Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Special birthday gifts

My littlest boy isn't so little anymore. Suddenly, this July, when he turned 4, he decided he was ready for school and he was going to use the toilet "like a big boy." All throughout summer, he insisted he wasn't going to do any of that because "I am still a baby, Mama. I'll always be your baby, right?"

So we thought, okay, no pressure, he can stay our baby for one year more. But we don't know what happened. Maybe the birthday triggered it but Piero changed his mind and we're so happily surprised this whole of July! What a gift to us that he made us so proud!

My darling Piero. This is his tiny birthday party at 6 o'clock in the morning. It was a weekday so his older brothers had school and had to go.

I wanted to celebrate properly after school—with all of us dressed for the pictures, the table set, the gifts out, more time. But the boys woke up shouting, "Happy birthday, Piero!" "Is my birthday, Mama!" "Where's the cake?" "Where my gifts?" "What's your wish?" "I'm 4! I'm FOH!!!"

Sooooo... We just had to do the tiniest party we've ever done as the sun was rising on a most wonderful day!

That blurry image to the right is my hand trying to get him away from his candle. That boy. He always gives me a heart attack. But that's his gift to me: the gift of endless surprise and humility.

We had Piero because we thought ourselves so amazing at this parenting gig. But Piero—a surprising combination of Vince and myself in temperament and wilfulness—showed us that every child is different, and what we may think we can't handle just requires a change of thinking, a firmer resolve to try again, and that humility before your own children is always best if you want to have a good relationship with them.

Piero's also given his brothers the gift of patience and understanding. And though he is always annoying them, they are protective of him, always thinking of him, always adoring him. And also always annoying him! They bicker like an old married couple, day in, day out. I don't even know if they actually enjoy fighting each other since they do it a lot.

But they love him, that they do. They always wanted a baby and so we gave them Piero and they always dote on him. They think he's their baby.

For his birthday, they told me and their Papa what Piero wanted. They shopped for his gifts. They counted down the days. They chose and bought the cake. They made him so excited for his birthday! They are the best kuyas. They are a gift to Piero, too.

Happy birthday, dearest darling baby boy! You are what our family needed. You are the happiest baby we've ever known. You are thunder and sunshine and kaiju and jaeger and passion and tenderness  and a gift. We love you so very much! May you grow in wisdom and love, may you always have that fire in you, that stubborn will, that quick laugh, that sharp wit, and that fierce love for me.

Happy birthday, dearest bunchokoykoy! God bless you for always and always!

* * * * * * *

Every birthday of my children, I donate a gift to World Vision in their name. This is one of the children that World Vision sends to school. I hope you can join this little birthday cause of mine. Please donate to World Vision, too, when your child celebrates his birthday and make another child happy, too! 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Take a look at the cute bento baon we made with Gold Seas Tuna Chunks

I'm a silent follower of baonserye and bento box groups on Facebook and Instagram, but I'm just an observer. I'm inspired and I like noting down baon ideas and combos but actually putting together a bento box for my kids? Not really into that.

So when I made this last week at the bento box making workshop by Gold Seas Tuna and Bento By Kat, I was honestly so surprised that I enjoyed making the baon! Behold: My first ever bento box baon!

Gold Seas Tuna Chunks, which I discovered last year and got forever hooked, has the best canned tuna. Meaty, chunky, masarap, fresh. Gold Seas Tuna Chunks also throws the best parties! Intimate, fun, educational, and laging masarap and plentiful ang pagkain. I love this tuna!

Tuna is rich in Omega 3 and protein so it's a healthy and light meat for families to enjoy. What makes me like Gold Seas Tuna Chunks specifically? Here are my reasons:

1. It's just tuna meat. Real tuna meat—no extenders!

2. It's made even healthier because it's canned in healthy olive oil. Olive Oil is rich in good fats that helps protect your heart from disease.

3. It comes in many flavors na masarap talaga. My favorites are the Mild Indian Curry and Lemon and Pepper.

4. I love the easy-open can and that the tab is found at the bottom. My Tita Fe who has a sari-sari store said this reduces exposure of the lid to dirt and pollutants. That said, hinuhugasan ko pa rin yung lid because I'm OC like that!

5. Gold Seas Tuna Chunks uses responsible fishing. They catch the tuna using the Purse Seine Technique. They avoid over-fishing. They don't harm young tuna fish, and dolphins and sharks which are usually found around tuna (because tune is yum!). They also make sure they comply with local, national, and international fishery management regulations.

As a mommy, I really try to make choices that will ensure that my kids will still have a world to grow up in. This is not easy! For example, reducing our use of plastic is my goal this year pero mahirap pala talaga siya kasi halos lahat ng binibili ko is packaged in plastic! But I still try to make more environment-friendly choices (like walking and commuting, choosing brands that have sustainable efforts, etc).

Anyway, let me show you a few photos of the moms who were at the bento baon workshop...

Denise Rayala of the original #BaonSerye fame and the mom behind Royal Domesticity lovingly prepares food for her daughter.
Michelle Lim, the blogger behind My Mom Friday, fixes the food in the new personalized Yumbox we all got at the workshop.
Shari Poquiz of The Misty Mom, a blog on beauty, style and motherhood, arranges her food for maximum impact on IG.
Businesswoman Ginger Arboleda of Mommy Ginger trying to get the perfect photo of her bento baon.

I know I said it was a super fun event but all the photos above show super serious mommies. Akala mo naman may contest at ang pinakamagandang bento box ay may prize haha

Kasi naman when it comes to making baon for our kids, it truly is serious business! I wake up at dawn just to make their baon and ang sarap ng feeling kapag uwi ng mga bata at simot lahat ng food nila. Diba, mga mamas?

Our baon for the workshop consisted of rice shaped into a snail, its eyes and bowtie were cheese. It rested on a bed of broccoli. We sliced grapes and skewered them to make heart shapes. Our ulam was tuna patties. The chocolate sandwich was cut into a cute pig head shape.

Here's my son Iñigo enjoying the bento box baon I made for him:

And that smile made it worth it! While at the workshop, the other moms and I were talking about how nice this all was but we just can't invest the time to make these intricate lunches. But after I saw Iñigo's happiness, I resolved to put effort into making my kids' baon more fun.

Happy weekend, mamas! I hope you try Gold Seas Tuna for your kids' baon. For more information and recipes, like their Facebook page, or follow them on Instagram.

*This post is brought to you by Gold Seas Tuna Chunks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What I wore last week

I don't know how to dress for rainy weather. Yep, that's all you'll find out in this edition of OOTDs from last week. So if you can share tips on how to look fashyon in stormy, windy, flooded to the calves, muddy, and yet hot and humid weather, do tell!
Zara shirt, Topshop pants, Mango ballet flats, Kate Spade bag
For a meeting with the L'Oréal team at Lazada (where we shot a promo video for a giant lipstick sale on National Lipstick Day this week), I wore pink trousers to liven up the gray day. I'm usually in black, white, gray and navy, but it's been dark and dreary for weeks now so I wanted to wear something bright.

Casual Chic Manila blouse, Uniqlo jeans, Cole Vintage belt, Dune London loafers

Oh, this was a really stormy day! I went to a Gold Seas Tuna Chunks event and wore blue because that's the Gold Seas brand color (I try to match the brand color to show my support). I wished I wore my rain boots because I was up to my ankles in flood water when I walked the final block home! (Thanks for the ride and the fun chat, Denise of Royal Domesticity!). Plus, I think the water destroyed my loafers. They're a really old pair and I love them because they've become incredibly soft. Oh well.

Topshop shirt and slacks, Skechers sneakers, H&M backpack
I wore this at the start of the week, yung binabagayan ko pa yung weather. Gray everything! I love this outfit. It's soooo comfy.

Uniqlo hoodie and eyelet shorts, Zara knit shirt, Bata flats, H&M backpack

But this is the comfiest! Kasi nakapambahay lang ako! This was the day when classes were suddenly cancelled and we had to rush back to school and get the boys before lunch. So walang ligo, walang suklay, walang makeup, walang bra!!! I just basically threw on a jacket and went! Wag tularan, mamas.

Aaaaand that's all for last week's outfit recap! I'll try to put together a more chic rainy-weather fashion look this week. I dunno if I can do it but you judge next week! Have a good week this week, mamas. Stay safe and dry!

Monday, July 23, 2018

How to open your chakras according to the guru of the Avatar

This summer, my kids and I became addicted to this old show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's old because it was first broadcast on Nickelodeon in 2005 and gained a popular following over its three-year run. It's a critically acclaimed, multi-awarded, truly entertaining animated series that follows the adventures of Avatar Aang in his quest to unify the four nations—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. To do this, he must first master himself and his powers to bend (or to wield) the forces of nature to do his bidding. He discovers friends and mentors along the way who teach him not only how to navigate a dangerous world at war but also to control his emotions, thoughts, fears, and ultimately his powers.

It's a really good show! I'm so happy it's streaming now on Netflix because that's how my kids and I discovered it. I think it's the best animated series I've ever watched!

I watched it with my kids and there wasn't any scene that caused me to worry or be alarmed. Yep, no bad words, no misogyny, no sexy time. There were so many things my kids and I learned together about friendship, responsibility over one's talents, duty towards other people, the dangers of nationalism (so relevant in these times!), and self-control above all.

I'm 41 and I'm better now at controlling my temper, my tongue, my thoughts, my anxiety, my spending... myself basically. But it took so many years and I may be better at it but I'm still not good at it. There's so much to subdue, rein in, control, understand still! If there's anything I learned most from Avatar, it's this: When you master yourself, then everything else is easy.

How does one master oneself? First, recognize what you need and desire, identify the fears and negative emotions that stop you from achieving what you want, and release all those negative energy. Only then can you have complete control of yourself and understanding of others and the world. Easier said than done! 

In the Avatar, a guru tells Aang how to release his energy, or chakras. When your chakras are blocked, your energy to achieve things can't be released. And if you don't have any energy, good luck getting anything done! Here's the video of the scene from Avatar but I'll type it down below anyway, in case you're at work and can't put the volume up haha. Then I'll do a little personal working-mama-related note after each chakra description.   

"Chakras are pools of spiralling energy in our bodies. There are seven chakras that go up the body. Each pool of energy has a purpose, and can be blocked by a specific kind of emotional mark. Be warned: Opening the chakras is an intense experience, and once you begin this process, you can not stop until all seven are open.

"The first chakra is the EARTH chakra, located at the base of the spine. It deals with survival, and is blocked by fear.

"What are you most afraid of? Let your fears become clear to you. You are concerned about your survival, but you must surrender those fears. Let your fears flow down the creek."

Survival sounds so dramatic but isn't that our every goal—to survive this day? As working mothers, we have too much on our plate and some days feel like they're going to kill us. Seriously! What are the fears that force me to keep myself on a punishing schedule? Fear of failing as a career woman, fear of failing as a mother, fear of neglecting my marriage, fear of running out of money. Funny thing is all these things I do out of fear makes me ineffective in every role!

"Next is the WATER chakra. This chakra deals with pleasure and is blocked by guilt. [Note: research told me this chakra is located in the sex organ or pubic bone. Since Avatar is a kiddie show, I guess they couldn't say that haha]

"Look at all the guilt that burdens you so. What do you blame yourself for? Now accept the reality that these things happened. But do not let them cloud and poison your energy. If you are to be a positive influence on the world, you need to forgive yourself."

I think all working moms are plagued with guilt. I've always heard of mom guilt but I've never heard of dad guilt. Why is that?! That's because men are never made to feel guilty about pursuing their passions, making money, and providing for their family. We women, we're only supposed to devote all our time and energy on our family so when we do something else that takes time away from our family, people make us feel bad. We have also internalized this belief so much that we make ourselves feel bad!

How many times has guilt stopped yourself from enjoying your job? How many times have you felt so amazing after an impressive presentation and then beat yourself up because you missed your kid's soccer practice preparing for that presentation?

You know what I feel guilty about? I enjoy work more than motherhood sometimes. Many times, to be really honest. It's hard for me to admit that because here comes all the judgment! Work is less frustrating and more predictable. You work, you like what you did, you get paid for it. Sometimes you even get praised for what you've done. The rewards are immediately felt and seen. The rewards are expected.

Motherhood? Well, sometimes you try and try all day and your reward is "I hate you, Mama." Sometimes you try your hardest and you give your best and NOTHING happens, not even a thank you. And then a new fear-and-guilt combo plagues me: Am I doing a good job? Are my kids jerks or am I just a bad mother? What kind of a mother am I if I think my kids are jerks??? Will what I do ever be enough? Do I really love them if I sometimes feel like I just want to give up? There you go: Guilt prevents me from enjoying motherhood!

"Third is the FIRE chakra, located in the stomach. This chakra deals with willpower, and is blocked by shame.

"What are you ashamed of? What are your biggest disappointments in yourself? You will never find balance if you deny this part of your life."

Shame is a bottomless pit. Don't fall in it, mamas. Shame prevents you from achieving anything because you just don't want to face the world and be confronted with what you've done in the past. I'm ashamed of many things in my working mama life. When I used to be a magazine editor, I let it get into my head. I became arrogant. I'm ashamed of that. When I was a new mom again to my second boy and I had just lost my editor-in-chief job, I was so scared of my unemployed status, I accepted lots of freelance work. But because I had a new baby and too many assignments, I failed to meet deadlines. The people who hired me got angry at me and never got me again. I am so ashamed of that!

Because of my shame, I was afraid to ask people to give me another chance. I was scared to work with certain people or ask for referrals because I'm sure they'll say bad things about me (and much deserved, too). You know what I did? I apologized to each and every person I disappointed. Some of them forgave me, some didn't—and I understand. What matters is I owned up to my mistakes and from there I was able to have the willpower to move on, unencumbered by shame.

"The fourth chakra is LOVE, located in the heart. It deals with love and is blocked by grief.

"Lay all your grief out in front of you. Love is a form of energy, and it swirls all around us. A love of your lost ones has not left this world, it is still inside of your heart; and it is reborn in a form of new love. Let it flow through you."

I'm going to talk about this chakra strictly in terms of work. As most of my Loyal Readers know, all I ever wanted to be in my life was to be an editor-in-chief of an international magazine. It happened when I was just 30 years old but within 6 years, my dream career crashed around me when the internet killed magazines.

It's hard to love work and any kind of work after that. I still love my magazine job more than anything I've done, even my blogging career which has paid me more than the publishing industry ever had, has brought me more opportunities than magazines ever did, and allows me to stay home and be with my family. Blogging is much kinder and more generous to me than magazine publishing, but I fail to appreciate it fully because I'm still grieving over my dream magazine career.

I just typed all that and realized I'm in a MUCH BETTER place and I can't love it??? Goodness me! What a fool I am! I'm going to let go of this grief and love blogging wholeheartedly now!

"The fifth in the chain is the SOUND chakra, located in the throat. It deals with the truth, and is blocked by lies, the ones we tell ourselves.

"You can not lie about your own nature. You must accept yourself as you are."

Not an issue. You all know I'm all about truth, honesty and integrity! But many of us can't accept the truth of who we are, of what we want, what we believe in. We live from fear to fear, from day to day, from pay check to pay check, without giving a thought to what we really want in this life. Mindful living is such a trendy term these days but I think we should pay attention to it. Be mindful of your thoughts, words, actions. You'd be living a life of true integrity when everything is aligned!

"The sixth pool of energy is the LIGHT chakra, located in the center of the forehead. It deals with insight, and is blocked by illusion.

"The greatest illusion of this world is the illusion of separation. Things you think are separate and different are actually one and the same. We are all one people, but we live as if divided. We are all connected, and everything is connected. Even the separation of the four elements is an illusion. If you open your mind, you will see that all the elements are one; four parts of the same whole. Even metal is just a part of earth that has been purified and refined."

From a purely working mama perspective, sometimes we compartmentalize our lives in an attempt to organize it. We hate our job when we should be grateful for it because it provides for our families. We resent our families because we can't seize career opportunities because of them. Instead, we should appreciate our life's phases and find opportunities within them.

For example, I'm a mom of three small kids. There's hardly any time for work when you're a fully hands-on mom. Instead of resenting my kids, I discovered mommy blogging and how lucrative it could be! So I may not be a famous writer or a magazine editor or a newspaper columnist but I'm earning money as a mommy blogger. My family inspired my new job. I don't know how long this job will last but I'm learning to let my life inspire my work because everything is connected.

"The final chakra is the THOUGHT chakra and is located at the crown of the head. It deals with pure cosmic energy and is blocked by earthly attachment.

"Once you open this chakra, you will be able to go in the state of mind where you will have complete control and awareness of all your actions. Meditate on what attaches you to this world. Now, let all of those attachments go, let them flow down the river; forgotten. You must learn to let go, otherwise you won’t be able to let the pure cosmic energy flow in from the Universe."

In Avatar, this is the chakra Aang had a hard time releasing. He couldn't understand why he had to let go of the people he loved most to be able to achieve the avatar state. As a wife and mother, I can understand. Our families are the most precious people to us! But I always remember the story of Abraham and Isaac. Remember that (horrible) story when God commanded Abraham to lay his only son, Isaac, on an altar and sacrifice the child to God? I CAN'T DO THAT! But Abraham obeyed without question (but definitely with grief and sorrow) and God spared them both. He now knew that Abraham's priority is his faith in God and nothing—not even his precious son—can stop him from obeying God. This led him to do great and mighty things for the Lord.

In my case, I have always nurtured a tender detachment from my sons. I love them, okay. More than the world, more than my life! But even when they were still in my tummy, all I focused on was the truth that they aren't mine. I'm just preparing them for their purpose, their future families. My one purpose as a mother is to prepare them for a life WITHOUT ME. If they can't function without their parents, then I failed as a parent. The best thing a parent can do for their kids is to let them go.

And that's it! The seven chakras and how to release them! Wasn't that amazing? I suggest we do a weekly evaluation of our fears and negative emotions, meditate on how they're stopping us from achieving great things, and then release them. Good luck, mamas! I hope this post helped you!

Avatar: The Last Airbender is now on Netflix. If you have the time, do watch it with your kids. It's amazing!

*Chakra image from MP3 Meditation Club. Visit their website to have a deeper understanding of chakras.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How Mr Muscle® helps me keep our toilet clean while potty training

Good news, mamas! We're done with potty training our youngest boy, Piero! We’ve been talking to him about it and he was resisting it for the longest time but when he turned 4 years old two weeks ago, he just suddenly decided to go for it! There have been a few mess-ups, but fewer than expected, so we’re so very proud of our potty-trained little boy. Hooray!

To deal with the accidents, I’ve been cleaning the bathroom more often these days. So, if you’re a toilet-training mama like me, let me share with you a few toilet-cleaning tips so that the frustrations of potty-training won't be worsened. Here we go! 

1. Keep cleaning materials in the bathroom. 
When we didn't have kids, it was okay to clean the bathroom once a week so the cleaning supplies were stored away in the utility area. But when you have little boys—even those who are already potty-trained—the bathroom gets stinky and dirty fast. 

To combat this, clean the toilet every day. Just wipe it down. Won't take you 5 minutes, mamas! What I do is keep a spray bottle of diluted bathroom cleaner like Mr Muscle® Bathroom Cleaner in the bathroom and spray the toilet area regularly. Mix 2 parts of Mr Muscle® Bathroom Cleaner with 1 part water. Just spray down the toilet seat, toilet seat cover, and anywhere else that may have fecal matter (like the flush handle and walls. You never know!). Then using the bidet, I just rinse the sprayed surfaces and wipe dry. 

2. Keep a special-purpose trash can near the bowl. 
Place a trash can specially devoted to soiled diapers near the toilet. It seems obvious but the bathroom trash can is usually just for facial tissue, cotton buds, and dental floss. Keep a smaller one lined with a biodegradable plastic bag and you and your child can deposit soiled diapers and wet wipes here. It's easier to empty it daily and the bathroom won't stink up. 

3. Use the best toilet-cleaning products (like the powerful toilet-cleaning product, Mr Muscle®!). 
I need to mention this because my kasambahays before would use laundry detergent or muriatic acid or rubbing alcohol to clean the bathroom. No! You need to use a toilet bowl cleaner and a sturdy toilet brush at least once per week to clean inside the toilet bowl. These are especially made for the toilet—the extended-reach neck of Mr Muscle® is especially designed to reach under the toilet rim better and the toilet brush is specifically made to fit the hole of the bowl—so please use them. 

I like to use Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel because it foams and freshens for a more powerful clean than basic bleach. 

A daily clean-up sounds like a lot of work but actually just spending a few minutes each day cleaning the bathroom after your child uses it means less time and scrubbing when you do your weekly deep clean. And as a working mama with no kasambahays, I really believe in using products that work harder so that I won't have to. In this case, I highly recommend Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel because just a little goes a long way. It cleans, disinfects, and whitens my toilet in just 5 minutes. And the bathroom smells soooo good after. Yep, even though my little boys abuse that porcelain throne with their enthusiastic peeing and pooping every day! With Mr Muscle®, I clean less and live more! I get to spend more time with my kids—and also get to work and clean the house, too. How amazing is that? Mamas, always choose household products that help you be more efficient! 

The new Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel is available at all leading supermarkets for as low as (SRP) P95 for 500ml. Like the Facebook page of Mr Muscle® for more information. 

Shop my affiliate links at Lazada here:

Mr. Muscle Toilet Bowl Cleaner Foaming Bleach Gel 500 ml - Citrus

Mr. Muscle Toilet Bowl Cleaner Foaming Bleach Gel 500 ml - Lavender

*This post is brought to you by Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What I wore last week

Here's the next episode of my OOTD details! You know, I'd actually watch a show of my favorite style stars talking about how they put their outfits together. I bet it would be so fun plus it's going to be full of tips on what goes with what. Why is there no show like this???

Anyway, till that happens, we'll just do my OOTDs! Not because may balak ako maging fashion blogger. To be honest, the last 7 years or so, wala na talaga akong pakialam sa damit ko. Comfort and efficiency above all! I don't think I dressed too sloppily but it is a slippery slope when you live in daster and sweats, diba? So I was looking through my Instagram last year and I think I slowly realized I looked like crap hahahahahaha

We're going to sloooooowly change that this year, mamas! Again, I have no plans to become a fashionista. No budget! Lahat ng budget napupunta sa grocery and tuition kaloka! So I'm going to have to get creative with what's in my closet. Here's what I wore this week with the clothes I've had in there for years:

Lunch with family! I paired my favorite Topshop pajama pants with an off-shoulder blouse from Casual Chic Manila (shop here). I used to just wear these pants with t-shirts but my husband Vince said I look like I'm going to go to sleep so he suggested I pair it with nice tops para hindi ako mukhang nakapambahay. And so I did. What do you think of this look?

My favorite piece ever since lumaki balakang ko: midi-skirts! These are full skirts that cinch the waist and make hips and butt look sexy not fat. I got this skirt from Zalora and I love its deep pockets. Every woman in the world needs pockets! The shirt is from Uniqlo. The ballet flats are Mango. This is one of my go-to outfits.

Sundo duties means dapat comfortable ako. I usually wear a t-shirt and shorts when I fetch my kids from school but I leveled up with a silky blouse. Problema lang is mainit so dumidikit talaga siya sa pawis so maybe I'll wear this blouse kapag aircon lang ang pupuntahan ko. Scallop-hem shorts are Mango, blouse is from Cole Vintage, backpack is H&M.

I use my backpack a lot now because my spine is bending to my right side because heavy bags. Moms always have heavy bags. Plus, with 3 kids in tow every weekday, I need my hands. This is one of my mommy uniforms. Simple and easy to throw on. But if I didn't have my kids with me, I'd wear it with a big belt, chunky necklace, platform heels, and a tote.

Here's another of my mommy uniforms—shirt and shorts! That's a knit sleeveless top from Zara, shorts from Zalora, Melissa sandals (kasi minsan lang ako may pedicure so ipakita!), and my Kate Spade tote. Super pambahay look hehe Usually, I wear a bright lipstick to offset the pambahay outfit but sobra akong tamad this day! 

Hindi ako tamad this day, though! I really like this top I'm wearing! It's a cowl-neck blouse from Pastel and Paisley (shop here). Cowl necks, turtlenecks and long-sleeved shirts (and let's not forget silk blouses) are usually not a good idea in our climate but since this is made by a local brand, it's manipis and magaan so hindi mainit. I paired it with Mango jeans, Dune flats, and my Fino doctor's bag that Vince gave me 10 years ago. I wish I used another photo na mas cute si Piero but a manong guard took this photo and he said one picture lang daw kasi baka mapagalitan siya.

And that's this week's instalment! If there's anything I'm learning from my OOTD updates is I need to add more color to my wardrobe and I have to make my mommy uniforms more interesting! Okay rin pala ang naka-document ang outfits ko on Instagram (follow me!) kasi I become more mindful of what I wear. I hope this makes me strive to look my best!

Friday, July 13, 2018

10 things the kids can do indoors on a rainy day

The rainy season is here! For us moms of young kids, that means a lot of school days will be cancelled because of heavy rain, floods, and typhoons. Of course, when excited little kids are stuck at home all day and you can't send them out to the garden or the playground to give you a little peace and quiet, you need to figure out what to do with the kids. Well, mamas, here's what I suggest for the kids to do!

1. Study.
It's actually still a school day, even if classes got cancelled. So if they have a test coming up or I feel hindi pa nila gamay ang isang topic, we review review review!

2. Watch Netflix.
Yep. I'm not going to pretend I'm a perfect mom. I do it—I park my kids in front of the TV, turn on Netflix, and I chill. LOL. Ako talaga ang nag-chill. I love Netflix. It has 5 profiles, one each for every my member of my family. The boys can only their kiddie shows and movies, so I feel secure in letting them watch any show they want.

Of course, I hang around to supervise. Lots of the shows I heartily approve: Storybots, Trollhunters, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Puffin Rock, Team Umizoomi, Harvey Street Kids, Oddbods, Peppa Pig, Pocoyo, Paw Patrol, Boss Baby. Lots more actually. I just can't remember all the shows my kids and I have watched together. I'll do another post next week with mini reviews, but here's a preview of the truly enthralling Trollhunters:

3. Watch a movie.
Since I let them watch TV, you bet I let them watch movies, too, and watching movies is best enjoyed on a suddenly-there's-nothing-to-do day! There are a TON of movies on Netflix, mamas! The kids' favorites are from Disney (Pixar and Marvel), of course. So we're enjoying watching The IncrediblesBoltLion KingWreck-It RalphBrave, and Happy Feet.

Sometimes the kids want to watch movies that are not for their age group. We allow it if we're watching with them. So we move over to the grown-up profiles of Mama and Papa and all the Avengers movies on Netflix, Jaws, Real Steel, and Pacific Rim are on repeat in our house.

4. Read a book. Make a book!
We should read more books really. But when the school year starts, they put away the books because there's homework to do. How ironic! I really think homework should be illegal. So on nights there's no homework, we read a book. On days that classes are cancelled, we make books. Here's Piero and his book on Pacific Rim jaegers battling alien kaiju monsters!

5. Play video games.
School days mean no mobile devices. Sometimes, we do relax that rule when they have absolutely no homework, or they just finished a week of tests, or if classes are cancelled. Here they are relaxing with the iPad that Netflix gave us last Christmas. Thanks, Netflix! Yes, we can stream Netflix through our iPad, too!

6. Play the piano.
One of my joys is that every single day last summer, the kids pound away on the keyboard. It's not always music to my ears, but every day they practice it becomes less noise and it's lovely seeing and hearing my sons enjoy playing music. So whenever walang pasok, I urge them to play the piano again.

7. Play with their toys.
Now that school is here, the kids spend most of the day on campus, then when they get home, they do their homework. Then it's dinner, bath time and bedtime. On cancelled-classes days, they can get to enjoy their toys, like this set of building blocks that Netflix sent them. Thanks, Netflix! I love it that you send tons of activities for my kids that actually take them away from the TV. I guess you're that confident they'll be back haha

8. Play with pets.
My kids play with our bunny Blue every day but they're especially makulit with her kapag walang pasok. I seriously think Blue wishes there were classes every day because my sons are cariño brutal with her haha Just look at Piero making gigil sa rabbit!

9. Do science experiments.
Okay, we don't do this all the time. If we're going to do messy experiments, magluluto na lang kami hehe. Buti na lang they have a father who is more enthusiastic about making a mess that they can't eat. They've made slime, watched volcano eruptions, and recreated the water cycle. The boys love it!

10. Help with the chores.
Last but not the least, and actually the most important for me, I ask them to help around the house. Help with the laundry, pack away their room, little things like that. Just look at Piero when he was a wee toddler cleaning up his mess! Okay, I didn't make him sweep the floor. He volunteered to do this himself and actually made even a bigger mess! But you know what I mean about getting the kids to help out at home when they have no classes.

So there you have it, mamas! I obviously love it when #WalangPasok happens! Of course, I can do these because I'm a work-at-home mom. I'd love to know what moms who work at an office have lined up for their kids on days classes are cancelled. Please share! I'm sure we can all help each other make the #WalangPasok days a great time for the kids.

*Enjoy Netflix, too! Click here to see how to subscribe to the best streaming service of movies, TV shows, and documentaries. There's always something for you and your whole family to watch!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

5 Tips to Battle the Cons of Working from Home

As I write this, I am cradling my sick toddler with my left arm while I type with my right hand. Literally on one hand, I am a writer and on the other hand, I am a mom. Being able to work from home makes me both at the same time.

Many moms envy women like me who can simultaneously earn a living and care for their family 24/7. I know how they feel because I used to work in an office and leaving my baby every morning was heart-wrenching. I wanted to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM). Working from home is indeed a blessing, especially for moms of little ones. However, like all jobs, working from home isn’t all roses. There’s thorns in there, too. So if you’re a mom thinking of earning a living while taking care of your kids, here are five tips my friends, Martine de Luna and Jean Javier, and I came up for you. 

First, an introduction. Jean is the woman behind the lifestyle brand, Simple Mama. She makes scented candles, bath products, skin care lines, and many more lovely things in her own kitchen.

Martine is a brand coach. On her Facebook page, she calls her work as "Transformational Personal Brand Life Coach." What is that? She offers business management services to “women-centric brands as a branding coach, a content strategist and copywriter.” She also conducts personal branding workshops under her Make it Blissful brand. 

I’m a writer for print and online publications, I’m currently a beauty editor for L'Oréal Paris and a contributor to beauty website Calyxta.com. I am also a professional blogger.

Yes, we’re very busy women and so it isn’t true that when you work from home, you’re doing nothing. That’s an annoying misconception that you might run into once you set up shop at home. So here are a few tips to help you in case WAHM despair hits.

Jean featured in Town & Country.

1. See your friends. 
When we find the time, the three of us meet at a café to talk about work, family, and womanly concerns. The first con of being a work-at-home mom is there are hardly any other adults around to chat with. So these catch-ups over coffee are so important for us WAHMs.

Aaaand that’s all the cons my friends admit. Jean and Martine truly enjoy being WAHMs. Jean says, “I am a homebody. I enjoy being at home, I enjoy homeschooling my children, I enjoy tending to my garden and creating with my hands. So it can be said that working from home puts me in my element because it is where I am happiest.” Martine also enjoys the bliss of home and she adds this other benefit: “I like that I can create my work hours.” 

2. Hire household help. 
I have a harder time with working from home mostly because I don’t have household help. My day starts and ends with me being a mommy and homemaker. So I can only truly work when the kids are asleep, which means I hit the pillow at 3am only to wake up again at 6. This isn’t very good for my health! 

“I am now of the belief that ‘I can't afford to do my chores,’” Martine says. “Why? Because trading off work for chores means trading off income-earning hours. So we get our laundry and ironing done outside, so that's two chores off my list. We get a cleaning lady to come in once or twice a week to deep clean. I don't need to do much at home except cook, then I just do general maintenance cleaning every day.”

Jean is also grateful to have help. “I have house help who has been with me since my firstborn was still small and so I delegate the chores, which is a huge load off from time management.”

Martine in her favorite pink.

3. Get your family’s cooperation.
Even with household help, if your family keeps barging in on you, there is no way you can get any work done—something that happens to me all the time! So it’s vital you set boundaries. Designate a special area and a certain time for work, and firmly tell your family that they have to respect that time and place. Martine says, “When I have to work at home, I separate myself from the kids and go to my workspace on the second floor. When they see me at the desk, they know it's DND [do not disturb] time. Of course, my toddler tends to ignore this rule!” 

Jean says it’s also a huge plus if your family supports your work. “My husband does the aspects I cannot, like back-end computer work. He always stops what he's doing when I ask for help, and he definitely spends time with the kids when I have particularly heavy loads of production work to do.”

Martine also has the support of other family members. “Twice a week, my husband and I reserve for our new business, and we leave the kids for the day at either of the grandparents’ houses.” 

4. Work somewhere else.
For me, one of the most difficult things about working from home is that it’s my happy place. There are my books and TV shows, the chocolate and cookies, the always enjoyable chats with my husband, and the cuddle time with my kids. Plus, my bed is always tempting me with a nap! How can anyone work with so many distractions? Well, work somewhere else! Working from home doesn’t mean you literally have to be inside its walls. I like going to the convenience store of a gas station to work—unlike a coffee shop, patrons here don’t linger so there’s never anyone around!

Martine says, “Now that my kids are bigger, I actually don't do a lot of work at home. So during the day—especially if I have meetings—I don't work from home. On days I need to strategize and create for my clients, I work in quiet coffee shops near our home.”

Me, always working on my phone. 

5. Remember the reason why you’re working from home.
Working from home isn’t as easy as it looks. Still, there’s a ton of reasons why I love it: I don’t deal with traffic, I don’t need to spend on fancy clothes, I’m the boss, and I get to be with the people I love most in the world! There are days I complain about it but I like how Jean reminds me to focus on the good. She says, “I really believe that it is all about perspective, and this is what I know in my heart I want so nothing about it is displeasing to me. At least I try not to have thoughts like that. Because we can all find something [to whine about] and I choose not to. I am so blessed to be able to do what I do in the set up that I have.”

Martine encourages work-at-home moms to remember their purpose. “Be clear on why you want to work from home, because you will go crazy some days and forget why,” she laughs. “Seriously, though, consider your big ‘why’ for wanting to, and that will keep you going on the challenging days.”

Which brings me to today, a challenging day, typing this article with one hand and caring for my poor baby with the other. I’m worried about deadlines but I’m more worried about my boy. And I realize that even though I’m having a hard time juggling today, I am also incredibly lucky that I can be with my kids when they need me most. And that’s why I work from home.

*This article was published for Juana.com.ph last year and is published as is except for to reflect the current work of Martine and myself, too. Photos from the Facebook pages of Simple Mama and Martine de Luna. Please click the links to shop at Simple Mama and to consult with Martine. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Piero loves his ProbiBears!

I've been looking for an excuse to share these cute photos of my son Piero and now I have one! My mommy blogger friends, Rowena Wendy Lei of Animetric's World and Ava Zabat of Artsy Fartsy Ava, are giving away FREE Erceflora ProbiBear probiotic supplements! 

Yes, sila ang may giveaway, ako ay may pictures lang ng anak ko hehe. Check out the Instagram handles of Rowena and Ava to join their giveaway. Meanwhile, I'll do a quick overview and review of this health supplement.

What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that benefit the body when we eat them. We have good bacteria and bad bacteria in our bodies, especially in our gut. When the bad bacteria overwhelm our gut, we get diarrhea, gas, bloating, constipation, acid reflux. How does this happen? Oh, bad diet. When we get sick and we have to take antibiotics which kill all the bacteria in our body—good and bad. Probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactose, and saccharomyces help maintain the healthy environment in our tummy.

How can they specifically help my kids?
Probiotics is good for everyone. That's you and me, mamas! Kids benefit, too, because a healthy gut means it absorbs more nutrients from the food they eat. More nutrients in the body, better growth and development! So aside from preventing gut problems, probiotics can also help our kids grow better. Probiotics also help manage allergies and infections. If your kids are teens, probiotics may also keep skin clear, improve mood, and prevent bad breath!

However, I strongly encourage you to always ask your child's pediatrician before giving probiotic supplements to your kids. 

Where can I get probiotics?
A diet rich in probiotics is always a good thing. They are naturally found in yogurt, fermented food and drinks (pickles, atsara, kimchi, kefir milk, kombucha), miso soup, and soft cheeses (Gouda, mozzarella, cottage cheese). So serve these generously! In fact, probiotics are so beneficial that many food brands have added probiotics in a lot of food like cereal and milk.

If you don't have enough probiotic-rich food in your diet, then do try supplements. My kids only like yogurt, for example, and find pickles and kimchi too sour or spicy. So we have them take one Erceflora ProbiBear a day. It's a soft and creamy vanilla-flavored supplement made of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactose. It's really like candy. Piero LOVES it. He can't understand why he just has to have one piece haha 

Erceflora ProbiBears is now available at select Mercury Drug and South Star Drug branches for only Php 540 a box (20 bears in a box). Since it's a daily supplement, it ought to be 30 bears in a box.

Again, I urge you to consult your pediatrician first before giving your child any health supplements. Kasi baka enough na yung diet niya, or he needs a certain kind of probiotic, or if he has medical condition na hindi siya pwede mag-probiotics. Ask your doctor first!

Monday, July 09, 2018

What I wore last week

I've discovered a marvelous thing! My son, Iñigo, can take good outfit photos so now I finally have an official #OOTD photographer! Hooray!

Maganda yung angle niya kasi he's shorter than me so my legs look longer. Unlike when it's my husband Vince who takes my photos. He's much taller than me so my head and shoulders look huge and my legs look stunted. Nahihiya naman akong mag-dictate sa kanya na lumuhod siya sa harap ko haha So buti na lang marunong kumuha ng picture si Iñigo!

Anyway, you know what this means, mamas. I can do outfit posts again! Here's what I wore last week:

Sundo duties. Uniqlo ang shirt and shorts. Charles and Keith ang shades. My own satchel. Dune loafers.

Sundo pa rin! Zalora shorts. I don't know the brand of the shirt kasi regalo lang siya nung Pasko but obviously Disney siya! Skechers shoes.

Sundo ulit but I dragged Iñigo to the nearby salon to have my eyebrows groomed while we waited for his Kuya Vito's dismissal. Zara shirt. Zalora skirt (big deep pockets!). Kate Spade bag. Mango ballet flats.

Sundo pa rin! Wanted to be girly today for my husband. We had a nice morning and lunch together. Then he went to work and I went to get the boys from school. Dress from a brand sold in Zalora (I obviously shop there a lot!). Dune leather and lace flats.

At Mind Museum with my family. What a fun day! Sobra kaming napagod ni Vince kakatakbo after our sons! This is my bunchokoy Piero who celebrated his birthday last week. He enjoyed the dinosaur part of the museum tour. Super happy boy! Button-down blouse from a brand in Zalora. Topshop slacks. H&M backpack. Melissa sandals.

As you can see—no heels! Everything has to be about comfort now that I'm a working mama with kids in tow. Next time na lang ang style. Maybe in two years, when I'm not running after the kids all the time.

But life sure is much different from what I thought it would be 10 years ago. I was telling Vince last week, "I have to get rid of all my heels. I haven't worn them in years." He replied, "I'll buy you new shoes." And I said, and with no regret at all, "Ten years ago, all I wore was high heels. I never thought I'd live in flats and sneakers. And it's okay."

It's really okay. Of course, when I was 31 and you told me that one day my heels will be gathering dust and I'd be running around in shorts and t-shirts, I'd never have believed you. I'd be horrified haha But I love this mama life. The outfits, not so much, but they serve a purpose, they help me be efficient, and they keep me comfy. That's what I need! And that's what matters.