Saturday, December 10, 2011

My son's Angry Birds 7th birthday party - The movie story

One of the surprises I planned to give to my son on this party was a movie about him, about his journey since he was born, until now. This is my favorite present to give to someone special on his/her special day. I have been making many short movies/slideshow since 2003. Usually I used Windows Movie Maker together with any photo editing software. But this time, I use my new Macbook... :) 

I started to make the movie about my son in early October this year. I collected all his home-videos and photos. I also searched for the right soundtracks for the movie. I gave the title "The Kiwi Journey", as my son is a New Zealander. But since I'm quite new to Mac OS, I had to learn about it first. I used iMovie together with iPhoto and iTunes. It was a very tiring project to do as I could only do it once my kids were asleep. But I enjoyed it. I get more and more familiar with the Macbook, the iMovie, and the iPhoto.

So, after staying awake long hours every night, I finally completed the movie just 3 days before the D-day. 

I brought my laptop to the place where the party would be held to try the projector. I wanted to see how the movie would show up in the projector screen. Everything was good and the movie was ready for screening on the birthday party. Again, just like the cake, I was very pleased with the result. The movie brought tears to my eyes every time I watched it. I can't believe how fast time flies! My little baby boy who was born 7 years ago, has grown up so fast to be a fine young boy ready for more adventure in his own way. Oh my...I can't believe I have become a mother for 7 years! I hope I have been a good mother for all these years.

I prefer not to show it here because the movie contains many private home videos and photos. But I can tell you one thing, this movie has blown away my audience they asked for an encore!...:)

My son's Angry Bird 7th birthday party - The fondant decorated birthday cake story

To continue the story from the birthday party preparation, I will start from the birthday cake making.
Since I was the one responsible for the birthday cake, I learned everyday about cake decorating using fondant. I have never tried this before. It would not be so easy to decorate with fondant here as the weather in South East Asia is forever hot and humid! But I would not be deterred by the weather. I have 2 airconditioned rooms in my house. The AC will be my best friend to control the heat and the humidity...:)
Internet was the best source and best learning media. I learned to make my own fondant using marshmallow as I love the taste better than just pure sugar. My 3 years old daughter is always happy to help me as fondant is like a clay, she had so much fun playing with it. She cut the shape, pasted it everywhere on her toys, and got her fingers all sticky...:O

I made many colors of marshmallow fondant. I also bought a set of Wilton rolled fondant primary colors (which has red, green, blue, and yellow). I didn't remember that 1 of the Angry Birds is black! I completely forgotten to buy Wilton rolled fondant black/grey set or at least a fondant black coloring. I was so sad that I was not able to create my own black fondant. So, I can't make the black Angry Bird.

I also bought more kitchen utensils in nearby supermarket to help me later in decorating the cake. I took out all my cookie shape cutters. I designed the cake decorations on a piece of paper complete with color descriptions and shapes that I already have and I am able to make.

A week before the party, one of my good friends baked a cake for me to try to decorate it using fondant. I am a complete beginner here in terms of decorating cake, especially with fondant. I made the Angry Bird cake decorations for that trial cake. It was for my 12th wedding anniversary. It turned out great! I was able to shape 3 cute Angry Birds and 2 green pigs and put them on top of the cake. So, I had more confidence to decorate the cake. I abandoned my 1st plan to have a giant jelly cake as jelly will not go along with fondant. Besides, the birthday boy requested a giant rectangle cake. He didn't want to have a round cake like the trial cake.

To make things easier, I ordered the giant 12"x16" rectangle triple layer cake from a cake shop without any decorations. I have made all fondant decorations 2 days before I collected the cake. I made the mini TNT boxes from mashed sweet potato fried cake with cheese inside. Then I used chocolate fondant to make the sweet potato cakes more like the Angry Birds TNT boxes. I even got an incident where the chocolate fondant I used to decorate the mini TNT boxes has melted because the weather was too hot. 

When I collected the cake, I was so surprised by the size of the cake! It's very big! It was half of my dining table...:) 
I needed a large area to decorate and I only had a day left before the D-day. Oh my God! I was a bit frustrated because the fondant I have prepared was not enough to cover the whole area of the cake and it was torn because I rolled it too thin! So I had to make an extra dough using a different color :(
I kneaded and rolled the fondant again and again. Until finally I was able to cover the whole cake but using 2 different colors. It was not too bad! Thank God! But my arms and hands were extremely sore.

After I rested my hand for a while, I started to put all other decorations on top of the cake, starting with the green pig family on one side complete with the bunker. The pig bunker was made of Pandan cake I glued with raspberry jam and covered with chocolate icing, then I decorated using many kinds of chocolate   I bought from supermarket nearby. I put the stolen bird eggs cooked inside the pot on top of the bunker surrounded by the pig family. The Angry Birds family was on the other side complete with the slingshot and the empty bird nest...:) I really had so much fun decorating the cake. I started to decorate at 4pm and finished everything by 8pm. Not bad!..:D

Since the cake was giant, I couldn't fit it into my fridge. So I had to keep it inside my air-conditioned bedroom that had temperature of 16 degrees Celsius.
My hands were so sore from kneading and rolling the fondant but I was very pleased with the result. The birthday boy was extremely happy and amazed with his giant Angry Birds birthday cake. He hugged me tightly, kissed me, and said, "Thank you, mommy! The cake is so beautiful just like what I want". My husband gave his compliment to me, "Damn! That's really good!" when he saw the finish result. Many of my friends in Facebook said that the decoration was amazing for a complete beginner like me. 

On the D-day, I didn't display the cake at the start of the party at 3pm cause I was afraid the fondant would melt again. So, the cake was only brought out of the air-conditioned room at 5pm when the cake ceremony started. My guests were all amazed with the cake. The children in the party couldn't wait to take the Angry Birds and the pig family figurines. So, the moment my son blow the candles, the children 'attacked' the cake! They stripped down the cake decorations completely...:D 

I made the slideshow for you to see things I have written about. 

Don't forget to continue reading my other stories about this birthday party! It was absolutely a very tiring event but it was a great party! Thank you Rovio for creating the Angry Birds games

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Angry Birds theme birthday party - the preparation

I'm just trying to steal time now to update you about my son's 7th birthday party because I'm afraid if I don't document everything I have done now, it will be expired and the story won't be valid anymore.

So, to continue the story from my last post, I have decided to hold a slightly bigger than a normal birthday party by end of this month, but I still keep it as simple as I can considering I don't have a lot of budget for this party. There won't be any famous magician or a clown, no food carts either. I think it will be the simplest 7th birthday party in the Philippines. I have many discussions with my son to help me cutting down the budget by not inviting all his friends but only those he knows best. But this tight budget actually has a blessing in disguise as I'm forced to become more creative and more resourceful to make my son's dream come true.

My son has chosen to invite about 20 of his school friends, plus another 10 friends around the neighborhood. These 30 friends will come with their parents or their nannies. So I really have to prepare food & souvenirs for at least 70-100 people. Honestly, this is my 1st time holding a party which will have more than 70 people attending. Even my wedding party was attended only by 10 people! :)The food business I leave it to the professional caterer who is more familiar to serve food for more than 70 people. I will do the decorations, the loot bags, the birthday cake, and the finger food for the children.

Since the party theme is Angry Birds, it's easy for me to find many things Angry Birds. One website that I'm stuck quite a long time to get some ideas for this party is website is so great and has all information and ideas I need.Since my last post, I have completed making 5 green pig piñatas using the 4-layer papier mârché technique. I have this idea of building a life size Angry Birds game to add the fun in the party. So, I collected many old boxes around my house; from my daughter's milk carton boxes, toy boxes, until my stove box. I also asked from my friend to donate whatever used boxes they have. I got many combination of boxes: big, small, long, short.I wrapped each box using a brown paper wrapper to look like a wooden block.
Then I painted my son's 4 bowling pins that usually just sit on the corner of my son's toy room. The pins now have 4 angry bird faces. These will be the beaters for the piñata. But my son has tried to shoot the pin using the slingshot instead...:)

Next project was to design the invitation. Again, my visit to The Party Animal website gave me some ideas for the invitation. At first I wanted to make a 3D iPad invitation. I have completed the design & tried to print it in the printing shop. But then, it used a lot of ink and paper, so 1 invitation costed me nearly P100. If 30 invitation, I had to spend P3K! Too much for my budget. Besides, I would need to spend sometime to fold it one by one, insert the styrofoam for the inside to make the 3D iPad looks more real, another cost for the styrofoam, and I have no time as I still had to fly overseas for 2 weeks. If the guess was only 10, I would go with this 3D iPad.

So, I changed the design. I didn't really think of using the 3D iPhone shape as I think the words written on the invitation would be too small and hard to read. But still I can't completely eliminate it. I just had to try it first. I tried to fit the design for 3D iPad into the 3D iPhone instead. With iPhone shape a lot smaller, I can afford to print 2 pictures in 1 paper. I also tried to print it at home since I finally found a shop which sells a glossy photo paper for only P99 for 10 papers. Still, if it is 3D iPhone, I had to fold it and insert the styrofoam, blah...blah...and I'm running out of time as the invitations needed to go out at least 2 weeks before the D-day. I also need to get the RSVP replies as soon as possible so I can inform the number to the caterer. So, I chose the 2D iPhone invitation instead. But, I made a stand for this iPhone shape invitation so that the invitation can be displayed and people won't forget to attend the party. I got the idea for the stand from this website: Dessine moi un objet - iPhone paper dock by Julien Madérou.

I thought when I was overseas, I could work on the invitations, but I was wrong. I was so busy overseas, I could do nothing for this birthday party preparation. So, when I returned to Philippines, I continued working on the invitations day and night sacrificing my sleeping time and neglecting my children a bit. The result? My daughter fell sick! D'oh! She had high fever just when I really needed to deliver the invitations to the school. 
I'm doing all these alone, by the way. My helper helped me in cleaning the house and doing other thing in the house. I still have to cook and take care the children while doing the things for the party. My husband? He only wants to be the guest in the party. Nevermind...I'm used to do one-man show anyway...:)
So, I had no choice. I had to stop doing things for the party and take care my children first. It's God's way of reminding me what should be my priority, isnt' it? Thank God my daughter recovered in 1 day. I geared up to deliver the invitations and texted the people about this party. 

Next, the loot bag, the party peripherals, and the decorations. I had to do major shopping. And, since my budget is limited, the only place I can think of is Divisoria in Manila.
I have never gone to that place before and I heard not many people can 'survive' shopping in that place. Many of my friends fell sick after coming back from shopping at Divisoria.
But I had no choice. I had to go there to keep my budget low. No fancy shopping at high class malls! 

Praise the Lord one of my good friends was nice enough to drive me to Divisoria. She is such an expert in shopping she really helped me a lot buying and choosing things in Divisoria. That place, by the way, was not as scary as what I thought. In fact, it was really a place to do shopping as Divisoria has everything. Literally, everything! And the price is wow! Honestly, you will drool and can't stop shopping. Suddenly you'll need everything...:) I shopped and shopped and shopped from 7:30AM till lunch time! I came home looking like pretty woman with bags full of things, all Angry Birds!! The best part was I still had some money in my wallet and I survived! :) In fact, I think I'm addicted to shop in Divisoria. Ha!..:D

Then, my helper helped me to put things one by one in the loot bags while I did the design for the backdrop decorations. I also bought an Angry Bird bedsheet set. I plan to use the bedsheet as part of decorations. Lucky for me, my neighbor gave my son a birthday gift: an Angry Bird towel. So, this towel will go to the wall as a decoration as well...:) 
I also made special buckets to serve the finger food. I wrapped each bucket with an aluminum foil to cover the inside and wrapped the outside with colorful Japanese paper to pretend that each bucket is a bird-nest. It's very beautiful and cute too. I'm also surprised with how beautiful it turned out. I put a sticker of angry bird in front of the bucket.

So, the loot bags, party peripherals, and decorations are sorted out, except the balloons. I need to blow the balloons only a day before.

So, next to plan is the games and the birthday cake.
I have listed many games we plan to play including some quizzes on Angry Birds and the birthday boy. Since I made too many piñata pig head, I'm going to use 1 to play "Pass the pig head". 10 children will play this game. They will sit around and pass the pig head around while the music on. Since the pig is the most hated character in the Angry Birds game, who ever gets the pig head when the music stop, he/she will have to get out of the loop without any prizes. The last one gets the pig head will win the prize.
Another game is "Save the egg birds". In this game, the children will be divided into 3 groups consist of 5 children. Then the 1st in line has to bite a spoon with an egg on the spoon, then carries the egg to the end of line, then turn around and walk back to the group, then pass the egg to the next player in line without touching & dropping the egg. The group that completes the line first will be the winner. 

Then, the biggest game will be the life-size Angry Bird game. In this game, all big children must line up to take turn to beat or to shoot the blocks so that the pig head piñatas will fall down and then the children can take the candies. My son has tried this game before and he really had fun and sweaty all over...:D He likes it so much but it was very tiring. My son said the real Angry Birds game is more tiring than the one on my iPhone because when playing on my iPhone he only uses his 1 finger. But playing the life-size Angry Birds need him to move all of his body parts, running around to rebuild the blocks. Good exercise for him!...:D I hope other kids in the birthday party will have fun too playing this real Angry Birds game.

There will be a 7-thing ceremony as well. I plan to ask 21 of his friends to give him 7 candies to symbolize that my son will always have a sweet life, 7 books to symbolize that my son will always have a good career, 7 oranges to symbolize gold (in Chinese - as my son is half chinese) so that my son will be wealthy in the future. This 7-thing ceremony is the Philippines tradition for 7th birthday.

As for the birthday cake, I plan to make the giant birthday jelly. I'm still designing it and I still need to practice on creating the angry birds characters for the jelly decorations.

When I have some free time (which is very hard to get), I try to complete the video of my son growing up from he was born until he is 7 years old. It will allow him to walk back down the memory lane and remind him how exciting his life is and will be.

So far, these are the things I have completed and still preparing. With God's help, I really hope I can fulfill my son's dream to have a great birthday party even with a limited budget. Please pray so that this party will be a successful one. I will update this blog again most likely after the party.

I'm working on one surprise for the children. Hopefully they'll like it...:)

The dress code for the party is Angry Birds T-Shirt. So, every one in the party needs to wear Angry Birds T-shirt. I bought an original DVD of RIO - The Movie to be shown on the LCD projector during dinner so that the children will sit down nicely and enjoy the meal. I had to eliminate the 7 things ceremony because of time constraint. The party has to finish in 3 hours. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The green pig (Angry Birds) piñata

My son's 7th birthday is coming in 2 months. Yeah...I know...still quite long. But I'm already feeling nervous since a month ago because my son wanted to have a big birthday party like his other friends who have invited him on their 7th birthday parties. 

In Philippines, the 7th birthday is a very important event. The birthday is special and it has to be celebrated as much as we can. I learn about this culture now that I've been staying here for nearly 3 years. This year particularly important since most of my son's classmates will turn 7 years old. So, since beginning of the year, my son has been invited to many birthday parties; big, grand, expensive birthday parties.

We are not Filipino, but my son really really wanted to have his 7th birthday celebrated as big and grand as his other classmates. He keeps on asking me when will his turn to invite his friends. That's why I am very nervous since a month ago, especially thinking about the budget...:) Holding a big and grand birthday party isn't a cheap business. I have to think about so many things; from what's inside the loot bags, the food, the games to add the fun in the party, and the piñata (the thing that's filled up with many candies and the children take turn to hit it until it breaks so they can take all the candies).

So, in trying my best to keep the budget low but still meet all the standards for a 7 year-old birthday party, I get my hands dirty and started to make things myself. At first I wanted to serve the food from my own kitchen complete with my own idea of presenting the food "The Angry Birds"-way. I have trained myself and tried many combination of food so I can get the shape of all Angry Birds characters on the plate. Oh by the way, my son has chosen Angry Birds as the theme for his birthday party. He loves the Angry Birds game by Rovio. But then for the food business, I don't dare to take it myself. My son has planned to invite more than 40 children, not to mention their parents and their yayas (nannies)!!..:O I can't imagine myself creating 50 Angry Birds Bento though I know it will bring down my budget! I just take the decoration, the games, and the loot bag parts. I plan to engage a professional catering business to help me to serve the food.

The first thing came into my mind was to make the Angry Birds Piñata. I checked on the internet and browsed so many information and pictures about it and how to make it. I tempted to make the Red Angry Bird for the Pinata, but I think it's not the Red Angry Bird that should get beaten, it should be the green pig just like the game. So, I started making the pinata using the 4-layers papier-marché. It took me 5 days to complete it because I have to wait for each layer to really dry in 24 hours. The 5th day was to paint it.
If you are interested in making it also, I'd be happy to share with you how to do it.

What you need:
  1. 1 medium size balloon. Blow it to the desired size. The size of pinata depends on how big the balloon is.
  2. Old newspapers. Tear by hand; half, then tear vertically about 3cm each. Don't use scissor because the paper will hold well when it's torn by hand.
  3. White paper or paper hand towel. Also tear by hand the same as the newspaper. 
  4. Glue solution. You can use flour mix with water (1:2 =  for every 1 tbsp flour you put 2 tbsp water) or you can dilute a white glue with water until you have a smooth paste but not too watery.
  5. Vegetable oil 
  6. Masking tape
  7. Poster paint and the brush
  8. A medium size bowl for the balloon to sit while you do the papier-marché on it.
  9. Cardboard for the crown and the cover of candy hole.
How to make:
  1. Blow the balloon to the desired size then tie up the end.
  2. Sit the balloon in the bowl. Start by covering the whole area of the balloon using the vegetable oil. This is done to prevent the balloon from sticking to the newspaper. So it will be easier to pop/to release the air from the balloon later leaving the shape intact.
  3. By using papier-marché technique: dip the strips of newspaper 1 piece at a time in the glue solution. Then paste it to the balloon until you cover nearly all area of the balloon, except the top part that you have to leave it uncovered by newspaper so that you can put the candy inside. Try not to cover the end of the balloon where you tie up the balloon so that you can release the air from the balloon later.
  4. Keep on pasting strips of newspaper 1 layer at a time on top of each other until you complete all the area except the top part.
  5. After completing 1 layer, dry it up inside a warm room for at least half a day. It took me 24 hours to dry up completely each layer because it was raining for the whole week here in Philippines.
  6. I use 3 layers of newspaper strips. Then the last layer I use the white paper strips mixed with paper hand towel strips. But actually, if you want to paint the pinata, I prefer to use only white paper strips because the paper hand towel will absorb the paint and mix the colors on the pinata. But if you want to cover it with some paper crepe, then it really doesn't matter, even if you don't use the white paper layer.
  7. While waiting for the white layer to dry up, I started to create the nose and the ears by using the leftover newspaper strips that I crumpled together and secured with masking tape, then I shaped the pig nose and the ears. Then I do papier-marché again on the nose and ears, dry them up. After drying up, paint them green.
  8. Next I made the crown out of leftover cardboard from my grocery shopping bag. I told you I'm trying to keep the budget low. So, recycling things around the house is the best thing to do...:)
  9. Once the white paper layer all dried up, you can start to decorate your own way. You can paint it or wrap around with crepe paper. Oh, before you decorate it, pop the balloon first or release the air by untying the end of the balloon. Hopefully the shape still holds.
  10. I started to draw the eyes, eyebrows, and nose with pencil. Then I painted the whole area green except for the eyes and eyebrows. Don't forget to paint the eyes and eyebrows black.
  11. When the paint covering the pinata dried up completely, attached the nose and ears with glue and masking tape to hold until the glue dried and the nose and ears attached nicely. Paint 2 nose holes black and paint the ear shade black like in my pinata picture above. 
  12. The small whole where the end of the balloon was is used to hang the balloon while the open part that I have created earlier by not covering the balloon area with strips of newspaper, will be used to fill up the pinata with candies. After the candies are in, you can cover the whole with a hard cardboard and paint it the same color green.
  13. There you have your pinata...:)
  14. You can actually shape the pinata in any shape you like by attaching things on the main shape. Make sure you don't destroy the main shape...:)
My next project will be creating the beater. I plan to use a plastic bowling pin that I will take from my son's toy box and paint it with Angry Bird face...:) Hopefully the children will have fun beating this green pinata pig using the Angry bird beater...:-D

In the mean time, I still have to arrange everything else to make sure I meet my budget to hold my son's 7th birthday party. I will update this blog again as and when I have time...:)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011 - Part 2 (Singapore - Ipoh - Manila)

From Budget Terminal Changi Airport, Singapore, we had to take Firefly to fly to Ipoh, Malaysia.

We arrived at the airport about an hour before the check in desk was opened. So, we had to sit down and had our breakfast at the McDonald inside Budget Terminal.
At around 8am, we checked in our luggages and proceeded immediately to clear immigration and go to the waiting area. In the immigration desk, we had to clear one by one. But since my 2 children are still too small to walk and present the passport by themselves, I cleared together with them.

After that we just waited to board the plane in the waiting area. The kids were busy playing in the children playground. My dad checked his Facebook and email while my mom watched television. I had to monitor everyone... :) About an hour later we boarded our plane to Ipoh.

The flight to Ipoh took about 1.5hours from Singapore. The kids dozed off right away inside the plane because we had to wake up too early for this trip. I enjoyed the fruit juices distributed for free plus a piece of bread and a sachet of peanut. It's quite a straight forward flight.

When we landed in Ipoh, it was nearly noon already. We had to open all our check-in luggages to be check by the immigration in Ipoh Airport.
After we were clear to go, we took a taxi to go directly to my house in Ipoh. My house was quite far from the airport. It costed me RM55! I never expected to pay that much though. This trip was my 1st time to stay in my own house in Ipoh. The house was completed last year but since we live in The Philippines, we only got a chance to visit the house on this trip.

At around 1pm we entered the house. We were so sleepy, tired, and very hungry. The house is still empty. There's no food also. So, we took the same taxi to take us to Tesco so that we could have lunch and buy our necessities to stay in my house. We missed the food here in Malaysia. The kids were super excited again. They run here and there. They were charged during the flight, so they were full of energy to run around Tesco spacious aisles.

For a month, we stayed in my house in Ipoh. I had a duty to monitor the minor renovation of the house. My mom had to cook everyday because my house is far from the city so there is no McDonald delivery. No Pizza hut delivery either. Even Domino's Pizza doesn't cover our area for delivery service.

Every weekend we went to church in the Ipoh downtown. We booked a taxi that has become our regular. We used this opportunity to buy more food supply. We also used this opportunity to enjoy the food in downtown Ipoh. From the church, we walked to the Greentown Corner food junction to have our favorite char kway teow and wonton noodle. Sometimes we took a bus from the bus stop in front of Ipoh Parade Mall directly to Greentown Corner.

Since we didn't have a car, we learned to take bus to go to Ipoh downtown from my house. It was a very interesting journey riding the bus. On our 1st trip to take bus to Ipoh, we had to ask the bus driver where we had to stop if we wanted to go to Ipoh Parade. The nice bus driver told me that he would send me directly in front of Ipoh Parade and he even asked me what time I finished shopping so that he could pick me up and took me back home. Huaaa!!! What a nice bus driver!

Finally, after a month and all the renovation works have been completed, we had to go back home. My parents had to fly back to Jakarta, and the kids and I flew back to Manila.
My parents took Air Asia and the kids and I took Cebu Pacific. Both flights departed on the same day from LCCT, Sepang. I'm glad the summer holiday went well. Everyone was healthy and happy. We definitely look forward to have the same happy and healthy vacation again together with my parents. Thank you God and please listen to our prayers...Amin

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011 - Part 1 (Manila - Jakarta - Singapore)

My children and I have just come back from our lovely summer vacation this year. We spent 1.5 months traveling from Manila, Philippines, to Jakarta, Indonesia, then we spent a night in Singapore before continuing our journey to Ipoh, Malaysia. It was a great vacation because no one fell sick and no trip to doctor or hospital like last year. Praise the Lord for our tip top condition during the holiday.

Unlike last year, we didn't actually plan to visit Jakarta this year. We wanted to fly directly to Malaysia and spent our vacation there. We planned to visit Singapore while we were in Malaysia. But then I had to renew my Indonesia driving license and my Indonesia IC for they had expired this year. So, we diverted the plan to include Jakarta in our vacation. Since we had to include our stay in Jakarta for 12 days, we had to carefully budget ourselves. Unfortunately, the ticket price for Cebu Pacific direct flight to go to Jakarta from Manila was already very expensive. So, we had to look for another way to go to Jakarta. We were lucky because at that time Cebu Pacific had a promotion for Manila - Singapore vv ticket. So, we quickly opted this option. From Singapore, there were so many flights to Jakarta. We chose the cheapest one by Air Asia Indonesia. We were lucky also to be able to get the cheap ticket. We didn't really think about the long transit time from the time we landed from Manila to the time we departed to Jakarta. We didn't plan to go out of Changi Airport to save our money. We planned to stay at Changi Airport transit hotel.

So when we landed in Singapore (at Budget Terminal Changi Airport) at around an hour passed midnight, we just hang around at Changi Airport moving from Budget Terminal to Terminal 2 basement by taking a free transfer bus. We found out that we could not stay at Terminal 1 transit hotel because we had to check-in first to be able to access this hotel. We then walked and took the skytrain to go back and forth from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. We didn't visit Terminal 3 because Air Asia Indonesia would depart from Terminal 1 at 10 o'clock in the morning. 

It was at 3 o'clock in the morning when my children found the children playground at the departure area in Terminal 2. The kids suddenly got so hyper and run around in the playground, screaming and disturbing other passengers who were trying to catch some sleep. I was already like a zombie. I was extremely tired and sleepy but I still took turn with my husband to watch the kids. 

At around 5am, the kids started to get tired and sleepy. We all walked to the Terminal 1 wanted to check in. But unfortunately, for Air Asia flight, we can only check-in 2 hours before the departure time. So, we had to wait for another 3 more hours before we were allowed to check-in. We all tried to catch some sleep by sleeping on the chairs at the departure area Terminal 1.

Finally, at 8am, we checked-in and we quickly went up to the passenger area. We found an empty spot with many couches. All of us were able to nap there until the boarding time. 

On our first day in Jakarta, all we could do just to catch our lost sleep. We tried our best to rest our body as much as possible. It was highly important for me to keep the children in tip top condition. I definitely didn't want last year bad experience to happen again (read here). 
Renewing my driving license and IC was my top priority. So on the 2nd day in Jakarta, I did just that. My dad accompanied me to go everywhere by motorbike. It was a good day for me because I could complete everything on that day. Jakarta is a lot better now in processing these things. Everything is computerized now and quite transparent. I'm very proud of the positive changes.

The rest of the days in Jakarta we spent with my beloved mom and dad, our family and friends, my nice  neighbors who cooked special dishes for me. All I did everyday was just eat and eat and eat all kinds of food that I always miss when I'm not in Indonesia. As the result, my body ballooned so fast and I gained 5kg in 12 days! 

From Jakarta, we booked Air Asia Indonesia again to fly to Singapore because this time I wanted to enter Malaysia from Ipoh, Perak. My parents joined me and the kids to continue our journey to replace my husband who had to fly back to Manila. I didn't choose Kuala Lumpur as our entry point this time because now there is Firefly plane (subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines) that serves the route from Singapore to Ipoh directly. Since Firefly only has 2 flights a day from Singapore to Ipoh, I had to book a room in Singapore so that we could catch the first flight to Ipoh the next day. I booked a deluxe room at Costa Sands Resort Downtown East. I chose this place because I wanted to take my parents to walk down the memory lane. 

Everything went smoothly when we landed in Singapore. We checked-in to the resorts and got shocked with the changes my parents and I saw there. This was our 2nd time staying in this resorts. The last time we stayed in this place was 11 years ago on my wedding day... :-)
I was super excited to walk down the memory lane with my parents. I explained to my kids everything about my life before I met their father. They got so excited as well. They love Singapore. Too bad we only stayed in this country for a night. We couldn't do much of sight seeing. For my parents, they slept most of the time. Oh well, I couldn't force them. They are aging and not as strong as 11 years ago.

The next day we had to check out at 5am. I booked a van taxi to fit all our luggages. The van took us to budget terminal Changi Airport because Firefly will depart from there.

Since this story is already very long. I have to end it here. 
Please continue reading my very exciting vacation in Ipoh, Malaysia, on the part 2 of this story.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little swimmers

Hello everyone! How are you doing? It's been ages I never update my blog.
Before I continue writing this blog, I would like to give my 2-minute silent to pray for the victims of recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and other countries affected by the tsunami...


In this post, I would love to share with you all my two beautiful children swimming together to welcome summer in Philippines. For my 2 years old daughter, it was her first time swimming independently without me by her side. Usually she's always so afraid to swim by herself. But on that day, the moment I finished putting on the armband floaty, she run to the pool together with her 6 years old brother. The weather was beautiful and the water was warm. There were no one else swimming in the clubhouse swimming pool. So, it was like our private swimming pool... :-)

On this coming May, it will be 2 years for us to live in Philippines. Wow! 2 years already! Time really flies! Praise the Lord! We have celebrated 2 Halloweens, 2 Christmases, and going to celebrate 2 Easters here. I think we have found a place we can call 'home'. So far life has been treating us well here in Philippines. We met more and more friends and we are a lot more welcome now that we can understand and speak Tagalog pretty well.
I hope this will last a little bit longer because my husband has a habit of moving house every 2 years... :(

As you can see from the video, my children seem happy to grow up here. they have many friends too. They've been attending so many birthday parties, from the most simple party to the most extravagant birthday party... :D
I often ask my son if he loves his school and his friends. He really does love everything here. He adjusted well. He has learned to speak Tagalog for a year now. He can go to his school canteen to buy something using Tagalog. I'm proud of him. I'm glad that he is able to adapt to many changes without any difficulties.

My 2 years old daughter is growing up well too. She speaks very fluent English (and some words in Tagalog because my helper speaks Tagalog). I haven't introduce my mother tongue which is bahasa Indonesia to her. I will do it soon though as she has been visiting my home country too. I'm sure she won't be too confused anymore. She is like her daddy who is capable in learning foreign language pretty quickly. She grew up to be a very beautiful little girl, very talkative, very brave (like G.I. Jean - this is how my friend calls her). My little girl is witty too. Her face is like her daddy, but her behavior is just like me... :) We are very blessed to have her to complete our family.

I hope you enjoy the video. I'm glad I'm able to capture this moment.