Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sun, Sea and Shameless Vanity

The fact that I live in a tropical country where the beaches are just a good one-hour trip away doesn’t take away the sad reality that I have yet to master the art of looking good at the beach. But I try – every year, I tell you! Let me forewarn you, though, that after everything has been done…. No, I still don’t really look like the beach babe that I desire to be… only (more and more each year) like the mom of three that I actually am. Still, a girl has to try! :)

We are off to the beach tomorrow and here I am sharing with you the steps I’ve taken (in vain) to look a teensy-bit better::

1. Get a head start on my tan.

In the beach, a healthy sun kissed glow is always the best fashion accessory. For the past four years now, I have managed to look like a beach sweetie, thanks to my triumvirate of L’Oreal self-tanners.

A few days before our departure, I start slathering on L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion in Medium Natural Tan everyday to build up my sunless tan. It usually takes around three to four applications to get the golden color that I like.

At around the same time, I also use the Sublime Bronze FACE on my face and neck to make sure that I have an even tan all over.

On the day of departure I always make sure to wake up a few minutes earlier to make sure I apply L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Gelee in Medium Natural Tan. This dual-action bronzer and self-tanning lotion is one of my favorite products. It delivers an instant glow and builds up the existing (sunless) tan I have with a hint of glimmer.

2. Paint toe nails in a vivid summery color.

3. Wax/shave legs, underarms and bikini area the night before.

4. On the beach, apply sun block with high SPF at least 30 minutes 
before sun exposure and re-apply every 2 hours.

I use VMV's Armada Sport SPF70. It is quite expensive, but I am taking them up on their claim that their formula "creates a unique barrier-film, an invisible virtual second skin that stays on skin's surface to maintain protection integrity in and out of water, and while exposed to harsh sun and heat."

I usually put on Armada first and after letting my skin absorb it for a few minutes, I layer on L'Oreal's tinted self tanner. The tinted gel leaves my skin with an instant glittery shimmer that stays on until I shower or take a dip in the pool, unlike the glitter sprays or powders.

5. Massage hair with a deep moisturizing conditioner and put it up in a messy bun.

6. Acessorize (and protect) with a good pair of shades offering UV protection and a wide brimmed straw hat.


7. Remember that the best thing to wear on the beach is a SMILE!

Monday, March 29, 2010

When The Darkness Closes In

I am in a very sad place right now.   Someone very close to my family suffered a horrible, heart-breaking, senseless tragedy.  This experience cries so clearly for divine intervention, for healing, for recovery from emotional and physical pain, not only for the individual concerned but for everyone involved in it. My dialogue with God this week has mostly been pleading for Him to intervene miraculously, and asking a lot of questions on how to make sense of this.  There are numerous what-ifs playing in my head, as copious as the prayers I offer.  But in the end, C always reminds me that bad things happen as a consequence of the freedom that comes with the gift of life.  Yet, it is hard for me to understand that concept at a time such as this. 

Blessed Be Your Name has always been one of my favorite worship songs.   There have been plentiful times in the past where I have been so touched by this inspiring song; brought to tears simply by just listening to it.  It helps me to listen to this song because it ministers to me that God needs to be praised when the blessing overflow as well as when we are in the road full of suffering.   Painful circumstances can either bring us closer to God or break us away from our faith.  My favorite verse from the song:   Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise, When the darkness closes in, Lord still I will say:  Blessed be the name of the Lord.  

Listen to the song with me...

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

From the events of the last 24 hours, it would seem that the miracle that everyone is praying for would not happen.   Nothing is final until God says it is, but it would seem that the "miraculous intervention" that God is agreeable to give is not the same divine intercession we are asking for.    It appears that God’s “intervention” in this horrible event is to be "by our side," to understand, to comfort, to "lead beside still waters and restore our soul" (taken from Psalm 23).  I have grown certain after listening to the song that God's task is to help everyone collect the pieces broken by this incident. 

When everyone involved in this experience prayed at the beginning of this week, we asked God to heal and give her back "whole." I still remember the conversation I had with JP just two days ago, as I called him up for an update.  He told me to not visit that day anymore and instead help him pray that "ibalik siya ng buo."   JP, I just want to tell you that God listened to all of our prayers and scooped her up in His loving and comforting embrace – He did not let go and He made her whole again; whole as she was created to be from the beginning by this loving God.  Only now she is going to a more beautiful and perfect place…

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

She Made It!

We got to the Ateneo a little past 6 that Sunday morning.  The 12 and under girls are scheduled to go at 8am, so J had more than enough time to have her body marked, slather on sun block and even chat with her team mates.  Unlike her recent soccer competition, she now listened to the voice of experience and ate the piece of banana her coach handed her. 

Here she is waiting for the go mark.

I was happy with her performance in the pool.  She showed some quick-thinking as she moved diagonally to the next lane after touching the wall to cut time.  I noticed that the other first-timers touched the wall and moved parallel to the wall to shift lanes. 

She needs a lot of work to improve her transition time.  The task of taking off her goggles and swim cap, tying on her laces took her over 2 minutes.  It did her well that she had the good sense to put on her singlet while she was moving to the run leg of the race;  this shaved off a few seconds from her finish time.

Sorry for the bad quality of the photos below.  I want to post them, still,  because they show so much of who she is...  being able to laugh at a time when others would quickly despair.  I love it that she finds time to smile as she desperately struggled to put on her over-sized singlet.  Although she got a size small already, it was obviously still too big for her; the sleeves and length dwarfing her lithe frame. 

For the sake of recording her performance for future reference...  Her race stats are:  400m swim: 9min 15 sec; transition: 2min 23sec; 3k run:  25min 05sec.  Total race time:  36min 43sec.  It's not a spectacular finish, but she is very happy to have participated in it.  I am so proud of her for finishing it!

She made it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Seventh!

It’s B’s seventh birthday today. And so this post is dedicated to her.

She is the sweetest girl who gives the bestest hugs. “Hugs and kisses, mommy’’ she’d always call out with both of her tiny arms out-stretched before she affectionately wraps them around my neck. She would always gently hold me for a few seconds longer to give way to a good, tight squeeze. She’d pull away momentarily, only to reel me back in again for a kiss on the cheek, “I love you mom.” That is her trademark hug. They tell me, without any need for words ,that she appreciates my love and care, and she wishes me to feel she loves me back.

She brightens up my day with her delightful sweetness and willful individuality. Yep, she’s the kind of girl who asserts her right to be heard - quite aggressively. Yes, she never hesitates to speak her mind out and she has left me speechless a couple of times; and if you hear her lead the the night time prayers, you will agree that she talks tirelessly, indeed; and she is sure to give her dad and me quite a few headaches in the very near future as she discovers crushing on someone this early!

Once, she spent the night at my parents and my youngest sister found out for herself as B tirelessly talked non-stop and monopolized the conversation at the table– for the whole duration of dinner. Yesterday my sister handed her birthday gift to B, and it says on the tag: “To my niece. Happy Birthday to our little pain in the neck… who gives the sweetest greetings and hugs!”

It is no joke to be trapped riding in a car with her, because once she starts taking, there is no stopping – seriously! I was in the middle of a convoluted traffic jam when I found all her noise talking a little bit distracting, so I cut her off midsentence to tell her that she could be likened to a radio… without an OFF button. She paused for a second… and squinted her eye… and tucked her bottom lip under her top teeth… and folded her arms… and continued talking. There are a lot more accounts to chronicle the cheeky life-force that is B, but this is her day and I will refrain myself and post them another day. :)

After weeks of thinking of a theme for her birthday cake, she finally found one a few days ago... Sanrio's Sugarbunnies, it is! We do not have any Sugarbunnies character toys at home, and Estrel's is swamped with too many customers nowadays that they do not accept elaborate made to order cakes anymore. I just made these toppers on photoshop to make the cake go with her preferred theme. I cut these toppers into rounds and stick them onto toothpicks.

You can tell by the look on her face that she likes her cake...

Happy seventh, B! You really are the sweetest. And your hugs truly make my day, everyday! I love you!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Sooner Than Planned

Looks like J will be doing her first Aquathlon sooner than planned.  She had originally wanted to participate in Alaska’s IronKids Philippine edition, which was scheduled for May this year, but her swimming coach signed up the whole team for the Ateneo Aquathlon this coming March 14, 2010.  That is about exactly less than a week from today.

She has been doing land training on top of her usual swimming regimen to prepare for this.  She is excited and I do not want to put any additional pressure, but I do remind her to do her best (you know, with eyes glaring and all).  She is registered to do the Aquathlon Classic under the 12 & under age category.  Participants in this event will have to complete a 600m swim and a 6km run to finish the race, except for the 12& under age group which will only have to do a 400m swim and a 3k run.

She will have to transverse 2 rounds of the Ateneo’s own first-class indoor Loyola Schools Swimming Pool (25m long), which makes for 16 laps, to complete 400m during the swim leg.


 After completing the swim, she has to cover the distance of 3k around the Ateneo campus.

Although I haven't had any experience doing an Aquathlon, I have my own running experience to share with her.  I particularly remind her almost everyday for the past week, before she starts running off to join her team mates, that...
"it is important to not go out too hard at the beginning of each leg. Race your race, and do not worry about what other racers are doing. My motto is always:  Start slow and finish strong!  It is also important to re-hydrate the body during the race.  I make it a point to stop at every water station and take a sip of water, even if it means adding a few seconds or even minutes to my race time.  Running during this scorching hot summer month can leave our body as dry as a lizard in the desert. Refueling the body with liquid will help us feel great and run fast.  And no matter what, stay relaxed during the race and enjoy every minute of it!  Good luck, Achi!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010


A friend and co-parent from B's class gave birth a few days ago.  I haven't found time to visit with her yet and will do so in a week's time, after the kids are done with school.  There was no one to pick up her daughter today so I offered to take her home.  And I asked her how well she liked her new baby brother.  "He is always crying that I cannot sleep," she complained.  Oh, how I DO NOT miss those days!

What I do remember, though, was that when B and R were still infants, I was made aware of the existence of this wonderful book called SuperBabyFood. It made feeding the kids so much easier; I knew what I was feeding them, and everything is as close to the source as possible (read: no preservatives).  And so I followed most of the author's suggestions with some exemptions, taking into account my kids' predisposed tendencies to certain allergens. It helped me shape my kids eating patterns and preferences that I highly recommend this book to everybody.

I remember every Monday afternoon was Super Vegetables Production Day. The yaya would cook lentils or split peas; steam broccoli, carrots and asparagus; and mash some avocados and papayas. She would then blend them in a food processor, and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once frozen, we transfer them to an individually labeled airtight container to keep in the freezer for our week's supply. We then mix these super healthy food cubes with our table food. We did this for about 3 years. And that has really done me well.  Five years down the line, the 2 younger ones snack on plain yogurt like it is ice cream, and second servings on broccoli for dinner is the norm in our dining table.  But chocolates and other cavity inducing treats are also eaten in high frequency, usually headed by the Dad. :)

I remember an incident when I took R with me to have lunch at my folks' two year ago. Lunch consisted on steamed fish, fried porkchops, and for soup, beef bulalo. Now R has a boy's appetite so asking for seconds is really nothing new, and is in fact, expected. He asked for a second serving of the soup, and emphasized that he wanted more of the green vegetables (bok choy and cabbage, actually) and then asked for a third, and a fourth, until my mom's cook went inside the dining room to inform us that R has finished all the vegetables already, there was none to give anymore. Upon finding out that there was none anymore, he suspiciously started eyeing the spring onions and leeks that were served as garnish on the fish, and asked if he could have some of those instead! Hainaku!

In another instance, B has appointed herself the school's canteen police. She is conscientiously labeling the food being served as healthy or junk, and of course getting into a discussion with the "ate" with regard as to why hotdogs are being served to the kids.

I would want for her to bring her own food but then her pre school requires everyone to pay for the canteen service for the the first 2 months of the schoolyear - regardless of whether you it eat or not.  Of course, when I tried to get out of that arrangement due to her numerous food allergies, the girl behind the counter told me that I can just pay for the 2-month canteen service even if I let my daughter bring her own snacks. Huh? What kind of logic is that? That said. I am now having the ultimate revenge as B continues to be the resident canteen police.

She recently relayed the conversation that they had, seemingly asking for a confirmation from me that she is right.

B: Ate cel, why are you serving hotdogs? It's junk food, right?

A: No, it's not.

B: But, right, it has a lot of preservatives?

A:  Hmmm.  (and turns the other way)

Image credit:  Julia Silge

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good Boy With Bad Habits: Should Boys Be Allowed To Play With Girls' Toys?

R is lucky that he has 2 sisters, and thus the opportunity to play with toys that are on both side of the gender spectrum always presents itself.  I believe they make for a well-rounded person.  While he is naturally drawn to toy cars, train sets, and dinosaurs; he doesn’t shy away from cooking and baking sets, dolls, and other toys you might consider girly.

One afternoon, I caught him playing Polly Pockets… Action Star Polly, that is. Rapelling down the strings of the window blinds.

Run, Polly, Run….

And, she jumps off the cliff!

Even Polly seems to agree that she is in one big mess...

Still at another time, B’s teddy bear, Sparkle, was the unfortunate recipient of his attention…

Idle hands....
Poor Sparkle, didn't know what hit him....

Here he is in between sobs, after B found out what he did to her poor Sparkle...

As you can see I do not believe in labeling toys as exclusively for girls or boys.  That unjustified bias that society has shoved on us has no place in the world of kids play where imagination should be the only rule.  It is perfectly normal in our household for my li'l man to drop his Transformers to play with his sister's dolls the next moment.  I just relax and let go.  He still lives in a world free from society's prejudices, and as long as his innocent play doesn't hurt himself or those around him, I let him be.  These are probably the best years of his life - and mine, too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Eclectic Eve

Today, I have invited a friend and fellow blogger to share her inspiring story in her pursuit of sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

Evelyn is a wife and a mother of two young kids.  Like most women, she loves dressing up which fits her perfectly well in her glamorous day job as jewelry designer.  Like most wives, she finds time to involve herself in her family’s meal by cooking dinner everyday and doing grocery shopping.  Like most moms, she also manages to personally tutor her older kid and home-schools the younger one.  However, she upped the ante for all of us wives and mothers by doing all these AND training for a triathlon! 

Impressed much? Read on and let yourself be inspired…

My husband, Aaron, started running with his cousins early 2008 and he got hooked ever since. His Sundays would start with an early race and more often I wasn’t there to support him. I’d rather sleep in and wait for him to come home to tell his story. After months of prodding, I decided give it a try. It was hard for me at first because it is so new to me, I’m more into gym, dance-aerobics etc. Aaron kept encouraging me to keep going, so I increased my distance each time I trained, and eventually, like everyone else, I’ve joined the bandwagon. It’s been more than a year since I started, and each time I join a race I still get excited! Running is definitely my new “black”.
 finishing a tri event with husband, Aaron

running the Globe Run For Home 2009

This March, I will start training for my 15km run at the “Globe Run For Home” I’m quite excited because of the different route from the usual Sunday races. I have all kinds of pumping music in my Ipod! I love powerful ‘Run and Worship’ Christian songs by Chris Tomlin, mixed with Beyonce, Fergie, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Akon, etc. Two things I love most about this sport: first, the gears!!! My cousin-in-law, Carolyn, introduced me to buy Lululemon apparel and I got addicted to it. I also got an Oakley similar to Chrissie Wellington’s shades, how I wish I can be fast like her! LOL!! When I started running more than 10km, I bought the hydration belt, earphones, Nike Band, Phiten etc.. It was a motivating factor to feel like a PRO to be wearing the gears and see myself progress in this sport. Second reason I love the sport is that it allows me to eat all the food that I want! I can eat more pasta, rice, etc., without feeling the guilt. 
 proud finisher of the Speedo Triathlon

I got badly injured last March 2009, at the Condura Run. That race, I didn’t even run a quarter of the distance when someone stepped on my rubber shoes, causing me to trip over.  I fell and cracked my canine tooth. It was that bad. The guy didn’t help me nor stayed to assist me. Thank God my teeth were also restored the same day by our family dentist. But I’ve wiped that  out that from my memory, moved on and still kept running! 
Friends asked me how I train for any event. Well, it really depends, if I sign up for Triathlon race, I will train 1-2 months ahead.  I would swim 1km minimum 2 times a week, run 7-8km once or twice a week and go to gym for spinning or drag my husband to Mall Of Asia “By the Bay” for few rounds of biking. Biking is my weakest part so I have to focus on that. One day when I’m ready to be more serious, I will buy a nice bike. 
 Happy Run with son

I am a wife, mother of 2, I have a day job, I cook everyday for the family, although I have helpers to help me I am still very hands-on in buying grocery/going to market. I tutor my kids and I was able to incorporate having a healthy lifestyle by doing sports and exercise. So If I can do it, so can all the wives and mothers out there!