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30 July 2012

Countryschool children

Coconut trees chime with the mountain breeze cooling this country school in a cozy town known as the 'fruit and flower basket of South Cotabato,' a province an hour and a half plane ride from the Philippine capital of Manila. Children were queuing up to get to their classrooms when I got in for a friendly business chat with the principal.

 
Cashew Fia, girl in white shirt and sneakers, far left, runs to greet CJ (little boy blue with his back to the camera) who was late for flag ceremony. They are classmates in first grade. Srifle, the Red Riding Hood holding CJ's hand, is a girl I hired to help (the Grandma who is official guardian) look after CJ. Cheeky, my niece's dog escorted the duo. That must be his way of saying thank you for the free breakfast I gave him that morning.


There's a class entrance protocol that is new to me. Each child takes the teacher's right hand to have it touch lightly on his forehead, and then give the teacher a peck on the cheek before he enters the classroom. The teacher in turn hugs each child and says words of blessing before letting him in. It is done quickly and then the children settle in comfortably on their chairs. They start the class with a song, a Bible verse and a prayer.


Almost three decades have passed since I studied briefly in this school. Corn and lemon used to grow on the front yard. A couple of my family elders have since retired from the school board. Computers now work in the offices, no more yummy ube jam in the canteen, but the christian country charm continues to warm the heart. I will always like it that way.

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26 July 2012

Reading in the rain

In this post: Booking Through Thursday and Thursday Thirteen

GigiAnn asks:
Do you have a favorite season of the year that you read more? (Example: during snow storms, rainy weather, or sunny and warm weather)

Lisa asks:
Where is your favorite place to read? On the beach? Inside/outside?

During rainy weather! I love the rain, especially when I'm indoors. I love curling up in bed with a fuzzy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate or tea on the side table, and read read read. While traveling on a coach from Windsor Castle back to London, it rained. Hard. The next minute everything was white. That was my first snow experience ever and I was thinking... this would be perfect if there was a charming book in my hands right now!

The beach -- well, every time I'm on a beach I'm doing something else like catching up with family and friends so the bedroom with the rain pitter-pattering on the roof works very well for me.

Thursday 13: Books (on my TBR pile) for the rainy days
See if you might be interested in any of them. Most of them are recent.


1. Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart
murder mystery in Victorian England
2. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
private lives under government surveillance
3. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
a touch of sunny Tuscany
4. Things That Are by Amy Leach
communion with the wild world
5. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
hair removal, getting fat, tiny pants, expensive handbags
6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
psychological elements, problem of perception
7. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
wonder of life, animal and human
8. The Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes
the lost art of letter writing, amnesia
9. Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
lack of communication in sibling relationships
10. The White Devil by Justin Evans
contemporary horror set in a centuries-old boarding school, Lord Byron look-a-like
11. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
an artist's life, otherworldly beings
12. White Shotgun by April Smith
FBI agent, Italy
13. A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen
classic mystery feel

The hungry organ

Two Juglans regia walnuts.


"Give the body junk food and the brain is certainly going to suffer," comments nutritionist Bethany Thayer, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

It is statements like that that renews my horror every time I remember sacks of junk food at the ex-hubster's house, made available for my then 4-year old.

Experts ask parents, "'Want your child to do better in school? Take a close look at his or her diet. Certain "brain foods" may help boost a child's brain growth -- plus improve brain function, memory, and concentration.'"

The brain is called a very hungry organ.  Thayer explains that "it is the first among the body's organs to absorb nutrients from the food we eat."

WebMD presents these top ten brain foods that will help kids get the most from school. Their experts also provide preparing and serving suggestions:

24 July 2012

Bee in my bonnet

The phrase is defined in varied ways. The meaning presented on The Dictionary of Idioms on YANGLISH.com is one that describes how I feel one bright November day -

If someone is very excited about something, they have a bee in their bonnet.

We were about to tour a beautiful field of big blooms. This was so far the most exciting moment I had with nature in fifteen years being an expat.

ABC Wednesday


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Bee in my bonnet

The phrase is defined in varied ways. The meaning presented on The Dictionary of Idioms on YANGLISH.com is one that describes how I feel one bright November day -
If someone is very excited about something, they have a bee in their bonnet.

We were about to tour a beautiful field of big blooms. This was so far the most exciting moment I had with nature in fifteen years being an expat.

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20 July 2012

The humorous stimuli

Have you got a funny kid or have one among your friends or acquaintances?


If a child has sense of humor early on, it may mean he's got the genes. Study shows the same parts of the brain that respond to humor in adults are as active in children as early as six years old. And these parts of the brain develop; become more sophisticated with age.


Researchers say this "finding should lead to a better understanding of how positive emotions like a sense of humor develop and affect a child's well-being."

Let us touch a little on the significance of humor, the good kind of humor. Better clarify that as there's a dark sense of humor, a rotten sense of humor, a sick sense of humor, etcetera.  Researchers featured on WebMD specified "balanced and consistent sense of humor may help children negotiate the difficult period of pre-adolescence and adolescence."

Don't we all remember the confusion, difficulty as well as the excitement of adolescence? Do you remember how humor helped in whatever way?

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience show how researchers analyzed brain scans of 15 children aged 6 to 12 years while they watched short video clips. These videos were classified funny (funny and rewarding to watch), positive (rewarding but not funny), and neutral (neither rewarding nor funny).
The results showed that the funny videos activated two regions of the brain, i.e., a lot of activity; that are also activated in the adult brain in response to humor.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="75" caption="English: Dolphy, Filipino actor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)"]English: Dolphy, Filipino actor[/caption]

Talking of laughter, the passing away of the King of Comedy, Dolphy holds the top spot on Philippine broadcast media this week, doesn't it? How did he keep people laughing for sixty years? I wonder if he already showed signs of such talent when he was a kid.


Among the speeches at the tribute services, I find myself laughing through my tears at Nova Villa's account of her funny moments with Dolphy, eg. ("ay hindi pala si Tita Cory... huminto ako sa ka-iiyak dahil sa hiya..." "yon bang wine... pagdating sa bahay binuksan ni Tito Dolphy ang regalo ko, ayun patis!") I mistook Aunt Cory for someone... so embarrassed that I stopped crying.... That wine we were all keen at that time... when he got home Uncle Dolphy opened my gift, the bottle I gave him and voila! Fish sauce!


May I leave you, friends with this quote: He who laughs, lasts.


Although it doesn't biologically apply to the dearly departed Dolphy right now :)
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16 July 2012

Yelling: the cause, the casualty, & the cure

We are humans, we are normal. We do things, human things, and one of them is something anyone may have done or experienced - yelling or being yelled at.

Yelling: the cause, the casualty & the cure is a book packed with practical tips you need to know about the behavior. Author Lorrie Flem gently shows readers, mothers particularly, how negative a behavior yelling can be and how to learn to avoid and overcome it altogether. There are bits of real-life yelling episodes of individuals shown in the book. Some of them you may know to be true or reflective of someone you know.

You'll be surprised. Surprised that you may think you know how to handle yelling when you get around to it because you think it is not serious and sorting it out is a piece of cake. Or you may be surprised to realize that yelling needs to be cracked at now, not tomorrow or when you are ready to deal with it.

This book is a good eye-opener and guide to help you overcome the problem of yelling. To be frank, my mother had her fair share of yelling when she was raising me. While I think I have this behavior under control when I deal with my son, I do find several instances when I seem to think it is something normal enough I do not even recognize the urgency of avoiding or working to get rid of it. Reading this book made me realize that.

There is going to be a Kindle version of this book on Amazon. Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/cxbwsdy. What's great and exciting is, on July 24th the Kindle book will be FREE along with a bunch of other freebies. Check out the delightful Eternal Encouragement site for more information and details.  

And here's more: there is a Facebook Party for this book on July 24th and you are invited. Go to this link to see the times. It will be fun.

Happy reading!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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13 July 2012

Mild phone addiction



In a bid to make CJ follow his morning routine before going to school, i.e., eat, brush teeth and shower on time, I offered him a deal he could not say no to: his own mobile phone. He is mainly after the games so I bought him this China-made, disposable Nokia something.



And a mild addiction began surfacing. More worthwhile activities are put on hold. Yaya could hardly coax him to eat. Wasn't I told in previous talks with the Grandma that CJ was so keen on this sort of gadget? So I learned yet again.

The fun is on sending each other messages when we are actually just a room apart, no matter how terse replies to my full sentences are. Some indulgence during a two-week vacation when distance between us shrank could not be very bad. Gradual phone use restriction should be in order now that I'm back to reality, a.k.a. work.

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