Tuesday, February 18, 2020

5 tips to organize your work clutter with Viber’s new My Notes feature

PRESS RELEASE - Working can be fun, especially when you love what you do. But the more you advance in your career, the more the responsibilities pile up. It can be hard to organize your growing to-do list, particularly when you need to balance your job with your social life, freelance work, or personal hobbies. You know you’re chasing your dream, and you need to hustle to get there, but remember—being overworked can also be bad for you.

That’s why you need to keep a clear, organized mindset. Here are 5 ways you can stay away from the clutter and multitask efficiently.

Stick to a concise to-do list. Ever got off a meeting or a group call with your colleagues, boss, or client and ended up having tons of things to do? Having a to-do list can take a lot of stress off you. You’re less likely to forget a task when you take note of it, plus the feeling of ticking things off one-by-one is extremely satisfying. A to-do list also lets you plan your day and set out your intentions, so you don’t need to keep constantly reminding yourself what to do next.

Here’s a pro tip: It’ll be more helpful if the to-do list is in the same app you use to communicate with people at work. Right? With Viber’s new My Notes feature, you can create a to-do list right on the app, keeping your tasks close to your work chats. This way, you won’t have to switch between apps to jot down what’s discussed over a chat or a group call.

Saw this on my Viber this week. Have you seen yours?

Do the hardest thing first. This one’s a straight-up hack. If you have a really hard task for the day, do it first. You’ll extinguish a lot of stress just like that, and clear your head for the rest of the day. When you do the biggest, most daunting thing before everything else, you also get to do a better job of it, since you haven’t used up any of your effort yet.

Don’t rely on your memory, use phone reminders! Sometimes, our memory fails us. When multitasking, we’re even more prone to forgetting things. With My Notes, you can set important reminders throughout your day. This way, your phone can remind you when you need to switch to another task, send an email, make a call, or go to a meeting.

I still wrote this list to transfer later to my bullet journal.

Make the most out of group chats. Group chats have indeed made communicating at work a lot more efficient, especially if you’re always on the go. So, it’s important and wise to maximize its features. For example, you can actually finalize meeting schedules or venues without the long and winding discussions! Just use Viber and its Polls feature. The same app also allows you to make a group call so you can get everyone’s thoughts in one go or create a community with unlimited number of members so you can disseminate information to a bigger group. 

Centralize everything work-related. It’s best to separate your work notes and files from the rest of your media. This will keep you from getting confused or forgetting certain files. On My Notes, you can organize and sync your notes (including important messages, photos, and videos from your work chat groups!) across all platforms—from your smartphone to your desktop, making it easier to find what you need whenever you need it.

With Viber’s My Notes feature, organizing your work life has never been easier. You don’t need to download another app, plus you can keep your lists and reminders close to your work-related chats. With just a smartphone and Viber, hustling for your goals feels a lot more manageable.

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

Your family will have a super fun day at Cheeky Monkeys - just like we did!

My kids love Cheeky Monkeys play place! I feel like it's a family secret because everyone else goes to other indoor play areas and they're already really crowded, which, for me, takes out a lot of fun from the play. So when we discovered Cheeky Monkeys and its vastness and newness, we fell in love! Here's a little peek!

First of all, we love Cheeky Monkeys because they thought of parents. They set aside this large area called the café just for us. We can wait for our kids within the establishment. We can have coffee or merienda. We can even work since there's free WiFi. We're accessible to the kids all the time but it's separate from the play areas so it doesn't feel chaotic. I really like that Cheeky Monkeys thought of the most important people—the parents paying for everything!!! Hahaha

Joking aside, parents really should leave their kids alone when playing. That way, the kids learn how to figure out what kind of play they like, how to play on their own, how to play with other kids, share toys, resolve conflicts if the other kids don't want to share haha

I like that the Café makes sitting down and leaving our kids alone sooooo attractive. I think it discourages helicopter parents from forever hovering over their kids. "Baby, play here. Play like this. Share that toy. Hey, other kid, share that toy with my baby! No? Bad kid! Baby, let's play somewhere else!" Good grief. But if you truly are a helicopter parent or you want to take photos of your kids playing, that's fine! The interactive play area is big enough to accommodate grownups!

Now, let's check out the 3000-sqm interactive play area! Mamas, I have more photos than these. But my kids have told me they really don't want me to post so many photos of their faces so these are the only ones I have where their faces aren't so visible. So here's what I can share:

The slide!!!
Lots of places for little arms and legs to climb!
This is quite a physical challenge as the kids cross to the other side while hanging on for dear life!
Obstacles to avoid, tunnels to crawl through!
Trampoline joy!
Twisty slide!
Bridges to cross!
Run and swing swing swing!
The pictures below are of the Clubhouse. It's separated from the play place. It's a 2-story building that houses the role-play area so your kids can play house, pretend they're shopping, stuff like that. I like that it's on the other side of the room so that the kids there can play in peace.

Now behind those doors are the party rooms. They're big and cute! I think it'll be super fun to have your kid's birthday over at Cheeky Monkeys! I know they have party packages so do check them out when you drop by.

Okay, other stuff I loved at Cheeky Monkeys:

1. The toddlers have their own area. I didn't take photos because none of my school-age kids visited the toddler area. But I think it's thoughtful—and safe!—that they separated the big kids from the little ones.

2. The kiddie activities! When we visited, there was a face-painting thing going on but my kids weren't interested because they were having too much fun playing.

3. The bathrooms. They're in the facility! No need to get a stamp, put shoes on again, walk out and run to the faraway CRs! The kids need to pee or poo? No problem! The bathrooms are clea, too. And very child-friendly.

4. It's sooooo affordable! On weekdays, it's just P350 for the first hour and the accompanying adult is free! I don't understand those play places where they won't allow you to leave your kid alone but then they'll charge you for accompanying your kid. So unjust!
    Now, to clarify, it's one kid-one adult for P350. If you have only one kid and you bring daddy, yaya, lolo, lola, auntie and uncle, well, they have to pay an entrance fee of P200 each.

5. They accept credit cards!!!

Cheeky Monkeys really have thought of everything! The only negative thing I can say about it is it's far from us. Actually, it's not. It's the traffic that makes it far. But if you're from Makati, Manila and thereabouts, MET Live at Pasay (just before Mall of Asia if you're coming from EDSA) isn't that far. Plus, there's parking!

For more details like weekend rates, check out their website: Cheeky Monkeys PH. I think they have classes and arts and crafts and stuff that your kids will love. Plus, summer is coming up fast so if you're looking for activities for your kids, check out Cheeky Monkeys!!!

Cheeky Monkeys is on the 2nd floor of MET Live Mall of Pasay City.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

I'm back! I'm still alive!

Hello, everyone!!! Just a quick note on ze blog since some of my dearest Loyal Readers have been sending me messages wondering why I've suddenly disappeared. Thank you for your love and concern!

Well, I got sick. I had a nagging cough that plagued me on and off for 3 weeks. I would feel better around Wednesday, then start coughing again when Friday hits. So weird! Since there's that awful novel coronavirus going around, I was definitely more anxious about my cough than I usually am. It wasn't bad enough to give me asthma attacks (thank You, God!), but it was bad enough so that I felt sorry for myself and for everyone around me when I coughed. Even when I wore a face mask (n95 levels!), I really saw everyone around me cringe.

I promise I don't have the nCoV, guys! It was just acute bronchitis. Still a biggie but, yeah, being sick in these times is extra anxiety-inducing than ever. Stay safe, everyone! Wash your hands and don't touch your face!

Don't touch your face!!!
So I haven't blogged in 3 weeks. Boy, I missed a lot! I have drafts here of what I think of the Harry and Meghan royal exit, how JLo and Shakira's Super Bowl performance affected me, my beauty hauls from Calyxta and BeautyMNL, our play day at Cheeky Monkeys, my suggestions for wedding gifts, and a few work-related stories like tips on blogging and freelancing. I'll still publish those, okay???

To make your visit today to the blog worth it, let me do a little Valentine's Day giveaway! Just comment down below which delayed blog post you'd like me to publish! That's all and please leave your Facebook name OR Instagram handle so I know how to contact you in case you win.

This is the prize: a K-Glow Facial with Rejuvelite from Flawless Skin & Body Clinic!!!

I'll do a review of this fabulous facial soon. It's a deeply hydrating facial that will give you that enviable glass skin of Koreans! I haven't tried it yet. I'm scheduling it last week of February and you can bet I am so excited to try it! Try it, too! Join my giveaway! I'll pick a winner on Monday. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Friday, January 24, 2020

New year, new furniture finds at MY MC Home

I visited my friend Ginger Arboleda, COO of Taxumo, at BGC last week (because it's taxes time!). After our nice lunch, I decided to pass by home store MY MC Home, which is just two buildings away from Taxumo HQ. And I promptly fell in love with these dusty rose chairs!

Soooo pretty! But we don't need chairs for the living room. What I need is a chair for my work desk. Check out this beauty.

We turned the former dining area into the study area. My desk is there and so are the boys' desks. They need a lamp each. I think this blue jelly-like piece will look perfect.

It comes in sunny yellow, too!
I also want to replace our living room carpet. There are three big piles of rugs and carpets at MY MC Home. They have a lot of designs and are quite affordable.

I found this fluffy white carpet. It's sooo deep and soft! I want it I want it I want it! I want it for our bedroom. I just don't know how to keep it white when I live in a house full of little boys.

Actually, we also need more space for the kids' clothes. Now that they're bigger, their clothes are bigger, too. They don't fit in the baby closets anymore!

In the end, I remembered that what Vince really wants are new pillows. Actually, it's not a want anymore. We need new pillows! Our pillows are as old as our marriage. Sweet? Gross haha So I found these. They're just P300+! And so soft and nice!

But I bought bedsheets instead! I'll go back and buy pillows. As soon as I wash them, I'll show you our bed dressed up in our new sheets - which are on sale until supply lasts! So drop by MY MC Home now and shop!

MY MC Home has 3 branches: Level 3 MET LIVE Mall, Diosdado Macapagal Blvd, 1302 Pasay City, at MC Home Depot San Fernando Interchange, Jose Abad Santos Avenue, 2000 San Fernando, Pampanga, and at MC Home Depot BGC, Taguig. You may also find more furniture and promos on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/mymchome and Instagram www.instagram.com/mymchome.

*This post is brought to you by My MC Home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Make your own baby shower invites! Everything a mom-to-be needs to know

PRESS RELEASE - Expectant mothers, especially those who are going to have their first baby get nervous, anxious, frightened, fatigued, and apprehensive. Their hormones are changing, and they know that their lives are going to change forever. Once a woman lets her co-partner, relatives and friends know that she is expecting, they get excited, thrilled, and become more caring and concerned. Family and friends get excited about the upcoming baby shower. A family member or close friend usually volunteers to handle the planning and organizing of the baby shower.

So as an excited soon to be mother, you can relax, start brainstorming, open your laptop, surf the internet for invitation maker apps and start making baby shower invites.

Invitation Cards

Just a while back, you had to browse through bookstores and stationery shops or find a card designer and printer to get invitation cards for any special occasion, like wedding invitations, birthday invitations, anniversary invitations, and baby shower invitations.

Nowadays, you can choose an invitation maker app and browse through what they have to offer and select the best invitation that mesmerizes you.

The beauty of using an invitation maker app is that you can make changes at will. Just think what a huge convenience this is. If you bought invitation cards from a store or got them on order and then changed your mind about them, you would be caught in a catch-22 situation. 

Since everyone now is hooked on the internet and with so many free invitation app sites to choose from, it’s suggested to have a look at ‘Invitation Maker Free, Paperless Card Creator.’ You won’t be disappointed with the amazing selection of cards and themes that are on offer.

You can install the Invitation Maker app on your Android phone, and you are on your way to designing the perfect paperless card of your choice. This invitation maker app is quite easy to use, and the choices in each category of invitation cards are quite astounding. You can make invitation cards for:

• Birthday
• Christmas
• House Warming
• New Year
• Baby Shower
• Retirements & Farewell
• Wedding
• Summer & Pool Party
• Halloween
• Anniversary

As an excited expectant mother, you might wish to make the perfect paperless invitation card for the baby shower. Select baby shower category on this app, and browse through the themes offered. Take your time to choose the right one. There’s no rush as you can do this at your own pace.

Designing The Perfect Baby Shower Invitation Cards

Too simple? Have more fun with Invitation Maker app!

Remember, you are going to celebrate the expected birth of a new life. This is one of the most exciting times of your life, especially if you are expecting your first child. So, while designing the invitation card for this special moment, you should:

Select a Theme
Selecting the right theme sets the tone for the invitation and makes it memorable. If you know beforehand if it’s going to be a boy or a girl, this makes it easier to select a theme. If you don’t know or have decided not to find out from your doctor and want to keep it a surprise, then you can find a neutral theme. Oh yes, you will be dumbfounded at the number of theme choices this invitation maker app offers.

What to Write?
What you write on the invitation card will depend on whom you are going to invite. Is it going to be a dress-up or dress-down event? You can select a poem or quotation from the selection on offer and add your thoughts to it.

If you have selected a birth registry with a store, do write that on the card. This makes it easier for the invitees to choose the right gift for the occasion. Don’t forget to mention the date and time of the occasion on the invitation. Plus, do add an RSVP, so you and your party planner will know how many people they have to cater for.

Final Thoughts

If you are inviting people who don’t use computers or smartphones, you can print out the invitations and send them through post. Lastly, don’t forget to send out the invitations in time.

Have a memorable baby shower. And, do keep the Invitation Maker app as you will enjoy using it for other occasions.

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

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Inspiring stories on how Pinoys are helping the Taal Volcano evacuees

I wrote an article for ANCx a few days ago about how Filipinos are helping the people affected by the Taan Volcano eruption. But it was a short list and doesn't even begin to cover just how Pinoys are once again rising to the occasion of facing calamity with bayanihan.

Puntahan niyo yung Crisis Response to The Volcanic Eruption sa Facebook and it's story after story of how people are helping. Nakakataba ng puso! 

At first, sa Facebook feed ko, ang dami kong nakita na reklamo about the helping. Bakit daw kailangan pang i-post sa Facebook. Kung totoo raw ang tulong, hindi na kailangan ipagyabang. You know, I never thought of those stories as pagyayabang. In my mind, they are like reporters. "Guys, andito kami sa Lipa and eto ang sitwasyon dito and eto nag-abot kami ng 150 food packs pero kulang pa!" And madalas the reports are funny and silly, sad and alarming, amusing and inspiring.

Here are a few of my favorites:

First on my list is CDO. My family has been buying CDO Bibbo hotdogs and other meats for years now. So I'm so happy that CDO is one of the many brands that are helping the evacuees. Look at their happy faces! And look at how every balde of goods (very useful ang balde also!) has a sweet and encouraging note! Kung pansinin niyo yung last photo, every note is different. Personalized and handwritten! Talagang galing sa puso. Salamat, CDO!

Next is this super viral photo on how the evacuees look like they're having a fashion show with the donated clothes they received. May mga nainis sa kanila kasi wag na raw mapili. Guys, mukha bang ungrateful yang mga mukhang yan? They look like they're having fun! Honestly, it is so hard to have fun if you just lost your home, everything you own, your way of life, and you're relying on other people to feed and clothe you. Ewan ko, ha, pero feeling ko if nangyari yan sa akin, iiyak ako every day. So to see our fellow Pinoys having a good time despite everything inspires me!

That said, organizations are appealing to us na mag-donate po tayo ng maayos na damit. No gowns, lingerie, stripper shoes, and the like. Isipin niyo, "Kung ako nasa evacuation center, ano ang gusto kong suotin?"

I like this also: the soldiers are here! Historically, when it comes to calamities, medyo palpak ang pamahalaan natin. Mas mabilis pa mag-respond ang civilians sa pag mobilize ng rescue and relief efforts. Tapos, the current admin slashed the annual calamity fund by P4 billion. We are a country of super typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions! Ewan ko na lang talaga! But this photo of our soldiers and the many other photos of government organizations galvanizing their people and resources to help the evacuees is a good thing to see. Kasi tumutulong naman talaga ang public servants natin. More stories like this please!

So thoughtful—from mask and kumot to fresh underwear! Thanks, Ana!
SLEX was so full of volunteers that the traffic was so bad. But everyone was happy!
Happy birthday, Nanay Belen! God bless you po!

So many stories of private citizens helping out! Seriously, it's so wonderful how Pinoys always band together in times of crisis. Kasi personally, the money that goes to buying these relief goods come out of their own pockets. The time spent to buy, pack and deliver these goods! And all done with smile! Sobrang nakaka-proud of Filipinos, diba!

Every time we suffer from a calamity, nakakaiyak but very quickly, the stories become really uplifting. I am so grateful to the many Filipinos who keep us updated, entertained, and inspired. Grabe ang generosity and pagmamalasakit ng mga Pinoy.

Please keep telling us all how to open our hearts, our schedules, and our wallets to help out. This is what makes us Filipinos great. Post lang kayo nang post please! And God bless you for your help!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Uh oh. The kids have discovered my blog. What now?

I know you all have noticed that I'm not really sharing personal stories and photos anymore. Ironic since I blogged last year that I'm ready to blog again. You know what happened? My kids discovered my blog.

Yep. And while I don't mind spilling my guts to you all, I found that I was uncomfortable with the thought of my kids reading how I feel about motherhood. Because you know too-honest me—I just don't enjoy motherhood 24/7. I don't even think I'm a great mama 24/7. Who is???

But that's the whole thing about motherhood for the last few millennia. We mothers kept quiet. We just say, "Oh it's the most wonderful thing, a woman's peak accomplishment, the only thing worth living for!" We basically never talk about how hard it is, how it wrecks your body and your sanity, how punishing it is. We just grin and bear it.

Well, I don't. Not because I hate motherhood. I love it. I love it so much actually, it's so corny. But I can love it if I can be honest about it. There's something so incredibly liberating and there's so much tension and worry released when I can say, "This is hard and I want to scream and just curl up and sleep for 10 years!" Then after I say that, I feel better and I can be a better mama. Anyone else feels the same way???

Anyway, well, my kids discovered ze blog and now it's weird. I dunno what to do.

Well, I will still blog. I'll definitely still blog! I just don't know what I'm going to blog about. Maybe I'll just do reviews now—Frances Finds stuff for your home! Frances Food! Frances Fun! Frances Faves!  It's all going to be beauty, fashion, food, travel and more! That sounds safe, right. Also I must admit, it's more guaranteed to get more search results than my usual weepy confessions. What do you think???

It's so exhausting how my blog keeps evolving. But at the same time, it's kinda nice, seeing how I evolve, or how my circumstances change. I used to be so chill and full of myself, like, I was the coolest mom in the world because I got everything under control—my weight, my hair, my nails, my schedule, my kids. Coolest mama evah! Ya, I said that all the time.

But now I'm a mess haha I'm happier now actually, even though I'm never on top of things. Weird. I feel like every day now is SURVIVAL! And yet, because I'm just letting go a lot, I'm more relaxed. What will be will be. And I also depend on God a lot now. "Lord God, You love my boys more than I do. You love me more than I love myself. So I cast all my cares on You and You just do everything through me. Amen!" And you bet I can breathe after that!

Anyway, it's kinda nice (and kinda not nice haha) that my kids know I'm so in love with them. And that their Mama is just human and has struggles even with such a gift as them, and that I am—more and more—learning to trust God with this whole motherhood thing. I hope that they see that no matter how hard it was for me, especially when they were young, we more than survived and thrived, we had a great time. These last 10 years were the most challenging but also the most amazing years of my life. And it's because of them, my three boys. I hope they read that!

*My prayer claims God's promise in I Peter 5:7: "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." I love the play on words in that verse, how the meaning of "cares" is "worries" or "anxiety" and then the meaning becomes "to look after, to feel concern, to love" in the second part of the verse. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Homemade recipe: Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk

My son, Vito, helped me out in the kitchen last weekend. We checked out the stuff in our ref and pantry and I decided I have ingredients for a curry dish. Vito has never had curry before so he declared he'll cook it but he won't eat it. Well, we'll see about that!

So this is my recipe for Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk. But further down this post, I'll tell you how you can make it your own with a few tweaks. That's what I love so much about cooking—you can take any old recipe and make it your own!

Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk

1/2 kilo jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used Fisherfarms Shrimp Cocktail)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of green peas (I used Jolly)
1/2 tsp curry powder (I used McCormick)
salt to taste
1 can stewed tomatoes (I used S&W)
1 pouch coconut milk (I used Coco Mama)
1/8 cup calamansi juice (around 6-8 calamansi)
(optional) 1 tsp red pepper chili flakes
(optional) 1 tsp dried basil OR fresh basil, chopped

Heat oil in pan.
Add onion, garlic, and peas. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the whole can of tomatoes (juice and all!) and coconut milk. Mix well.
Add a pinch of salt and curry powder.
Bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until sauce thickens or about 10 minutes.
Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp is pink.
Add calamansi juice. Sprinkle basil. Stir.
Serve over hot rice!

He loved it! He ate it all up and asked for another bowl!

This was SO GOOD!

Now here are the ways you can tweak it:

1. Shrimp. If you're going more plant-based or are vegetarian, you can easily swap out the shrimp with chickpeas or broccoli or cauliflower. I'll make vegetable curry next and put red bell peppers, chickpeas, spinach!

2. Canned tomatoes. S&W is my favorite canned tomatoes brand because it's already stewed with other vegetables and spices so it tastes wonderful. I use it for tomato soup, pasta, and other tomato-sauce dishes. I just revealed one of my top kitchen secrets!!! But you can choose other brands and other kinds of canned tomatoes, but it should be canned. If you must use fresh tomatoes, use really ripe ones and boil them first so they're really soft and tender and juicy.

3. I think this recipe will be better if it has heat in it. I really wanted to add chili flakes or chopped chilis, but since my kids don't like spicy food, I didn't add any hot stuff.

4. You can use any cooking oil but I like coconut oil with this dish because I think it will really bring out the flavor of the coconut milk.

Tell me once you try it and tell me how you tweaked it, too!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Oh, 2020, what kind of year are you going to be?

Happy 2020, everyone! That's my wish for us all—a happy new year. It's only been 12 days in and already there's a lot of bad news everywhere. Australia burning, Iran and the US at war, earthquakes in Mindanao, Taal erupting. Looks like 2020 hit the ground running. So buckle up, mamas. It's going to be a wild ride this year. I hope the photos in this post cheer you up!

It's the New Year but I'm going to share photos from MY new year, back in November 2019, when I turned 43. As usual, it's just me and the boys at home. I ordered a lovely rainbow cake because I was feeling extra festive. I'm finally getting used to being in my 40s—muscle pains, white hair, worsening eyesight, and all that comes with aging. It's not so bad once you adjust!

It was such a happy birthday. You know why? Well, because I have my husband and our sons to celebrate it with. And because I'm finally over it—my birthday! I'm so hung up over my birthday, it's crazy. Loyal Readers would know I announce my birthday a full month before the day and I talk about my wish gift list and how I'm going to be absolutely fabulous. That was the old me, thinking every birthday is a fresh start to conquer the world. And that's okay.

But this year, I just want to be safe and normal and old and be with the people I love. The pressure to be amazing is off so I can be just happy! Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm finally completely happy so the pressure is off. Either way, I feel so relaxed. Finally. I've finally gotten a grip on my anxiety and lost that "look at me me me!" obsession. I guess I finally grew up!

Anyway, I was asking God for my word of the year. Last year, it was "cheerful." And you know what? It helped me big time. My father fell ill and then he died. We thought we'd financially go under. I started a new career in PR and realized soon enough that I'm not very good at juggling office work and motherhood. I missed my kids terribly and I was dropping so many balls, especially at home. To top it all off, my health was weird (I really should see all my doctors!). Sounds like a bad year, right?

Yes. It was. And yet I stayed buoyed up with an unexplainable happiness throughout the year. I truly was cheerful! Of course, there were times I cried and there were times I felt really bad about how certain decisions I made were affecting my family. But here we are—we're still okay.

Life's like that. We just need to have fortitude and a good "bring it" attitude to face every day. We need to constantly assess our situation and find ways to improve it or learn from it and then do better. We also need to always be grateful for everything, because even in the darkest of hours, life can still send us tiny blessings. I realized that in 2019—my eyes were so open and hungry for things to be grateful for. I guess that's why it was so easy for me to be happy despite all the bad stuff that happened.

I'm also lucky because I have a few people who have my back. It's true what they say—when you go through tough times, you find out who really cares for you. And I am grateful for them, 4 of them are in the pictures here!

I'm also so grateful for you, dear Loyal Readers. All the messages of encouragement and friendship you sent me last year—every single one I read and every single one comforted me. Thank you! I'm so glad you're still around, reading my blog, heart-ing my Instagram posts, chatting with me on my Facebook page, and basically still sending little old me and my family your love. I LOVE YOU, TOO!

So what's my word for 2020? It's LOVE! God impressed that on my heart at around December and I got worried haha I was, like, "Why, what's going to happen, Lord? Why do You need me to be extra loving this year?" You see, LOVE had already been my word, yes, in 2016. Election year. And oh wow, I did not love a lot that year. Not at all. So much hate and vitriol in social media, in my own family, with friends. I wish I can forget that year.

So God's telling me, "Let's give LOVE another try, Frances. You're going to have to give all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live!" Haha that's not God, that's Sound of Music! But seriously, I'm going to try really hard to love this 2020. Love God, love my husband, love my family, love my friends, love my work, love my chores, love mankind. That's not easy. So pray for me!

Look how I must be this 2020, according to I Corinthians 13:4-7:

"Love [Frances] is patient and kind.
Frances is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Frances does not demand her own way.
Frances is not irritable, and Frances keeps no record of being wronged.
Frances does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Frances never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

Woah. Okay. Challenge accepted! Will you take on the Love Challenge, too, mamas? Because it looks like 2020 will be a year of trials. We're going to need a lot of love to see it through!

P.S. God bless you and keep you in His love, dear Loyal Readers. You are the conduit of God's blessings to me. I am so grateful for everything you do. Even when I'm out of it and just wallowing in worry and being full of myself and exhausted and lazy to blog, you're still here. Thank you!