Sunday, December 27, 2009

My son, Jaime Palacio, 2050 Nobel Prize Winner for his research on biodiversity

Thought I'd share what I wrote about my son last December 2008. Although, in the recent weeks, when asked what he wants to do when he grows up, his answer is, : "I'm going to study physics and I will build a time machine when I grow up." :) Pursue your dreams, my amazing and brilliant boy.

Jaime Palacio has always been nature smart. His sense of wonder, excitement, and pride is apparent whenever he brings home a collection of flowers, branches, leaves, rocks, or even bugs. His passion for animals is evident in the various pets he has had and wants to have. His toy animals number to almost 200, he knows the different names and characteristics of dinosaurs, and he avidly watches animal videos from National Geographic and Discovery Channel. He even has a few theories of his own regarding dinosaurs. His interest has now furthered into the earth itself, asking about volcanoes and asteroids.

Presently, Jaime is fascinated with insects. He has already brought home centipedes, lady bugs, dragonflies, and spiders. But two of his favorites were a butterfly with a torn wing and a big black beetle. He cared for the butterfly one afternoon, then let it go in a field where he said, “It can hide and get better.” The beetle even went with Jaime to school. He wondered about what it eats and gave it bread plus cotton soaked in water to drink. Later, he added leaves, branches, and toy animals so it can play. He was excited when a lettuce leaf had holes the next day. It was still active when he sadly set it free.

Being very articulate, Jaime excitedly narrates how dinosaurs became extinct. He talks intensely about mammoth hunters and what they did to the poor woolly mammoths. Once, we watched a documentary about elephants and how in the process of bringing them to a conservation area in Africa, mother elephants were killed because they were too big to transport. Jaime’s eyes brimmed with tears as he empathized with the young elephants and expressed anger at what was done.

Jaime is fortunate to be in a school that encourages his questions and interests. His teachers attentively listen and let him express his creativity and imagination in various ways. While most children use wooden blocks to build towers, Jaime also uses them to make dinosaurs. He cuts paper and tapes them together to create dinosaurs, making sure it looks as 3-dimensional as possible. He has carefully sorted red aquarium stones in a container and shaken them vigorously to enact a volcanic eruption.

Jaime’s curiosity and ideas are supported in preschool while ensuring he learns essential concepts and develops necessary skills. He is having fun while learning and is thus eager to learn more. The goal of education should not merely be to fill our children's brains with facts, figures, and drills, but to encourage children to have and to express wonderful thoughts because it is with new ideas that our world advances and progresses. A good education will help form children into creative thinkers, as well as eager and independent learners who have the confidence to share and test their ideas. Gaining these qualities in school will lead to a bright future for Jaime because he would have what one needs to excel… a strong belief in himself, perseverance to pursue his dreams, and a desire to make a difference.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


It’s 3am and I am very wide awake. I was in bed for 2 hours trying to sleep, and failed. My mind is so active, just won’t stop thinking. While lying in the dark, I have gone through the changes I will do on my thesis, noted errands I have to run tomorrow and the many things I have to do at work, listed teacher training workshops I’d like to do before the schoolyear ends, came up with a new business venture that will generate big bucks should I really want to pursue it, thought of possible summer get-away destinations with the family this March, pondered on the fact that my sons are growing up so fast, yet I am so busy I hardly have time with them during the day,... and still my mind continues to move on to other thoughts and ideas.

I thought of various ways that might help me to sleep. Counting sheep? Too boring. Watching video? That was almost working until my Zen ran out of battery. Drinking warm milk or tea? I’m a scaredy-cat, don’t want to go downstairs in the middle of the night. Nudging the hubby to wakefulness bliss? No, that would wake me up more.

I finally got up and opened the computer thinking maybe surfing the net will make me sleepy. No, it didn’t, and I got bored soon enough, so I decided to write and hope this helps. Maybe after I list down the things that were going through my mind, it’ll decide to take a break. Here goes:

Thesis: rewrite, thesis questions and hypothesis, statistical plan

Errands: banners, Dr. Pineda, new babies class, Saturday enrollees and Saturday curriculum, summer classes, new fees, school memento, family day,

Workshops: intentional teacher-literacy, activities for free choice, story-telling and beyond,

Business venture: i’m not ready to share that with you just yet

Summer destinations: Boracay, Cebu-Shangri-La, Bohol, Mango picking in Zambales, Baguio

My boys: perhaps we can spend quality time at lunchtime before they go home.. visit the toy store, lunch out which we did today :), pass by the pixie forest amusement center, play bowling, get ice cream, ride the choo-choo train.

Well, now I’m at least yawning. I’m gonna lie down now and hope I will still wake up energized after only two and a half hours of sleep.

How about you? What's on your mind when you lie awake at night? And how are you able to fall asleep? Sweet dreams! :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lazy Days?

I have been very lazy these past two months. Just doing what needs to get done and nothing more, which isn’t like me at all. But I’m really having a difficult time shaking off this lazy bug, particularly when it comes to working on my thesis paper. Without this bug on me on a really good inspiring day, I can get it done in a couple of days. However, without a deadline to jump start me, I have not even added a sentence to what I worked on last semester. This is the drawback of being a crammer, I cannot work on something until I’m nearing the deadline no matter how I try. Even if I work on it early, the outcome won’t be as good when I am doing it in a rush.

Perhaps it’s because I have two half days off now during the week. I seemed to get more things done when I was cramming several different activities and concerns into my tight full schedule. Well, I’m doing my cooking class every other week now, though I still haven’t gotten around to enrolling for guitar lessons.

Anyway, what have I been doing during those lazy days? Sometimes, I become a couch potato and am content to watch a whole season of a favorite TV show for the 3rd or even 4th time, or even if I can’t find a decent channel on cable to watch, I just continue surfing and end up watching B movies just because I have no interest in getting up and doing something else. I guess other days are not so lazy days after all, because I still find time to bake dark chocolate cakes and brownies for my 3 boys, or I try out a new recipe learned in class. When the weather is nice, we go for a swim in the pool or just walk around the park and hang out by the sand box or the playground. And when we are inspired and are able to find the right materials, we come up with fun ideas to do with simple boxes. The four of us (my husband, 2 sons and I) spent time building and creating a fun robot costume and our own rideable Thomas the tank engine box train.

Hmmmn, now that I list down stuff I’ve done this past 2 months, I realize I have not been lazy after all, except with my thesis. I have actually been spending a lot of quality time with my family. We’ve gone to see the dinosaur exhibit at The Fort. We have barbecues at the clubhouse with friends. We fixed up the kids toyroom to make it more fun. We have relatives over to spend weekends with us. I even brought the kids to Highlands to visit the animal farm and ride the cable car. I guess I have not been very lazy at all, and I think it took writing this blog for me to realize that. They are not lazy days, just relaxed and easy days. I guess I’m not used to that because I was always rushing and often had a million things to do.

When I began this blog earlier, I felt heavy and truly thought the last 2 months has amounted to nothing. Now, I’m happy again. Writing has helped to put things in the right perspective. My kids are getting older and I am just enjoying spending time with them. Also, my school is running smoothly and my partner Thumby is truly back with us at toddlers, so it doesn’t require much of my time anymore. So, it just took writing to shake off the lazy thought and feeling. Hopefully, this perkiness I suddenly recognize again in me will include working on my research paper J

So when you think nothing is working right in your world, or you feel that you are at the bottom of the pit, it might help to make a list of all the things that are working well in your life and you’ll find that you have a lot to be thankful for, or in my case I thought I hadn’t done anything of much value in the last two months, and I find I am mistaken. Sometimes, it’s good to take stock of what you have, to help put your world in balance again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

ME Day

Do you ever have a ME day? It’s a day that you spend doing things just for yourself. Doing grocery, errands to the bank or for something you need at home or at work, or anything of the sort are not included. I guess for some, it’s the day they go to the spa or to have their nails done, or go to the gym. I haven’t really had a ME day for a long long time. I guess being married, it gets that way most of the time. With the many demands to take care of (husband, children, household, work, etc.), we hardly have time to do anything else. For most working moms, we can steal away for a couple of hours to go to the salon or the gym but then, right after there’s a million other things we need to do.

Ten years ago, when I was still single and had no steady boyfriend, just the occasional weekend date :) , I would excitedly plan out my ME day or night way in advance. Sometimes, it would be as simple as going to the video store, renting out videos to watch and vege on the couch or bed the whole day, while making sure the maid prepares my favorite lunch, dinner, and snacks. On some nights, my friends and I will go out to try a new restaurant or bar for dinner or drinks. On those days when I had the extra cash, my very good friend Pat and I would head off to Puerto Galera for a weekend at the beach. There, we go on long walks, or just sit by the side of the hut to drink mango shakes, have those really oily massages by the sea, or just watch the sun set as we share stories with each other. That was so much fun and we would go home refreshed and rejuvenated. I think what I enjoyed about it the most was the fact that my time was really just mine then. There were no kids or husband waiting at home, and so there was none of the guilty feeling I sometimes get when I have to leave the kids with the yayas.

But I think whether we are single or married, each person should have sometime that they can just allot for himself or herself. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, perhaps a few hours will do. This time is meant to reward us for all the other duties and responsibilities we undertake. A time for us to do the things we want just for ourselves to put us back in equilibrium. It helps to balance us out because since we have given time for our self, we are ready and more willingly to do all other things for others. It makes us happier people, and helps to invigorate and recharge our sometimes worn down self.

So in the next few months, I have already scheduled my ME times. Since I have just discovered the joys of cooking and baking, I will be joining the home cooking class at Narra Club every other Tuesday. It is being taught by Ms. Anna Park who makes the class very interesting, and her cooking is great, too. Then, I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar, even if it’s only to play Raffi’s songs and other preschool rhymes and favorites. So, next in line for me is to buy a guitar and have guitar lessons (Even if my husband doesn’t like seeing a girl play the guitar. What’s that about anyway?). An hour once or twice a week will do. Maybe I can even schedule that during lunch break. And lastly, I will make sure to reconnect with a friend at least every other month, for lunch, merienda, or whatever. Those who know me, know that my schedule is so busy that it’s really difficult to squeeze some moments for myself. I can always find time for things I have to do for others, but I always put off the ones for me. But I’m getting tired of my work and home and grad school schedule. I need a little break, and I just have to tell myself that I deserve this little time for myself and stay committed to it as well. For some, my Me times might seem so lame, but hey, this is what I want to do with the few precious hours I can find just for myself. How about you? How would you spend your ME time?

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Gift ... A Magical Way With Children

Tonight I really do feel my age. I joined the toddlers class today because one of the teachers was sick. As school director, I still go in the classrooms to work with the children and check on the classes. Today, however, I actually stayed and played with the children almost the whole class time. I had a really good time too, and it has reinforced again what I've known for almost 20 years ... that this is where I belong. I've always had a way with children that's something short of magical. Children have always gravitated towards me, whether in class, in a restaurant, in church, or just walking around. I just look into their eyes and we connect, even when we've just met for the very first time. Without much effort, I can charm them into feeling secure with me and in the classroom, and we would go on to have a wonderful time learning and playing together.

In the Jumping Joeys Class today, I approached two children who refused to share with each other and was shoving and pushing each other away. A minute later, these two 2-year-old children, Sachi and Lawrence, were helping each other to build a structure using magnetic blocks. Every so often, the two would still end up holding the same block and have a tug-of-war because of it. But with a few guiding words and a quick intervention so they don't hit each other, Sachi and Lawrence and I had a great time working and laughing together. Once in a while, their other classmates would join us because their laughter was infectious and sounds like so much fun. Next was art, which Lawrence refused to join as he held on to a book about shapes in the reading area. With a little cajoling, and suggestion that we make the shapes in the book using the playdough, Lawrence willingly went to the art table, where he made balls and flat cakes that were just like the shapes on the book he had. At Circle Time, I said a few words to Lawrence about sitting down and helping Sachi to sit as well, then put his hand to touch Sachi gently. Actually, Sachi has no problem with sitting down. She loves Circle and enjoys singing and doing the actions. It is really Lawrence who is finding it hard to sit for Circle, but the idea that he is helping another child to sit gave him some responsibility and a sense of caring for his friend, and helped him to stay for the duration of Circle. They sat together again during snack time. I tried and tried to feed Lawrence his noodles, to no avail. I stood up to check on something and when I returned, the teachers informed me that Lawrence ate the noodles when Sachi fed it to him with his spoon. :) Today this two children became friends, and I helped do that. It gives me a wonderful feeling inside. I joined the class in the romp area until they said goodbye.

I was so tired though after class. I thought to myself, " I don't remember 2 year olds being as heavy as them 5 years ago. Is it age that made me want to just lie down after, and have a good massage? My mind is willing to do many other things, but my body is not. I'm getting older. The aches and pains I feel tonight makes me realize that though my brain is still very much in tip top shape, I have to take care of my body more. I have to be conscious of eating the right food and getting the proper exercise if I want to live to see my grandchildren.

But for now, I really do need to rest and get a good night's sleep. I had a great time again today in the classroom, and working with children is what I am meant to do. What a blessed gift, and and I am thankful that I have been led to where I am now, the perfect place for me, in my own school.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grilled Salmon: A favorite dish in our home

I am fortunate to have a husband who will eat almost anything that is served to him without complaint. I only started cooking after we got married, and he has encouraged me to experiment and try new recipes, not with praises though because that is just not him. He, however, usually eats just a small portion for dinner, but when I cook for him, he would end up getting a second or even third serving. When I ask him if he likes the food, he answers with, "Hindi masarap! (It's not delicious!)" with a smile on his face, and I know I just aced another recipe.

One favorite dish in our home is grilled salmon with a special citrusy marinade. Even our two young boys, aged 2 and 4, love it so much that it's something I usually prepare once a week. We just had it Tuesday night and my husband wanted it again tonight. It was too late when I remembered to take a photo so I will just add a picture when I cook it again next week.

To make the marinade, you will need the following ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange rind
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon rind
1 tsp lime juice or calamansi
1 tsp honey
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1Tbsp kikkoman soy sauce
1 grated white onion
3 drops tabasco sauce (optional)
1tsp vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients and marinade your salmon for 30 minutes. Grill the salmon for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side depending on the salmon's thickness. Do not overcook because it will be dry. Baste with marinade as you grill. I cook the leftover marinade by bringing it to a boil in a pan then simmering for a few minutes to use as a side sauce. Another sauce can be made from mayonnaise, minced garlic and a few drops of lemon juice.

Keep in mind that I don't normally measure when I cook and the above are estimates, so taste it as you go along and add according to your liking. I prefer it on the sweet side, so I use more orange juice, but if you like it more lemony then feel free to add more lemon juice. Please try the recipe above and let me know if you liked it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Crammed For Event

I am such a crammer. I don't like it but I also cannot help it. Not sure why, but even when I do plan ahead and start things way ahead of time, I always seem to end up in a panic rush. However, it is in those last few hours, minutes and moments before the deadline that I am at my best. My mind and body seem to work triple overtime to bring me to my intellectual and creative peak. I think the rush of adrenalin helps me to retain concepts and pictures in my head or to immediately come up with wonderful ideas. This has helped me a lot when i needed to take exams in school and my comprehensive exams for grad school. A couple of days of cramming for the teachers licensure exam even landed me a spot for 4th highest! Lucky me, studying just before a test works best for me. I get better grades when I cram than when I study way ahead of time. I don't recommend others to be this way though. It can be quite stressful and harassing.

Now why am I talking about this? I had to cram again for my son's 2nd birthday party. Sheesh! And I thought I would be all ready days in advance. But as I said, just before an event, my mind always comes up with ideas that I just cannot pass up. So I had planned on a Thomas the Tank Engine Party for my son Paris because it's his favorite. Thomas loot bags were bought a month in advance, as well as little Thomas towels. We bought Thomas gummy candies and pencils and stamps in the Thomas store in HongKong also. I found some Thomas coloring books and pencil cases in Divisoria too. My husband Armand, finished the invitation with Thomas and Paris on it 2 weeks before the party, but being me, I was only able to email it days before the party. My mom helped plan the menu so that made it easier. I was only inviting family and a few friends, making up about 12 kids and 40 adults in all. So I had the loot bag, the menu planned and food assignments made, a few games prepared, Thomas table mat, Thomas paper plates and Thomas napkins were ready. Monday before the Sunday party, I felt there was something I was forgetting but couldn't think what. Tuesday passed then Wednesday, and oh my goodness! I totally forgot about his birthday cake! Of course, the lady who have previously made my sons birthday cake is already fully booked. Another said she can't make the cake because the rain won't dry the Thomas icing. A last desperate call to Marta's cakes 2 days before the party brings good news. They can make me a Thomas cake and cupcakes with Thomas and Friends that's within my budget. Day before the party, I realize my son doesn't have anything new to wear for his party, so off to Gingersnaps for an affordable cute polo shirt at 6pm. Right across is Fun Stuff where I decide to get a Thomas and Friends balloon. Looking at the trains on the balloon gives me an idea for a fun train making activity for the kids during the party. So at 9pm, my mom, my sister and her boyfriend who have come to help, and I are busy tracing circles and other shapes and cutting them for the pasting activity. Just before nodding off at a little past 12midnight, I come up with a question and answer activity involving the Thomas and Friends trains and remind myself to prepare it early the next morning since our party was to start at 10:30am.

Day of the party, we wake up at 6:30am and start cooking and preparing the dishes. I made salsa for chips to eat before lunch, and an apple, potato and walnut salad. My mom cooked the pasta and steamed fish. The other dishes just needed to be bought or heated. In between slicing and getting the ingredients together, I was collecting Paris' trains, tracks, and other Thomas toys that I was going to set up for the children to play with while waiting for everyone to arrive. Of course, even though I was doing my best to rush and move, we still end up being 10minutes late at our own party. Good thing my whole family are late comers. Armand's family though are always early, at least 30 minutes early most often than not. So they were there ahead of us(party was in Toddlers Unlimited Alabang) , and also Teacher Julie who made the yummy chicken lollipops for us. To make a long story short, I still was not fully ready when the guests began to arrive. The party was a success, however. The children all enjoyed the train pasting activity, and they were the ones answering during the "who's the train" game. The food was great, and the cake was delicious. Paris was happy and very tired after. Another successfully crammed for event.

But that's me. I do try my best not to cram or be late. I know it annoys my husband so bad when he sees me rushing, but I cannot seem to help it. There's just always something I think of to do at the last moment. Will I be able to change? What do you think?