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MyMommyology Loves: Peace and Me by Lantana Publishing

Peace and Me by Ali Winter, is one of the newer books released by Lantana Publishing.  If you go to their website, the first statement says, “Lantana Publishing is a young, independent publishing house producing inclusive picture books for children.”

I love them already.

I love the theme of this book.

The book has several stories of how peace was displayed in different parts of the world, by different people across time.  It actually starts of with Mr. Nobel’s story himself and how the Nobel Peace Prize came to be.

Even as I read it with my kids, I learn new things too.

My good friend and one of my favorite authors, Gutsy, the Director of Communications and Projects, works at Lantana, and told us about this book even before it was released.

She and I grew up on books.  She knows my kids (she’s one of Jamie’s godmothers!) love books too.  In fact that’s one thing I enjoy learning from Gutsy — finding new books to read.  I’m so excited that she’s now part of a group that publishes books she’d like to read too.

She sent me a message one day and said they were releasing the book on the International Day of Peace, Sept 21, and creating their very first book trailer for it.  (side note: How ironic is it that in the Philippines, Sept 21 is most remembered for the declaration Martial Law. )  

 

They needed a voice talent for the trailer she said, and would Sam like to do it?

We were very honored of course — to be part of this project and have Sam voice their very first book trailer.  I was even happier that I’ve learned to embed videos into my posts. 🙂

The girls and I read a little bit of 32-page book each night.  One or two stories at a time, and then we talk about it and process it together.  We put a little bit more context behind it.  Reading about peace, sometimes means reading about war, and my girls ask why people fight.  It is quite the eye opener too.

And while it is a picture book, the content is truly for older children too.  The girls love the illustrations by Mickaël El Fathi.  We look for the little girl common in every page.

And at the end of the trailer, they ask, “Peace can mean many things to many people.  What does peace mean to you?”

A very timely question indeed. It is a good question to always keep in our minds for all time.

Thank you, Tita Gutsy for including us in this project and giving Sam one minute of fame!

Peace and Me is readily available on Amazon, along some of the other books published by Lantana.

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MyMommyology Likes: Orange Theory Fitness

My husband’s frugal mentality has always stopped me from joining a fitness gym.  “Why spend when you can just follow You Tube” he says.  He reiterates this constantly to this day.  But as you know, even with my running, I’m partly motivated by the social aspect of exercise.  So when a friend asked me to try an Orange Theory class with her, I said hey why not.  It may be a good supplement to my sporadic running, I thought.

I’ve seen their signage around town for over a year, I just never understood what it was.  Everything just looked… orange.

Credit: Orange Theory Fitness

 

 

Fast forward to 60 minutes post trial class, I wanted to die.  DIE.  And I finally understood their branding.

The theory behind their workouts is spending 12 or more minutes at 84% of your maximum heart rate.  That’s what they call the orange zone.

 

My motto: just don’t die.

Being here for that amount of time ensures you get the after burn effect where your body continues to burn calories 36 hours after your workout.

For the first session, they lend you a heart rate monitor so that you see your results on the TV screens plastered throughout the studio.

This is how I did, albeit the feeling of “dying” .

At first, I thought I’d be embarrassed and self-conscious since my stats weren’t so great. I realized (as I was dying — or trying very hard not to), that you really only look at your results on the monitor, and that your stats are really the only ones that matter to you.  Plus, with a visual goal, it is truly something you want to get to!

So once my body recovered from the shock and ache, I decided to give Orange Theory a fair shot and sign up.

The sessions don’t carry over to the next month, so I really plan out most of my days to make sure I use it within that time frame.  The classes also book up fast (it’s weird how people are gluttons for punishment, ey?) so sometimes it’s a matter of scheduling 2 weeks in advance.  But, you have to give it to them; they are strict about it because it’s a formula that does generate results.

Orange Theory offers a different circuit each time you go, depending on the day and the coach and the focus, whether it be Endurance, Strength and or Power, or all three.  Gaaah.

This was taped to the treadmill one time. I understood it after the 23 mins when I was out of breath.

I actually like it that they have time on the treadmill, and then at some point during the hour, you move to the rower and the floor.  It’s a total body workout each time.

The other thing I realized was that prior to Orange Theory, I was always afraid of weight training.  Apparently this whole theory of bulking up, injuring myself, it being bad etc, wasn’t exactly true.

It took me a while to move up from using 5-lb weights, and it was only because one of the coaches said to try.  Let me tell you, these coaches are not afraid to push you past your comfort levels because they do get paid to get you into that orange zone!

Thanks to OTF, I invested in my own weights at home!  And I’m no longer afraid of them.  Weights = friends.

I have to say, the formula works.  I think I’m stronger and faster (even just at shorter distances), and my stamina is better too.  I can carry more weights than I did before, and on the days I’m not in OTF, I find that my body looks for it.  I wake up in the mornings to go, because if I don’t, I don’t know where I’m going to get that extra day to make up for the class.

And I’ve come to appreciate it as a time where I just zone out on everything else, and zone in on me (so I don’t fall off the tread).  It’s something we all need every now and then.

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Education via Broadway Musicals

Maybe I’ll blame this one on the Greatest Showman.

Sam spent some time with friends who are Greatest Showman fans.  Soon after she was googling lyrics, learning the songs, and playing them on our Spotify playlist.  We (her parents) tired of listening to the same old songs on repeat for the nth time.  And to cope with the constant This is Me car rides, I had a moment of introspection and realized that when I was her age, this is what I would do too — with Broadway Musicals.

I had a phase in my life when it was all Broadway.  My Grandfather was the one who introduced me to it, when, at the age of 10, he took me to see Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Secret Garden, all in one summer.  I took a liking to the Broadway musicals after that, and learned the songs from Cats, Evita, and Fiddler on the Roof on my own. Like me now, back then my house had Broadway on repeat.  Can anyone say #karma?

I continued to see some local and foreign plays as I grew up, and even though my husband repeats the story of how he traded Phantom of the Opera for a WWF show when he was younger (go figure right?), I’m glad he appreciates the value of this kind of “art”.  Here’s a little secret:  One of our first dates was to a ballet!  *gasp!*

We agreed on the benefits these types of musicals, concerts and more (operas, musical conciertos included), would have on the girls’ upbringing and said that we would consciously include it in our “family to do list” as it came up.

There were little introductions here and there.  I once took Sam to her first show in Manila, Wicked.

I’d love to watch this again!

Like The Greatest Showman, Defying Gravity and For Good were on our playlist for quite some time back then.  And I love to see her perk up when she hears it again and says, “why do I know this song mom?”

Thanks to all their Girl Scout selling efforts, Sam was able to watch Cinderella on stage too.

With her friend at the photo booth op.

Both Sam and Jamie were able to watch Matilda just recently as a prize for selling Nuts and Chocolates.  That was pretty cool, and one of my favorites still to date.

So far the best we’ve seen in a long time.

Segerstrom is within reasonable driving distance from us, and when I checked their calendar, School of Rock the Musical was scheduled.  A friend of mine took her son to see it and in true word-of-mouth fashion, I went ahead and bought tickets because of their review.

I remember the movie and Jack Black being pretty funny, but I could not imagine how they would translate it into a live show on stage.  Then I came across this clip of Andrew Lloyd Webber , and was pretty sold on the idea after that.  I’m not a rock fan, but I know enough of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s past musicals to know, at the very least, the music would be good.

And it was!  The lyrics to the songs were brilliant (no surprise).  And the feel of the entire musical was completely different and interesting.  I am not a rock n’ roll person, and thanks to this musical I was able to appreciate the genre a little bit better.  I think my kids did too.

The kids on the different instruments in the band were awesome.  AWESOME.  However old these children are, they are talented, and I am completely in awe.  I feel like my girls appreciate this better because they both now play instruments.  Sam even laughed at the line “cello feet” because she could relate to it given her more recent encounter with the Cello.

trying out their rock hand signals. Ohhh boy.

The girls had questions about some references and things they picked up in the show, which made our car ride conversation home all the more interesting.  But they appreciated the show over all and I love that they are expanding their palette outside of the usual choices of movies and activities to do.

All in all, the message of the musical was good (just ignore the swear words, but hey, it’s all part of the vibe).  It was great in fact for today’s times, and very relatable from a parent’s perspective.  They kept the jokes relevant and current too, which elicited some cheers from the audience.

As you would imagine, Stick it to the Man and If Only You Would Listen have been added to our car ride playlist, and I can’t complain.

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MyMommyology #FieldTripFriday at La Brea Tarpits

Walking away from LACMA on the right, you’ll find the La Brea Tarpits.  You can’t miss it, you smell the tar and the sulfuric gas as you walk towards it.

Interesting site, stinky smell.

I first heard of tar when we lived in North Carolina, hence the term:  Tar-Heel.  I never would’ve guessed that a whole fossil site was within driving distance from where we now stay!

And fossils — that’s the magic word for my girls.  While they have never watched the Ice Age movies, their books and their love for science and animals have led us to understand a little bit more about the past that is buried beneath our feet.

It’s quite the joyful experience for me when we discover something new together.  The learner in me enjoys taking them to these new places  — and it’s such a treat when I learn something new along with them.

His name is Zed!  So. Cool!

Who know about the vast number of dire wolves in California?  There are 400 on the wall there so far.

Or that a Columbian Mammoth that’s the most complete they’ve found (so far)?!

They all say “so far” — because there are still ongoing excavations.

Paleontologist beware: Curious child in front.

The girls got to ask questions from a paleontologist who was at Project 23, the most recent dig site.  Ever the naiveté, here I thought they’d found everything there was to be found in the last century.  Apparently not!  They claim to have found 3.5 million fossils to date, and the count continues to grow.  It’s a reason to go back — because you never know what’s new to be featured a few months from now, or even a few years from now!

Considering it was a small museum, we spent a good portion of our day there (apart from a quick lunch break across the street), studying a bunch of the fossils they’ve discovered.  Plus, my children like to read all the descriptions.

The Observation Pit where a pile of predators seemed to have gotten caught.

The girls were fascinated as well by the Fossil lab where the scientists were at work on some of their current finds.

Like a scientific fishbowl.

It’s like a big prehistoric jigsaw puzzle with no guide — and they find things out as they go along.  Or they use the parts they find to figure out the story behind why all those fossils are piled one on top of the other!  A predatory kill perhaps?  So much tar has to be cleaned off though!

The Tar is fascinating as much as it is scary.  It’s still bubbling the girls said.  You could still fall in?!  *clutch children closer*

Souvenir photo for the win.

#FieldtripFriday tip:  Buy your tickets ahead of time so you can go straight to the entrance.  Add $5 to attend an Ice Age encounter.  The girls enjoyed it because there was a talking Sabertooth.

And finally, the photo fossil book is a worthy keepsake souvenir.  Thanks Maga! 😉

 

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Read Across the Summer

With the kids home these days more than the usual, it takes a little bit more to keep them preoccupied.  I have to take them places with me and I honestly hate it when they say, “mom I’m bored,” and default to “can I play on your phone?” 

What?!  Child.

HOW can you be bored.  I don’t understand.

I feel like I have zero tolerance when those two phrases came out.  Back in my time, I had to find something to keep myself occupied while the grown-ups did their thing, or… I had to sit quietly and read.

Ahhh, reading.  Yes!  Problem solved.

Besides, we’ve all heard about the  “summer slump” right?  (Okay fine. I actually didn’t hear of it until recently).  So hopefully reading across the summer will help neutralize that.

So, it’s become our default.  If you are going to sit and wait, then you need to bring a book to read.

When there’s a bench, there’s a place to read.

Find something — anything on our shelves, and read it.

Yes, even the book’s older than you.

Thankfully it hasn’t been much of a problem.  Sometimes, it is their default activity of choice.  You know how kids are often too quiet and you begin to get nervous about the havoc they’re wreaking upstairs?

I found them like this…. and then I fixed the books to look better for the photo.

I love that they love books.  We’re often in Barnes and Noble looking at new books, and participating in their Summer Reading Program.  It’s quite a shame though that they only offer one book per child. 🙁

The standard, “please buy this for me?” I don’t know about you, but when it comes to books, I don’t know how to say no.

And all these stories have made for some good imaginative play here and there, if I do say so myself.

Over the course of the last school year, Sam’s teacher had what they call a “25-book challenge”, where different genres were given and the kids had to pick different books to read that fell within those genres.  Five books were a free choice, and the rest of the 20 books were divided across different genres, from historical non-fiction, to tall tales, to fantasy and science fiction, just to name a few.

It was fun and challenging to choose age appropriate books that fit the genre, and find something that would sustain Sam’s interest enough for her to read it.

A friend had gifted Sam with this book and thanks to that challenge, she took interest in historical non-fiction!

I liked the idea of a 25 book challenge that I am trying to use it on the girls this summer.  It forces them to broaden their palette, go outside their comfort zone and find something different.  It gives us more to talk about because they formulate an opinion about it.

Jamie is going to teach me about the American Revolution in 1776.

Sam’s teacher had index cards too with questions that needed to be answered — and I like that it taught her about to pay attention to different parts of the story — the plot, the theme, the character development, and even the glossary of terms or other parts of the book.  And while I don’t have a deck of cards for them to respond to, I make sure this new “book of choice” is a topic of conversation in the car.

Jamie is still at that stage where she’ll read one part of a series after another (but then after one or two books you get the gist of how it’s all going to go down), but it is still good she likes them, and finds something to fill her “challenge”.  Recently, I’ve tried to expand her book choices with some informational ones too.

“Learn about the artist before we paint.”

And so with 6 weeks left until school, I’ve told the girls once again that those two phrases are not allowed at home, and only allowed once in a while out-of-the house.  Because as it stands, there’s no excuse not to bring a book (or two) wherever we go.