Category Archives: Children

Touchdown Tokyo!!!

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My little family was blessed to be able to travel to Tokyo again this year.  You may remember that last year, we were treated by my in-laws to a 6-day vacation.  This year, it was just the three of us, exploring what is starting to become one of my favorite cities in the world :).

We arrived at Tokyo at around 2PM.  Not a bad schedule because it gave us the time to still do some afternoon sightseeing.  Because we landed at the Haneda Airport which is much nearer to the city (only 30 mins!) and accessible by train to and from our hotel, we were out and about by 330PM! :)

This year, we opted to stay in a different neighborhood from our previous visit.  We stayed at the Shiodome Royal Park Hotel–very near Ginza and Tsukiji.  Also, as I had mentioned, our hotel was right by a train hub, so getting to and from the various areas in Japan was very, very easy for us :).

On Day 1’s bright, sunny and COLD afternoon, we opted to take a leisurely stroll right outside the Imperial Palace, right by Hanzomon Gate.  According to the hotel reception, that area was lined with blooming cherry blossom trees.

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After taking the requisite photos and spending some time at the mini park for A, we dropped by Ginza for dinner and a little bit of Uniqlo shopping.

Our next day in Japan had a forecast for rain.  After hearing mass at St. Ignatius Church, we decided to spend the afternoon indoors at the Japanese Toy Museum.

What a charming and fun place!

Set in a quiet neighborhood in Yotsuya, in what looked to be like an old school building, the Toy Museum was basically two floors of various traditional and modern Japanese toys.

Not only was it a wonderful place for A to explore and enjoy, but admittedly, both the hubby and I had a great time too!  We spent hours playing, touching, feeling, and experimenting with the various toys on display.  I love that it was such an interactive place!  If you have small kids, this is definitely an awesome experience for them :).

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After the Toy Museum, we decided to stop by the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park for more cherry blossom sightings.  Unfortunately for us, while on our way there, we were told that the park closed at 430PM.  So, since we were already in the Shinjuku area anyway, we instead spent the rest of the evening at my craft haven–Tokyu Hands!  And boy did I rack up a bill!  Huhuhu :(!  Can’t resist all the kawaii stuff!

On our third day, we had a taste of something old and something new.  In the morning, we made a quick visit to Legoland Discovery Center at the Decks Mall in Odaiba.  Who doesn’t love Lego, right?

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Similar to our experience at the Toy Museum, it was a fun place, and truly for every member of the entire family!  I especially loved the miniature version of Tokyo, made entirely out of Lego bricks.  It was amazing!!!

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The little one enjoyed the play area very much, and insisted on building one lego tower after another.  She especially enjoyed using the big rubber lego pieces, and building towers that were taller than her!

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At around lunch time, we made our way back to the Minato District to visit Zojoji Temple.  I make it a point that every time we visit a place, we balance out the cultural and sightseeing stuff with the shopping, the eating, and the kiddie activities.  Although the great thing about A is that she enjoys the cultural stuff as well!

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Zojoji Temple definitely did not disappoint.  I liked that it was not as crowded as Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and the grounds were actually more picturesque and Instagram-worthy–hahaha!  With the Tokyo Tower in the background, it’s hard not to take a great picture of the temple, especially during sunset!

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After Zojoji, we headed to Shibuya for some dinner.  It is unfortunate that in the two times I’ve been to Tokyo, I’ve not been able to spend more time to explore this area.  It can be a bit overwhelming because of the throngs of people that crowd the streets and sidewalks, but I’m sure the shopping must be wonderful!  Hahaha!  Oh well…maybe next year… :).

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By Tuesday, our last full day in Tokyo, I was already feeling the exhaustion from the activities of our trip.  Instead of packing our day in, we decided instead to take a leisurely stroll inside the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and while our morning away there.

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It was a beautifully warm day, and seeing people lay down and relax underneath the cherry blossom trees made me wish I had packed a picnic blanket and some lunch.  Hahaha!  But I guess that just gives me something to look forward to on our next trip here :).

Oh Tokyo, oh Tokyo.  I truly love you so!  Hoping we meet again next year, same time, same place! :)

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Gift Wrapping Idea # 2 : Pompoms and Polkadots

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Over the weekend, I had to wrap a birthday present for one of A’s classmates.  As I was feeling extra crafty, I decided to start with a blank slate–kraft paper–and build from there.

Using left-over hole punches, I first stuck neon orange circles onto the kraft paper.  I love the look of bright orange against neutral brown.  It really stands out!

Then instead of ribbon, I used two shades of blue yarn which I wrapped several times around the gift.  I topped this off with several sizes and colors of pompoms. I thought it made the present look really festive and fun! :)

For the gift tag, I used a manila tag, and used my stamps to create the greeting. To personalize it a bit, I let the little one sign the card :).

So there you have it, an easy, festive, and crafty gift wrapping idea!  It took just a couple of minutes to actually put this together, and I had so much fun doing it too! :)

In Terrarium News…

So I recently “refreshed” our terrarium with new succulents.

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I decided to go for the non-thorny variety since I was kinda getting traumatized by all the pricking everytime I’d have to transplant new cacti.

To make the arrangement a bit more fun and interesting, I also added the little one’s baby dinosaurs.  We got them from a birthday party loot bag some time ago.  I love that they’ve found a new home :).

When she saw her dinosaurs inside the terrarium, the little girl whispered to me, “Mom, they’re kissing!”

(Face Palm)

Starting Traditions

As I’m writing this post, I smile to myself thinking that my family spent this year’s August holiday pretty much the same way we did last year–a trip to Hong Kong, and a trip to Fun Farm with our close friends.

True to form, it even rained in Fun Farm just like it did a year ago!

Hahaha!

Is this the start of some new traditions for Familia C?

Anyway, sharing with you some pictures from our fun but slightly wet day.

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A and the Carabao

This time around, I got to ride on ChocNut the Carabao, and we went on a tour of the farm.

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As usual, A got to feed the rabbits and the guinea pigs…

A and the Guinea Pig

…with a little help from her friends :).

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She went fishing too (no luck, as usual :)).

A Goes Fishing

Horseback riding with Dada is always a treat :).

A Rides a Horse

And when it rains, the covered sandbox is always a welcome refuge :).

A and the Slide

If you haven’t made your way to the Fun Farm, you should definitely go!  It is a wonderful place for families to spend a lazy weekend :).

And who knows, you may even start your own tradition! :)

Hong Kong Highlights Part 3

Ok, guys.  This is the last post in my Hong Kong series :).

We scheduled an 830pm flight out of Hong Kong so we practically had the whole day to explore and shop for last minute pasalubong.  I love that our hotel room came with an option for late check out, so that really enabled us to make the most of our remaining time there :).

First up on our agenda was a semi-late breakfast (Marco Polo has a wonderful buffet selection!), and then a trip to the Peak Tram.  In all the times I’ve visited Hong Kong, I’ve never quite made it to this top tourist destination.

Getting there was pretty easy.  We took the MTR and got off at Central Station, then walked uphill towards the Tram’s Lower Station.  We actually got there just in time as lines were already starting to form (actually, I advise an early start if you plan on riding the tram.  I think we were just lucky that day that the lines were not that long :))

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The trams arrive every 10-12 mins.  After about a 40 minute wait, we were able to get on board!

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It was pretty cool riding this very traditional means of transportation.  I didn’t feel all woozy even though we were climbing up to such an incredible sight, and the views of the harbor were truly breathtaking!  A enjoyed it very much too!

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When we finally got to the peak, we took a couple of minutes to look around and take pictures.  We decided against going up to the observation deck as we felt we would practically be seeing the same thing, just with an unobstructed view.

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If we had more time, I would have loved to go around the mall (apparently there was a Coach outlet there!).  This time, however, we opted to head back down to Kowloon side so we could go back for some last minute purchases, and we could have lunch somewhere closer to our hotel.  We got back just in time to do both. And that pretty much was how we ended our Hong Kong holiday– or so I thought!

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Unfortunately, because of the bad weather in Manila, our 830pm flight was moved to 3am.  When you are traveling with a child, 3am flights are practically impossible!  I almost started to hyperventilate just thinking of waking up early and dragging my sleeping child to the airport.  Such a hassle!

Instead, the hubby and I decided to spend the night in Hong Kong, and to re-book ourselves for a 9am flight going home.  Sounds more reasonable, right?  But expensive too!  Hahaha!  While we were lucky that there was an available room for us at the Marco Polo Gateway, we could no longer get a discounted rate because of the short notice.  At that point, however, I didn’t really care anymore. I just wanted to get settled in, have some dinner, and get some rest!

Having an extra evening in Hong Kong, proved to be a blessing.  First of all, we heard that some flights that departed were diverted to Clark, Pampanga because of the heavy rains in Manila.  If that happened to us, I would probably be freaking out!!!  We also heard that many passengers had difficulty getting cabs that evening because of the floods.  Thank goodness we didn’t have to deal with that!

Instead, we were able to stay another night in a very comfortable room, and had dinner in a nice restaurant–BLT Burger–to celebrate the eve of the little one’s birthday :).  In all the years I lived in New York, I unfortunately never had the chance to try this restaurant out.  Funny that I finally did– in Hong Kong! Hahaha!

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Although the burger was nothing extremely special (we got The Stripper aka a burger without the bun), it was seasoned well, and you could tell the beef was of really good quality :).  And by that time, I was a bit tired of all the cantonese food we had eaten, so this was a welcome break and hit the spot–especially the french fries! :) Hahaha!

This trip to Hong Kong was a bit quick, and I have to admit, it was the first time that I actually felt bitin about our stay.  Hopefully next time, we’ll be able to plan something longer–there is still so much to see and do!

It was a much needed vacay, though, and I’m glad we had the chance to leave Manila even for just a couple of days.  While I honestly cannot say I feel rested and recharged, I think what’s more important is that I feel truly blessed :).

Hong Kong Highlights Part 2

While I was glad (and lucky!) that my family was out of the country during the time typhoon Maring battered Metro Manila, we were actually not spared from rainy weather in Hong Kong either.

On our one and only full day to go around the city, it showered for most of the morning, and into the early afternoon!  Boo :(.  But eventually, the sun started to peek through the clouds, and we were off to explore the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery at Diamond Hill.

I love that Hong Kong is such an easy place to teach children about travel :). Because it is convenient to commute and go around via MTR, I took the opportunity to make our journey a ‘teachable moment’ for A.

A at the MRT

She learned about maps, and enjoyed pressing the screen to choose our destination…

A inserting the MRT card

…and she also loved inserting the MRT card to enter and exit the station :).

Finally, we arrived at Nan Lian!

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A at Nan Lian

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A in front of the Pagoda

For those of you who have not been here, it is a must-see that I highly recommend :).  It’s kind of like a hidden patch of green, amidst the tall buildings and concrete jungle that is Hong Kong.  It’s a wonderful place to stroll through and enjoy at a leisurely, relaxed pace.

The highlight of the park is this golden pagoda, built in the Tang Dynasty style. The striking orange bridge that leads to it makes it even more of a sight to behold!  Very picture worthy!

I also read that each element in the 3.5 hectare garden (as in every rock, plant, hill, body of water, tree, etc.) was meticulously placed according to very specific rules and methods.  Talk about discipline!  But the results are a beautifully manicured space for the public to enjoy :).  And we certainly did!

Right next to Nan Lian is the Chi Lin Nunnery.

A at Chi Lin

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The nunnery is basically a huge complex filled with temple halls, Buddhist relics and lotus ponds.  The vibe here is very serene.  Some people were there to pay tribute to Buddha, while others simply soaked up the beautiful, elegant wooden architecture.  It was lovely, and I can say my family truly appreciated every aspect of this place.  It was unfortunate, though, that because Chi Lin is a place of worship, photos were not allowed inside the temples :(.

As dusk started to settle, we left Chi Lin and headed back for Tsim Sha Tsui. After a quick, early dinner at Ippudo (this is a MUST for the H), we headed for the Victoria Harbor waterfront, to catch the Lights and Sounds show by the promenade.

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Since we were also already in the area, we decided to cap off our day with a walk along the Avenue of Stars.  It’s basically similar to a Hollywood Walk of Fame with statues of various movie paraphernalia and sculptures of famous Chinese actors on display.  Along the path one can also find hand prints and autographs of stars set in cement.

A in front of the Movie Reel

A in front of the Movie Clicker

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A on Bear

A with Bruce Lee

While we didn’t really know or recognize many of the stars that were honored along the Avenue, we did enjoy the stroll and the view of the Hong Kong side skyline :).  So many beautifully designed buildings!!! :)

So that’s basically what we did during our second day in Hong Kong.  I love that everything we did was new, and not part of our usual Hong Kong itinerary :).  In my next and last post, I’ll talk about what we did on our last day.

Wait for it! :)

Hong Kong Highlights Part 1

August is always a good month to escape Manila.  There are a lot of long weekends to choose from, and it also happens to be my daughter’s birth month :).

Last year, we took the little one to Hong Kong.  We took her to Disneyland, went food-tripping, and did some shopping.  This time around, we decided to make the trip a bit more educational, opting to sightsee, rather than to spend our time at a theme park.  Ofcourse shopping and eating are always part of the itinerary :).

A goes to Hong Kong

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We decided to take an 8am flight out of the Philippines, and arrived in Hong Kong at 930 in the morning.  Everything went smoothly from the moment we left our condo, to the minute we arrived at our hotel for the next 3 days, the Marco Polo Gateway.

It’s been years since I last stayed at this hotel, and I was glad to see that everything was nice, modern, and newly refurbished!

I also super love the location!  Because it is on Canton Street, not only is it just across Silvercord Mall (home to Din Tai Fung, Ippudo, and near H & M), but it is also conveniently connected to the Harbor City Mall!  All the shops are practically a stone’s throw away!

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When we got to our room, I was happy to discover that it was a nice size, perfect for our little family.  I was thrilled that the bathroom looked so clean and brand new!  It totally passed my standards with flying colors!  Hahaha!

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After we unpacked and had gotten settled in, lunch was in order.  We decided to give our friends at Din Tai Fung a visit, especially since I was craving for some soup dumplings.  They never fail to hit the hungry spot!  Hahaha!  I also needed to fuel up for the whole afternoon shopping session that was to come after our sumptuous lunch :).

A at Din Tai Fung

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A feeds herself

The Fam Bam

Since I’d rather not bore you with shopping details (I was on my best behavior! *Read : I didn’t really buy much :)), let me end this post by sharing about the restaurant where we decided to have dinner.

By this time we were exhausted and chose to eat close to home.  Prior to our trip, I had been researching the blogosphere for some recommendations, and this one came from Jin of Jin Loves to Eat.  We decided to eat at Canton Deli, located at the 3rd floor of the Harbor City Mall.

They serve very traditional cantonese dishes, and since we were in Hong Kong, we thought, “What the heck, might as well eat authentic Chinese food!”.  Hahaha!

While the ambience was nothing to rave about (although they did have these cute bird cages suspended from the ceiling), the food was quite good!  Since it was a bit late, the hubby and I decided to just share some soup and beef tenderloin cooked chinese style.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty everything was :).  The soup had a good amount of crab chunks and corn.  The beef had slices that were thicker than I was used to, but it was very soft and flavorful that I did not mind at all!  Definitely, we enjoyed our meal very much :).  I would have wanted to try other stuff on the menu, but because it was already very late, we decided against it :).  Hahahaha!

If you ever find yourself in the Marco Polo/Harbor City Mall vicinity, do give Canton Deli a try :).  While it’s not the type of restaurant that’ll blow you away, the food tastes pretty good, and it is very conveniently located as well :).  We walked away that evening with pretty happy tummies! :)

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Anyway, since this is already pretty lengthy, in my next post, I’ll talk naman about the places we visited, and the sights we saw in Hong Kong.

Hope you guys will stay tuned! :)

KidzVille

I think my world has significantly shrunk since I moved south.  When I lived in Quezon City, I was so much more adventurous, and would find myself in various parts of the Metro–all the way North in SM to as far as Alabang in the South. Nowadays I find myself shuttling pretty much between Rockwell and BGC, with trips to my office in QC in between.  Makati is a rarity, all the more the Pasig and the San Juan area.

Because I’ve not been out and about in a while, I’ve been late in discovering the wonders of KidzVille, a fun play and party center at the Podium Mall.  I’ve been so “huli sa balita” (literally, late with the news), that even my older sister, who I swear is almost never in the know, knew about it already!  In fact, she said she’s taken her son there several times!  Gosh, where have I been?!???

So since I’m always looking for new places and new experiences for A (and unfortunately, there aren’t quite enough in Manila :(), one weekend, I convinced the H to take A for her first visit to KidzVille.  Luckily, brother and SIL were free that afternoon and decided to take their kids–A’s cousins–to KidzVille as well. And boy did they have fun!

A and G and M

KidzVille is basically what its name says it to be–it’s a kids village.  Everything inside is a miniature replica of what you would find in an actual village.

There is a hospital…

A and G and M1

A garage slash car repair shop…

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…A school bus kids can “drive”…

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…to go to school…

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…A barn…

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A and G3

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…a sweet little cafe…

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…a Village Shop…

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…a movie theater…

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…and even a fire station!

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Matty the Fireman

It’s basically a place where kids get to role play and pretend as if they lived in an actual village.  They get to drive around in pretend cars, wear costumes, interact with the toys–such a wonderful place!  And I can see why the kids would truly love it here!  As a mom, even I was impressed!  They didn’t have these things when I was a kid :(  Hahaha!

Unfortunately for us, because it was a weekend, the place was filled to the rafters!  There were too many kids running around, many of the toys were strewn all over the place, and it was a bit too chaotic for me :(.  Hopefully we will get the chance to visit again on a “quieter” day, and maybe A can enjoy the place at a more leisurely pace :).

Mommy preferences and comments aside, I think KidzVille is definitely a wonderful place for kids to learn, to play and to interact.  In fact, you can even hold birthday parties there, and I’m sure the kids would enjoy!  I would love to bring A there again!  In fact, she’s already asking when we are going back! Hahaha!

And on that note, I heard that a similar but much bigger place called Kidzania (bigger as in theme park levelz!!!!) is set to open in BGC in 2014!  Think of it as KidsVille on steroids!  Hahaha!  I am quite exzoited for it, and I’m sure other parents are too!

In the meantime, as we wait, KidzVille at Podium it is!

KIDZVILLE is located at the 4th Floor of The Podium Mall, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig, Metro Manila.  Their number is +63917 844 5439.

Sunday Happy : Bonding Over Bookplates

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There are 3 things I loved about this activity :

1. The design of the bookplates are just too pretty!  I got mine from here.

2. Stamping the little girl’s name was so much fun!  She almost did it independently!  Proud mommy moment :)

3. I got to spend precious crafting and bonding time with my little one :)

Enough said :).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Folks!!! :)

White Nights

The other night, the little one and I happened to don matching white nightgowns.

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I particularly love this brand called Antukin.  For my non-Filipino speaking readers, that means “sleepyhead”.

I love the girly, lacey details, and the fact that after a couple of washes, the material is soooo soft and comfortable.

Plus it just looks so clean and fresh!  Hahaha :)

And while I’m not usually a fan of matching clothes with my little girl, the fact that  they have mini versions of the adult-sized nightgowns is just too cute to pass up :)

For those interested, Antukin has a stall at the monthly Karl Edwards Bazaar in BGC.