In Deutschland

I got lucky again because, despite the constant stress brought about by my work, I get to see travel and see the world. This time to Germany. More than ten years ago, I was able to set foot in the United Kingdom, but this is my first time to be in mainland Europe. Yay!

The weather was quite good the whole time we were there. It was smack in the middle of fall, and it wasn’t too cold. It rained for a couple of days in Essen but it was okay overall. I loved the crisp air, and savored the feeling of not sweating, which Manila does to me all the time. It was very nice walking the streets of Berlin and Essen mainly because of this. As always, my heart jumped at the new sights and smells of a foreign country. Thank goodness for some free time in between official duties.

Did all the touristy things in the capital, such as visits to the Berlin Wall, Holocaust Memorial, the Bundestag, Tiergarten, Branderburg Gate. Met up with a friend and his family, took the subway, took the bus, had curryworst, name it.

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Quickest planning

My mommy duties beckoned as soon as I got off the plane. Aside from the usual and unusual household stuff I had to contend with, I didn’t know I had a party to plan! Maxine’s birthday is coming up, and we were supposed to just have spaghetti and cake in school for her and four classmates (plus two teachers). Well, it turned out I had to make an event of it. lol. Kidding aside, I just love doing these kinds of parties. I have always thought of changing careers and doing these things. Who knows, if God willing…

So for this party, I had to choose from among several of Maxine’s favourite characters. Pink would just not do it. Her recent obsessions are PJ Masks, Paw Patrol and Puppy Dog Pals. After some thought, I decided on PJ Masks.

I quickly scoured the net for invitation templates, order some loot bags and giveaways from a trusted printer/supplier, talked to a baker friend for the cake, bought other items online, drew up a menu, and so on. So I’m quite excited for next Wednesday.

Indisposed

Perfect timing as usual, my dear bunso. Why oh why do your sick days fall at times I am or will be away at a significant length of time, or I am or will in a place that need long haul flights? Not that I want you to get sick at all…but more so when I cannot be with you.

Thank God you are better, and I can leave for a while with some peace of mind. We can put behind the last three days of our being in the ER and your consequent confinement. Never mind that we spent Daddy’s birthday at the hospital. I will still be thinking of you and Ate for most of my waking hours anyway. You will understand, I hope, in the future, that all of leaving are for you and your sister. All of what I do are for you both.

Manam

If you are looking for traditional Filipino food livened up with a twist, then Manam is for you. The restaurant is an ideal place for families or a group of friends sharing a hot meal, or even couples of bffs chilling out or plain relaxing. Each of their dishes come in three sizes: small, medium or large, so you can order according to the size of your party or your heart’s desire. You need not worry about ordering too much or too little.

You can start off with drinks concocted with ingredients that you would not think are possible together:

Banana melon sago

Camias with lemongrass

Papaya with black pepper

For the main dishes, there were so many to choose from. If I had my way, I would have gotten their bestseller sisig and the sinigang na corned beef sa watermelon. But as I was with hypertensive and people watching out for their sugar levels, we opted for the safer though still yummy dishes.

Batil patung (famous in Cagayan where the husband is from)

Braised then fried pork and chicken adobo (a hit with Mischa)

Gising-gising

Binukadkad na plapla with buro

Sinigang na ulo ng salmon sa guyabano (a hit with Maxine)

Sundrops

Having our tired feet and legs pampered is slowly becoming a bonding activity for us girls. Especially now that Mischa is becoming a tweener, we often bring her with us to salons and spas. Recently, we got to try Sundrops, a day spa inside a mall we frequent during weekends. As we (Mischa and I) are suckers for anything girly, its feminine decor and vibe beckoned us in. Thumbs up for their clean interior, nice couches and warm lighting. I’ll tell you that I’ve been getting quite particular with couches since there is one day spa I used to go to regularly, but haven’t been to lately because I got turned off by the ever darkening couches. It seems that while their service is great (their pedicurists are good with in-grown nails and dry skin in the deep recesses of my toe nails), they haven’t been paying attention to the stains and grime accumulating in their sofas. So I’ve been on the market for a better place.

Sundrops offer a wide range of nail, hand, foot, arm and leg care, including nail art, however, we just opted for their Mint Mademoiselle package, which includes footspa with massage, pedicure and basic polish. And since we were early, we had fresh hands who took care of our feet and nails. I like that they have “light” hands, and were careful with the nails and cuticles. In general though, the service was just okay. Not a place I would go back to in the near future.

Full circle

Lolo celebrated his 74th birthday last weekend. We are thankful to the Lord for the second chance at life. We know that both he and Mama are feeling every bit of their age, as various aches and signs of wear and tear are surfacing more often now. As a daughter, I don’t want to admit it, but I have been negotiating with our dear God for more time. Every high blood pressure, every headache, every dizziness that come about forces me to face mortality. I don’t think I will ever be ready, and I want to do everything in my power to ensure that they stay with us longer.

So now we come full circle, with the children now taking care of their parents. They still do take care of us, mostly their grandchildren. But it has fallen on our shoulders to ensure that their needs are all met. I don’t think they will ever stop caring for the grandkids, and so it rests on us to make sure that they are in the pink of health.

Happy birthday Lolo! More happy and healthy years for you and Mama. We love you!