A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Life in CA My Mommyology Recommends My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

Another Year for a #BetterMe

Two weeks into the new year, and it’s the first time (in a long time!) that I’m alone at home and in bed.  We had quite the crazy winter with the house coming together, Sam’s birthday, and then all the relatives that came and spent the holidays with us.  And when that was done, it was all about getting the routine back into place.

You know how the coming of the new year and all the posts on Facebook make you think about the year that was?  Reflect on the year in review, talk about the big milestones and major changes that happened.  Say goodbye and thank you to 2015, and then look forward to 2016.  And then boom, the fireworks and the champagne and the new year’s resolutions and the corresponding feelings come tumbling out.  It’s the positive charge needed to start the new year.

Last year, was born.  Nine moms and very dear friends attended The One Core’s Discover Your Core Weekend with Coach Pia, the starting point for this advocacy project.

Borrowed from
Borrowed from

We have in common what a lot of mothers (and people in general), want:  to be better people, better mothers, and better versions of ourselves — if only because we want to create a better world for the next generation.  It’s done on a very tangible, relevant platform too — social media!  Who isn’t on their computer or looking at their phone these days, or watching You Tube instead of TV?

It is becoming a great source of new and current information, with relevant links and channels for moms and kids alike.  I’m particularly a fan of Kids Know It.

Over the years that we’ve been working with Coach Pia and mounting #BetterMe seminars, I’ve learned so much about myself and how my whole person affects the way I am, and most especially, the way I parent.  The responsibility to a better, brighter  world all begins with me (us).  It’s a continuous process, with major ups and downs, and hiccups and bumps on the road, but still all with the same end goal that we hope to share with more people.

The prevailing thought in my head was a busy 2015.  A lot of it was life-changing, but also very “life-draining”.  As parents with responsibilities and chores and a household to look after, a lot of our energy is outward-focused.  And if your Enneagram profile is like mine (2’s anyone?), then it’s a natural tendency to put others before yourself.

On this journey of becoming a #BetterMe, I realized that no one will take better care of me, than me.  And so I have taken more purposeful, conscious steps to do things which are life-giving.  They’re not big drastic changes, but little steps that I can insert into the daily juggling act, that should help carry me through every day.  And if it makes me a better person, following the logic it will help me be a better person in the five major life bubbles, parenting included. I’ve found that writing, contributing, reading and watching what’s on to be quite life-giving.

It’s a privilege to be a part of this project. is a great constant reminder of what we set out to achieve.


Join the community on Facebook Twitter, Instagram and You Tube: @bettermeph.

A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts My Mommyology Recommends My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

Find Your Center at the Discover Your Core Weekend

Before I left Manila, I invested in a little me-time for myself and attended The One Core’s Discover Your Core Weekend (DYC).

The Discovery Your Core Banner Ad.
Sign up for the September one today!  Visit The One Core’s Blog to find out how.

It was Coach Pia’s recommendation that I do this.  She was confident it would help me with this big transition we’ve made.  And I have to say, it was a good idea.  No — it was a great idea.

The Eugenio Lopez Center is a very peaceful place!
The Eugenio Lopez Center is a very peaceful place!

The Discover Your Core Weekend runs every 3rd weekend of the month at the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo.  The package includes food and overnight accommodations, although I chose not to stay overnight.  My husband had already left for LA and I was alone with the girls.  I couldn’t bring myself to also leave them overnight (even if it was just for one night), when they’ve never slept a night of their lives without me before.  Thankfully The One Core was (is) very flexible and they accommodated me as a live-out guest for the weekend.  Admittedly from where I lived, it was a trek, but I understood it to be my choice and I was okay with that.  Again, it was totally worth it.

First I will say that it’s not one of those overly emotional retreats that leave you on a high (only to come crashing down into reality a few weeks later).  I found everything about DYC to be down-to-earth and very realistic.

Coach Pia equips you with tools and a framework when making decisions big or small.  It’s all promptly applied through her examples and through the sharing of the participants.  In my weekend we were only 5 (there’s a max of 10 people per weekend), so we were able to share in-depth.  And I liked everyone’s openness – which is essentially the first step: to be open to the process.

Photo Credit:  The One Core
Photo Credit: The One Core

That’s one thing Coach Pia emphasizes:  we each have our own process.  We must respect that we go at our own pace.  It may take some longer than others to reach a decision that they’re finally comfortable with, but in the end… it’s their process!  And the only way is through.

Coach Pia still started and ended the 1.5 days around her five circles.

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.

You’ve seen this many times in some of my past posts and she keeps going back to that.  The ultimate goal is to make sure that each one is inflated equally.  In DYC, the framework helps you prioritize and focus on inflating one bubble at a time.

My biggest take away from DYC was about staying true to your authentic self.  How do you know that’s it?  Decisions should be made freely, and not  out of pride and/or fear.

Coach Pia’s tip:  Look for a time in your life when you had zero self-doubt.  It’s a memory and a time before the onset of adulthood.  Find yourself in that mind frame before taking on a big decision.

It’s not easy!  In hindsight, I realize some of the “not-so-good” decisions I’ve made were done out of pride or fear.  The yaya situation for instance — no wonder I couldn’t find good help!  But when the decision is made freely, then everything else will flow.

It doesn’t mean though that they’re always going to be decisions you’re comfortable with.  Sometimes they’re also not the most accepted or the most popular decisions.  And this is seen best when you’re married and when you have kids.  As a mom, you do things that are better for them and for the family over those that you want for yourself.  I can’t tell you how many of these I feel I’ve made in the last few years (days!)Disciplining them is one example.  Is there any parent who enjoys being the bad cop?  We do it though because we know it’s best for them, even if it’s tough on us.

I will say that after the DYC, there’s less heaviness and doubt hanging over my head after I make decisions.  I’m clearer about why I make them, and I’m more confident too.  And therefore I feel lighter — and don’t need to apologize for them (Coach Pia did say I apologize too much for who I am and what I do or don’t do — which shouldn’t be the case).  I still need to practice though to make the framework second nature, but isn’t that what life is all about — a constant work-in-progress?

Recently the girls have been addicted to Rise of the Guardians.  And because of the movie, Sam keeps asking us what our “center” is.  It’s a good reminder too – to constantly ground myself in what makes me authentic and true.  After all, being a better self is always the best place to start. 🙂

Thank you, Coach Pia!  I am truly a better person because of you!
Thank you, Coach Pia! I am truly a better person because of you! Photo credit:  The One Core


Coach Pia is currently helping out couples in the latest Reality TV Series called #IDo.  Catch her and the rest of the I Do cast and crew onSaturdays after MMK – 9:30 pm, and on Sundays after Rated K – 8:45 pm

For more information about The One Core’s programs and seminars, visit their website or their Facebook Page.


Mommy Lessons (on Parenting) My Mommyology Tribute My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

A Father’s Love

The last month and a half have been crazy busy, to say the least!  And here’s why:

Boxes and boxes and boxes... again!
Boxes and boxes and boxes… again!

As some of you may already know (or may have guessed), we’re moving.  Again!  It hasn’t even been two years since we set foot in Manila once again, and yes, here we are, uprooting once more.

Many people ask why.  In fact almost everyone knew we came home because my husband wanted to be close to family.  So why the big move only after 22 months into our supposedly “home for good move”?

Well.  It really boils down to Jamie.

Remember I mentioned Jamie’s skin allergies?  Over the course of 20 months, we’ve come to prove that the cause was the ever-humid and unpredictable weather and highly polluted environment of Manila.  As the months passed, her allergies went from bad to worse.  It got to the point where I wasn’t getting any rest because I’d wake up to keep her from scratching and re-apply all kinds of topical steroids and lotions on her.  The next morning, it was always a game of “where did this blood come from?” or “what will Jamie’s mood be today?” knowing that she didn’t get a good night’s rest.

(I feel like) I’ve tried everything, including non-traditional ways that worked for other moms.  All the solutions would provide temporarily relief, but after a while Jamie would desensitize and everything would flare up again.  Thank God for our constants, Aquasana and Mustela’s Stelatopia; for without them I fear it would be worse.

We’d gotten to that point where I felt I was raising a drug addict, because the allergists had told me to give my then two-year old 10mL of antihisthamine daily, everyday, for 3 months straight (on top of the topical ointments).  For her tiny body, it was too much.  It affected Jamie’s demeanor and behavior.  She was always cranky and sleepy and totally uncomfortable.

We went to several pediatric dermatologists and allergists, who all said that she would “eventually outgrow it (or as they say “control it).”  And I believed them, having gone through it myself for half my life.  It became my default solution too.

But my husband wouldn’t — couldn’t — stand for it.  He just couldn’t bear to see his baby girl in that state all the time.  And he insisted that there should be a better solution than just waiting for her to adapt.

We had proven that it wasn’t food, or anything in our laundry, or even the usual culprits like stuffed toys (hence, Bunny was allowed to stay).  In fact, during our trips to Anvaya, Boracay and Bohol, a dip in the salt water would instantly clear Jamie’s skin up.

The clincher was when we went on our family vacation and Jamie’s eczema cleared up the day after we arrived.  It stayed clear up until the day we flew home.  I came home with full tubes of medicine and lotion because I used them 5x less than I’d normally use them when in Manila.

And so in a matter of months — weeks — from what was initially “just speculation”, became reality.  My husband told his employer that he had to re-consider opportunities in the US, because he wanted Jamie to have a better quality of life.  And it was a big thing since he was the one who wanted to move us home, and because he was (is) doing so well career-wise too.

As luck or fate or a combination of both would have it, his company decided to keep him to handle the operations in North America.  And just like that, the contract was signed and I was back in the motions of packing up.

Many people say it was a very bold thing to do – uproot the whole family when we’re just starting to settle in and get our bearings (They say it takes 2 years to finally feel “okay” after a big move with kids — and it’s true I was JUST getting that feeling!).  Not many would really make that huge a move.  But as my husband points out – it was her health.  And Jamie in her current state was no way to live.

And that’s really what struck me when I saw this slide during our post-Father’s day #BetterMe session with Coach Pia at Seda Hotel (in BGC).

Thank you Jen for making these wonderful pinboards from our session!
Thank you Jen for making these wonderful pinboards from our session!

My language of love is words.  And I’m very good at expressing myself and how I feel.  My husband is quite the opposite.  But you can see it in his actions.  Like this big move of ours.  Thankfully the career aspect of it worked in our favor, but if it didn’t, it wouldn’t have stopped him from exploring it and making it happen.  And after all, that’s what father’s are good at — making things happen.

Somehow the girls know that’s how he loves them.  Jamie clearly knows and is looking forward to “making the owies go away.”  And Sam — she understood.  In one of her emotional moments she caught me by surprise when she said, “I’m sad we’re moving but I know it’s better for Jamie.  So that’s why.”  (Of course I cried).  Somehow she knew that we’d all make that kind of sacrifice for her if she needed it most, and that no matter what, we put our family’s needs first.  Something they also learned from her dad.

Credit:  Jen of @next9 and Attached at the Hip.
Photo Credit: Jen of @next9 and Attached at the Hip.

A very belated Father’s Day — but also a Happy Anniversary!  — to my husband, the Daddy of our family.  We can’t wait to start this new adventure with you. 🙂 


See you in a few. 😉

A big thank you as well to The One Core, Coach Pia, and Seda Hotels, our sponsors for this #BetterMe session!  Use the hashtag #betterme and #somoms on Instagram and Facebook to discover and gain insights on the topics we’ve learned thus far about becoming the best versions of ourselves.  I sincerely hope that you gain something from them too!

The beautiful rooms at Seda BGC.  Great for staycations too!
The beautiful rooms at Seda BGC. Great for staycations too!
A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Mommy Anecdotes My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

Raising Children with Strong Values and Character

I picked up Sam from school yesterday and we had our usual conversation in the car about how her day went.  It was all pretty normal, until Sam said, “Mom, my classmate got sent to the time out chair today.”  I thought she was just relaying an event at school, but as I probed deeper, I found out this little girl was sort of a bully to my sweet Sam.  “She pushes and pulls me a little too roughly.  And she says she won’t be my friend because she has enough friends,” were some of the things that came out of her mouth. “She also says bad words.”

I felt my temper flare up but somehow managed to bite my tongue and breathe.  Those #BetterMe sessions were hard at work before I realized it. 😉

I didn’t want Sam to shut down and I wanted to find out more .  How she felt, what she did, if she was hurt (physically or emotionally)… Sam was very matter-of-fact about it, but I could tell she couldn’t wrap her head around her seatmate rejecting her friendship and treating her that way for no apparent reason.

That night as the girls went to bed I chatted about it with my cousin who also sends her daughter to the same school.  Apparently my niece experienced a similar incident.  When she stood her ground with this “heavy-handed” classmate who was trying to bully her into something they were instructed not to do, my niece got accused of being mean and uncaring.  My cousin said her daughter felt bad after, but was reassured that she did the right thing.

These aren’t the first set of stories I’ve heard over the year about kids with “attitudes”, or kids acting like bullies to their classmates.  And often what follows are statements like, “What do the parents teach them?” or “Why are they (the kids) allowed to get away with such behavior?” 

Now I’ve been fondly “accused” by people close to me that I can be very protective of my children.  So much so that I’d shield them from anything “bad” even before it comes remotely close.  And because in reality I can’t do that, they come home with stories and thoughts similar to those I’ve just shared.  So yes, I’ve been guilty of similar thoughts and statements — judgements if you will — too.  And quite honestly if it hadn’t been for these last few #BetterMe sessions with Coach Pia, I’d have done things differently.

About a month ago we had a session at the all-new Flair Towers on How to Raise Children with Strong Character and Values.  And the reason I bring it up is because it makes me wonder how you can guarantee spelling the difference between kids with a solid value compass and kids who “go astray”?  While I hope and pray that I’m doing something right with the girls, it’s still a thought that plagues me everyday.  After all I’m not the only influence they have in their lives anymore, and they can easily pick up and do things that are against what they’re taught.

Going back to the lessons of that #BetterMe session, one thing I felt that worked in my favor was this:

Two words.  A whole lotta meaning.
Two words. A whole lotta meaning.

The slide says it all but it’s NOT. EASY. TO DO.  I admit that my initial reaction when Sam told me would have been to shriek, “WHAT?!”  And I probably would have launched into a litany of how that was wrong versus right and what she should do or how she should fight back.  But I remembered this and instead, I asked questions.  I reserved my judgements for myself and tried to help Sam process how she felt.  There was no right or wrong, I let her say her piece and worked through what we could when I could inject my thoughts without the lecture.

The other part of the session that struck me (a month later no less!) as this was unfolding before my eyes and ears, was when Coach Pia said:


Unknowingly (and thankfully so, whew!), this is something I’ve been doing with the girls too.  I avoid the phrase, “because I said so”,  and I make it a point to explain the bigger reason behind the discipline.  Safety, respect, honesty, trust, openness.  I use them often and I try to say it in ways she’ll understand.

Somehow I think it stuck.  Sam had no qualms about opening up to me and saying exactly how she felt (I hope it stays that way always!).  I didn’t correct her strong words, because I knew she was saying it to me only and I acknowledged that.  I also appreciated her telling me that she didn’t retaliate because she knew it was wrong.  Despite looking like the weaker one of the two, somehow I hope I was able to reinforce that she actually was the stronger one.  And I affirmed her decision to not repeat the bad words she’d heard.

And so I go back to the judging statements about what the parents teach or don’t teach, and allow or don’t allow.  More and more, I’m beginning to think it’s not really that parents teach the wrong things or allow misbehavior to happen.  No parent in their right mind would purposely do that.  Rather, it might just be the amount of influence (or lack thereof) over their kids.  And as a disclaimer, it’s also not about quantity over quality time (because I know of parents who work full-time and have kids with strong values and characters), but as Coach Pia says, it’s really about being present.  It’s important to emphasize family time over friends time, especially as the kids get older.  The presence of parents should be felt 5x more to those of their peers.  Family influence will imbibe strong values, and will combat any other influence that peers will bring to the table.  And if all else fails, you go back to the first insight on resisting lecturing, so you are open to them and they are open to you.

Build one-on-one time with everyone (including yourself) every week as part of your routine.
Build one-on-one time with everyone (including yourself) every week as part of your routine.

I’ve to say this post has been in my drafts for quite sometime.  Life got in the way what can I say.  I’m glad it did; because yesterday’s incident helped me crystalize the lessons even more.  And while I know I’m the furthest thing from being the parent that knows it all, I’m all for learning and doing whatever it takes that will help make me a better one step at a time.

Thank you #LysolPH!
Thank you #LysolPH!

Thank you to Lysol for sponsoring this #BetterMe Session with The One Core.  Visit their Facebook page: Lysol Philippines for the latest products that can help make your home and hands germ-free. 🙂


Mommy Lessons (on Parenting) On Becoming a Better Mom

How To Become The Ideal Mother (To Each Child)

One of the more memorable and lesson-filled #BetterMe sessions we’ve had thus far was the one held last Mother’s Day at The One Core’s office on Esteban Abada.  There were about 7 of us present that morning, and unlike most of our #BetterMe sessions, it was slightly shorter, but still very much jam-packed with insights.

Photo Credit:  Mommy Fleur
Photo Credit: Mommy Fleur

Coach Pia wanted to gather some of the #SoMoms to “celebrate” mother’s day the #BetterMe way.  After all, it is our common ground, and it is the reason we choose to get together and learn as often as we do.  If we’re able to better ourselves for our children, we can be better parents and people over-all.

One thing Coach Pia said she noticed amongst us mothers (and this is may be true for moms in general), is that we are always riddled with self-doubt over the decisions we make for or in behalf of our children.  It’s hard enough being a parent, it’s harder when you (or other people around you) second guess what you’ you do.  And it doesn’t help that everyone has some form of judgement too.

But the self-doubt oftentimes is also self-imposed — particularly when you have more than one child.  Because more often than not, what worked with one, will not necessarily work with the other.  And it’s strange how some of us moms say that with a little laugh afterwards.  It’s as if these kids got one over us.

Seriously though, when I think about the first time I became a parent, I really did not know what I was doing.  I just tried to navigate it as best I could, and hence this blog.  Then when I thought I’d somehow gotten my bearings here comes Jamie and everything is out the window.  There’s this new personality, and new dynamic.  So here I am figuring things out as I go.  It’s tiring isn’t it?

During that session, Coach Pia gave us a few parameters and exercises to help rid ourselves of that self-doubt and be more confident in making the best choices for our kids.

It all boils down to accepting the fact that you are a different parent to each of your children.  The “ideal mom” is different for each child.  Each one has different needs and to be the best parent you can be to them would mean needing to be flexible and adjust.  It’s such a different parameter from the way we were raised growing up, when everyone had to conform and “adhere” to what the parents set for them, or else it was seen as a failure on the part of the child (issues much?).

Ask yourself first from their point-of-view:  If your child were to describe the kind of parent you are, how would he or she do it?

That exercise alone showed me that if I were to put myself in each of my girls’ shoes, they would really say two different things about me.  There would be similarities yes of course.  But in the way that I know them, I could already see that I played a different role in each of their lives.

Here’s an example (an excerpt from my notes):  For Sam, I felt she saw me as a friend and an equal.  She respects my authority but is not afraid to challenge it and reason out her side.  I’m someone who can put up with all her antics.  For Jamie,  I’m her shoulder to cry on; her comfort zone.  I make her feel safe.

Both scenarios can apply to both girls, but one is more predominant for one child than it is for the other.  That’s because their needs are different to begin with.  Jamie is a shy spirit and isn’t as adventurous or as outgoing as her Ate. New situations frighten her, and she would rather sit and have me wrap her in her protective bubble than go out and explore.

On the contrary, for Sam the peacock, new situations excite her.  And what she needs is a mom who will allow her to discover things on her own and not someone who’ll hold her back.  Conversely, because she also has no sense of what could be risky for her, Sam needs a mom who isn’t afraid to pull on the reigns every now and then.

The next exercise was to identify the Positive Qualities (PQ) and the Challenging Qualities (CQ) for each of your children.  It expounds on the initial exercise earlier, but now taken from your PoV as a mom.  The trick is to be as objective as possible.

Which child is more like you? Opposite of you? Which can you deal with better?
Which child is more like you? Opposite of you? And which one can you deal with better?

From there, you can make an objective assessment and answer the question:  Do I have what it takes to sustain it for the long haul?

If the answer is yes, then good for you.  But if the answer is no or maybe not (and it is okay to admit this to ourselves!)… then it’s a good time to evaluate what you need as a mom to be able to be what your kids need you to be.  Does it require having a yaya to help out with the kids (or around the house)?  Does it mean delegating — and getting a yaya to help during the day, or  getting a tutor to help with the studies so the burn out isn’t on you?  Or does it mean cutting back and cutting out those activities which give you both stress (remember, sometimes an activity is done because the parents want and it’s not what the child wants!  Watch out point for us all).  Knowing WHY you make that decision can help free you (me) from the guilt and self-doubt.

Now here’s another interesting insight from Coach Pia:  for those of us with same gender children (close in age), it’s more important to harness each one’s uniqueness above all else.


So if it means that Ate would rather not share her new Frozen doll with Jamie, then help convince Jamie to play with something else, and vice-versa.  Sharing as a value can have its own moment and place in the world.  If getting two of the same means they get to harness their own individuality, then you may want to consider it.   Otherwise, Coach Pia says it’s just a case of testing your management skills.

Objectifying makes it “easier” to see, and what an irony that is no, since motherhood can be very emotional.  It helps to remove the emotion and the “baggage” so you can see clearly how to be their best mother ever (Sam’s words).  In that way you also eliminate the self-doubt in yourself, because you know that your decision is rooted in exactly what the child needs.

I’d love to hear your thoughts (and own little experiments on these exercises!).  What do you think?