housekeeping!

5. Stove de-greaser
Because of the above find (that alcohol can fight oil), I spray the stove and surrounding walls with Biogenic after I cook. It lessens the grease considerably. We still do a big cleanup after dinner using a cleanser but at least there's no huge oily mess anymore. Plus, my stove ends up extra shiny!

6. Sticky stuff remover
Ever peeled off a sticker from stuff you bought like books, pens, plastic anything, and the sticker residue stubbornly refuses to un-adhere from the product? Use Biogenic to wipe that stickiness away!

7. Ink stain remover
This works. I proved this when my toddler Piero took my ballpoint pen and wrote on our dining chair. Not a line, not a few scribbles. He did a whole Cy Twombly on the loveseat! I seriously thought I needed to have the whole thing reupholstered. But Biogenic and lots of scrubbing later and the pen scribbles disappeared.

8. Marker ink dissolver
If it can remove ink, markers are even easier to tackle. I don't panic anymore when my kids go on a marker spree on the table, the dining chairs, the walls, and on themselves. I just Biogenic them all!

9. Whiteboard cleaner
Again, because of my reason found in #8. But I just wanted to reiterate that alcohol can really dissolve whiteboard marker ink, even if you haven't cleaned that whiteboard in years. The ink will just disappear!

10. Bug bite first aid
Whenever my kids get bug bites, I spray Biogenic on the bite before I smear booboo balm. The alcohol sanitizes the area so that when my kids scratch it, at least I know the affected area is free from germs, in case they break the skin from scratching. The cool sensation of alcohol also relieves the itchiness. Try it!

Do you use alcohol in these ways, too? Do you have more tips and secrets? Please share in the comments!

There are also more tips on the Instagram account and Facebook page of Biogenic alcohol. Like and follow the hashtags #BiogenicAlcohol #MyBiogenicWorld and #BiogenicxHome.

Also just wanted to invite you all this weekend (yes, it starts today!) to the My Biogenic World: Playtime Discoveries event at Market! Market! Activity Area.

There will be FREE seminars you and your husband can enjoy. For example, I'll be giving a talk on how to take care of your marriage even with kids. Yes, I heard it can be done so let's talk about it later!

There will also be celebrity moms like Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio and Danica Sotto-Pingris at the event. They are two of the nicest and truly real women I've ever met. I totally recommend you meeting them, too!

Bring the kids! There are soooo many fun activities for them! There will be an area for Build & Play and Water & Sand games. There'll be creative play at Kids at Art. And your kids will definitely enjoy the Inflatable Castle and the Biogenic Train!

All aboard then! See you later at the My Biogenic World: Playtime Discoveries!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Planning a trip to the UK with the kids and here’s where you should go!

My 10th wedding anniversary is next year and I’ve been bugging my husband about going to the UK to celebrate it. Our honeymoon was in London and it was amazing!

That’s why I want to go back. My plan is for just the two of us to go, you know, a second honeymoon! But Vince can’t imagine going anywhere without the kids. So, since he’s hellbent on bringing the kids, I’ve been doing some research, and I’ve come to the happy conclusion that the UK can make a fantastic holiday destination especially for families with young children, like my own.

When it comes to picking a travel destination within the UK, London, the capital, is the obvious choice. Packed full of sights, attractions, and hotels of all shapes and sizes, London is known for being family-friendly

However, it is also very expensive and with five of us now instead of just two in 2008, I've been thinking of maybe exploring other parts of the British Isles. From beach breaks to camping trips, I found that the UK has so many vacation options that are ideal for families. In case you’re thinking of going there, I thought that I would share a few ideas and suggestions of ideal locations, as well as things to do in the area.

Take a seaside break in Blackpool

I know, I know. Why would any Filipino who lives in paradise want to go to another beach? Well, try Blackpool anyway! Situated on the Irish Sea coast of England, Blackpool is home to a bustling seaside town, beautiful beach, and an amusement park. Dating back to the 1890s, the park offers lots of rides—vintage rides as well as more modern ones, with rides and activities for visitors of all ages. For the daredevils, there are plenty of thrill rides, like Avalanche and The Big One roller coasters. While for younger visitors, there’s Nickelodeon Land and lots of little rides and activities for them to get stuck into. 

The town itself is home to various hotels and guesthouses, meaning that you’ll have plenty of choice of accommodation. There’s also lots of restaurants and bars, a theater, and lots of shops to explore. So if you're looking for a big beach with a carnival, Blackpool could be the perfect place!

Opt for a city break in Bristol

I'm a city girl through and through. If you're like me, London is the dream destination. But like I said, it's just too expensive there so how about planning a trip to Bristol instead? Bristol, the largest city in the South of the UK, is a fantastic place to visit. It’s packed full of shops, sights and attractions, and so, has plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained. There’s museums, art galleries, a zoo, and tons of other things to keep your family busy. 

Getting around shouldn’t be a problem as there are plenty of trains, buses, and taxis. If you want to get your kids walking, sign up for a Bristol walking tour. This will take you all around the city’s most famous sights and attractions, such as Clifton Suspension Bridge and Queen Square. For a city break that’s not as hectic as London but still as enjoyable and child-friendly, Bristol is the ideal location.

Visit the sunny South Hams

Nestled in the heart of South Devon is the South Hams, an area made up of beautiful countryside, nature reserves, and rugged coastline. If what you want is a less commercialized and more authentic experience, then a trip to the South Hams is perfect for your family.

Here you’ll find miles and miles of untouched countryside and beaches. As well as lots of seaside towns and villages to explore. The best places to consider staying are Salcombe or Dartmouth. This is because both of these locations have beaches, shops, restaurants, and lots to keep the kids occupied. There’s also one of the UK’s best zoos nearby (Paignton Zoo), as well as a fantastic open air water park (Splashdown at Quaywest). A short drive away, there’s Dartmoor National Park, a fantastic location for exploring with the little ones. There are theme parks like Crealy and Woodlands to keep the thrill seekers occupied. Although a smaller and less commercialized location, the South Hams has a lot to offer families. There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, too. From five-star hotels to self-catered holiday cottages, there’s sure to be something that’s perfect for your family whatever your budget!

Explore Truro

I want to see Cornwall because this is the duchy of Prince Charles. I believe this is what makes him a very wealthy prince. Anyway! Cornwall’s only city, Truro, is a bustling hub of activity. Its beautiful cobbled streets are lined with shops, art galleries, museums, and restaurants. It’s also home to a beautiful cathedral that dates back to the late 1880’s. While Truro itself is a city packed full of plenty to see and do, some of Cornwall’s best beaches are nearby. One of which is Perranporth beach. This beach and seaside town are incredibly popular with surfers and families due to its golden sands and calm, clear waters. Just under an hour’s drive away is the Eden Project, a tropical garden paradise located inside two biodomes. There are also lots of cute, quirky towns, like Tintagel and Padstow, just a short drive away. All of which are ideal for exploring with your little ones.

Head to the Lake District

A national park located in North England, the Lake District is the ideal location for a family break. Especially if you and your little ones love the great outdoors. And I may be a city girl but just look at that view. It's like straight out of a fairy tale! Known for its stunning lakes and vast areas of countryside, the Lake District is a favorite with camping enthusiasts. There’s not just exploring and bird spotting to keep your little ones entertained. Oh no, there are also plenty of sights and attractions like The World of Beatrix Potter to the Bowness on Windermere Treasure Trail. Hmm, my kids do love Peter Rabbit so maybe this is worth checking out. I just need to buy binoculars for kids first and we're all set to explore that amazing terrain! Whether you love to camp or prefer to stay in a hotel, there’s plenty of accommodation options to choose from, too.

So did you like my little travel advice? If you’re considering a break in the UK (it's summer there now!), the not-London, not-typical tourist ideas I suggested above are my top picks. Whether you prefer to explore the city or camp in the wilderness, the UK has plenty to offer. I hope we really can go to the UK next year for our anniversary! Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ask Frances: After caring for the kids all day, how is sex with my husband even possible?

This post is brought to you by Biogenic Alcohol.

Well, yes, I haven't forgotten about this super popular series! So if you're wondering about my Ask Frances series, well, I didn't do posts for May and June. I've been getting really heavy and serious questions. I'm kinda scared to answer them because marriages are on the balance. Nakakatakot sagutin, diba? But I said I'd do this series and so let's do this!

"Ask Frances" is a monthly (well, that was the plan!) blog series where I will answer questions from my readers. The chosen question will receive a prize. This month's prize is from my blog partner, Biogenic Alcohol. I really chose this question because it's perfect for announcing something I'm doing for a big event of Biogenic this weekend.

Today's prize is all these bottles of Biogenic. I'm especially happy with the big spray bottles.

I think Ethyl alcohol is safer to use around kids. It's an ingredient in making alcoholic beverages, after all, which mean it's ingestible. But that doesn't mean you should drink it! Ethyl alcohol is what I use whenever my kids are involved—their grooming kits, our first aid kit.

Isopropyl alcohol is volatile and highly combustible. This ingredient is found in sanitizing solutions like hand gels and heavy-duty cleaners. Obviously, dangerous to ingest! I use this for cleaning the house.

Our question this month:

I started reading your blog since you were pregnant with Iñigo. I found your blog because I was also pregnant in 2012 with my first child. Now I have two kids. A boy and a baby girl. My life is so full and happy, like yours. Frances, I can tell from the few posts that you write about your marriage that your marriage changed after the kids came. Mine did also. 

My husband says he misses me. He wants me to stay awake so I can spend time with him after the kids go to sleep. Most of the time, he also wants to make love. We're married. He's a man. Of course he wants sex. I understand. But I want him to understand I'm so tired from taking care of the kids all day. I get up at 5 and I am on my feet until the kids bedtime at 8. I just really want to sleep. I am still attracted to my husband but I'm so tired. My husband doesn't force me at all. So I am thankful. But I am guilty. I'm too tired! I am also resentful. But I don't want him to become celibate for ever. I don't want him to look for a querida also. 

Sorry for the personal question. How do you still have a marriage after kids? I follow you on IG and you still look so happy together with Vince. Are you still having sex? If yes, how do you do it? I don't want my marriage to end. Thank you!


Dear M.N., what questions you ask! I seriously don't know how to answer because I'm going through the same questions myself! But let me try anyway. Let's pretend it's just you and me talking, two wives who love their husbands so very much, two mothers too exhausted to show their husbands that love.

Let me answer the questions as bluntly as you asked them. "Are you still having sex?" Yes, we are still having sex. Sadly, the frequency has lessened to the point that sometimes Vince calls me his roommate. Haha.

I think it's important to remember that our husbands are not the villains here. He doesn't ask for sex because he's selfish. He wants sex because it's a display of love and affection for him to you and from you to him. I dunno why men can't display such affection in ways such as doing all the chores, or letting us sleep, or taking care of the kids all day long haha. For example, if I had a nap that day, I'm in a better mood for sex later at night. The longer my nap, the more game I am for making out! If I had time to shower, too! Honestly, sometimes a whole day can pass and I hadn't had time to wash my face or brush my teeth, then here comes my husband asking for loving. When I'm stinky, sticky and yucky, I'm not in the mood at all. Vince says he doesn't mind, but sex starts in the mind and if my mind says I'm yucky, I won't feel sexy. So let me nap, let me shower, and I can have sexy time!

So I guess that answers your question, "If yes, how do you do it?" He tries to make sure I get rest—even for just a little while—so I can have energy to take him on later. Talk to your husband about how tired you are and ask for his help. If he's at work all day, ask budget for household help. A life coach I know told me that mothers shouldn't feel guilty to hire yayas for their kids. Yayas help the mom in that she can rest and spend time with her husband. Someone needs to take care of our husbands, and if it won't be us, who's going to do it?

What helped me was remembering that I'm the only one in the world who can legally provide sex to my husband. So I do have a duty! I don't view it as an obligation, however, because that will make me resentful and that will make my husband a chore. I mean, I wouldn't want him to view me that way either. I want him to love the fact that he's the only one for me—for better or worse! So we have to make love to each other because we're the only ones who are supposed to and who are legally allowed to! So it's a joyful duty. Having an attitude of joy helps. I confess I'm not joyful about it every day because the exhaustion really drowns whatever joy or desire I have (and yes, I am still very much attracted to my husband!). So the solution—for us tired moms, at least—is to address our exhaustion. If husband and wife work together in making mom life less tiring (haha), then wife life will happen!!!

That said, don't conclude that just because you're not having sex, your marriage will end. Yes, sex is a very important part of marriage, but it's not the be-all and end-all of your relationship. It's commitment. Till death do you part, whether or not you're having sex.

Work with your husband about this. Tell him you still want him. Sometimes, that's all they need actually—your confirmation that he's still hot stuff. Commit to spending time together—whether going out on a date, or talking for an hour after the kids are asleep. Yes, just talking. It's hard for us wives to be intimate with someone we don't talk to. So I chat with Vince first before we do it. He gets impatient sometimes haha but it's really hard for me to get in the mood if I don't know how he is or I haven't told him about my day!

M.N., I've been assured (and warned in a way) that this mom-of-young-kids stage won't last forever. The babies will suddenly grow up and then we won't be so tired anymore. We'll have more time again. Just make sure you nurture your marriage while we wait for that time. Nurturing doesn't mean sex all day (who has the time???). Just be there for each other, talk to each other, affirm each other, laugh together, love each other, and make love when you can. That's what we're doing. Hopefully, it's enough to tide us over for when all the kids in school and we finally find ourselves alone!

Now, send me an email so I can send your Biogenic gift pack! You can also attend my talk on July 30, Saturday, at Market! Market! for the "My Biogenic World: Playtime Discoveries" event of Biogenic Alcohol. My topic will be "How to Take Care of Your Marriage After Kids." I'll have more tips to share there.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blog Biz: 10 things I learned from 10 years of blogging

Hello everybody! I disappeared again. This July has been super busy. Lots of changes, lots of work happening. Hence the blog neglect. That's not a good thing. This blog is my job now so I should never neglect it!!! That's one of the things I learned in my 10 years of blogging. So I was inspired to write this post for you!

Thank you all for the warm wishes that you left on my 10th anniversary post last May, my blog's anniversary month. Yes, 10 years is a lot of time doing something and I'm glad the time I spent on blogging has reaped rewards. I got a few emails from readers who said that they're just beginning to blog and they want to know if I had more advice than the ones I gave the last time. So, because I'm feeling generous, instead of doing a workshop and charging people to unlock my blogging secrets, I'll share them here in my second Blog Biz episode!

Dear new bloggers, here are 10 things I learned from 10 years of blogging:

The story is important.
Blogging is storytelling. Even when you create a blog that's just full of images, you can tell a good story. With blogs, you have so much space to create a story, something other media like magazines and newspapers and other social media platforms can't offer. Unlike with print, for example, you're not limited by a word count, a number of pages, an editor, and an editorial budget. You can do whatever you want with your blog so nothing should hold you back from telling a good story.

Why must it be a good story? Well, because online readers are fickle. If you can't hold their attention, they can quickly move on to another tab on their browser. So make your content count! Tell a good story!

Readers expect honesty.
Blogs started as online diaries. I guess that's what made them so popular. They were a peek into someone else's life, they were a bridge across worlds, they were a path to friendships. Now, they're also brands, businesses, and platforms to promote one's pursuits and advocacies. Blogs have really evolved! But what remains is the expectation of readers that you're being honest with them, that what you share is authentic. So be honest, be true, be real.

Love is all you need.
Blogging isn't for everyone. Its very nature of sharing does raise concerns—it invites criticism and ridicule, even hate. There are privacy issues, too. So if you come into blogging hoping for fame and riches but you're not ready for the trolls, the fans, the dedication, and the work, you will not succeed in blogging. You need to love blogging and to love it so much, you're willing to put in the hours and face the consequences of putting yourself out there. You gotta love it! Love for blogging is what will keep you going.

Discipline and deadlines mean more than inspiration.
Before my kids came, I had no problems with blogging. I blogged whenever inspiration hit me and it hit me often. Now that I'm a mom of three, however, finding time to blog is near impossible. And that's a problem. Readers like checking back for new updates. If there are none, they get disappointed and then they don't come back. I know this from experience. That's why I love my dear Loyal Readers—thanks for always checking back!

Don't wait for inspiration. Blog regularly. Even once a week helps. When readers know the times you blog (Mondays? MWF? Weekdays? Every day at 10am?), they come back for more. It helps to create an editorial calendar and a schedule of deadlines to keep yourself blogging. This is advice I need to follow!!!

Giveaways don't work.
Nope, they don't. They only attract the wrong market—professional contest joiners who really don't care about you or your blog anyway. You want to attract readers who will be your friends, and you do that with good, honest, regular content.

Keep it clean, people. Keep it clean.
Okay, hate blogs get a lot of traffic. So if that's what you want, skip #6. I've done my few hate posts, rants, and tantrums. It's been 10 years. I'm still trying to edit and delete my posts from the early years, when I was such a whiny brat. I've learned that negativity attracts negativity and there's a lot of negative people in the world. I've found that even though I enjoy gossip, I don't like it on my blogs. I've done it—I used to be an entertainment journalist—and while those posts got lots of hits, I also got a lot of hate. I don't want that. You don't want that either.

The world is still full of good people.
Now don't let what I wrote above scare you from blogging. Yes, there's a lot of hateful people in the world, but I've discovered to my complete thrill and joy that there is more love, compassion and generosity, too. I've found real friends through my blog. Complete strangers have sent me emails of such profound wisdom and love, it's crazy. Especially when my babies were born and when my mama died, I truly felt the love and hugs of people from all over the world. Emails, presents, comments! God bless my readers, every single one of you!

Blogging can open doors.
I'm sure you know this one, considering the proliferation of bloggers who are now formidable brands with followings that make them celebrities. I don't see myself as a famous blogger. You only need to check my social media stats to confirm this. But blogging has opened so many doors for me. My blog is now our main source of income. I've done videos for brands. I represent brands as an ambassador (the photo above is for the Biogenic Alcohol campaign). I've done PR and marketing for brands, too. My latest gig: I am now a public speaker. Despite my awful voice and my propensity to nervous gestures onstage, people seem to enjoy my talks. Either that or people really like my blog! So put yourself out there through your blog and see what unlikely doors will open for you!

Open up. Be brave.
Because blogging is all about sharing and you can't share if you're afraid.

Life first.
If your blog is already a business, of course you need to focus on it. But the foundation of your stories is your life so if you're parked all day in front of your computer, what life will you talk about? I noticed that even though I feature a lot of sponsored posts, it's my posts on my life and my family that get the thousands of hits. Why? Let's go back to #2: Readers want authenticity. They want to see the real you and the real you needs to have a life. So live a real and full life. That's the kind of life worth writing about!

So there you go, dear Loyal Readers! The 10 things I learned from 10 years of blogging. How about you—what are your lessons? Do share!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Piero's 2nd birthday party!!!

Hello everybody! Here comes the traditional post-birthday photo essay!!!

But, first, a refresher: My youngest boy, Piero, celebrated his second birthday last Sunday. It was a tiny affair, just us the parents and the bros. Since the kids wake up really early, we (that's Vince and me) had no choice but to do the birthday party before 8am. So we're super groggy and sleepy while the kids are so energetic and excited!

Look! Super ready na si Piero! Nice shirt, nice hair!

And the cake is here! Happy birthday, Piero! Happy birthday, Piero!

Happy birthday, happy birthday...

Happy birthday, Piero! Now make a wish, sweetheart!

And may all your heart's desires come true!

He's so pogi!

He's so happy!

Now for the requisite attempts at family photos:

That wasn't so bad, although I should've brushed my hair haha

Piero and his Papa.

Piero and his dinosaurs. We were supposed to have a Hulk Smash! party but I didn't have the energy to make Hulk stuff. So, since Piero loves Peppa Pig's brother George who loves dinosaurs, we did dinosaurs!

And here come the gifts!

You can tell he's pretty pleased with his big gift!

But he let his brothers assemble it because he's the boss like that.

Then playtime!!!

They spent the rest of the day playing! And for the next few days, too. Our house is littered with toy cars and baby boys yelling and having a grand time. So it's still Piero's birthday here at home!

Happy birthday again, dear Piero! We love you!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Raising kids in the time of blogging

Today, while the house is quiet as my little boys are sound asleep, I'm going to stare at my littlest one bathed in the faint light of my computer screen and bless him.

From left: Iñigo, Vito, and birthday boy Piero. 

Piero turns 2 today. My wee wonderful wildling. He's very physical, this boy. When he's happy, he throws himself at you. When he's sad, he hugs you tight. When he's really sad, he tumbles onto the floor in despair. When he's sorry, he rubs your tummy and then squeezes your tummy fats haha. And when he's mad at you, he'll fling his tiny fists at you with all his might. We're working on that last part since we don't want him to be violent. 

And now I feel like I shouldn't have revealed that. I don't talk much about my youngest. I'm only beginning to process the reasons why, now that he's 2.

It's been strange having babies in the time of social media. In the beginning, with Vito, wow, I practically blogged his whole life for everyone to know. He smiled today! He ate today! He rolled off the bed today yikes! He sat up today! He crawled, he stood up, he walked, he did everything! I don't know if it was because I was a first-time mom in the age of blogging, but it felt really good to share my mommy life to everyone, mostly because people were so interested.

Then my second baby, Iñigo, was born. While I didn't feel the same urge to share (because I was just too tired haha), Iñigo was the crowd favorite. Of my three children, he's the one with the fans club. Just as people clamored for Vito, Iñigo also had an audience who asked for photos and updates. In fact, he's the brand favorite, the one brands wanted to throw parties for and gifts at.

Then Piero came. No one was happy to find out I was pregnant for the third time (sorry, link is dead - my mommy blog is hidden now). Just me and Vince. We were over the moon to be pregnant again, but people treated us like we were irresponsible. It's very strange to be in your late 30s, earning really well, with a fully owned house and car, and people still treated the news of your third pregnancy like you were teenagers who had an accident. "Was this planned?" was a question I got a lot. Yes, Piero was planned, anticipated, and welcomed with so much love! And since Piero turned out to be so lovable and absolutely perfect, everyone soon fell in love with him, too.

Piero loves books, Iron Man, The Hulk, and cuddles.

That is, people fell in love with him when I shared him, which I don't do as often as I did with Vito and Iñigo. Because no one initially welcomed Piero, I'm very protective of him. I feel like he is for me and my family alone, not for sharing, as I had done with his brothers before him. Piero, therefore, enjoys just a wee bit more privacy than his older brothers. People forget about my third boy. When they see him, they go, "Is this Vito? Oh! You have a third one! What's his name? Pierre? Perio? Pietro? Pedro? What?" Then they promptly forget and we have the same conversation when we meet again.

This is okay. Surprisingly, it's okay. When I still had just one baby, I used to get so annoyed when people didn't get Vito's name. "It's Vito. V, I, T, O. It's not Veto. It's not B2. It's not Don Vito. It's not Jovito. It's just Vito." But now, I don't even tell people Piero's name. "He's my son, yes," and I leave it at that.

Since I was too busy feeding his older brothers at meal times, Piero learned how to feed himself.

I don't want to speak for mothers everywhere who treat their youngest differently. I'm just speaking from what I'm going through. It's been said that the youngest is the closest to the mother's heart. That's not really true. All my boys are dear to me, but Vito and Iñigo are adored enough. In my experience, I dote on Piero extra because no one else dotes on him. Well, Vince and I do. The grand expectations are always on the firstborn. The firstborn is who you share with everyone—it's him everyone asks about: "Is he walking, talking? Is he going to school? Which school?" No one asks those things with the youngest child. It's the firstborn who gets the gifts, the attention. And since people seem to have decided that in their opinion Iñigo is the cutest, they adore him, too. But no one else adores Piero. He's the one who slips through the cracks.

And you know, that's okay with me. I'm not demanding for people to treat him like a star. In fact, I'm grateful that I finally get to revel in motherhood without anyone watching and poking their nosy nose into it. I feel like Piero's the one I don't have to share with anybody. He's the one people left for me to enjoy. And I've talked with other moms who confess to me that they also finally enjoyed motherhood with the third child because people leave them alone now. I guess people think you already know what you're doing by the third kid! Or they don't care anymore. And while this initially bothered me, now I super love it. I do! So much freedom!

His favorite place in the world is in my arms.

I guess I also understand now how my Mama adored my younger siblings. While my older brother and I were pushed to succeed, Mama coddled my younger brother and sister. They were her babies, the light of her life, especially my younger brother. She was a more relaxed mother with them. I never resented this because, well, they really were adorable. But now that I'm a mother, too, I get it. The older children bear the weight of everyone's expectations so of course they're the ones you push and mold and discipline and let go. The younger children, well, no one thinks about them so I guess I can spoil them extra. Like, when Vito goes to school, of course he has to go to school! When Vito graduates, of course he has to graduate! When he leaves home, of course he has to leave home! But when Piero goes, my heart will crumble to dust because there'll be no one left. No, not one.

I'll need to change this attitude, of course. We can't have me raising a spoiled brat. We can't have me treating one son differently. But he's only 2. And I'm going to baby him while I still can. Because they do grow so fast, and my heart is already crumbling at the edges because he's in such a hurry to grow up and be just like his brothers.

Happy birthday, my darling Mr. P! Mama loves you so very much! Tomorrow, I'll write a proper birthday post. Maybe I'll talk about how wonderful you are, and how smart and sweet, how tough and melodramatic you are. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll keep it all in my heart. All I know is you are what this family needed, and we love and appreciate all the chaos and joy you bring every day. God bless you as you have blessed us! We love you, our perfect P!