January 4, 2017

Gracias por todo, 2016!

And just like that, 2016 has gone. It felt like the second half of last year went by quickly, and now, we're welcoming 2017. Can you believe that?

The past year was full of memories, both great and challenging. I try as much not to dwell on the mistakes I or others have done, and on the things I have lost; so whenever I look back on the years that have gone, I would remember the good stuff. Surely, there were unpleasant memories we cannot simply forget, best thing to do is accept them as part of our human experiences and pay attention to the lessons they taught.

I am grateful for all the experiences this 2016 and I hope I've become wiser, kinder, and more caring because of facing them. I'm sharing here some of the fondest memories of the past year, that I hope to experience and live through more this year.

Knowing that I am appreciated with the work I do. When I left the school early this year unsure if I would return to teaching the Nursery class, some parents told me about how their children told them stories about our class and how they would miss me. It was a sweet thing to hear! I couldn't share photos of the kids, so I hope this one would do.
My kids enjoying the trampoline in the playground
Meeting and traveling with good friends. When we traveled back to the Philippines for a vacation, my husband, nephew, and I went to Baler with my friend Arlene to visit Chai and her baby. I think this was the first time that I traveled far with Arlene. Arlene and I talked about traveling together for a long time and I'm glad we did it. I'm looking forward to more travels with them.
Baler with Michael, Janus, Arlene, Chai and her baby Casey
Spending time and exploring new places with family. After being away from our families for more than a year, we finally had the time to go home and go places with them. My husband and I went to El Nido, Palawan and Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro with our families. It was summer when we were in the Philippines, so going to the beach is a good idea. The tours we had were quite tiring but worth the views and experiences.
Beach with family!

Experiencing the Antioch Weekend Formation once again. Another reason why summer is fun back home is the annual youth formation in our Antioch community. We were fortunate to catch this event and helped our brothers and sisters in the community. Much have changed in the community in such a short time that I've been away but I believe it's all for good. Talking and catching up with friends in the community meant a lot to me and made me feel that I'm still part of something good, of something with a purpose that will stay on.
Sing Alleluia to the Lord
Visiting different churches. Since we missed the Holy week in the Philippines, we just visited different churches near Cavite. We went to the National Shrine of Padre Pio, Caleruega Church, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Pink Sisters Convent. Aside from visiting new churches, it's also good to hear mass celebrated by a different priest - listening to different views and ways of delivering God's messages.
National Shrine of Padre Pio
Discovering new places in Riyadh. Going to malls and checking out sales become uninteresting after some time, especially when we're saving and avoiding to buy stuff we don't actually need. Checking out places we've never been to here in Riyadh has been the alternative to those. We went to Wadi NamarUshaiqer Heritage Village, and Khararrah lake last year. They say travel to somewhere new once in a while, that's what we did and it was a good routine breaker.
Top: Ushaiqer Village; Bottom: Khararrah Lake
Traveling to another country by road. Yes, we made it to Bahrain by road! We enjoyed our short time in Bahrain. I hope to write a separate post about crossing the border, finding a decent hotel, the places we've been, and the crazy experiences we had! Good job Michael for our safe drive there and back home.
In the parking lot of BH National Museum
Celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary. Our wedding felt like yesterday, but yes, we've been married for two years! I'm grateful for our relationship, and I pray that we grow more in love in the years to come. Having someone so selfless, sometimes annoying, in my life is something I won't trade for.
Gracias por todo, 2016, for all the happiness and the challenges, and for all the people that I got to spend you with. I now welcome 2017 and hope to invoke more dreams!

(Sharing this wonderful song, too!)

December 18, 2016

Take a walk

My husband and I had visited the hospital several times this past few months. I underwent some examinations and I'm taking treatment for three months now. Maybe I'll write about those experiences on a separate post. Aside from the treatment that I was given, the doctor also told me that it's pertinent that I lose some weight.

I haven't thought of losing weight particularly since the time I felt comfortable with my body. Yes, I'm not in my fittest self, but I'm not having problems with the extra pounds that I have. So, when the doctor told me to shed some weight, I was a little clueless where to start. We began with making healthier food choices. My husband is motivated to lose weight too and I think that it has made all the difference.

I tried aerobics for more than a month. I found some good resources and followed the exercises for twenty minutes five days a week. It was tiring but I enjoyed it for a time. It worked for a while but the routine became less motivating. Then I thought of walking instead.

Walking has helped me lose weight when I was in the university years ago. I took a P.E. course on walking, and we walked at least 5 km each session. Good thing that there are many parks here where we can walk or jog around. It has been a month already since we started this walking exercise. We walk at least 3 km everyday and I feel better. It's already winter here, but the cool breeze won't stop us from walking. Anyway, we'll get by with the help of thick sweaters and jackets, and occasionally holding hands. The outdoors, the sounds of birds and the wind, the weird joggers we encounter, and some noises of the cars passing by the park make walking even more enjoyable.

We have seen some progress so far and I hope that we see some more in the future.

Walking is an inexpensive alternative for people who want to lose weight, especially when enrolling in gym classes costs a lot. There are many benefits that we can get from walking, you'll find scientific studies about them. For people who are struggling to lose weight, I think allotting some time to walk everyday would be a good start. It won't give quick results but it will help you feel better and healthier. 

Go, take a walk outside, and see the difference that it can bring. :)

November 30, 2016

Arts and crafts for Christmas

Christmas is almost here again! I can't believe that we are one month away from year 2017. I can imagine the decorations and lights everywhere that will make you feel that Christmas is coming, except here and in some other Muslim countries of course. Bazaars and promotions are a plenty for sure. Christmas means different for everyone. For some, it means family reunions and get together with delightful buffet. For some, it means giving, sharing, and reaching out to people in need. While for those who are still going to school, it's the long holidays to look out for! And there's the more significant meaning of Christmas - the celebration of God's incredible act of love through the birth of Jesus Christ.

For preschools, this time of the year means looking and preparing for arts and crafts about Christmas. For many years of teaching young children, I have tried a lot of fun arts and crafts out there but sadly, I didn't have most of the photos - maybe I have them but it may take some digging in my storage device. Anyway, last year I was able to take pictures of some Christmas arts and crafts I made with my Nursery class. I thought of sharing them here for educators and/or parents looking for ideas. Most of them are simple and just need a couple of materials. Check them out:

Santa hat
What you need: party hat template by ohhappyday, red poster paint, sparkles, cotton balls, glue, red yarn

Christmas Tree Sun catcher
What you need: Christmas tree template, colored tissue paper cut in small pieces, glue
(for another version, check this.)

October 31, 2016

A strange encounter

Last night, we had a strange encounter right after parking our car in front of a fast food restaurant.

An old Arab man approached my husband and sounded needy. I can't understand Arabic but from the tone of their conversation, the old man was asking for help. After a while, Michael looked at me and told me that we're going to drop off the man in a nearby clinic, just a few minutes away from where we were. I would want to hesitate out of fear but Michael seemed assured that the man was harmless. The old man has pain in his legs that he wanted to get checked.

If we were in horror/thriller movies, something terrible might have happened to us last night. On the drive going to the clinic while the stranger was at the backseat, there were horrifying scenes playing out in my mind. I just told myself to let it be.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened. We dropped off the old man and he looked thankful. He even told my husband that he would pray to Allah to bless us a child, and that we already have a place in heaven for helping him.

It was indeed a strange night. I realized that I really don't trust people easily and I watched too much horror movies. Haha!

September 28, 2016

How safe is where you live?

I grew up in a fairly loud neighborhood. For a while, I even had a thought that our house was kind of out of place in relation to the families living around us, until I just learned how to adjust and ignore. There were mornings I would wake up to the noise of some couple cursing at one another about some fight I'd figure out upon further hearing them; or mornings I'd get up to Christmas songs and jingles from another house that might be thinking that it's their duty to wake up the whole neighborhood. Then at some really late nights, we'd hear people chasing someone or fighting probably caused by  some who consumed too much alcohol. Well, most days and nights can be peaceful.

Do we feel safe in that neighborhood? Yes, relatively. We'd been victims of petty thefts. Some items like pair of slippers and shoes were taken from our veranda a few times, and other items like broken electric fans and small appliances, even my bell lyre. Nevertheless, we learned to live and just let it be after all those instances. We never leave our shoes and slippers just lying in the veranda, and we also put a lock on our gate from then on. The stealing stopped, but the noises from the houses around us - they're still there but could be ignored.

Fast forward to where I live now with my husband. Yes, the kingdom puts a lot of restrictions to its citizens and residents, given that it is an Islamic country, but those restrictions do good to its people in general. Particularly, Riyadh is a safe city. And from my observations, I haven't seen loud places here because it seems there aren't any. Even when you visit parks - parks can really be crowded especially during weekend but you won't hear the people talking loudly to each other. Occasionally, you will hear the children laughing while playing but it is not annoying. Laughter is a sweet sound. Furthermore, whenever we pass by the amusement parks inside the mall, it's rare to hear the kids riding some wild rides scream. I don't know how they do it, but imagine braving a roller coaster without letting out a shout. It must take some practice to do that.

We live in a residence where only families are allowed. Most of the establishments here are segregated into two groups: bachelors and families/ ladies. That segregation also mostly applies to housing. Our neighborhood is generally peaceful, that's why I try to keep down the noises in our room, e.g. sometimes, I tell my husband to play the guitar gently so we won't disturb the neighbors. We don't have much of a problem in our residence. Do we feel safe here? Yes, definitely. We do not have worries that someone will break into our flat and steal our properties. Until recently, our car's rear quarter glass was smashed - someone broke in the car and took the spare tire in the trunk. If the hood was opened too, the battery might have been taken as well. Good thing that the hook in the hood was messed up for long, and it would be difficult to open it without knowing my husband's technique. We were so worried that night thinking who would've done it and what if they come back. We had the glass fixed and bought a spare tire.
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