Thursday, January 31, 2008

Are You Smarter than a 4th Grader?

Last week was quite toxic for me as my KiDS had their 3rd quarterly exams in school. It was like I was taking the exams myself. I do not police my KiDS schoolwork and homeworks regularly because they manage to do them themselves. They do have to be reminded and I have to check them when they are done. But other than that, I can expect them to work on their assigments independently.

Exam times are different though. And I think I only have myself to blame. You see, years ago, I instituted a review system for exams. I tell the KiDS to have an hour of quiet time just reading their books and notes, after which I ask them questions, to check if they remember, and most importantly, if they understand what they read. We start by having them stand at the end of the kitchen. Each correct answer, they advance one tile towards the living room. It is like a game show and indeed, I start each question with, "Diego, game ka na ba?" (Now, it's "Quez-tioon," ala Wowowee). I like it cause it lessens the stress of exam week (like Kahlo said, "Exam week - eeek!), and there's the positive externality of the KiDS learning about what the other is learning. Unfortunately, they enjoy it too much, that it has become mandatory for us to do this every exam. Which meant that I had to read and learn, too. And it's not that easy to come up with questions.

I mentioned before already that school children these days are more advanced in their studies. For instance, part of Diego's Science exams was about the Periodic Table of Elements. If I recall correctly, we studied this in high school Chemistry, my junior year. And I must have blacked out during the entire year because I barely recall the noble gases and atomic numbers.

From Sarah's notes, I learned about sublimation. I knew all about freezing, melting, evaporation and condensation (which their grade 2 exams covered) but sublimation? Of course, I had to pretend I knew all about this process of solids turning to gas all along lest my KiDS think they are smarter than their Mama.

I wasn't able to scrap the whole week and I was really looking forward to a whole Saturday of scrapping. For the first-time our mini-EB was going to be held on a Saturday and I was quite excited to attend, too. I have missed far too many sessions, and I miss my scrapper friends. But! It was not to be, as my two eldest had a Recollection in preparation for Sarah's First Holy Communion. So I had to accompany them again and wait until they finished. By which time I already had the beginnings of a headache. A nerve behind my eye started throbbing (must be all those useless facts swimming in my head) and by the time we got home at around 6 pm, it had developed into a full-blown migraine. I could only crawl into my bed and sleep it off as we had run out of paracetamol. Also, I learned the best way to cure a migraine is a dark, quiet, cool room. I slept fitfully as I was awakened sometimes by the silent drummer in my eye.

I wish I can say that after more than 15 hours of sleep I felt better but I think my drummer had an after-concert party. So there were still some twinges of discomfort when I woke up. I read messages from Cabbie and Candy on my cellphone before it died, with Candy promising to bring me medicine and this mystery cure-all called Borherding (tama ba?) Candy and I were to meet Ella Henderson, a PS member who arrived for a visit from the US. I wanted to meet her and I thought the sunlight and fresh air (what little we can get in Metro Manila) would do me good so I hied off to Makati with Candy. I had a fun lunch with them (Mia, Nita, Tin, Aby) in CPK Glorietta. And oh, did I mention the Stampin' Up stamps from Ella?

If you think I am rambling on, then you are quite right. I just miss posting. And my writing about my migraine is bringing it on again (I think I am hypochondriac) so I'm signing off now. Until next...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Focus on Just 3 Wishes

Woo-pee!!! I finally began and finished my Kaya! layout last night. I took the opportunity to scrap while KiDS and DH were having their regular movie night downstairs. I did sneak in to get some popcorn but I resisted the temptation to sit down and watch with them.

With these layout, I tried several things.

I used an imperfect picture. It was taken by Kahlo. Unsteady 6-year old hands and dim indoor lighting equals blurry photo. But she was so excited to have taken a picture of me and for me to scrap it that I couldn't bear to disappoint her. I just worked with the photo to show that life happens so fast, sometimes everything is just a blur. We just have to take a deep breath and focus on the most important things. In this case, it's very important for me to make Kahlo happy.

I also followed DH's advise to use simple patterns and laid-back colors so that they will not overpower my blurred photo. Yup, sometimes I do listen to him.

I used black UTEE for the first time (I have only used clear UTEE before). It saved me from having to paint my chipboard first and it's really really glossy. I tried to crack the chipboards, even put them in the freezer then gently bent them to get that cracked effect, but it didn't work. I just ended up tearing the letter F into two. If anyone can tell me how to do it correctly, it will be much appreciated.

I used my Brenda Walton arcylic alphabet stamps again. When I first started scrapbooking in 2006, I didn't know that you were supposed to remove the plastic backing from acrylic stamps and attach them to an acrylic block. I attached the letters to my fingers using rolled up Scotch tape. Hahaha. Thanks to Pinoy Scrapbookers I learned the right way soon enough.

Notice the dimension in this LO? Padded the cut flower (thank God the pattern wasn't very intricate) with foam. The rest, I owe to the chipboards and wooden tiles from Oriental Trading.

I finally replaced my favorite Colorbox ink - Chestnut Roan - and I went trigger-happy inking all the edges. I used to be so careful when I inked, staying within the lines. But now it's liberating to know that inking is supposed to make your LO look kinda grungy. So what if it's not straight or clean?

So what are my three wishes?
1) To be published in a widely circulated magazine. (And I don't mean with a scrapbooking layout but to be published as a writer. Academic researches, not included.)
2) To receive an international scholarship or fellowship. (It was really a toss-up between another wish - To work for an international organization like the ADB or the UN - but it has got to be one or the other. I chose study before work.)
3) To win in the Philippine Lotto and be mortgage-free. ('nough said. Hehe.)

Materials Used:
Jenni Bowlin PPS; Scenic Route, Craft Express, Heidi Swapp chipboards; Oriental Trading Company wood tiles; Brenda Walton acrylic stamps; Colorbox chalk ink; black UTEE and sepia Ranger Glossy Accents; Darice foam; UHU glue; Adobe Photoshop CS and Bell font.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I Heart Book Sale

My DH and I are Book Sale denizens. Since I started sending three KiDS to pre-school, I could no longer afford to have my monthly (when I was single, weekly) fix of brand-new, crease-free books. I learned not to be so picky when it came to reading the latest bestsellers, especially if I could get them at 75% less than the bookstore price. I figured, the quality of a book does not diminish with every reading it got. Also, I get a kick trying to guess who the earlier owners of previously-owned books are. You could learn alot about a person on how they lovingly write their names on the first page, or how they underline, sometimes double-underline, words or phrases that struck the very core of their souls. I have as much fun reading one unknown person's marginal notes as the author's rambling narrative.

So, with all their cheap books, no matter how musty or dusty, or even if the covers had been stripped, I heart Book Sale.

It was only recently though that I began haunting (yes, that is the perfect word to describe me as I hover between shelves and shelves of books and magazines) Book Sale for their scrapbooking magazines. It was mostly hit or miss, as I think there are not that many issues of Creating Keepsakes as OK or Yes Magazines to begin with. Sometimes, I'd get lucky, but most of the time, I went home magazine-less.

Until this year, I cooked up a plan. A plan to get all the scrapbooking magazines I can get my hands on on from every Book Sale branch I can visit. And was I successful? See for yourself.

7 on January 12

4 on January 16

3 on January 17 (DH got these for me)

And I didn't even have to spend more than a few minutes in each store or get my hands dusty.

At the risk of depriving myself of future scrapbooking loots such as these, let me share with you my strategy:

1) Don't waste your time going through the magazine bins. Ask the Book Sale (BS) personnel if they have scrapbooking magazines. They (usually) know their inventory. They even know if it's sold already. The really good ones even help you locate the magazine from memory.

2) Tell the BS person what items you usually buy. Ask them their names and their numbers. (I have a directory of all Book Sale branches within lakwatsa radius.) Leave your name and number with them. Ask them to call you when they have a delivery of scrapbook mags. (An actual call will depend on your relationship with them though.)

3) In connection, know the schedule when fresh stock is delivered. This is usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays at around 3 pm. They would have managed the inventory by 4 pm so that's a good time to haunt.

4) Befriend the senior BS person so that a) when s/he goes to the warehouse, s/he will remember to get you the items you like and b) when the inventory gets to their store, s/he will reserve these for you and call you. (Again, this depends on your actual relationship with them.)

The plan didn't really pan out for me at the start. I mean, who am I anyway, to demand reservations. During a hard day's work, I am just another customer for the sales person. So when I failed to elicit any encouraging response from the Book Sale nearest our studio, I decided to play my trump card. I brought in...hubby.

Now those of you who have met my DH know that he stands out in a crowd. With his long hair, he is quite easy to remember. The BS may not recall his name but there is instant recognition when he walks into the store. BS personnel rotate and get re-assigned in different branches so I am always pleasantly surprised DH is warmly welcomed at the most obscure Book Sale store. Note though, that my DH has a good track record with BS. When he buys, he buys in bulk. And when he makes a reservation, he gets them at the agreed time. So there is never any worry on the part of the BS personnel that s/he will be left hanging with unsold inventory.

So anyway, no amount of flirting with the sales guy helped. (OK, admittedly, I am not as young or as desirable as I was - mwahahaha). I did steps 1 - 4 but no can do. He went through the motions but he was very lukewarm. I knew I was never gonna get a phone call anytime soon. So I went out and asked DH to meet me at the Book Sale. When I came back, DH was already there digging for books. I called him honey, and I made sure the guy heard me, no, not to make him jealous, but simply to let him know, I'm with this guy. And guess what, the BS guy dug through his mags and asked me, "Ma'am nagbabasa kayo ng Paper Crafts?" I said, "Oo pero meron na ako niyan." Then he said, "Next time po may scrapbooking ma'am, ibibigay ko na lang kay Sir."

Oh, yes, being married to this long-haired guy certainly has its perks. :-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

My 2008 Scrapbooking V-M-O

To be a good scrapbooker, one that consistently records my family’s stories. I will record my memories through revealing photos and heart-felt journaling. I want that people who look at my scrapbook albums feel me in all the pages.


* I will consistently record my family’s stories. It should come as naturally as breathing.

* I will take honest, true-to-life, revealing photos. I will not wait for the perfect light, the perfect moment or the perfect outfit to bring that camera out.

* I will write honest, heart-felt stories. I will write for myself and my layouts' subjects, not for the incidental reader.

* I will be the scrapbooker that I am comfortable and happy with. I will try new products and techniques, join challenges and contests, but I will stay true to why I am into scrapbooking - to remember and be remembered.

* To create at least one layout a week. That should be at least 52 layouts by the end of the year.

* To finally start and finish Kahlo's Disneyland album and Diego/Sarah's Disneyland album. The reasons why I took up scrapbooking in the first place. That should make at least two albums completed this year.

* To make baby Jazmane's first year album before she has her second birthday in August.

* To start scrapping the photos from inside my photo boxes. Empty at least two boxes by the end of the year.

* To scrap more about me, myself, and I and my relationship with DH (I should scrap more of him, too.) At least 10 LOs about each of us.

* To learn at least one new technique and/or master the use of one tool each month.

* To refrain from hoarding. I will buy only things that I will use immediately, and even then, only after I had used up at least 50% of what I have now. (Specific items that are required by challenges not included).

* And finally, to just enjoy the process. This should be a fun creative year.

So what do you think? Are these doable? Of course, they are. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had the courage to post them here. I don't usually write these things down, especially not for public consumption, but it will encourage me to attain all of my objectives. I am sure that at the end of the year, an accounting will be demanded. And I want to be able to say, yes, I did all that.

(To read more about my visions/missions, click here.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Last Minute Madness

I really only meant to pick-up the firecrackers I ordered from Joyleen. But somehow, last December 31, through a force much powerful than my resolve, I ended up at Helen's Memory Lane store. My mantra was "get in, get out" but seeing all the scrapbooking goodies at the shop, it became "get in, spend, get out."

I have only been to Helen's store once in 2006, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that she has expanded her space. She has more items in her inventory, too. It was much easier to browse and therefore easier to be tempted by all she has in store (pun intended). I also didn't know that she has a wide selection of the latest scrapbooking books and magazines. She has some titles that I have in my Amazon cart and I don't even have to wait for the items to be shipped to me. She also allowed us to open the books and magazines from their plastic covers so we can actually browse them. Nothing turns me off more than a book wrapped in plastic telling me "off limits." I need to see what I am buying into.

This had a heady effect on Nita, Joyleen and I, and as against all resistance from our respective conscience, we purchased at least eight books between us. And these were not planned purchases at all. Truly, there is something about the pull of being able to preview a book to make you decide that you want it. While Amazon has this nifty feature that allows you to "search inside" a book, nothing beats seeing all those wonderful layouts up close and personal.

We did our darndest to ignore the call of the scrabooking items begging us to take them home, but Helen's cajoling and discounts made us go for broke. Pun intended again, broke being the operative word.

I spent more than the cash I had in my wallet. Helen accepts credit card payments but at a lesser discount and even if that was just a minimal amount, I couldn't justify that extra expense to myself anymore. Then I made the mistake of asking if she accepts EPS payments. She wasn't sure but after much trial and error, we were able to complete a transaction. Hurray for cashless shopping. Cashless being...never mind. :-)

Anyway, that was definitely my last scrapbooking purchase for the year 2007. I hope I get to put them all to good use.


This past month was really a challenge in terms of scheduling and multi-tasking. What with Christmas play rehearsals, the final shows (two), Christmas parties to attend, gift-shopping and giving, and to top it all off, the traffic and the crowds in the malls. It's enough to test Santa Claus' patience. But 'tis the season to be jolly and all, so deep inside, barring the traffic, I secretly enjoyed it all. I even enjoyed the ubiquitous Christmas muzak played in the malls, would you believe? While queuing at the cashiers to pay for the grocery and the presents, instead of minding the crowds, it dawned on me that I should be thankful.
  • thankful that I can even afford to buy presents
  • thankful that I have loved ones to give presents to
  • thankful that we received many invitations to parties, it means we are well-liked and well-loved
  • thankful that we received presents. It means that our family and friends are doing well, too.
Thank you dear friends who read this, as you are an integral part of my life's journey.

Wishing and hoping that in the coming year we will all achieve, receive and perceive all the things we want.