#RandomThoughts: Amidst the Storm

As I type this, the bus has just left the terminal on the way to the big metro. I took my usual trip, 11:55pm, just so I can avoid the morning super heavy traffic jam that starts at Balintawak all the way to the end of EDSA on a Monday.

However, right now, there’s a storm and the rains have gotten stronger just before we left. I can’t even remember the last time I travelled in the midst of a storm. Last year before I gave birth, we waited out the storm before going home to the mountain city. So technically, it was not a stormy trip.

I’m not sure how long this trip will take (not the usual 5.5 – 6 hours probably) since the roads would be slippery. I just hope it won’t take too long, though, since it is alao raining in the big metro, I heard.

If I dig through my muddled brain (haha), the last time I remembered travelling to the mountain city in the middle of the storm was years ago. Those were the times when I insisted on celebrating my birthday back home. During those days, I didn’t care if there’s a storm as long as I get home and drink with friends. That life feels like somebody else’s now. LOL! Those were the days indeed. I must really be getting old.

For some reason, I’m quite calm during this trip given that it seems that we are in the middle of the heavy downpour. It has already been declared signal number 3 in the mountain city just before I left the house. Who in the right mind travels in this storm, anyway? Looks like I am not in the right mind. Hahaha!

I’ve seen some posts earlief as well that the big metro has declared no classes tomorrow (Monday). Well, I don’t think work stops though. I have to watch for news just in case there will be floods all over the metro again. Not that my area gets flooded, anyway.

Oh well, be safe, all! God bless this ttip, too. :-)

Blogapalooza 2014

Eversince I have become “active” – if you may – in the blogosphere, I have been on the look out for seminars, workshops, conferences and other what-nots that will give me something to blog about. Then I saw an ad somewhere about Blogapalooza. I only knew at first that it is a blogging event so I signed up right away. (Yep, that’s how impulsive I get). A couple of weeks ago, I received an email confirmation for my registration.

So what is Blogapalooza, anyway?

Blogapalooza is a community. It’s a link between big and small businesses who have something cool to share and the online community of people who love to share. Blogapalooza is a blogger event on crack! Lots of giveaways for the bloggers and online community and a chance for big and small businesses to present their product / brand / thingamajig to 100-150 Influential bloggers and other social media online influencers. (source)

Blogapalooza Instagram 1

In my own words, it is where businesses can promote their products by letting the consumers experience what they offer and for the consumer (aka, bloggers) to help advertise through the use of social media. Cool, eh? :)

I heard there’s going to be lots of freebies and giveaways and that makes me all the more excited to go. :D

To know more about Blogapalooza and to register for the event, you may visit http://blogapalooza.wheninmanila.com/

See you there! :)

Z’s Rockstar Birthday

My little baby is no longer little. He’s now a big 1-year old baby. Yes, he is still my baby nonetheless. :) He turned 1 year last August 29 and I am so glad that I was able to get home in time to be with him on the exact date and time that he was born.

I am thankful that I was allowed to cut my business trip in Singapore because it is my baby’s birthday. I landed late night on the 28th and went straight to the bus terminal to catch the 1:15 AM trip back home to the mountain city. I arrived home by 6AM, just in time to catch a few hours’ sleep with my little Z.

We spent his actual birthday at home. I was too tired to go out and the weather was quite unpredictable. And since Z still has a bit of a cold, I opted to stay home and play instead. That same evening, my brother came and took a few shots of little Z for his birthday shoot. I was initially planning a cake smashing photo shoot but I ran out of time. Here are a few shots taken of the impromptu  photo session:

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I planned his birthday party in Baguio on the 30th which was a Saturday. (Sorry Manila friends, I no longer have the time and the strength to plan a part 2 in the big metro). The rockstar theme was actually a concept that I had ever since I was pregnant and learned that I was carrying a boy. So I stuck with the idea. However, given the very busy and erratic schedules I have for the past few months, I was not able to do all the nitty gritty details of how I wanted it to be. I actually had a lot of DIYs for little Z’s birthday. Sadly, I was not able to set aside some time to do them. I thought I could allot some time during my travel to do a few things after work hours (photo/video montage, sticker design for the loot bags, etc) but I was too tired to do anything else after a whole day of brain work. :P I will still make a photo/video montage of Z’s first year, that’s for sure. :)

Anyway, I got the services of my cousin to do the set up. Regardless of all my short notices and even with the very general concept I’ve given her, she was able to make things work and even exceeded my expectations. And to think that we only met once to discuss and most of our discussions after that was through Facebook. (The lack of Z’s photos on the venue was my fault as I was not able to get a few photos printed for the event). I rented out the multipurpose hall of Pine Breeze Cottages which is just near our house. The place can accommodate up to 120 guests (my guest list was only half the total capacity, LOL!). The place is actually nice.  Here are a few snaps of the venue and set up:

the "stage" area

the “stage” area

candy cart

candy cart

Z @ 1 :)

Z @ 1 :)

guitars and drumsticks all around

guitars and drumsticks all around

These cupcakes were made by my cousin, too:

chocolate cupcakes with guitar shaped topper

chocolate cupcakes with guitar shaped topper

there's the cupcake tower

there’s the cupcake tower

loot bags

loot bags

party hats

party hats

She was also able to arrange for a magician/host to entertain the guests (especially the kids). I didn’t want a clown because clowns are scary (seriously!) but the host still wore a colorful costume as part of his magic show. :)

the magician / host

the magician / host

As for the caterer, since I didn’t have the time to really look for one, I got the same person my cousin got to cater for my nephew’s baby dedication. I had the typical kiddie part menu: spaghetti with meatballs, clubhouse sandwich, fried chicken (wings) and mango float. My Mom bought two boxes of cheese cake, too. (Forgot to take a photo of the food, hahaha!) The food was okay but it could be better, I think.

My brother also have a contact for a photobooth and I hired them for the event. Unfortunately, I think the photobooth was not maximized. I think this is also due to the fact that a lot of my invited guests were not able to come. Still, the shots were great. :)

with the birthday boy :)

Here are a few shots of the event itself:

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And here is my pretty events coordinator – Thamz Pi. You can contact her on Facebook  for events / party planning or even to order cupcakes for your events. :)

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Thamz and Kern of ZVENTS

So, if you ever want to have an event held in the mountain city (aka Baguio), let me know and I will hook you up with this couple. Or, like I said, you can message her in Facebook for inquiries. :)

Whoever said that planning for a first birthday party was easy? With all the chaos going around with the daily life activities (aka, work and more work), party planning on the side is not easy. I am so glad that somehow I was able to pull this off with a lot of help. All for little Z. :)

birthday boy with my sibs

birthday boy with my sibs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters to my Baby #45: Happy Birthday!

Dear Baby Love,

<3

<3

As of this writing, I am on my way back home to you from Singapore. I have not seen you for more almost two weeks now and I miss you so much. Now, I am so excited to get home to you that I cannot sleep even if I already feel tired from the flight home.

As early as now, I want to be the first one to greet you a happy birthday! :) Technically, you are not turning 1 until 12:41PM today but we are no longer into the minute technicality of these things. So, Happy first birthday to you, my sweetheart! We have gone through a lot of things this past year – a lot of struggles, trials, milestones and joys. It was indeed a rough road trip but I am glad that we made it to this grand milestone.

You have grown into a very happy baby. You exude a certain lightness in you that makes everyone around you feel happy. You give your smiles more frequently now than when you were a few months old. :D You are also starting to show a certain strength in you that I can never have. You are actually showing traits that is uniquely you and those traits will be what will help you achieve whatever you are destined to achieve.

I am not going to make this long, sweetheart. I just want to tell you how proud I am of your achievements as early as now. And I also want to tell you how much I love you. I could not really express it in words but I hope, sweetheart, that I am able to show you and make you feel it.

Let us look forward to what this next year will bring, baby love. There will be a new set of challenges and difficulties but rest assured that I will always be with you and we will go through this next phase of our journey together.

Happy, happy birthday, my little Zaine! Eventually, I won’t be able to call you little anymore. But know that regardless how big you grow, you will always be my little baby. :)

I love you! Happy birthday! <3 :)

 

Love, Mum

 

The DFA Saga

Anybody had a hard time dealing with DFA? I just did. Remember my post regarding pet peeves a few months ago and I mentioned that one of my pet peeves is dealing with government offices? *Sigh* Let me just recount the events prior to the release of my passport.

When I lost my backpack last March, my passport was in there. Being so preoccupied, I forgot to take it out and secure it at home. So, I lost it, too, and it was never returned. Most likely, it already ended up in the garbage dump somewhere in Tarlac. I secured an affidavit of loss so I can process for a replacement and set an appointment on July 21 (earliest I was able to get when I tried get a schedule in July for a replacement) at DFA Megamall. Here’s what happened:

July 21 11AM:

I went to DFA Megamall and fell in line. It was actually my first time to process my passport at a satellite office.   I was assigned at Window 10 when it was my turn. They have about 12 windows and most of those are open so the processing was fast. The admin checked my documents and when he saw that I was applying for a replacement passport, I was asked to go to the main branch (DFA Aseana) to secure a clearance. And so I took a cab going to the main branch (and it was a good thing because there was no traffic that time) and proceeded to the consular records area. They took my application form, affidavit of loss and photocopy of my lost passport (which I was able to find a copy in the pile of papers in my in/out tray). I was told that there will be a 15-day clearing period (which I find it too long) before they can release my application. I was told to come back on the 5th of August.

And so I waited.

August 5, 1030 AM:

I proceeded to DFA Aseana to get the clearance and my application form. I was then told to proceed to step 2 (which was pay the processing fee). This was where I got confused. I asked the guy at the information desk if I can continue processing my application in DFA Megamall since that was where I started. He said (and in a rude voice), “Dito ka na nga pinapunta kasi may issue passport mo. E d dito mo na iprocess yan.”  (They sent you here because there was an issue with your passport. You should have it processed here.). And so I proceeded to step 2 as was advised.

At the cashier window, there was a note there that instructs people to just give the receipt for payment. I asked the guard about it and I told him that there was no receipt issued yet. He told me to go to the information desk again. This time pointing the one located outside the processing area at the second floor. The lady at the desk was helpful. She said that I should proceed to step 1 for the processing since the only one done is verification. So I asked her if I can proceed with the processing at DFA Megamall since that was where I started and I was thinking it would be more convenient for me to pick up my passport there since it is just a few minutes away from my apartment and from the office. She said yes, I can go back there and there is no need to set another appointment.

Thanking her for her assistance, I went back to DFA Megamall. And it was only 11:30AM.

At DFA Megamall, since I was a returning applicant, I was led to Window 12. They processed my application and told them it will be rush processing (which is only 7 working days compared to regular processing which is 15 working days). I was then advised that the earliest release date is August 14 but to expect 3-5 days delay. No further explanation provided and for some reason, I did not ask. I only asked if it can be released on the 14th due to urgency and I was advised to call first to check. The release date range provided was August 14-22, 2014.

So I proceeded to the cashier to pay for the rush processing fee as well as the lost passport fine, then went to encoding to provide my signature and have my picture taken. Afterwards, I left and went to work. And again, I wait.

In all fairness, the processing in Megamall was quick and easy. Not much people that day, too.

August 14, 1030AM:

I called DFA Megamall. Noone was answering. I searched DFA’s website to check if there are other numbers that I could call. I only found two. I tried both numbers and still,  no one was answering.

By 2PM, I went to the branch and proceeded to Door 5 – the releasing area. I was then told that my passport is still not available and that it was still in queue for printing. I asked what the cause of delay was. The guy said it was technical and that it was already explained when I applied for the passport. I just had to tell him that it was not explained and no reason provided, only that there is a delay. I also asked if there is a way to have it expedited due to urgent need. He said they cannot do anything and that I should follow up on the 22nd. I mean, what?? Seriously? What was the point that I had it processed as express and paid the premium, right?

I told the guy that I will come back the next day, regardless.

August 15, 2PM:

And so I went back. Again, I was told that the status did not change. I asked if there was a way to get it expedited as I am expected to be in Singapore on the week of the 18th for an urgent business need. He said to just follow up on the 22nd.

What is wrong with all these people??!?

As soon as I got to the office, I sent an email to DFA Megamall. I was not exactly expecting a response but I was hoping that it would help in getting my passport released earlier. I got a response the next day (surprisingly) saying that I should follow up in two days’ time.

On another note, another work mate of mine had her passport renewed at the same branch. She followed up on the 14th as well and when she insisted that the need is urgent and that her ticket was already booked, she was told by the admin guy that she should go back on the 18th at 10AM so they can include her name in the list that the messenger will send to Bangko Sentral (where they print passports). I got pissed after knowing that. I was never told that there was a way to get things expedited.

And so I planned to be early on the 18th and insist on getting my passport released immediately.

August 18, 1130AM:

I was not able to get to the branch at 10AM but I went anyway. I saw my work mate there and she told me that her passport will be released that same day but only after a long debate with the OIC of the branch. So I prepared my own argument in case they still didn’t release my passport. Here was how the conversation went:

OIC: Wala pa po yung passport mo. Sa 22 pa po marerelease. (Your passport is still not available. It will be released on the 22nd).

Me: Hindi po ba magagawan ng paraan yan? Urgent na kasi. Kelangan ko na lumipad bukas. (Is there no way to get it released earlier? It is urgent and I need to fly tomorrow).

OIC: Naexplain naman po na meron tayo delay. Nagbigay ba kayo ng proof of urgency nung nagpaprocess kayo? (It was already explained that there are delays. Did you provide proof that there is an urgent need for the passport when you applied?)

Me: (Quite dumbfounded since flight  booking before applying of passport is not advised) Sinabi ko po urgent need. Kaya nga rush processing e, d ba? Kaya nga ako nagbayad ng premium fee. (I told the clerk that it is urgent. I requested for rush processing, didn’t I? That’s why I paid a premium fee for it.)

OIC: Lahat naman po sinasabi urgent. (Everybody says it is urgent).

*And I was like, duh! that’s why they pay extra!*

And so I showed her the email of the initial ticket booking that our Travel Desk sent – flight was dated August 19th. And I also told her about the email response of DFA that I should follow up in two days’ time which was that Monday. And then she went on about the delays and that the release date given is a range and all that.

Then I told her that she already talked to  my work mate and they were able to make a way to get her passport released that day and that the processing dates of both application was only a day apart. I also told her that I was not expecting the passport to be released that day but asked her what assurance she can provide that my passport will be released the next day.

OIC: I guarantee, 100% assurance lalabas po passport mo tomorrow. (I guarantee, 100% assurance that your passport will be released tomorrow). I give you my word.

Me: What time can I expect it?

OIC: *stammering a bit* 5PM

Me: OK. I will follow up again tomorrow and it should be available by then.

And so, I wait again.

August 19, 1030AM:

I woke up late so I opted to call the OIC’s cellphone number which I was able to get from my work mate. LOL! I followed up on the status and she said that it still did not change. What?!?! Again?!?!!

Me: Ma’m, you gave your word that my passport will be released today. That was what you told me yesterday. You gave a 100% assurance when I asked you.

OIC: Ma’am, kahapon po yun. I cannot give the same assurance po ngayon. (Ma’am, that was yesterday. I cannot give the same guaranteed today)

Me: *already starting to fume but held my temper* That is not acceptable. You assured me it will be released today and you gave me your word. I need that passport today. (Yes, I answered her in English. Hahaha!)

OIC: Nagpadala na po kami ng messenger sa BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) para dalhin yung listahan ng mga kailangan lumabas ngayon. (We already sent a messenger to BSP to provide the list of names that need to be released today).

Me: What time can I expect an update?

OIC: Mga 1PM po.

So, again, I went there at 1:30PM. I was told that – again, for the nth time – my passport is not yet printed. I told the guy that I already talked to the OIC earlier today and was told that my passport will be released today. Another lady came and said it will be released by 6PM.

I called around 5:30PM to validate that it will indeed be released. They told me yes. So by 6PM, I was out of the office and on my way back to DFA Megamall. I had to wait until 7:30PM before my passport was released.

And here it is. Finally!

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Here’s the thing. DFA is getting a lot of applications daily and BSP can no longer accommodate the load since it appears that there is a higher demand than their capacity to produce. Why still offer express processing when you cannot meet the lead time? DFA and BSP personnel need to attend trainings on understanding supply chain that’s for sure.

I know I am not the only one with this kind of experience with DFA. I have encountered a few who were complaining because of the delay on the past few days that I have been going back there.

It is tedious and I don’t know if these people know the hassle that people go through with the delays they are causing.

I am so going to ensure my passport is  safe. Trust me, passport processing (regardless if renewal, replacement or new) is such a pain in the butt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#RandomThoughts: Of Gangsters, Long Hair, etc.

As I type this, I am on my way to the mountain city to be with my son for the weekend. In fact, right now, I am just waiting for the bus to leave from a more-than-supposedly-15-minute stopover. I stepped off the bus a few minutes ago to stretch my legs and got back in in less than 5 minutes. And yes, I brought my backpack with me when I got off ealier. I learned my lesson well. :D

Anyway, just before we made a stopover, the movie being played in the bus ended. They showed a local teen flick, “She’s Dating a Gangster”. Geez! Yes, I watched it just because I had nothing better to do with my time. And I am actually deciding if I will disect the film and write down my thoughts about it. Here are a few criticisms that I just couldn’t let go:

- I am guessing that the timeline of the story was probably around mid-90’s (biggest clue would be the beepers). I don’t remember gangsters to be skater boys around those times, though. How in the world did they come up with their gangster perona anyway?

- And since when did you have a “gangster” playing for the varsity team? Not only that, he’s the “star player”, too? If I remember correctly, during the 90’s, students were already stereotyped. You’ve got your nerds, your athletes, the socialites, the artists, the notorious, the outcasts. (There might be other sterotypes but you get my drift). Rarely do those groups connect and totally cross paths apart from being classmates. Blackmailing a person from a different “specie”, aka stereotype, to be a part of a plan to make your ex-gf jealous is quite unheard of. On second thought, since I grew up in a small city, maybe those thing happen in the big city during those days. Who knows?

- School setup in the movie was college, I think. Why did I have a feeling the whole time that they were just in high school? Or am I just really getting old?

- A mother pleading to her daughter’s ex-boyfriend to get back together so that her daughter will live. This part really bothered me. That’s just wrong. I do know that a mother will do everything to make sure her child lives but to plead that an ex-boyfriend – who apparently had moved on with his life – to break off his current relationship to get back together with a dying daughter to make her happy is just plain wrong. I, as a mom, would never force someone to be with my child just to make him happy. You cannot force someone to love you. Plain and simple.

But then, hey, it was just a movie, I know. Still, that part was a sucky twist just to have a dramatic breakup. The writer could have done a bit better than that.

I would have given the movie a good rating if the writer was able to profile the characters based on the actual profiles that they portayed back in the 90’s. But since there seem to be a lack of in depth character profiling, well, what can I say? And don’t get me started with the actors and their acting skills. Haha!

If there’s one thing that I like in the movie, it was the kid’s long hair. What’s the name of that kid that portayed the “gangster”? Yeah, that kid sporting that shoulder-length hair. I liked the hair, not the kid. Let’s make that clear, shall we?

I am such a sucker for guys with long hair. The fascination for it started in high school and I never outgrew it. There’s just something appealing about it, I guess.

Oh and we are back on the road. I wish this trip will go a little bit faster so I can get home to my baby love a little bit earlier.

Going back to guys with long hair. It doesn’t look good to everyone, mind you. Some guys look better with short, cropped hair, some with no hair and a few who could sport long hair really well. And not all guys with long hair are musicians, too. Contrary to popular belief, there are guys who grew their hair long just because they wanted it to. Others do it just because they’re too lazy to get a hair cut. And I’ve met guys with long hair who were more vain than women when it comes to hair care. LOL! You could actually get hair care tips from them. Seriously! :-D

It’s already past 3AM this side of the world. The bus aircon is too cold and I can’t close the one above my seat because it no longer has that flap that closes the vent. Good thing I have a shawl with me that I use as a blanket when I travel and I brought my handy-dandy round pillow. All I nned now is to find a comfortable position to be able to get a few hours’ sleep.

And with that said, I end this post. I am done being peeved with the movie and the lady in front of me who got too excited during the start of the movie that I thought she was going to jump up and down her seat with glee. LOL!

Being a Weekend Mom

Another long day over. And I mean literally long day. I’ve been up since 8AM and was out of the house before 10AM. And I just got home about an hour ago.

Let’s not talk about that, shall we? :D Although I need all the powers that be to intercede in the processing of my passport due to an urgent business need to travel. I need the passport to come out by the 14th of this month. But like I said, that’s not what I really wanted to talk – well, write – about.

Since the start of this year, I have been travelling to the mountain city and back every weekend  (well, for those times that my little boy is staying up there). I think I have been home to the mountain city this year more than I had gone home for the last two years combined. Travelling 6 hours each way every weekend is tiring, to be honest. Given how stressful my job nowadays is (but trust me, even if it is stressful, I still enjoy what I do regardless of all the frustrations), 6-hour long commute is not exactly a walk in the park. Yes, I can take naps during the trip but given the cramped up space, it is not easy finding the most comfortable position to do so. Unless you take the deluxe bus trip which will cost more (and I don’t have the budget for that).

Whenever my son doesn’t have doctors’ appointments scheduled in the big metro, he stays with my family in the mountain city. Every Friday (well, Saturday early morning) right after work, I rush to the bus terminal to catch my scheduled trip. I usually get home at around 6-7AM, depending on how fast the bus goes and the trip that I was able to get. I get to spend my Saturday and Sunday with my little boy. If the weather permits, the two of us usually go to the mall, have snacks (well, coffee), meet a few friends (if I am able to schedule it with them) and window shop. We go home after about a few hours of staying out, take a nap, play, have dinner followed by probably a movie before putting the little boy to sleep.

I usually try to put my little Z to sleep on Sunday nights before I prepare to leave for the big metro. This is because  it is hard to leave the little boy while he is giving you all those sweet and innocent smiles that makes your heart soar to high heavens when he is awake. The smiles that makes me want to just stay and play with the little boy and forget about work.

The very first time that I was leaving my little boy with my Mom was just this January. After the holiday break, I brought the little boy with me to the big metro due to scheduled doctor’s appointment. But after that week, I brought him home and left him to stay with my Mom for a week. I still remember that Sunday night when I didn’t want to let go of my little baby boy. I put him to sleep that night, too, before I left. I almost didn’t want to put him down on the bed, too, because he looked so secured and peaceful sleeping in my arms that night. I was working so hard to hold back my tears when I eventually put him down on the bed, tucked him in and kissed him good night.

When I learned that I was pregnant and I made the decision to become a single Mom, I already accepted the fact that I am going to need my family’s help in raising my little boy since I didn’t want my son to be raised by a nanny. I already accepted the fact that I will become a weekend Mom – meaning, I get to be a full-time Mom to my son during the weekends since I have to work during the week days. I made all those decisions based on logic. And it was logical.

7 months to being a weekend Mom most of the time, I now realize that it is hard. It is a whole lot harder than I imagined. I miss a lot of my son’s firsts in terms of his growth and development and there was even a time that he had to be confined due to diarrhea and I wasn’t there.

From a mother’s perspective, one would say that you should always be there for your kids no matter what. Well, guess what? I haven’t been there during the first time that my son was able to balance himself in a standing position against the wall. I wasn’t there when he had diarrhea and needed to be confined for a few days. I wasn’t there when he first uttered all those syllables that he now loves to say. I wasn’t there for a whole lot of things because I was at work and he was hundreds of miles away from me.

Sometimes, thinking about the things that I missed in his early life makes me feel like I am a bad Mom to my son. It makes me question myself if I really deserve to be his Mom. And it makes me feel really bad to have missed a lot. I ask myself if the sacrifice I am doing is all going to be worth it in the end. To be honest, I don’t have any answer to that. Maybe, maybe not.

I thought that the heavy feeling I feel whenever I leave my son back home will get any easier with time. It doesn’t seem like it. It gets harder every week that I have to leave him. Two days is not enough to make up for the lost time.  Two days is not enough to spend time with a growing little boy compared to five long days spent at work. If only we could reverse it. Riiiiiight… LOL!

Regardless of how tiring the long commute is going home to the mountain city, if that is where my little boy is, then that is where I will spend my weekends. Even if I only have one day to stay with him, I will still go home to my little boy. Forget how tiring the trip is or how little sleep I had, nothing beats the fact that even for just a day, I get to spend it watching my son do his antics, showing off his newly acquired skills, and most definitely, seeing those smiles that can always, always wipe the tiredness and all other negative energy away.

"smile!" :)

“smile!” :)