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Our Advent Calendar Christmas Tree

We are celebrating Christmas differently this year.  Less Santa, more Baby Jesus. Less materialism, more meaning. More sharing. More thanksgiving. More reflection.  Last year, I got so caught up with the busy-ness of the holidays — gift shopping, get togethers left and right, traffic etc.  Sure I won several items in the raffles and we got 3 hamons. But the hustle and bustle left me feeling empty and exhausted. This December, I have turned down several  parties especially those that fall on weekends. I want to spend more time and make beautiful memories with the people who matter most. I also decided to tone down on Santa and make sure that we acknowledge the real reason for the season.

Our peg this Christmas is the little drummer boy. I am sure you know the song but have you ever really listened to the lyrics?

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honour Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give a king, pa rum pum pum
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

If Jesus wanted a glamorous birthday, he could have chosen to be born in a hotel, right? He was born in a stable and was happy with the poor boy’s simple performance. That to me speaks a lot about how Jesus wants me to celebrate his birthday.

If you also have a Christmas book collection, I highly recommend the Little Drummer Boy book by Ezra Keats.

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Annual Birthday Photo Tradition

One of the family traditions that I hold dear is the annual birthday picture taking that we do for Aki. Unlike some kids, Aki does not pose for the camera. His one-two-three-say-cheese smile looks forced… which actually is the case. Hehe. So why do we continue this tradition? Because I said so. Seriously, the boys can’t wait to go about their businesses and are very vocal that they hate being stopped just for pictures. It also does not help that I, being slightly perfectionist, take a lot of their time because we can’t move one until we have that perfect shot, right? Sorry, Aki but one day, I know you will thank me.

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The Morning My Son Turned 5

About a month ago, my little  bunny turned five years old! Can you believe it?!

I am very much aware that in a few short years, he is going to mature and change. I see it my in nephews and nieces. Rocky at 8 years old, does not want to  wear Halloween costumes anymore.  Jyl, our preteen, is not as excited as she used to be about sleeping over in our house. Don’t get me wrong. I love my pamangkins. They are the sweetest nicest rowdiest kids ever. But I do miss the days when they were so easy to please and they were game for anything. So, while Aki is still at that magical stage, I want to make sure that we make as many beautiful memories as we can.

One of the family traditions that I hold dear is the little ceremony that we have on the morning of his birthday. On this day, I wake up early to set-up, around 4AM.  First, I take out the birthday crown from our keepsake box and prepare the birthday cupcake. This year, instead of a cupcake, we used a colorful jelly that I made. Continue reading

First Day High

Today, Aki went to school without Ate Doring or me, accompanying him. First time ever. The service van arrived 20 minutes earlier than schedule. Aki just stepped out of the bathroom. Ate and I dressed him in the hurry. He was holding one shoe, trying to figure out if it should go to left or to the right foot. I grabbed the shoe and put it on his foot. Aki got upset and said,” Mummy! You are not a good mommy. I want to wear the shoes by myself. I can do it.” That was the first time he told me that I am not good. I was stunned. I realized that I was not being a good parent by doing something for my son that he can do on his own. I apologized, removed his shoes and gave them to him. I went to the door and told the driver’s assistant that we will be out in a minute. When I turned around, Aki was already wearing his shoes. I gave him his bag, kissed him on the cheek, said I love you and whisked him away.

Hay hay. Where did that helpless demanding baby go?

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We have been preparing him for the big school since summer started. We have been telling him that he’d be going to the same school that his dad, uncles and most of his godfathers attended.

Our daily drills included writing his name and A to Z’s. We also have a lot of on-the-spot Q&A’s. What do you say if you have a classmate who looks different from everyone? What if you have a classmate who does not have friends? What if your classmates won’t let you join their game? What if your classmate can’t carry his things? What if you have a classmate who likes to play with dolls? What if someone tries to bully you? What do you when someone tries to punch you? I posted a snippet of our Q&A in my Instagram in case you want to see. I hope he remembers everything we taught him — friendliness, tolerance, handling rejection, and self-defence.

Days before school started, we went to his barber.

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Ate bought “aircool’ sandos and socks in the market.

I covered his books, wrote our last name on each side and taped the sharp corners. The only fun part  was when I slid my scissors thru the plastic cover but the rest of the process is just boring. I hate it when I realize too late that I did not allot enough allowance.

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Aki tried on his uniform.

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My Favorite Meal of the Week

What is your favorite meal of the week? Ours is definitely our Sunday breakfast in our picnic van. If you have been reading this blog long enough, you know how much I am a sucker for traditions and rituals.This new ritual that started around November last year is definitely something we will keep doing for as long as we can.  After the 6AM mass, we go to the parish multi-purpose hall where entrepreneurs from our area sell clothes (do check out the 20-25 pesos factory overrun underwears) and food. The food options are wonderful. And not to mention very affordable. I blogged about my finds here and here.

Friends, meet our picnic van, Iron Hyde. Don’t look at me. Franco came up with that name. Aki likes it though and thinks our trusty old van is a real Transformer.

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On Sunday mornings, we stick to our favorites which are lugaw with egg for me and Aki.
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For my husband who is pretending to be on a diet, an order of fried squid, kwekwek, lumpiang gulay, fresh buko juice and most of the time, another order of the deep fried squid.
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These are the memories that I want to look back at.   I want us to remember when Sundays were simple yet precious. I want Aki to remember how we, as a young family, appreciated the small things like the combination of ice cold buko juice and smoking hot lugaw, being part of a community and simply being together. Continue reading

Photo Tradition with the Hubby

Halu! Happy New Year to all. I am starting this year on a different note. Unlike last year where I was feeling excited and pumped up, now, I am more relaxed.  I hope that is a good thing.

If you have been reading this blog long enough, you already know that I am a sucker for traditions. Traditions for me make wonderful memories. And happy childhood memories are what I want Aki to have. I realized though that I don’t have a lot of traditions with my husband. Except for the year-end holiday card where we write down the highlights and lowlights of the year to make sure we won’t forget (see our past cards here and here), there is no other regular activity that I do with Franco that can be considered as a tradition. So I started a new one. Encouraged by the past and present photos that are everywhere online nowadays, Franco and I will be collecting selfie pictures of the two of us during important and ordinary days.

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Aki’s 4th Birthday Celebration @ Home

Because of Typhoon Whatchamacalit, we had to reschedule Aki’s school birthday party. The night before, I was already feeling antsy. When I woke up that morning, there was no rain at all so I thought everything was going to run smoothly as planned. My world crashed when Aki’s adviser confirmed via SMS that there won’t be classes that day. I wanted to cry and dwell on my disappointment but Franco and Aki did not let me. They were too happy that we were together. I tried to move on and reach out to my suppliers. Before 9AM, Monic of Good Eats,  brought the 2 trays of pasta that I ordered.

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Only 400 per tray. You may reach Monic at 09498431796. I wish I had a signature pasta dish. Well, I kinda have one. My meatballs and marinara is always a hit but preparation can be quite a hassle. Plus, it is expensive since I use canned tomatoes.

Iya of Bianca’s Bakeshop brought the most adorable dino cake before lunch.

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Remember the Hello, Cupcake book? I was so inspired. I was dead set on  having a cupcake-cake or pull-apart cake as Iya calls it. I am not sure if you notice but I ate 1/10th of the “grass” even before we served the cake. Just looking at the pictures makes me want to go down, open the ref and wolf down the grass icing that I stored for special pick-me-up days. Frostings don’t taste the way they used to when I was a kid. Iya’s cupcakes brought back memories of my own birthday parties in Bayog with birthday cakes ordered from the neighborhood bakery. And isn’t that the cutest candle?

To satisfy my sweet tooth and to stop myself from eating the grass icing, Aki and I made crinkles from out Ghirardelli brownie mix. These babies did not look and taste like crinkles but they were yummy.
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Later in the afternoon, we went to SM Bicutan. We promised Aki that we will watch Cloudy with Meatballs II and get him a Transformer book. As if the heavens were playing a trick on me, Cloudy was not yet showing in SMB and the Transformer book which I just saw in Booksale a couple of days ago was already gone. Six hours to go and we still did not have a birthday gift for our son. We checked the toy section of the department store. There were a lot of really cool Transformer toys but they were so expensive!! The cheapest Transformer robot was about 2K! Mygawd! There were cheaper and smaller Transformer toys but after inspecting them, it dawned to me that those robots do not have a fighting chance of staying intact for 3 days in the hands of Aki. Alas, lady luck was finally on my side when I went to McDonalds. The happy meal toy at that time was Pokemon. Prior that were the Coke glass and Smurfs. It had been over a month since they discontinued giving away Transformer robots. It was a long shot but I had to ask. I am the type who even if what I really want seems to be an impossibility, I really just have to try. Failing is fine but when I don’t even dare try or ask, I won’t be able to sleep. And guess what? I got Aki 3 Transformer robots and 10000 calories for myself after eating 3 happy meals. haha. I waited until the branch manager stepped away from the counter. I knew that if they still have Transformers, she would not yes to my request in front of many other customers. I followed the store manager and when I had the perfect moment, presented my plea. I told her that it is Aki’s birthday and I would really want to give him robots. I told her I know they follow the happy meal toy schedule but if there is a chance that she can make my son’s birthday more special, I will be forever grateful. Thank you so much, Ms Mcdonalds Store Manager! I am sorry I forgot your name but if you read this, I want you to know that I really appreciate that you scoured through your stockroom just to please a begging desperate customer. Btw, Aki had his McDonalds Kiddie Crew workshop in the SM Bicutan branch last summer. I can attest that the staff and officers are really good with kids.

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Another Birthday Tradition: Coloring Pages

Happy Tuesday!

How was your weekend? I spent the whole Saturday in bed. Sunday on the other hand was a totally different story. We started the day with Aki’s martial arts training. Then, we played in a nearby park and had a photoshoot with Maggie and Lucas. Had early lunch with our photographers, Dom and Richard of Studio 2916. When I got home, the generous people from Bounty Fresh has sent me packs of their Chicken Torikatsu. Normally, I would be panicking if I come home at 12 NN with no idea what to serve for lunch. Franco comes home famished after his morning training. But because we got packs of Torikatsu from Bounty Fresh in the ref, it was so convenient to just open a pack and fry away. Best of all, hubby loved it. He ate 3 katsus in one seating. Thank you Bounty Fresh! I think it  was meant to be because I was planning on trying out the product after I saw their bus ads.  Don’t these look really yummy?

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After that all three of us napped in the sofa. When I  woke up, it was already 3PM and it was time to start working on Aki’s halloween costume! So glad we were able to finish in 1 hour. We got a surprise visit from Franco’s cousin, Marco and his cute baby boy Marcus. Later in the afternoon, we  supported a neigbor’s garge sale. Out total bill was 300 plus. I am so happy with our purchases. I will blog about them soon. The evening was spent watching Friends Season 4, which we bought from the garage sale for only 80 bucks per season.

Anyhoo, this post is really about another birthday tradition. Oh yes, I am addicted to birthday traditions.  Every year, on Aki’s birthday, we ask him to color the same picture. It is interesting to see how he has improved in just 2.5 years

We started this tradition when he was a year and a half.

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at 2 years old

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at 3. You can see that he made an attempt to color the balloon and cupcake red, the boy and party hat blue

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