Online community aims to help moms achieve financial independence through freelancing

Gone are the days when moms are expected to just stay home to manage the household. Recognizing their own potential for so much more outside of domestic concerns, women have established themselves in the workforce whether as employees in corporate offices, or more and more lately, as freelancers.

Freelancing has long been an option for many women, including those seeking to leave their corporate jobs to be able to spend more time with their families, or stay-at-home moms who want to contribute to the family’s income.

However, for many who are new to this kind of employment, freelancing may seem quite daunting.

Fortunately, resources are available to them in the form of Richie Rebamuntan and the online community she founded #WEdothetalk.

Richie Rebamuntan, #WEdothetalk

The entrepreneur behind I Connect Marketing & Business Services has for years been recruiting and training women to do work as virtual staff for clients, including those based abroad. Seeing the potential to help more women achieve success similar to her own, and with the support and encouragement of her former students who are now the group’s pioneers, she established the #WEdothetalk online community.

Recently, the #WEdothetalk website – wedothetalk.com – went live, giving potential clients comprised of SMEs in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada a direct line to her pool of competent virtual staff, all of whom are members of her online community.

Richie Rebamuntan, #WEdothetalk

Richie’s goal is for #WEdothetalk to help moms achieve financial independence through three milestones:

One: Through a home-based job

Richie believes that a mom does not have to work far from home and away from her family. With a computer, a stable internet access and the skills she can develop through the resources available at the #WEdothetalk online community, she can successfully land a job and earn a living, while still being there for her family.

To this end, Richie conducts free webinars for her community members on online freelancing every Wednesday and Friday via Facebook Live. Dubbed An Hour with Richie, it offers viewers valuable know-how in navigating the freelancing world, from crafting a resume, submitting proposals at Upwork, to scouting for home-based jobs.

Two: Through a home-based business

While working on a home-based job can be financially rewarding, having an established home-based business can be even more so, as it can help generate passive income. This can fund the little luxuries to treat the family or form part of the family’s savings for a rainy day.

Aside from her company, Richie also packages and distributes her own brand of pure wild honey – Rich’s Pure Raw Honey from the Wild – and all-natural bath soaps – Lady’s Youthful Secrets.

She also exposes her community members to various business opportunities such as direct selling and cottage industries that can be established and operated in the home.

Three: Through financial literacy

Earning and making a living through freelancing or having a home-based business can be exhilarating for many moms. However, to sustain this lifestyle, moms must also learn the value of money, and how to strategically invest in their business and in themselves.

Integral to these milestones is the value of community. It is with the support and guidance of fellow women freelancers and entrepreneurs that moms can ably navigate the freelancing arena and succeed in their ventures.

Richie Rebamuntan, #WEdothetalk

The launch of the #WEdothetalk website was held at the Rizal Art House, supported by representatives of Digital Mom Academy, Social Media WAHM, and Digital Career Advocates of the Philippines. The event was sponsored by AXA Philippines, Skin Magical, Unilever Network Philippines, doTerra, Rizal Art House and Delicacita. Aside from myself, the event was also covered by Marj Liwag of LittleMsPrinter.com.

More information and resources are available for budding freelancers at the #Wedothetalk online community. To join, visit facebook.com/wedothetalk.

Many thanks to Richie for inviting me to the launch and for welcoming me into the community.

Watch this space for more insights gained during the event and from the group.

New SKYcable kids channel ZooMoo hosts panel on animal conservation

Well, first there was IQ, and then there was EQ.  Today, we have another aspect of child development that we, as parents, would do well to address: our children’s animal quotient (AQ).

From the apex predators in the wild, the little critters in the fields, and our furry friends at home, all animals have their own important place in the world.

ZooMoo Launch Event

ZooMoo Launch Event

ZooMoo Launch Event

ZooMoo, the new English language-based learning channel on SKYcable, aims to help parents in honing their preschoolers’ AQ, as well as fostering a love for animals and nature.  The channel is a product of the collaboration among the world’s foremost wildlife filmmakers, early childhood educationalists and technology developers.  Its entertaining and engaging animal-centered programs are designed stimulate and develop kids’ innate emotional connection to the natural world.

Recently, ZooMoo hosted a panel discussion for parents and guardians at the aptly themed Zoo Coffee.  Here, the attendees were able to gain insights on the importance of teaching kids about animals and nature at an early age and how to further integrate technology into their kids’ early education.

ZooMoo Launch Event

The panel is composed of photojournalist and environmental advocate Gregg Yan, lifestyle television host and online influencer Kelly Misa-Fernandez and the marketing manager of ZooMoo’s parent network Blue Ant Media, Trippy Padilla.  Together, the panelists imparted tips and information on how to foster kids into becoming good caretakers of the planet, which include:

The benefits and challenges to parents of being in the digital age

With the ubiquitous influence of technology, parents do wonder whether access to these gadgets, apps and social media is beneficial or harmful to their kids.

The answer is: As with most things, technology is neutral. It can be both good or bad, depending on how you use it.

In his line of work, Gregg Yan has seen first-hand how technology helps in animal conservation. For example, conservationists can upload photos of the lieft fin of the whale sharks they encounter on the Wild Hook system which helps them identify individual sharks as patterns of spots are unique to each shark.

Furthermore, access to animal and nature-related content through digital media has grealty helped in disseminating conservation awareness, even among kids.

“With digital technology, you don’t have to carry a fifty-pound backpack and go up mountains,” he said. “All you have to do is watch ZooMoo and you’ll be able to see the animals in their natural habitat.”

ZooMoo’s programming is comprised of 1,500 self-contained shows that combine spectacular wildlife footage with a range of puppetry, animation and narrative techniques to create a unique viewing and learning experience for a very young audience. Centered around five themes – explore, create, play, puzzle and quiet – ZooMoo’s shows are geared towards helping kids develop appreciation and compassion towards other creatures.

Through the ZooMoo App, kids and parents will have a second screen to enjoy ZooMoo’s animal-centric content. Parents can allow their kids to immerse themselves in the world of ZooMoo through interactive games, music, puzzles and other fun activities. The app’s Parent Page also provides personalized support to parents to aid in their children’s learning.

How to develop good conservation habits among young children

To Kelly Misa-Fernandez, modelling good behavior is key to raising socially and environmentally responsible kids.

“At this age, kids will immitate what they see.” she shares. “I want my son to see the real situation and I want him to be empowered to know that he can do something about it. And it’s best to lead by example.”

Recently, for example, her family has started assembling eco-bricks, environmentally friendly bricks made of recycled plastics from home waste. They stuff plastics like wrappers and cellophane tightly into sturdy containers which can later be used in construction while keeping harmful plastics away from the ocean and sea life.

Through the talks with the panelists, it is easy to see that conservation awareness is becoming a more important issue for today’s kids. Fortunately, with ZooMoo, parents and kids can get their start in becoming environmentally aware and doing their share to protect nature and animals.

ZooMoo Launch Event

ZooMoo Launch Event

ZooMoo Launch Event

ZooMoo ‘s program line up is packaged in an easy to understand format that is fun for both parents and kids. Among ZooMoo’s well-loved shows are Dinosaur Train wherein young Tyrannosaurus Rex Buddy travel across the Land of Dinosaurs with his family and friends), and  ZooMoo Wild Friends which take kids on a journey to discover animals and the world around them.

gallery_DT_EP_04B_117A

Baby-O-shark-Diving-sm

SKYcable subscribers can choose to add zooMoo (channel 120 in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Lipa) to their channel line-up for only Php20 per month via SKYcable Select. For more details or to subscribe, visit mysky.com.ph or call +63 2 418 0000.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

What you can do with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s 2019 Giving Journal

With approach of each new year is the resolution to be more efficient and organized.  This is why year-round planners abound in bookstores and paper supply stores at the onset of the holiday season.

Lately, brands have launched their own custom planners, giving their loyal customers a way to experience their brands throughout the year, while contributing to their #organizationgoals.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, the coffeehouse founded by Herb Hyman in Southern California in 1963, has a slightly different perspective.

With The 2019 Giving Journal, CBTL brings the spotlight towards generosity.  It highlights the Real LIFE Foundation, CBTL’s beneficiary since 2011 which receives support for its endeavors to provide educational assistance to the less fortunate.

CBTL Giving Journal

I was given a copy of The 2019 Giving Journal by a friend but as I already have another planner, and in keeping with CBTL’s aim to be generous this year (and with my friend’s blessing, of course!), I am giving this journal away.

CBTL Giving Journal

For the recipient of this journal, here’s what you can do with it:

Plan your year (of course!).  The journal has pages where you can set your monthly goals (whether in your finances, reading, relationships or health), as well as the monthly overview and weekly notes that let you break down your tasks and celebrate your accomplishments.

CBTL Giving Journal

CBTL Giving Journal

CBTL Giving Journal

CBTL Giving Journal

Look back on how you can do and be better.  At the end of each month, the journal encourages you to reflect and resolve on how you can further improve.

CBTL Giving Journal

Treat your friends to a good ole’ cuppa.  In keeping with the theme of generosity, why not invite a friend to a coffee date that’s on you?  That’s easy to do with the Buy 1 Take 1 coupons for coffee drinks and other upgrades and freebies included in the planner.

CBTL Giving Journal

Appreciate the creativity of Filipino artists.  The journal features the works of twelve Filipino artists, many of whom were CBTL customers themselves who showcased their talents through CBTL’s initiatives such as Brew Your Best Year and #CoffeeBeanOceanArt contest or by volunteering in the company’s events.

CBTL Giving Journal

This is a great planner to have around, either to look forward to the coming months or to document what goes on throughout your year.

CBTL Giving Journal

So the next question is: How do you get this copy of The 2019 Giving Journal?  

Simple: just join my Instagram giveaway coming soon.  Look out for it at instagram.com/beingjellybeans.

Check out my review of my coffee experiences in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branches:

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix

Have you ever found that while you possess so much stuff that you hardly have enough room for all of them, you still find yourself wanting to acquire more? Have you ever thought that getting a new outfit, accessory or gadget will make all the difference?

Marie Kondo, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, espouses gratitude for the things you already have and letting go of those that no longer “spark joy.” Jumping off from the Japanese word tokimeku (“throb, flutter, palpitate”), Kondo advises homeowners to clean in one fell swoop: keep only what brings you joy, discard all other items, and assign a proper place for everything.

Marie Kondo

For so many of us, there may be a lot of things that hold us back from letting go items that we don’t really need. We could be holding on to them on the assumption that we might need them again in the future, we feel that our possessions are tied in to our identity or we associate them with happy memories from our past.

To help homeowners sort through their emotions, as well as their stuff, Kondo has introduced the KonMari Method. It encourages tidying up by category – beginning with clothes, then books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and finally, sentimental items – instead of location.

Marie Kondo

In her new Netflix series dropped on New Year’s Day, Kondo visits cluttered homes in the US and advises homeowners on tidying up using the Konmari Method. Among my takeaways from the episodes are:

Greet your space. Before proceeding with tidying up, Kondo takes the time to quietly “introduce” herself to the home. At the same time, she encourages the homeowners to envision their ideal home or ponder their intention for the space. For me, this exercise helps in getting me in the proper and thankful frame of mind, feeling a sense of gratitude for the home for the shelter and protection it provides for my family, and in strengthening a resolution to take better care of it.

Marie Kondo

When discarding items, thank them for their service. With each item to be sorted, Kondo advises holding them for a while and asking oneself if they “spark joy.” If they do, decide to keep them; if not, discard them. However, rather than just dumping these items in a bin, Kondo encourages homeowners to thank them for their service, for whatever joy they contributed to their lives. I find that with this action, I feel gratitude for the items I say goodbye to and hope that they provide happiness to others, rather than guilt for accumulating so much stuff.

Find a proper home for every item you keep. Ideally, the items you choose to hold on to should be kept where they can easily be seen and accessed. For instance, folded clothes should be stored vertically and miscellaneous items should be placed in clear boxes. This helps the homeowner to easily locate the items and keep track of how much stuff they already possess. In my case, since these items spark joy, seeing them and easily accessing them will only accentuate that joy.

Who would have thought that getting rid of, instead of acquiring, stuff could be a joyful activity?

So, how will you start ensuring that all things in your life spark joy?

How about spreading that joy to others? Your pre-loved clothes, footwear and accessories can be donated to Segunda Mana, while old toys can be given to the Philippine Toy Library. Old books, on the other hand, may be donated to the Reading Club 2000.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is now available for streaming on Netflix. If you’re a SKY subscriber, you can subscribe to Netflix and charge it to your SKY bill. More details can be found here.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

Check out some home organizing solutions available on Amazon.com.

Simple Houseware Foldable Cube Storage Bin – 6 Pack

Cardboard Safari Bamboo Organizational Box Set

Utiao Plastic Storage Baskets Organizing in Classroom, Office, Home, 6 Packs(Medium)

Learn more about the KonMari Method with Marie Kondo’s books on Amazon.com.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up)

Life-Changing Magic: A Journal – Spark Joy Every Day

This post contains affiliate links.

Check out my blog posts about other Netflix shows:

Resikleta Project brings new life to old and broken bike parts

For many of us Gen X’ers, learning how to ride a bike was an integral part of childhood. Summers and sunny afternoons after school won’t be complete without taking our trusty old bikes for a spin around the village… or beyond (we just don’t let our moms know, right?).

While some bikes have been well-maintained, even getting passed on to the next generation of bikers, some bicycles are relegated to just rusting away in garages or sheds.

Sasha Garcia, co-founder of the Resikleta Project, seeks to breathe new life to scrap materials coming from old bikes and other discarded items.

According to Sasha, sourcing materials for her projects is not a problem.

“Here in the Philippines, we have an abundance in scraps,” she acknowledges. In fact, together with Resikleta’s co-founder, Kayumanggi Abutan, she scours vulcanizing shops for old or broken-down bike parts rendered unusable for their original purpose. The Resikleta Project team then creatively fashions new and more serviceable items from them.

You would be surprised at what can be forged from old bike parts. For example, seemingly warped disk brake rotors can be made into offbeat table lamps and clocks that would suit most spaces with a modern or steampunk aesthetic. Prices for these items start at Php600.

View this post on Instagram

Lamp by @resikleta. Photograph by @manong_chris.

A post shared by Sasha Garcia (@sashimakes) on

The bikes’ rubber interior wheels can be fashioned into cute keychains and mobile phone cord organizers. These are essentials that have room in many a girl’s purse. Prices for these tchotchkes start at Php50.

View this post on Instagram

🐶🐶

A post shared by Sasha Garcia (@sashimakes) on

The spokes from bike wheels can be made into bangles, bracelets and other fashion accessories, with prices starting at Php100.

Resikleta also took part in the design and creation of trophies for The Climate Reality Project PH’s Leadership Awards ceremony.

And given that most of Resikleta’s outputs are dependent on the availability of scrap materials, the resulting products are often one-of-a-kind.

Fashioning usable and beautiful items from bike scraps has some rewards. Since most of the materials can be obtained cheaply or even for free, very little capital is required.

There’s also the additional feeling of fulfillment at seeing your creations find new purpose.

However, for Sasha, the most rewarding aspect of the Resikleta Project is its contribution to zero waste initiatives.

“When you go looking for scraps, you grow to appreciate what the world has to offer and the need to care for and preserve the earth,” she further shares. “Rather than just throw away used or broken-down items, you have the awareness to try to think of creative ways to use them, to repurpose them and even earn from them.”

For orders, collaboration requests and inquiries, contact the Resikleta Project through the following touchpoints:

Facebook
Instagram
– email: resikleta@gmail.com
– mobile: +63 923 9079004

Photos lifted from the instagram accounts of the Resikleta Project, Sasha Garcia and Kayumanggi Abutan.

SKYlife treats families to a Play Day at Kidzania

SKY’S LOYAL SUBSCRIBERS HAVE A FAMILY BONDING DAY

SKY gave its loyal subscribers a chance to bond with their families through an enjoyable evening of fun at the SKYlife Kids Play Day held at Kidzania Manila last Tuesday, December 18.

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

The Kids Play Day aimed to nourish children’s passions and help them develop life skills while inspiring them to become the best versions of themselves, and having fun with their families.

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

Kidzania is an educational family entertainment facility which is a replica of a real city scaled down to kids’ size—with its own history, culture, language, and currency—and teaches kids the value of having jobs in the real world and giving back to the community.

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

Kids got to experience the park’s activities that offer realistic role-play in various set ups that include a wall for climbing, a construction site, a burger restaurant, a fire department, a courier service, an acting academy, and a vet clinic.

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

This SKYlife Kids Play Day is just one of the many perks enjoyed by loyal SKY subscribers. They can take advantage of more exclusive benefits and gifts through the Kapamilya Thank You Program. Until January 31, 2019, registering their SKY account to thankyou.abs-cbn.com will afford them with bonus rewards points that they can redeem to get free access to cable TV shows and more! More details on this are available at mysky.com.ph/thankyou.

Families also got the chance to check out the new SKY On Demand Box at the Parent’s Lounge which showed how families can continue their bonding experiences at home. SKY’s new set-top box greatly enhances the subscribers’ viewing experience: SKYcable TV shows as well as video streaming from Netflix, YouTube, ABS-CBN’s video streaming service iWant and SKY’s very own online streaming service for subscribers, SKY On Demand – all from the same box.

SKYlife Kids Play Day, Kidzania

SKY Cable Corporation is the first to introduce cable television to Filipinos in 1990. Since then, it has been a frontrunner in technology and cable TV content by being the first to design a highly customized viewing experience among subscribers, and offering the most number of HD channels.

For more information on the new SKY On Demand Box, call your local SKY office or visit mysky.com.ph/sodbox.

Event details provided by SKY in a recent press release.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content and perks it provides to its subscribers like this SKYlife Kids Play Day. I consider being able to share about SKY experiences like this with like-minded people one of the biggest perks of my job.

Ways for working moms to keep calm and carry on

There’s much to stress about with today’s busy urban lifestyle.

For working moms like us, juggling our multiple roles and responsibilities at home, at work, and in the community can be harrowing. Meeting expectations from superiors and colleagues at work, seeing to the needs of family members, and serving the communities we are part of do sometimes take their toll.

A chronically stressful lifestyle will have serious effects on both physical and mental health. Manifestations of stressful living range from headaches, stomach upsets and chest pains to lack of motivation, difficulty sleeping and anger or irritability.

Given all the demands on our time and attention, working moms can’t afford to be sidelined by symptoms of stress.

Some well-meaning folk would just give the advice to “keep calm and carry on.” However, that is easier said than done.

Among the ways to effectively handle stress, as advised by a Psychology Today article, are to:

  • Accept that stress is a part of life.
  • Keep problems in perspective.
  • Take care of physical health.
  • Look for a silver lining.

I discovered one such silver lining when my sister-in-law gifted me with a bottle Prosource Calming Oil.

Prosource Calming Oil

Prosource Calming Oil

In this handy 10ml bottle is a mixture of natural ingredients that include virgin coconut oil, ginger, lavender, eucalyptus and menthol. The bottle’s roll-on mechanism also helps in quickly applying the oil to alleviate discomforts and various effects of stress, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Neck, back and joint pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Gas pains
  • Dizziness and motion sickness
  • Colds and coughs

This calming oil is a boon to me whenever I experience driving anxiety. When I feel the headache and nausea coming when I’m behind the wheel, I rub some calming oil on my temples. The cool, soothing sensation on my skin and the fresh scent help to manage my discomfort, allowing me to successfully reach my destination.

This was also helpful when my little boy got sick; massaging it onto his back and chest helped in quieting his bouts of coughing enough for him to get a good night’s sleep.

Stress may be a part of life, but it need not be life-limiting.

Prosource Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is available in most Watsons and Mercury Drug outlets nationwide. It retails at Php120/tube.

3 hacks to counter “mom brain”

As a working mom, I manage quite a number of demands on my time and attention. On any given day, I field multiple requirements, requests and reminders from my office, family and other pursuits.

Sometimes, though, with so many distractions and competing concerns, I find myself overwhelmed and out-of-depth, struggling to remember tiny details or concentrate on tasks.

From time to time, I have been known to:

  • Look for my car in the wrong parking lot
  • Start writing multiple emails which never get finished or sent because I got distracted
  • Have trouble recalling agreements with colleagues or discussions with my family members
  • Forget to attend meetings that I have already accepted and even put in my computer’s calendar
  • Walk into a room and forget what I went there for

I’m sure this phenomenon is not new to many moms out there. In fact, it has been given a name: the “mom brain.”

In the article The Science of “Mom Brain,” author Vanessa LoBue, Phd. cites that researchers speculate that oxytocin, the hormone present in mothers during pregnancy, labor and nursing, may be contributing to lapses in memory. This keeps women from developing bad memories from the experience of motherhood, an evolutionary benefit that helps ensure we try our hand at parenthood again and again.

It’s just too bad that these memory lapses may wreak havoc in our career, household and social lives.

Fortunately, there are ways to counter the effects of mom brain.

Practice mindfulness. This is the discipline of being present and in the moment, of being aware of where you are and the intentionality of what you are doing, and not being overly reactive to external stimuli. This allows you and your brain to seize control of your actions and reactions.

Considering the laundry list of things you must pay attention to, whether it be a family, social or work concern, take a brief time to pause, relax and simply think.

Train and retrain yourself. Be open to new experiences, particularly in learning new things. This will help build new neural pathways in your brain to acquire and store your new knowledge. In her article How the Brain Creates New Neural Pathways, Dr. Lisa Christiansen states that the more these pathways are used, the stronger they become, increasing the likelihood of new long-term connections and memories.

This would be a great excuse for you to treat yourself to a learning adventure, like visiting an interesting art exhibit or learning a new recipe. You can even teach yourself a new work skill by reading a good business book, signing up for an online course or browsing through online tutorials.

Prosource Calming Oil

Nourish yourself. It has long been known that eating the right kind of food helps in improving memory and mental concentration. According to a BBC Good Food article, the digestive system not only provides the body and brain with key nutrients from food and drink, it also produces important hormones that enter the brain and impact memory and cognitive function.

Foods rich in antioxidants, good fats and selected vitamins and minerals, while providing us with the energy needed to perform our tasks, also help in protecting our brains.

Conti’s Greenbelt

To further boost the effects of good food to your memory, and overcome the effects of mom brain, you might want to consider supplementing your food with added nutrients.

Vida Nutriscience, Inc., the company behind a wide range of wellness products which include GlutaWhite, MyBeauty and Sleep EZ, has introduced a new dietary supplement: Spike Brain Booster.

Spike

Taken in capsule form, Spike Brain Booster helps improve general learning performance, increases memory functions and mental fitness, enhances concentration and mental alertness under pressure, and improves memory speed.

Among its key ingredients is neuravena, a green oat extract known for its positive effect on cognitive markers. It enhances blood circulation, stimulates the brain and supports dopamine levels, thereby helping to improve concentration, alertness, working memory and mental performance.

Another active ingredients is magnesium lactate. Magnesium contributes to energy production and regulates the levels of other important nutrients in the body.

Alphasize 50 WSP, on the other hand, is known to contribute in improving key brain functions including memory, concentration, learning, recall and focus, while Bioperine helps the body in the faster and more efficient absorption of nutrients.

Lastly, Vitamins B3 (Niacin), B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folic Acid) and B12 (Cobalamine), often referred to as B-complex vitamins, are needed to maintain healthy liver, skin, hair and eyes.

It is advised to take one capsule of Spike Brain Booster daily after a meal. On days which require added mental alertness or concentration – such as a presentation to the office’s upper management, attending a seminar, or planning a marketing campaign – Spike may be taken twice.

I usually take a capsule after lunch to counter effects of the “ungodly hour” – the time after eating a heavy meal when I feel sleepy or groggy.

Spike Brain Booster is FDA-approved and is available at Mercury Drugstores nationwide at Php990 per box containing 30 capsules. For more details and product updates, follow Spike Brain Booster on Facebook and Instagram.

Mom brain may be a hassle, whether in the office or at home. But with some practical steps, and proper nutrition, the manifestations of mom brain can be overcome.

Disclosures: This post is sponsored by Vida Nutriscience who also provided product samples for me to try and review.  Product details are provided by the company as well.

What we need in dealing with a child with special needs

Being a mom of a child with special needs, I sometimes balk at the enormity of the added responsibility. I feel guilty at times for thinking that while parenting is hard enough, it is sometimes made harder by having to contend with the all the extra support, attention and understanding required by a special needs child.

The reality is that, as with all life, there are good times as well as bad; and some days are better or worse than others. I’m grateful that, for the most part, the good times far outweigh the bad.

My son is in the autism spectrum which means that he has difficulties with communication and social interaction. He has overcome a lot of his previous difficulties in managing himself in social situations at home and in school. In fact, far from the stereotype of kids with autism who have difficulty looking people in the eye, he has grown gregarious and friendly, waving and saying hi to strangers in restaurants and malls (which present a new set of problems).

Still, he struggles with schoolwork. For instance, while he is already included in mainstream classes, his reading level is not at the proper level for his age. His difficulties at school prompt those little nagging doubts in my head about his future and how he will need to cope with more and more challenges as he grows older.

These doubts lead me to thinking on what I need to provide to help him deal with what he needs to face, in the present and future.

Fortunately, in a recent seminar held at his school, assistant chief of DepEd’s SPED Unit Dr. Elvira Rocal effectively sums up these points in her talk “3 C’s in Educating Learners with Special Needs in the 21st Century.” You would think that these C’s would involve technology but they are pretty much basic and common-sense.

Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) would benefit from:

  • Connection. Being wired differently from their peers and even their own family can feel very isolating. They need to feel like they’re still a part of our group, that they belong. We need to build emotional connections with them to motivate them to learn and to minimize their feelings of isolation. Since my son is a budding foodie, I try to interest him in learning how to prepare simple meals and how he can add his own touch to his food. I am proud to say that he can prepare his own bowl of cereal every morning (a simple task for most but a significant feat for us) and has incorporated his own variations such as using his Milo as a substitute for milk to suit his taste.
  • Collaboration. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It is even more so when it comes to raising a special needs child. You would need to rely on the expertise and help of developmental pediatricians, therapists, teachers and school personnel in assessing and providing for the requirements of special needs kids. At home, I have come to rely on my daughter, #ExhibitA, in helping my son with his homework and projects. My son also has a network of grandparents, uncles and aunts, and family friends who treat him as just another ordinary kid while also on the lookout for opportunities to help him with his special needs.
  • Compassion. I have come to accept that there will be things that my son will always have difficulty with. In many ways, he will never be like other kids his age. However, he has his own point of view and opinions that he wants to express and his own wants and dreams that he wants to achieve. My role as his mom is not to regret what he cannot do, but to encourage and celebrate what he can.

Raising and educating a special needs child is already a huge challenge and responsibility. If you are a parent dealing with this situation, do reach out to professionals who can help you and to your family and community as well.

Click here to see Smart Parenting’s list of developmental pediatricians in Metro Manila.

Click here to know more about the Special Education Unit of the Department of Education (DepEd).

Read this post about my initial struggles with my son’s condition.

For more information on supporting the learning efforts of kids with special needs, check out these books on Amazon.com:


Parents and Families of Students With Special Needs: Collaborating Across the Age Span 


How the Special Needs Brain Learns Third Edition


Steps to Independence: Teaching Everyday Skills to Children with Special Needs, Fourth Edition 4th Edition

Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and read from thousands of ebooks available in the Kindle Unlimited catalog. of Get your first month FREE.

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No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

Six indispensable mobile apps for the busy working mom

If there’s one thing that we working moms oftentimes lack, it’s time.  Given our fast-paced lives and the demands of work, family and (gasp!) other obligations, we usually find ourselves pressed for time, looking for a few minutes here and there to squeeze in some errands or to just enjoy some moments to ourselves.

Fortunately, we have our greatest ally right in our pockets.  More than just our means to contact our family or to touch base with old friends through social media, our smartphones can and do allow us to do so much with what little time or space we have.  All we need is to have the right apps for the job.

Banking Apps

Most banks already have their own mobile apps that allow users to check their bank account balances and transaction histories, make fund transfers and even pay bills online.  Imagine not having to line up at the bank or at bayad centers just to make sure the bills are paid.

I helped my new college girl get her own account at the bank that I also have an account in.  Now, I usually just transfer money to her account as her allowance.  This frees me up from having to make sure that I always have cash on my wallet for her allowance and other household expenses.

CamScanner

This app turns our phones into a scanner which allows us to keep copies of important documents with us at all times. We can even use the app to send PDF copies of the scanned documents via email.

I recently used this feature to avail of the birthday promo at Ramen Nagi.  Since we didn’t have a hardcopy of my daughter’s valid ID, I asked the restaurant manager if I could just email her the digital copy I have on CamScanner and she agreed.  It was quite lucky that I kept the scanned copy of her passport on my phone.

Honestbee

Some moms may consider grocery shopping as a form of retail therapy, but for me, it’s a tedious chore.  Just to ensure that our pantry is stocked with all the food and supplies my family needs, I would have to drive to the supermarket, find a place to park (I hate this part), walk around looking for the items I need, only to line up at the checkout lane and lug my groceries back to my car.

Honestbee eliminates all those hassles by enabling me to order my groceries online right on the app which a well-trained shopper bee will get from the nearest grocery store and a delivery bee will deliver to my house.  This gives me additional two or three hours every weekend that I can use to catch up on my reading, get some beauty sleep or spend time at home with the kids.

For moms like me who will appreciate the convenience that Honestbee brings, here’s another perk: sign up for Honestbee using this referral link and get Php500 off your grocery bill.

Plus, Honestbee now delivers food from nearby restaurants. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can just order via the app and a sumptuous meal will be delivered right on your doorstep.

Eatigo

Speaking of food, sometimes you just want to enjoy some good food (that you didn’t have to cook yourself!) or try a new restaurant but you don’t want to overspend. With Eatigo, you can book a table at the featured restaurants and even enjoy up to 50% off on your food bill.

The discounts I’m able to avail of via Eatigo have helped me discover new places to eat and enjoy with friends and family.  Register using this link and get a bonus of Php150 worth of rewards.

Amazon Kindle App

Being a book lover, I used to have shelves and shelves of books.  However, Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) struck and I was forced to leave my beloved tomes behind to be swallowed up by the floodwaters.  For a few months after that disaster, I used to get teary-eyed whenever I find myself near a bookstore.

Fortunately, Amazon.com popularized ebooks and published the Kindle app which allows users to view their Amazon.com ebooks via their mobile devices.  It even allows users to convert their personal documents and books in PDF formats into files that can be read by Kindle.

Now, I carry my entire library with me wherever I go, and when I feel the need to read to relax, I just take out my phone and start reading.

SKY on Demand

There are times when you wish you just can take you TV anywhere with you such as when you’re still on the road and the show you’re following is already airing, or during long road trips and the kids need a distraction from the wait (and you need a break from the constant follow ups of “Are we there yet?”).

With SKY On Demand, you can watch SKYcable channels using any mobile device and any internet provider. Just download the app and register your SKYcable account number. You will be able to view all the channels in your SKYcable plan or any pay-per-view shows you are subscribed to that are available on SKY on Demand.

This app was a God-send to me when my husband and I had to pick up my daughter from her Community Development class on the Sunday when the Pacquiao vs Matthysse bout was going on. I was able to watch the bout while waiting in the car and later while eating lunch in our favorite Korean restaurant. If it weren’t for SKY On Demand, I would have missed the historic moment when Manny Pacquiao scored his first knockout victory in nine years.

Life for us working moms may be hectic and hard but with a little know-how and the help of our trusty smartphones, it can be made easier and more enjoyable for us and our loved ones.

What apps couldn’t you live without?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The mobile apps mentioned above are available in both iTunes and Google Play.

This post contains affiliate links.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

Take a sneak peek into the beginnings of your favorite influencers with LikeToKnow.It

Ever wondered how your favorite IG mavens got their start? The print offshoot of the app-based shopping service that makes the Instagram pics of many Instagram influencers instantly shoppable, LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, delves into how these IG stars got their start.

Photo by Daria Litvinova on Unsplash

Collated and curated by editors of LikeToKnow.it, the stories contain interesting narratives of how these influencers were able to turn their passions – which range from fashion, beauty, food, interior design and homemaking – into thriving online businesses. Common themes among their stories that their fans can learn from are:

Passion for their area of interest.  These enterprising folks are tuned in to their passion, building expertise and credibility in their respective fields, and are motivated to share their favorites to the world.

Support from family and friends.  Building an online presence, especially on one’s own, is never easy, but with help and encouragement from their loved ones, they were able to pursue their dreams.

Great financial and personal rewards.  Having built their following and established their expertise, they are able to enjoy financial freedom.  Some are earning enough to support their families that their spouses quit their jobs to help them with their online business.  Others share their feeling of gratification at being paid to do what they love while spending more time with loved ones.

Photo by Igot Miske on Unsplash

Featured influencers include fashion mavens Molly Sims (@mollybsims) and Courtney Kerr (@KERRently), lifestyle gurus Liz Joy (@purejoyhome) and Kelly Larkin (@kellyinthecity), food and nutrition bloggers July Bauer Roth (@paleomg) and Tori Wesszer (@fraichenutrition), among others.

Photo by Chikeun Park on Unsplash

The stories, accompanied by gorgeous shots of influencers doing and sharing what they love best, will give readers a tantalizing inspiration to get started on bringing their own dreams to life. Note, though, these Q&A-type narratives are by no means comprehensive and do skip most of the early struggles and sacrifices that most businesses go through.

LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, published by Greenleaf Book Group, will be released on September 18, 2018 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com!

Thanks to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group for the advanced reader copy.

This post contains affiliate links.

Photo Credits: Ewan Robertson, Daria Litvinova, Igor Miske and Chikeun Park on Unsplash

Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and read from thousands of ebooks available in the Kindle Unlimited catalog. of Get your first month FREE.

No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App ebook reader for FREE to read your favorite books anytime and anywhere.

No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

“Operation: Thai Cave Rescue” airs on Discovery Channel on July 23

Last week saw the conclusion to the terrifying ordeal in Thailand that befell a soccer team of 12 boys and their coach who went exploring the local cave system of Tham Luang. Monsoon rains caused flooding within the cave, stranding the boys inside for two weeks.

The amazing efforts that led to their successful rescue will be told in a 1-hour special airing on the Discovery Channel on July 23, 9.50pm with a repeat airing on July 29, 9.50pm.

Synopsis:

DISCOVERY CHRONICLES THE HARROWING STORY AND EXTRAORDINARY RESCUE OF THE THAI SOCCER TEAM THAT IS CAPTIVATING THE WORLD IN OPERATION THAI CAVE RESCUE, A 1-HOUR SPECIAL

From the moment the heartbreaking news broke that 12 young Thai soccer players and their 25-year-old coach were stuck in a cave complex near the Myanmar border, the world has been glued to the rescue and recovery details. For over two weeks, the facts of how the group ended up in the cave and the subsequent mobilization of rescue workers around the globe has been a testament of just how powerful human spirit can be—while the sudden and tragic death of one of the rescue divers underscored the seriousness of the situation.

“Operation Thai Cave Rescue,” Discovery Channel

“Operation Thai Cave Rescue,” Discovery Channel

But as each boy has been pulled out, there remains many questions. Why were these boys there? How did they survive for nearly two weeks without food and without knowing how to swim? What will their physical and mental state be moving forward? What would it take to get this group out of this treacherous cave, and why did the unique geology of this cave present so many challenges? OPERATION THAI CAVE RESCUE will be the first documentary to explore and unpack every angle of this remarkable rescue operation.

Discovery Channel is on SKYcable channel SD 39 and HD 180. It may also be streamed live on skyondemand.com.ph.

Show provided by Discovery Channel in a recent media notice.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

Why we should donate blood

I joined the Red Cross Youth org in my university during my college years. While I handled several projects for the org, I never got around to donating blood. At the time, I was afraid of the needles used, the sight of blood or the medical team sometimes had trouble locating the blood vessel in my arm optimal for blood extraction.

I started donating blood a few years ago. The employees’ union at my office had a bloodletting activity and, as a show of support and with some friendly competition among my coworkers, I joined those donating blood. It was fairly painless plus the union officers even gave me a mug and a shirt as a souvenir.

Since then, health and schedule permitting, I have tried to regularly donate blood at a nearby hospital. I even brought my husband with me once and we made the experience into a bonding activity. On my next donation this December, I plan to bring my eldest daughter so I can instill the habit in her as well.

My reason for donating blood is that it’s one of the easiest ways I can contribute to someone’s life. One pint of blood can be broken down into three components – red blood cells, plasma and platelets – thereby possibly saving up to three lives.

And don’t worry about your donation going to waste.  There’s actually a lot of demand for donated blood.  Yours may even reach the farthest areas in the country, and may help save lives in far-flung provinces.

Given the demands on my time and resources, I can’t contribute much to charity or volunteer at my chosen causes. Giving blood, however, simply involves a trip to the hospital and a few minutes at the blood bank, or some time away from my desk during the office’s blood donation drive.

Blood donation also affords me several health benefits:

  • A free mini-physical that checks my pulse and blood pressure as well as a free blood analysis that checks for the presence of infectious diseases.
  • Prevents hemachromatosis, a health condition brought about by too much iron in the blood. By maintaining healthy iron levels in the blood, the risk of certain cancers, liver and heart ailments are also minimized.
  • It helps in weight loss. Every donation burns around 650 calories, which to me is the equivalent to three hours at the treadmill.
  • It also stimulates production of new blood cells further contributing to the maintenance of good health.

To be eligible to donate, I needed to be the following:

  • In good health.  You should be feeling well at the time of donation.
  • Between 16 to 65 years of age.  If below 18, you will need your parent’s consent to be able to donate.
  • Weighing at least 110 pounds.
  • Having a normal blood pressure, between 90 and 160 mmHg (systolic), 60 and 100 mmHg (diastolic)
  • Able to pass the physical and health history assessments that will be conducted immediately before the donation.

After the procedure, I was given refreshments (usually a snack and a juice box which I should consume before leaving the donor area), and these reminders:

  • Rest and remain in the area for 15 minutes.
  • Increase fluid intake for the next 24 hours.
  • No smoking within the next 3 hours and no alcoholic beverages for the next 24 hours.
  • No strong pressure or heavy lifting on the donating arm for the next 24 hours to avoid bruising.
  • No strenuous activity or hazardous work for the next few hours.

Blood donation is a way for me to give of myself. It is my gift of life to whoever has the urgent need for it.

If you want to donate blood, check out the Red Cross website for more information.

Your place in the world

You have been a good boy and got good grades last grading period so I let you have my old smartphone to play with during your school break.

“This is my phone?” you asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “But I will get it back from you on Sunday night because you have school again on Monday, okay?”

You nodded and sat down on the couch beside me, happily tapping and scrawling through your game apps.

At nearly nine years old, you appear much the same as other boys your age, average in height and average in build. However, you are three school grades behind. You speak almost exclusively in English, not with the finesse of your sister at the same age, with some broken words and almost always a lilt at the end, but well enough to be understood by your teachers and the school staff. I was told that you have few friends because the other mostly Tagalog-speaking kids have trouble communicating with you. When you fight with your sister, you go straight to me or your daddy, saying “Ate (Big Sister) did this” or “Ate said that” and are content to let our simple admonishment of your sister stand. While other boys your age would have made their moms crazy with worry by sneaking off to bike or play basketball with their gang in the streets, you are content to stay home, watching cartoons on TV or playing with your phone. Other kids would pester their parents for the latest toys and gadgets but not you; you are happy to play with your old toys or imagine yourself in a fort when you’re actually surrounded by your pillows. At family gatherings, while you often sit by yourself, again with your phone or with your favorite-at-the-moment toy, your cousins would be running about roughhousing and making noises that irritate you.

There was a time when a quiet, mild-mannered, English-speaking Filipino boy would be called the ideal son, but not now. Not when everyone knows, because we felt no need to hide it, that you are in the autism spectrum.

You were around four years old when we noticed something different about you. Your sister was already speaking straight sentences at that age but you were still into grunts and pointing. Your teachers complained that you can’t sit still in class, that you would stand up and walk around. You were very sensitive to noise and textures; I now realized that you hated the Kiddie Halloween party held at my office because the music was so loud and your Dracula costume felt like it was chafing you. It was almost impossible to give you a haircut; you would squirm and throw tantrums whenever the barber and his clipper would go anywhere near you.

You were around five when you were diagnosed and I felt like the ground was pulled beneath me. This is not something that can be fixed by a quick visit to the doctor or a few drops of medicine. This is something life-long. It frightened me.

I was so scared it took another six months before I pulled you out of your mainstream pre-school and got you into speech and occupational therapy. I bought you games and toys for much younger kids, thinking those would hasten your learning. I even relented when your devped prescribed you with Ritalin. Still, you were improving at what seemed to me at a snail’s pace.

I worried. I worried that you will never catch up with your peers. I worried that the costs of your doctor’s appointments and treatments would be overwhelming. I worried that I would not have what it takes to support you emotionally, financially or in whatever way you needed. I worried that should anything happen to me or your dad, you wouldn’t be equipped to deal with life on your own. Mainly, I just worried. Period.

Then, everyone got into action. Your dad and I rearranged household priorities to free up your yaya to spend most of her time with you, particularly when you go to school or therapy. Your grandma recommended a school nearer to our place that has a good special education program. Your uncles and aunts became understanding when you would not immediately answer them or when you would say something out of turn. We moved into a house where you can have your own room that you can retreat to, with subdued colors that won’t irritate or distract you. Your dad and I tried to be as involved in your school and in your inner world of games and cartoons as much as we can, given our busy and demanding careers. Your grandparents also pitched in by fetching you or attending school events when we can’t.

It has been four years since that fateful diagnosis. I have seen how you tried to navigate the world, how you tried to find your place in it. I have seen how you picked up new concepts or try to undertand more complex ones. You try your best to speak Tagalog whenever we prompt you. Far from the aloof and isolated stereotype of autistic kids, I have seen you approach other kids, waitresses, security guards and teachers in an open and friendly manner.

At my last meeting with your teacher, she was amazed at your improvement after months of working with a special ed tutor we got for you. When I see you with your younger cousin, you play and roughhouse that I had to tell you boys to tone it down. You have been off Ritalin for almost two years, and your devped recommended to discontinue your occupational therapy. You qualified for academic and conduct awards last grading period and your teachers and I are hopeful that you will be able to transition to Grade 1 and go on from there.

We still have a long road ahead of us. I still worry but not as much as I used to. Because you have come so far and you will go farther, bravely, not because we’re pushing you but because you know that you have a place in this world. As much as I can, I’ll help you find it.

We actually ARE Racing Extinction

I was privileged to be invited to an exclusive sneak peak to the documentary Racing Extinction. It delves into how human activities, whether covert or out in the open, whether large-scale or minute, affect and even cause the extinction of species.

Sharks, for example, are majestic creatures that survived millennia but are now driven to near extinction because of the culinary and medicinal demand for their fins. They, however, do not evoke warm, protective feelings in me.
Until I saw how one was thrown back into the water with its fins cut off.


Aside from the pain from forcibly severed limbs, that shark will no longer be able to breathe as it respirates through the movement of water through its gills. Imagine someone cutting off your hands and legs then suffocating you with a plastic bag over your face.

Yet, this atrocity is done to thousands of sharks, and now manta rays, just to be able  to serve an exotic soup, or to add an ingredient to alternative, non-scientific medicine. Why should species be decimated just because we want our soup? Or because we want something for our aches and pains (even when there are other medicines available).

In my opinion, we should care about the continued survival of other species because we could have been the species on the lower rung of the food chain. And because, the disappearance of one species could have devastating effects globally.

Racing Extinction will have a global TV premiere on Discovery Channel on December 2, 9pm.