Mommyology at Work On Becoming a Better Mom

Inflating My “Life Bubbles”

I’m sure you’ve seen this image from me (or from some of my fellow #SoMoms) a few times before.

The Five "Bubbles" of Life, from the ONE CORE and Coach Pia Nazareno.
The Five “Bubbles” of Life, from the ONE CORE and Coach Pia Nazareno.

It is a slide Coach Pia frequently flashes when we have our #BetterMe sessions with her.  The five circles represent the most important aspects of one’s life and the goal is to have them all inflated equally.

Exactly 12 months ago when I first saw this slide and assessed my life, I could honestly say my “family” bubble was totally over-inflated, while all the rest were grossly under inflated.  It was the structure of how life had to be for us in the states.  I was extremely hands on with the girls, and everything else was de-prioritized, including my own needs.

As the months passed and we (I) tried to “adjust” to life back here, it got to a point that it was so frustrating because the old formula that worked for us, wasn’t working in this environment.  It’s not an easy transition, but I went about it in the only way I knew how — I threw myself back into work.  Thankfully and fortunately enough for me, (both) my businesses aren’t only about my career, but they also helped re-inflate my social life and my sense of self.

A year and two weeks later here I am again reviewing what my “life bubbles”  look like.  I can’t say that they’re all equally inflated yet, but I’d like to believe that they don’t look or feel as lopsided as when we first started out.  I still struggle a lot with the balance and the juggling act of work and managing the kids.  In fact just yesterday, I spent the whole day away from them working (and with that I will pause and shamelessly plug:  We have a Two Tots Sale this coming Thursday – Saturday!  Please visit the Facebook page for more details!), and only got to them an hour before bedtime.  There have also been cases when my other business has caused me to work longer than usual and I miss out on certain activities.  The girls have had to get used to me not being around as much and when I think of it I really, really miss them.  That’s never happened to me before and sometimes it makes me wonder why I do it and if it’s really all worth it.  But at the same time, I can’t deny that I do enjoy what it is I do. I’m grateful I’m doing something I love and care about, so why I am guilty about leaving the girls if I know that all this sacrifice is for them in the long run anyway?

As my friend Janice had said in a conversation we were having one evening:  Isn’t that every mompreneur’s challenge?

Ah yes.  I hadn’t realized — I am a mompreneur.  By becoming a mom and owning a business (or two), I’ve joined this growing community of multitasking women who juggle so many things at once. How do we do it?  And why?!

If you’ll notice, I haven’t said much about my 5th bubble, entitled sense of purpose.  How does all of what I’m doing (or not doing) work towards a bigger plan?  What is my role in it?  Am I doing things for the right reasons?  And maybe it’s age, maybe it’s circumstance, or a combination of all of the state of the four other bubbles, but I’ve been questioning how inflated or deflated my sense of purpose is and what else I need to do get it to an adequate acceptable size.

Which is why I’ve decided to attend the 2nd Mompreneur Summit this coming September 14.  I’ve heard a lot of good things from fellow mompreneurs Cai of Paper Chic Studio, Jen of Next9 and Eliza of The Painters Wife, about how last year’s summit has helped them with their current businesses and brands today.  I am definitely curious.  The speakers Janice has lined up for the summit are well-known in their respective fields and should provide useful insights we can adapt to our own businesses and day-to-day dealings.  To top it all off, this year’s theme is Passion and Purpose, so apt and so timely (for my bubbles).

The schedule for the day.
The schedule for the day.

If you haven’t registered for this yet, there’s still time.  Ten days to be exact!  Just click on the link,

It’s been 379 days since we moved back home and it’s still the adjustment for me.  It’s quite a process I must say.  Knowing is half the battle right?  I know what “ok” looks like (in life-bubble terms), it’s just a matter of getting there, slowly.  Finding the right tools will help moving things along too; And maybe the mompreneur summit will give one or more of my bubbles a little inflation boost. 🙂

See you there?


A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts For Expectant Mommies Mommyology at Work My Mommyology's Manila Chapter

A Post Reflection As We Prepped for Pregnant Pause 4

Coincidentally, the theme of these last few posts have been about impromptu dates with my girls.  It seems like it’s been happening a lot more frequently to me these days.  To my (pleasant) surprise, I did have an impromptu date of another kind — this time with my husband.

One night last week after the kids went to bed, we walked down the road for a late dinner.  Well…. okay.  It was an excuse to get out of the house, because we had to “prep” for the talk we were going to give to soon-to-be Moms and Dads.  Janice had invited us to give a testimonial at Pregnant Pause 4, held last Saturday at the newly renovated Babyland Shaw branch.(Incidentally — Babyland also carries Two Tots items such as sleep sacks, diaper stackers and swim robes, so be sure to drop in and check them out!). 

The Mommy Mundo Pregnant Pause Poster
The Mommy Mundo Pregnant Pause Poster

After my husband agreed to Janice’s request, I asked him what he thought he might say.  “I have no idea – I don’t remember a single thing!” was his reply.  Typical male – but I panicked nonetheless.  So impromptu date night it was.  And there we were, reminiscing about how we prepared for each of the girls over chicken wings and grilled pork chops.  We tried to come up with some of the salient points from our first days as parents.  And it seemed like we were on the same page.

Our attentive audience of Moms and Dads-to-be.
Our attentive audience of Moms and Dads-to-be.

Of course, the talk itself played out differently.  At the very least, it proved to be entertaining for the parents-to-be in the audience.  It was a true showcase of how moms and dads (like ourselves!) would have the same end-goal in mind, but would have two varying points of view as to how to get there.  I hope these parents picked up a thing or two!

If you look to the right most part of the picture, you can see Janice giggling at us.
If you look to the right most part of the picture, you can see Janice giggling at us.

Thinking back to the conversation we shared with the moms and dads present at Pregnant Pause, here are a few key highlights I’d like to reiterate (just in case it got lost beneath the anecdotes and the laughter):

1.  Sit and talk about roles and expectations from both mom and dad before the baby comes.  Back in Chapel Hill, a midwife gave my husband and I a quick “parenting quiz”, which had the roles and responsibilities related to newborn care (ie breastfeeding, changing diapers, waking up at night, etc).  We had to answer the document individually and then compare notes, sort of like how it’s done for typical marital issues in pre-marriage seminars.  Each item had a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 was what Mom was solely expected to do, and 7 was something that Dad was solely expected to do.  Four would be a task shared by both.  It was through this test that I discovered my husband had circled “1” on his sheet when it came to diaper changing, while my answer was 4.  You can just imagine the kind of bickering that could have gone on!  We don’t realize it, and maybe some of these things we take for granted, but it’s good to thresh it out before the baby comes.  Dads need time to prepare and psyche themselves out, and the “after” can be quite a blur, most especially for Dads!

2.  Prepare and read up, but also prepare to be flexible.  When I was pregnant with Sam, as a soon-to-be first time mom I really took the time to read up and research on what to expect.  My husband claims that I even gave him books to read (which he of course, did not read!).  In any case, the information that you gather can both be conflicting and overwhelming.  And you never know what kind of baby you’re going to get.  So while you have all the information at the back of your head, trust yourself to go with the flow as well.  My husband would always remind me that babies aren’t robots and their needs change on a daily basis.  That’s true.  No baby is the same, and the books and the research only should service as a guide, not as a strict manual to be followed.

3.  Base the things you need on the kind of parents you want to be.  Every website and book will have a checklist.  Again, let this serve as a guide.  Don’t let the preggy hormones get the best of you and buy everything all at once, as sometimes you’ll realize you don’t need it all (My husband did say I was quite the trigger happy pregnant shopper.  Heehee!).  Decide first what kind of parenting style you’d want to adapt and then work your way around what it is you need to purchase – or borrow!  For instance, if you intend to co-sleep, then maybe a crib isn’t needed.  If you plan to breastfeed, invest in breastfeeding covers and some nipple shields.  In Chapel Hill, carseats are required by law, and so those were some of the big investments we made.  Are you the type of mom who will babywear, or use a stroller?

4.  Invest in good quality, long-lasting items.  Like a good changing table for instance.  Think of safety, think of your back (instead of bending down and over all the time!), and again, something that will last a long time and grow with your child. 🙂

Shameless plug: The Two Tots Ava changing table is sturdy and safe, and it has enough storage to hold whatever you need!
Shameless plug: The Two Tots Ava changing table is sturdy and safe, and it has enough storage to hold whatever you need to clean your child.

5.  The end all and be all is: Follow your wife’s lead.  My husband said that in the beginning, all he planned to do was invest x amount of time in the day-to-day of our child.  And slowly as the days passed, he realized my view was different.  I expected him to put in MORE hours than he’d planned.  Ultimately, what I wanted was followed. 🙂

Now Dads — this doesn’t mean we bully you into doing what we want (well, we do know better! 😉   I’m half kidding).  But really when the baby comes along, it’s mom who is in pain, mom who needs to recover, and mom who is constantly sleep-deprived.  And… let’s face it.  With postpartum and women’s natural irrational tendencies, we can be overly emotional a lot of the time.  So the best (and most painless way) for everyone to get through it, is to just follow what mom wants.  ‘Nuff said. 🙂

In hindsight it was a fun experience.  And it was a good trip down memory lane for us both.  It made us realize how similar and how different we are from the kind of parents we set out to be four and a half years ago.

Are we ready to do it all over again the third time around?  Most probably not. 🙂  The two experiences our girls gave us I feel have given us more than enough to talk about for many more pregnant pauses to come! 😉

For Expectant Mommies Mommies of Newborns Mommyology at Work My Mommyology's Manila Chapter

Two Tots and The #BellyBlessedFest

In a previous post that I did on Two Tots, I said:  If I lived in Manila, most definitely our kids rooms will be furnished and accessorized by Two Tots.

Well.  We are in Manila.  And yes… my home is (mostly) furnished and designed by Two Tots. 🙂

Two Tots from L to R:  Quilt, Name Decals, Night stand, Basket Crate, Bean Cubes, Clip Hanger
c/o Two Tots from L to R: Quilt, Name Decals, Night stand, Basket Crate, Bean Cubes, Clip Hanger, and painting the walls green!
c/o Two Tots from L to R: Personalized Apron, White blinds, Dollhouse bookshelf, Table and chairs set.  And painting it pink!
c/o Two Tots from L to R: Personalized Apron, White blinds, Dollhouse bookshelf, Table and chairs set. And painting it pink!

If you remember my playroom project post in Chapel Hill when we moved apartments, the quilt was a mounted accent on the wall and the name decals were already there too.  We just brought them home with us here.

My cousin Bea was quite instrumental in shaping and executing the vision that I had for the girls’ rooms and the rest of the house.  And what was nice about was my concerns as a mom were addressed head on — because she understood why being a mom herself.   It was much easier to marry the timelines and the budget constraints with her on board.  The paint that was used was the one that didn’t smell as much, however it took a longer time to dry.  I wanted blinds and not curtains because of dust accumulation, and so we chose one that was nice, easy to clean, and one that could withstand the kids’ activities as they grew.

All the pieces of furniture are made from Mahogany wood.  It’s heavy but it’s also very sturdy.  And each piece you can see is carefully made.  There are no splinters, no sharp corners, and the drawers slide easily in and out without catching.

The quality and craftmanship of each product is obvious, that I even had Two Tots customize several pieces of furniture for other parts of the house.

All worth the investment!
All made to fit the space they were going to be placed in.

I wanted the corner bookshelf to spin so that we could use all sides of it for memos, and pictures.  The coffee table is central to our living area, and so as much as it should have storage, it also needed leg room space for when the girls sit there and eat.  The dresser’s height and width was measured to fit exactly the space that I wanted to put it in.  Everything had a personal OC touch to it, and Bea personally oversees the delivery to ensure that there are no problems with the turn over.  She also stayed to brief me on how to care for the items and safety tips when it also came to the kids.  It’s really something only another mother will think of, I tell you.

I’ve always thought Two Tots was a great company and I feel that the business had a lot of worthwhile opportunities moving forward.  So you can imagine my delightful surprise when, a few months back, Bea and Liza sat me down for a cup of coffee and asked me to be a part of it!  I said yes in a heartbeat.  I’m glad they thought of me. 🙂

So here I am, a few months down the line, learning the ropes and settling into my new role as Bea’s business partner.  It’s fun I have to say, and there is never a dull moment.  There’s always a lot to do and we have so many ideas and exciting things coming out in the next few months.  And more and more, I realize that the reason why the brand appeals to me is because it was built and carried out in the same values system that I have and grew up with (well, we are cousins after all).  When I think about it, it doesn’t feel like work at all. 🙂

There are several ways to see our stuff and get a hold of them:

a)  Visit an ID Ideas for Living Branch.  They are located at the following addresses

  • 2100 Pasong Tamo Ext, Makati (Main Branch);
  • 3/F Market! Market!, Taguig;
  • 3/F Glorietta 5; and
  • G/F of Westgate, Filinvest Alabang.

b) Visit our Website at (we’ll be updating this in the months to follow I promise!);

c) Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram with TwototsPH; and

d) Contact us at  — remember we can customize furniture to fit your specifications.

e)  This Friday through Sunday, July 12-14, you’ll find us at the #BellyBlessedFest.  Two Tots will be with Manila Baby Shop and Paper Chic Studio at the 2/F of Podium beginning 11AM.  Come and visit the booth as we’ll be bringing a few items to sell and we’ll be happy to take orders as well.

See you there!
See you there!

Just like in the previous Belly Blessed Festivals, relevant speakers and sessions will be held for expecting moms and dads on July 13.  There will be a belly dancing session, childbirth sessions, and safe sleep discussions amongst others.  Our favorite Teacher Jeannie will be conducting a Kindermusik Mama session on Saturday, July 13 at 1:40PM.

See you soon!  I’m quite excited to discuss children’s furniture with you. 🙂

Mommy Anecdotes My Mommyology Tribute My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

Becoming a #BetterMe

As many of you may have surmised from some of my past blog posts (or if you’ve spoken to me directly, you may have picked it up in the not-so-subtle comments and half-meant jokes I’ve made), I’m having quite the difficult time adjusting to life back in Manila.  It’s been 10 months I know, but it’s still very much a roller coaster ride for me.  I still think about life in Chapel Hill everyday.  It’s not that one is better — or worse — than the other (well…;) ), it’s just that it’s very different for me on all fronts.  I’m reassured by moms who’ve come from similar situations (READ:  Uproot comfy life away and relocate back to crazy Manila with kids), that this is all normal.  I just need to give it time.

A lot of credit goes to the SoMoms for making the time seem to pass more quickly.   It feels easier when I’m with them as there is never a dull moment.  None.  They’ve become a constant in my weekly (daily!) routine and I’m so glad to have gotten to know them all so much better.   There are no judgements; only respect and understanding for each one’s personal stories and struggles.  And most importantly, we’re all fairly on the same page when it comes to the kind of moms we want to be to our kids, regardless if some are full-time working moms, mompreneurs, stay-at-home moms, work from home moms or a combination of all of the above.

The best part about it all is it’s genuinely fun.  We enjoy all the things that a mom or a woman in our “age bracket” would (I use the term loosely.  Maybe I should say lifestage?), like shopping and eating and hanging out with friends.  We’re moms so we babble on and on about our kids on a regular basis.  We’re all homemakers with one domestic issue or another and we can talk about it freely without apprehension.  And everyone brings their own special talent or expertise to the table.  It’s interesting to see the diverse points of views come together over each topic.

We do all agree:  At the end of the day, all we really want to be are better people.  Better moms, better co-workers, better mompreneurs, better wives.  We strive to help each other become better.  Which is why last week, as we welcomed the newest moms into the fold (including our very first SoDad Marc of Fatherland! — He is such a sport I swear, to be with moms who just yak the day away!), we launched as our group’s advocacy: #BetterMe.  It really sums up what we stand for as individuals and as a collective group of mom bloggers.  It speaks for itself.

Missing Jen of Attached at the Hip and Fleur of Mommy Fleur!
Missing Jen of Attached at the Hip and Fleur of Mommy Fleur!

We had a brunch get-together at Wine Bar in 1771 El Pueblo (In large thanks to the 1771 Group of Companies!).  The food was spectacular, that’s a given.  The venue was actually a delightful surprise.  It used to be the location of the former Sidebar, right above what used to be Chateau 1771 (Okay, I’ve just dated myself).  Now the group has strategically converted the entire property into a Cafe 1771 for a more casual, family feel; a SideBarwhich is really a strip and a bar at the side for the young, hip, working crowd; and finally the Wine Bar on the 2nd floor which caters a lot more to private events, meetings and group functions.  You can rent out the whole area or just a part of it depending on your needs.  Wine bar has this very modern but cozy feel as it is designed in bricks, old books and wine.  And when there is wine, how can you go wrong? 🙂

Great ambiance, fantastic food!  Can't go wrong! :)
Great ambiance, fantastic food! Can’t go wrong! 🙂

But I digress (How can I not – it’s Wine Bar!). 🙂   A part of the brunch was also getting to know all the members and the other hats that we all wear.  A lot of us are mompreneurs with businesses that support our passions and own personal advocacies.  Tin said that the products she distributes in her company  Thurston Hatchett, Inc. are products that she’s tried and tested and loved on her own.  Neva of Manila Baby Shop, said that they developed their bags according to the need state of their firstborn.  So as he grew, the design and the styles grew along with him.  Patty launched her Yellow Bird Shoes line (super comfy I swear!!!) because it’s always been her dream and passion to manufacture and sell comfy, well-designed and affordable shoes.   There are more; the list goes on and so I will save it for another blog post.

It was a shopping-spree, I can tell you that much!
It was a shopping-spree, I can tell you that much!

It’s very uplifting to be around the SoMoms.  And for moments of time they help me see how good life can be here as well.  It gives me something to look forward to when the roller coaster ride isn’t as fast or as bumpy.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to support a mother.  I kid you not:  this group really does that for me in its entirety.  More and more I’m really honored to call them friends.  They do inspire me to become the #BetterMe that I hope to be. 🙂

I hope the inspiration of becoming a #BetterMe carries through the blog posts, and works for you as well, in whichever shape or form you see fit. 🙂 

Mommy Anecdotes My Mommyology's Manila Chapter

The ExpoMom #Momtuition Hangover

Sam has not stopped talking about our weekend.  In the last few days, every other story that’s come out of her mouth has been “Mommy Mundo this” and “Mommy Mundo that“, and “when can we go back to Mommy Mundo mom!  It was so much fun!”  Obviously – she had a blast.  I’m really happy about that.  My wallet had a blast too (which is good for us girls, but I don’t know how great my husband will feel after he sees the credit card bills…).

It was ExpoMom’s 6th year and I heard from those who’ve gone to previous ones that this was the best one ever.  It was my very first time so I really have no comparison, but I will say that it did not disappoint.

The first bit of exciting activity was that Maga’s Kitchen made its debut at the SoMoms’ booth this weekend.  Apart from the bottled tuyo, my mom put out some Lemon Squares, Callos and Shredobo (our brand of shredded adobo) to sample out for future orders.  As it happened everyone was quite happy to order on the spot and they were willing to pay to take home in smaller containers.  It’s a good thing we brought rice too, because Maga’s Kitchen was instantly able to adjust and offer rice meals to the hungry.  While it was a busy two days we’re all very thankful that everyone loved the food and supported us then.  My mom is still fulfilling orders from that weekend — it’s all a good sign indeed!  The girls were very involved in all the preps and the set-up; Jamie even came along for the ingress and Sam said she’d be the dancer at the booth (of course we needed our own dancer!).

The Maga's Kitchen set-up
The Maga’s Kitchen set-up

Even I made my debut onstage that weekend.  Janice (Mommy Mundo herself!) asked me to join a panel along with my fellow SoMoms Neva and Tin to talk about the theme they picked for this year’s event, momtuition.  The host asked us to share our experiences with mother’s intuition, our take on momtuition versus a doctor’s advice, if we thought there was such a thing as “dad-tuition”, and tips we could offer other moms on the subject.  For those curious about what we said in the panel, here’s my brief take on it:

Here we are!
Here we are!
  • Momtuition is real, and it is something that a mother shouldn’t ignore.  It’s your best ally when it comes to your kids and you should listen and trust it.
  • It’s not always easy, because a lot of other people (who mean well), have a lot to say too and their opinions can confuse you.  But because of that special bond only a mother has with their child, then it is a valid voice that shouldn’t be ignored.  Managing all these other external forces is one thing, and it’s good to manage them properly, but practice listening to your intuition is another — because it does take practice.
  • It’s easier to accept the “mistakes” made as a result of listening to one’s momtuition, than those that are made because you ignored it and listened to someone else’s advice – especially if there is a medical aspect to it.  At the end of the day, you have yourself to reckon with and no one else.  You can’t fault anyone else on a bad decision you made for your child.
  • Some dads may have dad-tuition, but I believe that of mom is stronger.  And it’s just because.  It’s great if you can compliment each other, but more often than not, mom’s is the one to listen to.
  • Some tips?  You need to believe in your momtuition, have confidence in yourself and just tell other people that you as the mother have the final say.  I often use the phrase, “trust me, I know what I’m doing.

Sam wasn’t present for my panel talk but she saw the pictures and kept saying she wished she was on stage with me.  Of course, Sam was proud of me. 😉

As it so happened, Janice also makes little girls’ wishes come true (it’s her momtuition!).  The next day, I got a message from Janice asking if Sam wanted to join the kids’ fashion show.  We showed up just in time and when Sam learned she was going to wear a Dizzy Dress she was all in.  When her turn came she stepped on stage, twirled and smiled.  No shyness about her whatsoever.  She even wore a headpiece from Celestina & Co., and it’s been all about the clips since then.  We made a special pitstop at their booth that afternoon and Sam (and Jamie) went crazy picking the clips and bows and bands that they needed.  The girls even wear them to sleep!

After the fashion show, our friends from  My Masterpiece took the stage and as Anna, Rayyn and Cara did their demo, they asked for children to volunteer in the audience.  Of course Sam, on a high from all her fancy twirling, eagerly jumped back on stage to participate.  She loved it.  LOVED IT!  To this day she sings, “The Masterpiece in Me greets the Masterpiece in You, ” and puts her hands together and bows.

Then when that was done, we ran into our lovely Kindermusik teachers Jeannie and Maya.  As it turned out, they too were doing a segment on the stage, and when they came on, Sam hopped up again right with them.  Front and center too!  She danced like there was no tomorrow. 🙂

Clockwise: Sam in the Dizzy Dress she modeled; The girls with Teachers Jeannie and Maya; MMM Yoga and the girls' favorite booth for handmade stuffed name decals and dolls
Clockwise: Sam in the Dizzy Dress she modeled; The girls with Teachers Jeannie and Maya; MMM Yoga and the girls’ favorite booth for handmade stuffed name decals and dolls.

Sam took home so many little things from all these activities and she is still so proud of her accomplishments.  Everyone kept telling me how cute she was and how wonderful that she wasn’t shy to participate.  We also did a bit of shopping together and made some pretty cool discoveries.  The Paper Chic Studio booth was one with all their washi tape.  They also shared a booth that strung letters and cute stuffed dolls together, so Sam made one for herself and for Jamie.  Then we also bought one of the Might Mind shape puzzles, which is pretty cool, because it teaches the child to complete the puzzle by fitting different sized shapes together.  Even I am challenged.  They also have the option to magnetize the shapes so they don’t move when the kids play with them.

For me, the coolest part about ExpoMom was meeting and talking to all the moms there.  Some were old friends I hadn’t seen in ages (in our pre-mom days) and we got to talk a little and catch up.  Others were new mom friends and it was also wonderful to talk to them and learn about why they put up this business, or why they think this product is worth buying, and so on and so forth.  The one thing all moms have in common is that they can easily talk about their kids and share mom experiences that another mom can appreciate.  So it was a good environment to be in.

I think it was on Jenny Ong’s twitter that I read this statement: “ExpoMom is not just an event, it’s an experience”.  That is indeed spot on.  I’m so glad we immersed ourselves in this ExpoMom.  Sam is most definitely a fan, as am I.  It’s a bit of a wait for the next one, but it is all worth it.