Saturday, September 29, 2007

Leave Those Things Alone

Dont touch everything you see. Dont pick up everything you see along the way. Leave those things alone.

MC and IC know the rules. And they know why they are not allowed to do that: because we dont know where they come from, it could hurt them, and it might just make them sick with a simple touch.

It would be a another story if we are really outside to collect nuts or dried leaves or whatever things from nature that they would need to create their master pieces. But if they see a toy or a hair clip or a bottle or anything along the street, we always say never ever touch it or worst, dont ever think of bringing them home.

When and if they saw something really interesting and they are not so sure if they are allowed to touch it, then they ask.

Here comes a playmate from MC, we were on our way to the public playground for a stroll and a short climbing adventure. And MC playmate just started collecting everything she saw along the way: bottles, plastic bags, shards of glasses, etc.

Since the girls were way ahead of us, and IC was making me busy with her questions; I wasnt aware of what was happening in front of us until I heard the bottles landing on the street. Apparently, it was becoming too heavy for her to carry her 'treasures' alone and she was asking MC to help her.

MC was just looking at her and not responding. When she saw me, she started telling her playmate to throw those things away. 'You are not supposed to do that. Those things are dirty and you might get sick from those things,' she admonished.

I dont know if she'd have joined with collecting those things if I am not around. Anyway, I am glad she remembers the rules and the why.

PMN Corner: Smoke Detectors Save Lives

My husband used to scoff whenever he hears about the advantages of smoke detectors. But this summer, he was finally convinced; because we attended a fire brigade feast that opened his eyes to the need to have them installed.

Read the story at PMN:Home and Garden - Smoke Detectors Save Lives here.

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

Sometimes we dont know how our kids are maturing until we really listen to them. That's why it is really important to make time for this little bonding, this storytelling, this 'how's your day'. For me and the kids, we sit down and talk during lunch time; after I've picked them up from kindergarten.

I usually prepare or cook the food while they rest by watching a bit of tv or by doing their 'homeworks' -- things I left for them to get busy on such as artworks or coloring books or their unfinished drawings. Sometimes, they also help me in preparing lunch.

And then we sit down for lunch and for our little chat. I could only revel with how fast my two girls are growing up, maturing in every ways.

MC simply astonishes me with words. This week she told me that she had to admonish IC who cried for help although she doesnt really needed help. 'IC, you are not supposed to call for help if you dont really need help. If you do that a lot of times, there might come a time that nobody would come to help you if you really, really need that help.'

With IC looking so guilty, I had to nod in agreement with what her big sister just said.

I explained to her that she could ask for help in doing work, help in reaching for an object, help in searching for ideas, help in looking for something -- but the loud and excited call for help, I explicitly told her, is a very sensitive one. When someone is in need of rescuing or is badly hurt; they also call for help. Thus, we should avoid that word when we dont really mean it. It should only be used when somebody is needing urgent help.

MC is aware of this already, we must have chosen the right kindergarten for her :D but I had to drum it a bit more in IC's head. Sometimes, she is simply too playful and too experimental and "too blinded by her 'who cares' behavior" for her own good. Oh, but she does have her big sister to keep her on the line!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Diddl Date

On a whim, I decided to bring the kids to Weinheim after picking them up from kindergarten this noontime. Actually, I needed to pick up my husband's sunglasses from the optic shop, too. And since it was my turn to clean the house this morning, (which I diligently did, resisting the call of the computer) I wanted to give myself a break and the kids, a treat.

So off to Weinheim with the bus. Yes, when going to Weinheim, we never use the car. The kids find it more an adventure if we commute. Our first stop? McDonald's! The kids got themselves so excited that they said they can smell hamburger and french fries right at the bus stop, hmm. Exaggerations :D

I thought leaving late noon, we could skip the crowd, uh-oh, nope. It seemed like most of the parents have the same idea. McDo was full! But since nobody lingered, we found a place immediately. We didnt linger, too. I got my husband's sunglasses and let the kids' run wild in the city. Before dragging them to a special surprise, a fan day with Diddl.

MC enjoyed her photo session with Diddl. But I got the real surprise, though so excited about meeting Diddl, IC wont be swayed on taking a photo beside Diddl. She wont even get near the mascot; even ignored the gifts waved before her. Nope, she wont have a photo with Diddl and that's that.
She didnt cry, just displayed a shocked look all throughout that short visit. I explained to her that there's a person inside the Diddle mascot; that Diddl is only a costume just like her when she's wearing princess dresses. She just nodded but still wont go near the mascot.
Her big sister had a ball, though. She finds the mascot so cuddly, she wanted to bring it home!

Now, IC was asking that Jollibee and Hettie be present for their requested kiddie party in Manila this coming February 2008. I would love to see that :D

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Sunday with the Horses

As soon as my husband read that the horse riding school near our place would be celebrating their anniversary with a feast, that day was already marked. Nope, we didnt tell the kids. It's supposed to be a surprise; since both are so horse crazy.

The area is just a few minutes walk away from our house, and whenever we go for a Sunday walk; the kids would always steer us to the horses. Can you imagine their surprise when they saw the going-ons? Well, the surprise was a success. We came in time for the first horse riding program. The kids got five ride tickets at once.

Papa was a bit dubious about leaving the kids alone on the horses; but the kids just ignored his panic. They were ready to ride. They didnt even wave goodbye to us, hmm... Oh well, seeing them swaying gently, in rhythm: on top of the big beasts was awesome. I am not a fan of horses myself, nor my husband: but I am proud to see the kids being one with the horses.

As for MC, she simpls repeated her wish, a wish that we've been hearing for almost two years now: 'I want to ride a horse when I am bigger. '

Like before, we said she can do what she loves best though we warned her that taking care of horses does not mean only riding them; it also means grooming, feeding them, cleaning their stalls.

No problem, she said. 'I want to learn how to take care of them. I want to be with horses.'

Since the riding schools accept kids from ages six and above; she must wait for another three months. Would she want to ride horses then?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PMN Corner: Fashion and Tech Momma

Check out the PMN: Fashion and Personal Style for my newest article: About a favorite accessory of mine: my belt cum necklace gem (guertelkette).

Read more here.

I also contributed some thoughts at the new PMN: Tech Momma and shared about Basic Internet Tips for Parents. Read here.

Our Koi Pond: Safety First

First article published at Pinoy Moms Network: Home and Garden.

Our backyard garden has a lovely koi pond, where my husband’s treasured fish assortments are free to roam.

Our Koi pond has approximately 4,000 liter of water, with dimensions of 2 meter x 4 meter and 80 cm deep. As he said proudly, ‘our koi pond is the heart of our garden.’ He maintains this beautifully landscaped backyard pond that used to have three big koi fish — they were between 10-5 years old, from 12-5 inches long — his pride and joy. Imagine his shock when we saw them floating lifeless after one really cold winter?

What was left were the koi babies, mixed with hundreds of gold fish, the origin of which, remains a puzzle. My husband’s theory? Maybe the birds brought the seeds. Oh, we do receive a lot of visitors to our pond. The koi pond is a hunting ground for hungry cats and birds and it serves as their bathing fountain, too. Sometimes, we might need to shoo them away, especially if the water is not so high, or else we’ll find only water in our pond!

Among our pond plants are China reed and Pampasgas, which are located on the dry bank. Along the shallow water lies Kalmus (Calamus) and water plantains (Alisma plantago-aquatica). In the water floats yellow pond roses, searoses, and seapots (Nymphoides peltata). The swamp zone is also bursting with green life. The pool is surrounded with rocks to retain the sandy soil.

Our pond had a pressure filter pump system. This needs to be cleaned at least once every month. As for clearing the pool off dry leaves, my husband uses a long handled net. Though we already eliminated plants or trees near the pond that shed too much leaves. If ever some leaves would get into the pond and rot, the water could be polluted, thus not giving the fish clean water to live in. We also have a waterfall as a highlight to our koi pond.

And since kois do not hibernate, and though they can live through the cold months, my husband uses a polysterene sheet punched through with a pipe during winter, so that oxygen would circulate. And fish food? Of course - feeding the fish are the kids’ share of the job. They either use their hands (the fish doesnt shy away, they eat from your hands!) or by using a long handled net to place the fish food in the water.

Anyway, indeed, money and time are being spent to keep our koi pond a real beauty. But what happens when the kids arrived? They would also need a lot of space to play in the backyard garden. No second thoughts, safety first. We must do something, especially over the deep end. Result? A steel covering with four wooden rods for support. My husband tried to make it appealing to the eyes by painting the rods green; the steel is also supposed to be painted but I told him to simply let it go. We wouldn’t have to live with them for a long time, after all.

But despite the covering, the kids and their playmates, would always be warned — every now and then — about not going in the water. Nor trying to cross the rods. Oh they tried, kids would be kids! At least, we now have the first preventive measure in place.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Sea of the Senses

Photos: 1) MC lounging 2) the dance 2) Sin der Sinne 4) the kids loving the sand while the guitarist floats with his sound in the background

Our city celebrated the 'See der Sinne' (the Sea of the Senses) last Saturday. It was a real feast of the senses: the lights and the fascinating exhibits stimulated the eyes, the band music lulled with their sounds, the sea and the gourmet spectacle flavored the air, the great food and wine left their savory mark in our tongues; and the enthusiasts were seducted by the excitement in the air.

We decided to walk, the sea is only a 15 minute walk from our place. Since the there was no entrance fee, the place was already crowded before the intended opening at 6 p.m. It was already buzzing. The girls buzzed loudly, of course. They got busy testing the water, playing on the sand, stamping their feet in every opportunity as they have their new pair of shoes that blink. Thus, they became a part of the attraction when it got dark as their shoes simply lighten up the path!

Food was gourmet quality, thus, a disappointment for the kids. They wanted french fries or hotdogs! But since they have no choice, and they were hungry, they settled for ravioli and shared my fish soup. Oh, but we went back for more of those eclairs and those pralines, yum!!

The highlight of the day was MC, staying up late to party, for the first time! When we heard that a special dance would be performed on the beach, she decided she wanted to stay to watch it. And proceeded to practice some ballet dance steps. She said she wanted to dance, too. Her enjoyment tickled me so I nodded my approval, and was seconded by my husband. Although we have reservations about IC not being able to stay awake for the rest of the program, we stayed.

It was around 9 pm when the dance started. IC was already a bit irritable. But MC was on her elements. And to the dot, when the dancers started coming in; IC swayed sleepily on her perch on papa's shoulder. She missed the whole show. But MC proudly announced, 'I am still awake, mama.'

Well, the show was great. We had to alternately carry IC home though. And MC cant believe she's so grown up; she was allowed to stay up so late. And so she concluded, 'Wow, mama, if I can stay up so late; our tenants can invite me to their party next year already.' Aha, she's already got a party plan. (Our tenants are in their late 20's)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Finding the Right Pants

Photo: My newly bought pair of jogging pants from the kiddie section, size 146.

Actually, shopping for jeans and long pants have never been a problem for me.

Back in the Philippines, my father used to have a flourishing tailoring business; while my mom is a great seamstress. Thus, I can buy pants and have them shortened to my specifications. Or whatever clothes I fell in love with, for that matter. I can buy them and have them fitted to a T.

But since living here in Europe, I am having a problem. Most specially with buying jeans and pants. I usually end up buying capri pants. And when I really need to buy pants, I must go to the teenie section; because even the normal XS sizes would be too long for me!

I know I could always go to the seamstress and have the hems shortened, but it is simply too expensive. I could buy a new pair of pants for the price of having one shortened. Really! I do know how to shorten by hands, and even using a sewing machine. But with the specialized pair of pants, those homemade repairs wont do.

For example the ski suits. I would definitely need the right ski pants if I wanted to enjoy a winter holiday. It took time to find the right ski jacket; because the sleeves would be too long. But after three stores and an hour, I got the only SX jacket that we could find. But the ski pants took longer. I think it took more than 10 fittings before I gave up. I told the sales lady that the pants were simply too long. And she replied with, 'If you dont mind, you can go down to the kids section and you'll find the best fit for you there.' Arrgh. Of course I do mind, but what else can I do?

Amid the cries of little girls and boys in the kiddie section; I found an empty fitting room. My husband gave me three ski pants to try on. Thinking the biggest size from the kiddie section would fit me, he gave me those. Alas, nope. I had to squeeze into another 10 ski pants, before finding my size. Oh, that was some shopping expedition that I wouldnt want to repeat.

Good thing the girls found the kiddie section of that department store an exciting place, or else they would have gotten bored. And I wouldnt have the time to spare to fit those total of 20 pants!

Now, I have been looking for jogging pants since I got my appoinment as asistant trainer for the gymnastics club. I almost have given up hope; thinking I would need to use my capri jogging pants for the cold months, too. Hoping I could buy a pair or two during our planned vacation to Asia next year.

But this morning, while shopping with the kids, I found the perfect jogging pants for me. Right where I got the jogging pants for my kids, in the kiddie section. I gleefully grabbed two pairs, with the same design and color that I chose for my two daughters.

And what did the cashier said? 'Ma'am, this jogging pants sure looks too long for your eldest daughter.' Hmmm, should I raise my hands and say these pants are mine?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Kids are Watching

On our way home from kindergarten a few days ago, the kids surprised me again with their questions, their answers, and their observations:

MC: 'Mama, do you know that Sylvia (one of their teachers) is pregnant?'

Mama: 'No, I dont know. How did you know? Did you ask her?'

MC: 'Yes. I asked her. I noticed that her stomache is bigger, so I asked her if she will have a baby.'

Mama: 'And she told you that she will have a baby?'

MC: 'Yes, she said she will soon have a baby.'


MC: 'Mama, how does the baby get inside the stomache?'

Silence on my side, I thought we have already cleared this thing up, read this. But nope, as IC is also waiting with great concentration for my answer, I had to think fast.

Mama: 'The baby would get inside the stomache because the mama and papa love each other so much.'

IC: 'Then papa would also get a baby.'

Her answer amused me until she explained;

IC: 'Papa also have a big stomache. That is why, he would also get a baby.'

Oops. That made me laugh but I immediately told her that only mamas' get pregnant. Papa got the big stomache because he loves to eat!


As told by my husband.

He talked seriously to MC about taking care of the things around the house. That when things get broken, we would end up not having enough money to go for a vacation or to buy toys for them.

And here is MC's answer:

'Papa, when we have no more money; it is very simple to have more. IC and I would need only to perform in one corner of the city. We can dance, sing or play an instument. Just like those people we see on the streets. And then someone would go around and collect the money from the people who are gathered to watch our show.'

Plain and simple.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Madness: Just So...

This week's questions have no rhyme or reason...

1. What was your biggest challenge this past week?
Starting as an assistant gymnastics trainer for our local club.
2. What was your biggest accomplishment this past week?
Starting as an assistant gymnastics trainer for our local club :-D
3. What was the most exciting thing that happened in your life this past week?
I sold 11 from 13 toys in my first time as a flea market seller!
4. What one thing made you the happiest this past week?
We are all healthy, again! After a bout of cough and cold due to the cold weather.

I missed the Monday Madness last week because I didnt get an email, hmmm! So, here are my answers on school and education.

1. Do you have children in school?
Not yet.
2. Are YOU currently in school (any level)?
I'm enrolled in a course on gymnastics for little children next month.
3. Did you (or your children) attend a public or private
Private school exlusive for girls.
4. As far as formal education, what level have you completed?

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree.
5. Do you, or did you have loans out for your (or your children's) education?
All paid :-D
6. What are your thoughts on the cost of tuition for colleges and universities?

Too expensive!

Visit Monday Madness!

Flea Market for Kids

The kindergarten's parent's council held a flohmarkt (flea market) last Saturday. The theme: 'everything for kids'. My husband, though the president of the council, wasnt really enthusiastic about the idea. But then, he doesnt know how many tons of kid's things we moms have in our care, right? He doesnt really understand how urgent it is, the need to make space, because more new things are coming in :-D

Despite his reluctance, he helped out in the planning and preparation. He was even the one who chose our stall's location and even brought me small change for the day! Since this is my first time to be a flea market seller, I wasnt really awaiting something huge. I usually donate some of the kids' things and the rest I sell through eBay (I make good profit from them, too). But since I am having a dilemma about seeling big, bulky things via eBay, the postage cost alone would be too much; I've decided to bring them out to the flea market.

There we were -- around 25 stalls, selling used things. I heard that they had to cancel 10 would be sellers because of the limited space. Wow, I didnt know flea markets are really a thriving business. Because I also saw a lot of seemingly professional flea market sellers with their tons of boxes, their quick movements, their organized stalls. There were also moms with overloaded stalls. And there I was, sorrounded by 14 used toys.

Oh well, it's just for fun. Frankly speaking, I wanted to get ride of those bulky toys because we needed space! And a little money for the kids' bank account wont hurt. I baked some organic corn muffins to 'pay' for the stall. Oh, since the theme is for kids; there were also food stalls, face painting, art table, and the playgound to keep the kids busy.

Before the flea market formally opened, I already found a few pieces for the kids. My husband jokingly told me, 'you are supposed to bring in money, not to give them away.' Yeah, right :-D

As expected, the people who really wanted to buy something came a few minutes before opening time. They even have their own huge bags with them. In my own corner, I enjoyed watching the bargaining and the picking and the selling. I have posted prices on the toys so that there wont be too much questions (I am someone who hates asking for the price, I would rather see it and then decide from that or haggle if possible). Of course, if one really wanted to haggle with me, I am prepared to give them for their price. I am easy, hehe!

In the end, I had only three pieces left. Yohoo! I had to give discounts, but hey, the thing was, my stall was almost empty. The rest would be auctioned off via eBay. I went home happy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)

Photo: The two year old me.

I've been tagged by auee. I am supposed to share 8 random facts about me. Since I have done that tag, I am glad she gave it a new twist by preferring to talk about the past. I'd rather focus my reminiscing on something that I really miss, the house where I was born. Here goes:

1. We used to live in a real bahay kubo (nipa hut) since I was born until the early 90s. I dont know if I have a photo of our bahay kubo back home; but let me try to describe it to you. It is a sprawling house with a backyard garden that was filled with fruits trees like santol, guava, Indian mango, starapple, banana; we also have flowering trees, plants and flowers; a small canal flows through it that was abundant with kangkong. Then if you dig through the soil, you'll find camote and potatoes, too. There was an old well that we kids were always in awe of, we dont really know how deep it was.

2. I still remember that we have a bathroom that was separated from the house. It only has for thin walls, and an aluminum door. You need to bring your pail full of water if you want to take a bath! Our kitchen and the dining table were located on the ground floor; where there was a short cut going thru my cousin's place. So that we have no privacy when we eat -- there were always people coming and going. And the cats were always everywhere. And, there was no flooring in our ground floor what so ever; pure soil. Sometimes when it floods, we get to eat on the second floor. But my grandma would have to cook in the kitchen, wearing her rubber boots.

3. In the kitchen, we used a stone oven. My grandma needed a small aluminum tubing to blow and ignite the coal to start cooking! We have a big aparador (closet) where we put the basic things needed for cooking. It was only in the late 70s that we got a ref. We have a big banga (a clay pot) which was always full of water near the sink area to be used for washing dishes. Near the banga was the tap and a place to wash clothes. It was always wet on that side of the kitchen!

4. It was in the late 80s than we got our own tv. We won it on a tombola, it was the first prize! My father refused to buy use a set because he thought tv would take away our interest in studying. The 'new' black and white' tv set could only be turned on during weekends, though.

5. Our big backyard was our playground. We have swings made of sack and ropes which we tied in one of the sturdy branches of our starapple tree. Our neighbors normally bring out their babies' cots in our backyard during noontime under the shades of the trees and be lulled to sleep by the fresh breeze. And during those times, we were not allowed to play in the backyard. Then we sneek into an old, dusty, dark storage to play the ouija board.

6. We have two banggerahan (small veranda) where we play bahay-bahayan (play house). The verandas were also where our clothes were hanged to dry during rainy season. Our verandahs were the favorite places for our taguan games. We used to jump out of our of our verandas and climb over, just for the kick of it; good thing nobody got hurt, hmmm.

7. We have no privacy! Our house has two big picture windows such that when you look in from the front living room window, you'll be able to see through the whole house and into the next big window.

8. We have no real locks! I used to feel insecure because most of my friends already have their own house keys and I dont have any to show off. My father used small medicine bottles and put them between our sliding windows at night. And the door? He used a big block of wood clamped from inside to protect our sliding door. What's amazing was, there was only one breaking-in attempt. The man run off with my grandpa's antique radio and no more. One of our neighbors saw that our window was open so he called for company and created chaos to frighten the man. It was a big victory party afterwards :-D

That more than a hundred year old nipa hut had to give way to an apartment compound in the mid 90s though. Oh well, those were the days! I dont know who to tag, but if you are willing to share, please let me know!


I just had to blog about it. I know that it is not good to compare, but I am seeing glaring differences between my two girls that I wanted to capture them in writing. I am sure they would be interested to know about them later, too!

MC, my five years old, loves cheese; IC hates it.

MC sleeps without a pillow; IC cant sleep without one.

MC loves Stephanie in Lazy Town; IC is still crazy about Pippi.

MC is a walker; IC would rather drive.

MC likes to play with friends; IC enjoys playing alone.

MC is too shy to even give an acquiantance a quick glance; IC greets everyone with a smile and a loud hello.

MC wont go out without combing her hair; IC would rather just go out.

When MC hears IC crying, she would cry in sympathy; when IC hears MC crying, she would come to me and say, 'I am a good girl, right?'

MC is not afraid of sudden, loud noises; IC would always jump.

When MC did something bad, she would be ashamed of it; IC would walk with an 'I dont care about it' attitude.

MC is tidy; IC would always irritate her sister by her clutters and would plainly refuse to help her sister to clean up her own mess.

MC still refuses to sleep alone; IC is already getting used to it.

MC would move with threats; IC would threaten you back.

MC loves chocolate ice cream; IC goes for vanilla.

MC would always inform us where she is: 'am in the toilet, am in the garden, etc'; IC would simply call out and say 'am finished, wash me up.'

MC gives up in crying frustrations most of the time; IC would be cool about it.

MC shares; IC wont share. MC wont share; IC shares :-D

MC dont like to go there; IC would love to go there.

MC slaps; IC pinches -- And when these things happen, MC would keep quiet; IC would blame someone (even her imaginary friends).

MC needs a hug when hurt; IC wants only a plaster (band aid).

MC would skip eating even if she is hungry especially if she's busy playing; IC would stop everything whenever she hears a noise in the kitchen.

MC would not accept defeat from the Sandman; IC would definitely inform us that she wants to go to bed NOW.

Whew, I enjoyed listing these things down. Who knows, tomorrow it might just be the other way around. I would definitely love to see their faces when they read this!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yoga in Kindergarten

I know that yoga is good for us adults; to help us relax. To create a stress free, balanced life. Kids needed to relax, too. They get stressed out like we do. And they need balance, too. Then, why not introduce yoga to them early in life? It would not only benefit them, it would also help to keep the harmony in the family as a whole.

The pre-schoolers would be having a yoga course for kindergarten this year. I am happy that MC would be one of the first few who would enjoy the benefit of this course.

Yoga would help them develop better body awareness, self-control, flexibility and coordination. These skills could be carried beyond class and into their daily routines, too. Read here for more infomation about yoga for kids.

Yoga pushed through because my husband, as the president of the parent's council, heard a lot of complaints about the past pre-schooler programs. As usual, the programs from the five kindergartens were dissected and compared. It seemed that our kindergarten is the least active when it comes to pre-schooler programs.

Our kindergarten is doing the usual, normal things i.e. weekly visits at the baker, to the police station, to the fire station, to the public library; regular hiking in the woods; checking out the schools; watching shows, etc. But most of the parents agree that these are not enough. There are a lot of possible things; visits to the museum, to a popular park or historical castle, etc. Exposure, the kids must be exposed to such things, too.

I mean, not that we dont bring them to those places; but not all kids get these kind of exposures. Just an example, a little Turkish girl who cant barely speak Deutsch, was so excited to join the hiking to the woods last year that she cant barely contain herself. Despite repeatedly falling on her knees and hurting herself, she kept on babbling that it's the first time that she walked into the forest, and that she loved it!

Anyway, my husband worked with the whole parents council and the kindergarten group for a better pre-school program this year. He also got a lot of support from the parents, the kindergarten teachers are not yet 100% sure. Oh yeah, more work for them and more costs, huh?

I dont think so. Most of the additional works are from volunteers. The playtime English course, which I introduced last year, would continue. Yoga would be facilitated by one of the parents from kindergarten, too. Another program would be the introduction of right traffic behavior for pre-schoolers. This is supposed to be arranged by the kindergarten's directress. Although my husband is ready to pitch in if nothing's being done about this.

Tomorrow, I would be meeting with the whole team. I have heard a lot of rumors that the stated programs would be scrapped. How can they scrap them when all the new programs are being offered for free and volunteers from outside would be helping them out? How can they scrap them when these programs are for the benefit of the kids? I am ready to fight tooth and nail for the pre-schoolers' right to have these programs implemented. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Home and Garden: Pinoy Moms Network

The new domain of Home and Garden: Pinoy Moms Network is up!

Visit us here and let us know what you think.

And if you want to share your own experiences, give us some tips, or simply wants to tell us a story that would be of interest, send an email at:

See you there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Pre-Schooler

Photo: The kids, first day in kindergaten.

MC started her first day in kindergarten with a proud tilt of her head and a big smile.

She knows, she's now one of the big girls and boys in kindergarten, the pre-schoolers! Yes!

Actually, my husband was encouraging her to go to school this year; MC felt left out in kindergarten because most of her playmates were already pre-schoolers. Thus, they have a different program from her when they started last year.

But when I talked to the teachers in kindergarten about MC joining the pre-schoolers, they discouraged me. They told me that it is better to keep her for another year. Pre-schoolers should be at least 6 years old or would be six year old a month of two after entering the first grade. September is the start of the school year here. Since MC is born in December, it is clear that she must stay another year. Not because she wont be able to cope up academically, but due to the physical examination and calisthenics that all pre-schoolers would need to undergo. They said she would enjoy it better next year.

When told about this, she simply shrugged her shoulders. I guess, she just wanted to move on because her playmates are also moving on. The thing is, when a few of her former classmates in kindergarten came over to inform them of what they were doing in school; MC herself decided she wanted to stay in kindergarten. As she told me, 'mama, I dont want to go to school. They dont get to play there anymore, they now have homeworks!.' Oh well, she knows what she wants.

Now, she is looking forward to being one of the pre-schoolers. Looking forward even to being one of my students in the playtime English that I am mentoring in kindergarten.

And we are looking forward, too. We would be having a school girl next year! Whew! How time flies!

Monday, September 10, 2007


What were you doing Sept 11, 2001? I remember I was seven months pregnant with my first daughter when my husband told me he's been hearing something on the news about planes crashing all over the US. He told me about this around 6 pm, after finishing a job interview. We immediately turned on the tv and the first thing that I saw was the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

It doesnt seem so real to me at that time. It was fascinating to watch and yet so unbelievable to be true. And then the second plane banged straight into the second World Trade Center Building. I was shocked beyond belief. Am I staring the evil in the eye? My first thought was the baby in my womb. How can I bring her into a world full of evil?

But a natural optimist, I've decided, the world would be a better place for her. I thought of mothers' getting united to fight against evil. I know they are feeling what I am feeling in that same day. We need to avenge the good. And I am sure, the good would prevail. While watching the regular commentary on tv during that day and the next days after; I was also pervently praying for a better world.

And indeed, a better world came when I gave birth to MC two months after. I believe, we have a beautiful world. I can see it clearly through the eyes of MC and IC. And I can feel it in the beating of my heart.

I am sharing this good read in memory of 9/11.

'I Promised I Wouldn't Hang Up'

Lisa Jefferson, the phone supervisor who took Todd Beamer's call on Flight 93, believes God called her for a purpose. Read more here.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Something to look forward to...

Opa and Oma would be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next year. Opa is already planning way ahead. He already talked to the Protestant pastor. He wanted a mass to celebrate it. And then he mentioned, he might want to do it during a ecumenical mass (ecumenical mass meaning the celebration of mass for both Catholic and Protestant). This seemed okay to me, until I learned that during their 50th wedding anniversary; there wasnt any mention of having a mass. And there was not any. Huh? Maybe priorities change when we get older?

And then during a gathering with the whole family a few weeks ago, Opa asked our opinion on what to do for their coming 60th anniversary. Loads of suggestions came forth, actually from me and from one of his granddaughter. We both agreed, it would be lovely to have a family gathering in the health and wellness city of Abano in Italy. It was where Opa celebrated his 80th's birthday. I teasingly said that both MC and IC havent been there, as if it would sway his decision :-D

Of course, we also told him we could all drive someplace and have a nice dinner. But Abano, Italy would be best. Simply because I had nice memories of that place. I just arrived a few weeks in Germany when we drove there with the invitation of Opa. My husband and I were not yet married during that time. I didnt feel out of place despite the language barrier and despite being a stranger to them. Of course not, they tried their best to make me feel at home. I think we might have used more body and sign languages, and invented a few, just so that we would be able to undestand each other. I love them for making that effort.

Anyway, I know that it would still be another year (their wedding anniversary is on August); but talking about their anniversary and planning this special day with the two of them is something I enjoy. Both of them are in their mid-80s; I know that when they have something to look forward to, they would look forward to each day. They wouldnt want to miss something grand being planned for them, right?

The next time I visit them, I am going to bring a calendar and help them create a to do list to create some excitement. Just so everyday would just not be another day for them. They would have something exciting to look forward to.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Barbie's Accessories Recalled

Photo from MSNBC News.

My husband passed the newspaper to me this week, and pointed to the article focusing on more Mattel toy recalls. This time, on Barbie accessories. I dont have to read it to realize that these toy recalls are irritating me to the max. We simply both declared, 'no more Barbie's for the kids.'

With two girls, Barbie products are always the winner when it comes to toys. And Barbie dolls and her millions of accessories are not cheap, mind you. And now, this? Give us a break!

Mattel recalls various Barbie accessories because the surface paints on the toys contain excessive levels of lead. Here is the lead story from MSNBC News.
Mattel announced late Tuesday it was recalling 800,000 toys, including 675,000 accessories for one of the company’s biggest sellers, the Barbie doll. Also part of the recall, the third in just over a month, were 90,000 units of Mattel’s GeoTrax locomotive line and about 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, both from the company’s Fisher-Price brand. The Big Big World products were sold nationwide from July through August of this year, while the GeoTrax toys were sold from September 2006 through August of this year. Read more.
Read this for more details.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Love and Control

Another forwarded email which is worth sharing.

Healthy parenting can be boiled down to two essential ingredients: love and control that must operate in a system of checks and balances.

Adapted from The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James C. Dobson.

When a real donnybrook occurs between generations, it is extremely important for the parents to "win." Why? A child who behaves in ways that are disrespectful or harmful to himself or others often has a hidden motive. Whether he recognizes it or not, he is usually seeking to verify the existence and stability of the boundaries.

A child who defies the leadership of his parents is reassured when they remain confident and firm under fire. It creates a sense of security for a kid who lives in a structured environment in which the rights of other people (and his own) are protected by well-defined limits.

1.Begin teaching respect for authority while children are very young. The most urgent advice I can give to the parents of an assertive, independent child is to establish their positions as strong but loving leaders when Junior and Missy are in the preschool years. You, Mom and Dad, are the boss. You are in charge. If you believe it, the tougher child will accept it also. Once a child understands who is in charge, he can be held accountable for behaving in a respectful manner.

When that nose-to-nose confrontation occurs between generations, it is extremely important for the adult to display confidence and decisiveness. The child has made it clear that he's looking for a fight, and his parents would be wise not to disappoint him! Nothing is more destructive to parental leadership than for a mother or father to equivocate during that struggle. When parents consistently lose those battles, resorting to tears and screaming and other signs of frustration, some dramatic changes take place in the way they are seen by their children. Instead of being secure and confident leaders, they become spineless jellyfish who are unworthy of respect or allegiance.

2. Define the boundaries before they are enforced.Preceding any disciplinary event is the necessity of establishing reasonable expectations and boundaries for the child.

3. Distinguish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility.When accidents happen, patience and tolerance are the order of the day. There is another category of behavior, however, that is strikingly different. It occurs when a child defies the authority of the parent in a blatant manner. She may shout "I will not!" or "You shut up!" or "You can't make me." It may happen when Junior grabs a handful of candy bars at the checkout and refuses to give them back, or when he throws a violent temper tantrum in order to get his way. These behaviors represent a willful, haughty spirit and a determination to disobey.

4.Reassure and teach after the confrontation is over. After a time of conflict during which the parent has demonstrated his right to lead (particularly if it resulted in tears for the child), the youngster between two and seven (or older) will probably want to be loved and reassured. By all means, open your arms and let him come! Hold him close and tell him of your love. Rock him gently and let him know again why he was punished and how he can avoid the trouble next time.

This is a teachable moment, when the objective of your discipline can be explained. Such a conversation is difficult or impossible to achieve when a rebellious, stiff-necked little child is clenching her fist and taking you on. But after a confrontation has occurred—especially if it involved tears—the child usually wants to hug you and get reassurance that you really care for her.

5. Avoid impossible demands. Be absolutely sure that your child is capable of delivering what you require. Never punish him for wetting the bed involuntarily or for not becoming potty trained by one year of age or for doing poorly in school when he is incapable of academic success.

6. Let love be your guide! A relationship that is characterized by genuine love and affection is likely to be a healthy one, even though some parental mistakes and errors are inevitable.

Prayer for a Strong-Willed Child

When parents bring one of these tough youngsters into the world, they need to recognize that while raising that child may be difficult for a time, it is worth their effort to do the job right. Their attitude should be, "The Lord gave me this challenging child for a purpose. He wants me to mold and shape this youngster and prepare him or her for a life of service to Him. And I'm up to the task. I'm going to make it with the Lord's help." That's the healthy way of looking at parenting when the pressure is on.

I am convinced that there is no other true source of confidence in parenting. There is not enough knowledge in the books, mine or anyone else's, to counteract the evil that surrounds our kids today. We must bathe them in fervent prayer when we are in our prayer closet, saying words similar to these:

"Lord, You know my inadequacies. You know my weaknesses, not only in parenting, but in every area of my life. I'm doing the best I can to raise my kids properly, but it may not be good enough. As You provided the fish and the loaves to feed the five thousand hungry people, now take my meager effort and use it to bless my family. Make up for the things I do wrong. Satisfy the needs that I have not met. Compensate for my blunders and mistakes. Wrap Your great arms around my children, and draw them close to You. And be there when they stand at the great crossroads between right and wrong. All I can give them is my best, and I will continue to do that. I submit them to You now and rededicate myself to the task You have placed before me. The outcome rests securely in Your hands."

I've found that God is faithful, as a loving Father, to hear and answer that cry of the heart. Turn to Him for solace when you've reached the end of your rope. He will be there to comfort you and work within the soul of your beloved child.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Kid's Day at Villa Kunterbunt, Again!

Every first Sunday of the month we celebrate our kid's day. Thus, we were off with the kids yesterday morning. Though papa planned for us to visit the air show in Weinheim, the kid's had to disappoint him. They both wanted to go to the Villa Kunterbunt.

It is kid's day, therefore, we go along with the kid's wishes. Papa's plan went pfft. This would be the second time that we are celebrating kid's day in the Villa. The first time was in winter, early this year. And though we've repeatedly visited this indoor amusement park in between, we've tried to avoid going there during summer. Instead, we steered the kids to outdoor pools or camping or anything where we'll get to stay outside. Fresh air is always good, right?

What amazed me is that I saw how the kids are developing their self confidence and independence. Upon paying the entrance fee, both kids got in, removed their shoes and run off to the play area, alone! The last time we were here, my husband and I were being dragged by the girls from left to right. From one activity center to another. Never wanting to be left alone, especially on the climbing frame and the giant slide.

The last time we were in the Villa, we had a hard time with MC on the slides. She wanted to repeatedly use the giant slide, but she just doesnt want to go alone. We should always be there, sliding with her. Which of course, is not to my approval, really. The very first time I tried the giant slide was during our first visit in the Villa and that was something I dont want to repeat anymore. I had to do it two more times, before I escaped with a headache.

And yesterday, she took off alone; simply screaming for me to watch her stunts. IC took sometime playing with papa; who had to endure molding his body within the narrow climbing frames. But after a few minutes, she let the papa go. She was running around with her sister all over the place.

I had my own fun, too. I discovered the trampolin! Whew, it was really something else. I tried doing the backflip, but not yet. And I thought I can do it within 15 minutes training, haha!

My husband and I were really so happy to be watching the kids enjoying their newly found confidence and independence. But of course, we would always be on our feet whenever we hear cries for mama or papa within the crowded play area!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Potted Memory

It was already around 10 pm tonight that I realized tomorrow is the first Monday of the month; meaning, PMN Fam Pics time! Arrgh. Since tomorrow is a crazy day, with the painters coming (we are having our whole house repainted for maintenance purposes), I decided to finish my blog tonight. Oh yes, I know what photos I have in mind but when I was already writing, I began to have doubts about the theme 'Potted'. I dont want to run away from the theme!

Potted means pots therefore plants. But I have a vase. Would this be 'potted,' or 'vased?' I decided to check the dictionary and it said: A pot is a rounded container used for domestic purposes. Hmm, a vase is round and it is used domestically. When I checked the thesaurus it became the following: basin, bowl, casserole, cauldron, crock, crucible, dish, jar, pan, saucepan, stewpot, teapot, urn, vessel -- but no vase! Well, that wont stop me. From now on, a vase is also a pot; even if I have to re-write the thesaurus :-)

So here's my take:

My husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary last month, and these dried bunch of flower is my wedding bouquet. My husband loves orchids and I love roses; therefore my wedding bouquet is a simple mix of the two. It was my husband who arranged for the bouquet, it never entered my mind that I would be needing one, really! Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the door to the delivery man on the morning of the wedding. 'Oh, I have a wedding bouquet!'

I guess I am still a bit dizzy, marrying in a strange land; with only a Swiss friend (who was a hotel colleague) on my side during that day. Oh, my husband's close family and friends were there, too. But it is still different when you are celebrating this very special occasion with your loved ones. Anyway, a wedding would always be something special no matter what.

So, here is my 'potted memory'. The flowers are drying gently. I love that it looked dramatic in the photo, especially the roses. Like coming from an old velvety film. Nope, it wasnt in a pot during that special day :-) Thanks to the thoughtfullness of my husband, he urged me to keep my bouquet, he said 'keep it, it would be nice to look at.' He caught me on the act of throwing it away!

The handmade blue 'pot' holding my 'potted memory' is a gift from my husband's old friend who lives in France. And you'll find my 'potted memory' on top of a grandfather clock, that was inherited by my husband from his grandmother. Memories, memories.

Check out the other PMN Fam Pics entries:

  1. Julie's flowers
  2. Cookie's different kind of pot :razz:
  3. KK's indoor and outdoor pots
  4. Rach's Flowers and a Smile
  5. Lynn's Pot Shots
  6. Lady Cess' The Best Tea
  7. Feng's Tagaytay Pics
  8. Analyse's Life isn't easy being a nomad
  9. Purple Girl's Coffee Alamid
  10. Mitch's very edible photos
  11. Noemi's Ceramic Fondue Pot
  12. Vicky's Potted Fruits and Vegetables
  13. Dine's anything potted in Bhutan and Capalonga

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Postcard from Pippi

One late afternoon, Papa looked into the mailbox and shouted excitedly for IC. Hearing something in her Papa's voice, IC came running and jumped into his arms. It was a reaction of glee coupled with surprise. Papa asked her to look into the mail box, prolonging the excitement.

Seeing already what's inside, and recognizing where the postcard's coming from; IC was already giggling. Her first words were solemnly whispered, 'Papa, this is a postcard from Pippi.' As if she still cant believe that her favorite hero would be sending her a postcard.

'Go and show this to Mama. She can read the postcard to you,' when Papa uttered these words , IC skipped into my arms and proudly showed me what she got. She waited in earnest as I read the words to her. I wouldnt forget her reaction when she heard her name being mentioned, followed by the greetings from Pippi. Ahhh, she's in a little girl's heaven!

She took the postcard from my hands and proceeded in her room; finding a comfortable place to sit and savor the 'gift' from Pippi. Turning it around, smelling it, hugging it; just loving the feeling that the card gave her.

This postcard never left her side that whole day and the next days; it is now securely tucked in her toy chest. What a thoughtful gift from her godmother. Jaja, thanks a lot for making our little angel happy!