Category: Uncategorized

Ariadne is Five

I still can’t believe I have a five year old already. Half a decade already with a lovely little girl who makes our lives brighter, more focused, and more blissful.

Here’s a look back at her previous birthday celebrations. We wanted to keep everything simple for the little one, and I know that’s how she likes them, too.

Fresh from the oven! This is the evening when I gave birth to her.
Fresh from the oven! This is the evening when I gave birth to her.

After the 11 monthly mini-celebrations, we celebrated her first year of life with, what else, but a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party at McDonald's! Batang McDo mom here.
After the 11 monthly mini-celebrations, we celebrated her first year of life with, what else, but a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party at McDonald’s! Batang McDo mom here.

We chose to celebrate her second year in Friday's. Yes, you guessed it right, it was a Friday on August 31, 2012.
We chose to celebrate her second year in Friday’s. Yes, you guessed it right, it was a Friday on August 31, 2012. It was just a simple family celebration of about five people–us three including my mom and sister.

On Aria's third birthday, I had to attend a whole day seminar. So we chose to celebrate as a family at Friday's again, only because the discount card we got the previous year was expiring on Aria's birthday!
On Aria’s third birthday, I had to attend a whole day seminar. So we chose to celebrate as a family at Friday’s again, only because the discount card we got the previous year was expiring on Aria’s birthday!

Aria wanted a party of her own for her fourth, after attending too many birthday parties of friends. So Mommy prayed for provision, and God gave it to us. Plus, this was the year that Hello Kitty themed parties at Jollibee was launched. Perfect timing! We invited a few friends and family to join the celebration.
Aria wanted a party of her own for her fourth, after attending too many birthday parties of friends. So Mommy prayed for provision, and God gave it to us. Hello Kitty themed parties at Jollibee were available that time! We invited our beloved family and friends to the celebration.
For her fifth birthday, we didn’t plan anything, but her birthday seemed to have planned itself, and spanning four days, from Friday to Monday, her actual birthday.

Disney’s Frozen perhaps would be Aria’s favourite video for like forever! It’s such a timeless tale created in the modern times, kudos to its creators. And of course that the music was created by a Filipino, makes us proud because it speaks a lot of heart and soul! Even I would sometimes shed a tear whenever I play “Do you want to build a Snowman?” on piano with my daughter singing.

So, imagine my daughter finding out that we got an invitation for the Frozen Fever Meet and Greet, right on her birthday weekend! Good thing that we were invited to the media event the day before it opened to the public, we got to see them before everyone else!

 

Check out a video of the media event here.  

Found us? We’re on the 35 second mark! (Video credit goes to Kid’s Toys channel, which Aria watches sometimes on Youtube–we’re subscribed actually to their channel!).

In the evening, we went to a ballet performance of Ballet Manila. As of the moment, they’re now our favourite ensemble! And we went with these kids and their teachers and parents from Food for Hungry Minds. Such a happy birthday for my little girl who shared her blessings with them.

It was my mom’s birthday on that Saturday, August 29th. This is the only day of that weekend the Hi-5 Gang of the family could be complete, so we thought of the best way to celebrate it: RED BOX!
Candle blowing ceremonies going on for the two birthday ladies!
Candle blowing ceremonies going on for the two birthday ladies!

Sunday was church day for us. But we still had something in store for the little bunny in the afternoon.

I just came down from the choir loft after the Mass, and got a perfect spot to take a shot of my loves being granted a special blessing by one of our priest-friends, Fr. Tony Atole.
I just came down from the choir loft after the Mass, and got a perfect spot to take a shot of my loves being granted a special blessing by one of our priest-friends, Fr. Tony Atole.

How and why would I not attend if the one who invited you for her event is your idol? Yes, Tintin Babao personally extended the invitation for her storytelling session at the Philippine Literary Festival, when we crossed paths on Greenbelt a few days prior, during the LATCH USB event. So, there we went on the event. Super glad to meet their family as well.

And finally, on Aria’s birthday, which was incidentally National Heroes Day (that makes it a national HOLIDAY!), and since it was also the last day of the Frozen meet and greet, Aria wanted to take this chance to go back, this time in a different costume.

It's Aurora this time! And as she approached Anna, she said, "It's my birthday today!" And she received the warmest hugs.
It’s Aurora this time! And as she approached Anna, she said, “It’s my birthday today!” And she received the warmest hugs.
We thought it was the end of the celebration. Another surprise treat came from my sister, who treated me, my daughter, and my mom for a morning of Disney Live at the new Kia Theater in Araneta Center Cubao last September 5.

Birthday girls before showtime.
Birthday girls before showtime.
That was such a fun fifth birthday celebration. I can’t remember having that when I was little.

So, now’s the emo-moment of this post.

 

Dearest Baby Bunny Ariadne,

I can’t praise and thank God enough for entrusting you to us. His Name is praised now and forever.

You are a great blessing to our family and to our community. Your bright smiles, infectious laughter, charm, wit, and humour make us all believe that life is beautiful. 

You are so generous, so thoughtful, so caring, especially to me and to Daddy Bunbun. You may be kulit at times but your kindness remain.

Thank you for making Mommy strong. Giving birth to you came naturally–literally nad figuratively. Thank you too for teaching Mommy to ask help, for reminding Mommy to slow down sometimes.

Thank you for allowing me to nourish you through my own milk. And thank you for being part of my breastfeeding advocacy as well. You have not stopped at five years but I don’t mind.

Thank you for allowing Mommy to work sometimes. You know that I do it because Mommy has to do it, and that Mommy likes to do it. Don’t worry, we will have lots of bonding time when work is done.

Thank you for praying with Mommy Bunny always. I like that we begin and end the day with prayer, as well as every meal (and you even remind me and Daddy if we forget!). Thank you for always praying for the sick especially the children, and lifting them up to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Thank you for being a great homeschooler. Keep it up, little learner! Last year your award was Most Helpful. We’ll see what your award this year will be.

Thank you for being a simple girl, for not asking for too much, for understanding Mommy and Daddy all the time, for sharing with us what you’re eating.

Thank you for being you. I love you. I am glad you choose me to be your mom.

 

Love,

Mommy Bunny Em

#TKEurope2015: Pasyon

What brought us to Europe is the invitation to the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc. to perform for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Held every four years, PQ as it is popularly called, gathers together artists from all ofer the world for an exhibition. Prague turns into a huge arts hub, literally, including its streets.

I, and some more choristers from various groups were invited to join the trip. It is an honour for us to be part of this trip, as well as to represent the country in such a performance.

For this trip, we prepared two sets of repertoire: First is the “Kamanyang,” all-Filipino choral, ensemble, and popular music selections, and “Pasyon,” which is a cappella choral music in Filipino. One of the songs in the popular music section is Pinoy Ako (more popularly heard from Pinoy Big Brother), written by Kenyo’s Mcoy Fundales. But that’s another story for another day, so stay tuned.

The main event of the tour was the Prague Quadrennial, where we are to perform scenes from the Passion of Christ in the streets of Prague, which is widely performed as a theater production all over the Philippines during Holy Week. Our production has a different take– even if the text was purely Filipino, choral music was the main vehicle to transcend the message to the foreign audience, in Europe especially, where choral music is rich and accessible.

And the man behind the wonderful music we’ve sung is musical director and composer Ato del Rosario. I’ve known Kuya Ato since my Madz days, when we used to record songs in his Quezon City home. I got to know him and his music more during this tour. And what wonderful music he created!

Since we first rehearsed songs for the Kamanyang part, some songs for the Pasyon Kuya Ato would write the day (or perhaps hours) before we’d meet for rehearsals. And they were gems! Easy-to-the-ears melodic lines. They may talk about Christ’s passion which was supposed to be sad and melancholic, but the melodies in his works are heartwarming. I have never liked the Pasyon (because I know it’s sad) until this work came along!

The scenes chosen complemented each other, and were sequenced well. We had three-line interludes in between musical numbers, which tied up the next scene from the previous one. Script was written by Joseph Sonny Cristobal, and stage direction was by Arman Sta. Ana. The staging in Prague was in the streets, so we had liberty to use a 40 ft x40 ft space and move around with props and costume changes. As with the church as venue (in Venice and Vienna), we were limited, so we did it concert style. Not your typical choral set up–some are sitting and some standing. Add the fact that we are limited in number–only ten singers (3 sopranos, 2 altos, 2 tenors, and 3 basses). So this was for us a challenge yet a blessing, because we got to work harder therefore work closely with one another. And hearing positive feedback from our audience, as well as our hosts and friends who watched was definitely the cherry on top of the icing!

 

PQ15 performance and the PQ15 Philippine contingent.
 
Enough of the descriptions, here’s a sampling of one of the works. The last two scenes, “La Pieta” and “Pagkabuhay.” Soloist for La Pieta is Verona Fortaleza McDonnell, who did the part with so much emotion and passion. This was the last performance of the tour in Fava, Venice, Italy.

Be blessed! Be a blessing!

~ Touringkitty

Organic Baby Wipes: The gentlest and safest for your littlest

Who doesn’t want the best and the cleanest for their little ones?

Germs are everywhere. Chemicals kill germs. But some chemicals harm the environment. Good thing people are now turning to organic.

And what better product to turn organic is baby wipes. I am sure whether for our babies or for ourselves, we’d always want a pack handy.
We checked out Kokopax to find which baby wipes work best

We also checked out Organic Baby Wipes.

I like it because:

It has no paraben, no alcohol, no harsh chemicals. We’re sure it’s safe for the little ones.

The material is sturdy and strong, and does not produce excess fiber or himulmol.

Has sizes for big and small hands. It has an extra large size for those tougher stains.

Sanitizes everything in a whip, literally. I am one who is very OC on the eating table, so I make sure tables and chairs or high chairs, especially those used by my kid are clean. My kid always has a pack of wipes in her bag and uses it to wipe her hands before and after eating.

100% biodegradable. And this is the best part for me. Organic baby wipes loves the environment as much as our babies.

Sold? You can get them from these stores.

Thanks for letting us experience these great wipes! Will sure to look for this when our stash runs out.

Kumusta ka?

Have you said a simple “how are you?” to anyone lately?

Such powerful words. One of the things I taught my daughter is to ask a person how he or she has been after not seeing them for quite some time. Or upon meeting an acquaintance for the first time. I get kilig when she asks me that on the phone when I am away. I am excited, meanwhile, to hear her stories as I get home and ask how her day had been. 

My friends would know it. I would send a random hi or hello or how are you via text or Facebook, and the conversation sparks up as if we just last met yesterday. I am also blessed to have a few friends checking on me, whether there is an occasion or not. These few but true friends are the ones who matter. I am glad I have them in my life. 

That’s why my husband and I have been trying to catch up with people dear to us. We hope to do more of it soon. 

The other day, a dear friend from my preschool days sent over this article. It struck me how we have been friends for life despite the academic rivalry. The distance is not a problem, we might have probably been conversing/interacting on Facebook more than my friends who are just here in the country. So, thanks, G, for the friendship we both treasure so much. 

I ask you, dear reader: Kumusta ka? How are you? Wie geht’s? Como estas? Come stai?
~Touringkitty

Pinoys shine at Asia’s Got Talent

There is no doubt, Asia’s Got Talent, but Filipinos got it four times over! Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

Four Filipino acts got in the Grand Finals of Asia’s Got Talent, and is currently up in the running of becoming the grand champion. And we can support by voting for them!

Text AGT3 to vote for Gwyneth Dorado, a ten year old pop singer who gave a soulful rendition of Titanium during the finals night.

Text AGT7 to vote for El Gamma Penumbra, a shadow play group from Batangas, who once again gave an inspiring presentation about Mother Earth during the finals.

Text AGT9 to vote for Junior New System, a hiphop dance group who gave a lively football-inspired dance show on the finals.

But my Facebook vote already went to…Gerphil Geraldine “FAME” FLORES! Text AGT8 to 2929 if you’re in the Philippines!

Good morning everyone!!! REMINDER: today is the LAST day of voting (Monday | May 11, 2015) until 11:59PM 󾍁󾍁󾍁 Time is…

Posted by Gerphil-Geraldine Flores on Sunday, May 10, 2015

I got a chance to work with Fame last year when she took on the lead role for Rusalka. Even if we didn’t belong to the same cast list, I saw how Fame worked on her role, considering it’s her first title role. Such a hardworking and humble lady.

So, please, VOTE for our Filipino acts. We have until a minute before midnight TONIGHT, May 11! Follow the guidelines to vote. More info for Facebook voting at http://fbvotenow.asiasgottalent.tv/. Whoever wins, we’ve proven already how talented our nation is.

~ Touringkitty

Holy Week 2015

 As I was tidying the house a few days ago:

“Mommy, April na!” (Mommy, it’s April already!)

“Yes, it’s April 1 today.”

“Change na natin calendar.” (Let’s change the calendar.)

“Okay.”

So there goes my conversation with my little girl who turned four years and seven months on the last day of March. Oh, how excited was she to turn the page of the calendar to signal the start of another month. And another quarter of the new year. And that first week of the month is

How time flew. The past three months were a mixture of good and bad things. But as a dear friend told me, always let the positive things outshine the negative ones.

Holy Week always gives me a special blessing. This year, it’s the blessing of strengthening our role as church volunteers. This is made special because our little girl is already part of the church activities, and getting more active as days pass.

On Palm Sunday, she was the littlest angel among the youth volunteers, while I sang for the choir and my husband played guitar during the procession.

On Good Friday, we brought her with us to attend the Veneration of the Cross and the Way of the Cross outside the Shrine. It was a first for her, witnessing our Shrine priests and apostle actors carrying the cross like Jesus did. I was carrying our little girl using a ringsling, and she was singing along the choir then eventually took a nap even it was a little warm that day.

We culminated Holy Week with the Easter Sunday Mass at church. We served for two masses this morning. The kids had a simple Easter egg hunt after the children’s mass. Aria and the other volunteers were given a special role to give a gift to our Bishop-celebrant as the second Mass is about to end.

During the week, we interspersed reading and watching videos about the Passion of Christ and why we celebrate Holy Week. The prayer that she formulated out of all this: Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us.

Every Holy Week is a blessing, renewal of faith, strengthening of the ministry of church service, and a much needed pause for reflection. Above it all, it is a great blessing for all of us who lived another year to commemorate Holy Week and be with Jesus as we trace His earthly journey to die for us. Even if it’s tiring, seemingly repetitive, and for some, boring perhaps. But we still move on and look forward to the next, every year that we are here on earth.

I wish your families the best this Eastertide.

 

~ Touringkitty

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

I just received an email from the founders of Educents, Kate and Kaitlyn, with some really exciting news. Until today, Educents was a website for parents and educators to take advantage of daily deals. But those deals expired… And there were only 50 deals available at once… I wanted saving money to be even EASIER. Kate and Kaitlyn agreed. So they created the new Educents Marketplace. It’s even easier to discover affordable educational resources that make learning FUN!

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Thousands of new products – Educents Sellers can now offer ALL of their bestsellers on the new Educents Marketplace. There’s a wide variety of worksheets, lesson plans, educational apps and toys. Shop The Young Scientists Club, Scholastic, Workman Publishing, Alpha Omega Publishing, Life of Fred books, hundreds of printable units created by educators, and more!

Offers that NEVER expire – Sellers can offer our favorite educational products year-round. Once a deeply discounted Daily Deal expires, you can still find that product available on Educents at the lowest price.

Discovery – It’s easier to search on Educents. Search for your kiddos’ interests like Minecraft or Frozen-inspired resources, and then sort by grade level, subject, brand, and more!

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Follow your favorite brands and Sellers – The “Follow Me” feature lets me add my favorite Sellers to a list. Click the heart on the Seller Storefront. You can also see which Sellers are the most popular with other shoppers!

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The Educents Marketplace is exactly what I want it to be — the best place for parents and educators to find the resources I NEED at an affordable price.

 

 

TMA Homeschool Parents Conference: Set them up for success

About two years ago, my husband and I have started praying about homeschooling our daughter. We’ve done so, albeit unstructured, unplanned, and spontaneous (well, isn’t that what homeschooling is about? =)

A couple of days ago, we have finally decided it’s time for our daughter to enter Kinder. But we have also gotten the answer to our question: should we homeschool or not? The answer was a huge YES! We’ve gotten ourselves a provider (finally!) for our peace of mind, mainly. And since I will be the main teacher-parent, I should equip myself, such as attending seminars like this:

 

TMA Homeschool Parents Conference on March 12. Register and use TKEATMAHS_1 on the Referral Code and receive a surprise from Touringkitty!
TMA Homeschool Parents Conference on March 12. Register and use TKEATMAHS_1 on the Referral Code and receive a surprise from Touringkitty!

 

If you’re also wondering what this homeschooling thing is, then YOU should attend! More details at this link:

http://manilaworkshops.com/events/2015-tma-homeschool-parents-conference-set-them-up-for-success

Decided to attend? Why not attend for FREE by joining this raffle?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Will announce the winner on the 11th of March. Join now!

~ Touringkitty

The Nelly Miricioiu experience: Prelude

Excitement, trepidation, humbled. These three feelings rule over me right now, maybe until after all of this is done.

Who would have thought that I would be part of this?

Super excited to sing for Nelly Miricioiu!
Yep, that’s my (full) name right there!

BUT, before that, is her much-awaited one-night only Manila concert, which I hope you could all watch, too.

Now, on to the lowdown of how and why I felt this way, and how this whole experience will impact my career.

Excitement.

When I got the news of Nelly Miricioiu’s arrival in Manila sometime last year, it got me so excited, as I know another great international soprano is singing in Manila. I felt  the same way when Sumi Jo had her one-night concert early last year. Back then, I didn’t even know if there will be a masterclass or none, though I was really wishing there will be, and said to myself that I will try to join just in case there will be a call for one. I was eventually surprised that there will be one, and found out it was a competitive masterclass as one would have to submit a video and our profile. So I did, and prayed for a positive outcome.

When 2015 ushered in, I was greeted with the good news of my acceptance to the masterclass. And not just a one-day masterclass, it’s three days! AND not only that, there will be culminating performances of not one, but two concerts!

Which leads to the next feeling.

Trepidation.

And of course, as all sorts of bubble thoughts run in my head. But the more I think about trepidation, the more I am determined to do my best.

Upon knowing the result of the auditions, the organizing group gathered us for a meeting to discuss about our pieces for the masterclass. Those with me are the active young classical singers in Manila.

Questions run in my thoughts. What was I doing there? Given that I have not been singing actively lately (my last was Rusalka), is my voice prepared? Will I be able to pull through my chosen pieces? The questions led me to the next feeling.

Humbled.

The masterclass is an opportunity for me to come back to the craft I really want to pursue. With the many hats I have worn the past five years, I know I will still go back to singing. I asked my mentor in college, Prof. Bechie Valeña, to have a session with her, just so I could have another ear listening while preparing for the masterclass. My teacher is one of the persons who kept pushing my spirits up especially when I somewhat forget that I trained as a classical singer. She told me my voice is (still) there, and that I should keep on singing.

What’s even humbling is that the masterclasses were given to us as a scholarship, thanks to the generous sponsors. That is why we really encourage you to support Ms. Miricioiu’s concert on March 6, to further the cause of supporting local classical artists.

I should focus on this gift that God so generously gave me (I only had voice lessons in college, but have been playing the piano since I was four).

It’s only days before the Masterclass. Madame Nelly has arrived in Manila the other day to prepare for her concert on Friday. Which makes me all the more excited (and nervous!). I am looking forward to watch her on Friday, to sing and learn from Ms. Nelly and the other singers on the Masterclass sessions, and to the culminating concert in the next two weekends. Yes, it’s such a blessing that we get to present what we will be learning from the Masterclass:

Hope you could watch our performances, too!
Hope you could watch our performances, too!

 

I hope you could also join us and complete the Nelly Miricioiu experience!

 

Nelly Miricioiu in concert
March 6, 2015, Friday, 8:00 PM, Meralco Theater
For tickets, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or CAEO at 997-9483, 7827164, 0918-347-3027 or 0920-954-0053. Limited discounted tickets for students available via CAEO. You may also purchase online through Ticketworld at this link: https://www.ticketworld.com.ph/Online/NellyMiricioiu.

Nelly Miricioiu Voice Masterclass
March 9-11, 2015, 11:00AM-6:00PM
Ayala Museum, Makati
Free Admission (you may drop by anytime to observe)

Opera Gala
March 14 and 21, 2015, 7:00 PM
Ayala Museum, Makati
For tickets, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or CAEO at 997-9483, 7827164, 0918-347-3027 or 0920-954-0053.

 

REVIEW: Peekapak: Curricula for your everywhere learner

Whether your child is in school, at home, or on the go, as parents, we want to make sure they learn something anytime, anywhere.

Where do you usually turn to? Do you always have books, pens, crayons and papers within your reach? Do you have the same old characters in those sheets? Worry no more, because this homeschool curriculum we will get to know has new illustrated characters, new story and concept.

You can STILL get it for FREE! Click photo to go to link.
You can STILL get it for FREE! Click photo to go to link.

Peekapak is a resource for original stories, all available for use in school, at home, or online.

From their website:
Developed by Peekapak and education experts, our home curriculum extends your child’s learning into the home. The curriculum integrates the Common Core Standards and support the development of the 4C’s (Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking & Creativity) while providing families with interactive learning opportunities through an engaging original story, creative projects, and discussions.

Here’s what I can say about the lesson we did, Tree of Happiness.

STORY, LESSON. The story is easy to read and understand. Characters are relatable and colourful. For the teacher’s materials: detailed, comprehensive, and flexible.

ACTIVITIES. A one page printable tree, perhaps? I think I saw a bigger one. Likewise, for the story, the happy phrases can be written on leaves or appear on fruits, rather than tags. I have not tried the activities here cos materials has to be printed out, so we shall do it some other time.

Since I did not have time to print out the big tree, I instead had a Q and A with my child about the story. Then I asked her to accomplish this work folder.

Aria's happiness folder filled with action words describing what makes her happy.
Aria’s happiness folder filled with action words describing what makes her happy.

The last word is “loving.” She said she is happy when she is loving Daddy and Mommy. My heart melted! Such a sweet little girl. To keep the happiness higher, we danced to Pharell Williams’ Happy, learned to spell Happy, and thanked the Lord that our family is happy that moment.

Overall, Peekapak is a great product and I will recommend to fellow moms who seek activities for their children, homeschooling or not. This is a great addition to resources we are already familiar with.

Visit www.peekapak.com to know more about their products and services.

~ Touringkitty