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Friday, May 31, 2013

Maia's Favorite: Re-ment Toys

Toys are a rare treat for my little girl. We rarely buy toys for her, yes even on birthdays. Both me and her dad didn't grow up playing with lots of toys. Truthfully, I don't think I had an unhappy childhood just because I never owned lots of toys. I had my fair share of play fun during my childhood but I think the reason why I am more drawn to Waldorf too is because I grew up playing with more organic and natural toys than commercialized, plastic ones. Having busy working parents, it was my grandmother who exposed us to a lot of natural toys and I thank her big time for that.

My kid however is far from that world. And yes, despite us intentionally not exposing her to a lot of commercial toys, she plays with kids who are really into popular toys (Disney, Barbies, and all that stuff that define modern childhood now). That is a reality I also have to deal with an open mind. I cannot blame kids nor their parents too. It is after all every where.

I'm lucky my tricks have so far worked on my kid. Yes she would express a want to own a Barbie. But she doesn't really demand for us to buy them for her. We try to stir her interest away from it by providing her with alternative play ideas. Right now, if you would ask her what she wants for her birthday she will probably ask you to give her art materials than Barbie. Well ART materials and probably these miniature things that she's currently obsessing about. 

My kid is allowed about 4 hours of screen time this summer. That includes computer time. And guess where she'd spend majority of that? She would sit in front of the computer and know where to navigate already. Apart from Starfall, YouTube is another favorite browsing site for her. And she only watches two things there - Re-ment and Konapun videos. 

So in my recent trip to Japan, after learning that Re-ment is Japanese, she asked for nothing but mee-nya-choor toys. The first time I was there, I tried looking for it. But being in the company of single ladies I didn't really find time to look for the toys. When I got back a month after though, I requested for a few hours for us to search for the toys and to my surprise there was a toy shop just a few meters from our hotel that officially distributes Re-ment. You should have seen how my face lighted up (I was actually trying my hardest not to jump and hug the guy haha) when the guy from the store exclaimed -- "Oh, oh Ree-men-toh! Yes, yes downstairs!" (Oh the extent you go just to make your kid happy no?)

The toys were surprisingly cheaper than I'd expected. A small box cost 399 Yen ($4) while a big box of 8 small boxes is roughly around 1540 Yen (About $15) I wanted to buy several boxes but I don't really have the space to stuff them in and I didn't want to awaken the long-dormant-mega-shopper in me. So I allowed my conscience to restrain me and just picked 4 small boxes (the size of a box of playing cards) and paid immediately. My co-worker was still trying to convince me to buy more but I grabbed her hand and forcefully dragged her out of the store. Haha.

So anyways, without further ado, I present to you the Re-ment toys that I brought home for the excited little miss (and excited daddy too!). 

Just to show how small they are exactly...I took photos with a 10-centavo coin next to the toys.

The husband is now into these also. He's currently scouring Ebay auctions to score more of these super cute toys. Anyone planning to go to Japan soon? Pabili ulit ako!

Here are the details of the store where I bought these babies from:

Basement of Yamashiroya Toy Store
Tokyo Metropolitan Area
Ueno, Taito-ku 6-14-6
Tel No. 03-3831-2320

The store is right across the small Uniqlo store near the Ueno Train Station.

I've frequently passed these on my first trip and didn't realize it had a basement. It carries popular Japanese toys which most collectors will probably go crazy over.

I wanted to actually spend more time there I just got scared I might spend all of my money in just one store. Haha.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Playing Catch Up With My Little Miss Over Breakfast (And Goodbye Mingming)

I came to work a little later than usual today because the kid was demanding I sit beside her while she finish breakfast. She now keeps track of how often or rare for that matter I did this or that for her. Today, it's keeping her company at breakfast.

I let her take full reign on me this time. I think I deserve it anyway. I deserved to be bossed around my this tiny little scrawny kid. I've been an absentee parent for sometime now. And for a little girl who's had hands on parent for most of her life, that's something totally new and will be definitely felt.

So I let her take breakfast leisurely. I made her two open-faced choco sandwiches which she ate with great gusto. We chatted a bit too. We mostly discussed about Mingming. Our pet stray cat, Mingming, passed on this morning. Ate Inday discovered him lifeless at our laundry area this morning. Tibs had to dig a deep hole this morning so we can bury Mingming properly. The little girl promised to prettify Mingming's tomb today with flowers. We'll see how it turns out to be later. I was worried she will cry but she bravely surprised me by saying: Okay lang yan kahit wala na si mingming. Malapit naman na akong magkaroon ng dog eh! Arf arf! Arf arf! It is conversations like this that I truly miss the most. I never regret being marked tardy at work in exchange for moments like this.

Sharing with you some photos of our dear Mingming. R.I.P. little fella. Thank you for being part of our life especially of Maia's.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Letter From Nagaoka From Mommy To Maia

Dearest Maia,

This is my second to the last day here in Nagaoka.

There's a tiny tinge of sadness in my heart. I guess, it's because I like this place so much and there's a big possibility I might not be able to come back here anymore. Well at least not for business. The guys we worked with they are really good at what they do so I think they can do things on their own now.Also, if ever I do come back I am really hoping I can bring you and daddy with me already.

The food is great here (they say it's because of how clean the water is and how stable the temperature is. The place is very close to the mountains and the sea. So yes, it's nature doing it's magic once again) I am starting to think, the location has something to do with how good-natured the people here are. Almost everyone I'd meet in the streets or stores has a smile and a greeting for me. I love how quite this place is. A totally different world from what you see in Tokyo where the pedestrian crossings are always bustling with people. In here, you hardly see people crossing the streets (I wonder where they are??? Hmmmm).

Yesterday, I went out for a run. That felt really good. The weather was just right (maybe about 19-20 ish degrees) so when I started sweating it didn't feel like I'm on fire. Today I planned to do another one to explore the other side of Nagaoka but I slept like a baby I woke up late. I had to prepare for a presentation so I decided not to go out anymore. Maybe tomorrow. So I can also say goodbye to the place.

We also run into a couple of preschoolers at the train station yesterday. They were super cute. Reminded me of your classmates in St. Michael. They were on their own but they seem to behave well. They were walking in a line (I don't know if they're trained to fall in line even while walking). I never saw any little kid throwing a tantrum here. They all seem to be very mild mannered. And obedient.

But I missed so much especially when I saw those kids yesterday. I wish you were here with me. I wish I can hold your hand as I make my way to train. I wish I can introduce you to the train conductor who really amuses me. Much like the train conductors you see on your favorite cartoons.

Well, mommy has to prepare stuff for work now. I'll see you in two days.

I love you so much,

p.s. Here are couple of shots of high school kids at the train station. The schedule that we take in the mornings is always filled with school kids. They're always an fascinating sight for me.

This is a shot from outside of the Ojiya Station.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

100Yen Store Find

Did you collect stationery and stickers when you were a kid?

I did! My sisters and I apart from collecting stamps (mostly from snail mail that we actually receive from family and friends) went through this phase. We had a clear, thick plastic folder where we'd put a set of every kind of stationery that we'd come across in bookstores. (Did you keep that folder Mao?)

Today, after a very filling dinner with a colleague, we decided to explore the shops adjacent to our hotel. I noticed a 100Yen shop this morning when I took a photo of the view from my hotel room and I was able to convince my co-worker to drop by there. And my heart leaped when I saw an entire aisle of super cute stationeries. I wanted to hoard. But thank God I do not have the budget to do that. So I carefully went through each of the stationery packs and picked 2 -- yes just two (sob, sob, sniff, sniff).
Maia! You can now write letters using nice paper. Maybe we should find you a penpal now...whadyathink?

I was praying I'd come across tiny cooking sets as well which was actually what the kid was asking me to get her ever since she learned that Mommy's going to Japan-ese (even if they're not Re-ment made) but there was unfortunately none. I decided to buy these cute toy trucks for my nephews instead. Both were Made In China but I hope my nephew wouldn't really notice. Haha. (Bought in Japan but Made In China?#!$#!)

regardless of their point of origin, i think the boys will love this :)
I have a lot of stories to share about this trip but I gotta get some decent sleep first. I hope to find more time tomorrow. For now, I wish you all a wonderful week :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Maia Travels: Mother's Day At Bag Of Beans

Tagaytay is becoming a favorite destination for our little family. Thinking that it's much cooler over there, we left the house early last Sunday to hear mass at Ina Ng Laging Saklolo. Then we planned to have breakfast after at the main branch of Bag of Beans further up in Mendez. I just learned recently that they now have a branch at the Tagaytay Rotunda strip of restos (what's that called exactly? I can't remember anymore). But wanting to find a more comfortable and well, quite breakfast place we decided to take a extra few more kilometers to travel to where the original cafe is.

The last time we ate at BoB was when Tibs and I were planning our wedding in 2007. We stumbled into this quaint little cafe (if I remember correctly, the extension where the buffet set up is now was not there yet) because we were looking for a big place to for our families to stay in after the wedding. Although we already acquired our house then, it wasn't big enough for several families to stay in. Good thing, as I was a member of w@w then, I found Amirsache Villa and we were able to rent the entire place.

Oppps, I digress once again. Sorry about that. Going back to my story, we've stopped over the store several times after that coffee date often when my family comes over to visit but we never thought of stopping there to grab a bite. We've always just come back for the bread and never really bothered to check out the restaurant inside.

Deciding to spend our mother's day there was just right. Although the resto was packed when we arrived at around 9:30 am, we were immediately ushered to available seats. But as they were bursting with guests, food took a little longer (probably than usual) even if we only ordered usual pinoy breakfast fare of longanisa, chicken tocino, chicken pork asado. I ordered funny face pancakes for the little miss because the day before she mentioned of wanting to make me pancakes for mother's day breakfast (and i indeed ended up eating most of the pancakes and her eating most of my longa meal). Tibs upsized to bottomless brewed coffeesince we both are huge coffee drinkers. I think we still make better brewed coffee though. With our ever-reliable tiny 3d coffee maker and a few spoonfuls of Monk's Blend ground robusta coffee. I got curious too how the restaurant turned out to be so packed with hungry guests so early in the day and the servers told me they open as early as 6. I made a mental note to invite the hubs for an even earlier breakfast date (and maybe a short run? hmmmm) one of these days.

 The restaurant also serves buffet breakfast (at P395/person) and brunch (at 495/person).
While we wait for our food, Maia, Ate Inday and I took the opportunity to explore the area and took turns posing for photos in almost every photo op-friendly corner. We were silly like that. The little girl even set a limit on the number of shots we should take of her. (Dito mommy, 4 pictures. Dito 5 ha. Kailangan 5. two pictures lang tayo dito, mommy. Kalurkey having a camera-hugging kid)

So even if the day was supposed to be all for me, it turned out to be HER day mostly. The number of photos of her alone would be enough testament to that. Gone is that camera reticent kid that I used to chase just to steal a few decent photos from. Lately, she gleefully volunteers to have her photo taken.

We left Tagaytay just before noon. The highway was not that busy when we got there around 8am-ish but at noontime, it was evident that it was a special Sunday. Most restaurants we passed by were all packed with nary a vacant parking spot within plain sight. I guess on special days like this it's better to plan an early morning trip if you ever decide to come up to Tagaytay.

I'm really happy that Tagaytay is now very commuter-friendly. It makes planning for special weekends a lot more easier for me.

How did you spend your mother's day?

Bag Of Beans
Coffeeshop, Restaurant and Bakery
115 Aguinaldo Highway, Crossing Mendez West
Tagaytay City
046 413 2724

How to commute to Bag of Beans via Aguinaldo Hi-way 

Take bus or jeepney (at the Olivarez terminal) that is heading towards Nasugbu. Bag of beans is along the highway to your right a few kilometers after Crossing Mendez Intersection.

More on Tagaytay sights here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This Thing Called Motherhood.

Last night, I plugged in an old external harddrive containing photos from several years ago. I was looking for a decent photo of my mom, to use for my mother's greeting to her. But I ended up browsing from folder to folder of Maia's infant photos. 

I always say how fast time flies when I look at my daughter. But truthfully, with me being so uptight with documenting her every move, I can hardly measure how far she's grown physically just by looking. Sometimes, how fast time flies just end up as a declaration of time that passed and not so much of me having a point of comparison on the physical aspect anymore. I hope you get what I mean.

Not till I saw these photos again. And I'm glad I made friends with my ever reliable point and shoot when this little girl was just a tiny little thing. I remember how tough our first 2 years were. I remembered the countless meltdowns, sometimes to the point of me actually questioning my ability to parent a child. 

But all those doubts were somehow put to rest now. I look at my little dalagita and my heart just swells. With pride. With love. With hope. With assurance. That after every emotional rollercoaster that we've been through, I somehow existed for this particular purpose. To be this kid's mother. To help raise this tiny little thing to become something - somebody with a purpose as well - someday.

Thank you for always pushing me to strive to be the best, Maia. I am a better person now because of you. You and daddy helped shape me to be BETTER. This thing called motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me. 

Posting my favorite photos here from some almost 5 years ago:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weekend 18: Rainbows and Little Surprises

I love rainbows. Who doesn't?

my camera phone did not do any justice to this magnificent sighting.
i wish i had a real camera today. just for today.
Today, my little girl saw a rainbow from end to end for the first time. She immediately took out the Rainbow Brite coloring book that I bought for her recently and started waving that at the rainbow. 

greeting the rainbow with relentless waves of her Rainbow Brite coloring book
Most of our neighbors got their cameras out and started taking shots at this rare sight too.

Ah, the gift of nature. Kid got so inspired she immediately went to work filling her coloring book with rainbow shades.

This morning we woke up to a wonderful surprise. My mommy friend Leslie (and who's also a blogger who I look up to) tagged me in a photo from a local newspaper. The little girl was in a photo that was featured on one of the articles in the paper. It was a photo from her recently concluded 3-day summer at St. Michael Playhouse. I was thrilled with that Facebook photo tag already but our daddy was not satisfied by that he went to get our very own copy of the paper for documentation's sake. I was smiling from ear to ear. I didn't know we also have a stage daddy in our midst. 

So anyways, weekends like this - all-centered in my little family - is something that I extremely miss. And I'm glad that I was given the opportunity to reclaim that this weekend. I must admit, I still didn't feel the weekend go by but somehow, I have the happy smiles of the husband and the little girl still fresh in my memory when they woke up yesterday and simply declared it's going to be a happy weekend.

I'm leaving for another week in Japan again at the end of this month and I'm hoping I can still spend one more weekend with the little girl doing arts and crafts before that happens. School season is only a month away and I'm pretty sure that when that hits, I will surely not have the luxury to spend leisure weekends like this with her so I better catch up.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

All Set And Ready For Kinder

We are now officially enrolled for school year 2013-2014. This year, we're expecting less drama as we forsee a much easier transition for the little miss brought about by familiarity. Like last year, she still insisted she wanted to enroll in St Michael but I was more relaxed now. Knowing this declaration will eventually pass and that once the school season begins, she will easily adapt to the traditional school routine anyways.

This year being confident preschool parents now, we decided to take the plunge and pay the tuition in full. (Crossing my fingers, I don't get jinxed) Sad thing though, it totally escaped my mind that full payments usually get discounts and I totally forgot about the schedule so we didn't make it in time to avail of the discount. Next year, I promised myself I'll be much wiser. (Baby steps. Taking baby steps). I guess we all know where the Christmas bonus is going by now.

We're almost done with our school supplies as well. Just need to pick up books soon and wrap them in plastic then we're all set!

It feels kinda weird writing this when last year's post is still fresh in my head. I can hardly believe the kid a full school year in preschool already. When I start feeling like this, I'd always find myself browsing through old videos and photos.

So much has changed in my little girl. She started preschool armed with just the mastery of the ABC song. She can hardly write her name then. I don't even think she can identify the entire alphabet then. But she grew - physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally - she grew leaps and bounds.

She was assessed a shy kid. And we struggled with that till the 3rd quarter. But we thank God we have a very patient teacher who gave her every opportunity to overcome her 'shyness'. Despite that, we consciously avoided using that word when she's around. We tried hard not to label her as 'such' knowing that at her tender age, she really has not formed any definite understanding of SHY and CONFIDENT yet.

We survived our first year of preschool with a few bruises and scratches here and there. We learned so much in just one year.

And now we start another year. We officially start the K12 program this year. I sure look forward to the new things that our household is going to learn this year.

We are right behind you Maia! - Daddy, me and Ate Inday -

You go, Girl!!!

Conversations With Maia: On Oily and Fatty Food

Yesterday was our bookstore date day. But a date with my little girl will never be complete without a stop at her favorite eating place -- (what else) JOLLIBEE!

When at Jollibee she almost always orders the same thing - one piece chicken meal (with lots of crispy skin) and a glass of pineapple juice.

But in the middle of yesterday's meal, while she was savoring each bite of the crispy skin/coating, her dad reminded her that she's already past her monthly quota of Jollibee chicken meals (she's had one almost every week and we normally only treat her once a month). She responded with a look of pure disappointment (and a muffled growl - she goes GRRRRRRRRRR and matches it with a piercing glare and huge, huge pout).

I explained to her why it's not good to always eat in fast foods. I pinched her chicken and showed her how oily it was. I told her that if she keeps eating oily chicken skin every week, the oil will eventually coat her heart and it will stop beating.


Then she puts her right hand on her left breast and cheerfully announced: "OKAY LANG AKO MOMMY. NARINIG KO PA ANG HEART KO EH. TUMUNOG NAMAN SYA. DI NAMAN NABALUTAN"

And she goes back to munching on her chicken with great gusto (gave up the fork and spoon and proceeded to eat with her hands).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Daddy's Girl Forever

The week that I was away, I was worried how Tibs and the little miss will survive without me. They can only get along well for a good 10 minutes. After that, expect never ending bickerings and crying and shouting. Yes, one of the major roles I play in this family is being the referee.

So imagine how happy I was to hear that one night the bedtime conversation went like this:

Tibs: "Uuwi na sila Ate Ghab sa Angeles nyan. Wala ka na kalaro ulit dito sa bahay. Gusto mo sumama na lang muna sa kanila. Bakasyon ka muna doon?"

Little Miss Maia: "Ayaw ko Daddy. Hindi kita pwede iwanan dito, wala kang kasama eh".

Tears fell while I was listening to the husband retell this conversation over the phone. I'm sure he shed a tear or two too when he heard it. 

Dearest Maia,

You might not always get along with Daddy but you see, you will forever remain his princess and him your daddy king. 

Daddy never carried you during the first 3 months of your infancy not because he doesn't like it but because he was so scared he will hurt you. And even when you grew plumper after 3 months, he had to plop you up on a pillow till you were strong enough to lift your head because he was so afraid he will crush you. I think in his mind you will remain his fragile little baby. So everytime daddy raises his voice when speaking to you, remember that it's because you were probably putting yourself in harm's way and it upsets him so much.

Most days I am at the sidelines watching you two and I can very see how you adore each other. And one of these days, I will find time to collate all those pictures that I took of you and you will see what I am talking about.

Everyday I thank God he helped us raise you to be such a sweet, independent and very responsible kid. I hope you will always remember the basic things we thought you. LISTEN, OBEY and RESPECT. 

we love you to bits,
Mom and Dad

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