Honoring Pia’s SAHD

My husband, Rhenee, is a SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad).  What is a SAHD? I ‘googled’ SAHD and this is what Wikipedia says:

“A stay-at-home dad (alternatively, stay at home father, house dad, SAHD, househusband, or house-spouse) is a father who is the main caregiver of the children and is the homemaker of the household. As families have evolved, the practice of being a stay-at-home dad has become more common.”

I know it is not a very common practice where we are based (we’re currently based in Brunei) or even in most of South East Asia I’m guessing, because most families I know have the Full Time Working Dads and/or Moms while the children are taken cared of at home by secondary caretakers, or a ‘yaya’ as we call them in the Filipino vernacular.  However for our humble young family, Rhenee being a SAHD is what “works” and in my opinion, was and still is the best choice that we have made for Pia.

Choosing to be a SAHD was not an easy decision for the both of us, but given our present situation, it was the decision that made the most sense to us when we learned that we were expecting our first child.  At that time, Rhenee was already a voluntary mission worker for our Catholic community, Couples for Christ, and after his mission was over he stayed put in Brunei to be with me for the last few months of my pregnancy until finally giving birth to our miracle baby, Pia on March 26, 2012.

Since that day, Rhenee has not looked back on his professional career but has gone full steam ahead into his SAHD career.  He is Pia’s main caretaker when I am in the office – feeding her, changing her, playing with her, putting her down for naps, giving her baths, teaching her how to pray, reading to her, teaching her songs, etc.  He’s also a driver, cooks all our meals at home and tries his best to keep the house tidy and in order (the general cleaning, laundry and ironing are my tasks after office).  And on top of that, he earns extra income by doing part-time work providing transport and website set-up/maintenance services.

I know that some people don’t fully support and understand the choice that Rhenee made for our family but through this post I’d like to give him honor and thanks for actively choosing to be a SAHD.

Thank you, my dear Bhot, for the choice to be a SAHD.  I love how you take care of Pia and how you selflessly sacrifice your own comforts for her (and me too).  I love how you are as a father and as a husband.  I may not say it often enough, but I really thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do for our family.  My prayer is that the Lord will continue to bless you with good health and strength so that we will have many more happy years together as a family.  I (we) love you very much!

Pia’s 2nd Noah’s Ark Birthday Party

As mentioned in my previous blog post, we had decided to celebrate Pia’s 2nd birthday with a Noah’s Ark theme on the actual day of her birthday, i.e. 26th March 2014.  The selected venue was Aiko Sushi Restaurant in Kiulap, BSB at their private function room on the 2nd floor.

Papa, Mama, Rhenee, Pia and I arrived at the venue about an hour or so earlier than the guests so that we could set up and decorate the venue in time for the guests’ arrival at 730PM.

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Decorations were pretty simple but also took up some time to do.  I asked Papa to put up the birthday banner to one side of the stage which also served as our photo both corner.  Then I placed the high chair I requested from the restaurant and decorated this with the special made-to-order birthday balloons set Rhenee and I collected earlier in the afternoon.  The balloons were filled with helium and the special foil balloon had colorful animal designs on them which was perfectly in sync with our party theme.  Pia loved her balloons and so did a lot of the little (and big!) kids that they wanted to take them home! (One ‘kuya’ actually managed to cut out one balloon out of the set without our prior knowledge!)

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Papa and Mama also helped pump the other rubber balloons using our air pump.  The balloons had the words ‘Happy 2nd Birthday’ on them and came in a variety of bright colors.  We bought these in the same shop where we ordered the helium balloons.  I used these balloons as table centerpieces together with a Noah’s Fun Boat party hat (these were actually just left over hats from Ate Rysse’s 1st Birthday Party so these were free!), some Noah’s Ark coloring sheets (downloaded from the internet so these were also free!) and a box of crayons (also free since I had several in stock from previously attended events).

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The other end of the stage was designated as the sweets corner.  I put another table where Pia’s birthday cake served as the centerpiece and surrounded it with small stuffed animals that were just lying around in our room (mostly gifted items so I didn’t have to go out and buy any!).  This was actually a last minute idea which turned out quite nicely (if I do say so myself! Hehehe!)  I also placed the colorful and delicious cupcakes we ordered from Le Apple Bakery on a cupcake stand on the same table and left a small space for Pia’s birthday gifts.

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The program for the night was pretty simple and straightforward too.  While waiting for all the guests to arrive, guests had their photo opportunity with Pia at the photo booth corner.  The opening and thanksgiving prayer was led by Papa which was followed immediately by the singing of the birthday song and cutting of the birthday cake.  Then dinner time and some simple party games namely Pin the Tail on the Zebra for the young kids, Animal Sounds game for the older kids and Samson-Delilah-Lion game for families.  The final part of the program was a pray over of Pia by the guests led by her ninong Alan.

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The event was a success, by God’s grace, as most if not all of our invited guests took time out of their busy schedules to celebrate Pia’s birthday with us.  Guests enjoyed the food and the simple program and were all generous in granting our request for cash gifts for Pia which we would allocate to her mutual fund savings/investment.

However the best part of the celebration was seeing the joy and delight in Pia’s face throughout the whole event.  She was singing and dancing and playing (even if she did not take her afternoon nap that day!) and had the energy to ‘entertain’ her guests the whole while – a real trooper!

We love you so much our little miracle! – Mommy & Daddy 🙂

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Pia is turning 2!

Can you believe it? Pia is turning 2!  🙂

It feels like it was just yesterday when we celebrated her 1st birthday and I was planning like crazy a few months in advance!  Hahaha!  (Details of that party can be found here: http://www.lisabobiles.com/2013/08/12/pias-1st-birthday-rainbow-party/)

We had originally planned to have a big celebration again this year.  Well, not really grand, but something a bit similar in the scale of what we had for her 1st birthday.  However due to my maternal grandfather getting sick and eventual passing last Sunday, March 2, we decided to scale down the celebration and (try to) limit the guests to Pia’s godparents and grandparents.  Lolo Mon and Lola Tita, my parents, will be flying in to Brunei next weekend so we’re all pretty excited about that! 🙂 🙂 🙂

I had originally wanted a Ladybug or Cupcake theme for Pia’s 2nd birthday but my loving hubby, wanted a Noah’s Ark theme.  I told him that it was a bit too similar to the Rainbow theme we had for her 1st birthday but then he said the Noah’s Ark theme will focus on the animals and not the rainbow… which was true… and seeing how Pia loves her Noah’s Ark stickers and reading books about animals, I eventually agreed with Rhenee’s suggestion. 😉

The first thing I did was to contact Kristine, my ever reliable SFC sister to design the banner, save the date and invitations for the party.  As always, she did a fabulous job!  Here’s the banner design – thanks Kristine! 🙂

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As of this writing, Kristine is editing the save the date and invitations due to the change in the date and venue of the celebration.  So I’ll just post those later on.

Next I contacted the terrific duo behind #tereeiel cakes and asked them to make Pia’s birthday cake.  I just told them the theme and will let their creativity and talent do the rest. It’s pretty exciting to see how the cake will turn out!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

As for the food and venue, hubby had originally thought of just letting his ‘inner chef’ loose and handle all the cooking but in the end, we decided to just have the celebration out of the house at a local restaurant so we wouldn’t be stressed about the preparations and clean up afterwards.  Plus even with the very limited guests invited, we would still be cramped in our tiny flat!  Praise God we were able to find a suitable and affordable place that serves great tasting food in Kiulap, Gadong. 😉

As for the program, it will be a very simple one: family and friends just coming together to celebrate Pia’s 2nd birthday while enjoying simple food and fellowship.  The main highlight would be Pia blowing the candles on her birthday cake, the guests saying their wishes plus praying over Pia.  Sounds good, yeah?

My hope is that with this celebration, Pia will be able to add on great childhood memories, most especially how much she is loved and treasured by Mommy and Daddy.  Every day with her is truly a miracle!  We love you, our precious miracle Pia! So very much!

 

Thank you, Ama

(Note: It has been a long time since I last wrote something here.  The last post was way back in October 2013!  Therefore this will be my first ever post for the year 2014.   A LOT has happened since then: family events, toddler developments, and last Sunday, March 2, our beloved Ama, my maternal grandfather who would have celebrated his 89th birthday yesterday, March 5th, lost his battle to cancer.  This is a piece lovingly dedicated to him.  Please pray for the eternal repose of his soul. Thank you & God bless you and yours!)

 

Dearest Ama,

 

I honestly don’t know where to start and what words to say as I write this on the day of your funeral.  I remember when I found out that you were sick with the big C, I cried a tear or two and especially felt sad that Pia would not be able to see you or know you personally when she got older.  I consider it a real blessing now that you were able to meet her in person, at least, and that we were able to capture a moment with you during our last family reunion last December (2013).  If I had only known that after a few short months after that, that this would happen, I would have exerted more effort for Pia to spend more time with you.

 

In any case, I am comforted by the knowledge that you are no longer in any pain and that you are finally reunited with Ina in Heaven.  I know this for a fact because you lived your life full of love and grace and joy and hope, even after Ina had passed on earlier.  You knew that she would be waiting for you and now the wait is over.

 

Thank you for everything that you have done for me and for our family.  Thank you (and Ina) for taking care of me during the years that I was studying high school and college and was away from Papa and Mama who were working in Brunei.  Thank you for teaching me to watch boxing and basketball, even though sometimes I was bit bored watching them with you.  Hehehe.  Thank you for teaching me to enjoy good, old, songs that are timeless and classic.  Thank you for always sharing your infectious laughter which I will surely miss hearing, along with your jokes and playful teasing.  Thank you for teaching me to always extend help to people in need in our neighborhood/barangay.  Thank you for the example of being available to serve God and His people in the local church or parish.  Thank you for trying to be the best father and provider to your children (my titos and titas, my Mama) for teaching them by example how to love their own families unselfishly and we, their children, your grandchildren have reaped the benefits of the life and love lessons you have taught them.

 

Salamat po talaga sa lahat-lahat.  Please know that you are loved and will really be missed by me, by a lot of people.  I know that wherever you are now, you are in a much better place and my only request is that you continue to watch over us as we journey through life.  I love you, Ama.  May we be able to live our lives as full of love and grace as you (and Ina) did.

Pia at 19 months :)

Wow, time really flies by so fast!  The last post I had here was on September 14 and it is now nearing the end of October 2013!

This coming weekend, 26 October 2013, Pia will already be 1 year and 7 months old.  I have enjoyed watching her grow and develop and learn so much the past few months.  Here are some of the developments and my realizations as well on my motherhood journey so far. 🙂

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Pia is so talkative now; she likes carrying on a conversation with me and/or Rhenee, even if we can’t really understand most of the words that she’s saying.  I am so fascinated and in awe of the language skills she has gained thus far.  I have learned to try to really engage myself when she ‘talks’ to me and I can see that she responds and likes it when I look at her and talk with her.

Most days I tell her what I’m doing like when I’m getting myself ready for work in the morning and I’m putting on my make up.  She likes for me to carry her and have her sit down on the vanity table, so she can see what I am doing and at the same time explore the various items she sees.  Sometimes I even let her borrow some of my make up brushes and sponges (clean and unused ones, of course) and she would imitate me and hold the brush or sponge and pat it on her cheek or forehead.  She even imitates me when I put on my lipstick, asking for my lipstick, after I’ve used it!

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She’s also learned to master some of the basic baby sign language that we had taught her earlier on.  She does the signs as well as says the words to communicate to us what she wants: eat, drink, milk, juice, sleep, bath, book, up, watch, play, ball, baby, etc.  And her words are quite clear and distinct, not what you would call baby babble at all.  The best part is that she can now call us Mommy and Daddy!  Such joy! 🙂

It’s true what they say that children are very musical in nature because Pia truly loves music and song. She loves being sung to and she loves singing out loud too.  Sometimes she would just suddenly burst into song for no reason, with lyrics we don’t understand but you can detect a distinct melody/tune to her ‘song’.  It’s so cute and endearing and you really can’t help but smile and give her a standing ovation once she’s done! 🙂  Her current favorite songs now are Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Eensy Weensy Spider; Six Little Ducks, and B-I-N-G-O.  I am also excited to learn/share that there is a Kindermusik group here in Brunei and that is something that I will definitely sign up Pia for soon. 🙂

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Pia is also more confident in her walking/running skills now.  When we take her out on an expedition to the mall or supermarket, she rarely wants to be carried or sit in the shopping cart but will instead insist on walking and exploring all the different things she sees.  She’ll even ask to push the shopping cart, even if she’s only half as tall as the cart! Hehehe!  I remember we brought her to the Hua Ho Department Store/Supermarket at Tanjong Bunut that have those kid-sized shopping carts and she just loved pushing the cart around the entire supermarket, even getting things from the display counters that she liked and putting them in her cart!  Such a cutie, right? 🙂

In addition to her walking skills, Pia is also more confident in climbing as well.  She likes to climb slides, chairs, tables, sofas, step ladders, staircases, etc. and we allow her to practise, practise, practise while we are nearby to ensure her safety.  I really believe that we should let her try to do all that she wants to do on her own, and only step in when she asks for our help.  And I have seen that she does try her very best to accomplish what she wants to do without our help as much as possible.  However when I see that she’s frustrated, before stepping in, I ask her first if she wants/needs Mommy’s help by signing ‘help’ and when she nods, then that’s when I give her the help she has asked for.

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I’ve also come to realize that Pia understands more that I sometimes gives her credit for, although she cannot yet fully express herself by her words.  This is why I now ensure that before doing anything to her or for her, I talk to her about it, like if it’s time for her bath or for changing her diaper, I make sure to tell her and ask her if she’s ready to do so.  This way, I am not forcing her to do what she is not yet ready to do.  And by doing this, it has made bath time and diaper change time so much more smoother and easier.  I’m not saying it’s like this ALL the time, but at least there’s not so much resistance and she enjoys her bath and diaper change time with Mommy. 😉  Now if only I could say the same thing about her brushing teeth time!

Gosh, there are so many other things to share about Pia’s developments but I will stop here for now as my eyes are already getting droopy!  Just one final thing I’d like to share is that I am also learning or rather ‘un-learning’ during Pia’s learning process too.  I have learned to be more patient and carefree and to not rush things just to finish my own agenda.  I have also learned to appreciate the little things and not to take things too seriously.  I know that this stage of Pia’s growth and development will only happen once and if I don’t take the time to savor each moment and experience now, it will be lost forever.

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Like what was shared during one of the talks I attended in our Catholic Community, Couples for Christ, life is all about memories so why not make all the memories, good ones?  So I am going to do my utmost to make good and love-filled memories with our Pia.  Love you so much, baby namin! Mwahs!

 

 

Pia’s Pre-Birthday Photo Shoot – Part 2 [Super late post, I know!)

OMG! Where has the time gone?  Feels like ages since I had a new post up here on my blog and I had forgotten all about blogging about Pia’s pre-birthday photo shoot done by our good photographer friend, Uniokeez.  So anyway, here goes…

On the morning of Pia’s post birthday party on 7th April 2013, Uniok came by our flat to take some shots of the birthday girl and the birthday party preparations.  He would not be able to shoot during the actual party so he wanted to do the pre-birthday party shots.

I remember that it was only a little past 8am when Uniok knocked on our door and I was actually a bit surprised at how early he came by! Hahaha!  Most of us had just woken up and we hadn’t even given the birthday girl her bath!  Anyway, Uniok was in no hurry so we went about Pia’s morning routine of breakfast and bath time, while getting her party things ready as well.

After getting Pia dressed and packing up the things we needed to bring for her party, the shoot began.  Uniok also took shots of some of the party items – balloons, party hats, party favors, etc. – before taking shots of the birthday celebrant herself.  Later on, he also went with us to the party venue and took some great shots there as well.

Hope you like the photos as much as we do! Thanks again, Uniok – you’re awesome! 🙂

Shots at home

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The pretty birthday girl 🙂

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Loved this idea of Uniok to take a shot of Pia’s feet – adorable right???

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Pia and Lolo Mon – Uniok says they look alike, do you see the resemblance? 😉

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Shots at the party venue

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Our Brunei Hari Raya Holiday 2013

For those following my blog (Naks! Feeling!), you would know by now that I am based in Brunei Darussalam, which is a predominantly Muslim country.  And for Muslims, one of the biggest celebrations they have after observing the Holy Month of Ramadhan (fasting) is Hari Raya Aidilfitri. In Brunei this year, the Hari Raya holiday/break began on Friday, 9th August and ended on Tuesday, 13th August 2013.

Our family didn’t really have any big plans for the holiday.  You would think that with the long break, we would have gone out of Brunei to nearby Malaysia or maybe even book a flight home to the Philippines.  That is what we would normally do during times like these, but this year we decided to stay put in Brunei and celebrate the Hari Raya festivities with our Muslim friends.  We also had some visitors from the Philippines who flew in to Brunei a few days before the Hari Raya holiday so were busy providing them transportation and entertainment.  It was tiring but in return we had the opportunity to bring Pia swimming (two days in a row!) at The Empire Hotel & Country Club and have a free overnight stay with breakfast at The Centerpoint Hotel Gadong.  We managed to bring them along for one Hari Raya Open House too, and they really enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts and of course, the food.  Their newly discovered favorite was the Beef Rendang and they even asked for its recipe so that they could try to cook it when they get back to the Philippines! 🙂

It was also the first time that we had Pia along during our Hari Raya Open House visits so it was a new experience for Rhenee and I.  Previous years, obviously, it was just the two of us so we only brought ourselves and our appetites! This time around, having an active, sociable, outgoing, strong willed, curious toddler with you was quite challenging and tiring!  But it was good to see Pia getting along with different types of people of various ages.  I loved especially how she could engage with them and instantly bring a smile to their faces by her own cute and infectious smile.

It was indeed a great and enjoyable holiday because not only did we get great freebies (free swimming at The Empire Hotel, free overnight stay at The Centerpoint Hotel, free meals during our Hari Raya Open House visits), the best part was spending quality and quantity time together as a family. 🙂

Here are some of the pics taken during our Brunei Hari Raya Holiday 2013:

SWIMMING AT EMPIRE – DAY 1

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FUN IN EMPIRE’S SPACIOUS ROOM & TOILET (Pia loved the bath tub)!

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SWIMMING AT EMPIRE – DAY 2

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PHOTO OP AT THE EMPIRE LOBBY’S HARI RAYA DISPLAY

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HARI RAYA OPEN HOUSE VISIT TO TITO EFANDI & TITA NORA

It was a great visit – thanks for your warmth and hospitality po; and the food was superb!

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FREE BREAKFAST AT THE CENTERPOINT HOTEL

Pia loves posing for the camera while eating her cereal and fruit.

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HAVING DRINKS AT THE MALL’S FOOD COURT

Pia loves drinking anything using a straw – aww, our baby’s a big girl already!

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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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