Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gender Reveal



At 20 weeks, people have started hammering us with the question, “Is it a boy or a girl?” every so often because around this time of the pregnancy, we should've already known the gender from the fetal anomaly scan.  I hate to break the news though that hubby and I have decided not to disclose the baby’s gender this time.  And for reasons we hope our families and friends would understand.

Before we conceived our firstborn, we prayed so hard for a baby after having gone through miscarriage.  Dade came as an answered prayer, and we found out we were pregnant with him at the most unexpected time.  We were in Manila for our annual vacation, and we had family members around us who were the first to hear of our good news.  What perfect timing!

After 2 years since Dade’s birth, we planned on having a second baby (and was crossing our fingers for a girl!).  We even asked for prayers through our friend Shelly who went to the Holy Land for pilgrimage.  Just a couple of months after, we found out we were infanticipating again, and the news also came at the right time -- just a day after my maternal grandmother passed away.  It was a little piece of good news that I brought home with me when I flew home for her funeral.   Lexie is also an answered prayer, and a dream come true for us as we really wanted a girl.

Now with my current pregnancy, everything was completely unforeseen.  Because of all the stress I had at work and with our Euro Trip, I ovulated late and didn’t realize I was fertile when we did the deed.  We traveled for our much-awaited Europe Trip this summer, and found out towards the last leg of our tour that we have a little hitchhiker onboard.  I already had a feeling that we may be pregnant but was in denial for days until I decided to take the home pregnancy test kit to get it over and done with.  Funny how I was telling Ryan when we got the PTK in Vienna that it better be worth its price as I had to cough up EUR 12 for the pack!  I actually meant that it should be accurate and wasn't exactly hoping for a positive sign.   

When the PTK confirmed my suspicion, my initial reaction was shock.  I showed the test result to Ryan who also had the same reaction, and none of us had the same jolly expression on our faces when we found out about Dade’s and Lexie’s conception.   Looking back, it makes me feel guilty that our little one wasn’t welcomed warmly like its siblings.  We were not fair as parents, and it sucks to remember that point in this pregnancy.  Sorry baby!

In addition to the not-so-happy reaction of ours, I also had a very challenging first trimester with all the symptoms and hormonal changes that I’ve gone through.  I had horrible all-day sickness that lasted for weeks followed by severe tooth and gum aches.  I also contracted conjunctivitis towards the tail end of my first trimester, which was really a pain.  My boss teased me that I was falling apart as I couldn’t complete an entire week in the office!

Last October, we had a serious health scare with the baby, and it made us reflect on our priorities as a family (more on this in a separate post).   After going through that hurdle, it made me realize how much I am taking this pregnancy for granted and how ungrateful I was of this beautiful gift to our family.  God blessed us with a wonderful year, and the least I could do is be more accepting of His shower of love. 

I thought of ways to make it up to our unborn baby until it dawned on me that keeping the gender of the baby until the delivery date will keep us and the people around us excited about its arrival.  Ryan welcomed this idea, too, which is great!  You see, our loved ones and friends are all excited to know the baby's gender, and holding off such information makes them extra giddy.  Everyone is now looking forward to the d-day!  I cannot wait to video tape their reaction when they come see us at the hospital :)  

We already have a boy and a girl so whatever this baby's gender is does not really matter as long as it's healthy and normal.  What we want is another baby to love, to play with, to cuddle, and to smell (ooohh, angel's breath again!)  It doesn't matter if it's a he or a she.  After all, my husband said that God does not give anything that isn't perfect :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Benefit Loot

This is what boredom can do to you. 

my holiday order
  
Three weeks ago, I was leisurely surfing the net and found myself browsing the Benefit website.  I have been a Benefit user for over a year now having started with their Brow Zings brow shaping kit followed by the Rockateur cheek powder which I both love to bits (I am using them now as I am typing this!)

I was delighted to discover their Sweet Shoppe Holiday Limited Edition sets and instantly fell in love with the Sugar Glam Fairies, which I only got for $45 (originally priced at $97).  The set comes with the following products and are in a cute coffee shop tin can that I can use to store some knick knacks for Lexie:

  • full size They’re Real! mascara
  • full size The POREfessional
  • full size Hoola
  • Benetint medium

festive tin can

what's inside

I also ordered some of their other bestsellers for my besties for Christmas.  Can’t wait to share my bene-happiness this holiday season! 

bestsellers

They also had a promotion on free international shipping when you order above $125.  My total order was $124 and I had to find the cheapest item I could to avail of the free shipping offer.  This is what I found for $5, haha!

my new dual sharpener

And to top it all off, I get this lovely make up case for free among the free testers they threw in to my loot.

in my favorite color!

testers


So happy with my purchase, and most importantly, I was very much relieved that they came right on time. 

It's gonna be a happy Christmas indeed! :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Perfect Hair Curler

My hair has grown longer than I have planned, and I intended to have it cut short (like shoulder length) for easier maintenance.  However, getting an appointment at the salon is not as easy as I thought because they are usually full after office hours.  I guess that was a sign that I should keep my hair long because finally, after many weeks of search, I have found the right sized curler I want from Babyliss.

The curler I specifically want must:
  •  be 1.5” or 38mm sized for that big curl effect
  •  be made of ceramic
  • have temperature control
Luckily, the one I chanced upon at Carrefour has all these plus more!  It’s a 2-in-1 straight and curl pro hair styler with titanium ceramic coating, which is made of high density ceramic for professional use.  It’s got a proper on and off switch button, and rapid preheat setting with a maximum of 200ºC.  For its price, it is quite a steal especially since it saved me from shipping charges had I opted to order online.

my new Babyliss love

As I had spent so much time in bed yesterday for my afternoon nap (4 hours, man!) and couldn’t sleep for the night, I grabbed my new pro curler and test drove it on my hair at 11:45 pm since I had nothing better to do, haha! 

These are my selfies using my iPhone 6 camera so please bear with the photos’ quality. 

messy hair don't care

with my new beauty tool

voila!

I love how my new beauty tool curled my hair!  Super straight forward to use, and in just 15 minutes, my hair was all done.  It’s definitely worth the dirham I paid for!  I give it 5 stars right off the bat.

Friday, December 5, 2014

All Things Happy Weekend

In my almost 10 years here in Dubai, I have made some close ties with some of the Filipinos I have worked with in the company.  Despite being from different departments, we have become friends because of that one thing all brought us together -- FOOD.  We would often gather around the fountain area to enjoy our lunch and finish it off with chit-chats and showbiz gossip for dessert, haha!

However, things changed and people shifted to other careers over the years while some have even moved to other countries, too.   But we still made it a point to meet up every so often to catch up.  Luckily, most of the girls are still working in the centre so it was convenient to grab lunch together or have coffee after work. 

Last weekend, Gina, who is now based in Lagos with her husband, came to town for a few days, and we decided to arrange a get-together to see her.  One of our friends who had access to a yacht offered a cruise at the Palm, and since the weather is just phenomenal the past few weeks, we went for it without any hesitation.

It was a glorious day, and the sun sweetly kissed us as we endlessly took photos of our group and of the beautiful architecture that we saw from the Arabian Sea's vantage point.     

the gang
who says married women can't have fun? 
group selfie with all those pearlies
a photo just for the heck of it 
preggo me at 20 weeks -- half way through!


















Dubai Marina architecture
rare photo of Burj Al Arab taken from the sea

We were also able to spot the 534-foot Dubai owned by no other than Dubai’s ruler as we were cruising along.  It was moored off the shores of the man-made Logo Island just round The Palm. 

Dubai in all its glory




after disembarking (and so ready for our late lunch)
We capped off our day by having lunch at Eggspectation at The Beach, JBR.  We were so famished we ordered big meals for each of us.  I think with the exception of me though because I had to order extra pancakes on top of my All American Breakfast, teehee!  That was my preggy self craving for food!


All American breakfast with well done eggs 
my favorite -- banana walnut pancakes with Canadian maple syrup

Already looking forward to our next get-together when Gina comes back in March!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lifestyle Photo Shoot 2014

This is a super duper late post but I thought of sharing some of my favorite photos from our photo shoot last January.  We never get around to taking pictures of the whole family on a monthly basis but I aim for at least one proper photo shoot every start of the year. 

For 2014, I thought of holding the photo shoot at the DIFC.  When our friends came over in October last year, I managed to obtain a permit so they can go around the centre and take pictures without being told off by the security.  And then I thought, well, my family hasn’t had any proper photos within the financial centre so might as well do our next photo shoot where Mommy spends most of her time during work days. 

I booked the first of January because I was certain the place would be deserted by then.  And I was right.  Thankfully, our dear photographer’s schedule was also clear that day. 

Our financial centre is literally a concrete jungle.  The main building, The Gate is of grey marble so I thought of coming in for the shoot in all grey ensemble, too. Only Lexie had brought with her a salmon pink dress that she wore for her first birthday party in Manila because she didn’t have any solo photos wearing such pretty dress.

Here are some of my favorite picks:

adorable, and yes, i am biased!

my darling son (i miss his long hair!)

by The Gate

all grey

Jumeirah Emirates Towers background

my most prized possessions

For next year, I was thinking of doing it in a gaming arcade so there’ll be more candid shots.  Either that or in a resort or water park to make it more fun. 

We are so grateful that we are blessed to have such wonderful friends who take photos of ours every now and then, and gladly for free.  Their talent is immensely appreciated by our family, and we will forever be thankful for what they share to us. 

For more of Beth Balde’s work, you may visit her IG page: shutterbug_beth.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dade’s 5th birthday party

Last August, our first born turned 5 years old.  Can you believe it?  Time flies!  Since he is already at that stage where he enjoys kiddie birthday parties, we thought of throwing him an intimate birthday celebration and invited his closest friends.  Besides, my Dad and my youngest sister were also in town so a fun celebration held to make it real memorable, especially since Dade’s birthday fell on a Friday which is a weekend. 

happy birthday, little prince!

To be honest, I have now come to realize how expensive birthday parties can be.  When I was my son’s age, I never had birthday parties.  And when my cousins, classmates or neighbors would have parties, it was always at their backyard or garden.  Nothing fancy really.  And we survived.  And had fun.  And enjoyed the afternoon.  Anyway, so this year, I decided to hold it at a fast food chain because we wanted things to be fuss-free and relaxed.  Rather than invite folks to our home and worry about cleaning up especially since our helper was on holiday in the Philippines and was due to be back on the evening of Dade’s birthday, I thought doing it offsite without having to coordinate the food and entertainment will be less of a headache for me.  And I am so glad I did!

cheese!!

Theme
My son is into Lego lately.  He loved the “Lego Movie” which for him is “AWESOME” so it was only but fitting to choose this theme for his birthday party.  Apart from being super colorful and youthful, Lego is something close to me and my husband’s hearts, too.  We grew up playing with Lego, and it is just wonderful that after 30 odd years, we find ourselves with a boy that appreciates our old toys, too.  You can guess that our boy was stoked when he walked in the party hall.  

We played with the primary colors for the party and made sure that the element of old school Lego was put into place.  We deviated from the modern Lego stuff and kept the Lego man as our focal point.  Our pompoms were of colors royal blue, green, yellow and red.  Even the hanging balloons were also of these colors. 

Venue and Food
We chose Burger King in Al Rigga because of their fast food joint colors – red and yellow.  It was a fuss free booking as I only called a few weeks before the event and paid AED 100 only for down payment.  The schedule was locked immediately, and we were allowed to put up decors 3 hours before the party. 

have it your way!

We ordered for Steakhouse Burger meal for all adults and upsized the fries and drinks.  We also ordered for apple pie as dessert.  The kids, meanwhile, got chicken tenders with apple juice drinks and a free toy from their kiddie meal.

Even though we only served burgers, it seemed like all the guests were satisfied with the burger because they were pretty big for fast food standard. 

Sweets Table
Our sweets table was very simple and was only laden with a round cake as the main attraction accented with jelly beans, M&Ms, home-made sugar cookies in the shape of Lego man’s head and home-made banana muffins that were baked by dear husband.  We also printed some personalized water bottle labels.  The buntings were downloaded from somewhere, and I’ve also placed a couple of photo frames from Ikea to hold the photos of Lego Man with the words “Happy Birthday” and “5” on their t-shirts.

sweets table in vibrant colors
hubby's home made sugar cookies.  i did the eyes & mouth, thanks to Americolor edible marker!

yummy banana muffins, home made of course!

personalized water bottles
Mr. Lego Man, some M&M's & the personalized sweets bag

I only ordered the cake like 3 days before the event, and was so glad that Gateaux was able to accommodate my order.  They also have a branch near the party place so there was no issue on the delivery.  I only provided them a photo of the Lego man’s head with background that my husband had laid out and sent it to them by email.  When the cake was delivered on the day, I was gushing with delight because it was cuter than I had imagined!  And for it's price, it was really worth it!

Lego man cake with Dade's name

The blue table skirt was borrowed from Gayle and Hazel while the aqua blue backdrop was originally ours which I eventually gave to them since we had no use for it anymore.   Thankfully, Gayle and Hazel were both there to help us out with the decors.  They were so quick at putting things together and are such pros when it comes to party decorating! 

Program
Burger King also provided entertainment for the guests by hosting a few games and presenting a magic show for the kids.  It was actually lame but still fun nonetheless. 

a little bit of dancing for the kiddos

pick up sticks, party style

The games for the adults were fun, too.  Up until Dade’s birthday party, I didn’t realize that I can never pop a balloon by sitting on it.  That garnered some good laughs from our friends, lol!

Dade enjoyed the candle blowing bit of the party and felt really special that all his friends were there to cheer him on and sing happy birthday for him :)

happy 5th, Kuya Dade!

We also had a balloon burst where our own birthday boy refused to pop because he was too scared of the sound of balloons popping.  He only pacified when it was time to hand out the prizes and loot bags, which was towards the end of the party.  I've put together a simple loot bag that contained some candies, biscuits, pen/pencil, ruler and jack stone set for the kids. 

balloon burst time
giving out prizes and give aways

personalized loot bag 

Sincerest thanks to our friend, Armil who took lovely photos during the party.  We are so grateful that all his godson’s birthday parties are properly documented because of him. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lexie’s 2nd birthday party

Dear Daughter turned terrific two last April, and while the in-laws were in town for a visit, we thought a nice party would be quite appropriate.  My Dad had promised to pay for the party so lucky us!

family photo

We decided to go for a simple, intimate party at a café because to be honest, we couldn’t be bothered to go full party mode with our busy schedules. 

Theme
This year’s party was vintage carnival themed and hubby and I worked on peach and mint green colors as our motif.  Our accent hue was gold which worked well with the pastels.  We also incorporated some chevron to the theme.  Of course, there are vintage elements to it such as carousel, ferris wheel and elephants. 

I liked how our ticket invites turned out because they looked really vintage.  Hubby was able to download a font that worked best with the look we are aiming for.

vintage-y invites

Fortunately for me, my friend Gayle’s daughter’s baptism had the same color motif for her party just a few weeks before Lexie’s so I was able to borrow some items that they’ve used.  My SIL also bought for us a ferris wheel cupcake holder from Manila which I super love because it was perfect for the theme! 

For the centerpieces, we made circus tents out of cardboard paper and blew some peach balloons wrapped in peach tulle that were stuck on mint green vintage-y looking Ikea garden pot holders. 

dainty centerpieces

I wanted a carousel so badly but didn’t have enough time.  I did come up with a solution to incorporate horses though.  I super glued two horses on a paper straw I bought for Lexie’s party last year and painted the horses in gold.  I stuck them on a rectangular styro in different heights and laid the big marshmallows in front of them. 

marshmallows guarded by golden horses

The thing I enjoyed working on the most was stamping Lexie’s name on the wooden utensils.  That was really fun!  Yaya M helped, too :)

wooden cutlery - personalized by moi

Venue & Food

cafe party venue for a change

buffet style merienda

snack box for the kids

yummy desserts
I tried to look for an appropriate coffee shop around town to hold the party but with the limited choices we have here in Dubai, I ended up booking with Dome Café in the DIFC.  I’m glad I did because they were very accommodating with my requests plus they also worked on my budget which I truly appreciated.   We ordered club sandwiches, pizza, chicken nuggets and carbonara for snacks and chose chocolate brownies and carrot bites for dessert.  Dome Café also served chilled apple and orange juice.

Sweets Table

the sweets table

The thing about parties now is that people expect you to have a sweets table as a focal point of your celebration.  While I do love it, I must say it is not very easy to pull off especially when you are relying on yourself to DIY everything.  Thankfully, I’ve had help from dear hubby. 

All pompoms were ready made which my SIL bought in Manila.  The mint green backdrop we borrowed from Gayle, and so are the papers used to make the accordion decors.  She also gave me her left over medium sized doilies that I used for the sweets. 

The mocha cake and vanilla cupcakes were made by our dear friend, Ditas as a gift to our little darling.  Unfortunately, since Ryan was very busy he was not able to make sugar cookies for the party. 

uber yummy mocha cake & vanilla cupcakes

Special thanks to dear Papa (my FIL) who helped us put together the decors on the day.  He was a lot more patient than Ryan, and was really enthusiastic in helping out.  I wish my husband inherited his patience from his father. 

Program
Believe it or not, we never held any program for the party at all!  It was super laidback for everyone.  We just hung out and chatted with our guests.  No fancy games.  We prepped giveaways and lootbags for the kids which we handed out before they left.  The children entertained themselves by running around huge balcony of Precinct Building 5. 

give-aways

lootbags

It was a lovely day all in all, and we are thankful to those who took time to join us.  Credits to our dear friend, Armil who took wonderful photos on the day of the party.