Meeting Samantha Sotto

So if you had three hours to spare every single day while waiting for your kids to be dismissed from school, what would you do? I’d probably hang out in some cafe to pass the time, maybe get a massage, a haircut, get the car cleaned, whatever. Nothing monumental about that, lots of moms do it every day. Samantha did it too. Except while she was hanging out in the neighborhood Starbucks, she wrote a book.

OCMomInManila arranged for us to meet Samantha just before the launch of Before Ever After at National Book Store G5 and I rushed to get a copy before our get-together. I was excited to meet her; having read books all my life and having a slight talent for writing, I could only dream of publishing a novel. I was going to meet a real-live published author, with Random House, no less!! She was going on a book tour! She was getting radio interviews! Chuvaness and the Manila Fashion Observer wrote about her! And I was going to meet her!! I was also mortified that I didn’t get to read the novel before I met her.

Little did I know that Samantha’s husband, Tembong, was my college buddy.

This is not normally how I greet old friends.

It was so nice getting to know Samantha a bit before the big press launch.

Jen of Next9, ManilaMommy Neva, Jen of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom, Jen's husband Stan, OCMomInManila Kris, Samantha and me!

She signed my copy.

ManilaMommy and Jen of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom were talking to her about the book, so I chose to catch-up with her husband instead. I didn’t want to hear any spoilers!!

We proceeded over to the launch.

After the usuals, Samantha was called onstage. While she was thanking those who helped her along the way, Samantha couldn’t help but tear up. I found myself shedding a tear too. Here’s a woman who followed her heart, poured it into a book and got it published for the world to read. She’s a mom, just like you and me, and I felt her success and claimed it for all mommies who still have a dream or two tucked away in between diaper changes, school assignments, household chores and grocery shopping. Samantha’s story is an amazing journey, and I can’t wait to read its fruit in Before Ever After.

Nice to meet you today Samantha! You’re a great inspiration. I believe great success for your next book as well!

New Look! What Do You Think?

Over the couple of weeks, Pat of Pat’s Themes has been doing the painstaking work of overhauling my blog. We had another one that was up for a bit last week, but this is the final look. I love it!

I thought I owed it to the readers who have been so kind to follow my blog to treat you guys with something other than a generic template when you visit. I wanted it to be a reflection of what my living room would (AND WILL) look like. Consider it my virtual invitation to come over, hunker on the sofa and have a chat!

What do you guys think? Would love to hear your thoughts.

I Am A Breastfeeding Mom

Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (July).  For this month, we join the National Nutrition Council – Department of Health in celebrating Nutrition Month with the theme “Isulong ang Breastfeeding – Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!” Participants will share their experiences in promoting breastfeeding or their tips on how breastfeeding should be promoted.  Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.

When I got pregnant, I may not have been sure of what kind of parent I wanted to be except for one thing: I was going to breastfeed.

Except I had no clue had to go about it.

Thankfully, I was smart enough to know that breastfeeding, as tranquil and effortless it seemed on TV, is not automatic. Natural, yes. Automatic, no. With that mindset, I sought out resources – friends who breastfed, Facebook contacts who posted status updates about breastfeeding, whatever. With an open mind, I attended a breastfeeding class with my husband, and the rest as they say, is blog history. In my little corner of the internet, I shared my thoughts, my stories, my tears and frustrations. And for some reason, people read, they related and passed the word along.

I’m just one mom, and I’m not a media personality who has the power to influence millions of mothers through my choices (yes, I mean them who chose to promote formula milk). But I will try my best to spread the word and help mothers make the INFORMED choice about breastfeeding their kids. Sometimes, information is all moms need to start.

I am fearless. I breastfeed anywhere. And I mean ANYWHERE. In a tricycle, at the checkout line of the supermarket, buying fish, during meetings – ANYWHERE. I don’t wait till the “proper time and place” for breastfeeding because in my view there is no such thing. I do it with or without a cover, and I smile and engage people in conversation when they look at me curiously. Most of the time, these people have questions, if not for themselves, but for people they know, and I take it as an opportunity to talk about breastfeeding and lead them to the proper support channels if they need more help. I will breastfeed Basti well into his toddler years if he chooses not to wean and I will not be a “closet nurser”, or those who say they have weaned their 2+-year old child but nurse them still at home.

I am informed. I try my best to keep up with the trends, not just on the facts of breastfeeding, its benefits and anything medically-related, but also on current news and events. I find out what the formula companies are up to, what organizations are supporting breastfeeding, ongoing campaigns in others countries, and also the media personalities who promote breastfeeding and also those who promote formula. I like knowing how the advocacy is moving forward, or being held back, and I love reading stories on its triumphs and successes. They make for good sharing when speaking with others. I hope to, someday, be actually trained as a counselor. (I really should, given all the questions I get about breastfeeding because of this blog!)

I am involved. I find out about what organizations are doing to promote breastfeeding and I take part in however I can. Be it a simple click of a Paypal button to donate, or to pose for pictures in an exhibit, take a friend’s call when she’s having breastfeeding blues, do a breastfeeding testimonial at a parent talk, take part in a PSA or even just wear a statement shirt in AugustI do something. One mother who gets the message will spread to 10 others. Though I love learning from the professionals, I also love meeting other moms who breastfeed and love hearing their stories.

I am supportive. The words that kept me going while I was going through my own breastfeeding blues were like gold to me. I am a cheerleader to every mother’s little successes – a good latch, milk supply going up, breastfeeding beyond the expected period, or even just plain MAKING THE CHOICE. It always brings me to tears.

Awareness is so vital. Some people don’t realize just how wonderful breastfeeding is and the mothers who choose it for their children are changing the world one baby at a time. Every mother who breastfeeds not only saves on healthcare costs for their family but also saves the country thousands of dollars as well. I don’t believe we are no match for the marketing specialists of formula companies. We have a product that’s way better than anything they produce, it’s free and it’s perfect. But we need to act on spreading the word, one mother at a time, in our own little ways in whichever corner of the world we are.

I am a breastfeeding mom. And I am so proud of it!

Other participating moms here. Please check them out!

W-u-r-r-w-u-r-r-w-u-r-r by Martha de Lusong (@frannie17) hosted by Jen CC Tan‘s MomExchange (@next9baby)
The Low-Milk-Supply Mommy Did It! by The Odyssey of Dinna 
More Breastfeeding Promotion Plus a Guest Post by Chronicles of a Nursing Mom (@mamababylove).  Guest post by Shaps Lim (@cromartielove)

KFC Salutes The Super Moms!

Moms give birth to a child, take care of a child, raise that child not to be a serial killer, have good table manners and somehow grow up to have their own kids. On the side she takes care of the house, changes light bulbs, cooks meals, defrosts, wears high heels, take care of that man she married, and finds time to read a book, write a journal, start a blog and retouch her manicure.

Whew.

Now that I’m a mother myself, I sometimes wonder where I get the energy. And then I think about the thousands of mothers out there who are in the same boat as I am. Hey, mother-to-mother, you’re the shiznaz, lady.

Of course we all have our little tips and tricks in order to achieve super mom-ness or to simply stay sane. They don’t have to be mind-blowing, earth-shaking discoveries. Sometimes, what our mush brains need are the simplest things.

Breastfeeding. As a stay-at-home-mom, I have the privilege of directly breastfeeding my child on-demand. Sure I tried to pump, store and bottle-feed, but that was more trouble for me! I’m glad to take these steps off my to-do list: sterilizing, washing and keeping bottles, pumping, storing milk, cleaning the pump, storing the pump, bringing the pump. After 5 attempts with 5 different bottle brands, I decided to just pump for sharing milk and feed Basti direct. Sure it entails a bit of sacrifice: no nights out, no going to places where kids aren’t welcome, challenging shopping choices (everything has to have boob-access), going to meetings with the baby, etc. But it also meant I never had to worry about Basti’s feedings, EVER. And it made for a very light diaper bag too.

Put the makeup on, lady. Motherhood can be stressful, but you don’t have to look it! In the early (and bleary-eyed) days of motherhood, prettying up was low on my awareness list. A glimpse of myself in a mall window reflection stopped me in my tracks. WHO THE HELL WAS THAT. I am blessed that my husband thinks that new clothes, parlor visits and manicures are necessities, not luxuries. He thinks part of our contribution to this earth is being beautiful, as the fairer sex. This is how our conversation usually goes when it’s on this subject.

Me: “Babe, I need new clothes. Can I buy a new dress?”
The Painter: “Make it two!”

or…

Me: “Babe, I’m going to the salon to get my hair done.”
The Painter: “Good!”

He’s a man of few words. Short, but effective. Hehe. Artists!! I love them!!

Also, my friends know this: I almost never go out without concealer, eyebrows, blush and gloss. Be it the grocery, the pediatrician, a milk-tea run, whatever. You never know who you might run to in this little village called Metro Manila and looking decent does a lot for your self-esteem when you do see someone you know. I’m done making excuses. “I just gave birth” lost its credibility a few months ago and “Gosh, sorry I’m so harassed” is just sad. Happy, pretty mom = happy baby.

Creative and purposeful procrastination. There are probably a million and one minute issues I should deal with everyday, but I choose not to. I’ve learned that there are things that simply don’t need or deserve my attention. Right now I need every bit of oomph I can get to keep up with my titter-tottering toddler who has a liking for taking baths in the toilet bowl and rolling around on the kitchen floor. This is a time when procrastinating works for me. I used to have to-do lists, now I have to-do scraps. As in scraps of paper. When something comes to mind, I take a piece of paper – a receipt, the corner of a flyer, a piece of the neighbor’s newspaper (I know, I know) – and I write it down. It can be something as inane as “Buy a new sponge” or something like, “Read the Book of Esther again and review the points of a submissive biblical woman”. When I clean out my pockets, my purse or Basti’s diaper bags, I dump all these scraps into the top drawer of my desk organizer and go through them. The immediate matters get typed in to my iPhone with an alarm, and the rest get saved for later. Or blogged. Like this entry.

Shrug it off. There are days when the laundry isn’t done. Or the floor isn’t that clean. Or your bed is in shambles. Or your lunch menu reads like a bad diner’s blackboard. Or the baby didn’t bathe today. So what? You’re allowed to a lapse here and there, and there’s no good that can come out from feeling guilty about it. I used to be such a control-freak and I let that go when a huge part of my life became subject to the schedule of a little person. I’ve learned to accept my imperfections, knowing that I will be forgiven for them.

Be the best you can be, according to your rules. Who wouldn’t want to be a cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, eco-friendly, BPA-free, germ-free, all-natural, low-sodium, organic household? I did cloth-diapering until I just couldn’t anymore. I buy organic when I can and only IF I can. While I want to homeschool, I’m open to sending Basti to pre-school for a few years so I could possibly have another child, or just regain my wits. At the end, we’re all just trying to be the best mothers we can be. I’ve learned to ignore sanctimonious people who judge other moms who raise their children apart from what they think SHOULD be the way (i.e. THEIR way and no one else’s). Whether you’re a Tiger Mother, or a pansy, a breastfeeder or a formula-user, a hands-on mother or a three-nanny household, we all share a common denominator: we deal. We find our balance. We do our best and pray that we don’t fail (but we do, sometimes!)

So what are your ways to Super Mom-ness? Share them and get a chance to win these fabulous prizes from KFC:

  • Feature in Lifestyle Network
  • Feature in Working Mom magazine
  • 1 year supply of KFC bucket meals (54 buckets)
  • Manila Ocean Park Ultimate Experience
  • Hotel H2O Overnight Accommodation
  • Anti-stress body wrap and mind and body flow massage from The Spa

While all moms are good, KFC is looking for the Super Moms that are SO GOOD. Log on to www.kfc.com.ph/supermom, register, post a picture of you and your family enjoying a KFC bucket and share your own tips for being the Super Mom that you are. It can be anything, from how you find time for yourself, for your family, or how you balance work and family life.

SO GOOD, right? I’d love it if you would leave a comment and share your tips with me too!

 

The Week In Treats

The whole week was entirely about indulgence. I’ve been a little cranky and I decided to lift my spirits with some pick-me-ups to alleviate my grumpy self.

First, sustenance.

I ordered milk from the Milk Man.

Two liters of whole milk and a liter of choco milk. Pure, preservative-free goodness. Now I’m not that big of a milk person (being lactose intolerant does that to a person) but I love chocolate milk. I threw in the whole milk because I do love cereal, and The Painter likes to drink milk. This milk changed me. It was creamy, smooth and smelled divine. It turned my frosted flakes into a spiritual experience. Basti likes it too. Today I got another order of chocolate milk, strawberry yoghurt and fresh cheese!

Next, the sweets.

I picked up a whole box of Custaroons and a bag of Gourmet Sugar-Coated Cookies from Gigi Gaerlan’s Custaroons.

I was in the mood for sweet, creamy and heavy and when that’s the calling, Custaroons is the answer. These are really sweet so I can’t eat more than 2. The cookies, however, are sweet, light and chewy. They’re not super sweet that I feel guilty finishing off a couple at a time, and offer Basti a few bites too!

And then yesterday I picked up some french macarons from The Cookie Jar.

I first got a taste of these macarons from Paola Loot and have been craving them ever since. I buckled up a sleeping Basti in the car seat and drove to Quezon City to pick them up. I ate half a box on the way home. I will use traffic as an excuse.

Then finally, the satchel.

I ordered my Frannie & Vinnie satchel a few weeks back and it finally arrived yesterday!

I’m quite happy with it. It’s very well-made, and so so cute! I’m going to keep using it and using it until it gets all beat up. If and when I get my iPad, I think a black 14″ one would be a great carrier.

Did all these treats work? You bet. I’m all cheery (because of the sugar), plump (because of the milk) but stylish (because of the satchel). Har har.

I Want Me Some Bling: DaintyMom.Com Blog Giveaway!

I love jewelry. I just wish I had more money so it could higher up on my list of things to buy. Who wouldn’t want to own something like this?

It’s whimsical, it’s a string of pearls, it’s awesome and hopefully, it’ll be mine. You might be luckier than me! Get a chance to win this piece by Alati by joining DaintyMom.Com’s giveaway! The contest involves Facebook-page-liking, some friend-tagging and some comment-leaving on Martine’s blog. Easy enough, and look at the prize. Gah.

You may submit your entries till July 17. Lezgow!

 

Babywearing Goes Boom!

What used to be a casual get-together over coffee to talk slings, SaYas and pouches exploded into a full-blown meet yesterday! Babywearers, experts and newbies alike, gathered at Starbucks MC Home Depot at Bonifacio Global City and the second floor was OWNED. Take a look at these pics!

It was so nice to see lots of mommies (and daddies!) interested in babywearing. The organizers (headed by Benz Co-Rana) tried very very hard to divide the groups into ring slings, pouches and the SaYa, but in the end, we just went around and helped out whoever needed any assistance. It was an unprecedented turnout, and can only mean we will see more babywearing events in the future!

Onsite, we had Denise of Indigo Baby, Jen of Next9, Jenny of Mama.Baby.Love, Abbie Yabot, Mamaway and Buding of SaYa! Other moms helped out too. I was all over the place helping the organizers with SaYa, sling and pouch tutorials (and chit-chat on the side).

One of the moms getting some SaYa help from Cats of Kraze Kitch Bakeshop and from SaYa creator herself, Buding Aquino-Dee!

I really wish I had taken more pics and met more mommies, but it was mayhem (in a good way), plus Basti was in a foul mood.

I had to hoist him on my back to calm him down. Photo courtesy of Martine de Luna.
Mommy Cor with Paola of Mommy Treats
Jenny of Mama.Baby.Love assisting moms
While I was off shmoozing and coaching, my Basti played with Martine's Vito and Paola's Sjofn. Photo courtesy of Martine de Luna.

It was so much fun and I can’t wait till the next one! Babywearing is alive and thriving in the metro, woohoo!!!