Excellent Service!

We came back from Australia and my heart has been full. I have nothing but praises for the Sydney hotel we stayed in.

Traveling with 2 young children means traveling heavy. It means expecting occasional melt downs, and setting aside your own personal expectations. Reality it is tiring but also super fulfilling.

So let me tell you about our trip. When we arrived in Sydney, the kids were already feeling a little tired from the plane ride. It was not helping that the taxi drivers there drive fast and press heavy on the brakes. My children were complaining that they were car sick.

Arriving at Sofitel Wentworth, my son was crying because his stomach was upset from the taxi ride and he was ready to vomit. The bellboy who picked up our luggage was quick to give my son bottled water.  Anna was also about to start a melt down and so I walked with her to the front desk to check in. Their front desk happens to be a Filipino and she was super accommodating. She gave Anna chocolates while we were being processed to get to our room.  She offered me Accor membership and gave us a special deal for breakfast. She also gave us a guide where to walk around. It was such a pleasant check in experience.

However going up to our room, Anna started to snap and cry. She was tired and she was behaving in such a disobedient manner. We were getting impatient with her and warned her a discipline would come. As we arrived to our room, Marcus the bell boy saw Anna in full crying mode. I was of course embarrassed that I could not keep her quiet. Marcus was kind to help us with our luggage and strollers.

About 30 minutes later, we had a knock at the door. When we opened it was Marcus with a teddy bear for Anna! He asked for Anna and gave her that gift and encouraged her not to cry anymore and to enjoy her stay in Sofitel. I was so impressed by their genuine kindness.

Sydney is beautiful and our hotel is a 8 minute walk to see the Harbour Bridge and a 12 minute walk to the Opera House. The hotel location is so conveniently close to many beautiful museums by walk or by train.

But what got me most on this trip is Sofitel’s service and hospitality. On our last evening in Sydney, we came home almost 11pm. I decided to process our check out and book a ride to the airport. As I was checking out, the front desk assisted another guest making me wait for my bill. My little girl wanted to rest and I really wanted to settle the bill first because we leave by 9 am. The front desk seeing my change of mood, was very apologetic. When the front desk staff completed my check out, he gave me chocolates again and apologizing for the delay. I thanked him and I rushed upstairs to finish packing again.

The next morning, I woke up early and I saw this letter on the floor.

I call this thoughtfulness — great hospitality. I felt so special and sincerely cared for by the people who work in this hotel. This gesture just made me want to vote them as the best hotel we experienced in Australia.

SOFITEL Sydney Wentworth, I salute you for your warmth and excellent service! I will never forget Sydney because of you!

Celebrating Milestones with Google Photos

Our children each have their time. And every milestone is worthy of tight hugs, praises, and applauses. 

Remember your baby’s first smile, first time to grab your finger, first roll over, first tummy time, first crawl, first babble, first food, first time to say “mama” or “papa”? — ahhhh so many firsts! 

My son Joshua started his baby steps at 10 months. Anna began to do that at 12 months. Each child has their own time. As much as we like to compare, God made each child unique and special from the other.

  

Joshua has great verbal skills and Anna is great with her fine motor skills. Both like to sing and dance. Most of these we record through photos and videos. But the problem is how we store these precious moments?

Good thing, Google has this app called google photos. I learned about it when I was researching where I can upload my photos from my phone so I don’t lose them. 


There were other apps, but I really find google photos most useful and I will tell you why…

1. Downloading the app is free. If you are an android or iOS user you can download the app for free.

2. It syncs with your phone photos when you open the app. You also have free storage and can buy more storage when you have used up your free 5 GB storage.

3. It is attached to your email if you have a gmail account.

4. It helps organize for you. You can organize by date, by themes or by faces. We were able to make a quick collages with this app. Type swimming and all the photos with swimming will be shown to you. 

5. It can make movies for you and reminds you of what happened in the past year.

6. It helps you free up your phone photo storage. If you can’t take anymore photos or videos it means you have used up your phone’s internal storage. With Google photos it assists you by informing you what photos have been uploaded to the google photos cloud so you can erase it on your phone. You need not worry because you have it backed up!

I feel like an advocate for Google photos because I have been using this for years! I am truly happy with it and I know other moms and dads will be able to make good use of this application as their family memories grow!

Juicing for kids

Juicing became a big thing in 2013. Many people have started drinking their fruits and vegetables and have improved their over all health. My son Joshua, after turning 2 years old has become a picky eater. Joshua no longer likes vegetables and prefers just rice and meat with soup. He prefers McDonald’s rather than real food. Ok, who can relate with me? 

But as of recent Joshua has been holding back his bowels because he has constipation. He would cry in pain as he would pass his bowels.  It was why he would rather hold it in as long as he could. So we explained to him that he needs to eat vegetables. He gives us that head gesture that says “no”. So we told him he needs to eat oatmeal and we have to start juicing. The juicing part he likes, because he likes to put fruits and vegetables in the juicer.

  
Our concoction was made up these ingredients:

  • 1 apple with skin
  • Half a cucumber without skin
  • 1 carrot
  • Slice of lemon without the skin
  • Cubes of ice

Joshua was happy to keep putting slices of fruit and vegetables. When we were done we placed them in glasses with ice to keep it refreshing.

  
Joshua drank his power drink of the day and his little sister Anna had a couple of sips too! It was yummy, healthy, and refreshing. What a great way to get vegetables and fruit into the bodies of our little ones. So happy this is a healthy solution for my picky eater! 

  

MunaTo 3D Art

In 2014, the province of Sarangani turned the provincial capitol into a Themepark for the MunaTo Festival. We had different attractions that were created to help the public learn about history, science, culture and the arts with Sarangani at the heart of it. It was a great concept. Families and most especially the children enjoyed the park. 

In 2015, we changed the concept of the MunaTo Festival to an International Music and Arts Festival.  This time showcasing the music, arts and performances of the different tribes of Sarangani and the other artists including Mathew Ngau, Malaysian National Artist for Sape. But since this is still music and arts festival we explored continuing 3D Art! 

   
 We went to Manila Miracle Art Museum to give us some inspiration. My son Joshua was asleep, so it was Anna and I who became subjects of these interesting art!

   
    
 So we decided to bring this illusion art to MUNATO Festival so people can enjoy it! So for those who missed it, here are our outdoor 3D Art in Sarangani capitol.  

    
    

It’s actually really thrilling to see how people like us become part of the total artwork. Joshua had his favorite too… Dinosaur and Eagle!  These artists are all from Sarangani. I am mighty proud of their work! 

   

     
 I’m sure some people around my area would still be interested to take photos with these artworks in the provincial capitol. You may also like to see the Christmas village display of each municipality. Visit Sarangani this December. 😊😊😊
    
 

Monde Minion Mamon

My two year old loves Minion. If you play the song “Happy” by Pharrel Williams, my son goes on a crazy groove! He finds Minions funny and popularized the song “Ba-NA-Na Na-na-nana”.

But in one of my grocery visits we found this set of Monde Mamon with the minion on the packaging. Naturally, we are gravitated to buy them– marketing, marketing so their product gets pushed. 

  
But inside it is a great activity to do with your kids. They prepare for you some yellow icing, black fondant, and eye fondant icing to make your own minion design. It’s a pretty cool thing! 

   
 
So Joshua with my supervision, we attempted to make his Minion Mamon. Mommies have to be around to assist. As much as possible we give our children the space to complete some of the tasks. Joshua enjoys stuff like this. It was not long, and he finally made his one-eyed Minion! 

  
He is quite excited to eat it now! And mind you, the mamon was pretty good too. By the way, Monde never asked me to write about their product. This is one honest review and I’m glad there are stuff like this for kids and parents. These are activities that help build bonds and memories! 

Counterflow Parenting Seminar

The Biggest Parenting Event is held every year in CCF (Christ Commission Fellowship). This year an offshoot of that event will happen in General Santos City on Nov 7, 2015. 

  
This will be a Seminar to help families know how to develop the core family values of love, discipline, and godly legacy. The speakers are Peter Tanchi and wife, Deonna. They have raised 5 wonderful and successful children and passing on this godly legacy even to their grand children. Their advocacy is for parents to raise successful children despite the challenges they are facing in this world. 

The event will be on Nov 7 at Greenleaf Hotel from 9AM- 4PM. Tickets are at P500 with buffet lunch. 

Another interesting seminar that families should catch is the one by Francis Kong this Nov 6, 2015. Families have to talk about values on money and wealth. For another investment of P500 (inclusive of snack), this seminar might save your family heartaches brought about by money quarrels. There is so much wisdom we can learn from this Family Stewardship with Francis Kong. 

   
Tickets are now available at Go Sarangani Travel – call (083) 552-8015 for more information.

Family trips: Manila Zoo

I thank God for giving me a husband who is excited to give his children an amazing experience. Going some distance and over some traffic is no big deal, as long as the family gets to experience something great together.

I was amazed on one weekend that Steve decided to bring us all to Manila Zoo. I was not sure what we would be seeing but the opportunity to show real animals to the kids, especially to Joshua, meant learning! Animals in our picture books are no match to the real thing. 

  
The entrance fee was only P50. I was so surprised how orderly and clean Manila Zoo is. It is the oldest zoo in South East Asia and has been operating since 1959.

We were able to see the controversial elephant Mali. She is a lone elephant whose residence is a cemented structure. There were volunteers who were feeding her and showering her water to keep her cool from the heat. She is controversial because many want her to be transferred to real Elephant sanctuary (like Thailand) where she can live a more normal elephant life with other elephants. She has been in captivity for more than 40 years. It makes me wonder if she can still adapt with others after being so alone for all these years.

  
Daddy took Joshua to meet different animals. We got to see different kinds of birds (peacocks, flamencos, etc) and see how big ostriches are… 

 
The Manila zoo is a 5.5 hectare park. It is so nice to walk around because of all the trees and the greens found inside. You can also tell that the animals are also well fed.

   
 
  

Daddy Steve showed Joshua the deers, crocodiles, turtles, monkeys, lion and Tigers. But I think the most fun part was touching the animals while taking a photo with them!  Inside you will find a photobooth where you can take photos with different birds. Look, Joshua held a bird in his hand and Anna had one on her head! 

  
Manila Zoo also sold refreshments inside and for sure you will need water. Walking around the zoo can make you a bit thirsty!  

I love how Joshua now realizes the cartoon videos we watch on his tablet like “5 Little Monkeys” are just inspired from the real thing. He actually felt a little concerned that real monkeys don’t look as friendly as the one on his video.

   
 
I love Manila Zoo because it is stroller-friendly too. Even our little Anna can enjoy just strolling around this park. 

   

And before leaving Manila Zoo, we took another family photo this time with some albino Python snake. Joshua did not get scared, he actually held it too! 

  I recommend the Manila Zoo for family bonding trips. It was interesting and educational for our little boy, and it was good fun for us all. I was actually happy to see how clean and well maintained Manila Zoo is. 

If you plan to visit, here are some information you need:

Location: Quirino Ave., Adriatico St., Malate Manila Luzon Philippines (corner of Mabini St. and Harrison St.)

Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily 

Telephone numbers: (632) 400-1884  or (632) 522-6179