Happy 7th Anniversary with MaroonVTour in Hong Kong

It’s the end of our anniversary week and the start of our 7th year. We started our celebration by catching Maroon V in Hong Kong. It started with me, trying to get tickets here in Manila but the concert was sold out as early as June 2015. I thought I didn’t have any chance of catching Adam Levine anymore but my very resourceful knight in shining armor got me concert tickets in HK. WOW!!! Best.Anniversary.Surprise.Gift.Ever!!! I don’t think any anniversary gift could ever top that. I actually still owe him an anniversary gift but none of my ideas come close to what he got for me.

The icing on the cake was that the concert tickets in HK cost less than the ones being sold here in Manila! Unfair, right? :) It was my first time to catch a concert abroad and I am hooked. First, everything was so orderly. Concert tickets were shipped to us via snail mail. We went to the concert venue and lines were orderly, no worries of a stampede or mad-adam-fan-club-crushing-us-to-death scene either. Seats were as promised, crowd was orderly, no pushing and shoving. I am officially concert-spoiled.

Here are some highlights from our Maroon V concert. One off of my concert bucket list.

all-time favorite band

he really does moves like jagger

he really does move like jagger

adam, i almost named gummy bear after you

adam, i almost named my baby gummy bear after you

For more maroon V videos and HK trip pics, check out my instagram :)

We are also thinking of catching Madonna in HK or Taipei next year… no need to pay for 57k here in Manila! Not to mention catching a concert abroad is definitely an adventure in itself, a “honeymoon” trip again and an excuse to visit another (new) country.

To my honeychiwa, I don’t normally do cheesy posts but you deserve this one. Thanks for thinking-out-of-the-box! I would never have thought of watching a concert in another country. Only you could think of weird solutions to my problems. That is one of the things that I’ve learned being married to you for 7 years. Thanks for the persistent efforts in trying to make me happy. Thanks for helping me tick things off my bucket list even if you aren’t necessarily “game” to do the things on my list. That might have just been another concert night for you but to me, it meant the world to me that you would watch Maroon V for the second time just to make me happy. The effort you put into this anniversary gift is humbling. You are my Adam… you are my rock star!

To our 2 babies, please look for future partners who will care enough to want to make you happy and may you both put in the same effort for them also. It’s not the value of the gift but the thought behind the gift that makes it memorable. Putting extra time and the element of surprise in gift-giving should never stop just because you are way past the courting stage. I think the married stage needs more of these spurts of excitement, since we tend to get into this familiarity rut. Speaking of… I still owe the hubby an anniversary gift. The perfectionist in me is trying to top what he gave me or at least try to “equal” the value in sweetness. Any ideas??? :)

StartUp Book: French Kids Eat Everything

Hello 6 months! Well, Gummy Bear is 7 months already and has a voracious appetite for solid foods. My only problem is he is a bit of a picky eater. So far he doesn’t like bland cooked baby food so we always have to put in a little baby jar food mixed in just so that there is a bit of taste. Any body else with this kind of problem? I didn’t have any issues before with Baby Bear as she willingly gobbled up the cooked baby food.

I have had this book for awhile now on my bookshelf but I was waiting for the 6 month mark to really read this book. Wanted to time it as we start Food Training 101 for Gummy Bear.

french kids eat everything

french kids eat everything

I highly recommend this book. This is a book, not just for picky eaters but everyone who eats in general. Here are the highlights of the book:

french food rules

french food rules

I learned a lot from this book but what I want to harp on is MY biggest takeaway from this book. We have all been hearing about GRIT and how it is the key to raising good kids. Forming GRIT is something that is not easy to do. The book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character laments the fact that these days, kids have a strong sense of entitlement. We live in a very fast-paced world and since everything is within reach or literally at tip of our fingers, we are so used to having and getting everything that we want in just a snap. Our kids also have it lucky because our generation of parenting is quite different from the way our parents used to do it  before. We try to fill in the gaps of our parents who didn’t spend that much time with us since they were so busy working hard in order for us to have the luxurious life we have right now so we can afford more time to spend with our kids and have more money to splurge on them. In the book, How Children Succeed, Paul Tough states that the success of a kid has to do more with qualities that have something to do with developing skills like patience, perseverance, curiosity, self-control, and optimism. Going back to the book French Kids Eat Everything, kids are trained to sit through long dinners with adult conversations. We all know the adage that goes: a family that eats together, stays together. We may eat together but sometimes it’s either we are in a rush, looking at our cellphones, or nagging the kids to hurry up and eat. Dinner time should be a pleasant experience, a long affair (hello 3 course meals), and a time to bond over food and conversation. It also gives us the chance to bond together with the family and teach “life lessons”.

How does one teach life lessons over dinner:

Scenario: We are actually guilty of leaving Baby Bear to eat with the nanny because we feel that she eats more when we are not there. Typical girl, she loves chatting while eating – and when she chats, food is stuck on her mouth for a long time (read: babad) and it takes a longer time to swallow.

Life Lessons:

– Don’t talk when your mouth is full!

– The value of being patient and waiting for the all of the members to finish eating – While the essence of dinner time should be talking and catching up, this hasn’t worked for us since dinner becomes way longer and we are actually the ones without the patience to sit through it. :( I am learning to stop saying “hurry up and finish eating” and now, spend more time enjoying dessert and teaching stuff to Baby Bear over dinner.

– No one left behind and no gadgets should be used during the course of dinner –  – The few times that Baby Bear finishes eating before we do, she is itching to go down at once to play,  so this is quite a daunting task for me now. Especially when we are outside and the orders haven’t arrived yet, the default before was to let her play the iPad. We are training not just Baby Bear, but also ourselves to sit through our restaurant dinners without any distractions. We don’t allow iPhones or iPads during meals. We used to allow other distractions such as coloring, reading a book, stickers, toys, etc. but it was just the same as the iPad.We just substituted the distraction with another distraction, which just takes away the fun and interaction that supposedly came with dinner time as being the time to catch up on what is going on in each others’ lives. Consistent with another book that I read, Bringing Up Bebe, making them sit-through these dinners harps on the importance of letting kids sit down and develop patience by learning how to wait. I make Baby Bear sit through our dinners, let her listen to our work or household discussions. She doesn’t need to actively participate but she has to sit through them. In the long run, kids are supposed to learn from these adult conversations. This is where they get a chance to pick up “life lessons”. They can also simply be quiet and bored with the adult conversation. When they are bored they tend to daydream which sparks the creativity wheel in their brains.

– In line with our no gadgets policy, we have a strict no gadgets rule during weekdays. While Baby Bear constantly whines “unfair” because all her cousins can iPad anytime, we want her to have lots of free time to read books, play with her toys, spend time with Gummy Bear, go down to the park and play with her friends. She can also opt for alone time where she chooses what she wants to do by herself. The French believe that it is important that kids can play alone.

I think the French are really on to something when it comes to parenting their kids. Theirs may not be the perfect system but it is a good support to their belief in the importance of raising foodies and good children. To them, raising good kids start with teaching them to have good table manners. Having good table manners is a practice of good habits. Not only that, perfecting the art of eating and the habit of eating together, allows you to spend more time with your family members to bond over stories and life lessons. At the end of the day, it’s all about quality family time… it doesn’t hurt if our tummies are also happily satisfied in the process. Happy tummy, happy life! :)

 

 

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up

I have encountered a lot of how-to-tidy-up posts over the internet but none compares to the OCness and meticulous study that went behind this best-selling book. Japanese cleaning consultant (yes, there is such a thing), Marie Kondo, developed the KonMari Method of tidying up.

definitely life-changing

definitely life-changing

The key points stated in the book is already enough to spark a complete paradigm shift about the way we currently tidy up at our place. I would still recommend reading the whole book though because it is an easy read. You would probably finish it in just half a day, complete with some household distractions. It is a treasure trove of tips for decluttering and maintaining the order at home. Lastly, it is an insightful message of how our personal space affects our mindset, persona, positive vibes, inner peace and happiness.

 

What I’ve been doing wrong:

1.) Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever – Tidying up by piece meal. I schedule my tidying up duties when I have small pockets of free time. As there is no set schedule as to when I should do it, I sometimes end up not finishing the task, forgetting to follow through and procrastinating.

2.) Storage experts are hoarders – Don’t buy storage containers until you know for sure what you plan to put in them. Make sure that you pile every little thing into one group, discard and know where each remaining item should go to. Don’t just buy tons of storage containers only to end up just shooting everything back inside. Garbage in, garbage out.

3.) Keeping things because “I might need them next time” – If you never used it in the first place, then you never will.

 

In a nutshell:

1.) The art of discarding is the first step. It focuses on a category-by-category vs. room-by-room system. You are supposed to clean up in this order – clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and photos.

2.) Discarding is not about letting go of the things that we don’t need or haven’t used in awhile. It’s about letting go of the things that do not spark joy anymore. Leave behind only those things that bring joyful memories.

3.) Purging must be done in one shot. It shouldn’t be done bit by bit or when you have free time. It should be deemed as a major dramatic affair.

4.) Preventing rebounding is easy to do if you have a place for everything.

5.) Put your house in order and everything in your life will fall right into place.

 

I would totally recommend this book and I can’t wait for the other books in the next installment. I hope that she can tackle organization and tidying up for those families who have kids. I think people with kids have a tougher challenge when it comes to tidying up. Don’t even get me started on our toy storage boxes!!! For now, I am just glad that we have ONLY 2 seasons to deal with! =P

Monasterio de Sta. Clara

I went to Monasterio de Sta. Clara or St. Clare’s church the other day. I try to go there every other month to give thanks for the blessings I have received, to ask for personal favors and to pray in general. This beautiful church is situated in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s nice to find a quiet place amidst the noisy Katipunan area.

Church of St. Clare

Church of St. Clare

Monasterio de Sta. Clara is known to people as the church to go to when you need to ask for good weather during auspicious dates. People offer a dozen eggs to St. Clare. Clare means clear so praying to her has been synonymous to asking for clear skies and weather. Eggs are also associated with fertility so a lot of people also go there to ask for a baby. Before the entrance to the church, you will see vendors under the bridge who sell eggs wrapped in different cellophane colors. They have attached a meaning per color such as health, weather, etc. but if you interview the church staff they will tell you that there is really no meaning attached per egg color. Just ask what is in your heart and believe that it will be granted in God’s time.

It’s the wishing fountain. You will see here lots of people trying to toss coins into the top most tier hoping that their wish will be granted.

fountain

fountain

DSC00085

DSC00087

After the coin-tossing-fountain-wishing ritual, people move on to this area where they pray to St. Clare for intercession. People offer sampaguitas here which you can also buy from the egg vendors outside. There is an area inside where you will see many people writing letters to St. Clare praying for blessings. I have done this process a lot of times and I find it actually quite therapeutic to write about your feelings and the desires of your heart. Writing things down also gives you perspective to the things you need and want in life. After writing the letters, you can give it inside together with your donation.
DSC00090

Ask and you shall receive! I have experienced the power of St. Clare so many times already. I had a lot of answered prayers and have witnessed receiving things that I have written in my letter. Being the sigurista that I am, I even ask for signs to prove that what I am wishing for is truly being given to me by God. The signs can be as simple as seeing a violet flower that means it’s a YES or as obvious as being given or granted whatever it is that I requested.

I have also had my share of unanswered prayers. Sometimes I do feel bad about it but I just have to remember to be patient and wait for God to reveal his reasons later on for not answering my prayers at that time. We just have to put our trust in the Lord that He has a specific plan for us and He will always be there for us.

I love that there is a church in the middle of a busy highway. It is a venue for us to take a pause in our busy lives to stop and reflect – to thank God for all the blessings we have received. It is also a symbol of hope when we are feeling down with life’s troubles and it is a great reminder of the Almighty God, our purpose in life and our passion for living the faith.

 

Experience is the Best Teacher

Chanced upon this video uploaded by The Logical Indian. This video is timely for me now as I evaluate which big school I should send my daughter to. For her preschool, I also thought long and hard about the merits of traditional vs. progressive. Long story short, I tried Progressive and I liked it! This is a big thing considering I’m a trad girl by heart.

She goes to a Montessori school now and this video exemplifies what Maria Montessori espouses that children learn via imitation and example. Let them do it on their own, give them their own AHA moment so that they can discover for themselves what a joy it is to explore. Let us raise independent thinkers! This also hits home that we should always set good examples for our kids. How they live life will largely be based on how they see us live ours.

Here’s the insightful video. Have a great week ahead!

Summer Birthday Celebrant

The hubby and I are summer birthday celebrants and so is Baby Bear. The advantage of having a summer birthday is being able to exchange a party for an awesome trip. Since Baby Bear is still small and has clamored for a school birthday celebration, I decided to check with the school if this was okay. I didn’t feel right about celebrating a summer birthday way, way, way in advance since this might have some “spoiling” implications. Apparently, this was the norm for smaller kids! Teacher advised me to go ahead with the early celebration because as a kid, it really means a lot when their friends celebrate their birthday with them.

future party planner

future party planner

Baby Bear goes to a Montessori school. The rules there are very simple – birthdays aren’t as bonggacious as how other schools do it. No decor, no frills and fuss, just show up for your kids’ birthday celebration, bring HOME MADE food for the class (no commercial food or take-outs allowed), and loot bags are optional.

Baby Bear chose a princess-themed party since she was on a Disney princess craze. We had our favorite baker –  @regaustria make her simple princess cake and cupcakes for the classmates to bring home.

by @regaustria

by @regaustria

by @regaustria

by @regaustria

When we arrived in school, they started the birthday ritual promptly. Going through this beautiful birthday ritual made me understand why my introverted Baby Bear who absolutely hates parties was clamoring for one. The celebration was so heartwarming. It started out with the kids welcoming the parents. The three of us were placed in the hot seat and teacher asked me and the hubby to say something about how Baby Bear was as a baby. I told the class how Baby Bear used to be so quiet and cried a lot as a toddler, but ever since she joined this class, she has become such a happy and NOISY baby. I told the class she was having fun with her friends and can’t wait to go to school everyday just to see all of them.

Then, we moved on to the cake. All the kids had to fall in line first, greet the celebrant personally a Happy Birthday, give their gifts (if they have any), shake the hand of the celebrant and move on to the cake table.

birthday gifts and greetings

birthday gifts and greetings

shake a friend's hand

shake a friends’ hand

a hug from one of her favorite big sister in class

a hug from one of her favorite big sister in class

They all sang happy birthday to Baby Bear… and it was the first time Baby Bear wanted to blow out the candles! She has always shied away from candle-blowing since she gets conscious when all eyes zoom in on her. She really does love her school and is more at home with them, happily blowing out the candle and being such a good hostess. After that, we had a few class pictures and moved on to snack time.

happy birthday to you...

happy birthday to you…

one of the boys

one of the boys

what a sweet big brother

what a sweet big brother

Again, they fell in line, went to the tables and they all closed their eyes and said a prayer before the meal.

falling in line

falling in line

saying grace

saying grace

It was so nice being a part of this simple heartwarming celebration. It brings me back to the memories of childhood where we celebrated our birthdays with much anticipation. Unlike now, wherein we dread the coming of old age every birthday year. It’s also nice to see the values education that the school espouses in action. From greeting the birthday celebrant personally, all the way to saying a prayer before every meal. Mental note: I should do this at home also. I was so humbled by the kindness and grace of the children. So when Baby Bear came home from school with all her gifts from her friends, I made her write a thank you note for all the gifts she received. It was also good practice for her as by the nth card, she was already spelling all the thank you notes by herself without copying from my thank you post-it template for her to follow.

Moments like these makes us wish we were kids again and moments like these makes parenthood so emotionally fulfilling – seeing your kids happy and getting a glimpse of how they will be in the future. To my darling Baby Bear, I’m excited to celebrate your real birthday this summer. Thank you for teaching me to look forward to each birthday year as a celebration of living in-the-moment filled with happiness and a wonderful prospect of how turning a year older should be a joyous anticipation of what life has to bring. From now on, I do look forward to growing older, growing wiser and making more memories with my family. Happy Summer Birthday to all of us! :)

our little princess, we love you so much!

our little princess, we love you so much!

Baby Bear 1st Birthday Celebration – Ni Hao Kai Lan

aKids’Life: Project Camille Shelves

OCMom alert! This OCMom just couldn’t stand the mess in her kids’ room anymore. With a toddler and a baby now sharing a common room in a condominium, there was suddenly no space for anything.

Project CAMILLE is a shelf that was built for a mom who wanted to copy the Montessori way of doing activities. When you visit the Montessori classrooms, all the activities are placed inside the shelves. You will not see anything on their work table or work areas. A child goes to a shelf and picks up the tray or bin of her chosen activity and brings it to his/her work area. I think this is a very ingenious concept. First, it teaches the kids early on how to make decisions. Second, it gives them the independence and free will to do what they want to do. At the same time, it teaches them to get their own stuff and return it in the proper place afterwards. Lastly, having a clean table gives you a sense of focus. You are not distracted by anything except for the activity that you have chosen. I sure could adopt that principle given the very messy office desk that I have. (mental note: clear out office desk) :)

Here are pictures of Project CAMILLE. Disclaimer: The shelves were still a bit messy as the toys on top of the shelf haven’t been segregated yet. If there were more space in the condominium, it would’ve been nice to add more shelves and to distribute the activities across the shelves to highlight the activities more. Currently, the activities are grouped into similarity due to the lack of space. Also, all shelves are adjustable to accommodate the height of the different bins.

trying to keep things clutter-free

trying to keep things clutter-free

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Another project finished! aKids’Life should be easy and enjoyable, enriching and emotionally fulfilling. They live in times where everything is so fast. There are so many new toys these days that we didn’t have when we were growing up. There is so much new information that comes in heaps! Kids of today have so much more to learn vs. during our time when all our focus was just on playing and sleeping. The Camille shelves is an example of a small, insignificant detail that we might not see as very important. To us, they are just mere shelves but in the bigger picture they somehow facilitate a faster processing of learning and development helping kids of today to become more empowered and focused in this very cluttered-information-overload world that they live in.  And to us OCMoms, the shelves are just for our sanity! ;)

To view other aKids’Life project, check out the following links:

Project Penelope, Project Kayla, Project Matteo

Project Gracie

Project Belle

 

Welcome to the World, Gummy Bear!

Happy New Year, Happy 2015! New Year, New Baby! :)

I introduced Baby Bear in this blog 3 years ago, and now it’s Gummy Bear’s turn!

hello world! :)

hello world! :)

first time i opened my eyes

first time i opened my eyes

our christmas blessing

our christmas blessing

my first bath at home

my first bath at home – gummy bear was quite surprised but the next pictures will show how much he loves bath time!

all snuggled up

all snuggled up

happy 1st month, gummy bear! :)

happy 1st month, gummy bear! :)

Time truly flies! I was just blogging about the pregnancy and now he is a full month old!!!

Feeling so sentimental… so I had to take a trip down memory lane by also looking at Baby Bears’ pics. You can also view her pics here. I thought I was complete before when I met Baby Bear and never thought I could love another little human being. Now, my heart overflows with love for my whole family. It brings a whole new meaning to the line “you complete me!”. I can’t wait to share more milestones and adventures now that we are a family of 4 plus 1 dog! :) I feel so blessed. Thank you Lord for all your blessings! Have a great year y’all! Let’s all have a wonderful 2015! :)