Category Archives: A Mother’s Narrative

Ballet for Fun

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At 5 years old, my mom enrolled me in my first after-school class.

One day a week after school, I would change into my pink tights and black leotards on a bench by my school’s auditorium and eagerly wait for my ballet classes to begin.

This was long before iPods and compact sound system, so Ms. Nañas, my teacher, would haul her turntable, crates of vinyl records, and heavy speakers down the corridor and up the stage for her weekly classes.  I remember how she would mentally rehearse the routine at the corner of the stage and then gently put the needle on the record once she’s ready.

I pursued ballet on and off for 7 years. I got my pointe shoes at 9 when my calves and feet were strong enough to support my body when I stand on my toes.  I always felt proud and rewarded when asked during warm up exercises to stand at the end of the barre, because that meant that I was good enough to lead the barre exercises.

imagesI remember sewing the ribbons of my first ever pointes!

Today, I brought my daughter to her first ever ballet class.  I watched her from the big windows and hoped that she too, would enjoy the experience of performing in front of an audience.

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This is the first class that she requested to attend.  Truthfully, she could pursue this for as long as her schedule allows and for as long as she wants.

I was on and off with my ballet program because I spent my summer with my extended relatives, and my schedule was unpredictable.  But my mom would enroll me again after the summer break because she knew I enjoyed dancing ballet.

Like my mom, I would encourage and support my daughter’s interests.

And if my daughter decides at some point that this is no longer what she wants, I will make sure that she is leaving it for all the right reasons.

IMG_7523At 3, in a preschool dance class

A Good Preschool

So what makes a good preschool program?

1.   A school with teachers that treat each student with respect, and understands and appreciates the uniqueness of each child.

IMG_0359Keeping a watchful eye while a child builds with blocks

IMG_3337Allowing the child to experiment

2.  A school whose biggest asset are the teachers because they teach with intention and purpose.  

IMG_0292Sorting Shoes according to shoe closures:  laces, velcro, zipper, elastic

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Without teacher direction, a simple flower arrangement left on the counter inspired this clay creation

3.  A school with a principal/director who knows how to manage resources–teachers, materials, facilities, and parents.  The principal has the responsibility to hire and retain teachers.

This is the very basic; the core of a good school.

Once you have a list of schools that have all these qualities, then you can look at the program.

Where do you think your child will learn more and thrive?

In a child-centered program– Play-based, Project-Based, Bank Street, Reggio Emelia?

IMG_3232Diorama of a child’s bedroom

Or a teacher-directed program?  –think elementary school program but for little children, individual desks in rows, scheduled classes in reading, writing, math

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Does your child learn best by sitting on a chair reading quietly (Look for a more structured class that offers more teacher direction),

Or does he need to be move around and be active every few minutes? (Explore schools that allow children to move freely around the classroom)

Then, take into consideration your own goals.

Do you want your child to learn another language? (You need a language immersion program)

After careful research, you should be able to find a good school with little to no compromise needed.

My advice as a parent of young children myself: provide an environment that teaches life skills.

Preschool is the perfect opportunity for children to learn how to share, negotiate, explore, question, and experiment. I discovered that the older children get, the less tolerant they are of their peers who do not know how to be a team player.

Travel to Europe

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In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, suggests that for a partner to be a true partner, he must be treated as equal and capable.

imagesFor some wives, accepting that their husbands are capable of doing things around the house is difficult.  It is just not possible to delegate traditional responsibilities.

Some mothers can’t hand over parenting responsibilities because their way is the only way!  Everything is else is just sloppy.

It comes as no surprise then that children (and husbands) become highly dependent on the mom, and expect to be waited on hand and foot.

On the other hand, there are mothers who are eager to share the domestic responsibilities, but it is their partners who refuse to take them on.  Husbands are stuck in the gender-biased role of women being solely responsible in running the household.

Fortunately, my friends and I believe that our partners are equal and capable.  And our husbands, to their credit, have shown that they are more than capable!

A month ago, my friends and I met up in Europe.   We took a week off from work, left the kids with our husbands, flew to Amsterdam with a side trip to Antwerp.

IMG_0994Rijksmuseum, Museumplein, Amsterdam.

We were celebrating our friend’s wedding and we wanted to do it in a special way.  Since we no longer live in the same city, spending a week with each other is as special as it gets.

IMG_0963From Sydney, Lyon, Los Angeles.

_DSC1445With the bride at the Conservatorium, Amsterdam. Photo by CF.

The trip lived up to my expectations—good food, exceptional accommodations, excellent museums, but most of all, remarkable company.

IMG_0896Nuance. Duffel, Antwerp.

IMG_0832Envy. Amsterdam.

Image 1Josephine’s.  Antwerp.

Decades ago in the college cafeteria, we talked about philosophy classes, boys, and school orgs over Mongolian BBQ. Now in bars, we shared stories about our children, gossiped about ex-boyfriends, and discussed food and travel, all while drinking cocktails (or mocktails depending on who you ask).

IMG_0991Sir Albert Hotel, Amsterdam.

This reunion has been a long time coming for us that aside from soaking in the beauty of the place and admiring pieces of art, we chitchatted about everything—kamote, what meat to use in kare-kare, impromptu date in Baguio, first date in Union Square, fashion, packing, paddle brush, and the list goes on.

IMG_0817Self Portrait. Van Gough Museum, Amsterdam.

IMG_0966Veal Tartar with Poached Egg.  Conservatorium, Museumplein, Amsterdam.

IMG_0821Banana Hearts.  Flower Shop,  Amsterdam.

But this lovely reunion would not have been possible if my husband, actually, all our husbands, had not agreed to take on our household responsibilities.

For that, we will always be grateful!

Taking a week off meant that my husband had to make breakfast, drive the kids to school, and make dinner.  All these while doing his regular parenting responsibilities of preparing the kids’ lunches, picking them up from school, helping them with homework.  All tacked on to his regular work.

To all my Fuimos a Amsterdam friends, hooray for sharing domestic responsibilities and supportive husbands!  Next up, a two-week European vacation with the family!

Image 2The Philippine flag. Antwerp. Photo by ILDM

Kale

I went to the Farmer’s Market today and found a wide variety of fresh produce.  I usually just buy my usual veggies:  broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, lettuce.  But today, a box of kale caught my eye.

I heard about kale and how it is supposed to be a wonder veggie, but the only time I actually bought it was from a grocery store to use for my chicken soup.  My tinola had kale instead of the usual green papaya and malunggay.

I decided to buy a bag and asked how else I could prepare it.  The stall owner, a Filipino, was surprised that I have only eaten it cooked.

I nibbled a leaf.  I liked it.  It was chewy and sweet.  The taste was definitely different from the packaged bag I picked up earlier from the grocery store.

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I haven’t eaten enough of it to know if it was because it was fresher, or because it was organic, or just because it was a different variety.  But I liked what I tasted.

Baked Kale chips are becoming popular too.  They are quite expensive in specialty stores, so I thought of getting several bunches to bake for my kids.  The verdict:  my daughter likes it, but my son doesn’t.

Nothing can be easier than preparing this nutritious snack–kale, olive oil, salt.

Kale Chips

Kale leaves
olive oil
salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove the stem from the leaf and cut leaves to about an inch to inch and a half.  

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Rinse and dry very well.  Cover a baking pan with parchment paper.  Lay the dried kale being careful not to overcrowd.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.  Bake for 10-15 minutes. 

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When the tips start to brown, remove from the oven.  Serve right away.

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Click here for the nutrition facts for a cup of uncooked kale

Meal Plans

Báon is a Tagalog word that means food, or items packed, specifically for a trip.

Ang báon ko ay tinapay. (I brought bread.)  Nag-báon ako ng maraming libro.  (I packed a lot of books.)

It can also mean monetary allowance for a trip.

Magkano ang báon mo?  (How much money did you bring?)

Báon is also the word used to refer to food packed for school.

Anong gusto mong báon bukas?   (What snack/lunch do you want to bring to school tomorrow?

I pack my children’s snacks and lunches for school.  With the invention of Thermos and ice packs, there is really no reason for me to spend extra on hot lunches or salads at school.

Palagi silang may báon. (They always bring packed food.)

IMG_0127    IMG_0027Adobo wings

Occasionally, I would pre-order lunch for them in school, especially on sushi days.  But regularly, nag ba-báon sila (they bring packed food).

My children know what to expect for their báon.  I post the menu of the week on my refrigerator door for easy reference.

It is not always easy for me to follow through with my weekly menus, but when I do, I feel I am organized and in control.  I have less food waste, I have more time to do other things, and I don’t overspend on food.

Planning our weekly menu is a family activity.  My son would go through the recipe books I have, and then he would choose several dishes.  Usually, I would be able to cook his choices.

IMG_0016Bacon quiche from a recipe book

I would then buy all the ingredients and cook a week’s worth of food for báon and dinner. I would store them in leak-proof tempered glass containers so they can easily go in the microwave or oven.

My daughter would then decide on which days the food would be served. She would help write the menu.

IMG_0113Menu for this week

Something could definitely be said when all you have to do is take a couple of containers from the fridge and dinner is served.  You have more time to spend with the children.

Thank You!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views. Considering that I started mid-year, not bad.

Click here to see the complete report.

Qualities of a Leader

My 8-year old son came to me complaining about his 6-year old sister not wanting to help clean up.  He was very upset because he has put away a lot of things, and the two things that he requested his younger sister to clean up, she wouldn’t.

I inquired if he asked his sister in a nice way.  He muttered under his breath, and then marched to talk to his sister again.

Then I heard him grunt, groan, whine, and command his sister to do what he was demanding her to do.  My daughter ignored him again.

My son stormed back to my bedroom to gripe.  This time I told him that if he wants to be followed, he needed to be a better leader.

A great leader is calm, but assertive (not aggressive). 

I suggested that he talk to her again in a calm voice (since he really did not do it the first time around), and explain why he thinks she should help clean up. (I think I threw in as an example a former teacher that he dislikes because she was, in his words, bossy.)

He went down the stairs again to face his sister, but this time he was much more calm.  I heard him say,

I think you should put these toys away because I already put everything away.  We should help each other clean the house if we want a play date.  Please put these two things back to the bedroom.

Just like a charm, the younger sister did what she was told to do.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I am just grateful that it did that time.  It was 10AM on a Saturday morning, and I really didn’t want to put my book down and get out of bed.

IMG_3919Happily doing a project together

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