Thursday, October 11, 2012


My backlog for this 31-day challenge is piling up by the day, and I can't catch up. So much has happened the last few days: cramps that had me stay in bed the whole day, friends coming over, daughter with fever, helping out with a friend's wedding, family get-togethers and 2 birthdays!  Such is life, and like I said, it sometimes gets in the way of writing about life.

I understand now why the experts say its wise to write in advance and schedule your posts ahead of time.  The thing is, I found out about this link-up on the day it was launched and didn't have time to do that. However, I'm not giving up just yet.  I'll press on and write as much as I can.  Apologies for the gaps in the series, will fill them up as soon as I have the time!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Instant Gratification: Forward Facing Bookshelf

Our  next family project is a huge one and I'm giddy with excitement over it.  We're making a shared kids' room!  Its more of converting a room we've used as storage into one that's kid-friendly and baby-safe at the same time, so we're gearing up for a lot of cleaning, organizing and maybe even a garage sale in the next few weeks.  Meantime, our five-year old architect wannabe and I have begun to gather ideas and create inspiration boards.  We're so excited to share this project with you as it unfolds.

If there's one non-negotiable thing in our shared kids' room, its forward-facing bookshelves. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they make it easy for little hands to choose what book they like to read.  And if the books are easy to get, they're easy to return.  Take a look at these beauties:

These ones nicely take up the whole wall:

This one is cleverly made from spice racks (and I might just steal this idea):

And this one from scrap cloth and dowels:

If you have the space for it, this one is made locally and you can order one here:

For our tiny space, this plate rack is perfect.  If budget permits, we'll have one (or two, or three!) made:

As I was cleaning out our bedroom bookshelf a few weeks ago, I was inspired to create a temporary forward-facing bookshelf for our little reader. I rummaged through our stuff to find something I could use as a shelf.  I found a small plastic basket and made it work:

Since its a very lightweight plastic basket, I had to make sure it wouldn't topple over when I put the books in.  A filled-up vanity kit that was as tall as the basket was the perfect solution! I then arranged the books according to size, with the smallest ones on the front.  I was able to fit 14 books comfortably. Not bad at all! Here's how it looks like on our bedroom bookshelf:

Happy instant gratification! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

For the Stargazers this October

Checkout these cool talks and workshops by the Mind Museum:

If my bed rest status improves, I would love to go to Stalking the Stars. It would be a perfect activity for our afterschool lessons on outer space. This would be a good time to explore the museum as well, if you haven't yet. Get your tickets here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Playdough Fun

When my daughter first laid hand on play doh, it was love at first touch.  Her aunts, uncles & grandparents were only too happy to oblige her with play doh sets that came with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to squeeze, mold and decorate the soft, colourful dough.  Pretty soon we were buying play doh refills since they dry out and become brittle after being exposed to the air for some time.  Then I discovered how easy and fun it was to make your own play dough at home and our lives were never the same.

ingredients for making your own playdough
The easiest, most foolproof recipe I’ve tried comes from this site.  (Be sure to check out her ideas on other play dough “flavours!”) The ingredients can be bought from your friendly supermarket, and the steps to making your own playdough at home are quite simple.  I just follow these instructions to the letter, and the finished product would look something like this:

Aren’t those the prettiest things? The best part is getting your hands on the warm, soft dough and kneading it into a nice, smooth ball. It’s very therapeutic.  Sometimes it will be stickier than usual (especially if you do this during the hot summer days).  When that happens, just pour some flour onto your surface and keep rolling your dough in it until it becomes smooth and less sticky.  I put the colors in, a few drops at a time, before the dough cools completely.  Experimenting with color combinations and other add-ons is the other fun part! Here are some of the ways we've had fun with play dough:  

A rolling pin and cookie cutters makes a very happy little pastry chef

Re-creation of the landscape of the Lorax movie

Cupcakes that are almost good enough to eat

Sadly, I don’t have pictures of our other playdough adventures and experiments to share with you.  But that only means there’s room to make more! The internet is full of playdough inspiration to steal and have fun with.  You might want to checkout:

what we’re doing next, and its perfect for our outer spaceunit 

You see, the possibilities are endless, so is the fun!  Have you tried making your own playdough? Any playdough-making and playdough fun tips you want to share?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Within These Four Walls: 31 days of writing everyday

Someone once said it takes 21 times of doing something to turn it into a habit.

If you do that thing once every day, then it takes 21 days. 

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to put discipline into a passion that I have.  It’s something that I love doing, but I (don’t have) don’t actually make time for. The passion? Writing. My excuse? Life gets in the way of writing about life.  It’s the convenient way I’ve justified my lack of discipline, time management skills, and commitment.  The result? I’ve missed out on recording moments, being blessed by memories, sharing life lessons and good things, the sheer joy of gathering words together to form art that the heart just simply understands. 

And I don’t want to miss out anymore.

So I’m jumping right in.  I’m taking on the happy challenge to write everyday for 31 days by joining Nester’s 31 days link up.  I’ve tossed and turned last night just thinking about the topics I want to write about.  But I’ve realized that in order for this to work for me, I have to make it as simple as possible.  So I’m just going to write about everyday life, with what I have, from where I am.  I hope to see you here.

Are you writing for 31 days also? If so, I’d love to hear about it.  See you tomorrow!

Links to the series:

Day 1 - Within these four walls
Day 2 - Homemade playdough fun
Day 3 - For the stargazers
Day 4 - Instant forward-facing bookshelf
Day 5 -
Day 6 - Weekend
Day 7 - Weekend
Day 8 -
Day 9 -
Day 10 -
Day 11 - Backlogged

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have a book-filled weekend!

Because I'm back on bed rest, I'll be missing the 33rd Manila International Book Fair. Sigh. I'll be dreaming about the thrill of walking down the aisles, checking out the booths, admiring beautiful book covers, smelling new books, and squealing at good finds. I was hoping to snag this devotional book for children, and complete our collection of "Oh, Mateo!" storybooks. We sure could use some new Kumon workbooks, and I know I won't be able to resist a new cookbook! Oh dear. I want to go so badly.  Perhaps the grandparents might want to take the little girl? I'll make sure to pack my list in her tiny backpack. Maybe we can even skype while they're there so I could virtually tour the booths...  

Are you going to the book fair? What books are you planning to buy?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Have you been to Museo Marino?

My daughter's class has been learning about all sorts of vehicles this school year.  When the letter about her first field trip came, we were excited and intrigued.  We've never heard of Museo Marino before.  After a few clicks on google, we learned that it was a new museum in Manila dedicated to the work of seafarers. I wasn't able to go with my daughter, so I asked her to fill me in on the sights.

Here's what the museum has to offer, from a 5 year old's perspective:

  • a secret movie house for watching movies
  • emergency accessories of the boat
  • a canoe
  • a propeller
  • artwork in frames
  • lots and lots of maps in secret drawers
  • flags with different patterns

If the above doesn't give you enough reason to go and check it out, here are some pictures of the museum's features that my sister took during the field trip:

Walls of seafarer stories

Video kiosks about the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen's Union of the Philippines and the All Japan Seamen's Union

Model Ships - the boys are going to love this

Portholes into the past

the camera couldn't capture enough of what can be seen inside the portholes
Maps and Timelines

Ship parts and accessories on display

the emergency accessories

(why won't this image rotate to portrait here? hmph!)
A life-sized lifeboat where you can have snacks under...

while admiring the colorful artwork about seafarers and their families

Bonus:  the flags!

According to this article, many other sections are still being developed.  All in all, its a good place to learn about seafarers and the hard work that they are doing for our country.  When are you going?

Museum Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday    Saturday 9:00 a.m. to noon 
Address: 814 J. Nakpil corner Pilar Hidalgo Lim Sts., Malate Manila      Tel No:  ( 02) 353-81-80 Email:                                                    Free admission.

P.S. Homeschool Extras

This trip would be a perfect complement to a unit on water transportation.  Some suggestions to enhance this experience:

  • a side-trip to the pier to see the passenger / cargo ships or to Manila Bay to see the docked yachts.  Have snacks along the area and wait for the sunset, too.
  • a cruise on Manila Bay
  • Do you know a seafarer? Why not invite him into your home and have your child interview him about life on a ship.  
Do you have other suggestions? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Photos by my sister Tiffanie