Bonding time with Pia at Tasek Lama Recreational Park

It’s been a while since my last post here on my site and since I have, maybe half an hour to spare, before Pia wakes up, I thought I’d go ahead and post about our recent family outing to Tasek Lama Recreational Park, one of the ‘garden in the city’ parks here in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam last 21 July 2013.                                      .

In actual fact, when I was still single and then married to Rhenee and before having Pia, Tasek Lama Recreational Park, is my favorite place to go for walking, hiking and trekking.  Some times I would go by myself to get in a good workout, other times it would be would a group of CFC/SFC friends.  I could go for about 1 to 2.5 hours hiking and trekking up and down the different hills at the park and I loved those times especially when you’re at a high vantage point, and you would be able to see a bird’s eye view of the town of Bandar Seri Begawan all the way to Jerudong.

I loved also being able to see the morning sun rise from its hiding place in the horizon and then suddenly shine on you through the tall trees.  I also loved the challenge of climbing up and down the different terrains of the hills and being able to come out of the trail afterwards, feeling proud of my achievement and strength in my muscles.  When I would be hiking by myself, I especially loved the quiet and calm of the early morning, as if God was whispering to you in the gentle breeze. 🙂

However, since giving birth to Pia, it has been a long while since I have been able to go back to the days of hiking and trekking up the hills of the park.  It is true that having a child changes everything and now when we went to Tasek Lama Recreational Park, we didn’t go up the hills but mostly stayed in their playground area, letting Pia play and explore the area with Rhenee and I as her playmates.  🙂

We could tell that Pia had a great time and we enjoyed having these bonding moments as a small family.  My hope is that when she’s older we will be able to go beyond the playground and be able to go up and down the hills of Tasek Lama together as one of our regular ‘mother and daughter dates’.  For now though, I am content with this simple bonding activity as a family which we will try to do regularly with Pia.

Sharing with you below some pictures taken our outing – enjoy (but pardon my ‘love handles’)! 😉

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Pia’s Pre-Birthday Photo Shoot – Part 1 ;)

In preparation for Pia’s upcoming birthday on 26 March 2013, our good photographer friend, Uniok, who was introduced to us by our SFC member and fellow photographer friend, Carem, requested a photo shoot with Pia.  He and Carem had already done one photo shoot session with Pia sometime in February 2013, when Pia was about 10 months old.  Below are some shots at our chosen location, The Empire Hotel & Country Club:

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Then during Pia’s birth month, March, we had another photo shoot with Uniok, this time at an indoor location, at the residence of our co-CFC member and hobby photographers, Julius & Lyn.  At this stage, Pia was already crawling and standing with assistance, so it was quite a challenging shoot because she kept moving around (practicing her new-found skill!!!) and exploring her new surroundings (learning while playing!!!).

I loved almost all the shots that were captured because you could see not only Pia’s beauty but her innocence and playfulness as well.  Don’t you agree? 🙂

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Rhenee and I also had some shots with Pia, don’t we look great? 🙂

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This was also the first time that we would have our first official family portrait taken.  The last photo we had as a family was during Pia’s birth (photo taken by Mama using my Sony digicam) so Uniok suggested to take our family picture and that we all wear white for the shot.

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It was a shame though that Pia was already quite tired when this shot was taken so she wasn’t smiling and had to be given keys to play with to distract her.  Anyway, here’s the final result which I absolutely LOVE (it’s the pic in my About Me page)! Awesome, right??? 🙂

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Super duper thanks Uniok and friends for all the wonderful photos you’ve taken of our family.  Here’s to more photo shoot sessions and to our budding friendship! God bless us all! 🙂

Credits: All photos by Uniokeez Bautista Jr. Venue provided by Julius & Lyn. Pia’s hair & clothes from her closet, flower clip from Celestina & Co, hot pink cloth diaper from Baby Chic Boutique.  Rhenee’s hair styled by himself, clothes & accessories from his closet.  My hair & make up done by myself, dress & accessories from my closet. 🙂

Pia’s 1st Birthday – Home Celebration

I know, I know…another post on Pia’s 1st Birthday! Hehehe! Well, it’s my blog so I can pretty much post whatever I want so am taking the opportunity, ok?  That’s one of the reasons I put up this blog site anyway so bear with me! Haha!

So anyway, going back to the subject of this post.  Like I mentioned in my previous post on Pia’s 1st Birthday – Rainbow Party, we had a simple celebration at home on the actual day of her birthday, 26th March 2013, which fell on Holy Tuesday this year.  Months before that, we had celebrated her birth date every month so of course on the actual day of her 1st birthday, it was a must! 🙂

By this time, Pia’s grandmother, my Mama, was already with us in Brunei.  Rhenee and I discussed the idea with her and we came up with a simple menu for the celebration which we decided would be held in the evening: baked chicken, 2 kinds of spaghetti, and of course a yummy chocolate birthday cake.  The birthday cake was lovingly made for Pia by Ate Terry, one of the wardens at our church and a former SFC member.  The night before, Rhenee and I went to Quadravision in Gadong, that specializes in party supplies and we bought a special balloon arrangement for Pia.  My idea was that we would set it up after Pia had gone to bed and surprise her with it when she wakes up on her birthday. 🙂

And she loved it! Just look at the evidence below! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Pia’s birthday home celebration guests were just a few friends, mostly those who wouldn’t be able to make it for her post birthday party.  They were the first to see the birthday AVP that Rhenee had made – it was an instant hit!  Afterwards we just sang Happy Birthday to Pia, watched her blow out the candles on her birthday cake, shared the simple meal that had been prepared and enjoyed the rest of the evening together hanging out with each other and Pia.

Pics of our simple feast:

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Pics of our guests:

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Pia’s 1st Birthday – Rainbow Party :)

For those of you who’ve been following my posts or read my About Me section, our miracle baby, Pia Maria Isabelle, was born on 26 March 2012.  In the Catholic Calendar, the date 26 March is usually before or during Holy Week, and this year, as expected, Pia’s 1st birthday fell smack in the middle of Holy Week, Holy Tuesday, so we decided to have a simple home celebration on the actual date of her birthday and a ‘bigger’ post birthday party at a later date.  We decided to have the party about 2 weeks after, on a Sunday, April 7, so that Papa & Mama, Pia’s grandparents from my side, would both be able to attend. 🙂

I spent months (and I do mean months, about 3-5 months!!!) viewing first birthday party ideas on Pinterest before finally deciding on the Rainbow Party theme for Pia.  In the Bible, the rainbow is the sign of God’s promise to His people, and I felt like it was just right because truly, Pia was God’s promise fulfilled to Rhenee and I. 🙂  Deciding on the theme made the other aspects of party planning easier and my organization skills really kicked into full gear and momentum as I made my To Do List, Task and Timeline Checklist, Shopping List, and various other Lists! Hahaha!

After deciding on the date, we had to decide on the venue and time of the party.  Originally one of our close friends, Tita Lyna, had offered her house for Pia’s party but we couldn’t have the party there as she would be out of Brunei on April 7.  We couldn’t think of any other house big enough that would be able to accommodate us so we decided to check out the kiddie friendly commercial establishments in the Gadong, BSB area.  After several visits and discussions, we decided on Ideal Cafe Restaurant in the Gadong commercial area, located across The Mall.  Mary, the friendly staff at Ideal made us a very good deal.  I especially liked the fact that we could bring in our own decor, backdrop, birthday cake, and a little additional food for our invited guests.  Their budget friendly price was of course a big factor too! 🙂 I had read somewhere on Baby Center and Parents Magazine, that the best time for a birthday party for a one year old is when the birthday celebrant is at his/her most active time i.e. it should not be held during his/her nap time (Duh!!!) plus it should not be too long, only 3 hours maximum, so that the birthday celebrant would actually enjoy and participate in her party (Double Duh!!!).  You wouldn’t want the birthday celebrant missing out on his/her own party, right? So after consulting Rhenee on Pia’s daily routine, schedule of nap and awake time, we decided to have the party between 2-5PM, merienda time.

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Once the date, venue and time was decided, it was now time to create Pia’s birthday invitations and backdrop and luckily for us, we had one of our SFC friends, Kristine, do it for us at a minimal fee.  Kristine even designed Pia’s birthday photo souvenir frame and was one of the ‘official photographers’ at the party.  < If any of you reading this need Kristine’s help in designing your invitations or backdrop/banner, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with her. 🙂 >  After the invitations were finalized, to save on printing costs, we decided to just email the invitations to the invited guests and to also create a Facebook Event Page where guests could view the invitation and RSVP.  As for the printing of the backdrop, I emailed the design to Papa and he had  it done in the Philippines for a very, very low price of  BND20 (if we had done it here in Brunei, it would have cost us about BND100!).

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One of the main attractions of a birthday party, well, for me anyway, is the birthday cake.  Agree or disagree?  The birthday cake is one of the main attractions or centerpiece of the party so I really wanted a beautiful, elegant, charming cake for our equally beautiful, elegant, charming birthday girl.  We had gone around all the known bakeshops in BSB but as expected, the birthday cake design I wanted to have for Pia would cost us a big bundle.  Lucky for us, there’s #tereeielcakes and after giving them our cake idea design and concept, they came up with a beautiful, elegant, charming birthday cake for our Pia, at no cost to us at all! Thanks very much Tere and Eiel! 🙂 < Again, for those of you reading this and would like to get your #tereeielcakes, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with them. 🙂 >  Since I had no cake stand, I made do with an empty cake box which I then decorated with some colored foil paper cut outs I brought with me plus some colorful gummy candies.  Mind you, this was all on-the-spot-last-minute inspired but I think everything turned out pretty well, don’t you think?

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In addition to the birthday cake, we were also blessed to be gifted rainbow cupcakes courtesy of Al & Young.  The cupcakes were ordered by Young from a friend and were just so pretty and colorful – I loved them instantly!  It was a good thing that I had printed rainbow themed cupcake labels which I taped onto toothpicks beforehand and I managed to put them to use by placing them in the center of each of the cupcakes, except on the those which had marshmallow flower tops on them.  I then placed all the cupcakes on the cupcake display stand lent by Ria and positioned them next to Pia’s birthday cake.  The small Happy Birthday Pia banner I made and threaded on a golden ribbon completed the cupcake stand display.  The birthday cake and cupcakes became the centerpiece of the display table which was placed below Pia’s birthday banner.

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The corner of the display table near the wall was designated as the Gifts Table, where guests could place the birthday presents they had brought for Pia.

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On the other end of the display table, I placed a few small water bottles with customized Happy Birthday rainbow themed labels on them.  Next to these I placed the Party Favors I had packed: a small box of crayons and a packet of chocolate Nips placed in clear plastic bags with customized Thank You rainbow themed tags.  I wanted something rainbow-colored for the favors that were useful and affordable at the same time.  We bought the crayons at Super Saver Store, Gadong Central while the Nips were bought in Hua Ho, Yayasan branch.

 

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Mary at Ideal Cafe Restaurant helped decorate the venue with different colored balloons.  In addition to the birthday banner at the center display, I decided to develop selected pictures of Pia from birth to 11 months which I then pasted on colored art paper.  These served as the wall decoration above the buffet table so when guests were waiting in line at the buffet table, they had something to look at to entertain them. 🙂

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An additional idea for Pia’s first birthday party that was inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest was what I’d like to call The Birthday Celebrant’s Chair.  In Pia’s case, since we didn’t  own a high chair yet and I didn’t want to use the high chair that Ideal Cafe Restaurant had due to its moss green colour (totally not a match with her party theme), we used a portable baby chair that was gifted to Pia and placed it securely on a normal adult size chair which I then decorated with helium-filled balloons.

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And of course, it’s very important not to forget the special birthday outfit for the guest of honor, the birthday celebrant herself. 🙂  Pia’s birthday outfit was another Pinterest-inspired idea and was lovingly made by another SFC sister, Shawn.  She made a onesie that had the number ‘1’ in the front and a rainbow colored tutu.  The rainbow colored long socks were bought by Mama in the Philippines while I ordered Pia’s flower clip online at Celestina & Co, one of my favorite online shopping sites for finding beautiful clips and headbands for little girls.

Pia’s birthday guests were just family and close friends, mostly from our Catholic community, Couples for Christ.  We had asked guests to come in their favorite color/s of the rainbow, though looking at the pictures now I don’t think most of them followed that request! Hehehe! What do you think? 😉

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Anyway the important thing is that they made time out of their busy schedules to celebrate this milestone in Pia’s life.  Instead of the usual guest book signing, Rhenee and I made a photo sign in frame for guests to sign and write down their messages for Pia.  This way, when she’s older, we would have something to show her as a souvenir of her first birthday party.

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The program we had prepared for Pia’s party was very simple and straightforward.  After the arrival and sign in of guests, we had the opening prayer (led by Papa), the showing of Pia’s birthday AVP (lovingly made by Daddy Rhenee), the singing of the birthday song for Pia, the blowing of the candle on her birthday cake, merienda, party games, and a special song number by Janine and Abel (kids of our good friends, Alan & Len, one of Pia’s godparents).

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The party games were (of course) also in line with the rainbow theme of the party.  We had the ‘Pin the Pot O’ Gold on the Rainbow’ game (thanks super friend Elna for helping make the props), the ‘Rainbow Mummy’ game and the ‘Bring Me: Pia’s Edition’ game.  For the ‘Pin the Pot O’ Gold on the Rainbow’ game and the ‘Rainbow Mummy’ game, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  As for the ‘Bring Me: Pia’s Edition’ game, it’s your classic Bring Me game but in addition, players had to answer certain Pia trivia questions to get their prizes, e.g. What is the full name of Pia? How much did Pia weigh when she was born? etc.

Naturally since Rhenee and I would be busy with the ‘running’ of the party and taking care of Pia at the same time, with assistance of Papa and Mama, we assigned some of the tasks to be taken cared of during the party itself.  For the collection of cash gifts and envelopes, I had my colleague and friend, Wil Ni, handle the collection.  For the signing of the guests on the photo sign in frame, Merf and Kitz helped us out; while Eiel and Tere helped with the giving away of the party favors and party game prizes.  And of course, to document the event and capture the special moments of the party, we had the awesome due of Leny and Kristine to help us (thanks gals!).

Overall I was pretty pleased with how Pia’s party turned out.  It was tiring of course, but everything was all worth it seeing Pia’s beautiful face smiling and laughing as she celebrated her 1st birthday party.

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Truly everything was a labor of love and sacrifice and I can’t wait to do the whole thing (and perhaps more???) all over again, as her 2nd birthday approaches.  Daddy & Mommy love you so much, Pia! Here’s to more birthday celebrations together!!! 🙂

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