My Mommyology

April 25, 2014
by mymommyology
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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 part 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!

April 21, 2014
by mymommyology
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Summer Vacation (Preparation)

Happy Easter Monday!

I’ve been AWOL from the blog these last few weeks.  If you’re following me on any of my other social media accounts, you’ll notice I’ve been traveling with the family.  It was our much awaited summer vacation.  From sand to snow at all degrees of weather (literally), so says my husband.  It’s been a crazy and exhausting, but definitely all worthwhile.  The entire 3-week experience is too much to compress in one blog post, so I will split them up accordingly in succeeding entries.  There is much to tell.

Looking back at it all now, I feel I’ve gained some new insights in traveling with toddlers that are worth sharing.  It’s all good too as I feel I was able to adjust better in preparation for the trip.

Dive into the details.  For starters, I will say that it helped a lot that my husband and brother-in-law are great travel planners.  We traveled with my brother-in-law’s family for most of the trip, and even months before the boys would sit down over Mary Grace ensaymadas to research and plan the different aspects of our “adventure”.  They spent a lot of hours and sleepless nights working through the little details of what we would do and when (and of course, how much it would all cost).

Brothers planning over the kids' Lucky Charms.

Brothers planning over the kids’ Lucky Charms.

They’ve always been like that, even when we’d take trips when it was just the four of us (my husband, brother-in-law, my sister-in-law and myself).  Now with our families it’s a much bigger production number, taking into account everyone’s wants, needs, concerns and limitations.  Somehow though they make it work.

It really helped that they read through all the fine print beforehand.  My brother-in-law discovered that to go on our 4-Day Bahamian Disney Cruise, we needed a separate Visa into the Bahamas.  It’s a good thing too, or else we may not have been able to board the ship in the first place!  (Side note:  There is still a debate about this point amongst travel agencies, but we chose to play it safe and get one anyway).  Apparently getting a Visa into the Bahamas (from the Philippines) requires you to send all original documents to China, which is host to their nearest embassy.  My sister-in-law had to open a Fedex account so as to ensure that the mail back of all our paperwork would have an appropriate charge account, and could get back to us in time.  

Pack your bags early. Contrary to my usual travel cramming habits, I had the suitcases out a week before the actual trip.  I slowly filled each one according to what we’d use in each stop, and what gifts we needed to bring and carry.  It helped manage the weight distribution too.  And with the boys’ early planning and day-by-day itinerary, we knew exactly when we would do laundry;  so I knew how much to pack.  Of course with Sam my little Peacock, I still packed several extra outfits.  My husband kept questioning me about it, but I stuck to my gut.  And true enough, every other piece of clothing Sam owned got soiled at one point.

A little hard to pack with these two using the suitcases as pirate ships.

A little hard to pack with these two using the suitcases as pirate ships.

Expect a disruption in their routine.  The different time zones, activities and in between travel (we jumped from East to West Coast),  was “not kid-friendly”, as my husband says.  The kids’ schedules were topsy-turvy from the very beginning.  The routine I am so used to and fond of was totally thrown out the window.  And even when I’d try to get them back on track somehow, the next day there would be something new, or we were traveling again.  The girls would eat way past lunch time and sleep way past dinner time, for most of the trip.  Sometimes we were jumping flights, there was really no time to eat anything but the crackers that I had in my bag.  They would nap at odd hours, or not at all.  Once, Jamie was so tired and battling jet lag she slept from 4PM one afternoon until 4AM the next morning.

She just collapsed.

She just collapsed.

I am such a routine person and I value their sleep and rest that this bit was hard for me.  I had to constantly tell myself to just let it go (cue Idina Menzel) and go with the flow.  Naturally, with their systems out of whack and their routines lost at sea, their emotions were constantly on a roller coaster ride.

Nonetheless, having this in mind, it helps to expect it, and to plan against it.  I’d have a bunch of crackers and packs of cereal in my bag for eating emergencies.  At the very least they’d have something in their stomach.  I packed pajamas and toothbrushes and washed them down at some airports so that in case they fell asleep on the car ride home, I wouldn’t need to wake them to get them cleaned out and changed.  I let them nap at the oddest hours for however long.  A lot of the time, we would get them to bed past 10PM.  I think I surprised even myself with how flexible I was with the lack of our routines.  Taking these entire three weeks as an anomaly to our typical days, helped, and I figure I’ll just work on getting us back on track once we get back to Manila.

Have confidence in your parenting.  I have Coach Pia to thank for this one; and I think the rest flowed and followed because of it.

The day before our flight out I saw Coach Pia and had a few moments alone with her before our meeting (my very own private #BetterMe!).  I started telling her about our trip and about my apprehensions.  Essentially I laid down all my fears.  Coach Pia just smiled at me and said, “You forget they’re YOUR kids, and you’re one of the most resilient people I know.”

She was telling me to find the confidence in the way I parent the girls.  I can handle any kind of situation and they would respond to me, because of the relationship I’ve already established with them.  And of course, as it is in my genes to be resilient, it’s no doubt that they too inherited this trait.  “They take their cue from you,” she said (talk about leading by example!).  Besides, children by nature are resilient, and so I should believe they’d hold up in any situation we faced, for as long as I set the tone and pace.

I think that was the most helpful insight of all, because finding that inner confidence did get me (us) through a lot of situations I normally would have stressed about.  But if you ask me how one would know when to trust in your current parenting skills, I wouldn’t be able to give an answer.

I don’t think there’s a definite criteria for it; but just by knowing your kids and yourself, then you’d just know.

So there we have it folks.  The prelude to our summer vacation.  And if you are about to go on yours (or are already on it), I hope that you find bits and pieces of this helpful in your travels as well.  What are your family travel insights and tips?

April 3, 2014
by mymommyology
2 Comments

The Fine Line Between Disciplining and Bullying Our Children

I never liked bullies.  Who does, really?  I had a few of them in my life growing up and they were no fun.  They made the growing up years so much harder than it should’ve been (although as we say now we live and learn and build character through these experiences, but anyway.  It’s besides the point).

Now that I’m a parent, I worry about my kids getting bullied too.  Sam experienced it as a baby, and while I know that the devil child was not in full consciousness of what she was doing, I still felt my blood boil.  I am that parent who’d defend their child at any cost.

How ironic was it for me to realize (fairly recently) that the act of bullying can actually start in the home.  With parents like ourselves.

The fact is, it’s very hard to discipline children.  You have to be consistent.  You have to be firm.  You have to be fair (amongst other things).  And from what I’ve experienced, it’s always a hit and miss.  Sometimes they’ll listen and they’ll get it; and often times they won’t, or they won’t want to.  I know first hand how that can drive any parent crazy.  The testing, the pushing of limits… it can get under your skin.  As the parent, I feel responsible for the behavior of my kids.  Disciplining them weighs heavy on my shoulders.  There’s no giving up, no backing out.  We HAVE to produce results.  And more than that, I want peace, harmony and just some semblance of order.  It’s an indication that I’m doing something right, after all.

But to get there can be a problem.  And honestly when disciplining, it’s so much easier to raise our voices, call out mistakes, or threaten kids to listen and obey.

The body language says it all.

The body language says it all.

“Eat your vegetables or else you can’t go to the park,” says the parent in an attempt to get their child to eat something healthy.

“Stop running or else you can’t go swimming,” says the mother who has put her little boy in his swimsuit and is waiting by the pool for the teacher to arrive.

“Share your toys or else I won’t let you play with them anymore.”

When you read them again though, don’t they sound like a big bad bully to you?

At the onset, we really don’t see this as bullying our children.  It’s just a typical parent who’s trying to get their children to do the right thing.  We are after all, just disciplining them the way we know how.  These are things parents say with good intentions.  Vegetables are good for the body.  Running by the slippery pool area is in fact dangerous.  Sharing is caring (and a valuable life skill to learn).  In fact, there’s really nothing wrong with the intention and the motivation.  It’s just in the execution of it when things get tricky.

Coach Pia has made me realize that the way we say it really matters.  The words we use, the tone we use, and the manner in which we carry it out… it all makes a difference.  Refraining from using “no” a lot or setting them as limitations (that need to be tested and pushed).  A calm voice.  Reasoning and explaining instead of dictating.   Removing “I told you so,” from our list of statements.  Making good on deals made instead of empty threats.  It’s a world of difference.

The statements:

Vegetables are good for you, and I want you to be strong and healthy for when we play in the park, so let’s eat a little bit before we go”;

“I know you’re excited to swim, and you may not mean to but I worry you might slip and hurt yourself.  So please sit down and let’s think of something else to do while waiting for teacher”; and

“It would mean a lot to me if you shared your toys with your sister.  We can think of a game you could do together.”

Are worlds apart from their original counterparts.  The intention is the same; but the effect on the child could be totally different.  After all, who likes being dictated to and screamed at?  And isn’t it a typical parental complaint that after constantly berating them with loud harsh words, they learn to tune you out?  It doesn’t set a good example as to how they should relate to others.  In fact, it also teaches them to be bullies.

Again, the body language.  Worlds apart ey?

Again, the body language. Worlds apart ey?

The HOW we say it also matters.  Eye contact, down at their level versus shouting it over their heads, for instance.  Holding them close and talking instead of shouting.  Finding the right teaching moment which is non-threatening is very helpful too.

There’s no reason why we shouldn’t discipline our kids in a loving way.  You can still be firm, consistent and fair, without the coercion into submission (read:  without the bullying).  It helps to remember that the rule is bigger than us.  We don’t just want the kids to listen to us because we’re their parents.  We want them to understand the WHY behind it all.

I cannot begin to tell you how many disciplining mistakes I’ve made to date.  When I realized this, it hurt me to think that I was in fact a bully to my kids, and that is a regret I will have forever.  If only for that, I promise to change and try harder.  There’s no way I can say I’ve got it all down pat, but at the very least I hope the girls see I’m trying my darn-dest best.  When I slip (and I do slip, believe me), I apologize and process the incident with them after.  At the very least, I’m aware that I don’t want to do it anymore, and that’s the first step in making the change.

Admittedly it isn’t the method that will get the fastest, most immediate results.  And admittedly… it’s HARD!  Being consistently patient, catching yourself before you explode; no one wants to be a broken record on repeat (as if that weren’t redundant enough).  But it is all part and parcel of the parenting process.  And anyway, it is the method that sticks with them better in the long run.

We become better parents because we want to give our kids the best, and hopefully influence them to be better people someday too.  And when I think of it this way, I persevere and continue to try, if only because I love my kids to the moon and back.

April 2, 2014
by mymommyology
0 comments

Mom-Wear

If there is one clear benefit about being back home here in Manila, it’s that I’ve been serendipitously surrounded by a lot of stylish and chic, fashionable Mommy friends (#SoMoms, you know who you are!). :)  Before I started listening to their fashion advice (and admittedly sometimes when I’m not always with them), I can’t say I’d win an award for the best dresser in town.

Growing up I was always taught to dress for comfort and efficiency.  Forget the style.  Translate:  Jeans, shorts and a regular shirt, no accessories.  And really I don’t own that many shoes (I promise it’s true).  I don’t even know how to put make-up on myself (Thank GOD the The Painter’s Wife is my friend!).  

I actually think my sense of dress style got worse when I stopped working and became a full-time mom.  With the lack of time (and sleep), I just wasn’t in the mood to dress up.  Sweats or exercise clothes were my staples.  No wonder they call it “casual clothing” in the states (and I learned this on Project Runway!) – because it’s really something you’d just throw on and go out in, everywhere.

Anyway.  Fast forward to Manila, where there are really more facets to life.  Remember those Life Bubbles?  They’re all simultaneously inflating here.  And no one really walks around in their “casual clothing” unless they’re really headed to the gym to work out.  So with the help of my friends and a few of their recommendations, I’ve had the chance to upgrade my wardrobe.  Here are a few of the brands I’ve learned from them:

1.  Fashion Forum - Thanks to my friend Tin of Manila Fashion Observer, I discovered that SM department store carries modern, designer clothes.  The pricing is fairly affordable for the quality and the names that you get.  They are in several women’s sections of SM malls around the metro, the biggest selections are in SM Aura, SM Megamall and SM Makati.  Here I bought several dresses that I wear to many occasions.  The most versatile one is a printed purple shift dress from Laura Ashley.  On my own I’d never buy it, but it’s served me well on several occasions, including our family photoshoot with Sheila Catilo!

I honestly would've never chosen this dress on my own.  But it looks pretty cool!

I honestly would’ve never chosen this dress on my own. But I do love it now!

2.  Karimadon – Also an introduction made by Tin (that is WHY she is Manila’s Fashion Observer yes?), was to Karen Wu.  She invited the #SoMoms to their branch one afternoon and gave us all the privilege of trying on outfits from their new collection.  I even got to take home a black jumpsuit, and I won a cleopatra-like accessory piece in their raffle!  I’d have to say, while I grew up seeing Karimadon in every mall I went to growing up (they’re currently present in 16 malls if I’m not mistaken), I always thought they were all about formal wear for older people.  Now I know that they do have a wide variety of dresses that girls can wear to their prom, Beauty Queens can wear to a pageant, or regular “older” (I suppose I do belong in that bracket now) moms like me can wear to regular social gatherings.  Everything is locally produced and designed — such Filipino talent ey!

Left is Kris of OcMominManila with Tin, in the same jumper (looks better on her though!) Right: the Cleopatra-like accessory that I won!

Left is Kris of OcMominManila with Tin, in the same jumper (looks better on her though!)
Right: the Cleopatra-like accessory that I won!

3.  Elin – Now THIS.  This!  Elin has become quite the favorite of mine in the last year.  I’ve bought several easy dresses and shirts from them and I wear them practically every week.  Jen of Attached at the Hip is right;  it’s even become my everyday uniform.  It’s a brand started by three partners in an effort to provide pregnant moms, nursing moms and new moms comfortable, easy-to-wear clothes.  They are all also locally made.  I love their fabric choices, and the colors and plain tones are right up my ally.  In fact my friends from the #SoMoms were asked to model some of their clothes.  Of course when I saw the pictures, I wanted it all!

Look at my gorgeous friends!

Look at my gorgeous friends!  Photo Credit:  Elin.Ph

4.  Piesa  – Accessories are a learning curve for me, and they are made fun by the unique pieces and choices one gets from Piesa.  Phoebe makes all these pieces by hand.  I’m told no two pieces are alike.  They’re easy to wear and quite fun too.  They go with any regular piece of clothing, and these I have a lot of!  At least with Piesa I know I won’t look so plain all the time.  A little “fancy” here and there should spruce it up enough ey? ;)

The "Cai" is a piece I want next.  Photo Credit: Piesa by Phoebe

The “Cai” (named after Cai of Apples and Dumplings)  is a piece I want next. Photo Credit: Piesa by Phoebe

5.  Yellow Bird Shoes – My dear friend Patty of Non-Stop Babble launched her very own line of shoes about 8 or so months ago.  Who wouldn’t love them!  The colors are bright and cheerful, they’re an accent piece on their own.  The pairs I’ve bought have also taken me from day-to-night – as glittery and sparkly as they are.  And they’re affordable enough that I’ve also given them as gifts to cousins and friends.

Patty's new summer colors.  Order yours today!

Patty’s new summer colors. Order yours today!

Patty plays with prints too which is quite fun (considering all my shoes are plain so that they can go with anything.  But as I learned on TV, shoes can be fun accessory pieces too!).   I’m excited to get my new pair and try them out.

The Lindy from Yellow Bird Shoes.  You like? :)

The Lindy from Yellow Bird Shoes. You like? :)

Now here’s a tip, when ordering from Patty, always check the Yellow Bird Shoes updates if the shoe size is true to your size, or if you’ll need to go a size up.  Patty’s pretty good at indicating which shoes these are, and following this as served me well thus far.

So there you have it folks.  Looking at it all: my what a big influence these #SoMoms have been on my fashion life and everyday style.  I’m ever a willing student.  Why not -  I’ve learned so much already and it has done my closet a whole lot of good. :)

***

The click on the links of each brand to visit their Facebook pages.

March 26, 2014
by mymommyology
2 Comments

Travel To Bohol: Bringing Learning to Life

Last August during Buwan ng Wika (It’s the month schools dedicate the curriculum to learning about the Philippine language and culture)  Sam’s Kindergarten level focused on the Visayas region.  I distinctly remember it because the parents were asked to volunteer and help teach the kids about typical foods, dances, animals, and tourist destinations found in and around the provinces there.  Sam, an avid learner, took everything to heart.  Of course since then she’s asked to visit Visayas countless times.  Technically she has been there already several times — to one of the country’s most popular tourist islands, Boracay.  And yet, a visit to the same place (while it is a wonderful place to be in every year), can get boring for an adventure-seeking peacock like Sam, and she still insisted on seeing more of the region.

Thankfully the opportunity came about when a client of YBS, Amorita Resort, asked us to visit for a weekend.  Kris and I decided to take the whole team, as well as our families and make it our annual outing.  Needless to say, Sam was over the moon.  We weren’t only going with her favorite travel buddies M and N (I suppose we do travel a lot together!), I’m going to see, and be and go to what I learned in schoolWheeee!” was her exact exclamation.  Everything came out in quite the jumbled squeal.

This was us on the bus!

This was us on the bus!

The trip was made so worthwhile from the get-go because Amorita took the liberty of hiring for us one of THE best tour guides in town.  She really lived and breathed everything about Bohol, it’s past, present and future.  She knew every single detail and explained everything to us very very well.  And she engaged the children and gave them age-appropriate trivia.  Even I was still learning something from her too.

I hadn’t been back to Bohol in quite a while so it was a refreshing visit to see how much had changed with the province. It was sad nonetheless to see the toll earthquake had when it hit last October.   A lot of the ancient churches had collapsed, and as our tour guide Kathy said, it was pretty much because they were 300 years old.

300yr old ruins

300-yr old ruins

Our first stop was the Loboc River Cruise, where you have a buffet meal and entertainment on a boat while riding down the Loboc River.  It takes over an hour to get up and down the river back to your starting point, and there is even now a stop midpoint where the natives dress and sing and dance in the local dialect.  Sam could appreciate it because they did a dance called the Tinikling, where people jump in and out to music while trying to avoid getting their feet stuck between two bamboo poles.  “We did that in school mom!”  she told me.

The Loboc River Cruise entertainment.

The Loboc River Cruise entertainment.

Then of course a trip to Bohol wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills.  The Tarsiers are now placed in a sanctuary of sorts and people are prohibited from holding them.  Apparently, these animals are solitary as much as they are nocturnal (big words Sam learned on this trip), and hence, nosy tourists that hold them stress them out.  I didn’t know that this sometimes causes them to bang their heads until they give themselves an internal brain bleed and die.  Yeeesh!

Hello there little primate.

Hello there little primate.

The kids were all surprisingly quiet as we visited the primates who were trying to sleep.  That’s another new thing I learned — Tarsiers aren’t monkeys!  Jamie was fascinated by them too and surprisingly absorbed a lot of what our tour guide Kathy was saying about them.

There’s not much to be said about the Chocolate Hills, as it is still a wonder all on its own.  Kathy gave the kids the exact count and my post-epidural brain forgot what it was.  She also told them how the Chocolate Hills came to be and why they weren’t so “chocolatey” anymore after the earthquake.  To know more, you should go take a trip yourselves!

The standard tourist shot.

The standard tourist shot.

On the way home we visited the site of the Blood Compact monument, another quick anecdote I had to relay to Sam.  I suppose this part she didn’t learn about yet at this age.

The next morning we got up at 5AM and went out on a boat to watch the Dolphins jump and feed and play, another activity Amorita arranged for the group.  We saw several pods and both children and adults alike were fascinated and excited.  Generally a tour group could have also gone snorkeling or scuba-diving in Pangalusian island and then had lunch there afterwards, but we had the kids so we needed to cut the activities up so they could rest.  Besides, we also wanted to enjoy the beautiful resort of Amorita and their wonderful service.

Photo courtesy of Jess Abillar

Photo courtesy of Jess Abillar

Ria once told me in a meeting that Amorita is known for its “infinite experiences” because they will really cater to each guests’ unique needs and wants.  And I’ve heard the same from friends who’ve stayed there before.  “They really spoil you“, I was told.

There’s a personal message from the person who turns down your room at night.  The kids get their own treats and messages too!

Happy Surprise for Sam when we got back to the room!

Happy Surprise for Sam when we got back to the room!

In fact when we met the resort manager Hermie, Sam went up to thank her for the cookies, but also mentioned that “my baby sister doesn’t like chocolate too much.  She prefers strawberry.”  Hermie’s reply was that she’d have the chef bake an extra batch of Strawberry cookies specifically for Jamie — and lo and behold when we arrived at our room that night, there they were!

Strawberry cookies for my strawberry girl!

Strawberry cookies for my strawberry girl!

Amorita is famous for their seaside villas which has a jacuzzi and view that overlook the beach.  It really speaks of a private getaway, and if you chose, you really wouldn’t have to leave the premises.  It’s perfect for people, couples and families who want their own space and pace.  The last time I went to Bohol, I didn’t stay in Amorita and now that I have, let me tell you it’s worlds apart from what the others have to offer.

The entrance to your private villa.

The entrance to your private villa.

Amorita is currently in progress with its second phase of villas and function areas that are set to open this May.  From what we saw, it’s going to be quite breathtaking.  They’re even putting a two floor dining area and bar which promises to have sumptuous dishes, and a huge, huge infinity pool!  The space for each villa is roomy enough and well-thought through.  Every little detail is worked out.  I suppose that’s the difference when the owners are hands on with the project from start to finish.  Their vision really shines through.

Although Amorita was not in Sam’s curriculum last August, they definitely played a key role in helping bring what she learned in school to life.  From the food to the best tour guides and most optimal schedule we had during our visit, Amorita made sure we left the island with a lot more than what we came with.  They enhanced and magnified everything Sam learned in school, and taught Jamie a whole lot of culture too.  They’ve taken everything to memory and to heart, and are both definitely looking forward to going back for more.

Sam enjoying her "field trip"

Sam enjoying her “field trip”

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