Dec 24, 2011

December Days

...more like December daze, really. 

We've welcomed a new little girl to the clan (my brother's daughter) after a serious shortage of girls. I've turned a year older, sent out the gifts in record time (finally!)  and managed to eat every single cookie and cupcake that has crossed my front door.  So help me.  

The other evening, while hosting friends over at our place, we got a frantic knock at almost midnight.  There was a fire in my next door neighbor's house.  Yup, for sure it's one of those thoughts that have crossed your mind - the what-would-you-take-with-you-in-case-of-a-fire scenario.   I always joked half-joked with MacDaddy that we'd each run off with my two favorite sculptures.  It would probably feel like us bench pressing our body weights but I always assured MacDaddy the adrenaline would give us that extra push.  Thankfully, with quick thinking on the part of the neighbor and the fire department, no one was hurt, the fire didn't spread and a smoke-filled place was all I had to contend with.  It was also a relief to know that both MacDaddy and I, at that point,  wanted to take the boys out to safety and absolutely nothing else.  Talk about putting  Christmas in its proper perspective.  It's way too easy to lose sight when you have those crazy carols playing since September, you've wrapped your hundredth gift and you're nowhere near done and Christmas commercialism is out of control.  Sometimes, just sometimes a little jolt like this all we ever really need.  

Flashback. This is our very first Christmas with the boys. 2005.  We're brand new, giddy and wide-eyed all psyched for parenting thinking Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Perfection.

These are a few other Christmas photos over the years.

Look below. 2009. Am I the only one noticing we're losing our hair?  Tato has a bandage on his forehead after sixteen stitches and surgery. Did we really think easy peasy? Really?

It's 2011, I don't have a decent Christmas photo and you're not getting a photo card this year, sorry.  If you can get them to sit still long enough without one sticking out his tongue, or looking away or whining or wrestling,  I'll give you my arm. 

So here we are settling for a booth shot equipped with ample warning and about a twelve-second allowance to get the money shot.  We still can't seem to get that done right.  But we've learned to both laugh at ourselves and go easy on ourselves because sometimes that is the only way. Easy peasy, my a$$. We are perfectly imperfect at this parenting bit but perfectly happy and blessed we get to have a go at this. And that is viva la vida mama. 

Merry Christmas!

Dec 15, 2011


Ten days to go. Getting the Christmas vibe in our little corner of the Internet.  Although it's already 2011 and the Richmond Book Drive is over, Deck The Halls Pomplamoose-style still sounds really good. This is my kind of Christmas song.

And by the way… in case you come from a highly dysfunctional family, notice how the season tends to up the crazy ante? 

As my Tito Cholo had told me, Just face the music and dance!  I'll take that advice. It can be fun and quite a learning experience having Christmas in Space (incidentally the title of Pomplamoose's Christmas album!) with all the aliens around. Shall we dance?

Let's all rock this Christmas!

Dec 7, 2011

Giving Back

I've done the shameless plugs selling my little Christmas card projects here and here so what the heck. I shall be shameless again.

This Holiday Season give the gift that keeps on giving with the ICanServe Contribution Card. We got so many requests to design another ornament to adorn your tree this year we just couldn't refuse.

With your purchase of each card you share our commitment to promote early breast cancer detection.  More importantly, you will  help subsidize cancer patients on treatment.

For more information about ICanServe Foundation and the work that we do, check us out at

A minimum donation of P200/ card is requested.  For orders call 636.5578.

Thank you.

Dec 6, 2011

Stop Bullying

In every lunch and dinner I've had in the last couple weeks  the topic of the out-of-control state of bullying always seems to crop up.  I've talked about it before.  I know a little bit about what it feels like to be bullied.  I was six and so was my bully.  Looking back now I suspect she was raised thinking she was extra special, a superstar just like her parents  and that she could get away with anything.  I quietly took in the name calling. I said nothing to anyone when she carried me and threw me across the room. I quietly watched the teachers give in to her at my expense.  One day I fought back.  I told her she was adopted. Unfortunately for her, the whole world knew but her.   I didn't use any physical  force to hurt her but I knew by the look on her face that morning that she would have preferred a slap on the face or a yank on her ponytail.  I wish I had never done it but she pushed me against the wall.  Well, literally that morning up against the classroom door jamb she did but you know what I mean.  Bullying in school, at home, in the playground, through social networking sites or anywhere else is a horrible, horrible  thing for everyone. 

If you aren't already among the three million plus people that have viewed eighth grader Jonah Mowry's video,  you should. 

Nov 24, 2011


There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
- author unknown

Nov 23, 2011

We Were on a Break

...the two-week We-Time MacDaddy and I promised ourselves we'd find time once a year to do until we're old and grey.  Leaving the boys behind still isn't the easiest thing to do even after all these years but it helps they're surprisingly supportive and really cool about the whole deal. Plus MacDaddy is the world's best travel buddy.  

Rewind to months before we were off

Me: Mak, Tato, remember Mama and Papa go on a vacation once a year?  We're going in November.  You'll have fun things to do also here in Manila.  You'll go to the beach with Lala, and live some days with Nani and Dada.  You're even going to have a sleepover with your cousins. I'll call and I'll email you all the time and Papa will take lots of photos to show you. 

Mak:  Where are you going?

Me:  We're going to Paris and Prague and Munich and ....

Tato:  Munich! Munich!  Yes!!!  Can you buy me the Bayern Munich jersey of Neuer!  Yay!  Yes!!!

And there I was ready with the "it will be a quick trip" / "we'll be back in no time"/  "we'll miss you but  we'll have lots of stories to tell each other after"  speeches but I didn't need them.  Sweet.  

So I guess We-Time was now "We" on a mission to find new football jerseys. Sweet. 


and the only photos we have together this time 

Nov 17, 2011

Super 8

Very early this morning Bear crept into our bed. Half-asleep I said, "good morning birthday boy." To which he replied so sweetly and so earnestly, "thank you mama, thank you…" with the warmest cuddle and hug. 

Good Day Sunshine! from Nikka Santos on Vimeo.

Thank YOU baby bear. My heart is much bigger, my mind more open. Hope and happiness are mine… thanks a huge part to YOU. 

Nov 13, 2011

Hugo Cabret

It's a picture story...

It's stop motion art... It's a graphic novel...

It's The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Whatever you choose to call it, this piece of historical fiction written and illustrated by Brian Selznick is great for kids—one of this year's top favorites for our resident boy and girl. As in, they themselves would cut down post-dinner TV time because they couldn't wait for the next installment of the Hugo Cabret weeklong readathon. It was that enthralling.

Apparently, Martin Scorsese was also enthralled. Soon we'll be able to watch Hugo, The Movie. Directed by Scorsese, himself! This makes sense also because the story touches on early film legend Georges Melies and Scorsese is quite the passionate film historian. Can you tell someone's a Scorsese fan?

I thought I had to wait years and years before watching a Scorsese movie with my kids. Nope. Behold...

So the genius behind deeply dark and unflinchingly violent films like Taxi Driver, Casino, The Departed and Mean Streets is finally making a movie for children—and in 3D at that. Maybe that format will finally find some meaningful use. Clocks and automatons in 3D sound good to me. 

Nov 1, 2011

A Very Curious Child

I'm about halfway through Walter Isaacson's very long Steve Jobs biography and I am riveted. 

Although this is Jobs' officially-sanctioned biography, it isn't completely flattering. Apple's founder was a 21st century visionary unlike any other, but he was also a strange, petulant control freak. History can be juicy reading indeed. 

It's fascinating to see how pot-smoking LSD-taking visionaries have shaped how we use electronics and computers today. Aside from the biggest eccentric Jobs himself, you'll meet the Atari CEO, a mentor to Jobs, who would hold meetings in his hot tub while smoking dope. Or that Apple engineer who absent-mindedly drove his car into a truck nearly killing himself trying to figure out how to make those overlapping windows that are standard in any Mac today. 

So far, one of the things that stands out for me is how Jobs way of thinking was so out of synch with the traditional education system. Of his first years in school he said, "I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came really close to beating any curiosity out of me." According to Jobs, both his parents "knew the school was at fault for trying to make me memorize stupid stuff rather than stimulating me."

His father had a passion for restoring old cars and re-selling them for a little profit. He'd often let his son tag along looking and bargaining for parts.  Meantime, the young Steve showed an early fascination with electronics indulged by Heathkits—those do-it-yourself kits that would let you build radios or oscilloscopes. Jobs said, "I was very lucky, because when I was a kid both my dad and the Heathkits made me believe I could build anything." Ah really, there is nothing like experiential learning especially for visual learners like Steve Jobs. Or Einstein. Or Oppenheimer, whose mind was allowed to wander and flourish in a progressive school. 

And what a testament to child-centered education when one of the greatest minds of the 21st century considers one of his grade school teachers as his most significant. "I learned more from her than any other teacher, and if it hadn't been for her I would have gone to jail." 

So if you love your iPod, Macbook, iPhone and iPad you should also be grateful to Ms. Imogen "Teddy" Hill. She was Steve Job's 4th grade teacher. 

Anyway, back to reading the book! 

Oct 29, 2011

Oct 26, 2011

Sparing the Rod

As a mom I often feel like the luckiest person in the world. Other times like a complete and clueless idiot. Tonight I feel like a total jerk AND an ass.

The older generation can't seem to stop reminding us that we are raising our own children completely wrong. That we empower them too much.  That we wield too little authority over them. That all that reasoning with our young children is just a one-way ticket  to nowhereland. The Because-I- Said-So generation tells us  that,  like they did with their kids back in the day, we ought to occasionally give our own kids a serious whack in the butt. MacDaddy and I don't have very similar parenting styles. One has a more freestyle fun approach and the other is  well, umm , a bit on the strict side. I don't need to tell you who's who. That's not rocket science and that's really not my point.   Fortunately, MacDaddy and I are on the same page about  most other parenting issues.  The one thing we are in total agreement about is that we will not lay a hand on the children. No slipper whacking on their behind, our belts stay securely around our own pants.

Over the last couple of years, I have had bit of a problem with Mak biting his brother.  It has happened quite a number of times and he knows that really gets my goat. We sit down and talk about it and he gets serious time out.  At the end I put two of my fingers together and press it on his mouth with just enough pressure to show him I will not stand for it  but not powerful enough to break my own personal code. I always hate having to do that but I also need him to know some things are just not okay. I find my mom-self on the see-saw again not wanting  to bring up future monsters but not wanting to have to  be  a monster to get that to happen.  

Tonight tucked into my bed because MacDaddy is away, and with the lights out because it was well past our bedtime, Mak started to jeer and shout and heckle while Tato was telling us a story.  I asked him to stop but I only got more heckling.  As I stretched out my arm  to put my fingers firmly against his lips I didn't realize he sat up from bed that very  instant and my arm forcefully hit him across the neck.  It didn't matter that I didn't mean it.  Not to either of us. So much for the attempt to silence him. His cry was that type of cry  you just knew his heart was hurting way more than anything else. I really did want to cry more. I said my sorries because no one is ever too big to say it and really there was no one sorrier than me.  

I know  for certain I don't want to have to hit my children to get a point across. I know for certain I want to earn their respect, not demand it. I know for certain I want to bring up  secure, kind happy children who will know for certain that they don't need a heavy hand to teach anyone anything. Is that so freaking impossible?

Oct 17, 2011

Island Adventure

MY trip report, this time.  First destination was Siargao - a surfer and beach bum's paradise. Next stop: Camiguin, one of the country's most beautiful islands and home to seven volcanoes. We chilled out (literally!) in the cold springs, swam in the falls, then dipped into the hot springs.  We drove around one of the most gorgeous coastlines I have seen around here.  Final stop was Cagayan de Oro with lots of family to see and lots of catching up to do.

We planned to have a simple birthday dinner for the four celebrants on the eve of their birthday.  The actual birthday was going to be a hectic one that entailed waking up at  dawn, taking a boat ride and speeding through town after town with barely enough time to spare to catch our second boat ride.  The boys  already knew they weren't getting A party.  We had establshed that early on.  But kids are kids and they started asking all day:  Where are the loot bags?  What's the theme?  Will there be balloons? And moms are moms and we semi-cave too.  A day before we left Manila I bought an assortment of stuff at the book store. Lots of paper, crafty things, art supplies, stamps.  Just in case.  They turned out to be perfect "giveaways" for the "party".  I pretended we had a  theme:  Island Amazing Race. It was the only thing I could think up fast.  Plus it justified no decorations. With the nipa huts, crashing waves and the surfers in the horizon, who needed decor anyway?  I planned a scavenger hunt around the resort and made colorful wired bracelets to wear. 

It helped we we had this wonderful oasis  all to ourselves and a great ally, the resort's French owner. He helped big time.  He found fresh crabs, prawns  and lobsters for dinner -  GrandadDoc, Mak and MacDaddy's all -time favorites.  He made brick fire oven pizza with nothing on it but tomato sauce for Tato. He prepared pasta for the younger cousins.

He even baked a birthday cake from scratch.  Who knows where he managed to dig up candles  with such little notice, but he did. Merci beaucoup, Fred. You saved the day.  

All in all a great way to turn six, fourty-one and eighty-two.  See, kids, no balloons necessary. 

Oct 12, 2011

Camp Adobo

Someone's ready to go to camp. An honest-to-goodness sleep-away camp. Imagine, three days out-of-town with no mom or dad around. This is nothing revolutionary, I know, but just a flash ago Bear was a BABY. Now he's ready for this…

Semestral break is coming soon, so if you're interested there are still a few slots left for another serving of Camp Adobo. A Filipino flavored adventure in Literature, Arts, and Geography--also involving bonfires, games, sports, climbing trees, bamboo rafts, getting wet, lots of mud, carabaos and crazy cabin bunkmates. 

For more information you can call:

Apet Nunez, Camp Director 
0917 841 1088

Mocs Javier, Camp Administrator 
0917 827 6627

Rosana Evangelista, Camp Coordinator 
0916 723 2720

Camp Adobo is also on Facebook.

So excited for my (no longer a Baby) Bear!

Oct 11, 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babe(s)

We're back from our island adventure. Today's guest post is by my brand new six-year old.  Mak says he will do the next one.  

This is teo. I loved camiguin siargao and cagayan  it was my birthday  October 3 I rode a Roro. The family sang the Birthday song  8:46 in the boat because  that's my real birthday time we sang 8:43 for Mik. 
the three islands were the best.
In Siargao we found an island nobody was my Papa left his slippers on that island he had to buy orange slippers from a man after. funny
in camiguin I tried new food called spam  super yummy tastes meaty.   looks like a red soft pillow.  mt.hibok hibok  was a volcano when it erupted thirty -four thousand people died. the hotel reustraunt hibok hibok was named after the volcano in hotel paras beach resort. 

we had a amazing scavener hunt the first guess was everyones ninang ...........................ninang den next biggest cottage the fifth cottage. amala hot cold teo strech out arm. Teo wins the big bag of treats (school suppies)!!