Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jaden's DIY Mexican Costume

For Jaden's UN Day Parade, I decided that my son will not go in the usual national costumes. Ever the stage mom, I wanted Jaden to stand out!

But two days before the costume rehearsal, waley pa kaming costume!!! So I just thought, "Okay, worst comes to worst, mag-barong nalang siya! Filipino costume!"

That night, I checked Pinterest and picked two costumes that I felt were doable: Mexican boy and American cowboy. My friends Patty and Sheila voted for Mexican.

So this was my peg:
Photo from Pinterest (obvious ba?!)
  1. Sombrero--check! I have a beach hat I got for Boracay a few years ago.
  2. Maracas--check! I can borrow from my sister-in-law who has these for her Sunday School kids.
  3. Jeans--check!
  4. Shoes--check!
Yung poncho nalang! Hahaha. Yun pa naman pinaka-importante!

I surveyed my cabinet for anything that I can turn into a Mexican poncho. After about half an hour of looking and racking my brains for poncho ideas, I found a clothing piece of mine (I don't even know what it's called) which I recently got from TJ Maxx in the US. I've worn it only twice (mostly because I eventually found it weird), so I was more than willing to tear it and repurpose it to become a part of Jaden's costume. The thing was red-orange and beige, and even had fringes on the sides. Jackpot.


With the help of Jaden's nanny, and a dozen of safety pins, we transformed this into a child's poncho! Hooray!!


Next, the sombrero. I couldn't decide how to tweak it. For the life of me, hindi ko maisip kung paano ko gagayahin yung nasa peg. Art paper ba yun? Paint? What?!

In the end, I just printed a Mexican flag and stuck it with double-sided tape on the hat. Lol.

I was able to ask my SIL for the maracas, but because I was cramming all of these, I didn't have time to pick them up. Ergo... the guitar idea!

This ukelele was my parent's pasalubong from... no, not Mexico... Hawaii! I covered the face with coloured paper so that it will look Mexican and will complement my son's (super improvised) costume.


I assessed the whole costume and concluded that it should be good enough. Hindi na siguro ako maju-judge na bad mommy. Haha.

What do YOU think?


I was so happy with how the costume turned out. And I couldn't be prouder of how my son strutted his stuff onstage. 

After the parade, the teachers handed out awards to the children. Jaden asked me, "Am I gonna win, Mom?" I said, "I don't know, we'll see," then prayed to high heavens that he would. Competitive yun eh... ewan ko ba kung kanino nagmana ;)

I honestly didn't know if Jaden's costume was even winnable. His classmates wore nice ones; a couple of kids were even in authentic kimonos! Sa totoo lang, parang kami lang yung puro perdible at colored paper.

But I guess being "unique" pays off because...


Jaden won Best in Costume! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mom-me Time 2014

I was incredibly fortunate to have been invited to a beautiful and enchanting mommy afternoon, Mom-me Time 2014: The Pursuit of Balanced Motherhood, hosted by the wonderful people of Baby and Breakfast in partnership with Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio's Wanders & Wonders and Babyland.

In all honestly, even before the formal invite (which was so charming, by the way) arrived at our doorstep, I made up my mind to attend this event. I think I said, "I MUST go. As in I CANNOT miss this," to my husband, who, of course happily agreed (1,000 pogi points!).

I didn't know what to expect that afternoon, except that it will most certainly be worth skipping work/missing my kids/getting some rest.

And boy, was it ever SO WORTH IT!

I shall stop here and let the photos do the talking!

All photos by HAPPY FOLKS STUDIO
Look at the beauty that greeted every mommy! Gideon Hermosa is a dream weaver!

Sweets by The Delightful Miss Joyce and Lovelots Cakes
Aside from awesome food, mommies were treated to a s'mores bar! OMG!

It's like a storybook come to life :)

I almost froze to death when they said we were gonna have a wreath making contest! By some miracle, I got to create a half-decent one. LOL. But look at the wreaths of Jennifer and Marilen! Too pretty!

Nicole, my seatmate, was judged one of the winners of the contest! Yay! Vicarious victory for me. Haha.

After the contest, mommies were treated to endless gifts! This one's a NiQua clutch that is engraved with each guest's initials. That was special :)

My friend Rica talking about passion: Aside from being a wife and mom, who am I? 

One of my mommy pegs, supermom, marathoner, triathlete, and devoted woman of God, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, reminded us moms that enough love for ourselves allows us to give more love to our family. I loved listening to her!

Ok, throughout the program, we were constantly receiving goodies! It was crazy! Parang nagpa-event sila para mamigay ng giveaways!
Mom-me Time allowed me to meet a lot of new mommy friends!

I told you, ENDLESS gifts. I am in love with my Yosi Samras!

If you follow me on IG, you'd know that I'm addicted to Lulu DK tats! I was giddy when I saw their booth at the event.


Kudos to Janna and Rica! The event was AMAAAZING!
As you could probably tell, I went home with loads of stuff that day. But it wasn't only my car trunk that was bursting, I came home with my heart full!

Thank you, Baby and Breakfast, Wanders & Wonders, and Babyland! Looking forward to Mom-me Time 2015! (Please invite me again... haha).


Credits via Baby and Breakfast:


Co-Presenter: Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio of Wanders&Wonders and Babyland / Speaker: Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan of Mommy Maricel / Media Partner: Celebrity Mom / Photographer: Happy Folks Studio / Stylist: Gideon Hermosa of The Events Studio / Rental Chairs: Botafogo Event Rentals / Caterer: K. by Cunanan / Cake and Lace Cookies: The Delightful Miss Joyce / Cookies: Lovelots Cakes / Invitations Design: Natural Selection Design Co. / Invitations Printing: CEVA Designs

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why I Love Beijing

Last month, my husband and I took a much needed break and flew to the land of peking duck... Beijing, China! :)

I was very excited about this trip because it's been more than two years since our last escape without the kids. Don't get me wrong, I love this season of my life when I am over-the-top busy with my precious children. But of course, I want to share quality time with my original "panganay" too! :))

Anyway, Beijing was our choice destination for three reasons: 1) It was just a 4-hour flight from Manila; 2) I have always dreamed of stepping on the Great Wall of China; 3) We can see so much in a short time (as parents, we couldn't be away too long!).

So off we went to our Beijing mega-date! Here's a round-up of the 5 things I found most fascinating on our trip :)

1. The Beijing Subway

At the time of our trip, Manila had enormous problems about our MRT (well, til now actually), so using Beijing's version made me super envious! I  really wish that we had the same efficient and reliable public transportation system. Our guide, Sheila, mentioned that the city was experiencing massive traffic jams too often, and so now the government is beefing up their public transport system to encourage people to keep their cars in the house and just take the train or bus. Is our government listening to this??? Hehe.

Travel tip: The subway costs only ¥2, whatever the distance, so make sure to take advantage of it. I suggest booking a hotel close to a subway station. (We were booked at Novotel Xin Quiao.) A few steps and you can get to almost every major tourist spot via subway. 
2. The food.


My husband trying the scorpions. Eeeewwww!!!

I don't remember any meal of ours that was dull. We especially loved the restaurant choices of our guide. She took us to the yummiest places where the locals go, and had us try the best Chinese food! The food at our hotel was also great, which made our lives sooo easy! Pag gutom kami, bababa nalang kami. Hehe. Of course, we ventured out a few times as well. We had a date at Dadong, Beijing's most popular peking duck restaurant... and yes, the duck was amazing! Nuff said.

Travel Tip: Set out on foot on the colorful Wangfujing Street, Beijing's famous night market, where exotic delicacies like fried scorpions are sold! 

3. The history.

One off my bucket list: standing on the Great Wall of China! :)
Day 1: Great Wall at Mutianyu & the Summer Palace
This was what brought me to Beijing in the first place. The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square. The political science major (and royal fan) in me was just so fascinated with these structures that hark back to the era of Imperial China.

I throughly enjoyed our time at the Great Wall. We traveled to the Mutianyu part of the wall where there were only a handful of tourists, so when we got there, it felt like we had a whole stretch for ourselves. It was surreal walking on that awesome structure... I could hardly imagine men building them for decades!

Day 2 (AM): Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City
Day 2 (PM): Visiting the hutongs (old residential area of Beijing) in a traditional rickshaw
Temple of Heaven
Travel Tip: We traveled 1.5 hours to get to the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, and it is worth it! Avoid the crowds that can diminish your experience of the wall by saving a couple more hours to get to Mutianyu. Plus, you get the thrill of riding a hanging chair (like an open cable car) and a tobogan! 

4. The modernity.

Beijing Olympic Park
One of the coolest things about Beijing is that not only are the historical structures a few kilometers away from each other, but also their modern buildings are right in the heart of the city. I think it's a testament to the Chinese urban planning that they were able to marry history with modernity in their capital.

Travel Tip: The Olympic Park has its own subway stop, so it's really a breeze to visit this complex on your own. I believe it's best to visit in the late afternoon (just before sunset), so that you can wait for the lights to go up. They say the Cube is magical at night!

5. The quality time.

We saved one night to watch the Kung Fu show at the Red Theatre. I highly recommend this! The show was fantastic :)
Cheers to more mega-dates like this!
This may not be a big deal to many, but to me, Beijing will always remind me of the first time I got an 8-hour sleep at night--no night feedings! Hehehe. But seriously, the time I shared with my husband will always be a highlight of this trip. Like I said, it's been a while since we ventured out with just the two of us. Our Beijing trip sort of brought back our days as a couple and it reminded me why I married Julz. NAAAAAKS. Cheesy.

Also, because of the language barrier, it can be quite stressful going around Beijing. This is why it's important to have a travel buddy who will not add stress into the whole trying-to-understand-things and will get even just your facial expression! :)

Travel Tip: Catch the Legend of Kung Fu at the Red Theatre. You may get discounted tickets by emailing beijingshows@gmail.com. Upon receipt of your email, they will give you a reservation name and instructions where you'll pick up and pay your tickets. No need for downpayment for this one! :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Life Lessons I've Learned From Blogging

I had a very interesting and fulfilling week. The past seven days were a mix of family, work, and me-time. Needless to say, I'm one happy and recharged mommy!

On Wednesday, I got to attend what is probably the mommy event of the year-- Mom-Me Time 2014. This was hosted by Baby and Breakfast, in partnership with Wanders & Wonders and Babyland. I will talk more about this in my next post as I want to wait for the official photos (my phone snapshots just won't do justice to the prettiness of the event!).
Okay... I guess one photo won't hurt... Lol ;)

Then on Saturday, I went to the uber charming La Creperie in Salcedo, Makati to be part of Martine de Luna's Blissful Blogging 101 workshop.

I love La Creperie!!! And my Lulu DK Tattoo! :)
First, allow me to say that I was so excited to be part of the workshop! (Thank you, Patty, for inviting me!) I've long wanted to listen to blog guru Martine, but just didn't have enough guts to set a date with her (I felt I was a non-worthy blogger hahaha). Now I know I shouldn't have thought that way because Martine is soooo nice. I'm sure she knows I'm no biggie in the blogging world, but she never made me feel that way--quite the contrary, she made me feel that MY blog is a significant platform for me and my community!

So now, I have all these crazy wonderful ideas for my blog. I have finally come full circle from my blogging burnout!
I literally sat beside Martine aka the Blog Therapist so I can absorb all her blogging bliss. Haha!
More than that, I learned a lot from Martine that goes beyond blogging. Below you'll find the 3 life lessons I learned from blogging :) I hope it'll have the same impact on you as it had on me :)

1. The value of discipline.
We all know this from our childhood, but it was only during the workshop that I realized that blogging, no matter how seemingly "free" and unrestricted it is, requires discipline too. A blogger needs discipline to sit down, write and edit quality posts, to post them according to a schedule, and to keep the blog consistent and harmonious. This is all the more true when a blogger wants to grow her blog or brand.

You see, even if it is a passion or a God-given talent, one still needs discipline to cultivate it and grow it. As renowned author John Maxwell puts it, "Talent is not enough."

Such is life as well. If we want to grow something--a career, a business, even marriage and motherhood--we need discipline. Every conceivable resource we have is finite, so we cannot afford to be reckless about it. For instance, I only have 24 hours in a day--it is up to me how I'll make use of that time and break them down in a way that allows me to be most efficient and productive.

2. The value of purpose.
Hand in hand with discipline is purpose. Just as a blogger must be intentional about blogging, so must we be intentional with our life too. Discipline makes sense only when we have purpose.

Purpose is the ultimate, meaningful life goal we have. One can find her purpose in being a mother, or a career woman, or a missionary.

If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you must've noticed that I haven't posted as often as before, and the few articles I do have pale in comparison with the quality of what I published in the past. I guess that's because I've lost both purpose and discipline for my blog. I'm glad to say I've found that purpose again :)

3. The value of self-development.
It pays to invest in yourself, re-define your limits, and develop new skills.

My love for blogging is rooted in my passion for writing. I took that for granted, and it resulted to me being stagnant and uninspired. My writing showed that.

And so I've learned that there is absolutely nothing wrong in spending some money for self-improvement. In fact, the wealthiest, most successful people in the world says this is an essential--because learning never stops!

Read books, attend workshops and seminars, engage in meaningful conversations with wise and positive people, go back to school... these are just some of the many things we can do to make better versions of ourselves! :)


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Job and Me


Almost one year ago, I wrote about a very desperate time in my life. It was a moment when my heart was just aching for answers from my God, after a series of events that rocked my most treasured blessing—my family.

I had echoed Job’s cries then: “What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes.” (Job 3:25-26)

I’ve memorized the heartache, and I remember it to this day.

Although I never doubted God’s power, I felt confused and, somehow, abandoned. I felt I needed answers--a proper justification--for what was happening to me.

But last night, as I was “reviewing” for my storytelling time for Jaden, I came across the story of Job again. This time, I read until the very end.

I was struck at God’s response to Job’s cries and complaints. Perhaps because I used Job’s words as mine, I felt that God was talking to me, too.

I couldn’t help tearing up when I read Chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Job. Allow me to quote a few lines:
“Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much,
Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?
What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning starts sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
 Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb?
 Have you ever commanded the morning to appear,
And caused the dawn to rise in the east?’”
 
I was humbled. I realized how great and mighty, how all-knowing and powerful the Lord is, and how entitled of me to feel that I deserved answers as soon as I demanded them.

The Lord has been nothing but good, merciful, faithful and gracious to me for 31 years and counting. His track record in my life is sterling, marred only by my own stubborness. How did I ever even consider that He is far from me when I need Him? How did I ever even feel that I had “no rest”? Have I forgotten that He is my rest?

I guess that’s what happens when we focus on our feelings. Frail and fleeting, emotions can literally take us down and snatch our gaze onto ourselves, instead of on the Lord. Because I was too focused on my troubles and my desperation, I forgot that these are the very moments when God wants me to just surrender and trust in His power. No, I didn’t need to know the why’s and the how’s of His plan—I just needed to have faith.

Just as I quoted Job before, I borrow his words again today: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me… I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:2-5)

Today, 329 days after I cried out to God, I can say that I have healed. Yes, I do remember the pain, but God has long mended the broken heart that I carried for months. My faith went through fire, and now it as solid as a diamond. Because of the lessons of the past, I have learned that, whether in seasons of tears or joys, faith should come before my feelings.

As I survey our blessings, I believe my family’s time to laugh has come and God is giving us a peek into the beautiful plan He has for us.

And for the final time, I will make reference to Job, because somehow, I know that something this wonderful will happen to me too:

“CONCLUSION: The LORD Blesses Job 
 When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brough him a gift of money and a gold ring.
 So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning...” 
 (Job 42:10-16)
Certainly, the Lord delights in greatly blessing us and it is my prayer that whoever you are reading this very personal piece right now, will affirm God's goodness in your life too :)
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