Jun 30, 2009

pretty little smocked dresses

I remember feeling oh-so pretty wearing my favorite smocked dress when I was small. Thirty-odd years later, that pale green dress with tiny yellow flowers is gone. But the love for smocked prettiness isn't, as it seems to be ingrained in our DNA. Or it's just classic. My little Chicha adores smocked dresses, as if she knows the kind of fine handwork that goes into them.

And she's a lucky girl. Her Tita Nana's godmother makes the best ones in town. We love Ines Moda Infantil. They even made the flower girls' outfits for my wedding. Flashback to the year 2000... those smocked dresses in gun-metal grey... lovely and adorable but rocked at the same time.

Now back to the present... our little girl is the one wearing the smocks.

When Chicha was asked to model Ines Moda Infantil's latest line of cute-couture, it wasn't hard to make her play dress-up.

It was probably like asking me to model Lanvin or something. As if. Ha! Well, our little model-for-a-day enjoyed herself. No toddler diva-ness at the photo shoot. She definitely earned her pay.

If you like the dresses, Nana has details where you can get them. No need to wait for the Negros Trade Fair - or buy them abroad in fancy-schmancy stores. Yes, they're made in the good-old Philippines. Just read Nana's post below.

Jun 28, 2009

the art of dressmaking

In the fairy tale, the fairy godmother waves her magic wand, does a bit of that bibbidi-bobbidi-boo and the would-be princess is completely transformed from a girl doomed to scrub bathroom floors all day to one all dolled up for the ball.

In the real world, my Godmother does way more than wave that wand (though I hear she does a bit of that bibbidi-bobbidi-boo).

Remember my trip last month to that enchanting place with all the found art? Well I found more art elsewhere. And it was right under my nose, in the very home where I was staying. Lucky me, I had front row seats to watch all that magic happen.

Rewind. Twenty seven years ago, the Godmother was a mom on a serious hunt for pretty dresses for her young daughter. When she didn't find what she was looking for she did the next best thing. She made them herself. And she hasn't stopped making them since.

Fast forward. Today, the company named after her daughter Ines, employs over a hundred people, subcontracts additional work to over five hundred, manufactures hand-smocked children's dresses & boys' suits and exports them for the rest of the world to appreciate.

Here is her backyard. See the factory peeking through the trees?

Work in progress

The dresses all lined up for final inspection
And finally the dress all ready for shipment

Sorry, Cinderella. This time I have you beat.

Ines Moda Infantil dresses can now be purchased at We Play Children's Activity Center , 2/F Kensington Place, 1st Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. You can call them at 632.856.7631 or 63917.522.4637.

the reeling

At 5-years-old Bear seems to already feel the soul of this song from Passion Pit. He sings at the top of his lungs his own version of the lyrics: Look at me oh look at me I'M OVER THREE... Oh nooo! The Reeling is now on heavy rotation on his little boom box. Sound tripping with my baby... Happy Sunday!

Jun 27, 2009

storytelling workshop anyone?

On a Saturday this July 11 from 8:00 to 11:30 AM, there will be a workshop for storytellers at the Museo Pambata. It will be given by Gcina Mhlophe who is described as a "well-known South African freedom fighter, activist, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author". Click on the poster for details.

In case poster is unreadable... Gcina Mhlophe will share her views and ideas on what makes a good storyteller. She tells stories to keep history alive and to encourage children to read.

Workshop fee of Php 300 includes a workshop kit, snack and coffee, tea or juice. We are encouraged to book early as seats are limited. For information, contact Liza Lim at 523-1797/98, 536-0595 or email info@museopambata.org.

This looks very interesting. Anyone else want to go? How do you pronounce her name? I wonder if she has a TED Talk... she seems like the type.

Jun 26, 2009

creating great teachers

I'm still hung over from all the beautiful music of the PS 22 Chorus. And completely in awe of Mr. B.

The world needs more people like Mr. B. Every child deserves a teacher like that to help him find his own voice and something to be passionate about - in whatever shape, form or size that may be.

I have had a few. Mrs. Woelhaf, who jump-started my love for learning. Mr. Kennedy, who helped me understand angles from a whole other angle. Gie, who made all those nights working on my plates actually seem like fun. Thank you. You each made a world of difference in my own little world.

Bill Gates, in a talk over at the at the TED conference asks and answers the question: "How do we make great teachers?" And you know we need them. Badly. Here are the highlights in his own words:

So, how do you make education better?

We've worked on small schools, we've funded scholarships, we've done things in libraries. A lot of these things had a good effect. But the more we looked at it, the more we realized that having great teachers was the very key thing.

What are the characteristics of this top quartile? What do they look like? You might think these must be very senior teachers. And the answer is no.

You might think these are people with master's degrees. They've gone back and they've gotten their Master's of Education. This chart takes four different factors and says how much do they explain teaching quality. That bottom thing, which says there's no effect at all, is a master's degree.

Here is his talk:

As he says, "Education is THE most important thing to get right". He got that right.

Jun 25, 2009

now that's viva la vida

Here's some sunshine on a rainy day.

Thanks to Candy ah este Belly, I came across Mr. B and his choir of 5th graders at New York's PS 22. They've made Suzanne Vega and Tori Amos cry. They've performed live with Crowded House. Private Universe! They recorded with Passion Pit. The kids singing in Little Secrets - that's them. Wow!

Mr. B is on a mission to keep music alive - and kicking and rocking - in US public schools threatened by budget cuts. Check out the kids' faces while they're singing. You just know none of them are going to get into any trouble. As Neil Finn of Crowded House says: it's the most hopeful sound on earth.

Here's their version of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide. Get the hankies out.

Jun 23, 2009

the princess parent

Princess Pedestal: How many girls are on one? , an article by Martha Irvine, is leaving many asking: Am I a princess parent? Is this princess mania consuming me?
All the pink, frilly and sparkly — from the princess dresses to the four-foot-high pink castle in the playroom — isn't necessarily what Caroline Morris would choose for her eldest daughter.
She doesn't want to stop her 6-year-old from being who she is. But as princess fever has reached a new high with this generation of girls, she and other parents are feeling the urge to rein in the would-be reigning ones, just a little.
"But what happens when our daughters get to adulthood and they realize that the world isn't a fairy tale?" asks Morris, who lives in suburban Atlanta and insists she doesn't mind imaginative play. She just wants her girls to strive for something beyond being "pretty and glamorous."

You can read the article in its entirety here.

Now go watch Dad Labs where Daddies Brad and Clay take on the princess challenge. See how their stash will stack up against each other and maybe even your own. Plus listen in on what Jeremy Adam Smith, author of The Daddy Shift, has to say about going "off-script with the princess dolls" and dealing with this onslaught of pink.

My take on all of this? A little princess fantasy doesn't hurt. But only a little. AND when they're little. I know, i know, easy for me to say. I only have sons. Still, it is something to think about. After all, I'm not too keen on the idea of my boys taking out princesses on future dates. Imagine the expectations hanging over their heads to be the perfect Prince Charmings and give these "royals" their Happily Ever After? Scary thought. Oh, and does that mean MacDaddy will have to cough up the "castles"? An even scarier thought.

Not quite her Royal Highness,

Jun 22, 2009

sprouting wings on his uniform

Today Baby Bear is officially no longer a preschooler. It was his first day in Keys Grade School. Prep boy must now wear a uniform.

In the car going to Keys, he tells me about a kinder classmate he had bumped into in the music school he went to over the summer. This probably came up because he knows he's going to be classmates with Marco again this year.

Bear: Marco is shy with me Ma.
Me: Really? But you're old friends... you'll see him again later.
Bear: When you don't see your friends for a long time you get shy Ma.
Me: True. That happens sometimes.
Bear: Yeah. Then we'll be friends again.

We got to school and as I bid him see-you-later, he spotted some former kinder buddies and eagerly climbed the steps that led to his new classroom. He said bye ma! - without looking back. I didn't even get the chance to give him a farewell hug.

My heart skipped a beat for the once-clingy toddler who had to hurdle some separation anxiety issues back in preschool. Wasn't it just 5-minutes ago when his first schoolteacher (the lovely Monique) would recount how he'd sing the welcome song while valiantly trying to hold back tears?

This morning was so different. It seems he was just so eager to re-kindle old friendships and make new ones. Maybe check out his new classroom and what's up for outdoor play. So... I am excited for the new discoveries and adventures that await him. But then, also a tad melancholy.

Jun 21, 2009

The Men In Our Lives

Count on Esquire to publish a kick-ass essay that begs to ask the question - What Is a Man? Author Tom Chiarella set pretty high standards. He's quite specific too. Here's how he starts:

A man carries cash. A man looks out for those around him — woman, friend, stranger. A man can cook eggs. A man can always find something good to watch on television. A man makes things — a rock wall, a table, the tuition money. Or he rebuilds — engines, watches, fortunes. He passes along expertise, one man to the next. Know-how survives him. This is immortality. A man can speak to dogs. A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere. A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn't care if he gets busted once in a while. A man is good at his job. Not his work, not his avocation, not his hobby. Not his career. His job. It doesn't matter what his job is, because if a man doesn't like his job, he gets a new one.

You can read the rest here.

As one funny commenter put it: Where can I order this man? In my case, God and fate were good and delivered them to me. Well, not a hundred percent the man the essay talks about. That just wouldn't be interesting or entirely relevant. Like, I don't really care if a man orders himself a sauvignon blanc.
Still, the men in my life lick all of Chiarella's paragraph above and come quite close to the rest of his essay's litany of attributes. But if I may add, there's even more to these great men:
A man embraces fatherhood for all its wonders and tumultuousness - courtesy of a somewhat loony daughter. That's my Pa. He would stop a speeding train for me.

A man finds utter joy in being a dad. That's Pappy, father of my babies.

A man gets all excited and proud when his 5-year-old son discovers a new passion in playing the drums. That's Pappy again, being really cool and melting my heart.

Oh and attention please Nana. I must say, as witness to the many guys who lined up at your door, you chose the man for you. Thank God. At times you had me worried. Haha! But I can relax now.

A good father is a good man. Now let's celebrate their day and make them believe that kung fu lives inside them. Because really... it does.

Jun 20, 2009

daddy's little girl

It was our own little ritual. Day in and day out. No fail. I'd be sitting in the front seat of the car, my legs nowhere near touching the floor, in my little checkered uniform and bow tie (i know, i know) as he drove me to school.

"Hold on tight." (no seatbelts then!) He'd warn, "We're nearing the chicane corner" and pretend that our yellow Cortina would not make the hill where my school stood. "Oh no, oh no." I'd play along. Yet every time surprise, surprise the car would "magically" make the climb. And right on cue he'd push the cassette tape in (no Ipod then!) as Barry Manilow sappily sang out Looks Like We Made It.

We'd laugh each time and I'd still be smiling as I headed to flag ceremony. Knowing that there would be another tomorrow at the chicane. On top of the hill. With Barry. And even better with my Dad.

Happy Father's Day, Pa!
P.S. It does look like we made it.

Jun 18, 2009

julian schnabel

This town just got way cooler. Recent paintings of Julian Schnabel are on temporary exhibit at the National Museum. No need to go all the way to New York or London's Tate Modern. Just go to The Museum of the Filipino People, Agrifina Circle, Ermita. The genius artist's prints are also on display at the Manila Contemporary. We went on a little field trip there today just to see. Look at those kids running in the gallery amidst all those Schnabels. Bad mom moment.

If you are up for it, the Schnabel prints are actually for sale. I felt poor pining for these.

Click on the pictures to see them closer.

Please... click on the pictures to see them closer.

I asked my companions their opinions. Bear chose this as his favorite, Bill 'After a Short Silence Then', 1998. Hand-painted 18 colour screenprint. He calls it "The White Swan".

Chicha described some of Schnabel's work as "scary". To me they were "scary-beautiful". Didn't take pictures of the scary ones. Her favorite is Flamingo 1, 1991. Etching, aquatint, printed over collage on rag paper. I think this piece resonates because she likes flamingos - and she likes them because they're pink. She is trying to act like a flamingo here.

Julian Schnabel's work will be on exhibit at the Manila Contemporary up to July 5. That's at Whitespace 2314 Chino Roces Avenue, Pasong Tamo Extension. I think this is major. Go.

Jun 17, 2009

day one

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.
- Dr. Seuss

And they're off. Mak and Tato are officially preschoolers. As i dropped them off at school, there was the expected tears in the eyes and lump in the throat. Only they were mine.

Jun 16, 2009

attack of the post-its

I'm in the midst of back to school mayhem - parent's orientations, school visits, staggered schedules, school shopping, N1H1 school protocols, etc., etc.. So lately I've been cutting closer to my writing deadlines, which is why I'm totally feeling this stop-motion short by Bang-Yao Liu. He explains on his you tube page:

This is my senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design. Where my idea comes from is that every time when I am busy, I feel that I am not fighting with my works, I am fighting with those post-it notes and deadline.

Yup. Exactly. Nana, with your million-and-one projects I'm sure you can relate. Funny too... when I was pregnant with Bear, I was addicted to the Royskopp song he used as his soundtrack. Now go ahead, take a bit of a break and watch this piece of coolness.

Jun 14, 2009

breaking the rules

(three weeks ago)
Me: Mak, hold my hand then hold Tato's so no one gets lost
Mak: We don't hold hands
Me: Whaaaat?! What do you mean you don't hold hands?
Mak: We don't hold hands
Tato: Only when were scared, if it's high or dark

(two days ago, fast asleep)

If they only knew.

Jun 12, 2009

ken robinson advocates for real learning

It's back-to-school season and just the right time for me to post my top favorite TED Talk featuring Ken Robinson. I had actually discovered the fantastic TED website because of him. That was back in 2006, when I started my serial-googling about all things child development, learning and education. We have two small human beings at home that we have to put through school for the next 15 to 20 years. I had to get cracking on some research. There's so much information and insights out there.

But Robinson really struck a chord. He makes such a compelling case for seriously re-thinking how schools should work for our children -- and he means ALL children with their multiple intelligences and different learning styles. It's time to get past the attitude of "it was good for us then, so it should be good for them now". The world is changing. The results are in from years of research and experiences in human development. It's time our children benefit from all this. And benefit from ideas shared by great minds like Ken Robinson. Set aside the 20 minutes to watch this please.