Monday, October 26, 2020

Top 5 Tips for Dealing With Child Custody This Holiday Season

It's the -ber months and y'all know what that means. It's Christmas! Well, technically, we still have a slew of holidays like Halloween, All Soul's Day, my birthday (hehe), Thanksgiving (if you do that), Black Friday sale (haha) before Christmas. But we Filipinos have started putting up the Christmas tree so it's officially the holidays! Today's guest post is all about a tough issue many Pinoy families go through - when parents are separated, where do the children spend their holidays?

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GUEST POST - The holidays can be a stressful time for any family. If you’re in a situation with separated or divorced parents, that stress can become unbearable. While you may not be overly happy about having to share child visitation rights with your former partner, there are some tips that can make dealing with child custody this holiday season easier for you and for your children

1. Plan two holidays.

If you and your former partner are near enough to each other and logistics allow for it, you might consider planning two holidays so your children don’t have to choose between you. Inviting your extended family, your kids' friends, and making the event feel as normal and loving as possible will make it so that your children won’t feel as though they have been left out of one parent’s life. The exact date of the holiday matters less than the idea of celebrating with their family, no matter what the date.

2. Include those not physically present.

If you and your former partner live too far away for two holidays to work, then you should be proactive in ensuring that your child doesn’t feel abandoned or as though they have chosen one of you over the other. This can be done by sending packages in advance to give to your children on the day of, keeping traditions from when you and your partner were together so that your children can still feel connected to holidays past, and planning phone calls or video chats with the other parent. The important thing is to prioritize your children's emotional well-being, even if you and your former partner would prefer to never speak to each other again.

3. Split holidays fairly.

If you were able to have the kids for Christmas, then you should be willing to allow your former partner to have them over on New Year's Eve. This allows your children to have that special time with their other parent and ensures that any acrimony between you and your former partner isn’t increased by the impression that one or the other of you is trying to monopolize your children's’ time. This may be difficult, especially if you have a combative or nasty relationship with your former partner, but your family can help to keep things on an even keel and ensure that your children have the best holidays possible.

4. Keep each other in the loop.

Many separated couples have greater difficulty around the holidays because they aren’t honest with each other about their hopes and needs around the holiday season. Not every former couple will be able to deal with each other openly and honestly, of course, but even if you have a terrible relationship with your ex it is best to keep them in the loop about your holiday plans with your children. This will ensure that you don’t unintentionally step on each other’s toes and are able to plan around your ex’s holiday plans - and they around yours.

5. Get together.

If the acrimony over the separation has passed and you feel you are able to deal with each other civilly, there is no reason why you can’t plan a get together that includes all parts of your children's’ family. This isn’t an option for everyone, of course, but showing your children that they don’t have to feel torn between the different parts of their family goes a long way to helping them in their emotional journey.

There are no easy solutions when it comes to child custody over the holiday season, and none of these possible arrangements are right for every family. Still, with grace and maturity, you will be able to find ways to make it so your children have the best holidays possible.


* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email frances@topazhorizon.com. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How to promote yourself as a transcriptionist for remote transcription jobs

As a journalist, I've interviewed many celebrities, business leaders, and society mavens. I love talking with them and getting them to spill their secrets. My not-so-favorite part, however, is transcribing the interviews. Totally hate my voice! So I was amazed to find out a few years ago that transcribing is a real job. As a freelancer now, I'm a member of a few Facebook groups for freelance agents. I thought I'd find writers and editors like me. I found that there were more virtual assistants, social media managers, and transcriptionists in these groups. Today's guest post is all about transcriptionists, in case you're a working woman who'd like to try out this career. Good luck!

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GUEST POST - In remote transcription jobs, the client will send the files to the freelancer (that's you). You can start transcribing at your own convenience, working to make sure you meet the deadline you and your client decided on. Sounds easy but if you want to become an established freelance transcriptionist, it is important that you start marketing yourself and the services that you offer. Without advertising your skillset properly, it becomes extremely difficult for you to start gaining assignments. A freelance transcriptionist might also face difficulties in finding the clients and building their network too without proper marketing skills. 

You can learn more on the techniques that could help you to market yourself as a transcriptionist, especially for remote freelance transcription jobs at dormzi, by following these tips:

1. Come up with a brilliant resume.

Every freelance transcriptionist planning to market herself and her services to attract more projects is must start with a compelling resume.

You don't have to include every detail of your professional history. Just put the details that are related to the skill sets required for the transcription job, and highlight them. It's also a good idea to create your own website. Make sure you use the most significant keywords that are used to search by the clients when they are looking for freelancers in the transcription industry. 

When your profile is aligned with the keywords that are being searched, it becomes easy for the clients to discover your profile. With this, the chances of getting remote job assignments would increase drastically. 

Don't forget your contact details because this is how the client will get in touch with you in case you get the job. 

2. Build your resume on a professional media network.

There are many professional media networks that are made exclusively for people looking for assignments in the freelance industry. You can either choose to upload the same resume on your website or you can create another resume for these professional media network channels. Start building your own network.

Remember to use the most significant keywords used by clients when they are looking for freelancers in the transcription industry. When your profile starts getting more views on these forums and platforms, you get more chances of potential clients striking a conversation with you regarding the assignment related to transcription. 

3. Start advertisement campaigns.

A lot of transcriptionists highlight their profile on social media websites using the advertisement campaigning feature. This is one of the greatest benefits that can be leveraged through social media in order to positively publicize your services related to transcription.

The campaigning money can be easily recovered once you start getting a lot of deals through legitimate customers. Therefore, this is one of the most important ways that could help you to quickly find remote freelance transcription assignments.

4. Make videos and write blog posts.

Finding remote transcription assignments can become easy if you start making videos and writing blog posts. Post these either on your website or any other websites that accept guest posts. By doing these things, you would be able to showcase your presence in the transcription world. You improve your chances of coming across a potential client that can offer you remote jobs assignments. Start promoting these things in a positive manner and get noticed by the clients quickly.

5. Do not underestimate yourself.

Some freelance transcriptionists might end up losing hope when they do not get assignments the way they have planned. That's why it's important to carefully craft your resume, professional website, and profile on job-seeking platforms. 

Once you start reworking on your resume in order to meet the requirements of the freelance industry, you should be able to get more projects than you expect.

When you start underestimating yourself, you will start thinking negatively, and that can seriously impact the way you work on your assignments. Hence, having a positive attitude at all times is also important when you are planning to get remote job assignments.

These are some of the most important tips and techniques that could help you to quickly get more remote freelance assignments in the transcription industry.


* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email frances@topazhorizon.com. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Happy 10th birthday to the mama in me

A few weeks ago, my eldest boy turned 10 years old. As with the quarantine birthdays of our kids this year, it was a simple affair. But this 10th birthday was a quieter party than the parties of his younger brothers. He just wanted to eat his simple chocolate cake, open his gifts, and then play video games all day. And that was his birthday. 

I thought, it being a double-digit birthday and therefore a milestone, that he'd ask for more. But he wouldn't even allow me to buy him a special cake. "Just the usual, Mama," he insisted. He's been like this since he was 7, asking for experiences rather than things. And when he does ask for things, they're not much. His Papa is the one who would buy more than what our eldest boy asks for. His Papa is always extra excited to shower gifts on his sons. And it's extra fun to give gifts to our first boy because he gets surprised at all the extra boxes he gets. 


But I gotta say I was a wee bit disappointed that we had a quiet celebration. Later on, I realized maybe I also wanted to celebrate me. It's not just my not-so-little boy who turned 10 years old. I'm celebrating a decade of being a mom, too. And you know how people throw over-the-top parties when their kids turn a year old and some people are like, "Gee, it's not like the baby will remember this party..."? Well, I know from all my over-the-top mommy friends that the party isn't for the baby really. It's for the mommy and daddy.


Because it's not easy to make a little human being, take care of it, make sure it's not just alive but happy and healthy, too. And then you have to do other things like stimulate your child's brain, discover and nurture talents, teach skills for independence, send him to the best school you can afford, and on top of all that, you have to make sure your child is polite, good, kind, and just the type of person who will be an asset to humanity. Like, who said parents are qualified for all that???  


So here I am, 10 years later. That little baby boy in my arms is now a wonderful young man. He's super smart, funny, and affectionate. He does all his chores, is super independent, and yet he's also still a baby - not childish, but wonderfully unworldly. He's sooo nerdy and quite creative. He plays the piano every day. He's written books this whole quarantine! How did I ever make this dream of a child come true? Was it me? Was it his Papa? Or was it just him? 


Ten years. Where did it all go? All I can remember is laughter and tears and so much love. Oh, and ten years of sleepless nights and long days. So exhausting. But I survived. I thrived. Most importantly, my kids are happy, healthy, and so wonderful. The 33-year-old mommy in these photos didn't think she'd be capable of all that. She's grown a lot, was humbled a lot, and learned to love a lot. I am so proud of myself for a full decade of being a good mom. And maybe sometimes, I'm amazing, too.

Thank you for being the boy who changed my life, Vito. Happy birthday, my dearest darling boy.    

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Mama's prayer for the lifelong work of her children

In a purple folder in my closet are all the letters Mama ever wrote me. A daughter only appreciates the words of her mother when she becomes a mother herself. I loved Mama's letters before but when I became a mommy, I always have to wipe away my tears because I read her words and my mama heart knows why she wrote them.  


Today, I want to share with you her prayer for me and my siblings when it comes to our life's work. This was very important to her. Mama was a working woman. She never wanted to get married or have kids. She just always wanted to work because work made her happy. 

I'm like her. But I don't want to end up like her - worked to the bone yet buried in debt, gave her all to her family yet we never fully appreciated her. 

I'm always assessing my life as a result. I don't mind not having the job of my dreams because I already had it, twice: a magazine editor in chief and a columnist (I think of my blog as one, although I did have a newspaper column before and I now have my Project Vanity column, too). 

I've shifted my mindset, just late last year actually. My new thinking is this: My real job right now is to be mommy. And everything I do that makes me money makes that important job possible. It's helped a lot in changing my attitude towards my children and all the projects I accept. I don't expect happiness to come with the job, because happiness is not the purpose of motherhood. My purpose is to raise my children to be good people, who will be independent and will find their own purpose in life and make a difference in the world - be that world big or small. But I do find joy (that's different from happiness!) in my work because I am working towards a purpose. 

I've also changed my mind towards my work. Before I'd be snobbish. Now, as long as it's legit and honest, it pays the bills, and won't compromise my real job (mommy!), I'll do it. Because I won't be a good mommy if my kids are hungry and if I'm not using the talents and skills God gave me. I still need to work because I am also more than mommy and I shouldn't neglect that huge part of me.

So! Let's go back to Mama's prayer. I'll transcribe it here:

Lord, 

Let their talents never be wasted, watered down by mediocrity, or used to glorify anything or anyone other than You, Lord. I pray that You would reveal to them what their life work is to be and help them excel in it. Bless the work of their hands and may they be able to earn a good living doing the work they love and do best. Your Word says that "A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men." (Proverbs 18:16). May whatever they do find favor with others and be well received and respected. But most of all, I pray that the gifts and talents You placed in them be released to find fullest expression in glorifying You. 

Amen. 

Wasn't that beautiful? I pray it over my children because that is now the cry of my heart. Bless my boys, O Lord. Bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

What's in an emergency bag? Just get these SAVED by VERSES bags to find out!

There was an earthquake a few days ago. Totally freaked me out. I've lived in our high-rise for a loooong time so I've gone through many earthquakes but this last one scared me because I realized we can't just run out of our building; I have to make sure every child has a mask and face shield on first. Then an evacuation - and the crowds of shaken people - presents its own dangers, too, in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But Psalm 46*, the chapter on this special bag, says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." So we trust in the Lord as we also prepare for emergencies. 

Like this emergency bag called Saved. It's from the brand Verses, a company started by one of my old friends in the blogging advertising world, Jel Directo (congrats, Jel!). Being prepared for an emergency does help us have a tangible reminder of that peace that passes understanding. Read on to learn how to get your own Saved bag.

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Starter 

PRESS RELEASE - Introducing to you a new essential addition to the product line of the Verses brand - not an emergency bag, not a go-bag but a 'saved bag'. As we live in a time of increasing uncertainty, having your own ready bag has become essential now, more than ever. 

Save time and effort in completing your emergency go-bag with our Saved bag. This easy-to-carry and handheld water-resistant backpack provides you with a comprehensive list of items to keep you equipped and ready for any local emergency and calamity.

Standard 

Conforming with the international standard of disaster preparedness kits, our saved bag follows a combination of Red Cross global, Ready Campaign by the US Department of Homeland Security, Get Prepared program by the Government of Canada, including a collection of personal interviews and local research.

Visit www.savedbyverses.com for more details.

Stellar 

*The whole chapter of Psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 

"The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. 

"'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.' The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

*To be featured on Press Release Tuesdays, send it to frances@topazhorizon.com.


Monday, October 05, 2020

Homeschool Month 1: We get down to work

Guess what? It's MY day today! And every parent who's teaching their kid this crazy year! And of course the day of real teachers everywhere. Dearest teachers, I think I'm doing a great job as Teacher Mama but I certainly know now I'd rather not do this haha You guys are the best!

We need to raise teachers' salaries everywhere. (Wait. I'm not even getting a salary.) Good heavens, what an insane occupation this is. But I'm going to claim this day as MY day. And I'm going to celebrate with a Cledor coffee ice cream bar. 


That's the photo on my Teacher Mama ID, by the way. That's why I chose it for my little "Yey me!' card I made for me haha. It's been a month and 1 week of homeschooling. There have been yelling (me), ripping of a Math book page (wasn't me), and tears (all of us). So 8 more months of this! 

Well, there's also been tons of fun with us dancing, singing, reading books and poems, discussing governments (especially this government - y'all know I got a lot to say about that!). We all learned new things - yes, even me! We've been poring over books, the Bible (for their Christian Education), and Googling and Google Translating everything to death. 

We've done mental health checks (I got the materials from Big Life Journal). We've painted and glued and drawn cute animals. We've played catch and throw, prepared for the zombie apocalypse (that's what we call cardio), and are now studying street dance. We're discovering a lot of things together and it's been, well, fun most of the time. It's definitely been an experience!

It sounds like a lot of play but it's not. I know many homeschooling moms blog about how they make learning fun and they play all day. We don't. I'm a very serious teacher. I think that's what makes me unsuitable for this homeschooling thing haha! 

I like academic excellence. I like competition. I like good grades. I like sitting up straight and doing well. I like structure. My kids - because their experience of learning is through a traditional school - have no problem really with my way because it's very much like the school they know, except at their pace, more focused, and a bit more flexible. I think they also like it that way. And yet there's a part of me that second-guesses myself, especially when I'm being hard on the boys.

We're doing okay. I think we're going too slow, to be honest. I'm a bit surprised that there's a Tiger Mom inside me after all. I'd never had known if it weren't for this pandemic! I don't want her to come out because homeschooling moms are gentle lambs who respect their children's pace and interests. They're not supposed to be Tiger Moms. Well, we'll see!

I know I sound like I'm unhappy. I'm not. It's more on I'm still finding my way through this whole new experience, trying to understand myself and my kids, trying to be the best I can be as a teacher, as a mom, and as a woman who doesn't like mediocre work. It's difficult: Who responds to this learning situation - the gentle teacher, the loving mom, or the mentor who demands excellence? There are no lines.

When people were greeting teachers today on Facebook Happy Teacher's Day, I didn't think I was a teacher. Mostly because this morning, I was in mom mode. Only after dinner, while I was scheduling lesson plans, did it hit me that I was a teacher now, too, and that this is my day. I didn't feel like I should celebrate. I've been on the job for just 5 weeks, no mentors and no helpers, and not much to show for it yet. 

But as the day ended, I decided I'm claiming this day - for me and for my boys. My kids and I are learning together. We may not be doing this whole thing professionally, we don't even know if we're doing it correctly, but we're teaching each other something new every single day. And sometimes, okay, most times, we're thrilled at what we find out. I guess that's all that matters. 

Happy Teacher's Day to all of you parents-suddenly-teachers. Happy Teacher's Day, too, to our kids who teach us so much about life and ourselves. God bless us all.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Blender, juicer or food processor? A comprehensive guide on food processors

Whenever I watch cooking shows, I always thought food processors were for the serious chefs and blenders were for home cooks like me. That's why I have a blender at home, not a food processor. But my guest post today talks all about why we should add this heavy-duty kitchen appliance for all the useful things it can do for our cooking.

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Crispy Omelette Bites with Spinach Sauce. For the recipe, go to @ounceofoz.

GUEST POST - One of the necessities of man is food. We need food substances to survive and carry out our daily activities with ease. You can consume the likes of fruits in their raw state; however, you have to prepare other meals before consumption. For some, cooking these meals is something they look forward to, while others find cooking takes way too much time and energy. For them, finding an alternative to manual meal preparation will be a welcome idea.

They need to get themselves a food processor pronto. Anyone can enjoy a fantastic cooking experience with the use of food processors. It takes a bit of practice to get to know how to use such appliances, but once you do, meal preparation becomes easy and enjoyable.

Are juicers food processors?

You may be quick to classify a juicer under food processors; after all, it processes fruits. But here is the thing – with juicers, you extract both the liquid and solid substances from a fruit or vegetable. The juicer stores the juice in a separate compartment, and the non-useful parts goes to another section to be discarded later. 

On the other hand, a food processor works differently; it merges and refines different food substances at once to get a desired and more edible outcome. There is no addition or removal of the final prepared meal.

Fancy Homemade Pesto Sauce. For the recipe, go to @lettuceromainecalm

Are food processors blenders, just bigger?

Definitely not! Even though food processors and blenders handle an entire range of ingredients you need for a meal, the latter processes these food substances into semisolids, which you can further use to prepare the final food. Just as its name implies – you use the appliance to blend raw food materials. On the other hand, a food processor creates various edible meals based on what you put into it.

What should I look for in a food processor?

The market houses a wide range of appliances, most of which perform a single task per time. Purchasing these items may not be ideal for individuals on a tight budget. Hence, getting a versatile kitchen appliance would be a better option – this is where a food processor comes into play. These processors come in various brands and models, ranging from small, entry-level gadgets to industrial-size appliances. However, they basically perform the same functions: chop, mix, grind, among others.

With food processors, you get value for your money. Each model has additional features that make meal preparation straightforward and convenient. They come with varying price tags that meet all budget sizes. Depending on how often you use this appliance and what you use it for, you can either purchase a cheaper model or a more hi-tech gadget that can handle whatever you put into it.

Homemade almond butter. For the recipe, go to @dannifeinestein.

Welcome to the new age of fast food

How fast and easy it is to prepare your meals when you use a food processor. Imagine the time and energy you will spend dicing an onion by hand and risk cutting your fingers, not to mention the fact that onions irritate the eyes. You won't have to go through literal blood and tears when you use a food processor! So if you're looking to make your time in the kitchen faster, more efficient and more fun, consider getting a food processor now!

* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email frances@topazhorizon.com. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

7 steps for self-improvement we can do now

So it's Day 200 of our GCQ/ECQ/MECQ/I don't know what it is anymore. Aaaaaaand I'm now at 130 lbs. Yep, I gained weight. I was actually losing weight at the start of quarantine. I was 130 lbs in January but I was 125 lbs by April. I was eating homecooked meals (well, we didn't really have a choice when quarantine started), exercising, biking, finally sleeping 8 hours. I felt great!

Then I became depressed. Remember when I told you how I've been? Ya. That happened. I was wallowing for around 6 weeks. Stopped exercising. Stuffed my mouth. Couldn't sleep. Even when I started feeling better, I just couldn't start exercising again and I couldn't stop eating. Considering all that, it's a miracle I only gained 5 lbs! (Big blessing - it's hard for me to gain weight.)

Then one day, I was scrolling through my Instagram and Welch's, my blog sponsor, had a post that reminded me I had fallen off the wagon. 



I may not be overly overweight but I realized that it's the last quarter of the year and I don't want to end the year the same weight - or heavier! - than when I started it. That would just be another reason 2020 sucks but this time it would be all MY FAULT! But I can always start fresh, as Welch's so wonderfully reminded me. 

So can you guys be my accountability partner? I'm going to start improving my health, my body, and my habits again. And here are the steps for self-improvement I need to take:

1. Wake up before my kids.

Because I sleep so late working on articles, preparing for homeschool lessons, and spending my much-needed alone time, I wake up later than my kids. They're fine - the boys eat their breakfast and start doing their chores. This is good, right? But as soon as I get up, they bombard me with "Mama, look at this! Mama, I did that! Mama, can I do this?" And to the groggy me, it's jarring and isn't really not the most calming way to start my day. I feel like I lose control of the day.

2. Meditate.

I started doing this in August, scheduling my Bible study every morning. I've been a Born Again Christian for 30+ years but meditating on God's Word is hard for me. And it still is! But around the second week, I started feeling excited about what I'm reading. I think it's because I'm older and I have a better perspective on life, faith, and God now.

3. Just drink water and healthy drinks.

At around June, I started drinking a lot of Coke, coffee, and milk tea. So bad! Even though I still drink water and Welch's 100% Grape Juice, their goodness was outbalanced by all the sugary and caffeinated drinks I was consuming. But since 2 weeks ago, I am now just drinking water, black tea, ginger and turmeric tea, and Welch's. I don't feel so bloated anymore!

Ever since my family started drinking Welch's around 3 years ago, we've slowly and then completely stopped drinking sugary powdered juices. Real fruit juice is naturally sweet anyway so adding sugar completely distorts how it tastes. Plus, you can't beat the Vitamin C and antioxidants, which not only help strengthen my immune system, it also keeps my skin clear and improves brain function. Definitely a must for a middle-aged woman like me!  


4. Go on the Smaller Portions diet!

I actually eat healthy. Almost all our meals are homecooked. There's almost always a salad or a vegetable dish on the table. My problem is I cook soooo well, I eat so much of my cooking! Oh dear! I love my cooking. My husband just said at dinner tonight, "You make the best tinola." And I do. But I end up eating maybe up to three platefuls of my cooking. It's terrible haha So I'll still prepare my yummy healthy meals but I really need to eat just one serving only! 

And of course, wash everything down with just water or Welch's grape juice because, as Livestrong.com says, "Those who drink 100 percent fruit juice, including grape juice, possess a lower mean body mass index, smaller waistline and lower insulin resistance."

5. Start exercising.

I tried a few times this September. I have exercise apps but what I like best are the walking videos of Leslie Sansone. I should do it more often! Pray for me haha. By the way, when I exercise, I drink just water or Welch's 100% Grape Juice. I don't need energy drinks because Welch's has tons of natural-sugar energy in it already. Plus, grape juice made from Concord grapes has a beneficial effect on the heart and blood pressure.

6. Spend less time on social media.

Facebook especially is a time-sucking monster. I sometimes get shocked that I start scrolling at 11pm and then it's suddenly 3am! My sleep suffers. My work suffers. My mental health suffers. Must really manage my time on Facebook. My plan is to set a timer - 30 minutes! - and follow it strictly. I can get so much done, I bet. All those saved hours I can use to sleep, exercise, read a book, paint, work!

7. Sleep!

Yes, sleep! It's the most neglected area of my life. Scary because studies show that consistently lacking sleep leads to lower immunity, higher risk for diseases, and early death. I haven't really been getting 7-9 hours of sleep for more than 10 years (thanks, motherhood). Such a bad habit.

I specifically chose these steps for their immediacy. I can do them without having to do anything big, like sign up for a skills class, or join a support group (I already have Lean In PH!), or buy a gym membership. Many times, we can't take that first step to improve ourselves because it takes a lot of work and the thought tires us out even before we start.

My list is simple and super doable. So I have no excuse. I'm really going to start these steps for self-improvement. I'll update you on my Instagram and blog my progress on my birthday next month. Wish me luck!

Source: "What are the benefits of Welch's Grape Juice?", Livestrong.com

*This post is brought to you by Welch's 100% Grape Juice. Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Juice Cocktails, and Sparkling Juices are available in all leading supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores. You can have your favorite health drink delivered right to your doorstep! Visit the Ace Food Service website, or place your order in the following online groceries: Metro Mart, Lazmart, and Waltermart.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Leaving the PH? Grab The Overseas Fabulous Pinay by Donna Avellana Kunzler! (a book review)

I just put down this super interesting book, The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: A Modern Filipina's Handbook on How to Thrive Abroad. It's by Donna Avellana Künzler. She may have a foreign last name but she's Pinay through and through. Donna was born and raised in Cavite and took up accounting because all she ever wanted to be was a CPA like her dad. However, she became an Information Technology Auditor and Consultant instead. Her #ovfabpinay life started almost 20 years ago when she moved to Singapore for work. From there, she moved to the USA and then to my favorite city, London. Always because of work (how lucky is this woman?). She is now based in Switzerland, working for a Swiss global company, responsible for finance process governance and standardization in the finance organization. 

Donna's a new mommy to a baby girl and I really admire her because she was working, writing and producing a book, and making a baby all at the same time! That's amazing! I know this because - full disclosure - I helped edit the manuscript so my deadline was the most unusual in my editing career: I had to finish editing before Donna gives birth. And there's no pushing that deadline haha I was also working when I was in the delivery room with my first baby but I had already turned over most everything to my staff. A whole book is a whole different story. It's personal. It's also like a child. So for Donna to be working on her book and preparing to give birth is a whole new level of devotion.


The author is talking to the bold Pinay who wants to leave the constraints comforts of home and be on her own abroad. No mommy and daddy, no allowance, no friends, no yaya, no driver, no boyfriend or husband. Gosh, just writing that down is so exciting. I've always wanted to work in London or Singapore, far far away from everyone I know and who knew me. But - after making careful decisions - life became just too good here. No regrets! But that's a dead part of me that was prodded awake by Donna's book.

Because Donna is so conversational, even chatty, the book is so easy to read. It literally feels like I'm sitting on my couch, sipping my coffee, and chatting with a friend. Well, the author is the one doing the chatting while I'm eagerly listening.

It feels fast-paced, though. Is that a bad thing? Well, no. I just feel like the author was rattling off all her useful information (there's a plethora!) and I haven't absorbed anything yet and she's already off on her new topic. That's why I'm glad this is a book. I can go back and take notes. I feel like if this was a talk, I'd be asking her to "Wait, wait, let me just write that down!"

I think Donna anticipated this. Her book is well designed to highlight the lists upon lists of tips, advice, documents, rules, and many more. So you can easily find everything you need to know. There are colored boxes, checklists - it's really quite a useful reference book. In fact, it was a finalist for Best Interior Design at the 2020 International Book Awards. 

Speaking of awards, Donna's book is a Gold Winner at the Nonfiction Book Awards."This is a really upbeat book that is helpful and inspiring for anyone considering moving overseas. It has lots of tips, lists and questions to consider both before and after a move," the review says.


As you can tell, it's worth your pesos to grab this book and worth your time to also read it. And don't let those awards intimidate you - this is such an easy-to-read book. I do think you won't finish it in half a day since there is a ton of information to process. So take it slow and pay attention, especially when you reach the chapters of settling abroad.

Every single part of the book offers practical tips. What I found especially useful was the chapter on the unique lifestyles of each country. I've always been a tourist, staying at hotels and going to places that catered to the foreigner so I've never actually experienced how it is to be a local. 

So all of Donna's stories about paying attention to the culture was eye-opening because of course people treat tourists differently than they do people they work with, no matter what country you came from. As they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." I also liked all the stories on how to find a home, getting a driver's license, and being aware of rules and certain ways of life that comes from living in a cold country or a disciplined country. 

For example, I was amazed that in Zurich, you have to buy official trash bags. And they are expensive. You can't just use any trash bag like we do here in the Philippines. Trash is also segregated and you better make sure you sort your trash because if you don't, the district council will issue warning letters to you, your neighbors will complain against you, and you just might find yourself homeless. Serious stuff! 


I would've wanted to know how to find work and move to another country, though. Donna didn't address that because that wasn't her experience. She's lucky enough to have gotten job offers before moving to the countries she's lived in. But for my husband and I who are contemplating moving abroad since we're not happy with where our country is going, we'd love to know how to grab those good jobs. 

We're told by our immigration agent that we need to move first then look for a job there. That's terrifying. We're old so it may take time for us to find the good jobs and neighborhood that we can live happily in. But we have kids so we can't afford to fail. So it's like a chicken-or-the-egg thing for us. Do we look for a job first and hope the employer asks us to move there? Does one of us go first and establish our home? Do we just risk it all and move everyone and hope we don't hate our new life? Tough decisions.

Another thing I wanted to know was sure tips on how to become a permanent resident or citizen in the country we're moving to. Are there secrets? Will it cost a lot of money? Will it take years upon years? Those issues were important to me but weren't discussed. Maybe those will come up in her next book (I hope she writes The Overseas Fabulous Pinay Mom!) or in one of her online talks.
 

Yes, Donna has lots of online talks! Just visit www.ovfabpinay.com because Donna always has events lined up. She has other #ovfabpinays over for chats about how to live fabulously abroad. Join the #ovfabpinay Facebook community and follow @ovfabpinay on Instagram for more updates. Donna is very friendly and encouraging of her fellow Pinays who would love to start a new life abroad.

And of course, do grab your own copy of The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: A Modern Filipina’s Guide on How to Thrive Abroad by Donna Avellana Künzler. It's a really good read! Get it at major online book shops Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon for P750. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The SalesVIP boys are ready for Rockwell Voyager, an interstellar Halloween adventure!

The boys are excited about Halloween this year because they get to go trick-or treating because of our favorite Power Plant Mall. Wait. Isn't it bawal for kids to go out according to quarantine guidelines? Yes. You're right. Bawal lumabas ang mga bata ng bahay unless they're going to a medical facility so pleeeeeease keep your kids at home. 


So how did Power Plant manage it? Well, if the kids can't go to the mall, the mall will go to the kids! Rockwell malls Power Plant Mall, Santolan Town Plaza, and The Grove by Rockwell will go ahead and celebrate Halloween with Rockwell Voyager, an interstellar adventure boys and girls will enjoy! On October 31, Rockwell will take our kids trick-or-treating to... OUTER SPACE!!! No COVID there!
 
They were so excited!

Joke haha. The galaxy will be your very own home. So the kids will have fun but still be safe and sound right at home. Let's do this, parents! Here's how to begin the adventure:

1. Get the interactive Space Voyager Kits!

It's a jetpack. They're going to need that to blast off into space as Certified Space Rangers. Inside their jetpacks are:

- an exclusive access pass to a DIY astronaut mask workshop
- top secret space missions
- space badges for parents to award their little Space Rangers for every game completed
- candies, snacks, and treats (and nice treats, too, not those cheap sweets)

They can't wait for Oct. 31 to open their Top Secret Missions! 
Handy bottle of sanitizer before eating the snacks! (I ate the Snickers. Oops.)

2. Get a chance to win special space-themed gifts from Toys R Us!

On social media, post your child's best graduation photo showing their completed badges. Make sure to tag Power Plant Mall and Santolan Town Plaza on Instagram and Facebook with the caption: “Space Ranger (name) reporting for duty at Rockwell Voyager. #RockwellHalloween”. Your photo may win your kid toys!

Checking out each item. Parang birthday party!

That's all you need to do, moms and dads! Have fun this Halloween with your favorite mall but in the safety of your own home. The Space Voyager kits are only P1000 each. Buy one for your kid by sending a DM to Power Plant Mall’s Facebook messenger.

Check The Rockwell List for more information about the Halloween event. Follow Power Plant Mall, Santolan Town Plaza, and The Grove by Rockwell’s Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.

P.S. Dear Power Plant, my kids were so happy to get their jetpacks. They super miss their most favorite mall in the world and can't wait till it's safe again to visit you.

Monday, September 21, 2020

I have found the house of my dreams!

My favorite style of house is the Mid-Century Modern (MCM). That is my ultimate dream house. I'm part of a few Facebook groups who are fans of this style and I've been learning a ton of stuff plus getting all these amazing photos of gorgeous houses. It's my happy place, these MCM Facebook groups! 

I'm not strict with the design, unlike many die-hard fans who don't believe in modernizing it at all. But I'm fine with toning down excessive wood paneling and built-ins, and muting the vivid colors. Just a bit to bring the design to the 21st century but not too much that it loses its character altogether.

So anyway, I was browsing through the posts of the MCM groups when this beauty came up and oh my goodness. It was love at first sight! I have found the house of my dreams! Just look at it!




Isn't it beyond gorgeous? And that pink door! And the matching mailbox straight out of The Jetsons! MCM homes have long, flat lines. They also had open floor plans so that living areas flowed into each other. And windows, huge windows!

Okay, let's go inside...





Those high ceilings! And all that light because of those huge windows! I can't live in a house with small windows. I think I'll wither and die within a year if I can't have the sun penetrating every corner of my house. 

Now let's check out the kitchen... 



The kitchen is an updated MCM. A midcentury modern styled kitchen is all about clean lines, warm wood, and then a bright color or a graphic design somewhere, usually the tile. In this case, that blue is boring. I'd make the tile pink and orange, or yellow and orange.

Now let's check out the dining room... 



I can't say I love that wallpaper. I love its boldness but I don't like the colors particularly. I would go for something more colorful to frame the green trees seen from the square window smack in the center of the dining room wall. Then I'd choose chairs that are more sculptural. As for the dining table, I love it but I'd go for a stain that would match the kitchen cabinets.

Off to the patio...


Oh, so perfect! That pink and turquoise! MCM loves bold colors and bold color mixes. I love that wind screen (or breeze blocks)!

Now let's check the bathrooms...





I love the Tetris tile best! An MCM bathroom has clean lines and geometric tiles. To warm it all up, wood is used for the cabinets, metal fixtures are copper or bronze, and an interesting light fixture dominates the space. The shower or bath is also enclosed in glass, functioning much like the huge glass windows in the living areas.

There are soooo many more photos over at its Zillow listing (click it!). Super nice photos of the details like door knobs and tiles. If you want to see the bedrooms and the backyard, the photos are also there. I didn;t include them here. I wasn't too happy with those parts - kinda plain. But I guess the sellers of the house want to keep those as plain as possible so that the people viewing the property can imagine how they'll spruce it up.


Anyway, I just had to blog about this house so that I have a peg for all time. And so you get to see what my dream home is like. Isn't it pretty?

*photos grabbed from Zillow listing


Friday, September 18, 2020

Watch! This Is Paris: The Real Story of Paris Hilton, her official documentary


Well, I didn't expect that Paris Hilton would make me cry. I just watched her documentary, "This is Paris" and it's intensely personal. I started it thinking I'd be watching something fun. Well, it has fun... colors. I can't do what she does. She is a workaholic, the woman behind a billion-dollar empire. And she's profoundly unhappy. This documentary says why. And wow. The why was a surprise! 


Back when I was a Hollywood celebrity editor, I would get dozens of transcripts of interviews of stars, and Paris was one of the few who sounded super smart. As in I would be so puzzled because she was such trailer trash blonde bimbo. Then always in her interviews, she'd say, "You can strike that off the record since it doesn't sound like Paris Hilton." 

I remember bringing this dichotomy up with my husband and he frowned at me and said, "Frances, you forget that she's a Hilton." (To my, uh, credit, I didn't know who the Hiltons were since I wasn't sophisticated and well-traveled haha). 

Anyway, watch this documentary! It feels really genuine and raw. Even though you can see Paris is putting on her persona, she lets the mask slip. Her sister, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, is also no-nonsense, no-bullshit. And I love how Nikki's bookshelves in her nursery are messy piles. 

But this is not about Nicky's bookshelves =) It's about Paris Hilton. The real one. Watch it!

Monday, September 07, 2020

Homeschool Week 2: Harder and sweeter than I expected

Okay, so in last week's report, I said we new homeschoolers are having tons of fun. Well, that was last week haha. We're still having fun, but now that we're done with the settling in, we're actually buckling down to studying the lessons. We've had a few tears ("Mama, why is this so hard to do now?") and there were two days when the kids asked that we skip the school day. So I said yes because I was tired, too.

Homeschoolers always say that the best thing about homeschooling is the flexibility. Me, I'm a woman who likes following a schedule down to the minute so all this flexibility going on is stressing me out haha. My eldest boy is like me so he gets annoyed when his brothers want to extend certain subjects because they want to keep discussing. So I have had to stop him from ringing the school bell a little too hard when he wants the little boys to hurry up.

I was the only one who followed the lesson.

But we're trying, we're trying. I'm opening my mind to this new system. I do feel like I'm second-guessing myself all the time. For example, for Art, we joined Kuya Robert's art class on diversity. He showed us how to paint with watercolors. The subject was making friends with different kinds of people - no matter what color, gender orientation, ability or disability, and beliefs. Well, my kids wanted to do something else. One boy didn't like watercolors and he took out his colored pencils. Another boy wanted a party because he wanted a reason for the friends to be together. Meanwhile, another boy wanted to do his own thing and abandoned Kuya Robert's class altogether (Blue is our pet rabbit).

I let them do their own thing because homeschooling is all about being flexible, interest-led, play up their individuality, etc etc. And the results were nice anyway and most importantly, they had so much fun. BUT... How about following instructions? What about learning something new instead of letting them insist on what they're used to?

So I don't have the answers haha. We'll figure this out. This meandering about our lessons - you know this "So what do we want to learn today?" - has resulted in many serious discussions where every little boy was absorbed and fascinated. Those wide, shining eyes and animated conversations are hard to beat. I've found myself talking about life more than academics, and while part of me knows the lessons I'm sharing won't ever appear in their tests in a few weeks, my heart is happy I can impart wisdom, not just knowledge.

I guess what matters now is they're liking school a lot, in this crazy time no less. That's a win in my book. But, yes, next week, we'll really start hitting the books.