Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

May God’s blessing shine down upon you and your family this Christmas season. Sending love from our family to yours.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Our favourite time of the year is fast approaching!  To say our family is excited for Christmas is an understatement.  My son starts counting down the days till Christmas as soon as September starts.

And like previous years, my eager little elf helped me decorate. I like to keep a tradition going so I use the same decors yearly including all of Quino's handmade Christmas decors from school (spot that paper Christmas tree on the lower right hand corner of this photo):

just added a few new pieces like these cute white and gold pillows from SM:

And these charming picture frame ornaments from Our Home:

Yes, I love displaying Christmas family photos:

Frame: SM / Gingerbread: Uniwide

Frames: SM / Elf: Uniwide

Frames: SM & Metro / Prints: Pinterest

Christmas Tree: S&R / Chalkboard Frame: Robinsons
We are in full Christmas spirits in November and we are loving it! :)  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Quino at 6

Dear Quino,

Happy, happy 6th birthday my sweet boy!!!

Each year I wonder where the time went. I look at you and realize it's true - "The days are long but the years are short."  It makes me so thankful that I didn't listen to the number one parenting advice I heard - "Wag mo sanayin sa kalong. Ikaw ang mahihirapan hindi magpapababa yan."  You know what?  They were right. You loved being cuddled and rocked by mommy and daddy. You refused to nap unless it was in my arms.  I literally spent half of your first two years of life confined to the rocking chair. And it was the best time of my life!  All too soon you were up and walking then running. Now I can't carry you anymore. I must say I miss doing that.  

Daddy and I feel so blessed to have you in our lives. You are turning into a fine little boy, our eternal sunshine. 

This year was a big year for you. You graduated from CASA and we couldn't be more proud of your progress in school.  You conquered reading, writing and math and you are so excited for computer class this school year. I hope you never get tired of learning and keep pushing yourself to improve every day. 

Six seems so grown up but you are, and will always be, my little boy. I am soaking up all the cuddles and kisses for as long as you will give them freely and openly. Your genuine affection for me and daddy makes our hearts melt. God knows I am dreading the day when you find it uncool to show affection in public. Let's hope that comes later rather than sooner; or better yet, maybe we can agree that you can be cool while loving your parents forever and ever!

I look forward to this coming year and as always, daddy and I will be beside you in everything you do. We love watching you learn and grow!  

Happy birthday, Quino! We love you so much!!!


Mommy and Daddy

Monday, June 8, 2015

First Day of First Grade

To my little boy,

Today is your first day in first grade.  I don't know if the first day of school is harder for you or for me.  The house is eerily quiet without your laughter and your energy and I must admit I have separation anxiety after spending every single day with you this summer.  

This year will be challenging for us for sure.  It's your first time to attend a morning class and in spite of our preparations last night, you grumbled when I woke you up at 6 a.m.  I know we will have many mad dashes to make it to school on time.

You were not in your usual talk-a-mile-a-minute mood.  You were quiet on the 5-minute drive to school, only talking to remind me to take care of Name (your stuffed dog).  While walking to class you complained of a tummy ache and so we rushed to the boys comfort room where you vomited today's breakfast.  I tried to calm you down by saying it's just first day jitters.  I hope the little note I tucked in your snack bag will make you smile.

You tend to be reserved around new kids and prefer to observe and sit by the sidelines.  It's a good thing Paul & Creiane are your classmates again this year.  It comforts me to know that there are familiar faces in your class.  

In the corridor, I bumped into Teacher Riza who was on her way to visit you.  I hope her presence put you at ease.  I pray your new teachers will mother and mentor you just as well as your CASA teachers.

Each day you are growing older, kinder and wiser and each day I will step back a little more to allow you to be the boy you are destined to be.  But remember, I am always your mother and always available for a hug, a cuddle or to answer any of the thousands of questions your brain seems to come up with every day.

Daddy and I want you to know that we do not care if you are the smartest, or fastest or coolest kid in class.  We don't send you to school so you can be the best at anything.  We love you unconditionally. You don't have to earn our love and our pride.  

We send you to school so you can practice being brave and kind.  The world needs more brave and kind souls.   

I know I should relish my free time while you are away, but I will watch the clock until 12 noon when I can pick you up and hear every detail about this new chapter of your life.  I miss you terribly.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Quino's Pre-6th Birthday Photoshoot

It's been our yearly tradition to have our family portraits taken around Quino's birthday.  It's so awesome to see how much he's grown over the years.  And at 5 years old, he still finds it cool to pose with mommy and daddy so you bet I'm going to milk this for as long as I can.

Last December, we discovered this cool new mini studio in Alabang Town Center called Take Your Pic.  We had our Christmas photos taken there and I really loved a) how they turned out, b) how fast and efficient they were and c) how great their rates are.

I saw on Facebook that they had an ongoing one year anniversary promo where you get a free framed strip for any portrait package so double hooray!

We had our appointment originally at 3pm last Saturday but I had it moved to 4pm (via FB messenger).  Someone acknowledged the change in schedule but unfortunately, didn't inform the photographer for that day.  I got a message at 2pm reminding me of the appointment.  I was busy getting ready so I didn't read it until we were in the studio.  Good thing there was no conflict in schedule and we had the studio to ourselves.

Apart from that minor mishap, the photoshoot went well.  My son is a pro at this so it only took 15 minutes to get the shots.  I chose Package C (only PhP 499) inclusive of 30 minutes shoot and 4 5R shots.  Here are the ones that made the cut:

By 7pm, they had emailed me the digital copies and the prints will be ready by tomorrow.  Talk about fast and efficient right?

The only drawback I can say is that the studio is really small (it's a mini studio after all) so not suitable for large groups.  Other than that, I would highly recommend Take Your Pic if you are looking for a really affordable photo studio booth.  Plus they have really cool backdrops.  Double thumbs up!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My (Current) Holy Grail Makeup

I don't like to spend hours getting ready.  I like to keep things simple when it comes to make up and when I find products that work on my skin type (oily T-zone, dry under eyes & sensitive skin), I stick to it.

Here are my top five (current) holy grail products:

  1. Primer: Maybelline Baby Skin - Beautypedia rates this 3 stars (Good).  Truth be told, I have not tried any other primer but for me, this does the job.  
  2. Foundation: Revlon Colorstay for Combination / Oily Skin with SPF 15 - I can't rave about this product enough.  This is seriously the best foundation I have ever tried.  It leaves my skin absolutely FLAWLESS!!!  Never broke me out so good for sensitive, acne-prone skin.  Highly, highly recommend this if you have the same skin type.  Another product rated BEST by Beautypedia (but can't find the link).  I believe this has been reformulated (no more SPF) and the new formula only earned an Average rating (2 stars).  Not sure if Revlon counters in Manila carry the new formulation but I am thinking of trying out the Maybelline Matte + Poreless Fit Me Foundation or Revlon Nearly Naked with both bagging the Best rating.  I only use my fingers to apply this, I don't use a brush/sponge.  I have a Real Techniques set but I find the best application is with my fingers.
  3. Moisturizer: MAC Strobe Cream - rated Best by Beautypedia.  I discovered this because of Catt Sadler.  This helps balance the matte-ness of my foundation and not to mention, it's chockfull of antioxidants that are so good for your skin.  I apply only to the high points of my face.
  4. Mascara: Maybelline Magnum Volum Express - 3 words: BEST. MASCARA. EVER.  In my opinion, Maybelline makes the best mascaras of all time.  I switched to this after I finished my tube of Maybelline Rocket Volum Express.  This gives me crazy long and full lashes and it doesn't clump!  It claims to lengthen your lashes 10x and it absolutely delivers on that promise.  If you don't want overly dramatic eyes, I would suggest the Rocket Volum.  My only gripe about this is it's waterproof whereas the Rocket Volum is water-resistant.
  5. Lipstick: MAC Viva Glam II - Perfect nude shade for everyday, very wearable so it's no surprise it's also rated Best by Beautypedia.
As you can see, I always refer to Beautypedia for all things makeup & skincare.  I like to make sure that what I put on my face is highly rated.  If you are struggling with problematic skin, I would suggest investing in a good skin care regimen before you invest in makeup.  This website can certainly help you formulate a good skin care plan that would suit your skin and your budget.

P.S. I do put blush & bronzer and groom my eyebrows but I'm not in love with the products I'm using right now.  I'm open to suggestions so please share your HG products.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Graduation

Dear Quino,

Tomorrow we will celebrate your graduation from preschool.  I am sure I will shed many tears when I see you go up on stage (and for sure daddy will tease me about it).  You have come a long way since the first day of Senior Casa two years ago.  I used to walk you to class everyday and we would have a big show of saying bye-bye with you hugging and kissing me for a good 5 minutes.  And then you would stand by the door and wave to me, "Bye, mom. I love you!" over and over and over until I go down the stairs.  This went on every single day for a whole school year.  Now I am lucky if you remember to kiss me when I drop you off! :(

You look so grown up now!  The buzz cut (the hairstyle you wore for many years just like daddy) has now been replaced by the crew cut (which you saw on Instagram and insisted you would grow your hair out).  And when I call you "Quino baby" you always remind me that you're no longer a baby but a kid and "Mom, soon I'll be an adult!"  Not too fast my baby boy, not too fast...

You have grown by leaps and bounds this year.  Many thanks to your Montessori teachers for mothering you so lovingly.  I must admit, you had a long uphill climb to catch up with your peers and I was worried for a second.  But thanks to your desire to learn and better yourself, you are now reading books on your own and writing in cursive beautifully!  We will tackle spelling in no time, I am sure!

I know you have a lot of apprehensions about leaving your classmates and teachers behind and moving on to grade school.  Honestly, I worry too.  I know how shy you can be and how it takes time for you to make friends.  I hope and pray your new classmates will see past your shyness so they can get to know what an awesome boy you are! I hope you make lifelong friends in grade school.  I really do.  I hope the kids are nice to you and that you love your teachers and that you are surrounded by wonderful people.  

I wish I could keep you this little forever.  But every day is a lesson in letting you go and allowing you to spread your wings and learn to fly on your own.  We are very proud of what you have accomplished and we hope you continue to strive to work harder and do better.  You might not need us around as much to help you but we will always be beside you every step of the way.

Congratulations, anak! Keep up the good work!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mario Inspired Birthday Party

Quino's never had a birthday party with friends.  We always celebrate it with just family so when he asked us if he could have a simple party in school, we obliged.  

He wanted a Mario Bros themed party.  Pinterest was my go-to resource for the invitation template.  I downloaded it here.  There are other free designs available.  

In keeping with the Mario theme, we decided the give away would be gold coins in a DIY gold gift box. 

Cake was from Mary Grace and we just used the Mario Happy Meal giveaway from McDo.

The most important request - he wanted his favorite KFC! And spot the red (Mario) & Green (Luigi) balloons for the kids.

Of course, we had to invite cousin Drake.

The party was a success! Look at my boy's happy smile :)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What Every Mom Needs

A stranger gave me the best gift yesterday - encouragement and validation.  

Quino and I spent 3 hours in the pool yesterday. A lovely middle-aged woman was lounging by the pool the whole time. All that time, Quino was talking incessantly. My son is quite a talker. Depending on what type of day we're having, this can be both a blessing and a curse.  

She asked me how old my son was and I replied, "He's five."  She couldn't belive it. She said, "He is a very smart and charming boy. I thought he was older. He has such a wide vocabulary unlike anything I've ever seen before! It's amazing how he can switch from one language to another!"

She asked where he goes to school and i replied "Montessori." "Wow that works then! But I have to give you credit," she said. "You are raising a fine boy."

I know I'm not alone in wondering if I'm a good mom. 

Mommyhood can be very competitive and isolating. 

You are bombarded with information on what to do and what not to do. 

I let Quino watch TV from the time he was a baby. I let him play PS3, Wii, ipad. I let him bike and swim and run. I let him eat chicken nuggets and I try my best to bribe him to eat veggies. 

I buy apps that teach him to read and write and do math and I buy Angry birds Go, Angry birds Jenga and Lego the Hobbit. 

I do my best and I trust my instincts. I try my darndest to drown the noise around me and do what feels right for our family. 

Most of all, I love him. 

At the end of the day, I want him to look back on his childhood with the fondest of memories and know that I loved him with all my heart and soul. 

My wish is that moms would stop conparing and competing. We are all in this together. What every mom needs is the encouragement and validation that they are doing the best they can do. 

I am a good mom. You are a good mom. We are good moms. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Morning Skin Routine

Skin care is very important to me. I don't splurge on make-up but I don't mind spending on high quality skin care products.

For reference, I have sensitive, oily skin; prone to cystic acne (only during that time of the month) and whiteheads around my nose and chin.

My morning routine consists of 6 steps:

  1. Cleanser - I love Paula's Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser.  This acne face wash gently removes excess oil, dead skin cells, and makeup without leaving a trace. Use it day and night to curb breakouts without dryness (my skin doesn't feel tight after I use this - which is a good sign).  This is suitable for all skin types.  And in my experience, the only facial wash that has significantly reduced my oiliness. I've had this bottle since November but I'm not even close to finishing it.  You only need a small amount for the entire face.  So the price (PhP 820) is really sulit. Bought this from a PC reseller but also available on Lazada.
  2. Toner - I have tried Paula's Choice Toners but found them too drying for my skin (because I already use the cleanser).  So I went back to using my derma's Erythromycin Solution.  This, combined with the PC Cleanser, prevents cystic/hormonal acne.  Bonus: my derma's toner is more cost-effective (only PhP 580.00 and lasts me a month with 2x daily applications).
  3. Anti-Aging Serum - Currently using Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum.  I purchased this on Amazon but you can buy this from a local seller - Us Beauty Outlet for PhP 1,750.  I have tried the Obagi Professional 15% Vitamin C serum - which was the bomb - but too expensive for me to repurchase so I decided to try this.  I apply 5 drops on my face and neck. It feels so light on the skin but honestly not sure if it's doing anything special because my skin feels and looks the same. Unlike the Obagi where I had really noticeable results. So I'm so-so with this one.
  4. Exfoliant - I use Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel.  This is my 2nd bottle.  The first one lasted me and my husband (yes he uses it too!) almost 6 months.  This exfoliant removes old skin cells both on the skin’s surface and inside pores using 2% salicylic acid so if you're prone to breakouts, do try this.  I forgot how much I paid for this but considering how long it lasts, it's really worth the money.
  5. Skin Lightening Treatment - I use my derma's 6% Bleaching Cream because when I get cystic acne, it leaves a mark even if I don't pick on it.  My skin is that sensitive.  This really helps lighten marks and just gives you an all over glow.  I only dot a very small amount on my face and neck so this jar lasts months.  I think this was less than PhP 1,000.
  6. Sunblock - I love the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock with SPF 50.  This doesn't feel greasy at all but it does sting if you apply close to your eyes so be gentle. This is a little over PhP 500. This one I apply generously even when I'm indoors because UV rays can penetrate through your windows so better safe than sorry.
Well that's my morning skin routine.  I'm curious to know what products you use so leave a comment below and share what you love (or hate!).  

If you don't have a skin care routine yet, click here for tips on how to put together a skin care routine.