Thursday, May 30, 2013

some polka dots i spotted...

It's been raining on and off this past month. But I'm not ready for rain yet! I don't want the summer to end because I haven't been to the beach! 

Today, we're leaving for a weekend at my friend W's beach house. So I certainly hope it doesn't rain the next 4 days. I don't want any umbrellas being opened up... even if they are polka-dotted!

Photo from pinkwallpaper.

Click here for previous posts from the Some Polka Dots I Spotted... series.

Monday, May 27, 2013

yay, we're 2!

Yay! This blog turns 2 today! Imagine that!

It's been 2 whole years of celebrating the little things that make life delightful - from polka dots and color (in confetti form or not)... to typography (within a cake or otherwise).

It has been a positively inspiring 2 years! Thanks for reading, liking, emailing and commenting! 

Do celebrate with me today and eat lots of cake! I sure will! :)

Photo from here via acupofjo. Click here for how this typography cake was made.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Today, I am loving...

I'd never been to Marshalls, the designer discount store, before. But the first time I did, during our recent trip, I was quite charmed by their fitting room. It wasn't luxurious at all like the fitting room above. Didn't even notice if the lighting was flattering. Nor did they have the elite amenities like mood music selection or chocolate and champagne freebies in the fitting rooms here.

But that day, I was loving... the useful O.C.-ness of the Marshalls fitting rooms.

You know how a lot of fitting rooms don't have enough hooks? Well, this one had a sort of grid-like grill where you could hang so many clothes all over and still see part of the dress so it's easy to choose which one you will try on.

Haha, color-blocking-obsessed much?

Then, once you've tried on your selection, you can hang it on any of these 3 hooks (all inside the fitting room): Is it a DEFINITELY?


Or a NO, but broken down to Marshalls gently?

Isn't it cool that you can organize the clothes you fit then and there? No need to flip through them as you go out of the fitting room to hand the rejects to the attendant!

Plus, here's what greeted me as I walked out of my fitting room stall...

Not a bad deal for your DEFINITELYs and possibly even your POSSIBLYs, right?

Today, I am loving... the organization tools in the Marshalls fitting rooms.

Photos are my own and from here.

Click here for previous posts from the Today, I Am Loving... series.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

vacay high: cherry blossoms park

Over the next few months (too many photos, hard to sift through all!), I will be sharing some highlights of our recent vacation. This is the first of this mini-series: our trip to the Essex County Cherry Blossom Center.

I had never seen cherry blossoms before. My travel buddies and I were planning a trip to Japan 2 years ago but our work skeds conflicted with the uncertain cherry blossoms peak so we didn't get around to going. Little did I know I would witness their beauty during our trip to New Jersey.

Being surrounded by pink foliage was an incredibly pretty sight!

Quite surreal too that they will only be that way for a week or so and we were lucky enough to catch it! They hadn't completely peaked actually. See the buds that have not blossomed?

But it was breathtaking nevertheless.

Isabella gushed at how beautiful they were.

Noah, on the other hand, was busy climbing every single cherry blossom tree in the park.

I love how the branches cascaded downward so we had a lovely fort (which Noah calls a jail, hehe!) under the tree.

Such a pretty canopy, right?

There were also white cherry blossom trees...

... which the kids couldn't resist climbing.

And dark pink ones too.

But I much prefer the light pink ones.

Truly a captivating sight!

Photos are my own.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

10 things my mom taught me

Inspired by one of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo, am sharing with you 10 things I learned from my mom. My mom taught me...

1. To be nice to people who wait on me. She taught me to thank waiters for refilling my water glass in restos, to thank the elevator operator before stepping out and to thank the gasoline boy (with a tip of course) when he puts air in my car's tires. Growing up, I remember being introduced to the janitors and messengers in all the offices my mom has worked in over the years. I guess this is why I also have a special place in my heart for the janitor, mailroom manang, canteen cashier & waiter at my old office. They were in my Christmas list every year and each year, I was extra generous with their gifts - spending more on them (and my favorite guards at Isabella and Noah's schools) than my boss or even my bestfriends at work. I always figured they'd appreciate it more than my friends anyway.

2. To love life's little luxuries like books, a cup of Illy coffee, massages, horses, art (I spent my first big bonus on paintings instead of a purse or watch like most people I know) and dining out in nice places (with good table manners which she taught us too).

3. To take notice of how a person spells his name and spell it correctly in my correspondence with him. I guess because my mom gave me a name that's hard to spell, I am more conscious of others' uniquely-spelled names and nicknames (does it end with a y, ie, i or ee?).

4. That family traditions are important. Ours include annual family vacations (even if you have to save up all year for it), a drive to see the Ayala city lights during the Christmas season and Sundays (as my mom always said, "Sunday is family day"). To this day, the memories of these moments when I was a kid remain so vivid in my head.

5. To believe in myself. She wore (or pretended to wear) her mommy-goggles all the time, showering me with praises and raising my self-esteem. She made me feel I was special, giving me confidence in my strengths & abilities.

6. That packaging makes a world of difference. She would make sure I submitted my home ec projects nicely-packaged -- she suggested I put actual pencils in my capiz pencil holder project or candies in my crocheted pouches, instead of just submitting flat pouches piled on top of each other. I even remember covering up a weaving mistake (a big hole, eeep) in my macrame rug project with a butterfly decoration (those made with stocking material and wire). She might have been the one that taught me to find delight in pretty things!

7. To never tire of playing or being playful, no matter how old you are. When my brother and I were kids, my mom made a sort of tag game out of getting us to drink our vitamins. I love my mom's sense of humor, even her mischievousness. When a noisy kid sitting near us in church suddenly turns quiet, I know pinandilatan siya ng mom ko (that my mom shot her a scary look).

8. To always have savings set aside. She kept all the monetary gifts from various relatives while I was growing up in a bank account and gave it to me when I entered college. I remember thinking it was an exorbitant amount of money for a kid my age. But I guess I felt the sense of responsibility to keep the money intact, not wasted on frivolous teenage whims. I saved a portion of my college allowance and kept that account growing. Eventually, I carried this over when I started working so until now, I make sure there is money set aside for a rainy day. And of course I also save my kids' monetary gifts to also bequeath to them when they go to college.

9. That my dad loves me and that he is a wonderful person. My dad left us when I was 5 years old and we've had no contact with him since then. But my mom made it a point to tell me stories about him and the times he spent with me. Without any trace of bitterness, she also made it a point to tell us good things about him: how he was a fantastic piano player (widow daw) and that he was highly-creative, even invented some sort of engine. So I grew up without any ill feelings toward him and I know in my heart that he loves me.

10. That motherhood is about self-sacrifice and forgiveness. There's this quote from T. Jordan: "A mother is a person who, seeing there are only 4 pieces of pie for 5 people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." This is how my mom is. She puts me and my brother first, sacrificing anything and everything for us. She is why I've always been bothered by those airline safety videos that say you need to put on your oxygen mask before helping your child. I know that's the safer thing to do, but knowing my mom, in an emergency, I am certain she will not do the safer thing. And she is like this even when we do despicable things, ready to forgive and put aside how much we've hurt her in favor of her characteristic concern for and devotion to us.

Mommy, I know I don't say it anymore these days, but you are amazing and I love you very, very much! Happy, happy Mother's Day!

What about you? What did your mom teach you?

Photos from sparklesandpretending, everythingfabannnniegirl, i'mjustsaying and acupofjo.

P.S. No, my mom didn't teach me to wear rollers. I have no idea why I bookmarked so many photos with women with rollers! Oh and yes, that is Jackie O. And no, despite my mom's playfulness, she never spun me around like that, as I posted here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Noah says...

Before sitting down at the dinnertable, I reminded Noah to wash his hands. He did obey me, but after washing his hands, as he sat down, he asked, "Why do I need to wash my hands before I eat with a spoon & fork? My hands won't touch my food naman."

Yet again, he's got a point, right?

Photo from annnniegirl.

Click here for previous posts from the Noah says... series.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Noah says...

This one time we were in Eastwood, Noah decided he wanted to go bowling. We hadn't planned to, so he didn't have socks on. Unfortunately, the Eastwood bowling lanes didn't have any socks for sale that day.

When we broke it to him - that he couldn't go bowling that day, he asked, "Why do I need to wear socks ba?" So we told him that many people use the rental shoes, that their sweaty feet will touch the shoes and that it will be icky if he wore shoes with sweat & stuff. I really thought that would be the end of it, but he persisted, "Eh if everyone wears socks, eh di nothing goes to the shoes." as if to say 'So it's okay for me not to wear socks!'

Once again, he's got a point, right?

Watch out for the next post from this Noah Says... series for yet another valid point from Noah.

Photo from lushlee.

Click here for Noah's previous valid point - the first of this mini-series where Noah makes really valid points. Click here for previous posts from the main Noah Says... series.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

my pretend closet: L&S travel purse

Am still hung-over from our recent trip. And I realized I still haven't found the perfect travel purse. Over the years, I've experimented on my collection of purses - mostly the cross-body ones or the ones with handles long enough to hang from my shoulder. But none of them has proven to be the perfect travel purse. I brought my nylon Prada on our recent trip. It rained a couple of times so I was thankful for its water-resistant material. It was also lightweight and surprisingly roomy, allowing me to stuff 3 sets of hats, gloves & scarves, among my usual purse essentials. But searching for things inside it made me feel like a talent-less magician pulling out the oddest non-rabbit things from his hat. I must have unnecessarily panicked a million times, thinking my sunnies or camera was missing after wading through my bag's contents over and over. I did bring a bag organizer - used it during the flight to hold our passports, e-ticket, boarding passes, etc. But I felt it made my bag overly bulky that I took it out during our daily sight-seeing.

So I was ecstatic when I discovered the multiple compartments of the OG bag by Lo & Sons! It has a compartment for EVERYTHING!

Seriously. It has a padded pocket for a laptop, another padded pocket for a tablet, almost 10 other compartments (some zippered, some open)...

... including a pocket for shoes! Yes, shoes!

You can wear slip-on flats during the flight (so it's  easier to go through the x-ray inspection and more comfortable during the flight) then change into sneakers or oxfords with laces or heels when you land! I can also imagine packing a pair of heels in there while I go out & about during the day's sight-seeing then slip them on for dinner & drinks in the evening.

Watch this video of how you can pack all your carry-on essentials into the Lo & Sons OG bag.   

I also love the idea of the key leash! Is it obvious I dig through my purse often for my keys?

And what makes it the perfect purse for going through airports is its adjustable back panel that allows you to secure the bag over your trolley luggage's handle! 

And yes, its nylon material is water-resistant! No need to worry if it rains or if Shamu splashes water on you with his tail!

And despite the extreme functionality of this bag, it still looks stylish and chic! It isn't shown here but it also comes with a detachable messenger strap which I imagine will look effortlessly chic as the OG hangs from your shoulder and your arms can swing freely as you walk (vs. clipped like the leftmost photo below)

I love that it's a structured bag. Slouchy bags just force you to dig through your purse to find your things (I talked about my Cole Haan crossbody here with several compartments that currently makes it the best-for-travel purse in my non-pretend closet. It is quite slouchy though so I still end up wading through the big compartments.). I also love how the OG's nylon material (and army green color) tone down the structured shape for casual travel days. 

Gosh, I so want to bring the army green one into my non-pretend closet, but sadly, it's still out of stock. The black one is in stock though and I am quite smitten with the lavender lining.

Plus, one of my fave blogs,, is offering a 15% discount code in time for Mother's Day (you just need to have it shipped to a US address)!

But I really looove the army green version with the black leather trim (as you know from here, I am so drawn to this color but would prefer if the lining were pink as I posted here. Admittedly, the camel lining the army green OG actually comes with is pretty too)!

I've decided to sign up for the wait list for the slightly smaller OMG.

After all, I'm pretty tiny (5'1") and the OMG can also pack a whole lot of stuff!

Isn't it the perfect travel purse? 

Sadly, it has to stay in my pretend closet until it comes back in stock. Derek Lo of Lo & Sons did email that they "usually give a discount for those who are patient and wait". So for now, I will be patient and wait... :)

Photos from deliciouslyorganized and lo&sons.

Click here for previous posts from the My Pretend Closet series.   

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Noah says...

I guess because Noah learned in school that Sunday is the start of the week, he had to ask, "Why is Sunday called a weekend? Why not weekstart?"

He's actually got a point, right? 

Watch out for the next few posts from this Noah Says... series - where Noah makes a few more valid points.

Photo from annnniegirl.

Click here for previous posts from the Noah Says... series.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Simple Trick: Traveling with the Fam

We're baaaaccckkk (our dog missed us so much!)! And from our 5-week vacay, I have gained a few tips & tricks for traveling with the family.

1. Before you fly out, make sure you have travel insurance. I got ACE insurance and their family rate is super affordable. Good thing we did coz 1 of our bags was missing when we landed in LA. It took our airline 3 days to deliver the bag. Also, Isabella contracted a severe eye infection that the doctor at the Urgent Care Clinic we went to strongly recommended we bring her to a children's hospital ER. The ER fee alone was over $700! Add to that the cost of antibiotics ($300) and the Urgent Care Clinic's fee ($300)! I also got sick and needed antibiotics so it was really a blessing that we were insured. Just make sure you are O.C. about keeping receipts and other documents to file a claim.

2. Prepare for filling out those Arrival/Departure Cards. Most likely, Mommy will have to fill up the immigration cards for the whole family. Flipping through passports is a hassle (especially for a mommy like me with motion sickness, filling out 4 cards on a tray table of a moving plane). So every time I travel with the fam, I bring my piece of paper with everyone's passport details. Include the passport number, date of issue and expiry (this is tricky coz countries write their dates differently - DDMMYY or MMDDYY, so you need to be alert when filling out this part.), place of issue (mostly Manila, but with the satellite DFAs cropping up these days, you might have an occasional NCR East if you got yours from DFA Megamall) and birthdates (assuming you don't know these by heart). Aside from passport details, I also note down our flight details (dates and flight numbers) and the address of the hotel or house we are staying in at our destination (you also need your PH address, assuming you don't know this by heart). Oh, and of course, bring a pen! If you have travel agency connections, try getting the immigration cards in advance so you don't need to fill them out in the plane or immigration line.

3. Choose the right luggage to bring. You already know from here how I feel about hard-case vs. soft-case top-open luggage (but maybe it's because I don't travel often enough to not need to fill my bags to the brim). You also already know from here that I noticed airport personnel in US domestic terminals are less strict with duffel bags vs. trolleys for carry-on. If you are taking a US domestic flight and are bringing a standard trolley bag as carry-on, make sure you don't fill it to the brim. When asked to check if your bag can fit in the airport's standard steel frame, make sure to slip your trolley in with the back of your bag facing you so it's easier to push the bag towards the back of the steel frame. The front of a trolley bag is typically softer so the front should contract for your trolley to fit into the frame. If your trolley is a standard-sized carry-on, it should fit even if eyeballing the frame makes you doubt it. And if you expect your child to pull one of your trolley bags, make sure you give him the 4-to-6-wheeled one because his shorter height will make it hard for him to lug around a 2-wheeled trolley.

4. Plan your itinerary well. You already know from here that you should avoid planning trips to theme parks during long holidays at your destination. I think Hurricane Sandy took away too many school days so Spring Break was different for every school this year. Thankfully, the crowd was manageable during our recent trip. 

But brace yourself if you're planning to move around a lot like we did: we visited a total of 7 states...

... and slept in a total of 10 houses/hotels. I felt like I was constantly packing (and unpacking) overnight bags for us! So try to make sure you spend more than 1 to 3 nights in every house/hotel. We went back to NYC from New Jersey 3 times in 2 weeks and commuting with a trolley bag wasn't fun at all. Had I planned our IT better, we could have spent one straight week in NYC rather than shuttling back and forth.

5. Organize how you pack your bags. If you're also going on both West and East Coast legs of a US trip, I think it's still a good idea to segregate West-only, East-only and cross-country or East-&-West items, as I posted here. That way, you don't even need to open your East Coast bag in the West, and vice-versa. But I don't recommend combining your family's stuff in 1 bag like I did. I put all our West-Coast only things in one bag. Since our clothes were mixed up in that one bag, I needed to lay out the kids' clothes for the day everyday myself. It wore me out and didn't teach them to be more independent. It would be ideal if each family member had his own 3 bags of East, West and cross-country things. But since airlines typically allow only 2 check-in baggages per person, I suggest putting each family member's say, West-only stuff in a laundry bag (or even plastic/sando bag). This way, the clothes are still segregated per person even if they are together in one luggage. As long as the laundry/plastic bags are tied up, no amount of tossing and shaking will mix up the contents. 

Oh, and here's a list of things that you need to take with you during every leg of your trip (if you're like us who slept in 10 houses/hotels, you need to remember to pack these items at every leg): electronics' chargers, toiletries, slippers and emergency medicines. Click here for more tips on things to pack (including a bag of toys/books to keep your little one occupied in the plane).

Helps to have a small digital weighing scale. I got mine from Rustan's years ago. It's basically a 6in x 2.5in oblong handle with a tiny digital display and a short strap with clasps that go around the handle of your bag. I cannot travel without it!

6. Make copies of essential documents and cards. Thankfully, this didn't happen to us. But it is best to be prepared in case your purse or wallet gets stolen. Best to scan everyone's passports, visas, credit cards and ATM cards before printing. The printed copy should be packed in a separate bag from where the originals are. And on the off-chance that both bags get lost or stolen, you can request someone from home to email the scanned copies to you. So create a shortcut to these soft files on your desktop too before you leave.

7. Decide on your in-flight attire. You have to decide what's more important to you: comfort or minimizing baggage space. You can opt to wear slip-ons (for when you need to take off your shoes at the x-ray area) and comfortable clothes. Or you can choose to wear your bulkiest items - thickest jacket, knee-high boots. It all comes down to what's more important to you.

8. Shop online a week before your trip. If you're with your kids, chances are there will be limited shopping opportunities. So best to shop online and have it shipped to your first address at your destination. When you arrive, fit what you need to fit and schedule a return/exchange for those that don't cut it. The best part is there's a goodie package to greet you when you arrive!

9. When going out and about at your cold destination, bring a giant eco bag in your purse. It comes in handy it gets hot (say, in museums with heaters or at the theme park at noon) because you can dump all your jackets, scarves, hats and gloves in it. That way, you don't need to stuff them in your purse and carry multiple jackets on your arm. I got my giant Pockets eco bag from the St. James Bazaar years ago. It's about 24in x 18in. The first time I saw it, I remember exclaiming, "What would you need such a big bag for?!". The young woman selling it answered, "You'd be surprised!" And she was right! I use it to lug Christmas gifts, to carry shopping loot from a major shopping spree, even groceries and beach toys or winter wear during family trips. I actually used it as a carry-on going home to Manila for my 5 dozens of Porto's cheese rolls and guava & cheese strudels. :)

To be honest, I am still exhausted from our trip... So I hope these tips help minimize the exhaustion and stress during your family vacay! 

Hope all you're left with are the memorable, fun-filled family moments! Enjoy your family vacation!

Photos of the kids at the World War II Memorial in DC (edited via pixlrare my own. The other photos are from acupofjo, imjustsaying and annnniegirl.

Click here for previous posts from the Simple Trick series.

Friday, March 22, 2013

all our bags are packed...

... we're ready to go...

... on our 5-week-long vacation!!!

See you when we get back!

Click here for the down-in-the-dots version of this post.

Monday, March 18, 2013


This is Noah at 1 year and 8 months -- playing soccer on our street.

Yes, I let Noah play on our street. I have always been a believer in the importance of play in a child's development.

Just recently, Noah was playing outside with my niece Makki. When our neighbor Sophie went out to play with them, he came running into the house crying. Turns out, the girls didn't want to play basketball with him and instead, wanted to play badminton. After processing the situation with him - how he wanted to play a game they didn't like and how they wanted to play a game he didn't like, I sent him back out to deal with the problem. He suggested they take turns playing basketball, then badminton (syempre, una pa rin yung gusto niya!). But the girls didn't want to because they said there wouldn't be time to play both games (they only had a few minutes left before dark). So they ended up choosing a game they all wanted to play: this tag game these days called Ice Ice Water.

Aside from the physical skills the active games inevitably taught them, that day's playtime drama taught them essential character-building skills like problem-solving, compromise, conflict-resolution and frustration-tolerance.

It is no wonder then that reputable entities like Johnson & Johnson, Play Pilipinas and DepEd have banded together in the campaign 'Di Lang Laro Ang Laro (Playtime is not just a pasttime), which advocates the importance of 1 hour of daily active play in children's health and holistic development.

I love that this campaign reminds me of what's important. Because with all the academic pressure in schools these days, it's easy for parents to fall into the trap of thinking playtime is just a pasttime.

Even I was guilty of this recently. I was out doing errands and arrived home a couple of hours after Noah got home. I came home to so much homework and very little time to do it. Frustrated, I asked Noah what he did the whole time since he got home. And when Noah said he played outside, I -- the supposed advocate of play -- found myself scolding Noah for playing. Yes, it is easy to dismiss play as just play.

So I am grateful to the Di Lang Laro Ang Laro advocacy of Johnson & Johnson, Play Pilipinas and DepEd. It is important for every parent to be educated that play is as important as everything else on their kid's daily to-do list: Play is just as important as eating, sleeping and studying. So let's all put PLAY on our kids' daily to-do list. Let's include 1 hour of play every day on our children's schedules.

Noah actually put playing with his cousin on his to-do list (I put red checks so you can easily spot this task on his list).

Now, my job is making sure its box gets ticked every day.

'Di Lang Laro Ang Laro. Add 1 hour of play every day on your child's to-do list too!

Photos are my own, from nyctaughtme and courtesy of Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Johnson's Baby Cooling BathJohnson's Baby Prickly Heat Powder, Johnson's Baby Daily Sun Protection Lotion and Johnson's Baby Happy Berries Cologne -- my personal picks to keep Noah cool, refreshed and protected from the discomforts of playing under the sun. With these products, I can make sure Noah can play outdoors at least 1 hour every day without me having to worry about the hot, sticky feeling, prickly heat, sun damage or stinky smell from playing under the sun

Watch out tomorrow for the down-in-the-dots version of this post.