Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Phineas and Ferb Factor

Today on our TV show review, it's that wacky Disney ratings monster entitled... *drum roll*... Phineas and Ferb!
WTH!  This show has kids (and adults with a good sense of humor) eating out of its cartoon hands!  And why?  They've covered just about everything in kiddie programming.

It's all about action-packed sibling mischief and getting in trouble.  What kid doesn't want that, huh?  Miro and Kenji can totally relate to Phineas' and Ferb's ridiculously wild imagination.  The way they want to invent things for the ...well, my boys would invent for the greater bad than the greater good, but that's beside the point.

It's got a super spy in the guise of a platypus.  What can be more poetic than that?  And, of course, kids love spies and living double lives.  Plus, we as a family believe Perry can pin the dorkiness that is Agent Oso to the ground in one effortless sweep.

It has an evil genius!  Kids love evil geniuses.  I love evil geniuses!  Doctor Doofenshmirtz adds more relish to the stereotype though by being a bumbling idiot at the same time.  But he is hilarious!  He's our favorite, in fact.  As my kids say, he's the Rockinator!

It has Candace... bust-you-to-hell sister.  She may sound like a cliche bully to you, but she's not.  She's a regular teenager who falls in love and falls into the grip of madness when on the verge of exposing her brothers' over-the-top backyard inventions.  We love her for her issues, and her insanity is very charming.

The mastermind is in the characterization.  Each has a fun, quirky personality that's just impossible not to love.  Kinda like seeing a cute little puppy at the pet store window.  There's a connection.  Even the show's minor players have amazing personality depths.  Balijeet, the boys' nerdy, frequently bullied friend, never fails to give us gas.

And the music!  Wow.  Just wow.  They always have brilliantly crafted songs in the show which my boys bug me to download.  There should really be a website for that.  

Obviously, this show caught my giddybug parenting thumbs-up because I can't stop blabbering again.
To close, just allow me to offer one interesting bit of trivia.
Due to the show's popularity and recurring airtime, the opening theme line 'There's a hundred and four days of summer vacation' is no longer true.  As Miro pointed out, "Heeey... Phineas and Ferb have a longer summer vacation than we do!  That's so unfair!"

Yes, my son.  Yes, it is.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    It's a Bert Lozada Summah!

    Holy Rashguard, Batman!  I finally found the right summer camp for Kenji!
    After much researching and free trial classes, my little ball of manic energy finally settled in on the famous Bert Lozada Swim Camp as his summer's source of adventure.  Whew!

    Looking for an activity for Kenji is like looking for an action film in a DVD shop.  His requirements are nerve-racking:  It has to keep his attention --and everyone else's.  It has to be physical.  It has to make him feel like an action hero.  And it has to be just a tad death-defying.

    My requirement is less complex:  It has to make my money's worth!

    And so far, Bert Lozada is delivering.

    I mean, the camp's professional ID surely got Kenji's interest.  He takes pride in flashing the plastic card every time we walk into the swim venue.  It's like an NCIS badge to him. 

    It's hell physical!  On Kenji's first day, he was immediately drilled into routines in 3 different pools.  By choice.  Kenji kept running away from the instructor (for kicks, really) so the man had to chase him and work with him in every pool they landed on.  The instructor wasn't taking no for an answer.

    The instructor was also quick to laud him for every challenge he'd put Kenji through.  Kenji finds fun and fulfillment at every turn.  And of course, it made him feel like all bad ass.

    At 4-feet of water on his second day --yeah, it's kinda death defying.  Specially for me whose sole swimming skill can only be likened to a tea bag intermittently dipping in hot water.  Kenji screamed his head off the whole time and I felt like a helpless twig.  So it was quite a study on insanity when after that 'near-death experience', Kenji goes, "That was fun, Mimi!  I wanna do it again!"

    So am I getting my money's worth?  I can happily say I am --and more.

    Bert Lozada has swim venues all over the city and I chose one that's just a few minutes away from home to save on gas.  They have a choice of session schemes and I chose the relatively affordable one.  Kenji got assigned to an awesome instructor who's really good at taming Tasmanian devils.  Kenji's rocking his new rashguard, goggles, and kickboard like a pro.

    And more importantly, Kenji's learning fast and having looooads of fun!  That's all that matters in a summer camp after all.

    Uh-huh, I'm pretty proud of myself right now.  I own you, summer!
    Mimi... you da MOM!

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Alter Space: To Infinity and At Home!

    Earth Love begins at home.
    I say that maybe because I'm a mother.  But if I want to save the environment, I'd like the people who will enjoy the fruits of a better planet to start learning how to alter our little space in the universe as early as now.  Yup, I'm talking about the kiddos... the heirs of the world.

    Oh, and when I say 'kids altering space', I mean do it in the most fun way!

    It's a win-win that my boys' school share my philosophy.  They've got the kids opening their eyes to environmental responsibility through exciting trips and talks topped with 'Save the Earth' T-shirt-designing.

    And logo-crafting.

    At home, we do our share of the usual Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle bit.  But what really pumps our fun-loving creative juices is Recycling.

    Old newspapers are altered into papier maches.

    Clothes that would have met the garbage bin are altered into sock puppets.

    Styrofoam junk is altered into the cutest real estates.

    Those used plastic medicine bottles are altered into robots and rockets.

    These pocket projects conserve energy (and yes, no carbon emission here) because all my kids need to accomplish so much are their insane loads of creativity and their God-given crazy level of fun.

    Kinda think of it... we're just like Alter Space.   Alter Space is the 1st Filipino environmental awareness game on Facebook.  And a great discovery!  It gives my boys a chance to really alter space by creating their very own, brand new worlds the way they see fit.  How cool is that?!

    All they have to do is play, do some independent decision-making, be happy, and learn about Earth Love and Altering Space in one sitting.  They haven't stopped since!

    Hey, if it works with my philosophy, then it works for me.

    Saving the earth one fun time at a time.  That's what we do.  What about you?

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Summer's List

    Ooooh... I get so giddy in summer!  I love planning summer camps for my kids!  (said the self-proclaimed nerd)
    I follow a checklist, too!  (and the nerd buries herself deeper)
    You can't just dump your child in an activity to keep him busy 'til next school year.  You have to plan it, discuss it, really go down the nitty-gritty of it.  (nerd!  nerd!!!  NERD!!!)

    I overthink things.  Sue me.  Anyway, here it goes...

    Summer time is fun time.
    So it's best to know what your child wants.  Sit down with him and make a list of his interests.  Don't push him into an activity he's totally alien to and would have to exert intense effort to like... or pass.  It's summer.  Not school.  He should have fun.  So if he wants to take the same summer activity from last year, let him.  It's honing a skill.
    Miro's summer camp for 2 years now --and he still loves it!
    Summer time is exploration time.
    It's nice to have your child try something new during this time, too, though.  So think of things he hasn't done, but are still within the realm of things he likes.  Like basketball to football, or painting to sculpting, dance to theater.  Don't plan major jumps unless your child is game for it.   Always discuss options with him. 
    This got Kenji totally excited for taekwondo, specially since he loves movie fight scenes.
    Summer time is break time.
    Choose a not-too-short, not-too-long program for your child.  A program that requires daily attendance in 2 months is too demanding.  A one-week camp is a tad too short.  I usually go for an 8 to 10-session program my sons can go to a couple of days a week. That way, they can enjoy the rest of the week at home or out with family and friends.
    This camp has the most accommodating skeds and venues.  Lovin' it!
    Summer time is frugal time.
    Other than summer camps, there's also summer family trips, summer reunions, etc. you'll have to spend for.  This is where free trial classes come in.  A lot of summer programs offer these.  Your kid can attend 2 or 3 of these so he'll have a better gauge as to which program he'd want to spend a longer time on.  Experience is the best decision-maker.  And you didn't even have to spend a cent.
    Thanks to this bad boy's free trial class, we learned that we're not taking taekwondo in this place ever. :P
    Summer time is reward time.
    Now, this bit is just me.  But I always look for a camp that will give my children that success factor.  Something he'll be more than proud to talk about when asked "So what did you do all summer?" when he comes back to school.  I look for summer programs that come with a well planned culminating activity in the end.  Like an awarding, an exhibit --some kind of ceremony that ties up everything into a neat, happy ball of rah-rah.
    Both basketball and football camps end with a graduation ceremony that finds your child receiving a certificate of completion, a medal, and even a trophy.

    See?  Summer camp-hunting can be tough. but as long as you and your kid work together to find the right fit --then it can be a lot of fun, too.  Think of it as a huge puzzle board.  Finding the last piece to complete it so worth it.  (haha!  did i actually say that with a straight face?)

    And if you land a camp with all the requirements mentioned above --CONGRATULATIONS!-- you're a bigger nerd than I am.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011


    We went into Taekwondo a little blind.  All I know is that people have been nagging me about it for years.  How taekwondo can do a child good for focus, discipline, self-confidence, yadda-yadda...
    That, and kids in karate gear look so darn cute!

    Image nabbed from the net
    So finally, we went to this taekwondo studio for a summer's free trial class.  I didn't know what to expect, honestly.  But I did witness and realize a lot of unexpected things.

    1.  No cute uniforms. :(  They're not required for beginners.  Some of the kids even wore shorts.

    2.  There's a lot of shouting.  That's a given, I guess.  And thank God, Kenji took it well.

    3.  There were 'putting kids on the spot' moments.  This, I'm pretty sure, shouldn't have happened.  It was the first day and kids should never feel embarrassed on their first days of anything.  Not if adults can help it. 

    4.  A little boy cried out of fear and shock and was still made to do the moves along with the other kids.  I guess this should do his confidence a lot of good in the long run.  But his first day was miserable, that's for sure.  He was punching in between sobs and tears.

    5.  Shoes weren't allowed.  And yet the floor wasn't exactly pristine.  No wonder the coach wore shoes.  Hmm...

    6.  There was at some point some physical yanking and tugging for attention.  Kids are unruly.  That's normal.  You can't expect them to fall in line just because you said so.  It wasn't physical abuse or anything like that.  In fact, maybe it shouldn't have surprised me since taekwondo IS a contact activity.  Maybe.

    7.  The session started out with introductions.  And yet the coach referred to each kid as 'Psst!'.  This has nothing to do with taekwondo.  I'll stop there.

    I know an hour and a half is too short to make any judgment.  After all, Kenji did ok.  Kenji's a rock.  He doesn't give a rat's piss even when made fun of.  His confidence is off the roof --so there!
    And the coach did manage to get him to focus for a great number of seconds on a punching exercise so I AM sliiiightly impressed.
    I believe taekwondo CAN do him good after all.  Eventually. 

    But for now... we're moving to Swim Camp. :)

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Fully Booked Fully Teleports

    Let me welcome you to our lovely little go-to place on slow days.   Funny I never thought of blogging about this place before.  Even funnier that I can't ever remember to bring a decent camera whenever our whims take us here.

    Fully Booked is more than just a rich receptacle of hard-to-find books.  It's a teleportation pod.  I'm sure it's cliche to say that a paperback CAN take you to different places beyond your imagination.  But Fully Booked does that and more.  It sets the mood even before you sit down with a hardbound.

    The stairs, 'carpeted' with words upon words seemingly snatched from a few hundred pages of a novel, immediately tells you that you're up for some heavenly reading.

    This extends to the vast area of flooring, and so I walk with my head down... reading where my foot falls.

    This very same floor is where my children lounge as if they're comfortably back home.  They love the feeling and never get tired of having words and drawings around them.   
    "It's like me being a character in the storybook!" --my son's words, not mine.
    Oh, can you see that far wall over there?  That's a meticulously hand-drawn mural.

    Almost every inch of wall and book shelf base here have these intriguing doodles in different graphic styles, illustrating different worlds.

    Grabbing a book and sitting in a spot surrounded by these works of art gives you the whole teleportation package:
    Riveting story.
    Soft, wordy floor.
    Your own choice of fantastic Otherworld as backdrop.
    Let the out-of-body, out-of-mind reading experience commence.  And that's the best kind of reading there is. 

    Another slow day coming up?  Nah, we're Fully Booked.