Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Preparing for school

I've started doing some of the hundred or so things I needed to do before the start of classes on June 6. My husband and I went out of our way to buy Dylan's school requirements, venturing as far as Magallanes St. in Cebu City, because my friend said things were sold cheap there.

It was a nightmarish walk through Manalili St., what with all the people scurrying to and fro and crazy drivers in a hurry to get to their destinations.

When we arrived in La Nueva, my husband was told to leave his bag at the baggage counter only they did not have any number tag left and so we had to wait until someone claims a bag or package before they'd allow us in. What is with that? Don't they want customers? Can't they make any more tags knowing what they have are not sufficient anymore?

It was a good 15 minutes before we were able to finally come in. Someone made of less tolerant stuff would have left already. We hurriedly bought all the things we needed and thankfully got out of there.

My friend was right. The things sold there were less expensive than those in department stores. I'm not sure now, though, if I'd trade savings of less than a hundred for the comforts of SM or Ayala.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Flood in the house

A deluge of biblical proportions (overstatement) swept through our living room from the kitchen shortly before dawn last week soaking (understatement) everything in its path including Lennon's favorite books because he took them from where they would have been safe from the water when he woke up at 1 a.m. and left them on the floor afterwards.

The rain gutter and downspout could not handle the sudden onslaught of the water and so it found all possible means of getting out of its narrow confines into wider areas like our kitchen and living room.

It happened before dawn and nobody was awake, not even daddy, who is notorious for keeping very strange hours--like sleeping at 6 a.m. and waking up at 3 p.m.

To say that we did not expect that would be the understatement of the year. It was so hot before it rained, who would have expected a downpour as heavy as that with such clear skies the night before.

So there we were, drenched carpet and all, mystified at how a night so perfect could turn into a day so rotten.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Carrie is American Idol

Carrie Underwood won the American Idol title. Yehey!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Loving astronomy

Of all the sciences, I really love and appreciate astronomy the most and I think this bias has rubbed off on my sons. Dylan loves reading about our solar system and even knows a lot about the sun and the major planets. He simply cannot have enough of Saturn's beautiful rings and Jupiter's many moons. He loves finding out about space, the stars, and black holes.

One of Lennon's favorite things is a picture book on the sun, moon and the planets. Whenever he wakes up in the wee hours of the morning, he'd get that book and look at it. The craters on the moon and the fiery sun fascinate him and he'd point to the pictures again and again.

If there is anything we all agree on, it is looking at all the awesome pictures (such as this one) of newly born stars, nebulas, surfaces of planets, moons, comets, asteroids and other stuff that astromers provide.

Sometimes, on cloudless nights, we'd go outside and gaze at the multitude of stars that fill our sky, they hang so low we could almost touch them with our hands. On some days, beautiful Venus appears and takes our breaths away.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Next American Idol

One thing I'm really looking foward to this week is the American Idol finale on Wednesday (performance night) and Thursday (decision time).

I hope Carrie Underwood will win. She has been my favorite from the start. Bo Bice is great, too, but Carrie is star material. Most of my friends and officemates prefer Bo, though.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Star Wars III (Sith happens)

Dylan wants to watch the third episode of Star Wars, "in the moviehouse and not in DVD", so his dad and I went to check it out first to see if it was acceptable viewing material for a six-year-old boy.

Aside from some bad acting and the rat in the moviehouse, I'd say it would do for a young boy. I'm sure my son would find it awesome, special effects and all. I was probably already biased about the acting even before I went inside the cinema, having read a review somewhere that said it stank.

Coming inside the moviehouse at the most inopportune time, a scene or two before Anakin Skywalker aligned himself with the dark side, did not help either. I kept wondering why it was so easy to turn someone who had grown up in the good side of the force and the skepticism stayed even after I watched it from the start and realized that his fear of Padme (Natalie Portman) dying was what caused him to betray the Jedi order.

My son keeps bugging me about watching the movie already. I guess when I sit through that again, I'd watch out for the political message that George Lucas supposedly embedded in his movie.

For a review on the scientific complexities involving a war in the stars, click here.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A morning of tantrums

Lennon woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and proceeded to make my life difficult. He cried every time I attempted to use the computer. It irked him to see Dylan and me talking. Any wrong move on my part sent him on a fit of bad temper. He was crying and screaming for me from the bedroom by the time I finished talking to someone on the phone.

The temper tantrum lasted the whole morning. I spent half the day pacifying him by hugging and kissing him and calling him my "love" and my "sweet baby".

When I was called to Dylan's school in the afternoon because the person doing the paint job on the classroom and tables had to be paid, there was no other recourse but to take Lennon with me. Naturally, Dylan had to be brought along as well. Needless to say, it was an especially trying day.

Knowing Sedna

Dylan tells me that he wants to be a scientist. This is a vast improvement from last year's wish to become a security guard. I showed him this speech written by the scientist behind the Bad Astronomy Blog and Dylan asked me to read it to him. I'm posting the whole speech here.

I know a place where the Sun never sets.

It’s a mountain, and it’s on the Moon. It sticks up so high that even as the Moon spins, it’s in perpetual daylight. Radiation from the Sun pours down on there day and night, 24 hours a day—well, the Moon’s day is actually about 4 weeks long, so the sunlight pours down there 708 hours a day.

I know a place where the Sun never shines. It’s at the bottom of the ocean. A crack in the crust there exudes nasty chemicals and heats the water to the boiling point. This would kill a human instantly, but there are creatures there, bacteria, that thrive. They eat the sulfur from the vent, and excrete sulfuric acid.

I know a place where the temperature is 15 million degrees, and the pressure would crush you to a microscopic dot. That place is the core of the Sun.

I know a place where the magnetic fields would rip you apart, atom by atom: the surface of a neutron star, a magnetar.

I know a place where life began billions of years ago. That place is here, the Earth.

I know these places because I’m a scientist.

Science is a way of finding things out. It’s a way of testing what’s real. It’s what Richard Feynman called “A way of not fooling ourselves.”

No astrologer ever predicted the existence of Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. No modern astrologer had a clue about Sedna, a ball of ice half the size of Pluto that orbits even farther out. No astrologer predicted the more than 150 planets now known to orbit other suns.

But scientists did.

No psychic, despite their claims, has ever helped the police solve a crime. But forensic scientists have, all the time.

It wasn’t someone who practices homeopathy who found a cure for smallpox, or polio. Scientists did, medical scientists.

No creationist ever cracked the genetic code. Chemists did. Molecular biologists did.

They used physics. They used math. They used chemistry, biology, astronomy, engineering.

They used science.

These are all the things you discovered doing your projects. All the things that brought you here today.

Computers? Cell phones? Rockets to Saturn, probes to the ocean floor, PSP, gamecubes, gameboys, X-boxes?
All by scientists.

Those places I talked about before—you can get to know them too. You can experience the wonder of seeing them for the first time, the thrill of discovery, the incredible, visceral feeling of doing something no one has ever done before, seen things no one has seen before, know something no one else has ever known.

No crystal balls, no tarot cards, no horoscopes. Just you, your brain, and your ability to think.

Welcome to science. You’re gonna like it here.


Dylan was very interested to hear about Sedna and asked to use the computer because he wants to know more about this ball of ice on the fringes of our solar system. He was also amazed to learn that it was always day on one part of the moon.

I just love this side of him that seeks answers to how things work. The wonder on his face when he learns something new is priceless.

When I came to that part in the speech that mentioned a place where life began billions of years ago, he butted in excitedly to say he knows where that place is.

I asked, "Oh yeah? Where?"

"Earth," he answered. He'd make a great scientist. I should know, I'm his mom.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Brigada Eskwela

I arrived late (10 a.m.) for the Brigada Eskwela today and had to suffer sullen looks from the other parents who were there at 8 a.m. sharp. Like all parents who have children in public schools, I suffer through the Department of Education's yearly school cleaning program.

Dylan, thankfully, chose not to go with me, finding Spongebob and Patrick's latest big screen escapade (in DVD) more preferable than my company. This, from a child who calls me at the office every night and begs to be allowed to wait up for us. He must have watched that cartoon flick a million times (Of couse, I'm exaggerating).

Once in a while, I get this weird feeling that some of the other parents dislike me. A friend told me there are still those who continue to question why my son, aside from receiving first honors at the commencement exercises of the Preparatory Class of 2005, was also given two other top awards.

The Science and Technology Education Center (Stec) preparatory level is nothing like its elementary class. For one, the parents get to buy the books for their children in preparatory. I was also told the computation of the grades is different in the prep and elementary levels. I think the parents believed the prep teacher was not as impartial as she should have been when it came to the her grading of the students. And I am being considered close to the teacher when I'm really not.

New look

New look
What Lennon looks like now, after that fateful Sunday date with the barber.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Haircut

Haircut
Haircut,
originally uploaded by engkanta.

Lennon had his hair cut by a barber yesterday. It's usually my mother, his grandmother, who cuts his hair. It takes a long time for my son to become comfortable with those not within the family circle. In fact, he is still suspicious of his nanny, who was hired half a month ago, and would sometimes not allow her to hold his toys, feed him, or give him a bath.

Yesterday, when he allowed the barber to cut his hair, was the exception. Seeing the barber snipping away at his dad's hair must have eased his mind somewhat.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Public school griefs

Yesterday, my son Dylan's first grade teacher distributed school books, 15 in all, for the coming schoolyear. The pages of some had been torn out and there was one that was so damaged you would not recognize it as a book if not for it's cover. I guess that's the official welcome to life in a public school for my son.

I asked the teacher what we can do about the missing pages and she said we should just borrow from those lucky enough to have been given books with all their pages, photocopy the missing ones, and attach them to our books. The books look that way because they have been used by several generations of pupils.

I believe we're luckier than the others because my son's school, a special science school, gets the best that government and the private sector can give. I wonder how the rest of the public schools are doing? How bad can their books be, or if they have any at all?

Siesta time

Lennon has been falling asleep around noon for a few days now. I'm pleased--he has never taken a siesta before four days ago--but worried at the same time. Could something be wrong with him? Is this just a development stage? Is it because of the heat? It's been so hot the past few days in the city.

Elsewhere, I'm hearing reports that the heat wave has destroyed millions worth of crops. It's that hot, huh?

Just around the same time he started taking a siesta, my son has had a new sitter, too. Could the sleeping be a reaction to a new face in the house? He seemed to have adjusted well to his new nanny, though.

If this persists, I may just have to bring him to a doctor for a check-up, just to be on the safe side.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Angelo's birthday party



Dylan and Lennon arrived two hours late for their cousin Angelo's birthday party today in Maryville Subdivision in Talamban, Cebu City. What's more, they came without a gift.

Dylan was able to join one game, but was unsure how it ended. Lennon was at his most difficult the whole time, running around and screaming at each attempt to get him seated.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Copycat

Lennon, 2, loves to copy everything his older brother says or does. If I ask Dylan something and he answers back, Lennon will usually echo his brother's reply. Hearing Lennon speak is a welcome relief especially because, until very recently, he did nothing of the sort.

Lennon has also taken to copying words he hears from TV. He has taken to imitating the trademark reaction of a game show host to each right answer from contestants. He'd get the intonation correctly but would pronounce the word as "coyyect" instead of "correct".

He has also taken to laughing while watching Mr. Bean on TV, in imitation of Dylan. Lennon laughs even during the not-so-funny times, to the chagrin of his brother.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The world and superstition

Today's conversations between my son and me.

Dylan: Mom, what makes the world go 'round?
Me: (in bed, reading Foucault's Pendulum) Ummm...love...love makes the world go 'round.
Dylan: No, no. I want the real answer.
Me: (still reading) Love is really the answer.
Dylan: (exasperated) Mommmmm...
Me: (shakes sleeping daddy) Dad, Dylan wants to know what makes the world go 'round.
Daddy: (mumbles) Don't know.
Me: (eyes still on book) I don't know, baby. I'll just find out later and tell you tomorrow. K?

Later.....

Dylan: What's a superstition?
Me: (wishing she has dictionary in hand) Things people believe in that are not supported by the natural law.
Dylan: (confused) What?
Me: Well, it's like this. Some people believe that if you break a mirror, you will have bad luck or something for seven years. That's not true, of course. There is no connection between a broken mirror and bad luck. We don't even believe in bad luck.
Dylan: Ahhh...Like it's not true that if you step on a crack, you break your mother's back.
Me: (thinking) Mmmmm....good one.

Original songs

I did not allow my son Dylan to watch his favorite TV shows for a few hours today and naturally he grumbled about not having anything to do. I was not swayed, however, and after a few minutes sulking he came to sit beside me outside, under the mango tree that grows in front of our house.

He talked about some crazy things (mostly about stuff he watched) that I half-listened to because I was sleepy from the noontime heat. Then we talked about what he should do when his younger brother Lennon grabs his (Dylan's) toys. Or when Lennon is in one of his tantrums. I told him he should be more patient and not raise his voice at Lennon even when his brother is at his most difficult.

Later, he told me he had composed several songs and he was singing them to me. He belched out songs that I knew he made up just then, lines like "raindrops, raindrops...they fall from the clouds...like ice pops" or "small, big, biggest...a mouse is small, a dog big, and an elephant the biggest" and a really long one about how you can't do anything when you ride in a sports car. (We don't have a sports car so I'm also wondering where he gets these ideas.)

I regretted not having been able to take his picture, though, while he was screeching at the top of his lungs in his best approximation of singing.