Wednesday, December 31, 2014


It's 2015 in a few hours. Let me do a last blog post to close 2014 and welcome the new year properly. It's been quite a while now since I last posted an update. I was busy settling into a new job since September. My mind, body and, I guess, all my energy had to zone in into the new job, new bosses, new colleagues, and adjustments in my household and arrangements for the daily care of Garrett and Gabee. 

It's a good time to reflect on the blessings and challenges of the year that was. What a great year it was for me and my family, we capped it off with a vacation up north in Sagada. We had an amazing time up in the mountains, enjoying all-day long cool temperature, and exploring what we could in the three days we were there. There were just so many little anecdotes and beautiful moments that, I think that trip deserves a separate post complete or replete with gorgeous photos of that place (my family in them to vouch for its authenticity, hehe!). For now, let me just run through special events to remember 2014 by. 

Garrett and Gabee each had their moments on stage when they received their school diplomas and moved up, Garrett to high school while Gab to elementary. 

Summer was memorable as it was the first I got to spend the whole time with the two kids. It was the best three months of my one-year extended leave from work. I was completely at their service, packing for trips, taking them swimming, to bookstores, and fast food chains (KFC, McDonald's, and Jollibee, in the order of which one we visited more frequently). When I had their dad's blessing, we ate at our favorite  Cafe Mary Grace. I was just always hesitant splurging my husband's hard-earned money. Heehee! Their dad to his credit treated them to more fancy restaurants like Chelsea, Crystal Jade, Lugang Cafe, Abe, if only to show them how to eat properly in a more refined dining setting. It's difficult to teach table etiquette when we really don't practice fine dining, with all the works, at home.

We had staycations in the metro, where the two kids had a blast getting their fill of reading books and buying pens and stationery from Fully Booked, Power Books and National Bookstore, strolls at nearby malls, and swims in the late morning or afternoon. The first official summer outing was with my side of the family. We spent one weekend at Thunderbird Resorts Rizal. It was the first time for all of us at that resort. We enjoyed the pool with a great view of Rizal's greenery, and dinner at the resort's restaurant. 

We then went solo as a family to Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas, to celebrate my 13th wedding anniversary with my super loving, super provider hubbs. It was also a great first time in that cove for all of us, and we would want to come back and take with us our extended family. I wrote about that trip on this blog. We loved the infinity pool and swam until night fell. 

For Mother's Day, we checked into Holiday Inn with my 90-year-old Lola, my mother, siblings and nieces. We grabbed Holiday Inn's promo selling rooms at 4,000 pesos a night for Mother Day's weekend. Garrett, Gab and their cousin Bash who loved staying in hotels enjoyed the most. Us adults enjoyed the buffet breakfast. 😉

Summer was extended as the school opening was moved to late July following DEPEd's move to allow schools to align their calendars to the international norm with most schools opening in August globally. It was a very opportune change as we welcomed back to the Philippines Kuya Butch and his family, balikbayans from California, who arrived June first. From the airport, we travelled the next day to Laiya, San Juan, Batangas to celebrate Tatay Ike's birthday at La Luz Resort, the same resort we visited at least six times for the last eight years. I wouldn't be able to describe to you how happy and excited everyone was. My husband's side of the family was complete, full house, with three of their cousins also in our group. I always enjoyed snorkeling in  Laiya, I would bet, every one did, too. We took great family portrait photos in the same spot of the resort. It would be interesting to do a timeline and see how the kids have grown, and how the adults have remained young-looking, hehe, despite the obvious weight gain. 

The rains came early but we had our final hirit during the school break in late June. We drove up north to Baguio and spent three chilly nights and four foggy mornings there. One of the highlights was our tour of BenCab museum and breakfast at Sabel's Cafe. I posted photos of our Baguio trip on this blog. 

Then came school opening and Gab's entry into big school. Gabee didn't take any time at all to settle in as she was already familiar with the school, some teachers, and Kuya's classmates. Her friendly ways helped to blend her in in no time. 

Garrett skipped fifth grade because of the K to 12 program. High school came a year earlier than expected. And with it came more complex projects and requirements and multiple field trips. This school year, I'm happy that he has found a couple of best friends, and he now mingles constantly with certain classmates. He had some come over the house for his 12th birthday. 

We took advantage of a long weekend in August and defied the rainy weather with a quick trip to Subic. We stayed at Kamana Sanctuary where monkeys freely roamed in the mountains at the back of the hotel and the beach in front gave us a great view of sunrise and sunset. 

I went back to work in September to a new post, in a new department. It was a good move and I feel very blessed being reabsorbed permanently, resuming all my benefits and, of course, having regular money in my ATM card. :) 

Garrett completed the Kumon reading program in June and was recognized as an Advanced Kumon student at the Kumon Advanced Students Forum held in Sofitel Hotel last November. That was a big moment for him. We will be back in next year's forum where he will receive the completer's award. 

Christmas came quickly. The week before Christmas, the wonderful news that he qualified to study at the Philippine Science High School, Central Luzon (Clark, Pampanga) campus came out. Wow, we all said, almost in disbelief seeing his name among the 5 percent or 1,000 plus of 23,000 plus takers. He didn't land a spot among the top 240 who qualified to enroll at the main campus. But OMG, it was just a try, with only self-study using MSA and PSHS reviewers, which I bought a few months before the exam. Hats off to my voracious reader! 

And to end the year, as I have mentioned, we pulled far away from the city and communed with nature, closer to God, in the ancestral mountains of Sagada. 

It has been a year to remember, filled with God's grace and overflowing with blessings. I pray the year ahead will see even better days. May all the good even get better. I pray for all that's best for you and your loved ones. I pray the country's elected officials step up and direct the flow of economic gains toward those still living at and below poverty levels. May we all help do our share to help for the good of all. May God keep us in His favor. 

Happy New Year!! Blessings in 2015 and beyond. Thank you for being a part of my little world.