Feb 28, 2011

A Writer's Celebration

This morning, Bear woke me up to say, today is The Day, mama. He meant The Day for Writer's Celebration. A few hours later, I was in his school to have snacks and juice with him, his classmates and other parents. We gathered to toast the publishing of the kids' first non-fiction books for Writer's Workshop.

Two self-published 7-year-olds manning their writer's nooks...

One researched and wrote a book about wolves, the other researched and wrote about dinosaurs. They even made promotional posters.

Bear authored the book on wolves. He made a tree and wolf out of Legos for his writer's nook. Nook design and concept all his own. I was suggesting he add more elements in his booth when he was preparing for it. He was adamant: "I just want the lego figures and my poster and my book." Oh fine. Then, surprise... the nook included give-away bookmarks too. Nice touch.

Book topic, art and words also all their own. They may even misspell some words, but that's okay. The goal was for them to use their imagination, to share their own thoughts and interpretation of facts they researched. Here's how Bear blurbed his own book. He claims it's awesome. So confident. Haha!

Here's a preview of what's inside supposedly awesome book.

It even has a glossary. The mammal entry made me, and a few others chuckle. Teacher Tina claims it was a hit when she posted this in her facebook. Awesomely funny and cute...

Funny yes, but hey, scientifically accurate, nonetheless. All mammals do have mammary glands. Hehe! I just love these kids. Cheers to the Keys Araullo First Grade writers! Awesome effort Baby Bear.

Feb 26, 2011

The Illusionist

There is more to cartoons than Dreamworks, Pixar or Disney. I love having moments that elucidate this to my kids who, like the rest of the world, are bombarded by Hollywood formulas. I don't deny Pixar can make wonderful movies. Toy Story. Cars. Up. Disney offered Tangled as a pleasant surprise last year. Dreamworks had the very cool How to Train Your Dragon, but unfortunately they also had Megamind. The point is, kids are bound to watch a bunch of crap out there, so I try to curate their movie experiences while I can still tell them what to watch. Call me their cultural despot, I don't really care. One day they may declare Shrek 3 is awesome. God forbid! Knock on wood. But at least they will get to watch Howl's Moving Castle and other Miyazaki animated classics before making that conclusion. They already enjoyed Miyazaki's Ponyo, loved Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Neil Gaiman's Coraline adapted as an animated feature, so things are looking up.

Which leads me to the heart of today's post.

Yesterday, the kids and I watched the oh so lovely and touching animated movie The Illusionist. Exactly the kind of cinema that should be leaving a lasting impression on little media consumers. It is a beautiful, handcrafted 2D cartoon that shows the real soul and magic of animation. Every frame is like a painting... artfully drawn, composed and colored. No over-the-top 3D. No screaming visuals. Story-wise, no hackneyed formula. Like The Red Balloon, this film hardly even uses any dialogue for it's entire 80-minute run. It doesn't need to. The movie is not about plot. It is about emotion, but it's not at all sappy. Like all good movies, it simply offers impressions of life as it is, no judgements or moral propaganda. It's also funny, in a Charlie Chaplin sort of way. And my kids, like many kids, loved the physical comedy.

Warning though, the movie touches on some adult themes, poverty and suicide included, so be prepared to answer questions. I'm the contextualizing, rather than censoring type of parent, so… if you're not, perhaps watch it first and see if you're ready to show your kids younger than 10?


The Illusionist was one of my recent favorite movie moments. It's a cartoon for big kids as well grown-ups who like thoughtful movies that aren't just about explosions, action sequences and contrived plot twists. Might be something you want to catch this weekend. Have a good one!

Feb 25, 2011

Flying Solo

Hello from Orlando. Just me on this trip this time. Tomorrow I meet nine hundred or so other women courtesy of the Young Survival Coalition and their wonderful advocacy of bringing survivors from all over the world together. We may all be in varying stages of our own cancer journeys but with one thing in common: we were all diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40.

Although I must admit I missed Tato and his slow-mo walk to the plane. (He says it's the best part of a trip) I missed Mak wondering what the airplane food will be and if they'll be serving those red juicy hotdogs i still refuse to serve at home. Or MacDaddy all set to conquer every single site like a tourist on crystal meth. So yup, i did kind of miss all of that but must admit I cherished my newfound peace and quiet. Only to find out minutes into the flight that I was stuck next to the world's worst bickering couple. Only this time I couldnt scream: One more fight and nobody gets a bike!

Feb 22, 2011

Sing Along!

The kids share a camera to take pictures as they please, make videos, Lego movies and what-not. Looking through the camera files, I find this video worthy of my first Viva Mama Webcast.

Good Morning! from Nikka Santos on Vimeo.

Just thought it was a good way of saying, good morning world! Life is good when you live with Her Royal Cuteness.

Feb 20, 2011

Love in the Time of Laptops

Why is almost every grandmother in children's books rocking herself in a chair while knitting a sweater desperately waiting for company? She's usually wrinkled like a raisin and sporting a full head of white hair all tied in a super tight bun. That's just so.. 1952. Today's Nanas hit the gym, drive their own cars, sit on ergonomic chairs and order those sweaters on Ebay. A little help from science has helped with the hair color. I'm not even going to go into what modern technology can do about the wrinkles. Teehee.

This is five-year old Tato (using my yahoo messenger account) "talking" to his grandmother.

click on the image to see better

Fifteen minutes later The Grandmother received an email.

And that, for you, is 21st century lovin'.

Feb 18, 2011

The Little Radical

You know when you want to do something but feel constrained by The Situation? I'm at that juncture right now. You want to achieve This, but you only have that, not those other things you supposedly need. The creativity buzz-phrase Thinking Outside the Box comes to mind, but it's so overused people are putting it back in the box.

There's a new catch phrase in town: vuja de. Coined by Fast Company founding editor Bill Taylor, it's a twist on deja vu that essentially means, a sense of seeing something for the first time, even if you have actually witnessed it many times before. In other words, radical thinking required to get to the objective or to get to necessary change.

Children are a fine example of radical thinkers. Bear does this every day and I'm hoping he rubs off some radical on me. Look…

Last Christmas he was happy to get that gift. It was supposed to make a dog, but he wasn't interested in making a dog that day. He was in the mood to make a dinosaur. Now even if you give him dog parts, he'll still make that dinosaur. No problem.

Later on, he thought of making another kind of dinosaur with horns and showing some teeth. So here… horns and teeth. No problem.

In one of his surreal Lego scenes, he required a giant snail to drive a tugboat. None of his Lego sets have snails in them, and yet…

As Marcel Proust says, "The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes." Right, Baby Bear?

Feb 15, 2011

Of Louboutins and Gnarls Barkley

Did you watch The Grammys? Mick Jagger was his usual legendary self. Arcade Fire was super hot. But this performance wins the Adorable Award. As adorable as Gwyneth's shoes!


And since I also really loved Gwyneth's duet with Cee Lo, I looked for more of his music on the web. Apparently, he's responsible for one of my all time favorite songs, way back when there was still Gnarls Barkley. OMG he was half of Gnarls (Freaking) Barkley.  It's been covered by everyone from Nelly Furtado to Beyonce and The Violent Femmes but nothing like the original. Flashback time...

Feb 14, 2011

Happy Hearts Day

I used to call this day a corny Hallmark celebration. As in celebration for higher sales. Not anymore.

Chicha the artist explains: "the flowers mean you smell good and I like picking flowers for you. The hearts are my heart flying to you."

Love this year's Valentine's Day loot!

Feb 13, 2011

She's 5!

February 12, 2011. Chichapampam turned another year older, wiser, spunkier and sweeter. As Solange Knowles sings it, Mama Loves Baby. That simple. That true.

With my heart exploding,

Feb 10, 2011

2011 Bucket List #1

Run a new race distance. Check.


Me: Tato, check this out. I have a medal!
Tato: You won?
Me: No. Everyone who crossed the finish line got one. It's called a finisher's medal.
Tato: You're happy because you just finished and you didn't even win?!

That kid is lucky I was too weak to argue and too exhausted to strangle him.

and...more proof! (nabbed from the website)

Feb 7, 2011

Happy Bodhisattva

I once commented, Buddhism seems to be such a beautiful belief system. Someone said back, among all the religions it's the one that encapsulates best what it is to be a good person. Exactly. This came to mind as Pappy and I took some we-time to usher in the Chinese New Year in Singapore. See...

We also found this little laughing buddha... or shall we say future Bodhisattva? in Dempsey Hill. I think he's adorable.

Copy-pasted from somewhere: To become a Bodhisattva is to be fearless. There is no aversion for those who are hostile and there is no obsessive clinging to those who are closest to us. There is no possessiveness, only love, compassion and discernment into the nature of reality.

Now that is something to strive for. But is it really possible? I mean, we are all so imperfect, how can we love perfectly? All I know is, it really helps when you can work on it with someone you can have beers and pig out with...

And if you are raising children together! There are many things I still hope for, but I know I am already so blessed.

The chance to get-away is awesome. The best part is coming home.

Feb 3, 2011

The Force

I'm hardly in the market for a new set of wheels. I'm not even trying to sell you the new Volkswagen Passat though I must say it looks pretty cool. It's just that I happened to see this video and can totally relate. If you have a not-so-little boy around the house - aged say about 4 or 5, maybe even 6 - I think you will too.
You see once in a while MacDaddy and I have dinner at our home across a masked superhero. Or watch TV with a caped crusader (or two!) on our laps. Or have to maneuver our way around cris-crossing light sabers and boys shouting Use the Force! Use the Force! Check out this video and you'll see what I mean.

May the Force be with you!