26 April 2014

Day 34: 24 April - God's Answers His Own Way

I prayed. I researched. I prepared. I negotiated.
In the end, I didn’t get what I really wanted…but God still answered my prayers.
It may not have been in the way I had asked, but if you add everything up, I’ll be getting the equivalent.
And for this, I am grateful.

Day 33: 23 April - Omelette Paratha

A very affordable, yet filling breakfast
not spicy...just the way I like it

Day 32: 22 April - Tasks Accomplished After All the Drama

First task: Cut pictures to decorate her school project
Second task: Clean the big mess she made
Third task: Remove the hair ties from her unruly hair

These three tasks are simple to do. But for a 5 year old who is a Daddy’s girl and is used to having others do things for her, it’s frustrating when her Mommy tells her she needs to do everything by herself.

However, that’s what happened, and no matter how much or how loud Caila cried, begging us to help her, I made sure that no one lifted a finger.

It was a sight to see her over-acting to show us how much she struggled, trying to convince us that she couldn’t do those things, but we all ignored her.

Finally, when she realized her cries and “performance” were falling on deaf ears and blind eyes, she started doing them. Sure the pictures weren’t cut properly and some parts were cut in the middle, but at least she did it. And sure there were a couple of places on the table that were still a bit sticky, but at least most of the mess was cleared.

And seeing her proud and happy face when she realized she could do all of these by herself was just priceless.

24 April 2014

Day 31: 21 April - Yummy Breakfast

Yummy breakfast to start my workweek
almond croissant and hot chocolate

Day 30: 20 April - Snakes & Ladders Game

Easter Day!
I took a day's leave from work to spend it with my family.
Enjoyed a game of Snakes & Ladders with Gabe and Caila.  Even though I lost to the kids (because I kept landing on the squares with the snakes), I still had fun.

23 April 2014

Day 29: 19 April - No More Fever

Caila had a fever since Thursday night, which reached up to 40 degrees the following night. Finally on Saturday, the thermometer read that her temperature was back to normal, allowing us to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Day 27: 18 April - Surprise Rose

I wasn’t feeling well so I stayed home with the girls while Hubby went out to buy some groceries. When he rang the bell, I opened the door and saw him with a long-stemmed rose between his teeth. It was so unexpected and so sweet!

Day 26: 17 April - Easter Egg Hunt Preparations

Joined the other PCs and PSTs in stuffing the 500+ easter eggs with candies and chocolates for our monthly activity.

Day 25: 16 April - Identical Sisters Outfit

Until recently, I found it really silly when I would see kid brothers or sisters being dressed in identical outfits. If they were twins, I’d understand…but for siblings who obviously didn’t look alike?! Sheesh! What’s the idea? To help describe the kid’s clothes easily if one of them accidentally gets lost?

But then when I came across a dress in Tchibo at Mirdif City Centre last Wednesday, and it came in sizes just perfect for my daughters, my outlook changed (only slightly though) and I realized the concept is actually cute.

It would have been great if the dress came in different colors (like pink and purple) but it only came in one color.  Now, I’m all for matching outfits for siblings…but preferably not identical, because they are different people and have different personalities (even twins for that matter!). Wearing the same design but in different patterns or colors than the other, which complements at the same time, would be better. That's why I said my outlook slightly changed.

Anyway, I’m just happy I bought these dresses for Caila and Sophie.: their first identical sisters outfit:
won't they look adorable in these?

17 April 2014

Day 24: 15 April - Unexpected Contribution

Any help (no matter how big or small, whether time, talent or treasure) is always appreciated and will go a long way in making the kids enjoy the activity.
contribution by a Tito for our upcoming activity
Maraming salamat po!

16 April 2014

Day 23: 14 April - An Indian Who Enjoys Filipino Music

As I got into the car beside our Indian driver who was going to take me to the WETEX, I noticed that the radio was set to Tag 91.1 (a Filipino station). Initially, I thought he had set it for me, but as he drove along, I noticed he was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. Apparently he enjoys listening to these songs! He doesn’t understand anything, but he loves the beat of Pinoy music.
The song playing that moment: Magdalena by Gloc 9.
 Ang kulit!

13 April 2014

Day 21: 12 April - Boodle Fight at Asian Flavors

My first boodle fight
And everything was super delicious and super sulit!

There were 4 different boodle fights to choose from, which are good for 4 to 5 (or 6, depending on your appetites) people, and they all include drinks and dessert…for only Dhs199.
And fortunately for me and Hubby, they allow take-away if you have leftovers.  You didn't think the two of us managed to eat everything, did you?! =)
Asian Flavors
Baghdad cor. Damascus St., Al Qusais
Phone: 04-2359690

Day 20: 11 April - Mama Mary's Visit

Mama Mary arrived at our home, and she’ll be staying with us for 2 weeks.
Our Lady of Lourdes

My Ex-Boyfriend Got Married

Of course I’m kidding about the ex-boyfriend part, but yes, Nick Carter finally got hitched yesterday (April 12) in Santa Barbara, California to Lauren Kitt.
such a passionate kiss!
He's not smiling in the pictures, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and figure it’s because the sun was in his eyes.

Congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds!
*photos taken from justjared.com

12 April 2014

Day 19: 10 April - Indian Goodies

Received a bag of goodies from India from a work colleague
fresh jackfruit, bananas, mangoes, jackfruit chips

Day 18: 9 April - A Birthday Party at McDonalds

Last Wednesday night, we attended the 5th birthday party of our friends’ son Hans at McDonalds, Al Bustan Centre in Qusais. And we all had a blast!

Since we’ve attended so many parties, Caila knows that there are usually games, and when there are games, there are prizes, and in order to get prizes, she has to do her best to win. Which is why she really gave her all in the games. First was the longest greeting where she was one of the 3 winners. The second was a group relay, but unfortunately, her team lost. Then the Bring Me game, where I supported her by searching through my bag for whatever was being asked for. She got 2 prizes for that.

Sophie, on the other hand, enjoyed the party by walking around, smiling, dancing, waving to the other guests, and eating. Whatever we gave her (fries, cake, nuggets, pieces of bun), she eagerly put in her mouth.

All of the guests enjoyed the Thumbs Up/McDonalds Happy Birthday song because the crew/host requested all of us to dance along with it, but what made the party complete was the arrival of one of their mascots, Hamburglar. Fortunately, my family was able to take a picture with him before he left…but unfortunately, it was blurred and there was no time for another one. Oh well.
It was still a good party and we all went home smiling.  And on the way home, Sophie had remembered one of the games her sister won and decided to copy her by saying “Haaaaaaaaaa! 2..3… Haaaaaaa! 2...3… Haaaaaaaaa!” It was so funny!

09 April 2014

Day 17: 8 April - PNG Flag

Papua New Guinea is not a popular country (for work or for pleasure) so you can’t expect to come across anything related to it unless you research on it.
Which is why I was so happy when I saw its national flag while I was sitting in the bus on my way home, bringing back memories of my childhood.
PNG will always hold a special place in my heart, and I hope that one day, I’ll be able to go back again…for a short visit at least.

Day 16: 7 April - McDonalds Date with My Girls

Instant date with my girls!
While Hubby was working overtime at the office, I decided to take my daughters to the nearby McDonalds restaurant where we munched on burgers, fries and McBites.
And while we were enjoying our meal, one of the staff approached us and gave each of them a balloon that had been twisted into a dog.
Unfortunately, the green one burst before I could take a picture of Sophie holding it.
Oh well.

08 April 2014

Day 15: 6 April - Sticker Pox

My daughters saw some calendar/date marker stickers lying around our home, and decided to decorate their faces with them. I wanted to scold them for wasting the stickers and for looking like they had measles or chicken pox, but I just couldn’t stop laughing at how adorable and silly they looked. 
That’s motherhood!

07 April 2014

Applying for a Schengen Visa to Germany in Dubai

Hubby and I have wanted to go to Germany for so long (since 2011) to visit our family, but something always comes up to cancel our plans. However, “good things come to those who wait” and finally, finally, we’ll be pushing through with our trip next month. Hurray!

Although I had applied for a Schengen visa before, that was way back in 2005 and my application was part of our group for the World Youth Day; no personal appearance was asked of me then. This year was the first time we would apply without any help (i.e. travel agency or guide) so I made sure I gathered all the information I needed to apply for our visas.

All the basic things you need to know can be found here (including the forms) but allow me to share what we did so you have an idea about the process.

First thing we had to do was make sure our passports and visas were at least 90 days valid from the first date of our trip. It was a good thing I did my research back in November last year because that’s when I found out Caila’s and my passports were expiring in April and June 2014. Once we received our new passports, I realized that my visa was expiring in July. Fortunately, when I explained the situation to my manager, he understood completely and instructed our PRO to renew my visa 4.5 months prior to when it was due.

Finally all of our passports and visas were valid. Since we weren’t going to Europe as tourists (meaning we knew people there and were being invited to visit), they had to send us a Formal Obligation (“Verpflichtungserklärung” in German) as part of the requirements. We had sent copies of our passports to them in December, and we received the document in March. Once we received the Formal Obligation, that’s when we booked our appointment online. We had to pay a total of Dhs411 for the VFS Service Fee which was automatically charged to Hubby’s credit card.

That done, we started gathering the rest of the documents we needed, and on the 25th of March, Hubby and I headed to VFS in Wafi City with all of these in hand:
• Completed Application forms
• Signed Instruction forms
• Original passports with UAE Residence Visas
• Original Formal Obligation
• Original Employment certificates
• Bank statements of the past 3 months
• Flight booking
• 2 Photographs each (white background)
• Overseas medical insurance
• Photocopies of our passports, visas, and the Formal Obligation
• Printed copy of the Appointment Schedule

There weren’t that many people applying so we didn’t have to wait long before our number was called. However, as there were 4 applications in our group (Hubby’s, mine, Caila’s, Sophie’s), it took the staff almost an hour to sort everything out. Caila and Sophie are below 6 years old, so we didn’t need to bring them along for personal appearance. However, we did have to complete a couple more forms (which the staff provided) as their parents. After she had made sure the documents were in order, we waited for a few minutes and then another staff took our fingerprints. And once that was done, we were given our passport copies with a receipt of all the fees we paid for that day:
• Visa Processing: Dhs300 × 2 (Caila’s and Sophie’s applications were free!)
• SMS Service: Dhs5 × 4
• Courier Service: Dhs30 × 4

We were told it would take at least 2 weeks, but to our surprise, we received our passports on the 2nd of April…just 8 days after we applied. Yaaaay!
Just a month to go and we’ll be in Europe. I can hardly wait!

06 April 2014

Day 14: 5 April - KFC Fellowship and Performance

Our morning yesterday was spent at Mamzar Park with the rest of the other Parent Coordinators, PSTs and their children of our KFC cluster. As the newest PSTs were the ones in charge of the fellowship, the only things the rest of us had to bring for the picnic were disposable cups, plates and utensils. It was a big spread of sinangag, menudo, bacon, scrambled eggs, tortang talong, dinakdakan, fried lumpia (which the kids hoarded by themselves), dinuguan, fresh mango and bagoong, banana bread, kutsinta, and I can’t remember what else. Everything was so delicious! And when Marlon and Jhan arrived, they brought with them homemade siomai! Happy tummies again!

As soon as everyone had had their fill and rested a bit, the kids and their daddies or nannies walked to the pool area and enjoyed swimming and splashing around. During that time, the mommies had a meeting to discuss our monthly activity. We didn’t let Sophie swim, but she kept herself entertained by chasing the birds and butterflies that she saw flying around the park.

Yesterday night was the CFC Community Mass and Assembly. We reached the venue just as the KFC kids were singing the last few lines of Seasons of Love, making Hubby and I panic and rush to the stage wings because our performance (the one we had been practicing for last Thursday night) was next. I was supposed to be with the group who entered from the right, but because we were in such a hurry, I ended up joining the other group who entered from the left and just blended in with my original group. Good thing I was in the back so I don't think many people noticed. And because of our nervousness, there were a few steps some of us…ok, a lot of us…forgot. By the time Pharrell Williams’ song "Happy" ended and we had exited the stage, we were all laughing at ourselves and from relief that it was over.

Day 13: 4 April - Unplanned Visit to Dubai Mall

We were on our way to a farm when it suddenly started to rain late Friday morning. That forced us to change our plans and turn towards the nearest mall: Dubai Mall. We first went to the Build-a-Bear Workshop (as requested by Caila) where she watched as a teddy bear was being stuffed, dressed, and accessorized.  As we were walking to find the Aquarium, we came across the dinosaur skeleton. It’s been a while since we visited the mall so this big display was a nice addition to what we normally see. Caila said it was a brachiosaurus (I thought she was making it up but apparently there really was a dinosaur with that name), but a quick check in the leaflet said the fossil belonged to a sauropod.  There, we spent a few minutes staring up at the skeleton and watching the clips about the dinosaur.  Finally we left and, walking around some more, located the Aquarium where our girls stared in amazement at the thousands of sea creatures. Our malling ended with a walk around the big Candylicious store before we headed home.

The sudden change in our plans brought by the rain didn’t dampen our spirits. In fact, it was nice to see that a quick stop at the mall was enough to make our girls excited at all the things they saw…without making a dent in our pockets.

Day 12: 3 April - Health Card Renewal, Vaccination, and Dinner

Sophie had a vaccination appointment at the health centre in the evening, and it was a good thing I checked her health card the night before otherwise I wouldn’t have known it had already expired last January! Yikes! Fortunately, one of our company drivers was available on Thursday morning, so with my manager’s permission, he took me to Dubai Hospital. As Caila was also due for vaccination this year, I thought to renew her card as well. However, I couldn’t find her card anywhere so I just hoped her records were in their system and the renewal could easily be done. I forgot to bring their original passports with me, but I did bring the copies, a photograph of each, and their Emirates IDs.

Sophie’s card renewal took less than a minute. However, Caila’s took some time. In the beginning, the lady tried entering Hubby’s and my mobile numbers. No record. Using the passport and visa copy, she tried Caila’s visa number; but since it was new (it was cancelled, then I sponsored her, then we cancelled it again, then Hubby sponsored her again), her record didn’t show. Then she entered her first name. Still nothing. Finally, she tried her middle name (my maiden name) and surname…and, success! Turns out one of the digits on the mobile number was wrong, and Caila’s first names were spelled incorrectly. It was a good thing the staff was in a good mood, otherwise I might have been told that I needed to look for the old card or return with her old passport with her old visa. After paying the charges for the renewals (Dhs110 each), I showed the receipts to the lady and she gave me the cards with a smile. Hurray!

Sophie was ready and waiting for Hubby and me when we arrived home that night. Traffic was a bit heavy so we were a few minutes late for our appointment, and we had to wait a while because there were other patients as well. But because the health centre had a toy, rocker, Little Tikes playhouse and little see-saw, these helped keep our little girl preoccupied. Soon we were called in to the room for the assessment, and then it was time for her to take the oral drops and shots on both thighs. From being all bubbly and smiling, Sophie immediately let out cries when she was given the vaccinations. But to our amazement, unlike the babies before her, she didn’t cry that long at all…less than a minute, I think. She even waved goodbye to the nurse as we left, and by the time we were out the door of the health centre, there were no more tears and she was pointing to her thighs and looking at me and saying “Ow?!” Whew!

After Hubby and I had a quick dinner at home, we headed to Deira with Caila for the KFC practice. As soon as Caila saw the rest of the kids, she left our side and ran to them excitedly. It’s really nice to see how much she’s changed from being a really shy girl who would hardly let go of my leg or hand during gatherings to a more confident one who has several friends. Our practice ended at 10pm, and just as soon as we had got into our cars, the rain poured down. Thank goodness we were able to practice and finished just in the nick of time. As most of our friends hadn’t had dinner yet, we all agreed to meet up at Chowking, Al Ghurair where we occupied 2 long tables (one for the adults and another for the kids). The night ended on a happy note because we had finalized the steps, finished practicing, our tummies were filled, and as usual, the meal was accompanied with jokes and laughter from everyone.

03 April 2014

Day 11: 2 April

After a disappointing meeting in the morning, I was busy preparing a report when the person at our Reception called my extension telling me that I had several couriered packages to receive…and they turned out to be my and my family’s passports with the Schegen visas issued! This was such a nice surprise because we had just submitted our applications last week and were told that it would take 2 weeks.

After work, Hubby and I met with someone to discuss our plans. Fortunately, the result was positive, affirming what we wanted for our family.

During that meeting, Hubby found out what happened to his former colleague. It was sad news, but at least it gave us a chance to see him…and I’m sure our unexpected visit uplifted his spirits somehow.

Day 10:1 April - Centralized Prayer

It was April Fools Day, but the joke was on me when, upon arriving at the office, I discovered that I had left the keys to my drawer at home in my other bag. Fortunately, one of the drivers was available to drive me all the way home and back to the office. Much better than having to commute!

That night was our Chapter Household at the Hinolan residence. As always, we had a sumptuous and scrumptious meal filled with jokes and laughter. This was followed by a “centralized” prayer (our private household joke) and sharings. In the middle of my sharing, I received a compliment from Tita Pinky. It was really nice, flattering…and totally unexpected. Truly, friends that pray together have many happy moments together.

01 April 2014

Day 9: 31 March - Hubby's Talk and Caila's Amazement

Hubby gave a talk about Brotherly Love to a room full of Household Leaders.
On the ride back home, I was able to make Caila amazed and amused at how I “magically” made my shawl appear and turned it into a blanket for her.

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