Learning to swim with Speedo


We were invited to the Speedo Swim Squads event last weekend and aside from the beautiful venue at The Palace Downtown Dubai (one of my favorite places in Dubai), I know I needed to take Benjamin there for a more important reason.

The invite says, “bring little ones to join Speedo for a morning of swimming! The engaging and fun filled sessions aim to inspire confidence in the water.”

Now, if there’s one thing I really want my children to be able to do, it’s to be able to swim. Swimming is a life skill. It’s something the child will retain for the entirety of his/her life.

Speedo Swimsquads

Photo credit: Speedo Swim Squads

It’s such a pity that Benjamin’s current school do not have a swimming pool so they don’t have swimming classes. He is very interested but cannot be in the water without floating devices like arm bands. I am very impressed with the qualified and passionate instructors from Speedo Swim Squads who did a very good job in talking to the kids and making them do the basics: making bubbles, kicking in the water, etc. I couldn’t make him do the things they made him to do!

The short session was definitely fun and Benjamin wanted to do more in the end.


Benjamin’s older sister Pristine had swimming lessons at her former school since she was three years old (KG 1) and now, she is like a fish in the water. It’s second nature to her and she doesn’t fear water depth. I love looking at her swim.

I would want my other child to be able to swim too! And I may need to enrol too!

I had my first proper swimming lessons when I was already 18 and while it’s not too late, the short course did not relieve me of my fear of the water and because I am not confident, I wasn’t able to practice more and result, I think I would be helpless in the open sea or in a deep pool. What a shivering thought.

The kids (and parents!) had a really lovely and fun morning at the Speedo event. After the learning session, we had a day at the pool where the kids played and refused to get out till it’s lunch time!



Health, fun, and confidence are not the only reasons why your child should learn to swim. Learning to swim also opens up the door to a range of other activities. For example, your child can do the following sports ONLY IF they can swim: kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving and surfing, just to name a few.

But really the most important reason to learn to swim is that swimming is the only sport that can save your child’s life.

Thanks Speedo for the wonderful event and to The Palace Downtown Dubai for being such lovely hosts (as expected). Great service and food – we were served nibbles and fresh croissants and free flowing coffee!

Check out the Speedo Swim Squads on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram or visit their main website for more details about classes.

Beach time at Ajman


The United Arab Emirates is composed of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah – all of which have coastlines. We’ve been to the beaches of all the Emirates except one, in Ajman. Ajman is the emirate just 30 minutes drive away from where we live so going to a beach in Ajman is actually nearer for us than say to go to the beach in Jumeirah (in Dubai). I’m not really sure why we’ve not been to a beach in Ajman till now.

The husband’s going away for work again and we thought it was a good time to spend a weekend with the kids at the beach. He himself wanted to go so a spontaneous decision lead me to looking for a place to stay in Ajman. It was already Thursday night on a long UAE weekend for Eid Al Adha so all the major hotels in Ajman are either fully booked or with inflated rates. We stayed at the Ajman Beach Hotel, a 3-star property seemingly dwarfed by the huge hotels along Ajman corniche. You could tell that this hotel must be one of the first ones to be built along the corniche before the big wigs like Ajman Palace or Ajman Saray or Fairmont came to be. The hotel is very basic but clean and decent enough.

TIP: If you’re a family of four and keeping budget by choosing only one room, better choose the twin beds rather than the double bed. Otherwise, get another room for the kids. Ajman Beach hotel was great value for money if you only go there for the beach (it’s the same stretch of beach anyway from the nearby big hotels) and not mind the lack of hotel facilities.beach-2

The hotel elevator was very small and the reception was really slow. Ah, I could list so many other inconvenience but it’s just because we’re used to staying in bigger hotels with better services and amenities. But come to think of it, with the price we paid, the hotel wasn’t really bad.

The saving grace of this hotel, though? The lovely private beach, which is the same stretch of beach with powdery, soft white sand and clear waters. When we went to the beach, we completely forgot about the small room or the not-for-the-claustrophobic elevator or the noisy split aircon in the room!



When we arrived just after lunch, it was still so hot (yes even in mid-September when we were there) so we had to wait for a while to go maybe right before sunset. The kids of course, couldn’t wait and though we’re speaking in all the languages we know, they can’t seem to understand when we say, “it’s still too hot!” or “wait till 5 pm”.

Finally, when we went out, the heat was milder. The tide was low so you have to really walk so far out to get in the water.


I must admit, I am not a really big fan of going to the beach. Maybe because with a small kid, it takes a bit of work to prepare the things, the clean up but then when I am there, I realize how stupid that thought is because when I am there, I can get lost in time just lying on the soft sand and listening to the waves. (It helps if someone is there to watch the kids and I can only do this when their father is here so I took this rare opportunity!)

The beach in Ajman was wonderful. We loved that it wasn’t so crowded – actually the morning after, we were the only (crazy) ones to be swimming at 10 am. Look how clean and clear the water is!




The beach was idyllic. The powder-like sand, the warm sea breeze and sea water, the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves were setting the right ambiance for a relaxing family vacation.

However, when we finished swimming, I got the kids to the shower and I was wonder why my husband did not follow. I saw him on the shore picking up snack wrappers, candy wrappers, plastic bags and other objects and other marine debris. I guess they might have floated into the water from the nearby public beach or had been left behind by previous vacationers. 

Did you know that marine debris, especially plastics, is harmful to wildlife and the environment as a whole? Seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles often ingest floating plastic bags and debris with lethal consequences.

So, next time you go to the beach or park, please pick up after yourself. Don’t leave trash behind. The trash on the beach/shore was an insult to the lovely, pristine beach – something we all would like to preserve for our kids and the generations and generations after that, right?

What happened to kindergarten?


I was talking to my friend this morning who wanted another baby. She has one who just turned five years old so at this point in her life, everything is fine and dandy. Most of the time, at least. The thing is, though she really wants to have another baby, there’s this pressing thought at the back of her mind how tough it must be to start from zero again. (I started from zero again after 8 years so yes, I can validate her concerns.)

The things you have to go through again: pregnancy, possible morning sickness, the destruction of a million body tissues during child birth, the recovery afterwards (and if her luck is fucked like mine ending in emergency c-section…sorry)…those sleepless nights, the crying without reason spells (possibly colic so look it up), breastfeeding, weaning, toilet training, yada, yada, yada.

The list is long and to be honest, could be an effective birth control.

But in spite of it all, that newborn smell and that total baby MAGIC. That small being empowering you, making you think you’re a superwoman and can do it all. Can do it all over again.

I am writing this in tears.

My five year old son started kindergarten this month. Gone are the days at preschool when they would just sing Five Little Ducks and If you’re happy and you know it day in and day out. He is five years old –  far from being an infant so we have gone through the colicky stage, the fight to win my breasts back, the toilet training madness but the wonder of this thing called “parenting” is that it’s like you’re visiting an unknown town without a proper map.

Somehow you’re confident you’re going to be ok but the moment you think you’re going in the right direction, there is a surprise at a random corner. ALWAYS.

I’ve been through this once a little long time ago and boy, I can’t remember if it was this dramatic. Most probably it was but it’s just too long ago to remember. You know how they say anesthesia f*cks with your brain.

I just spent almost an hour helping Benjamin with his homework. RIGHT. Homework for kindergarten. Is that even a thing nowadays? Well, it seems so! Today his carer said Benjamin refused to do his homework: lower case letters a-z. If I am five years old, I would be ballistic too. Can you introduce me to a five year old who is maniacal obsessive about doing homework every night? If that’s your child, I would hate you. Sigh. No, I am joking. You tell me how it is done before I lose my mind. And you have to tell me real quick because I am on the verge of losing it.

And how many times was I on the verge of “losing it” in this 13 year parenting journey? Probably too much and too pathetic to count but that doesn’t mean I am immune to the feeling of failure, of being not good parent enough.

Benjamin is picked up by the school bus at 10:30 for his 11:30 class and then comes home at 4:30 in the afternoon. After what seems to be already a long day in the world of five year olds, there is a homework that needs to be done. When we’re supposed to read books or learn a new song or do silly stuffs that are fun stuffs, we sit down and do the darn homework..while he is already tired and surely running out of batteries.

My five year old son is struggling to write the alphabet.

“Benjamin needs to practice more. He cannot do it at school without the teacher’s help.” resonates inside my head over and over at work earlier this morning but I shrugged it off, telling myself,

He’s gonna be ok. He can’t go on like this – unable to write simple small letters! One fine day, he will get it. He will be able to write! I will not stress about it!

Well, boo hoo. I stressed about it. Heavily. I look at Benjamin’s older sister, my 13 year old daughter and I think: how did she survive this stage? What did I do before? Are girls really easier and more advanced than boys?

Now Benjamin is sleeping. He showed full force of resilience towards my nagging, didn’t say anything and just continued to do what he’s supposed to do, to complete his work so he could sleep but then when we finished, he had a very emotional outburst like his pet cat died or something. I bet he’s putting me in the list of his top most hated person in the world because as his mother, I wasn’t nice. I wasn’t patient. And he is not used to seeing me get angry.

I feel bad that I can’t help him help himself. I feel bad that I can’t help myself. When you’re a working mom, the last thing you would want your day to end is your kids resenting you.

(This is why from early on, I already know deep in my heart I could never become a teacher or I’ll probably end up in jail.)


While alone in the living room contemplating on what just happened (me losing it, forcing my son to write, and to be brutally honest – screaming…what a shame) I am recognizing there’s a problem with me and then there could be a problem with my son. And then most importantly, THERE COULD BE A PROBLEM WITH THE CURRENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM.

HEAR ME OUT – don’t you feel that the kindergarten now is what 1st grade used to be? Therefore, if your child comes to school not knowing his letters he or she will be behind and not do well in school. The expectations for a child in kindergarten and every other grade has dramatically increased. Teachers have no choice on what to teach – they are told the expectations the children in their classes must meet whether we agree they are developmentally appropriate or not!!

And what choice do we really have, as parents, presented with a child’s homework that needs to be done no matter what the cost?

When I was 5, I played, had fun, and learned age-appropriate things. Heck, I did not even attend kindergarten! Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. Now, the kindergartners in most schools  are mastering things that I did not even learn until higher grades.

By the end of kindergarten, they are expected to learn how to read, to analyze shapes, to compose writing prompts and much, much more. The expectations of kindergartners are getting much too high that it’s become stressful and unrealistic.

When I look at my son now, with excessive amount of homework every night, I am terribly envious of the joyful, illiterate kindergartners of Finland.

And I bet there are no mothers there going mad and crying while writing blogs like this, you know?

Staying home for Eid Al Adha 2016


Hello. Do you have friends in the UAE on Facebook posting their out of town trips lately? I’m seeing a lot of people on my timeline either in Barcelona, somewhere in Europe, New York or Maldives. Or even to the mountains of Hatta and the beaches of Jumeirah. There’s no traffic on the roads which means most have left town? It’s a very long weekend here in the UAE – 5 days for most and most are making the most out of it.


You never thought you’d read the word ‘most’ in one sentence, did you?

As of me and my family, we’re just staying home, to be with each other’s company, to sort out things in our luggages, take out clothes from the kids’ closet that the kids have outgrown and for me, personally, to recover from travel fatigue.

Travel can be fun, you all know how I love it but we can’t deny that it can be exhausting too. This time, I overdosed on plane rides, eleven flights in 60 days. The most I did in that span of time, so far in my life. Then I had to go back to work a few weeks in between, reporting only a few hours after landing.

Heard of that cliche, “you need a vacation after a vacation”? That my friends, is true.


The thing is – I got back from picking up the kids in the Philippines where they spent a very memorable and life changing summer vacation. Life changing because, being without any of your parents for five weeks is a big deal when you’re 12 and 4 right? Fortunately, they were with their wonderful grandparents who allows them to play in the rain whenever they get the chance so it was a fun vacation after all. We all know it almost rains everyday in that side of the world on July and August so that’s a lot of play time.


So these past 4 days or so, I had plans to blog a lot but instead, I spent so many hours in bed, catching up on sleep. Now’s probably the least exciting short vacation we had ever but when you live in a place you call your second home for almost ten years (and has seen almost everything outside), staying inside is actually a delicious luxury, too.

I actually just woken up from a nap. Ah, a good rest is one of life’s best, best things.

Do you live in the UAE? How did you spend the long weekend?

What I learned from living alone again after 13 years


I think there are two types of people: one who loves being in the constant company of people and people who find solitude when alone. The alone but never lonely kind of people. As weird as it sounds, they do exist.

Recently, I lived alone in our two bedroom apartment in Dubai for a few weeks – the husband was away for work and the kids were at my parents’ house in the Philippines to spend the rest of their summer vacation. It’s a little lonely without the little humans in our home but I know they are better off there than be cooped up indoors here in Dubai because outside is hotter than hell.

Anyway, the last time I lived alone was in 2003, when I was single and working in Japan. To say that I’ve forgotten how to live alone would be an understatement. It’s only a few weeks, but here are some things I’ve realized from living alone again, after a long time:

1. You will find out if you are an introvert or an extrovert.

As if I needed further confirmation aside from getting an INFJ personality as a result of my Briggs Myers personality test, living alone made me realize how I can be alone at home and not feel lonely. Ok, at times I do get lonely but not dying of loneliness kind of lonely.

Maybe it’s the thought that I know this is only temporary or the fact that my life had been non-stop crazy chaotic since getting married and having a baby thirteen years ago that I find this little break kind of invigorating. I go to work, go home and on weekends, I only go out when most required (when I run out of food!). The weekend would pass where I don’t see a soul but I’ve never felt more refreshed.

P.S. I can’t believe I am totally ok with just staying at home sitting on long stretches of time writing blog posts like this. Pajamas all day. Boom.

2. More time but it doesn’t necessarily equate to doing more things

When I thought living alone without my husband and kids would give me more time to do the things I wish I had more time for, like blogging, reading or redecorating, the joke’s on me.

True, I’ve done this before, living in Japan for 7 years alone but I’ve forgotten how it is to be the captain of your ship without any crew – from doing the laundry, to cooking, to washing dishes, ironing and all the other chores. By the time I am done with everything after work, including taking out the trash at night, it’s already 9:30 pm and I don’t have any more energy left.

And when I finally find a chunk of time, I sometimes fall into the deep , bottomless abyss called the internet.

3. Preparing a meal for one is more difficult

I first knew the struggle of cooking for one when I arrived in Japan in 1996 and lived in a dormitory inside the school having my own room. Prior to that, I used to cook for 8 back home. I’ve almost forgotten that struggle till late when I had to do it again.

I end up eating the same type of dish for days…

4. Routines sometimes fly out the window

When the kids were here, we aim to follow certain routines, most importantly fixed times for eating meals and sleeping. We aim to be in bed by 8:30 pm during school/work days and we have been following that with great success.

Being alone makes you do anything you please and that could mean irregular meal times, skipping main meals because you have stuffed yourself on Doritos (I want to convince myself this is just PMS), watching reruns of a favorite old tv series, overdosing on social media and doing all kinds of distractions known to man.

Long story short, I can therefore conclude that the study saying married people live longer than single people could be true.

Unless the marriage is unhealthy, unhappy, and it contributes significantly to stress, emotional strain…then that can be lethal to your health and emotional well-being and you’re well off staying single.

For me though, I personally think, I’d live longer with my family around.

5. THIS: The constant fear of something or someone in your house is sometimes irrational and dramatic, but so real.

Every break in the steady silence, the slightest creak and squeak makes you imagine a thousand and one possibilities of what it really is. Once I heard something fall in the kitchen but I never bothered to check what it is. When I woke up the next morning, there was nothing on the kitchen floor…

It’s also frightening to look up at the mirror after rinsing the foam out of my face when washing. My eyes are closed till I grab the towel and turn my back from the mirror and run back towards the other room!

BONUS: Your smartphone can become your room mate. And it’s not good or healthy.

Whenever I can’t sleep or get up in the middle of the night, I just stay in bed and reach for my smartphone to scroll through social feeds, send messages to sleeping people living on the other side of the globe, read news and self-help articles to soothe me back to sleep (who am I kidding??). Before I knew it, I had blown hours of “alone time” and the sun is already peeking through the curtain. Then I’d feel guilty being too connected to the screen and completely disconnected with myself.

Morning comes and I’d murmur,

Way to go, self. Another groggy time in the office today.

So, enough about me and my realizations on living alone. How about you? Are you living alone? If not, when was the last time you lived alone?

Top photo for illustration purposes only, taken from Google images. That’s not me or my house.

Something’s new around here

Alona beach Bohol

Hello, from paradise…is what I should have written and published on this blog a couple of weeks ago. The kids and I were off to the Philippines again for my annual holiday. School is off too, till the end of August.

As much as I wanted to blog about our adventures in the Philippines, my time was very limited so I spent more of it offline although I occasionally updated my social media channels. Our homecoming was perfect timing to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary on the day of my father’s 67th birthday! I took them to Bohol island (where that top photo was taken)! My parents have been to other countries but have not gone around much of their own country. It popped in my mind – their milestone wedding anniversary and my father’s birthday would be the best reason to take them to travel! It wasn’t easy convincing them to take an overnight ferry to Bohol island in July, Philippines’ monsoon season but I assured them, the heavy rains would only come after July 20, when we get back. They finally budged (though I bet my mom’s hands were shaking as she holds the ferry ticket on her hands LOL)

Wait, have you noticed? My blog’s got a new design and it feels so good like I’ve changed clothes after a long, tiring day or week! If you clicked this single blog post, you’ll see that I have opted for a single width design because I wanted my pics large. The colors are still the same from the old one. I kind of like it (except I know I could work on that too minimalist a header).

So, I’ll be writing a travel guide to Bohol, our tours to this wonderful island and the great resort we stayed soon.In the meantime, take a look around at the new design. You’ll notice that the main difference is the home page. I wanted a front door to my blog, just because 🙂

Surviving Cebu Pacific: Philippines’ budget airline

Cebu Pacific

I just got back from a 9 hour flight using Cebu Pacific’s international flight from Manila to Dubai. I’ve heard horror stories from scorned customers and terrible reviews but while searching for options for my route, the inarguably cheaper fare always come back to me like an annoying pop-up ad.

It’s my first time using this airline for international travel (I have used them for travel within the Philippines as they’re so much cheaper than the national carrier – Philippine Airlines) so I intended to prepare for the discomforts and told myself that the most important thing is to arrive alive, I could do the other small sacrifices.

Budget airlines are like simple, basic vehicles that take you from Point A to Point B and nothing else.

There are things you need to know and prepare for before your flight to be able to at least curse less when you arrive at your destination. Here are some important things you need to know that’s not included in the basic fare and the workaround to it:


Basic fare in most if not all budget airlines only has one hand carry as baggage allowance included. Cebu Pacific Airlines only allows 7 kilos for one hand carry. If you’re flying a budget airline to save on cost, skip the checked bag. If you absolutely need to check your luggage, be sure to pay for it at the time of booking or buy before checking in.

Survival tip:

  • Pre-plan your baggage and stick to what you purchased online. Budget airline policies on baggage allowance is very strict and they charge $$$ at the airport upon check in. 
  • Stick to the ONE hand carry only policy. A purse, a backpack, a laptop bag, a shopping bag, a fanny pack – each of these is considered one bag.
  • Crazy tip or not (!): Wear as much clothing when travelling as possible. Wearing three shirts, two jackets, two scarves and heaviest foot wear may sound like a lot, but I bet, it is better than paying that additional money for an over-sized or overweight bag. It’s cold inside the plane so it can help warm you up too!


Meals, snacks and refreshments on board? Forget it. Cebu Pacific flight attendants sell hot meals on board, with a hefty price! I was shocked that the meal set was priced at PHP500 (US$11)

Survival tip:

  • Bring your own food, (you’d probably like them more than the ones offered on the flight anyway) and an empty water bottle you can fill up before boarding. Nothing worse than being hungry or thirsty while on a flight and hating yourself for buying expensive food on board!


Ok – this really caught me by surprise! I always bring a light jacket (sweater or cardigan) and a scarf/shawl whenever I travel so I was better off than the other passengers who wore t-shirts during the flight.

However, the fact that blankets were not free caught me off guard. Even with a light jacket, I still need a blanket, dammit! The flight attendants were walking back and forth the aisle ‘peddling’ stuffs from meals, snacks, drinks to blankets!

Survival tip:

  • Bring your own blanket, if you feel you need it. I do. Or do survival tip on item #1 – wear plenty of clothing!
  • Bring other material to help you sleep a little better too like neck pillows, eye mask, etc.


Choosing a seat on a Cebu Pacific flight comes with a price. The seats are also smaller. I was sandwiched between two big, burly men on my flight

Survival tip:

  • When all the passengers have boarded, be on the lookout of vacant seats around and transfer! (I was lucky there were empty seats so I was able to claim a better space)


If you have not flown any budget airlines in the past, you must have heard from the people who have been in it or read from their website if you opened your eyes wide enough to see it or if these airlines even mentions this crucial information that there will be no screens in front of you.

I am here to tell you that the rumors are true -in-flight entertainment in budget airlines is non-existent (I’ve been to only two so far: Ryan Air and Cebu Pacific). So better find something to kill the time during your flight!

Survival tip:

  • Obviously, bring something to kill time: books to read, a device loaded with movies if you’re that type of person who really likes watching movies on the plane (I’m not – I read a book and used my Moleskine note and pen to write things. In fact, I drafter this blog post by hand during my flight!)

The experience on low-cost carriers is vastly different from what you find on other airlines, and passengers who are caught by surprise are generally the ones who end up paying the most so I hope these survival tips can help you in some way.

Would I use this budget airline again? To be honest, as much as possible, NO. This time, I was travelling alone so I wasn’t too worried. But I would never fly with this airline if I’m travelling with my children. The discomfort is not worth it (I can’t imagine during peak season when the plane is full).

What are your favorite tips for surviving a budget flight? Share in the comments below!

A little change around here

comfort zone post

I woke up very early on a weekend, as I always do and realized, it’s been six weeks. Six weeks since I’ve been sleeping with my two precious children. Just the three of us in one bed. We’re not neatly lined up like in the picture all the time, sometimes, I’m in the middle and sometimes there’s a feet on my face.


It’s been quite a while since I stopped writing something personal too, which is fine but I find that the more I let days pass without writing on this blog, the more it makes me guilty and because I am not feeling good, I lost my writing mojo. It’s an evil cycle.

The truth is, I was avoiding to write something.

It’s been six weeks that I’ve been single parenting. The days had been hectic, long and quick at the same time that it doesn’t feel it’s been six weeks. When my husband announced his new work would require us to be geographically apart and we would only be together every three months, it wasn’t a big deal. Three months is short, right? I didn’t give it a second thought and we both agreed we could work on it. I am sure I can manage running the household (with the help of our very trusted house help who lives with us), working and spending time with the children, as a single parent.

But days after he left, it finally sunk in. There are so many things that he did that I needed to take over. A lot of “behind the scenes” work that needed to be done. There was budgeting, which he has done in all the 13 years we’re married and living together. There’s car maintenance work, accompanying me grocery shopping, government matters (visa applications when required since this is not our own country), bank matters and DRIVING, among other things.

Couples – each of us has strengths and weaknesses and only when we fill in what we lack in each other can a marriage work. My husband is not topnotch with kids, I do my part in that department but still, I am not perfect which means in single parenting, there is no one to pass the baton to when I’m having a bad parenting moment. I am not good at driving around or accounting or numbers, forecasting, budgeting, staying late at night to do things so he fills that in for me. And somehow, our household function like clock work day in and day out with this setup. I won’t say every day is perfect but we have lasted 13 years together without killing each other. 

This is getting personal…so what prompted me to gather the courage to write this post I initially didn’t want to write?

Today I went out to drive to the Dubai Central Post Office in Karama. In my almost 10 years in the UAE, this was the first time and (expectedly), I got lost – even with Google Maps voice instruction. I was stuck in the car at Sheikh Zayed Road trying to find a way back with (hungry) speeding drivers around me who were rushing home to end their Ramadan fast.

(Please don’t ask me how I ended up in Sheikh Zayed Road when I should be in Karama – I am very capable of getting ridiculously lost).

In the end, I managed to get back home in one piece. I did not attempt to go to the post office however, as it will be already closed anyway at the rate of the traffic. It’s moments like this that make me hate about my incompetence at driving and my dependence on my husband to drive me around past Maktoum bridge (around Deira side of Dubai, I am confident to drive, no probs).

I’m often expected to be superwoman when the other parent is not involved. After spending the day working full time, and then being on Mommy duty at home, I feel challenged, tired and sometimes scared, I swallow the lump on my throat and laugh at myself. So many wives do this everyday.”Get over it, self!”

Does it get easier with time? Can we skip the scary and overwhelming part to the part where I could do everything confidently and in auto-pilot? Right now, I could say I am doing well (so far) but still the unknown scares me.

I have faced so many unknowns in the past that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Flying to Japan alone and not knowing the language at 19 was scary but it allowed me to grow, to discover I can do things on my own. But this time, I am not on my own and two little lives depend on me – suddenly I found renewed appreciation to single moms and parents who do it without the other for long stretches of time.

I’m going to try to drive to Karama again on Sunday when the post office is open again. If there’s anything I learned in this past six weeks, it’s that, pushing yourself out of the comfort zone is the only way towards growth.

I am prepared to grow.

It’s been a while

Benjamin bubble

I drifted from blogging for a while. And if you may have noticed, on social media lately too (though I am still posting on Instagram but not Snapchatting, tweeting or updating my personal Facebook). 

But these past days or weeks have not been idle. I’m still working full time, taking care of the kids at home, writing on my Moleskine planner using a pen in my hand. Making travel plans and actually went off for a quick and short travel. That was therapeutic. We’re also having some life changes that requires me to focus on more urgent and important things that blogging has to take a back seat. It took some time to stabilize and adjust to the new routine.

Biggest part of my absence is that…I’ve not been well.

The status of my health had been a roller coaster ride and I didn’t write about it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested to know anyway (except my mother). I’m writing it now to justify my absence (a little!). I’ve been almost completely bedridden for a week due to pain in my hips and outer thighs that run through all of my left leg. I couldn’t walk. Do you know how scary it is to think, “what if I wouldn’t be able to walk again?” I’ve been crying a lot and pain is only the secondary reason. I could not accept the thought of not being able to walk again. 

I am better now and finally know the root and cause of the on and off lower back pain, piriformis syndrome and sciatica for this past, maybe 12 months. I used to just treat it myself by resting or doing some stretches but this recent one literally stopped me in my tracks because I couldn’t even get up from bed anymore or walk, or sit on the toilet without wincing in a type of pain that could knock out senses. I have finally undergone all the required tests and got the diagnosis and being treated for it. I have lumbar herniated disc – a part of the disc between the vertebrae protruding out and pressing on a nerve causing pain and numbness. I’ll be in therapy.

Anyway, I mentioned travel. I did get away for a while with the kids and my sister to Prague. It’s probably my favorite city right now though that’s where my injury worsened. It’s the first time I brought my 4.5 year old son Benjamin to Europe and while he was such a trooper, he still naps and wouldn’t care where we were. If he sleeps, then I have to carry all 16 kilos of him, which was no big deal – except that I had to carry him while climbing 208 steps up to the Prague Castle.

Ben at Prague castle

I’m not going to linger on that mistake I made – I could not let Benjamin NOT see the view from the top. We had a great time and I can’t wait to share our stories while there. For now, I just want to say hello – I am still here. Hope everything is well with all of you.

7 Reasons Why I Love Traveling with my daughter

travelling with Pristine

I’ve written about it before, having children did not stop me from wanting to travel. The time I told my husband I’m going to visit my parents in the Philippines (we were living in Japan that time) bringing a barely year old baby, he thought I was crazy and was only asking for unnecessary extra challenge in my life since he will not be there to support me (because of yeah, work commitments). My friends thought it was not time to travel yet, the baby won’t remember it anyway so could be a waste but I still believe that traveling with small kids is still worth it.

My daughter Pristine first traveled with me while she was still on the boob. It could sound horrifying to other moms but really, traveling with a baby is easier than traveling with a toddler. The toddler could run and you need to do some chasing or invest in a safety harness leash (gasp) but a baby is safely tucked with you. When a toddler is hungry, you need to find an available cafe/eatery. A (breastfed) baby has access to food 24/7 – mommy mobile cafeteria for the win!

The moment my baby was ready to fly and we were able to do so financially and physically, I brought her along and years after that hoping that by exposing her to these amazing experiences she’d love traveling as much as I do, and by her early teens we could go off and have some real adventures.

I did not have to wait till she is in her teens. Last year before she turned 12, we were off to Prague together, alone for the first time.

Traveling – we know it could make or break relationships. I didn’t know what to expect traveling with her and I lowered my expectations because after all, she is just a child. What if we she/we both hated it and it would be the first and last? Thankfully, long story short, we did ok!

And here are 7 reasons why I loved traveling with her and look forward to more.

1. She is already self-sufficient and I don’t need to wipe her butt.

travelling with Pristine 2

She was a few weeks shy of turning 12 when we first traveled alone together a few months ago. She can pack her own things, take care of herself, and because she’s past the toddler stage, I don’t have to worry about diapers (no more butt wiping, yay!), milk bottles, breastfeeding in public, look for baby friendly restaurants and most importantly, I don’t have to carry her around when she’s tired or sleepy.

2. She is eager to learn and learns fast.

at metro

I encourage her to read subway and metro maps and show her how to buy tickets using foreign currency. She quickly picks it up and immediately wants to try to do it by herself. She even lets me sleep on the train while she looks out if it’s already our stop.

And with that confidence, I feel that travel also makes her a little (street) smarter.

lead the way 2

I don’t want a child who is too much into books (there’s nothing wrong with that) alone and don’t know how to survive in the streets when the situation calls for. I want my child/children to be street smart. To be able to stroll in a new city and not become a victim of pickpocket,etc. To be able to navigate a new city using maps, common sense and most especially, guts.

3. She sees things with fresh eyes.

in Kolin 3

In the eyes of a child, everything is new. They look at things knowing they will find something new and different every time they look. Looking at her reminds me to become more like a child at times, no matter how old I become.

4. She’s always curious.

at theh top of Prague Castle

Pristine had been my little inquisitor way back then.She can ask a million questions. You think she’s through and then she’s got another million. I admit, I sometimes get tired listening to her seemingly endless banter when my brains turn into mental mush at the end of a long day but I know I should be thankful, she opens up with me, is honest and don’t keep things to herself only.

guided tour

She asked a lot of questions when we were in Prague. I readied myself for answers.

5. She’s genuinely happy to go to new places.

jump 2

jump 1

I’ll let the photos do the talking!

6. Someone is available to take photos of me!

grace 2

I don’t have to pull out a selfie stick (I don’t have any yet) or ask strangers to take photos of me when I’m with her. She’s more than eager to take photos of me, including those I am clueless about.

grace 1

7. Someone is there to comfort me.


Pristine’s empathy and concern for me is unbelievable. She is that person who can laugh when I laugh and cry when I cry. When I made several epic fails even before our plane took off from Dubai, she comforted me in ways I couldn’t imagine a 12 year old would do to an adult. Here’s a thing about Pristine, if you’re sad, she will do anything in her power to lift you up. Your problems are her problems.

Also? She calms me when I freak out during turbulence.

Confession: I love to travel but still have fear of flying.

Travelling in a group can be fun and solo travel can be one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences to have. But sometimes it’s also good to travel is just with one other person. But finding a travel buddy who’s compatible with you can be difficult. I’m glad I found mine in my daughter.

p and me 1

All the time we were in Prague, I dragged her everywhere and she did not complain except for one thing – her shoes were not keeping up with all the walking on our last day. Not her fault. Her mother was not wise enough to invest in good shoes (boo).

Note to moms: don’t buy cheap kids boots from Carrefour, LOL.

in Kolin 2

If there’s one thing I am thankful for, for having a baby at 27, it is being able to enjoy having a travel buddy before 40 when my knees are still young and strong enough to explore the world. And my travel buddy doesn’t complain with all the walking we do!

Do you have a favorite travel buddy? Tell me more about him/her in the comments!