Thursday, January 31, 2013

Preparing for a Trip

My role as a mom is always a bit more real when we travel. I'm the one who needs to make sure we bring enough/the right clothes. I'm the one who needs to make sure we have all the necessities on hand. I'm the one in charge of the travel documents. I'm the one who needs to foresee whatever we may need for the duration of the trip. I'm the one who needs to have everything prepared. I'm the one who stays up late to make sure everything is packed and nothing is left behind. I'm the one who gets stressed! Local trips are easy enough but international travel is always more difficult and requires a lot more preparation on my part.

My first concern (and one that takes me days/weeks of preparation time) is clothing. I make sure the clothes we have are appropriate for the weather and for the activities that we will be doing. It doesn't help that I'm a bit neurotic when it comes to clothing. I have to know exactly what each of us (well, me and the girls. Jojo is in charge of his own clothes) will be wearing so I plan them days/weeks in advance. I write them down and list all items for each outfit (including accessories, bibs, face towels, socks, shoes) so when it is time to pack, I won't forget anything. I plan and bring 2 sets of clothes per day for Ally and Sofia. As for me, I bring one set per day plus an extra set just in case.

Another big concern is medication. I have to bring paracetamol and colds medicine as a precaution in case anyone gets sick during the trip. I also bring band aids, anti-mosquito patches and/or lotion and lip balm. I bring our usual daily vitamins and extra meds for Jojo's allergies. He is in charge of his inhaler for his asthma, but I still remind him the day before our trip, just in case. Then I put all our meds in a clear container so I can put them in my carry-on luggage (I never check in our medicines, unlike a certain local celebrity who made such a big fuss because her kid's medication was in her luggage which the airlines off-loaded, ayayay!).

Another concern I have when traveling is the children having problems adjusting to a place or whether they get bored or unruly. Which is why I bring a bag of activities and toys for their entertainment. I try to bring those that have maximum impact that would entertain the kids longer.

I am also in charge of our cameras, the iPad and our phone chargers. I make sure there is sufficient memory space in the cameras and that all our stuff are fully charged for our travel. And I have to make sure that we get good photos of our trip. This is where Jojo and I have different opinions - he is all for living and enjoying the moment and documenting becomes an afterthought; I need to take a photo and document each little event of our journey. Whatevs.

And I handle all our travel documents - the tickets, passports, hotel reservations, even our international health cards. I put them all in a small case and arrange them in order of usage. I also put a ballpen inside as well as the emergency contact numbers of the hotel and/or tour operator.

Aside from all these, I also make a rough itinerary of what we will be doing for the duration of the trip. I research interesting activities/places, how to get there, how much it will cost, etc. I try to plan a balance of activities that the whole family would love, which means kid-friendly places for Ally and Sofia, good restos for Jojo and shopping areas for me. It can be a challenge to get a good balance, I tell you. And of course, even the most well-planned trips experience hiccups and unexpected detours, so I make contingency plans, too. I try to make the plans as flexible as possible, but I also make some activities/places more important than the others.

And then, when all are packed and we are on our way, I get so stressed worrying about what I might have forgotten or missed out. Seriously, I have so much to think about while preparing for a vacation that it somehow lessens my excitement for the trip. But when our trip goes smoothly and hassle-free, I get an extra sense of accomplishment, as if I'd accomplish something majorly huge.

How about you? How do you prepare for your family's vacations?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I'm still in the process of organizing our vacation photos. In the meantime, here's a photo taken last Thursday. Can you guess where we went?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I'm back (literally at the airport now)! :)

Writing a quick post to apologize for not informing you that I'd be on a short vacation with my husband and kids, which explains somewhat the lack of updates the past week. I made a conscious effort to remove all distractions (mobile phone turned off, minimal Internet usage) so I can really focus on enjoying our vacation and bonding with the kids. And I almost never broadcast on FB or Twitter that we'd be away when we do go away. I've watched too many episodes of CSI and Criminal Minds to know that that can pose a security risk for evil-minded people.

Anyway, I just wanted you guys to know that I will be back to regular programming tomorrow. Got lots of kwentos for you all.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Favorite Words

A DJ in the late afternoon show at RX 93.1 used one of my favorite words on air this afternoon - plethora. So aliw! hardly ever read it let alone hear it in a conversation so it being used on air was pretty awesome.

I don't know why I like the word. I just find it so interesting and lyrical. Aside from plethora, my other favorite words are perchance, fathom, bedlam, zenith, obscure, obtuse, kindred, kismet, abysmal, effervescent, menagerie, pompous, quintessential, soliloquy, ubiquitous, doppelgänger and ambidextrous. Ang dami pala! There is no rhyme or reason for these; I just like hearing/reading them.

I think I know what you are thinking right now. This blogger is seriously weird!

You're right.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Birthday 2013

The celebration started on the eve of my birthday, with me treating my parents, siblings and Mamang to dinner at one of my go-to restos, Rub. We usually dine out on the actual birthday but because Rub doesn't accept reservations on Fridays (and I do not want to take a chance and just walk in), we chose to move the dinner to Jan 3. And good thing I made a reservation, there was a queue when we arrived! And the place was packed, which actually surprised me since it was a Thursday.

I really made sure to have my birthday dinner at Rub because I love their food and I wanted to share my discovery with my family. I actually found out about Rub through Patty Laurel's blog ( If you love the ribs at Rack's, you'll love Rub. They serve yummy and tender ribs with Wendy's-like iced tea. Their prices are cheaper than Rack's too. A slab of ribs good for 2-3 pax is under Php400 and that already includes 3 side dishes. Such a great deal! My one beef with Rub is that they don't have hot and spicy sauce for the ribs; they only have Tabasco, which I don't care much for. 
Top (L-R): shrimps, baked mussels
Bottom: Family-sized ribs with side dishes
For my birthday dinner, we ordered and feasted on ribs, baked mussels, lemon salad, gambas-like shrimps , and side dishes of corn, mashed potatoes, and garlic spinach and had several pitchers of iced tea. Super busog! And what was the damage? Under Php3000 for 8 adults and 1 toddler! Well, Php3400 actually but we had 3 senior citizen card holders in our group so it came out to Php2900. Not bad, right?
Rub's walls were decorated with inspirational posters like these
I love my family!
Anyway, since everyone was so full, nobody wanted dessert or even milk tea from Serenitea next door. Such killjoys! But Ally and I didn't want to end the night just yet so we went and had dessert and coffee at McDonald's before going home. The sugar and caffeine helped a lot in keeping us all up for my birthday salubong so I was able to start my day with lots of kisses and hugs! Plus, my super sweet Ally made me a virtual cake on her iPad. It was her own idea and it was the sweetest and best surprise ever!

I'm lovin' it!
Ally's mini pictorial at McDo
Ally and my virtual cake! So adorable! 
As you probably know, I spent practically the entire morning of my birthday at LTO in SM City renewing my driver's license. It was such a bummer! I was there as soon as the drug testing site opened at 830am, but I was only called for urine sampling shortly before 1030am. Crazy! I guess it was because those who work there were still in holiday mode. They came in late and were so sluggish! It didn't help that there were so many people too. Thankfully, I got my license just before the LTO took their lunch break. Whew!

The rest of the day went smoothly, with a nice merienda visit by my mom and brother, mass at UP and a quiet dinner at home.

Normally, I'd be a bit sad that my day was so unspectacular, but the good thing about my birthday falling on a Friday was that I got to extend the celebration over the weekend! Woohoo! We continued to celebrate my birthday on the 5th with a yummy lunch at Lugang Cafe at SM City and then a bit of shopping at Eastwood Mall. The lunch at Lugang Cafe was necesary because our gift certificate there was expiring on the 7th. We got it from my sister who had quite a few extras from when she held Lila's baptism at the Wilson branch back in January 2012. Shopping was at Eastwood Mall because the shirt I want from Regatta was unavailable in the SM branch but available in Eastwood.

Anyway, I am not a big fan of Chinese food, but it was clear to me that Lugang was a cut above the rest. Their service was amazing. As soon as they saw me with Ally and Sofia, the waiters rushed to change two of the seats to high chairs. And they had the kids's tableware set even before we got to settle into our seats. Galing diba? And I really like that the table had bag hooks already. Such a great idea! The food was good too. We ordered chicken with scallions, xiao long bao, wanton noodle soup and steamed clams with  silk melon. Ally and I shared a glass of their strawberry yoghurt shake, which was so yummy. If I need to nitpick, I'd say that their food is a tad more expensive given the serving portion but the service made up for it. Our bill was over Php1500, in case you're wondering.
All restaurants should have this!
Purple Ikea plastic utensils for Princess Ally 
Sofia loved her yellow plastic "toys"
Ally loved the clams!
Happy birthday to me!
After lunch and a short look-see at Uniqlo and Forever 21 (nothing interesting to buy, boo-hoo!), we went to Eastwood Mall to buy my shirt at Regatta. Jojo gave me a buy-what-you-want shopping pass but sadly I wasn't able to maximize the opportunity. The thing about having an early January birthday is that most stores don't have much stocks leftover after the Christmas shopping rush. Yes, there are end-season sales left and right, but either there aren't much sizes and choices left or it's all for winter/cold season stuff. So I ended up just buying the top from Regatta and an everyday striped top from Human, much to Jojo's surprised delight.

We went straight to my grandmother's house for dinner, but we were all so tired that we didn't stay long, which is why we just spent Sunday at home and heard mass in the afternoon. There was just too much excitement the past few days that our little family needed to rest and recuperate!

So that was my long birthday celebration! Thank you Jojo, Ally, Sofia, my family, and everyone who have been a part of my day (including the doctor at the drug testing site who said I looked very good for my age, naks!). If this is an indication of how 2013 will be, I am excited and grateful!

*Rub Ribs & BBQ
QC: 64 Scout Rallos, QC
Tel: 5012799
Facebook: Rub Ribs & BBQ
Twitter: @RUB_RibsBBQ

*Lugang Cafe
Facebook: Lugang Cafe

Sunday, January 20, 2013

8 Months

I totally lost count of the date and just realized now that Sofia turned 8 months yesterday. Ayayay! And to think I promised to have her letter ready. Tsk, tsk. So sorry little one!

Happy 8 months, Sofia!

Mommy loves you very much!

Monday, January 14, 2013


I only remember bits and pieces about my own memories of the old Magnolia House in the 80's. I do know my parents brought my sister and I there a couple of times, but the memories are all fuzzy. The clearest picture in my mind is the Bert and Ernie inspired ice cream dish, and I am not even sure if this was something my mind just created for me or it really is a forgotten memory. I think this is the reason why I was not as excited about its reopening as most people were. It is because I don't have clear and tangible memories of the place. Sad, right? Maybe I was too young to appreciate the place or maybe it's just one of those memories that just faded through time. Whatever it was, the new Magnolia House wasn't that big of a deal to me and it has been open for half a year before I got a chance to check the place out.

The new Magnolia House is now just one of the many restaurants in the mall aptly named Robinson's Magnolia Place. And while it still has the old ice cream parlor feel to it, it didn't impress me all that much. The place was cramped and there was little room for all its customers. The tables were so close to each other that there was barely enough walking space between them. I had to stand up several times so that the persons seated in the next table could pass. And while the prices weren't really that expensive (ice cream dishes were about Php170-250 each), I couldn't help but think that I could already buy a half gallon tub of ice cream for that same price. So my verdict? It was nice to be able to have a Magnolia House afternoon with my kids but it won't be something we'd do again anytime soon.

The mall on the other hand, I like. It was spacious and well-lit. It didn't feel like a Metro Manila mall at all. Jojo said it reminded him of Senayan Plaza, a posh mall in Jakarta. For me, the mall had a strong Singapore mall vibe to it, especially its food court. There were still a couple of soon-to-open stores, but the ones that were open offer a good selection of mid-priced and street fashion brands. There is also a small Robinson's department store, which is a plus for me.

Oh, and I have to point out that the Mango store there had the most expansive selection of sale items among the stores I have recently been to in Quezon City. Even if they were already in the further reduction phase of the sale, more than 3/4 area of the store still had sale items and they were still putting out fresh stocks that night. And they had sizes! I was tempted to buy a pair of jeans (which I don't need) but I managed to resist it! So mighty proud of myself! I couldn't resist buying a pair of shades though. How could I? It was leopard print and was foldable! The price? Only Php395 from its original tag price of Php1295. Ah-may-zing!

All in all, the mall was a good weekend pasyal place for my family. For sure this won't be our last trip to Robinson's Magnolia Place.

Family Vacation: Manaoag and Baguio Day 1

As part of my mom's seemingly endless 60th birthday celebration (we have already enjoyed 2 lunch treats and 1 dessert treat), she treated the whole family to a short vacation in Baguio. We have all been looking forward to this trip as it was our first vacation as a complete family (the last vacation we had was in Subic back in 2010 and Lila and Sofia weren't born yet). I was extra excited because the last time I was in Baguio was way back in 1994.

The plan was to leave Manila early Thursday (Dec 27) morning and meet up at Manaoag, Pangasinan to hear mass before going up to Baguio. We left the house at 430am hoping to be able to hear the 7 or 8 am mass. Unfortunately, due to a slight miscommunication between me and my mom (I won't elaborate to keep the peace), we reached Manaoag midway through the 10am mass. And then I was disappointed to find out that my sister and her family won't be joining the trip because my brother-in-law was not feeling well. Yikes! The vacation was off to a shaky start, but Mama advised us to just shrug it off and think good vibes. So after the mass we lit up some candles and offered our prayers and thanks, and then we were on our way to Baguio.
I love those floating candles
Bonding with the grandparents
We used Marcos Highway and while there was no traffic, I got a bit biyahilo with the drive. Ugh. Entertaining a toddler and an infant inside a car only worsened my sorry state. Then when we got to Baguio city proper, we got lost finding the hotel and had to go through the SM area (and the horrible traffic as all SM malls have) twice before we finally reached Mircrotel Inn. Thankfully the weather was cool and I felt instantly better as soon as I alighted from the car. It also helped that my mom and brother took to entertaining a kid each.

We ate a late lunch at 50's Diner, a small restaurant off the main road. I was so surprised that for such a nondescript place the queue was quite long! We waited for more than 15 minutes for a table to free up, but it was worth it. The food was yummy and the serving size was good. Plus points for the cheap prices. Our total bill came to under Php800 for 5 adults and 1 toddler. Crazy! 

Our next stop was at Good Shepherd Convent to buy ube jam and chocolate covered cereals. Oh, and I have a new discovery- choco-covered walnuts! Insanely addicting! And at only Php215/200g tub, it was such a good deal! I am so bummed that I didn't buy more.

Sorry, I couldn't resist :)
We went back to the hotel after a quick pass through Wright Park to look at the horses. Ally was thrilled to see a white horse with pink-dyed mane and kept calling it Pinky Pie Princess Pony (I have no idea how she comes up with names like this), but she absolutely refused to go near the horse and have her photo taken with it.

After a not-so short rest at the hotel, we went to Session Road for dinner. We ate at an Asian-inspired resto called Le Cha (I think. I don't know if I remember it correctly though). The food was really yummy and very reasonably priced! We ordered a lot and our bill was barely Php1500. Not bad at all!

Our day ended with a quick drive by Camp John Hay, a nice hot tea drink back at the hotel and an sms from my sister that she and her family would be going up to Baguio the following day. Yay!

All in all, it was still a great start to our family vacation!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Our household hasn't been able to get back into its post-holiday rhythm just yet. Ally's sleeping schedule is still off so much so that she was absent from school yesterday because she refused to wake up on time. And with Ate Diding gone (she left for her annual vacation last Dec 26 and texted us on Jan 5 that she won't be coming back anymore), everyone is still adjusting to the new environment at home. It has been a challenging 2 weeks for us.

We have a new househelp now. Ate Gina started yesterday afternoon and I hope she settles in nicely. But introducing a new person to the house with a toddler and an infant is not the easiest of tasks and I am overwhelmed by all the things I need to do.

I will be back once we get our rhythm established again. Please bear with me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy birthday to my favorite sister, Pepper! You're the bestest ever!

With my sister and our firstborns

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Artscow Photobooks

Remember when I wrote about the photobook I made and ordered using Here is the much delayed photo. Isn't it lovely?

I really enjoy making photobooks. It can be time consuming at times, but it is an excellent outlet for whatever artistic creativity I have in me. And to be fair, it is only time consuming because I tend to be a bit OC about the little details. You should hear the little conversations I have with myself when I am in the middle of making a photobook (yes, I talk to myself often)! I worry about the balance of the types of photos I put in (portrait vs landscape, solo vs group),the chronological order of the photos, symmetry/asymmetry of the layouts, the embellishments, the font, the overall effect, the color scheme, the border width, the list is endless! Then when I finish, I sometimes (okay, almost always) second guess myself so much that I have to get another opinion before I send off my order. I value my sister's opinion a lot because she is into Artscow as well. Jojo on the other hand not so much because he just can't understand how the nuances of each detail bother me (before you think I'm a mean wife, I always show my projects to Jojo and get his feedback and go signal before I put my order. I just don't involve him in the creative process).

To date, I have ordered and received a total of 7 photobooks. I waited for good deals for each one, so the most I spent was about Php600 only, which was just for shipping and the purchase of one design kit. Not bad right? The quality is really good and so much more than expected considering the price I paid. I always choose normal shipping to get the price this low. A downside though is that normal post takes 3-4 weeks for delivery, something I'm ok with. If you prefer to get your photobook faster, you can opt for FedEx shipping with a premium price difference. Item is delivered within a week.

My collection of photobooks
These photobooks are the closest I have to having actual photos printed, and I like them much, much better than just having a photo album. Plus, the website keeps a copy of each project I make, so I can just reorder if ever I need another copy. My ultimate plan is to make a photobook for each family vacation and/or big event. I am happy with what I have done so far, and I am only behind by about 4
photobooks. Not bad, considering my penchant for getting bored midway through a task. is a free service. You just need to register and download its design/layout program. Then all you have to do is let your creative side run wild! Aside from photobooks, they also have photo canvas, bags, buttons, stamps, keychains, mousepads, and a whole lot more. It's addicting, I tell you.

So try it out. I am sure you'll be hooked as well. Enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

33 Reasons to be Thankful

*Sorry I only am able to post this now. I spent half the day renewing my license with a dead iPhone. Major bummer! Then my mom and brother came over to have merienda at home and they left just before I went to hear mass. I really didn't expect to be this busy on my day. Again, my apologies!*

It's my 33rd birthday today! And since it's still practically the start of the year, here are the many blessings I received and enjoyed in 2012 for which I am very grateful for:

1. My dear husband
He makes me laugh, makes me cry, infuriates and surprises me each day. I love that we can sit in companionable silence or argue to high heavens over trivial matters. I love that he is always there for me and our daughters. I love that he spoils us silly. And I am beyond thankful that he makes enough to provide a comfortable life for us which also allows me the freedom to be at home with the kids.

2. My adorable Ally. 
Sometimes she proves just how terrible the terrible threes can be, but she is also the sweetest and funniest little girl I know. She is a very witty little princess with the kindest heart and an amazing sense of responsibility towards her little sister. She is truly my pride and joy.

3. My sweet Sofia and her safe delivery . 
My biggest blessing for the year! From the womb, to her delivery and up until now, she has shown just how feisty and spirited she is. I am constantly amazed at her perseverance and strong will mixed well with her sweetness. She is an absolute delight and another source of my pride.

Ally, Jojo and Sofia
4. My parents. 
I love how our relationship has evolved through the years. I still get parental advice and the occasional disappointed speech from them, but I can say that I can consider them my friends now. And guess what? I actually prefer their company most of the time now, something my teenage self would find ludicrous!

5. My sister. 
She is my go-to person for everything, good news or bad news, happy kwentos or sad kwentos. I love that she always listens to all my problems and angals in life and never judges me at all. She truly is my bestest friend.

6. My brother though I don't know why! Haha! Seriously though, my brother was the first person I have ever felt responsibility for since he is 10 years younger than me. I think much of what I do for and how I take care of my children, I learned on the job while looking after my brother when we were kids. 

7. Having a close-knit clan and our Saturday dinners. 
My grandmother has made it a family tradition to always eat dinner at her place on Saturdays. It was something I didn't care much for in my college days since I wasn't allowed to go out with my friends in what was typically a gimmick night. But now I appreciate and love this tradition. 

Paras clan at Mamang's 85th birthday dinner, July
8. Barkadoodles and 18 years of friendship. 
I always have this feeling that Ethel, who we lost nearly a decade ago, is the unseen force keeping us all glued together. She is our very own special guardian angel, and I'm sure she is smiling down at us, at where we are now and who we are now. From 6 giddy teenagers, we have grown with the addition of 4 husbands, 1 long-time boyfriend and 4 children. And though we live in 3 different countries, we still meet up with each other and the feel is still the same.  
Barkadoodles, September
Barkadoodles++ at Bryan&Hya's wedding
9. G-32 college blockmates
My college blockmates are the nerdiest people I hang out with (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), but I can be as ditsy as I can with them and still feel appreciated and not laughed at. 
G-32 blockmates
10. Our home in Matimtiman which has been our safe and happy place for the past three years. We are centrally located so everything we need is within walking and driving distance. Plus we have amazing neighbors. We have celebrated birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Paquiao fight days with shared food and company in our communal driveway.

11. Facebook friends who always like and comment on my posts.
No matter what I post, I always get kilig whenever someone likes or comments on it. I feel noticed and appreciated. So simple but it has done wonders for my self-worth and self-esteem.

12. Twitter "friends" who always reply to my questions and comments.
I love that I get to "talk" and share ideas and comments with people who don't know me. And I feel an extra sense of thrill whenever someone I look up to tweets back!

13. Nest, Teacher Maj, Teacher LA, the teaching assistants and the kuyas
Ally's school and its community have been a blessing to us the past two years. Beyond academics, Ally has learned to socialize and open up to other people. She is growing up beautifully and credit goes to the school which molds her too. I am so thankful that I don't worry (too much) about her when she is at school. I am assured that my daughter is safe and happy while there.
Nest Preschool A and B
14. Trinoma and SM regular sales and their close proximity to the house
You know of my thriftiness and dedication to getting a good deal, right? I owe a lot to Trinoma and SM  for having regular sales that satisfy my shopaholic tendencies. And I can seriously say that I am sane (or as sane as I can possibly be) because I get to spend some much-needed me time without having to feel too guilty of spending so much. 

15. The convenience and ease of online shopping. 
Thanks to Zalora, eBay, Multiply and, I don't have to leave the house to shop! I get a kick out of being able to buy stuff from the convenience of my home and I seriously love the thrill of receiving and opening them once delivered to my doorstep. Hmm. On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be too thankful. Online shopping made a serious dent on my credit card these past few months.

This I am really, really thankful for. I love that I get to watch local shows at my own time and without commercials. And all for free!

This has been my creative outlet for some time now. I love making and ordering their photo books, which serve as our photo albums. And I've expanded to also order their stretched canvas too. Way cool and affordable.

18. Etc, Jack, 2nd Ave for match airing my favorite US shows - Hart of Dixie, Glee Project, Emily Owens M.D., How I Met Your Mother, and Big Bang Theory

19. Pao&Cielo, Bryan&Hya, and April&Brian for getting Ally as a flower girl in their wedding and making her dream of becoming a princess come true.
Princess Ally at Paolo&Cielo's wedding
Princess Ally at Bryan&Hya's wedding
20. HSBC and Starbucks treats. How can one not be thankful for free stuff!

21. Online contests and my patience for joining them.
I have won 5 online contests/raffles in 2012! Thank you, Dizzy Dress, Eastwood Mall, Cyma, and Cotton On. You have made me and my family feel so blessed and special! I hope to match and even surpass this in 2013!

22. Milestones and fun family events
We celebrated so many family milestones this year - my niece Lila's baptism in January, grand Lardizabal reunion in February, Papa's 60th birthday party, Paolo&Cielo's wedding and Benjo's graduation in March, Ally's 3rd birthday party in April, Sofia's arrival in May, Mamang's 85th birthday in July, Sofia's baptism in September, Lila's 1st birthday party in October, my cousin Camille's debut in November, and Mama's 60th birthday celebration in December. Wow, it wasn't until now that I realized that 2012 was truly a big year for my family!
Paras clan at Lila's baptism, January
Jojo and me at the Lardizabal clan reunion, February
At Paolo&Cielo's wedding, March
The Paras clan at Papa's 60th birthday party, March
Macias family at Ally's 3rd birthday party, April
Sofia's baptism, September
Lila's birthday, October
23. Opportunities to catch up with friends
I was able to touch base with so many of my friends who I have not seen or heard from (except in FB) for several years. I was able to attend my high school friend Jill's wedding in January, Hya's wedding in September, and Alvin's wedding in December. I was also able to attend a reunion of my college org recently as well as several dinners with friends throughout the year.

24. DFA passport service at Megamall.
I didn't need to go to Manila to apply for Sofia's passport! I really love the convenience of its location, safe and ample parking and the no-appointment-needed policy for infants. I was able to get everything done in under an hour, and got to do a bit of shopping too!

25. My birthday vacation in Boracay
I love that I was able to start 2012 with a nice and quiet family vacation in Boracay. We stayed at a lovely hotel within walking distance of the restaurants and the beach. The beach wasn't crowded and the weather was ideal. In fact, the weather on my birthday was near perfect!
Boracay, January
26. Family vacation in Baguio
I love that I was able to end 2012 with a Macias family vacation in Baguio. It was not the easiest experience when our group had 2 toddlers and 2 infants with different moods and sleeping patterns, but we had a grand time. I even got to see PNoy (from afar) and Sen Bongbong Marcos (who I was able to thank for RH Law)!
Baguio, December
With Sen Bongbong Marcos at Hill Station, Baguio
27. Mini vacations throughout the year
We didn't have any out of the country vacations due to my pregnancy and Sofia's arrival, but we did have a lot of road trips and mini vacations and staycations throughout the year. We went to Los Banos, Laguna for Jojo's inaanak's birthday celebration and to Tagaytay for Pao&Cielo's wedding in March, had a staycation at Edsa Shangri-la in April and at New World Hotel in August, back to Tagaytay for Bryan&Hya's wedding in September, to Anvaya Cove, Subic in October, and to Lipa, Batangas for Alvin's wedding in December.
Tagaytay, March
Staycation at Edsa Shangri-la, April
Staycation at New World Hotel, August 
Stopover in Nuvali, September
Anvaya Cove, Subic, October

28. Ate Diding and Ate Emily.
They truly made my life so much more comfortable.

29. Avent breast pump and that Sofia has never had a problem with drinking milk from a bottle. You've seen how chubby she is. My guess is milk is milk for her, no matter how it is delivered, as long as she gets fed. I just love that she is not picky and fussy!

30. No major sickness for the whole family! Super mega ka-dooper yay!

31. My cute blue Chevy Spark
Jojo bought the Spark last May as our second car. It is tiny and cute and just right for doing Mommy errands around the city. There are times when I feel bullied by bigger cars and buses when I use it along Edsa and Commonwealth, but parking is a breeze wherever I go. 

32. An inexplicable change to healthy eating.
Spinach and ampalaya are now my favorite food all of a sudden. And I mean this seriously. I have to stop myself from finishing them and I need to remind myself to share them with Ally and Jojo. Oh, and I have taken to drinking healthy juices and smoothies too. My current favorite (and a regular in our household dinners) is apple-malunggay smoothie. Yummy! And because of this healthy eating, I am now able to fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes. Super yay!

33. iPhone, Blogger app and an increased number of blog readers.
It gives me a sense of fulfillment whenever I see the numbers continuously (and amazingly) go up. I feel like someone is listening to my kwentos! Thank you for spending a few minutes of your precious time listening to me babbling about things that may or may not matter to you. I hope at the very least I have entertained you and made you smile.

So, there you have it, 33 things I am grateful for, in no particular order. I know some made sense and some didn't, but I had fun making the list. And because I had to edit out so many other things I am also grateful for, I have a new sense of gratitude for the many, many blessings I have received in 2012.  I am both humbled and overjoyed! And you know what my biggest take away with this is? My life, though nowhere near perfect, is pretty damn good! I am now looking forward to 2013 and all the goodness and awesomeness it'll bring me and my family!

PS. I think this is the first time I have followed through with one of my blog promised posts. Yay me! I think I'm off to a wonderful start to 2013!