Let It Go...

4.18.2014


My vacation is almost over. Ten days was the longest I've stayed in my hometown since I moved out and I was beyond happy that I got to spend more time with my family. On Monday, I'm officially back to work with an update training class waiting for me. Life is good! But before all those good times happened, there was one bad time, and never in my life did I imagine something like that to happen to me. But it did. I guess I just have to believe Murphy, if something can go wrong, it will. But I wasn't prepared.

April 6, Sunday - Reiko and I were scheduled to fly to my hometown at 8:10am. Knowing that it's hard to wake Reiko up so early, I checked-in online the night before our flight so I wouldn't have to rush the next morning. To my surprise, I wasn't allowed to check in and the reason was not indicated at all. I double-checked the requirements - it's up to 72 hours before the flight, Reiko is no longer an infant, and there are only two of us traveling so why the heck wasn't I allowed to check in online? Then I called the airline's customer service and they told me that I still have a payment due for around Php5,000 or around $115 and that if I wanted to pay it, I can pay at the airport. 


After a couple of text messages and phone calls to my friend whose sister booked the ticket for us (it was a ticketing office), I was told that they're already fixing it. I panicked for 5 minutes.. no actually, I panicked every time I thought about what may happen and did not get enough rest that night as I was waiting for a response from them. 

Morning came and off to the airport we went 2 hours before our flight even though I wasn't so sure of what's happening. I prepared extra cash to pay off that payment due whatever that was and thought of just asking a refund from the ticketing office that booked our flight. I just had to explain to the airline personnel that I booked the flight a month ago, I paid in cash, then a ticketing office booked the flight for me. The itinerary receipt was sent to me a month ago with a CONFIRMED status and I wasn't informed of any changes. So why were they saying that I still have a payment due? Clearly, there's a disconnect and I just couldn't figure out where. 


My husband already left us inside the check in area since only passengers were allowed and he didn't have his phone so I couldn't contact him right away. I lined up at the check-in counter and much to my horror, the personnel told me that I still have a payment due of Php19,000 or around $430?! Seriously?! So it turned out that whoever booked our flight booked us an entirely new flight on that same day and that's why they're asking me to pay Php19,000! Sounded really absurd so I went to the cashier and told her that I'm gonna pay the original flight booked for us for Php5000 only but she insisted that I needed to pay Php19,000 instead! I asked why I still have a payment due and she told me that the transaction was suspicious and it was a fraudulent activity so it was charged back by the bank and was never paid! Although I completely understood what she meant by a charge-back and a suspicious transaction, I was still in confused mode and for a while I thought of yelling at her but I was sure it would do more harm than good. And well, I'm really not that kind of person. 




I asked the cashier if I could book an entirely new flight using my debit card and she tried to look for one on that same day but it was already very very expensive. What was I thinking? So with Reiko running around from time to time, my luggage, and my heart on my throat, I decided to just go home and think of what to do next. I called my mom and told her everything and despite how upset she was, she told me that maybe there was a reason why it happened and that she would do her best to book a new flight for us instead.

I felt really really really upset about what happened. It was the worst inconvenience I've experienced so far. I was nearly in tears, or I think there were a few tears or I wasn't sure, it must have been sweat from my eyes? I didn't even bother argue with the cashier, she must have been right you know and I was too scared to embarrass myself. I was still feeling blank but I couldn't just sit there and do nothing. I could do something right? So what I did was go home and let go... let go instead of regretting I ever booked a flight through someone else in the hopes of getting a discounted fare. I didn't expect that it was to the point of fraud or something like that, had I known, I wouldn't have booked our flight through them. Wrong move. 



Well, this story fortunately had a happy ending. But no, we didn't get any explanation yet from the airline as to why they're asking us to pay the Php19,000 instead of the Php5000 only even after 2 hours of being on the phone with them. Yes, I got refunded of half the ticket price by the ticketing office and I'm still waiting for the other half. No, I still did not know exactly why it became a suspicious activity or fraudulent transaction although I have some ideas. And yes, we were able to book a new flight to our hometown and we arrived exactly to celebrate Reiko's birthday there. It was a 10-day vacation well-spent. 

Lessons learned: Know the people you'll trust. Let go of the bad things. And move on. There's no point crying over spilled milk.

Has something like this ever happened to you? What did you do and how did you feel about it? Hope you have a great weekend!


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Of Love and Gratitude ♥

4.15.2014


My first three months of pregnancy was a blur. That was 3 years ago. It was full of anxiety and worry and I felt dead inside. I felt ugly. I felt every negative thing someone may feel in three months time. Fast forward to April 8 of 2011, I experienced the most excruciating physical pain I've ever felt in my entire life but it was all worth the pain. When I saw my child for the first time, every single negative thing was replaced with happiness! And so it was just right to name him after love and gratitude. As cliche as it may sound, the miracle of life is really.. surreal. But him.. my child, Reiko is just so real.

My love and my gratitude has grown into an adorable, sweet, smart, and charming boy. We almost didn't make it to his third birthday celebration with his grandparents because of our two days delayed flight but I did all that I could to make it real for him. For now, I'll just let some photos speak for themselves. 















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Thank God It's Friday Ask Away!

4.11.2014


Happy Friday! I've been out since last weekend. All I know is that on my previous post, I wrote about the anxiety of flying with a toddler. Wait until you hear this.. I was supposed to leave last Sunday right? And we were on the airport waiting to check in with all our bags, no tantrums from Reiko at least.. but the worst I've experienced so far in my history of traveling just happened.. when we checked in.. okay, I'm gonna have to blog about it separately but to cut the story short, we were not able to check in, we were not allowed to.. so after one hour of being in the airport, I decided that we just go home and book another flight. Pure inconvenience. So we just arrived to my hometown last Tuesday just in time to celebrate Reiko's birthday. That's the latest.

Well, I don't wanna dwell too much on that and I'm just glad I'm gonna be joining Ask Away Friday again this week, my last time was still last year! So I thought I really missed this. Sadly though, I've just read that it will  be discontinued for now. What a lucky day to join Ask Away! This week I'm swapping questions with a pro-fitness mom, April from 100lb Countdown. I've gotten to know April when I started linking up in Countdown In Style, a blog hop she's hosting every week. She blogs about her journey towards being fit and healthy for her family. I love reading her posts about fitness especially that I'm someone who doesn't really put too much thought on it.  

To meet more awesome bloggers, visit our wonderful hosts to see who else are participating: Penny from The Real Housewife of Caroline County, Amber from The Bold Fab Mom, Tiffany from Mrs Tee Love Life Laughter and Stacey from This Momma's Ramblings.




So let's get it on. To get to know more about April, please head on to her blog to see how she answered the questions I sent her way. And below are April's questions to me.. 

A little about you...

1. I've been thinking a lot about Who Am I. A lot of people think I'm shy, but I'm not. What's one word that doesn't describe you now, but you want it to in the future?

FEARLESS

2. Assuming money is no object, describe your perfect home, including location.

I'd still love to live for good in my hometown here in the Philippines. My perfect home should be in a safe and quiet neighborhood where my son can run and learn freely with other kids. I'd like to have a two-storey house with a big lawn or backyard with trees and flowers where my son can play. I'd have a cozy living room with a big couch and big television where we can watch movies together as a family, a really neat and simple kitchen that will entice me to cook everyday more than ever (haha!), and four bedrooms with my own dream walk-in closet. I can go on and on and on describing my perfect home but I'll probably never finish. To give you some ideas, below are some of inspirations from my Pinterest board. A girl can dream you know! :) 

White kitchen, although I'd probably have a hard time cleaning this. Good luck! Haha. Photo here

Cozy living room, ahhh life! Photo here

I'd love to have this for Reiko. Photo here 

I'm in for some outdoor dining. Photo here

I'd love to have breakfast here too! Photo here 


3. You just redesigned your blog. What's the one thing that you were the most proud to accomplish?

Considering that I'm not really a designer, it's hard to choose just one. But if I really have to, I'd say I'm most proud of the customized horizontal menu bar below my header. I've been wanting to achieve that kind of look every time I browse through other blogs. I first thought it was so hard to do but when I started doing it, it was really easy but it's the part where I spent the most time with. Thanks to this wonderful tutorial

4. I know you've been writing your blog for five years, do you consider yourself a writer? Will you write something offline?

Yes! :) I consider myself a writer. Writing is my passion since I was in grade school. That's also one of the best things I can do to encourage and motivate myself to write. I've never written and published a book though but I do write offline and will continue to do so if there are opportunities. I was once a contributor for a local newspaper's lifestyle and literary section. I was also once involved in civic journalism where we write about our opinions on a certain issue and provide possible resolutions. It was a great learning experience. 

5. I see that you could've won Miss Congeniality in high school and have developed close personal friendships because of it. That's not me at all, I only have a couple of close friends and we may talk once a month. Now that I've moved, I'd like to make some new close friends. What's some advice you can give me? 

One thing I can tell you is what worked for me. Right after college five years ago, I moved to a new city.. alone with no friends yet at all. When I started working, I met so many cool and great friends in the workplace, one of them is my husband now. It helps to go out there and be with people. We can never expect to make friends if we hide from them. We at least have to try to engage in conversations and join a community with the same interests as ours. It's one way to test the waters and see whether we'll be comfortable befriending a person or not. 

Some of the first few people I met at work...

High school friends


For me, talking with a person a lot and through time getting to share my personal experiences often leads to a great and close friendship. It's also important to note that it's fine not to be friends with everyone and as friends we don't always have to have exactly the same hobbies and interests as they have. We can have so many differences but still be close friends. Most importantly, the number of friends you have does not really matter (for me). Right now, I know almost everyone at work and I consider them my friends but I only consider two people to be my close friends and one recently resigned so I'm left with only one close friend as of this time and it's perfectly fine with me. :) So give yourself some time, you may not feel comfortable right away with a certain person but that person can turn out to be your greatest friend. 


About Reiko...

6. Your son is so  adorable. When you go out with him, what's the one thing that you can't leave the house without?

Thank you! Well, aside from the necessities like extra clothes, diapers, milk, and baby wipes, I can't leave without his baby powder and rubbing alcohol. These two go together. Reiko is always on the go and he runs really really fast and in some cases, he doesn't want to change his shirt. Baby powder keeps him fresh and dry. The rubbing alcohol is more of for my own use. 

That's him in red..


7. Homeschooling is becoming ever popular in the States because of various reasons, including failing schools. Would you ever consider homeschooling Reiko?

I would! I've actually wanted to homeschool Reiko but I haven't done any intensive research yet. Homeschooling is not common in the Philippines and I don't think we already have a structured curriculum for it that's aligned with standard schools. So despite my interest to homeschool, I don't think it would be possible for now. I'm also thinking that since Reiko spent his early years with no playmates at home, it would be best to get him out there and experience playing and learning with kids his age. 

8. What's your favorite activity to do with Reiko?

I love watching kiddie movies with him or watch alphabets, numbers, and nursery rhymes on Youtube. I also love playing and running with him outside the house and do some outdoor activities like playing basketball. 



A little about cooking...

9. I grew up with Filipino friends and they used to share lumpia all the time. Living in the Philippines, what is one of the best dishes you've had?

Wow, great to know that you grew up with some Filipinos! :) I totally love adobo - it involves either meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, browned in oil and simmered in the marinade. Adobo is actually a Spanish word for seasoning or marinade. The cooking method though is indigenous to the Philippines. I prefer chicken adobo in particular!

Yum yum! Photo here


10. I see that you're learning how to cook. What's one dish that you really want to learn and perfect for your family?

Yes, I have sooo many failed attempts! Lol. Guess I just have to keep trying. One dish I want to learn and perfect is chicken adobo! Surprising? Haha. I figured that I have to master something my family and I really like to eat. I'm sure there are several varieties. I can't wait to try, fail, and then try again and again until I perfect it. I know it sounds pretty simple but for someone like me who didn't grow up in the kitchen, even frying and boiling an egg can be a daunting ask. Hah! 


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Thank you April for your very interesting questions! It's been fun swapping with you on this last edition of Ask Away Friday! :) 


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Flying With A Toddler

4.04.2014


Reiko and I are flying this Sunday. We're leaving for my hometown to celebrate his third birthday on Tuesday. At last, I can have my much needed break from work for one week. So, where's the husband you may ask? He's not flying with us. He has a new job, remember? To date, this is going to be the third trip to my hometown without my husband. 

When Reiko was 1 and 2 years old, we already flew together, yep, just the two of us. And did I mention? That those were the most uncomfortable flights I've ever had. So I always have this feeling inside me that whenever we're flying, Reiko throws the best worst tantrums ever. And these usually happen.. when my husband is not around. My husband can utter just one word with his very firm voice which would make Reiko stop crying.. but it never works when I'm the one doing it! Why oh why?!

That is how skinny I am (see below).. and that is my son. With his little legs, he runs as fast as an ostrich, okay, probably a toddler ostrich. Most of the time I have to stop and catch my breath while chasing him. I've traveled with him before and I DID IT without my husband, so why worry now? Somehow there's this anxiety inside me that I don't want to entertain but it keeps on coming back. 

What if he gets lost in a sea of people in the airport while I'm at the check-in counter? Can I just tie him to me? What if he won't stop crying again during boarding time when he sees his father leave realizing that he'll be traveling without him? I'm thinking that we just go to the airport without my husband so that Reiko won't have to see him leave? What if he's gonna cry and scream inside the plane and the only thing that can stop him from crying is a ridiculously-priced piece of chocolate cake? That he'd just play with and never eat by the way. What if I suddenly and badly feel the need to pee and he's sound asleep? Where would I leave him? What if he runs inside the male's restroom again and I have to get in just to get him (no matter how embarrassing it is)? What if he won't allow me to put him down and instead just want me to carry him for the entire time even though every single cell in my body is already shaking from carrying him for almost 3 hours? And below are some of his ways to make sure he gets his point across.




TOO MANY WHAT IFS, what am I gonna do? Yes, all of the above-mentioned happened before, except that I never lost him in the airport. I'd probably die with panic if that happens! Whew. Now that I've let it all out, I bet I can finally say this. Let me say this once and for all.

 My phone wallpaper, just to remind me...


Anyway, before you feel like I'm exaggerating to the highest heavens, we'll only be flying for an hour and 5 minutes maximum. Once the plane takes off, Reiko always falls asleep and wakes up during landing. Then we'll just wait for my parents to pick us up and we should.. be.. good.. Right? Easy peasy! It's all in the mind!

OKAY. I CAN DEFINITELY DO THIS AGAIN. I'VE DONE IT BEFORE. IT SHOULDN'T BE AS HARD. Right? :) As the famous song goes.. I believe I can fly.. 

Dear Reiko, please behave and cooperate :D

Have you also encountered a similar situation when you're traveling with your kids? I'd love to hear your stories! :)

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It's Officially Summer!

3.31.2014

Can I just say something? Why do months go by so fast?! Isn't it surprising that it feels just like days ago when I blogged about my February end of month? As cliche as it may seem, days really go by real quick, and now it's the last day of March. This is the season in our country where most people rejoice for reaching their Graduation Day! Congratulations folks! No one's graduating yet in our family but I'm just glad classes are over. That means less traffic! And it's officially SUMMER! 
 
 
This month's priorities are 1. Fix our budget and finances 2. Two to three recipes 3. Reiko's alphabet wall 4. Plan Reiko's third birthday. To be honest, I thought I haven't done a lot in terms of these priorities but looking back, I'm glad I've actually done something! I think that more than my work stuff, I just concentrated primarily on spending quality time with my family. 
 
Fixing our budget and finances can be a real struggle these days because as I've mentioned before, my husband resigned from his job last month. But it's also this month that he finally found a new one with much better compensation and benefits and it's still a day job plus his office building is just in front of mine. At least that's been resolved and we'll be back to being a two-income family soon. He's starting this month and I really hope that everything goes well. I can't imagine how I was able to juggle everything with my own income this past month but with God's grace, we were able to eat three times a day, we still have a comfortable shelter, and we have decent clothes so I can say I'm still blessed in so many ways. That's the beauty of life. :)
 
My goal to learn how to cook is a little hazy, actually, as hazy as the photo below. Lol. But I was glad my husband and I were able to spend some time making something to eat in the kitchen and it involves our new favorite, ham and cheese sticks! We tried doing it one weekend and loved it so we made another batch the weekend after. After my effort of frying those sticks, my husband was still asking when I'm gonna learn to cook, uh-oh.. so I guess making ham and cheese sticks are not counted? Haha. 
 
Reiko's alphabet wall is nowhere near reality just yet. We figured that we still need to repaint our bedroom wall and fix the cabinets and door but we need budget for the entire project. Until we can save just enough for this project, I think we'll have to hold off for now. It doesn't make sense to start putting wall decors when the wall itself is not ready yet. On the other hand, we'll be spending Reiko's third birthday next week in my hometown. I'm thankful that my younger brother is generous enough to pay half of our ticket expenses. I'm actually cramming with the birthday preparations now! Waahh. Grace under pressure once again. 
 
 
Aside from my priorities, I've also been successful with my no-yelling challenge so far. It's also this month that I decided to do a blog makeover and I can say I've been successful and all my efforts paid off. It was such a great learning experience for me and I didn't have to spend a single cent for it. I gotta save you know!
 
Speaking of savings, I am seriously running out of work clothes to wear. I'm pretty sure I couldn't just splurge on clothes because I have priorities plus I don't really have much time to go out of the house. I've done online shopping before and I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it another try. After all, it's my reward for a whole month of working here and there. 
 
I'm actually looking for an online website that has several modes of payment available since my bank account doesn't really work well with Paypal and most online stores only offer credit cards and Paypal. On the other hand, there's one website that simply answered my need because they have lots of payment options! I came across these simple and stylish women's clothes at Zalora and was so glad I can pay directly using either my Chinabank or BPI account. I also love that they have lots of options to choose from ranging from simple and chic women's clothes to dresses and business clothes. I'm also planning to shop on their website to reward my husband for finally getting a job! But don't tell him yet! I'm glad Zalora also has choices for men's clothes. Again, the beauty of life in its finest. :)
 
March is one helluvah ride and I survived once again! I am so ready for April, SUMMER time here we come! Let me know how your March had been too!  
 

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