What we did last summer

Because summer in the MidEast means it’s too HOT to play outside (may not even be safe in some cases) we’ve kept ourselves busy by visiting different play areas around our area. And because if I wrote about every place we went to, my blog would look like a catalogue on play areas about Dubai. So I’ve decided to put all our visits into one post.

Keeping my growing hyperactive boys entertained is a big task. Adrian jumps on the bed and stands on tables and the little one is more than happy to follow suit.  When it gets too much to handle, I just simply pack up the boys and take them somewhere they can expire their fully energized bodies.

These are some of the places that helped me survive the summer:

1. Fun Corner @ Spinneys Centre

Umm Suqeim / Al Wasl Road
T: 04-3940315

This is Adrian’s favorite of them all because of the BIG slide. Whenever I’d tell him that we were gonna go to a play area he’d always ask if there was a BIG SLIDE (referring to this place). This is a nice place for a party, the equipment does look a bit old but I imagine to a child it doesn’t matter. Best part about this place for me is the Starbucks just beside the play area where I can get a cup of  coffee while watching the kids play!

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2. Småland @Ikea Festival City:

This is free to any shoppers of IKEA but during the weekend there can be a line so make sure you be there early. There is not much to see or do in this area, my son was so bored he asked them to call me to pick him up after 15 mins! But I think he was just used to other play areas where he has a lot of things to do, here because it’s just a small area there are limited things he can do. #spoiledmuch

3. Peek a Boo @Mall of The Emirates

2nd Floor Magic Planet
Tel/Fax: 04 3470622
Open 10am-9pm 7 days a week

I used to bring Adrian here all the time when he was younger. Mainly because they have a different activities for the child every 30 mins, they have nursery rhymes (which was my favorite), cooking, baking, arts and crafts and so on. This time around with Aden I felt like the quality has somewhat reduced a little. The singing of the nursery rhymes felt like it was rushed and the staff was not as in to it as they were 2-3 years ago. Which was a shame because the main reason I kept bringing Adrian to their place was because the staff seemed to enjoy their jobs and it reflected to their singing. Now not so much, I wonder what happened?

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4. FUN CITY @ Ibn Battuta

Tunisia Court, Jebel Ali Village
Tel: +971 4 3669819
Email: Ibnbattuta@funcity.ae

During the start of the Holy month of Ramdan, I wasn’t sure if play areas were open so to be sure I brought the boys to Ibn Battuta, which was a mall very near our place if it was close it would be easy to go home. I’ve been here on a weekend and I must say it was nice and relaxing being here on a weekday, I wasn’t nervous watching both boys play because there were only a handful of kids in the play area. And because there weren’t that many kids they each had a place of their own without them fighting over one spot.

*on Mondays rides are only 1DHS

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5. Fun Square

Times Square Center
Sheikh Zayed Road, At 3/4th Interchange
Tel: +971 4 341 8020
Fax: +971 4 341 8086

I like this place a lot, it’s big , spacious and has lots of light. I would imagine it would look nice for a party. They did say you can hire the entire place if you wanted to have a party exclusively for your guests (Mental note for next birthday planning venues).  Plus Times Square Center is not a very busy mall so it’s easy to go with the kids. Plus, plus there’s always parking available.

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Adrian: I am four!

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Adrian turns Four today! We did not throw him a party this year but we planned a weekend for him that we think he would enjoy. We celebrated his birthday the weekend before until his actual birthday which was a total of 4 days. Four days of spoiling Adrian.

Our plan was to bring the boys to Ferrari World and stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at YAS Island. We were all set to go but on Thursday Arnie wasn’t feeling well, so taking the boys to Ferrari World seemed to taxing for him, thinking of a low-key activity, we decided to take the boys to a movie. We watched Despicable Me 2 and I was happy that Adrian didn’t seem to mind the cancelled trip to Ferrari World. After the movie we went straight to YAS Island to check in at the hotel for some R&R (whatever that means with two kids in tow).

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In my efforts to make him feel special that weekend, I brought some gifts to the hotel with us and hid them around the room while he was sleeping, so when he woke up, we told him his presents were hiding and he had to look for it! It was so much fun watching Adrian go on his treasure hunt. He even wanted to look for all his presents before he opened them all up and started playing for his loooong time overdue presents.

must explain: @2 years old Adrian had a party in Manila where he got some presents that were not “age appropriate” for him at that time (judged by the mother – me!) so i brought them with me here in Dubai and waited till the time was right.

He is soooo much into Toy Story lately that all his presents were in that theme.

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opening his presents at the hotel

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on our way home from Abu Dhabi

Today because it’s his actual birthday, we ordered a Toy Story cake from Park and Shop (Sponsored by ninang Xyn – Thank You!)

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We planned ahead to have dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, keeping the cake in mind, I emailed their establishment to ask if it was allowed for me to bring my cake, they replied promptly and told me that although the cake was welcome, they would have to charge 30 aed as corkage fee. Not willing to pay for corkage and order onion rings instead (priorities) I decided to leave the cake at home and just have it at home for dessert. I did ask the staff of HRC to sing a birthday song for Adrian and he enjoyed the extra extra extra attention it brought.

After dinner we promised Adrian a trip to Toys R us to give him free range on what toy he wanted to get for himself. And boy! It took him awhile to decide! It was so funny to watch him go through all the toys with matching comments like

“wow mommy look at that!”

“This is nice!”

“Mommy, mommy look! There is sound”

It was so precious watching him at the toy store that I wish I could bottle up that moment and keep it forever. (This blog helps in keeping those moments locked up … and shared-of course!)

After Toys R us he was more than excited to go home and start playing with his new toys.

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He insisted to open his Play-Doh first before we start to eat the cake.

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His last but not the least surprise present! Thank you ninang Janice!

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All in all his 4 day birthday celebration was to quote Adrian directly “So much fun!”. We may not have given him the same birthday party that Aden had last June but it was as special nevertheless.

Happy birthday my sweet sweet boy! Don’t grow up too fast mommy still needs to catch up! I love you!

Some sweet messages from family:

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Special greeting from Ate Erin

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another sweet message from Ate Julia

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My side of the woods had a dinner for my cousin Tan and family and decided to add us to the festivities by singing a happy birthday song to Adrian via FaceTime.

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Planning is everything

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mass of people by the entrance as we were on our way out

I don’t know what was in the water yesterday but it seemed that everybody was possessed to go to Dubai Mall. The place is known as one of the world’s biggest shopping mall and it felt like the whole world was there yesterday (I exaggerate – for drama effect). As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a long queue leading to the parking lot, if they are known for being one of the world’s biggest shopping mall their parking is a whole new dimension, you can get lost inside it for days! (i exaggerate again). We have our own favorite parking area and that always seems to have a lot available for us and this trip was no different as we turned the corner – viola! a parking spot only for us (I secretly smiled and thanked my shopping gods).

Keeping in mind that plans can/may not go as you expect them to be I made sure my plan for this trip was going to be executed to the tee. My first call to action was to feed the boys (including Arnie) Adrian wanted Mcdonalds and I wasn’t going to argue just so he doesn’t get wound up and start phase one of his tantrum cycle (which seems to be happening alot lately). The fast food was packed with people, loosing hope and ready to turn in the towel – viola! a table for us. After dinner, we proceeded to what we were suppose to do…shop for school stuff that Adrian needs for September.

I know it’s only mid August but if you know me well and some of you do, I like to plan things ahead and I do mean AHEAD! I live on schedules and I like them being executed as planned – Arnie is so different from me that I think one reason we were put together was because he needed some structure and I needed to be more relax. But even with his relaxed influence I’m still a slave to my schedules so much that even my vacation was scheduled – how many days to spend on my husband’s side, how many days on my side, when to see my friends, when to see his friends…I was so concentrated on my schedules that my husband had to remind me that we were on vacation.

Moving on, it was a good thing we shopped today because as we went ahead to buy Adrian’s shoes and bags I was spoilt of choices and sizes to choose from. A little history: Last year we came back from vacation the weekend before school started and so I had a day to buy everything and it seemed that everybody was doing the same, so instead of choosing from different styles, I was asking/begging for any black and white shoes available in Adrian’s size. As for the school bag, the one bag I had my eye on for Adrian since he was in my tummy (that’s how far ahead I plan – kidding! half-meant hehe) was OUT OF STOCK! Imagine how devastated I was – I know drama right?! please spare me this joy I am but a lonely housewife – more drama!

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Happy ending, I got everything I intended to amidst all the trials of Aden being too clingy (what’s new), maneuvering through all the foot traffic from the mall, Adrian (that’s all i’m gonna say-yes! aside from my plan to feed him to keep him happy – he wasn’t – c’est la vie!). His stuff is almost complete, just need to buy his uniforms from school and I still need to get him a water bottle, hopefully I get to that by this week.

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Hanging out with Reese!
This picture is for my cousin Jamie, who loves Reese’s to pieces! hehe

Lesson of the day folks: It’s good to plan! Granted not so far ahead as I do (might see someone for that-psychiatrist maybe?) but plan it nevertheless.

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#fotd Mexican Pizza from Barry’s Bench
If some bloggers have #ootd (outfit of the day) I will start my #fotd (food of the day) hehe What can I say? I love food and I can’t help it! No judgement please!!!


Summer is for sports (?)

To keep my little man entertained for the summer, we enrolled him at summer camp. There are a lot of establishments offering summer camp programs here in Dubai you just have to choose the program that your kid likes. For us it was really a no brainer, we have boys so it had to be something with sports. E-Sports Holiday camp was perfect for Adrian, since he has not shown any inclination to any specific sport yet E-Sport’s summer camp have different sport activity everyday for the kids to play. One day they could be swimming, then tennis the next and basketball etc etc.

They have many venues here in Dubai and the closest one to our house is in Winchester School. They only have the program for the month of July at Winchester and so we enrolled Adrian during the last two weeks of July. If I had my way, I would’ve applied Adrian from the first week on immediately after school ended but Arnie wanted Adrian to rest a bit from school, after all it is HIS summer vacation.

From the beginning Adrian has resisted going to summer camp every morning but in the afternoon when I pick him up he is his usual smiley self. I was getting worried because he might be being bullied by the bigger boys at camp but since they separate the groups by ages I hope that is not the case.

At the back of my head I am always wondering and a bit worried why he always cries in the morning, it’s so out of his character because he loves going to school. But every time Arnie drops him off at camp there’s always a big drama fest one time Arnie said 3 coaches had to carry him inside the gym because he was kicking and screaming.

Then this morning as we were getting ready he said

“Mommy, I don’t want to go to camp, want to stay with mommy!”

I think my heart broke in a million pieces when I heard him say these words. But kids are smart you know, they know how to pull on your heartstrings, it may be because he can watch Disney channel all day or play with his iPhone when he is home but in my mind my son wants to spend time with me (delusional but a mom can dream right?). And so,I made the decision that instead of enrolling him in the same program in another school for August maybe I’ll just keep my Adrian close to me for a while. Soon enough there will be summers where he would rather go out with friends than spend it with me so I’m going to cherish these moments for now.

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Adrian being consoled by his fave coach

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free play for early birds before the session starts

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activity schedules for the different age groups

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Cheeky Monkeys Playland

Last Friday we attended a “End of the Year” party at Cheeky Monkeys Playland , hosted by one of Adrian’s classmate, Zaidaan. Yes, you heard me right, it wasn’t his birthday but he wanted a party so his parents gave him one. NO judgement here, Hey! If I was rich too and only had one son, I’d give him a party every DAY!! If that’s what he wants.

Parties here are so different from what we are used to in the Philippines, in the Philippines, a party always has to be a fiesta where everyone from your child to your child’s grandparents are invited and welcome to come. Here in Dubai its quite different, when the children have a party, The children are the only ones expected to come especially if it is in one of those play areas. The parents just drop off the kids and pick them up after the party. The adults are welcome to stay but are not included in the head count. Since this was our first time I was watching all the other moms and taking a cue from them on what I was supposed to do. There is this one mom (who I think is really cool, she goes kite surfing before school pick up! How cool is that?) who I consider my mommy peg in school, and I was observing her at the party she dropped off her child at the party area, then had a quick chat with the other guests, went out to buy her own coffee and sat down to wait for her child finish the party. So cool and effortless like she’s been to these things a thousand times. Unlike me who looked like a fish out of water, smiling from ear to ear like a crazy person talking to anyone who was willing to ask me “Are you staying in for the summer?“. In fairness to our host, there were finger sandwiches for us adults that were served but because the dining area was full of other adults waiting for their own little ones to finish their play (I think there were 3 parties happening at the same time). It was hard to rally everyone up to eat but then again the adults were not expecting anything from the host so they just went to the café themselves and bought their water or coffee whatever they preferred.

This type of party was so foreign to me that I actually thought, it’s so practical and so easy to host a party like this. My brain was slowly moving on to planning a possible similar party for Adrian but I’m not so sure how it’s gonna go down to my Filipino guests. And if my personal accountant would approve the funds for this mythical party.

Cheeky Monkeys Playland is at the ground floor of Al Barsha Mall, Union CO-OP. I have to confess, I didn’t know that there was a mall here, I know there was a Union CO-OP in that area but I thought it was just the supermarket and nothing more. (I even said this thought out loud to another guest and felt rather stupid about it after seeing her reaction). I like how they set up the party where the kids can enter and start playing at the jungle gym and maybe after 45 mins(?), a party host would call ALL the guests for a certain party and they would follow her to a party room and they would dance and play games and eat there too! The cake was served to both the kids and adults but I was so amazed at how normal it seemed, I told you this type of behavior is unheard of in my culture. I can already imagine my family complaining, just imagine on one of our celebrations I heard some family members complain about the food, imagine if they only got cake!!! THE HORROR!!!

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The Jungle Gym

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Dining Area

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Party host rounding up the kids to start the partéy!

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The Hockey Pokey!

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Chicken nuggets, French Fries and Juice, my son’s regular order!

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You’ve been warned!

Cheeky Monkeys Playland

Al Barsha Mall, Union CO-OP, Ground Floor

Tel: 04-3850875

Fax: 04-385 0840

info@cheekymonkeys.ae


“Far from the Tree” by Andrew Solomon

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“FAR FROM THE TREE IS A BOOK WRITTEN BY ANDREW SOLOMON WHO EXPLORES HOW PARENTS RESPOND TO CHILDREN WHO ARE DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT FROM THEM.”

The Colbert Report 24 June 2013

Saw this episode today and I can’t wait to get my hands on the book!

What caught my attention was in the interview, he spoke about Emily Kingsley and her essay “Welcome to Holland”. This is an excerpt from WIKIPEDIA about the essay:

“Welcome to Holland” is an essay, written in 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley, about having a child with a disability. The piece is given by many organizations to new parents of children with special-needs.

The essay, written in the second person, employs a metaphor of excitement for a vacation to Italy that becomes a disappointment when the plane lands instead in Holland.

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

The metaphor is that the trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

In the end, however, the reader sees that the “trip” is still well worth it:

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

My sons don’t have disabilities but I want to believe that they will be exceptional adults when they grow up. Whether they grow close from the tree or far away I will be a proud parent either way. I want them to be their own self and not what society tells them what they SHOULD be.

Let me read the book first and I will share more of his insights soon. (I hope it’s available here)

“When I was a kid and we went to a shoe store, the salesman said that my brother and I could each have a balloon. My brother wanted a red balloon and I wanted a pink balloon. My mother said, ‘I think you’d really rather have a blue balloon.’ And I said no, I really wanted a pink balloon and she said that my favorite color was blue. Now, my favorite color is blue, and I’m still gay.” —Andrew Solomon


Aden’s Circus Party

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The “big day” has finally arrived. On the way to the party I was a nervous wreck (just ask Arnie). I wanted everything to turn out fine that I was worrying about people coming on time, the food, even how the kids would behave was on my list of worries. If it isn’t obvious by now, I don’t host too many parties. My cousin Janice did tell me not to stress and enjoy the party, I think she knows me too well. But I’m happy to report that once the party started all my worries were gone and I just enjoyed every moment.

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Our venue, Fat Burger has a second floor with a play area which they can close exclusively for parties (which I love). As I anticipated the kids were out-of-the-way in their little play area and the adults were all in the dining area catching up with old friends. My Adrian had such a wonderful time with his passé, kuya Vhiggo and ate Czin that I didn’t even see him during the party. But because I know he had back up, I know he was safe. Even the birthday boy was also playing the gracious party host going from one table to the next (leaving me alone for once). But after a while I think he got exhausted from all the interaction and mommy was his only refuge and reconnect the umbilical cord we did.

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Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

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Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

 

With our Circus Theme Party  “the table” was the star! That’s where ate Dinx comes in she played the role of an event stylist and I just let her do her magic. And magic is what she did to that table, for never in a million years will I be able to put up that table the same way she did – if that’s not a talent I don’t know what talent is!!! Watch out for my next post about her.

Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

Another supplier who helped me meet the Circus Theme was FADGE CAKE who made the birthday cake. Mhin the owner/baker did such a good job. She promised me a “better” cake than the picture I sent her and she did not  disappoint! It was also a pleasant experience working with her she was very professional and that’s how I think every cake supplier should be. Funny story, her husband, I assume, was so used to the pick up thing that when we did our pick up he even told me to buckle up first before he gave me the cake in the car. It’s those little things that catch my attention and the things I remember the most. If you are in the search for a cake supplier for your next party why don’t you give FADGE CAKE a try, she’s very accommodating if you email her and will patiently answer any question you have and believe me I had LOTS of concerns). This is a link to FADGE CAKE FB page.

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Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

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Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

My giveaways were specially flown in from Manila which was bought in Divisoria. I’ve always love the appeal of the gum ball machine and I’ve always wanted one in my room ever since I was young. To be able to use it as a party souvenir for my son was absolutely a delight! At first we were thinking of putting a sub par chocolate inside but I figured why give away something I would not eat, so M&M’s and Skittles made its way inside.

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The cupcakes were made by my friend Carina. (Cupcakes by Carina-nice name for a future business venture wink wink) I got lots of praises for her cupcakes and even a couple of mommy friends telling me their picky eater kids loved the cupcake I think for picky eater kiddies to love your cupcakes is the highest form of flattery. I super appreciate Tita Carina’s generous support for this party, she even got Daddy Edwin to cover the party – which I think was out of his comfort zone since he’s a professional photographer and use to high fashion etc shoots not covering children’s parties. I just love this couple very much because although we don’t get to spend time with each other too often, I feel like my kids have a special place in their hearts. And to me friends who love my kids are the special kind.

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Last but certainly not the least, Party Boothcam came to our party to help us with the photo booth. I wanted them at the party so that the adults have something to bring home with them as souvenir. How many times do we get party souvenirs and think, “WTH am I going to do with this?” with the party booth they get pictures of their families that they get to keep, now isn’t that a nice party favor? This is owned and operated by sisters Dinky and Diane. I just love how their bubbly personalities radiate in what they do and show in their faces that people don’t get intimidated by the photo booth. I’ve been to parties where the photo booth people didn’t seem to like their jobs that they don’t even offer a simple smile and this just makes me turn off in the whole experience. But not with these sisters! They even have boxes filled with props for you to try on and they even help you put it on with such speed and accuracy just in time for the next “click“. If you are planning a party soon I HIGHLY recommend you give them a call, I’ve linked their FB page for easy access too.

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Photo Credit: Edwin Mendoza

In closing, This party was made out of love. Whether it be the love for my Aden, a love for event styling, a love for baking or a love to attend parties. All of this would not have been possible without any of it and I am truly grateful for all of you who helped me do this. I could not have done this alone. This is one party I will not forget for a long long time.