All about our Princess

Peak A Boo!

December 10, 2013

My dearest blog,

How are you? I miss you so! Please don't feel bad, I didn't abandon you. It's just that I am "keeping a balance" between family and work, and, okay add to that some social responsibilities.

Meanwhile, let me share you what I had -- some peak-a-boo time with my Baby Boss:

And more breakfasts with the Big Boy at the desert:

And more desert jumps for me too:

See you again in awhile dear blog :-)

Thinking Out Loud

Toastmasters and my Project 1 Speech

November 02, 2013

Working moms probably can relate with me when I say that having a baby is like stepping on a brake, but as soon as the little child is bit ready, the mother goes back working to realize there's much to catch up on. This happened to me, and to say, personal development was one I wanted to work on.

So I joined a speech club here in the desert, and gave my project one speech. My tone was a bit serious, and I guess it was affected by the speech projects I read online prior to doing it. Speak about tone imitation :-)

It would have been great if I had a video of myself to look back to later to check my progress. Writing the text here is a lot different than when spoken in front of people. There's the butterflies, stammering, tension showing.

In this speech, I guess I was fine with my voice modulation for a start, a bit on use of stage, and I managed eye contact. My downs though were I glanced on my notes once in a while for my sequence, and that I started with, "I'm sorry I am nervous!". Stating that one is nervous is a big NO :-) 

For my record, TM Petrous evaluated me.

... and here goes, Competent Communication Project 1, August 2013:

"Good evening fellow Toastmasters, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I one of the more than 700,000 Filipinos currently in the UAE  today. Four days ago, I marked my ninth year since I first stepped on Terminal 1 of Dubai International Airport.

You see, earlier, admitting how long I had been here in the UAE was something I always avoided because it always triggers the next question “What had I achieved so far?” 

I was then 24 years old when I told my parents I’m leaving home for the UAE. In my heart, it was because I wanted to make a difference for my family, and if I can do more, also to my community. I wanted to treat and bring my parents to as many places around the world because all their lives, they just work and spend for us their seven children.  And if I still have some money to spare, I dreamt  of giving pencils and schoolbags to the less privileged kids in our community.

The next years after that, these goals became only secondary when I married my loving husband and we had our adorable kids.  Our kids had since then topped our list of priorities and goals.

Hugging and playing with two beautiful children strongly makes me want for them to lead beautiful lives. So I asked my self  “Is there more that I can do?” I looked back on my everyday life and saw that I could have done better, if only I have hurdled through my weaknesses early enough.

I work with passion and with high self-motivation, but I partly fail when work entails courage and talking in front of people. Two of my past managers from two separate companies wrote this in my performance review:  Beverly excels in her work but she is shy. She has a lot of knowledge but she seems afraid to share it. Leadership is the next objective she has to work on.

I had been shy since I was a kid. I was then seven years old when I had to take medications because I had persistent nasal discharges. Since then I cannot survive a day without a tissue or hanky to wipe my nose. It seems like it was more of an allergy from the cold weather, because I grew up in the mountains of northern Philippines where it is cold all year round and it rains half of the year. Since then I would isolate myself from my classmates and I had a few playmates because some of them made fun of my situation. In effect, I avoided being in a crowd and I lost chance to develop my self-confidence before people.

This dragged on until I finished university.

When I started looking for work, being shy and soft-spoken was at times to my advantage. I was seen as a team player. But later in my career, it was a disadvantage. I had lost chances of promotions because I have yet to learn how to properly handle situations outside of my comfort zone and deliver results.

Now I am determined to boost my self-confidence around my personal environment and maximize my potential. I am now interested about using makeups, proper dressing, proper manners and now public speaking, among others.  It’s a long way for me, but I should start if I want to achieve even my simple goals for my parents, my kids and even for my community.

In this journey, I am now meeting and recognizing people who, for their achievements I can relate to, are inspiring me to achieve the same. I look forward to that day when I can send them a message to let them know their influence and to thank them.

In summary, I am working to become a better person so I could make a difference in the lives of others. Ultimately, I hope one day I too would be an inspiration."

Desert Drives

Desert Car Breakdown Recovery

October 28, 2013

Until a year ago, a real dune bashing experience was something we just wished that we could do with our own car. But of course the fear of getting stuck in the desert held us back until we met our desert family.

As my colleague had put it, never drive alone to the desert. There's always a way out of course, but how expensive could it be, especially when your car unfortunately breaks down and would not start. 

Here's a video I took. Watch how the Durango (machine off), has to be pulled out by two mates. In these instances, I coined my own partial description of desert driving -- it is the art and science of gracefully driving through the dunes. Especially during car recovery, an understanding of the sand state, dune form, car position and recovery strategy are all essential

I have yet to read a book on how to create sand splashes and the essentials of desert car recovery, but I am seeing a lot already from our desert friends. 

Video below is on car recovery, dune bashing on a separate post.

Summer Night Camping at Dibba Fujairah

August 10, 2013

We survived it! Camping out with a toddler on a humid summer night, I mean.

With the uncomfortable temperature here in the sand pit, the Gremlins were confined at home, and even the Husband missed to join the desert drives (because I was stopping him to -- my bad!). However, I've extremely bored Kuya already (who's just excited to go back to school rather than be home watching Dragon Ball Z marathon) so we joined friends over the weekend on a drive to Dibba Fujairah. They are our friends from our offroad driving group.

Friends brought raw fish, chicken and hotdogs for the barbeque that we shared over dinner. Some also went fishing, and the guys cooked their catch for 'pulutan' as they shared stories late through the night.

Hello Little Girl, curious on the kettle?

Our camping site at Dibba Fujairah was at an enclosed area at the back of a residential vicinity near the port. As with the Eid celebration with a traffic at Khorfakkan and Bidya Mosque, it was great to have the beach by ourselves.

The night was comfortably warm and a bit windy at the open air, however, getting inside the tent was unpleasant - hot and humid. We ended up sleeping inside the car with the airconditioner switched on and the windows partially open. As always, Little Girls and I are at the back, Kuya at the middle and their dad in front.

At 5:45 am, I woke the kids up and we headed a few steps to the waters. The shore was covered with small corals and shells, and the waterbed was more rocky than sandy. There were sea urchins too that both Kuya and his Dad had to pluck out spines out of their feet.

This is Little Girls's second beach camping (first was near Jebel Ali Resort and Spa last winter), however it's her first beach bath. She enjoyed it of course.

Another fun part of this experience was how we reached Dibba. Husband planned on the route to include an offroad drive, so that instead of following the highway that's made long by going through the oblong map route, we cut through by passing the rocky mountains, and even passing through Oman's inclave exiting at Madha then to Khorfakkan. We've already taken part of this route two years back, and while we know our expectations, what made us glad was getting our mates happy (two cars) as this was their first time over the mountains. Road trips become more exciting when shared, indeed.

Getting back home, the group took on highway E89. It's a new road but I thought it's boring (unless one is rushing to reach Dubai) compared to the route (red line, map below) we took two years back:

For more photos of our drive, do click HERE

So that was how we spent our long weekend {"-"}...

Thinking Out Loud

It's been awhile

July 18, 2013

It's the 19th of July and this is my second blog post for the year!

Hello blog, I do miss updating you, and for a re-start, here's a photo that summarizes the absence:

I wrote this in one of those crazy days, and tucked it in my wallet. I forgot about it and found myself smiling after seeing it again. It's way better now, but with two adorable kids at home, they are the priority.

The note was my way of saying I can only do so much and I should not get myself sick, as at the end of the day, I have to keep my focus on my family/ies. (Cheesy, ei? =) )

Where have we been anyway? For the first half of the year, I wonder what our car tyres would say if it would speak? They've been threading the Lahbab desert tracks almost every week, except when we were away back home. Up until May, they usually reach the desert at 12 midnight to join some 10 other cars, and by morning, be gliding up, down and by the sand dunes. They know Pink Rock, Fossil Rock, Pyramid and Area 53. This summer, I started to complain (bad me!), the desert addiction stayed, not even the baking heat put them off. This time, they drive between 5pm to 7pm, rest awhile in the dark and be home between 10-11pm. By the way, I and Little Girl stay behind at home half the time.

There's Pixie attempting to reach a high point at the Pyramid.
And here's the best thing I should have been sharing, smiles, giggles and more smiles:

Personalized gifts are lovely

June 28, 2013

Someone gave Baby Riane a really lovely gift of bathrobe and bib with her name embroidered on it.

I thought personalized things make sweet gifts :-)

UAE - Abu Dhabi

Dubai to Liwa - from sandy to sand dunes

January 11, 2013

November 23, 2012

If you are like my son Kalel who frequents Google Maps and plays around the satellite view of the UAE, you'll notice the change of topographic colors of the country's different areas. Dubai has some cream sands, Fujairah has brown mountains, and towards Abu Dhabi near the Saudi border, the sand has orange tinge. And further to Liwa, the orange sands is specked by white sabkhas. This has caught our fancy and motivated our drive.

Now, one major long drive plan ticked off our list – near the Saudi border 450kms away from home, and to one of the world’s tallest and biggest sand dune, to Liwa and to Moreeb Hill. Total mileage in two days from and to Dubai: 1000 kms. Accomplished: saw why Liwa oasis looks like this as seen from space. Intriguing and amazing, isnt it?

The line that arcs out forms the Liwa Oasis located south of Abu Dhabi. Cupped in the arc are high sand dunes while sabhkas (salt flats) create silvery flat dots. Meanwhile the green dots are the thousands of date palms lining the crescent. You could imagine how many cultured date palms there are to be visible from space.

We left Dubai at 10am on a Friday to Abu Dhabi on E11. We continued towards Tarif along E11 and turned left to Madinat Zayed. If you check the map to Liwa below, Madinat Zayed is at the middle of three roads branching out of the Liwa crescent. From the busy E11 highway, the road turned into a quiet and smooth drive, tempting a speed up until the sand starts turning from cream to orange hue and until some oil pipes catch one's curiosity. Then it gets better as clusters of palm trees color the roadsides green. After awhile, a budding mini-city welcomed us at Madinat Zayed. There were banks, shops, a nicely and neatly landscaped park, buildings under construction, and communities. It was lunch time by then and we pulled over at the other side of the road for a KFC chicken meal.
The route we took for our Liwa drive, entering from the middle,
ark-ing on the crescent and  left through Hameem Road. The crescent line is where
the communities are.
Getting back on the road, more palm trees waved at us. Twenty or so minutes later, we slowed down at a roundabout with Mezaira Castle atop a widely greened hill at the right. It was already 2pm and we decided to settle our things first at Liwa Hotel, perched on the hill opposite the Castle.

It was by then 4pm. The Moreeb Hill is on top of our list, followed by seeing the whole stretch of the Liwa crescent. It was almost evening so we agreed on going first to Arada, west of the crescent. It is about 50 kilometers from the hotel and heading near the Saudi border.

Date farms, telecom towers lined the roads with orange sand dunes providing the backdrop. We were approaching the Saudi border when our sights were invited by flocks of black camels down a vast sabkha.  This is yet on my record of the most number of black (!, or make that dark brown, not the usual colors seen around the city) camels I saw at a single time. After some camel photo ops and as it's getting late, we headed back towards the hotel. While we skipped dropping by the famed Fish Farm, we were tempted to get on the road to Moreeb Hill. There were no light posts and a few cars on the road that we turned back midway. Our six months old Riane was with us hence there was no risking of driving on to a dark un-known place to us.

With the Liwa Castle at the opposite hill

At the hotel, Kalel and his Dad took a swim while I tucked Riane warm with me to the reception to reserve a sandboard for 5 am. We hit the bed and set our alarms for 5am. The plan was to drive to Moreeb Hill at dusk to watch the sun rise among the sand dunes. However, the kids slept late that the next morning, we called off going to Moreeb Hill early, we instead walked outside the hotel down the dunes. The sound of Landcruisers cruising the dunes can be heard from the distance, and got louder as one stuck 4X4 revved its engine while pulling the tyres out of the sand. Of course, Kalel did not miss running up and down and rolling over on sand dunes.

Sunrise outside Liwa Hotel

As light started peeking out, the sky flashed and painted a mix of purple and orange. The sun soon turned the sand into reddish orange rolls of dunes.

We had breakfast and left the hotel by 8am for Moreeb Hill. It was supposed to be around 10 kilometers away, but I called the hotel four hours later to request a late checkout by 1pm.

Liwa Hotel, Tilal Liwa, or Qasr Al Sarab?

Liwa Hotel is the cheapest we could grab from Groupon at some AED 250/ night with breakfast. It is an old hotel situated at the center of the crescent and is the nearest base to drive towards Moreeb Hill and to Saudi border to the left of the crescent. Tilal Liwa and Qasr Al Sarab are less than an hour drive away from Moreeb Hill. Qasr Al Sarab is located to the right end of the crescent.

Moreeb Hill

The place holds joins the record of the world's tallest dunes with up to 358 ft. It's an endless view of amazing orange sand hills with the hues changing depending on the time of the day.
Moreeb Hill
More than the sand dunes, there's also sabkhas, camel and sheep farms and campers -- to see or meet.

A sabkha at Moreeb

I've read of sabkhas before and had not actually understood what is until we went to the Moreeb dunes.
These sabkhas are usually made home to camel and sheep farms. And there are the shepherds who know the desert so well, giving company to the animals.

Along the way early in the morning, campers gathered outside their tents, some putting their tents down, and others sat in circles with their coffee mugs.

Indeed, the serenity of the place and the quiet life of the rolling hills provide a perfect break to settlers from the fast-paced city life.

Liwa, the community

Liwa is generally a quiet community, and even within the 100 kms stretch of the crescent, we’ve came across more trucks than we had with personal cars. Both the oil fields the construction of the Etihad Railway here (a network that will connect UAE to both Oman and Saudi) get the road busy with trucks.

The government investments to sustain and cultivate greenery in this oasis is just amazing, with the thousands of date trees being distinctly visible from space.

Way home

From Liwa Hotel at the middle of the crescent, we drove east of the crescent and reached Abu Dhabi via Haneem Road. Most parts of Haneem road has no electrical posts, with solar panels providing energy to the few structures along the way. The road is a single carriageway of 80 KPH and it’s mostly trucks and trucks giving company on the road.

Before one gets back to E11, the Emirates National Auto Musuem is along the way. We've visited the museum earlier so we did not drop by this time. Having already seen Haneem  Road and the museum, I guess the Madinat Zayed Road will be better for us to use the next time we visit.

The Princess Experience

And yes, we were too glad to have Riane get her longest rod trip yet. Indeed, there's nothing as too early when it comes to starting babies at getting through long road trips. A toast to Baby Riane who at almost seven months, joined us in one of our dream drives!

Liwa Part 2

If there's a reason for me to drive back to Liwa, it will be to re-take photos and give justice to the amazing creation it being is. I remain bad at photography, but really, who would not want to capture and share a great experience?

Meantime, here are photos of our Liwa trip that I uploaded in the Gremliness Facebook page :

Desert driving

January 01, 2013

After five years of driving here in the sandpit and after changing from a 2.7L  to a 4.0L V6 engine, I had no qualms when my Big Gremlin asked to get into intermediate desert driving.

We've manuevered by our lonesome the sands of Falaj Al Moalla in Ras Al Khaimah and Al Khawaneej off Mirdiff, so I gave him his fair share of my trust. And he just knows not to get the car into trouble, else...

Last Friday, all four of us finally joined some newly-found friends on desert driving. We arrived early in the morning as the other cars who since camped from the night prior, is by now preparing to pack up.

When everyone was ready, we headed off to Area 53 (that's how they called the desert location)

The car went sidewards, leaning down, revving up to the tip of the dune, and what else -- all heart racing experiences.

What can I say? Desert driving could be a scary thought for a first time rider like me however, I feel that to have a good start, one has to have an expert desert driving leader, trust in one's engine, the gut to drive, knowledge of the desert and love for dunes


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