Two Years Ago…

This must have been the longest break I’ve ever had from blogging, though it’s actually the opposite from what would be expected as uneventful years, for me at least. The truth is, 2016 and 2017 were significantly a turning point in our lives, as my husband and I finally become parents.

Sorry, not sorry.

I almost embraced before the idea of living as a single woman; neither I relished the thought of becoming a mother as well. I was enjoying my independence so much.

While I was seeing my friends getting married and settling down, I was getting less keen to find that better half who I can spend my life with.  It took me 5 long years after a break from a serious relationship to get back into another again.

While some of my female friends were having kids of their own, I somehow doubted myself on whether I can be a good mother.  Believe me, I had a slight dread on the humongous responsibility motherhood would entail.  I also witnessed how their new parenting life changed my friends overnight, starting with shared conversations that only like-minded parents would understand and a single, childless woman like me then could hardly relate to.

Ten years and so after, look at where I am and who I have become. Now I’m a wife and a mother.

Sorry, not sorry.

Being a parent for the first time, it wasn’t been easy.  The last weeks before my delivery was terribly annoying and a bit nerve-racking. I got confined in the hospital for days due to premature contractions that I later needed to stay home.  Days before until our first baby arrived, hormones going haywire and sleepless nights were the usual events. So I thought it was already finished when our little daughter came around, the strife had just only begun—more sleepless nights, hormones overreacting, baby blues, exhaustion, anxieties and overwhelmingness…

“This too shall pass. It’s gonna be fine,” I’d always remind myself. And thanks to the help of our family and friends, gradually it has gotten easier.  I quite find myself lucky for having a healthy, sweet daughter who never fails to amuse and amaze us; and a responsible, loving husband who’s been a partner I can rely on.

I still get tired and exhausted every now and then, but as things get more predictable, habits are formed, relationships more established as before, I’m now gradually experiencing the unimaginable and unexplainable joy and rewarding satisfaction as a parent.

I can go on and on talking about my mamahood experiences here, but I guess I’d rather take these on for my future posts.  For the sake of my traditional year-end review, let me take you a blast into the past, 2 years ago—on the places we’ve been, and the food delights that have piqued my interest, along with a twist by reminiscing the early beginnings of our parenthood journey.

Weekend in Hasselt

My husband and I went for a double celebration at the start of 2016 by spending a weekend in Hasselt. We treated ourselves with some shopping spree, thanks to the yearly winter sale period. We dined away to celebrate hubby’s birthday, along with my fantastic pregnancy news. So I chugged my last sips of wine before I bid farewell to it, albeit temporarily.

One Year in Belgium – Stoflees, Pancit and Lechon

I chose to celebrate my first year in Belgium by cooking stoofvlees, pancit and lechon hurno.

Well, the carbonnade was the first Belgian dish I cooked before when I was trying to impress my hubby-to-be. Obviously, it worked then!

Pancit and lechon are amongst the typical Filipino dishes meant for festivities and celebrations, big or small. Being a Filipino myself, it’s a tradition I’d continue doing here in Belgium.

Weekends in Zeeland and Rotterdam in The Netherlands

Zeeland consists of a number of islands and peninsulas, and a strip bordering Belgium. We personally love this part of our Dutch neighbor that we’ve kept coming back. Definitely, we’ll visit it more in the future.

Oh yes, I was able to visit Rotterdam at last when we stayed at this interesting hotel, ss Rotterdam, for a weekend, which is actually a former steamboat of the Holland-America Line now permanently docked in Rotterdam.

Holiday in Budapest

We spent our May springtime holiday in Budapest, the capital of Hungary.  We, of course, visited the top sightseeing spots such as the Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, Szechenyi thermal bathHősök tere, the Hungarian Parliament building, among many others.

While we relished on yummy Hungarian dishes, I wasn’t able to take a plunge for a hot spring bath, as the city is best known for, simply because I was 6-months pregnant.  I splurged on pre-natal massages instead, which were equally just as good!

Summer holiday – Babymoon in France

Our three-week-long summer holiday marks our first babymoon, traveling in France in full circle! We stayed for a couple of days in the South of France, visiting quiet medieval villages and hiking through the forests.

I’d always swoon over anything and everything about Van Gogh, hence we also went for a day trip to Arles.

We then went up north and stayed at the region near Bordeaux, where we continued visiting quaint villages and paying homage to the infamous Sint-Emilion. Though we’re already near, we didn’t pursue visiting the city of Bordeaux.  “This city doesn’t deserve a quick come-and-go—there’s quite a lot of things to find there,” hubby reasoned. Well, as for me, I’d rather visit this city once I’m fully ready to taste their wines—the Sint-Emilion visit was already a mean tease!

A visit to Mont-Sint-Michel was our final pitstop before we drove back home to Belgium.

Imma says hello world!

year-end review

After that long waiting game, I finally gave birth to our little bundle of joy!  Only when I came to experience it I began to understand, how surreal and magical the moment of giving life to another human being, and how magnanimous the duty that comes along as a parent.

Indeed, my world did turn upside down. Tough moments at first, as I trod slowly but surely, in both discovering myself as a new mom and getting to know more about Imma. Interestingly, I surprised myself. I am now enjoying every minute of it, and there’s no single reason for me to turn back, even for a fact that there’s a point of no return either! I’m pleased to find myself in this new role, and I’m excitedly looking forward to spending my life with my ever-growing family. Now hand me down some tissue, please.

The Durbuy Tradition

Days before the start of the Christmas holidays, our friends and us have this surreal yearly tradition of a weekend stay in Durbuy. This time around, it’s also our first road trip with Immatje.

A Week at Lac de L’Heure and Chimay Before Christmas

Our bags were all packed and we’re ready to go, but with much shocking disappointment, we weren’t able to fly to the Philippines and spend the holidays there.

Stuck in Belgium, which I didn’t mind either, but with all the preps and excitement gone for nothing, it’s still quite a devastating feeling. To shrug it off and cheer ourselves up in good old holiday spirits, off we went for a spontaneous escape—a week-long stay at Landal in Lac de L’Heure and a visit to Chimay.

chimay year-end review
“My first church visit is at the Scourmont Abbey, a Trappist monastery that produces Chimay, which is one of the eleven Trappist beers made worldwide. I’m both embracing my Filipino religiosity and Belgian beer heritage on this trip!” – 14 weeks old Imma

Indian cravings

While I was pregnant with Imma, I had persistent cravings towards red meats, strong flavors, and spicy food. Particularly, I salivated over Indian dishes. To satisfy my preggy cravings, I got dinner buffet at Aahar Delux in Antwerp, lunch buffets at Taste of Curry resto near my workplace, and even 3 days before I gave birth, a pleasant dinner with friends in a hole-in-a-wall kind of Indian resto somewhere in Vilvoorde.

…And more exotic cravings

Yet even after I gave birth to my daughter, my cravings seemed to have stayed on.  We had dinners at Little Ethiopia in Antwerp, a Greek restaurant called Zeus in Kontich, Tom Thai in our neighborhood, and Dolce Delhi somewhere in Bonheiden.

Summer Holiday in Pinas

We made sure that we would make it there this time around, and we finally did!  Our first overseas travel experience with Imma has been more than positive than we expected.

At 9 months old, our holiday trip to the Philippines is Imma’s first flight, and for sure it was a long 16-hour one! It turned out to be easy peasy, not only convenient for us as we’re already getting extra privileges in-between such as getting priority in the queues, seats with better legroom, nice strangers and flight attendants who’d play with our little munchkin. We’re also proud parents to see how well-behaved and adapted Imma was all throughout our flights.

Even more so when we arrived and she started seeing different places, meeting a lot of unfamiliar faces and experiencing that tropical heat, Imma was constantly curious, welcoming and quite eager to please.  After our tranquil family getaway in Pico de Loro in Batangas, Imma stayed with her grandparents when hubby and I left to travel to Coron in Palawan for a few days, a pseudo-honeymoon part deux!  My parents were pleased to tell us how good-natured Imma was with them while we were away.

year-end review

Weekends in Luxembourg & at Zeeland in The Netherlands

A few months after, we went for a long weekend getaway to Luxembourg, a small European country not so far from Belgium. We stayed at Vianden and went around the city proper.

Then a few weeks later, off we spent another weekend at our favorite spot just nearby, Zeeland in The Netherlands!

A Week at Eifel in Germany & Winter Feel Weekend in Durbuy

As it’s getting colder in this part of the world, off we still went for a few more road trips before winter officially starts and the year 2017 ends.  For the second time around, we stayed in Landal but in another location in Germany, not so far from Belgium.  We tucked ourselves into the mysterious German forests in Eifel for a couple of days and visited medieval pretty called Monschau.

And it’s the time of the year again, our yearly thing, we spent a weekend in Durbuy with friends.

2 months to go…our second kindje!

Surprise, surprise!  I guess we couldn’t get enough so we wanted for another, huh?

Well, we strongly considered giving Imma a sibling, and I personally think it would be a wonderful experience for us.  I enjoy having a little brother I grew up together with, and that small age gap between us could be a factor as to how good our relationship has gone by far.

But oops! It just so happened that it came around way too soon as we had hoped for, and we can blame the pristine beauty of Coron for this.  So if you guess it right, Imma is made in Belgium and the upcoming one is made in the Philippines—that’s pretty fair and square!

2018 year-end review

So our family ends 2017 (and 2016) with a huge milestone, while we welcome the new year with another.  2018 will be our next joyride.