After the release of the 2T Newsletter, we got a lot of questions about where Two Tots will be moving, and why. We know it’s just been a year since we announced our new “home”, and yet, here we go again — packing up and moving out. Actually, it’s moving up. 😉
Bea, Zharina and I had some discussion about this big change, and I can tell you as much: there are a lot of good things in store for Two Tots in the coming months. We are fortunate for this next opportunity, and we felt there was no better time than the present to make it happen.
We also thought: what better way to celebrate than by having a showroom wide sale!
A lot of our furniture on-site are going for (at least) a 15% discount from their original price.
Most* of the furniture holding the accessories is on sale too!
And there are accessories like hampers, magnetic boards, pillows and the like that are close to (if not already) 40-50% discount. They are great to give as gifts, especially with the Holiday season creeping up on us so fast.
Limited quantities of matching sets are up for grabs!
The sale begins today, September 1, and will go until September 3, from 10am – 3pm at, Unit 510 #24 General Araneta St., San Antonio Village in Pasig.
We will be at the showroom to greet you and walk you through everything. What you see is what you get. Some items are one-of-a-kind so I’d encourage you all to drop by at your soonest convenience to get what you want.
All hampers are below P1000, quite the steal if I do say so myself!
Two Tots accepts cash or check, and a direct deposit to our BDO Account.
With school just around the corner, I’ve tried to up the girls’ reading time a little bit more each day. As I mentioned in my BetterMePH post, reading is central to the girls’ schooling.
Sometimes wanting to read is the hardest part. Reading proficiently and consistently comes next, and I have heard my girls’ teachers use the phrases to help them develop “grit” and “reading stamina”.
Sam is my reader. It is harder to get her nose out of a book than it is to get her to start reading. Our biggest challenge for her was finding books for older kids with not-so-mature content that she could still appreciate. It is why she has a recommended reading list in the Kids Know It section of the site — her first blog post.
Jamie was the child who started out as not much of a fan of reading. She learned to read as a baby (thank you, Your Baby Can Read), but I think it had more to do with her confidence level and her maturity towards bigger words. I remember stories from her teachers when she was little about how surprised they were that she could read words, but would get self-conscious when people took notice.
Recently, I spent more time reading aloud with Jamie each night to build her confidence, grit and stamina. In the last few months Jamie has gotten more confident and taken a greater interest in chapter books. I noticed she picked apart her Two Tots doll house bookshelf and starting pointing to the books that were “too easy”. Then she crossed over to Sam’s reading cabinet and started browsing for books there.
I took that as my cue to encourage her to read and find books that were to her speed and interest. So over the last few months, Jamie has also built her own recommended reading list that she’d like to share with fellow five-year olds.
Diva and Flea, by Moe Willems.
Diva and Flea Book Cover by Mo Wllems
Jamie has always been a fan of Mo Williams. And as the Piggie and Elephant journeys were getting too easy and too comfortable, I was happily surprised to find a Mo Williams chapter book about a cat and a dog in Paris. I immediately bought it ( you can’t go wrong with Amazon!), and because Jamie loves animals and saw that it was by Mo Willems, she gamely picked it up and read it on her own.
The Mercy Watson Series.As I browsed online for best chapter books for children, I came across Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson story. It’s about the adventures of a pig who lives with a farmer and his wife. Jamie saw the first book on this year’s Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program, and so she picked up a copy on her own for free.
Filling out her B&N summer form for a free book.
The book was quite silly, but silly enough for Jamie to appreciate. We looked, and are continuing to look for more from this series.
Zoe’s Rescue Zoo Series. This was one of Sam’s recommendations for Jamie from her shelf. There is a little girl who can talk to animals (Princess Sofia much?) and she and her family run a zoo that rescues animals. Zoe helps each new baby animal adjust as needed. Jamie has gotten through two of the books and is now on her third.
Easy chapter book read for animal-lovers.
The Princess in Black Series.As much as Jamie loves animals, she also loves her Princesses. Last year Sam picked out the first of the Princess in Black series when she filled out her Barnes and Noble Summer reading form. Jamie found it on the shelf, and was curious enough to open it up. The Princess in Black’s text is big and each page is peppered with pictures, making the feel of a chapter book easy. We recently discovered that there were more Princess in Black Books, and so of course when Jamie saw it and asked me to get her a copy, I gamely agreed.
There’s a 4th book coming soon!
Anna and Elsa Series. Ah yes. The never-ending legacy of Frozen. The tales of Anna and Elsa are little stories after the Frozen movie has happened, when Queen Elsa is comfortable with her powers, and the rest of their Arendele adventures begin.
There are 8 books in this series already.
Jamie received the first two of these books as a gift, and Sam got the three after them (it is now up to #8). Jamie started to read it however this one has less pictures on the pages, so it feels a little bit more sophisticated than she’d like, but she is curious about it nonetheless. We are going slow on this series and taking our time.
Books by Julia Donaldson. Back in Manila, the girls and I watched The Gruffalo performance. We bought the book during intermission, and that’s how we discovered Julia Donaldson. Sam enjoyed a lot of her other books, and while they are illustrated like children’s books the words are smaller per page, and some are harder to read. Jamie can get through them on her own now, but every once in a while she still enjoys snuggling with me to have me read through these silly books while she points out the new thing she sees.
I love watching the girls build their reading skills. It helps that they choose what they read too, and that we talk about what they’ve read so far. Jamie especially has come a long way in just a few months. She now has the habit of settling herself down and opening a book to read at her leisure. It’s a lovely sight to see. 🙂
Passing the baton: Teaching her pals to read.
Do you have any book favorites your kids would like to share?
This coming school year, we are one of many that need to answer the question: do we move our child from a private preschool into public school Kindergarten?
My husband and I have been going back and forth on this for months because we have two very good viable options.
The public kinder that is offered for Jamie is in the same school that Sam goes to, and it is very close to the house. The school has just been recently recognized as a Gold Ribbon School, (which is something you’d want your school to be). On top of that, it is convenient, and free! Who doesn’t love free quality education?
Almost time for Kinder!
At the moment we pay to send Jamie to her private Montessori which is in our old neighborhood. So every morning, I scramble to drive her quite the distance so that she is on time, after I get Sam to her school.
Clearly there are so many reasons why — in my husband’s perspective — Jamie can go to this school next year. And I’ve spoken to many parents who have made that choice as well. Some kids love the idea of going to the same school as their older sibling.
And so after much consideration and thought, would you be surprised if I told you I opted for the paid, further choice?
Yes, I consciously chose to “give myself” a harder time (so my husband says) with two drop offs every morning and pay out the arm and a leg, to keep Jamie in a Montessori kinder. I lost sleep over this decision, and talked to many parents and preschool teachers, and volunteered and observed both camps more than once. And here’s what swayed my decision:
Jamie’s personality. Whether in a Montessori school or not, I believe in following your child. Jamie is a Dove, and a youngest child. Moving her to this kinder would have put her right in the middle again of all these new peers. I felt she needed a gentler introduction, and a little bit more build to her confidence. As per Maria Montessori’s philosophy, a child in a primary classroom will remain there for 3 years and progress from one of the younger students in class to one of the older ones. As the youngest in this family and truly everyone’s baby, I felt Jamie would only get that if she finished her third year (her Kinder Year) in her current classroom. In fact her teacher has been working with us to give her more “leadership roles”. She enjoys being the “role model”, and the good example for other children. You can the pride in her eyes when she tells me about how she “taught” another friend her long chains, or worked on the world map with another friend. If only for this reason, I would definitely pay out that arm and leg a second time around!
Jamie watching her friends at work after teaching them what to do. Her eyes sparkle and shine when she’s having a good time.
Are we “coddling” her a little too much? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s Jamie. She needs a little bit more reassurance before the big transition. And some of her classmates to be in the public Kinder are only entering school for the first time. Jamie has been in school for four years, so she has a pretty good idea of what to do. Hopefully another year of familiarity will help her adjust better when she does eventually move into the public school system in the 1st grade.
Jamie’s Teacher.I have always said: It’s the teacher that makes a world of difference. And a lot of Jamie’s success and positive change in the last two years has been because of her teacher. Jamie’s teacher really works with her, and with me, to make sure Jamie is getting the most out of her days there.
The school hours and curriculum.Jamie is used to an 830-3pm school day. Kinder in the public system is only three hours. I’ve had parents who have come from a Montessori preschool, and put their children in the public Kinder. They have felt that they need to supplement the remaining hours in the day with an after school care facility. When it comes down to it, the cost of this is almost the same if they were to have stayed in Montessori. At the very least, when Jamie moves to 1st grade, her day will be 8:15 – 2:15, very similar to what she is used to.
And as I had heard, some children have public kinder as their first time in school. Their adjustment is very different from those who have been in school for longer. So on top of the social aspect that school brings, the children are learning their numbers, letters and phrases. Jamie, because she was allowed to go at her own pace in school (and because she has been in school for much longer), has done all that. I don’t want her to get bored and then dislike school, because she is clearly having fun now, with just the right amount of a challenge.
Jamie’s adjustment when she finally moves into a public system in the 1st grade is the Common Core methods. She has this one year to prepare for it, and then I feel that will be the challenge we will take later on. But first, and more importantly, is her self-confidence and maturity.
Jamie at her 5-yr around the world celebration. 🙂
As a parents, we all make sacrifices to give our children the best that we possibly can. I told myself that if it having them in the same school was only for my convenience, then the choice wasn’t a choice at all. Ultimately it is what’s best for our kids. Fortunately, we can afford to go without another vacation this year, or do some shopping here and there. If it means it will be more beneficial for Jamie in the long run, then as I told my husband, I would make this decision over again in a heart beat. 🙂
When I think of Las Vegas, two words come to mind: Sin City. I have in my head images of a modern Sodom and Gomorrah, and my very conservative and “sheltered” upbringing has led me to believe that I’d be damned if I went.
And despite all of that, it was our choice destination for a family trip over Memorial Day Weekend (Go figure).
We made it!
Last May’s 3-day weekend prompted the girls to ask for a family vacation where they could “explore” a new place. My husband and I went back and forth between our options for a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive trip we could do. We hadn’t really done a road trip since Yosemite two years ago and save for a wedding and San Diego, we haven’t really been out that much.
We settled on Las Vegas because of the above criteria, and because he had to travel for work. Also, our friends and their kids were headed there that same weekend. They knew their way around town too.
Unlike my previous pre-conditioning, I didn’t tell the girls about Sin City (Forgive us, we lived on the other side of the ocean. No one knew any better). I wanted to see what they’d pick up without any preconceived notions, but admittedly, I was nervous about all the potential questions I was not prepared to answer just yet. So far, what they’d heard were all family friendly facts from their friends who had gone there before.
Over the last few years I’d heard the same. Las Vegas has tried to revamp its image to become more family friendly and less…. Sin City. I didn’t know what that meant exactly. In any case the trip was set and the hotel was booked. So off we went.
We drove into the city in the wee hours Saturday morning, and thankfully the girls were asleep. I was quite horrified to still see so many billboards of half-naked women (and men!) plastered everywhere, and Gentlemen’s clubs very much alive past the witching hour. But the girls missed all of that, and woke up the next morning beyond excited.
The hotel our friends booked had no casino, so there were no traces of smoke (despite the strong exhausts in Casinos, you just know it’s there because of the way the smell sticks to your clothes when you walk through!) and it was fairly near everything else. They got us a room with a view of the city, where they could see the big glittering hotels of Las Vegas. It was a pretty sight.
After breakfast we headed out to the strip where the Hershey’s Shop and the M&M store were located. At the top floor of the M&M building was a 15-minute 3D movie.
The FREE 15-min M&M 3D Movie
Then the girls admired the car displays and merchandise, and enjoyed the colorful world of M&Ms.
How did M&M flavors get to be so complicated?
There was a Coke store too and I reminded Sam of the time we were in Atlanta Georgia at the actual Coca-Cola Museum where she had a picture with the Polar Bear, which we updated with Jamie on this trip. 🙂 While we were interacting with the Polar Bear, our friends got tickets for the Magic Show of Nathan Burton. We were assured he was family friendly despite the inclusion of show girls in his repertoire. The dads of course were excited. 😉 This prompted us to enter some of the magic stores and check out the cool stuff they had for sale.
At the strip, a “must do” for my husband was lunch at Shake Shack.
Shake Shack! Pile on the calories.
Then we proceeded on to visit the High Roller, supposedly the world’s tallest observation wheel. It was quite the relaxing ride with a great view of Las Vegas.
The High Roller.
And only in Las Vegas will they have an open bar inside one of its glass cabins.
Unlimited drinks… for 30 minutes? Hmmm.
As we got off, there were some other free attractions on our way to Caesar’s Palace, and the girls excitedly got free face painting and some necklaces from a man on stilts.
Free Face Painting and Mardi Gras beads!
There were people spray painting amazing paintings too, and some sketching caricatures. We headed to Caesar’s palace (more for the photos than anything else), to watch the talking statues at the fountain and learned of the legend of Atlantis.
Great branding placement, Cheesecake Factory and Nike.
I would’ve liked to stay and shop (yeah right! As if my practical husband would let me), but the dads were in a rush to catch the NBA Play-offs, so we picked up food for the kids and headed back to the hotel. The kids cooled off and had dinner by the pool while the dads did their thing.
While I can understand how it is entertaining, I’d have to say seeing it once is enough. And my girls were more interested in the different kinds of fish in the aquarium, and the live feeding of the sting rays.
My husband took a quick trip down to his store, and then we met up to catch Nathan Burton’s magic show. That was pretty fun, and some of his tricks were indeed — amazing! The kids got to meet him outside too.
Left: the kids with Nathan Burton. Right: Ka – 4 thumbs up!
The highlight of the evening was the Cirque du Soleil show, Ka at the MGM Grand. I remember my very first and only Cirque show was two decades ago when my Grandfather took me to see them. It was pretty impressive then, but oh my goodness, they were beyond spectacular now!
Ka is a must see. While the kids were having dinner before the show, we researched on the story so they could appreciate it a little more as it went along. Even though, the acrobatics and stunts and all the movements were incredible. My husband says he paid quite the price for the seats we got, but it was definitely worth it. I would suggest arriving 45-60 minutes prior to the actual showing because there are pre-shows in the lobby as you wait to enter.
Because it was our last night, the girls asked “what else could we do”, so we drove down to the Bellagio to see the famous water fountain show from the movie, Oceans 11.
I imagined Brad Pitt and George Clooney were beside me.
We chanced upon an interesting exhibit inside the Bellagio as well.
A glimpse of the Ocean / Underwater themed Floral Display. Pretty cool!
And before we headed home, my husband took us to the highly rated gelato shop inside for a last Las Vegas treat.
This time, he paid. 😉
The girls knocked out fairly fast and had a hard time getting up the next morning, so by the time we left, we hit traffic and it took us all day to get home. They were in good spirits though, and did not complain about the heat and the long car ride home.
They had all sorts of stories to recount, but neither showed signs of noticing the half-naked billboards and Sodom and Gomorrah qualities of Las Vegas. Whew!
All in all I’d say it was a good family friendly first experience with a lot of “free” shows and activities that kept the girls fairly entertained while allowing us to stay within budget. I’d keep Las Vegas as a destination option for a quick and easy family vacation the next time around. 😉
We recently put in place a Living Trust and Family Estate Plan for the future of our girls.
My nightly reading which reinforces the fact that I am indeed a grown-up.
The topic of “who gets the kids”, or “what will happen when we pass on” isn’t something that usually makes casual dinner conversations, and those of us with young families may not see or feel the urgency of getting “our affairs in order” right away. Now that I am older and have younger people under my care, I figure it’s something that we’d need to face sooner than later.
In this day and age, you never know what will happen. And admittedly, those questions (and more of the sort), linger at the back of our minds more frequently now than ever. As the kids get older, as you make big changes in life, and as you observe the changes in the state of your health.
We can prepare our kids all we want, and work towards a healthier lifestyle, but the fact remains: when we pass on, there will be things people will need to take care of in our behalf. If the kids are too young at the time, then they are the most valuable assets that need the best kind of care and continued protection.
My husband and I initially didn’t think about all of this until recently, when we acquired the house, and I got into a car accident. I was bumped from behind and I had to drive myself to the E.R., only to realize that I had to leave and come back because no one would pick up my kids. Thankfully the accident wasn’t bad enough that I could still do so and come back later for the meds. But what if it was worse? What would happen then? Heaven forbid it ever happens, but the thought was very unsettling.
Thankfully Brian Chew, a trusted friend, owns and operates OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, a Family Protection and Estate Planning firm that operates in Southern California. In two meetings, Brian got our papers and our Estate Plan up and running in no time. It included a Living Trust and provisions for the kids should anything happen to us, as well as health directives should we become incapacitated to make critical medical decisions.
Photo Credit: Brian Chew
Brian is very good at explaining your options and customizing them according to the family’s specific needs and situations. He has been practicing estate planning law for almost 20 years, and so he definitely knows what he’s talking about. He and his firm made the whole process easy, simple and very painless. I’ve learned, and am still learning so much from the whole process. This is information that was not within my usual conscious realm, but now, I am glad it has been brought to my attention.
That’s Brian with his awesome wife and kids.
Friends have told me there are ways and firms that offer a “do it yourself” option for less. While I’ve seen some of those options, I like the added value that OC Wills and Trust Attorneys offer. Their process is very comprehensive and you can make clear decisions with all your options on the table. Plus, Brian and his firm offer continued follow-ups and amendments, which you can’t get from a “do-it-yourself” situation. These “cheaper alternatives” will actually cost you more in the end, and it could potentially get complicated. There’s nothing of that sort with OC Wills and Trust Attorneys, and with an experienced lawyer at the helm, it is definitely worth the investment.
You wouldn’t think it was a necessity, but why should we wait until “something happens” for it to become one? We knew we were going to do it at some point in the future, but it gives us so much relief and peace of mind that it’s been taken care of already, especially now while our kids are still very young.
If you haven’t thought about it yet, or are “still thinking about it”, from my recent experience — it’s much better done now than later. It is worth carving out time for, and it is a discussion that needs to happen at some point in time. Some people say it becomes most urgent as you are older. On the contrary, I’d say it’s more urgent now while the kids are still young.
I definitely would recommend a sit down with Brian and his attorneys at the soonest possible time. He offers a no obligations, free consultation. So what have you got to lose?