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#TrailingSpouseStories: Christmas “Firsts”

Welcome to the second run of the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl hosted by Tala Ocampo and Didi of D for Delicious.  This December we talk about our Christmases around the World and the similarities and differences the holidays bring.  Please see the end of the post for other #TrailingSpouseStories.

***

My memory of the Holidays and Christmas is marked by the kids.  “BK” (Before Kids), my husband and I would go on a 24-hour food binge with our four Christmases:  His dad’s side for Christmas eve, my mom’s side for Christmas morning, my dad’s side for Christmas lunch, and his mom’s side for a late Christmas lunch all through the evening.  It was like that even when we were still dating.  I don’t know how we managed to keep all that food down.

But after the kids came, suddenly I found something totally different about my Christmas, each and every year.

2008 was our first Christmas as parents, and our first Christmas in Chapel Hill.  Sam was three weeks old, and so we didn’t fly home for the Holidays.  Christmas mass was Sam’s first trip out of the house, and my husband got her a Christmas dress — which she only wore once.

Our first Christmas as a family of three.
Our first Christmas as a family of three.

It was the quietest, simplest Christmas I ever had.

In 2009, we flew back to Manila for the holidays for Sam’s very first Manila Christmas.  And though the 4-Christmas spectacle was in full swing, Sam and I were severely jetlagged, so we slept through most of the festivities.

I didn’t know it then, but it was also my  Mama Mia’s last Christmas on this earth.  Thankfully we got to capture our “four generations of women” in a photo.

Four generations of women in my family. :)
Four generations of women in my family. 🙂  Photo credit: Ku Manahan

2010 was the year of Christmas weddings where Sam was asked to be a flower girl at least five times (Gasp!  Dreams do come true! ;)).  However, we couldn’t make it to any of them!  I was pregnant with Jamie — which also meant, it was my first Christmas pregnant.  Can you imagine the maternity winter clothes I had to buy.  Can you imagine the layers I had to put on when I could barely see my feet on a regular basis!

I was too pregnant to fly, so instead my husband treated us all to the beautifully breathtaking Biltmore estate for Christmas Eve.  This was the first Christmas I spent traveling.

I'd forgotten how pregnant I was!
I’d forgotten how pregnant I was!

The next day we drove up to Virginia to see family, and experienced our first Christmas snow day.  Sam was already two at the time, and was happy to be the recipient of all the presents under the tree.

In 2011 we flew back to Manila once more, this time for Jamie’s first ever Christmas.

Their first Christmas as "sisters"! :)
Their first Christmas as “sisters”! 🙂

As you can see, the photos stopped being photos of us, and more of the two sisters (in matching outfits no less!).

That was quite the stressful holiday too because we rushed Sam to the hospital days before Christmas due to an upper respiratory tract infection.

My heart stopped beating.
Dec 20:  The day I thought my heart stopped beating.

In 2012, we flew home to Manila “for good” and spent our first Christmas in our new apartment.    Sam and Jamie performed their first Christmas programs in their respective schools, and I learned just what a stage mom I was.

I never thought I'd be such a sap watching their performances.  Now I know.
I never thought I’d be such a sap watching their performances. Now I know.

2013 is what I like to call the “adjustment year”, when things were slowly falling into place here and there.  For the first time in forever (cue Frozen), we were FINALLY adjusting to a Manila routine.  The Christmas programs ran as expected in both schools.  The kids were older so they could better handle the “four Christmases”.  They still got a ton of presents, and were finally able to maximize their Christmas outfits.

Thank you, Ines Moda Infantil (left) and Tita Kisa (right).
Thank you, Ines Moda Infantil (left) and Tita Kisa (right).

The “new” this year was the holiday cheer brought about by Two Tots.   It was crazy fun buried under all those stockings, what can I say.

This 2014, just as I thought I was getting the hang of a Manila Christmas routine, I find myself again with another first:  Christmas in LA.

For someone like me who looks forward to predictability and routine, these last six Christmases have been a lot to take in.  I spent almost three decades of my life with the same kind of Christmas rituals and the same kind of routine.  Then each year after that, something stark and all too new just threw off the balance.  Ninety-seven percent of the time,it was great and wonderful and I’m indeed thankful.  But it doesn’t change the fact that it was all new and unexpected.  So what else is there to do but re-build traditions and holiday preparations, and to learn from each thing every step of the way.

Like getting the kids involved in the Holiday preparations.

As you can see, our tree is bottom heavy.  Take a guess why.
Santa Sacks are ready!  And as you can see, our tree is bottom heavy. Take a guess why.

And bringing something to remind us of home.

All by Two Tots!  How can you not have them for Christmas?!
All by Two Tots! How can you not have them for Christmas?!

And then of course, teaching the girls the true meaning of Christmas.

My beautiful Belen, a gift from my Mom!
My beautiful Belen, a gift from my Mom!

And maybe it’s because the last six years have each been so different that they’ve all stuck to me more than the Christmases of previous decades. It feels like parenting with a holiday flair, where no two days are the same, and no two children are the same!  Each year brings about many surprises that, like children, teach you a life lesson.  Learning to run with the new as well as holding on to a little bit of the old.

Somewhere in all that chaos, there is a certain familiarity and a semblance of knowing that each year will be just the same.  It doesn’t matter how many firsts each year brings your way. 🙂

 ***

Check out the other #TrailingSpousesstories by clicking on the links here:

Didi’s story on D for Delicious :  How Christmas abroad started out tearful, but turned tearless after some time.
Yuliya’s story on Tiny Expats:   Their journey and experience of the winter holidays in 6 countries.
Abigail’s story on Cuddles & Crumbs :  A look back at Christmas and family traditions.
Tala’s story on Tala Ocampo: Their first Christmas abroad in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with the birth of their first child.
Marie’s story on D is for Delicious:  How Christmas celebrations change with the times, and the one thing that keeps it the same.
Glendale’s story on G’s Kandy Krush:  Her first Christmas in Sri Lanka with her husband and 2 sons.
Third’s story on Pinoy in America:  How Pinoys have successfully brought the Philippines’ best-loved Christmas customs and traditions to America.
Marc’s story on Fatherland, explaining how Christmas is different this year compared to past Christmases; and
Kristine’s story on Tala Ocampo where Mac shares her reflections on spending Christmas away from home for 15 years.

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Life in CA Mommy Anecdotes Mommy Discoveries My Mommyology Recommends

My Disneyland Workout

As a gift to our family, my parents-in-law gave us Annual Passes to Disneyland (and by default to California Adventure as well).  Who wouldn’t love such a generous gift?  The girls went bonkers at the thought of going to The Happiest Place on Earth “anytime” they wanted.

So that’s been my life for the last 9 weeks.  I have literally been to Disneyland and California Adventure nine (maybe 10) times.  My Instagram and Facebook friends have noticed it too.  They all ask the exact same question:  “Do you go every week?!”  Well, to be fair, it’s not every week.  Sometimes we go twice (yeeesh!).

How can we not get excited about Disneyland?  Who doesn’t grow up on Disney characters?  Sam and Jamie know them all, as I did growing up.  The tried and tested Disney Princesses, and the newer ones like Merida, Elsa and Anna.  Even the Disney Junior Characters like Sofia the First permeate our everyday lives.  The girls’ costumes and birthdays are often Disney-inspired.  And this was further reinforced with the family’s Disney Cruise  earlier this year.  Disney is really fun for people of all ages.

While that may be true, this is too:  It is EXHAUSTING for parents. Exhausting.

Can you see how thrilled I am?
Can you see how thrilled I am?

We live so close to the parks, the girls jump at every opportunity to go.  I figure that while the kids’ school schedule is still manageable, we’d go when possible.  And while sometimes I do get excited and I feel so lucky, I also feel the lasting effects the fatigue brings each and every time.

It’s a production number and a feat.  From the time you get to the parking structure, to the time you’re able to set foot inside the actual park, you’ve already lost 30-45 minutes.  Even the nearest lots require some effort getting children, bags and strollers up and down the escalators and buses.  And Disney is never without people (even their non-peak days, the parks still have a crowd!).

Then there’s the ordeal of getting on sunblock — repeatedly.  It’s that or the burning heat.  I’ve gotten quite the tan standing in line for the girls.  Of course once all is said and done, there’s the ordeal of washing it off hours later when the kids are cranky and tired.

There’s the walking, the carrying, the pushing of the stroller and the lining up everywhere.

Disney's newest product should be a parent's back massage.
Disney’s newest service should be a parents’ back massage.

Let’s not forget the multiple visits to the public bathrooms.  Ay!  I feel like I’ve stuck my hand in every single public toilet bowl there is.  Thank goodness each stall now has potty seat liners and somehow the maintenance of it all has been quite good (so far!).  Watch out though, the automatic flush is pretty strong… and it sprays.  Eww!

At the end of each visit  no matter how long or short, my body is aching in so many different parts.  I don’t want to move the next day.  I seriously hope I’m losing weight from all of these Disney trips.  I don’t think the visits will end anytime soon as the girls haven’t tired of it.  In fact… they may never tire of it.

The nice thing about the annual pass though, is that there’s no rush to see everything all at once.  We get to explore each land in detail, and ride the rides we want to when we want to.  (Quick update:  Now Elsa and Anna’s Frozen Meet and Greet is only a fast-pass.  You need to get to the park early enough to grab a ticket, which will tell you what time to come back.  These tickets?  They usually run out at 10AM every morning and that’s all they have for the ENTIRE day!).  We’ve discovered some nice thing we’d never have gone on if we were pressed for time.

Do you know where this is? ;)
My first time to find lost pirate treasure!  Do you know where this is? 😉

There have been days when we didn’t do any rides at all, and we just trekked to meet one character after another.

Some of the usual, and some of the not-so-usual characters!
Some of the usual, and some of the not-so-usual characters!

There’s always something new to be learned in Disney.  On this last trip, the girls have recently added the Marvel Avengers to their repertoire.

I must admit, he's quite hot for a God of Thunder! ;)
I must admit, he’s quite hot for a God of Thunder! 😉

It’s made Daddy ecstatic.  I can imagine, he’s been playing with dolls all this time, FINALLY he can share his own favorites with his kids! 😉

This Halloween has been quite interesting too with its Villains theme.

Love them.  Love them.
Love them. Love them.

They are AWESOME.  And so in character!  We once witnessed an impromptu “agrument” between the Evil Queen of Snow White and Merida.

There’s a specific area in the Halloween Carnival where you can “conjour a villain”.  It’s cool.  I think we’ve been in line thrice in the last two weeks.  In all of my memory of Disneyland, I’ve never seen a villain walk the streets.  It’s always been the chipper protagonists and perfect princesses so it’s quite refreshing.  I can’t wait to see what they do for Christmas!

Sam has also recently discovered Tim’ Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skeleton and Sally
Jack Skeleton and Sally

These are things I’d never have thought to introduce to her.

As we go, I learn some new things too.  I’ve found this app called MouseWait, which gives you the wait times in each ride and restaurant.  I also found a Crowd Tracker Site which predicts the crowd levels on that specific date.  I’ve learned how to work through some of the long lines especially when there’s more than one adult present.  And when we ride “favorite rides”, I always try to find something new I never spotted before.

"Small World" has updated to include some favorite characters too.
“Small World” has updated to include some favorite characters too.

I’ve also found some hidden character spots!  Jasmine and Aladdin’s oasis for instance, isn’t even on the map that they give out at the entrance.  It took a little scouting around but eventually we found them.  And Jamie is a happy camper for it.

Jasmine, the Genie and a very happy Jamie.
Jasmine, the Genie and a very happy Jamie.

An Annual Pass for those that live near Disneyland is definitely worth it.  There are discounts too on food and merchandise (and we do save a lot when we flash the annual pass for food!)

It's where Jamie got her favorite bow and arrow.
It’s where Jamie got her favorite bow and arrow.

The more we go, the more I appreciate the brand that is Disney.  It’s amazing how everything just runs almost to perfection.  Every single person you talk to, from the street cleaners to the parking attendants, to the ride attendants, it’s clear everyone knows their role and their place.  And the customer service is excellent.

There’s always a new discovery to be made at Disney.  I’m floored with how they’re able to keep it relevant and fresh each time… I cannot begin to imagine the planning that goes into each part of the park all year round.  And it’s amazing how each experience (no matter how crowded) stays with you for life.

Disneyland really is a magical place.

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Mommy Anecdotes Mommy Discoveries

Our Disney Dream Favorites (Part 1)

As a follow-up to last week’s post on the Disney Dream, here are some of our favorite parts from the cruise (based on inputs from our entire family).  Watch out, a ton of pictures are coming your way…  🙂  Again I hope this is useful information to you for future vacation plans and considerations!

A room with a view and the double-decker bedsWe were told that if you’re easily seasick and slightly claustrophobic, it’s better to get a room with a veranda.  I think it costs a tad bit more than the lower rooms, but it’s also not as expensive as the suites.  Jamie saw Dolphins as the ship was leaving the port too.

Taken from the door towards the veranda
Taken from the door towards the veranda.

The rooms are small but they’re quite cozy and clean.  And it’s always good to go back to a room you like.

And a veranda is always good for practicing model poses.
And a veranda is always good for practicing model poses.

When we first entered I thought that our whole family would share a bed, but as we came back after dinner, we discovered that they had provided for two extra beds (with guard-rails upon our request) for the girls to sleep on.  And they really did sleep in their own beds!  It was such a treat to have space and not get kicked in the face for a few nights! 🙂

I will use this as a pre-cursor to getting them to sleep in their own beds SOON.
I will use this as a pre-cursor to getting them to sleep in their own beds SOON.

In the adjoining room, the girls discovered that their cousins had bunk beds.  Of course for one night, Sam asked our cabin attendant if she could have a bunk bed too!  Of course, she slept on it only for a while because I was losing sleep with her being so high up.

The double-deck request.
The double-deck request.

Hair-braiding.  This was Sam’s top agenda when we got onto the ship and moved around.  She wanted her hair braided.  She didn’t want it all braided, just a few strands.  Of course Jamie did too, and they insisted on keeping it all on for the entire cruise.  You can imagine how frizzy their hair was when I finally took it off!

Here they are in their hair braiding glory.  Mind you, it's $2 a braid.
Here they are in their hair braiding glory.  Mind you, it’s $2 a braid.

Free Ice Cream.  Actually, there was free food almost 24/7.  Certain restaurants had buffet breakfast open from 6AM – 11AM, and buffet lunch open from 10AM – 5PM (which is just about the time that the first batch of dinner runs started).  At the top deck, there were ice cream swirl machines that you could just get from.  They would change the flavors too every so often, so you didn’t know what you were gonna get that day (apart from Vanilla and Chocolate).

Eye scream for Ice cream!
She was indeed an ice cream monster!

Literally the kids could have them even at 3 in the morning because they were just THERE.  Jamie my little ice cream monster made good use of them for the entire trip.

The Nightly Shows at the Walt Disney Theatre.  At 545PM every afternoon, our little family would make our way to the Walt Disney Theatre to line up for the 615PM show.  It was good to be early and get good seats (fourth or fifth row center were typically good) because the shows were all worthwhile (pictures aren’t allowed inside while the show is ongoing).  You’re not allowed to reserve seats too, so it’s important to have everyone there to sit in their seat.And as the days passed, more people knew they had to be there early too.

My little muse outside the Theatre.
My little muse outside the Theatre.

The production value of these shows is amazing.  And it’s the same ensemble for all four days — you can imagine how many dance steps songs and character roles they had to memorize!

If you catch the show on the first day, you can buy one of those buckets of popcorn and take them again with you the next day to refill at a cheaper price.  It also gives the kids something to do while waiting for the show to start.

Sam and Jamie had been watching Hercules before we left, and on the second night of the show, Pain and Panic were roaming the aisles.  Of course my little Peacock did not hesitate to get a picture with them both.

This is Sam with Panic.  Or is this Pain?!
This is Sam with Panic. Or is this Pain?!

Animator’s Palate.  Every night set dinner at a specific restaurant is assigned to your family.  For our last dinner we ate at Animator’s Palate, which was actually at the back of the ship.  And at the onset the wall decor is pretty cool because it showcases the drawings of the animations of different characters.  Once everyone is seated though and the dinner service starts, suddenly the “walls” become interactive screens.

It's amazing to watch the drawings turn into screens.  You'd never guess.
It’s amazing to watch the drawings turn into screens. You’d never guess.

I suppose since we were on a boat, the theme was an underwater submarine and Crush and the rest of the Finding Nemo characters would appear.  Crush would talk to the kids as well and ask them their name and where they’re from and things like that.  The kids were thoroughly entertained because Dory asked them to play guessing games too.

Here's Bruce scoping out the folks.
Here’s Bruce scoping out the folks.

Of course the food was excellent.  But the place totally blew me away.  I’m told there’s a restaurant like this in one of the Orlando parks too.

The Oceaneer Kids’ Club (or Lab).  Half the 3rd deck is dedicated to a kids only zone called the Oceaneer Lab.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but the place is really every child’s haven.

Outside the Oceaneer Lab
Outside the Oceaneer Lab

If you wanted to, you could leave them there the minute they woke up and pick them up right before they go to bed (of course we didn’t do that, but technically you can).  And there are enough people watching over the kids there that no one gets lost or bored or hurt and every kid has an awesome time.  Ask any child, they want to go back over and over again.  Jamie my clingy little Dove generally wouldn’t want to leave my side, but when we dropped her off at the Kid’s club, she willingly said goodbye and didn’t look for me.  In fact when we picked them up, she didn’t want to leave.  There was a Toy Story bootcamp inside one of the club’s rooms and the girls met one of the green toy soldiers who gave them “parachute” backpacks and taught them how to march and salute and do all kids of solider things.

Hungry soldiers after bootcamp.
Hungry soldiers after bootcamp.

Upon registration for the kids when you board the ship, they tag each child with an arm band that’s sort of like a GPS tracker.

It is waterproof, sandproof and childproof!
It is waterproof, sandproof and childproof!

Essentially it can tell you where your child is on any part of the ship and any point in time.  And at the Oceaneer’s club, when you check them in, they scan the band so that they can track which room your child is as well and tell you exactly when you pick them up.  Pretty cool!

There is a continuation to this post, coming soon…. 😉

Categories
Mommy Anecdotes Mommy Discoveries

The Disney Dream Cruise

Many have been asking me about our Disney Cruise adventure, so here it is! 🙂  I hope it’s helpful!

The first part of our summer vacation was spent aboard the Disney Disney Dream Cruise with the kids and my brother-in-law’s family (thank you again to my parents-in-law for such a generous summer gift!).  It was a 5-day, 4-night itinerary, through the Bahamas.  My husband and I had been on a 6-night Alaskan cruise before, and we thought the length of time might be too overwhelming for the kids (although the longer out you are at sea, the easier it gets on the seasickness).  We’ve also always wanted to go to the Bahamas at one point in our lives, hence the consideration of this particular cruise.  Disney also has its own island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay (who buys an island I tell ya?!), which they say is worth a visit.

They were happy to be with Captain Mickey!
They were happy to be with Captain Mickey!

Based solely on this experience, I’d say a Disney Cruise is a good idea for a family vacation.  It is enjoyable for everyone regardless of age.  There’s always something for everyone to do at any point in time.   It’s like they think of everything, it’s amazing how well-oiled the ship is run day in and day out.  And they keep it current — Frozen and Captain America’s Winter Soldier were showing in the Buena Vista Theater for instance.

The Disney Dream is a relatively new ship too so everything looks and feels totally brand new and clean.  The whole experience is totally exhausting though.  We’re constantly moving from one point of the ship to the next, sometimes taking the stairs several flights up and down (it was faster), and getting in line for all sorts of things all the time.    That said, I would still totally recommend it for any family, and I would love to do it again  (which means I need to find a way to make money grow on trees).

To help make the most of your Disney Cruise:

For transcontinental travelers, arrive a day or so before you board the ship.  Our cruise was set to sail out of Cape Canaveral on April 6, but my husband and I decided to book a flight into Florida on the 4th.  It gave the girls a change to decompress and acclimatize, and get rid of some of the travel fatigue.  We stayed with best friends in Tampa with no agenda but to sleep and eat.  That helped relax us before traveling on the 6th to board the ship.  The ship’s sail time on the 6th was at 5PM, but my husband booked us for a 1PM check-in, to give ample time for us to get on board, eat and explore before we set sail.

Pre-register and fill out the online forms.  Weeks before you take the cruise, they send you a booklet containing forms and information you’d need to know.  Read it and fill everything out before getting to the check-in area.  It will make the process go smoother and faster, and faster is always good with kids in tow.

The long check-in lines.
The long check-in lines.

Also, you’d want to read through the activities in each port of call and already register yourselves for them.  It saves a lot of time rather than standing in line on the ship getting the next available slot (that’s a separate line from check-in, by the way).  I don’t suggest you fill up your whole day with pre-planned activities.  Maybe just 1 or 2 per day at most, because again there are a lot of discoveries you’ll make when you finally get on board.

Here’s a tip:  Bring food and water for the kids.  With long lines kids get hungry while waiting.  Best to keep them fed and happy.  There are TVs playing cartoons in the waiting area so they can happily watch while you stand in line.

Verify other requirements.  It was quite last-minute, but we learned that we needed a separate Visa into the Bahamas.  Now this is debatable as well since some travel agencies say they don’t require it, but we chose to play it safe.  We’ve heard stories of you not being able to board the ship at all if your visa requirements aren’t complete (even if you travel with a US Visa already).  The nearest embassy to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is in China, and so it takes at least 3 weeks to get the papers all sorted out and back to Manila.

Also if you’re traveling with little kids, there are some additional requirements that might be needed, like a list of their medication or allergies and things like that.  They ask you upon pre-boarding and if it’s not declared then you’d need to fill out another form, which will take time.

Allot time for lines.  Everyday on the cruise, you’ll receive what they call the Navigator.  It has every activity that’s happening, where and what time.  It’s best to read through it well each night and plan your day around it.  For the shows, allot at least 20 minutes before each showing to line up.  The character pictorials as well will require time, and usually after about 15-20 minutes there’s someone standing at the end of the line to tell you that they have to close it because “Minnie has to fit her outfit for tonight’s ball” or something like that.  So you may miss them — although not to worry, because everyday on the ship they’ll be around for one picture or another.  Everything runs on time as scheduled, like a well-oiled machine.

Prepare to dress up.  I wasn’t planning to pack girls’ princess dresses; then I remembered Peggy Orenstein’s comment about how kids always dress up when they’re in Disney.  I got Elsa and Anna sister aprons for the girls at Celestina & Co., and a Sofia the First Princess outfit for Jamie.  And it’s a good thing too, because when it was time to meet the princesses, EVERY little girl was in a princess dress!

One of the many princess shots in their princess dresses!
One of the many princess shots in their Princess dresses (aprons!)!

Our cruise also had a pirate night, so I packed Jamie’s pirate outfit.

Pirate garb for everyone...
Pirate garb for everyone…

Sam didn’t have one, but thankfully our friends in Tampa had given her an Izzy costume when we arrived.  And in the afternoon, you find on your bed, a little something to wear for the evening, for every member of the family.

... yes everyone.  (Sam chose her Izzy costume over the headwear).
… yes everyone. (Sam chose her Izzy costume over the headwear).

A lot of the adults gamely dressed up as well during the cruise, which actually gave our boat a little bit more flavor. 😉

Unplug and enjoy.  Wifi wasn’t free, and it was costly.  They charge on a per MB basis.  I decided I didn’t need to be connected for 5 days (and anyway we were always busy and completely exhausted at the end of the day!), and it was quite liberating not to worry about emails and what I was missing on Facebook for a few days.

Expect to see everything Mickey.  Of course, it is Disney.  There’s “a hidden Mickey” everywhere.

Spot the hidden Mickey!
Spot the hidden Mickey!

I hope that’s helped some of the folks asking about our Disney Experience.  Watch out for next week when I post our favorite parts of our Disney Cruise experience!

If you have any more questions about our trip, please feel free to post them here and I’ll get to them as soon as I can!

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Mommyology at Work My Mommyology Blog Give-Away My Mommyology's Manila Chapter

The Gift of Memories with The Picture Company

I’m all about capturing memories.  I have a ton of photo albums in all shape and form.  And that’s why I can’t live without my iPhone these days, or go anywhere without a camera.  It’s like I’m obsessed with making sure I document the girls’ milestones and daily activities as something for them to look back on when they’re older.  I keep thinking about my childhood and looking through some of the albums my mom put together for me, I’d have to admit that they trigger a lot of sentimental and fond memories.  I want that for the girls too.

Over the years we’ve had some really great photo shoots here in Manila (except for one but let’s not get into that!  positive thoughts!), including one that captured the four generations in my family with Sam and my Mama Mia still alive.  That was precious to me.  Last year we were gifted with several outdoor shoots too, a first for us.  The girls I was told, were relatively easy and cooperative and the out takes turned out great.

This year, the SoMoms were gifted by The Picture Company with a family shoot.  I gladly accepted and booked with the Bonifacio High Street Branch right away.  I initially thought we’d do another outdoor shoot (as only the BHS branch does this), but then I figured it’s also been a while since we did an indoor studio one.

Eva our photographer was quick to say that we could do both.  She also did an interview with me to check on our family’s personality.  Then a few days later I receive an email from her with pegs and suggestions of what to bring to the shoot.  That was pretty cool.

On our first Sunday over at The Picture Company, we did the indoor shoot and the girls were pretty good about hamming it up for the camera.  They specifically requested for their own change in outfits too.

Sam we said was adventurous and all smiles. :)
Sam we said was adventurous and all smiles. 🙂

I felt Eva was able to capture both Sam and Jamie.  When my husband saw the pictures, he was quite pleased.  “It’s really her!”  “That’s sooo her!” he’d exclaim when we first saw the slide shows.

Jamie of course, brought Bunny.
Jamie of course, brought Bunny.

We liked the shots so much that Eva made a photo motion collage of each of them for us.  I can see these hanging in the walls of the girls’ playroom. 🙂

They were both "so themselves" in these pictures!
They were both “so themselves” in these pictures! Does that make sense?

The Sunday after, we went back for our outdoor shoot at an earlier time.  From past experience, I knew to bring water, food and some bubbles.  The girls were a sport about it for a good 30 minutes, but after they both good moody and tired.  Jamie got itchy, and it was downhill from there.  Still, somehow in the midst of all of that, Eva was still able to capture some really precious moments.

Love the way the green fades and the girls stand out!
Love the way the green fades and the girls stand out!

And again I found myself daydreaming as to where in the house I would hang these up.

I also know they’d make perfect gifts for the grandparents.  They’re actually the hardest people to gift come Christmas because I feel that they have everything (Our parents spend their lives giving to us.  What do we give back?).  What better gift to give them than photos of grandchildren?  I’m sure there is space in my mom’s house and on my mother-in-law’s piano for just a few more of these.

As a member of The Picture Company, they have this package which entitles one to double the prints at half the cost on your birthday.  Thankfully, Sam’s birthday is tomorrow (and on that note I shed my first tear!  sniff!)!  So I happily picked a second set of prints. 🙂  Yay!

Our experience with The Picture Company was great.  It’s worth considering if you’d like a family photo shoot again this season.  And you can actually get it for free, until December 15!  Just follow the instructions below and show them a copy of this coupon.  🙂

Get your portraits done today!
Get your portraits done today!

 

Easy as pie!
Easy as pie!

The Picture Company also has some cute Christmas cards, and this promo runs also until December 15.  That’s another cool “gift” to give for the holidays.  I know it’s a tradition for families to send out these cards in the US (I loved collecting the ones we got every Christmas from family and friends), but I haven’t seen it done much here yet.  Well maybe now’s the time to start. 😉  20 Gift Cards and Gift Tags can go a long long way.

Go get them!
Go get them today!

 

Thank you to Eva, Mama Sol, and the rest of The Picture Company for the awesome photos!  Follow them on:

Facebook:  The Picture Company, and The Picture Company Bonifacio High Street

Twitter and IG: @ThePictureCoPH, @TPCFort

Website: PictureCompany.com.ph

Tel No (for BHS) +632.8561232