Friday, May 22, 2015

Pursuit Manila's Thank God It's Mom-Day!

As I've mentioned in one of my previous posts, I put a twist in my birthday celebration this year.

I still spent it with my family, of course--that part I will never change. But I did sneak out for a couple of hours for some "me-time" :) I figured, this will be my gift to myself as me-time's have become rare for me since I became a mom.

I chose to spend my me-time with the women of Pursuit Manila. They were hosting a special gathering for moms on the afternoon of my birthday, and it was to be held in a cozy restaurant, Karen's Kitchen, which was a stone's throw away from where my family was having our traditional birthday stay-cation. It was like the world was telling me to go. Hehe.

Coming to the event, all I really wanted was some time for myself, be with fellow moms, enjoy a pastry. I even promised myself--just 2 hours tops!

But wonder happened while I was there. I got everything I expected--me-time, mommy chats, and yummy cakes.

And more.

I received three wonderful, unexpected gifts that afternoon-- the gift of listening to women of faith, Karen and Carla, talk about their own journeys as women; the gift of being moved by Sheila's music, and the gift of being honored and appreciated as a mother.

As I reflected on my own journey, it has again struck me that I've learned, and continue to learn, so much about God and my faith when I became a mother. Everything from pregnancy to breastfeeding to teaching a child ABCs--they all point to the goodness and faithfulness of God in my life. Indeed, it is amazing how I have grown as a Christian when the Lord gave me children.

In the same way, I realized, I have been given a role that puts me in the best place to teach my children about faith and the Lord.

"Perhaps you were made queen at such a time as this." This verse, a line said by Mordecai to Esther, resonates in me more poignantly than ever. It affirms to me that motherhood is a calling, and that it was by neither accident nor coincidence, that I was made to heed it--yes, at such a time as this.

The afternoon concluded with a gleeful distribution of gift boxes to overjoyed mommies. I quickly opened mine and was over the moon with what I saw:
- a Super Mom Survival Jar, literally the most creative survival kit for mommies!
- a pouch with one of my favorite verses printed on it
- a wooden spoon
- a notebook (I'm a sucker for li'l notebooks!!)
- an Elin discount card
- a L'Indochine bracelet that had the word Amazing on it--perfect reminder of how God is to me!!!
- Lemongrass antibacterial hand spray from Apothecary
- a postcard and a bunch of awesome gift tags from Craftsmith

I also spotted an envelope, and I thought, "Baka mga GC's from sponsors! Yay!" Hahaha. Lo and behold, I unfolded two far more precious items instead--letters from my husband and my kids. Needless to say, happy tears overflowed after that. Those letters are definitely among the best gifts I received on my birthday, this year and most likely, for all years!

I'm not sure which Pursuit Manila shutterbug took this photo, but THANK YOU! That is me actually reading my husband's love letter! My eyes had tears by the time I got to the 1st line. Haha. Oh, the power of the written word!
To top off everything, somebody announced it was my birthday, and so I had a whole room of women singing a Happy Birthday to me! That was pretty awesome :)

Can you tell kung sino nangunguna sa Happy Bday song? hehe!
I drove back to my family with a renewed sense of awe and gratitude for how faithful the Lord has been to me these past 32 years. Not just my making me mom to Jaden and Sophia, but for everything that I am today.

Thank you, Pursuit Manila, for being instrumental in making my birthday truly special :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Meet My New Work & Travel Buddy...

... who is none other than my son, JADEN!

Since school's been out, my firstborn has tagged along with me almost everyday and everywhere. On one hand, I like it that way because I get to bond with him a lot, even on the most mundane car rides. I can also keep a watchful eye on his activities for the day--specifically, I can control his use of TV and iPad. 

On the other hand, my days have been slow and tiring. Don't get me wrong, Jaden is a wonderfully obedient and easy kid, and it is only because he behaves himself well that I get to sustain this kind of summer work-life. But naturally, as a preschooler, he must be attended to periodically throughout the day.  So if, on a normal day, I can finish 10 things...well, now I can finish about 6-7. 

Which is okay, really, when I think about the bigger scheme of things. The days we spend together are priceless. I feel that we truly get to know each other. I've discovered the many ways my son thinks about his world, and I get blown away pretty much everyday with how he expresses himself.

Anyway, about three weeks ago, I got a special assignment that took me to Cebu. As usual, my work buddy wanted to tag along. So he did!

Few things are as exciting as an impromptu trip in summer!
Awesome view from our balcony 
Jaden's first time at Shangri-La Mactan and he gives it a two thumbs up! (Big deal if you know what a hotel snob this boy is hehehe)
While I rehearsed my speech, he happily played in the sand

I love how kid-friendly our resort was!
Jaden and I had a lot of fun in those 2 days. He made the trip truly enjoyable for me! From the photos, I think he had a blast too!

Crossing my fingers for more travel dates like this. After this trip, I've made up my mind that every year, I will do on travel dates with each of my children. I think it's such an extraordinarily awesome way to bond! :)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Oh BOY! Cudsly's Baby Shower for Patty & Kelly

I love motherhood. It has changed me in a way that I never thought possible. I've become more aware of myself and, ironically, also the world around me. If I had one wish for all women, I'd wish them all babies! Hehe.

Now I am so happy that this wish is coming true for one of my best friends! Patty broke the news to me and Sheila when she was about 6-7 weeks into her pregnancy, and since then I have been so excited!!! 

I am excited for Patrick and Patty. I know that they have been eager to have their own bundle of joy. At the same time, this couple has showed me the value of waiting cheerfully for God's plan and time. I am especially blessed to have seen them enjoying their time as husband and wife in the first few years of their marriage.

This year, they will be three! HAPPINESS OVERLOAD!!!

I am also excited for The PATato! This baby boy will surely be loved and adored like a charming little prince! Why, this early, he has been getting the awesome-est gifts in babydom!!

A few weeks ago, Cudsly showered him and his default baby buddy, the little boy of Kelly Misa-Fernandez, with dozens and dozens of amazing products!
My favorite brands which I'm sure Patty will love too!
The ladies of Cudsly with our mommies-to-be!
The cutest caterpillar ever!!!
Lucky titas and titos also got to join the fun at the baby shower put together by the amazing team of Cudsly, Events By Marge and K By Cunanan.


Photos from the Happy Folks Studio, here!!

Impeccable styling by K By Cunanan
Mommies unite!!! (PS: That photowall is genius! I wanted to take it home!)
It was a hot Thursday summer--good thing BONO Gelato was there to cool us down! My favorite gelato in Manila!
Patty's surprise birthday cake from The Delightful Miss Joyce :)

The fun and energetic Cat & Rica hosted the games for the mommies-to-be!  
That's me losing the game to Marilen. Hahaha.
One day, I'll host a dream event and get these 2 amazing suppliers! Maybe sa debut ko.... LOL.
Daddy diaper duties
Certainly a most exciting time for our "manang barkada"!

Now we know, that old wives' tale about having boys and getting ugly? ABSOLUTELY FALSE!!!
Congratulations, Pat & Patty, and Carlos & Kelly! Welcome to the crazy awesome world of parenthood!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Mama, Beautiful at 60

Last month was a special time for our family. My beautiful Mama turned 60 and got the surprise of her life!

The backstory: Several weeks before her birthday, Mama expressed her tampo to my Papa that none of us seemed to be interested in the fact that she would be celebrating a milestone in her life soon.

What she didn't know was that we have been cooking up a surprise for her. We arranged for a dinner party with family and friends at the Acacia Hotel Manila, and then plotted a script that all of us had to play along with for a whole month.

I must say it was a pretty complicated script--we put a lot of drama to heighten the surprise. Hehe. The highlight of it was, of course, our creative way of bringing Mama to the venue.

My sister Kai had the brilliant idea of instructing Papa to "surprise" the birthday girl with 2 hard-to-find tickets to a Jose Mari Chan dinner-concert (My mom is a huge fan!). We all agreed to have Papa give the tickets just a few hours before the "event" so that our very smart mom wouldn't smell anything fishy. (There was real fear that she would call the hotel to ask details of the concert! Haha)

On her birthday, my mom hosted a simple pizza party for us at Project Pie. I knew she wasn't in on to our surprise because marami syang dramatic lines like, "Diba, mas maganda na rin itong simple celebration lang?" (as if she was convincing herself) and "Ay bibili ako ng cake para may cake naman ako." (parinig pa eh!)

Around 4pm, we thought of various excuses to leave them to go to the hotel, oversee the preps, get dressed, and welcome the guests. At around this time, Papa found the perfect moment to give his gift :)

A couple of hours later, we found ourselves in a small ballroom together with our relatives and Mama's dearest friends. My sisters and I would take turns peering out the little space between the double doors to check if our birthday girl has arrived.

Finally, I saw my mom in the hall and so I signalled for everyone to stand up, and be ready to surprise Mama.

When the doors opened, I counted 1,2,3... and everyone shouted, "SURPRISE!!!"

The look on my Mama's face was priceless, it made me cry. I have never before seen her that surprised...and I guess, overwhelmed. She didn't move for several seconds, and when she did, she covered her face... perhaps to hide her own tears too ;)

Everybody sang a Happy Birthday for her, and she just stood there. She hugged my Papa, who is the mastermind of all, and then started going around.

She saw us, her four daughters, and embraced each of us tightly, saying her thank you's and "kayo talaga!!"

Eh may cake naman pala talaga siya... :))

It was far from an extravagant 60th, but I was beyond happy to see my mom surrounded and honored by her family and friends. She was glowing with joy that evening.

Papa reading out his speech for Mama
For all her hard work and sacrifice, she truly, truly deserved it :)

I love you, Mama! Happy birthday and happy mothers day!

My beautiful Mama! Who would think senior citizen na siya?!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Of Birthdays, Rare Dinner Treats, and Friends

I turned 32 last Thursday, May 7. I celebrated quite differently this year--something that, as I realize just now, is quite fitting for the year that changed me quietly, subtly, and yet profoundly.

I am not the type to throw parties for myself. I've always preferred a quiet, intimate dinner with my husband and our kids. In fact, it has been many years since I last celebrated my birthday with my friends.

I made an exception this year, and I am thankful I did so. I gathered a few of my already-few friends on the eve of my birthday and we all shared a sumptuous dinner at Spiral in Sofitel. It was such a happy way to usher in my birthday!

All of us were so busy eating, talking, and laughing that I forgot to take a single photo for the entire evening! Ano ba yun!! Minsan nalang ako manlibre, guys! Hahaha!

Thankfully, we were with the awesome duo of Catilo Photography (perks of having a photographer BFF haha) and they captured these wonderful shots!

Ay tawang-tawa talaga kami!

Our dashing husbands, all dressed up in black and white!

I love this shot of us girls! Thanks for capturing this tawa festival, Jorem! hehe! :)


We came in black because... lagot kami kay Patty pag hindi in theme!! Hehe!

Thank you guys!!! :)

If you know me well, you must know that I don't have--and never had--a gazillion friends. I've always just kept a small circle with whom I am comfortable sharing my life.

It must be a mix of reasons why this is so, I really cannot say for sure. All I know is that I have been blessed with a few but truly wonderful friends--friends who are, by any standard, my sisters with whom I share my joys, triumphs, and tears. These are the people who celebrate my victories... even if it's just over having a good hair day (which is actually a big deal to me haha). They are the same ones who would rally me in prayer, storming heaven's gates for my heart's biggest concerns.

The most moving Biblical examples of friendship, for me, are David and Jonathan who had an "immediate bond" and who loved each other as real brothers; and Ruth and Naomi, who are actually in-laws (Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi). After her husband died, Ruth vowed never to leave Naomi saying, "Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God."(Ruth 1:16) 

This is the kind of friendship I wish for my children. I know very well they don't need a crowd to adore them. While I know there is nothing wrong with this--and neither with having a lot of friends (why not?!)--I must say that there is as much joy and peace in keeping a few good people, for life.
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