Aug 29, 2009

chocolates and rain boots and hands

From all that math... we move on to poetry. 

Have you met Sarah Kay? According to a description in Brown University's website: Sara Kay is a slam poet. Sarah Kay moves mountains with her words. Sarah Kay is.

For us mothers, some mountain-moving words from the slam poet. 

Here she is at 18, the youngest guest at an episode of HBO's Def Poetry Jam. I get the sense this girl grew up totally free... to be herself. Again, inspiring.

Is it just me, or did Sarah Kay make you cry? 

Aug 28, 2009

more on math

Speaking of math, I just walked in from the Mak-Tatos' preschool. The curriculum orientation's theme this time centered on sensorial life and math. For this evening, the parents were the students , sitting next to the teachers, manipulating the materials. I had a swell time arranging the rods, building the blocks, playing with beads. All these "toys" apparently preparing them for a lifetime with numbers. An introduction, if you will, to mathematical concepts without them even realizing it. Or scaring them away.

this is Mak's favorite, I hear

This one is Tato's

And this one was mine

Last summer, Cousin MomPreneur asked me to teach entrepreneurship to little ones. The kids were pretty happy, I think, until the groans I got the day I announced it was "numbers day". "I hate, hate math," said the seven year old girl. I barely heard a peep from her the first few days but this time her message was loud and clear. The others nodded in agreement. And just in case there might be any misunderstanding there was another "I super hate math and numbers and all." Yes. Roger. Got it.

I was one of the lucky ones. My dad is a certified math genius, who was smart enough to skip two grades in school and even smarter to inform me early on to throw out the multiplication table and flash cards. I was not to memorize a thing. I was to understand it. He patiently explained the hows. And answered all my whys. And didn't care if I could multiply three digits in record time. Or if i could recite the multiplication table seamlessly. And I truly believe schools should do the same.

Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize Winning Physicist spells out what real learning is:

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

Nona, save an extra seat in that seminar for me.

Aug 27, 2009

singapore math

Attention parents of grade schoolers in Manila: You may want to attend Raising Critical Thinkers Through Singapore Math. It is a rare chance for you to workshop with foremost Singapore Math expert Dr. Yeap Ban Har. Google him for his credentials.

Dr. Ban Har is consultant and Math teacher trainer for Keys Grade School - the first Philippine school to engage with him in an actual lesson study for Singapore Math.

But even if your kids don't go to Keys, you should get something from the talk too. Schools like Ateneo, Xavier, Beacon, Singapore School and many more have adapted or are starting to use Singapore math methods. Today's best-practices for teaching math are WORLDS APART from how we were once taught. Since we need to help our kids with their homework, this seminar should be valuable to tutor-moms-and-dads.

Teachers from other schools are already booked for this event. Parents from other schools are welcome as well.
The latest Keys Grade School Newsletter contains these Quick Facts About Singapore Math:

1. Singapore Math is a general term used loosely to refer to the math curriculum content, materials, and teaching method applied in all schools in Singapore. When a school says they do Singapore Math, it might mean a whole variety of things. It might simply mean they use Singaporean textbooks or it might mean that the way they teach Math follows the principles applied in math teaching in Singapore.

2. The world first started to take note of the Singapore Math curriculum when Singapore consistently topped international standardized tests in Math called TIMSS in 1995, 1999 and 2003. These are the same tests in which Filipino students consistently ranked at the bottom of the group.

3. In 2004, ten US universities such as Michigan State University offered teacher training courses on teaching math the Singapore way. Since then, around 300 school districts and systems across the US have adopted Singapore Math, including the California State Board of Education.

4. The methods and techniques in teaching used by Singapore math teachers are based on sound education principles, not on any experimental ideas. Consequently, Singaporean educators do not call what they do "Singapore Math" because to them what they are doing is simply teaching Math well.

When: Saturday, 26 September 2009, 1:30 to 4:30PM
Where: Top Shelf, Fully Booked at High Street, The Fort
For reservations, you can call Keys Grade School at
723-4979 or 727-9357. Seminar Fee is PhP850.

Pappy and I are booked. Hope to see you there!

Aug 26, 2009

tripping on LEGO

Someone once said, LEGO is the world's only legal brain stimulator. I agree. For the LEGO lovers out there... Swedish guys Daniel Larsson and Thomas Redigh present their 8-BIT TRIP.

Chicha and Bear are going to flip when they see this!

Aug 25, 2009

its raining wellies here too

Our resident fashionista and mini-trendsetter started boot fever. And its contagious. Now a fashion staple over here too!

Rain or shine, Day...

... or night

At work

...and at play

Oh, Chicha.. what will you think of next?

Aug 23, 2009

5 Miles for Breakfast

Ate, no... lapped-up 5 miles for breakfast this morning at the Botak Paa-Ligsahan race held in UP. Pappy and I love hitting the University Circle for Sunday morning runs, but today was extra good for me. It was a race, but I put no pressure on myself. Just ran with it, if you will. I hit the road - with a smile - under the gorgeous acacia trees of my old alma matter. Smiled at the lovely white-haired couple holding hands during their morning walk. Smiled at the cute little girl on her pink bike. Smiled at the race marshalls near the finish cheering me go! go! go! Then my run was all done... in fairly decent time. Truly grateful for some great mommy-time this morning.

the shoes, post-race, removed with laces on

I'm also grateful to Pappy for filling up my ipod for the run. This is a big deal for me. Music fuels my runs. I am actually very proprietary about my running-playlists. No one else (besides me) can stick anything into my ipod except Pappy. That sounded weird.... But anyhoo.... Thanks Pappy for putting in The Clash, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, etc...

...and this old tune from Stars that made me think about Chicha. She loves this song. Gotta love that kid! We love Stars!

...and another oldie-but-goodie that made me think of you and Bear. My boys rock! The Beastie Boys put my legs on fire to speed up near the finish.... (PG Alert: video shows police foolishness/brutality, ok?)

As Bono sings it on this morning's playlist... It's a Beautiful Daaay!

Aug 22, 2009

the week that was

I had just been bragging that the boys  hardly get sick anymore.  Should have knocked on wood then.  I sure got served a nice heaping plate of reality. And a spoonful of irony.  Last weekend, I left a healthy household to celebrate my own good health.  There was a lot to be thankful for. 

As soon as I arrived and walked into the door,  I found out almost everyone at home was under the weather.  Mak had a cough. Tato had both a cough and a cold. MacDaddy  could barely get  out of bed and couldn't figure out why. He had been training for a bike event for this weekend's  Ironman competition. I suspected he overworked himself. Even Mang Fabian who does so much more  than take us from point A to point B wasn't feeling too great.

As the week wore on, the coughing didn't stop. School was missed. Work was missed.  Meals were missed.  A blood test showed MacDaddy had dengue. There were vaporizers, capsules, antibiotics, trips to the pharmacy and  constant calls to GrandDoc. My boys have the  world's best pediatrician for a dad and granddad. What would we do without him?
One week later, the sanity is back. Mak's cough is just about gone.  Tato is getting better and even asked for an extra serving of food.  Even Mang Fabian is back on track.  Although still too weak to compete, MacDaddy  was strong enough to get on that plane and cheer the team on.  

And just as I felt exactly a week ago, there is a lot to be thankful for. 
Good vibes,  good health.  Happy weekend!

Aug 21, 2009


Growing up I was one of those kids scared shizless by making the wrong move or making a mistake. Being surrounded by hyper-critical adults can do that to you. Then again, you just have to take the constructive criticism and damn the detractors and discouragers. Good for critical thinking skills at least.

I have learned to take more risks and become less self-conscious. Had to mature (relatively) at some point. It took awhile and I still have ways to go, but getting there....

So I remind myself to go easy on the little people at home when they make mistakes in the course of trying to do something well, or do something right. 

I am blathering on about this because I stumbled on this video that tells us if you never failed, you never lived. Hear that kids? 

Aug 19, 2009

life lessons

Because in the middle of this crazy, hectic week, we could all use a little reminder...

...and a kickass haircut, of course.

Aug 17, 2009

coming home

Just one of a thousand other reasons why it's great to be home.

happy monday!

kids, puppies, happiness

My dad has a new addition to his own brood at home.... Say hello to Van Gogh!

Van Gogh is a 2-month-old puppy. His Royal Cuteness has been visiting us a lot at home and brings out the little mommy in her.

Bear is just happy to have another reason to run around the house. Kids and puppies just scream viva la vida!

So at this moment, I forget about everything that's crappy about the world and everything that's crappy about people... and I post this as an affirmation that yes, life is good... and if everyone at home is good and happy, not much else should weigh you down.

Channeling positive vibes this Monday... wishing everyone who stumbles upon this a great week ahead. Ohhmmm.....

Aug 16, 2009

off with the girls

While Nona was catching the next wave , I was way over here.

Spur of the moment decision. I have some celebrating to do . The boys are back home. Sniff. But there is some serious girl bonding going on over here. Girl power at its finest. Always a good way to get the party started.

MacDaddy is MacMommy for the weekend. I heard loud whispers from almost-four-year-olds-that-can't-keep-secrets that they have declared the next two days a "no tshirt, boxer shorts only" weekend. This has MacDaddy written all over it. I also hear there are plans to visit Museo Pambata  and stroll around a local park. Possibly even a visit to the oceanarium. Sounds like a plan. Oh, and MacDaddy? If you do stumble upon this, please take lots of pictures. Would love to see the museum. Oh, and the shirts stay on. Please.

Aug 15, 2009

reading inspires kids

This adorable ad greeted me on Facebook this morning thanks to my friend Ruth. Happy Saturday Ruth!

How I wish this could be a video poster to put up in Bear's grade school....

See, just last Wednesday our group of Parent Reps released the first official solicitation letter for donations to add books in our classroom libraries. Did you know that even if a classroom library has the 400-book-minimum, usually that isn't enough? In Bear's school's case, each class has children that span about 3-4 reading levels - from the average to the advanced. 3 x 400 = 1200 books... So this is why we are targeting 1000 titles per class to cater to the varied readers. Eventually, we also want to give books to other Mandaluyong schools in need as well.

A school's library may be bursting with books, but it's crucial to check out how classroom libraries are stocked as well. Proximity to books alone is so key. There are many studies on this, which is why the solicitation letter I drafted was 4 pages!

But apparently (thank God!) parents actually read through it. Our first donations were in the NEXT day... and we are off to a GREAT start.... Yay! Feeling oh-so grateful already....

Aug 13, 2009

the next wave

The youngest guest at the announcement of the 2009 Ateneo Art Awards was 3-year-old Chicha...

This year's exhibit of finalists is called The Next Wave. Could this little girl be an artist one day? Sometimes I suspect she could be a "next waver" too.... who knows.

Her comment on Ringo Bunoan's highly conceptual work: There's no drawing.

We turned this event into one of our mommy-and-me nights out. As you can see, our girls'-night-out involved a well-curated art exhibit, then a good Italian dinner. Pappy and Bear also had a simultaneous boys'-night-out. That one involved McDonalds. Haha!

Tita Yael is the curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery. She loves what she does and it shows!

The Next Wave will be on exhibit at The Shangri-la Plaza up to Monday August 17. A good reason to go to the mall this weekend. A good way to show your preschooler that sometimes art doesn't always have to be a drawing.

Aug 12, 2009

jack and the beanstalk

In case you haven't already made plans, you may want to check out Repertory Philippines' Jack and the Beanstalk. You've got lots of time as the play began last weekend and runs till December 10. REP's website  should have all the information you'll need. 

Last weekend,  the boys, their classmates and teachers all headed to Greenbelt's OnStage theater.  Some  parents came.  A few older siblings tagged along too.  Mak stayed glued to his seat the entire time. Yes,  even during intermission. If that isn't enough to convince you how entertaining it is, Mak also wants you to know that "it's not scary because the giant is good and funny and I laughed one zillion times".  As for Tato.. well... I'll give you one guess where he "saw" the show .

Aug 10, 2009

the very fascinating artist

If you've got a little one around, chances are there is at least one or two or three Eric Carle books on your bookshelf.  An even greater chance you have been asked to read them over and over...and over again. Who doesn't love Eric Carle?  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Draw me A Star,  Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.   Oh and of course the very very cool ones like... The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Quiet Cricket. The boys and I are fans.

I had a hunch there was a story behind his stories.  And what a story it is!  A life-changing move as a child living in  New York back to his parents' hometown in Germany. A father held captive in a Russian prison. Living in fear and surviving  strict discipline in his new German school.  And the ultimate result:  his vow, as an artist,  to help children enjoy school more than he ever did.  I now have a clearer, better understanding of Eric Carle.  I love his books even more. If that is even possible.

On his move back to Berlin: "When it became apparent that we would not return, I decided that I would become a bridge builder. I would build a bridge from Germany to America and take my beloved German grandmother by the hand across the wide ocean." 
How the difficult days in a rigid school inspired his  books:  "I am fascinated by the period in a child's life when he or she, for the first time, leaves home to go to school. I should like my books to bridge that great divide."
On how long walks, filled with stories and discovery,  helped jump-start his love affair with nature:  "My father would turn over a rock and show me the little creatures that scurried and slithered about. I try to recall that feeling when I write my books."
Emma Brockes'  article This one's got legs,  over at the Guardian,  does a great job  of helping us see what's behind the man and his pages.  You can read it right here 
On my little trip down nosey-lane, I also discovered Eric Carle has his own blog . How cool is that.  A perfect little corner that answers some of my own whys and hows. A look into his current passions, including the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art . An opportunity to give us a glimpse of what a day in his life is like.  And a rare treat to fill us in on where he finds inspiration.  

A sort of VIP-pass into the mind and heart of one of our most beloved storytellers.  Doesn't get better than this.