5 Places in Melbourne to Celebrate this Filipino Tradition – Simbang Gabi!

5 places to experience Simbang Gabi in Melbourne

The most liveable city in the world not only has spectacular landmarks, world class events and, cuisine and coffee second to none, it also has a vibrant mix of the most friendly and welcoming people. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Melbourne is made up of such a vibrant mix of ethnicities in which a myriad of customs and traditions are celebrated, igniting people’s imaginations, sense of belonging and passion.

 Simbang gabi pandesal Melbourne The Urban Ma blog

It’s that most wonderful time of year again when fresh, soft pandesal and sticky Filipino desserts are enjoyed together after a mass that takes place as the sun rises. Simbang Gabi (dawn mass) is a tradition brought over from the Philippines and celebrated each year during the nine days leading up to Christmas.

Rising with the break of dawn, community members full of faith and joyful spirit attend the novena celebrations with the twinkling hope that upon completion of making it to all of the nine masses, their wishes and petitions will be granted.

Be it the granting of wishes, the tasty Filipino fare, the harmonious guest choirs and priests or the celebration of mass, it has been amazing to see this tradition being embraced by so many people in the community from different backgrounds. I remember when I was a little girl, my parents used to drive to Braybrook’s Christ the King church to attend Simbang Gabi as it was the only parish that celebrated the dawn mass tradition. These days Simbang Gabi masses can be found in various Parish in Melbourne.

Now with two young ones, I find that waking up and rising in the sun, and sitting in silence listening to the stories of guest priests and the sweet melodies of the choirs, is an amazing way to start the day. Quiet moments and reflection with two under 5 is a rarity so these days I cherish this tradition even more. Especially with all the hustling and bustling people around during this time of year, the early morning stillness is priceless.

puto Filipino Christmas tradition in Melbourne simbang Gabi Noel Brady Resurrection Parish simbang gabisopas at Simbang Gabi Melbourne dawn mass filipino Resurrection Parish Christmas in MelbourneResurrection Parish Christmas in Melbourne Simbang gabi

Today we are blessed to have the spirit of hope and love alive in Melbourne during Christmas that you can find Simbang Gabi being celebrated in numerous parishes.

Resurrection Parish, Kings Park (Congratulations on its 15th year of celebrating Simbang Gabi in Melbourne!)

St Peter Apostle, Werribee

St Peter Chanel, Deer Park

Holy Eucharist, St Albans

St Francis Xavier, Frankston

and now Our Lady’s, Maidstone

Does your parish celebrate this Filipino tradition or do you know of any others in Melbourne that do?

If so leave a comment below and share the spirit and joy of Christmas.

The Variety Santa Fun Run

Ditching the Friday after work drinks for a Friday night fun run

Variety Santa Fun Run – Melbourne

What better way to end the week than with a fun run. It was our first ever time committing to something of the sort. After watching my little brother complete his first ever run I was inspired. Albeit I didn’t do nearly as many kilometres as him! – he completed 22kms and we were so excited and proud! We had been meaning to start running the other year…but then I got pregnant and didn’t think it would be a good time to start on that activity so I just kept up with my daily walks and pregnancy pilates. Our biggest inspiration would definitely have to be my dad. I always remember him telling us the story of when he joined in a fun run and ran over the Westgate Bridge while it was so heavily pouring down rain. The rest of the story may be TMI so you’ll have to ask him for the rest of the details yourself. Let’s just say it was good it was raining so much.

We joined in the 5km stretch and walked/ran our way around the Yarra with some of Melbourne’s iconic landmarks in the background. Melbourne’s buzzing happy hour crowd seemed surprised to see a plethora of Santas running under the Princes Bridge, and everyone cheered us on as we endeavored to make our way to the finish line before our two kids in prams started wanting to get out of their seats for a little run around of their own. We had to keep them occupied with drinks and snacks!

It was a fun way to help kids be kids and spread the Christmas spirit of hope to those in need. And get a little exercise in there too!

Us and the kids in a sea of Santas – Variety, the Children’s Charity help when others can’t helping children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs through the provision of specialist equipment and services when families can’t afford it, and when government assistance isn’t available.Variety Santa Fun Run santa squad Melbourne eventsIt was a kid-friendly, family-friendly and pet friendly event!
warm up fitness Variety Fun Run SantaWarm ups before it started
Variety Santa Fun Run Melbourne Held at the Alexandra Gardens there were food trucks and we were spoilt with goodies at the finish line with yummy Jalna yoghurts, Bellamy’s organic baby food, Ardona water and even vouchers and mini pancakes from The Pancake Parlour. The smoky BBQ rolls from Smokin Barry’s food truck were a hit!

Care to share any tips for us newbie runners? Thanks in advance! xx

Mama Mondays – One of my favorite times of the day


Simple Nighttime Routine

Ever since becoming a mum I have tried to find that balance between trying to keep the house clean, find good recipes to cook, actually cook them, play with the kids, work, exercise, blog, grocery shop, relax, the list goes on. And so far, the one routine that actually works is our nighttime routine.

This is one of my most favorite times of the day. The time where we’re all fed, clean and snuggled up in bed. Our 4-year-old leads us some daily prayers and then right at the end my husband and I will ask him “Daniel, what are you grateful for today?”. To which he has replied with the most random, inspiring and heartwarming thoughts. It’s so interesting hearing what he has to say and it has always helped us to end the day on a happy, positive note no matter what else has happened.

Just the other night:

Me: So Daniel, what are you grateful for today?
Daniel: Thanks to God for my family and thank you for our hearts.
Me: Our hearts??
Daniel: Yes because it pumps the blood around.
Me: Why does it pump the blood around?
Daniel: So the blood goes to all the part of our body.
Me: Did you know that there are red blood cells and white blood cells?
Daniel: Yeah, the white blood cells help my sugats get better! (sugat – Tagalog word for wound)

Sometimes it’s just so random, the things he says. And it’s a good conversation starter because we end up hearing more about how he perceives the world and the events that have happened during the day. In this case, he said he got it from his “body book” – a book for kids that I bought for him a while ago. We haven’t read it in so long so it was so random that he thought of it. Not sure if was exposed to anything at preschool or on tv but it kind of makes me want to learn more about or study early childhood learning because he really, truly absorbs everything around him.

What is your nighttime routine and what are you grateful for today?

Sunday Reflections – A reminder

The Urban MA blog Melbourne bloggers
Sunday mornings are the best. This of course means different things when you have two under four. Even 8am is a sleep in!
Relaxed breakfast time. Maybe even a short walk. And of course we start the week off with an hour to reflect, give thanks and prepare. I love this time of year and even more so when we are surrounded by kindness, peace and like-minded people who are grateful and filled with hope and joy.
As we sat down for our morning coffee and hot chocolate after mass (free of course, and served with a smile!), I saw this little paragraph (see below) in our Parish bulletin. It is always filled with surprising little words of wisdom, stories of the locals and events that help bring people together in unity and love. It is published weekly with a Big Bulletin being published monthly. Something for everyone.
Life may be kicking you around right now, but I’m telling you that you can’t imagine the good that awaits you when you refuse to give up.
Stay focused on your dream, you have the power to change your circumstances.
Let nothing hold you back!
How do you spend the first few hours of your week? ‘Tis the season to spread hope, peace and love, not run around like headless chooks! Just something I need to keep reminding myself 😉
Wishing you a week that’s not too hectic as we draw closer to Christmas.
-xx-

Blogmas 2016 – Day 3 Our first Wiggles concert

Melbourne Town Hall projections Christmas in Melbourne

Just got home a couple of hours ago from attending our first ever Wiggles concert and spending the rest of the evening in the city. It was the perfect evening to be out and about as the weather was so balmy it really felt like summer may finally be here. Tonight I am grateful for:

– having my parents close by who are so happy to look after our little ones while we went out and partied last night. It felt so good to be able to sleep in and wake up together and just be
– being able to take the kids to their first ever Wiggles concert. Music and dance. What more could you ask for? Makes me so happy inside!
– living in such a vibrant and interesting city with both amazing sights and beautiful people
– being close to my siblings and being able to make memories with my niece and nephew
– our two kiddos for constantly giving us new things to experience. If it weren’t for Mr D wanting to go, I never would’ve thought I could enjoy a kids concert so much hehe! Thank you little munchkins for always being so full of wonder and appreciation. Here’s to many more firsts with you!

Blogmas 2016 The Wiggles concert

Blogmas 2016 – Day 1

Happy 1st of December!

I don’t know if it was just me but I’m certain I could feel a lively buzz in the air at work, home and at the shops today. Nothing like the first day of summer to get people excited for Christmas. I’d love to experience a white Christmas one day – it’s totally on my bucket list, but for now I just can’t wait for all those balmy nights to come and summer drinks and BBQ’s that go along with it.

Blogmas 2016 Day 1I love how it looks like Little Miss H is telling her big brother how to decorate the tree!
Blogmas 2016 Melbourne bloggerMum always used to make us put the tree up while she played Christmas tunes in the background. Now Mr D and Little Miss H are getting into the Christmas spirit too!

So in past years I’ve seen so many people do Blogmas which basically means they blog every day leading up to Christmas! Mostly Christmas-related posts. Seems like such a challenge but let’s see how I go! I have so many posts still in draft mode just sitting there waiting to be posted so even if it might not be Christmas related I will attempt to post everyday.

Today I thought it would be great to share some awesome blogs that I’ve been loving lately. I don’t get to read too many blogs these days but the below posts that I have come across are totally worth sharing!

1) The Organised Housewife – I’ve followed Katrina’s blog for a few years now ever since I met her at one of the Problogger events on the Gold Coast. Katrina shares her daily dose of domestic advice to make a mum’s life simpler and tidier. I love her easy to follow posts on how to clean and tidy up (I hate clutter…it makes me feel stressed out and exhausted just looking at it!) and last month she started a Christmas Tasks To Do countdown. It’s been so helpful in the lead up to Advent and the task archives can be found here.

2) Tot Hot or Not – So just last week Joyce posted a Christmas Activity Advent Calendar which has so many fun things to do it’s like she read my mind! Now I don’t have to come up with my own list because Joyce has  covered it beautifully and created a printable for you to keep and follow along as December rolls by. Lots of great ideas to see many amazing things that Melbourne has to offer during this time of the year.

3) MeeToo – Just saw this post of Kate’s yesterday on 7 Gifts That Aren’t Toys and it’s so perfect for helping us give kids the gift of experiences rather than toys which they probably have so much of already! I have a few memberships that we use throughout the year like the Zoo and Scienceworks memberships and they are just brilliant! Check out Kate’s post here if you want to save time shopping (most of these you can purchase online) and give something the kids (and their parents) can enjoy together!

Have you got any favourite blog posts you’ve come across recently? Share them in the comments below and spread the Blogmas love!

Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2016

Daniel at Santa's Magical KingdomMelbourne events Melbourne bloggers inviteThe Urban Ma Melbourne blogger Santa's MAgical Kingdom

Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2016
Caulfield Racecourse, Dec 18th – 23rd

After 4 successful years in Melbourne, Santa’s Magical Kingdom has become a Christmas tradition being visited by thousands of families from across Australia. This year it also opened its doors in Perth.

With an excited little four year old having looked forward to the opening night ever since he received the cute little invite in the mail, the event didn’t fail in putting a huge smile on his face from the moment we entered the place to the time we had to leave. Mr D headed straight to where it was “snowing” and then led us to Gingerbread Land where he knew exactly what he wanted to do – decorate and devour one of the scrumptious gingerbread men. All included in the entry price, except for a few games and the extra take away food, this year there was:

– A magical Christmas walk-through wonderland
– Snowland and meet the Snow Queen
– A free gift, when you meet Santa
– A brand new International Christmas Show Spectacular
– Roving Christmas characters
– Christmas Craft Village where you can make your own Christmas tree decoration
– Gingerbread Land, where you can decorate your own gingerbread man
– Interactive Letter Writing area and Storytelling area with Mrs Claus
– Amusement Rides & Games, including:
Santa’s Sleigh Ride,
the Giant Ferris Wheel
one of the Largest Super Slide’s in the country
The Elves Magical Train Ride and more

It has become a yearly tradition for us and such a wonderful way to welcome the festive season. Such a great gift idea too for those of you wanting to give a child memories to last a lifetime. Open until December 23rd there are still sessions available for some magical fun with the family.

Santa's Magical Kingdom Santa's Magical Kingdom Melbourne events Santa's Magical Kingdom 2016Santa's Magical Kingdom 2016 Melbourne events

In case you wanted to check out our previous visits to Santa’s Magical Kingdom, links are below -xx-

Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2013
Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2014
Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2015