Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First Day in School

Hello, Philippines!

The kids and I arrived last week, with hubby arriving a few days later. Since we will be here for the next 2 weeks, we decided to enroll Rhys in a school which uses play as a tool for learning. It's the first time he is joining a class (he's only had informal homeschooling). He attended a trial class last Friday and we could tell that he enjoyed going to school. We enrolled him in a Senior Kinder class and so far, he seems to be excited to go to school everyday. I'm so proud of my little boy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Party Planning 101

Planning a party can be stressful and overwhelming. If you're a mum like me, I'm sure you've planned a kiddie party before and know what I'm talking about. I have planned four kiddie parties since Rhys was born and I'm glad to say that he enjoyed his parties (except for his 1st birthday, but he does enjoy looking at photos and videos now).

I like to plan early when I'm trying to put an event together. In Manila where some kiddie parties are almost as big as weddings, a minimum of six months planning prior to the party is advised, if you want to book the best suppliers and venue. As for the budget, it will depend on the number of guests and how big (or small) you want the party to be. Some mums usually think of how much they will allot per guest, ex. amount/person x number of guests = total budget. And most mums just choose a maximum limit, again depends on how much they are willing to spend in total. I usually do the latter, and I always ask the hubby how much is our budget.

When I plan parties, I'd like to do as much DIY as I can. It not only saves us some money, but it gives me that feeling of pride when people see the effort that went into a certain party detail. Here are a list of what I do, in order, when planning an event:

Choose A Theme

For my son's 1st birthday, we had Kiddie Pirate as the theme, as I didn't want to have a common theme such as Mickey Mouse or Dora the Explorer. I wanted something different for our little guests. Themes should be age-appropriate and if your kids can choose, that would be better. Nowadays, themes are more varied, so your imagination (or your kids') is the limit.

Guest List

In the Philippines where we have extended families, it's very important to have a written guest list so you can keep track of the people you wanna invite to the party. Make sure you prioritize to invite your child's friends, families with kids, then add other relatives and friends to the list. This is a kiddie party after all, not a wedding. If you have a strict headcount, make sure you inform everyone the seat allocation. From experience, I expect at least 20% of the guests not showing up, which can be a good thing coz there's always surprise (uninvited) guests. Once you know how many guests you're inviting, then it's time to look for a venue.

Find A Venue

When looking for a venue, factors to consider is availability, number of guests, accessibility and amenities. Nowadays, one important thing to consider is the venue should be airconditioned or indoor, with all the unpredictable rain, it's hard to risk ruining your kid's party. Check also if the venue has parking (free or paid). And if they have clean toilets with attendants on the day of the event. Venues shouldn't be too hard to find, and if it is, make sure you provide a map included in the invites.

Scout for Suppliers

Suppliers you choose can make or break your party. Remember, once you've paid, there's no turning back unless you are willing to let go of that non-refundable booking fee. Ask for recommendations from fellow mummies. Check forums where party planning is discussed, you will find a lot of great tips there. Once you've chosen a supplier, make sure to do a background check. What other mums say about them, check reviews or suppliers ratings. Ask them everything you need to know, check the service contract and ask for any restrictions. You are paying for their services, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Some people think that expensive is the best, but it's not always the case. Sometimes, you can find a good supplier who will charge you less. So make sure you do your homework!


This includes invitations, guest book, thank you cards, favor tags, etc. If you check online, there are a couple of blogs and websites who share free party printables. Take advantage of this so you don't have to pay for a designer's fee to create a custom design for your party. Think of the savings you can make when you only have to pay for printing and remember to print only what you need.


You should plan some kind of entertainment or activity to keep kids occupied. A magician, story teller, clowns or balloon artist are popular options for entertainment. While arts and crafts, mad science and nail art or face painting are good activities. Whatever you choose, it must be something everyone would enjoy.

Party Favors

One important part of planning a kiddie party is choosing favors or tokens. Ask your kid what he likes to receive when attending other kiddie parties. This will give you an idea what kids his/her age are into. Make sure all favors are age-appropriate and fun but useful.


Candy Bar/Dessert Buffet
Photo Booth
Food Cart
Party Clothes or Costume for the birthday celebrant
Gift Registry
Cake Smash (for 1st Birthdays)

Big or small, anyone can throw a great event, as long as you know the tips and tricks. Throwing parties may not be for everyone, but it's great to have them, as it's part of building all these memories for you and your kids.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Traveling With Kids

We just got back from a long weekend holiday here in Vietnam. Last Monday, Vietnam celebrated their Independence Day and hubby decided we should get away for a couple of days to Hanoi's sister city, Ho Chi Minh.

We left Hanoi last Saturday and we had a great time. Even hubby who hasn't done the "touristy" stuff in Vietnam, (he's been here for 2.5years!) enjoyed seeing the sights in Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately though, the kids and hubby got some virus and now have the sniffles.

Traveling with kids, especially little ones is not easy. Let me share some tips I gathered from our own experience:

Before The Trip

You must create a packing list, to make sure you don't forget anything essential. Leave out stuff you can buy at your destination. Remember that traveling light is best when you have kids in tow.

Let me share a sample list for our weekend getaway (for babies and kids):
  • Coloring books
  • New toys and games
  • Rain coats and umbrella
  • Ziploc or small plastic bags
  • No-spill cups
  • Plates and spoons (silicone or plastic)
  • Swimsuit
  • Jackets and Sweater
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Insect repellant
  • First-Aid kit
  • Blankets and small pillows
  • Bathing supplies
  • Snacks
  • Sterilizer
  • Diaper bag with all the essentials
  • Collapsible stroller
  • Child carrier or sling
  • Clothes - bring at least one per day plus 2 extra shirts/tops

Prepare your kids. Let them know when and where you're going. Get them involved by letting them pack their own bags with some toys and snacks. Tell them what's gonna happen once you arrive at the airport until you board the plane and arrive at your destination. Including them keeps them from getting bored and from asking, "are we there yet?" all the time.

During The Trip

On Sightseeing

Be realistic on what you can actually cover each day. Keep in mind that kids need time to recharge, which means taking a rest at some point during the day. When I plan our itinerary, I only choose a few things to do each day. We either start early so we can go back to the hotel or apartment early, or start late, so the kids don't feel rush to do things early in the day. Another thing we do is we go out after breakfast, return mid-day and then go out again late afternoon. Take your cue from the kids - when they start getting cranky, it's a sure sign to stop the sightseeing and let your kids have a good rest. This is will make for an enjoyable and (almost) stress-free holiday!

On Shopping

Whenever we travel, we have a set budget for each person in the family. Having this will keep everyone from going overboard with shopping (including Mummy!). We even have a budget for how much we will spend for souvenirs. Since we go to several places for each trip, we opt to buy magnets and postcards, and some printed artwork to take home. These are easy to pack and are less expensive than most items in the souvenir shop.

If your kids want to buy a toy or shirt, remind them of how much they can spend and if they don't mind using up their entire "souvenir allowance" for a specific item, then let them get what they want. This will teach them about self-control and how to budget money.

On Accommodation

When choosing where to stay, think about everyone's comfort. Find out if the hotel or apartment has a family room. If not,  request for connecting rooms or ask for additional beds and if there are any extra charges. Do not assume that the hotel will arrange extra beds for you, you have to request for it, same with baby cots. We usually choose a serviced apartment with full kitchen. This is essential for those who have babies and toddlers, as you will be needing a proper sink to clean your children's things. Another extra is having a washer, so you don't need to send all your laundry to the laundromat or the hotel laundry service, which is expensive.

Once you arrive at the hotel, you might want to check the doors and windows, if they are secure. Check for loose cables and try to baby-proof your room by using tapes (to cover sockets) and pipe cleaners (to tie cables together).

Traveling with kids need not be a hassle. If you organize everything, things will turn out well and next thing you know, you'll be traveling like a pro.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life Lately: Toys

(1) Munching on Sophie the Giraffe
(2) Megasketcher and Minisketcher  =)
(3) Sharing Toys
(4) Angry Birds headcount

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Our helper arrived the other day with one irritated eye...

Rhys: Are you angry?
Helper: No
Rhys: Are you happy?
Helper: Yes
Rhys: Why are you happy and angry?
Helper: I'm not angry...
Rhys: Yes, you are! Look, your eye is red and the other is not. See?? You're angry AND happy!