Dec 29, 2009

2010 Here We Come!

2009... what a year. Whew! I am making peace with the heartache and frustration that came along with it. Goodbye! But more importantly, thank you to the year-that-was for the many good memories and lessons learned. And for the blessings. Lots of blessings.

Hopes and wishes are on my mind as we run up to January 1. So here's another video mishmash filed for the kids to look back on, and a reminder for them that... you are always loved. At the very least by your so-mushy, very-needy mama who asks for too many hugs and gives too many sniff-kisses.

Passers-by, see if you can spot your face or the face of a loved one in here....

2010 Here We Come! from Nikka Santos on Vimeo.

To those who pass by this little part of cyberspace and who generously share their thoughts... thank you for making us feel like we're not alone. See you in 2010. We're going to rock it!

Dec 24, 2009

Dear Santa

Tato has mailed his letter:

Mak has made his list (and checked it twice!):

Christmas is finally here. That was fast.

You could say I was one of the lucky ones. I knew Santa. I shared priceless moments with him once a year, every year, for about a decade. The scene was always the same. A party at my grandparents' home with family, friends of family, and friends of friends of family. Typical party fare, the usual chit-chat with the not-so-usual special guest. Sometime in the middle of merry-making there'd be whispers that Santa's bell was just heard from a distance. There'd be a hush in the room and I would get butterflies in my stomach. The excitement too much for someone so little.

Check out the look on the kid's face. That's BigBro behind shocked kid looking pretty star-struck too

As the sound of the bell clanging would get louder and louder, our grins would grow wider and wider. Santa's "helpers" would open the garage gate and there he'd be. What a vision, I tell you. Snow in his boots, trademark white beard, sacks filled with presents, a twinkle in his eyes and the sweetest smile you ever saw. I could have sworn I knew those eyes and smile from somewhere.

Santa and me (at 2 years old). That's oh-so-glamorous original Nana having a holiday drink, by the way.

Some years later when a certain grown-up-who-gave-birth-to-me slipped big time and told me a little bit more about Santa than I cared to ever know, I became his helper. I was suddenly the little elf with the big job and the biggest secret. I still got butterflies in my gut when he came. The excitement still a tad much for someone not-so-little.

Finally Santa's helper. That's me in the white dress taking my job a little too seriously.

Santa and LilBro. BigBro and a buddy in the background being Santa's elves

Dear Santa, I wish the Mak-Tatos get the chance to know you the way I did. I wish my dear old Abuelo (who always had to rush out suddenly for work those afternoons) could have met you. You would have gotten along brilliantly. And I wish you got my letter thanking you for the memories.

Wishing you and your families another Christmas filled with beautiful memories.

Dec 23, 2009

Charlie's Christmas

Nothing like the melancholy, introspective Charlie to make us think about the essence of the season. It was Linus who gave the speech, but it was Charlie's emotional upheaval that led to the Christmas epiphany for the entire Peanuts gang. Watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with the kiddos this morning. Bear thinks Lucy "shouldn't be so mad all the time" but how can you not be amused by this precocious girl?

Lucy: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.
Charlie: What is it you want?
Lucy: Real estate.

From Lucy to Snoopy and Sally... Charlie bemoans how no one gets that it is so depressing how commercialized Christmas has become and how it brings out the gimme-gimme sense of entitlement in people. The poor guy also thinks Christmas emphasizes that no one likes him.

Charlie: Thanks for the Christmas card you sent me Violet.
Violet: I didn't send you a Christmas card, Charlie Brown.
Charlie: Don't you know sarcasm when you hear it?

Oh Charlie... I always feel like giving you a hug. But it's Christmas after all, so Charles Schulz gives us the gift of a happy ending and lifted spirits.

I have to add, there's nothing like decorating our tree at home while playing that classic Vince Guaraldi soundtrack in the background. Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!

Dec 21, 2009

Saving the Day

While Bear was expertly building things over there, we engaged in some piecing together and stitching of a different sort over here. It was quite a day. To say the least. Early this morning while dashing around the house like he usually does, Tato slammed his forehead right smack into the corner of one of our steps. I shall save you the gory details. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. MacDaddy, Tato and I were hospital-bound in minutes.

Temporarily bandaged and happy to ride a "chair with wheels"

All smiles for the camera on the X-ray table. Nothing broken. Thank you!

GrandadDoc, the world's best pediatrician, was a gem as always and got us the best plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist in town. The trio rocked! Seven hours later Tato was finally given the clear to go under sedation to suture the wound.

After a day of brave faces and smiles, this is him finally in tears. Not too happy with the look of the hospital gown and the needle that was coming at him!

All done in an hour. Being carried to the recovery room

Recovering quite well. First words: Im dizzy for now. Really really dizzy. What is Mak doing?

On the ride home with me behind the wheel and him still woozy from the sedative and safely belted next to me (no time for car seats. it was an emergency remember? ) he says: "When I am big I want to fix things and save the day."

And as I call it a day I am thankful for people that fix things. For those that save the day. And for those who inspire my son to do the same.

Lost in Lego Land

The box says for 7 to 14-year-olds, and not to sound ungrateful - as this was a birthday gift for Bear - but first thing I thought was, "great he can play with it in 2 to 8 years from now."

Muchas gracias Grandnana!

Surprise, surprise... it was played-with and constructed all on his own, a few days later. All he needed was some free time on a Sunday afternoon. Bear has built a lot of the smaller sets by himself. He is our resident Lego fanatic. He actually likes reading manuals. Viva la geekery! For posterity, this is the second "big" set he has built up-to-specs.

The first set he built was this...

Thanks Ninang Nana!

But after he had built it, the plane fell to the floor in pieces, his heart was shattered. It took him two weeks later to overcome the "emotional anguish" and to re-build.

I am essential to his projects though - I'm his official sticker-assistant. As he says, "I'm not good with stickers." He really isn't. Those darn cute stubby hands! But he's great at the more important stuff. Proud pappy just helped position a thing or two when it was almost done. I could never do this, or have the inclination - even if I'm waaay past the recommended age range. When I look at all those teeny tiny gazillion pieces and think they have to be put together to create a plane or a ship, I get a little dizzy.

I'm the one lost in Lego Land, but I have a pretty good guide.

You can guess what he asked from mama moi, daddy paps and Santa.

Dec 18, 2009

Fun in Fundamental

Here's a basic question for you : Can adding FUN to the mix lead to better human behavior?

Moms have to do it almost daily. It protects our voice box. It preserves our sanity.

When Tato stopped eating vegetables I resorted to tomato soup. No luck. I served him tomato soup with alphabet noodles "floating and swimming" in the soup. He wiped the bowl clean. Oh, and I was told I needed to buy more Ms and Ts to "spell our names". Score: Mom 1, Tato 0.

Getting the kids to pack away feels like pulling teeth over here. Until Mission: CleanUp with this Mama as the Clean Police hiding under the guise of Spaceship Commander. Enter radio-static crackling sound effects while on a make-believe walkie talkie formed by Mega Blocks piled high. "Mak, Tato. You have a mission. My spaceship needs to make an emergency landing. Make room for my battleship." Minutes later the area looks somewhat like a room. Somewhat ok? Score: Mom 2, Mak-Tatos 1/2.

With the FUN THEORY, Volkswagen asks the very question and puts the theory to the test. And they have video cameras to prove it. The experiments range from getting people to take the stairs, recycle glass bottles, and find the time for yoga right smack in the middle of a busy day. There is so much more. Check them out right here and watch how throwing in fun, fun, fun makes strangers do, do, do.

Here's one:

This one is my favorite:

Now go. Do something nice. Get someone to do something nice. And have fun while you're at it.

Dec 16, 2009

Sea of Shoeses

My godson Jackaroo would say, "Pooh eated all the honey!" And our Chicha would say, "oh so many shoeses!" These toddler word mishaps are so endearing and funny, I tell you. What else gives us a good chuckle at home? Chicha's fashion mishaps. Fresh snaps captured by Pappy for Chicha Pambahay Style 2009 series....

Again, I am not responsible for styling.

I am not this creative.

Mid-photo-shoot she tells us, "wait, mama wait..." then runs out to get the hand bag her classmate gave her as a gift. And voila...

She changes her clothes 10 times a day like it's a sport.

Haaay Chicha....

Shorts made by Tita Faye, red top by Zara Kids, shrug from a Gingersnaps outfit, bag from Erica, shoes raided from my closet. We obviously don't have Jane's (of the original Sea of Shoes) budget for couture, but someone's gaining the posing skills.

Dec 15, 2009

60 Things Plus a Comedy of Errors

That is, 60 Things Every Child Should do by Age 10 - one of my articles for the latest issue of Working Mom.

Dec 2009 - Jan 2010 issue, out in news stands now.

Thank you to all the cool parents who contributed to this. Good to think of such things as we enter a new year....

Nana said, "swim with dolphins" and "save for something really awesome and buy it." Mocs said, "play under the rain." Carlo said, "eat fish balls from a cart on the street" and "crack a semi-green joke in tagalog." Tito Cholo said, "learn to be entertained with a blank piece of paper and pencil." Jamie said, "be amazed at your own good looks, just like Dad!" KC said, "pick and cook the first of many harvests." Rone said, "learn to let your parents use the bathroom in peace." Kourtney said, "be unafraid of making mistakes." Debbie said, "ride a bike in the Tour of the Fireflies." Ana said, "voluntarily give some of your toys away to the less fortunate." Kara said, "be the barkada of your lolos and lolas." Sylvia said, "plan a party." I said, "go to Bohol, see a tarsier up close" and "read a book that made you cry."

There's so much more - from the simple, to the profound, to the funny... to the funny and profound. Naaks. Grab a copy for the rest and the usual WM fare of articles for thinking, proactive parents. Promo!

And, and, AND... I should highlight one of the best comedy of errors I have ever been involved in - thanks to friends with a tongue-in-cheek facebook info pages, oh-so-innocent editors (I love ya B!) and the porn industry. Taadaaah...

I nearly spit my coffee when I saw the job description.

Now if you don't know what Vivid Video, Inc. is, I can't help you. Google it na lang. It was my biggest laugh of the week, turned mini facebook sensation. Apology and erratum next issue for cool parent, LOL-funny-friend Ojay. Merry Mix-up to you from The Working Moms!

And I'd like to add to the list item No. 61 - "learn to laugh at yourself!"

Dec 13, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It's literally screaming Christmas over here too. For the last couple of weeks we have been roused from sleep almost every single morning by our very own in-house carollers belting out holiday tunes. Non-stop. No kidding.

Meet the carollers on their make-shift stage captured by our make-shift video camera. Forgive the film quality and the get-up. This was an impromptu act. That or MacDaddy and I weren't informed a concert was in the works. Oh, and excuse the fall early on and some nose-picking mid-way. We are working on our manners. And that would require a whole other post. (Word of caution: To preserve your ear drums you may want to lower the volume at the end. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

To calm your frayed nerves from the ear-splitting performance, here's the same song presented by Sunday school kids using cool black-light effects.

Wishing you all...goodness aaaannd light!

Dec 11, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Christmaaas! So here's a look back at a 2007 video mishmash starring Bear at age 4, and Chicha at the cusp of 2. I know, home made videos are cheesy, but it's the season of good cheer and I love cheese... Click play for some holiday love sent your way.

Love and Joy 2007 from Nikka Santos on Vimeo.

I should come up with a 2010 version. We'll see.

Dec 9, 2009

A Lesson in Symmetry

Last Friday, Bear and his 5's and 6's classmates had a culminating activity to show us what they learned from their theme investigation on ancestral homes -- studying the bahay kubo, to the bahay na bato, to today's modern house. They were obviously busy these past weeks playing architects, art historians and book authors -- while learning math, science and literacy along the way. Among other things, they built model homes complete with plan/elevation, costing and proposal as to why we should buy their house.

Bear and his "associates" named their firm Builders and Co.

There was so much to see in their exhibit! Like, cool how designing their own callados was also an exercise for math patterns. But here's a project that really caught my eye....

One day, these 5 and 6 year olds may look back at this simple lesson in symmetry and contemplate the depth and meaning of it all. That there is more to Bear's "Robot Skunk" than meets the eye.

From design to name, Bear's Robot Skunk is groovy!

One day kids, remember Robot Skunk and ponder this.... How you can find symmetry in a leaf and a butterfly, to the Greek Parthenon and the Taj Mahal, to religious symbols... and what does all that mean. How you can find symmetry in reciprocity, empathy, apology, dialog, respect and justice... and what does all that involve.

As our Friday school event segued to a weekend at the beach, it was me who had a flashback to Bear's first lesson on this basic - but most profound - principle used in architecture, design and aesthetics. When I snapped this picture by the rocky shore, I thought... equal parts love here and there.

They are my symmetry in motion.

But something more like the symmetry of yin and yang. Balance doesn't necessarily mean exactly the same on both sides.

I love them both equally with all my heart, but as they grow into their own actualized selves... I know that to love them best, I have to love them differently.

Dec 8, 2009

Spares and Strikes

The boys just discovered a fun way to spend an otherwise lazy weekend afternoon...duckpin bowling!

Meet the players:

I was the designated scorer and screamer. Though this time it was more of the "Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT throw the ball on top of your brother's head!" than the "Go!Go! You can do it!"

Bowling kicks for rent. Cute huh? MacDaddy had to settle for socks though. That or squeezing into a pair of size twos.

This is Mak, whose style is all about twisting and turning his body. Think telekinesis meets bowling.

This is Tato, our little bundle-of-nerves. You can look now, Tato. You can turn around. You're missing the best part!

The final tally:

The Mak-Tatos' scores were dead-even. I kid you not. Phewww. That sure saved us from some heartbreak. For the time being, anyway. No "Unfair!" on the ride back, no bruised egos to massage. Well.. except maybe for Player #3 (see score sheet).

Mak: "Papa needs a ball teacher, a coach. ".
Strike that out.