Manila the nth time around.

img_8052We’ve been living abroad for over a decade now and we’ve been coming home every year to no fail. I know I’m lucky to have this opportunity but every year I go home with a semi heavy heart. Not because I hate going home, eating good Filipino food or spending time with family but it’s because I immediately think of the inconveniences that I’m going to have to encounter and endure while we stay in Manila for 3-4 weeks. The traffic, the constant fear of getting mugged (thankfully it’s never happened), getting into a car accident because people drive like crazy, and thanks to TV Patrol, Akyat-Bahay gang, Salisi gang, Martilyo gang, etc doesn’t exactly help calm my nerves. As soon as I land NAIA 1 (need I say more?) my anxiety level goes crazy. I’m lucky that the husband knows how to handle me and we survive every year because if I had to depend on myself to get calm we will never carry on 😉.

But this year I think some of his care free/go with the flow/just go with it attitude has rubbed a little on me because even as I write this, I can’t remember a single thing to complain about on our recent trip. Yes there was traffic, yes there was heat, yes there was rain but for some kind of miracle I took all these with stride and wasn’t even too bothered about the whole deal.

img_8084Some circumstances helped a little too. First, we landed at NAIA 3 which is already a BIG improvement from … (that place that shall not be named). Second, WAZE helped a lot  to bring down my anxiety with the traffic. I think knowing what time you were going to get to your destination and knowing that there was hope in any traffic situation helped me get through the notorious Manila traffic. Third, Family and friends is ❤️. The support, the help and even just getting the boys entertained and keeping them happy already made the trip worthwhile.

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I left Manila feeling like I always do, 1st that the trip was too short, 2nd that I’m very sad to go, and 3rd there goes another 10 pounds I’d have to lose. But this year there was something different, while in the past I’ve always thought that one year was enough time to get over the “Trauma in Manila” this year I wouldn’t mind coming back in less than that.

If there was one thing I’ve learned from this trip, it’s the art of letting go..no this is not a hugot line. But more of letting go of things that are out of my control like the traffic.  Planning ahead is a good thing but if things don’t go as planned I’d have to accept it and move on, more often than not moving on with other plans are always far better than my own. Over thinking, over planning, and being an all around drill sergeant never really helped anybody and I’m trying my best to be less of that for my sake and my boys.

I think the best way to deal with Manila or anything in life that brings you anxiety is best said with these words:

Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

 

Imagine all this enlightenment with only a trip to Manila? Think of how much enlightened I will be if we go on a trip to...Japan?? HINT HINT! #anybodyoutthere #subtlemoves

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The bare necessities

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Paris is always a good idea – Audrey Hepburn

For spring break 2016 we treated the boys to a trip to Disneyland. But living 15 hours away from Orlando and not crazy (yet!) to take on that kind of flight with the boys, our next best bet was Paris. A skip, hop and a plane away and viola! We find ourselves in the city of lights.

Disneyland Paris is about 40 km away from Paris but definitely accessible by train. If you have the type of family who can backpack around Europe then by all means that route is the best and cheaper. But we on the other hand, didn’t want to kill ourselves (and file for divorce) with carrying luggage and hauling the boys around the train station so we booked a taxi to get there. It may cost a little extra but the convenience and the peace of mind was worth it. Plus, if you have a 6 and 3-year-old like us – you might want to reconsider your options.

There are quite a few Disney hotels to cater to any budget, our hotel of choice was the Hotel Cheyenne ($$). Arriving to the place boy oh boy were my boys’ mind blown away. It’s themed to be like an old town USA, cowboy theme. Which for my boys was absolutely AHMAAAAAAZIIIIIING!!!! They were thrilled to no end. From the bunk beds at the rooms to the boot shaped table lamp no detail was overlooked by these two errrr… three (husband included). As for me, I guess I was being a bit of a grown up (and a little bit spoiled thanks to Dubai hotels) that I was definitely not impressed.  The husband told me to keep  my thoughts to myself as not to dampen on the boys’ mood (his included). So with my mouth shut (for about 5 minutes) and opinions to myself (for about 5 minutes) we carried on. I don’t know what I was expecting but the amenities were basic “bare necessities” I believe is the best way to describe it.


Maybe because it was my first time in Paris and in a Disneyland hotel at that, that maybe I may have romanticized the whole thing in my mind and expected to much. Oh! and the best part was, there was NO WiFi at the rooms (Where am I? Bates Motel?!) Upon advisement by my wise friend Michelle, to look on the bright side and that the room was only for sleeping so all I really needed was a bed. With these words I carried on with my tail behind my legs.

The next morning with a renewed spirit, we hit the ball rolling with our Magic hour perk. Magic hour is extra hours at the park for hotel guests before the park opens to the public. Now that’s the kind of exclusivity that I’m talking about.

With a smile on my face and a better outlook on our hotel, we got our breakfast, hopped on our free shuttle to the park and took advantage of the short-er lines to the rides for two hours. Because the hotel was only 5 mins away by bus and the shuttle comes almost every 3 minutes my mind was at peace that at anytime we got tired or it would be too much for the boys we could always go back to the hotel to rest. We enjoyed the day riding the Dumbo ride again and again and again and again. But the boys were relentless, they would’ve stayed at the park ALL day if we let them, for a few hours there was no complaints, no whining and no fighting. Eat, sleep, repeat and day 2 was pretty much the same.  But with the boys loving every minute and seeing them so happy made the whole trip and the hotel’s shortcomings worth it.


I’m not always the best at admitting I was wrong but I have to say it wasn’t so bad to just have the bare necessities at the hotel. Having no wi-fi in the rooms made us spend time with each other and dare I say it, talk to our children more (imagine the horror?!). Maybe the Disney people have something here…concentrate on spending more time with family and less on going online. Or maybe they were just cutting corners to make more profit but whatever it was I enjoyed spending time with my boys and to see and experience Disneyland through their eyes was surely a moment I will treasure.


Lesson learned: First impressions may last but giving second chances may change your outlook on life and how you deal with the people you love.😜

 

*all that awakening and personal growth from this? Maybe the husband should take me to Paris more often no?

 

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!

So just try and relax, yeah cool it
Fall apart in my backyard
'Cause let me tell you something little britches
If you act like that bee acts, uh uh
You're working too hard

And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true

The bare necessities of life will come to you

International day

 

 

Raffles International day: students from 92 different countries

With almost half of Dubai being populated by expats. It’s only fitting that the schools here celebrate their diversity. Thus I present to you, International day. It’s one of the or maybe THE most looked forward to event on the school calendar. And why shouldn’t it be? There’s music, there’s dancing, you get to learn different cultures, you get to see each country’s landmarks and natural resources, you get to hear different languages being spoken to all around you, and of course there are a lot of food for you to sample!


Each country is assigned a stall which is usually represented and designed by a parent/s who shares and talks about all sorts of interesting facts to the kids about their heritage.

In both of my children’s schools it became like a food stall festival, with every country offering us famous foods they are known for which I thoroughly enjoyed!

It was like my boys and I travelled the world in 3 hours and we are definitely better for it. Living with so many different nationalities opens your minds to different cultures and it makes you more accepting of each of our differences.

 

JINS: “Everyone Belongs” I love this mural (?) they have on the school lobby

If there’s anything I could hope for my boys to understand after all this is that people are different, but no matter who we are and where we come from, no one ever has the right to belittle one another, whether through words, actions or in their thoughts.  And once they’ve had that maybe they can teach it to me too.

 

Aden and I circa 2013@ JINS for Adrian’s International day


Aden and I 2016 @ JINS for his International day


(major) #throwbackthursday @Singaporedeli

Picture borrowed from Zomato

Singapore Deli is a hole on the wall restaurant that I’ve gotten to know 10 years ago! Yes! You read it correctly 10 YEARS! This restaurant is in any foodie’s must visit list.

It hasn’t changed much since the last time we ate there and if I’m not mistaken the prices too remain the same (or almost the same). Dubai is changing so much that it’s amazing for me to find places like this that stay the same after all these years. Business must be doing well since they still don’t accept credit cards and the menu is still the same. The restaurant is kept simple with about 5(?) tables inside and tables outside. Chances are if you’ve been here before it’s still the same as you remember it.

Picture borrowed from Zomato

It was nice to go back to our old stomping ground, this time with our boys walking errrr driving along the streets of Karama. This may seem corny but it’s where I first learned to be independent and to live on my own so it may not be the poshest place in town but it holds a special place in my heart(Naks! Told you it was gonna to be corny).

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He loves to order noodles and soup but only eats the noodles

I’m happy the boys enjoyed the food too. I think I’ve said it before but I’d sure love to raise my boys with an open mind when it comes to food and hopefully this type of thinking transfers to love of travel, open mindness to different cultures and to be more accepting of people who are different from who they are.

Here’s hoping to more adventurous Thursday dinners with my boys and hopefully I get some interesting posts out of it too. 😉

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nix can stitch

Time flies when you are having fun

– says every crochet enthusiast ever!

Yes, Hi! my name is Nicole and I am a crochet and yarn addict.

It’s been a year since I started to go down this path to spinsterhood but I have to tell you I’m loving every step of the way. I’m not trying to persuade you to take it up but if you were like me who was juggling a house, a carpool, a 3 year old (then 2 clingy toddler), and just need some time to escape think about crochet my friend! It’s changed my life.

What started out as a project for Christmas presents for friends has now evolved into a small business aptly named nix can stitch. It hasn’t raked in the BIG bucks (yet!) but it has stirred in me a certain drive that makes me want to improve myself (naks! all that from crochet 😱 imagine).

I could talk about it on and on and on or you could just try it for yourself and discover the joys of a new found hobby. There are lots of online tutorial on youtube that may help you start this journey and if I can help in anyway please don’t hesitate to ask.

The genesis of my crochet and yarn addiction as documented by Facebook…

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…and the rest as they say is history.


Lights out at 8PM

I run a very tight shift at home. I like my schedules and I want them followed to the T. My husband, not so much…he’s very relaxed and has a “go with the flow, enjoy the moment” type of personality. We’re polar opposites when it comes to timing but as always we make it work.

It’s been a week now that he’s been away on business and the kids are running on my schedule

6:40 leave house for school

7:30 big one at school

8:00 little one at school

13:00 pick up little one

14:15 pick up 1st one

15:00 home – rest

16:00 bath

17:00 all homework done

18:00 dinner

wind down and by …

20:00 light out

Of course sometimes they’re still hyper and active but I realized that if you close the lights on them sooner or later they WILL fall asleep, that’s if you don’t fall asleep first (which is usually what happens to me).

I know enjoying life and taking time to smell the roses is a good thing but I truly believe that being punctual is also a trait that they should instill in themselves. It’s one thing that’s very important to me and I think that if everybody in the world would be punctual we are 1/2 way to world peace as we know it.

OK, I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m late sometimes too and I often feel bad about it, it’s easy to blame someone else for my tardiness but what does blaming someone else do for the one who waited for me and wasted their time? the answer NADA. Time was still wasted and we can’t bring that time back.

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I’m sometimes/often seen as the villain at home because of my sergeant ways of barking orders to move quickly because we were going to be late (2 hours before) but my ethos is, let’s get there on time and then enjoy the moment …why not have both worlds working in together right?


Bystro Dubai

My first post back and you just have to know it’s got to be about my favourite topic, FOOD (specifically breakfast). Also since I missed so much, I’m going through my memory bank from the latest experience and going back from there.

Bystro Cafe is along Sheikh Zayed road and I pass by it every single day when I drop off big A to school. It first caught my eye when I stumbled upon their instagram account (@bystrodubai) and I’ve followed them ever since. I’ve been such a big fan that it’s almost embarrassing that it took me this long to go and actually try them.

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As expected the ambiance was perfect for me and my 3-year-old. I was surprised that the day we came in there were more office type people dining and not mother and kids combo but then I quickly realised that it was summer and most families were probably away for holiday.

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Love that there’s a small space for the kids in the corner.

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I know I’m not the only one happy about this 😜

But my timing couldn’t be any better, for this summer they are having a 50% off your bill promo. Of course it’s not that easy, you must order a coffee, any fresh juice and any item from their breakfast menu then you get the 50% off. I don’t know about you but I’m a real sucker for any % off my food bill. Fine print is it’s only valid from Sundays to Wednesday and from 8am to 11am and it’s valid until the end of August (not sure about the date, but why wait until then, right?). Which for me was absolutely perfect.

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not my actual order but close enough

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The sweets display, which I desperately tried to stay away from but managed to take a peek.

I ordered the French toast with banoffee sauce with caramelized walnuts and of course coffee for me and fresh juice for the little one, which was enough for us to get the 50% deal. (I can’t stress to you how happy I am to get this deal). To try to describe my meal would be worthless because there are simply no words. I’d like to especially mention the servers that they were amazing, they were friendly but not too intrusive which is exactly how I like to interact with people most of the time.

Another piece of good news is that they are also included in the infamous Entertainer App so there is absolutely no excuse for you not to go right?

Like NOW???!!!!!

*all pictures were “borrowed” from @bystrodubai instagram account (you think they’d mind?😉)

If you’ve been here and loved it as much as I did, don’t forget to vote for them for What’s on Best Cafe category. I put the link down below for you x

Vote