Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hopscotch: Learning Numbers through Play

We believe that learning through play is an effective tool in our child’s intellectual development.  Engaging her in these activities does not only entertain her but teaches her a lesson or two at the same time. 

Jane made this hopscotch board using pattern paper which she cut and colored (Ashrie helped in the coloring of the numbers). They then pasted it on our dining room floor using scotch tape. Although Ashrie cannot play the game technically just yet, she can be more familiar with the numerical symbols by following simple instructions like “Step on number 2, then jump to number 4!”

At the second thought, it is still hopscotch after all, because she’s hopping on the scotch tape, literally! :-)

Before I end, here is a short read from
 www.suite101.com about learning through play:

Play, both directed and undirected, is a critical component of learning. Play helps children learn new concepts and problem-solving skills in a natural, fun way. Through preschool play, cognitive development is nurtured and enhanced. Play also plays a large part in enhancing children’s school readiness. It is up to preschool teachers and day care providers to offer the ideas, equipment, and environment which allow children to learn and explore.

What is Cognitive Development? Cognitive development focuses on developing functions of the brain such as thinking, learning, awareness, judgment, and processing information. From the ages of 2-7, children are in the pre-operational stage. At this point they are learning to use symbols such as language to represent objects, and beginning to understand the concept of conservation. It is also the phase in which memory and imagination is developed.

Enhancing Cognitive Development through Play. Cognitive development is improved through play. Concrete learning and problem solving through play enhances higher thinking skills, according to Gale Kelleher, director of Rainbow Nursery School in New York.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

25 Months!

Happy 25th Month Ashrie! We love you soooo much! :-)

Pulao Ubin: The Granite Island Adventure

Last week we had the opportunity to have a quick island getaway. It has been sometime since we had our vacation as a family and also such a long time that we have been wanting to visit Pulao Ubin. So before the weekend, we have finally decided to go and had our hotel reservations booked.

You can find out more about Pulao Ubin here.

We have planned to leave early but you know how difficult it is to get out of the house with a toddler, and also because we got no plane to catch, both literally and figuratively. All we want was a hassle-free weekend away from the bustling city life. We hurdled our way outside, called-in for a taxi while dragging a small luggage behind. This was actually the best we can do to note that we want to travel light.

Upon reaching Changi Point Ferry Terminal, we just took a breather and some photos of course and head off to ride a 12-passenger bumboat to the island. The journey from the mainland to this quaint island is about 10-15 minutes. We paid $2.50 each.

Ashrie and I at the Ferry Terminal
MyGirls aboard the bumboat

Minutes later, we found ourselves being welcomed by a different vista of Singapore. Yes, you can still find bits and pieces of the familiar Singapore scene probably through the street signs by NParks and the local flora, but generally, it’s entirely different. No more manicured lawns, no well-paved sidewalks and no means of transportation except for the bicycles and vans for rent. And it’s not everyday (well at least for us) that you get to encounter a wild boar and it’s young along your way! Really!

We reached Celestial Hotel through an old, rugged van. The normal ride costs $8.00 per trip. After getting our room, we had a well-deserved meal at the Hornbill Restaurant which is nestled in the center of the resort’s man-made lagoon. Wasting no time after lunch, we rented two bicycles, one of which with a toddler seat attached.  This was our first family cycling adventure and first time to ride the bicycle again in more than five years!

Ashrie at the hotel's entrance

Our point of destination was Chek Jawa Wetlands. It is about 4.3 kilometers from the hotel. The terrain was challenging with its rolling hills and undulating road network. At times, we needed to walk up and down the steep slopes while all the time we must keep our daughter Ashrie entertained. Otherwise she might fall asleep.  Nearing our goal, where the road was now unpaved and all rocky, Ashrie suddenly dozed off.  My wife Jane had to carry her and walk all the way to the area. And I had to lug the two bicycles one after the other, distance by distance until we reached the place. Was the view worth the ordeal? Here are the shots.

Going back, Ashrie’s wide awake again. And as they say the return trip is always easier and faster.  After a refreshing and very much needed bath, it was dinner and then bedtime. That was our Day 1.

The next day was more relaxed. It even rained heavily before dawn but it was all sunny when we woke up. After the “morning rituals” and the light breakfast, we had a nice stroll along the resort grounds. Then my girls went for a quick swim at the lagoon, and not to forget - the promised sand castle building for Ashrie.  Then it’s time for us to go back to the city.

My daughter and I at the hotel's private pier
Starting to build a sand castle...

Chartered a van again, we were, all in all, three families in the van, each paying $8.00. (That driver’s lucky). Boarded the bumboat and in no time we’re back to the busy Singapore we used to know. Instead of hiring a taxi all the way home, we opt to be sent to the Terminal 3 of Changi International Airport since the day is still young and we didn’t feel like going home just yet. Being there in the airport gave us a more vacation feel of what had happened.

With our luggage on a pushcart and a happy smile on our daughter’s face, we’re so glad we made this trip.

Until next time!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Xylo Bottles

Break the humdrum of everyday parenting with creative crafts. This time Jane and Ashrie made this xylo bottles craft. They did this from available materials in the house such as empty bottles and chopsticks. They also mixed water soluble paint to the water for a twist and added interest!

When it’s done and ready, they sang Jesus Loves Me with the new instrument as accompaniment. Cheers!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Proud to be a Sto.Domingo

I’ve created a Facebook group entitled Proud to be a Sto.Domingo on December 2009. Since then it has grown to over 150 members to date. The members are mostly Filipinos who bear the name Sto.Domingo.  A few are in my immediate family and it’s not impossible that some (or all) are indirectly related to each other. It is fascinating to think that we might belong to same family tree and might have come from the same roots.

As far as I can trace back, with the limited resources provided by my grandmother, here is my Sto.Domingo lineage: My grandfather Lorenzo had another sibling named Esperidion. They were only two brothers. I have never met my grandpa Lorenzo but I still managed to meet his brother when I was a child. Grandpa Lorenzo married Julia and had five children namely, Carina, Edgardo (my dad), Nenita, Rodolfo, and Eleanor. They are the second generation.

Third generation includes me and my brother Elizar, and our second degree cousin Ryan. We have our first degree cousins but they are children of my aunties so the "Sto.Domingo" just became their middle names thus couldn't pass it on to the next generation.

Our daughter Ashrie is the first and only one in the fourth generation as of today. And I really hope she will keep the surname when she marries in the far future. By the way, we're all from Pulilan, Bulacan.

So who was the first Sto.Domingo or from where did we get our surname? I believed it is from Saint Dominic (Santo Domingo in Spanish), also known as Dominic of Osma, often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán (1170 – August 6, 1221). He was the founder of the Friars Preachers, popularly called the Dominicans or Order of Preachers (OP), a Catholic religious order. Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers. Excerpts from Wikipedia

16th century portrait of St.Dominic
by Giovanni Bellini

There are also places in the Philippines which are named Sto.Domingo. Sto.Domingo, Albay - the church here which was built in 1820 is a magnificent structure and an architectural heritage. From which you have a panoramic view of the beautiful Mayon Volcano. Other places include Sto.Domingo, Ilocos Sur and Sto.Domingo, Nueva Ecija. (There might be many other places).  And overseas, one is Santo Domingo, the capital and the largest city in Dominican Republic.
Sto.Domingo Church in Albay
Clockwise from the upper left:
Skyline of Santo Domingo; Fortaleza Ozama;
Malecón Center; Supreme Court of Justice;
Acrópolis Center; Anacaona Avenue;
he Cathedral of Santa María; The National Palace
I am no historian, but hope this further reading suggestions might help us in tracing back our origin:
Catálogo Alfabéticode Apellidos – Probably the reason why most of the group members hail from the North.

Hope to meet all of you soon! Viva la Familia Sto.Domingo!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mars Needs Moms

We won movie premiums from Young Parents Magazine’s Mars Needs Moms Disney Promotions! The downside is that we have to collect the prize from the SPH Building. And needless to say, we did. The pack contains an XL shirt, a “laser beam” pen, a ball, a note/sketchpad, crayons, a bookmark and a frisbee.  They said this gift pack is worth $240.

If you’re wondering (just like me) about this Mars Needs Moms movie, well let’s watch this trailer together, shall we?

Thanks YP Singapore!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cat Adoption in Singapore

We almost adopted a kitten a few weeks ago but we dropped the idea due to strict restrictions (because we are just renting). Well, at least for now.

It has been difficult for us inform our friend and the fosterer that we have to back-out because we have been wanting a pet in the house, even more when we discovered Ashrie’s fondness for cats.

But before we knew our supposed to be fosterer, who by the way has been very helpful throughout the process, we checked the local advertisement and were surprised by the number of scams targeting unwary cat lovers wanting a pet of their own. They will disguise themselves as a zealous pet owner who doesn’t have the time anymore to take care of their pets. Even if you aren’t asking them, they will brag that their pets are in tip-top shape, up-to-date with their shots, dewormed, litter box trained, good with kids and even with rabbits. They would even ask your experience in owning pets, like the usual background check.

By the second correspondence, they will inform you that they are willing to let you adopt their pet but they are out of the country so you need to hire an international pet courier service. But don’t worry, they got it all covered, from the pet’s passport to its quarantine exclusion.  And before everything gets too complicated, I told them that we are not taking the pet anymore and would opt for a local fosterer.

So how would you detect a scam? Here are my tips:

1. It the pets are too good to be true, chances are, they are not really true. Beware of adopting expensive breeds because they are usually used to lure adopters.

2. Check the photo attachment if it is just grabbed from a website.

3. Make sure the pet is available for viewing and the fosterer is living locally.

4. And lastly, if it has a financial obligation like payment for a pet courier service.

Anyway, the photo is our daughter petting a stray. The other day, this same cat joins us in the lift to the entrance of our flat to be fed and pet. And this morning, to my wife’s amazement, she was there waiting on our doorsteps when my wife opened the door. Actually, she’s pregnant right now. (The cat not my wife!) :-)

We hope that we can have a pet of our own in the future. We really do…

Friday, May 20, 2011

PoP's Baller ID Wristbands

Look what I found in the mail today! It's a parcel from New York! It contains a letter from Pencils of Promise along with the baller id wristbands (not pencils) which they "promised" to send to the bloggers who participated in the blogging initiative for their Schools 4 All program. I really am surprised that they will send this all the way to Singapore, but they did. I liked the handwritten addressee and the reminder on the email. It's really personal. So, thanks to Pencils of Promise!

Now, who wants some wristbands? :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pencils of Promise: Schools 4 All Blogging Initiative

Today, Wednesday May 18, 2011, 100 bloggers from around the globe unite to help Pencils of Promise build a school in Parcameliento, Guatemala.

And Me&MyGirls signed up to donate our blog for a day to join this cause and inform as many as we can to support this cause.  I have made a personal fundraiser through which you can send in your donation. (Simply click the highlighted word visit my page, note that all proceeds will go directly to POP’s mission of providing basic education to those in need.) And there are also other means of helping via http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/join-the-movement.

There are more than 75 million children without access to education, and together we can do something about it. Education is a cause that's truly important to me, so I'm excited to join the Pencils of Promise movement that empowers lives around the world by building schools for children in need.
Please donate and help spread the word about my campaign across Facebook, Twitter and to everyone you know. Just $120 allows Pencils of Promise to give a child access to education for a full year, so I would love your help to try and raise as much money as possible!

Remember: While one person can make a change, only together can we change the world.

Thank you for donating. Pencils of Promise builds schools in the developing world through a movement of supporters dedicated to education for all. You can learn more about them and their projects at www.PencilsOfPromise.org.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy and Sad Octopus

Happy Octopus
Sad Octopus

Our two-year-old daughter Ashrie asked for paper this afternoon saying she wanted to paint. My wife handed her the paper and asked what she wanted her (mom) to draw. Ashrie asserted that she wanted to draw and color by herself. And so be it.

When asked what she drew she said it was a “happy octopus” on the first sheet and a “sad octopus” on the other. She even chose the colors herself.

Trying hard as I can, when I received these drawings via email, I really could not decipher the octopus’s configuration. Suddenly, I realized the genius behind the abstract artwork (perhaps it’s not abstract at all in her perspective) was in her choice of colors! She actually used warm and vibrant colors on the first one and cool or subdued colors on the second.

And for the record, I really love these two drawings!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

IEL's Potato Stamp Art

Letter Stamp carved from a potato!

Jane prepared this stamp art made with the "humble" potato to help her put these letters to memory. Ashrie is getting these three letters of the alphabet all mixed-up. Ironically, it's the same letters that comprises her nickname, IEL.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers’ Day and AR’s Day 2011

It has been a very hectic weekend for all of us.

Saturday afternoon was Ashrie’s playdate at the water park with the daughter of some old friends. So we need to buy and cook something for our guests. And Sunday was Mothers’ Day and also my brother’s 25th birthday.

Here is a rundown of our weekend schedule:

Saturday Afternoon: Ashrie's playdate
with Eunice at the Waterpark
Saturday Midnight:
AR's Birthday Surprise!

Sunday Morning:
Jane got this EA Lip Protectant from church.
This gift was presented to all mother attendees!

Sunday Morning:
Ashrie made this mirror greeting card
for Jane in Sunday School.

After church we had a tummy-filling buffet lunch at a Japanese restaurant. Then we went to the community library to return books at the bookdrop and borrow some children storybooks again.

We were not able to see the decorations pieces they asked for from Ashrie’s party personally but we had a glimpse on how they have utilized it through Facebook, and here is a photo-grab.

Remember those flower lanterns and pom-poms?

So to my brother, Happy Birthday! And Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mothers, especially my mom, my wife’s mom and my wife, of course.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sylvanian Families Beechwood Hall

Ashrie and her second birthday presents!

It was a special present from my brother AR, (Ashrie’s only uncle from Daddy’s side). It was given to her on her second birthday party held at the Family Bay Area of the Lower Seletar Reservoir. Actually, this does not came as a surprise for us since we have been in the scene, from requesting for this gift, to buying, and even wrapping! It has been a family affair.

Here are Ashrie’s photos while opening up the pretty package:

Hmm, what could be in this big box?
It's SF Beechwood Hall!
This is for the Living Room
Checking-out the room's possibilities

While here’s a short background about the Sylvanian Families from Wikipedia: Sylvanian Families (シルバニアファミリー Shirubania famirii?) is the name of a line of video games and anthropomorphic collectible toy flocked plastic figures, created by David Sylvian in 1985 and distributed worldwide by a number of companies. The characters, grouped into families, feature woodland creatures such as beavers, hedgehogs, mice and bears, although in recent years, they have expanded to other animals such as cats, dogs, penguins, monkeys and meerkats. They remain a quintessential part of the 1990s boom in craze (or fad) toys. The word 'sylvan' means 'of the forest'.

Moreover, here’s what www.sylvanianfamilies.com has to say for SF Beechwood Hall:Wade Waters and Alonzo Macavity, the Sylvanian builders, have been working very hard this winter on the refurbishment of Willow Hall.

The new version for 2010 is called BEECHWOOD HALL and has been given a lick of paint to update the colour to a brighter shade of cream. The house still comes with two working lights and has space for additional lights from the Home Interiors Set (ref L41, sold separately) to be added to the other rooms.

The most exciting new feature however is the new LANDING SPACE on the first floor. The new triangular floor piece clips into place between the two bedrooms to create a landing. You can then move between the upstairs rooms easily, or even have the staircase coming up to the landing rather than straight into one of the upstairs rooms. Also the middle floor piece is now reversible with a wooden floor on one side, and green grass on the other.

So if you are an SF collector, a fanatic, or simply fascinated with these adorable creatures, you can follow Ashrie’s journey in her own Sylvania by visiting and giving a LIKE on her page on Facebook via Ashrie’s Beechwood Hall. We will be constantly updating this page with videos, and articles about SF Beechwood Hall and probably some other SF news and updates.

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