Friday, September 16, 2016

My 6 staycation secrets revealed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blog Biz: Come to my super fun blog and chika workshop on Oct 8!

I'm finally doing it, Loyal Readers! I'm doing a blog workshop again! This will be so much fun because I'm going to be so madaldal and I'll tell you everything I know about blogging. And when you've been blogging for 10 years like I have, you'll know plenty! And I want to share it all!

So let's do the Topaz Horizon Blog Biz: Blogging Chika Workshop!!!

Here's what you'll get:
  • Tips on how to start a blog and create content that clicks with readers.
  • Tried-and-tested ways to grow your blog. After this session, you have no excuse to say that no one reads your blog!
  • How to make your blog make money. I'll teach you how to make a media kit, pitch to brands, and work with brands.
  • Blogger etiquette on the blog, at events, and while working with brands.
  • Style and beauty tips to look like a professional blogger, not like someone who never leaves her computer!
  • Free facials from Flawless because you want to polish up your look!

What a fun afternoon we'll have! I'll be revealing secrets and we'll do a bit of chika and I'll also raffle off some freebies which I get all the time as a blogger!

Regular fee is P750 but from today till Sept 25, you can use this discount code to pay just P600: THBLOGFUN.

Just email me between now and Sept 25 with the discount code and pay via BDO or PayPal on or before Sept 30, to reserve a seat. Slots are limited! I like to keep the class small so we can really talk.

Sign up now! Email me at and let's have fun learning how to make blogging money!!!

Thanks so much to FLAWLESS Face & Body Clinic for generously providing us their own office to host my workshop.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why we shouldn't ignore our children

This is the Still Face Experiment.

It shows that when we don't react and interact with our children, it upsets them and hinders them from learning. Their emotional, mental and psychological development is severely compromised.

And that's why I now feel bad that I'm a work-at-home mom!

Working at home is really hard because I need to focus on the tasks. Like, really focus. Anyone who works knows that! After all, writing and editing articles, replying to emails, talking to people on the phone, doing accounting—these things can't be done while distracted. And while there's that adage that truthfully says, "Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work," it was said at a time when mothers didn't work and weren't expected to work (the quote is attributed to writer C.S. Lewis). Things are much different now.

Oh! I'm making excuses for my behavior.

Many moms tell me how lucky I am to spend time with my kids and work at the same time. I always agree (and I really do!), but I also feel guilty because I may be with my kids but I'm not really with them when I work. And lately, I've been getting irritated a lot at my sons when they demand my attention. "Look at what I draw, Mama! Look at what I eat, Mama! Look at the funny guy in TV, Mama! Look at me, Mama!"

And I snap, "Yes, yes! Stop bothering me. I'm working!"

I feel horrible.

Do any of you work-at-home moms do the same thing? How do you deal with this? I've tried not working when the kids are awake, so I work really late at night. But it's my health that suffers. I seriously don't know what to do. Except maybe go work in an office, like I used to. Back then, when I did that, I worked when I had to work, then left the work at the office so I can really pour my attention on my kids. But the traffic scares me.

I don't ever want to ignore my kids. Ever. I've seen the hurt in their eyes and I always justify it with "We need the money so I have to work." But my kids need me now so what now? If only love can buy the things we need!

Lord, thank You for providing for our needs by giving us work. Please never let me forget that my work is for You, my kids and myself. Please always remind me to put You and my family before work. And bless my children for their forgiving hearts. May I deserve their love by becoming a better mommy to them! Amen.