Hi-5 and a Merry SM Christmas

We have had a busy two weeks. 

So many fun things for the whole family.

But the highlight of the last two weeks was an invitation to kick off the holiday season at SM Megamall with a Hi-5 Concert and a chance to Meet and Greet the cast.

 

 

Here @smmegamall for Hi-5!!! Someone is very excited!!

A video posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

It takes a lot for this family of 6 to leave the comfort of Alabang but because we have a certain toddler who absolutely adores Hi-5 and the songs that they sing, it was a no brainer to attend when we were invited by my friend Abby.

We were all super excited for the show to start!

We were all super excited for the show to start!

With the newly opened Megamall Fashion Hall, we have been spending a lot more time in exploring Megamall. We have enjoyed quite a few of the restaurants, and now that Crate and Barrel just opened, I can speak for myself in saying that I will be there OFTEN to do some shopping. 

Hi-5 is the musical gift that Australia has given the world through Disney Junior. To be honest, Gelli isn’t the only one who watches the show…sometimes, we all sit down and watch it with her…which also means that we all know the words to the songs too.

Once the Merry Rainbow Christmas Factory was set to open, we knew it would be a great time listening and dancing along to our favorite songs with the fab five from Australia!

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Steven Tan SVP for Operations of SM Supermalls and Ian Mathay of SM Megamall open the Christmas Rainbow Factory with the help of some celebrity friends.

And then the real fun begins! Just look at Gelli’s different expressions! She’s not sure whether to laugh, scream, cry, or clap!!! I think she was scared at first because the music suddenly got really loud, but when she realized that they were actually dancing and singing up on that stage, you can see the wonder in her expressions!

 

Hi-5 sang about 5 or 6 songs which were a mix of their tried and true tunes that everyone knows the words to, some newer songs that I wasn’t so familiar with, and some Christmas songs to get us all into the Christmas spirit.

 

One of the things I love about SM Supermalls is their commitment to give back. Through their SM Cares Foundation, I have seen various projects through The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines help our communities. Through employee trainings, DSAPI has also created an awareness of children with special needs that was only made possible through SM’s commitment to making their malls a SAFE place for everyone. And this Christmas…through their Bears of Joy program, if you buy a bear for your child you are also providing a second bear for a child who greatly deserves a hug because of extreme circumstances.

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Happy recipients are given their bears by Hans Sy, Steven Tan, and the cast of Hi5.

Now that we have only four more weekends before Christmas is finally here, be sure to check out the SM Supermall near you for deals, contests, and give aways that will have us all feeling the Merry Christmas Spirit.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch the FAB FIVE this time around, DON’T WORRY! They are coming to Resorts World in December! For more information on how to get tickets for that show call 470-6956 or 668-9535. You can also visit www.vivrefort.com.

https://www.facebook.com/smmegamall

https://www.facebook.com/smsupermalls

http://instagram.com/smmegamall

Easy Lunch Boxes GIVEAWAY

Many of you who come to the blog or my Instagram account often, know that I enjoy packing healthy, nutritious, and fun lunches for my kiddos. Lately, I have been getting quite a few inquiries on my IG account as to what kind of lunch box containers I prefer to use. While I have lots of different containers that I have tried, used, and continue to go back to, my favorite lunch container of choice is Easy Lunch Boxes.

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Easy Lunch Boxes are the NUMBER 1 SELLING brand of lunch boxes on Amazon. They are sturdy, safe, durable, and convenient. I love how there are three separate compartments which offers the space and convenience to pack sandwiches, fruit, veggie sticks, and even a baked dessert which comes from my own kitchen. The kids like finger food sometimes, and if I choose not to pack a sandwich, it’s very easy to use silicon cups to divide the bigger compartment into smaller ones so that the kids have lots of choices.

 

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I have always loved the initiative that MOMS have when putting things together for their kids. It comes as no surprise to me that KELLY LESTER, chief lunch packer and CEO of Easy Lunch Boxes came up with the idea to pack her children’s lunches in safe easy (talaga) containers. MOMS are natural problem solvers…it’s a job requirement, so when Kelly created these containers she made sure that they are lead free, pvc free, BPA free, vinyl free, AND meet strict FDA requirements for food storage.

 

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These containers are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. That makes keeping your lunches cold is easier and warming them up is easy too. (Do you see a recurring word here?)

KEY WORD FOR MOMMAS:  EASY. YES. EASY.

I have always said here on the blog that I love anything that makes my life easy. This is one of those things. It ranks right up there with my small kitchen appliances which help me pack lunches for my kids as well. 

 Take note:  You do NOT want to pack soupy lunches in our favorite containers. Save the soupy lunches for thermoses which will keep them warm as well. This has never been a problem for our household, because while the kids DO like soup in their lunch, they also like them nice and hot which means our insulated containers work best for these types of lunch items.

 So, as an early Christmas gift to those lunch packing Mommas, Kelly Lester of www.easylunchboxes.com has agreed to sponsor a giveaway for all of you to enter for a chance to WIN one set of four lunchbox containers AND an insulated lunch bag to carry them in. 

Just follow the mechanics on the Rafflecopter Widget to enter for your chance to win. A Random winner will be chosen at the end of two weeks. Winner must email me (mish@mommanmanila.com) your full name, your email address, and your mailing address. After I receive this information I will forward to Easy Lunch Boxes and you will receive a coupon code to order your lunch boxes online. Winner may choose their lunch bag color.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Difficult Days and Nights

I wrote this post early last week. What made this particular day even more difficult was the fact that while I was sitting at the computer and put Gelli by herself in front of the t.v. (only a few feet from me) she was able to get a hold of my DSLR and cracked the protective lens because she pulled the camera off the table and onto the floor. I have never felt it was a good idea for me to publish a post when I was very emotional or upset. So I let this post sit a little while and my frustration subsided which allowed me to make a few adjustments.

 

 

Shattered glass of the lens protector for my DSLR. #toddlertornado

A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

For those of you who are parents…I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how some days are really difficult. Heck…there are nights that are difficult too. These are the nights when you don’t feel so hot yourself, but your baby has fever. These are the nights where everyone seems to have a nightmare (probably from that stupid Courage the Dog cartoon that is so darn scary) at different times which means that you do not get more than one hour of sleep…straight.

If you read other parenting blogs and are on social media, you have seen those posts…the ones that start out something like this: 

“Behind every great kids is a mom who is pretty sure she’s screwing it up.”

Well. Yes.

Yesterday was one of those days and last night was one of those nights…

I know we have all been there…and I KNOW I’m not alone when I think about the bang up job that I’m doing as a mother. But the recent posts that have been coming up on my feed the past few weeks are things like comparing parenting in the 70’s and 80’s to parenting now. And to be honest…it’s got me wondering…It’s got me so much more contemplative…it’s got me questioning if I’m on the right track or if I have veered off somewhere and am stuck somewhere in the details.

Gelli had nightmares last night. I couldn’t figure out what had her all riled up.

Miggy had nightmares last night. And with how many times Gelli woke up I couldn’t devote any time to soothing his worries except to encourage him to find his deep breathing techniques. I have always taught Miguel to turn to The Lord’s Prayer, because it is the most powerful prayer we can say. It’s given to us by The Creator Himself. It’s a source of strength and power for my lil guy…it’s what I tell him can help him get thru the scariest moments in life and the scariest nightmares.

Diego was quite demanding yesterday, and disappointed that he couldn’t go meet up with his friends to play. Diego is often demanding. He has this intensity about him that I love and appreciate when he’s focused on something that’s great and wonderful and productive. BUT, it’s too much to handle sometimes…most especially when he is harping on wants, on toys, and on things he can get hung up on.

And Gia had a rough day at volleyball practice. She totally gets the team play. But I think sometimes the drive that both Nino and I had in sports to be competitive is not something that she possesses. I know she loves to play. I know she was disappointed by some recent developments with the team and the upcoming tournament but she also has a hard time expressing herself about all of it. After lots of tears, and some uncomfortable prodding on our part, she was finally able to find her voice about the situation and in the end, even she understood a little bit better what it was that was actually upsetting her.

This is Gelli's artwork. She also prefers drawing on bedspreads and comforters or pretty much anything that gets in her way with her markers...hahahahaha.

This is Gelli’s artwork. She also prefers drawing on bedspreads and comforters or pretty much anything that gets in her way with her markers…hahahahaha.

Things weren’t quite going the way that I planned them in the house. Gelli found a Sharpie marker that Diego left on the coffee table. I couldn’t catch up with all the cleaning. Dinner was not exactly what I had planned for it to be. (But our bellies were full none the less.) 

It was just one of those days…and one of those nights. 

It was difficult. 

Difficult is ok. I know I will survive. I may even laugh about all of it when I’m not so tired anymore.

But I wanted to ask you Mommas…how do you bounce back from a day like this? How do you bounce back from one of those difficult days where you question everything it is that you are doing as a Momma?

The Business of being BUSY-My Two Week Round Up

I haven’t posted in awhile.

I have been so busy. I know I know I know…there are a ton of blog posts out there saying how we are so busy that we are not really seeing all the beautiful things that life has to offer. But believe you me…I have been seeing them. I just haven’t been able to write about them all.

So I’ll make this post a summary of the past two weeks that have been amazing…

Not every day was amazing. In fact, two out of the past 14 days were actually pretty crappy. I have been experiencing migraines again, and since this is the second time in two months, I figure I better get something checked out. A friend of mine mentioned that I might be too acidic. This is the second time that I have had an issue about being “acidic.” I know how to alleviate this problem. I just have to take time to address it by eating healthier again. 

This was the first make up class that Gia and I took together. I think she had a great time.

This was the first make up class that Gia and I took together. I think she had a great time.

In fact, I’m going to research a little bit about this and get back to y’all on how being acidic is so bad for our health.

My before and after shot makes me realize just how many freckles I have!

My before and after shot makes me realize just how many freckles I have!

The other mention of being acidic came during a make up class that I took with my friend Tina Henson Ngkaion. Truth be told-I put make up on and I don’t really think about it all that much. I rely on moisturizers to keep my skin soft and blemish free, but I do have the occasional breakouts and skin problems when I am stressed and when I lack sleep. BUT one thing I never knew was that if you are acidic you should be sure to invest in a good foundation that is almost 3 shades lighter than what you would normally wear because as the day goes on, your make up will change color. WHO KNEW THIS???

Thanks Tyn for teaching us the tips and tricks I know that Gia and I will use when applying our make up.

Thanks Tyn for teaching us the tips and tricks I know that Gia and I will use when applying our make up.

I also learned how to make my own sausage from scratch. One of my very good friend’s Vangie, introduced me to her neighbor who is not only a great cook, but a fabulous baker. She makes her own bread (not from a bread maker like me) and pretty much makes everything her family eats from scratch. She graciously offered to teach us how she makes her own sausage. AND now I’m ruined forever. I think I will be knocking on her door from now on with kilos of meat to make those tasty fresh sausages that CANNOT compare to the ones we are buying in the local delis. Home made really is the best.

This is a machine I would need to invest in if I would like to make sausage for the family more often.

This is a machine I would need to invest in if I would like to make sausage for the family more often.

Thank you Vangie and Martina for spending the morning with me making sausage! I can't wait till we do it again!

Thank you Vangie and Martina for spending the morning with me making sausage! I can’t wait till we do it again!

Have you noticed that Christmas is upon us? Last week, we were invited to the Meet And Greet of the Fabulous 5 from Australia. If you don’t already know who I am talking about then you definitely don’t have a toddler at home. If you do have a toddler, you don’t allow said toddler to watch Disney Junior. Hi-5 was at Megamall to kick off their Christmas Celebration!!! How plucky lucky were we to be invited as one of the VIP families to not only get to see Hi-5 perform some of our favorite (Yes I did say OUR bc I know the songs by heart too.) songs and some new Christmas tunes!!! Just look at my Gellibean and how STARSTRUCK she is to see Stevie LIVE and in PERSON!!!

Gelli was so super shocked to see Stevie in person.  If you could see the thought bubble above her head here, I think it would read something like this, "Stevie? Is that you?"

Gelli was so super shocked to see Stevie in person. If you could see the thought bubble above her head here, I think it would read something like this, “Stevie? Is that you?”

Even the boys had a great time watching Hi-5 LIVE! Thank you SM Megamall for inviting us to the VIP night to ring in the Christmas Season!!

Even the boys had a great time watching Hi-5 LIVE! Thank you SM Megamall for inviting us to the VIP night to ring in the Christmas Season!!

That entire week before Hi-5 was also really great for me because one of my favorite people from NY was able to come to Manila. My cousin Triccia was tasked to train the staff of the newly opened Crate & Barrel store (again in Megamall Fashion Hall) so we were getting together as often as we could after she would finish up with her work day responsibilities. 

YES. YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. CRATE AND BARREL IS NOW OPEN IN MANILA!!!

 

 

So excited that @crateandbarrelph is finally here! I will have so much fun with the gadget wall! #CantWaitForCrateandBarrelPH

A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

But there is something to be said with a little R&R with your favorite people. Especially, if they are part of your support network. And my cousins…are definitely part of my support network so it was good to spend time with her to recharge and remind myself what is important in this world…FAMILY.

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I also had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of lovely women through Business World. Twice a year, Business World hosts a Ladies Who Lunch Forum where empowered women come together to learn something new, make new friends and connections, and further each of their causes. I was contacted by Denise from Business World a while back after she had seen a dessert buffet that I had put together with the help of some friends and she asked me if I wouldn’t mind sharing how to do it.

I have always enjoyed entertaining my lady friends :-)

I have always enjoyed entertaining my lady friends :-) Part of what I enjoy is putting together the details. Like this rustic picnic napkin with a printed menu on butcher paper, and a simple chocolate dipped pretzle which doubles as a place card and a give away.

If you know me, you know I love entertaining. So, I happily obliged Denise’s request and I had a great time meeting new women who I know I will learn a lot from…not just in business, but in life.

Meeting new people is half the fun of accepting new gigs to share what I love doing.

Meeting new people is half the fun of accepting new gigs to share what I love doing.

Thank you Business World for inviting me to be a guest speaker, and thank you Mia for this action shot :-)

Thank you Business World for inviting me to be a guest speaker, and thank you Mia for this action shot :-)

Ok-other amazing things that have happened? Best Buddies Philippines just held their first ever LOCAL LEADERSHIP TRAINING DAY and DLSZ was included. I was able to bring 8 enthusiastic students together with Ms. Juay to the sponsored venue where they learned more about Best Buddies as an organization, leadership, and being the best Buddy they can be through hands on training, breakout sessions, and lectures.

We had an incredible time training the students from different schools to learn how to be a buddy and a better friend.

We had an incredible time training the students from different schools to learn how to be a buddy and a better friend.

But that’s not all…

I also have a big surprise for all of you lunch packers!!! So many of my instagram followers have been asking what kind of lunch box my kids use…so I contacted Kelly over at Easy Lunch Boxes and she said that she would be more than happy to sponsor a give away for my readers!!! This give away will consist of a bundle of 4 easy lunchbox containers AS WELL AS the soft handled lunchbox that you can store your lunch boxes in when your child brings them to school. 

Click on the link to be brought to the Easy Lunch Boxes website.

Click on the screenshot to be brought to the Easy Lunch Boxes website.

And…Nino and I attended another wedding…

Congratulations Mikko and Allan!!!

Congratulations Mikko and Allan!!!

Y’all know how I feel about weddings right? They always make me feel warm and squishy inside, just like births and baptisms of babies….all of these things are good for me, good for my hubby, and good for my kids.

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Photo Credit from Facebook page of Tslk Elizalde.

So on that warm and fuzzy note, I will leave you with an image from my cousin’s wedding ;-) Hope you enjoy it. This is the kinda photo that bring me back to my own wedding day…

Mini Melissas for my Mini Me

I grew up with Jellies.

If you grew up in the 80’s like me then these are the Jellies that you know.

Jellies have come so far...and boy am I thankful for that!

Jellies have come so far…and boy am I thankful for that! These are the shoes I wore as a young girl.  (Screen shot taken from: http://sgrumbleoutloud.wordpress.com/tag/jelly-shoes/)

But if you know what’s cute, sassy, and even sexy when it comes to jelly shoes now, then you know Melissa. I have loved Melissa shoes since they arrived here in Manila more than a few years back. I have had several favorite pairs, and I had this one Vivienne Westwood pair that was perfect for me to wear thru my pregnancy with Gelli. (hahaha-I wore Jellies when I was pregnant with Gelli.) 

I can totally imagine Gelli wearing these jelly sneakers to the park with denim cut offs.

I can totally imagine Gelli wearing these jelly sneakers to the park with denim cut offs.

Well, Jellies aren’t just for the ladies anymore. Melissa, the brand we all know and love for ourselves has been making Mini Melissas since 2010. This mini version of their bigger Momma counterpart adopts the same design philosophy. Each and every pair is contemporary in design, practical, and most of all-comfortable. This ensures that baby girl is just as comfortable and stylish as Momma is, no matter if these shoes are worn by the littlest of fashionistas while playing at the park, going to school, or out for a more dressy occasion with the family.

How cute are these? Better version of what I grew up with!

How cute are these? Mini Melissas come in so many different styles! One of these pairs looks familiar, doesn’t it?

I was invited to the launch of the Mini Melissas just last month, and honestly, it was so hard to go home with just one pair for Gellibean. In fact, if money was of no consequence, I’m sure Gellibean and I could have gone home with 10 pairs each of their cutest styles. The Mini Melissa designs range from the cutest of animals such as a Bear, a Rabbit, a Cat, and a Hippo, to summery designs like the Faradinhas which are adorned with a citrus slice in vibrant jewel toned colors. If those styles don’t suit your fancy, it’s easier to choose the more girly styles which have bows and ribbons like The Ultra Girl Bow and The Mini Melissa Aranha + Minnie. 

I was partial to this style for Gelli too because it fit her so well.

I was partial to this style for Gelli too because it fit her so well. Pictured here are the Furadina IV P1999, the Ultra Minnie P2250

You know what made this event so super fun to attend? The fact that we were asked to dress our daughters as our Mini Mes. I jumped at the chance to dress baby girl up like me, in fact I even braided my hair the same as Yaya braided Gelli’s.

Me and and Mini Me.

Me and and Mini Me. Gelli is wearing the Bear P2250

During the launch, we learned more about Melissa as a brand. Although the brand comes from Brazil, it has been known to collaborate with well known designers, architects, and even furniture designers from all over the world to come up with jellies for women who have a propensity for comfort and style. My favorite designer they have worked with thus far is Vivienne Westwood.

Even Gelli enjoyed trying on all the different styles :-) I think I have another shopper on my hands with this one.

Even Gelli enjoyed trying on all the different styles :-) I think I have another shopper on my hands with this one.

Just look at these Mommas and their girls! Aren’t they the cutest? When else can we get the chance to dress up like this? 

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Super Cute Mommas and their Mini Mes

Any time that I get to spend with my kids one on one is welcome. Gellibean and I had a grand time hanging with the other Mommas, fitting some fantastic shoes, and digging into the candy buffet! Being a mom of four makes it hard to carve out time for each of the kiddos individually. But I’m thankful for events like these where I get to learn about new products that are perfect for Mommas and Baby Girls, and focus my attention on just one baby at at time :-)

Super cute candy buffet to go along with sweet jelly shoes. The boys were roaming the Shangrila Mall while we were attending this event outside the Gelia

Super cute candy buffet to go along with sweet jelly shoes. The boys were roaming the Shangrila Mall while we were attending this event outside the Geleia store but they kept coming back to sneak some candy when they could.

All of the different styles of the Mini Melissas with a side strap utilize velcro buckles. This is comforting to know for me, because I know Gelli won’t have any blisters or boo boos when she wears these shoes. Her tiny little toes and feet will be comfy and safe.

Love this shot of the Mommas and their lil' girls. I super love my Vivienne Westwood Melissas!

Love this shot of the Mommas and their lil’ girls. Mini Melissas pictured here are the Mini ZigZag P2250, the Ultragirl Bear P2250, and Mini Bow P1999

I think I may go back soon for these.

I think I may go back soon for these.

Photo Credit: Creative Juice

Photo Credit: Creative Juice

If you would like to learn more about Melissa shoes you can visit Geleia stores  in ATC, TriNoma, Mall of Asia, Shangri-la Mall. You can also find the Mini Melissas in all of these malls as well as Mother care (Greenbelt 5, Glorietta 3, BGC Active Fun, Magnolia, Shangri-la, Eastwood, and TriNoma.) Flatshop also carries the Mini Melissas in Eastwood and Greenhills. Selected Shoe Salon stores, and Shoe Thing (Highstreet, Greenbelt 5, TriNoma, Eastwood, Lucky Chinatown) carry Mini Melissas too!

Website: http://www.melissaphilippines.com/home.php

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaPhilippines

Instagram: http://instagram.com/melissaphilippines

Twitter: https://twitter.com/melissa_ph

 

Diego’s Pizza Rolls

I have always encouraged my kids to get cookin’ the kitchen. 

I want them to know their way around the kitchen because it’s through cooking and baking and mixing up some goodness where we eat that they will learn how to nourish their bodies. 

Of course, through our hands on cooking lessons, they also learn healthier dishes to eat. (This is not one of those dishes…ok?)

Diego recently learned this dish in his home economics class in school. He brought a sample of one Pizza Roll home for all of us to taste, and of course we were very impressed with his cooking skills. He boasted that he completed the task with his friend and minimal help from his teacher, and even asked if I would like him to cook it again so I could enjoy his pizza rolls while they are hot. (He knows I like my food hot.) I told him he didn’t have to make it for me right then and there, but that I would love it if he could cook for me later the next day.

I thought y’all might want to see the recipe that he wrote out, so that he would remember how to make it. When I saw what he was doing, I asked if I could publish his recipe, and thankfully he agreed. 

The only part of the recipe where he asked for help was when it came time to fry. In the drawing, he labeled a “frying bowl,” but what he meant was a “frying pan.”

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Now. For the life of me I can’t find the folder that I put the pic of the finished product in. I think I will just have to ask him if he can make it again for me real soon :-)  

Maybe, I can plan for a post that he will include all of his specialties like I have done for Gia’s baked goodies in the past :-) 

Happy Friday!

 

Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay

Sem break has been good to us. We didn’t get to travel or go anywhere very far from home, but we have enjoyed some great bonding experiences with the kids, extended family, and friends.

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Hotel Kimberly is only 90 minutes from Manila. Rooms rates start at Php5,500. (Photo Credit: HK FB page)

One place we were able to explore last week is Hotel Kimberly in Tagaytay. Being from the south, our family has always enjoyed hopping in the car for a quick meal in Tagaytay overlooking the volcano and lake. We have even made excuses just to go up to “The Ridge” so we could grab a quick coffee and buy Buko on the way home. 

Did someone say ROAD TRIP?

Did someone say ROAD TRIP? Armed with snacks and a full tank courtesy of Shell we were ready to go!!!

I have said it before in a variety of different posts and pieces, so you already know that we are a family that likes to road trip…and I think we found a new place to go and visit!

The staff is warm and helpful.  Check in is easy and begins at 2pm.

The staff is warm and helpful. Check in is easy and begins at 2pm.

Hotel Kimberly invited The SoMoms to celebrate Halloween in Tagaytay. We are such a well rounded group, with so many talents spread amongst these multi-tasking mommas, that we put together quite the stellar Halloween celebration for the kids to enjoy in a place which is TOTALLY kid friendly. In fact, when I was walking around the hotel, exploring, and meeting some of the staff while I was taking pictures, what struck me the most was this statement.

“We really want to be known as a kid friendly hotel.”

Celebrating Halloween at Hotel Kimberly was a welcome treat for the whole family.

Celebrating Halloween at Hotel Kimberly was a welcome treat for the whole family.

Guess what?

It totally IS.

It’s really a relaxed hotel where there are a ton of activities that are geared towards entertaining the kiddos! From the huge and expansive playground, to the petting zoo full of animals to touch and feed, your children won’t run out of things to do. Of course, it really helped that we were all together as a group because it was familiar, fun, and exciting to be partying for Halloween with like minded Moms and Dads and their little people.

The playground can keep the kids occupied for hours. In fact, it was the first thing we saw as soon as we got out of the car. I had to coax them to move on to the next activity because they were perfectly content playing and running and swinging.

The playground can keep the kids occupied for hours. In fact, it was the first thing we saw as soon as we got out of the car. I had to coax them to move on to the next activity because they were perfectly content playing and running and swinging.

From the moment we arrived, the kids were out and about on the playground, (which could also double as a therapy center because Gelli was working on lots of different skills) skateboarding, and just exploring all the different places to see. Some of the SoKids decided to take a dip in the pool, while others just ran around in the open yard because the open yard was so expansive!!! 

Diego jumped out of the car in costume (he was a skateboarder) ready to play the part.

Diego jumped out of the car in costume (he was a skateboarder) ready to play the part.

Mommas watched while kiddos played. Happiness.

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Neva, Tin, and myself :-) Relaxed and cool as cucumbers watching the kids play…

After having a Filipino lunch, (where I ate entirely too much rice) I set out to prepare the dessert table that Cai, and Tina, and I had worked so hard to put together.

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Gia and I planned to put together something special for the group so we baked as many treats as we could for everyone. With Cai and Tina’s help we put treats and details together that all of us were proud to dig into.

Just one of the details that was so super easy to put together and super fun for the kids to dig into!

Just one of the details that was so super easy to put together and super fun for the kids to dig into! (Photo Credit: Stan Ong)

Here is what we came up with using the above peg for our inspiration.

This was our themed dessert table. Read about the DIY here

But we didn’t dig into these treats until after we played some really fun Halloween and Oreo themed games out on the playground with the kids! Everyone got in on the fun. 

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The swimming pool area can be transformed for an outdoor garden party or even a wedding reception. The Joya Pavilion is a great space for weddings and special celebrations. In fact, they were setting up for a wedding while we were there.  

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These two Cutie PIES!!!

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Gelli didn’t want any part of the animals. In fact, she was so grossed out (much to my surprise) when we walked into the rabbit cage. I thought for sure she would like the WABBITS…

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Actually, a lot of the animals were for sale if you are interested…not just WABBITS.

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This boy thought it was hilarious to run around chasing the birds…

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It was merienda time when we visited the animals…I was thinking about cupcakes…

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Not only is it important to take time to stop and smell the flowers…it’s important for bloggers to take pictures of them too!! (Michelle Lim of My Mom Friday)

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Someone didn’t get the memo to look “FIERCE” in this pic…

There were a few of the girls who are all so close in age. They are still in that stage where they are learning how to play with each other but gosh, I couldn't help myself. I had to keep snapping pics of these cuties together!

There were a few of the girls who are all so close in age. They are still in that stage where they are learning how to play with each other but gosh, I couldn’t help myself. I had to keep snapping pics of these cuties together!

I love that HK sets up this little nook for pictures. I couldn’t get the three year olds to back up into the space though…they like to move around a lot.

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How could I not take a pic of this guy???

After visiting the Petting Zoo, we all hunkered down to have some fun with Oreo games. I learned lots of new games for the kids to play that we will try with one of their upcoming playdates. And I had fun competing with my friends in our Oreo eating Relay. Of course we had an Oreo Hunt as well. (Think Easter Egg Hunt) But I have to be honest…after all of these games…I couldn’t stop thinking of these.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Oreo bits mixed in the batter topped with Chocolate Buttercream Icing, a Pumpkin Cream, and more Oreos for dirt and a tombstone.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Oreo bits mixed in the batter topped with Chocolate Buttercream Icing, a Pumpkin Cream, and more Oreos for dirt and a tombstone. Check out #SpookyCookie on the Oreo Facebook Page. (Photo Credit: Stan Ong)

After the costume contest which was judged by our friends from Oreo we were all able to dig into our treat table…but not before our group shot :-)

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The gang’s all here! We all had a great time with each other. I enjoyed getting to know all these inspiring Mommas just a little bit more. I’m already looking forward to the next gathering…

One thing is for sure. When the Mommas get working on something together…it’s always better. 

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The focus of the entire day for me was to enjoy the time with my kids and my love. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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Thank you Fifi Wong for having us :-) I had a great time chatting with you, realizing our common friends, and by the way….my kids totally had a blast with you!

Thank you Hotel Kimberly for making this Halloween such a memorable one. We had a blast and will come back again for a visit soon.

Check out Hotel Kimberly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their website.

 

Pancake House #GetHappy

Visiting Pancake House is a no brainer for our family.

Nino, Gia, and I always get the same thing whenever we go because we like to stick to what we love. (Who doesn’t love bacon??) Nino and I share one order of potato salad, and then we order our bacon waffles, with extra bacon on the side. Nino is the kind of guy that pours his syrup all over his waffle, while I’m the kind of girl that likes to dip…dip…dip…

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For those of you who frequent Pancake House, I’m so excited to share with you that they have a new treat lined up for all kids up to 13 years old who attend school.

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Simply ask your little achiever to 

  • Prepare their test paper, report card, or certificate which has a very good grade. (Achievement does not have to be perfect, and it can be in school with regular subjects OR in extracurricular activities.)
  • Make sure it has your child’s name and school logo or name on it.
  • Bring it into Pancake House with your child.
  • Order your own meal and accompany your child so that your child CAN…
  • AVAIL OF A FREE MINI SOLDIERS PANCAKE STACK!!!!

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Bonus? The time spent with your child can be your bonding time together. I have always enjoyed dating each of my kids. While this promo leaves out the big kids, it’s perfect to spend some time with your little guy(s) and have an afternoon snack. Be sure to visit Pancake House during the promotional hours of 1-5pm from Monday – Saturday. And be sure to visit before December 31st!

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Thank you Pancake House for having us, for sharing this promotion with us, and for always being our “go to” place for BREAKFAST all day!!! We love breakfast and can eat it all the time!

http://www.pancakehouse.com.ph/

https://www.facebook.com/PancakeHousePhilippines

https://twitter.com/PancakeHousePh

http://instagram.com/pancakehouseph

DIY Halloween Dessert Table

I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when a good plan comes together.

Whenever Gia and I start pinning ideas on to my Pinterest boards for themed dessert tables, we get so excited for all of the fun things that we can do together.

Truth is, Gia and I LOVE to be in the kitchen together…it doesn’t quite matter much if we are baking or cooking or dancing or listening to music. We really challenged ourselves this Halloween to come up with some nothing short of fantastic for the SoKids and their Mommas. 

SoMom Kris of OC Mom in Manila had asked me if I could make some Oreo pops for our out of town “Trips and Treats” activity. Seeing this as an opportunity to have some fun, Gia and I started coming up with desserts that were easy, would look great on the table and that provided a variety of tastes and textures for everyone who would be attending our Halloween party.

Because we knew there would be a huge age range of participants enjoying the dessert buffet, we knew we had to keep the theme of the table playful and not too scary. I also had to stay within the prescribed budget (as we know DIY is always on a budget) as well as work as many OREO treats into our buffet as possible.

We also considered that the desserts we chose to make needed to be easy enough for us to prepare up to two days in advance, and that could keep that long as well. We considered the weather. If it turned out to be really hot, we might run into a problem with the chocolate covered desserts. After all, a dessert table isn’t a dessert table unless it’s overflowing with treats for everyone! 

Here are some close ups of the treats that were inspired by this Pinterest board, which Gia and I were able to put together. Some of the pics that I took during the event, weren’t so clear so I was able to “borrow” some of my fellow SoMoms’ photos with permission of course.

Oreo Push Pops were made with Devil's Food Cake, 7 Minute Icing, and Crushed Oreos. I was able to pick up the little candy pumpkins at our local bake supply shop.

Oreo Push Pops were made with Devil’s Food Cake, 7 Minute Icing, and Crushed Oreos. I was able to pick up the little candy pumpkins at our local bake supply shop. Previously, I had ordered a big box  of 100 pcs. of the Push Pop containers from Amazon and my mom shipped it to me via Balikbayan Box. (Photo Credit: Tina Ong)

Cake Pops were made with our Cake Pop Maker. We used a vanilla recipe to make the balls, trimmed the excess and then dipped in Tulip Chocolate Compound that we got from our local bake shop supply as well as our Halloween themed paper straws that we used in place of sticks.

Cake Pops were made with our Cake Pop Maker. We used a vanilla recipe to make the balls, trimmed the excess and then dipped in Tulip Chocolate Compound that we got from our local bake shop supply as well as our Halloween themed paper straws that we used in place of sticks. 

Rice Krispy Treats are super easy to make. However, Gia said she would like to change the recipe the next time we make them so that they are a little more chewy. We dipped these treats in Tulip White Chocolate Compound and then decorated with colored sprinkles.

Rice Krispy Treats are super easy to make. However, Gia said she would like to change the recipe the next time we make them so that they are a little more chewy. We dipped these treats in Tulip White Chocolate Compound and then decorated with colored sprinkles.

Our friend Didi made a colorful contribution to our table by bringing sugar cookies. They were really so cute and perfectly matched our theme.

Our friend Didi made a colorful contribution to our table by bringing sugar cookies. They were really so cute and perfectly matched our theme.

I LOVED this idea when I saw it on Pinterest. It's a nice snack for those who are looking to munch on something but without all the extra sugar. Look at the cello bag topper and the tent card that Tina designed! SUPER cute...

I LOVED this idea when I saw it on Pinterest. It’s a nice snack for those who are looking to munch on something but without all that extra sugar. Look at the cello bag topper and the tent card that Tina designed! SUPER cute…

Since the star of the show was OREO. I thought it would be cute to include OREO inside the cupcake as well as part of the decoration on top.  I was super excited to find the Brach's Candy Pumpkins at our local Rustan's Fresh too! The cupcake is a simple Vanilla cake (where I cut back on the sugar) with OREO bits mixed into the batter. The chocolate buttercream icing brings enough sweetness to the cupcake without it being overly sweet.

Since the star of the show was OREO. I thought it would be cute to include OREO inside the cupcake as well as part of the decoration on top. I was super excited to find the Brach’s Candy Pumpkins at our local Rustan’s Fresh too! The cupcake is a simple Vanilla cake (where I cut back on the sugar) and added OREO bits mixed into the batter. The chocolate buttercream icing brings enough sweetness to the cupcake without it being overly sweet. Plus, I was able to find this Oreo Crumb at the local bake shop too! It made doing the topping so much easier!!

This is definitely a great find. Now that I know where to get it (Carla's Bakery Supply on Sucat Road) I can go back for it anytime.

This is definitely a great find. Now that I know where to get it (Carla’s Bakery Supply on Sucat Road) I can go back for it anytime.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to make Caramel Apples for the buffet. So I enlisted Althea over at The Bad Apple to make some Ube flavored Caramel Covered Apples for me. I wish I got to taste one!! The apples were P160 a piece.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make Caramel Apples for the buffet. So I enlisted Althea over at The Bad Apple to make some Ube flavored Caramel Covered Apples for me. I wish I got to taste one!! The apples were P160 a piece. (Photo Credit:  Michelle Lim)

It's been two years since Gia and I made our last fondant cake. This was so super hard!! I was even texting my teacher over at Cuppy Puppy because I didn't know what to do! Of course, we are very hard on ourselves because it didn't quite turn out the way we wanted, but I know that working with fondant is NOT easy...They are like pieces of art. I don't think my teacher would be very happy with the job that we did here...but I'm sure she would forgive me given the time constraints and lack of practice that we had.

It’s been two years since Gia and I made our last fondant cake. This was so super hard!! I was even texting my teacher over at Cuppy Puppy because I didn’t know what to do! Of course, we are very hard on ourselves because it didn’t quite turn out the way we wanted, but I know that working with fondant is NOT easy…They are like pieces of art. I don’t think my teacher would be very happy with the job that we did here…but I’m sure she would forgive me given the time constraints and lack of practice that we had.

See the cockroaches and ants munching on the OREO?  Cai made a platform for the cake so that it would be a little bit higher than everything else. It was perfect to give the cake a little bit more height. Check out the cake stand…It’s two melamine bowls that I glued together with my handy dandy hot glue gun. It doesn’t look perfect…but I’m not sure anyone really noticed…

I also forgot to take a pic of the cake once we sliced it. Gia wanted to make a polka dot cake that would be orange and black when you sliced it. It worked, although, I think the next time we do it, we will add more cake balls…

I wanted to add desserts that would be cute, fit our theme, and not take up too much time to put together. What's easier than throwing some vampire teeth on the inside of a Krispy Kreme doughnut?

Adding desserts to the table that would be cute, fit our theme, and not take up too much time to put together are a must. What’s easier than throwing some vampire teeth on the inside of a Krispy Kreme doughnut? (Photo Credit:  Michelle Lim)

The tricky thing with dusting a pumpkin cake bite with confectioner's sugar is that by the end of the day, the cake sucks up all the sugar! Here is a shot that I snapped as soon as I put the treats on the table. You can clearly see the jack-o-lantern stenciled confectioner's sugar. You can find the recipe for the pumpkin cake here.

The tricky thing with dusting a pumpkin cake bite with confectioner’s sugar is that by the end of the day, the cake sucks up all the sugar! Here is a shot that I snapped as soon as I put the treats on the table. You can clearly see the jack-o-lantern stenciled confectioner’s sugar. You can find the recipe for the pumpkin cake here.

These treats can be made days in advance if you have the time. All you have to do is make sure you store them in a cool place. Best not to put them in the fridge because chocolate always sweats after it's been in the ref. We just kept our chocolate lollipops in a room where the aircon was running.

These treats can be made days in advance if you have the time. All you have to do is make sure you store them in a cool place. Best not to put them in the fridge because chocolate always sweats after it’s been in the ref. We just kept our chocolate lollipops in a room where the aircon was running.

I love the attention to detail that Gia has. She made this tombstone like display out of styro that she shaped with a bread knife. Then she covered it in board paper, painted it, and added the lettering details. Then we asked Nino to put the holes for the lollipops so that they would be as straight as possible. It then, became a clever way to bring height to the table in a different way.

Lemon Tart made by Gia. She used Ina Garten's recipe.

Lemon Tart made by Gia. She used Ina Garten’s recipe.

Gia and I thought that the adults might want something different. I suggested she make a lemon tart. Truth is, we usually serve this lemon tart COLD. We realized since it had been left out of the fridge since earlier that morning that it was really sweet. Maybe next time, we can try making mini versions of this and cutting back a little bit on the sugar. 

Not everyone wants sweets. This little Spider Kit gives someone the opportunity to put together a protein rich snack with crackers and peanut butter.  Instructions were carefully placed on the back of this cello bag topper by Tina.

Not everyone wants sweets. This little Spider Kit gives someone the opportunity to put together a protein rich snack with crackers and peanut butter. Instructions were carefully placed on the back of this cello bag topper by Tina. (Photo Credit: Tina Ong)

We can’t have all these treats without MILK! NOTHING goes BETTER TOGETHER with OREOS, than MILK!!!

How cute are these milk bottles decorated to look like playful mummies done by Cai?

Cai did a great job of pulling together mummies in a clever way while incorporating our colors too.

Cai did a great job of pulling together mummies in a clever way while incorporating our colors too.

See those little witch shoes? I picked those up at Uniwide for P15 each! I love it when I can work bargain finds into out themes!!!

 When it comes to designing the printables that go on the table, I am at a complete loss. I only now learned how to use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos…so you can imagine what kind of pickle I’m in when I try and create printables for a table. Asking a printer to design these tent cards, focal centerpiece and details in the shapes of stickers and tags can easily bring up the cost of a dessert table, so I enlisted fellow SoMom Tina Ong from The Phenomenal Mama to come up with designs in our color scheme.

Screen shot of Tina's FREE Printables available on her blog. Click the photo to be directed to Tina's post.

Screen shot of Tina’s FREE Printables available on her blog. Click the photo to be directed to Tina’s post for the free printables.

She knocked it out of the park! The designs she came up with in between her own busy life and playing coach, driver, and cook to her three big kids were nothing short of fabulous. You can check out her designs on her blog. She even put together the files so if you would like to download them for FREE!!!

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Paper Bats, Plastic Ghosts, and Garlands all downplay the scary spider… P.S. Gelli hates that spider. (Photo Credit: Michelle Lim)

The decorations and other things were a facet of the table that I knew Cai over at Apples and Dumplings could totally handle. We discussed the colors, the possibilities of her working some of the straws and other things she carries over at The Paper Chic Studio to coordinate with our theme. She was even able to find some plastic mice and cockroaches that weren’t too scary…in fact they almost looked cute eating their own OREOS. (almost) She came up with the punched color garland, some bat cut outs, and incorporated OREOS into our BOO sign.

I super love the BOO sign made from OREOS!!! It totally brings it back to where all the inspiration from this whole table come from....

I super love the BOO sign made from OREOS!!! It totally brings it back to where all the inspiration from this whole table come from…. (Photo Credit:  Michelle Lim)

 Putting this table together would have been impossible if it weren’t for all my friends who helped me BEFORE the actual set up on the day of the Halloween celebration in Hotel Kimberly in Tagaytay

Here is what we came up with using the above peg for our inspiration.

Here is what we came up with…What do you think?

Thank you Oreo for supporting the SoMoms and our desire to become better people through our #BetterMe sessions. The Trips and Treats bonding session with our families was the perfect way to kick off our Semestral Break. Thank you Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay for having us and an all our crazy kiddos for such a fun celebration! Thank you YBS for organizing the entire thing, and thank you to Stan Ong, aka Photographer Extraordinaire for documenting it all. I can’t wait to see the shots you were able to get of the table…

The SoMoms #BetterMe sessions are not just a gift for me. They are a gift for my whole family. If I improve upon myself and my character it just doesn't benefit me. It benefits everyone I love. Thanks Stan Ong for this incredible family shot!

The SoMoms #BetterMe sessions are not just a gift for me. They are a gift for my whole family. If I improve upon myself and my character it just doesn’t benefit me. It benefits everyone I love. Thanks Stan Ong for this incredible family shot!

Thank you Maricel from A Sweet Cottage for lending me your backdrop so that we could make our buffet spooky black with spider webs. Thank you Rowena for lending me all the fun paper punches, rollers, and dies in case I needed them. Thanks also for the banderitas that took center stage on the table and helped with bringing more color to our very orange table. Thank you Vangie for always being so generous with whatever supplies and advice you have in bringing a table and a party together. You are my DIY inspiration. Thank you Nenette from My Little Attic for always heeding my requests of paper and where to find and do things that I am not familiar with. You are a stylist that always comes up with classy tables and parties that I admire you and look to your creative tablescapes for inspiration as well.

Thank you Tina and Cai, for helping execute what we envisioned together so that everyone on our OREO Trips and Treats #BetterMe could enjoy the fun and excitement that Halloween brings.

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I think we should do this again…but maybe not on such a grande scale? Thanks again Cai and Tina! MWAH!

And LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Thank you to my darling daughter for being so smart, resourceful, and helpful in pulling together a fantastic TREAT table that we could share with our friends. Thank you for continuing to bake even when you were tired and when Dad and I had to leave for a little bit on Sunday for our inspirational talk. You are so much more than I imagined you would be. I LOVE YOU.

We are definitely BETTER TOGETHER when we work on projects like these. Great job Babe!

We are definitely BETTER TOGETHER when we work on projects like these. Great job Babe!

The Pastry Studio supplied the sugar cookies. You can reach them by text or phone (0917-5339275 and 633-0949) Their cookies are also sold in S&R.

The Bad Apple supplied the Ube flavored Caramel Apples. Check out their Facebook Page

Stan Ong Photography was our official photographer for the day.

Hotel Kimberly was our venue sponsor for the day filled with fun. I will write a separate post about all the fun things to do there! We will definitely go back. It was quite affordable AND a perfect place to stay with the kids because they will NOT get bored. Promise.

 

Colgate for a #CavityFreeFuture

I can hear my dad saying it now…

“Ignore your teeth and they will go away.”

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Instilling healthy habits starts at a young age. Gelli already knows that she has to brush her teeth every morning and every night before bed.

This was something he said to all of us. I used to laugh at him because he would always repeat this over and over again if any of us got lazy with our brushing…truth is, he knew what he was talking about.

We teach our children healthy habits by modeling them. If we brush our teeth, our kids (usually) will follow suit…they learn from what they see us doing, and not necessarily by what we say.

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Dr. Jay Millonado looks after our whole family’s oral health.

So, imagine my surprise when my cousin Dr. Jay Millonado explained to me all the problems my youngest son has with his teeth. I don’t know how it happened (actually, I do-but that’s a story for another post) but he has a terrible habit of trying to sneak out of the house without even brushing his teeth! It’s so hard to impress upon this kid just how important it is to take care of your teeth!

Studies have shown, that oral health contributes to non communicable diseases. This means that if you take better care of your teeth, chances are you are healthier, as well.

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My kids all learn in different ways…when I saw this book in my cousin’s office, I told Diego to start reading… 

Colgate has quite a few initiatives that help promote healthy smiles in countries all over the world, and they have made strides in promoting healthy oral hygiene with their Bright Smiles Bright Future campaign. By enabling children to care for themselves through good oral hygiene and continuing education, Colgate helps set the standard for a brighter future with these students. Why should we spend time educating children about oral health care?

Here in the Philippines:

  • 9 out of 10 children have cavities (regardless of socio economic status)
  • Low % of population even visit a dentist
  • Importance of daily oral care and public health programs is shifting
  • We can all make a difference
Screen Shot of Colgate's Bright Smiles app. Visit the website by clicking here.

Screen Shot of Colgate’s Bright Smiles app. Visit the website by clicking here.

I have always said that teachers change the world one student at a time. We touch lives, shape perceptions, facilitate learning, and when the school year is over, that student goes on to another teacher who will help him reach his potential.  Dr. Medina shared how dentists are much like teachers. They change the world one patient at a time. Community dentists can change communities by helping guide their patients to a healthier way of living one check up at a time. Teaching their patients good oral health by starting healthy habits while they are young, dentists are empowering them to make better decisions for their teeth.

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Photo taken during the launch of Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutralizer. From L-R: moi, Kris De Guzma, Tony Ahn, Jackie Go, Tin Dychiao, Marc from the agency, and Cherish Acosta.

One thing that stuck with me during the talk of Dr. Vicente O. Medina, during the Colgate Launch of their new toothpaste was this, “Oral health is an integral part of general health and wellbeing and is a basic human right.” Dr. Medina is the DEAN of The College of Dentistry at the University of the Philippines in Manila. He stressed that GOOD oral healthcare should be preventative. Flossing is preventative. Flouride treatments are preventative. Brushing is preventative. Brushing with Colgate plus SUGAR ACID NEUTRALIZERS provides the best preventative choice for kids and adults alike.

Couple this breakthrough technology in toothpaste, with public awareness, and continuing health education, and the Philippine goal of children born in 2026 being completely cavity free might actually be possible.

Here’s the thing: We all know that eating sugary food can cause cavities. But food which isn’t even high in sugar content can lead to cavities as well, and to prove this point, during the launch of Colagate’s NEW toothpaste, we were served an appetizer of both veggies and (would you believe) blueberry cheesecake? 

We were all a bit puzzled as we started our dinner with dessert...

We were all a bit puzzled as we started our dinner with dessert…

At any rate the point made was that both of these foods can affect the health of your teeth with sugar acids. Even if the crudite and garlic ranch dressing doesn’t seem high in sugar, the sugar acids left behind from eating a healthy snack can also lead to cavities. These sugar acids set into plaque and can weaken teeth which leads to cavities. SUGAR ACID NEUTRALIZER helps deactivate sugar acids in plaque proving that Colgate’s NEW toothpaste plus SUGAR ACID NEUTRALIZER to be the best choice in cavity protection for the WHOLE family.

As mothers, there are so many decisions we make for our families. Choosing the right toothpaste is not only important for ourselves, but it sets the stage for a life of healthy choices that our children will eventually make on their own. If I am trying to encourage my children to live a life of wellness that is balanced, I not only have to facilitate healthy choices in eating…I have to promote good oral healthcare AFTER they eat, as well. With this new breakthrough technology in toothpaste, Colgate for a #CavityFreeFuture has made it even easier for me to keep my kids healthy when it comes to their oral healthcare. 

SoMoms Tin Dychaio, myself, Kris DeGuzman, and Jackie Go

SoMoms Tin Dychaio, myself, Kris DeGuzman, and Jackie Go

Website:  http://www.colgate.ph

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ColgatePhilippines

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ColgatePH