Little readers



I got an email from a reader asking me how I am raising creative kids. It didn’t really dawn on me that we were doing that, at least not deliberately. So I’m working on a post about that.

Meanwhile, I felt inspired to write about how my little ones are enjoying books. Again, we didn’t do any of this on purpose. Patrick and I like reading. He does non-fiction and biographies. I enjoy the occasional biography but I appreciate a good fiction novel (And now, young adult fiction. Yes! But no vampire series.)

We like to hang out in book stores. So the kids got exposed to all that. They think National Book Store is the best place to shop at because that’s where they get their treats. When they do something awesome, we treat them to books or magazines. The girls are major Total Girl fans.

Here’s what it’s like in our home…


Bedtime. I found Kid1 reading to Kid3. But Kid3 had her own visuals, diff version. #books #reading #Seuss
Scene at bedtime. Sophia was reading out loud and Stella was following the pages using a different version of Dr. Seuss.


Sophia read the bible in Manga form when she was 6.


"Mama, please read Wild Things Are" - Stella, 2 is addicted to this book #Sendak
Stella’s most frequently used line while she was a toddler was, “Read to me.” This is a family favourite – Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.


When he reads to her... #love #dad #stella
Truth, I’m usually the one reading to the kids. We do it at bedtime and any time of day. I think I do a good reading voice – with feelings and voices. But no one takes my picture while doing so. Here is Patrick reading to Stella.


Soph reads to Lily
My kids aren’t geniuses nor are they in gifted class. They’re doing very well at school but we don’t go the extra mile to work on them being number one. I’m not really into pressure. This reading thing was purely for pleasure. And yes, we started them young. All babies were read to… all toddlers got reading time with mama… and now as little girls, they read on their own or sometimes together. This photo of Soph reading to Lily.


She was looking for Ivy&Bean Book 4 but it wasn't available at @nbsalert so she got Books 5 and 7 first. We ordered the 4&6. My little bookworm loves this series so much she tells me all about each chapter. I love how my girls love books! #reading #books
This year, Lily discovered her love for chapter books. The first chapter book she read all on her own was Ivy and Bean.


This boxed set of Books 1 to 3 was a gift from my sister Pauline.


This is a series about two girls who are so different from each other but are the best of friends.


It is a good first-book for young girls. It has a few illustrations. By the way, Lily wants to be a book illustrator when she grows up. She likes to make up her own stories and draw pictures to go with her “book”.


We are still looking for Ivy & Bean Book 9. In the meantime Lily started reading this series with her name as the star!


She hasn't taken off this windbreaker since I got it for her last Friday. Lily is into reading Ivy & Bean now. #lily #books #ivybean #greengate #uniqlo
Lily is devouring one book per day now. I don’t know how she does it. Apparently she reads a lot during lunch and at dismissal time. She is so amused with the books she’s reading that when I pick her up, she spends the entire ride home telling me all about the characters.


I found a spot in their tiny room where I had built-in shelves made. It’s their little library. As much as I want to maintain some order, it usually takes on a life of its own after a few days.


So on an average day, Stella’s shelf looks like this.


The higher shelf has their travel books.


The most frequently used shelf is just pure mayhem. Hodge podge.


Soph’s bedside table is a bit neater. She has her Magic Tree House series in a pull out basket. She’s been done with these two years ago and they’re just waiting to be read by Lily.


A few more series that Sophia loved – Geronimo Stilton and Charmseekers. Lily is now reading Charmseekers, one book per day! Soph is into 39 Clues.


Again, none of this was done deliberately. But I’m glad we’ve got one less thing to worry about at school. Reading, writing, language — those are their “things”. Wish we could say the same for math.

Any tips on raising math whiz kids? Haha.

Seriously, read with your kids. It’s good. It’s relaxing. It’s fun.



Lean In



I bought #LeanIn book yesterday after hearing that @sherylsandberg COO of Facebook was supposed to be on the same flight. Very inspiring for women - about success, equality, having it all, the myths & truths. Sheryl, can we be friends? I'm


I am currently reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. I’d been meaning to read it for a while but I only got reminded of it again when that Asiana plane crashed. Sandberg was supposed to be on board that flight but switched last minute.

The book is about women in leadership positions and why there aren’t enough of them. There are more women with college degrees than men; more women with excellent academic record than men. Yet only 4% of women are leaders of Fortune 500 companies in the US. According to Sandberg, the problem isn’t so much inequality in the workplace but more about women themselves. After the feminist revolution and employment equity was somehow (perceived to be) achieved, women still feel like they have to make tough choices – slow down at work, take care of the kids, explore other passions, fall out of the race altogether.

I am one of those women. I made the decision to leave the traditional workforce and do my own thing. Yes it’s because I wanted to focus on raising my children first. And no, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a privilege. You all know that story. Now I’m in business.

Sandberg says a lot of women hold themselves back – from seeking higher positions, negotiating for higher pay, exploring new ideas, starting their own companies. And a lot of these fears were caused by the stereotypes given to little girls. When little girls are assertive, they are labelled “bossy”. Sandberg says we have to change all that. Little girls who are called bossy are actually just showing great leadership skills.

The book raises a lot of questions as it tries to re-ignite the feminist revolution. Sandberg started an online Lean In community encouraging women anywhere to form groups and meet once a month. I’m actually thinking I want to form a circle of 8-10 women peers to discuss the book and take the steps — because though I’m not in any corporate organization, as a creative entrepreneur and tv host I do all the negotiating, planning, selling and collaborations by myself. Half the time I am just winging it. I wish I had a mentor.

Last April while in Toronto I met with a Canadian business leader, author, TV personality and venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson of the Dragons’ Den fame. It was a real meeting… in a boardroom. I’ve been dying to share this story and I hope to do so in another post. Arlene asked me a question that stayed with me. She said, “How do you know you’re not under-valuing yourself?” Wow. I always thought I knew my worth. But that question made me double, triple think.

A lot of us women under-value, under-represent, under-express ourselves. According to Sheryl Sandberg, this has to stop.



Going back to our fears – in the boardroom, in that lunch meeting, in school, at the PTA, in your community, at home, in a relationship – what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Have you read the book? Share your thoughts.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is available at National Book Store, P895.



Every tree matters



Our little piece of heaven
When typhoon Milenyo hit a few years ago, the young tree in our property fell. We don’t live there yet. So we only knew when we came for a visit. I was so sad about it. I wish we could have saved it.


Very old Kalachuchi tree
Some people would go to great lengths to save a tree. Our family’s friend transplanted a fallen (dying) tree onto her property. It lived beautifully after.


A Toronto landmark. Kit Kat restaurant famously has an old tree growing right through the building. It is still alive.


While away, I got a message that my favourite old tree in our neighbourhood at home was cut down. The ones who cut them were given a permit from the DENR. Whatever I say now may be futile. The tree is dead. They had a permit… whatever that meant.

It’s been weeks since I heard that news. I haven’t seen the carnage yet. I feel really sad about it. I know that the kids will cry a lot when they find out.

Yesterday while taking a walk in downtown Chicago, I noticed some trees with tags on them. Very powerful messages.


Every tree matters. Dear Metro Manila, lets do something like this. Because trees are still being cut for no reason. Sad. #mortonarboretum #everytreematters #tree #chicago
With the summer heat in the Philippines, don’t we wish we had more trees in the city?


In memory of my favourite neighbourhood tree. #rip #tree #chicago #nuffsaid
I wish people in my neighbourhood could see this.



Tree tags
A set of tree tags from Morton Arboretum.


The signs came from Morton Arboretum in Chicago. They created this wonderful campaign for the month of April where students and other organizations can get a tree tagging kit. Teachers are also given lesson plans. They also hand out sample press releases so groups and communities can share the news. Very powerful. Know more about the tree tags here.

Can we do something like this in the Philippines? Anyone? I’ll help…



Good Stuff // Col. Chris Hadfield



I’ve been following Col. Chris Hadfield on Twitter and Facebook. I love all his photos and updates from outer space. Col. Hadfield is the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station.

Sophia and I spent the afternoon watching his you tube videos about life in the space station. Then we ended up in this particular video about how he achieved his seemingly impossible goal of becoming an astronaut.

I’ve achieved nowhere near what an astronaut has achieved. But I can totally relate to what he said. Someone wise once told me the same thing (I think it was our guidance councillor in my Toronto high school) — that everything you do should add up to getting you closer to your end goal. I was in my mid-teens and I was already thinking of how my resume would look and this affected the kind of summer job I chose, the courses I specialized in and the extra-curricular activities I joined. And I had fun along the way.

Col Hadfield says it better.  Hope you find inspiration in this clip.



“Don’t measure the success of your life by one thing at the end. Measure the success of your life by each of the small victories along the way.” Col. Chris Hadfield.