Uncategorized

Summer Fun at Villa Escudero

The other tourist spot we went to this summer was Villa Escudero in Quezon. My cousin and I went there together, with my family, when we were young. This time, it was our kids’ turn. We hired a van to accommodate us all and it took us about 3 hours, with a couple of stops, to get there. It’s still a beautiful place, with better facilities. I honestly just wanted the kids to experience eating lunch by the waterfall like we did as kids haha. Although we failed to check out the museum and watch the cultural show, I’m happy that our kids got to enjoy the place.

The pink building behind the plane is the museum. We decided to go straight to the waterfall when we arrived and visit the museum in the afternoon, but then it closed at 5pm. We were too late.  Tip: visit the museum first!
The pink building behind the plane is the museum. We decided to go straight to the waterfall when we arrived and visit the museum later in the afternoon, but then it closed at 5pm. We were too late.
Tip: Visit the museum first!
You pay Php1,250 per head on weekdays, Php 1,400 on weekends and holidays. Only children below 4 feet are charged half, while babies like Gianna are free. That's inclusive of the carabao ride, entrance to the museum, use of the pool and rafts, all you can eat lunch at the waterfall. :)
Php1,250 per head on weekdays, Php 1,400 on weekends and holidays. Only children below 4 feet are charged half, while babies like Gianna are free. That’s inclusive of the carabao ride, entrance to the museum, use of the pool and bamboo rafts, all you can eat lunch at the waterfall. You can bring chips in, but not much else. 🙂
 Luningning was our carabao. We were amazed at her strength. She carried us, our stuff, and the musicians who played nice Filipino music for us. :)

Luningning was our carabao. We were amazed at her strength. She carried us, our stuff, and the musicians who played nice Filipino music for us. 🙂
A field we passed during our carabao ride. :)
A field we passed during our carabao ride. 🙂
Not sure if this is still in use.  A visit to the museum would have been helpful, haha. :)
Not sure if this is still in use. A visit to the museum would have been helpful, haha. 🙂
the waterfall! :)
The waterfall! 🙂
the waterfall from where we ate :)
The waterfall 🙂
lunch by the waterfall! :)
All you can eat lunch by the waterfall! They have water dispensers but other drinks aren’t part of the entrance fee. I ordered buko juice in its shell for Php40. Grilled pork, grilled tilapia, pancit and other Filipino dishes. On a banana leaf, with your bare hands. Yum. 🙂
the water was cold! the kids enjoyed wading and getting wet! :)
The water was cold! The kids enjoyed wading and getting wet! 🙂 Tip: Be there by 11AM because the place got surprisingly packed by 12PM.
i don't have a wide shot of the pools but they have 3 that look pretty well-maintained. :)
I don’t have a wide shot of the pools but they have 3 that look pretty well-maintained. 🙂
i don't have shots of the swimming pools, but they now have 3 that look pretty well maintained. swimming in the lake is prohibited, but the kids enjoyed fishing (for which they had nothing to show haha) and rafting. :)
Swimming in the lake is prohibited, but the kids enjoyed fishing (for which they had nothing to show haha) and rafting. 🙂
danae insisted on going rafting and my cousin's hubby accommodated her. thank you tito vincent! :)
Danae insisted on going rafting but King was not with us, so my cousin’s hubby accommodated her. Thank you tito Vincent! 🙂
the kids were fishing here, and the structure they are in is where they held the cultural show. i think it's also a restaurant. the show was quite lengthy and my cousin said it was great. i of course had to stay with my kids who were sometimes in 3 different places at the same time haha. :)
The kids were fishing here (Php100 for the rod, and I think you can keep or have whatever you catch cooked), and the structure they are in is where they hold the cultural show. It’s also a restaurant. The show was quite lengthy and my cousin said it was great. I of course had to stay with my kids who were sometimes in 3 different places at the same time haha. 🙂

The kids enjoyed swimming so much that we got out of the pool area late! We missed the carabao ride back. It would have been a tiring ten minute walk back to the front, if not for the electric shuttle. That’s also when we were told that the museum closes at 5PM. They have accommodations as well, but we only opted for a day trip. Click here for more information.

It was another memorable time for my kids. Even though they don’t see their cousins often, they will have these awesome memories to always go back to. I thank the Lord for opportunities like these. 🙂

Family, FEATURED

Summer Fun at Manila Ocean Park

It was a busy time in our household last month because we hosted my cousin and her family. It was my nephews’ and niece’s first time in Manila ever, as they reside in Cebu and San Carlos city, Negros Occidental. So about two months ago, their mom and I planned some activities for them to make it a memorable visit. One of the places we decided on was Manila Ocean Park (we were hoping to drop by Manila Zoo and Luneta Park too but failed to). IMG_0065 The Park

My family and I have been to Manila Ocean Park before when Danae’s pre-school had their field trip there, but that was more than  five years ago I believe. I did enjoy the oceanarium and the jellies, Danae kicked and giggled at the fish spa, and the only other thing I remember about the place was their mermaid show (because I found it very funny hahaha…sorry). Well, that and the facts that you pay for every attraction you want to enter and that one ticket equals one entry only. You choose which attractions you want and pay accordingly at the ticket counter. You enter each attraction, you exit, and there’s no going back unless you have another ticket. I find that odd because usually, you pay an entrance fee and are free to go in and out of whatever area you want to check out. Anyway, I was up for new, fun memories that my kids would make with their cousins. We searched online and discovered the summer promo! We went for the 13 attractions, which is really 11 because Trails to Antarctica has 2 parts and the other so-called attraction is a souvenir (go figure). Instead of it costing 4,350 Philippine pesos per head, it was Php990 per head. And when we got there, there was a promo on top of that! If you’re a group of 7, you could get the Php990-deal for Php890 per head. So we paid Php890 for 7 of us and then Php990 for the rest, except of course the baby. She, and anyone under 2 feet, is free.

Promo was until may 31 (I'm so sorry I was not able to post this sooner), but I'm sure there are other promos. I saw one on metro deal. :)
Promo was until may 31 (I’m so sorry I was not able to post this sooner), but I’m sure there are other promos. I saw one on metro deal. 🙂

The Attractions

The twins, my two other nieces, met us there. We arrived right before noon, and we were able to visit the Birds of Prey Kingdom first, and then catch the Bird Show at 1:15. There weren’t many people yet, and two of my nieces were chosen as volunteers for the show! Danae volunteered but kids were not allowed. That was a fun experience haha. IMG_0035

No pictures of my nieces volunteering. We were busy taking videos and laughing. :)
No pictures of my nieces volunteering. We were busy taking videos and laughing. 🙂

We saw a shark and touched a huge sting ray at the Sharks and Rays Dry Encounter (we forgot to buy our photo — cameras not allowed in this area) before we had our late lunch at North Park (there are restaurants inside, even a lunch buffet). We caught the 3pm Sea Lion Show (there was also a 5pm), in the same stadium as the bird show. We noticed a lot more people filling up the seats. We went straight to Trails to Antarctica. There was a snow village, which according to them was so tiny, it was literally just for a photo op. I did not go in because Gianna was not allowed due to the extreme cold I guess. I did get the kids to feed the penguins! It was Php300 for 2 people, but you could add Php100 for an extra person. That was my favorite part — that they not only got to see them, they got to be in the enclosure with them and feed them (touching was not allowed). They had a nice hallway with interactive stuff about Antarctica, which led to the fish spa and the Back of the House. 11304064_1072657429430928_86560067_n 11350013_1072657382764266_2144795017_n They all went into the spa to have a relaxing (and ticklish) 30 minutes with little fish eating the dead skin off their feet. And then right by it was the the Back of the House, where you could see what they do at the back of the house. Near the spa was also the Aquanaut and Glass Bottom Boat Ride, but we did not avail of those.

Back of the house. This is how they clean Manila Bay's water and use it. They also have a breeding room for jellies and small fish.
Back of the house. This is how they clean and use Manila Bay’s water. They also have a breeding room for jellies and small fish.

We got to the Penguin Talk Show right in time, around 530pm, where there is this funny penguin (cartoon and voice) talking to the audience. It was a treat for us since he singled out my girls and one of their cousins. My girls enjoyed that greatly. The Jellies Exhibit was nearby and it was our last chance at 6:15pm to visit it before it closed, so we went thru it quickly so we could make it in time for the Symphonies Show.

jellies! :)
jellies! 🙂

The stadium was packed! I didn’t expect much from the fountain show, but I enjoyed that a lot. It wasn’t hot anymore and I was comfortably (though my chair was broken) seated. There was music, fire, water. At the climax of a couple of songs, the water shot up extremely high and sprayed practically everybody as it came down. Everyone got a kick out of that one. There were fireworks at the end too. IMG_0167 We did the Oceanarium last since we could still catch the last entry time at 7:15pm. We were excited about all the fish! We were literally the last ones there. My phone died right about that time, and as much as I wanted to take more photos, I no longer could. IMG_0279 IMG_0281 IMG_0307

Was it worth it?

It was tiring and many times uncomfortable because of the heat, but it was worth it. I’ve seen better bird shows and sea lion shows, but it was worth it. Our kids learned and they made memories. They will look back at these times fondly as they grow up having good relationships with their cousins. I love my cousins and I love that my girls love their cousins too. 🙂

Family, TRAVEL

Last Hurrah Before School Started!

With so many things going on during the summer, I had to make time to plan ahead for homeschooling year 2014-2015, especially since I’d be giving birth in August. I had to consider not only Danae’s subjects and lessons, but also Noelle’s. Danae was incoming grade 3, and Noelle was officially enrolled in Prep/Kinder 2, her first serious year of homeschooling. I would be having two homeschoolers at different levels, and then a newborn. And since we wouldn’t be able to go on vacation for a while, I thought a last hurrah was in order before school started.

I asked King to book us an overnight stay in one of the resorts in Laiya, Batangas. We ended up staying in Blue Coral Resort. King took a leave, and we didn’t tell the girls where we were going. We just let them sleep early, and I packed while they were asleep. They were mostly asleep in the car too, but at one point Danae woke up and saw Blue Coral’s signage on the road. So of course, there was no fooling her. She knew where we were going, as she has heard us talk about the resort before. They were both excited when we arrived.

It was a nice family trip to have before homeschool began, especially as I realized that it was our first family beach trip by ourselves. All our trips, whether locally or internationally, have always been with other people. We usually travel with my mom, and we’ve travelled with her and my brother’s family. We’ve travelled with friends too. It was a first for us to be just us four. It was a good time to bond as a family.

Breakfast at McDo. :)
Breakfast at McDo. 🙂

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Playing in the sand near our cottage, while the  sun is still too hot. :)
Playing in the sand near our cottage, while the sun was still too hot. 🙂
Our bodyguard. :)
Our bodyguard. 🙂
I was able to enjoy the water as well. :)
I was able to enjoy the water as well. 7 mos preggo. 🙂
The water was great, but we had to vacate as soon as we saw some jelly fish. It was interesting for the kids (well, us too) because we thought it would feel jelly-like, but it was more like a hard gel.
The water was great, but we had to vacate as soon as we saw some jelly fish. It was interesting for the kids (well, us too) because we thought it would feel soft and jelly-like, but it was more like a hard gel.
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King and the girls enjoyed the pool. 🙂
Noelle was scared to slide down by herself but she eventually got the hang of it. It was her first time to conquer the water slide! :)
Noelle was scared to slide down by herself but she eventually got the hang of it. It was her first time to conquer the (small) water slide! 🙂
Me and my girls, after dinner. :)
Me and my girls, after dinner. 🙂
Playtime in the sand before going to bed. Had a couple of funny boo-boos -- one of em picked up something gross while thinking it was a coral or rock; the other picked up something that she thought was a rock but she literally freaked out & cried when it moved. Haha. :)
Playtime in the sand before going to bed. Had a couple of funny boo-boos — one of em picked up something gross while thinking it was a coral or rock; the other tried to pick up something that she thought was a rock but she literally freaked out & cried when it moved. Haha. 🙂
They found a hermit crab. :)
They found a hermit crab. 🙂
It was Danae's first time to kayak! :) I did some kayaking too, and almost tipped the kayak over with King in it, as I got down, hahaha. Heavy at 7 mos. :)
It was Danae’s first time to kayak! 🙂 I did some kayaking too, and almost tipped the kayak over with King in it, as I got down, hahaha. Heavy at 7 mos. No picture though, sorry. 🙂
She did it on her own too, but I was in the water so I have no picture. Hopefully she has one in her dad's cam. :)
Danae did it on her own too, but I was in the water so I have no picture. Hopefully she has one in her dad’s cam. 🙂
Last chance dip in the ocean. :)
Last dip in the ocean, after a couple of hours in the pool. 🙂

It was a short trip but we gathered a good bunch of memories out of it. The next time we travel, there will already be 5 of us. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Noelle and Reading

Next on our summer list, while the girls had art classes on certain days, was Noelle’s daily Reading and Math class for 3 weeks. We enrolled her in Right Start, a small school in our village, where my kids’ friends went to for pre-school. My friend Ken Amador offered to give Noelle a ride each morning to and from school, along with her son and niece. Thank God for generous, thoughtful friends indeed!

Noelle learned to read when she was 4, but I wasn’t really able to help her progress much. Maybe she wasn’t ready yet because she’d say she’s already tired, and sometimes she couldn’t remember the first letter she just pronounced. It was pretty easy to teach Danae to read, and so I was at a loss when it came to Noelle haha. I just let her be, injecting some reading exercises from time to time, but I decided not to force it. Now that she’s 5, and we’re formally (meaning enrolled and real grades will be involved) homeschooling her this year, I wanted her to be prepared. And because I wasn’t sure how to help her, I thought a summer class might do the trick.

What surprised me before classes started though, was that she WAS reading more words and she was more interested in trying. She would still guess sometimes, instead of really reading, but she was improving. By the time classes started, I knew that she was already able to read short sentences, to remember, understand, and repeat them. I gave her teacher a heads up and so they soon included her in the more advanced math and reading class (those entering 1st grade).  I was so proud of her for doing the work! She kept saying she’s already grade 1, haha. She’s incoming Prep or Kinder 2 actually. Her teachers even said that she works fast and always wants more. She still has much to improve on, but she has made progress. Now she can count to the hundreds too, when she couldn’t even count properly before — she’d always skip 19 and 20 for some reason haha.

The fact that I could leave her in class (of course I wanted to be there on her first day and some of her days) without any problems, and seeing her comfortable with her teachers and classmates made me even more proud. The last time she was in a regular school setting, she was very cooperative but didn’t talk much or display her true personality. Her teacher in Right Start was somewhat surprised that she is very well-socialized despite her being home-schooled (a common misconception; most homeschooled kids have no problem talking to other kids AND adults). I’m happy that though Noelle is the more reserved one compared to her sister, she is becoming more comfortable around new people.

I really believe that a child’s learning depends on their readiness. I’ve seen it time and time again with my kids, that it is easiest to train and teach them when they are ready. Danae was ready to eat at 4 months, while Noelle was ready at 6. They both were ready to be potty trained before they turned 3, and I believe they were diaper-free by age 3. Danae understood what discipline meant, though not necessarily adhering to it haha, at 11 months old, while Noelle understood when she was around 15 months old. Danae was ready to read at age 3, while Noelle became ready between 4 and 5. Though it is true that there are many things that can’t wait and that we ought to teach as early as possible, such as the Gospel, maybe how to communicate eye-to-eye, how to share, how to be respectful, how to obey, etc, there are certain things that we need to be more patient and discerning with. When I wait for the right timing, it becomes unforced, it takes less effort, and it results more often than not in success. 🙂

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Noelle chatting it up with her friend Bea on her first day at Right Start. 🙂
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Teacher Helen instructing them to write their names.
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Snack time!
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Bea, T. Helen, and Noelle after a birthday party in school. 🙂
My Kids

Art Lessons

I am absolutely grateful that I got better in time for my daughters’ summer activities! First on the list was art lessons. We hired a good friend, Maan, to teach the girls some painting. She’s a teacher and a freelance artist, does projects from wall murals to logos and menus, and joins exhibits as well. We’re thankful she accommodated us and made it easy for us. She took care of all the materials, agreed to a schedule that was comfortable for us, came to our house and did not limit their class time to an hour or two. She made sure the girls learned something.

We are very happy with the work that our girls were able to put out, with the close guidance of Tita/Teacher Maan. I’m so proud of Noelle because she has improved highly, sitting and listening to her teacher and following instructions, even though she took many breaks haha. Danae was very cooperative, and was happy that Maan let her try what she wanted to paint. They still make use of what they have learned, with no help from me as I am not at all a painter. I could have learned along with them but I was either too lazy, too tired, or not feeling well. King is the painter between us, and I know our girls got most of their creativity from him. They love to do art and create stuff. Sometimes they just get their materials and start drawing or painting away, though their paintings always look better when supervised by a pro. Sometimes they try to recreate something they see on a video.  They like clay and legos too. I do not want them to lose this interest and love for being creative, so I really hope I can encourage it even more during the entire homeschool year. I am also excited for next summer’s art lessons!

 

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They used acrylic paint in all their sessions. They painted on canvas straight away. 🙂

 

They painted snow-capped mountains. :)
They painted snow-capped mountains. 🙂

 

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Noelle’s finished work (with a little help with her shapes from Teacher) on the left, and Danae’s finished work on the right. 🙂
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They chose their Olafs and drew them on paper first. 🙂
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Noelle’s Olaf 🙂
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They traced their Olafs onto their snow-capped mountain paintings. 🙂
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Danae’s happy Olaf 🙂

 

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Painting the sun. 🙂
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Teacher painted the little boat for her. 🙂

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Danae wanted to paint Elsa 🙂
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Teacher let her choose which Elsa to copy. It turned out pretty nice. 🙂
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Noelle didn’t want to paint Elsa so Teacher taught her something else. 🙂
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Flowers 🙂
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Painting, using a brush, and using plastic on special paper to create the beach. Practice for their final painting. 🙂
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Danae wanted to paint their little friend Eli 🙂
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Cheeks! 🙂
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Noelle wanted to paint Ana. Teacher helped her with the face. I think she was in a hurry to translate it into painting that it didn’t turn out so perfectly, hehe. 🙂
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Noelle was out and too tired when she came back to paint the beach scene on canvas, so it was given to her as an assignment. Teacher put Danae in charge of helping her sister. 🙂
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Their final painting – Olaf on the beach! 🙂 Noelle was very sleepy that day, so she barely finished hers. She still needs to put some detail on her Olaf. 🙂

 

 

 

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Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Summer is over!

Summer is officially over because we started homeschooling yesterday! Where did the two months all go? As usual, it was hectic with all sorts of activities for the kids and for us. With April and May alone, I created about 29 albums in my Facebook account!

The highlights for me were the following:

noelletinychef
making Japanese fried rice!

Last May 22-24, it was Noelle’s first time at Feed 5000‘s Tiny Chefs class. She is finally old enough to join. She had a blast! She likes to pretend to cook, most especially with my things that are totally unrelated to cooking, i.e. boxes, jewellery, cards among other things. So it was great to see her participate in her 3-day cooking class. She was typically quiet at first, but warmed up already by end of day 1. Because she was the only tiny chef among older kids, I’m very proud of Danae for not hovering over her sister the entire time and letting Noelle do her own thing. I am also very pleased that although I seldom cook, I know I can count on them to help me.

danaeonstage
photo credit: Jo Tomas

On May 16-18, we had our Vacation Bible Camp in church. It was Danae’s first time to volunteer as a dancer and it has paved a way for her to volunteer in Kids Church as well. She’s enjoying it and is always willing to help. We really appreciate how the teachers are so accommodating. They told me one Sunday that they let Danae lead the dance and they, the teachers, just followed her! My hope is Danae will get a sense of fulfilment in giving of her time, energy and talent as she serves God by serving His people. My hope is that she will understand that it’s not about what she does, but what God does though her, that it’s not about her and her ability, but about God’s grace and love for her. It was also a joy for me to volunteer alongside my daughter. Looking forward to Noelle joining us in the years to come.

In April, Danae joined McDonald’s kiddie crew again but this time with their best friends Ana and Andrea. I am so grateful that my girls have great friends whom we know will influence them to love and obey God too; friends whose parents we know and actually look up to. It helps that they are our senior pastor and leaders in church haha. Noelle enjoyed getting McDonald’s goodies daily that whole week and is excited to join them next year!

kiddiecrewdanae
drive thru!

Summer 2013 has been another fruitful summer for our girls, for us all actually. My life has never been busier, but it’s worth it. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

SUMMER 2011

Summer 2011 has been one fruitful season!

Noelle learned shapes, letter sounds, counting, songs, and keeping her hair clip on for more than 5 minutes (haha) through her summer workshop. She learned to recognize authority and interact with her teachers. Even though at first she was not confident enough to stay in class by herself, she was very responsive. Her teachers would often say that they are sure that at least 1 was listening, because Noelle would almost always answer their questions. She would even assert herself, requesting for her favorite song Row Row Row Your Boat. And finally on the very last day of the workshop, she stayed in class by herself the whole 2 hours without crying!

And just recently, we’ve been on the beginning stages of Noelle’s toilet training. It’s been going on for more than a month now. So far, so good! After she poos in her all night nappy in the morning, we bathe her and no longer put nappy, unless we’re going out for the day. When I tried seeing if she was ready to be toilet trained a few months back, I saw that it was not yet time. She could not pee when I would sit her on the toilet. I thought of using a potty, but before I knew it, we didn’t need one anymore. She tells me and she easily does it now. There are still some accidents, naturally, but I suspect we’ll be nappy free before she turns 3! Just like her big sis!

Danae surprised me much over the summer. Aside from doing well in her cheer dance class and ballet class, she’s been getting better and better at swimming. No formal lessons yet but she can already swim in the deep, without floaters! She also learned to bike without both training wheels in a matter of hours. She was already biking with only one training wheel for a month, then King decided to take out the remaining one. In a matter of 2 hours, maybe even less, she could bike already! Her balancing skills have greatly improved, and so now she can also ride a 2-wheeled scooter and an adult skateboard by herself. Even her drawing skills improved! The stuff that she used to get frustrated with trying to copy and draw 2 years ago, she can now do nicely. She also got frustrated last year when she started trying to whistle and couldn’t. Now she can!

My kids amaze me. I am very proud of my girls for what they are able to accomplish. We are directly involved in helping them, true, but they’re the ones who actually do it. I am grateful that I have the luxury and privilege of witnessing almost every little milestone and breakthrough they experience. Can’t wait to see and document more! 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

MY GIRLS’ SUMMER SO FAR

My girls’ summer has been full of activities! They’ve gone to a number of swimming parties, play dates, and the like. Noelle started her summer workshop in Danae’s school Kidvantage Learning Center, while Danae is learning ballet in the pink class with TEAM Dance Studio, and has joined OLPMC’s free cheer dance class being handled by Eureka! She also recently finished the 3-day workshop with Chef Len Santos-Ding called Tiny Chefs.

Noelle is 2 years & 3 months old. It was her first time to attend school last Friday. She cried a few times and still needs me or King to stay with her, but I think she did okay. I can’t wait till she opens up, becomes comfortable with her classmates & her environment, and participate! She did enjoy playing with the materials in school. I have complete faith in T. Millet, Danae’s Nursery teacher, to help Noelle this summer. It’s going to be good practice for her when she really enters nursery in June 2012!

Although she’s learning 2 different and opposite dance styles, Danae’s enjoying both classes. Movement & rhythm come naturally to her, so it’s like she’s just playing. She’s the smallest & youngest in her cheer dance class but her teachers tell me that she can follow quite well. I’m so proud of her! She still doesn’t have the stance of a ballerina but she is having loads of fun and hopefully she will want to continue ballet classes till year-end or even further. I’d love to see her dance on stage in TEAM Dance Studio‘s annual December recital!

Tiny Chefs was a blast! This was Danae’s second time and there were more recipes this year, and maybe because they’re older (mostly 5  or 6), they did more grown up stuff! They sliced apples on their own chopping boards, cracked and beat their own egg, mixed their own ingredients, and so on. It was great for us moms too who were there to taste their creations haha. Yum!

I’m so thrilled with what my girls are learning, and doubly thrilled that they’re enjoying themselves!