Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

While it would have been cool to share a birthday with little monster, he had other plans.

Went to see the doc, and it seems this one is quite comfortable in there, thank you very much. I'm taking something that will help hurry things along plus I have to walk two hours a day (!), but if that doesn't work out, we'll have to induce labor.

After our checkup, H and I had a lovely birthday dinner at one of my new favorite restaurants. The past week, I had been so impatient, wanting to get this pregnancy over with already. But the reality of childbirth hit me again, and now I'm perfectly content just waiting--he'll come out when he's good and ready. So I just enjoyed my nice, quiet birthday, the last one that I had my husband all to myself.

I really, really love this man. Even the quietest, simplest birthday is made truly happy as long as I get to spend it with him.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Roundup

At the beginning of the year, I resolved to read four books a month. But, as many resolutions go, I wasn't able to keep up with my quota. Oh well. I still did manage to read over 30 books, so that's pretty respectable. (Or, at least, I thought so--until I met a dude a couple of weeks ago who reads 20 books a month.)

I used to do a monthly book report, but my reading list has a bunch of unremarkable free e-books. So allow me to just mention the ones that stood out:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I decided to reread this classic before the movie came out. Next up: a rereading of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A note on the movie: It was fun figuring out which one was Gloin--he looked almost exactly like Gimli! And as always, I didn't know whether to pity or fear Gollum.

What to Expect When You're Expecting by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, B.S.N.
Standard reading for expectant moms. I read it month by month throughout my pregnancy, since I thought I would forget everything if I did a one-time-big-time session. I could also relate more to the concerns each month--and thanked my lucky stars that I didn't get most of the symptoms listed. At some point, though, I wanted to poke my eyes out after reading "Best Odds Diet" too many times. Partly because it was just so repetitive, and partly because it made me feel guilty about not being a stellar mom and eating all the stuff I'm supposed to be eating (and not eating those I'm not supposed to...I did skip all the raw stuff, caffeine, and alcohol though). 

The Angel's Game by Carlos Luis Zafron
I picked up this book because I remembered Zafron's compelling prose. Like the author's first book The Shadow of the Wind, this one was beautifully written, opening with...
"A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price."
...but it also had an ending I wasn't very happy with.

Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times
Because I needed a break from fiction, and I do like me some food lit.

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
It's fiction based on a real person: The Queen of England. Light and fun and entertaining.

Snobs and Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes
Since I couldn't get my Downton Abbey fix, I decided to buy a two-in-one book by the series writer. I am absolutely amazed by his ability to dissect the nuances of the different English classes--I think it's one reason Downton is such a success. Which reminds me--must catch the Christmas special!

And my favorite book of the year...

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Photo from here

"Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness."

I was beginning to think that YA had lost its magic for me--this, after reading a few mediocre e-books. And then came The Book Thief. This is one of the most heart-wrenching books I have ever read. I don't know if it was the preggo hormones, but I cried buckets at the end of it. It reminded my why I still read YA.

So I guess that's it for my 2012 reading list. Brace yourselves for a bunch of parenting books in 2013! Har.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

As Ready As We'll Ever Be

I was getting stressed out trying to figure out the nursery situation. There was so much stuff in the guest room that we needed to get rid of--the bed, the computer desk, the clutter that had accumulated over three years. And then I realized: We don't need a nursery just yet. Who needs the added stress? Besides, the little monster will be staying in our room anyway, at least for a few months.

So I just decluttered, had our trusty helper do a major cleanup (cleaning screens, laundering curtains), and then set up a space for monster in our bedroom. Our Pack n Play isn't coming til next month, so I borrowed a lovely bassinet from Frances, then I got a chest of drawers (a steal at less than P6,000! That's about $140) for all the baby clothes and receiving blankets and towels. Our hospital bags are all packed. And H got me a super comfy chair for nursing as a Christmas gift--we haven't set it up yet though. All I need now is a diaper caddy.

I never thought I would reach the stage when I would want this baby to come out already. I thought, the longer he stayed in there, the better. But yesterday, after struggling to strap on my sandals and feeling this little one constantly (and painfully) pushing against my ribs, I decided I was ready. So, little monster, any time you're ready. Mommy and Daddy are waiting. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Bump Photo Shoot

I never really made a big announcement about our little monster's gender. Most people would usually guess that it's a girl. See, in this country, people believe that women get more beautiful when they're having a girl, and uglier when they're having a boy--boys supposedly give us the "mask of pregnancy," dark underarms, an enlarged nose, and lots of zits. I'm very lucky that nearly every day, someone would say something really nice to me, like I'm absolutely glowing or blooming, or that I don't look pregnant at all except for my protruding belly, or "Ang ganda mo magbuntis! (You look beautiful pregnant!)" So people are often surprised when I tell them we're having a boy!

We waited three years to have this baby, and I don't know if we'll have another one (you never really know, right?) so I wanted a record of a pregnant me. A gorgeous record of a pregnant me. So I asked one of the country's top photographers (who, as luck would have it, is a friend) if she could take my maternity photos. And then my wedding makeup artist, who does fantastic work, agreed to do my makeup. My usual hair stylists weren't available, so I just had it done at a random salon--which was all good, since wind was just going to blow through it anyway!

And these are the results. I arrived in a red dress made by my BFF M, ready for my 12th anniversary dinner date with my husband. The photog liked the dress because it hugged my figure, so she took a few shots of me in it. 

Photos by Sara Black. Makeup by Omar Ermita. Black dress courtesy of Cosmo's Happy Lopez. Wind c/o Sara's assistant, Kuya Norman. (Thank you all!) Taken at 36 weeks.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Am Blessed

So, that's it. I'm saying goodbye to the office for about 76 days (although I'll be working from home for the second half of my maternity "leave"). It's a daunting thought. I have never been away from work for that long--in nearly ten years of my professional life, the longest I've gone on leave is about two weeks. I've been feeling very anxious, but there's one indisputable fact that helps me sleep at night: I'm leaving behind the most amazing team.

Every day, I thank my lucky stars that each and every one of the members of the GH staff is hardworking, talented, and extremely pleasant to work with. I've heard that editors tend to hire people who are like themselves--if that's true, then yay me! Haha. Allow me to introduce you to them, because I am just so proud of this bunch and so blessed to be given the chance to spend my everydays with them:

The GH team: Me, Elaine, Niña, Roselle, Kara, Pia, and Lola, with our Official Food Supplier, Jaykee

Niña is our bunso. She's the first employee I ever promoted--just this month, in fact! From editorial assistant, she is now our assistant fashion editor. She has such a great sense of style, and the best part is, the stuff she wears are usually P500 and below! What I love about her is that she doesn't get frazzled, no matter what you throw at her. Nins, can you give a talk in my place on Sunday? "Sure!" Can you write the cover story? Oh, and it's due tomorrow morning. "OK!" Can you pull out items for our gift list from 14 different stores? "Kakayanin." I have never heard her say, "I don't think I can do that." What a trooper! Which is why I was so eager to promote her. HR and I had a bit of a dilemma though, because Niña can go on so many different paths--she has the potential to be a staff writer, a managing editor, a fashion editor...But things worked out in such a way that she'll be given the chance to pursue fashion, which is really at the top of her list of interests.

Kara is our art director. She's always full of energy--when we had a dog around at our shoot, the dog just suddenly perked up because she was feeding off Kara's hyper-ness. I also love her sense of style: classic and polished and feminine and fun. It's reflected in her outfits, her home, and her design aesthetic. She and I seem to have the same vision for the mag; it's funny how she pitches a layout sometimes, and it's exactly what I had in mind. She comes in early, works late, works on weekends, and never, ever complains. (At least not to my face!) She seems to really love her job. I don't want her to burn out though (and I want her to be able to spend more time with her two-year-old), so we've been looking for an assistant for her. Really hope we find someone soon.

Pia. Oh, Pia. She is our beloved beauty and fashion editor. I call her our happy working elf, because she has the most positive vibe. Whenever Pia's around, there is the sound of laughter. (And a supply of food. Har.) She also really knows her stuff--years of working in beauty have made her a walking encyclopedia of anything related to skin care. Her fashion pages are also getting better and better. Sometimes I get all giddy when I see the results of her latest shoot!

Lola is our managing editor. She always, always has a smile on her face. She's soft-spoken and kind of demure, and has a way of coating stuff in honey, even when she's breathing down your neck about a deadline. She is loyal and efficient and very eager to learn. And, like the rest of the staff, extremely dedicated to her work--I can count the number of times that she went home before I did. It's like she won't leave until she knows I absolutely don't need anything anymore!

The one whom I believe has the best job among all of us is our associate food editor Roselle. As the girl in charge of our food section, she spends her days either at restaurant openings or at home in her kitchen testing recipes! Her love of food is palpable. When we were at Spiral for the reopening press conference, she was practically skipping around, all starry-eyed, giddily saying things like, "THEY HAVE A HAM AND CHEESE ROOM!!!" She has both a journalism and a culinary background (she's a legit chef), so it's the perfect mix for the job. Our US bosses were quite surprised when they met her because she manages to remain skinny despite the perks (pitfalls?) of her job. 

Our latest addition is Elaine, formerly of OK! Magazine. We've only been officially working with her for a couple of weeks, but already she's showing the kind of sipag, positivity, and passion that I love. Before it was even officially her first day, she already set up her cubicle so everything would be ready come Monday, cleaning up and posting a photo of a shirtless Zac Efron. (A photo of her fiance soon followed.) Her previous boss, Frances, gave her a perfect 100 (!) in her last couple of evaluations--I have never given, nor gotten, a 100 in my life. Like she once told Frances, she told me that she would like to be an editor in chief in the future. That's a big reason I hired her--I can finally retire. (Kidding.)   

Melody and me at Central Park, NYC

My mom used to say that she and I were "partners in prayer and sanity." Melody, our associate publisher, is kind of my office version of that. She keeps me from going nuts, offers support, and plays a huge part in making sure that GH stays the number one family and home magazine! Even when her plate is full, she can't help but ask if other people need help. I don't know how she does it--she's so incredibly busy with all her responsibilities, she's a mom to a teenager, she finds time to work out, she's constantly traveling...she is truly living a full life. (P.S. Melody certainly lives up to her name--she's got a beautiful voice.)

And as proof that I really am working with a stellar team, we actually made it onto the company president's annual honor roll! Each year, she gives a speech at the office Christmas party, where she commends outstanding departments and individuals. Shock of my life (and kilig to death) when she mentioned Good Housekeeping! She said that our magazine and Smart Parenting have "made mommy magazines sexy, fresh, and sale-able." She even mentioned my name. And just that afternoon, I was telling everyone how in seven years with the company, my magazine had never made it to the honor roll. While others said it didn't matter because it didn't come with monetary rewards or anything, I joked, "But I thrive on praise. Compliments are my sunshine!" I was kidding, of course, but having my magazine and my fantastic team recognized--it really felt like sunshine.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dressing the Bump: the Long Top

As your bump gets bigger, you're going to want to steer clear of all your cropped tops and cute little baby tees (that will end up looking like cropped tops anyway!). If you're wearing separates, you're going to need tops that fall way below your tummy for two reasons: 1) to avoid looking like Winnie the Pooh, and 2) to cover any belly bands or, in my case, rubber bands that are keeping your pants up!

This black, off-shoulder top is super long. I can even wear it as a dress, albeit a very short one now...

This coral top is one size larger than my usual size, allowing for more room around the belly...

I love this basic white tee!

The next top illustrates a fashion tip: When wearing leggings, make sure you pair it with a top that's long enough to cover your bum. If you decide to wear a short top, layer a long cardigan over it. (Er, unless you're running or going to an aerobics class?) No one needs to get that familiar with the contours of your butt.

And this one was in a color I couldn't resist. It's not a maternity top, it's just really loose and flowy. I sometimes knot the ends under my belly!

Got other tips? Share away!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scenes from the French Countryside

How I wish I could tell you that I really was in Provence, but since I am grounded for a while, my friends just decided to bring the French countryside to me! BFF Mads, her (and my) sister Prits, and our good friend Mutya organized an absolutely lovely French-country-themed baby shower for me and le petit monstre. My amazing BFF pulled this off despite being yaya-less and nursing a newborn! I am incredibly lucky to have her in my life!

(Top) With Mads, who doesn't look like she just gave birth less than two months ago! (Above) With BFF Ching, who provided the prizes for the games, and party decorator/official photographer Mutya. What pretty friends I have, n'est-ce pas? (Incidentally, Mads speaks fluent French.)

Mutya decorated the tables with dainty glass vases filled with purple and blue flowers, and glass bowls with mini-chocolate bars. These were placed on top of white and silver doilies.

I think I overindulged. I absolutely cannot resist Crunch and Reese's!

It was a carb-filled afternoon, with yummy sandwiches, croissants, and quiche...

...a selection of delicious cheeses (my fave? The truffled cheese!)...

...and a crepe cake (so French!) with Nutella cream. (The eclairs were divine! The fudgy chocolate cake was from one of the guests.)

There were fun games, including a "compose a lullaby" one, which pitted my highly competitive high school friends against my equally competitive college friends. The winning lullaby (sung adagio to the tune of Justin Bieber's "Baby"):

...which led to me doing a lot of this...

Photo from Mutya

To go with the theme, I dressed in a doily-like lace dress, gold sandals, a turquoise-and-gold necklace, and a gold bangle. Mutya gave me a beautiful bouquet. I love getting flowers!  

There were gifts, of course (thanks, everyone!), and great advice from mommy friends, including Mads. (Her words of wisdom: "Sleep while you can!") To thank them all for their generosity, time, and love, I gave them the smell of the French countryside: lavender. I had lavender soap made, wrapped it in some tulle I had lying around, and included a little thank-you note from little monster. 

After most people left, some of us chilled with Mads's family, eating cheese and salami, and drinking wine (water for me). Ahh, to have had a glass of champagne would have made it perfect! Just a couple of weeks to go!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Say Hello to My Little Friend

The highlight of my day: I made a new friend.

This was taken at a friend's kid's birthday party. I think the magician used the snake as part of his act. I was the first to volunteer to hold the little fella, mostly because I wanted to have my Britney Spears moment. Funny how I have no fear when it comes to snakes, but I'm deathly afraid of cockroaches!