Saturday, 2 May 2015

Coping With Corporate Meetings

By the time you hit motherhood in your corporate life, you've been around long enough to go through a lot of big corporate meetings.  Why is it that you put 15 brilliant people in the same room, and everyone always thinks they could have done so much more with their time? How many times have we snuck in some work in the middle of these things?

I'm afraid motherhood jacks up the stakes a lot more : time isn't just money, time is family.

So this is what I do:

I've become very good at spotting a point that sounds like it could have high impact but inevitably falls short of anything truly actionable.  The motherhood statement.  Usually preceding a very long justification without ever really saying anything.  When you get really good, you can quickly spot the generic speakers early and tune them out five seconds into their speech.

 I switch to blessed autopilot for a few minutes of working.

Usually it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.

Take last week.

I was at a multi-country meeting representing the local business.  By the afternoon of day one, I knew when it was safe enough to switch to auto-pilot.  Until: "so what does the Philippines think?" snapped me out of it.  Crap.  I had to ask to repeat the question.

My auto-pilot mode needs work.  Truth is, I'm horrible at multi-tasking.

Give me some advice, folks!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Make A Map Real

Sometimes a weekend play idea just comes naturally if you have some ready-play materials hanging around.  Here's how some of the play ideas I wrote about before came together like fate: our sensory tub of rice, tree trimmings, a map from a zoo trip and some random toys.

I would like to say that this is great spatial intelligence practice, but heck it's just something I wanted to play with myself.  When I was a kid, the setup was sometimes more fun than the actual play.

I was so distracted, I didn't get a chance to snap a shot of the play invitation.  The idea was to make a small-world zoo using the map we have as a guide.

I had put out those clear acrylic boxes to use as an aquarium, but it was entirely her idea to cut up some blue origami paper to use as water.  She and I went back and forth inside her room to grab supplies she thought of in the middle of the setup. 

The feel of the rice in the bin is so addicting:

Here's part of the River Safari Zoo in Singapore.  With her favourites red panda and panda amid the forest enclosure - old tree trimmings from the Christmas tree scraps I saved:

Left: panda enclosure.  Right: aquariums with river life

She used her wooden blocks to make the African animals area:

Finally, she wanted to make the polar bear enclosure with water beads:

Yes we have this box of water beads (Orbeez in toy stores) ready in her toy closet.

And ice:

Until she said it was ready for the polar bears to move in:

The zoo is ready for play!

I put the zoo bin back in the roll-out drawer for ready access for a few weeks, but this is one time the process of play trumps the result.

Unless the result is this, that is!

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Friday, 3 April 2015

A Cure for Black Thumbs

I finally found it, nearly two years after I embarked on project greenify inside the house.  The cure for my black thumb is just finding a plant that never dies.  And when you find it, you just run with it.

All over the house.  

Utility areas
Outside the windows of each bedroom
The pattern is clear

Unashamedly repetitive of me
Outdoors, indoors - they're all the same
Christmas and beyond
Big or small

High or low or in-between.

Don't the pops of green look so fresh?  The air literally feels healthier.

That plant is called a Pothos - and it's super easy to propagate all 35 of these pots around my home from just a couple of healthy ones.  Yup, I have 35 of these same white pots with the same plant.  I kind of think this makes the greenery look neat.  

Maybe it's because my house is always messy.  

I was going to share a few other successes from other plant species I braved my way to, but just a few weeks ago, our helper went back to her hometown and ... they've died.  So I guess they weren't as black-thumb friendly as I thought:

They say you can't screw up succulents but pfffft 
That tall one is gone now
And this one is getting thinner and thinner
 I knew it was too good to be true!

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Saturday, 21 March 2015

For The Love of Splash Pads

As a parent in the third-world, I tend to be overly protective of my little girl.  Which usually means she can't get dirty, wet or sweaty for fear of getting sick.  A visit to Singapore as a first-time parent changed all that.  Thanks to public splash pads which are nearly everywhere.

It was liberating for both of us.

Gardens by the Bay
Singapore Zoo
Jurong Bird Park
Jacob Ballas Children's Garden
Vivo City Mall 
KLCC Park in Malaysia
Hong Kong Disneyland
Shangrila Mactan in Cebu (or any Shangrila Hotel in Manila) - not public anymore though!

Public splash pads are sorely missing in Manila,  but I've been desensitised now so I don't mind this:

SM Aura
At Market, Market fountain.  This time I left her spare clothes in the car so I had to wrap her in my cardigan afterwards!
If you've found other splash pads or fountains I'd love to know!

Here's our DIY version.  We've had it for three years now:

I felt ridiculous for buying it because all it is is a plastic tube with holes.  But how fun.

Just hook up a hose and you're good to go.

At her lolo and lola's house in Tagaytay
With her cousin's baby pool last year
With a cheap tin foil-made river when we had no plastic pool

And with another cousin who couldn't resist it either!

I don't have a garden or backyard space either, but maybe the garage this summer if we're desperate.   

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Sunday, 15 March 2015

What We Do With Book Jackets

If you're anal about keeping your books good-as-new, look away right now.  
You won't like seeing what I do with them.

I've been cutting up the dust jackets on Ladybug Girl's books ever since we started buying them. 

Like a ritual, she always removed the dust covers because they got in the way of reading.  I soon got tired of being book-anal myself so I began to think of ways to squeeze some use from the covers rather than keeping them in storage or throwing them in the trash.

We have this box in her art shelf for making collages or artwork:
A few books into this, I've delegated the cutting to Yaya  

I lost the pictures of some of the artwork from this box, but you get the idea.  Sometimes we take the box to bed at night, and I choose a random cut-out and ask if she remembers the book and what happened in the story.  Just fun.

If you're really serious about squeezing more use out of the covers, cut out the words.  I left this invitation to make her own silly phrases which is really sneaky practice in early creative writing.  This one was inspired by the Montessori movable alphabet.

All it is my favorite contact paper stuck down to her easel, sticky-side out:

We had a good laugh after I got home to see what phrases she made.

Last one to share is my favourite.  You know how the dust jackets print a preview of what the book is about?  I have that cut up too along with the title.  Like an answer sheet, she has to stick the correct title to match the preview.  This one was inspired by the hands-on Montessori nomenclature work where a child matches cards.  Something like this:

And this:

That's still contact paper stuck down to the tray, sticky-side up

I once used a box-lid and washi-tape instead of the whole contact paper set-up.  Washi tape re-sticks easily so it's easy to move around the titles:

As an early reader it was one of her favourite activities to do. 

If you're wondering how our cover-less books are doing, I've never missed them.  Those hardcovers are pretty sturdy!  Sometimes you have to let go of the extras if you want to make shortcuts.  

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