Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Recollection Recall

I'm not a big fan of spiritual retreats and recollection days.  Particularly because I was 'raised' by nuns.  And all that spiritual re-awakening mumbo-jumbo happened almost on a daily basis.  And usually, each session ended in tears.

So when my sons' school called for a God's Earth Recollection Day, I was wimpified!

But to show how backwards my concept of recollection is --the boys actually had fun!  The activity was more of an opening the child's mind to how he or she can help in saving the planet and keeping it the way God has intended.  More of a Going God, Going Green campaign.  The day's session gave my boys new understanding of their responsibility for nature as God's children.  And, they didn't have to pray the rosary non-stop for 3 hours while kneeling on a hard wood floor.  Times have indeed changed.

Oooh... and they made personally-messaged and individually-designed God's Earth campaign shirts!

Miro's showed his minimalistic art style...
...and his passion for detail.

Kenji's highlighted his love for mad colors...
...and his inclination for vibrant... stuff.

I see this endeavor as a win-win situation.  The children learn to be more caring and responsible ...and I see a shirt silkscreening business in the near future. :P

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Night Fury meets Night Furry

Why didn't we think of this sooner?!!
If we had, we would've taken Alpha to the Hobbes and Landes HOWL-o-ween Party for Dogs last October... and we would've slayed!

Well, there's no such thing as too-late-the-hero in this household.  So we still went with making Alpha's costume, for future reference.

Now one tip when putting on a costume on your dog for the first time:  If your dog --like ours-- is used to running around au naturel, there will be some grief dressing him or her up.  So work with what's already there.  Think of a costume that would take into consideration the color of your dog and the bare minimum of only wearing a leash with simple and light add-ons.  Accessorizing is the best you can go with a first timer.

In Alpha's case, we went with How to Train Your Dragon's Night Fury.  The costume is so easy and cheap to make.

All we needed was a roll of electrical tape, some barbecue sticks, and a couple of old black stockings.

The wing skeleton is a little tricky.  Let electrical tape save your day.

Then, we just slid the skeletons into each stocking and made sure the stockings clung tautly to the shape of the frames.  Electrical tape did the job again in binding the loose ends of the stockings so it was easier to wrap them around the leash.

The tail is the easy part.  We just took the left over part of one stocking and twined tape around it.  The knotted loop at one end is important.  That's where Alpha's stubby little tail goes.

And  --it's done!  Alpha was a little fussy when we started putting it on her.  But later on, she got comfortable and totally forgot she even had wings!

So I guess it's a date next HOWL-o-ween?

If Only You Would Listen

If only you would listen
I wouldn't have to yell
I wouldn't have to feel bad
For making your life 'hell'

If only you would listen
There wouldn't be time out
No grounding and no spanking
These I can do without

If only you would listen
I wouldn't have to sob
For being 'mommy monster'
To the only child I love

Disciplining your child is the toughest job in the parenting handbook.  I wrote this for mothers (and fathers) who feel awful every time they must be firm on their children.  I myself feel horrible on the rare times I would lose patience and raise my voice just a tiny notch.  It's normal.  Tough love is always better.  Unfortunately. :(

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photobooths For The Win!

This has nothing to do with parenting.  But it has everything to do with adults behaving like kids.  And, it's legal.

 PHOTOBOOTHS!  Probably the happiest thing ever invented for every possible gathering.  It started out as a side booth for children's parties.  Right along with the glitter tattoo booth and ring toss booth.  Eventually, it caught on and made it into adult get-togethers like product launches, company events, and get this -- weddings!  The magic of the Photobooth is that it peels away the 'why so serious?' mood and tone of events and adults.  And all it takes is a huge digital camera and quick-print set-up and a box of easy-to-wear costumes.

Don't you dare think this is just a typical photo op, no sir!  This is action packed!  You and your posse will have to face a screen which projects your image and a timer.  In 4 seconds, you will have to change your costumes in 4 intervals for 4 photo variations.  So it's a quick duck-and-grab-and-don activity!  And you have to think of different poses to match your costumes, too.  Because if you don't --then you're a nerd.

The glory that is the Photobooth.  If there is one time when adults can be silly and happy and forget all the crap that is work and deadlines and stress --THIS.  IS.  IT.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Sappy

One movie I have successfully avoided for 9 long years is I Am Sam.  I have good reasons:  I'm not sappy enough to go for drama movies, I have a long-running bad vibes trip for both celebrity brats Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning (thanks to TMZ), and I have a malignant soft spot for people with disabilities.  Whenever I see them in a situation where they are questioned or threatened, I go into maternal lioness mode, step in between, and get in trouble.

Today, HBO had I Am Sam on.  Nothing else was good on all 100 networks, imagine that.  So Jing and I and Alpha suddenly found ourselves glued to the movie.  And just like that, for a good hour and a half, all my logic for steering clear of this movie assaulted me like a plague of freshly-chopped onions.
Never has a movie made me cry so much on so many scenes!

1.  When Sam (Sean) and Lucy (Dakota) were playing on the swings on time lapse.  Father and child bonding always makes me soggy with emotion.

2.  When it has become clear that Lucy has exceeded her father's mental ability, and she started dumbing herself down.  It's amazing how children can be very compassionate.  They're not always little monsters.

3.  When Sam explained that he and his daughter have 'same smarts'.  Because it's true!  Parents should never assume that they always know better than their children.  Being older doesn't always make one wiser.  Parents can be smarter than their children on some things, and their children can be smarter than their parents in some things.  I'm not even talking about disabilities here.  This is a fact for everyone.

4.  When Sam had a breakdown in court when the prosecutor attacked him by saying he's not worthy to raise Lucy.  Ah, maternal lioness mode, ON!  Who the hell actually decides that?  Is there a rule book on perfect parenting that a lucky few has found???  Even people known to have high IQs fail at parenting.  Background has nothing to do with parenting.  As Lucy put it brilliantly, "All you need is love."
Now that's me on full sappy mode.

5.  When the lawyer, Rita (Michelle Pfeiffer), cried about not being a good enough parent because of her career.  And that she loses patience on her son and yells at him to cover up her parenting flop.  Nuff said.  This was soooo me! :(

Still clutching Jing's tear-soaked shirt (I wept on the poor man's chest the whole time) --no matter how delayed a reaction this may be-- I laud Sean, Dakota, and Michelle for their impeccable performance.  I laud the Beatles soundtrack and historical reference to the legendary band in the film.  I laud a story that makes us rethink our parenting styles.  I laud myself for finally watching this movie.

Now I wish my kids would come back from school already so I could hug them ever so tightly.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I was multitasking as I wrote this

After a year into it, I can safely say that I've never really known real multitasking until I became a stay-at-home mom.

It was quite a face-palm realization.  I used to think I was the queen of multitasking.  Writing an ad for a client, and writing another ad for a different client, and picking up the phone about a client project, and approving a host of other client requirements --all at the same time.
But looking back, while there were indeed a lot of stuff going on, they were basically the same stuff.  All work, all ads.  I'm not belittling the past. That was still a difficult feat to beat.  However, it's not as extreme as the brand of multitasking I'm going through now as a SAHM.

Ironing clothes, and preparing breakfast for the hubby, and listening to tales from the kiddos, and playing with the kiddos while getting them ready for school, and chasing the dog who ran away with the lunch bag, and thinking of an ad for a client --all at the same time. And THIS is just the beginning of the day! 

It's harder because I can't stop mid-laundry and say, "Well, you'll just have to wait!  The leadtime wasn't long enough!"
Or raise an eyebrow at a booboo and say, "It's small.  You can handle it.  You want me to handle that, give me your salary."
Or ignore a financial discussion with the husband and say, "Do you have a JO for this manhour?"
And of course, I still take on part time work writing ads for clients.

All throughout, I have to achieve some form of calm and fluidity.  Some deity-like power of focus and compartmentalization.  I usually fail than succeed, but I'm getting better at it.
Eventually, I shall be like Shiva (I know he's a man, bear with me) ...as serene and as skilled as a dancer as she (ok, he!) destroys all adversities threatening her (hisss...) brood.  And creating, providing beautiful things out of nothing in one smooth, death-defying sweep.
From multitasking queen ...to multitasking goddess (GOD, I mean, god!).

But, boy, are my arms tired.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have you gone completely MAD??!

We have!  And we'd do it again!

Confession time:  I am one of those crazy moms who make an insanely huge effort when it comes to her kids' birthdays.  In so doing, some fall flat.  Some, so-so.  And some rise to the top like, like... a nuclear explosion!

Da Bomb is what I would call the past 2 Mad Science Birthdays my husband and I cooked up for our boys.
No pinata.  No pin-the-tail on the donkey.  No annoying dancing mascot to the tune of some overused and abused pop tune.  Just pure exploration, discovery, and a darn heap of unbridled excitement.

Mad Science's birthday packages cover all things scientific.  From planets to lasers to everything that creates a gigantic spark in the imagination.  The stuff that make kids wonder and learn.  The cliche 'edutainment' comes to mind.  But, hey, there's nothing cliche about this birthday party, I can give you that.
The Mad Science team of mad scientists will go to wherever venue you want (To infinity and beyond? --sorry, I just had to say that), complete with their beakers, shiny tools, and mysterious chemicals.

Then, at your own choosing, a host of action-filled, totally hands-on experiments ensues.

How clouds are formed.
How to create a tornado.
How to launch a rocket solely by air pressure.
How to launch a water-powered rocket.
How to light up the sky with your very own mini-H bomb!!!

Oops!  WTH!!!, you say?  Haha!  Never fear.  The Mad Science crew is big on safety.  No matter how incredibly awesome these experiments get, none of the kids are ever harmed in the making of these parties.

So when you say you want your child to have a birthday blast, by all means, MEAN IT.
Hey, we did.  And up to now, our boys are still happily raving MAD about it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Play, at a Cosmic Level

Gawd!  Did I ever tell you about Cosmic Kidz?  Guess I forgot again.  We went there 4 months ago.  And it was a blast!
I mean, it's 4 storeys of jungle gym heaven --how can you not have immense fun with that?!

Cosmic Kids is the largest play area in the country today.  It makes perfect sense that it's located at the Mall of Asia, the largest mall in the country today.
Cosmic Kidz is where kids go to be kids again --running and jumping and screaming, minus technology.  This is the real PHYSICAL deal.  What kids were born to do and be!

No elevators here.  To go up every floor of the 'building', you have to climb up soft padded stairs.
To go down, you slide down ...many times.  Woohoo!
In between these, there's the abomination-reflecting Mirror Room.
It's just next to the brain-teasing Puzzle Room.
The Airball Room, filled to the brim with colorful balloons, is every child's favorite romp area.
The Orb Pool follows at a very close second.
The Energy Deck is quite addicting.  Kids run around it, pushing the hanging soft bags against each other for hours on end.  It's a kid-friendly Survivor challenge!
Now, time for the big guns.  Kenji got his shooting skills put to good use at the Cannon Station.
Down below, Miro dodges every cannonball raining on him at the ultra-spacey Float Fountain.
Winding down, my boys got their creative kicks at the soft building blocks suite.
And with some table games like this cool Sphere Catcher.

Oh, there's more.  But I'm not about to ruin the fun by spilling the whole bag of jelly beans.  I do come with a warning though.  If you plan to chase your kid all over the place (like what Jing and I did), prepare for massive body pains.
Let's wrap it up with some well-meaning ice cream right outside the door, shall we?

Cosmic Kidz. 
30-Minute Play - P180
One Hour Play - P250
Unlimited Play - P480
Unforgettable kiddie fun - Priceless

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why, Discovery, huh? Why?? WHY???

After Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, a good next step for your child's TV viewing is ...not MTV.  Not for my kids anyway.  Tired of The Little Einsteins and sick to the stomach of Barney, they set their peepers on Discovery Channel.
Sounds too old for you?  Not really.  You know when your child is ready for the said network transition when he or she has fully entered the dreaded WHY Stage.  Why is the sky blue?  Why did the dinosaurs die?  Why aren't there any aliens in the back yard?  Oh you've heard all of that and you haven't heard the last of it.

This inquisitive stage really has no age range to it.  As long as your child has reached the age of discovery, then it's time for Discovery.  So if you have no idea how Pluto lost its planet status, a huge possibility is that Discovery Channel does.
For my feisty, bloodthirsty, little Kenji whose favorite questions play around "Why aren't the dinosaurs coming back?" and "Why can't I have a shark as a pet?", there's Discovery season specials like Clash of the Dinosaurs which talks about the life and times of these extinct giants in full, highly-impressive CG.
And then on it's 20th season, there's Shark Week.  More realistic and more PG because of the graphic show of shark attacks in some episodes, but still educational in the sense that it tells you the good and the bad sides of these water monsters.  Ok, more the bad side.  But that does not kill Kenji's love and fascination for these beasts.
For my mini-mad scientist and walking, non-stop-talking brain, Miro, whose favorite questions are those aimed at pushing me to the brink of either insanity of stupidity, there's How It's Made --a show that takes one through the step-by-step process of creating and manufacturing day-to day objects like pencils, violins, drums, and such.
Another one for him is How The Universe Works.  A Discovery season special that talks about anything and everything outside of Earth.  Something Miro is very interested in --being a child who plans to harness the powers of the galaxy someday for universal domination.
Mythbusters, a Discovery staple, is a common favorite to these 2 boys.  It's the show that blends brains and brawn in one sitting.  It answers all the whys and hows as well as explodes things needlessly. Uh-huh, that's one of the few things my boys agree on.

These are just a few of Discovery Channel's plethora of educational offerings that have nothing to do with text book learning.  This is extreme education with a generous dash of entertainment and engagement.  If you think it's still too much for your kids, think of it as nothing more than a hyped Jimmy Neutron cum Dexter's Lab cum Phineas and Ferb.

Or, think of it as a smart way of getting the WHYS out of your hair for a few hours.  There you go!  Boom-de-yada... boom-de-yada...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Jane Addiction

I know, I know... I said I wouldn't blog about Halloween anymore.  Sue me for allowing Halloween to have a special place in my heart.  But this beauty came in as a late entry, and believe me when I say it is so blog-worthy.

Presenting Jane-in-the-Box!

Like most Jack-in-the-Boxes, she came in a wonderful tin box decked with lovable kiddie images of blocks, ponies, duckies and warmth.  The artwork held some kind of old world charm.  It reminded me of those old tin lunch boxes and summers at the beach.

Like most Jack-in-the-Boxes, the tin also had a crank on the side.  However, instead of the expected clickety-click tune of Pop Goes The Weasel, what comes out is a series of eerie moaning.  That's when things start to get pretty dubious.

And then... BAM!  AAAAHHH!!!!  Pop goes Chuckie's bride in sleepwear!!!!

Ah, yes, this is Jane.  Her beautiful face is made of smooth vinyl made lumpy by her scars.  Her eyes are mismatched for some odd reason.  Her hair is the scraggly Barbie-type hair held in futility by a tiny band.  Her dress is shiny, shimmery satin.  Her arms, cottony felt, for easy folding back into the box for reusable wet-your-pants fright sessions.

Jane-in-the-Box's shock factor is awesome.  You don't get that with any other kind of halloween toy.  Usually it's all blood and guts out in the open.  Jane has subtlety and the element of surprise and the huge possibility of nightmares for many years to come.   A nifty gift idea (for Halloween or not) that promises ...you will be remembered.

Go out and find her.  Before she finds you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Papier Mache Sunday

It's Family Project Weekend!  And this time, Jing had an interesting brainchild --papier mache!  Ooh, this is something I've always wanted to do but had absolutely no idea how to.  And so my husband showed me and the boys the ropes, and... WHAT THE FLAGNAR!... this freakin' project is haaaard!

There's newspaper sculpting.  You can try newsprint.  And make sure you got a stock of strong tape.

 Tissue shredding.  Cheap, one-ply tissue will do.

 Tissue gluing.  Use PVC glue.  It's the only one you can mix in with water for easier brush application.  Oh and don't scrimp on the glue.

Drying and lots of waiting.  Under the sun, the paper mummies took about a couple of hours to dry.  Facing the fan on the second layer (yes, after drying, you do a second layer of tissue gluing), about an hour and a half.

Painting.  Poster paint works well for this.  Make sure you get in those nooks and crannies.

More drying and waiting until...

TA-DAAAH!  Papier mache Russel of Pixar's UP and paper mache James Bond 007!
Clearly, the fussiest and most time-consuming family project we've had.  But, whew, so worth it!
The only downside is the waiting time.  Kids are all for instant gratification after all.  Oooh... it teaches the virtue of patience.  LOL!