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Davao Events Events

I Bought 28 Books for Less Than P2,000 at the NBS Book Binge Bazaar

I am so officially back!

I owe you a post or two (or three) about my absence and now my come-back, but first, let’s talk about something awesome. My book loot from the National Book Store Book Binge Bazaar!

I hoard books, so naturally, I eagerly awaited for the Book Binge Bazaar after I first heard of it on Facebook. Even though there’s a growing pile of unread books on my shelf! Because why not, books don’t have an expiration date heehee.

Imagine how thrilled I was to receive an email from NBS, inviting me to a special preview of the bazaar. Because of my excitement, I made sure to come as early as I can (8:30 am call time); I even think I was one of the first bloggers/ media people inside the venue. I literally said “wow” when I ente red the function hall. So many books! I was so blown away by the selection that I had trouble — only at first — figuring out where to start.

It feels good to be back <3

Because it’s almost Christmas, I set my mind on prioritizing buying gifts for inaanaks and Yuri’s friends. I made a beeline toward the kids’ section where — surprise, surprise! — almost everything was priced at P75!

Christmas came early for me, too. Thank you so much, National Book Store!

I spent the entire time browsing every single section, savoring the peace and quiet before the mall officially opens. I want to show you every single book that you can find there, but that’s impossible, so here are some pictures of some of the books you can see at the Book Binge Bazaar.

There’s no shortage of great reads and bestselling authors, I promise! Continue Reading

Davao Events Events

Davao, Get Ready for National Book Store’s Book Binge Bazaar!

National Book Store is bringing its Book Binge Bazaar to Davao City for the first time. Thousands of books will be available for as low as P75. It’s happening at Function Room 1, SMX Davao, 3rd Level, SM Lanang Premier, from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM on October 25, 26, 27, and 28, 2018.

Books will be available at five price points: P75, P125, P175, P275, and P375. The Book Binge Bazaar is the best place to stock up on great reads with great prices!

Fill your shelves with bestselling young adult titles, like Rick Riordan’s The Heroes of Olympus. Choose from a vast selection of fiction novels and inspiring reads.

Surprise kids with My Little Pony storybooks and DK workbooks. Continue your self-improvement and lifelong learning with guidebooks on work, travel, fashion, health, fitness, and many other topics.

Admission is free. Join the discussion online and share your hauls by using the hashtag #BookBingeBazaar. Connect with National Book Store on social media – @nationalbookstore on Instagram and @nbsalert on Facebook and Twitter.

See you there!

Events

Dropping by the Expo Mom Davao 2018

Yuri and I were at the Expo Mom last weekend!

I have been dropping by Expo Mom bazaars ever since they had their first one here in Davao back in 2014. (Here’s a link from my old blog!) Also another one from 2016. Apparently, I missed the 2015 leg, and while I was able to visit last year, I don’t think I was able to write about it.

Back in 2014, Yuri was just 2 years old and I was a very excited young mom. During the first Expo Mom Davao, I recall that there were not as many booths and sellers as there are now. However, I was still able to buy a few things for Yuri (because I was admittedly a shopaholic then hehe), including Human Nature stuff because they were not locally available during that time, a “Cool Science Experiments” book which is really cool, a Kiele bug repellent, and Oreo butter!

Then in 2016, I bought even more mosquito repellent products (teehee), books, castor oil, and chocolates.

This year, I was invited by the Mommy Mundo team to drop by the Expo Mom Davao 2018, which is great because I was really planning on going. Woot!

With my Motts-loving first-grader! <3

What I noticed is that it seems like more booths participate every year — awesome! But Yuri is already 6 years old now and I saw that most of the booths do cater to babies and toddlers. It is not a bad thing of course since there are always babies, toddlers, and expectant mommies around, but I have to admit that maybe we’re not the target audience of these expos anymore! Unless, of course, new older kid-oriented vendors decide to join next year 😉

#Mompowerment!

But I’m not complaining! I still had a grand time looking around the Expo Mom. Here were the things that caught my eye!

« 1 of 2 »

As for me, all I bought were a tub of honey and a bottle of calamansi concentrate, but I’m happy with my finds! ^_^

In comparison to the previous years, I think there were more breastfeeding-friendly products and supplements available during this year’s Expo Mom. Regular vendors like Sun Life and Sanicare were still there; there were also the usual *adorbs* baby and toddler clothes, coco sugar/honey/cacao/calamansi products, feeding products, beauty products, and *gasp* pretty accessories. I also saw experience-oriented services like baby photography and a mobile playpen, which looked really interesting!

Conversely, I think there were fewer educational books and toys this time around (like I said, most booths were baby and toddler-targeted). While there were still food products available, I saw a lack of ready-to-eat food like the ice cream from last year and the chocolates from the other year. There were cookies sold but were especially made for lactating women — which I am obviously not LOL.

With that said, there are still plenty of reasons to check out Expo Mom! If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have a baby, or a toddler, there are LOTS of amazing finds for you right there. And even if you’re a mom with a “big” kid like me, there’s always something nice to see and buy at the expo.

If you missed this year’s expo, absolutely make sure to drop by next year!

Personal

Joyful Mess Remains Online!

I am so back!

When was the last time I blogged? Summer pa? Classes haven’t even begun then, and right now, we’re approaching the end of the first quarter na. I honestly didn’t expect I’d be able to keep myself from blogging for that long. Even when I was posting my hiatus last May, I was confident I’ll be back to writing soon afterwards. Certainly not near the end of August!

But life happens.

First, school began. And Grade 1 is super different from Kindergarten! What a change. June was one heck of a time for both Yuri and me (actually, the entire family!) because we were still getting used to a new routine, new schedule, new subjects (three subjects are being taught in Filipino now! gasp!), new everything. But almost three months into Grade 1, I think we’re finally getting the hang of it.

Second, I unexpectedly became part of the school’s Board of Officers. A teacher nominated me for Grade 1 Chairperson and I won (despite Job’s protests). And then among all elected Chairpersons and teacher representatives, I was elected again (nominated by another teacher…again) to be Auditor. I couldn’t say no because I already said no last year. Also, it’s not an everyday job. We’re only ~supposedly~ busy during select times of the year.

That’s on top of my school-mom obligations, work, and more. I already have a stack of unopened books — I really have no idea when I’ll be able to read them. Another thing I haven’t been able to do since school started? Write in my planner. Good luck to me!

And the final and my most favourite reason why I wasn’t able to blog, Job! My soulmate was home for a month and a week, which was certainly the highlight of my year. Because each day he was here was packed with activities, errands, Yuri stuff, and plain catching up, I hardly had time for anything else. I’m not complaining though. I miss my constant companion!

Oh I’ve got sooo many things to tell! So much to do, so little time…

But why did I decide to revive this blog if I barely have time for it as I claim?

Funny, but it’s because when I look at Yuri, I remember how well-documented his life is both in this blog and in my old blog (Davao Mommy). Obviously, while I need to protect his privacy as he’s growing up, I would like him to be able to have something to read when he’s older. I personally would like to remember the stories!

And another funnier thing? I keep thinking that if ever — God-willing — I get to have another baby in the future, without a blog in the picture, then his/her life wouldn’t be as well documented as Yuri’s. And it makes me feel guilty! Weird!

Plus I constantly feel like I’m missing something. No matter what I’m doing, a part of me wants to write a blog post. Perhaps I’ve really become a blogger.

So even though there’s a decline of readership, even though it’s not a lucrative as it was years ago, and even though it takes much of my time and effort, simply because I couldn’t imagine not blogging, Joyful Mess therefore remains online. <3

Personal

Standing At The Crossroads

Sooo… I just realised that for this month, I wrote a grand total of one blog post. Two, if you count this one.

I barely participated in any blog-related activity and blog-related emails often go unread in my inbox…

And it isn’t like I don’t have anything to write about. Au contraire, I have a loooot of stuff just sitting in my drafts folder. I just have a lot of things are happening lately — things that eat up a huge chunk of my time — and I don’t have time anymore to sit down and write. I find myself leaning towards updating my Instagram with a post or a story that takes seconds instead of spending an hour or more crafting the perfect blog post.

The truth is I’m having trouble keeping this blogging stint up. A year ago, I decided to be really selective in choosing paid campaigns and only said yes to ones you can’t really say no to. This year, I blogged even less than before. I tried planning drafts in advance and scheduling them ahead of time but, honestly, there’s just no time.

Long story short, I’m thinking of letting blogging go once and for all.

Which is sad because I do love writing. I blog to express my thoughts, to share stories, and to practice writing. Sadder because I just renewed my blog domain for another year and it’s not exactly dirt cheap… Saddest because I’ve been blogging for almost 6 years now and it has become part of my identity.

Then again, I have to decide whether blogging still brings me joy. It used to be one of my favourite things to do. I took great pride in my blog and in the things I write. I was active in the online community and met a lot of great people there. Now, the blogging atmosphere is different, my priorities are different, and I’m not even sure if my heart is still in it.

I wish I can say I’m just uninspired, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have so many things I want to write about! Travels, food, reviews, shopping, plans and ideas… But blogging is not a priority anymore, at least for me, at least for now. I work a 40-hour/week job. I do real estate on the side. We’re looking into business and investment opportunities, God-willing. (Exciting but it will really take a lot of time, effort, and money.) Most importantly, I’m a mother and a partner… and the school year hasn’t even begun yet! I am really afraid blogging needs to take a back seat.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop blogging completely. After all, like what I mentioned earlier, I just renewed my domain for another year so sayang naman diba. I may be able to occasionally write this year until my domain needs to be renewed again. And by then we’ll see if I can finally say good bye to blogging.

Summer Summer Activities

Red Cross Learn to Swim Program Review + Tips!

I have a not-so-secret secret. Not so secret because virtually everyone who knows me knows this about me, but still a secret since I have never mentioned it here before.

I didn’t know how to swim.

As in zero. Like I couldn’t even float to save my life (literally). All my adult life I believed I just couldn’t float and wasn’t built to move in the water…which turned out wrong thank God.

When I was young, my parents attempted to teach me and I “sort of” learned how to do the basics. But when I was in high school, I got into a near-drowning incident while on a class outing, and I abandoned all hopes of ever trying to swim again. I wasn’t exactly afraid of the water, but I panicked whenever I couldn’t hold on to something. So I guess that means I really was afraid of the water but was just in denial hehe.

Because of this fear, I was determined to make sure that Yuri learns how to swim. Job is a swimmer himself and has wanted to teach Yuri (and me) how to swim, but since he’s still thousands of miles away, we decided to enroll Yuri in Red Cross Learn to Swim summer program for now.

Ready to conquer the water!

And then I thought about it. Maybe it’s not too late to conquer my fear and finally learn to swim? Long story short, I decided to enroll myself too. It might not be too late after all!

And ready to conquer my fear! (Please don’t mind the messy background haha)

Red Cross Learn to Swim Program Details

Fee: P1000
Duration: 5 days at 2 hours/day
Schedule: Not sure if this is true with all locations, but there were three time slots to choose from in our case – 8-10 AM, 3-5 PM, 6-8 PM.

We chose the 3-5 PM class at our preferred location, Garden Oases. At 40 minutes of travel time, it’s not exactly near our house but it’s one of the nearest among the several pool locations they offered. Our class started right after Yuri’s Jollibee Mini Managers summer program ended, so it was a busy month for us!

Before I proceed with my review, here’s the outcome of the program. Yuri knows how to float and dive and swim a bit. He just turned 6 and I don’t expect him to have full coordination, but he enjoys it so much and at least he knows what to do when he’s under the water. He just needs to practice how to control his movements.

Segue: Yuri was grouped together with a really stubborn boy because they were the same age. He was found problematic by all the instructors who handled them and I couldn’t help but think he dragged the entire group (well, only Yuri because it was just the two of them) down. Instead of teaching them new lessons, the instructor would spend a lot of time disciplining the other boy and making sure he doesn’t do anything dangerous (one time he pushed Yuri backwards when Yuri was standing by the pool). Half of the time Yuri was fending for himself so when I see Yuri trying his best to swim, I feel proud. Despite the odds, he tried his best to learn!

As for me, I can finally swim at 27 (almost 28)! I am by no means great at it, but I can finally do it which, for me, is a big departure from not even being able to float at all.

That was 5 days of ZERO makeup, not even a trace of brow pencil or lip tint! It felt nice 😀

Anyway, here’s my review!

Location

I like that we are offered several locations to choose from. They also publish the pool fees from the get-go so everything is transparent.

Parking was hard during the first couple of days because a convention was taking place in the hotel

Like I mentioned, we chose Garden Oases. The pool is clean and there are plenty of tables for the watchers. There’s also a poolside restaurant for those who want to order food. The kiddie pool is 2 feet deep which is perfect for Yuri’s age group. Meanwhile, the big pool goes from 1 foot to 6 feet to suit the rest of the age groups. The water didn’t reek of chlorine, too!

I really liked the shower room. It’s clean and spacious with enough racks for clothes, towels, and toiletries. There are also lockers provided if you pay a fee of P50. Lastly, I’m not sure if this is the case with all locations, but in Garden Oases, there’s always a lifeguard around despite the abundance of Red Cross junior lifeguards.

Instructors

I was surprised to see that the swimming teachers were way younger than me! In fact, I thought they were assisting the “real” instructors when I first saw them. But they turned out to be very adept in this field (being Red Cross Junior Lifeguards) and serious in teaching. Even though they were young (there were adult students in my batch, me included, but it didn’t matter to them), it was never an issue since they established themselves as the persons of authority in and around the water.

There were a few instructors not in this picture, including Yuri’s teacher who was the only girl in the instructor group

I also felt confident with them around (I can’t see where Yuri is most of the time as he’s either in the kiddie pool or in the shallow end of the big pool) because they’re trained not only to swim but also to save lives.

And another thing. They don’t use floaters or pool noodles or kickboards to teach. I saw that they had those, but I don’t think I can recall Yuri using these implements; instead, everyone had to learn how to float and swim without the help of any floating device. And take it from me who had zero knowledge about swimming: you can learn to swim without them.

(Interestingly, they use an image of children using kickboards in the completion certificate, so maybe this is not true with all locations.)

Fees

At P1000 for 5 days, their fee is one of the lowest around. This is considering how the class will be taught by people who have undergone intense professional training.

The fee doesn’t include pool rates, which they are clear about upon enrollment. But even if you add the pool fees for 5 days, it’s still cheaper than most. For example, in our case, we pay P150 per person per day. That’s P750 for 5 days plus P1000 so it’s a total of P1750 per person. I saw other programs charge waaay higher than that, which makes the Red Cross program a good deal.


I’m so happy we decided to enroll in Red Cross Learn to Swim Program. Here are some tips for you if you decide to enroll your kid (or yourself!) in the program:

My pool essentials!

  • Wait until the classes start and the instructor requires it before buying a swimming cap. Upon enrollment, we were required to buy both a cap and goggles, but we ended up using only the goggles.
  • Make sure you buy good-quality goggles because you’re gonna be using them all the time. Doesn’t have to be Speedo or anything expensive though! (Ours cost less than P200 apiece but did the job pretty well)
  • There’s no need to buy plenty of rash guards or swimwear. A lot of students were wash-and-wearing their swimming outfits and it didn’t matter
  • Wear slippers to the pool (no need to buy swim shoes or anything special)
  • Always wear sunscreen! There’s a 10- minute break after the first hour so take this opportunity to reapply. Take your skin seriously! 😉
  • Bring snacks and water but nothing too heavy on the stomach
  • And lastly, please teach your children, especially the young ones, to stay close to their instructors and follow their instructions carefully. There is a time to learn and a time to play, but most importantly, they should always be safe.
Summer Summer Activities

Our Jollibee Mini Managers Experience!

Hello, hello, hello, I’m still alive!

I never thought I would be this busy during summer break — and we still have more than a full month before school starts. I think I’m busier now than I was during the school year. Yes I know, I’m such a noob hahaha. I haven’t blogged since the beginning of this month, and I’m taking some time to do it now because I’m having the day off.

A very welcome day off after weeks of getting Yuri from activity to activity lol.

Let’s start with Jollibee Mini Managers!

Way back in March, when school hasn’t ended yet, we were already choosing between Jollibee and McDonald’s. I read positive reviews from both, so for me, either option will do (also, since I have worked with both Jollibee and McDonald’s in the past — 3 years apart I think — and both had been great clients). We decided to choose just one since we think it’s gonna be pretty redundant to do both Mini Managers and Kiddie Crew in one summer. Of course, we let Yuri do the choosing.

He’s at this stage where he likes wearing polo and collared shirts (got it from the dad methinks), so he took one look at the Mini Managers uniform and he was sold haha.

He’s also at this stage where he prefers being called “Gabe”

We reserved a slot early (March 14th if I remember correctly) for Week 2 at Jollibee Buhangin since it’s the branch nearest our house. There’s actually another branch just 2 minutes away from us; unfortunately, they don’t do Mini Managers.

Jollibee Mini Managers Details (2018)

Fee: P650 (includes uniform, nameplate, snacks, materials)
Duration: 6 days, 2 hours/day (in our case, it was Tuesday to Sunday)
Schedule: 9 – 11 AM (may depend on the branch)

We were there from April 17th to 22nd. It was a pretty fun week watching Yuri and his batch mates around Jollibee, doing activities and trying to learn how stuff work. Okay, here’s my detailed review of Jollibee Mini Managers. Take note that I have no point of comparison since I’ve never tried McDonald’s Kiddie Crew either, so please use this as someone’s retelling of an experience and not a specific manual.

Activities

Even if I stayed to watch Yuri every day, I could never be too sure of their specific activities since they were inside the function room and we were outside. I do remember that they usually begin the day by singing and dancing. They did not do actual crew work like serving customers, but the older ones were allowed to help man the registers. The younger ones helped greet customers at the entrance and at the drive-through window.

Here are the other major activities I remember doing:

  • Crafts: drawing, making foam airplanes, making picture frames for family pictures
  • Song and dance number for the customers
  • Inspecting the parts of the restaurant that need cleaning/fixing
  • Getting customer “surveys”
  • Making Jollibee Yumburgers

Food

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were served a different kind of meal each day. They got the following:

  • Day 1: Spaghetti
  • Day 2: Burger Steak
  • Day 3: Jolly Hotdog
  • Day 4: Lumpia Shanghai
  • Day 5: Spaghetti, French Fries + the Burger they made during their activity
  • Day 6: Chicken Joy

I like that they were not given just generic “kiddie” food like burgers and spaghetti and that there was variety. Unfortunately, they only served soft drinks with the meals. Yuri doesn’t drink soft drinks so he drank water from his Thermos. Occasionally, I would buy iced tea and swap it with his Coke.

PS: If you’re like me, try not to eat anything before you go to Jollibee because you’re gonna be tempted to eat once you’re there haha. I never thought I’ll get tired of eating tuna pie, but I think I’ve eaten tuna pie 4 days out of 6 and have gotten pretty fed up with it so I ate Jolly Hotdog instead LOLOLOL.

Price

I honestly think we got a great deal for P650. For starters, the uniform included is one entire set, with a polo top and shorts. I inspected the uniform once we got it last month, and I think it’s very well-made. It didn’t hurt that Yuri can use the navy blue shorts for his school uniform, too, hehe. The fabric, while not thick, is not flimsy either and the buttons are well-sown. In fact, I remember that “Jollibee” is engraved in each button, which is cool.

Graduation games

Games again, this time with the parents (who’s competitive???)

With…the principal! LOL! I didn’t anticipate that there will be an actual awarding ceremony, which explains the un-ironed top…

And then we include the price of the meals they get for each day and the materials for their activities. Honestly, I don’t think they profit from this but then again I know nothing hahaha.


Overall, I think Jollibee Mini Managers is a great summer activity for the kids. It’s not very expensive and the kids learn a lot in a new environment and make new friends. Most importantly, Yuri had a memorable time there and want to do it again next year! Nah, let’s try a new activity naman! 😛

Personal

Rekindling the Fire at the World Vision Donor Cafe

World Vision Donor Cafe

I’m proud to say that I have been with World Vision for 4 years now. I began in 2014 by sponsoring one child, and then soon after that, I added another child. God-willing, I pray to someday be financially able enough to support more children.

As a World Vision sponsor, I must say that one of the most fulfilling things to ever happen to me is receiving letters and pictures from the kids. It makes you realise that these kids are actual and real and that they know you… and that somehow they look up to you. Wow.

To be honest, I am no model sponsor. I am embarrassed to say that even though it’s on my mental list, I keep on forgetting to send my kids letters. This is not something that I am proud to admit, but sometimes, on particularly hectic months, my sponsored kids become just another responsibility, just another item on my to-do list.

About Joshua

The author of the letter above, Joshua, regularly sent me letters. I saw him grow up from a little boy who can barely write to a young man who writes eloquently. I was always planning to write him back but it kept going down my priority list. Until I completely forgot to do it. Then one day, just this summer, I received an email from World Vision saying that Joshua’s family has already pulled him out of the program. I asked if I could send him one letter; unfortunately, this was impossible because he’s no longer with World Vision.

I needed a reminder that four years ago, I vowed to not only support these kids financially but also love them and pray for them and hopefully see them succeed, and I got a wakeup call I could not ignore.

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I was really devastated. This boy was in my heart and in my mind, but he probably never knew because he didn’t hear from his ate/tita. This is why when I got an invitation to the very first World Vision Donor Cafe here in Davao City, I didn’t hesitate. I immediately gave them my confirmation and looked forward to being there.

World Vision Donor Cafe

The rain didn’t stop us from going, and good thing because my passion toward what I have always wanted to do — help children — was rekindled that night. I’ll show you some pictures I took that evening.

The venue was provided to World Vision for free, which was awesome. We did however had a little bit of a hard time looking for it, hehe!

The face of someone who almost got lost LOL

My co-sponsor, “Gabe.” New nickname alert!

I even bumped into my upperclassman sorority sister whom I haven’t seen in years. She’s working for World Vision now, which is #goals for me.

There were several inspiring speeches made that night but the ones that stood out for me were the ones given by “major” sponsors or those who are sponsoring more than 10 kids ~wow~ and two professionals who were once sponsored children ~double wow~ (no pictures included because I couldn’t ask them for permission).

World Vision Donor Cafe

Sponsors were given sponsor’s kits which contained stationeries for us to use to write letters to our kids. I didn’t have to be told twice – I immediately wrote overdue letters to mine.

Listening to the sponsors who are currently sponsoring 10 kids was something else. One of them shared that each time they had a new business, no matter how big or small, they sponsored one more kid. With each new blessing they receive, they give back and change not just one kid but an entire family’s life. I was determined to make that an aspiration, a personal example to emulate.

I was truly inspired by the stories of my former sponsored kids who are now successful in their chosen fields. I couldn’t help but wonder, what will my sponsored kids be like when they grow up? Is it possible that I am somehow changing their lives in my own little way?  Listening to their testimonies, I was amazed at how a seemingly small thing, at least for us, can have a huge impact.

It was then when I realised that we are supporting kids who will someday change the world.

If you want to sponsor a child or learn more about child sponsorship, please visit the World Vision Philippines website.

Recipe

Cocoa Overload Overnight Oats

I’ve had quite a tough week last week. There were so many items on my to-do list, I forgot to pay the electric bill (don’t cut off our electricity yet, Davao Light!), and on top of that, there were a few challenges that came up at work. What a nice way to begin the month of April!

I may be working from home, but the sad reality is that none of my days are “easy” or “comfortable.” My schedule is also hectic and it can be overwhelming sometimes. This is why I always need to begin my day with a healthy breakfast!

Segue: I tried intermittent fasting but it’s impossible for me to give up breakfast. I start my day really early (6-7 am is our call time at work) and I can’t focus when I’m hungry.

Right now, I’m really loving this cereal which I pair with my favourite brand of rice milk:

This Kölln Yogurt Raspberry muesli is my current favourite!

It’s a quick fix. However, when I know I’m gonna need some extra boost the next day, I prepare my cocoa overload overnight oats the night before. It’s very easy everybody can do it! Plus you can add or remove ingredients according to your needs and preferences. Here are the stuff that go into mine:

  1. Rolled oats (I buy Robinsons Supermarket’s brand, Healthy You)
  2. Chia seeds (any brand will do)
  3. Cacao nibs (the ones from The Superfood Grocer is hands down the best for me)
  4. Cocoa powder (I used to use Bensdorp but I didn’t see a difference in taste when I switched to a much cheaper local brand)
  5. Rice Dream rice milk (you can use whatever kind of milk you prefer)

The Healthy You brand of rolled oats is cheap. That is a big pack (I forgot the exact weight but it lasts me months and I consume oats regularly) and costs less than P65 if I remember correctly. The cocoa powder is also cheap and you don’t need much every time. Chia seeds cost around P150 for a small pack but it goes a long way. My cacao nibs from The Superfood Grocer, if I remember correctly again, cost around P250. However, they’re a worthwhile investment if you’re a chocoholic and trying to avoid unnecessary sugar!

I think the only truly expensive (at least for me) is the rice milk at around P160-P180 but I can’t drink cow’s milk so… Soy milk is cheaper but I can only tolerate it when it’s chocolate-flavoured, which defeats the purpose. Almond milk is more even more expensive and I’m not a fan of the taste. So it’s rice milk for me!

Okay, enough talk, here’s how I make my Cocoa Overload Overnight Oats:

My “paraphernalia”

First I put less than a tablespoon of chia seeds. I prefer putting them first so they’ll absorb all the liquid (I think, lol)

Then I add half a cup of rolled oats. It seems little but the oats absorb the liquid and increase in volume

And then I add another half cup of milk. I make sure all the chia seeds are covered in liquid

I mix in around a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Sometimes I go crazy on the cocoa hehe (it is low in calories anyway and has no sugar added)

Finally, I add the cacao nibs. Since these are already coated in coconut sugar, I don’t need to add sweetener anymore

I put it inside the fridge overnight and in the morning, my breakfast is ready! So even when I’m rushing, I’m never out of something healthy to eat. I add bananas for extra energy — plus bananas and chocolate go so well together, right? Then I add just a few more cacao nibs for positive vibes *wink*

What is your favourite thing to eat during breakfast?

Birthday Events Restaurant Review

Yuri’s 6th Birthday Celebration + Review of Cafe Andessa

Cafe Andessa is one of my favorite local restaurants. Aside from being one of the restaurants closest to our suburb (read: mountains lol), I love the ambience and their food is always delicious!

But it’s only late last year when I discovered that they can be exclusively booked for events and private dinners. We were invited by our clients (in real estate), and I made it a mini-mission to know how much they charge for exclusive bookings. Of course, I promptly forgot about inquiring until it was almost Yuri’s birthday. We actually booked the place just a week before our desired date. Good thing they were still available!

Aside from Yuri’s birthday, we were also celebrating his Moving Up and my sister’s Moving Up, which is why we chose to have the celebration on the 28th (the day of my sister’s Moving Up). Also, it was the day before the long weekend, which was ideal.

Let me tell you upfront that I am very very satisfied with Cafe Andessa! But before I explain why, here are some pictures of the event. First, the OOTDs taken at home! Hihi pagbigyan na

And the photos taken at Cafe Andessa. I really reaaaally regret not being able to take a lot of pictures. I don’t even have a single picture of the dishes! But these were on our menu: chicken pastel pie, beef caldereta, sweet and sour fish, spaghetti, fried suman, fresh fruits, and pineapple-orange juice.

We had so much fun that evening, and I can say that our guests — both the kids and the adults — had a great time, too. We prepared silly games, guessing games, which was kinda hard because of the venue’s limited space. But we were able to do it, much thanks to Cafe Andessa’s superb customer service. Here’s my verdict!

Photo grabbed from MJ Crave’s Escape

Location

As of now, though you can easily reach the restaurant by commuting, its location is still a bit hidden. However, it’s right in front of the new Gaisano Mall that’s currently being built, so once the mall’s done, it wouldn’t be so hidden anymore! Parking is okay; there is enough space for several cars.

Price

When you book the place exclusively for your event, you have two options. First is booking the entire place and second is booking half the place. In order to book the entire place — which we did — they are asking for a minimum headcount of 45 pax. I’m not sure whether they count the kids or not, but I counted the kids on my guest list just to be on the safe side.

I’ll let you in on the price. It’s just P250 per head! It’s very sulit given these inclusions: use of the place for 4 hours, 3 viands, 1 vegetable/noodle dish, dessert, and unlimited drinks. I’ll discuss the food next.

Food

The primary reason why Cafe Andessa was on top of our choices was the food. Their food is always so delicious, authentic, and they don’t scrimp at all on ingredients. When we inquired, we were surprised at the amount of food included given the low price. Other restaurants charge much higher for less food!

It’s already a given that their food is yummy, so I wasn’t surprised when our guests went back for seconds, thirds, even fourths. But the biggest pleasant surprise was the serving. When we got there, there were already warmers for each dish. I thought that was it. As the night went by, I noticed that they kept on refilling each warmer. Super sulit! 

And that’s not all. When we were getting ready to leave, the waiter immediately packed all the food left from dinner. I thought that was it (are you noticing a pattern now?), but the manager told us to wait for a while as they’re still packing the food from the kitchen that wasn’t served. What, meron pa?! We went home with so much food that we had to distribute most of it to our other guests who remained. Super duper sulit!

I only got to take a picture of the buffet table huhu

Unfortunately, I don’t have a single photo of the cuisine because I was very busy jumping from table to table. I don’t think the other guests were also able to take a photo.

Customer Service

As if my rave about their food and pricing is still not enough, I will add one more thing. The staff from Cafe Andessa is one of the most pleasant, polite, and approachable restaurant staff I’ve ever talked to. They’re really easy to talk to and was okay with most of our requests (nothing outrageous!). I called the manager a couple of times before the event and was never unpleasant or unprofessional.

During the night itself, they were very accommodating to us and all our guests and we never felt intimidated. Plus, they didn’t even have to tell us that there was still food left in the kitchen because, in the first place, we never even considered that there are still leftovers after all those refills. But they did! So thank you because the leftovers served as our food for the next couple of days LOL!


So do I recommend Cafe Andessa? If it’s not yet obvious, I very highly recommend them! The price is very reasonable (it was actually unbelievable IMO), the food is absolutely delicious, and you will be met by the kindest staff. If you’re planning on hosting a dinner and live somewhere near the north of Davao City, consider Cafe Andessa!


For Cafe Andessa’s menu for exclusive dinners, please click here.


 

Birthday Davao Events Events

Happy Coincidence: Yuri’s Birthday + Firefighter for a Day

Happy Easter everyone! So… Yuri turned 6 last Monday, March 26th.

Aaaahhhh, I have a 6-year old!

*regains composure*

There honestly wasn’t anything special planned for the day because his birthday celebration was already scheduled for Wednesday, the 28th. I had the day off so we were just planning on playing with his new gifts from his Tito and Tita and a new bike from his dad and me.

By mid-morning, we realized we needed to go back to the grocery to buy some more supplies and loot bags for the party. So we went to Gaisano Mall, where there were a lot of cheap party supplies.

Imagine our surprise when we saw that there were a lot of firefighters in the atrium. Actually, the thing that caught my eye was this!

Grabbed from the BFP Davao Facebook page

A mini rappelling station! Needless to say, we were thrilled to join the event and abandoned the mission to go to the grocery. Thank you mother for volunteering to get the supplies hihi. In my defense, she was the one who thought we should let Yuri attend this one-day event instead. Which just happened to fall on Yuri’s birthday. What a happy coincidence!

There were 6 stations to complete, and once a child completes all stations, they can get a prize. Awesome! I’m not even ashamed to say we spent 3 hours in the atrium for this. I’ll show you each station through pictures.

Coloring Area

First, we went to this area where other kids were coloring the materials given by the BFP. Yuri only colored a couple of pages (not a fan of coloring…) and we proceeded to the next station.

1st Station – Education

In this station, they showed the kids the different equipment and tools used for firefighting. I took photos of the different equipment, but they’re too many to attach here!

Red Cross Station – Rescue 

Yuri was so excited to try this one! He almost stumbled upon one of the ropes on the floor hehe. After pretending to be rescued, he then pretended to help rescue another kid.

2nd Station – Firefighting 

It’s not clear in the picture, but there was water coming out of the fire extinguisher. The goal was to put out the “fire” in the burning houses. What a creative way to teach!

3rd Station: First Aid (Bandaging)

One of Yuri’s proudest moments (and mine as well lol!) happened in this station. Out of his “batch” of kids (obviously except the kuya of the younger kid beside Yuri), only he was able to tie the bandage. The BFP personnel even asked him to do it twice, and he did it. Good job, Yuri!

Funny because as soon as the other parents who were next in line saw this, they immediately started teaching their kids how to tie a knot. At that moment, I was so glad Yuri wears bathrobes that need tying!

Tying a simple knot, like buttoning, is a life skill, guys! Don’t forget to teach your kids this!

4th Station: First Aid (CPR)

Yuri had so much fun doing CPR, complete with hand compression (proper hand placement, too) and rescue breaths. He wanted to try it on me when we got home. I saw how “vigorously” he had done it on the dummy, so I had to say no lol!

5th Station: Knot Tying

While Yuri knows how to tie a knot, he had difficulty managing the thick ropes provided, so I had to step in and help him. We need to practice, but we haven’t got ropes at home?

6th Station: Rappelling

This was the most popular station in the Fire Square, for obvious reasons! By the time we reached this station, there was already a long queue of kids. Still, we patiently waited for our turn. I asked him if he was afraid, and he said no. Yuri was so thrilled when it was finally his turn to rappel! Too bad he was wearing Crocs, which were slippery, but for a first-timer, he did quite alright IMO. He wants to do it again!

If you want to watch Yuri’s videos rescuing, doing CPR, rappelling, and more, here is my Instagram post:

Both of us learned a lot — and I was at my peek stage mom mode. Hey, I’ve never “rescued” someone before using real Red Cross equipment. I’ve never given someone (even a dummy) CPR and I have certainly never rappelled before! Yet my kid who just turned 6 did it all!

It’s a shame that it was just a 1-day event. I know a lot of other kids would love to join the Fire Square, too!

Kindergarten School

Farewell, Kindergarten + What I Learned About Schooling

It’s been a full 9 days since Yuri’s Moving Up ceremony, and I still can’t believe the school year is finally over! It’s been an awesome first year of regular schooling and we’ve made a lot of new friends. I also saw my son develop good study habits and self-discipline. But the highlight of the year, for me, was probably seeing Yuri do things on his own, meet people — both kids and adults — on his own, get along with everyone, and realising that he will do just fine.

As for me, I’m amazed that I’ve been able to keep up with preparing a healthy baon everyday. Yes, it’s a big deal for me! They were not as bongga as the ones I made from scratch and lovingly arranged in his container in June, but at least there were still fruits, cheese, and the occasional homemade food. It’s still an achievement for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop striving for better.

Going back to the Moving Up ceremony, Yuri got three awards: With Honors, Star Reader, and Enthusiastic Learner. I mentioned quite discreetly in my last post that we were involved in a little drama in the days leading to the ceremony; it had something to do with the awards I mentioned above. I don’t think about it anymore and I’m just hoping it wouldn’t happen again. After all, it’s already been resolved so move on na!

Yuri’s Learning Style

No one in his class got an award higher than With Honors because of the school’s grading system. It’s not a big issue as long as the educators fairly assess each child as a unique individual. You see, Yuri doesn’t struggle with academics but he’s timid and is not a performer. He performs when needed (e.g. when he was made Joseph in their Christmas play) but he’s not as comfortable in the spotlight as other kids are. He prefers being in the back or being in the corner, quietly doing his own thing. Which is okay!

He certainly didn’t inherit this trait from me because I am epal lol but I relish in Yuri’s uniqueness. He is a doer and whatever he puts his heart into doing, he tries his best to do well. Unfortunately, this can mean being pitted against the performers, the speakers, and those who just shine effortlessly — which I try to understand because there’s more than 30 kids in his class and comparison is unavoidable. Good thing he aces his examinations, even the on-the-spot Stanine academic assessment done by the school.

Yeah, I am fully aware that this is a strong argument for homeschooling, but Yuri’s gonna be kawawa if I push on homeschooling since I really do not have the time it takes to be a full-time educator huhu. Because formal schooling is our best option, I’m just hoping and pushing for the “reserved” kids to also be recognised fairly. 🙂

Moving Up Ceremony

Anyway, here are more pictures of Yuri’s Kindergarten Moving Up ceremony! Theirs is very special because they are the first batch of kids ever to use the school’s newly built auditorium. As in they were still finishing it less than two weeks before the ceremony. It was exciting to see the kids sing and dance. After all those rehearsals, I could only imagine the relief their teachers felt — they can finally breathe now!

Before the program started, with his friend Christopher

From the school’s official Facebook page (my sister insisted on going upstage, too, because she’ll never have the chance again haha – she’s graduating, too, but they’re not going to use the auditorium)

From the school’s official Facebook page

From the school’s official Facebook page

With his classmates (right) Jhia and Isabella, and AM batchmate (left) Zoe

With his classmate, Carl

With his classmate, Toffy

And with his best friend (“bro,” he corrected me), Antoine

With Tita Angel, their teacher aide

With Teacher Han, their substitute teacher

With Teacher Lorraine, their adviser who just gave birth in December, and Isabella

With Teacher Dinah (left), their Christian Living teacher, and Teacher Grace, their prefect of discipline

The ceremony ended early in the afternoon, and after taking pictures with virtually everyone we see inside the auditorium, it was time to go. We’re scheduled to have a more formal graduation + birthday celebration next week so we just ate an early dinner at Bistro Selera.

And the boy was treated to a giant cotton candy!

It was a very fulfilling year, and while I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, I am glad that kindergarten year ended on a high note. I am looking forward to another fun-filled and learning-filled year. First grade, here we come!

Lifestyle School

Messy Life Lately: Moving Up and House Renovation

OMG, I thought I would be able to blog once final examinations are done. Well, Yuri has had his final examinations done for more than two weeks now (the last day of their exams was last March 2nd pa), but I barely blogged. I didn’t know I would be even busier after final examinations!

I’m such a noob school-mom. I had no idea there would be so much to do after the final exams and before their Moving Up ceremony. Costumes, rehearsals, schedules… I was not prepared at all!

For starters, the PM kids (us) had to adjust their body clock again because they had to go to school in the morning to be with the AM kids. And because they only had a total of 8 days to prepare for their Moving Up (and we are talking about 5-7 year olds here), for the final week of rehearsals, they were expected to be in school for the whole day. It was a major adjustment for us since we’ve never had to stay in school for more than 4-5 hours.

I appreciate that they didn’t make the kids wear intricate costumes (part of the school policy), so at least there’s less hassle on our part as parents. However, no matter how practical, we still had to buy costumes and their Moving Up attire.

Moving Up

But finally it’s done! Yuri’s class had their Moving Up ceremony last Thursday, March 15th. I’ll be a bit cheeky here and mention that there was a bit of drama that happened to us at school, but that was already resolved — all’s well that ends well. Special mention to my friends, George and Yankee, to whom I vented. Thank you for listening!

The ceremony itself was bittersweet. It was so much fun watching the kids sing, dance, and perform. It was truly a culmination in every sense of the word, and we were filled with pride watching how much our children improved. Of course, it was doubly fun witnessing the ceremony with my co-parents who also became my friends.

I’ll stop here because Yuri’s Moving Up deserves a different post, but I’ll show you some pictures!

These kids were the first group of students to use the school’s newly-built auditorium

Grabbed from the school’s official FB page

Grabbed from the school’s official FB page

With my pretty co-parents 🙂

Renovation

But more than the preparations for Moving Up, the thing that’s been bringing me a lot of hassle is this:

This used to be the back part of our house. It had housed our washing machine and the clothesline. We don’t do our laundry at home anymore — in fact, our clothesline was barely used and our washing machine had been unused for the past 2-3 years. So we decided to take the wall down and convert the unused space into a new, more spacious kitchen. It’s exciting but when there’s a renovation taking place inside your own house, it’s very stressful because it’s messy, it’s dirty, it’s dusty… Lahat na!

In fact, because our current kitchen is virtually covered in cement dust (cleaning is futile because once they start working again, it’s going to be covered in dust again), we’re relying on food delivery 75% of the time. And because it is so uninspiring to stay in the kitchen, I have stopped making healthy food. I’m back to eating carbs (because you can’t make me wash veggies and make salads in this condition) so I’m just carefully watching my portions na lang.

I can’t wait for this renovation to be over!


On the brighter side of things, I can now finally say that it is officially SUMMER VACATION! We’re gonna be busy, busy, busy, but the nice kind of busy. My planner is going to be full… I can’t wait regretting enrolling Yuri in different summer classes and complaining about hectic schedules! 😅

School Summer

Hello March, Hello Summer!

Raise your hands with me if you also can’t believe it’s already March!

Wasn’t it just yesterday when Yuri was starting kindergarten? I still vividly recall how frazzled I was during the first day (I ironed everything…down to Yuri’s socks — now I know better!), how I looked forward to the orientation and the first PTA meetings, how we made friends in class… Of course, it wasn’t that long ago, only 9 months ago, but you know what I mean!

In fact, just earlier this morning, I went to the school’s PTA General Assembly, the second for this year (the first one took place in July). As usual, I got out of the general assembly feeling more stressed than usual (loooong story), but it’s okay. I’m just rejoicing because Yuri’s final exams are finally over!

Yes, they had their final exams last week. Ang aga, ‘no? I am not complaining at all! It’s been terribly busy for the past two weeks, with all the work + real estate commitments and studying with Yuri for his finals. I’m so glad it’s over. Tomorrow, they’re going to start rehearsing na for their Moving Up ceremony. We’re still going to school but at least, no more stress na (at least for this aspect).

While I love taking Yuri to school, I’m looking forward to summer break when I don’t have to dress up and get out of the house. I can almost taaaste it. On the other hand, I want Yuri’s summer break to be productive, and we’re already starting to plan for it. Here are some of our plans:

1. Swim School

I’m waiting for Red Cross Davao to make their announcement regarding this year’s summer swimming lesson schedule. We missed last year’s so now I’ll make sure to enrol Yuri in their program as early as possible.

2. Jollibee Mini Managers Camp or McDonald’s Kiddie Crew

Isa lang, not both! I’ve heard good things about either two. I like McDo because the nearest location to our house is more convenient. However, I think Yuri prefers Jollibee because he likes the uniform better. Whichever works, honestly.


Apart from this two, I’m also thinking of enrolling Yuri to a music school. Yes, I’m still not over this ambition! However, while I want our summer break to be productive, I don’t want it to be hectic. Still, if I can find a sweet spot in between to achieve a balanced schedule, I might as well take it (with Job’s consent, of course, since he already vetoed last year LOL).

What are your plans for summer?

Kindergarten Lifestyle School

School is Almost Over!!!

I can’t believe it. There’s only 1 week of formal classes left for Yuri! After this week will be their final examinations, and after that, practice for moving up. The weather is chilly right now, but I can almost smell the sweet scent of summer (break).

Guess who needs new jogging pants?! Ang ikli na!

With two of Yuri’s classmates

(By the way, their jogging pants don’t look like that ha haha. I just erased the name of the school. You know na, mahirap na)

Funny because I still have several school-related posts sitting in my drafts, which I never got to finish. I guess I’ll  have to wait until the next school year to work on them again… LOL I’m so bad at this, I often wonder how come I’m still blogging! (Speaking of pending posts, I’ll probably be able to post them all once school’s over, so yay!)

From our school’s FB page

Yuri’s class hasn’t had formal classes for about two weeks now — actually, the whole school. They spent a week rehearsing for their Sama-Sama, which is the school’s culmination event for the year. I remember my first Sama-Sama back in 1996… or was it 1997? I was new to the school, a transferee, so I had no idea what Sama-Sama means. The school celebrates its fiesta every August, so what could this event be?

Imagine my glee when I found out that aside from the field demonstrations and food stalls, there were carnival rides in the campus! I didn’t ride on the big rides because my parents didn’t allow me, but I did have a great time trying the other attractions.

But that was more than 20 years ago. There’s more regard for safety now and regulations are a lot stricter, so there wasn’t any single ride at school. Actually, there hasn’t been for a long time. Instead, the students — and the parents — enjoyed the food stalls (bawal junk food!) and the program. There was even a magic show, which was fun.

Oh, and the kids danced, too!

Formal classes will resume this week, and by next week, they will be having their final examinations (paulit-ulit haha). I will be busy again with making worksheets and studying. And then we will all be busy with the preparations for moving up. But after that, freedom! Hurrah to the last stretch of school year 2017-2018!

PS: I’m planning to enroll Yuri (and myself!) to a swimming school in the city, but let’s see what happens. What are your plans for summer?