Ready for Advent

We're ready for Advent! More than the Advent wreath, the Jesse tree or any other symbols associated with Advent, let us remember that Advent is above all about preparing our hearts and spirits for the coming (birth) of our Savior and His second coming.

Happy Advent!

Hair Experiments

The little boy (who's not so little anymore) is experimenting on different hair styles. There are days that I like it. There are days when I wished he'd just be okay with being bald because I like it that way --shaved and clean, easy to manage, highlights his features and generally looks good on him.

But I see he's quickly growing and learning things, picking his own clothes, making little decisions for himself. That's how it's gonna be from hereon and I know I must get used to it somehow. I can't always decide for him -- and I shouldn't anyway. He is his own boy, and a few years from now -- his own man. I miss my baby boy but I will always be proud of him and how he's using everything he's learning to effectively deal with the world around him. He negotiates, inspects, criticizes, prods, observes and carefully navigates the grown-up world, trying as best he can to make sense of everything grown-ups do.

There are times I wish he didn't grow up so fast. Or maybe he didn't really. That's just how I feel.

And someday, I know he'd have a lot to teach me too... and I will listen intently, just as he does every time he asks me about things he cannot understand or don't know. My little boy is experimenting on hair styles today. Tomorrow, it just might be the next miracle drug, unexplored territory or bold idea. I have high hopes for tomorrow because I am preparing him today as best as I can..and if only for that, I know I need not fear nor feel sad. Wherever his curiosity takes him, I will be there prodding and supporting him like I've always promised.

Nickelodeon Fright Fest 2012, SMX Mall of Asia: An Almost Frighteningly Disappointing Experience

It's already November 5 and I'm happy to report that we made it to Nickelodeon Fright Fest 2012 held at the SMX, Mall of Asia last Halloween, October 31, 2012.

I was sure I made all arrangements necessary: costumes, check; ask Mr. Marmol to file for leave of absence (October 31 is not a holiday..oops), check. Leave early (2 hours early, that is), check; bass-thumping car music, check. Gas, check.

Ah, but destiny has its own plan of dampening our Halloween spirit (or at least it tried to).

When we got to SMX, I made a phone call to the Skechers event coordinator I was referred to via the email invitation. First try: unreachable. Next try: unreachable. 20th try: unreaaaaaaaachable! O-M-G. Mr. Marmol. The kids. We drove all the way from Calamba! I'm toast!!!

Call me maybe? 

I tried talking to the bouncers (Ultimate Bouncers) and asked them if I could talk to anyone from Skechers because I was told I had to call a certain person as soon as I get there so she'd let us in but that there seems to be no signal there. But no, he says. I'd have to text or call and wait for them to fetch us by the entrance. No other way, he says. So I called all the numbers of all the Skechers people I know but they can't be reached too. OMGWTFBBQ!!!

Both kids were staring at me with that sad puppy look in their eyes and I was like oh no, I can't bear to break their hearts... :(

So I tried again. I talked to these guys with 2-way radios and asked them if anybody could go in and ask somebody from Skechers to either fetch us or text us or anything... just please help the kids get in -- all to no avail. :(

After what seemed like hours (it was a little over an hour actually), I decided we can't waste any more minute: we better go home instead or go some place else where the kids can have a little Halloween party. While walking away from the SMX Hall entrance, I got a call from Michelle of Skechers telling me not to go home and that they're sorry about any inconvenience. As it turns out, the phone I was calling got stolen the same day -- and that we we're on the "PRESS" guest list in the first place.

Michelle saved the day! Yay!


I could whine about how long we waited or that I had to talk to almost all the staff there but it's a free invite so I feel like there shouldn't be any sense of entitlement whatsoever.. But it was really a frustrating experience (at least during the first hour or so).

But as soon as we got in, we're just glad that we got there to enjoy whatever's left of the excitement. Turns out there were still a lot of booths for the kids to visit and explore. We still got our happy ending.

That was some experience indeed. Fortunately for me, I didn't wear that bloody-French-maid costume I was planning to wear, otherwise I'd be so embarrassed waiting by the door for an hour! Haha! :)

My son Emilio and niece Nini may not have been as happy as this.
Or sit smugly by the Skechers booth, which by the way was such a hit that barely a few minutes after we got in, they already ran out of free coloring books and paper hats. 
We could have gone home much, much earlier...

And not as late as this... past 7PM.
Mr. Marmol would have blamed me for another wasted work leave.

Emilio must have given me his signature oh so disappointed face.

And not this traffic-stopping post...err..pose.

Niece Nini would not have taken this photo with her beloved Winx Club.

These two kids would have been whining the whole drive back home to Calamba from  MOA.

"John Lloyd" may not have found himself lost within MOA.

And these plastic eggs... what are we ever gonna do without plastic eggs?

And oh yes, Monster High. 

We may never have found out about Petron's new line of collectible "Passion for Porsche" toy cars.

Which we bought the morning after (Cayman S).. and the afternoon after (Carrera S). Yes -- in one day.
There are 5 Porsche cars to collect so we're not even halfway there.   

They would have missed the giant inflatable slide.

And this Crispy Fry ad splashed on the big screen..

Emilio would not have reminded me of the Skechers Luminators he's been asking for since last year.

And if they missed Spongebob, Dora and the gang, it would have been a  gloomy Halloween for us all.

And did I already mention the huge inflatable slide? I did? Well, it's worth mentioning again.

Ah. And this unrequited kiss -- it would have been replaced by hair-pulling and all-day face-palming.
But yeah, we made it there. Thanks to patience, luck and Michelle of Skechers' call that ultimately cleared everything and enlightened me that we were on the media guest list in the first place. All those anxious waiting  by the SMX door and the frantic calls to a dead phone, SMX staff and guards, bouncers etc. turned out to be unnecessary had we known all along that the "PRESS" door to the left has been waiting for us. What's annoying though was that the people at the SMX lobby/information area were of NO help at all. I told them the circumstances of my being there so they could have given me the information I needed but no, they were all like, "Sorry, there aren't tickets here. Better text/call Skechers and wait for them to fetch you by the door." They could have suggested something like, "You know what, there's a guest list at the "PRESS" door, maybe you should check if you're on the list." Boy, that would have saved me a lot of pain!

Maybe next time I should just call waaay sooner. Lesson learned. Thank God that that almost frighteningly disappointing experience was averted in the "Nick of time". :)

Thank you Skechers! I'm sure you never meant for this to happen. I still love you guys. And your shoes. And Emilio still loves your Luminators. :)

Nickelodeon Fright Fest 2012 @SkechersPH

Last year, it was "Planet Scream Halloween". We had fun even if we got there waaaaay too late! :)

Poor little Io had tummy ache the whole time.

Emilio at the Skechers Booth

This year, we'd like to thank Skechers Philippines yet again for providing us with free tickets for the Nickelodeon Fright Fest happening tomorrow, October 31, 2012 (Halloween) 3PM at the SMX Convention Center (Halls 1 and 2), Seashell Lane, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.

As usual, you can all expect the same level of fun and excitement that only Nickelodeon parties can deliver. If you want to join, run to any participating Toy Kingdom branches, buy your kids a toy or any Halloween item (minimum P1000) and you'll get 2 FREE tickets (1 ticket per person) to the event! Promo is until October 31, 2012 -- the very same day of the party. So if your lovely kids don't have any other Halloween party to attend, go buy them costumes or toys and dare to take them to "a Halloween beyond compare!" :)

Emilio is ready and pumped! He's got his new cool costume and "trick-or-treat" bucket!

He hopes to fill this bucket with loads of treats!
You still have time. Grab those free tickets until tomorrow before the Nickelodeon Fright Fest Halloween Party. And oh, don't forget to drop by the Skechers booth to win prizes for your dear kiddos!

See you there! :)

Hot Pepper Update

How long has it been? Hmmm. About a month I guess when Emilio and I planted those germinated hot pepper seeds.

If you're wondering if the plant is still alive, well here it is.

I didn't realize that it's slow-growing. It does know how to take its time. I wish I was a hot pepper plant!

So I suppose we'll have to wait a little longer before we can actually use it for making spicy, delicious meals.

Little boy Io is not in the picture this time because he's out on the street playing with his street pals.

It looks like his friends have finally warmed-up to his empire-like ambitions of making paper spinners for the kids of the world.

It's taken countless weeks before they've appreciated Io's made-up toy and now they've been spending time together making paper spinners.

Good for him. He always wanted to make toys with his friends for as long as I can remember. It engages his creativity and social skills at the same time.

Good for me because that's time spent away from the TV and other screen distractions.

Until the next post.

Mom RJ

Hot Pepper Seeds

Emilio and I have been waiting for this moment ever since we bought hot pepper seeds on the supermarket last August 27.

As instructed on the packet, we germinated the seeds but did so in paper towel.

We first opened the paper towel packet on September 5 and saw the seeds starting to germinate. We waited for a few more days and just this morning saw a healthy growth so we immediately planted it.

We hope it grows super healthy. I seldom buy chili peppers in the grocery because most of them just rot. They're usually sold in packs so you can't help but buy in bulk even if you only need a few.

This time, hopefully we get to grow peppers ourselves and eat them real fresh too. :)

I'm thinking of planting more, probably herbs and spices. We don't have much space here but I do have lots of clay pots that'll do perfect for small indoor plants. That'll do wonders for me and my son I'm sure.

The Miracle of the Magic Tree House [Homeschooling A Boy's Heart, Day 2]

Today is probably the most miraculous day in all of Emilio's reading life.


I call it "The Miracle of the Magic Tree House".

You see, my little boy loved books for how they looked. That and only that. He loved going to the bookstore and dragging me to school book fairs "just because". He was always asking me to buy this and that book but he never seems to get around reading it.

He looks at piles of books with such delight in the same way he watches cartoon characters make silly faces and crack ROTFL jokes.

But NEVER has he read one particular book with such gusto and interest as he did with this Magic Tree House Book #1 "Dinosaurs Before Dark".

As a mother who is elated with the mere scent of books, I've tried very hard to make him love books the way I do. I bought him LaMaze books made of cloth when he was a baby, a book made of plastic -- for reading in the tub or shower, comic books, kiddie magazines and Disney books but I've always felt like he just couldn't take on a love for reading.

So as much as I'm disappointed that we didn't get to finish our target lessons for the day, I am comforted by the fact that I have seen with my own eyes how this little boy has grown from a "book liker" to a "book reader".

All those little efforts (and brainwashing) and frequent trips to the bookstore paid off after all.

Today is also proof of the many blessings of homeschooling. When he picked up that book, we were about to discuss his Math lessons. He asked if he could read a few pages for a while and ended up being lost with Jack and Annie.

In regular school, diversions are shunned. You can't just drift away in a fantasy world while you're in school. You have to go with the flow, with the rest of the class. All imaginary pursuits must be shelved until you get home. But in a homeschool setting, the child leads the way. As teacher/mom, you follow their lead and discern when to divert them back to the pending desk work.

I was initially torn between asking him to stop reading (to finish his desk work first) and going with the flow of his interest at that moment.

But the love of reading breeds knowledge learned passively, I thought to myself. So I decided to let him read for as long as he wanted. And after a few minutes, he's done.

He approached me soon after, smiling proudly and announcing, "Look Mama, I've finished the book in one day!"

Yes he did. And in minutes, actually.

I am so happy and very proud of him. I had been working on improving his attention span and patience and I feel like this is a move closer in that direction.

We'll go back to "class mode" until early afternoon. I plan to take him on a bookstore trip later today and get him The Magic Tree Series, Book#2: The Knight At Dawn".

Challenging and exciting times ahead.

Happy homeschooling! :)


Many thanks to Tita Ninang Jasmin for giving Emilio his first Magic Tree Series book. :)

Qik - The Solar System: According to Emilio by Emilio Marmol

Qik - Hello Teacher Io: Multiplication Involving 3 Digit Multiplier by Emilio Marmol

No Small Fry [Homeschooling A Boy's Heart, Day 0.5]

"Good morning Mama! Thank you God because I'm still alive. From now on, my mantra is: To have a good attitude -- every time, everywhere to everyone."

And that's how I know that my son is awake. I'd smile and say "Good morning, son." He smiles back as he rubs his eyes. He slept late last night -- as he did almost all summer. It's past 8 in the morning -- not exactly as early as I would have wanted him to rise and shine on a "homeschool day".

But I don't sweat the small stuff. Tomorrow's another day. My goal is to be "in the now" for my son. And the "now" asks me to be a little tolerant. He is, after all transitioning from a long summer break back to the routine of school -- albeit a more flexible schedule provided by homeschool.

I remind him that he's late for school and that starting tonight, he must be in bed by 9PM. My son is a night person. But knowing that work in the "real world" begins in the morning I had to emphasize that he must learn to respect other people's time by being on time for appointments and commitments.

He stares at the wall for what seems like minutes and I knew right then that his mind is still asleep. I "wake" him up and send him to the bathroom for his shower. That should shake off all feelings of sleepiness.

I printed the "Parts of An Ant" document and reminded him of his unfinished goal yesterday. He is happy.

"Mama, can you do the experiment with me?", he says.

I nod and say, "Of course."

He donned on his old shorts and shirt from his former regular school. Eats breakfast and as if with a press of a button, he was ready for school.

He preps his materials and occasionally asks me for help with "grown-up things".

Today, he is into Myrmecology -- study of ants. If I had it my way, I would have read and lectured to him about today's curriculum-dictated lesson, given him drills, reinforced his acquired knowledge and tested him with more drills.

But not today.

Today, I follow his heart. His lessons can wait one more day. His heart cannot. And after about 30mins or so, he's done with his experiment. He enthusiastically announces that he has found the answer he needed.

And we move on to other things.

The truth is, it took us more time to prepare the materials than it did him to finish his experiment.

But this is my job, to follow his lead and give him what he needs. He is happy. He has learned something new. I have learned something new as well -- and happy does not even begin to describe it.

"Mama, you know I think there are some people out there (not all the people, just some) who think that learning about ants or making experiments about ants is lame. But I don't think so. Ants are great creatures. They are smart and strong and they always help each other. I think they even talk to each other all the time." He proudly says.

I say, "Yeah, you're right son."

I would have said more, like "Yeah, some people 'belittle' ants." Or some profound idea relating to respect. But he's said it all. Ants are no small fry. And so are little boys. :)

He started his experiment seeking an answer to one question "What do ants use to bite?" He got his answer. That and more.

Thank you God -- because I'm still alive, and for giving me a little boy with a big heart.

"Science Experiment" form downloaded from

Homeschooling A Boy's Heart [Day 0]

Wow. It feels like forever since I last organically wrote on this blog. And something in me says that it must be close to forever indeed.

Today I resurrect this blog to chronicle a new phase in my family life as I make a leap into the unknown (even probably unthinkable to some) -- the world of homeschooling.

Instead of making a new blog for homeschooling, I decided to document our journey here since homeschooling is without a doubt, a family affair. And this blog remains to be my personal blog so it seems fitting that I share my experiences here.

So today is Day Zero of homeschooling in our household because this is the day we unpacked our books and curriculum lesson plans.

We will be officially (doing desk work) homeschooling next week, starting June 12 (Tuesday) because our family will be flying to Marinduque for the weekend for some R&R with my in-laws. We *might* go back to Marinduque by the third week because my son Emilio has a wedding to attend. :)

BUT, I have been independently homeschooling "Io" ( Emilio's nickname, pronounced as ee-yoh) the entire summer so it's not such a drastic change of schedule for both of us.

I have chosen to homeschool using the CFA (Catholic Filipino Academy) curriculum since my primary goal or homeschooling Io (apart from building a strong foundation with Math, Grammar and Logic) is to develop his character and mold him into a God-fearing man with a love for lifelong learning and ultimately find and follow his bliss.

Someday soon that day will come. But for now, I can only promise to do my best to help him every step of the way. Yes, he will learn from me but I will learn from him as well. After all, young or old, parent or child, we are all in the process of learning.

May God give me strength, wisdom, patience and courage to homeschool my little boy's heart.