Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are You Ready To Rock?

A dragon laying eggs on a bed of silver and gold.
This is what you get when you give my boys fresh bottles of special-color paint.

Inspired, they went on getting rocks from the backyard.

Then there was paint slathering.

Followed by intense backdrop-making.

And then perilous stacking.

Soon enough, we have unearthed a precious zen mine from a prehistoric era.

Discovered a mythical beast in the Land of Lava.

And set a fantabulous alien fight scene for Wolverine.
There's more.  Much, much more.

Who would've thought that a bunch of colored rocks would keep them happily busy for a day?! 

Buy your kids paint.  It unleashes an entire world of creativity in them, and it will never cease to amaze you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Preparation PTC

In about a couple of hours, I'll be off to Miro's third quarter Parent Teacher Conference.  And I'm armed to the teeth!
Ok, that sounds ridiculous.  What I really am is simply prepared.

What, PTCs are important!  It's the parents' bridge to the school.   It's that time when you find out if the school and your child are working well together.  It's when the parent and the school's partnership is solidified to reach a common goal.
(God, I'm such a nerd!)

Well, if this is your first time, then let me offer you my personal Preparation PTC rundown.

1.  Beforehand, talk to your child.  This meeting is all about him anyhow.  So ask him if there is something he'd like you to discuss with his teacher.  Oh, and don't judge his issues.  Kids look at things differently than we do.  A mole hill for you could be a mountainous problem for him.  Respect that and take it seriously.

2.  The PTC doesn't cover academic issues alone.  Bring everything up including your child's personal concerns.  Is your child being bullied?  Has he been eating improperly in school?  Has he been hating school for some reason that he won't tell you?

3.  Jot down everything you want to put on the table.  Don't be embarrassed to bring a notebook and a pen.  I, for one, can be horribly forgetful.  And it pisses me off when I remember one important thing I should've said when I'm already halfway home.

4.  Start the PTC on a positive note.  You're not there to wage war.  You're there to understand how your child is doing, what's he going through, and to reach a moving forward plan.  So be open-minded about it and for the love of God, don't be freakishly defensive.

5.  Talk.  This is why it's called a PARENT and TEACHER activity.  It's an open PARENT and TEACHER discussion.  So don't let the teacher just rattle off facts and opinions.  You should have yours, too.  Take turns, of course.

6.  Don't get emotional.  It's natural for the teacher to bring up your child's weaknesses other than his strengths.  There are things your child can be in school that you never see at home.  The PTC can be your eye-opener, your wake-up call. 

7.  Introduce helpful insights about your child. You know your child's habits and nuances better than anyone else.  Bringing them up can help his teacher reach out to him more.  And believe me, the teacher will like it better when you throw in suggestions on how to improve her connection with your child.

8.  Don't be afraid to give suggestions.  Like I said, it's an open discussion.

9.  Don't be a jerk and not take suggestions.  The teacher will tell you to do things that can help your child's development from home.  Be open to that.  You are your child's educator when he's not in school.  And learning doesn't stop as soon as he's left the school building.  It's an ongoing thing.

10.  End the PTC with clear-cut solutions and directions.  Don't leave without these.  There has to be an agreement between you and the teacher on how to move forward in helping your child.  You.  School.  Partners.  Period.

11.  Again, jot these down.  Sure, you'll be given a copy of the teacher's report.  But some points in the discussion don't usually make it on paper.  Specially the solutions arrived at by you and the teacher.  These notes are what you come back to come next quarter so make a checklist of to-dos and expectations, too.

12.  When you're done, congratulate your child on a good turn-out as soon as you get home.  And don't reprimand him for his shortcomings.  Geez!  You can mention them casually, like, "Hey, we need to work some more on your math, ok?" --and that doesn't mean that instant either.  These are things you work out along the way. 

One other crucial point to remember is that YOU can call for PTCs as well.  It's not just a school-initiated event.  If there's an important topic you need to discuss with the teacher, the program director, the guidance counselor, or even the school director, you CAN call for a meeting yourself and they'll be more than glad to accommodate you.  Keep in mind that they're there to help your child succeed in his young life.  You have the right to arrive to that general direction as much as they do.

Got it?
Oh crap, look at the time!  I'm off.  Catch you later!
(ps.  Dont' be late for a PTC)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brain ala mode

Sudden realization.  Changing from a super charged career woman to a super charged work-from-home mom/freelance writer has equally altered my thinking habits. 

Before, when I needed to think of an ad concept, everything had to be done sonic-fast --because other requirements were waiting right outside the door.  Through this nerve-wracking, very exciting routine, colleagues have reported seeing me rocking to-and-fro in my office, plucking my hair with glassy eyes, even talking to myself in several voices.  Eerie.  But these habits get the creative juices going.

Now, I still get things done.  But --in a more semi-relaxed environment-- the process by which I get to THE great idea is a lot less eerie than it is freaky.  I've noticed I do my best thinking while doing the laundry.  The humming of the washing machine seems to stimulate my brain cells.  You think that's weird?  How would you feel if I told you ironing my boys' school uniforms in the wee hours of the morning also sends my ideating mood into hyper drive?  It must be the monotonous movement of my right hand.  Or the heat.  Who knows?  It's habit.

The quality and speed of my output is still the same though.  So this leads me to believe that you can get your mind working wherever you are, whatever you do.  In a confined office where in your lonesome, you can plead temporary insanity for the sake of a good idea.  Or at home in the middle of a multitude of chaotic distractions which you can also draw notions from.

Creative thinking isn't about a situation or a venue.  It's about YOU.  It's about you accepting the fact that you need to give birth to a kickass brainchild so you dive into the task, habitually.  You grow into the God-given scenario and make it work.

It doesn't matter where or what you're in, as long as you're inspired.

That's today's clicking-into-place theory.  I'm sure I can think of another wise philosophy for the day.  Hmm... maybe over dishes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tabasco Original Red. GAME ON!

This post is brought to you by TABASCO® Original Red. All opinions are 100% mine.

There’s one social formula you learn as a married woman.

TV Game + Pizza + Tabasco Sauce = Instant Male Bonding

That’s like women’s shopping session for them.  Except it’s messier and noisier.  And hotter, thanks to the main ingredient –TABASCO® Original Red.  No hot-blooded man would watch a hot game with steaming hot pizza without that hot, spicy sting every bite!

But that’s not all TABASCO® Original Red brings to the table.  It’s not heat for heat’s sake.  In fact, it’s ‘So Much More Than Hot’.  This unique, precisely-aged concoction unlocks the flavor of food so you can get the most out of every morsel. Just a few drops of it make the bonding activity tastier, manlier.

Years of witnessing this tradition has made me bolder in providing my husband’s male bonding affairs their much-needed oomph.

 TABASCO® Original Red has also made it to game day tacos.

 Tuna cracker spread.

And anything that met the grill.

With the game season on, you may want to check out Tabasco's Game-Day Party Menu for other food ideas.  The recipes here are just awesome!

But if you want to keep it classic, the Pizza Perfected Page is just as perfect.

Me?   While Jing and his buddies yell at the TV --I just sit back in the comfort of my iPod and cheesy nachos.  Liberally dashed with TABASCO® Original Red, of course.

What –even with my natural oomph, I can still use a little more.  :P
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Keke Story Story

If you haven't given your child 'the talk' yet, a Chinese cartoon might just beat you to it.

On today's plate:  Keke Story.  A Chinatoons weekend special on Nickelodeon, and Miro's latest favorite TV show.

It's like any anime-type cartoon with the cute characters and the big eyes and the crazed look when they get angry (I like that!).  But the big difference is the subject they choose to discuss per episode. 
Fearless might be a good way to describe its style.  Maybe even painfully straightforward.  Or tough love.

In 30 minutes, the cartoon would cover topics such as the cruelties of war.

Night time self-defense weapons.

And ...brace yourself... drug abuse.

Basically, anything a child in primary school may find out about in that one minute their parents and teachers aren't looking. 

I was shocked the first time I watched!  It talked about con artists and how to expose them.  I thought it was something too big for a child to grasp.  But Miro got it.  And he learned a lot.

That's because each episode has a quite engaging educational segment embedded in it for factual support.  I like that, too.

Personally, I think Keke Story is one hell of an eye-opener.  It's very ambitious and it hits home... hard!  I mean, really, just when you thought The Simpsons touched controversial issues, along come clips from China that touch on controversial issues that SHOULD matter to a child in the real world.

All told from the experiences of a cute, funny, and chronically curious Primary Schooler named Keke.

It's not the cartoon norm, but I think Primary Schoolers should be ready for Keke Story.  The question is, are the parents?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Behold... Boudreaux's Butt Paste!

This post is brought to you by Boudreaux's Butt Paste. All opinions are 100% mine.

Do I hear giggles in the audience?  I can’t blame you.  Boudreaux’s Butt Paste's name has inspired plenty of snickers for so many years.  But mind you, this product means business.

My experience with this quirky named brand came about when Miro was but a baby… a very diaper-rashy baby.  I’ve tried creams, powders, even an indigenous leaf and water concoction on the poor kid’s bum and still, it glowed red with irritation.  Weeks of discomfort seemed endless until –TA-DAAH!—Boudreaux’s Butt Paste appeared in the mail.  It was a gift from my aunt, a woman blessed with the skill of good product discoveries and gabbing prowess.

She’s told me that Boudreaux’s Butt Paste was specifically formulated by a pharmacist and pediatrician tandem hellbent on fighting diaper rash.  She also went on saying that it enjoyed positive airtime in the Tonight Show, Today Show, People Magazine, ESPN, While You Were Out, TLC, and even Oprah.  Ooh… a celebrity!  She didn’t even think to mention that it contained the anti-irritants, Zinc Oxide and Peruvian Balsam.  Ah, my auntie.

So, after a few ‘butt’ and ‘paste’ jokes from the household (Yeah, my husband and I share a shrewd sense of humor.  Lol!), we tried it on Miro.  Wow!  This thing works fast!  Down on the second application, the redness started to fade.

And Miro was soon giggling like the happy, bubbly baby he is all over again!

What I like about it is that it goes on and cleans off easily, it smells nice, and it comes in a handy travel size with a no-mess flip-top cap.  PLUS… when you visit their site today, you can get your own sample of Boudreaux's Butt Paste absolutely FREE!  Imagine that!  I’m telling you now that you shouldn’t let this pass.  Not everyone has a ridiculously precocious auntie. :P

Boudreaux's Butt Paste (I can still hear you laughing!)–available in 1oz, 2oz, 3oz and 4oz tubes, and the 16oz jar.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Artzooka vs Art Attack

Early last year, Artzooka! came to be on Nickelodeon.  Miro and Kenji love it!  It's all about RecycleArt (or JunkArt or ScrapArt, if you're as old as I am), and you know how my boys are so into that sort of thing.

Artzooka!, hosted by the very amiable Jeremie Saunders, is a fun demo show that teaches kids how to make a flying dragon out of a discarded cardboard, rubber bands, and duct tape.

Or pretty painted paperclip holders out of old juice boxes.  And... how to make home movies.  Uh-huh.  Claymation.  That is soooo my boys!

So, ok... they have set the alarm clock to cause a racket whenever it's time for Artzooka!  But all throughout this hyped loyalty, Jing and I can't help but reminisce the good ol' days of Art Attack.

For those in-the-know (and of-age), Art Attack was a Disney show featuring the first and original RecycleArt for kids.  It enjoyed gargantuan popularity sometime 2005 --our boys were still babies then.

Hosted by the more animated and rich-in-personality (in my husband and my humble opinion), Neil Buchanan, Art Attack's projects included frame-making out of paper plates, how-to-draw sessions using a variety of media, making fancy head dresses and fantasy thrones out of cardboard, newspaper, paint, and a whole lot of other scraps.

Same format, same magical output.  Both shows prove to be helpful when us parents are clawing and grasping for indoor family projects over the weekend.

What puts Art Attack a notch higher, though, is its Art Attack Top Shot segment.  Here is where Neil would go outdoors --into a huge field or vacant lot-- armed with laundry, empty plastic containers,  forest twigs and what-nots.  To create a majestic collage of ...of... anything!

Artzooka does this, too, on a smaller, table-top scale.  But Art Attack pushes production value with its version.  Very impressive, massive, crop circle-crazy scale!


Art Attack is all in the past now.  So thank goodness Artzooka took the reigns of kiddie creativity from there.  And, true that Jeremie does have that hip-dude connection with kids these days.

For those who are wondering, by the way  --Art Attack ended its victorious TV time when the scrappy genius, Neil Buchanan, decided to trade his paint brush for grungy gigs with a Les Paul electric guitar.
Who's the hip dude now?  LOL!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fountain of Foom!

Pardon my overenthusiasm but I am close to foaming at the mouth as I write this.  It's about the Manila Ocean Park's Musical Fountain Show.  If you, like us, had the misfortune of missing out on last New Year's Eve's fireworks, then THIS is the thing for you.

Originally priced at Php300, this aquatic drama of liquid and light got my attention when it dropped to a mere Php99.  It was a landslide 'extended holiday' discount!  That in itself calls for foaming at the mouth!

Off we went and I didn't even mind the long line at the ticket counter.  Nor did I mind the 'first come, first served' seating arrangement inside.  After all, I am blessed to have a husband gifted with good seat-hunting skills.

A short wait and...FOOM!... the large pool of water in front of us came to life! 

There was no down time.  Foom!  Foom!  Every variation of fountain presentation was breathtaking!

A wall of water and colors pulsated to the beat of glorious, resonating music.

Smaller bubblers took the form of whale tails while waves move around them.

Laser and water mixed to create an aquascreeen dome.

Videos were projected onto this almost solid jetstream.  One of them was this octopus who slowly 'crawled out from the sea'.

Was revealed in a dramatic spray of fire and water.

And then proceeded to play Chopsticks on a laser piano --oh yeah, this one you've got to see!

Warmth and humor were provided by players who performed at unbelievably high energy levels.

Like the starfishes who did a hiphop routine amidst geysers and lasers.

The lionfish couple who had babies on stage.  Ooooh yeah... you gotta see that one, too.  *snicker*

And the quirky comic relief that was the 2 chubby chefs chasing a cheeky lobster.  Say that fast, I dare you.

The show started big and ended bigger!  With water, fire, laser, music --EVERYTHING!-- escalating to fever pitch!  It was sensory overload that would've pushed anyone to the brink of ecstatic insanity!

And for the grand finale --we got our fireworks!  WOOHOO!  FIREWORKS!  Right in the middle of the freakin' fountain!!!


Sorry, was I gushing?  Hell, yeah!
And I wouldn't have it any other way.