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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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Are We Too Busy?

Quite often, a family in our neighborhood asks me on a whim if my girls can come over to play with her little girl.  Right now?  Yes now.

Quite often I decline (politely) because my girls have one activity or another after school.  I assume she doesn’t keep track of our schedule, because after asking for the nth time, she walked away shaking her head. “Boy your girls are TOO busy,” she commented.  I smiled and waved, “see you tomorrow”, and we went on our way.

From the look on her face and the tone of her voice, I probably came off as one of those “busy” moms who over schedules her kids.  I know for a fact that they’re lifestyle is the complete opposite, where her child has no after school activity whatsoever.  It’s free unstructured play all day long.  She doesn’t believe our kids get enough play time at school, and they’re being worked too hard as it is for them to do anything else after (hence the judgement conclusion).

Her opinion of me doesn’t really matter (Thank you, Discover Your Core), but quite honestly, this “busy-ness” business is an everyday concern of mine.  I constantly ask myself this:  Are my kids TOO busy?

I know there are varied points of view on the topic.  And after going through several links, I found an article on the New York Times that resonated with me the most (click the link to read it if you like!).

Excerpt from the New York Times article.
Excerpt from the New York Times article.

I’m PRO extra-curricular activities.  Sam and Jamie have several of them.  They’re in ballet and Kindermusik — but different days and time slots.  They go to Kumon together.  And then they have their own after-school interests:  Jamie’s are Spanish and Soccer, and Sam’s is Basketball (She does her Spanish on the iPad at home when she feels like it).  As members of the Catholic community, Sam also attends a separate Religious Education class once a week as part of the two-year requirement for First Communion.

When I the kids if they think we’re too busy, they always answer “no we’re okay.”  On days when I feel entirely overwhelmed and exhausted by our schedule, I wonder how that’s possible.  But on the days when things run smoothly, I somehow find the answers to my question.

These extra curricular choices, we made as a family.  The girls were involved in every decision.  And it wasn’t because it was something that I wanted for them but rather, something they were excited to do.  They went through the brochures with us and discussed their options.  Even three-year old Jamie appreciates this process.

Jamie loves soccer.
Jamie loves soccer.

Like any human being, on some days, it takes a little more convincing to keep this commitment.  Other fun things pop up and distract them from it.  But (thankfully) I’ve never had to drag one kicking and screaming.  That tells me that the initial protests are superficial, and once they understand the value of sticking to our commitments, they get excited about going all over again.  I feel it’s just as important for me to show I’m equally committed to getting them there and supporting their choices.

Of course school and homework clearly come first, and we all know this will always be the priority.

Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.
Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.

My smart little Sam sees the extracurriculars as an incentive for her to complete her homework quickly so she can get to them.  New activities are good for her adventure-seeking personality.  She has a productive channel to work out all that energy and thirst for knowledge.

And while I know the Tiger Mom in me can push, I’m also not that hard-core about it.  I want my girls to learn, but I also want them to enjoy doing so.  I don’t have dreams of them becoming the next Tiger Woods in their field (sorry, it’s the only analogy I know thanks to my husband!).  And we only skip class for good reason (an illness or schoolwork for instance).  I put their needs first.   If they need sleep, I won’t wake them the next morning.

...And this is too good to move! ;)
…And this is too good to move! 😉

Contrary to popular belief, my husband and I don’t say yes to every request.  For one it’s costly, and I haven’t figured out how to grow money on trees yet.  Secondly, I’d go crazy shuttling them back and forth (I go crazy enough as it is!).  But more than that, I do believe they need time for the mundane everyday stuff: errands and chores, play dates, toys, and yes, even the electronics.  These keep us busy too but in a different kind of way.

Even if my girls assure me with words, that “they’re ok” and “not too busy,” I still validate this against their behavior, and make the call if I see overtiredness rear its cranky head.  After all that’s said and done, I still adjust where I can depending on their needs.  The health and well-being of the girls come first above all else.

Finding the balance is hard, but it’s also very relative.  One may need more “free play” than the next.  Some may need more structure.  And what may be “too busy” for some, may be just right for others.  It all depends on the parents and the child.

Our days are usually pretty full (I should know I’m the first to feel the fatigue), but it’s not always because we’re running from one class to the next.  I purposely left days “free”, and we get to decide on what fun things we can do together.  Somewhere in between the routine and set schedules we have our own spontaneous moments that are just pure fun (more on that in a separate post).

Random game night over dinner.
Random game night over dinner.

So — are we busy?  Technically yes.  I’m a planner by heart; I like to know what’s next.  So in the eyes of an outsider we really do a lot.  But when I look at my girls, I think they’re right and we’re really ok.  After all, we’re never too busy for each other.

A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Mommy Anecdotes

Coming Home to Chapel Hill

After our Disney Cruise we had the option of staying in Florida and hitting the theme parks with my brother-in-law’s family (I hear that the meet and greet with Queen Elsa there is a 5-hour wait!! Yikes!), or taking a side trip back into Chapel Hill for a couple of days.  The latter was less stressful for us and it was a chance to decompress our schedule and chill before another long leg into the West Coast.  On top of that the girls would be able to go back to their original stomping grounds and we’d be around “old” friends.  There were many compelling reasons to head back.

What a lovely sight. :)
I smiled quite involuntarily when we passed this sign. 🙂

Sam felt very strongly about going there too, and wanting to spend as much time as she could with Elie — which is pretty much what we did for the duration of our stay (to the girls’ delight).

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jamie and Elie’s younger sister Maya hit it off immediately.  They did spend a lot of time together as babies, although it never occurred to me that there would be any remnants of those memories almost 18 months later.  Jamie (and Maya) both have a shy bone in their bodies and it usually takes a while for kids like them to warm up and feel comfortable.  But Jamie felt right at home, and went straight to playing and being present like she used to.  She was right at home, as if it’s something she’s been doing consistently week after week.  Things were familiar somehow (The baby brain really is something isn’t it!) .  By the end of the night, she and Maya were hugging their goodbyes, asking to see each other the next day.

Old Friends!
Old Friends!  They remembered each other!

Over all it was an easy, relaxed trip; a good way for the girls to unwind from our hectic Disney Days.  And it really just felt good to be back.

We visited the old streets and restaurants we used to go to.

Running wild and free...
Running wild and free…

We went to the Life and Science Museum and rode the train (an old favorite).

All Aboard!
All Aboard!

We also saw the new developments they had over there since we left and it was all still pretty exciting (It’s a good reason to come back again in the future!).  I really think it was the frequent visits we made to the museum was what propelled Sam’s appreciation for science and nature.

Clockwise:  (1) New Alpacas at the farm! (2) Girls identifying butterflies (3) Sam experimenting in the Space exhibit and (4) Jamie introduces Bunny to their resident bunny.
Clockwise: (1) New Alpacas at the farm! (2) Girls identifying butterflies (3) Sam experimenting in the Space exhibit and (4) Jamie introduces Bunny to their resident bunny.

We even had our very own Kindermusik class with all our old friends.

Really REALLY awesome to be around these folks again!
Really REALLY awesome to be around these folks again!

It was the best, the sweetest “welcome back” greeting we ever got.  And the girls loved every minute of it.  Even Jamie was a surprise (again) — she seemed less conscious and less clingy.  All her shyness had faded away.  Jamie started Kindermusik with Rebecca since she was 6 months old (well, she was in my tummy when we’d take Sam all her life), so again, probably a latent feeling or memory that was just reinforced during this trip.

I wasn’t expecting Jamie to have many memories of the place since she was 18 months old when we left.  But she seemed right at home everywhere we went.

We took the girls to their Dads’ school and had our customary University of North Carolina photos.

Right at home indeed.
Right at home indeed.

The weather was perfect all throughout.  We just let them walk around and frolic about campus.  It was nice to let them run in spacious grounds.  There isn’t too much of that in Manila and so I feel the girls also feel very constricted when they’re with me because I need to have them close by me.

There, in Chapel Hill — the boundaries seemed to extend and the restrictions lessened.    And there was something so…. easy and natural about it.  I felt very at ease.  I got comments on some of my Instagram feed as to how relaxed I looked.  It’s because I really was (despite my travel fatigue).  Another comment I got was how our pictures showed we still love the place so much.

Some things never change. :)
Some things never change. 🙂

And it’s true — we do.

I think a part of us will always stay in Chapel Hill.  No matter where in the world we are, that’s how it’s always going to be.  Going back there, it’s like coming home and re-connecting that little part that was left behind and becoming whole again.

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My Christmas Experiences as a Stage-Mom (of Two)

Two of the highlights of my busy December were the girls’ school Christmas programs (I think I’m still recovering from both production numbers since I’ve only found the courage to write about it now!).  I’ve figured out why I’d never felt this frazzled in the past, even when Sam was going to preschool in Chapel Hill.  First the obvious — it was one child that had to perform and not two.  Second, the school programs were simple and they didn’t run smack into the height of the Christmas holidays, as we are known to do here in Manila.  Sam’s first preschool was Jewish, and Hanukkah normally falls at the beginning of December.  Her second preschool was non-secular, so the biggest celebration they had was Thanksgiving, and the children sang all of two songs.  Here in the two schools my girls attend the year-end Christmas program is a major production for teachers, children and parents alike!

Jamie the Christmas Elf

At Jamie’s school, the teachers were trying to keep the performance a surprise.  Jamie would some songs every now and then though so I knew a few, and at pick-up I’d catch the older kids at practice.  Each time we’d pass the kids, Jamie would move in tune to the music too.  One morning in December in the middle of a diaper change, I said, “It’s December, Mom will start teaching you some Christmas songs okay?”  And then I started singing Jingle Bells.  I stopped at the phrase “Jingle all the way!” thinking that would be a lot for her to repeat, but instead Jamie replied, “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh – Hey!”  Aha.  Another song in their repertoire.

Jamie’s teachers would always tell me that she loves to sing and dance, and was really the only one in her class who would consistently perform.  She’d even walk to the front and stand on top of the x-marked spot.  Nonetheless I was nervous about the big day, because — if I know my child — she gets completely conscious when she knows she’s being watched; and I don’t think a room full of parents and cameras would inspire her to perform.  But I hoped, and asked her teachers to video a practice session, just in case.

At home, I did the usual prep work and talked about her big day for weeks.  I downloaded the songs (it was a mad search on the net I tell you!) so that she could practice her moves at home, even if I didn’t know if they were correct.  I tried to get her to do them in front of a small audience, but she’d shy away.

I lost sleep the night before her performance and prayed it would all go well.  Of course I also told myself – she’s not even two, there’s no pressure but that didn’t make the nerves go away.  I was trying to analyze why — and I think I just wanted to get a glimpse of how she is at school.

On the morning of the program, we got off to a bad start.  Jamie woke up earlier than usual, which already gave me the sinking feeling she’d be tired and cranky early.  She didn’t want to eat breakfast either, and put up a fight when I dropped her off at school.  Her teacher had to pry her away from me crying, so I was bracing myself for the worst.  I picked a chair by the front, and crouched below some parents to stay out of sight.  My husband chose to stand at the corner so he could video the performance, but I worried she’d see him and want him to get her.

Then the kids walked out and took their places.  Jamie seemed to know the drill and didn’t show an ounce of fear or shyness.  She even saw her dad and waved hi, and when the music started, she just went and performed!  She sang, danced and did everything that they taught her, and she was as the teachers said, the best elf in their group.

Doing the actions like the other older kids! :)
Doing the actions like the other older kids! 🙂

I was so proud (and so relieved) I started to cry.  At one point she finally saw me (since I would stand in the middle of all the seated parents to get a picture) and cried out, “Mommy!”  I froze because I thought that was the end of it, but instead she looked steadily at me and continued to perform.  I’d meet her gaze and mouth the words so she’d know it was just like how we did it at home.

At the end of the program, Jamie happily climbed into my arms and looked pretty content with herself.  Incidentally, she was also the only child who walked up to Santa by herself to claim her gift.  During the snack reception a lot of the other kids’ parents came up to me and congratulated me on Jamie’s performance.  They asked me how I got Jamie to be so confident, and I really thought about it after that.  For her singing and dancing, I really honestly believe it’s because of Kindermusik.  I think her love for music just took over any kind of self-consciousness.  As for walking up to Santa, well… she just wanted that gift!

Sam the Brightly Colored Bird

In Sam’s case, when we first got the memo about a Christmas play last November, I thought it was just going to be her class performance.  Apparently, the school mounts a big production for all 200 students of the morning session, from prep to the 1st grade.  The play was Alice the Magic Dragon, and Sam’s class were the colorful birds.  Sam got sent home with a script, with a note that said we had to help her practice her line.  There was one highlighted line, which after some research, I learned was her one solo line!

Sam was very vocal about the play, the dances and the songs, so we’d practice them at home and rehearse her line every night.  She memorized it fairly easily (and I’d say her Kumon lessons helped in that aspect!) and tried to add in the right intonations to show emotion.

What was more stressful for me was the costume.  It was the parents’ responsibility and it called for colorful FEATHERSI had no idea where or how to put that together myself without the costume falling to pieces.  I had nightmares of my daughter shedding on stage.  I looked to outsource, but three dressmakers told me they were full for the holidays.  Even Sam’s ballet school (that normally makes costumes) couldn’t accommodate us.  Finally, our assistant at the office volunteered to go on a trip to one of our local markets.  She took one of Sam’s dresses so that they could approximate the measurements and she negotiated it be completed in a few days. That was a huge relief.

Main Photo: She didn't adjust the mic, but made sure she spoke into it.  Inset Photo: Sam right in the spotlight!
Main Photo: She didn’t adjust the mic, but made sure she spoke into it. Inset Photo: Sam right in the spotlight!

Sam’s bird costume turned out better than expected, and when we walked into school the morning of her play, the other moms complimented her on her feathers as she was literally covered in them from head to toe (some of the other birds had cloth feathers and didn’t look as fluffy as she did.  Actually, she looked more like a baby chick then a bird, but she loved it).  During the play, Sam said her one line fairly well (she elicited some chuckles from the audience) and danced front and center too (my kids are smaller than their classmates, I think that’s why the teachers situate them there).  I think Sam gets her body movement fluidity from her dad.  He always said I had two left feet.

I was proud of my little bird.  Growing up in the same school, I never liked performing in front of a large audience.  I was always very self-conscious (I think I still am!), and would rather help out in the safety of the shadows.  Sam performing couldn’t have been easy because I know she also gets self-conscious every now and then, but she enjoyed herself, and loved her chick-look.

I still have tons of photos to sort through (since I snapped the camera every second for every play) and several video clips to upload.  I watch the clips over and over again and they always bring a smile to my face, and admittedly, a sense of relief.  I’m so glad the girls are enjoying, learning and adjusting well.

I was chatting with some mom friends about the stress these kinds of productions bring upon us parents particularly during an already hectic time in the year.  One of my mom friends said that she avoids it and has her child skip the days they need to come in costume or dress up for plays.  She said it’s not worth the effort knowing her daughter might be too shy to perform anyway.  While her feelings and thoughts are valid (I have similar fears all the time), I can’t imagine not giving my girls a chance to work through and experience it.  Whatever the outcome there’s a lesson or two they (and we) can pick up from the entire process and to me that is priceless.  I’d take the sleepless nights, the nightmares and the stage-mom fears twice over if it meant giving them an experience I could never do for them.

Somehow in the end it pays off.  They know that I support them (as evidenced by all the practicing and downloading of songs) and encourage them; and no matter what the outcome would be they know it would be okay.  But they always know I’m excited for them and I hope that they’ll at least try.   I’d like to believe that’s also what pushes them to stand front and center and perform.

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My Mommyology Likes: Useful Toddler “Gadgets”

I love discovering new “gadgets” and tools that help us Moms care for our kids and keep a little bit more of our sanity.

As it stands, it’s a lot to take in, day in and day out.  In my case, my kids test me, defy me, throw tantrums… or sometimes them just being kids is so tiring.  It’s a good thing for them to assert their independence and stick to what they want, but these little developmental milestones really don’t make it any easier!  There are messes, spills, meltdowns, and all sorts of make-it-work moments in all sorts of shape or form.  I’ve also found that with two toddlers, all of the above is double the work!

I’ve mentioned the Kidswitch several times before, as well as the Firefly toothbrushes.  My sling, the Baby K’Tan has also made it up the top of my “super useful” list.  And you all know how much a fan I am of potty seat covers.  I thought I’d add a few more to the list here:

My Mommyology Time Timer
In our house, the Time Timer is LAW!

The Time Timer.  I made this discovery a few months back through Rebecca at the start off Sam’s Imagine That! Kindermusik class last January.  Rebecca uses it in her class to give the kids a visual representation of when it is time to call their parents back into the room.  She says it alleviates the stress they may feel in being separated from their parents and that the kids can watch it but will still be able to enjoy the rest of the activities, knowing that at a concrete time, their parents will be allowed back in.

Essentially the Time Timer is a visual 60-minute countdown timer that shows kids (and whomever else is using it) how much time they have left for any activity.  If you check their website, you’ll find it has a lot of areas of use.  Over the last few months as Sam’s nap-time has dwindled into oblivion and her need to assert herself against all odds has heightened (all normal I’m told), I have found the Time Timer to be incredibly helpful.  There is less resistance on her part and more willingness to follow; over-all it’s much easier emotionally on both of us.

It’s because Sam can see that “when the red is all gone”, her time is up.  It’s irrefutable.  She has to say goodbye to her friends, or close the TV and get ready for bed, or as it is the case with nap time, she has to lie quietly in bed and can only get up when there is “no more red”.

The other good bit about it is that Sam has somewhat learned a general concept of time because of it.  “Mom I have 15 minutes left, see?”  And she points to the clock which shows that she indeed does have 15 minutes left.  Conversely she can also look at a regular clock and understands how it works a little better.

I super duper LOVE this gadget!

My Mommyology favorite gadgets
The picture says it all.

The Dripstick.  This was another recent discovery I made from my friend Helene.  As it is summer, popsicles and ice creams are abound.  Naturally with toddlers, as much as it means fun, it correlates to stickiness and mess and a whole lot of cleaning up after.  The Dripstick is really just a colorful plastic holder with a slot for a popsicle stick on one end, and a slot for an ice cream cone on the other.  And then it has little basins that a) serve as a stand to hold the said frozen dessert upright, and b) to catch whatever residue that falls!

So there is less risk of a mess (the girls know that they need to sit down and eat it) and when they are done (or if they forget about it), they just set it down upright and can be on their way to do something else.  All you have to do is rinse and stick it in the dishwasher!  Hurray! 🙂  It was a fairly neat discovery I must say.  We used it on Sam and Jamie’s fun pops over the weekend and the girls came out much cleaner (versus when Sam was eating out of a bowl) at the end of it.

The Splat Mat.  Similar to the concept of the Dripstick, but this time it’s for tables and high chairs.  It makes the carpet easier to clean too, since most of Sam’s and Jamie’s food residue or spills fall onto the splat mat.  We even use a splat mat for messy kinds of play, such as Play-Doh and paint.  Sometimes the splat mat is also the best place to put a puzzle (over a carpet and instead of on top of a table where the pieces fall down to the floor).  So yes, I don’t know what I’d do without one (or two) in my home.  Mind you —  they are the dirtiest things at the end of the day; but one Lysol wipe is all it takes to get it back to its original clean state.  That’s better than picking at the carpet for food bits, or scaring the girls with the noise of the dustbuster every night.

My Mommyology Bath Scooper
So(ap) far, so good! 😉

The Brica Bath Toy Scoop Organizer.  Of all the Bath organizers we’ve gone through over the last few years, this latest discovery has — so far! — been the best one of all.  First of all, the suction grip works really well.  The other suction holders would slide down the minute steam hit the tiles!  The next bit is that the organizer is also in the form of a scooper, so it makes it easier for the girls to clean up their bath toys when they’re done.  All they have to do is scoop up the toys!  It makes for a fun game too since they’re chasing a bunch of the toys in the water instead of picking at them one at a time.  Then the mesh bag can be hooked onto the suction holder to hang and dry, and I have not had it fall on me since I first hung it up.  Needless to say, I am a fan. 🙂

My Mommyology Mosquito Patch
We match the patch with what she wears for the day.

Mosquito Patches.  This little discovery I made while we were in Manila through OCMom and her kids.  You see back home, dengue is a huge problem (Which makes me wonder — How much does SC Johnson make now on their OFF! Insect Repellant business?  Hmmm…!  But I digress).  As it so happens, Sam seems to be loved by mosquitoes and bugs of all nationalities.  She gets the worst worst bites, the poor thing.  And yet, I can’t seem to stop her from going outside, particularly when she plays in school with the other kids under the shady trees or in the bushes.  So apart from the mosquito repellant that I apply on her daily, I add in a mosquito patch, to keep her smelling like Eucalyptus all day long.  So far it’s helped, and Sam does love the idea of having one on her since they are quite colorful.  Back in Manila they sell a pack of 24 animal-printed patches for $2.  Needless to say, I brought about 5 packs back with me (If you split that between the two girls, then that won’t last very long).  More than anything, I have a little bit more peace of mind that Sam has more “protection” from those nasty bugs.

I remember when we started out purchasing all these novelty baby and toddler things here and there my husband would look at me incredulously and say, “You fell for the marketing ploy.  AGAIN!”  And maybe admittedly, with Sam, I often did(but they were just too cute to pass up!).  What did we know, we were new parents, and they didn’t have these things manufactured back when we were children.

With Jamie, I had very little excuse and a whole lot more of justifying to do.  I still shopped, but was a little bit pickier about things, it I’d like to think.  My basic criteria is this:  If it makes my life easier and it doesn’t hamper my girls’ independence, creativity or learning abilities, then it’s a purchase worth making in my book! 🙂