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My Mommyology

January 22, 2015
by mymommyology

My Mommyology Discovers: Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Princess Make-Over

Here’s a fun (and as my husband says – pricey!) discovery we made during one of our trips to Disneyland.

In Fantasyland, there’s a store called the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique, which pretty much sells everything royal.  At the back of the boutique is a mini princess salon, where “fairy-godmothers-in-training” help transform little girls into the princess of their dreams (They do have a Knight’s package too, but I wonder just how many times that gets picked!).

There are at least 10 stations, always full each time we go!

There are at least 10 stations, always full each time we go!  Imagine the profits!

I remember Peggy Orenstein’s book, where she discovered that Disney made at least $4 billion dollars in 2009 on princess products alone.  Seeing this boutique in action makes me wonder how much they make now, six years later!

It’s a total hit among the girls.  And we parents are the fools that fall for it all.

For Sam’s 6th birthday she wanted a Bibbity Bobbidi transformation.  We agreed (My husband, quite blindly – later on to his chagrin), and I called to make a reservation beforehand.  It was a good thing too, because apparently they get fully booked pretty fast ALL the time.  That’s how many parents fall for this gimmick!

We enter and immediately Sam is called “princess” and we are the “king and queen”.  We’re all addressed as “Your Majesty”, and asked to help her pick her princess costume and hairstyle.  Because it was her birthday, I agreed for Sam to get the Castle package, which was essentially the whole shebang — costume, crown, wand, make-over and photo session.  At the end, there’s a personal escort to meet three of the princesses, skipping the long wait times at Fantasy Faire.

Jamie of course wanted to do it too, but because it wasn’t her birthday, I told her she could only get the Crown Package, which is the lowest tiered make-over of them all.  She came in costume but was happy to be a part of the whole experience nonetheless.

Sam chose Rapunzel as her princess, and without further ado, we were escorted to the back to change.  Because it was winter, chilly and rainy, we opted to put the gown over what she was wearing.  The fairy godmothers-in-training assess your size and will happily assist you if you need one bigger or smaller.  The girls were also asked to choose from four different hairstyles.

The choices they make.

The choices they make.

You could opt to get the wig of the princess too, but that’s not part of the package and will cost you extra.  There are also shoes, gloves, and bags, among other things, but again, that’s more money out.  Obviously, that was out of the question for Daddy dearest! ;)

I didn’t realize that for the 30 minutes of the make-over, the girls couldn’t seen themselves.  The mirrors were covered and they were turned towards the parents.

There's daddy, counting the cents draining from his wallet with each passing minute. ;)

There’s daddy, counting the cents draining from his wallet with each passing minute. ;)

That’s another genius detail (You gotta love Disney.  They think of everything I tell ya), because when the make-over is done, the girls are presented to their parents as a princess “for the first time”.  And then there’s a big reveal by the fairy godmother-in-training when they have the girls wave open their very own mirror.  You should see their faces when they see themselves.  It’s — magical!

Can you feel Jamie's smile?!

Can you feel Jamie’s smile?!

We were then led to the backroom for the photos, where a carriage set-up awaited.  Knowing that we only had one princess package, they asked me if we wanted Jamie to be in the photos and of course I said yes (more bang for the buck as my husband would call it.  Two for the price of one).  They had the girls in different poses, and after about 10 minutes, handed us a large print out of their best picture, and a few smaller ones.  It was pretty cute.

BTS of the photoshoot

BTS of the photoshoot

Then the girls were personally escorted to meet the Princesses present in the royal hall.  On that day for Sam and Jamie, they were Ariel, Snow White and Cinderella.  Somehow the princesses know they need to take a few seconds longer with those escorted to them too.

Here they are having a conversation with Ariel.

Here they are having a conversation with Ariel.

When my niece did it over the holidays, she was able to meet the elusive Princess Aurora (who we’re told isn’t there very often).

And everywhere they went from that time on Sam and Jamie walked around like princesses (and smelled like hairspray, I tell you!).

To this day, my husband is still reeling from the expense.  He says no matter how I justify it, I will never be able to account for each and every penny.

I will admit it’s quite expensive.  An authentic Disney princess gown alone is already $70; then there’s still the wand and a crown.  The photo package option (which is a non-negotiable for the highest tiered package) is priced at $32.  Add everything else in and you really will sweat like a pig!  The girls get to to take home everything that was used on them — from the glittery pins, the sparkly stickers, both sets of nail polish, a make-up kit and everything else in between.

The contents of Jamie's bag.  Suddenly we had so many combs!

The contents of Jamie’s bag. Suddenly we had so many combs!

The girls open their bags every so often and relive the experience.  I think they’ve even used the nail polish and make-up over again.  Still it was inevitable:  we gave my poor husband a few more white hairs on his head.  He actually said to me, “never again”, but then Jamie replied, “But what about for MY birthday dad?”  Uh-oh.

On the bright side, our Annual Pass got us a 20% discount.  So if you plan on going and getting this done, make sure you have an annual pass holder with you!

In an effort to comfort my husband, I ask him to think about how happy he made his two little princess.  Now isn’t THAT priceless? ;)

Dad and his happy princesses.

Dad and his happy princesses.


The Anna and Elsa Boutique in Downtown Disney also has a Frozen make-over salon.  It’s also best to call and reserve ahead of time!

The Frozen Make-over packages.

The Frozen Make-over packages.

January 19, 2015
by mymommyology

Boys and Boys’ Toys

When I was growing up, I never had to “deal” with boys.  I spent 14 years of my life in an all-girls’ Catholic school, with one unofficial soiree in Grade 7, and an official school sponsored “interaction” in 3rd year High School.  Nothing really came out of those as most of the girls stuck together, and most of the guys boys kept to themselves and their video games (or whatever games there were back then).

When I was 7, I had one neighbor who would come play with me after school.  Not long after we decided we got along, our yayas started teasing each other and he turned mean.  We stopped coming out to play soon after and he eventually moved away.  I never saw him again.

I had one other male friend Paolo, the son of my mom’s friend.  He would come and bring over his He-Man collection and Gray Skull castle.  I had the She-ra figurines and for a time, copying clips from the cartoon was our common ground.

Who remembers this?  And did I just date myself?!  Eeep!

Who remembers this? And did I just date myself?! Eeep!

Eventually I spent more time with my other female cousin who loved to play Barbie, dress up and fashion, and who at the time, would fight with her older brother and keep him out of our lives.  Needless to say, my exposure to boys (and their toys) at a young age was very limited.

You can imagine the how “new” Sam’s public co-ed environment is to me.  Dealing with what she’s going through is unfamiliar territory!

Thank you, emoticon.

Thank you, “Feeling Nervous” emoticon.

So I pick her up one day from school and she says to me:  “Mom, I played with Adam* and when Aurora* saw us she said he was my boyfriend.”  I almost ran the car into a tree after that.

I asked her if she meant “friend who’s a boy”, and Sam went on to explain that’s what she thought too, except Aurora gave her an alternate “definition” of a boyfriend.  And Aurora then proceeded to tell Sam of her own boyfriend and how many times they’ve kissed (which I find out later on, is not at all true — thank heavens!).

My first instinct was to tell her to stay away from Aurora forever.  What kind of six-year old has these notions already in her head!  And she’s corrupting my innocent daughter!  (Warning:  frantic, panicky, conservative Catholic mother talking here)  I purposely haven’t exposed her to those things yet because I feel she’s still too young.

I knew from all those #BetterMe seminars that the best thing to do was to ensure a safe, open line of communication and not exaggerate my reaction, despite how I was really feeling inside.  I gathered my thoughts and parked the car (lest I really steer myself into a tree)  for a semi-casual discussion on the topic.

Thankfully, Sam is logical and very smart, and can truly be reasoned with.  And thankfully, if only by the grace of God, she really listens to whatever it is I say (Dear Lord, let this be true ten years down the road!).

We discussed that boys are ok to have as friends, just like it is having girls as friends.  They’re fun in different ways.  “The boys like playing with me because I run faster than them mom,” she said.    At six years of age (and seven and eight and beyond), we said to focus on what’s important, which is making friends and getting to know other people.  So when someone asks her if Adam or Brian* or Tom, Dick and Harry are her “boyfriends”, she can reply “yes they’re friends, who just so happen to be boys.  I play with them because they’re fun.”  End of story.

Sam gamely playing Monopoly with the boys.

Sam gamely playing Monopoly with the boys.

Kissing was something we would leave only for members of our family as a sign of respect.  And kissing on the lips?  Well that’s just for dad ;).

I didn’t stop her from listening to her friends talk about their “boyfriends” because — let’s face it — some first graders are more open, and maybe are more exposed than others.  All I told her was to simply, always tell the truth.  I hope it’s enough to keep her from trying to outdo them with their “fake” kissing triumphs.

For a while it brought out a genuine interest in all things boys.  She learned about Marvel from her cousin Rocco and loved the story of Captain America.  It was nice because I felt she was opening up her world beyond the usual girl toys, and taking an interest in other things.  In fact her 6th birthday was Captain America-themed.

She and Jamie were quite thrilled to meet him and Thor at Disneyland too.

We all fell in love with Big Hero 6, and Sam started taking an interest in the motion picture’s toys.  They are pretty cool if I do say so myself.

Most recently, her cousins introduced her to Lego’s Chima and the Animal Tribes’ battle over the CHI.  That has since been her current interest.

I am also learning about Chima.

I am also learning about Chima.  It’s interesting!

I thought that our “boyfriend troubles” were over, and my husband did not need to buy a shotgun off Amazon.

Until one bedtime not too long ago, Sam whispered to me, “I like Chima and Marvel mom but I want to keep it a secret.”  When I asked her why she said, “because they* said that since I like those things then I must be a boy.  But I’m a girl, right?  So do I need to like only girl things?

Deep down I wanted to find out who this kid was and pin him (or her!) to the wall and give him (or her!) a piece of my mind.

Thankfully there was wine, and thankfully (again), my daughter is very logical.  It was easier to sort out with a few examples and the confusion was abated.  I also supported her decision in not wanting to discuss it with others if only because she didn’t want to have to keep explaining herself.  “I’m open-minded Mom”, she said, “but what if others aren’t?”

Then,” I said, “that’s their loss and not ours.

Which essentially sums up how I feel about these two situations.  And my only wish (and prayer) is that we as parents consciously teach our kids about the right kind of open-mindedness.  I know that some of us try, and it’s not easy.  So let’s help each other through it.  Maybe it starts with being open-minded ourselves, and not getting caught up in the world’s predisposed notions of who we should be or what we should like.

I’m grateful that Sam is truly open to everything and anything, and that she sets a wonderful example for Jamie.  In Sam’s innocent unbiased eyes, there’s nothing that is just purely for boys or just for girls.  She’s always been allowed to do whatever both boys and girls can do or play with whatever boys and girls play.  Hopefully, as we try and encourage her both ways, she will develop a little sense of how the world could work better (just my opinion).

When Sam’s school opened their after class enrichment program, she chose basketball.  “I want to play with Daddy someday,” was what she said.  As it turned out, she was the only girl who signed up for the program.  Her coach says she shows promise too — so we are signing her up again this spring.

Can you spot my rose among the thorns? ;)

Can you spot my rose among the thorns? ;)

There are days when she likes to dress up in her sparkly skirt and fancy jewelry, and will do nothing but be a princess in a Royal ball.  There are other days when she wants to save the universe and beat the boys at their own game.  Personally, I love it that she can do both.

That's Sam for you.  :)

That’s Sam for you. :)

* real names and people changed for confidentiality purposes.

January 17, 2015
by mymommyology

Change, 2015

I usually start every year with some lesson or resolution that I hope will carry me through the next 12 months.  I know I’m a little late this year with two weeks of January already gone.  The holidays have kept me pretty busy!

In the last three weeks we played host to our family from Manila and Canada.  And while all of it was fun, exciting, awesome and adventure-filled, I will admit that it was also physically exhausting (as most holiday experiences are, anywhere in the world).

A little preview of the crazy that was.

A little preview of the crazy that was.

We’re trying to get our routine back in place.  There are still a few hiccups, with Jamie only now recovering from her congestion and fever (hence a further delay into my quiet “me-time” moment).

Maybe it’s the exhaustion and the high, but with all the conversations, all the visitors that have come and gone, and all the discussions of things that are yet to come… I still feel a little unsettled.

It’s been 5 months and 4 days since we moved, and I’ve gotten compliments left and right as to how well we’ve settled and adjusted.  We’re ok; in fact we’re more than ok.  My husband is very much into his new role and it seems to suit him well.  He says he’s busy, but not stressed.  The girls have their school, after school activities, Disneyland, friends and play dates.  They love everything, including all the new discoveries we’ve made and continue to make.

And what about the mother, you ask?  To some extent I have adapted and adjusted to our new life as well.  Keeping things going on a daily basis is enough to occupy me and knock me out at the end of the day.  I do what I usually do during the day and at night (if I can stay awake) I work on the stuff that need my attention back home.  I know that I’m more comfortable running things day-to-day here too, if only for the nature of my personality.   But I’ve also had to absorb the emotions and unexplainable feelings that every big change has brought to us all, most especially for the girls.  I feel like it’s my role to keep things together and make every “change” or new occurrence as smooth a transition as possible.

On top of which, I’ve been thinking about what to do with myself.  My husband and I have been talking about finding something part time for me too (that deserves a blog post all on its own though!), amongst plans we have for this yearAll of that, coupled with everything that’s happening in Manila at the moment (the Pope’s visit) and my family moving into a new home), I can’t help but feel sometimes that I’m still neither here nor there.

Last night, my husband showed the girls some of our old You Tube videos.  We opened the very first video he’d published, the one of Sam and myself right after I’d given birth to her.  Whatever it was I was thinking and feeling, seeing the video and the caption “6 years ago” alongside my now 6-year old Sam just sent me to tears.

Taken minutes after Sam was born.

Taken minutes after Sam was born.

I was neither sad or happy — but maybe just overwhelmed.  Six years, two kids, one additional business, and three big moves.  All of this amongst so many other changes thrown into the mix — be they good, great, and life-changing — it feels like a lot.  Sam for one, has had four different schools in six years, and Jamie two (in all of her three years and 10 months of existence).  Just thinking of the big changes that may still come our way sends a little knot to my stomach.

Logically I know, I understand and I accept: change is good and inevitable.  There will be some that are really a part of our day-to-day life.  The kids alone are filled with so many little bumps and changes as they change and grow right before my very eyes.  In my head, I can ride that kind of roller coaster and take what comes my way.  That’s how I’m built after all.

Deep down inside though (beside the knot forming in my stomach), there’s that tiny voice that’s praying for a reprieve.  Enough with the big roller coasters for once, no matter how fun and exciting each twist and turn is.  Maybe, just maybe, this 2015, we can put a pause on all the big life-changing changes in our little family of four.  We already had our new year last August 12, 2014.  Maybe it’s time to just see this one through for a while.

December 1, 2014
by mymommyology

#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.

November 23, 2014
by mymommyology

A Weekend For Me

In the last six years, I can count the number of times I didn’t sleep with Sam at night.

The first time was when I gave birth to Jamie.  I stayed in the hospital overnight as mandated by the doctors.  I’d just given birth, what do we expect.

The second time was when I rushed Jamie to the hospital one weekend for aspirational pneumonia.  Someone had to watch Jamie through the night too.

The third time was when I was weaning Jamie from breastfeeding, and we collapsed in exhaustion in another room in the house.  I don’t know if that counts though, because at about 5am Sam found us and snuck into bed with us.

And as you can guess, in the last three and a half years, I’ve never slept away from Jamie.  There’s been no business trip, no weekend get-away, and no vacation without them.

Land, sea and air... they've always traveled with me.  EVERYWHERE.

Land, sea and air… they’ve always traveled with me. EVERYWHERE.

These facts surprise — and often shock — a lot of my fellow mothers.  By this time, most of them have had some weekend away from their kids, by themselves or with their husbands.    While they share their first experiences away, I often sit quietly with nothing to contribute.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the re-charging moments and the good night’s rest, and they know this —  so it makes them wonder why we haven’t done it yet.

My husband has never been “for” the idea.  He always says there will be time for us later when the kids are older.  Right now they need to be around me (all the time?) more than him (because he has taken trips away from them).  It’s having me around all the time that’s reassuring for him (them).  He worries a lot about how they’d be away from me (since it’s never happened!), and (I secretly think) how he’ll handle them without me there.  His hesitation has been the main deterrent to why we’ve gone as long as we have without a night away from the kids!

But really — it couldn’t have all been him because if I really wanted to, I’d have found a way by now, right?  I realize I probably don’t want it as much either.  Maybe it’s the loss of control over our routine.  I’m so used to doing it all my way, I’m not sure how I’d handle it if someone else did it differently (hence all my yaya issues of the past!).

However, it doesn’t stop me from broaching the topic when an opportunity presents itself, just to see where we stand.  I honestly feel he’s more-than-capable handling the girls without me.  If there’s anyone who can, it’s him!  And the girls are older and more independent too.  There’s always a lot for them to do in 48 hours (or less).  In fact one trip to Disneyland ought to do it.  And of course, connectivity makes it easier to stay in touch.  With the right pre-preparations and the accessibility of Jollibee and Chowking, I’m confident they’ll be fine.

We talk about it, but I expect status quo.  So you can imagine my surprise one morning when I woke up to find this in my inbox:

*gasp!* What a wonderful surprise!

*gasp!*  weeee!

One of my best friends invited us to the Christening of her baby in the East Coast for a weekend.  To have all of us travel that far is admittedly too costly, and impractical given the three-hour difference.  It’s too much for a weekend, and they’re not missing school! 

I talked about the possibility of traveling by myself and being away for one weekend (46 hours to be exact, inclusive of all travel time to and from the airports!).  These friends (and some other girlfriends who are going too) are like family to me, so it would mean a lot for me to be there.  I’ve been so busy with our own family’s milestones and events, I’ve missed out on theirs.  So it was (it is) important for me to go.

I can’t deny I’m both excited and nervous about this breakthrough milestone in our parenting.  It should be good for us all though.  And besides, spending two full days alone with the kids is something I do all the time!  My husband can finally have a taste of it.  How hard can it be, right? ;) (Insert evil laugh here)

Thanks Dad!  It’s an awesome me-time gift (with shopping money to boot!  Ah-mazing!).  Between this and last week’s Date Night, you’re on a roll! ;)  Keep it up!  Heeheehee.

And by the way… good luck to you (insert more evil laughter)! ;)

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