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Valentine’s Day 2013

Found this really neat photo of an Emirates airplane that is very appropriate for Valentine’s day.

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While I could not say that we are the best airline in the world, we are definitely one of the top bests. If you are looking for valid reasons to fall in love with us, I would say, check out our in-flight entertainment system and well…have a look at our cabin crews. Ahem. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, today is Valentine’s day. For this year, hubby and I planned to keep our Valentine’s Day celebration simple. Instead of splashing serious cash on a dinner outside, we have decided to just stay at home and cook our dinner specialty. But that cannot be done without the help of a chilled bottle of Moet et Chandon rosรฉ Champagne sitting in the fridge right now. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you hubby for surprising me with the bubbly.

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Meanwhile, our V-day started early at the JBR beach.

Starting the day early at the beach.  Time check: 0630 in the morning.

Starting the day early with a little picnic by the beach. Time check: 0630 in the morning.

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Breakfast at IHop across the street.

Swiss Mocha coffee for her and French Vanilla coffee for him.

Swiss Mocha coffee for her and French Vanilla coffee for him. Plus a large plate of hot breakfast on the side.

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With that, my day is more than solved!

We also received a precious love note from our little Cupid from faraway. We love you too our one and only.
Love, Mom and dad.

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Luzon with the boys.

For me, a 20-day vacation leave comes as rare as a blue moon. The only time I was officially allowed to get was during my wedding day. To allow me more time to prepare, I suppose. So you see how hard one has to try to get it. One actually has to kill to get it! A gruesome murder later, surprise suprise! I got it this! Hahah! So with every living breath of me, with every thread of my muscle and with every beat of my heart, I swore with all that I can to enjoy this vacation to the fullest. That was very easy. I spent it with my two most favorite boys in the world.

Our last family getaway felt like eons ago. Our little Yugix was very little then. Little enough for him to wear anything that I put on him. Now is a different story. Every changing time is a mighty struggle because what he wears does not depend on what Mommy likes anymore. It depends on Justin Bieber.

My little family in Hong Kong and Macau.

Time to add new photos in our family holiday album.

We checked in at The Resorts World on the first day. Kuya Yugix loved the hotel at first sight. He said it was the biggest hotel in the whole wide world. ๐Ÿ™‚ I loved it too. Especially Ric’s grandmother who was having a ball at the casino.

Someone misses Mommy Lalang so badly.

With Kuya Phillip.

The Paras brothers and baby girl, Anika.

This is how you babysit two kids at the same time.

This is how you babysit three kids.

A few days later, had a short stint at Party Pilipinas–as an audience. Thanks to our dear friend Jeff for getting me and my husband in. It got boring around halfway into the show. There were too many newcomers that we could not identify 70% of the artists. The only time I was starstrucked was that brief moment when Jolina Magdangal sat beside me and talked to me. She looked like a life-sized doll that I wanna play dress up with. I would have taken her home with me if I could. Then I would keep her in a box inside my glass drawer. Hehehe.

P. S. Marian Rivera was an eye candy without a doubt.

Jeff and husband

After the show, I dragged the boys to the mall and got myself a new tattoo. It is a four leaf clover for a daily dose of good luck. ๐Ÿ™‚

JULY 2

Husband’s birthday.

Woke him up so he could blow his 30th birthday cake candles. I love these photos. I am a lucky woman to be in a relationship with these two boys ๐Ÿ™‚

A birthday dinner date later in the evening. ย Happy birthday to you too, Papa Recto.

The giant burger of Yugix.

The giant iced tea of Kuya Yugix.

Justin Bieber a.k.a. Manny Pacquiao’s hairstyle. Same same so just choose.

JULY 3

Haircut before Tita Lan’s wedding day.ย Justin Bieber’s hair a.ka. Manny Pacquiao’s hair was gone. And he hated me for it. He said he looked like a rock with little grass growing on it. What a very original description! Sorry baby boy. ๐Ÿ™‚

You will notice in the later photos that he was always covering his head with a hoodie. Yep, blame it on the haircut.

JULY 4

And the fun begins.

Even in the midst of a brewing typhoon in Luzon, the clouds parted to give us a little sunshine. Lucky? Very. Special? I’d like to think so. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, dear God.

Unfortunately, our first day did not make a great start. We missed our flight to Naga City due to the infamous Manila traffic jam. We had to wait for a few more hours to get to the next booking.

Hours and bad moods later, here we are at the CamSur Water Sports Complex (CWC). We took a cab from the airport to the CWC. We learned later on that CWC offers free shuttle bus service from the airport to the resort every 30 minutes.

With dad.

With mom.

Our sweet little home for a night. Our log cabin looked really neat, cozy, unusual, spacious enough and our money well-spent. I was surprised and floored. Even the other types of accommodations looked very interesting. They have trailer parks and various cottages. Any choice is a good choice when it comes to CWC, I have to say.

World’s cutest bat.

Yugix: “Mommy, let’s call out.”

Me: Huh? What do you mean by call out?

Yugix: I mean when we call them to order food. Me: Ah. You mean room service.

And that is one of the reasons why I need to work extra hard.

Looking for what we came here for–the water.

The trailer house accommodation.

The water park for the pro, so this was not the one for us.

Yes, this was for me. But not yet. This time was to satisfy the need for some speed.

The little boy was so ready. Scared, but nonetheless ready.

Keep looking…

Nope. Those are cows.

Yes, finally found them! It was quite a walk. Wakeboarding fee with equipments for an hour was I think 250 pesos. Not bad at all. In fact, it was very cheap! The instructor is inclusive with the rental.

Hunny’s turn. I was feeling a little chicken. I was never a sports-minded girl for like EVER. I only played chess in high school. I tried swimming too. But I only made a fool out of myself most of the time.

Mr. Paras in action. Woohoo!

Someone was very proud of himself.

When it started to grow dark, the rest of the resort guests walked back to their cottages. I finally found the courage to put the wakeboards on.

Not bad! A pat on your back girl. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just because not falling face down into the water was not enough…

So I did it with one hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was a happy traveling bee.

For some strange reason, this adorable little boy is scared of anything that may involve falling. I had to use my mommy card to coerce him to get into the wakeboard with the instructor.

He was scared beyond his wits at first, but after one smooth round, he told me, “I want to do it again.”

Kisses for being so brave, young man.

Then comes dinner. We enjoyed everything that we ordered from this resort. Hunny’s favorite was the Pasta Alfredo.

The most abused Gucci wallet in the world.

Time for a good night’s sleep. The next day is going to be a long day.

The little big boy.

A quick shower before going to bed. Five years from now, please don’t hate me for posting this photo online. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fresh mommy.

A quick photo session before calling it a night.

JULY 5

Good morning! Our baby lost his first tooth!

This photo of my boys is priceless. And you can clearly see how comfortable the bed was by the look on their faces. They were in bed heaven! โค

Say good bye to the front tooth.

“Calling out” for breakfast.

Feeling comfortable for the first time to have my photos taken without makeup on my face.

Natural light is the best light.

Our little visitors in the morning.

It was such a shame that we were having so much fun yet we had to leave too soon. But Mayon Volcano was the next stop, so it couldn’t be so bad.

A free shuttle bus from CamSur Water Complex took us to the public market in Naga where we took a van to the city of Legazpi. It took us around one hour and less than two hundred pesos per person. By the time we arrived in Legazpi, ย it was raining like there was no tomorrow. There was not a shadow of a taxi anywhere. The only way to find our hotel was by a motorcycle. Our hotel, which was Oriental’s Jasmine Hotel, was not very far from where the van dropped us off. It was about 15 minutes for maybe 200 pesos. The drivers were not familiar of the hotel’s name, though. It was more known of its old name during Marcos’ time. Too bad, as for the hotel’s old name, my memory never fails to fail me again this time. If it is going to help, the Queen of Spain stayed in this hotel during her brief visit this year.

Finally, here we are. I was instantly impressed by its pristine white and spacious lobby. The scent of jasmine floating in the air. The not so friendly wet welcome of the rain roaring from all directions inside that vulnerable carriage of the motorcab was totally out the window.

Our very inviting bed!

It was past lunchtime when we arrived. Expectedly, the boys were very hungry. The restaurant on the ground floor did not disappoint. I believed my taste buds were most pleased in this restaurant than in any restaurants in the Philippines that I have been to.

These boys could eat a carabao right now.

Nothing beats enjoying a hot cappuccino on a cool, typhoon season while waiting for a big lunch fresh from the chef’s kitchen.

The FOOD. I had a creamy pumpkin and carrot soup for appetiser and I think a Pad Thai for the main course. My husband had a spicy lechon kawali something. Everything was yum, even my baby’s humongous sandwich platter.

We only caught a glimpse of the ghost of the Mayon behind the fog. I was still very excited, though! I know she would show herself to us, eventually. A little patience can go a long way. ๐Ÿ™‚

I knew it! There she is.

Extended our lunch by the viewing deck with espresso and sweets to enjoy her beauty even more. Every minute I spent gushing at sheer perfection.

“Mayon is the most beautiful mountain that I have ever seen, the world-renowned Fujiyama of Japan (Mt. Fuiji) sinking into perfect insignificance by comparison. ย – British travel-writer A. Henry Savage Landor. ”

Even after erupting for more than 50 times in the past four centuries, its beauty remains timeless. I wish I could say the same for myself 30 years from now.

It’s time to explore the town. That’s our little jet setter right there. Will never say no to an out of town expedition.

The beautiful lady is playing coy again.

A series of family photographs.

Bought some really cheap mountain orchids for our dear mothers before we left. We only paid for 50 pesos to 100 pesos per plant. I think it was a steal.

Now is time to go.

Beautiful lady, I really wish to see you again.

A short pit stop. What’s a vacation without pasalubongs, right?

Back at the hotel, it was SNOOZE time.

The only thing that rivaled the beauty of the Mayon are these adorable photos of my two boys.

JULY 6

Then came morning. Had breakfast buffet at the hotel. It was really tasty, though not as much as most breakfast buffets in hotels.

Watermelons and sampaguita plants growing by our room deck. A hotel stay can’t get any sweeter than that.

My husband can attest to how much I hated the cold, but the chance to dip my toes or more in the infity pool with the Mayon in the background was too good to pass up. My son, of course, was more than happy to get himself wet.

Time to leave again. It was really tiring to have to pack up and leave every day. But whenever I get another chance, I will do it again!

A very interesting row of toilet cubicles en route to the airport.

While waiting for our plane.

Blind massage at the airport.

JULY 8

Paula’s wedding in Capas.

Auntie Fely and I

Paras Family

JULY 9

Back in Mindanao.

Just because I couldn’t get too much holiday…

A surprise wedding vows renewal for my parents in Paradise.

Loving the au natural look. Makeup free and edit free.

One week later…

At NAIA Terminal 1. Time to make some money so I can spend some more.

A quick call to our beloved Yugix before the flight. See you soon, baby love. Loving you always and missing you everyday, Mommy and daddy.

โค The END.

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A day for us, mommies.

Today is a special day. I want to greet all the mommies out there for a job well done. There is no job more noble than sustaining the human race, right? So happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, who are basically every woman I know, except for one, my sister Maricon who is most likely a man in secret. ๐Ÿ™‚ Peace.

I don’t really give too much fuss to Mother’s Day. With a family this cute, every day is a celebration. Let’s run away again to somewhere very far, please.

A few snapshots during our trip to Hongkong and Macau around 3 years ago. Our little baby started traveling very early. He is going to grow up like, Mommy. Forever restless in one spot.

I greeted the dawn of my 5th year of Mother’s Day celebration I don’t know how many feet above sea level. But it was very high up for sure because I was looking down at the Himalayas, most probably at similar mountain range where Mount Everest is located.

This was how the sun rises above the world’s tallest peaks.

17 hours later into the flight, we touched down at DFW in Dallas where the I know the softest bed known to me is waiting. It feels like sinking into a bed of baby feathers and dreaming of marshmallows and pink unicorns.

I have two double beds just for me at Marriott. We should have Marriott in every ultra long haul flights. We deserve sleep therapy after a long day’s mental and physical challenge.

I was supposed to go to the mall with Shuang, my colleague from China, but the two alarms that I set in my phone did not go off for some reason. Shuang did not call me either. I am starting to have a bad feeling for this room. Hahah!

So I followed the sidewalk to the right of the hotel. Three blocks away later, I did not find anything. My stomach monsters were growling like desperate lionesses on a prowl. I told myself that I would take the first restaurant that I would find. I did exactly that.

This was my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Of course, a pot of gold does not come cheap. I paid my dinner with my hard-earned blood and sweat. Hahah! But it was a delectable dinner. And it always feels good to be surrounded with people who dress up for dinner. The men came marching in with their suits and pomade in their hair. The ladies sashayed into the room in long dresses and high heels and some vintage pieces here and there. About 85% were senior citizens. That was how I know that I was going to have good food tonight.

I ordered the Lawry’s cut prime steak. The serving was humungous. It made my heart cry for the hungry people. It was weird to feel guilty with a very satisfied stomach.

The evil sauces. I tried first the one on the right. It tasted like a sour soap. The one on the left was like wasabi with a friendlier face. It attacked my nose and mouth like a Samurai warrior that I had to spit it out into my black colored table napkin.

I had buttered corn on the side which was simply heavenly.

My food was delivered by the chef in this cart. He cut my meat right in front of me.

Even an order of salad was a show. The chef would come with a cart to your table and would do some culinary action of salad mixing before delivering the plate to you.

A reserved table.

My imaginary date in front of me. Cheers to this lovely mother who was brave enough to take herself out on a dinner date. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lawry’s prime rib waitress in the 50’s.

Lawry’s Prime Rib in Chicago.

That is all, ladies. Cheers and good night!

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My pre-flight check at home.

Night before my flight to Singapore, it was the time of our cake mix to become a beautiful chocolate cake. At two in the morning is not the best hour to bake your first ever cake, but it works too.

This is our first try so let’s see what happens. ๐Ÿ™‚

IN OUR KITCHEN.

Those arms badly need toning!!!

Ric doing his bit.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

Frosting is done. We call it DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CAKE. Hihihi.

He is happy. I am happy too.

Mr. and Mrs. Paras’ small fry, easy-peasy, lemon squeezy guide to baking a perfect chocolate cake.

We used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Swiss Chocolate Cake Mix

1st Step:

Read the instructions at back of the box. That should be easy.

2nd Step:

Before preparing the cake mixture, preheat the oven at 170 degrees Celcius, emphasis on the Celcius as some ovens are set in Fahrenheits.

3rd Step:

Mix the cake mixย  with 3 eggs, water and vegetable oil (as stated in the instructions). Keep mixing until well blended.

4th Step:

When mixture is looking smooth, pour the mixture in a cake pan. We used a round cake pan with an easy to remove bottom that looks like this.

5th Step:

The cake mixture is ready for baking in the oven. If you stick a toothpick into the center of the cake and it comes out clean, then it is time to remove it from the oven to be ready for frosting.

grabbed from bhg.com/recipes

6th Step:

Take out your most beautiful plate and invert the chocolate cake into the plate.

7th step:

FROSTING THE CAKE. We used a straight from the can frosting to make our lives easier. Betty Crocker brand is easy to find in any supermarket.

Spread the frosting on the surface of the cake, including the sides. Keep spreading until you are happy with the way it looks. If you don’t like your cake to be too sweet, no need to use all of the frosting.

 

40 minutes later, VOILA!

Our very own. Our very first.

For dramatic effect, you can even addย  berries on top.

Grabbed from worldofstock.com

or a sprinkle of icing sugar…

grabbed from someone's flicker account

Complements best with a glass of champagne…

Or a cup of coffee with a splash of Bailey’s, topped with whipped cream.

grabbed from mixsnip.com

ENJOY!

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New York UPDATE

After several plans of going on a trip, the Cambodia trip was derailed…the Petra trip was postponed tentatively, we finally made it on this one. On the 3rd of November, Ricardo and I landed on the busiest airport in the USA—the John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport. And so we said, “Hello, New York!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Living up to its reputation, the immigration and customs queue at JFK snaked its way for a number of meters. Ricardo was supposed to ride on the bus with the rest of theย  crew, but because it took him a long time at the queue, we had to leave him behind. That meant he had to find his way to the hotel alone. Oh, the expression on his face as I waved him goodbye, he looked like a helpless puppy. Still sorry for that, babe.

For some strange reason, yet admirable courage, but still stupid decision, and you don’t dare do that again, Ricardo hopped on a shady carlift instead ofย  a real taxi. Yes he did exactly that, in New York, on his first time there, with a heavily accented guy that sounded very similar to the thugs in Scarface for a cab driver. It was one hell of a cab ride for sure, but in a real good way. Thank, God! Though his heart was pounding real hard the whole time, as what normal people coming from a small Asian city with a few hundred dollars on hand on his first time in New York on a random carlift would feel, the friendly Trinidadian/Tobagonian gave him a little personal tour to the streets of New York that kickstarted his NY trip. When I opened my hotel room door for him, I have never seen him that excited.

If you have only less than ten hours to explore Manhattan like we did, the first thing to do is to walk along Times Square. Times Square represents the ever fabulous caricature of New York—Manhattan, Broadway, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Empire State Building, the impeccably dressed men and women of Park Avenue, the bustling hordes of colorful tourists, the never ending stalls of souvenirs, the bright yellow cabs squeezed into a four-lane street and, of course,ย  my favorite—the classic shoe box, brick buildings of New York.

My bag belongs in New York.

The charm of Times Square is just timeless. Due to the number of times we saw it on the television, our brief time of strolling felt like a scene from a movie. We saw the New Year’s Ball too on one of those hugeย  TV screens. Ric got excited even when it was two months away from New Year. Imagine New Year’s Eve on that exact spot. It must be out of this world crazy!

I have always wanted to watch a show on Broadway. What better way to spend my first time to do it than during a vacation with Ric? The selection was extensive. I could not decide. Should I watch Chicago, Wicked, Hugh Jackman’s muscle on stage or see Brook Shields’ dance tango for me? You see what I mean? In the end, we entered the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to see the Addams Family and bought two tickets for $127 each. Ric did feel the hemorrhage it caused on his pocket. But like what he said after that insane cab ride experience, “New York is one city I am willing to spend my money on.” It was all worth it.

I would have opted to devour a hotdog and coke in the seats that were arranged right in the middle of Times Square, but we ended up having an Italian dinner instead beside the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It must be a pre-cursor to our first Broadway experience. The helpings were impossibly large. Good enough for three Asians for each serving. It made me wonder, do Americans have voracious appetite?

Moving on, we had to go back to the hotel because Ric left some cash outside of our locked suitcase. One important tip when traveling: Never leave anything of value outside a locked safe or outside your locked suitcase. Hotel staffs have their means of getting in your room and taking your staff. Yes, even with that Do Not Disturb sign hanging outside your door. If your things go missing, the hotel would not be responsible to any of it.

We had been awake for too long and the sight of our bed was like the apple in the garden offered by a snake. After struggling very hard to fight off the temptation to have a little nap, we managed to trudge our uncooperative legs outside and proceeded to look for the Central Park. We had only four hours left before our Broadway date. There were horse carriages, tricycle rides or bicycles for rent upon the entrance. We opted to just walk.ย  It was a great day. The temperature was just chilly enough to feel the winter approaching. The trees were putting on their romantic shades of orange and yellow. The maple, of course, had turned red. Hopefully, in our next time, Ric would have the chance to see real snow. Even better, to catch the snowflakes with his tongue.

Next pit stop: Grand Central Station. It was a very long walk. We probably walked for a good 30 blocks. We should have felt tired. But other than a little stress on the soles of my feet, we were both fine. Our adrenaline rush helped a lot. Walking along Park Avenue would make you wonder how those fabulously rich people live. You see those posh apartments, the revolving doors and that interesting-looking doorman with a tail coat and a top hat, especially that pretty lady who just walked in through those revolving doors looking like a million dollar inย  heeled boots, a ridiculously expensive handbag, a seemingly permanent blow-dry and a smile that screamed, “I know I am fabulous!”

30 blocks away later of walking, we reached to the biggest train station in the world— the Grand Central Terminal. The Vanderbilt family built and owned the station, thus, the Vanderbilt Hall in the station. Their name would not be missed in the station. The Grand Central Terminal is a cavernous, classic building with a massive interior, Greek columns and a high ceiling with an elaborate astronomical painting by Giovanni Smeraldi. An American flag was hung in the Main Concourse a few days after the 9/11 attack. The most distinguished part of the Grand Central Terminal is perhaps the four-faced clock on top of the information booth in the middle of the Main Concourse. It is made entirely of opal and is estimated to be worth between $10 to $20 million dollars. With all those history and grandeur of the station, our experience at the Grand Central was almost magical. We had a Gossip Girl moment there for a few seconds.ย  Good enough for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Serena arrives at the Grand Central. Photo grabbed from gossipgirl.katie.com

Photo grabbed from iamnostalker.com


This clock is worth between 10 to $20 million dollars.

And so the day was young and we still had 2 hours left to squander. We walked farther along and found our footsteps greeting another famous but cooler landmark—the ice skating rink at the Rockefeller. I had skated on ice once before but I could not remember one damn thing about it. Therefore, I consider this time as my first time too. To get straight to the point, I looked affirmatively awkward in those ice skating shoes. But holding hands while skating felt wonderful. And we kissed right in the middle of the rink and immortalized it in a lomo photograph.

Next stop: eat New York hotdog. This is a very simple experience, but nonetheless, a must in New York. We got served by an Egyptian guy who guessed we were Sri Lankans. Whaaat?!?! Whatever, dude.

The last, but not the least—see Brooke Shields in Broadway. But before that, we had to take a photo at Times Square at night. Those LCD screens were even brighter. It felt like some fantasy land with so much colors. It had to be. I told Ric you could never feel lonely in this place. On second thought, it could be so lonely too with those too many people around you.

Every step closer to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre was another serious dose of excitement. We were too tired though. A tall glass of coke was only good for at most ten minutes. But Brooke Shields was wonderful. And she was so close I could see the lines on her face. It was another list off my Bucket List, probably on my husband’s too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Picture-taking at the lounge of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Charles Addams, the creator of the macabre cartoon the Addams Family.

After that very long day, our beds felt like heaven. It was another amazing day in our long list of travels abroad. Long list of first times too.ย  And thank you dear husband for that beautiful frame you bought for me.

Cheers to many more perfect days like this.

We picked this up in one of the stalls along Park Avenue. I just love it so.