Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Thanksgiving Postmortem

It has been a CRAZY week!  But I mean that in a good way...well, semi-good way because exhaustion is exhaustion even if it was all worth it.  

We had my husband's parents for a week and two of his siblings with their families also arrived for the Thanksgiving weekend.  All in all, there were a total of 13 guests and suffice it to say that we became like a Bed and Breakfast, although some days we offered more meals.  It was so many days of abundant food and fun times especially for the children.  My Noah was so thrilled to be with his cousins again and if only for that, I'd say it was really worth all the effort!



I'm still a newbie when it comes to Thanksgiving because there is no such holiday in the Philippines.  I still remember my shock when so many years ago, my husband told me that to some, Thanksgiving is an even bigger holiday here in the U.S. than Christmas; that it's when people are expected to fly out just to be able to 'go home' and spend time with family and close friends.  Come to think of it, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is really longer than Christmas celebration.  A lot of companies do give time off for their employees on the day after Thanksgiving although they don't do the same for either Christmas Eve or December 26th.  Is it to support the economy on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year?  Perhaps.  

It will probably take many more years for me to fully 'get' Thanksgiving, to get into the whole shop-like-crazy spirit. Heck, I don't even 'get' turkey and sorry to say this, but I have not tasted turkey that knocked my socks off.  (Well, maybe once, almost, when my Uncle in CA served deep fried turkey and I loved the crispy skin).  The bottom line is that I'm just not a fan of this bird, hence its absence on our Thanksgiving spread.  

The one thing I do understand about this holiday and perhaps the only real thing that truly counts, is that this is a day of remembrance for all things we are grateful for...for family and friends who accept and support you; for having enough despite a highly unstable economy; for still being able to share what you have to those who have less; and most of all for love...for being surrounded with people who love you as best they could that they make you believe that you must have done something good in this life to deserve such true love and devotion.

My spirit is grateful and that is all.  






Saturday, November 26, 2011

Preparing for First Grade

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It is every parent's desire to adequately equip their children for future academic challenges and this is why I do my best to teach Noah what I can when we spend time at home.  My son's just in preschool and though I am clear about not having unrealistic expectations of him, as well as not giving him unnecessary pressure, I also believe that it won't hurt to experiment and try to push his limits every now and then.  Sometimes you'd be surprised at what a preschooler is ready for.  

This is why I've always appreciated learning tools that can help me make the learning experience more interesting and appropriate for my son without sacrificing my objectives.  Such is what is offered by SmartFirstGraders.com and here to tell us more about it is Michael Baum.  I hope you can check out the site and have fun exploring it with your kids!


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Fun Learning for First Graders

When I was young, I used to love reading a feature in Reader’s Digest magazine called The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Ever Met. Some of these “characters” were famous, others were not, but I always enjoyed learning about them. 

Over the years, I’ve met a few unforgettable characters of my own—ordinary people who impressed me with their meaningful contributions. One of these people is Kelli Pearson—or Miss Kelli, as I knew her when I began volunteering over nine years ago as a homework tutor in an exciting after school program at a community learning center in my hometown.

At the time, Kelli was the director of the K-5 program at the center. I watched as she taught and engaged kids, introducing them to the fun of learning. She also had a knack for handling difficult situations, making the environment a welcoming and safe place for children. I was impressed not just by her ability to teach kids, but to reach kids.

Now that reach extends farther than ever before. Earlier this year, Kelli launched www.SmartFirstGraders.com, a web site devoted to making learning fun for kids. While plenty of teachers find exciting ideas here, Kelli’s main goal is to give parents ideas for helping their kids learn. 

Since kids have a way of resisting being taught by mom or dad, the web site’s learning activities feel more like play than work. Who would have thought that playing card games, making bubbles, going on scavenger hunts and baking cookies could be used to teach math and science? But it works, and kids love it. I know because I have used some of Ms. Kelli’s ideas with my young grandson.

Success in first grade sets the stage for young kids to develop into good students, and what better way to do this than by making learning fun. With the help Kelli offers on www.smartfirstgraders.com, parents can help their first graders reach this goal. 

From articles on fine motor skills to tips on how to deal with bullies and mean kids at school, from cool science experiments to lists of classic books for first graders, www.smartfirstgraders.com is a valuable resource for parents and teachers on math, science, reading, child development, and more.

I am happy to call Kelli both colleague and friend. She taught me how to reach kids on their level, and this has made me a better tutor. If you have a first grader and want to give your child a learning boost while you and your child have a great time together, check out this site. (You can say you heard about it from Mike B!)












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Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unimaginable


What if I slipped away from your memory?
What if one day you awake and no longer knew me, 
have any recollection of me?

What if the words that breathed between us all evanesced?...
Gone...

As if they never were
As if we never tasted the depth and passion
they have always summoned?

A world without even your shadow,
or the faintest hint 
Of your existence or recognition
Is an indescribable void

A cry of sorrow too deep
to ever be silenced,
Too bitter to even imagine.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunny Sunday!


This past week, I had another wonderful surprise, thanks to Wanda of Beauty and the Green!  Her creativity and amazing ideas shared on her blog are truly inspiring so I hope you can find the time to check out her site too!  It’s because of those same qualities that I can understand how she received the Sunshine Blog Award and I am truly honored that she thought of sharing the same award with me!  To be thought of as inspiring and be likened to sunshine on the blogosphere are compliments I take seriously.  I guess being named ‘Joy’ creates some pressure eh? 

So, here are the rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.

2. Answer the following questions below.

3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them. 


Here are the questions and my answers ---

Favorite color?  It hasn’t always been this way but at least for the past 5 or 6 years, it’s been sage green.
Favorite animal?  I hope I don’t get crucified for saying this but I’m not really an animal lover.  But if I absolutely had to answer this question, I would have to go with the owl.  I have always been fascinated by them and it doesn’t help that they are elusive creatures.  Dang!  
Favorite number? 10
Favorite drink?  Any kind of drink?...Well, I’d say hot chocolate.  It’s a hug in a mug!
Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook!
Your passion?  Food.  Writing.  Organizing and decorating the home.  I’m sure there are some more undiscovered ones and I will probably spend the rest of my life figuring them out.
Giving or getting presents?  Oooohhh, this is a tough one.  Who doesn’t love getting presents?!  But I must admit giving something and seeing how much it’s appreciated is a feeling like no other!
Favorite day?  At this time that I’m not working outside the home, I would have to choose Tuesday.  It’s when the crazy weekend social events are over and most of the household chores are either done or scheduled for a different day and I’m left to concentrate on my writing or to find inspiration for future material.   
Favorite flowers?  Gerber daisies.  They look friendly, happy and I love how intense their colors are. 

And now to share the love and spread the sunshine!  I’m choosing to pass the award to the following blogs because they inspire me with their positive messages, their creativity, honesty and/or humor!  In other words, they definitely put a dash of added sunshine to my online world!  I wish I could nominate a lot more but for now, I’ll stick to the rules and present you with this list.  Congratulations to all you inspiring thinkers & bloggers!

TV of TV's Take

Rachel of Lala musings

Marie of Scrollwork

Samantha of What Little Things


Muriel of 40blogSpot






Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where there's smoke.....You VENT!


All I wanted was my usual breakfast of toast and fried egg.  But then I had to step away from the stove as I had my pan preheating while I went to the fridge to grab my egg and then got distracted with other things.  I didn’t realize I hadn’t turned on the vent fan and the pan had gotten too hot that it began to smoke....A LOT!  

Beep!!...Beep!!....BEEP!!!!  By the time I thought of turning on the vent fan above the stove, it was too late and the smoke alarm had been activated.  To anyone who has had the 'pleasure' of hearing those things, you would have to agree that they are quite effective at inducing panic.  The sound is extremely high-pitched and if you are aware that it's a false alarm, that there's really no fire in your house, it's bound to increase your sense of panic because more than anything else, you want the sound to stop before you bother any of your neighbors and further embarrass yourself!  This is exactly what happened to me and believe me when I say I was running inside the house like a mad woman, opening doors and windows to try to get rid of as much smoke as I possibly can.  It did not help that this smoke detector we have now is a fancy one.  It did not only have that annoying high-pitched beep, it also had a female voice repeatedly saying 'FIRE'.  

"Yes, yes, I know but would you please shut up now 'cos there really is no fire!!", is what was going through my head.  The strange thing is, after hearing this warning voice for 2 minutes, I began to seriously get concerned. Though I know it was just the smoke from my pan that triggered the alarm and that there really was no fire in the house, hearing that scary, alarming voice made me go through every single room to check if indeed there is no fire. I began doubting myself and got unspeakably paranoid as I hurriedly went around to make sure nothing else was in flames!

As I had suspected, everything was fine and after a few more minutes of enduring the noise and the panic, the alarm stopped and both Noah and I were finally able to breathe and calm ourselves down.  At this point, the realization hit me.  My reaction was a classic one, something all too familiar to me.  It's when I know one thing and feel so certain of it.  And then the 'noises' come.  I begin to be overpowered, overwhelmed by others' voices, opinions, interpretations, expectations and stereotypes.  I begin to doubt myself, second-guess what I thought I knew and was so certain of, all because everyone else around me is drowning out my own truth with their own fears and well-meaning advice (though sometimes unsolicited).  Though I'm the one directly involved in the situation, the one with the full picture and understanding of whatever it is that's going on and the one with the firsthand information, there are times when others just have to put their 2 cents in until it all snowballs and turns into 2 thousand, and ends up diluting the whole picture, hence confusing me and pushing me to the edge of insanity.  

In such situations, I need to remind myself of what I know to be true deep in my gut, in my soul.  It is wise to heed warnings and wise words from others, but only when you know there is real data to back it all up.  When overwhelmed and confused, panic is the worst thing you could give into.  Believe me when I say that when you act from a place of fear, it will be a decision you will end up regretting.  You need to find your center, your calm; silence the unnecessary noise and believe that soon enough, the smoke (or dust) will subside and you'd be able to see clearly once more.        




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pep Song

It's my birthday today and I'm 38 if you must know!  But I'm not here to write about the birthday angstsy stuff...at least not yet....**bwahahahah** .  For now let's talk about the Pacquiao-Marquez boxing fight last Saturday evening.  

No, I'm not going to analyze the fight as I am not really a boxing (or sports) fan and don't want to bore you either.  I do acknowledge however that it was a close fight and though the decision is controversial (to some), let me just remind you that I am Filipino and therefore am with the Pacquiao camp.  So as far as I'm concerned, the fight is done and the judges have spoken and I am pleased with the decision.

What I'm here to write about is my fascination with the fact that before the fighters stepped out and walked towards the ring, they each had a pep song.  Pacquiao's song was Eye of the Tiger, which I thought lacked creativity given that it was the theme song in the movie Rocky III.  But I guess whatever works, right?  

This got me thinking though about what I would choose as my own pep song.  I guess in Ally McBeal's world, this would be her theme song for which she chose "Tell Him".  What would be mine?  What would make me bob my head and strut my stuff?  Which song would I choose if I wanted to feel inspired and totally ready for the world?  What song would make me feel feisty, strong and even invincible, even if only for 3 minutes?  

After giving this much thought, as well as much browsing through countless YouTube videos to refresh my memory, I've finally decided that it's really just my old go-to song...the ever reliable "The Remedy" by Jason Mraz.  This is simply a song that makes me feel ready for 'the fight', the struggles of the day...



When I went with my son to go trick or treating this past Halloween,  there was a man who was walking around the subdivision, pulling a red wagon with him that carried a boombox playing Michael Jackson's "Thriller".  We all thought it was brilliant and so thoughtful of him to try to put everyone in such a festive Halloween mood like that!  Now if only we can all walk around with our red wagons like that, playing our own pep songs!  Wouldn't that be so cool (though noisy, I would imagine!) and fun!

What would be your own pep song?  Which song puts you in a positive and "watch-out-world-I'm-so-ready-for-you" mood?

   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspirational Quotes Part I


In the past month, I've noticed a surge in the amount of inspirational quotes being posted on people's Facebook walls.  Why exactly?  I don't know, but it has certainly challenged me to come up with my own.  So here I present to you, my Cathartic Inspirational Quotes Part 1!  The first one is something I've posted before as my own FB status but I'm publishing it here again just because it's my favorite.  

Enjoy and please feel free to share  





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Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Comes Next


I just got back from a week-long Chicago trip to attend a family wedding.  Our niece Francesca got married to wonderful Mr. Josh and the entire week was just beyond joyful!  The wedding itself was beautiful, as it was held at an old Chicago Catholic church which was just simply breathtaking.  The reception was held later that evening and everyone had a great time.

There is one question that, I think, echoes after wedding ceremonies (or any rite of passage, for that matter)….Now what?

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Now what?  After a period of falling in love, dating, being friends, getting to know each other more intimately, preparing for the wedding, all the stress and craziness and fun and celebration, what now?  It’s natural for couples to get all wrapped up in the wedding preparations, but after all the dancing and music stop (literally, that is), honeymoon week over and it’s time to go back to ‘reality’, then what?  There are three ways to go when confronted by this question.  You can (a) change directions; (b) keep on the same path; or (c) a combination of the above depending on what you want to keep and change.

Confronting the ‘now what’ could be a scary thing.  It suggests a certain degree of being at a loss somehow.  If anything, it suggests the need to pause and take stock of the situation, and these, I believe, are important in a marriage.  To pause and truly see where the two of you have been, are, and where you want to be are important questions that you constantly need to deal with.  It’s not a single step to be done with but an ongoing process both of you need to engage in.  And this is also why confronting your ‘now what’ could be a potentially exciting and empowering thing.  It’s up to you now.  This rite of passage affords you even greater independence.  Being (more) on your own can cause anxiety, yes.  But the increased sense of responsibility could just be as exhilarating and positively challenging.

How has your relationship been so far?  Is this how you want to keep it or are there things you desire to change?  What rules do you feel you need to be clear about?  What are your non-negotiables?  Are there things you have not been honest about up to this point with regard to your preferences, habits or character?  How will you handle your finances?  How will you divide your time between your families of orientation?  Are you planning on children, how many and how soon?  Are there family traditions you want to start now, even as a couple?  What are your rules with regard to in-laws? 


The list goes on and every list will be unique to each couple but my point is this.  It doesn’t hurt to start as early as possible.  The most valuable lesson that was shared to me by a very good friend of mine when I was about to marry is this:  Start as you mean to go on.  And as cliché as this sounds, no one will dispute that if you truly love and mutually respect each other, your ‘Now what?’ will never conjure dark skies.  If you are certain about love and your commitment, then you will find it quite seamless to transition from your ‘Now what’ to ‘Now comes forever’.    



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Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net