Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our Valentine Weekend

Because V-day landed on a Sunday, which is the first work day of the week here, hubby & I decided to just celebrate a little earlier.

It was our first out of town here in the UAE with a baby in tow. Since we had practice when we went to Tagaytay last December, we thought this time, it will be much easier for us. And it was! Dade was super cooperative so our trip was a breeze.

We checked in a Khatt Springs Hotel & Spa in Ras Al Khaimah, a small hotel located at the foot of the Hajjar Mountains. It’s about 100 kilometers north of Dubai, and an hour and a half drive with no traffic.







Going there, we drove past these:


camels crossing a roundabout


a date farm


After we checked in and dropped our stuff, we trooped to Khatt Spring’s sister property, Al Hamra Fort Hotel & Beach Resort, which was about half an hour drive back to the city.


A fellow kabayan took this shot of us three:
the de Gracias


It was Dade’s first time to the beach, and he did seem to enjoy the fresh air.
first time to the beach as a family






We had early dinner at the Al Hamra Mall (also owned by the same hotel chain), and walked around a bit. We also bought some snacks at Spinney’s and dilly dallied to enjoy our time. I even FB’d while waiting for our food because we had so much time to spare, and that’s when I found out that our w@w couple friends, Emtee & Rico were also checked-in at the hotel (and even staying in the same floor as ours!). So we planned on meeting up first before turning down for the night. But when it was time to head back to Khatt Springs, alas, our car wouldn’t start!  What an impeccable timing for Yumi’s battery to get drained!

So there we were, at 7:15 pm looking for a kind soul to jumpstart our car. Dear hubby wanted to just leave the car, and suggested that maybe we can ask our friends to drop us off there the next day instead of us waiting in the biting cold.  Stubborn me wanted to exhaust all resources possible before giving up, so I called our insurance’s 24-hour hotline, and also sought help from strangers when I learned that they can only tow the car.  Until finally, a local gentleman whom I approached promised to help, and sent his friend Adil to jumpstart our car. Unfortunately, because our car’s battery was super drained, Adil’s Land Cruiser could not resuscitate the battery to life. He offered to take Ryan to the petrol stations to look for a replacement, but none of the shops sell car batteries. In the end, we left Yumi all by itself, and took a taxi to get back to the hotel. Before leaving, I talked to the mall security about our situation, and asked them not to have our car towed as we will be back the following day. I left a note on our windshield just to be sure.

That day was truly an adventure! Would you believe that we almost got lost on the way back to our hotel because the taxi driver turned left instead of going straight in one of the roundabouts about 2 kilometers away from Khatt Springs? Good thing I remembered that we were supposed to go straight and insisted that we head back and take the road I know. He was arguing that he knew where it is, and it’s just a different route. Sorry but my instincts told me otherwise, and so we made a u-turn and he followed my directions. In less than 15 minutes, we made it to our destination. That was half past 10:00 pm.

We said a quick hello to our friends, who generously agreed to help us find a car battery & take us back to the mall to pick up Yumi. A little later, we headed to our room to retire.

The next morning, we had our buffet breakfast at La Palmeraie. Dade and I changed into our swimwear after brekkie so we could try the hot springs and take a dip into the pool. I regretted taking the steps to go down the hot springs area though because it was too steep, and my legs weren’t ready for the 50-ish steps.




Dade didn’t like the warm water of the springs on his feet so we quickly moved back to the hotel via their shuttle. He enjoyed his time in the pool though. He floated instinctively, and before I knew it, he was kicking his legs like a swimming frog! What a funny sight! 




first swimming pool experience

We checked out at 1:00 pm and hitched a ride with our friends who helped us find a car battery and install it, too. Lunch was at Nando’s at Safeer Mall before we picked up our dear car.

So yes, that was how we spent our V-day weekend. Despite the car trouble, it all went pretty well. We thank God for sending our way a kind stranger and a good pair of friends during our trip.


How about you, how was your Valentine’s Day?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feeling Bad

We are attending our friend's daughter's baptism today at 4:00 pm, and I will be coming from work. My office friend commented on my outfit saying that I am too casual, and that I had better days. On my way to the 'lactation room', I passed by the washroom and had a long, hard look on myself in the mirror. Yeah, she's right...I looked blah. Now I'm feeling so bad :(

Since I became a Mom, all I ever focused on was my son. Of course I do look after the husband, as well, making sure his shirts & crew necks are pressed whenever we need to go out. But whenever it's my turn to dress myself up, I always end up grabbing the outfit closest to my reach. I still couldn't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, by the way, so that adds up to my misery. Yep, that's the sad story of my life.


I realized I must make an effort to look presentable at all times. Being a Mom is not an acceptable excuse not to look good. So off I'll go this weekend and grab a few pieces of clothes for me. After all, I still deserve to indulge myself, right?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just Because He's Cute

...my son received AED 10 from a total stranger at the mall today.



I was at the Babies R' Us checking out some baby stuff for a friend while Ryan & Dade were at the lower level of the mall waiting for me. One local teenager was enamored by my son that she couldn't help but touch Dade's cheeks. She later on pressed a AED 10 bill to my son's hand, kissed it, then went off.

By this time, I've already gotten used to seeing people get fascinated over Dade. Wherever we go, he would always attract attention without even trying -- church, mall, grocery, airport, bank, and even in my office. Some people may find it offensive to see strangers touch their babies, But for me, I don't really mind it that much. I just consider their impulsive behavior a compliment. As long as Dade's hands and face are kept clean afterwards, then I'm ok. Oh, and as long as you don't smell smoke, I'm fine with you getting near my son, too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pasalubong

Dade's Ninong K is Chinese, so it was expected of him to bring home to Dubai these yummy tikoy in time for Chinese New Year (which I have not tasted, by the way, in years!):




He also hails from Bacolod so he threw in some Ube Piyaya & Pastillas de Manga, too.



Mmmm, namit! Thanks, K!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dade’s Baptism Supplier Ratings Part 2

Invitations
Cute Prints
Phone No: 09285063396 (Loida Yu) http://cuteprints.multiply.com/
Email: contact.cuteprints@yahoo.com
Peso Power: P30-35 for a 2-page invitation inclusive of envelopes (depending on the quantity of prints)
Rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

Multiply is brimming with good suppliers for invitations but I chose CutePrints because their invites are beautifully done, and they don’t use photo paper when printing. Everyone’s impressed with Dade’s invitation, and in fact, 2 of my friends contacted them already for their printing services. They’re also quick to respond to emails, and can finish your invites (after approval of design) in less than a week, including delivery. For the rates they charge, I say it’s worth every cent we paid!



the invitation

Photographer

Cute Prints
Phone No: 09285063396 (Loida Yu)http://cuteprints.multiply.com/
Email: contact.cuteprints@yahoo.com
Peso Power: P9,000 – Hug & Embrace package (inclusive of two photographers, unlimited shots, pictures in CDs & 8 x 8 storybook album)
Rating: 4*** - photos 5*** album (highly recommended)

My son has 3 professional photographers as Godparents. Unfortunately, they were all unable to attend the baptism as they’re all based in Dubai. Good thing I found some options in n@w, and was able to book a recommended photographer ahead of time.

With CutePrints, you get two photographers for the package so they get to cover more. I am ok with the pictures – but not entirely happy though with some of the shots as I noticed that a lot are slanted which is not my style.  Also, I did mention to them that I’m particular with details shots but they still missed taking a shot of the entrance arch, which by the way I loved so much because it brightened up the doors of the hall.

However, they redeemed themselves with the storybook album. It’s super nice! It only took them a month to finish it yet it turned out beautifully. I showed it to my colleagues, and they were quite impressed. CutePrints chose the pictures for the album, and I must say they did very well.



cover & back pages

details page


inside lay-out

Videographer
Thor Productions
Phone No: 0919.6752473 / 0915.9711901http://thorproductionkids.multiply.com/
Email: thorproduction@gmail.com
Peso Power: P9,500 – video services for two venues using 3ccd hi res camera. professional videographer, production assistant, non-linear editing, 1 DVD copy of full edited video with personalized cover and casing. additional equipment: glidecam, dolly, 2-3 Lights set-up, Uhf wireless audio [for baptismal ceremony].
Rating: 5*** - service (highly recommended) final output – pending rating

Another treasured find through my n@wie sisters. they’re reasonably priced considering the experience Thor has as a former cameraman at ABS-CBN, and the kind of equipment they have to produce HD videos. Dade’s Ninong is a videographer by profession here in Dubai so before we booked Thor Productions, he checked the specs of the equipment they use first.

Thor was with his wife, Carmela, on the day of the event, and true to their word, they came early along with their video stuff. Thor worked discreetly that you won’t even notice he’s there. He blended with the crowd despite his gears, which is a plus for me.

Party decors
Party Boosters by Jacque Tan
Phone No: 0917-898-5227http://partyboosters.multiply.com/
Email: partyboosters.inquiry@gmail.com
Peso Power: please coordinate with Jacque directly for costing
rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

I only have praises for Jacque who so generously helped me make the reception venue look fabulous! The place was dull & lifeless before she stepped in. When she waved her magic wand, it suddenly became perfect for a baptism reception. Seriously! I received a lot of compliments from friends and family who liked the total look of the hall.

I decided to hire a decorator to help liven up the place because the venue’s walls looked dark with it’s wood partition. And I'm so happy I did! My son was so fond of the balloonderitas that he was caught many times looking up the ceiling and gazing at the balloons.

One thing that I really liked about Jacque is that she takes the extra mile to help out her clients. I only paid her for swags of 3 different colors, but when I called her the day before the baptism & shared with her my dilemma on the partition, the ever-quick witted Jacque suggested to use white swags to cover the walls. It was a wise idea as the white swags blended well with the photo corner that has white teddy bears, pillars & Cleopatra love seat provided by the caterer. She really made sure the place had a unified look even if she had to provide extra service at no additional cost. Now that is customer service!

lovely decors

Guestbook & projector rental
Mediamonsters Productions
Unit 1733 3/F Guadalupe Bliss Phase III,
J.P. Rizal Extn., Makati City
Phone No: 515 9017 / 0917 5421717http://mediamonsters.multiply.com/
Peso Power: P2,000 – 8x8 inches 20 pages guestbook including guestbook lay-out
P1,800 – projector rental for 4 hours
Rating: guestbook – 5*** (highly recommended)
projector – 5*** (highly recommended)

Mediamonsters was referred to me by both Jacque of Partyboosters, and my HS friend, S. They’re a wonderful find! they’re reasonably-priced, very easy to talk to, and super accommodating. They came early to set up the projector, and provided a technician to take care of it and play the AVP.


For the guestbook, I just sent them hi-res pictures of Dade, quotes that I'd like to be included, and advised them of the theme for Dade's baptism. Transaction was quick and easy.


guestbook cover

here's what's inside

Tokens for Godparents
DIY
Kodak Glorietta for photo printinghttp://www.beaucoup.com/ for min-albums
Peso Power: $ 3.15 - mini-albums
P 15 – wallet-size pics (2 photos in 1 sheet)
Rating: 5*** - DIY (love your own!)
5*** - Kodak Glorietta (highly recommended)

I just have to say that finding the right token for the Godparents was the hardest thing I ever had to do when I planned for this baptism. I wanted something extra special and meaningful so I decided to just create a mini-album of Dade’s pictures with quotes about Godparents and baptism. I digi-scrapped the cover and the quotation cards then had them printed in matte finish along with the photos at Kodak’s Lab. All the Godparents loved the token, and even the guests complimented on how it was well thought of and tastefully created.

my DIY tokens for the godparents


Tokens for adult guests
Cuppy Klydehttp://cuppyklyde.multiply.com/
Peso Power: P30 each sugar cookie
Rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

Who says sugar cookies are only for Christmas? They’re so versatile they can now be given away on any occasion. All you need is the perfect cookie cutter, and some icing and you’re good to go. Well, we left all that in the hands of our supplier, Jane, who does & decorates amazing cookies at a very good price. I loved how the bear cookies looked like, and how she managed to color them in the right hues of blue, green, yellow and cream. A lot of guests raved about how yummy the cookies were so I promised to get her services again for our son’s 1st birthday.

delightfully good sugar cookies

Tokens for kids
Plush Teddy Bears
Ilaya Street (one of the stalls across Wellmanson)
Peso Power: P65 each (8" big)rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

How can you not love these plush bears when they look so adorable! My first and only trip to Divisoria was because of these fellas, and I'd say they were really worth the trouble. I went there with my SIL who helped me bargain and pick out the nicest bears we could ever find. true enough, come baptism day, all the bears were picked out by their new, happy owners.

bestseller Russ & Harrods teddies


Candles & basket
DIY
ribbons & bead – Wellmanson & Carolina’s (bead & off-white ribbon)
basket – Divisoria
Peso Power: basket – P15, bead – P30 for set of 12 pcs., powder blue ribbon – P25 per roll of 32 yards, off-white ribbon – P3.50 per yard
Rating: 5***

The organized me wanted decorated candles, and I’m so lucky my SIL is into arts and crafts, too. She wrapped the basket handle with the powder blue ribbon, and spruced up the candles using the ribbons we had at hand. Thanks to the dear husband for the suggestions! :)

candles for the godparents



Well, that wraps up my supplier’s ratings. I hope these ratings help you guys in planning your parties in the future. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask, and I’d be most glad to help.

Thanks everyone! :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dade's Baptism Supplier Ratings Part 1

Almost two months after the baptism of Dade, my supplier ratings are finally ready. First off, let me share with you why I chose my son’s celebration theme. You see, even before I gave birth, I’ve already picked out the theme for our son’s baptism celebration: teddy bears and alphabet blocks. Why not when they’re classic and very much fitting for a baby boy? For the motif, I decided to choose not just the common powder blue for boys. I also picked out apple green & yellow to add more fun.

Being based overseas did not deter me from arranging a party for my son. After all, his baptism celebration also served as his meet-and-greet party so I wanted it to be extra special.

For my ratings, I’m using a scale of 1 star to 5 stars. I’m also providing the fees for some of the suppliers, and I’ll be as detailed as I can so that this rating will prove useful to you.

Church
Santuario de San Antonio Parish
Mc Kinley Road, Forbes Park,
Makati City
Contact Person: Ms. Joan
Phone: +63 2 843 8830
Slot: 3:45 pm
Requirements: birth certificate, list of names of Godparents (strictly 5 pairs only) & no objection letter from your own parish if SSA non-parishioner
Peso Power: P3,000 (inclusive of 1 St. Anthony Candle)
Rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

the baptistry


I chose to have our son baptized in this church mainly because they only hold special baptisms. Location-wise, it’s also convenient for both sides of our families who hail from the north and south sides of the Metro.

My son’s baptism was on a Monday so I had to consider proximity to commercial business district so that more people coming from work could attend. I also liked the church because it has a baptistry, has lots of space for parking, and the contact person in charge for the baptism was very easy to deal with. We only spoke on the phone last August, and had my FIL pay for the fees. In fact, even if our baptism was on a weekday, she still confirmed the attendance of their priest, despite their rule that for weekday baptisms, they will not provide a celebrant.

The only comment I have is that it takes them so long to prepare a baptismal certificate. My son was baptized on the 14th Dec, and when we came back on the 4th Jan to pick it up (along with the refund of the bond for the rental of their social hall), it still wasn’t ready. Blame it on the holidays, I suppose.

Reception venue
Santuario de San Antonio Social Hall Bays 2 & 3
Mc Kinley Road, Forbes Park,
Makati City
Contact Person: Ms. Alice
Phone: +63 2 843 8831
Requirements: None
Peso Power: P9,000 for 3 hours / P12,500 for security deposit & bond
P1,500 sound system (microphone & speakers only)
Rating: 3***

Ryan & I chose to hold the celebration at the SSA Hall within the church’s compound for obvious reasons. (I swear, getting in and out of the car with a baby takes at least 10 minutes!)
the reception hall

The place is nothing fancy, to be honest. but I liked it because it has French doors on both sides so there’s natural light coming in which is really important to me. The bay 3 is also adjacent to the kitchen so the caterers were able to prep conveniently and bring in the food quite discreetly.

Things I didn’t like about the venue:
1.) lighting of the room – I personally think the lighting is not enough for a hall that big
2.) sound system – I didn’t mind paying for this separately but we had to bring our own CD player. Isn't the player supposed to be part of the package?

3.) security deposit and bond - it's more than the amount of the venue's rental. Seriously, do they really think their clients would create that much damage to ask for such bond?
4.) contact person – hard to deal with not because she’s rude or anything but because she’s so disorganized! Just like with the church contact person, I also dealt with her over the phone, and had my FIL pay for the fees. She’s nice & friendly especially in person. However, when my FIL came to their offices to pay she was spaced out and spoke as if she didn’t know what my FIL was talking about. This still happened despite the fact that I had already called her earlier to advise about my FIL’s arrival to pay for the fees. She wasn’t sure if she had written down the date & time we chose, and the number of bays we’re booking. In my humble opinion, if your duty is to book your venue for events, you have to have at least the basic skills of method to avoid making major mistakes, like double booking for instance. Another thing I didn’t like was her failure to mention about the security deposit & bond ahead of time. We just found out after we had paid for the balance for the hall’s rental. hence, we had to make another trip to Makati, and spend on gas and toll.

Caterer
Center Table Catering
60 Madrid St. corner Amsterdam,
Merville Park Subdivision, Paranaque City
Phone No: +63 2 824 5179
http://www.centertablecatering.com/

Contact Person: Rina
Peso Power: P420/pax – (adults) inclusive of VAT
P330/pax – (child) inclusive of VAT
P5,000 – photo corner (mini-stage with teddy bears)
Rating: food – 4*** set-up – 5*** service – 2***

Adults menu:
Appetizer - Cheese sticks with dip (spot cooking)
Salad - Potato Salad
Mains - Mashed potatoes & buttered vegetables, beef lasagna, pork salpicao (spot cooking), chicken pastel, cream dory fillet with tartar sauce (spot cooking), rice & soft pan rolls

Dessert - crème puff, tiramisu, chocolate éclair & peach jello
Free flowing juice & red iced tea

Kiddie menu:
Chicken lollipop with tartar sauce, Baked Spaghetti, hotdog on sticks, mini burgers & chocolate beehive for dessert
buffet table set up 
centerpiece with Dade's name on it :)
yummy cheesesticks
smashing potato salad
scrumptious pork salpicao
an assortment of pastries
chocolate beehive & mini-burgers for kids

I got this caterer because of their good reviews from the forum where I belong to, n@w, and saw how they decorated a fellow n@wies’ event. I thought their concept was perfect for my theme. They have other themes available but I opted to stick with what I originally have in mind. I only dealt with them through overseas calls and emails, and had my FIL come to their office to pay the dp. Very easy to talk to.

We were hoping to have a food tasting when we scheduled to come and pay the balance a week prior to the event. Unfortunately, we were told that because of their very busy schedule that month, they cannot offer food tasting anymore. Given no other option, we asked our AE, Rina, which ones are their bestsellers, and hoped we made the right choice. and I say yes we did! Food is great, and most of our guests raved about the dishes served. The cream dory was a hit, as well as the cheese sticks & potato salad. I personally loved the pork salpicao – it was too delicious they almost ran out. However, we were not too thrilled about the chicken pastel & beef lasagna. The pastries & peach jelly were delightfully good, too, and the kid’s buffet was as I had hoped for – real yummy!

Set-up is fantastic! They were able to deliver according to my requirements – from the bows of the chairs (sorry, not in pic), to the table linens, to the kids’ buffet table. I love how they personalized the bibs of the teddy bears – even those that were in the centerpieces. So cute!

For service, I only gave them 2*** because they were LATE – as in fashionably late! At 3:20 pm, on the way from the parking to the baptistry, I saw their delivery truck just pull in. I was worried because I told Rina that the reception will start at 4:30 pm, and yet I see their crew come in an hour & 10 minutes before the reception itself. I know by the time we finish with the ceremony and picture taking they’ll only be half done. And I was right! When we arrived at the social hall at 4:20 pm, they were still setting up the buffet table, and tables & chairs. It was so embarrassing! We had to ask our guests to stay outside while they finish setting up. What's worse, it took the waiters forever to serve drinks to these waiting guests because they were busy fixing the place.

I have no complaints though about the courtesy of the waiters. They were very professional. Once everyone was settled in the hall, they were quick to serve, and were very much polite. After the reception, they also packed every bit of food left for us to take home, including the cake.

Despite the disappointing tardiness of Center Table Catering, which I hope was an isolated case I suppose, I would probably still get them in the future. I have to admit I did save a lot of money from the decors they provided, and they allowed us to mix and match the food to create our own menu that’s within our package.

Cake
Hearts & Bells
928 Alvarado St. Binondo, Manila
Phone No: 244-0258http://www.heartsnbells.com
Peso Power: P5,000 – 3 layered topsy-turvy cake (bottom layer edible – flavor: carrot pineapple)
P200 – mini-cakes for Godparents
Rating: 5***

love, love, love the cake!

For its price, it’s super sulit! I originally wanted a two-layered cake only but when I learned that the difference is just a few hundred bucks, I decided to get the three-layer instead. I had a specific design in mind that I wanted, and I was so thankful they were able to execute albeit the funny-looking buttons on the edges of the layers. The cake’s flavor is carrot pineapple. I didn’t care much about the taste because it wasn’t served during the reception. For the Godparents mini-cakes, we got the chocolate flavored ones.

Dealt with them via email, paid through bank deposit, visited their offices for cake tasting on the way to Divisoria, and then found the cake ready at the venue on the 14th. Swift and easy!


Watch this space for the part 2! :)

AVP for Dade's Baptism

Dade's Ninong K spent a whole night to come up with this special AVP, which we played during the baptismal reception. thank you so much, Ninong K! it's so beautiful!

I chose the song "A Mother's Prayer" by Rachel Aldous, which has the exact same thoughts and wishes I have for my song. This song never fails to touch me whenever I hear it being played.

Below is the video followed by the words of the song.

video

A Mother's Prayer (Hannah's Song)
by Rachel Aldous
Verse:
My sweet baby on loan from above
no better treasure could I more love
I stand here beside your bed as I pray
I lay my hand on your head and I say:
Chorus:
May you grow up to serve Him all of your days
May He lead you and guide you in all of your ways
May He bless your future with friendships that last
May you cherish your youth
and not grow up too fast
Verse:
I stare in wonder at your tiny frame
Just to think God knows you by name
He knows every hair on your head
He knows your thoughts before they are said
Chorus:
May you grow up to serve Him all of your days
May He lead you and guide you in all of your ways
May He bless your future with friendships that last
May you cherish your youth
and not grow up too fast
Prayer:
May God grant you peace in the midst of a storm
May God give you strength even when you’re forlorn
May you answer the door when Jesus comes knocking
May wisdom guide when your mouth is talkin’
May discretion protect you and keep you pure
May you never stumble or fall for a lure
May your heart remain humble to the very end
May uprightness and truth be what you defend
May the world not ensnare or change who you are
May the light that's within you shine like the stars
May angels surround you body, spirit, mind
May favor and peace be yours to find
May rejection and pain never reach you
May your spirit grow bold for what you’re called to
Chorus:
May you grow up to serve Him all of your days
May He lead you and guide you in all of your ways
May He bless your future with friendships that last
May you cherish your youth
and not grow up too fast
Singing:
As you rest in God’s care
I will rest too Knowing that Jesus
is watching over you
Amen

I love you, Dade! You are Mommy's most wonderful blessing received!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy 6th Month, Dade!

To my sweet little munchkin, happy 6th month birthday to you!




Look how much you've grown over the weeks...


Daddy's little boy


Ninang B's apple of the eye


happy baby


Aawww, you're getting cuter & cuter each day with your smile. How I wish I can keep you this small & precious forever!


Love you so much, my baby!