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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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Life in CA Mommy Anecdotes My Mommyology Recommends My Mommyology Tribute My Mommyology's Manila Chapter

Seven Years of Kindermusik

It took me a while to write this post — partly because June was quite the busy month, and also because I get emotional just thinking about it.  We’ve reached another milestone in Sam’s childhood — the end of Kindermusiksniff!

Man!  How time flies!
Man! How time flies!

It has been seven years after all (give or take a few months!).  Seven years, three wonderful teachers in three different parts of the globe.  I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with kids seven and below, no matter where in the world you are.

We spent a majority of those years in our first Kindermusik home with Rebecca in Chapel Hill.

Rebecca's home was always a good time!  We have fond memories there.
Rebecca’s home was always a good time! We have fond memories there.

Prior to that I’d never heard of Kindermusik — I was a Gymboree / Little Gym kind of parent (which I see now is very different from what Kindermusik offers).  To this day though, I am so so SO glad I came across it in my endless search for mom-child programs for my infant.  And I’m even more thankful we landed in Rebecca’s little home.  It’s where we made our first set of friends, who are still friends to this very day.  It’s where Sam and Elie first became friends too! 🙂

We owe a lot to Rebecca, as she set the bar high for the wonderful and highly educational experience we had over the years.  I’ve said it time and again, Rebecca is a wonderful maestro of music, and she absolutely loves the kids and their families.  I learned a lot about music, parenting, child development and even a little bit about teaching from Rebecca!  I remember asking her every sort of question, from the purpose of each type of song or stage, to the perfect age for piano lessons (If you want to know what she said, ask me!  I’ll never forget that piece of advice she gave).

When we moved to Manila, I sought out Teacher Jeannie (upon Rebecca’s recommendation).  

Teachers Jeannie and Maya with the Young Child 1 class!
Teachers Jeannie and Maya with the Young Child 1 class!

She and her staff of teachers (Teacher Maya in particular!) were also another set of wonderful teachers for the girls.  Little did we know that Kindermusik with Teacher Jeannie was in the top 1% of the total Kindermusik program in the world.  But the wonderful experience continued for both myself and Sam, and she continued to look forward to Kindermusik every week.

Because of the volume of Teacher Jeannie’s enrollment in the country, at the end of every Kindermusik year, she’d hold a Kindermusik Festival, the highlight of which would be the Young Child students’ performance and graduation.

Performing during the Festival 2014!
Performing during the Festival 2014!

It’s one event Sam misses and talks about with so much gusto, until this day.  Sam joined last year’s performance and was looking forward to graduating on Teacher Jeannie’s stage, except we’d moved to California.

And so, Sam finished her last year in Young Child 3 and 4 in Kelly Meyers’ studio.

Ms. Kelly, as we fondly call her, held a little graduation ceremony for all the parents and friends in her Young Child class and the kids performed several numbers together.  Each one did a solo too on the instrument of their choice.

The graduating class.
The graduating class.

At the onset, Kindermusik may seem like any other music program, with song and dance,  instruments and games, but across our transcontinental encounters of it, I was very impressed with the consistency of its program and curriculum.  We picked up exactly where we had left off.  And at the end of it all, Sam had so much fun learning the different musical concepts, composers and terms, and remember them all to this day.  She (and Jamie, who has been in Kindermusik since she was in my tummy) can tell you the difference between piano and forte, crescendo and decrescendo, staccato and legato among other things.  They both already know the different instrument families, as well as facts about Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, and their respective work.  All of these things, I learned when I was in high school, and most of it was because I took the time to learn it myself as well!

In my opinion, what sets Kindermusik apart from all other music programs is its Young Child curriculum.  Young Child is a 4-semester course for 5-7 year olds that is run over a period of two years.  At the end of it all, the child learns how to read through the entire C scale, and play simple tunes on three different instruments.  Sam knows about flats, and sharps, and she can read the notes and their respective rhythms.  She can write her own beat and tune, and find where it is (on her own) on a keyboard, on a dulcimer, a glockenspiel and a recorder!

Sam on three different instruments.  I can't play 2 of them!
Sam on three different instruments. I can’t play 2 of them!

Each week’s session has a different song, story or theme, but it is readily applied to what they’re learning, and it progressively builds on each other.  Everything has a purpose, and it becomes much clearer as the lessons go by.

I am a true believer in the Kindermusik program.  I grew up knowing that music has many benefits to a child’s development, and I can see how Kindermusik has shaped that into the fun and interesting curriculum it has today.  I can’t imagine the childhood of my girls without it!

Ate giving her own music lessons at home!
Ate giving her own music lessons at home!

My girls love music because of Kindermusik.  The teachers, the program and all of our experiences have shaped Sam’s musicality into what it is today and I will forever be grateful.  I’m so glad Jamie has 2 more years left!

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A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Life in CA Mommy Anecdotes Mommy Lessons (on Parenting) My Mommyology Tribute On Becoming a Better Mom

“Mom, What If Jamie Wasn’t Born?”

Yes, those days do exist.  Squabbles, riffs, meltdowns, tears… drama.  It’s all part and parcel of sibling-hood.  Whether it happens more in families with siblings of the same gender because they like the same things, or with siblings of opposite genders because they play differently, it just HAPPENS.  And it can happen very frequently, such as it has been in our home these last few weeks.

For whatever reason:  age, climate change, fatigue and hormones, Sam and Jamie haven’t been getting along quite as well as they usually do.

Ate's face clearly shows how she feels about Jamie slurping down all the goodness.
Ate’s face clearly shows how she feels about Jamie slurping down all the goodness.

It has finally gotten to the point where my frustrated eldest child asked me one day, “Mom, what if Jamie wasn’t born?”

Almost instantly, the image that popped into my head was my grandmother.  I was a young child, standing in front of her in the rocking chair, and she was chiding me over something I said.  It might have been similar in context too (to my siblings, you know I love you! ;)).

It was more like a scolding because I said and thought such “taboo” things.  Why would we wish someone wasn’t born?  It’s unheard of.  The topic would then be dismissed as quickly as possible.  “Don’t think that, it’s not nice.”  The problem is, I already did!  “No, no, no, you don’t ask such things ever again,” she’d say.  But why, what’s wrong?  Is the nagging question that’s left unanswered.

I love my Mama Mia, God Bless her soul, and I don’t fault her for it.  I now understand: it was just what they were taught.  And you may come across it as well still during this day and age when you talk to the “young once”.

Yet ironically, years later, it’s those instances when I was told to dismiss my feelings that stick out the most today.  Maybe it’s the lack of closure, but I was definitely conscious about avoiding the same consequence with my own kids (funny how the past shapes the way you parent, ey!).

Thanks to DYC, I anchor on what is clear, and that’s knowing Sam loves her sister.  Unequivocally so!

Love love love.
Love love love.

When that question came up, I assumed Sam had no malice or ill-intent towards Jamie whatsoever.  She was just frustrated with everything going on.  I see them together everyday, I am so sure of it.

But I also know what it feels like as the eldest child, always giving in or compromising for the sake of the younger ones.  It’s tiring, frustrating, and frankly, it just gets old.  It’s easier to just be done with them and wish they weren’t there to “complicate” everyday growing up life (to my younger siblings, again — I love you! 😉 ).

Instead of the chiding and scolding I received, I sat Sam down and decided we’d process this together.  We used a one-on-one date as the  non-threatening setting for this discussion.

What if Jamie wasn’t born, Sam?  What would it be like, you think?”  I initiated the discussion.

Given her current state of emotions at the time, all her thoughts were towards the “pros” of being an only child.  “You and dad would carry me more.  I wouldn’t need to share, and I’d have all the toys to myself.  We could read more books that I choose,” she said thoughtfully, referring to our bedtime routine where she and Jamie each get to pick a book that we’d read together.  And the list went on.

I let her rattle off everything she thought would be great about a non-Jamie filled life.  All chocolate donuts and milkshakes, no vanilla or strawberry.  No need to take turns sleeping beside mom at night.  Colored baths of her choosing — all the time.

When they take bubble baths, they take turns choosing what color the water will be.
When they take bubble baths, they take turns choosing what color the water will be.

And I just listened.

When she was done, I said, “Well sweetheart.  You might not have as many toys as you do now if Jamie wasn’t there.”   When the Christmas gifts roll in, there’s usually one for each of them, so there’s a doubling of the amount of toys at a faster rate.  Birthdays happen twice in a year too, instead of once.  So there’s more cake, more celebration and of course, more gifts to go around and share.  “And when Mom or Dad can’t stay with you to sleep in the room because we still have chores to finish, if there was no Jamie, you’d have to sleep alone.”  To this day, Sam dislikes sleeping by herself.

I love moments like these!
I love moments like these!

I didn’t raise my voice.  And not once did I say Sam was wrong to feel that way or ask that question, if only because — there was really nothing wrong with asking the question to begin with.  Instead I followed her logic and used it to cite the benefits of having Jamie in her life.  “You and Jamie may have different likes, but doesn’t that make it more fun?  When we go to Disneyland for example.  You get to go and do things you wouldn’t have thought of seeing or doing. ”

We met all these new Disney Bunny characters because Jamie wanted to go and see them!  And Sam had a blast.
We met all these new Disney Bunny characters because Jamie wanted to go and see them! And Sam had a blast.

“…And remember, because Jamie loves Strawberries and we went on her field trip, you decided to try it.  Now you like them too!”

Thank goodness for this field trip!
Thank goodness for this field trip!

And as I went on, I could see that my highly rational, very mature six-year old Sam understood.

I actually think, Sam, that Jamie makes you a more considerate, more caring person.  Because you’re always thinking of her — even when you don’t need to.”   When we’re out and about and someone gives Sam a sticker, a balloon, or a treat, she won’t hesitate to ask if she can get a second one for her sister too.  And because Jamie sees that, she’s started doing it as well unprompted when Sam isn’t around.  “You show Jamie what it’s like to be a good sister.”

I acknowledged that her feelings were real and true, and there was nothing wrong with that.  Sometimes, it is hard to share and compromise, and to do it constantly (We adults know this!  Why should we expect kids to willingly do it when we can’t).  And it’s simply hard to wrestle with a sister (or a brother for that matter) who is different from yourself.  Would we rather the opposite was true?  Most definitely not.

As our date came to a close, Sam finally said, “Ya Mom.  I think it is better with Jamie after all.  I’m actually glad God gave her to us.” 

She’s such a smart girl.  I couldn’t agree more.

And we definitely, DEFINITELY, wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

***

A belated happy 4th birthday to our darling Jamie.  Our lives are infinitely better with you in it.

Such a Happy Little Birthday Girl.
We love you!

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Mommy Lessons (on Parenting) My Mommyology Tribute My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

A Father’s Love

The last month and a half have been crazy busy, to say the least!  And here’s why:

Boxes and boxes and boxes... again!
Boxes and boxes and boxes… again!

As some of you may already know (or may have guessed), we’re moving.  Again!  It hasn’t even been two years since we set foot in Manila once again, and yes, here we are, uprooting once more.

Many people ask why.  In fact almost everyone knew we came home because my husband wanted to be close to family.  So why the big move only after 22 months into our supposedly “home for good move”?

Well.  It really boils down to Jamie.

Remember I mentioned Jamie’s skin allergies?  Over the course of 20 months, we’ve come to prove that the cause was the ever-humid and unpredictable weather and highly polluted environment of Manila.  As the months passed, her allergies went from bad to worse.  It got to the point where I wasn’t getting any rest because I’d wake up to keep her from scratching and re-apply all kinds of topical steroids and lotions on her.  The next morning, it was always a game of “where did this blood come from?” or “what will Jamie’s mood be today?” knowing that she didn’t get a good night’s rest.

(I feel like) I’ve tried everything, including non-traditional ways that worked for other moms.  All the solutions would provide temporarily relief, but after a while Jamie would desensitize and everything would flare up again.  Thank God for our constants, Aquasana and Mustela’s Stelatopia; for without them I fear it would be worse.

We’d gotten to that point where I felt I was raising a drug addict, because the allergists had told me to give my then two-year old 10mL of antihisthamine daily, everyday, for 3 months straight (on top of the topical ointments).  For her tiny body, it was too much.  It affected Jamie’s demeanor and behavior.  She was always cranky and sleepy and totally uncomfortable.

We went to several pediatric dermatologists and allergists, who all said that she would “eventually outgrow it (or as they say “control it).”  And I believed them, having gone through it myself for half my life.  It became my default solution too.

But my husband wouldn’t — couldn’t — stand for it.  He just couldn’t bear to see his baby girl in that state all the time.  And he insisted that there should be a better solution than just waiting for her to adapt.

We had proven that it wasn’t food, or anything in our laundry, or even the usual culprits like stuffed toys (hence, Bunny was allowed to stay).  In fact, during our trips to Anvaya, Boracay and Bohol, a dip in the salt water would instantly clear Jamie’s skin up.

The clincher was when we went on our family vacation and Jamie’s eczema cleared up the day after we arrived.  It stayed clear up until the day we flew home.  I came home with full tubes of medicine and lotion because I used them 5x less than I’d normally use them when in Manila.

And so in a matter of months — weeks — from what was initially “just speculation”, became reality.  My husband told his employer that he had to re-consider opportunities in the US, because he wanted Jamie to have a better quality of life.  And it was a big thing since he was the one who wanted to move us home, and because he was (is) doing so well career-wise too.

As luck or fate or a combination of both would have it, his company decided to keep him to handle the operations in North America.  And just like that, the contract was signed and I was back in the motions of packing up.

Many people say it was a very bold thing to do – uproot the whole family when we’re just starting to settle in and get our bearings (They say it takes 2 years to finally feel “okay” after a big move with kids — and it’s true I was JUST getting that feeling!).  Not many would really make that huge a move.  But as my husband points out – it was her health.  And Jamie in her current state was no way to live.

And that’s really what struck me when I saw this slide during our post-Father’s day #BetterMe session with Coach Pia at Seda Hotel (in BGC).

Thank you Jen for making these wonderful pinboards from our session!
Thank you Jen for making these wonderful pinboards from our session!

My language of love is words.  And I’m very good at expressing myself and how I feel.  My husband is quite the opposite.  But you can see it in his actions.  Like this big move of ours.  Thankfully the career aspect of it worked in our favor, but if it didn’t, it wouldn’t have stopped him from exploring it and making it happen.  And after all, that’s what father’s are good at — making things happen.

Somehow the girls know that’s how he loves them.  Jamie clearly knows and is looking forward to “making the owies go away.”  And Sam — she understood.  In one of her emotional moments she caught me by surprise when she said, “I’m sad we’re moving but I know it’s better for Jamie.  So that’s why.”  (Of course I cried).  Somehow she knew that we’d all make that kind of sacrifice for her if she needed it most, and that no matter what, we put our family’s needs first.  Something they also learned from her dad.

Credit:  Jen of @next9 and Attached at the Hip.
Photo Credit: Jen of @next9 and Attached at the Hip.

A very belated Father’s Day — but also a Happy Anniversary!  — to my husband, the Daddy of our family.  We can’t wait to start this new adventure with you. 🙂 

:)
🙂

See you in a few. 😉

A big thank you as well to The One Core, Coach Pia, and Seda Hotels, our sponsors for this #BetterMe session!  Use the hashtag #betterme and #somoms on Instagram and Facebook to discover and gain insights on the topics we’ve learned thus far about becoming the best versions of ourselves.  I sincerely hope that you gain something from them too!

The beautiful rooms at Seda BGC.  Great for staycations too!
The beautiful rooms at Seda BGC. Great for staycations too!
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A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts My Mommyology Tribute My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

Mom-Heroes

I often feel that my role as mom takes the most out of me.  It’s not a complaint really, just an obvious fact of life.  And I’ve been feeling it more and more as they get older and the girls’ needs and wants get more and more complex.  And while I love my girls with all my heart and soul to the moon and a million times back (and forth), it really can be quite exhausting.  Hence, there is the prevailing concept of (much-needed) “me time.

Of course, I enjoy a good massage, some brainless TV, shopping, and/or time out with my girlfriends,  but I also try to use the little “me-time” I have to improve my knowledge of motherhood.  Actually “me-time” is really an escape to re-charge so you have more to go on when you return to the daily grind; so why not learn how to be better for my girls? (This study of motherhood is lifelong after all).  It becomes beneficial to every member of the family in some shape or form too.  That’s why I consider our #BetterMe sessions with Coach Pia me-time well spent.  I learn a lot, about myself and the people around me.  And in my attempts to apply these bits of information, I hope that I really am becoming a #BetterMom in the process (and hopefully for those of you who have the patience to read through my ramblings and follow my Tweets and Instagram posts, you pick up a few useful nuggets of information too).

The last session we had at Sambokojin focused precisely on investing time in oneself.  As Moms it is in our nature (and part of our job description really) to constantly give of ourselves for our children.  We can only give of ourselves if there is something to give.  And it’s not just about giving per se, but  rather giving the best of ourselves and our talents and skills to be the parents that can raise the best children.

Coach Pia drilled down on the key points from her book, Born to Be a Hero (side note:  copies are available in any National Bookstore).

My Mommyology Mom Hero

In the book, Coach Pia talks about what it means to be a Hero, and building on one’s Hero Currency.

My Mommyology Mom Heroes

It actually simplifies — and quantifies! — how someone can look at the events and aspects in one’s life, and see if it builds towards increasing your Hero Currency, or draining from it, through a bank account with a “passbook”.  And like any bank account, the goal is to build it so it gets bigger and bigger. 🙂

My Mommyology Mom Heroes

Coach Pia advises to start at an arbitrary number which you will assign when you felt your self-doubt as a person was equal to (or as close to) zero as possible.  Then from that moment on until present day, identify the key events in your life and assign numbers to it, where the numbers on the left drain from the currency, and the numbers placed on the right, build up to it.  It’s a good way to “visualize” how much you’ve invested in yourself and what you need for you as well at present time.  And when you know where you stand and what you need, it’s much easier to proceed with life from there.  After all, self-awareness is always the necessary first step.

I do pretty well when it comes to visualizing and quantifying things for myself.  I like the structure that way.  But the wild cards that Coach Pia threw into the mix, were (are) indeed true wild cards for anyone in real life, including me.

Big life lessons I must learn.
Big life lessons I must learn.

She calls them Wild Cards because they can create a big swing towards a positive passbook balance.  They aren’t easy steps either (and they require a lot of transcendence!), but they do work wonders, or so I’m told.

Once you know, you can go (Okay I had to say that)!  Set goals for yourself.  And Coach Pia gives us a few tips to try to achieve these goals, two of which stuck to me like glue.

My Mommyology Mom Heroes

This particular one, about articulating myself and my needs without any guilt, I consciously try to practice, even around my kids.  We are raised in a culture of putting others first, thinking of others before you think of yourself; saying we’re okay, even if we’re not.  And we’re taught that if you think of what you need and say so, then it sounds selfish.  So not true!  In fact, I love the way Mish puts it in her own #BetterMe notes, “Exhale and speak your needs.  Let go of the guilt… all of it (no matter what your mother or your religion says).”

Exhale and speak your needs. Let go of the guilt…all of it. (no matter what your mother or your religion says) – See more at: http://www.mommanmanila.com/born-hero-investing-p-2/#sthash.aMRZY7uV.dpuf
Exhale and speak your needs. Let go of the guilt…all of it. (no matter what your mother or your religion says) – See more at: http://www.mommanmanila.com/born-hero-investing-p-2/#sthash.aMRZY7uV.dpuf

No judgement:  just say what you feel you need (to the relevant people of course!), you’re also just taking care of yourself (it’s not the same as always getting it, but saying it out loud helps and paves the way for — well, more honest conversations for one thing).  And then let the Wild Cards come into play.

My Mommyology Mom Heroes

This other one — a willingness to get down to the basics.  In one word:  Simplify.  And if I’m being honest (no guilt!), that’s what I miss about life in Chapel Hill; it was easy to simplify and just cut back.  I’m still trying to figure out how to constantly do that here in Manila, where (I feel) things have a tendency to get a bit more complicated.  But challenge accepted:  I’m working on it.  As it is with everything, it’s a process.  And each one has his or her own pace, but we eventually get there.

I found this session very relevant to Moms because really, by nature of our role as moms, we are our children’s heroes.  We are their “last line of defense” (in a manner of speaking).  And really if only for them, I’d like to do all I can to bring out the true potential of the Hero inside of me.  It would do the world a world of good, if all of us moms work towards that goal. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom-Heroes out there. 🙂

Says it all.
Says it all