Chasing Summer

School just started and summer is officially over for us here in Manila.  Oh, how I wish it could’ve lasted a little bit longer!  So this post is a round-up of our summer (if only to hold on to it a little bit more).

Right after school ended, we flew to Bangkok for S‘s gymnastics competition.  This was her first international tournament so she was excited and nervous at the same time.  As for me, it was my first time to be away from baby for such a long time so I experienced a major separation anxiety attack!  It was a good thing that my mom (Laly to my kids) agreed to stay at our house for the duration of our trip.  This eased my mind and calmed my heart a little over leaving the baby in the care of just the nanny and our helper.  Don’t get me wrong.  Our nanny is trust-worthy and reliable; and she takes good care of but having Laly around to oversee things helped me a lot.

The tournament turned out to be a great experience for .  She won 1 Gold (vault) and 3 Silvers (beam, bars and floor) on her first try.  We were beaming with pride as we cheered our little princess!

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We were also able to explore a little bit of Thailand during our 4-day stay.  We have a good friend who is now living in Bangkok with his family and they were kind enough to take us around that weekend.

We first went to Bang Pa-in where we roamed around the royal family’s summer palace.  All that walking prepared us for our next stop at the Gong Kong Market where we sampled authentic Thai cuisine.

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Freshly cooked Pad Thai at the market

After that, we explored the Ayutthaya Ruins and checked out the Elephant Palace.  We were hoping to see elephants play football but it wasn’t in that part of the city so F & S just fed the big guys with turnips and carrots and experienced an elephant ride.

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A view of Ayutthaya ruins

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Food was something we truly enjoyed during this trip! F found new favorites as we devoured those Thai delicacies.  Of course, we ordered the classics like tom yum goong, pad thai and mango sticky rice.  But we also loved new discoveries like prawns in coconut, beef curry, deep fried soft-shelled crabs and Thai chicken rice.  We would love to go back to Bangkok if only to go on another food trip! 😋

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After this trip, the kids’ summer was mostly spent in the gym or the pitch.  S had gymnastics training thrice a week while F had football seasions almost daily.  His club joined two big summer leagues – Rizal Football Association (RIFA) and United Football League (UFL) Youth – so they had their fair share of games every week.  The team shows quite a potential as they finished second and third runner-up in the tournaments respectively, considering that they were relatively new than other youth clubs who joined.

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U13 JP Voltes-Malaya Team

It was already at the tail-end of summer when we realized that we haven’t even gone swimming yet! The kids were a little disappointed that we had no planned trip to the beach.  With just a few weeks before classes, the nearby beaches that are nice are usually fully-booked on weekends.  I guess luck was on our side as N was able to book a quick getaway for us in Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro on short notice.  We were only too happy to pack our swimsuits and head out for some sun and sand for the weekend!

This out-of-town trip was a first for J.  It was also his first swimming experience so we were all excited to see how he would react to the water.  Well, it looks like we have a natural swimmer in our midst!  He loved the pool…he loved the beach as well!  He played happily with his brother and sister and if only for that, it was a weekend well-spent.

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Beach time, fun time!

So, that was the summer that was.  True, it was not as eventful as some other summer vacations we had in the past but we had our moments and that is enough to bring us smiles in the meantime.

For now, we bid summer good-bye as we gear up for a new adventure back in school! 😊

I would love to hear your summer stories, too! Hit the comment button and share, would you?

Cheers! 🎉

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Finding Balance

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Life is a constant balancing act.  With so many things required of us, we need to always manage our time and choose our priorities all the time.

My life is no different.  As a working mom, I am used to juggling office issues with homework and grocery lists.  My daily routine would include ensuring an updated menu for the house as well as keeping up with the emails I receive in my Blackberry (yup…still on BB! 😛).

I guess we’re always looking for the right proportions of work and home life, business and pleasure.  It’s about setting aside some kids’ time, getting some couple time and finding some “me” time. I know, I know — easier said than done!

In my case, N & I hardly ever get any quality couple time these days.  It was particularly difficult when we had no driver and (for a while) no yaya.  We had to arrange everyone’s schedule on a daily basis and shuttle from office to school to trainings in between that by the time the week is over, all we really want to do is rest at home…which of course, hardly ever happened because weekends seem more jampacked than weekdays! 😧 IF we were lucky to have extra time, we opted to stay in and sleep.

Admittedly, attending to the kids takes most of my free time. Football practice, tournaments, gymnastics training, competitions, play dates, doctor’s appointments…I could go on and on with the list!  Still, there are times when I feel that I am neglecting the two older ones in favor of the baby.  I guess it’s understandable on most cases, but those instances when S would come up to me and tell me she misses spending time with me, my heart would hurt and wish that I could have three sets to arms to hug them all at the same time!

“ME” time has taken a back seat for sooooo long, I don’t even remember when was the last time I really enjoyed some quiet, relaxing time with myself.  I know that everyone needs a breather once in a while, more probably so for working moms…but really, when does one find the time?!! Oh, the irony!

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So as I mull about this, I realized that time is really a scarce resource.  And if I am to find that balance, I have to be intentional and purposeful on how I spend my precious time.  If I simply “go with the flow”, it’s easy to get lost and drowned in the sea of endless tasks and activities.  Sharing with you also some realizations I had:

1.  Simplify.  Minimize. >> We all get our share of invitations, both for work and socials.  It can be difficult to turn down these invites but truly, it’s impossible to go to every single one of them.  The same is true for children’s parties and play dates and kiddie activities.  Choose those which really give joy and those where your presence would really matter.

2.  Breathe. >> When it gets overwhelming (and it inevitably does, remember to breathe.  Take a step back and re-assess the situation.  When I do this, I almost always find a better perspective and I am able to move forward.

3.  Choose relationships.  >> When it comes down to it, always choose to strengthen and nurture relationships that matter.  Date your spouse.  Date your kids— individually, not as a team.  Date your best friend. Date your mom.  Date yourself.  Make time with those that matter.

Finding balance is always a work in progress.  It is a choice that we make every day.  Make yours count.

Cheers!

*photos taken from web