Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How the FERN-C kidz Mother's Day video made me realize my kids are not like other kids

This post is brought to you by FERN-C kidz.

It's Mother's Day this weekend and Facebook is full of heartmelting video tributes to mommies. I've spent not a few minutes wiping away my tears as I watched these videos. One of these videos is from FERN-C kidz. My Loyal Readers know my kids take FERN-C kidz vitamin C supplement so I liked their Facebook page. That means their updates come up on my feed. That's how I saw this video:

Awww, diba??? So my kids saw me crying while I was watching it and so they watched it with me and I was feeling all tender and thinking, "I'll ask them nga if they think I'm a good mama."

My voice breaking, I asked, "Vito, Iñigo, do you think I'm a good mama?"

Iñigo said, "Well, when you get mad at us, you're not a good mama."

Vito said, "Yes. Peppa Pig's mama never gets mad at her and George even when they make a big mess."

Lokong mga bata, kasing honest ko!

Now before you think my heart broke into a thousand pieces, it didn't. In fact, we giggled when they said that! My kids and I are extremely honest with each other. We talk a lot about our thoughts and feelings, and I tell them all the time that they must always be honest with me. I'm frank and honest myself. I expect no less from my own offspring! When they're mad at me, they tell me. When I make a mistake, which is often, I apologize. They're quick to say sorry, too. We're really an emotionally open bunch!

It's not easy to be a working mama. Because we have no household help (the cleaning lady that came in thrice a week quit because of her alta presyon), I'm so exhausted all the time. So I'm on a short fuse when the work and the chores pile up, when I haven't slept for days, when I haven't showered, when I haven't eaten a proper meal. I admit I yell. That mom in the FERN-C kidz video, si Mommy Iggy, sobra akong relate when she said, "Minsan talaga bigla ka na lang magbu-burst, eh, na parang, 'Can you give me like five minutes?'" Story of my life. I'm always saying that! "Give me a minute so I can just finish this. Five minutes and I'll be there. Just please one minute of complete silence naman diyan at bingi na ako sa ingay niyo grabe!"

The kids don't like it when I yell. I don't like it either. But sometimes I just can't help it anymore. I'm too overwhelmed! But we talk about it. I apologize for yelling. They apologize for making a mess/punching each other/whining about the food. And then we hug and kiss and the world is all right.

I may not be the ideal mom (what is that anyway?) but I still think that I'm a good mama anyway. I love it that my kids feel safe enough to always tell me what they feel—even when it's not the feelings I'd like to hear hahaha. I'm raising boys who aren't afraid of their emotions, who trust their mother to love them through the ugly issues, and who are as unflinchingly honest about their truth.

And anyway, my kids weren't finished yet. Vito said, "But you're a good mama, Mama. I love you so much, Mama, because you're always taking care of us. That's why you're tired. So sleep na!"

And Iñigo said, "Yes, you're a good mama sometimes. Okay, okay, all the time!"

And Piero said, "Mama, wuv you!"

It's not always easy to give my best and to do my best for my kids, but they just proved to me through this always honest talk that I may be doing something right after all. But, okay, maybe a little part of me wished they just said I was perfect! These kids. They're not like other kids. They're just like me! Sobrang honest!

May you have the same honest love and communication between you and your kids, mommies! Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Frances Finds: Simply Modular "Assemble-It-Yourself" Furniture

Hi mommies! I'm here to tell you about my exciting new find—Simply Modular furniture! 

Since rearranging the furniture a couple of years ago, my husband Vince and I have hatched plans to do something about the blank wall behind the TV. Sun-burst mirrors. A collection of framed art prints. Built-in shelves so we can move out the books in the boys' room, which used to be our home office in our before-kids life. A wall of cabinets for extra storage and to hide the TV. We always planned our plans whenever we watched TV (so that was every day haha) because look at it:

Soooo saaaaaad! How could we have lived like that?!? (Hehe, so melodramatic.) Well, we had to live with that because we just couldn't find the energy to have carpenters come in and build shelves and cabinets for us. We live in a condo and there's so much red tape and fees just to have people come over to OUR house and fix OUR house, services that WE hired and paid for using OUR money. I mean, seriously, with the way condo management polices what we do in OUR homes, you'd think THEY own the place! So even if we want to do stuff like a simple cabinet installation, a paint job, or an entire home renovation, we get defeated.

And then Simply Modular sent us an email and told us to check them out.

Simply Modular Furniture System was designed by and for megacities. Yes, Simply Modular is from Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. Now it's in Manila! It's basically panels that snap together so you can assemble them any which way you like to create shelves, cabinets, closets, tables, desks, cribs, beds—whatever you like! 

I liked Simply Modular because we can design the specific furniture we needed, and then as our needs change, we can reassemble the panels to create new furniture. Amazing! Vince liked it for the same reason plus the fact that every Simply Modular piece is made of high quality ABS plastic. So it's basically LEGO! That also means they're waterproof, termite-proof, and rust-proof! And, unlike IKEA (which almost destroyed our marriage hahaha when we built our kids' bed), Simply Modular is so easy to assemble! Look!

So we agreed to have a starter kit sent our way. As soon as we saw the panels, we liked them so much, we bought more! Good thing there's a wonderfully made website to shop at:

Okay, big con for me was that the website (at the time I shopped) did NOT accept credit cards or PayPal. As a longtime online seller and shopper, I know that a basic requirement of any online shop is to offer easy online payment options. I almost quit at this point because this means I have to shop at the store. My longtime readers know I hate shopping at malls! But since Vince had his heart set on Simply Modular and because I love him so very much, we made the looooong trip all the way to SMDC M Place in Panay Ave., Quezon City, to shop for the pieces we needed.

Ideas: shelves, TV console, cabinets.
Ideas: Desk, side tables.
So many colors! We picked white, orange, blue and green. I'm still dreaming of that pink, though!

After our shopping trip, we were super excited to build! Simply Modular, being flat panels made of plastic, comes in tidy boxes that are easy to transport. They're not that heavy, too.
Bottom panels have attachable legs.
The sets can hold weights up to 200 kilos so your kids can sit and lie down on them.
No need for screws or pegs. Just click the panels together!

And here are the finished shelves!

Sooo happy!!! We love our Simply Modular shelves! The entire thing cost us about P15,000. (And it was so easy to assemble, it didn't cost us our marriage, too!) That's actually affordable because these shelves will last forever. And I can reinvent them into another piece of furniture, too! Like what my kids did with the extra panels:
They made a stage for their puppet shows!

The first store is at G/F SMDC M Place, Panay Avenue, Quezon City, just beside ABS-CBN. I'm glad to report that more branches are opening this year at SMDC malls below SMDC condos. Hooray! There's an SMDC mall near us! I'm thinking of replacing the TV console with Simply Modular shelves and cabinets, too, because the darkness of the wood doesn't look so nice against all those happy colors. I'm also planning to make my laundry room pretty and efficient so I really want to shop at Simply Modular again!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Blog Biz: 5 Reasons Your Blog Might Not Be Getting Any Readers

It's May! Another month whizzed by and, boy, things have sure been busy for me lately. Thanks for still sticking around and for engaging with me on Facebook and Instagram. I've also tried Twitter again because I want to see if it's still an effective platform for me. If it proves to be a howling wilderness after a month of Tweets (check out #TopazTweetsOnTues), then I guess I'll just delete my Twitter account.

Anyway! Because I've been busy elsewhere, this blog was the one that turned into a howling wilderness. Don't worry! I am not quitting blogging. I've just been busy with work but my contract is done and so this May, I'm going to blog again! Here's what I'm going to share with you, dear Loyal Readers: my online shopping finds from Calyxta, Adobomall, and Kamiseta, my wedding anniversary celebration at Baguio, my new finds for the home (Simply Modular shelves and Cheers picnic party sets, my new ways to look more fabulous (Kilo Off and Flawless treatments, and more! I'm so happy I'm blogging again!

I'll also be doing workshops again this month, and Manila Workshops is hosting my first workshop this year! It's called Boss Bellas: Mompreneurship 101 - a workshop exclusively for moms who want to go into business. Please sign up! We'll have fun! Lots of prizes! 

This also means I'll do a Facebook Live post soon. I always do a Facebook Live broadcast before a workshop. It's how I practice! I'm very nervous doing workshops, you see. I almost always throw up just before! But ever since I started doing FB Live before a workshop, I found that it calms me down. My most popular FB Live topic was "5 Reasons Why No One is Reading Your Blog." So here's a blog post about five more!

Tip to get more readers: Share your blog posts everywhere!!!

You may have heard the success stories of bloggers getting thousands of readers a day. You may have thought to yourself, "Why can’t my blog be like that?" The truth is that growing an audience for any blog is difficult – especially nowadays when there are so many out there. Here are some of the reasons why your blog may be suffering, and how you can fix this and get the readership you deserve.

1. You promote only your blog posts on social media.
The biggest reason why so many blogs fail is because they're not promoted well or not at all by their authors. Social media is key for keeping people up to track with your latest content as well as interacting with your readers. If you haven’t already, create a Facebook page and a Twitter page for your blog. Invite all your friends to follow these pages and then make sure that you keep posting any new content the moment it’s published (you can use plug-ins as found at to automatically post your content to social media). There’s even the option to promote posts for a small payment and guarantee more readers.

Now the next question is how do you get people to follow your social media accounts and how do you keep them? Through engagement. While of course your social media is about you, if you keep it exclusively about you, it can be a turn off. People want community, people want to engage. So while of course you'll share with your followers your blog posts as they're published, do also share links to articles that your community will like. For example, my blog is now a working mama blog. So on my Facebook page, I also share articles from parenting and business sites about the working woman life. I share news about how our government makes (or unmakes) policies and laws that will affect a working mother's career. This is a value-added service to my blog readers. Plus, they won't think my page is all about my blog—it's also a place where they can be updated about issues that matter to working mothers. Be relevant. Be useful.

2. Your content is too niche (or too broad).

Having to accept your content is the problem is never easy. It may not so much be the writing style or the layout, but could simply be the nature of the content. There may be not enough people out there with an interest in it. On the other hand, there may be too many blogs relying on the same content.

That's what happened to me. After a while, my readership had reached a plateau. I guess there was just too many mommy blogs out there. So I had to find a niche in the mommy blogging scene. Hence, this became a working mama blog! It's still about motherhood but instead of exploiting my kids (hahaha), I now talk about something that matters to me and to many mothers — our careers!

Get help improving your content using sites such as Research other blogs related to your content and see what you can do to make yours more inclusive, or alternatively make yours stand out.

3. You’re not using analytics.
By this point you’ve probably used some form of analytics to realise your posts aren’t getting any traffic. However, you may not be using these analytics to your advantage. I got this tip early on from Jackie Go. She really learned how to leverage the data she got from Google Analytics down to when she publishes her posts. So I paid more attention to mine (I just checked it for the site stats before) and realized that when I publish and promote posts mid-morning and late at night, more people visited my blog. And that is why it's now 10pm and I'm writing this post! 

If you’ve got the Google analytics plug-in installed (Blogger users will already have it installed), use this to check the age, location and gender of your audience so that you can cater your content more towards them. Find out the times when people are most regularly visiting your website so that you can post new content at this time. Stop being afraid of these figures and charts and use them to help improve the effectiveness of your blog.

4. You’re not using links.
Why do blogs need links? This hyperlink ought to explain. Search engines such as Google appreciate websites and blogs that aren’t all about them. You may think that putting links to another website will deter readers to other places on the web, but it can actually cause search engines to improve your rankings. This is a common practice used by SEO companies. You can also use internal links that lead from one post to another post on your blog. I use Linkwithin. It really helps drive traffic to old and forgotten blog posts. Try it!

5. You aren’t blogging regularly enough.
Last and most important reason of all why no one is reading your blog: You're not blogging regularly. I say this all the time at my blogging workshops because I've seen it time and again happen to my blogs. When I'm not updating my blog, the visits drop. What can I do? I have a life to live! But it's true. Update regularly and they will come!

So remember: You may not be getting the readers simply because you’re not blogging regularly enough. You’re never going to get lots of traffic by blogging once a month. Readers like a blog that feels busy. Try to aim to publish new content at least once a week. And make sure people know that you usually update on a certain day. Say, Mondays are for your family's weekend escapades, Wednesdays are for your healthy kiddie recipes, Fridays are for your thoughts on motherhood. Things like that help readers to look forward to visiting your blog. You can opt to blog daily – just make sure you’re not sacrificing the quality for quantity though.

So that's why I'm excited to blog again after soooo many weeks gone! I miss blogging, I miss my readers, and I have so much to tell! Come back this week for more updates! See you!

To find out more reasons why people aren't reading your blog, watch this!

To sign up for my workshop, click here!