Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Firstborn is 16

My birthday girl, Anissa ... today, on your 16th birthday, I marvel at the kind of young lady you've become : smart, full of talent, a good friend to many, a big sister who is looked up to with so much love. So determined and focused. I admire your kind heart, your wit and your ability to express yourself. In many ways, you are a lot like me. Yet when I look long enough, I realize that you are so much more. Everyday with you is insightful. Believe it or not, I learn a lot from you, too.

Sometimes I can't believe that I'm half responsible for raising you. It is a constant challenge because a part of me wants you to enjoy every possible opportunity, but the other part needs to protect you. If there are times you don't understand where I'm coming from, I'll gladly take the "blame" because I know that the heartache is temporary, but the long-term results will be worth it.

Thank you for the things you teach me everyday, for always making me strive to improve. Be kind to everyone you know and meet, respect all - old or young, live each day so that you can look back with satisfaction and not regret, love yourself and everything about you but change what you think is keeping you from reaching your true potential.

Lastly, when in doubt ... always, always shout, "Mom!" :D

Loads and loads of ♥♥♥ today and forever!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My old Magnolia favorites!

After all the crazy talk about Selecta's Magnum, I have decided that whatever fondness I have for ice cream is so limited to certain types. Most especially, the types I grew up with and loved as a child. I keep saying that I still miss Magnolia's Ice Cream Sandwich. Yup, I still do. But I'm glad that the other old favorites are still around.

As a child, I had frequent cravings for Pinipig Crunch, Twin Popsies and the Drumstick. But since we're talking about Magnum here, I have a tendency to compare it directly to the Pinipig Crunch. True, the Pinipig Crunch isn't as fat or creamy as the Magnum. But I don't know. I really would go for it any day. Oh and the Sweet Corn flavor is sooooo back!!! The poster I have here is new and those prices are current. I found out that Sweet Corn is again available, at a surprise party we had for our girls in the HS Pep Squad last Monday. I was pleasantly surprised, eyes lit up and it was a moment that literally transported me back to my younger days ... seriously! I am so glad Magnolia is still around, even if the ice cream parlor on Aurora Boulevard is now but a memory. Sigh. Sniff.

Trying out the local version of Magnum was not a mind-blowing experience for me. Sorry to those who feel the opposite. All that hype about it was so effective though. People found themselves running to the nearest 7-11 or grocery store as soon as it was out. We did! So to give credit where credit is due, the ad agency that handled the product's pr and marketing did a really good job in whetting everyone's appetites. Kudos to you! But I've had enough of it, after trying two variants : Classic and Almond. They're not bad. They're just not ... extraordinary?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Birthday Girls

Anissa and Sabine will be celebrating their birthdays soon. The former will be 16, the latter 6. Yup, there's a whole decade in between them --- which is more good than bad, in our case. No sibling rivalry (yet!), no major jealousy issues. I think it's the huge age gap that's responsible for making Anissa so patient with the little one's antics. It is also why Sabine idolizes her big sister so much.

I often find myself feeling like I'm on one end of a rope one minute, and on the opposite end the next. I deal with them differently because of their ages. I have to. It's tiring sometimes, not to mention confusing. But I have no regrets.

The picture on the left was taken when Anissa was just 10 and Sabine, a few months old (maybe 6?) and the one on the right is recent, just taken last month. They are total opposites ... one is reserved, the other outspoken. But they're equally smart and talented and more importantly,
they're my girls and bring me so much joy no matter how different they are from each other.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ramen Bar Eastwood

After spending so many Sundays in the Eastwood area, I finally got to try out Ramen Bar.
We walked straight there after coming from the 6pm mass at the chapel nearby, so we were lucky to have gotten a table for 7 people right away.

I don't like complicated menus. In fact, the shorter the better. Gets rid of all the confusion and makes it so easy to decide on what to get. Their menu is exactly that.

For our usual Sunday feast, these are what we chose:

Yakiniku Beef (small plate, aka appetizer), P195
Karaage (fried boneless chicken with salt), P155
Kakuni Buns (melt in your mouth pork belly wrapped in special white bun), P180
Spicy Karaage Ramen (I asked them to make it mildly-spicy instead)
Seafood Ramen
Gyoza (fried not steamed, with lots of veggies inside)

Failed to take note of the prices of the other dishes but they were safely within the P150-P280 range, which isn't bad at all.

I will definitely go back to try the other Ramen varieties here because I loved the huge bowls and they were quite good!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wide Leg Pants

Yup, I jumped on that bandwagon, too. Searched high and low for the perfect pair, almost ordered from a famous local fashion site but opted for one off the rack --- from Forever 21, where else? For less than P1,500.

The material is silky, not stretchy. So I had to make sure about the fit. I hate trying clothes on in the stores but I had to make an exception for this one. It was extra ordinarily long when I first got them. Luckily, I live a stone's throw away from a neighborhood modista who does alterations quickly and a lot cheaper than the mall-based ones. I asked him to cut it to floor length, so I can wear it with flats or heels.

In the photo, I'm wearing 3.5" wooden clogs (sorry, the shoes are hardly noticeable) from Forever 21. Come to think of it, except for the purse, everything is from Forever 21 (orange striped light knit top). Oh and the belt came with the pants!

Now thinking if I should grab a pair in another color ... or two. What do you think?

Flutter False Eyelashes

I've always had this stupid fear of wearing false eyelashes. I know that the benefits of wearing them are numerous. First of all, you don't need to do much with your eyes when you have them on. That's an instant awesome transformation right there. If it's a really special event you're going to, this adds so much oomph to your look. Okay ... maybe the proper term is intimidated. I've always felt this way about them, simply because I'm no make-up maven and I always end up going for the simplest look whenever I do my own face. Lazy? Maybe. Lack of skill? Definitely.

You know what they say though. You have to face your fears LOL. So one day, I bit the bullet and went shopping in Sophie's Beauty and Minerals and after consulting with her on the best option, I clicked "check out" and that was that.

These are Flutter False Eyelashes, all 10 pairs of them in one box for just Php 350. You can't go wrong with that, can you? They're also re-usable, if you take care of them. It took me a while to try them on even after they were delivered to me. Uhm ... yeah, I think a good month or so. That's how intimidated I was about putting them on. And even when I finally did, it took me a good half hour to finally say,
"I did it!!!"

I didn't go anywhere special that night, just to a simple dinner to see my SIL off before she want back to her overseas assignment after being here for a few days. But atleast I knew how to do them and I can safely say, I can probably do it in less than half an hour next time.

I'm not so sure if Sophie's still selling them but you can ask. This is truly value for money!

By the way, Flutter has several kinds of eyelashes depending on your need or fancy. But being a newbie, I opted to get them in Natural Flair.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The sweet tooth attacks

I really should be careful about my sweets intake. Diabetes runs on my Dad's side of the family and I'm not exactly young anymore. But when the craving is so intense, how can I resist? :(

Photo #1 : Costa Brava's Caramel Cake
N was in Rockwell last weekend and there was a Baker's Fair so I asked him to get a whole cake for the house. We used to prefer Estrel's until we discovered this. It's nearer to us (you can pick up from their place in Bel-Air, Makati) plus it's a lot less sweeter. The flower icing is my favorite part, but the sponge cake is also so moist.

Photo #2 : Cupcakes by Sonja. These are actually Anissa's favorites. I don't frequent the Serendra area much, so whenever I'm there I make sure to grab a box to bring home with me. They're not that cheap but are very, very delicious.

Photo #3 : My Mother Goose's recent discovery at Eastwood Mall's version of the Baker's Fair. Iced Gem Biscuits! I used to enjoy these when I was in grade school, I think. A huge pack costs P80, but my friends tell me this can be bought in smaller packs at the supermarket.

Mahanap nga :)

Raise your hand if you have a sweet tooth, too!

Tory Burch : hit or miss

I just love Tory Burch's shoes. Unfortunately, not all of her styles agree with my (weird) feet. My very first purchase was a pair of her much-celebrated Revas, of course. In black because I'm boring!

Not my photo, but this is the exact same style I got. I used it the first time and my feet began to complain less than an hour after I walked around in them. Take note, I wasn't even in the mall or anywhere out. I was in the office, walking to and from the photocopier or my boss' corner room. I survived the rest of the day in them but was cussing by the time I got into the car to go home. Sadly, I had to sell them off on eBay and hopefully the new owner didn't experience the same annoying discomfort that I did.

I accepted the fact that maybe her closed-toe styles are not for me, so even if I've been tempted on and off to get another pair, I've stayed away so far. They're not exactly cheap!

My 2nd pair is the Patti Wedge in Tan. Again, not my photo. I'm ashamed to take a photo of mine and post it here because this pair has been used and abused. Zero issues, it was worth every cent!

They're so loved by me that I'm actually thinking of getting a back-up pair when the one I have starts getting ugly :p More recently, I got the Thora Jellies in black (last picture below). Again, worth every cent spent because my feet love them. They're also perfect for the summer months.

Just a tip : get a size up when buying Tory Burch shoes. Or better yet, try them on before you buy them. I wonder what my next pair will be? :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hello, summer hair color!

I've had this habit for a few years now. Right before or as soon as the summer months start, I make sure to get a new hair color. I go one or 2 shades lighter because I think summer calls for color, even for your hair.

Last Saturday, after weeks of waiting, I finally booked an afternoon with Lina, my stylist at Traffic Salon (Wilson St. Greenhills, beside DEC). On my last visit, I promised her my next session would be a change in hair color. I knew I wanted to go lighter, but I had no idea what kind of "light" I wanted. I asked Lina to handle everything. She knew what I wanted and because she always knows what she's doing, I ended up with this really awesome color!

The salon uses Schwarzkopf Igora. Unfortunately, the shades come in numbers and I forgot what they are (she used two shades to come up with mine).

I just wish the weather would be a little bit kinder. It's such a hassle wearing long hair down in this unbearable heat!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today's Thought

God is good for beyond the darkness He gives us light.
Beyond nightmares He gives us dreams
and beyond our tears He gives us comfort.
So with this new day that He has provided,
let us thank Him even if our plans fail
and our expectations not reached
for beyond these things is God's embrace saying,
"My child, the path I have laid for you is just beyond the corner.
Take my hand and just have faith."

Have a good day everyone!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Finding Your Life's Purpose (Part 2)

While I was happy and content being a stay-at-home-Mom, I admit that I sometimes craved for the kind of interaction a full-time job provides. I was afraid of getting rusty, of forgetting all the things I learned in the corporate world. In fact, in order to keep myself busy while my kids were at school, I discovered some online jobs and spent most of my free time doing them. They didn't pay much, of course, so I wasn't really in it for the financial returns. But it felt good to have my brains working again. And then the pleasant surprise which came around August 2011.

I got a phone call from my good friend, Pia. She told me that a foundation was in the works and that she wanted me to handle things. ME? My first reaction was to ask her if she was sure she wanted me to do it. Having no foundation background whatsoever, I was hesitant. Our friendship is far more important to me than any work offer and I just really wanted to make sure I was the right one for the job. That discussion came to an end very quickly and I officially went on board as Executive Director of the Francis Magalona Foundation (FMF) the following month. All of a sudden, I was a working girl again! This time though, with more perks ... the biggest one of all, would be the fact that I'd be working from home all the time. I do miss having to dress up for corporate work everyday (also gave me a good reason to go shopping all the time) but I have to admit, nothing beats working from the house. I don't have to "abandon" my children and I'm still there all the time when they need me. The biggest challenge I have would be making sure I'm totally focused on work even when the kids are at home. Sometimes it's tough, especially with the 5-year old who demands my complete attention when she needs it (and that is quite often). Slowly though, she is beginning to understand the times when Mommy can't be disturbed. I tell her to give me some time to finish what I'm doing before I attend to her. But really, nothing has changed. I can still take them to school anytime I want, I'm free to attend parent-teacher conferences, attend to my responsibilities as a Pep Squad parent for Anissa, be present in Sabine's school programs, run errands for N when needed, even engage in some ME time on the side. I have it so good! So good!

Needless to say, I still don't get the same fat paychecks I used to enjoy every month. There are no checks for performance bonuses, no 13-month pay at the end of the year. It's a trade-off but one that's really worth it. After all, money can't buy things like TIME. It also can't buy the satisfaction I get out of the work I do for FMF. There are no hidden agendas for me, for the team. We do what we do because we want to do it for the people who need our help. We're in it, not for the money (because there ain't much hehehe, in fact we need to raise some big time!) but for the desire to reach out and make a difference. I know it sounds so cheesy.

But seriously? I had office politics for breakfast, lunch, dinner for more than 2 decades. I had to sometimes choose to be a hypocrite when dealing with colleagues (and I really really loathe hypocrisy in general) at work, I was exposed daily to people who fought for survival in the work place, no matter what it took. I survived in an environment where personal integrity was of no importance, as long as people got what they wanted. In other words, I thrived in a world that made me question my own core values. I think that's what the fat paychecks were for. I have no regrets though. That world taught me so much and turned me into a stronger person. Despite the existence of two-faced characters, I made some really solid friendships in the workplace. Not too many, just right.

Back then, I only felt one thing at the end of a long work day ... EXHAUSTED.
And now? I've been with the foundation since October 2011 and I haven't felt even the tiniest ounce of exhaustion. Just giddiness, enthusiasm and the kind of satisfaction one can only get when she sees that there are many others who would like to be on the same boat and help. Plus the smiles I get from my family because they know I'm always around and appreciate what I do.

Let's see you beat all of that, fat paycheck!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Finding Your Life's Purpose (Part 1)

Recently, my 5-year old Sabine came across the word PURPOSE and asked me what it means. I was challenged! How do you explain the word's meaning to a toddler? I put it very simply. I told her that PURPOSE means something that you really really want. And she said, "Oh, like I really really want that Hello Kitty hospital toy?" I believe she got my point.

How many of us can actually say that we've found our purpose in life? That we now know what we're here for and why we are in the exact position we are in? It took me more than 40 years to find out. Until almost two years ago, I was in a totally different world. It was a place which I thought I absolutely belonged to. This world provided me with everything I needed to survive. It also gave me the reassurance that my parents' hard work at putting me through school did not go to waste. I didn't and couldn't see myself doing anything else. I was comfortable.

I don't know how many times God must have tried to speak to me and how many times I refused to listen. I say this because almost two years ago, He gave me a huge wake-up call. More like a big whack on the head. It was so painful and so drastic, I had no idea what hit me. I was forced to leave what I thought was my comfort zone for the past twenty something years. It was like being blindfolded and taken some place unfamiliar. I was lost. Then human nature kicked in. I was angry, looking for an explanation and depressed all at the same time. It would've been normal for me to stay this way for quite some time. But something told me that I shouldn't. So that same night, before I went to sleep, I prayed like I had never prayed before. My final words were, "Take all of this from me because I can't handle it myself. You put me here so I trust that You will do what it takes to get me out." I woke up the next day minus the heavy feeling in my chest. It felt like I had entered a brand new phase. While the problem still existed, I was no longer worried about it. All I wanted to do was to move forward. I couldn't help but wonder why God gave me this challenge. My Mom, who is the most prayerful person I know, enlightened me. She asked me, "Would you have quit your job, in order to focus on your family? God had to make sure you would take Him seriously this time." (Much as I would like to be more specific about what happened, I can't. Suffice it to say that I have good people working for and with me, to address this issue)

I officially became a Stay at Home Mom, a role that was so alien to me. The next few months were spent enjoying all my free time, looking after my family, being there for my kids. Finally, I was always just at arm's reach for them. No more stressing over how to re-schedule my meetings just so I could make it to a school event. No more going home feeling so exhausted and falling asleep way before my kids did. No more spending the weekends sleeping because I had to catch up on rest before going back to the daily grind. I thought I was going to be so insecure about not having my own income. But God made sure I wouldn't have to go through that. He blessed me with a partner who is not only supportive and understanding, but also provides well for all of us. I never imagined myself feeling so content despite not being able to do my share financially. God gave me peace of mind and made me see all the benefits of my new role. He slowly showed me the big picture. This time, I learned to listen and to keep my eyes open.

More than a year later, I still didn't feel the need to look for work. That's how convincing God was. Never mind that there were times I missed my fat paychecks, performance bonuses and 13th month pays. I was just as happy and content as the day I first became a SAHM. And then ... maybe He felt I was somehow ready to handle a slight change so He again surprised me. This time, not with a whack on the head. I was so sure it was part of His master plan.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some days, I go bare...

This was taken on a really hot day. I had some errands to run and the driver wasn't around so I had to take the wheel and do everything on my own for the first time in a while. It was too hot, I didn't want to put much on my face --- except tinted moisturizer with SPF and some light eyebrow powder (The Face Shop).

I recently got this from The Beauty Bar in Shang Mall (P995 less 25% wheee!) because a very good friend highly-recommended it to me. I am also the laziest when it comes to skincare and cosmetics, so the fact that this comes with SPF totally convinced me.

This is what I had on in the photo. It's perfect for when you're not going anywhere special but need to cover up a bit anyway. The tube is big so it'll last a while.

The Balm's Balm Shelter is something I'm definitely going to have in my kit from now on.

It's Summer Already?!

I'm really not ready for the summer months yet. But the past few days have been so hot and humid, I was so sure that summer would come earlier than usual this year. I was right. The other day, DOST Pag Asa officially declared the start of summer.

Days before that, I already decided to welcome the season in my own way.

When's the last time I owned a pair of boat shoes? In high school! That's a good 20 something years ago. I'm so glad they're back in fashion. I had a difficult time making up my mind about the color. Red was my original choice. But I saw this and I couldn't resist.

Here's hoping we won't all have to suffer much in the heat.
Take me to the beach!