On Buying and Buying More

Dear Teachers,
I just came from buying the textile paint you required for the integrated project, which cost P48.00 per jar, or roughly P150.00 for all three colors you specified. Unless the intention is to cover the entire shirt three times over with fabric paint, there is no way all three jars will be used up. There is no assurance there will be another project requiring fabric paint of the same colors, so we’d most likely end up with unused fabric paint that will most likely dry up and go to waste. At P150.00 per student, times 20 or so students, that’s about P3,000.00 of hard-earned money wasted in one section alone! Nakakapang-hinayang!
I also have issues about having more art materials to store. Across FOURTEEN years of having school-aged children, I have accumulated so much clutter from poster paint, construction paper, modeling clay, cartolina, etc left over from previous school projects, because having students buy materials individually has been standard practice in the schools my children attended.
May I please request then, if you don’t mind, that for future projects, to just assign students to bring materials they can pool and use as a group, rather than having them each buy ALL the materials for themselves? This way it will be more economical for parents and there will be less material left over after the project-making. In addition, we get to teach children, by example, the value of sharing, resourcefulness and thrift instead of encouraging a ‘buy and buy more’ attitude.
Personally I wouldn’t mind just sending money to pay for my child's share in the materials to be used. I suppose some of the other parents would feel the same way, since that would save us time, energy and gas (or fare) than if we were to go out and buy the materials ourselves.
In fact, if you could inform us weeks in advance about the materials the class would need for their projects, maybe some parents, myself included, will be glad to send over materials we already have at home for the class to share. This way we spare other parents the unnecessary expense, and we are able to put to good use things just lying around in the house or in storage.
I hope you would kindly look at these points under the spirit of open-mindedness and continuous improvement, but please let me know if I am asking too much.
God bless.

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Choi's First Taste of 'School'

This morning I brought my 2 1/2 year-old Choichoi to a nearby pre-school to try the school-readiness program offered there. My plan was to ease him into schooling little by little and if that works, we enrol him into the toddler program by June.

Choichoi entered the compound and later, the classroom, confidently and without hesitation as he has been to the school many times as a guest before. He gladly followed the teacher when led to his seat. But instead of getting seated, he remained standing and looked around, observing his surroundings and watched the other kids in the classroom.  And that's when he started getting anxious.

All around him, kids older and bigger than he is, were bawling their eyes out, crying for their moms/sitters who were asked to leave the room. Choichoi didn't want to get seated or to let go of my hand, sensing there was something very wrong in a classroom of crying kids.

To distract him from the ruckus I gave him a toy to get busy with, played with him a while, then slipped out of the room after one of the teachers asked me to, saying, "Para masanay po sila."

As soon as Choichoi realized what had happened, he started crying for me. "Mommy....! Mommy....," he pleaded, asking me to sit with him.  When he had the chance, he ran out of the room and to me, and no amount of coaxing, distracting nor pleading could make him head back.  When we went to the car and later, out to do some grocery, he didn't want to let go of my hand, choosing to hold on to me, when he usually would choose his yaya, given the choice.  He seemed afraid that I'd slip out again if he let go of my hand.

Separation Anxiety

The greatest fear of most children is being left alone, being around strangers in a strange place. I've seen and experienced this many times with my own children and saw it in many others, most of them school-age. (Heck, even people my age get anxious in new situations, around strange people and strange surroundings!) To put young children like Choichoi among strangers or a strange environment without the comforting presence of their parents or caregivers, and the continual threat that their parents will suddenly 'disappear' when they're not looking, is nothing short of traumatizing. I am actually worried that this morning's experience has left Choichoi a bad idea of 'school.'  I wonder about the other children, asking myself if the prolonged anxiety and absence of security taught them learned helplessness instead of independence that the school hoped for.

Working With It

This is not to say though that I am for giving in to, or encouraging clingy behavior.  What I'm saying is that we need to understand child psychology, and rather than fighting a child's weakness, we ought to work with it. Rather than dispersing the parents and having us wait out our children's bawling and pleading to be let out, I think the better alternative was to let us in and use our presence to comfort and calm the children, and then use what we know about our child's behavior, disposition, learning styles, etc to engage them and slowly win them over to trust the teachers and their new surroundings.

A Party, not a Class; Party Facilitators, not Teachers

I believe it would have been better had this morning's class been run like a children's party, had the teachers or the school administrators behaved like party facilitators.  Rarely do I see children crying for their mommies and wanting to leave in children's parties, even if they are among strangers in new surroundings. Party facilitators get children (and on some occasions, parents) to play, sing, dance and participate, get them to sit still to watch magic or puppet shows and listen intently to storytelling or demos.  I've even seen children forget their parents were ever with them because they were busy having fun or were just too engrossed!

By preventing separation anxiety or insecurity by having parents or caregivers nearby or just a glance away, the party facilitators allowed the children to move on to the more productive areas of wonderment, exploration, having fun and learning. By providing the right environment -- one that is supportive and nurturing, rather than oppressive and threatening -- the party facilitators win hands down in schooling children.

Where to, now?

So, I'm back to square one, still looking for the best place to ease the idea of schooling slowly in to Choichoi. I am not after rigid, academic learning yet, and I am more interested in providing Choichoi chances to socialize and learn from playing with children his age. Most importantly, I am looking for where going to school won't feel like a chore, or something to feel anxious or scared about.  Any recommendations?

The K Family's Hong Kong (Mis)Adventures

(Note:  I wrote this on our second night in Hong Kong during our family trip in 2011.)

After the disastrous two days of our three-day, first ever overseas family trip, I am forced to look back and see what I could have done differently.

I admit that I am never your laid-back, spur-of-the-moment kind of person.  I like having things planned, itineraries drawn out and costs mapped out.  My recently-discovered pregnancy however had me handing the controls to my husband, who is my exact opposite, so we left Manila with nothing fixed in our itineraries. Later we ended up guessing and second-guessing, taking chances and making mistakes, which cost us big deal in terms of money and time. (Which I sooooo hate, for which I am kicking myself.) 

Mistake #1. HOTEL CHOICE. Being undecided about where to go, we booked ourselves at Traders Hotel, which is near the city center but far away from the airport, HK Disneyland and Ngong Ping Cable Car.  If we had decided on the itinerary, we would have booked ourselves at Novotel City Gate (15 mins from the airport, and only two stations away from HK Disneyland).  That would have allowed us to go to Disneyland or Ngong Ping on our first day (instead of staying holed up and wasting time in the hotel), and would have meant less train ticket and taxi cab fares.

Mistake #2.  HOTEL TRANSFER.  Having enjoyed airport transfers in our last trip, we arranged for some in this trip, thinking it would be as stress-free and fast as before.  We were very wrong.  As the shuttle took other tourists to hotels at the Kowloon side first (which was nearer to the airport) and we were the last to be dropped off, we didn't get to the hotel until THREE HOURS after our arrival in HK. By then we were all very tired and hungry. (Makes me think if taking the Airport Express train was the better option despite our numerous luggage and having 3 kids in tow.)

Mistake #3. FOOD AND RESTO CHOICES. The restos near the hotel serve decent Chinese food, but they're not exactly appealing to kids.  On our first night my daughter wanted some soup and rice so we went out to buy some, but after shelling out about P300 for the food, she took only a few bites and insisted on going back to the hotel. (So sayang na naman.)

The following morning, after finding out that our rooms didn't come with complimentary breakfast, and not wanting to have to scour for kid-friendly restos, we had buffet breakfast at the hotel, which was again, a big mistake.  Mika had only congee (good thing her meal was free of charge), and the boys concentrated on Yang Chow Fried Rice and Siomai, which could have been had for only a fraction of what we paid at the hotel. Hay na naman!

Mistake #4: DISNEYLAND ON A PEAK DAY.  Having missed the chance to do something worthwhile and exciting for the kids on the first day, we took the chance and went to Disneyland on our second day, a Sunday, not to mention the last weekend before Holy Week. There were about a thousand people with us in the park, and it was very hard if not impossible to get good pictures. It looked like you had to be in line for at least an hour under the sun before you can ride, and we were only able to take the Buzz Lightyear ride. (Yes, only ONE RIDE from the entire park!) We had a very expensive lunch of Burgers and Fries at the Starliner Diner (which cost P2,000 for the five of us), bought a key chain and two ref magnets for souvenirs (which set me back another P1k), and walked out of the park because my husband has no patience with lines, Mika was cranky and had foot sores from the walking, and I was just exhausted. Which meant we basically threw away money spent on admission and the train and taxi rides that took us there. Ouch!

Perhaps we should have gone to The Peak instead? Or to Macau?

Mistake #5: NOT ENOUGH CLOTHES.  Getting back to the hotel from Disneyland an hour after, the boys wanted to swim but had no swimwear, so we went out to buy some.  We found fur jackets, shirts, jeans, slacks, bags, shoes, etc. but no swimwear.  Which is not a surprise because Hong Kong is not a swimming country.  Second, Hong Kong is not a swimming country. Third, Hong Kong is not a swimming country. People do not go to Hong Kong to swim, or buy swimwear! So there.  By 3:30 pm the sky has darkened and it has began to rain, with a thunderstorm alert issued.  So, the rest of Day 2 was spent holed up in the hotel again.  What a bummer!

In summary, NOT HAVING A PLAN is the biggest mistake I did. When you don't plan, things happen to you, and more often than not, these things are not the pleasant kind.  When you plan, you somehow make things happen for you, and you have better control of how they turn out.

I am such a control freak.

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I Won!

This came in by courier today. Totoo palang nanalo ako ng HP Mini for using HP original inks. ('Kala ko scam.) Thanks, HP Rewards!

Here's my take on how or why I won. It might work for you too!

When I replaced my empty cartridges with original HP inks, a prompt appeared that led me to HP Rewards, where there was a choice between getting discount vouchers at Store Specialists or joining a raffle.

Since I've never had any luck in raffles I never bothered about what's at stake there and chose to get the discount vouchers instead. HP Rewards emailed them to me promptly. 

I realized however that the discount vouchers were useless unless I spend (on things I probably don't need), so on the next prompt I chose to enter the raffle and expected nothing will come out of it.

So when I got the call from someone at HP Rewards saying I won I was 99% skeptical and 1% peeved that of the millions of people who can be chosen to test a scam on, I get picked. That feeling remain unchanged even when the notice of my win arrived by mail.

Yesterday I got a call again from HP advising me of today's delivery and asked that I prepare a copy of my ID. 

So did I? Nah. I had my ID photocopied only when the courier was already at the gate with my HP Mini today.

I figured maybe more people choose to get the discount vouchers (sure win, superficially) over joining the raffle. Maybe I was the only one who joined the raffle over a period so I won. :)

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Why AnneThology?

Anthology means a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts. My name is Anne, and this blog contains a collection of my thoughts, musings and writings (poems, short stories), some songs I like, plus a sprinkling of excerpts I find worth sharing --hence, AnneThology.

Did you know?

Anthology derives from the Greek word ἀνθολογία (anthologia; literally “flower-gathering”) for garland — or bouquet of flowers — which was the title of the earliest surviving anthology, assembled by Meleager of Gadara.

Look, what I have -- these are all for you.