Wes' Gymboree Play & Music Learning Lab Class in Robinsons Magnolia

Wes is almost four years old and is qualified for Nursery this school year.  However, as written in my post about introducing school to my son, he got turned off and didn't have a pleasurable experience.  For this reason, we decided not to enroll him this school year.  We didn't want to force him into schooling when his orientation of the institution started off on a wrong foot.  What we wanted to achieve was for him to find learning fun.

We looked for playschools nearby but failed to find one that looks serious in giving quality learning and lessons that are age-appropriate.  We found these and more at Gymboree Play & Music.  We frequent Robinsons Magnolia Town Center that's why we inquired in their branch there and found out that they have different classes to support early child development (ages 0 to 5) by fostering their creativity and confidence.
Gymboree Play & Music offers Nursery 1, Nursery 2 and Pre-K levels in one whole academic year and several short classes to children covering different areas such as: Play and Learn, Music, Art, Sports, Family and School Skills.
Since we just wanted to shift Wes' attention from the unfavorable school impression he had, we enrolled him in one class which is the Learning Lab Program under the School Skills category.  This is so when we mention the word "SCHOOL" to him, there will be no more chasing him to get dressed, no more crying and no forcing too.  I also believe that at this stage, PLAY is still a vital activity for him where learning should be integrated into.

Here are photos of him during play, which he's so crazy about.  He loves indoor playgrounds!
More About The Learning Lab Program
We tried Wes in this once a week class for four weeks.  In this program, children are introduced to colors, shapes, numbers and letters through Leapfrog tools and activity sheets as well.

The weekly class starts with singing, tapping-pounding-forming of clay, coloring, drawing, learning colors/letters/numbers/shapes, painting and story-telling  Children learn one (1) letter or number per session.  Here's a video of their clay tapping and pounding.  He's shown here adjusting from his play to his class. :)

After he adjusted, he was already following his very patient and effective teacher's instructions.
He's seen here mashing and cutting his clay.
And actually enjoying it!
Taken from another class schedule, his participation and focus had improved. :)

You would know your child better if when you're home, you're really present to spend time with him.  In my case, I know my son is fond of cars and trucks from the time he was a year old so when this painting activity involved trucks by dipping the wheels onto the plate of paint and use it to follow the tracks on the paper, he was the first to finish and the only one diligently doing it!  He was so consumed in the activity because he loves the medium/material used in painting.  Kudos to Gymboree for this!
His finished work of art:
For a job well done, children get stamps all over their cute body parts like their hands, their tummies and their feet.  
Membership/Enrollment in Gymboree Play & Music Classes
Before you could enroll your child in any of their offered classes, you have to get a Gymboree membership.  Choose between an annual or lifetime membership.  The membership is valid worldwide and it comes with the following:
  • Free GymPlay coupons
  • 20% discount on GymPlay and Theme Parties
  • 5% off on Birthday Parties
  • Discounts and freebies from Gymboree's partners

Subject to change
If you plan to enroll your child in any of Gymboree's classes, you may want to take advantage of their free trial day.  We did and it was a perfect time for us to assess the teachers, their teaching method, how our child socialized with his classmates and how he was at following instructions.  After being satisfied with what we saw, we immediately enrolled him in a once-a-week class good for four weeks.

He already completed his Gymboree Learning Lab class and we plan to enroll him in another class.  If you would ask me what improved in Wes?  Basically, he now has a different perception about school.  He's now excited when we mention school to him.  His focus and attention span has also improved.  He also follows instructions better.  Best of all, he's learning through play.

If you're also interested to enroll your child in a Gymboree class in Robinsons Magnolia Town Center, you may check their Facebook account for details and also new promos or visit their website http://www.gymboreeclasses.com/index.jsp.

How about you loves?  Do you have a hyper-active pre-schooler like me?  Is he/she schooling already?  How's your exprience?

*Disclosure:  We paid for our child's Gymboree membership and Learning Lab class.  The opinion and review above are entirely my own and were never influenced by Gymboree Philippines.

My Myra Vitaglow BB Cream Experiment

Being a working mom requires me to make sure I look not only presentably dressed for office but to also have a polished face.  While it is true that beauty starts from within, having a kind heart and confidence are some of the basic inner beauty characteristics, this should not be the sole reason for NOT prettifying yourself.  I learned from my mom that fixing yourself up shouldn't be done to please other people (well, partly yes) but you owe it to yourself.  For me, being beautiful is healthy, don't you agree?

Admittedly, I do apply make up daily to achieve a polished office-appropriate look.  My daily make up is done in a flash because as a mom, I consider myself always on-the-go!  The first step to outer beauty is having a clean face because as the funny saying goes: "Oiliness is next to Ugliness."  Next is to find a perfect base.  For a base I alternate a mineral liquid foundation and a BB cream.  Guess what, I discovered another base which is a combination of my liquid mineral foundation and BB cream in one product sent to me last month: Myra Vitaglow BB Cream.

Thoughts on Getting Pregnant Again

I visited my best friend Karina and her baby last week to celebrate the little one's first month birthday.  I took her in my arms and smelled her hair, neck and mouth!  AAAAAHHHHH!!!!  Nothing ever smells so heavenly than a baby's scent.  I went crazy AGAIN over the thought of having another baby!

This idea has been toying in my mind since early this year.   Both my sons celebrate their birthdays on September (10 and 18) and I want my third (if we'll still be blessed with one more) to also be born on the same month.  So that he or she won't be left out, plus it's practical and I find it cute.

I think even my colleagues have been waiting for me to show signs of baby on the way.  Me being pregnant has been a constant joke in my place of work, probably because I constantly have a big belly?  Waah!  Ang panget!

Is there something stopping me?  I would say yes.  But do I want to get pregnant again?  I would say yes too!  Let me share what I think about this big monumental step in our family life.
Photo Source
So Why do I want to be Pregnant again?
First, having a big family has been a dream of mine since I was younger.  I don't wish for ten kids, that's too much for me to handle.  But since I had my first-born and experienced raising him, sending him to school, putting up with his kakulitan and when my patience was stretched to its maximum level, it changed.  Hirap pala, isa pa lang that time, then Wes came after seven years (which I believe is a very good gap).  As it is, our home is already crazy and my life is turning upside down already.  But two is too little for me.  Maybe one more I said (to myself) would be good.

Second, I have two boys and don't have a daughter yet.  Having just boys was what I really prayed for.  I only wanted boys so that I will be the only maldita or queen in the house.  Yup I know, I know it's a selfish reason.  But when I took care of my mom when she was sick and also decided for most of the important family decisions, I realized the importance of having a girl in the family.  But having a daughter is like having a best friend and a companion until a mother gets old.  Boys will get married, start their own family and leave their mothers.  But daughters usually stay.

Third, if not now, when?  If I don't get pregnant anytime soon (looking at within the year until next) then I think I will have a hard time carrying a baby at an older age.  There will be more risks when I get pregnant at a later age plus the toll that's going to give my body.

So What's Stopping me from getting Pregnant again?
Fear of the unknown.  I had a terrible childbirth experience with my first when I was 50/50 over a week after giving birth due to internal hemorrhage.  Which is one of the reasons why my second came after seven years.  God was so good to give me an almost painless labor and childbirth for my second time around.  Now if I get pregnant again, I just fear about what I might experience during childbirth.

Practicality.  They say having one or two children per family today is enough.  It's enough for a middle-class family to be able to support each child without having to tighten the belt each time and to be able to let the children experience a rather comfortable life.  They say having three or more children could spell impractical because of the higher cost of living.  But my take on this actually is God really provides and I know we could get through.  Even Daddy Practicality says that we both have sources of income and comparing ourselves to others who don't have regular jobs and still manage to raise more than four children, definitely we could afford another baby.

Looking at the above, looks like I want to get pregnant more than I don't.  But actually, and probably you're thinking of this too, it's not up to me to decide.  It's God's will that will be followed if he will be blessing me with another miracle, with another tiny human being growing inside me, with another replica of myself and Daddy Practicality and with another addition to our riot and happy family, then I would be the happiest!  If not and He says, two is enough, then I would accept it just the same and be happy about that too.

So until that miracle comes (or not), I vow to keep myself stress-free, positive, eat healthier, be more active and to fulfill my duties at home, at work and in the community with loving dedication and joy.  And I think, whether I yearn to be pregnant or yearn for something else, these things should be done.  You too could practice the same in order for you to have a stress-free, healthier and more positive life!  Who knows, you might get pregnant earlier than I do! :)

Reflecting on all these, they just boil down to three: Love God;  Love Others; and one that we often forget to do, Love Yourself.

Have a great week ahead loves!

Belo Intensive Whitening Bar (Kojic + Tranexamic Acid), Effective and Practical

Back when I was still in high school up until today, I have occasions of acne popping especially nearing my period and I still do get dark (like chocolate brown dark) after swimming and it would take long months even years to go back to its original tone.  My acnes go away, but the marks don’t and I am giving up on my arms’ skin tone (which by the way is not balanced with the color of the rest of my body.)  I’ve tried several sorts of exfoliating scrubs, solutions, astringents lotions and creams from the expensive ones sent by my Tita from the US to the cheaper ones sold at a nearby drugstore.  It read Salicylic Acids, Tea Tree Oil, Tretinoine, AHA and Kojic Acid too.  The marks still don’t go away and my arms still haven’t gotten lighter like how it used to.

Until I recently tried Belo Intensive Whitening Bar (Kojic Acid + Tranexamic Acid).  This whitening bar boasts of a unique combination of today’s two most powerful whitening actives – Kojic Acid and Tranexamic Acid.  Kojic Acid is known to be an organic compound that gives the skin a visibly lighter appearance.  While Tranexamic Acid (first time I’ve heard of it!) is a peptide proven to inhibit inflammation and melanin formation. It is ideal for stubborn dark spots that do not respond to other skin lightening ingredients.  With the combination of the two active ingredients, no doubt this product will sway the beauty product preference of Filipinas who like me, are looking for an effective product from a trusted brand and one that is not expensive.  Practical dapat!
Belo Intensive Whitening Bar
New from Belo Essentials: Belo Intensive Whitening Bar (Kojic + Tranexamic Acid)

Bellevue Signature Club of The Bellevue Manila Hotel

During our stay at The Bellevue Hotel Manila which I wrote about HERE, I mentioned that we were billeted at the Signature Floor where hotel guests could enjoy more perks during their stay.  One of these perks is an access to the exclusive lounge called The Bellevue Signature Club located at the hotel's 21st floor which occupies the whole 900-square meter space.

Five Things To Do to Help You Move On from Death of a Loved One

Today's the 14th day since mom passed away.  If I would take a look at myself on how I act and relate to other people after coming from my bereavement phase, I am assessing that I'm pretty okay.  Not perfectly fine and happy and all that, but I am okay.  I never had depression about the loss of mom and I am actually now back to my routine.

Like what I've written in my last post, I am moving on already.  I've taken steps to pave way to my moving on stage and I'm glad I've set my mind into committing to these steps to help myself pick up the pieces one day at a time.  I've always believed this phrase "IT'S ALL IN THE MIND."  It really is loves!  Whatever you do, how you react to different situations and whichever way you choose to be affected with life's episodes, it's all up to how you set your mind into it dealing with it.  I've set my mind to move on and not be depressed.  I've even turned the sad event of our lives into an inspiring story.

The story?  It's a story of the life of a strong-willed and beautiful woman who devoted more than half of her life to being a loving wife, a perfectly caring and nurturing mother who beyond her duties at home, still was faithful to her service to the Lord and mankind.  It's in fact a life that I will try to live up to because it's a life of selflessness through service to others, devotion to God,  and of intact principles and integrity.

You may wonder, how could I seem so okay now it's barely a month since your mom's passing?  I decided to move on.  I slowly took steps into getting there.  I know it's not just I who had lost a loved one.  This used to be my greatest fear actually, because I thought I wouldn't be able to take it.  I thought I wouldn't be able to handle it.  But I was wrong in doubting myself.  Moving on can be done and I want to share with you some Five (5) Things To Do to Help You Move On from Death of a Loved One:

New Life. New Beginning.

As I write this, I've had enough time to break away from my daily routine to be able to take care of my mom in the hospital when she was still with us, to take care of her funeral, to mourn for mommy's loss and to pray with the family for the eternal repose of her soul and for the family's fast healing and acceptance of mom's passing.

I am thankful for the chance to be given three weeks to do all those.  Those weeks were the most painful weeks of my life, but were also the most important for it gave me a clearer perspective of our life here on earth, of death, and of aiming for eternal happiness and peace with the Creator after death.

I salute my mom, for her preparedness, not of death because no one could prepare you for that, but for her spirituality and her communion with the Lord.  She left us with a ready mind, heart and soul.  I salute her for devoting her time in serving the Lord for the last 20 years of her life for her eternal salvation.  It's true that from ash we came and to ash we return.  I realized that our earthly life could end in a flash if God wills it or if your mission here is done.  My mom's mission was accomplished and as she accepted her fate, so should we and with an open heart.

To My Mommy Elizabeth, Say Hello To God for Me In Heaven

I cannot express how sad and empty I feel for the passing of my mother Elizabeth.  Everyone was shocked at how soon it all happened.  I think even I, who was with her during her last hours, minutes, seconds, am still in disbelief that she's no longer with us.

Mommy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Gallbladder Cancer last April 30.  Less than two months after it was discovered, she rested peacefully.  She fought a good fight.  Mommy is known as a strong woman, a fighter in every sense.  If there's any consolation, the Lord God didn't let her endure too much pain and He didn't allow her to be agonized for a long time.  Although for us whom she left, it was all too soon.

I was always asked this question: What were the symptoms?  Why was it discovered too late?  Couldn't surgery be done? Chemo? Sadly, when it was detected, the doctors couldn't do anything anymore.  What we could offer her was just comfort that she's taken care of round the clock in the hospital and is under pain management.

Mommy was active she was with her aerobics, church activities, barangay lupon duties and senior citizen organization.  She led a healthy and active lifestyle, she was always happy, she always accomplishes amazing things at home and in our community.  She's well-loved and had left a mark in the hearts of many and in the organizations she's part of.

People she was close with tell me now how much my mommy loves me and how proud she was of me in everything I do for my family, at work and my other activities.  That my mom tells them a lot about me, that I am her "bukam-bibig."  Each time I hear them tell me those things, I feel sad that I couldn't do anything anymore for her.  I feel that KULANG PA ang mga nagagawa ko para ibalik ang lahat ng pagmamahal at nasakripisyo niya for us.  For everything she has done for me and my children, what I've done and returned to her will always be NOT ENOUGH.

I don't really regret not being able to show her how much I love her nor not being able to take care of her nor do lovingly service to her.  I just wanted to DO MORE for her.  My relatives and her friends say, not to feel sad anymore because my mom knows how much I love her.  They said, mommy surely felt that more especially when she was in the hospital.

Still, I want to do MORE Mommy... for you.  I will forever be in debt for my life and what I've accomplished while living it.  How can I repay you some more Mommy?  I guess I'll know the answers in the coming days, weeks, months and even years.

For now, I pray for MORE acceptance and for strength.  She has served our parish church for 20 years and as the priest said in the mass yesterday, Mommy is now directly serving God in heaven together with the angels.  Her work here on earth is done.  The Lord has called her to fulfill a different role in heaven, to be our dear ANGEL.

Thank you Mommy for everything.  I will forever and ever miss you.  I love you very much Mommy.  I know you're in a better place now.  Rest In Peace.

Watercolor Weekend Getaway with Alessa Lanot at Taal Vista Hotel

I have been exposed in the visual arts since I was six (6) years of age in my parents' effort to cultivate a multi-talented individual in me.  I clearly remember going to the National Museum in Manila during summer of that year (sorry will not tell! hehe) to attend my drawing and painting class with my cousins.  We sat on the grass field under a shady coconut tree to appreciate nature and pick what to draw or paint.  I always liked painting trees and flowers then.  In high school, I took up Visual Arts as my elective course where I learned other mediums and had my second art exhibit.

I am no stranger to painting using Watercolor as it is my favorite medium.  That's why when Celine of Taal Vista Hotel invited me to attend LifeAfterBreakfast's and Vatel Manila's Watercolor Weekend Getaway, I instantly got thrilled.  What made it all the more exciting was knowing that the participants will be painting flowers.

Bakit Ang #SarapMagingPilipino?

If it's only for practicality's sake, I would have continued dreaming of working and living in any part of the world like in the US, Singapore or Indonesia.  Aside from dreaming that I was a Princess in long, flamboyant, pink gown, it was a childhood dream of mine to be able to go to different countries or work abroad and get rich faster.

In 2006, I had a chance to be assigned in Jakarta.  I felt privileged among my peers to be able to do that.  But if there's one thing that most Filipinos in other countries do, it's finding a community and getting together during off-work to feel closer to home and temporarily forget about homesickness and look for something familiar, the genuine Filipino smile and a ready helping hand.

It made me think, why would I desire to be in another country, when other nationalities would like to stay and live here?  Let's take for example Ms. Anna Rabtsun-Baylosis.
She is a Russian married to a Filipino who was swoon by the thoughtfulness and sweetness of her husband while he was still courting her.  Now, they have two children and has been living in the country for two years. She’s proudly embraced the Filipino culture so much that she not only speaks and understands Tagalog quite fluently, she also sings in Tagalog.  An inspiring love story and something na truly nakaka-proud as a Filipino.
Clearly, not only she fell in love with her husband, but also with the Filipino traditions such as having close family ties and pagmamano.
Now, if you would ask me Bakit ang #SarapMagingPilipino?  There are so many reasons I could think of but I'll tell you one important trait I am most proud of!  For me:
Ang #SarapMagingPilipino dahil ang Pilipino ay hinding hindi mo matitinag kahit siya ay may pinagdadaanan o may mabigat na suliranin sa buhay.  Ang problema para sa isang Pilipino ay BOOM PANES!  
Like Anna, other Foreignoys (Foreigner na Pinoys) have something to say about what they truly love about being a Filipino and why ang #SarapMagingPilipino. Let me share this video by Jollibee which would also make you proud to be a FILIPINO:
Ngayong Araw ng Kalayaan, ipagmalaki nating lahat kung bakit ang #SarapMagingPilipino!

Para sayo, bakit ang #SarapMagingPilipino?
Share your answers to this question on the comments below 
or let's start a discussion on Twitter too!
(Don't forget the hashtag #SarapMagingPilipino)

I'm LOUISE FANDIÑO and I am 100% proud to be a FILIPINO!

Happy Independence Day Loves!