Monday, 15 August 2016

10 Years with Mary

10 Years with Mary

Today, August 15, the Catholic community celebrates Mary’s assumption to heaven, and my 10th school year in Assumption San Lo. That means I have celebrated 10 special masses with my Assumptionista girls, have eaten 10 slices of Assumption tarts, not including the ones I snuck from my unsuspecting colleagues, have tried to escape 10 dress codes of pants and white shirt (I really dread wearing pants), and have sung 10 Assumpta est Maria in full blast, hence the reason why it always rains during the celebration.

10 years.
10 years of being challenged to live a life like Mary.

How do you exactly be like Mary?

She who was chosen to be without sin.

The poster-girl of perfection.

The mother of God.

I am a mother – just like Mary. Although my journey in motherhood is nothing compared to hers, but a mother nonetheless, and there I found a strong connection.

White, gold, and blue - Assumpta est Maria! 
I am proud of my 10 years in Assumption, and I am grateful that I have been a witness of Mary’s untiring love far longer than I can count or sadly, recognized.

It is through the mysteries of the Holy Rosary that my family draws strength from whenever our faith seems to waver because of daily grinds of life – when Charley got sick but we didn’t have enough money to send her to the ER, when Charley has to skip a booster schedule (again), when the company we’ve prayed for didn’t call back, when my brothers and I were shaken by a problem in the family, when ‘Ayat and I wish we have more.

It is through each bead of our rosary that we express our gratitude for all the answered prayers (even those that were answered not the way we wanted to) and the hope for all the blessings to come –our paediatrician allowed us to consult her through Viber, thankfully Charley never got sick despite the erratic weather, my father-in-law shouldered the costly training expense, my brothers and I find strength in each other, and ‘Ayat and I realise we have just enough and that’s okay.  

It was Mary who received all my heartbreaks and sorrows when my husband and I lost our first baby last 2013. We knew that amongst all mothers, it was she who would understand me more even though that the grief I felt that time was nothing compared to how she felt when she lost hers.

It is through Mary, with the intercession of Saints Marie Eugenie and Thomas Aquinas that we prayed for a healthy baby girl when the time was right. Yes, a baby girl who would be our Assumptionista then later a Tomasino in the future, and a baby girl we have been blessed a year after we lost ours.

Our own "Maria" 
Finally, it is with Mary that I celebrate each milestone no matter how simple, each oops, oh no, and yikes, each finally, yes, and hooray, each yet, soon, and maybe next time I’ve had and will have with Charley.

Mama Mary has been there in every sorrow and joy my family and I have had, who has been our light so that we will see every experience as a glorious moment with God.   

Mary’s assumption to heaven reminds us that if we live less for ourselves and more for others, if we live a life for Jesus and in Jesus, we too shall share His glory in heaven.  

This year is my 10th school year in Assumption San Lo; this year I continue to celebrate God’s glory every day. 

Assumpta est Maria! 

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Park Day for the Watermelon Babies (PlayWorks Playschool)

Park Day for the Watermelon Babies (PlayWorks Playschool, Makati) 

Before the summer class ended, parents of the babies in Watermelon Class received a letter from PlayWorks regarding Park Day. The day promised fun-filled activities for our toddlers at Salcedo Park.

What We Needed to Bring:
Comfy clothes and shoes for the babies
Hats or Caps
Mosquito patches
Change of clothes
Snacks to Share
Lots of energy! 

Before Park Time
The day started with regular activities inside the classroom. Teacher Elaine and the toddlers sang their favourites, Mr. Sun, Butterfly, The More We Get Together, Open Shut Them, and others nursery rhymes I promise to download in my phone soon.

Of course, Baby Charley and the others asked Teacher to sing The Wheels on the Bus several times.

Some kids, on the other hand, preferred to try the various centres in the classroom.

Yay! Park Time!
Soon, when it did not show any signs of raining, Teacher Elaine asked the toddlers to line up for Park Time! Mommies, Daddies, and Yayas were also given last-minute reminder and precautions while the class stayed at the park.

The toddlers squealed in delight once they reached the park. They loved just running around and chasing each other. Many kids enjoyed touching the grass and the flowers, picking up sticks and twigs, and chasing real butterflies and birds. Of course, Teacher never missed the opportunity to catch the learning moments there.

When Teacher blew some bubbles, it was already heaven for all of the babies. Who knew bubbles could float farther at the park?

After the parachute activity, the kids were then allowed to play in the playground at the park. It was a huge playground, and I was afraid Baby Charley would be overwhelmed. It was Teacher who assured me that Baby Charley would be okay, and I just had to “let go”. Yikes!

Like the other babies there, Charley tried the swing and the huge slide. Of course, I could not slide with her cos I gotta catch her, so I really just let go. I think I managed to pray the whole Glorious Mystery as Charley took the slide cos I was so nervous. But Teacher was right, Charley was just fine – and she slid again and again until it was time to go back to the classroom.

Quiet Time
Once the toddlers have rested and changed their sweaty clothes (I wished I brought a change of clothes for me, too!), it was time for Charley’s favourite activity – snack time! Because the toddlers were tired from their outdoor play, they devoured their snacks right away.

Afterwards, lights were dimmed for their quiet song like One Sun. Before the kids knew it, it was time to get their bags and go home.

We loved it how PlayWorks provided out-of-the-classroom activities like such for kids to play, have fun, and learn all at the same time! These activities provide authentic learning experiences as toddlers explore the world around them. Most importantly, they get to practice their fine motor skills and develop life skills like social skills and independence.

Here, parents would see that play really works with kids.

Visit my post on PlayWorks for more information about this playschool.

Cuts 4 Tots Glorietta

Cuts 4 Tots Glorietta 

Baby Charley was born with a round head full of hair. I was thrilled to get my hands ready to style her hair with bows and ponytails; however, her locks took time to grow and thicken. Sadly, they also did not grow evenly, so Baby Charley grew up with a round head full of hair of various lengths.

When Charley turned 1, my roommate (my husband, btw) and I were advised to cut her hair already, but we could not bring ourselves to do so cos if we did, Charley would have no hair left on her big, round head.

Messy hair Charley

Finally, after 19 months of messy hair, we brought Baby Charley to Cuts 4 Tots in Glorietta for her first official haircut.

Before the Haircut
Cuts N4Tots could only accommodate three (3) clients at the same time, so Baby Charley had to wait for her turn. It was not hard for her, though, because there were some toys for her to play with. Some of the other kids waiting for their turns also played with her.

Shocking pink for the baby girl 
Soon, a receptionist came and offered us their First Haircut Package. For Php600, it included a membership to Cuts 4 Tots, 10% discount on future services, and a frame with Charley’s pictures and a lock of her hair. Regular haircut costs Php330.

During the Haircut
When Baby Charley was called already for the haircut, I could say I was more nervous than her.

What if Baby Charley throws a fit?

What if she gets “likot”?

What if Kuya cuts her ears instead?

Fortunately, Kuya handled Baby Charley’s first haircut with gentle, expert hands. She was calm throughout the process and enjoyed being in a car as she watched Mickey Mouse’s Playhouse.

The whole process went swiftly and I think the only time Kuya talked to us was when he suggested a specific hairstyle so Baby Charley would still look like a girl. I was not expecting a full-blown kwentuhan, but perhaps a get-to-know would not hurt.

So, for 20-30 minutes of haircut, we were all ignoring each other. Baby Charley on her driving, Kuya on the haircut, and us on Mickey Mouse Playhouse.

After the Haircut
I knew it would be difficult for Baby Charley to leave the car. You see, Charley loves driving, which she got from her Daddy, and having her hair cut while she’s on a car was heaven for her.

When it was time to leave, Kuya removed the pink cover and said, “We’re done!” and my roommate and I struggled to get Charley off the car. Fortunately, Kuya remembered to give Charley a pink ball so she would leave.

it was a challenge for us to make baby Charley leave
We paid for the service and left.

Baby Charley’s first haircut at Cuts 4 Tots was a pleasurable experience. Her hair was done well with a professional, and she really looked cuter without her messy hair.

The cost was also worth of their service. We would definitely come back for another haircut.

However, as a Mommy, I would love it if the staff could be a little friendlier especially to the kids. They were nice, but not very accommodating. You would definitely feel like a client at Cuts 4 Tots – nothing else. I was looking for a “home-y” feeling that would make us feel welcome. Perhaps it’s the weather. Perhaps they were saving that for their regular customer, I dunno.

Oh, if only their staff could be as friendly as their IG account!

Cuts 4 Tots 
3rd Floor, Glorietta 4 Makati 
(02) 817.0108
Sunday - Thursday 10 am - 8pm 
Friday - Saturday 10 am - 9pm 
Rate: Php330 for regular haircut 

Gender-Base my Pwet!

Gender-base My Pwet! 

Bookstores like National Bookstore, Fullybooked, Powerbooks, and Booksale are our family’s must-go-to place whenever we go to malls. Often, we would give Baby Charley the option to pick one book to take home as long as it’s (1) a boardbook (she still eats the pages sometimes), (2) not written by EL James, and (3) within our Php 100-200 budget.

A Family of Readers - That's us
This particular weekend and book-picking was made extra special by another patron who chose to have an in-depth literary criticism plus parenting strategies type of discussion with me. Big words!

This mommy, who was with her young son, was completely appalled, yes, if not sickened, by my choice of book for Baby Charley. You see, this weekend, my daughter chose DK’s “Dinosaurs”, a touch and feel 8-page board book filled with, you guess it – dinosaurs.

The book that started it all
The mommy argued that since my child is a girl, I should buy her books appropriate for her gender, prolly the ones filled with glitters and screamed with pinkness. Apparently, according to her, books about dinosaurs are for boys only, and I should choose “A Princess Fairtytale” instead.

You don’t want her to be confused with what she really is,” she added. My daughter, who is just one-year old could barely tell the difference between a pair of shoes and a cookie – she nibbles on them both when she’s not busy stuffing her dresses with socks. Sometimes, she talks in a language no human on this planet could ever understand. Also she sees her playmates as neither boys nor girls; for her, they’re just…well, playmates, if not “targets”.

You could say, that Literary-expert Mommy has pushed my hot button on oh-so-many levels! I thanked her for her time and expertise and explained what I think literature is.

Although there’s an intended audience and purpose, I started, children’s literature is meant to be read by kids regardless of gender. Is Tom Sawyer only for boys who get “whacked” by their school teacher? Little Women for girls? Les Miserables for depressed French ex-convict? Animal Farm for government officials – they’re not exactly about animals, in case you’re wondering. 

My roommate (my husband, btw) and I do not limit Baby Charley’s choices on books, toys, and clothes on what’s girly and what’s not. It is paramount that she’s safe, comfy, and she enjoys reading, playing with, and wearing them.

On Books
Baby Charley reads a variety of genres and types of literature that catch her interest. For example, she makes us read Look at Me! I’m a Fairy! over and over again despite lacking coherence and thesis statement.

My singing prowess has been put to a test several times as I read to her Raining Fat Cows and Doing the Animal Bop because Charley loves the rhymes and beautiful pictures. She specifically waits for the fat cows to explode, so she could say, “Kapow!” Seriously, what are they teaching the kids now?? 

She also enjoys having The Very Hungry Caterpillar and A for Adobo read to her because she likes to pretend-eat the food and is not really interested about the butterfly.

Charley also has all-time favorites like Guess How Much I Love You, ABCs, Nursery Rhymes, Fairy Tales by Eric Kinkaid, among others.

If I would have my way, I’ll read to her the Harry Potter Series, Robinson Crusoe, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But I’m gonna save that one when she’s a little older including Iliad, Dante’s Inferno, and Macbeth. Seriously, they should already consider funding a toddler version of these classics! Shout out to publisher!

On Toys

Baby Charley enjoys dolls and trucks just the same and never discriminates her toys (she plays with a calculator, too!).

She loves playing with dolls because she can feed them and poke their eyes with a pen. She also can’t sleep without Bunny as she nibbles its tiny nose (don’t smell it!).  

Sometimes, she wants to play with her pink kitty puppet and laughs hard as her parents make a complete fool of themselves speaking in high-pitched squeaky voice.

Lately, she’s into anything that moves, so she loves the truck Kuya Francis gave her and demands that we bring her out with the truck when the garbage truck arrives outside. She also plays with the red Coca Cola truck that she uses to run over her green dinosaur and orange tiger. She also loves her plastic wagon from Toy Kingdom, which she uses for her gardening and now as her “book place”. Finally, she loves riding the bikes and cars in Toy Kingdom and the only thing stopping us is the price tag.

She also appreciates the wonderful soft blocks her Tita Cecille gave her, so she enjoys stacking them together then kick them altogether so she can say, “Fell”. Bravo, Charley, bravo.

On Clothes

It’s no secret that 90% of Charley’s clothes are hand-me-downs, so we let her wear a variety of clothes as long as they’re comfy and Charley looks cute on them.

She received a lot of hand-me-down dresses (I’m talking about pink and ribbons) from her elder cousins and my colleague’s youngest daughter. She also wears Sunday dresses and doll shoes from Florsheim, Disney, and Sugarkids.

She also wears pants (yup, from the boy’s section) from SM, H&M, and Gingersnaps that go well with her Tough Kids shoes, sandals from Crocs, and the Airmax rubber shoes.

You can say that from her variety of hand-me-downs, Baby Charley often sleeps with a Disney Princess and fire truck pyjamas.

I told Literary-expert Mommy unless she planned to pay for it, she would never have say on the books I was gonna buy for my toddler.

I’m not worried that my daughter will be preferring more boy stuff or would go super girly in the future; what I want her is to treat others fairly and Christ-like and not judge anyone based on their gender, religion, or whatever preference they have.

So, if you see a little girl wearing a Hello Kitty blouse and six-pocket shorts riding a Monster Truck, towing a grey bunny with a torn-out nose – that’s prolly my kid having the time of her life.

And I don’t want you to treat her like a little girl, but please do treat her as who she really is – a child.