Thursday, August 30, 2007

9 years and counting

who would’ve thought our love will stand the test of time?

i still vividly remember how Ryan & i met. that was in college, circa 1995. we were in our freshman year. he was introduced to me by an old flame at the Student Union Building’s canteen. he was wearing a white shirt. he was suplado. frugal with words. just nodded in acknowledgment of my presence.

a few months later, we became neighbors – he lived in Calma Dorm, while i stayed in Bella Cartash. my roomies and i would occasionally bug him for a calculator, or invite him over for merienda. but he was palpably distant, and i could only guess was just being polite because one of my roomies was the girlfriend of his blocmate.

a year after, we found ourselves in the same Nasci II class under the late Dean Payawal. he was the typical loner in the huge lecture hall. since our class was from 5:00 – 6:00 pm MWF, my Friday nights were usually spent in LB. back then, i needed a dinner buddy as Friday evenings were a total bummer since all my friends and blocmates have gone home to Manila by then. he was a familiar face in the crowd, so i bravely took the first step of befriending him. from then on, we were inseparable! we would always find ourselves hanging out in the campus and enjoying the Friday evenings as if it was the highlight of our week. when i got past his boundary marker, we realized we could be real good buddies. and surprisingly, despite of our differences, we got along quite well! that was the first step towards the realization that we could be more than friends. and so, on the 27th august 1997, after declining three times in the last 6 months of courtship, i finally gave my sweet “yes” to Ryan under a coconut tree at half past 10 in the evening at Bangkal Street, Los Banos, Laguna.

it makes me laugh whenever i look back at how we kept our relationship a hush-hush from his friends and orgmates. the reasons now seem so immature i don’t even wanna remember for fear of embarrassment. LOL! but back then, we believed those were trying times to our relationship. there were complications, hassles, conflicts with friends, and other matters which we had to face, but we managed to get past through despite minimal ease. i’m certainly happy now that we have proved those people wrong, and that we have worked out our relationship in spite of the criticisms and bashing that we heard.

i know people wonder why we only celebrate 9 years instead of 10. i’m not really good in Math, but i don’t suck that much. in 2003, Ryan and i parted ways for almost a year. and when we decided to get back together, we both decided it’s best to take out one year from our official count.

********

for this year, what we did to celebrate our 9 years of love and togetherness was drive to Fujeirah on a hot, humid afternoon and checked in at the Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort to spend the night just relaxing and chilling out. it was Ryan's first long drive in the UAE.


we took a different route to get to Al Aqah through Masafi passing through Dibba. these were the scenery that fascinated us:


in my previous post change of venue, i cited how we ended up booking in this popular hotel in the eastern part of UAE. were we just thrilled with the kind of experience we had at this resort!


first of all, and very importantly for us, the staff were all courteous and helpful. the front desk guy Anil was very accommodating and polite. after checking us in in their system, he personally showed us the way to the lift while pointing the directions to the restaurants, pool, shops, cafes and spa. we have never experienced such treatment in any other hotel. if this was their standard, i’d have to say all hotels must benchmark their services with them.


when we got to our room, we were totally knocked for six by the room we got. it was a huge corner with a sea view and mountain view and a lovely terrace directly facing the sea. we were also placed on a high floor so there was really much to see. Ryan couldn’t contain himself from taking snaps as soon as we dropped our luggage on the thickly carpeted floor.


of course, he did not dare to forget to take pictures of his cam-whore wife!


while stretching our legs after the long drive, honey & i took turns playing with the PSP.














we also posed for a few snaps.


at around 5:00 pm, i wheedled Ryan to head downstairs to have a dip in the pool. as he was too tired from the drive, he only agreed to accompany me, with a promise that he will bring the camera with him and take pictures.



obviously, he only took pictures of me!

after almost an hour in the pool area, we went back to our room to prepare for the dinner. at 8:00 pm, we were at the Views Restaurant enjoying our buffet dinner.

while we were having dinner, the staff from the Spa of Le Meridien sneaked in to our room to set up my gift for Ryan. a few days before our trip, i phoned the hotel and inquired about the spa services that they have. after a couple of discussions with the spa personnel, i booked a “Fantasy Chocolate Spa” for my honeybear on the night of our anniversary. it was the best gift i could think of – a luxurious spa right in the privacy of our own bathroom, and just the perfect dose for a chocolate lover.

when Ryan & i returned to our room after dinner, he found rose petals in the doorway of the bathroom. he found them and the soothing background music really nice and sweet. funny thing though was that it didn’t immediately occur to him that it was a surprise. he thought it was a special turn-down treat from the hotel since they knew it was our anniversary, so he went directly to the bed. when i managed to wheedle him to come and see the inside of the bathroom, he was taken aback by the entirety of the set up. and that was when i asked him if he liked his surprise.


one thing i love about my husband is that he is such a sport when it comes to surprises. he’s very appreciative, and he shows it a lot through words and actions. upon realizing that it was my anniversary gift for him, he sprang into action and grabbed the camera for photo op.


and his eyes didn’t miss the chocolate-dipped fresh strawberries.


the spa was good for sharing, so i also experienced the choco immersion. when we went off to bed, we were so chocolatey smelling with the chocolate shower gel for rinsing and specially concocted chocolate flavoured lotion. it was indeed a wow feel!

to cap the night off, a friendly staff came knocking on our door to deliver a fruit basket and a mini-fondant moist chocolate cake – compliments of the hotel.

the next morning, we had a hearty buffet breakfast at the Views Restaurant where we enjoyed one of the best breakfasts we had in months. food was delish and they served quite a variety. coffee wasn’t that excellent, but their fresh juices were really delightful. while our satisfied tummies were digesting our food, we decided to have a little walk about in the resort.

it was still pretty hot outside so we went back to our room and just watched National Geographic & Discovery Science.

by 1:45 pm, we checked-out of the hotel and steered back home filled with happy memories of the celebration that was.

********
indeed, our original anniversary will always be fondly remembered and celebrated each year. after all, that’s when we officially became not just a couple, but the bestest friends for life. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

reunion of the bride & the MOHs

last night, i had the chance to finally sit down and have a decent meal with my two best girl friends in the world – my best cousin Sarj & my bessie Beth. it has been a long while since we went out and had dinner altogether, and to be honest, i really missed this kind of catching up. we rarely go out anymore, and basically it’s because of the many other priorities that we have in life right now. not that we don’t prioritize each other anymore…it’s just because many changes took place in our lives since the year unfolded.

Sarj, being a cabin crew, has the most complicated schedule of all. she’s rarely in town during weekends, and usually, her off days are scheduled during the start of the week, which she usually ends up spending at home (bummer!). these days, she’s been extremely busy preparing for the arrival of her better half next month because this time, he’s not just gonna be vacationing in Dubai, but he will be staying here for good to be with her (sweet!). i could understand because i was also in her shoes last year - i could still remember how preoccupied i was when i was preparing for honey’s arrival, too.

now bessie Beth – she’s the only friend that i get to spend time with. everyday, i carpool with her, and i go to the same fitness centre where she works. but of course, things have changed lately, as well. not to mention that i have to divide my time because i have a husband to look after and spend time with, but also because she found herself a new “love” to focus on. which leaves us to a few, brief meaningful chitchats every now and then, or an hour’s worth of conversation in the car when being dropped off to work or on the way home. but hey, i’m not complaining! it doesn’t matter to me (not at this stage anymore) because i see that she’s very happy and i know that she is also being looked after. no sense for me be jealous of her time with the man who stole her heart.

our dinner at Bella Donna was short, but was truly fun and meaningful. instances such as this will not be as frequent as before, but the good side of it is that this kind of get-together will be something to look forward to. it may not happen again in the next coming weeks, but surely, our next reunion will be as lovely as last night’s.

**gracie, sarj & beth**

Friday, August 24, 2007

change of venue

the other day, i posted that ryan & i will be going off to Bab Al Shams Desert Resort for a spa treatment during my week-long holiday. but after speaking to Yvonne on the phone the other day, i found out that Fujeirah beach hotels are offering special summer packages so i decided to hold our horses and do a little research. my colleague Kwok also confirmed the same and suggested we check out the summer promos of the newly opened Hotel JAL Fujeirah Resort & Spa and Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort .


in my past visits to Fujeirah, i’ve seen the Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, and even camped overnight right next to the property. i was curious how the kite-shaped building actually looks like inside, and what kind of amenities they offer since it’s become a popular destination here in UAE. and so to satisfy my curiosity, i decided cancel our reservations at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and opt to spend a night instead at Le Meridien in Fujeirah. it was easy to convince Ryan: their summer offer is only AED 649 ($175) net for a superior room, with free buffet breakfast and dinner at their Views Restaurant. not bad! plus, it’s really cheaper than staying in the middle of the desert in a 5-star hotel style of camping. at least there’s the beach, a huge pool (the biggest, they say, in the UAE) and a fairly large complex to lounge around. the weather's getting better these days, so i guess it's safe to come outside & do some outdoor activity from 5:00 pm onwards.

now what about the spa? of course they have their own spa facilities to boast, and with the menu of services they have, i’m pretty sure we’ll enjoy our stay there. good thing they have an available room on the 27th – just in time for our anniversary.

yey, everything’s set for our little “celebration of love” next week (cheesy me talaga!). now all i’m missing is a nice gift for hubby. i have to start coming up with a plan. hmmm…methinks…. :)

T.G.I.T.

today’s Thursday – the last day of the working week…and the last working day before i officially go on holiday. yipee!

as usual, the hours went by really fast. i had anticipated that it would be a hectic day, and i was right. my boss had just gotten back from his vacation so i spent almost an hour in the morning giving him an update on the goings-on while he was away. the rest of the work day was devoted to finishing up of several tasks because i didn’t want to leave piles of pending work while i’m gone.

i was pretty much in a good mood today – probably because half of me was already on a holiday mood. LOL! Ryan prepared my homemade Starbucks coffee this morning and borrowed Beth’s car to drive me for work, too (he recently got his driver’s license here in the UAE – hooray!!). brightening up my day further were the Shengen Visas stamped on our passports handed over to me just before close of business. just goes to prove that the cancellation of our summer holidays will not be futile, and it meant that we will be travelling together to a far more better place than the original plan. and it also meant that for the first time, my hubby will be able to accompany me on a business trip, which means no more tears and miss-you-like-crazy-nights-because-i’m-all-alone-in-this-room drama! :D

since a lot of good things happened this week, i realized it needed a proper capping off. i decided to celebrate a little with Ryan and a couple of our buddies, and off we went to
Romano's Macaroni Grill in Dubai Festival City. while waiting for our orders, we had an amusing time scribbling and writing down funny phrases on the table with the crayons they provided. K started to write chinese characters, which kick-started Ryan into writing his name and some numbers in chinese, too! i was totally astonished because i’ve never seen him write chinese before, although i knew he attended a chinese school in his childhood days. but that was ages ago! well, one thing i’ve learnt about this minute discovery is that marriage will never cease to surprise you of the many things you find out about the other person as time goes by. and these surprises may come in the most casual occurrences of your life. i guess that makes marriage all the more exciting and challenging huh! :)

halfway through our meal, a couple of chefs approached one of the tables in the restaurant. someone must be celebrating his birthday in that corner, and the chefs were there to greet him. we were already expecting the usual happy birthday tune when one of the chefs belted out an Italian, almost “Pavarotti-like” happy birthday. i was so sure he was Italian, until he turned his back and faced our way. OMG, he was Filipino! our eyes scanned the entire resto and realized that every chef in the see-through glass kitchen is a Pinoy. they were all wearing happy smiles to cheer their mate. they don’t only serve fantastic food – they also feature great talents in a unique kind of way! inside, i was beaming with pride. these people - they have such gift…such happy disposition…. such resilience to face up to life.

this Thursday was a special TGIT to me. it was a day of warm coffee made with TLC, of relief that the week is finally over, of good meal with good company, of laughter resonating in the car on the way home, of simple realizations, of silent prayers heard, and of quiet, personal time as i write this blog.

deep down, i am happy, for i know i am blessed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

changes

haaaayy, after the long wait!!! my official letter has finally come.

new title, new challenges, new opportunities.

confidence girl…you can do this!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

taking a short breather

my dear husband warned me a couple of weeks ago that i am so stressing myself on a lot of things that should slow down a bit more, otherwise, i'd kill myself for being such an OC person! my friend at work Nikolai made the same remark about me having an OCD for being too organized and much of a worry-wart about mundane things. he says i tend to forget to take things easy.

after much thought, i decided to take a week off from work. yup, just a local leave. will probably spend some time at home, and might check-in on one of the nice hotels in the area for a much-deserved pause from the hustle and bustle of worklife. initially, hubby & i wanted to explore Rome or Malaysia for our summer vacation, but because of my immediate need to apply for a Shengen visa to France for a business trip, we had to scrap off the entire plan and just settle for a simple holiday around town. it's gonna be next week and i couldn't wait!

just the thought of knowing that most people will be at work then, while i'm officially vacationing sounds exciting to me. i'll get to enjoy the malls to myself (hahaha! :D) and grocery shop without fuss from families squeezing in the aisles from all directions. and stay up late and sleep till almost noon. wow! i'm still trying to think of other things to do that entire week. but here's a list of things i wanna accomplish, and i'm hell bent on completing at least 80% of it:

  • go to a spa (the hotel booking i've made in Bab Al Shams Desert Resort comes with a free spa for an hour for me & my hubby...yipee!)
  • have a decent manicure/pedicure at my trusted salon
  • have my tresses trimmed for split ends
  • shop for dresses i need for my upcoming business trip
  • catch a movie…hmmm, i wonder what’s showing next week?
  • learn how to bake…well, oatmeal cookies at least (ahm, honey, can you help me here?)
  • finish choosing wedding pictures for the wedding album (yikes, this is soooo long overdue!!...lagot!)
  • redecorate our bedroom
  • play Monopoly and Scrabble with hubby

there’s obviously not much outdoor activities to do since it’s still 35 degrees outside, and it could go up to 40 degrees even at noon time. so you could imagine me spending most of my time indoors during this break, unless i get loony with boredom and opt to punish myself slowly with the UV rays of the blazing sun.

but really, i can’t wait. i’ve begun counting down the days and my face is filled with total glee of anticipation.

and oh, did i forget that next week, we will be celebrating our 9th year anniversary as bestfriends? i would never miss an opportunity to spend quality time with "my man" on this very special occassion! i can already picture next week's gonna be really great :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

useful, trendy girl guide

Camilla Morton's “How to Walk in High Heels – A Girl’s Guide to Everything” is such a fascinating book. a must-have for every woman who values the art of knowing how to do things appropriately, but fashionably at the same time.


being the blonde girl with the big blue eyes, Camilla is definitely not to be stereotyped as the typical dumb blonde. an English woman by heart and soul, she is not only known as a fashionista, but a woman with substance and great sense of humor by the fashion industry. the book itself is as witty as it could get – a fabulous, user-friendly instruction manual that could pass as “How To Be A Real Lady For Dummies” book that females could actually refer to and learn from.

not to mention that the foreword came from no less than John Galliano (Christian Dior), the book was compellingly supported by no less than the godfather of stiletto heels: Manolo Blahnik. the part where shoes were discussed was delightfully useful, especially for someone like me who loves wearing heels, but values comfort and sturdiness above all.

the book touched upon all topics a woman can ever imagine – handbags, attire, attitude, gadgets and gizmos, cooking, dancing, playing chess and poker…the works! made me realize how complicated a woman’s life could be with the many things she must to learn to keep up with the modern times. but still, it felt great to know with this book that women can also do things men can do – and wearing heels!

i’m not surprised this book was such a bestseller. now i can’t wait to have a copy of Camilla’s next book, “A Girl for All Seasons – The Year in High Heels” when they hit the bookstore shelves.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

man's bestfriend

on the way to work this morning, we saw a run over dog lying in the middle of the road going towards the aiport tunnel. it was a heartbreaking scene for me & bessie Beth, as we are both dog lovers. knowing that there are no stray dogs here in the UAE, we could only reckon that the dog was lost and couldn’t find his way home. the poor thing could be a resident in one of the villas in the area, and for sure by now, the owner could be frantically looking for his/her pet.

seeing that horrific sight made me realize how much i should be thankful that my pet dogs at home are safe and sound. but the same thought made me miss them terribly. Ryan & i have long wanted to have a pet in our flat, but we have to let go of the idea since we don’t have that much space at home, plus the fact that our landlord, like most of the landlords here in UAE, is not keen about having dogs in his building.

till i see Chloe, Chooey and Alexis when i am next in Manila, for the time being, i’ll just make do with reminiscing the happy times i had with them, and eagerly look forward to our reunion.


with Chloe

with Chooey

with Alexis

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

visual dna

thanks to Yen-Yen's multiply account, i stumbled upon this site that created my own visual DNA (please see the bottom page of my blog).

since i am a visual person, this website got me really interested. tried it and clicked on the pictures that best depict my interpretation of certain aspects of my life. cool.

i must say their assessment of my personality is pretty accurate. to view my profile, click Gracie's Visual DNA. and check out my wishes, too!

now go try & see for yourself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

weirdo

i’ve been tagged by infanticipating dionne.

[Each player of this game starts with 6 weird things about themselves. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well and state the rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog]
  • i love ironing. and the weirder fact is that i enjoy ironing other people’s clothes more than mine. i feel that ironing my own clothes is more of a chore compared to doing others’ which is more of like labor of love...*cheesy*
  • i like cleaning my own toilet and bath. it gives me a sense of assurance that they’re REALLY clean.
  • i get hyperacidity attacks whenever i eat sinigang na bangus. for some reason, i never get to enjoy this dish because it gives my tummy a discomfort feeling. discovered this when I was in highschool.
  • i am extremely fascinated with photographs. i love looking at pictures - whether they’re old or new, in color or in black & white. i can spend hours and hours just skimming through piles and folders of photos, and i enjoy viewing them again and again.
  • i have a good memory of events/instances. yes - only of events. i am a keen observant, and my mind can hold vivid memories of certain events in my life, subconciously. i tend to remember what a person has worn on the time we met, what bag my friend was carrying on the day we went shopping for her grad party, which pair of shoes my HS buddy purchased 16 years ago, how i fell off the swing at a Hong Kong park one early evening in 1985, which doughnut flavor i chose from Dunkin' Donuts just to stop me from crying after the incident...just to name a few from my incessant list. i've already received a lot of creeped out reactions from people because of this.
  • i feel strangely guilty for getting angry at others. i get into trouble a lot of times for getting mad at people, even if they're the ones who've made the mistake. there must be a cosmic reason why people manage to turn the table and make me feel at fault instead.
tagging pia, jowe, lousienne, lei, yenyen & suyen

Monday, August 6, 2007

going loco over LocoRoco

a few days after getting Ryan's PSP, he decided to purchase a couple of games that would be of interest to the two of us as he plans to share his gaming console with me. surfing the net for feedbacks on the best-selling games off the rack, he found a lot of good reviews about this japanese children's game called LocoRoco. checking out one of the stalls in City Centre Sharjah, Ryan eagerly bought the game, along with Ratchet and Clank.

while we were at the gaming shop, i have to admit i was hesitant to get the LocoRoco game, because i thought it would be boring because the game is actually intended for kids. the package says it's for ages 3+ , so it meant that even a toddler could actually play this game. sounds lame to me!

when Ryan began showing me how the game works, complete with sound effects and funny movements made by the LocoRocos, i was totally enthralled! and before i knew it, i found myself hooked on the game. i now play before going to bed, play on my way to work, play on the way home and play even during my lunch breaks.

the object of the game is for the LocoRocos to save the planet from the moja troops and rescue mui mui. to succeed in doing this, the player must tilt the planet by using the left or right shoulder buttons in order to maneuver the coloured jelly-like characters through each level by means of gravity. you can just imagine me looking silly moving my arms and shoulders left & right, and tilting my head in the same manner. who said this game's just for kids?? :) it's pretty tough, i tell you...plenty of difficult levels that even adults find a hard time going through. i swear, this thing is addictive! (and did i mention absolutely adorable, too?)

watch this clip to see for yourself:



wonder what happened to the Ratchet and Clank game? let's just say the package remains unopened up until this day.