LITTLE BOY LEARNS TO BIKE

biking

Reality just caught up on us and we just realized that the Little Boy is no longer a baby who needs stabilizers or balancing wheels on his bike.  Yesterday we removed those extra wheels, trooped to the apartment grounds and started rolling.

I never realized that there is science in learning how to bike.  I pride myself in learning on my own at age twelve sans science, just sheer determination… Okay, and a tweener’s desire to belong haha!!! Of course my husband, who up to now questions my ability to ride a bike,   would be the one to do the teaching and I would be the cheerleader/water girl/photographer/videographer.

I initially thought that Dear Hubby’s “scientific method” was peculiar but was later on proven effective because Little Boy learned to confidently ride a balancer-free bike in 30 minutes! Let me share with you these tips:

1.  TAKE AWAY THE PEDALS. Your child will maneuver the bike like how he does with a scooter.  It helps build a greater feeling of control and means he worries less about wobbling. It also gives him leverage to push off and gain his own momentum.  Encourage him to keep his feet off the ground for as long as possible.

2.  LEARN TO STOP BEFORE YOU START.  This should be on number 1 because this is a very important safety reminder that we failed to teach our son, so this is sort of a hindsight lesson.  Maybe start by letting your child stand beside the bike with his hands on the bars, walk along and practice pulling on the brakes.  It’s an important foundation that helps the child feel that he is in control.  I think any driver especially a child needs to get into the habit of using the brakes and it’s important to really get into his head.  “He has just started learning” may not always be a good excuse when you run over another playmate.

3.  HAVE FUN.  Learning to bike could be taxing and frustrating to a child (maybe even to adults) but try to have fun along the way.  Nobody gets it right the first time.

Allow me to share with you an amateur video that I made documenting my boys’ short journey to this milestone. Dear Hubby’s steadfast teaching, Little Boy’s perseverance to stand up fall after fall, and the ability to have fun made this learning experience a success.

Happy Monday everyone and may you all have a great productive week ahead!!!

OUR PERSONAL GROUND ZERO 9/11 EXPERIENCE

As a non-American visiting New York, I initially felt that seeing Ground Zero was just another tourist experience.  However, after passing through the queues and security checkpoints I realized and understood the magnitude of the events that occurred in that particular place that day.

Twelve years ago, I was watching 9/11 unfold via news broadcasts while on a photo shoot in a studio.  But it was difficult to really understand the scope of the destruction without seeing the giant space that the World Trade Center once occupied.   Not until you stand between the memorials and look up at the newly built One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower) that you truly appreciate the scale of the tragedy.  Just imagining not one but two massive buildings came crashing down and the horror of the lives lost was truly heartbreaking.

Allow me to share with you this experience that made me change my perception of 9/11 and of life in general.

GETTING THERE

Our hotel was just literally a few steps away from Ground Zero so we just walked going there.  We couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like if we were in the same hotel that very moment the attacks happened.

marriott

We walked past the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) where they installed the Fire Dept. Memorial Wall honoring the firemen who died in service during 9/11.

FDNYWALLmay we never forget

THE QUEUE

The line was long but moving quite fast so waiting time was bearable.  Here are some images while on queue.

q.quiet

The "blue guards" and these signs were everywhere.

The “blue guards” and these signs were everywhere.

It was Christmas season when we visited, hence this sign

It was Christmas season when we visited, hence this sign

If you look closely at this flag of honor, this is made up of names of all those who perished during that time.

If you look closely at this flag of honor, this is made up of names of all those who perished during that time.

Directional signs going to the compound

Directional signs going to the Ground Zero complex

GROUND ZERO

There were two square pools where the towers used to stand (North and South Towers). The pools were breathtaking! The perimeter of each pool had fountains that dropped water to the bottom of the pools.

pool.1pool.2

The names of all those who died on the site (WTC employees, firemen, etc.)  were inscribed at the edge  of each pool.

The names of all those who died on the site (WTC employees, firemen, first responders, ordinary New Yorkers, etc.) were inscribed at the edge of each pool.

Everybody was encouraged to touch the inscribed names and offer prayers.

Everybody was encouraged to touch the inscribed names and offer prayers.

Giving a bit of history lessons to the Little Boy

Giving a bit of history lessons to the Little Boy

Little Boy was greatly affected by the 9/11 story that until this day, he includes everybody in this tragedy in his nightly prayers.

Little Boy was greatly affected by the 9/11 story that until this day, he includes everybody in this tragedy in his night prayers.

Amused to see his Lolo's name

Amused to see his Lolo’s name

There's an electronic information guide/directory inside the memorial that gives information on where to find the name of a loved one.

There’s an electronic information guide/directory inside the memorial that gives information on where to find the name of a loved one.

It wasn’t overly crowded considering it was the holidays.  There were plenty of room to move around the memorial.

park.1park.J&apark.family 1

Here comes the sun!

Here comes the sun!

The security was always on alert mode.  We saw them in action when an abandoned bag was found on the ground.

The security was always on alert mode. We saw them in action when an abandoned bag was found on the ground.

The memorial guards were very strict... but friendly too.

The memorial guards were very strict… but friendly too. Little Boy, who was into anything military, asked if he can have a photo with them and they obliged.

Behind us was a structure inside the memorial ground that was said to become a museum which will open in 2014.

Behind us was a structure inside the memorial ground that was said to become a museum which they say will open in 2014.

An actual debris that was part of the original WTC structure.

An actual debris that was part of the original WTC structure.

Seeing the whole area being a flurry of construction is bittersweet for me.  WTC will never be the same again but I have to give it to the New Yorkers for their fortitude in developing the site again.

construction

The One World Trade Center or 1 WTC a.k.a. Freedom Tower is the primary building in the New World Trade Center complex.  its construction began in 2006 and was almost finished when we visited in December 2012.

The One World Trade Center or 1 WTC a.k.a. Freedom Tower is the primary building in the New World Trade Center complex. Its construction began in 2006 and was almost finished when we visited in December 2012.

It was a surreal experience.  There was a point when we were just standing still, staring at the water, touching the etched names, not talking for a few minutes offering a silent prayer.  I have no connection to the site nor did I  personally know anyone who was affected but the way I see it, 9/11 wasn’t just a New York thing.  It touched the entire world.

“At this moment 12 years ago, millions of Americans went to bed quietly with no thought that the next morning their world would change forever…. So tonight if you have people in your life that you love, tell them”

CAR-FREE SUNDAYS IN JAKARTA

If you ask anybody who’s been to Jakarta, he would most likely say that one of his unforgettable (or maybe forgettable) experience in this city is the heavy traffic.  On a typical day, frustrated  people get stuck in Jakarta’s infamous macet (traffic jam) praying to high heavens that they make it to their appointments, or that their bladders won’t explode in transit, or that they won’t choke on the fumes from the vehicles.

But once a week, the main thoroughfare transforms into a people-friendly zone and virtually becomes a park of sorts.  Every Sunday, from 6:00-11:00 AM, Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin are closed to private and public vehicles (except for the TransJakarta).  Jalan Sudirman is Jakarta’s counterpart to our Manila’s EDSA so imagine that whole stretch being closed to traffic, what a bliss!  What started as a once-a-month environmental drive in 2007 garnered support and encouragement from the public that it became a regular Sunday  pollution reduction program in 2012.

And because Jl. Sudirman is a stone’s throw away from our building, it has become our family’s Sunday morning exercise to run/walk/bike along Jakarta’s busiest street.  So if you happen to be in the city on a Sunday,  enjoy a short escape from the bustling macet and head on to Jl. Sudirman for a morning of fitness, fun, food, and people watching.

Sharing with you some car-free Sunday scenes below…

people.joggers.bikers

The TransJakarta is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

The TransJakarta (bus rapid transit) is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

people.skateboard2

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Enjoy leisure or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Enjoy leisurely or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Car-free Sundays are perfect recreational time for family and friends.

people.KOREANS

people.family

people.father & daughterspeople.friends

Also a preferred day and venue for various programs, promotions and causes…

cause.2

cause.1

Save Our Sharks!

Save Our Sharks!

cause.dance

Flash mob!

Flash mob!

The traditional Indonesian "Ondel Ondel" or folk puppet performance

The traditional Indonesian “Ondel Ondel” or folk puppet performance

Don’t worry about getting hungry and thirsty along the way ’cause you won’t.

food carts

food cart 2food.siopao

food.people eating

Water station in almost every corner

Water station in almost every corner

Coffee to go! Anon'ng sabi ng Starbucks? :)

Coffee to go! Ano’ng sabi ng Starbucks? 🙂

If you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon some free sampling treats for freeloaders like me hehe…

food sampling 1

Free fruit cups for everyone!

Free fruit cups for everyone!

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd :)

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd 🙂

HOME RUN!

HOME RUN!

“A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content.”

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

sites.blue sky & bldg

ROASTED HERB CHICKEN: A Culinary-Idiot Friendly Recipe

It sounds gourmet-ish, doesn’t it? Roasted Herb Chicken… sounds pretty difficult to make too.  I wanted to impress Dear Hubby with my, well, “culinary skills”.  Yes, albeit limited, I have a few skills  in the kitchen.  Somehow I have managed to serve my boys edible meals without any of them getting choked or something.

It’s Father’s Day and this lunch has got to be special… AND easy to make! A very important factor there.

To all you wives and mothers with the same level of kitchen talents as I do, let me share with you this recipe that saved my day.  I got the basic idea from the internet but I tweaked it a bit to suit my taste.  I was quite a bit apprehensive as it requires to use an oven to do the roasting. Whoah, why don’t I just make fried chicken?!

It turned out to be so easy you only have to put everything in a dish and place it inside the oven. Roasting is close to the maximum level of complexity that I’m okay with, there are only THREE (3) easy steps to remember.

Let me assure you:  If I can do it, ANYBODY can do it too. That’s how easy it is 🙂   Checkirawt!

HERBED CHICKEN

Step 1:  Marinate the Chicken Breasts OVERNIGHT with the following:

Calamansi or Lemon Juice
Soy sauce
Garlic
Rosemary (preferably fresh but dried will do)
Thyme (preferably fresh but dried will do)
Salt & Pepper
*I have to emphasize that it has to be marinated overnight so the flavor seeps through.

Step 2: Get Ready To Rumble

Assemble the following on a baking dish:
Marinated Chicken
Baby Potatoes: properly washed, halved
Onions, halved
Garlic, halved
* Drizzle with olive oil
* Sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried rosemary and thyme (if you don’t have fresh ones)

Step 3:  Roast Away

– Place the baking dish in a pre-heated oven
– Leave for 15-20 minutes or until chicken gets fully cooked
– Baste the chicken with melted butter from time to time
– Top with fresh chopped Basil leaves before serving

THREE YEARS OF JAKARTA JOURNEY… and Counting

Three years ago today, I came to Jakarta, Indonesia with only a suitcase and a heart full of dreams and anxieties.  I left my family, friends and career back in Manila to start a new life with Dear Hubby and Little Boy.

It felt like only yesterday when this great big adventure began (click here for the story).   Three years hence, I am now promoted as the CEO of this house making sure that all household operations run smoothly… never mind if I burned some toasts.  And speaking of promotion, I have leveled up from  the Little Boy’s “cockroach playmate” to a hostaged princess!  My greatest achievement so far if you ask me.  Yes, Little Boy and I have already established a real mother-son bonding ever since I decided to take on this new “career path”.  No more earthworm and insect roles for me on our playtime!

The prospect of moving to a new country where you don’t know anybody could be quite scary but Indonesia has been good to us, we felt right at home.  While other foreigners would complain about the pollution, traffic, corruption, etc. we would shrug them off and move on to the next challenge.  Thank you Manila for preparing us for the tough times :)! It’s been a fun roller coaster ride and I have come to appreciate our host country’s culture, people, language and food.  I’m still discovering a lot about this city, this country, about me and about ourselves.

Thank you to all our new friends who took us in as their own family.  Thank you to the Pinoys who have been here before us and welcomed us like old friends.  Man, the Pinoy hospitality is insanely alive anywhere in the world.  Mabuhay! 🙂

Those clothes on that suitcase from three years ago can hardly fit anymore and my dreams certainly got bigger and grander.  I still get those anxiety pangs once in a while but (to borrow a line from a movie) “I’m a lot braver, bolder and fiercer now” ever ready to head to where ever this adventure would take us and make wonderful memories out of it.

Cheers to all of us and may we always be eager to face a new day, a new month, a new life ahead!!!

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

TRAVEL DIARIES: Free Fun & Cheap Thrills In Santa Monica

Body clocks adjusted, suitcases unpacked, routines revisited.  Much as I didn’t want our long holiday to end, everything gets back to (crazy, fun) normal. And before my blog site gets stale from being away for too long, let me share with you my travel diary of our first U.S. trip as a family. Heck, MY first U.S. trip!

Dear Hubby was scheduled to do a photo shoot in L.A.  and since it was Christmas season and December is a special month for us (it’s our wedding anniversary and Dear Hubby’s birthday month), Little Boy and I tagged along on this trip and later on headed to two other cities for some more adventure.

SANTA MONICA (LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA)

At the risk of sounding overly emphatic, I have to say this… I absolutely looove this part of L.A.!!!  I like the relaxed vibe in Santa Monica, it makes you feel that you’re in a REAL vacation.  I don’t know about you but I have this thing about scheduled tours that stress me out, the crowds, the long queue, high ticket prices, etc.  We never felt that in Santa Monica at all! No crowds, no tourist traps,   and best of all, it’s FREE FUN! This is such a big deal for us cheapskates :).

PALISADES PARK
You can just chill around the famous PALISADES PARK which is right across our hotel… It is a laid-back beach community within a major city attracting both families and single people.  While Dear Hubby was working on location,  the Little Boy and I explored this area and fell in love with it instantly.  It would’ve been a shame if Dear Hubby didn’t get to see this gorgeous site, I’m glad he extended his stay for a couple of days after his official business to get around Santa Monica with us.

PALISADES PARK.FAMILYPALISADES PARK.FAMILY2PALISADES.FATHER&SON

This is a great walking path on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean.  Great view of the Santa Monica pier.

This is a great walking path on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. Great view of the Santa Monica pier!

Amazing view, gorgeous path, and fresh and crisp air. What’s not to love?

santa monica viewpalisades.tree-lined path

You’ll see many locals running, walking, biking, working out, or simply just hanging around enjoying the sun and the view. Lots of people stroll along this park with their dogs too. In my case, I had a grand time people-watching :).

palisades park.bikerpalisades park.relax on the grasspalisades.frolic

Little Boy never hesitated making friends with the dogs' owners just so he could play with them.

Little Boy never hesitated making friends with the dogs’ owners just so he could play with them. He did this the whole time and this “trick” never failed!

Palisades Park is also a perfect place for picnics. It has table sets around the park that give you a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean.

Palisades Park is also a perfect place for picnics. It has table sets around the park that give you a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean while enjoying your packed lunch.

palisades street sign

SANTA MONICA BEACH
On days that we’re in for some more walking, we would take the steep trail going down the Pacific Coast Highway to get to Santa Monica Beach.

sta monica trailSince going up and down this trail is quite a workout (think 4kms on an inclined treadmill), we made this stroll at the beach part of our regular morning routine.

But you wouldn't mind the long walk if you have this as your view, would you? Eye on the prize!

But you wouldn’t mind the long walk if you have this as your view, would you? Eye on the prize!

Finally, ze Beach!

sta monica beach.birds

A few more steps and you'll reach the famous Sta. Monica Pier.

A few more steps and you’ll reach the famous Sta. Monica Pier.

sta monica beach

 Although California doesn’t exactly have a freezing winter in December, the temperature at that time was at 16°C.  To any Asian who comes from the tropics, you would be crazy to be at the beach in this weather.  But I guess we’d be more crazy if we miss the California beach experience. Besides, 16°C was to be the warmest temperature we would face in this entire U.S. trip so we might as well.

Little Boy had been nagging us for a swim, he backed out because of the freezing water.

Little Boy had been nagging us for a swim, he backed out because of the freezing water.

If you're not into walking, there's the famous Perry's bike rental shop to help you get around the stretch of Santa Monica Beach.

If you’re not into walking, there’s the famous Perry’s bike rental shop to help you get around the stretch of Santa Monica Beach.

This beach is a perfect spot for frolics, packed breakfast and even making out.  See? Free fun and cheap thrills!

sta monica beach.frolickssta monica beach.picnicsta monica beach.kissing

‘Til my next post, see ya!

HILOT AND OTHER DRUGS

I’ve lost count how many times this annoying flu bug has bitten me this year. It sucks when you’re stuck in bed with your itchy throat, runny nose, fiery eyes, sore body and worst of all, conked out taste buds!  Thanks to this tried and tested combination of meds and massage,  I was blissfully knocked out in coma for a few days and hardly minded any pain:
Bioflu (from the Philippines), Berocca (double dose),  and a wintergreen hilot (traditional massage).  The latter is my favorite as I am a sucker for massages and I’m happy to share with you one of our best discoveries here in Indonesia: Balsem Otot Geliga.

We fondly call this badass babe “Otot”

Our Indonesian helper uses this on her joints every night and once had me try it during one of my migraine attacks, that was the beginning of our love affair with Geliga.  It’s actually an ointment for muscle pains but it somehow has magical effect on me when used as a massage ointment for my headache, even Dear Hubby keeps a bottle on his bedside table because it relieves him of muscle pains from his sports and workout.  Now this may sound funny to the Filipinos as “otot” has a different meaning to us, it may mean “muscle” in Indonesia but it means “fart” in the Philippines.  However it elicits a smile on our face every time we mention the word, this mean babe is everything but a joke.  It means serious business and we swear by it.  It feels hot(!) when rubbed on your skin but eventually gives that soothing cool feeling afterwards.  Any massage with Geliga leaves me in deep slumber and gives me a refreshed feeling the next day.

At a risk of this blog entry sounding like an advertorial, I still highly recommend it.  If you’re in Indonesia and suddenly felt a need for your good old Katinko or Vicks but don’t have it, pick Geliga from the nearby drugstore for that guaranteed body ache relief.  It’s the best smelling “otot” too :).

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