My Mommyology

November 21, 2014
by mymommyology
2 Comments

My Mommyology Likes: Parents’ Night Out

I’ve never had a babysitter.  Back in Chapel Hill, I thought the girls were too young to be left alone at night with a total stranger.  My friends definitely had their lists of trusted people to call, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to ask for it then.  You’ve probably guessed — I have trust issues about leaving my kids with people I hardly know.

Also, my husband — he’s a cheap practical date. ;)  Why spend on a babysitter to watch the kids when they’re asleep, and when we can access Netflix in the comfort of our own home, with food and drinks we’ve already paid for?!  We also still use the baby monitor to see and hear them while they’re in bed.

Clearly, there was totally no incentive to get a babysitter.

So these “at home” dates — I have to tell ya.  Sometimes, it’s such a knock out.

Can you hear the z's through your computer?

You’d think he’d stay awake to watch the program he’s chosen!

And even if we try to stay up by sitting at the dinner table, with wine…

I'm beginning to like sweet Moscato wine again...

I’m beginning to like sweet tasting Moscato…

The cold weather and the comfort of watching a movie (or a show) in our own home somehow still leaves me with this.

Looks familiar?

Looks familiar?

So I’ve begun re-thinking the babysitter bit.  Now that the kids are older, they understand why Mom and Dad need time away.  I also think they can handle themselves better with a trusted “stranger” that I’ve gotten to know.  And knowing me,  it’ll take time, so I wanted to get the gears in motion for finding one.  My goal was for us to have our first date night next year.  By then I’m sure we’d all be ready for it.

Then I get this email, and surprise surprise, I learn about something called Parents’ Night Out.

Parents’ Night Out is a service Sam and Jamie’s Kindermusik teacher offers every once in a while  (I learned later on that it is a service schools, studios, gyms and other centers offer all around the US.  Why did I only learn of it now?!  Where have I been!?).  Parents get to deposit their kids with the teacher and a group of older students for three hours.  The rate for two kids is about the cost of a babysitter at home for a shorter period of time, so I was told this deal was of good value.  The kids are treated to games and crafts, pizza, popcorn and a movie.  No mess at home, the kids are fed and are tired by the time you pick them up.  And the big plus for me — no trust issues (she’s their teacher, we’ve been seeing her every week for the last two months!)

The girls had no qualms about the whole idea either.  Usually they get anxious at the thought of us both leaving them for the night, but they had no problems this time.  They love their teacher, and like me they trust her.  Plus, I’m sure they were quite excited for a fun night out with some new friends.

The bigger surprise was that my husband agreed! So my one-year timeline for a date got cut down to 360 days, and last Friday, we went on our first night out in LA. :)

He wanted to take me to a favorite of his, Boiling Crab but the wait time was an hour and a half longWe ended up in a nearby steak house instead.  I can’t complain (except now I know I need to exercise more!), it was really good steak. And scallops.  And mashed potatoes.

Fancy dinner, fancy resto, and more importantly, my date stayed awake!

Fancy dinner, fancy resto, and more importantly, my date stayed awake!

For good measure we ordered our usual favorite dessert too.

Yummmmm....

All mine.  Ours!

It’s been a while since I thoroughly enjoyed this molten chocolate with ice cream dessert.  Usually when we eat this with the kids, Jamie gets the ice cream and Sam most of the cake, and I end up with the berries on the side.

It was nice to have three hours of uninterrupted conversation.  I kept my phone out only for picture purposes, and just in case someone from the center called about the kids, but other than that, it was just us.  What a refreshing welcome change.  Isn’t it funny how something like this can re-charge us parents and fill up the emotional tank (and fill up too much of the stomach).

When we picked them up, the girls were quite tired as it was past their bedtime, but without a doubt they had fun.

Can we do Parents’ Night Out Every Friday Mom?”  Sam asked me in the car.

I thought my husband was going to have a heart attack.  He says that the cost of the entire night should last us another 6 months before we think about going again. ;)

November 19, 2014
by mymommyology
0 comments

A Trip to Zoomar’s

Jamie is an animal-lover.  I don’t know what it is about them.  She’s always been fascinated by cuddly furry animals.

She’s always asking for a pet.  Her Christmas list, as enumerated by Sam is 1) a real live rabbit, 2) a real live hamster, and 3) a puppy.

And even when we go to museums where they sometimes showcase live animals according to the theme, she has a total fascination with them.  Doesn’t matter what kind they are, really.

Yep.  They're rats.  Eeeck.

Yep. They’re rats. Eeeck.

In Manila, Jamie would love trips to the Fun Farm at Sta. Elena.  She wanted to go as often as possible.  It was about a 2-hour drive from the city, and the kids could basically ride horses, and carabao-drawn carriages to their heart’s content.  Kids could also feed bunnies and guinea pigs carrots to their stomach’s content.  We were always worried about the rain so the trips were few and far between.  Each time we’d go, Jamie would put a guinea pig in a basket and ask if we could take it home.  Otherwise, she’d carry the poor thing (in said basket) all over the farm until we were ready to leave.

Imagine her delight when her school’s field trip was to Zoomar’s – a Fun-Farm like petting zoo.  Only here, there were more animals to feed and other fun things to do.  And it wasn’t two hours away. ;)

There were pigs, and sheep.  In the goat pen people could go in and brush the goats’ coats.  Jamie didn’t want to, because the goats were at her eye level, so she stayed outside to feed them instead.

They eat carrots too!

They eat carrots too!

And the guinea pigs are HUGE!  I spent a good deal of my time trying to catch them for Jamie and her friends to hold.

Left:  we caught one!  Right: Jamie talking to another Guinea pig.

Left: we caught one! Right: Jamie talking to another Guinea pig.

The guinea pigs were in pens which some of the chickens and roosters would visit.  Jamie has never touched a rooster before — hence the face.

As unpretentious as can be...

As unpretentious as can be…

There were llamas too (but you couldn’t feed them).

Llama llama face the camera!

Llama llama face the camera!

There was even an emu who approached me as I stayed by the fence, and an Alpaca.

And of course, the $4 horse rides.

Giddyyup horsie.

Giddyyup horsie.

There’s a train and a playground as well, and so many other things that kids can do.  The snack area is covered so it’s great for parties.  And what’s nice about it is that everything feels very clean.  By every pen, there are anti-bacterial hand stations and the kids are encouraged to get each time they leave a pen.  There’s also an accessible wash station for kids.  Of course you do come out smelling like the animals right after, so you can imagine the scrub down I gave Jamie when we got home!

It looks like we will definitely be back.  Jamie was so animated about everything we did that Sam got excited and also wants to go.

Their December highlights.

Their December highlights.

At least this time it won’t take us two hours for us to pet some animals.  And it might be a good idea in the hopes of “delaying” the need for a pet at home (Or then again it could backfire! Yikes!)

November 16, 2014
by mymommyology
2 Comments

Are We Too Busy?

Quite often, a family in our neighborhood asks me on a whim if my girls can come over to play with her little girl.  Right now?  Yes now.

Quite often I decline (politely) because my girls have one activity or another after school.  I assume she doesn’t keep track of our schedule, because after asking for the nth time, she walked away shaking her head. “Boy your girls are TOO busy,” she commented.  I smiled and waved, “see you tomorrow”, and we went on our way.

From the look on her face and the tone of her voice, I probably came off as one of those “busy” moms who over schedules her kids.  I know for a fact that they’re lifestyle is the complete opposite, where her child has no after school activity whatsoever.  It’s free unstructured play all day long.  She doesn’t believe our kids get enough play time at school, and they’re being worked too hard as it is for them to do anything else after (hence the judgement conclusion).

Her opinion of me doesn’t really matter (Thank you, Discover Your Core), but quite honestly, this “busy-ness” business is an everyday concern of mine.  I constantly ask myself this:  Are my kids TOO busy?

I know there are varied points of view on the topic.  And after going through several links, I found an article on the New York Times that resonated with me the most (click the link to read it if you like!).

Excerpt from the New York Times article.

Excerpt from the New York Times article.

I’m PRO extra-curricular activities.  Sam and Jamie have several of them.  They’re in ballet and Kindermusik — but different days and time slots.  They go to Kumon together.  And then they have their own after-school interests:  Jamie’s are Spanish and Soccer, and Sam’s is Basketball (She does her Spanish on the iPad at home when she feels like it).  As members of the Catholic community, Sam also attends a separate Religious Education class once a week as part of the two-year requirement for First Communion.

When I the kids if they think we’re too busy, they always answer “no we’re okay.”  On days when I feel entirely overwhelmed and exhausted by our schedule, I wonder how that’s possible.  But on the days when things run smoothly, I somehow find the answers to my question.

These extra curricular choices, we made as a family.  The girls were involved in every decision.  And it wasn’t because it was something that I wanted for them but rather, something they were excited to do.  They went through the brochures with us and discussed their options.  Even three-year old Jamie appreciates this process.

Jamie loves soccer.

Jamie loves soccer.

Like any human being, on some days, it takes a little more convincing to keep this commitment.  Other fun things pop up and distract them from it.  But (thankfully) I’ve never had to drag one kicking and screaming.  That tells me that the initial protests are superficial, and once they understand the value of sticking to our commitments, they get excited about going all over again.  I feel it’s just as important for me to show I’m equally committed to getting them there and supporting their choices.

Of course school and homework clearly come first, and we all know this will always be the priority.

Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.

Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.

My smart little Sam sees the extracurriculars as an incentive for her to complete her homework quickly so she can get to them.  New activities are good for her adventure-seeking personality.  She has a productive channel to work out all that energy and thirst for knowledge.

And while I know the Tiger Mom in me can push, I’m also not that hard-core about it.  I want my girls to learn, but I also want them to enjoy doing so.  I don’t have dreams of them becoming the next Tiger Woods in their field (sorry, it’s the only analogy I know thanks to my husband!).  And we only skip class for good reason (an illness or schoolwork for instance).  I put their needs first.   If they need sleep, I won’t wake them the next morning.

...And this is too good to move! ;)

…And this is too good to move! ;)

Contrary to popular belief, my husband and I don’t say yes to every request.  For one it’s costly, and I haven’t figured out how to grow money on trees yet.  Secondly, I’d go crazy shuttling them back and forth (I go crazy enough as it is!).  But more than that, I do believe they need time for the mundane everyday stuff: errands and chores, play dates, toys, and yes, even the electronics.  These keep us busy too but in a different kind of way.

Even if my girls assure me with words, that “they’re ok” and “not too busy,” I still validate this against their behavior, and make the call if I see overtiredness rear its cranky head.  After all that’s said and done, I still adjust where I can depending on their needs.  The health and well-being of the girls come first above all else.

Finding the balance is hard, but it’s also very relative.  One may need more “free play” than the next.  Some may need more structure.  And what may be “too busy” for some, may be just right for others.  It all depends on the parents and the child.

Our days are usually pretty full (I should know I’m the first to feel the fatigue), but it’s not always because we’re running from one class to the next.  I purposely left days “free”, and we get to decide on what fun things we can do together.  Somewhere in between the routine and set schedules we have our own spontaneous moments that are just pure fun (more on that in a separate post).

Random game night over dinner.

Random game night over dinner.

So — are we busy?  Technically yes.  I’m a planner by heart; I like to know what’s next.  So in the eyes of an outsider we really do a lot.  But when I look at my girls, I think they’re right and we’re really ok.  After all, we’re never too busy for each other.

November 13, 2014
by mymommyology
0 comments

The Miramar Air Show

In Travel #throwback Thursday fashion, I thought I’d feature our family’s very first Air Show.  San Diego isn’t too bad a drive away, and my husband’s uncle who used to serve in the Navy (Belated Happy Veteran’s Day by the way!) told us we might enjoy it.

The MCAS Miramar Air Show  is a an annual 3-day event at the Miramar Based in San Diego.  It features three full days of flying and entertainment, food and novelty booths, children’s activity area, military displays, trade show, and more!  As my husband says, it’s like Touch-a-Truck but for planes, with entertainment.

I didn’t know what to expect and we only went for one afternoonIt was actually a good thing because it was scorching HOT.  Watching the weather reports, I brought snacks and water and sunblock for the girls, but I wasn’t prepared for that kind of heat.

In any case, my husband bought the cheapest tickets for the grandstand, so we could sit and watch the show — although when we got there, we noticed a lot of people just outside of the grandstand who’d made camp.  Well that makes sense, it’s an air show!  But anyway, with the crowd and the heat and the kids, I suppose he figured it was better we had a spot.

It was quite the walk from the parking to the actual base and finally to the grandstand, but we made it just in time to catch the Blue Angels’ performance.  If there was anything I picked up from the little that I knew coming in to this show, the Blue Angels were always the highlight.

Super wow factor!

Super wow factor!

My goodness, they are awesome!  I was very impressed.  Five planes flying only 18″ apart in wing span!!  My whole body ached from having to balance one child, my shades and an umbrella all at once but I think the girls enjoyed them too.

After that we saw Sean D. Tucker (Sam always says his full name) in his aerobatic performance.

So that's what he looks like.

So that’s what he looks like.  Thank you, Google.

I had to Google him because Sam was so impressed by his skills on a small plane and by the little tidbits of information they would blast over the loud speakers.  Apparently he’s a living legend and in the National Aviation Hall of Fame!  He also has a school called Sean D. Tucker School of Aerobatic Flight.

While we waited for the Golden Knights’ parachute show (who are also by the way, pretty cool!)  to start, we went around the base and the girls got to see the insides of some of the Military planes and vehicles.

I don't know who was more excited -- Daddy or the girls!

I don’t know who was more excited — Daddy or the girls!

There were Marines stationed by each vehicle to give a description of it to the kids, its use, and to show them the weaponry available.

Sam and a gun... hmmmm... not an image I ever ever had.

Sam and a gun… hmmmm… not an image I ever ever had.

Sam even took pictures with some of the Marines on base! :)

The weekend's "celebrities". :)

The weekend’s “celebrities”. :)

The only thing I would change — would be better bathrooms.  The portalets were HORRIBLE.  HORRIBLE!  Horrible.  I can’t say it enough — horrible.  Ugh.  I shudder just writing it.  Did I mention it was horrible?!

Thank you, Emma Stone.

Thank you, Emma Stone.

I tried to prompt Sam that there would be no bathroom but of course the minute we got there she needed one.  And you know how I get about bathrooms!  I couldn’t even use my usual travel tools and Lysol!  In fact, the Yosemite bathroom “holes” seemed more decent, and that I thought was BAD.  And because we have girls, I’m the one who has to deal with taking them to the bathroom and attending to all their potty needs.  I tell you those portalets are grounds for divorce.

It was hot, and tiring, but a pretty cool experience.  And the girls learned a lot about planes too, things I never thought to teach them.  Thank goodness we had my uncle’s home as a stop over before the drive back.  I gave the girls are really good shower (especially since we entered a portalet!) and got them into their pajamas before we headed home in the car.  They knocked out completely and I carried them to bed.

I wouldn’t mind watching the show again next year — on the condition that we have decent bathrooms to use!

November 11, 2014
by mymommyology
0 comments

The Business of Blogging: Keep It Close To The Heart

When people asked why I started to blog, I used to say it was for work.  My Mommyology really began as a social experiment.  My business was getting into the digital marketing  and social media scene, and I thought if I were to seriously help out, I needed to understand what each aspect was all about.

Actually, my first blog wasn’t My Mommyology.  It had a different name.  And I put in maybe one or two posts before I stopped it altogether.  It didn’t even have an avatar (It’s been 4 years, I need to start using big blogging words!  Haha!).

I stopped the (first) blog because I had difficulty keeping to a single theme.  The title only reflected one aspect of my life, or who I was, and I found that it had an endpoint.  I realized early on I had to dig deeper and put more of “me” into it.  If I wanted this blog to stand out in the blogosphere, then it had to have a unique, distinct point of view (how very brand marketing no?).  However it also had to stay true to itself and last the test of time (yes, I was thinking long-term).  What was the essence of my blog going to be?  And it was then when  My Mommyology came to be.

In the beginning my only followers were my mom and probably my husband (if only because he was worried about what I was going to say about him.) ;) The small base slowly grew to family and friends who were interested in what I had to say.

Then we went to Manila and my blog took on a whole new level.  I met the SoMoms who’ve become lifelong friends and one of the best support groups a woman could ever ask for.

Photo Credit: OcMominManila.

Photo Credit: OcMominManila.

I met Coach Pia and learned through the #betterme sessions.  And I also got invited to all sorts of launches.  I was fortunate enough to receive gifts and engagements from brands I liked, loved and curious about.

It was in Manila when I realized how “active” the blogging world was with respect to developing marketing campaigns.  We even had a session at Co.Lab with different personalities in the industry of blogging.  It was hosted by Rone of Mothering Earthlings.

In the nice shared office space that is tucked away at the heart of Pasig, she gathered together:  the #SoMoms,  Denise (of Indigo Baby Shop), Arianne (if I’m being honest I forget the name of her business!), Ros Juan (social media expert and owner of CommunePH ) and Trina of DIYCorporateMom, (who is also one of the big bosses at a top multinational).  We talked about blogging from all perspectives:  the blogger, the online business entrepreneur, the corporate marketeer, and the reading audience.

I left before this photo op!  Photo Credit:  Ocmominmanila

I left before this photo-op! Photo Credit: Ocmominmanila

Many big words came out —  Credibility. Authenticity.  Blogging Integrity.  StatisticsBlogging as a profession.  Community.  And lots of valuable insights were shared between the parties (Thank you CoLab and Mothering Earthlings for hosting such an enlightening session!)

Now many moons later, I still keep going back to this:  Our blogs are read because of the insight and the unique voice one brings to the table.  It’s what builds credibility, authenticity and eventually,  even the stats.  People nowadays believe word-of-mouth more than they do paid advertisements, which is why corporations are investing more marketing budget in digital, even if it’s a more soft-sell, long-term approach.

Proof that I wasn't dreaming up this fact.  Photo credit:  My Mom Friday!

Proof that I wasn’t dreaming up this fact. Photo credit: My Mom Friday!

It doesn’t happen overnight and is often a very slow process.  Stats go up and down.  And so in an effort to turn a passion into a profession, there’s the temptation to just “accept” all kinds of engagements and attend all sorts of events.  The short-term will produce gains, but it may hurt your blog’s total “essence” in the long-run.  Eli of The Painter’s Wife once said that the blog is your brand.  And a brand makes an impression that lasts, so you do have to take care of it.

What we forget to realize is that each blog has a community that banks on the authenticity of the writer.  Some are smaller or bigger than others, but it’s in this community where the magic happens.  People who have common interests and concerns will naturally gravitate towards those with similar / relevant concerns.  It’s only but natural as people are multi-faceted… and are entitled to change their minds and opinions about all things in life all the time (hence, we follow multiple blogs).  But if you focus on the little or big community you have, you can build a deeper rapport and therefore will be more relevant more of the time.  That will then have a ripple effect (as I have seen with some of my seasoned blogger friends on their blogs!).

To get to that point though requires patience.  And consistency.  And clarity.  If you know the whole purpose of why the blog came to be in the first place, then it’s easier to do.

In the last four years, I realized that the posts that “hit home” the most within the community are the ones closest to my heart.  They were written with the purest intentions and no hidden agenda.  Maybe that’s the lesson there after all.

If you’ve watched the movie Begin Again (and if you haven’t – go watch it!  Now!), it pretty much sums up the essence of what I’m trying to say.  If there is a clarity of purpose (I sound like my former boss!  Yikes!)  behind the blog, then everything else will follow… eventually.  We just need to give it time and keep it close to the heart.

***

To the (small) intimate community that follows My Mommyology, the friends and family that think the blog is worth the read, I’m forever grateful.  I hope the blog and the lessons learned become close to your heart as they are to mine.  Happy Four Years to us! ;)

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