5 Reasons Why We Travel with the Kids

Travel is one of the things we like doing as a family.  We love planning for roadtrips and out of town trips during holidays.  Of course, vacations out of the country are special and takes more time (and resources) so planning is longer and more deliberate.

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Our kids in one of our trips to Tagaytay

Our last trip overseas was in October 2016.  It was our first trip as a family of five and our first time in Osaka, Japan as well.  A lot of people were a little surprised that we were bringing 12-month J to the trip.  Some even suggested to leave him with my mom so that we can enjoy more.

“It’s difficult to travel with a baby.”

“Leave him with his Laly (Grandma).  He’s too young to remember this, anyway.”

I do recognize that bringing a baby with us on a trip changes the pace and even our itinerary but we really didn’t have the heart to leave him this time.

Truth be told, that trip was my first time to fly with a baby. S was already 2 years old when we first travelled by plane and it was only a 2-hour local trip.  That was also F’s first time to ride a plane and he was almost 4 years old during that time.  Admittedly, I was also a little anxious so I sought help from a friend who is a seasoned traveller with babies. Thank God for her and the tips she shared, some I really would not have thought of myself.

Many well-meaning friends advised N & I to wait when the baby is older before we bring him along in our travels.  I guess every one has their own preferences and I believe that we each should follow our gut.  But for those of you considering travel with kids, here are my five reasons why I think you should go for it (as I did) no matter what age:

1.  TRAVEL = FAMILY BONDING TIME – When we travel as a family, we are stuck with each other’s company whether we like it or not.  Inevitably, there are times when we get into each other’s nerves! Like when N would get frustrated with me when I navigate wrongly… or when F would be irritated with S and her constant bugging 😛.  For most parts though, we find it to be a great opportunity to reconnect and bond.  We get the chance to talk, have fun and create memories.

2.  TRAVEL PROVIDES for NEW & BIGGER ROLES – I remember one time when we planned a trip to Boracay with friends.  N had a business trip scheduled so we decided that it was most practical to just meet in Boracay.  This meant travelling with F & S (then 8 and 6 years old) by myself.  It was a pleasant surprise that the kids rose to the occasion and picked up after themselves.

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Boracay with F & S (2011)

During this recent Japan trip, S was such a helpful assistany to me, especially when taking care of baby J.  On the other hand, F was a willing helper to his dad, carrying our luggage and even navigating around the city.  They also learned how to be more responsible with keeping their own tickets, buying their meals and keeping their own stuff.

3.  TRAVEL TEACHES ADAPTABILITY and FLEXIBILITY – We all know that the most well thought-out travel plans can still go wrong.  Delayed flights, missing baggaes, weather abberations.  These things will teach our kids how to adjust and make the most out of unforeseen situations.  In this trip, we initially wanted to go to Universal Studios mainly for the Harry Potter experience.  After checking though, the crowd estimate was outrageous!  I actually still wanted to give it a try (being a HP fan that I am).  It was F who put things in perspective — that it would be difficult for J and that we would not really enjoy if there is waaaaay too much people.  S said that since they’ve been to two other Universal Studios anyway, they’re willing to wait a few more years till J is ready for theme parks. How is that for flexible?

4. TRAVEL LETS US DISCOVER THE WORLD FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE –  Experiencing a diffent culture first hand helps us appreciate better those things that are different from what we’re used to.  Personally, I used to dislike Japanese people (think World War II and how the Japanese invaded the Philippines).  But having been in close contact with them in this trip showed me how they are nice people,

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Snippets from our Japan trip (2016)

courteous, polite and very helpful.  I believe that when we expose our children to more of the world and its varying cultures, they will become more inclusive and accepting of others.  They will accept and appreciate diversity much easier.

 

5.  TRAVEL PROVIDES A BETTER LEARNING EXPERIENCE – Learning about a city or country by reading about it is so much different from actually experiencing it.  Travelling gives the kids a better learning opportunity as they see, feel, touch and taste what a place has to offer.  That was the case when they went to Times Square in New York or ate fresh sushi at the Kuromon market or rode the elephants in Thailand.  The experience makes everything more tangible and memorable.

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Times Square at night (2014)

And so, while there may be real inconveniences travelling with kids, for me, the benefits outweigh them by leaps and bounds that we will travel with the kids as often as we can 😊

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! 🎉

Almost there…

I am now at 37 weeks and 4 days today.

The hospital bag (make that luggage) is packed.  I believe we have all the necessary baby stuff on hand. The crib is all set and is awaiting the arrival of Baby#3!

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The kids are very excited!  I am excited…and nervous…and anxious…and everything else in between!

We are praying for a smooth and easy delivery.  I am due for a caesarian operation so I truly hope that everything will go as planned and that I will recover fast so I can take care of the baby.

We will be sure to keep you posted on the developments of Baby#3’s arrival so hang in there with us and get ready to pop those confetti very soon!

Baby Showers for Baby #3

These past two weeks, I have been advised by the doctor to get some rest as she senses that I am contracting more than normal.  It’s a good thing that my company allows for work-from-home arrangements so it’s a win-win situation for me as well as my team in the office.

At 34 weeks, I am glad to be relieved of the stress from the commute going to and from the office…well, at least for two weeks.  I stay at home (mostly in bed) for most parts of the week and get some work done with my trusty laptop. ☺

During weekends, my trips are limited to bare necessities such as OB-Gyne check-ups and attending Mass.  I’ve made exceptions though for two events that were arranged especially for Baby#3. 😊

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Last September 12, my sisters-in-law planned a baby shower with S.  We usually have Sunday lunch at my in-laws’ house so that was the best choice for venue.  They went for a Mickey Mouse theme and decorated the house with balloons and banners.  We were joined by my closest girlfriends who willingly joined the games that S and my sisses prepared.  It was a such a fun, albeit short gathering!

Giveaways for guests...but no, not quite ready to pop yet 😛

This Saturday, September 19, we were treated to yet another shower party, this time hosted by my mom and sisters.  It was mostly a family affair of my relatives and cousins but there were a few of my highschool and college friends who joined us for the occasion.

As usual, my sister, Faye took care of the creatives (she opted to go with the “little man” theme executed in green and blue color scheme) while Kat took care of the food and dessert table.

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Of course, a shower wouldn’t be complete without games and our big family is up for anything!  See how competitive they can be  for chocolates as prizes! 😃😃😃.

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I was just a happy spectator with all the commotion going around me.  By the evening, we were all exhausted from all the laughing and shrieking and eating…but we truly had a lot of fun.

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Our baby has not yet been born yet but is already showered with so much love and blessings by our families and friends.  Indeed, we feel so overwhelmed by their love and support and are very grateful for these wonderful people in our lives!

I’m Baaaaaaack!

First of all, I truly apologize for the prolonged hiatus.  I didn’t mean to be away for so long. But 2015 did not quite start as I imagined it would and we were beset with illness and loss in the family.  It was a pretty rough start and sadly, writing had to take a backseat with the 101 urgent things that required my attention.

But I am back now…and bearing wonderful news!!!!

About three weeks ago, N & I received the most unexpected blessing and gift for our 12th wedding anniversary — we’re going to have a baby!

To say that I was surprised is probably the greatest understatement.  I have always been very vocal to family and friends that I am already content with our family set-up.  F & S are 12 and 10 years old, respectively and have slowly become self-sufficient and independent.  I have grown quite comfortable with our little arrangement that having another baby was farthest from my mind. Add the (inevitable) fact that I am already pushing 40, I really wasn’t particularly eager to get pregnant again.  But just when I thought I had it all figured out, life decides to throw me a curve ball.

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It took about a whole week for me to get settled into the idea of being pregnant again.  Despite the slow start, I am now embracing his blessing with open heart and arms wide open ☺.  N and the kids were thrilled with the news.  Naturally, F is wishing for a baby boy while S wants a baby sister.  Our daily family conversations are interspersed with things related to the baby like who would it look like or where will the baby sleep.  Would you believe that we already started shortlisting baby names this early?! Talk about excited! But we are not telling our baby name choices just yet.

Sometimes, I still feel anxious with my pregnancy.  I have tons of questions running through my head and just as many issues and concerns.  But I have been getting tremendous support and encouragement from my family, relatives and friends; it eases my restlessness a bit.  I am very thankful that N and the kids are with me, every step of the way!  And so, while it came as a huge and unexpected gift, this baby is indeed a blessing yo our family and we hope that you join us too in our newest adventure as a family.

So…pop that confetti! We’re having a baby!!! 🎉

Birthday Reveries

Every year on my birthday, I try to step back and look at the year that was. I try to remember what I’ve accomplished (or did not), new places I’ve been to, things that I’ve learned or tried.  It’s much like new year —but only for me.

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This year is different as this is the first time I am actually documenting my musings.

This year, I turn 39.  Too old to be young…but too young to be old.

The highlights of my year in bullet points:

  • We went on our first trip to the U.S. this year with the family. We all had a great vacation there, the kids are saving for the next one already!
  • Sugar Lily has been steadily growing. It’s not yet at the pace we want but growth is growth ☺
  • I celebrated my first anniversary with my company and I couldn’t be happier.
  • I did my first ever fun run!
  • This year, I have started to regularly keep in touch with my friends — whether through monthly lunches or virtually, through Viber.
  • I started this blog!!!

Overall, I think it was a pretty steady year for me. It was a good one but there are some things that I wish I could’ve done better.  I wish I wrote more consistently for the blog.  I also hope that we can focus more on growing and promoting Sugar Lily.  I still hope that we can pursue the little artsy venture that my sister, Faye and I are cooking up.  And I sure hope I can regularly touchbase with my friends.  All these, I will endeavor to do this coming year.

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And while there is still a thousand and one things in my wishlist, to-do list and travel bucket list, I am also very grateful for the blessings that have come my way this year.  Most especially, I am thankful for my family — my hubby and kids who have been my source of love, joy and inspirarion; my mom who is my pillar of strength and my siblings who are my safe haven and comfort zone.

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This year, I turn 39.

POP the purple confetti…the best is yet to come!

Party Planning: Kids’ Splash Bash

This is a late post of what has to be my craziest week of party planning and preparations for the kids’ joint birthday celebration.  F & S‘s birthdays are only a month apart.  They used to have their own parties but since their friends have somehow intermingled, we decided to just hold one party for both of them.  And what could be a more gender-neutral theme than a swimming party? 🙂

Once the theme was decided on, the kids agreed on a date which they said should be a Saturday between their respective birthdays. As soon as that was settled, we went full throttle on the preparations.  The foremost consideration was the venue.  We wanted a location that is convenient for us and our guests.  We were lucky that the pool and clubhouse at my aunt’s village was still available on our chosen date so we booked it immediately.

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Hillsborough Aqua Park

Given the short lead time we have, I opted for a simple, fuss-free party. Most of the food were pre-ordered and delivered straight to the venue: giant 36″ Calda Pizza, spaghetti from Amber and barbecue from Monzon’s in BF Homes. The only thing we prepared were chicken lollipops and hotdogs plus the refreshments station of iced tea, soda and lemon water. Sweet treats were provided by Sugar Lily cupcakes and Nestle Ice Cream.

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As with all other parties I planned previously, I relied on the creative expertise of my sister, Faye to put some fun and color to our celebration. She did a magnificent job designing the invitations, menu cards and cupcake toppers for the event.

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Lastly, we added some other little stuff to tie the whole pool party concept together. My sister-in-law bought beach balls and pool noodles for the kids to play with while in the water. I also asked her to buy some pails which I filled with chips and doubled as centerpieces for the tables.

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Overall, it was a fun-filled Saturday afternoon spent with family, classmates, football and gymnastics friends!

Sharing with you some of our suppliers which may help you in your future parties:

  • Hillsborough Aqua Park
    Contact numbers: 63 2 772-4371 /809-3533
  • Sugar Lily Cupcakes & Pastries
    https:/www.facebook.com/SugarLilyCupcakes
  • Nestle Ice Cream
    https:/icecreamparty.ph/
  • Calda Pizza BF Homes
    Contact number: 63 2 519-2954
  • Amber
    Contact number: 63 2 884-8888