Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer 2012 in Retrospect

Summer 2012 is about to end and I would say it was one fruitful and enriching experience for the family.

For Sophie, her swimming classes ended last Monday and I'm happy that she can already swim a good 7-10 strokes one her own before getting some air. I'm so proud how she already knows how to handle herself in the water. Although they're so tan right now (Sam tagged along all the time:) ) and will probably take a while before their original colors return, I still plan on continuing Sophie's swim classes. Maybe in an indoor pool this time.

As for summer school, Sam and Sophie attended their Moving Up activity a couple of weeks ago. Hubby and I were there, of course, to witness their presentations. Reading Readiness class where Sophie was enrolled presented a mini play from the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Sophie was the reader (with some help from teacher) while her classmates acted out the story. Yay! The little girl can read. This little wonder always amazes me :)

For Sam, his class presented song and dance number and the little boy having a mind of his own, concocted his own dance moves, ala, Showtime. LOL! Anyway, as their teacher said before the presentation started - it's not the product but the process so don't get disappointed when we see the kids not performing. Disappointed I was not! It was so much fun to watch a bunch of toddlers do their own interpretation of the song :)

Being a recognition day, the toddlers were given awards for the skills and strengths they exhibited the entire summer class. Guess what the little boy got? CHILD LEADER!

During teacher Meg's intro of my son, I captured the phrases 'commander-in-chief of the class', 'his word is the law', he always tell his classmates to be quiet/sit down or behave.' All other things that she said were drowned by kids' scream, overpowering background music and parents' chat but I think we got the point.

We are proud of the little boy, no doubt about it. There is just one 'what if' that worries me.

 What if he gets too bossy to the point of bullying? Like this one time when he bit one of his classmates for not behaving and running around the classroom. The teachers had a hard time pacifying our Sam because he was really agitated. When asked why he bit his classmate, all he ever answered was 'hindi siya behave.' I further learned from the teachers that Sam kept telling his classmate to sit down but the latter won't hear of it.

I had to talk to him everyday for a week that it's never nice to hurt other people and that when he thinks someone is misbehaving tell teacher or someone older about it. Not to put matters into his own hands. All I ever got in response was, 'hindi siya behave.' That's little Mr. defiant talking. According to parenting mags and sites, it is always best to talk to the child with calmness and a lot of understanding and that's what I have doing for weeks now.

 Good thing that parents of the kid didn't call for us because they understood that kids sometimes do that but according to the teachers, the grandparents reacted negatively to the incident. Lolo and lolas being what they are were defensive of their dearly apo. How do you deal with a case like this? It's soooo scaarrry!

Summer 2012 was a different kind of learning experience for both kulitogs and me as well. My, we were busier this summer than last school year. Plus the discoveries we had along the journey were truly noteworthy and substantial in our growth as a family.

my late post for Mommy Moments:

mommy moments

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel: Our Ilocos Trip Part 3

The last leg of our Ilocos trip was the trip to Pagudpod. This is a good 3 hours drive from Vigan, Ilocos Sur but it took us about 5 hours because we checked out other heritage sites along the way :) We left our Vigan hotel at exactly 7am and got to Jun and Carol resort by lunchtime. 

Before you browse through my picture loaded last post of Ilocos, let me share this cute photo of Uno Grill's wash area. The water comes out of the poso or water pump. Quite an effort to wash your hands but so cute I just had to try it. 

 Our first stop was Paoay Church. The moment I got a glimpse of the majestic church, I was totally awestruck! The interior didn't say much but the architectural design of the exterior was amazing. Visiting this place, I felt surreal.

The Bangui Windmills or officially known as NorthWind Bangui Bay Project. The wind turbine project was an effort of the local government to address their poor electricity problem. Reminds me of an quote from JFK's speech : 'Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.' 
Travel with friends, More fun in the Philippines :) 
Finally, we got to Pagudpod! Yay! After a hefty lunch and little rest, we headed off to the beach. The white sand and clear blue water, just irresistible. The kids can't get enough of sand play. Good thing I brought along lots of beach toys and gadgets which I think ate a quarter of our trunk space. 
Travel and kids = loads of baggage. 

with the whole family :)
trying out the landscape setting of our new Samsung cam. The WIFI feature I ♥ 'coz I can immediately upload pics on my FB, email or Picasa accounts :)
the strong waves scared the kids that they opted to play with the sand instead. 
the little dalaga and mommy
yep, he's buhangin!

photo art

our sand art
Sophie got a butterfly henna tattoo (P100). She was bragging about this to friends and family
for weeks
One Sunday, we were Manila bound. We stopped by the Cape Bojeador Light HouseIlocos Norte. You'll never miss this lighthouse when you're in Ilocos Norte. It seems to stare down at every traveler, unassuming. 

the kulitogs shouting Ilocos!!!

 We decided to stop by Vigan again to buy longganisa, bagnet and more pasalubong. Look how much the streets cleared by Sunday? :)

The trip to Manila took us a whopping 19 something hours including stops for meal and lotsa lotsa road construction! I was totally amazed at how my husband survived driving that long. 
The trip to Ilocos Sur and Norte was one cultural experience for the family. I'm definitely going back here in the (not so near) future but probably take the plane next time. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Activities For The Kulitogs*

As summer started, I’m glad Sophie can finally rest: sleep, eat and play all day with Sam and her playmates. Or so I thought.

By week 2 of summer break, Sophie’s already complaining that there’s nothing much to do in the house and she missed school. Thus, the hunt for summer classes began.

On Hobby and Sports:
Sophie wanted ballet so we went to Center for Music and Movement in Don Antonio Unfortunately, the classes clashed with our work schedules and since they don’t offer school service, sad but I had to forgo. Also, something my mom said to me that made me considered other hobbies for the kids - to instead find them a sport or hobby that will be more useful for her in the long run. Ballet is a beautiful artform but it can become a summer fling unless your child really aims to become a ballerina by profession.

With that, the little girl and I had a heart to heart talk and we agreed on swimming classes instead. Knowing how to swim is life-saving for any individual and both kulitogs love the water so this maybe the perfect class for them. Luckily, swimming classes are being offered in BF Homes QC clubhouse and they have weekend classes. Yay! What more can we ask for? J

Sophie being taught how to blow bubble underwater
On Summer School:
We also enrolled Sophie in Reading Readiness 2 class which was held Tuesdays and Thursdays because we want her to develop her reading skills and, uhm, because little brother is in school too. Since they’re inseparable most times, might as well get them both in summer school.

Sam and his Thomas bag so ready for school! Ate Sophie came with her on his first day in school
Yup, the little boy was inArts and Crafts class and he enjoyed every moment of it. I enrolled him in this class to get him more acquainted with paint brushes, pencils and develop his fine motor skills. This is one thing that I found needed improvement in him and it really did! Now he can already draw a face with different emotions, a  tree a cat and a house. He can also write more letters J

The tired looking student after class? Nope, he had the energy to play in the sandbox every after class :)
Another reason why I enrolled him in this class is that he loves to baking and mixing things and always wants to help mommy in the kitchen. The class enhanced that side of him. He may become a famous chef, we’ll never know.

Summer is definitely fun for the kids and us (although busier than we thought). We’re happy that they’re not spending their time being idle and that they got to meet new friends. Sam was so eager to take a bath in the morning because he’s excited to go to school. He even insists on putting on his socks and shoes all by himself.

I'll post how the summer classes went soon :)

*kulitogs - the collective term we use for our kids :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Travel: More of Our Ilocos Trip (P2)

Here are more of what we did in Ilocos Sur during our 3-day stay.

Took more family photos

Lunch with the gang at Cafe Uno
  Visited the town central and did more Visita Iglesia  or church visit
Vigan Church on a Good Friday
amazing challenge for hubby: take a picture of the three martyr priests GOMBURZA. I think he got the BURZA, can't locate Padre Gomez.
Even McDo store had to blend in          

Checked out more Vigan furniture shops. My goal was to buy something for the house and I must say, I was happy with my loot :) Bought a salt jar made of clay (P100) and wooden salad bowl (P100) from the pottery area, a telephone stand (P850) and jewelry case (250) from Crisologo St. We bought the telephone stand in a store beside Cafe Uno. It's located a little off the main Crisologo St. but a lot cheaper than in the the other shops in the main tourist street. The salt jar's claim to fame is that the salt will never moist and so far so good. 

I just want to bring home everything from this shop.
assorted buys for every tourist, from bags to furniture, delicacies to statues

More photo opt
Taken by our little photographer

Daddy and daughter cooled off with dirty ice cream
at Grandpa's Inn while waiting for our table to be ready
Sophie using a Canon Rebel SLR. Yep, still can't let go of my film-based camera

This picture seem to say: "Miss, tabi ka dyan, baka masinghot kita!"

Baluarte's lovely peacock showed off for guests

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Ilocos Trip Part 1

It all started with the hunt for the best empanada ever made. Hubby and I have this recent addiction to Vigan empanada and everytime we come across an empanada store here in Manila, we make sure we try their empanada. Finally, we just decided, why not go to where this delicacy originated, Ilocos! And so we called in the gang (from way back college) and the trip to northern tip of the country commenced. 
When going to a place as far as this (it's a 10-12 hours trip by car and 8 -10 hours by bus), parents needs to be prepared thoroughly or else, lagot! It would also help that kids were prepped for a long-trip. Since my kids are used to yearly Baguio trips they basically know what to expect from a long trip and this is by far the longest trip we had.

For the itinerary, we got some help from friends who've been to the place and the ever reliable www. I started research as early as October 2011 on the most budget-friendly and decent hotel in Vigan especially since our trip fell on Holy Week, super peak season with super peak prices. Just a sample: the price of t-shirt in Crologo St. was P150 on Holy Thursday but dropped to P90-100 on Easter Sunday. The crowd also dropped to almost 50% come Sunday, all homeward bound probably. 

Anyhoo, we decided to book our 4D/3N stay in The Vigan Hotel. According to travel blogs, this is the most decent place for it's price. It's P1695 per night for a deluxe room. It was actually too big even for a party of 4 adults and 2 kids. The hotel is an old mansion-turned-hotel and although it's quite rustic and the amenities are not much, the owner Oscar Villanueva and staff were very accommodating and friendly. There's no resto in the hotel during daytime so apart from our package-inclusive daily breakfast , all our meals were taken outside the hotel. That I don't mind at all, there are so many diners and restos in Vigan that you will fall in love with. Cafe Leona and Cafe Uno just to name a few. 

What comes next is a very photo heavy documentation of our Vigan trip. I'll post our Pagudpod trip next time. 

first purchase of the day - hats! (P100 each). Sam is wearing Sophie's shirt by the way... Yaya, anon' nanyare?

In front of the Vigan Plaza Hotel. Take note, there's The Vigan Hotel, My Vigan Hotel and this  high end Vigan Plaza Hotel so double check where you book your accommodation.
the start and end of the Ilocos trip, Empanada!
You can go around Vigan town in these calesas. They charge P150/hour and can bring you to the tourist  spots in town with a little history: churches, museums, pottery lessons, etc.

By end of our 3-hour trip, we got around:

The Bantay church and belltower. Nuestra SeƱora dela Caridad or Bantay church was built in the 1500s. Pretty cool eh?

the church getting ready for the evening procession
The mansion of the chinese-descent Syquia clan. The architectural design of the mansions from the Spanish era really amazed me. I love how one room connects to one or two more rooms in the house and that there are several secret doors and peep holes for security purposes. This wide veranda has entryway to the kitchen and receiving areas.

The receiving area. There's a peephole under the seat so a housekeeper would see who came to visit. The visitor, once given go signal to enter the house, can be seen by the master of the house through another peephole in his room. Taray di ba?

Crisologo Museum
the book lover in me just had to look into the titles of family's library
never got to ask how this was used...
Bingbong Crisologo's bedroom

We decided to end the kalesa trip by lunchtime. had lunch at Cafe Uno which became the gang's fave resto so we never got tired of coming back for dinner and lunch and dinner and coffee :)
After lunch, we all rested in the hotel because the summer heat was just excruciating and not good for the kids. By early afternoon, the gang decided to check out Baluarte ni Singson. Good thing we didn't take the kalesa going there. We got there by car instead and it took us about 20-30 minutes. Imagine how long that will take with the kalesa at P150/hour rate?

Baluarte ni Singson housed tigers, gorgeous peacocks, ostrich and other animals. A tour to the Baluarte is free. 

I love how this giant (stone) creature seem to bow to the moon

Sophie feeling a little uneasy with masungit ostrich at the back but Sam enjoyed seeing all the animals around

you can ride the mini calesas for a voluntary fee.  Note: petting the animals behind the fence is not allowed because ostrich and other animals may just run amok but people were just that stubborn.
Another to-visit place is the Hidden Garden. If you're coming from Vigan town it's on the same route as Baluarte. I say it's the Ilocos' version of Tagaytay's Sonia's Garden. Make sure to visit early because the place closes at 6pm. I like the place, bought some plants and souvenirs :) 
Chessy ba? :)

Dinner time was spent, guess where? Uno Grill, of course! Kids enjoyed the dinengdeng so much :)

More of our Ilocos trip on my next post :)

Linking to Mommy Moments :)

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