25% off at Disneystore.com

THIS WEEKEND ONLY!

This just in and offered only via e-mail, Disney Online is offering 25% off sitewide if you use promo code FORYOU25. The current offer published onsite is for 15% off using the coupon code BONUS15. You can also ship for a low flatrate of $5.00 if you order $50 or more. Just use promo code SHIPFOR5.

The Pope in New York

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI is due to spend the weekend here in New York and the Catholics in the big apple are all agog about this Papal visit. I have tried to find a way to get tickets to the Concert and Mass at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, and although I haven’t received any affirmative news, I haven’t been told it’s impossible. The screening seems to be pretty rigorous as I had to give my name and that of a friend’s I’m hoping to bring with me along with our birthdays for the security check.

I have been told that in all likelihood, we will know on the twelfth hour which is still good, as long as there is a chance.

I am trying to keep a family tradition alive as I remember how we would go and attend the papal mass everytime the reigning Pope made a stop in Manila, no matter how far we walked or stood from where the altar was. If I see His Holiness in New York this time, then that would indeed be a gift from above.

Part of me is naturally worried given the threats that surround this event, but my thinking is that if I manage to get a seat in Yankee Stadium for that mass, then I know He will take care of me.

24 days and counting: 24 things I hope to do in Manila this time around

(Phew!) Quite a mouthful of a title of a blogpost.. In 2006, I counted 40 posts about the trip home. I’m feeling more prolific this time around so let’s see…

1. Visit Metrowalk (hopefully with Jerome and Jher)
2. Meet up with with Jerome and Jher)
3. Take those “whatever” shots of the jeepneys on Ayala and maybe N. Domingo
4. Say my prayers in Baclaran
5. Go to Tabora and Ilaya in Divisoria (the last time the farthest I got was 168 which was close enough but not quite where I really wanted to go.
6. Go to the beach (and maybe even Boracay) instead of a hot springs resort like the last time.
7. Visit “Market! Market” which I didn’t get to do in ’06.
8. Eat balut (a delicacy I learned to savor back when I was in law school as I sought ways and means to increase my bodily resistance to the onslaught of fatigue)
9. Get more Malunggay extract tablets.
10. Celebrate the graduation of my youngest brother, Nikky, who finally finished his PT course with his friends — some of whom I have known since they were 8 or 9 years old.
11. Meet up with friends from way back, more so those I failed to see in ’06.
12. Watch a local act perform. (Two years ago, it was MYMP at Tavern.)
13. Watch Indie films.
14. Visit the Ayala Museum with my niece and Angelo.
15. Cook a meal for my siblings — and maybe my Dad. (Mom has had her fill…=)
16. Celebrate Mother’s Day with my Mom again.
17. Have an honest-to-goodness Pinoy-style pedicure (or two)
18. Get a nice studio shot of Alan, Angelo and me and a few others.
19. Have some authentic “kesong puti”.
20. Get a new Christmas lantern.
21. Have my fill of my Mom’s macapuno
22. Spend a whole day with my Dad
23. Get some pampering at the spa.
24. Just sit around the mall and people watch.

25 Days and Counting

Can you believe that there are only 25 days left before I get on that plane that will take all of us back to Manila?  It feels as if it has been ages since I went home but I was just there 2 years ago when Angel turned two.  I haven’t even left New York yet and I already feel like 2 weeks is just too short a time to be there.. I actually find myself asking if it would mean incurring a change fee if I decided to try and change my return date. (Not happening..)

I’ve started to set things in order in the office, preparing for the things I will leave behind.  Here at home, I have begun to put together the things we will be taking to Manila, planning the suitcases and luggage we will bring.  (No balikbayan boxes for me this time… too big to fill with just 70 lbs.)

I am pretty much set with my pasalubongs.. I’m just pulling together additional items for Angelo’s loot bag.  (Half of which have gone to sea via door-to-door delivery.)  Plus, I’m picking up the more special ones for the people closest to me.  My Mother’s Day present is already taken cared of — I’m getting there with my Dad.  It’s such a big deal to me to be among family again even if my Mom was here until mid-June of last year.

I actually feel like a kid on December 1 counting down to Christmas night… maybe this time I’ll get to take those random shots of Jeepneys whizzing by or stuck in traffic..

And I thought Spring had indeed arrived..

Yesterday was an unbelievably sunny and warm day which turned out to be a mere preview for Spring — because we’re back to wearing jackets today as we stay in the 60s. (Think about the colder months up in Baguio.)

I thought we could start leaving the windows open, and we can finally get the winter coats dry cleaned and stowed away for the rest of the year until it gets colder again. Apparently not.

I have, however, started to put away the thick scarves and the gloves. I’m hanging on to the coats for a week or two more before preparing to put them away. Rain is forecasted for the weekend which, I guess, is Spring making a tip toe entrance.

Lessons about Disneyworld (this time around)

It’s not our first time here in Orlando — it’s actually the third trip we’ve taken since Alan and I got married. Every trip, though, brings us a lot of new learnings that make us plan differently for the succeeding trip.

Below are our new “bits of wisdom” which we hope will serve others well as they plan their own adventure into Mickeyland.

1. Did someone mention when it rains here it really pours? And that it comes with quite a bit of lightning and thunder?? My first time here in 2003 saw us getting caught in quite a bit of rain in Epcot, and we ended up buying those silly-looking yellow Mickey Mouse ponchos as well as a plain black folding Mickey umbrella. So this time around, we brought umbrellas and were ready, but vacillated about getting the ponchos which now came in more decent semi-opaque white with the Disneyworld logo, or pink with the Princess logo at the back. Alan and I held out — although looking back now, I would’ve loved to have had one of the adult ponchos to hang on top of the stroller since we didn’t bring his clear plastic stroller cover. Rain it did, so be on the lookout and come prepared!

2. Which ticket to take? If it’s your first time here, it would be good to maximize a day-long ticket and explore a park of choice for the day. If like us, you are targetting only certain attractions, a parkhopper option might be worth the extra money. We were initially planning to do a one-day parkhopper and then a single park ticket the second day. However, the total for this and a two-day parkhopper package for two adults and one child had a mere $30 difference so we went for the latter. It gave us a chance to go back to Epcot for dinner the second night.

3. Make reservations for dining plans if you want to get into any of the restaurants in the parks — more so if you wanted the little tykes to partake of any character dining experience. When you call Disney Dining Reservations, they actually let you know that save for a select number of exceptions, you can make reservations for as early as 180 days before the actual date you want. I learned from last year’s experience that even such no-frills places like Sci-fi Diner at the Disney Hollywood Studios needed a reservation, but I was wrong to think a week ahead of our intended visit was time enough. It turned out that every other character dining event I was targetting had already been sold out. I tried to get our favorite restaurants at Epcot and got ridiculously late or early slots. The best time to make reservations is when you are sure to go which is usually when you book your flights and/or hotel. (Next time!)

4. When told the dining venue is sold out, keep trying on the day you intend to eat there because there will always be cancellationss, although not always for the same size as your party and the time that you want, but it’s worth a try. And try – did, so although calls a week and a day ahead for dinner at San Angel Inn at Epcot turned out empty for Friday, we decided to maximize our Park Hopper option by trying for Saturday dinner when I called Saturday morning. We got our table and dinner was fantastic!

5. Pick your souvenirs but familiarize yourself with prices on the Disneystore.com site which are sometimes cheaper for items that are available in the parks and online. Be warned, though, that most park merchandise ARE NOT AVAILABLE anywhere else but in the parks and Downtown Disney in addition to the Disney stores at the Orlando airport.

6. Take the option for a photopass even if everyone oin your party is lugging a camera. There will always be instances when you would want everyone in your party to be in the shot. A photopass is a card distributed for free in the parks and which you can have franked by each Disney photographer who takes your photos so you can check out and preview the pictures online after your vacation. (Registration is required to view your pictures online but it is free.). You can then order prints of your photos from their official store for a fee.

7. If you’re staying in one of the Disney resort hotels, plan your park visits by checking out which parks are on extended hours on any given day (there is a schedule by date) and then grab your bracelets in designated distribution areas as early as 2 hours before the official closing time for everyone else.

@42

Yes, today I turn 42. My celebration is a week long as always, and it started last night when my family called me to greet me happy birthday.

My boy’s been singing Happy Birthday for days now, sometimes even teasing me by saying “dear Daddy..” Then looking at me impishly, after which he says “dear Mommy”. (That’s my tyke at almost 4.). It’s a happy day for me and I feel a celebration within when I feel Angelo’s arm around me. I feel so blessed that I have my boys who I wake up next to every morning. I’ve been happily married for almost 8 years now, and we’re going strong. I have both parents with me even if they’re 10,000 miles away. I’m so lucky to have the siblings that I have, and the friends who have always been there.

Looking back through previous birthdays, this is one of those that I feel most grateful for all that I have been given during what has been my life so far.

I’ve had my challenges, but I dwell and count my blessings first.

My Party List

We’ve decided on a date based on the availability of the venue and the balikbayan boxes with much of the giveaways/stuff for the loot bag are already on their way to Manila.  (Or at least I hope so…)  I have just over a month to get everything together.

VENUE:  We’ve made a reservation at Big Red Barn at Fun Ranch in Pasig.  My sister, Ofie, has been coordinating this whole thing and I get more excited by the day.  We’ve taken the main dining area with the wide screen and which is reportedly near a play area, and I’ve been evaluating what the program will be so we can leave time for the kids to enjoy the rides and maybe spend some time in Active Fun. 

FOOD:  I’ve looked over their combo meals which I will supplement with some additional food items.  I find their packages reasonable, and I like that you can actually pull together a mock party menu complete with the additional carts (ice cream, cotton candy), entertainment and other add ons, specifying the number of people attending.  You can make it an affordable package or go all out if you want.  Based on the popular vote back home and with my niece’s endorsement, we’re going for the Fried Chicken combo (with spaghetti and french fries)and adding some pork barbecue, perhaps some burgeritos, and two or three dishes more.

CAKE: Big Red Barn has hooked us up with their official cake supplier, Layers & Layers Party Cakes, which has shown me a wide selection of cakes with the Lightning McQueen / CARS Movie theme, and I must say I am very, very impressed.  I am so tempted to show the pictures that Arlene Francisco, the owner, had sent me via e-mail, but I would much rather take a picture of Angel’s actual cake on the day of the party.  I must say the price that she quoted was also something I was happy with — not cheap, but not expensive.  And from the looks of the finished product she’s promising me, it’s well worth it! 

She also offered cupcakes and cookie lollies with the same design and I am leaning towards getting the cookie lollies for the kids. 

INVITATION:  While my sister insists they will make me purchase the invitations, the website seems to make it sound like it’s an option they give their clients — so I’m sticking to making my own invitation.  I’m just waiting to take another picture of Angelo with his favorite Lightning McQueen when we go to DisneyWorld this weekend.

NAMETAGS:  I’ve already designed the nametags with Lightning McQueen as part of the design and Angelo’s name and party details on it.  I just need to print the appropriate number for the kids attending.

I’m the overly excited Mom as you can see.. I’ve put other purchases for the loot bag on hold until I see what I can get from Disneyworld.