29 July 2013

because you were sick...

Thursday afternoon at home a little after 3pm, I was carrying Sophie. She seemed a bit hotter than usual which I mentioned to Mama and Yaya Juliet. But they simply said that it was because I had just come from outside where it was really hot. At 4 o’clock just before we started to get ready to go out, the baby still felt hot, so again, I told Mama. So we took out the thermometer and, as I suspected, she had a fever. It read 37.5 in one ear, and 37.9 in the other. This meant that we had to cancel almost all our plans for the entire 2-day weekend. Darn! 

So, Sophie, if you happen to read this, please know that because you were sick:
• we didn’t get to go to Fujairah for the overnight team building activity
• Daddy didn’t go to his FTB (For the Boys) bonding on Thursday night
• Mommy didn’t get a good night’s sleep the entire Thursday-Friday night because she would wake up practically every hour to check your temperature
• we had to take you to the hospital at 2am on Friday because your temperature reached 39.6
• we weren’t able to help Tita Lhen and Tito Joel with the preparations for Raine’s birthday
• we weren’t able to attend the (comeback) household of Tito Ryan and Tita Myrna

But don’t feel bad. Because you were sick:
• we were able to spend more time with you and Ate Caila; nakabawi kami from all the nights we were out attending meetings and activities
• if Daddy went to his FTB bonding, he wouldn’t be at home at the time you needed to be taken to the hospital
• Mommy was able to take extra, extra care of you, and you spent practically the entire weekend beside me or in my arms
• we found out you were teething!

Taking care of Sophie and spending quality time with her and her sister is definitely more important than going out. If we had gone out, what supposedly should have been time spent with the family would be spent with other people. And of course, no one else can be more important to me and Daddy than our daughters.

It’s true that things don't always work out the way you plan it to be. And for last weekend, I’m glad they did. Because as they say, things always happen for a reason.

my favourite boys are back!

I fell in love with the Backstreet Boys during my first year in college. In the beginning, Nick was my ultimate, absolute favourite of them all. After some time, Howie became my fave...simply because he had really nice abs. I bought all their cassette tapes (I couldn’t afford the CDs then) and made sure to keep my eyes glued on the television when MTV would play their videos. Then they lay low and embarked on solo careers or settled down and had families. They came to Dubai for a concert in December of 2009 but because I had a 10 month old baby to take care of, I didn’t get to see them. Naturally, I was crushed.

And now they’re back in the music scene...all grown up, but still looking as handsome as ever. I still like Nick and Howie, but I’m not as crazy about them as I was years ago. Their latest song may not be like their old ones that you could instantly tell would be hits, but it’s still a good song to listen to. And I have...over and over and over because I’ve downloaded it and saved it in my mobile phone and tablet.

I may not get the video, but I do get their music. And in the end, that’s all that really matters to me.

22 July 2013

back at the park and my inspirations to work out

Once again, I had excuses not to go to the neighborhood park last week for my (supposed to be) regular brisk walk/jog in the early evenings. On the top of the list were the meetings we had practically every night. And even though I would set the alarm for 5:40am so that I would do it in the mornings instead, the bed was just too comfortable to leave.

But finally, in spite of a (sort of) late night yesterday visiting friends, I decided that if all our nights would be like last week’s and if I really wanted to become more healthy, I had to start getting up early. So this morning, I pushed myself to get out of bed and, along with Hubby, we headed to the park at 6am.

I’ll be honest with you. One of the reasons why it took me so long to decide to start jogging in the morning was because I thought the park would be closed. If it was, I would have to settle on using the roads and streets around the area, and I didn’t want to do that alone. Which is why I asked Hubby to go with me today. But luckily, even though the sign outside the park said it opens at 8 o’clock, I was relieved to find it open and there were lots of other people going around the track.

After forty minutes of brisk walking and jogging for a total of almost 2.7 kilometers, we could feel the heat of the sun upon us, so Hubby and I walked back home.  The mix of crisp morning air, sunshine, and the energy boost we got from the workout felt really good. And since it’s much more better than in the evenings, I really, really hope I can do this morning exercise on a regular basis.

By the way, Hubby practically forced me to buy a new pair of shoes last week. For one thing, the soles of the ones I used to wear were almost falling apart. For another, para daw I’ll be more inspired to work out. And looking at the brand new gear for my feet that I have now (not to mention the price I had to pay for it), dapat lang na ma-inspire ako ‘di ba? =)
Before I forget, I have something to make kwento about...slightly off topic, but a bit related (magulo ba?! hahaha!). Yesterday morning in the elevator of our apartment building, a woman asked me how many babies I had (because she had seen me and Hubby waving to Sophie earlier). I told her 1 baby and a 4 year old child. To which she replied “Really? You don’t look like you have two kids!”

The second instance was also yesterday morning, but at work. A manager from a nearby hotel dropped by the office for her regular client visit. After the usual chit chat about business, the topic shifted to our ages and having children. When she said that I still had lots of time to have more kids if I wanted to, I told her that she was wrong because I was already 34. She was so surprised because she thought I was only 27.

Those two women really made my day yesterday! =)

21 July 2013

kfc star camp teaser

Finally, all our hard work in attending meetings, planning, coordinating, and preparing paid off. The event yesterday was truly a success where all our kids shined and shared their talents...and most importantly, had so much fun.

Of course, the Star Camp itself calls for a separate post (either another video or several photos), but allow me to share first the teaser prepared by none other than Tito John.

Hats off to everyone for such a great event!

17 July 2013

ang lakas mag-trip!

Last night we had our Chapter HH at our humble abode. Like our previous household meetings, we talked about the upcoming activities of the different ministries we were serving, as well as the details for any chapter, unit and household activities. Usually the earliest time the meeting would end and everyone would leave would be 11pm; but last night, everyone (including Hubby and me) left at around 10pm...because we suddenly decided to go all the way to Umm Al Quwain to check a possible hotel venue for the team-building we’re planning!

I know, crazy! It was pretty late, Umm Al Quwain is approximately 38 kilometers from Dubai, and the journey to the hotel took almost 40 minutes...but still we went.
It's a good thing the staff at the hotel were friendly and accommodating, and allowed all of us (three cars full of 14 adults, 3 kids, and a baby) to enter and look around their villas, no matter how late it was and even though we hadn't called beforehand. The man who went with us and opened the vacant villas for our viewing looked a lot like Bruno Mars complete with the fedora hat!

This is the real Bruno Mars. I didn't take a picture of his kalokalike
While we were in the last villa, the organizers of the team-building were standing around to discuss some details if we pushed through at that hotel, when suddenly one of them said “Kailangan upuan yan! Pag-usapan na lang sa Starbucks!” which prompted all of us to go out and get into our cars and drive out of the hotel.

We didn’t end up in Starbucks, though; there wasn’t any branch on the way. So we agreed to stop at the first Enoc station that had a KFC and Hardee’s restaurant...where Tito Bong bought Magnum ice-cream for all of us!

midnight snack!
When things would get complicated because of some conflicts and matters to be considered, someone would joke “Magandang pag-usapan yan habang kumakain ng lugaw sa Karama,” or “Mag-halo-halo kaya tayo sa Chow King para maayos yan?!” which would of course make all of us laugh at how crazy the idea would be...but considering our sudden decision to go on a road trip to UAQ late at night, who knows? =)
Thirty minutes after midnight, we were in our cars on our way back to Dubai. And amazingly, all the kids who were with us were still wide awake! Nakisama sa trip ng mga matatanda! 
mga malalakas mag-trip!
Mamayang hating-gabi uli, sa Fujairah naman! =)

09 July 2013

commuting with caila

Commuting by yourself is easy. But commuting with a 4 year old is a different story. For one thing, they walk much slower than you and they get tired and bored easily; this alone makes you want to go back home and forget the whole thing, especially if you’re running late. However, the good thing is you get to experience it through the eyes of a child. This is what happened last night.

Hubby had to go somewhere right after work (he didn’t have time to pick us up from home because he left work late and the traffic was heavy), so Caila and I had to go to the KFC Service Team Meeting on our own. Usually, during the times that I have to commute with Caila and/or Sophie, we would take a taxi because it’s much more faster and easier. But yesterday, there were no cabs in sight, so the only choice we had was to take the bus and metro. And Caila loved it!

When she saw the bus approaching, she excitedly told me “Mommy, it’s a double-decker bus! The double-decker bus is coming! I want to ride it, Mommy. I like the double-decker bus!”
image source
And as soon as we entered the bus and I tapped the card on the machine, she practically pulled my hand up the stairs to the upper level. I thought she would want to sit in the front, but she settled on one of the middle seats and immediately looked out the window, enjoying her view.
For the first five minutes, she just stared out the window as everything passed by her eyes. After a while, she got bored at watching the same things (cars, roads, buildings) and sat back in her seat. I wanted to take a nice picture of her, but she wouldn’t let me. The only “decent” one I got was this
Some time later, she told me “Mommy, I want to ride the choo-choo train. I don’t like the bus anymore.”
image source
Luckily, the ride was pretty fast and soon we got off the bus in front of the metro station, rode the escalators to the platform, and waited for the train.
It was already dark (after all, it was 7:30pm) so the only view Caila could see outside the train were different lights, but she was still amazed at what she saw, again practically sticking her face on the glass to stare outside.
But after a few minutes, just like what happened in the bus, she got bored at looking at the same views that she finally sat down on her seat and just looked at the other passengers.
Finally, the train stopped at our station where we got off, rode the elevator, walked to the bus stop, and waited for a ride. The traffic was heavy and again, there were no vacant cabs at all, but after five minutes of waiting, a bus that would pass by the place we needed to go to arrived. Although it was also a double-decker bus, we just sat on the lower deck this time because our trip wasn’t that long. This time, she enjoyed looking at the lights of the cars and buildings that were much more closer than when we were on the first bus and the metro.
By 8pm, we got down at the bus stop, walked a few minutes, and finally arrived at the meeting place...tired, slightly hungry, and late. Fortunately, food had been served and the others had just started eating, and Caila had brought snacks and a bottle of water which she had taken from time to time during our journey so it was ok.

And of course when Hubby fetched us later that night, our little girl started her endless chatter about her experience on her favourite commute transportations. It made Hubby almost jealous that his eldest daughter was able to ride a double-decker bus in Dubai before he did!

08 July 2013

apple cinnamon muffins

I know I’ve just recently started learning how to bake from scratch, but out of the few cupcakes and muffins I’ve tried so far, I can say that my apple muffins are the best. The first batch I made was for Mama's birthday last April. 
Mama's birthday muffins
Since then, it's the only kind I bake for any special occasions in the family or when we're expecting guests.  If you can remember, I also cooked these for Leih’s baby shower more than two weeks ago. And usually on the day that the last muffin has been eaten up, my nephew always asks “Auntie Pamela, kelan ka uli gagawa ng apple muffins?” Now if that doesn’t mean they’re delicious, I don’t know what is. And honestly, they really are.

I can’t take the credit for coming up with the recipe, though. Like all the others, I found it on the internet, but unfortunately, I can’t remember which site I got it from. So if you come across a similar recipe as the one I’m using, most probably, that’s where I got them from. 

1 ¾ cups of white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 apples (peeled, cored and diced)
Brown sugar

1) Cream together the first four ingredients in a bowl.
2) In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon. You can either sift them or not.
3) Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix. The batter will be very thick.
4) Usually at this point, I turn on the oven and preheat it to 180 degrees celsius.
5) Add the diced apples and mix again. The batter will become smoother and easier to mix after the apples have been added.
6) Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and fill the liners with the batter
7) Sprinkle with brown sugar
8) Bake for 20 minutes, cool, and enjoy the muffins!

The brown sugar on top gives a slight crunch, but then you’ll be surprised at how soft and moist the inside is once you bite into it. I seriously recommend you to try this recipe because it’s really delicious. Not only that, it’s so easy to follow and the ingredients can easily be found in any supermarket or grocery.

Luto na! =)

full body massage at oxygen spa

Last week, I had a full body massage at Oxygen Spa in Marriott Executive Apartments in Deira. This was supposed to be an all-girls group bonding activity with the rest of the ET ladies, but it was only after we bought the vouchers for the deal from one of the group-buying sites that we found out that they could only accommodate two at a time because they only had two therapists. In the end, we planned a different activity (we had dinner and then watched Man of Steel at Al Ghurair) so that our bonding pushed through and later paired up to book the massages.

Since we had to book an appointment in advance, and there were only 2 days in a week that both our schedules were free, and Ann really wanted needed a massage, she called the Spa. We thought we could easily book it for that same week (she called them mid-June), but they were so full. Finally, they had an opening for the 30th of June and that night after work, we headed to Marriott Executive Apartments.
Upon arriving at the spa, we gave the receptionist our printed vouchers and then we were told to go into separate rooms.
The therapist assigned to me was a Filipina (I forgot her name) and she did a good job in massaging my whole body, managing to remove the “lamig” from my back (I asked her what it translates to in English, but she also didn’t know; anyway, at least we understood each other). She used a lot of oil which was just fine with me because it helped her hands glide over whatever part of my body she was massaging. Before starting with my legs, she wiped my feet with a moist towel (most probably to remove any dirt); and every time she finished a part, she would use a dry towel to wipe off the oil.

Her light pressure (my preference), the dim lights, and the soothing background music were just right. But before I had a chance to fully drift to sleep, the one hour was already over. Bitin! Although the therapist was a bit talkative, I managed to drown her voice out most of the time and just concentrate on relaxing. All in all, I enjoyed the massage. My body felt light and tension-free after the session.
see my sleepy eyes?
Ann also had a good experience. She had asked her therapist to apply hard pressure, and by the time the session was over, the back and shoulder pains that she had been complaining about for two weeks were gone.
For Dhs79, a full-body massage of your choice of Moroccan, Thai, acupressure, or whatever was definitely sulit. I hope they offer this deal again soon.

Oxygen Spa
Ground floor, Tower B
Marriot Executive Apartments
Maktoum Road, Deira, Dubai
Tel: 04-2222920

07 July 2013

lunch out at bait al mandi

To liven up our ordinary working Saturday, my Filipino colleagues and I decided to have lunch outside yesterday. In the past, we would eat at food courts of the nearby malls, but this time, we had lunch at a local restaurant in Rashidiya.
the interior of the small restaurant
Jonah has eaten there before so she was the one who placed our order of a whole Mandi Chicken. As soon as our order was placed, a man went to our table to cover it with a plastic sheet (to keep all the mess that might fall from our plates, I guess), then gave each of us yoghurt, some greens, and something like salsa.
In less than 5 minutes, our order was served before us. Here’s how the food looked like before
And here’s how it looked after we had our fill
Just looking at the almost empty plate shows how much we enjoyed the chicken. The meat was very soft and tender, and each piece tasted good. Sarap to the bones! And do you know how much it cost us for our entire meal? Just Dhs48. Dhs40 for the Mandi Chicken and Dhs2 for each of our drinks. Delicious yet affordable!
the gals with the satisfied tummies

06 July 2013

for nutella addicts

While shopping for groceries, we came across these really big jars of the chocolate spread and Hubby just had to have a picture holding one.
almost as big as Sophie!
So in case all the Nutella addicts out there in Dubai are wondering where to get them, these are being sold at Carrefour, Deira City Centre for Dhs181.

02 July 2013

leih's baby shower

Two weeks ago, I received an SMS from Leih inviting me to her baby shower which would be held that Friday. I immediately called her up and this is how our conversation went:

Me: Leih, di ako makakapunta sa shower mo. May MER kami ni Guchi nun. Service team kami.
Leih: Ganon ba? Sige, i-move na lang. Ikaw pa lang naman ang nasasabihan ko eh.
Me: Talaga? Sige, i-resched mo na lang please. The following Friday, pwede ako.
Leih: Ok po. Next Friday na lang. Ikaw na lang magsabi sa mga anakis mo na kapatid ko ha.
Me: Yehey! Walang problema. Akong bahala mag-inform sa kanila. Salamat!

After we ended the conversation, I immediately sent an SMS to my SFC babies to block their schedules for the 28th of June, and the following day I sent a message to all of them. Then I sent a message to Leih asking her for the details of the shower. Apparently, she hadn’t planned anything yet. Just the date, food and venue. In the end, I instantly became the organizer and Leih told me to just coordinate with her former SFC member to assist me. Ayos!

There wasn’t too much to do, though. Just make a picture invitation, create an event on facebook and invite Leih’s family and friends, think of games, and prepare the stuff needed for the games. The couple were simple, so they didn’t need too much decors, although I did print the door sign and photowall just to make the place a bit more festive.  Medyo na-toxic lang ako on the day of the shower because that morning, I had to bake apple muffins (my promise to the preggy lady) because I didn’t have time to do so the night before, then show up for my 11am appointment at UniCare before going to the shower venue which was the apartment of Leih’s sister and her family.

I had originally planned on having just 4 games, but because the guests were enjoying themselves (and after the 4th game, their faces seemed to be waiting for me to tell them what the next game was), I had to instantly think of another one. The first game was Stick the Sperm on the Egg, and we all had a good laugh while watching the blindfolded men stick the sperm (with the daddy-to-be’s face) near the expectant mommy’s face which was shaped like an egg. The next game was “How Big is Mommy’s Belly” which the female guests took part in. The third game was a team effort in figuring out the seven different chocolates used in Dirty Diapers, and the supposed to be last one was a relay where each team had to transfer the most number of cereal balls from a cup via a formula milk scoop to a plate. The really last game was another group activity where the teams had to think of the most number of songs that had the words Babe, Baby, Child or Children in it.

We’re all excited to see Renjith and Leih’s little princess who’ll be coming out next month. Oh no, this means that I’ll be a grandma soon! Hahaha!

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