22 December 2014

It was a penguins and fishes 2nd birthday at the Manila Ocean Park

The day has finally arrived! Riley has been insisting for months that he wanted to go to the zoo and see the penguins. Even though we have been telling him that the #penguins live in a different place, he keeps telling us that he wants to go to the zoo. He has probably seen in on some cartoon that the penguins can be found in the zoo. 

We planned a simple day at the Manila Ocean #Park for his birthday. Instead of purchasing the tickets on-site, I opted to book the package deal from MetroDeal. They had a lot of adventure packages to choose from and I picked the 8 attractions with buffet lunch for only P899 (it was valued at P2000 so not too bad). 

We started with the Oceanarium where initially there were multiple large aquariums that were scattered around a huge multi-level open area. It felt like you were in a jungle fish shop. I did not expect it to have an open area. And I totally did not expect to see a crocodile cooped up in a glass enclosure.

After climbing to the second level, you will enter a dark room filled with pretty tropical fishes and corals.

So pretty that you would think twice if they are real or not.


Awesome to see a starfish up-close.

Riley was scared the whole time. The glass of the #aquarium was so clear that he thought that the fishes can get to him. He kept jumping in our arms whenever the fishes are swimming near him. We kept holding the glass to show him that it separates us from the fishes. But he keeps telling us to just look at it and do not touch it. So we did not force him to interact with the fishes and just carried him in our arms. This is one time I missed carrying him in his ergo carrier.

Dimly lit area. I feel this area is missing some exhibits.

Soon, we traveled to this open area with huge aquariums. Now, I am impressed!

You can see his terrified expression here. Poor baby!
We spent a lot of time in this aquarium tunnel. At first, Riley did not want to go down. Luckily, he got used to it after around 10 minutes. He still refused to go too near the fishes but at least he is willing to go down and give our aching arms a rest.

And the highlight of our trip... the penguins!

And we saw a couple of small penguins. It was difficult to see them clearly because of the foggy glass. Plus, they placed large penguin statues around the area so at first I thought the penguins were not moving at all. To interact with the penguins you have to pay around P400 (for 2 people) and you get to feed them while someone will take your photo. I was so underwhelmed by this penguin enclosure that we opted not to fork out the extra dough for the penguin meet & greet. Mahal!

The trails of Antartica exhibit claimed to have "4 zones including a walk-through exhibit, experience Earth’s frozen wilderness and see Humboldt penguins live". We only got to see the penguins and went inside a big chiller where they will again take your picture and you have to pay extra to get the photo. I was not a fan of the icy wind blowing on my face so I left them inside while they were freezing their ears off inside the big fridge. Where was the walk-through exhibit?! We had to enter this area twice because we thought we missed it but the staff told us that was it. Epic fail.


We headed to the buffet area to ease our disappointed hearts. The main course was bland and you have to pay extra for the drinks. On the positive note, they have keropok and the fruit salad and buco pandan was good despite it being warm.

Telling me about the small penguin that he saw.

We headed to the Birds of Prey area after our lunch. We were all hesitant to go near the birds. They have razor sharp beaks and claws! There were some people who were trying to poke the birds with a stick thinking that the birds will transfer to it. I had my phone's camera focused on them in case the birds attack. At least there will be evidence that the birds were provoked!

It tickles!
We went to the #sharks and rays dry encounter. They only had the rays. And no picture-taking was allowed. If you wanted to take a picture, you have to get their official photographer take a picture and they will charge you a fee for it (naturally).

Quickly heading to the fish spa area, I had my doubts having fishes nibbles on my feet. It was our first time to try it and there was a lot of screaming going on (mostly from me!). Some of the fishes were as big as my palm! I don't think they are supposed to be that big... *shudder*

It was very crowded in the jellyfish exhibit so it was hard to take a decent image. And since it was dark and cool in this area, Riley fell asleep while I was carrying him.

Coloring area in the Oceanarium

If you asked Riley which part he liked in the #Manila #Ocean #Park, he will tell you that he liked the coloring station!

We had fun despite some minor inconveniences (like actually experiencing what they advertise) but overall, we had a fun day. Would we be back in the future? Honestly, no. Maybe because I have seen the quality of the ocean parks in other countries but this is definitely at the bottom of the my recommendations list.

10 December 2014

Back from the land of the busy bees

We're back! It has been a frantic November and an even more busy December is coming up. Riley has celebrated his 2nd birthday at the Manila Ocean Park and had a party the day typhoon Ruby was supposed to enter PAR. I have been loaded with work projects and at the same time trying to keep up with the demands of my outspoken toddler. I will be posting detailed stories soon!

06 December 2014

A #Thomas the Train themed 2nd #birthday party

Despite the incoming typhoon Ruby that was predicted to make a landfall that weekend, we decided to push through with Riley's 2nd birthday celebration. And as a right of passage for every two-year-old in the world, we had a Thomas the train themed party!

I was able to purchase the Thomas the train banner and plastic table runner at Toy Kingdom. The Thomas the train party hat was bought at our neighborhood party supply shop. Sadly, I did not take proper pictures that day as I was so overwhelmed by the preparations! And most of the decoration and balloons where blown away by the strong winds by the time the guests arrived. 

All aboard the birthday express!

Most of the food was home cooked and we used disposable plates and utensils to lessen the clean-up afterwards (sorry Mother Earth!). The cute customized Thomas the train cake was made by my sister-in-law (thanks dear!). It was a small party that consists of close family and friends. We wanted to have an intimate gathering so we can have the time to actually chat and catch-up with our guests. Luckily, the weather cooperated and aside from the strong winds, it was perfect. 

After painstakingly sticking the papers on the wall, it was no match for typhoon Ruby.

Riley enjoyed meeting and playing with his young guests. After the party, he was asking if he could invite them to the house so they can play again (once a year only babe).

The birthday boy dancing to the beat of the birthday song

The chocolate fountain was a hit with this little boy
Mocha cake (my fave!) from the cousins
A coloring station for the kiddos

I downloaded and customized the coloring sheet with a birthday/christmas theme
The happy birthday boy
Happy birthday my love! 

05 December 2014

An fun-filled afternoon at Kidzoona Robinsons Galleria

Since my office is located nearby Robinsons Galleria, I stroll around the mall during my lunch break (clocking in extra steps in the pedometer!). I saw this newly opened #playground located in the mall. Too bad we did not get to avail the opening discount offer of piso play.

We were here on a weekday so there are less kids (and adults) running around the place. They also offer arcade #games but when we visited almost half of them are under maintenance. They have a locker area where you can place your shoes, stroller, and bags. Good thing there is no extra payment for this. Checking in your child with their computerized system assures you that your child will not leave the area without proper validation. You still need to be vigilant though! These are only preventative measures and not a guarantee that nothing untoward will happen to your child.

They have a spacious area with a variety of games and #toys for kids of all ages. Even the grown-ups are having fun running on the bouncy mattress and sliding down the 2-story inflatable slide.

One of the attendants convincing Riley to place the plastic ball on the blower so it will float.

The ball pit is massive! It is definitely the largest ball pit area I have seen in my life. The only negative thing here is that there are too many balls which makes it difficult for me to walk in. Riley can't walk there by himself. I had to carry him to the slides. He loved "swimming" in the ball pit though.

Gripping the foam barricade in case he falls in

You can jog, hop, and jump on this bouncy mattress. Foam pads are placed on the floor beside it to soften the landing of over-enthusiastic #kids. Another plus to Kidzoona are the number of attendants they have to assist and watch over the kids. And they also keep the area tidy. Less hassle to search for the toys when they are already in their proper place.

Riley spent a lot of time in the toy train section. I love wooden toys but hate the price tag that comes with it. I noticed that some of the toy structures on the table are glued on. Why?!

They also had ride-on cars. Two small cars in a big area. It seems lacking somehow.

Kidzoona has a lot of choices in their pretend-play area. Your child can make ice cream, crepes, serve cakes, make sushi, and do the grocery in the produce section. Riley kept on stacking the ice cream on the cone and pretending to lick them. Cute!

We would love to come back here as the hour spent was not enough. I am crossing my fingers that they put up a branch in the south!

Kidzoona is located at the 4th level of Robinsons Galleria. Rate is P200 per child and one companion for an hour. This is a great deal as other playgrounds with a much smaller area charges as high as P400+ with companion for an hour.

11 November 2014

Riley at 23 months old

23 months. Really? It is hard to believe that my baby is now a smooth-talking, hyper-active toddler. I still find it surprising when he actually responds to my questions. When I reach home after a long day at work, one of the first thing I will ask him is what he did that day. He will tell me things like "Riley play outside" or "Lolo visit Riley, eat ice cream." He does not get the concept of using pronouns yet. It is always Riley this or Mama that.

The scary (or fun, depending how you utilize it) part is that he will repeat everything you say. I will be talking with my husband about how bad the traffic was on the way home and later on Riley will be talking to someone and tell them how his Mama was stuck in traffic. I will coach him to say something to his papa and when papa gets home, Riley will repeat what I said to him. That is one of the reason I am mindful of the stuff that he will be hearing from other people. We try not to watch shows where they utter foul languages.

Another thing he loves doing lately is to play with puzzles. At first, I have to show him how to do it then he will be able to do it by himself. Now that he has a lot more experience in playing with puzzles, he can do it by himself from the get-go and enjoys playing with it as much as he enjoys playing with cars. Whenever he gets stuck though he will make grunting noises and ask us for help.

His memory skills are developing so fast that he now remembers where he has hidden my mobile phone! He loves hiding items and then when you look for it he will find it for you and say 'tada!'. And when he cannot find it, he will tell us that it is now gone and missing. He will also recount what happened that day while we are lying down on the bed (like how he ate rice for breakfast and his yogurt drink stash is depleted so now Mama has to buy more from the grocery). This morning, he was telling me that he wants to go to the zoo and look at the penguins (sorry Riley, the penguins are in Manila Ocean Park, not in the zoo).

So far, I am enjoying this stage in his life. I am praying that he will not enter the terrible twos and hope that next month brings in the terrific twos instead.

10 November 2014

Sharing the #blessing with the Grandmas and Grandpas at San Lorenzo Ruiz Home for the #Elderly

It is no secret that Riley loves his grandparents. They would spoil him and not worry about the consequences mama and papa will face the day after! I would come home and be surprised at the potato chips Riley is holding or the donuts that he is stuffing his face in.

With his lolo in SM Aura

This Christmas, my high school friends and I are organizing a charity drive for the people in San Lorenzo Ruiz Home for the Elderly. Why the elderly and not the orphanage? Christmas is normally for the kids and the orphanages are flooded with people donating to them during this season. We opted to sponsor a home for the aged this year as we feel they are often neglected this time of the year.

I have set-up an account at indiegogo to help raise funds for our chosen charity. I've seen successful campaigns wherein the recipient will be given the latest iPhone 6 so I thought that funding this charity for an amount that costs way lower than the latest gadget will be a breeze. It has been three days and still no funders! Sigh...

I'm sharing it here hoping to reach out to people kind enough to donate: www.indiegogo.com/projects/san-lorenzo-ruiz-home-for-the-elderly/x/9073271

Do click the link above and see how you can help. Campaign closes in 28 days so hurry!

Five things I said I would never do to my #child

I am not proud of myself by admitting these things. Planning things to teach my son in my head and actually pushing through with doing it are two entirely different things. Things were much easier when the pretty pictures were still inside my head. Day by day, my good intentions were sidestepped and the no-no's were slowly creeping in to our daily lives and becoming yes-yes.

I just wanted to get it out of my chest and hopefully, I would feel less guilty about it.

Here are the five things I promised myself I would never do/feed/(insert more verbs here) to Riley:

1. Processed food - On Riley's 6th month, he started on solid food and I diligently boiled, mashed, and strained healthy fruits and vegetables for him to taste and eat. It did not matter to him that his mom slaved away preparing his small meals. He would promptly spit it out and cry out loud as if I fed him poop. I've tried various flavor combinations to find out what he would like. And just when he was happily eating it one day, he would spit it out the next day.

Tired and stressed from this (and from a million other mommy things that I would not go into detail about now), I bought him baby food in jars and packs. Just add warm water or reheat in the microwave and I'm done. No hassle. If he eats it, great. If he does not want it, fine. I'll try again tomorrow. I've tried giving him the organic ones but he preferred the 'normal' baby food. Now that he is almost two years old, he is still a picky eater. I told myself not to stress about it whenever he eats packed noodles, french fries and spaghetti from McDonalds. At least he is eating, right? He occasionally eats vegetables but when he spits it out, I don't force him to eat it. I will ask him what he wants and if he says he wants a cookie, I will tell him sure if you eat the food on your plate. Even if he eats just one bite, I will still hand him a cookie. I don't want him to have a negative experience during meal times that's why I do it that way.

2. Watching TV - What can you do if Mickey Mouse is more entertaining than you? Me, I watch Mickey Mouse too. And Jake & the Neverland Pirates, Peppa Pig, Hi-5, and most of the shows on the Disney Channel. You'll know if you're a mom to a boy when I say that Thomas the train is the number 1 train in Sodor, not Spencer. Riley probably spends around 30 minutes in the morning and an hour in the afternoon watching TV.

He does not sit down and zone out in front of the tv though. He still jumps on the sofa, rides his toy car, dance when there is music playing... he does all of these things while 'watching' tv. I'm not sure how he manages to remember what is happening but somehow he does. He still loves interacting with people more than watching and he always runs to his books when we are inside the room so I hope his tv schedule is not affecting his mental skills in the long run.

People who meet him for the first time are surprised on how well he speaks, especially after knowing that he is only turning 2 this December. Watching TV sort of helps him learn different words that he does not hear from us. Like jumping on muddy puddles and ahoy mates!

This is what I see when I get home! Shame on you, Papa!

3. Playing on the iPad - It seemed so cute at first, when Riley was grasping and pointing his chubby fingers on the iPad screen. Now that he knows there are fun games in it, he does not want to let go. He has a really strong grip for a child his size. He navigates youtube to find videos where people are opening, playing and reviewing legos. He will watch and choose the cartoons that he likes. He even pushes my hands away from the iPad when I try to take it away from him.

If it was just me, I would limit his playtime on this but what can I do when I arrive home from work and someone has already given him an iPad to play with? I'm always the fun spoiler because I'm the one always telling him no and to give it back. To lessen this, I play with him for a few minutes and tell him in advance that I will be taking it away from him after he finishes the game. Oh he knows how to bargain already at such a young age! He will tell me, "Just one more Mama then Riley finish". But after 3 more games, he is still not done. By this time, I would make him give it up and he will dramatically run to the bed, plant his face on the mattress and cry.

Drama king, I tell you. I'm already thinking of auditioning him for acting roles when he is a bit older! Might as well put all his drama to good use. am I right?

4. Eating cakes, donuts, chocolates, and ice cream - The first time he saw M&M's, he was frantically yelling "mine!" over and over again. And he has not even tasted it then. I'm thinking he was attracted to the bright colors and it came in his favorite shape (circle). He still has not tried M&M's (to my knowledge!) but he has tried a tiny taste of a chocolate bar, tons of chocolate cake (blame it on birthdays), and gallons of ice cream! I've been trying to not give it to him and I find it difficult since a lot of people (grandparents, mostly) buys it for him whenever I am not around. And when I get home and find that it is not opened yet, I will (with a heavy heart) eat it all so that he will not consume it. The sacrifices we parents face for our children! Ha!

I try to tell Riley that he will only get these things on special occasions and from the way he has been eating a lot of these lately, he probably thinks these special occasions are also called weekends.

5. Telling him that he will get scolded by strangers if he does not obey me - If you have a very headstrong toddler in your hands and very little patience, you will succumb to this! I used to hate it when I hear parents tell their kids that the ghost will scare them if they do not do as they are told. I promised myself that I would never, ever tell this to Riley. I guess I kind of kept my promise because I am doing this although with a twist.

For example, last weekend in the playground, we were going to head home and I have been giving him constant reminders that we are about to leave so it will not be sudden for him. When I told him that I have collected our bags and will head to the door, he got up with the toy cars he was playing with and would not leave them behind. I tried telling him that those were not his and he can come back for it when we visit again next week but he still would not let go. After 10 minutes of calmly explaining to him the reasons why he cannot take them home, I called over one of the play area attendants and told Riley that Uncle is here to take back to toys from him. Riley took one look at the guy and politely returned the toys. No drama involved! It's like magic!

I've done this countless of times whenever we are out. I will tell him to not throw the food in the restaurant because the waiters will not be happy at him if they have to clean it up. He will stay close to my side when I am busy at the ATM or the grocery counter because I told him the security guard will tell him to stay close to me. He will take a few bites of fish and meat because he does not want the auntie and uncle selling fish and meat to scold him for not eating the food. It has even come to a point that I will just tell Riley to behave and he will finish the sentence by "or else uncle will scold me." I'm trying to cut back on doing this to him because I don't want him to be scared of the people around him. But it is so addicting to be able to say one word and he will follow.

I have a feeling this list will multiply as the years go on. And as I try to mend my wicked (but effective) ways to raise my son, I will be crossing my fingers and wish (and hope) that it will not turn out to be a childhood trauma that Riley will remember when he is older.

28 October 2014

This is how you eat a #doughnut

Purchased a box of Krispy Kreme Halloween themed doughnuts the other night. Riley loves eating chocolate doughnuts and I was thinking he will love the design on these.

Look how cute they are!

Looks good, tastes yummy too!

He wanted to try the pumpkin one and then he said the orange tasted yucky. Weird because they all tasted the same, it was just the coloring that was different. Silly boy! He ended up devouring the cobweb one as he deemed it a normal doughnut.

And here is how he ate it.

First, carefully taste it if it is a 'normal' doughnut


Second, open wide to place more of the yummyness inside your mouth

That funny face...

Finally, say 'Mmm, good!'

He's my little drama prince!

27 October 2014

#Halloween Carnival 2014 at Verdana

After weeks of preparing Riley's costume (I only work on it during my spare time, like 30 minutes a day), he will finally get to wear it in public. He had some dry run on wearing it inside the house just so he can get accustomed to the feel of carrying it on his shoulders. And so far, it was a success. He almost broke it apart but after a few strengthening tricks (double-sided tape and glue were my best friends) all of its parts held on after a few rough handling.

Happily wearing his Thomas the train costume!

This year, we took part in the #halloween festivities in my relatives' village in Laguna. We attended last year and found it satisfying so we decided to go there again this year. I would probably try other places next year like in Fun Ranch or the hotel parties but since Riley is still young, I did not want him to get crushed in the crowd in those places.

This is giving me a heart attack...

It was held in the village clubhouse and since we were quite early, we spent our energy in the nearby playground. It is very seldom that Riley experiences playing in an outdoor playground. Aside from the play area in Alabang Town Center, this is only the second time he was able to run around an actual playground.

Love the bright red pants from Mothercare

We were seated up front so the kids will have more room to walk or dance around. They were playing Pharell Williams' Happy song and since he loves this song, he was dancing in the front with his balloon sword. So cute!

The theme this year is Halloween Carnival and they had face painting, balloon sculptures, photo booth and was hosted by McDonalds. They served the one piece chicken meal with rice (the chicken was mostly skin so thumbs down for this). There was a nachos booth but you had to pay additional for that. I find that the food choices were lacking this year. They had ice cream last year and with the heat that afternoon, it would have been a hit. The loot bag was better this year though as they gave away happy meal toys (doraemon and scooby doo) and kiddie giveaways from a pharmaceutical company (sample medicines, flash cards, origami paper, kiddie chopsticks, lunch bag, pouch, and pens).

Grimace and Ronald Mcdonald made an appearance and boy, was Riley scared! He jumped into my lap when he saw them come out. And take note he was still wearing his costume so imagine the chaos! We had to step out of the covered area just so he would stop crying. After seeing the 'scary' mascots, he would not go down from my arms. He kept telling me he only wanted to be carried. Oh dear...

Still in shock from seeing the 'scary' mascots
He quickly wore his costume again when he saw another boy wearing a truck costume. Riley said he wanted to go racing with him and kept following the boy around the place (even though the other boy did not want to play with him).

When they were announcing that the costume contest was about to begin, Riley promptly stepped out of his costume and ran to the pool area. I tried to coax him to wear it again and have him line up the judging area but he was having none of it. Sigh. Better try our luck next year!

After the event, we were divided into two groups and started trick or treating. It was fine for the first two blocks. But since Riley did not want to walk or ride his stroller, we had no choice but to carry him while going around the village. And we did that for almost two hours! Luckily, my husband was there to carry him too or else I would have gone home early. If we are doing this again next year, I would definitely consider bringing a car with us because it was just too tiring to walk around the village.

He only walked one block and we carried him all the way

Riley may still be young to really enjoy this holiday but I think he had fun. He loved choosing which candy to take, he carried his pumpkin filled with treats, and did not even want us to touch his loot!

He did not stop taking from the candy bag until his pumpkin was full

Even though we were so tired, it was all worth it seeing how he enjoyed himself. Me munching on the candies while Riley was sleeping is just an added bonus! Ha!