His Superpower is Jumping

One of them, anyway. (The other is making water dance!)

Alphonse started jumping even before he could walk. With our hands on his sweaty little armpits, he would bounce and jump for hours till he was tired and ready for bed. It wasn’t all uncommon for him to bounce when held up and this skill evolved into jumping independently by his first birthday.

As he grew older, jumping became his second favorite physical activity (playing with water was the first) and over the years, he has worn out our spring beds, not to mention countless trampolines. Having learned our lesson and refusing to make King Coil any richer, we did away with springs and changed our bed foams to US rubber. The trampolines — well, we didn’t have any real choice on that.

Now that he is adult-sized and heavy to boot, even the largest personal trampoline available in local sports stores gets broken within weeks. We were not only spending money so often for his trampolines; we were also wasting time and energy looking for sports stores that still carried the largest sizes. Only our suking bote-diyaryo guy was ecstatic at the number of trampoline frames and broken springs we were giving him.

Yesterday, we got Alphonse a new trampoline. Finally! He hasn’t had one in months and he has grown fat around the belly from not getting enough exercise. We were afraid he would not like it. Thankfully, he took to it like fish in water. In fact, he loves it so much that he said yes to making a short video! I was so impressed that he even got dressed for it when he is almost always in his birthday suit at home.

See that nice little smile he has? ūüėä

I’m so glad Bubi Trampolines went on sale. Thank you, Bubi Trampolines, for the great product, as well as your home service and delivery. Special mention to Mr. Jonel Sumbillo for answering all my inquiries and to Mr. Fer John Nicolas for delivering and assembling the trampoline here at home.

P. S. His Mama is his spotter, dancing and jumping like crazy beside him. 3Es, yeah!

P.P.S. This is not a paid post. We paid for the trampoline at listed price.



Grails and the Secret of Happiness

grail /…°rńĀl/ (plural grails)¬†a thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after

I don’t have a grail doll. Honest.

I don’t even have a grail Sylvanian anymore. I used to. But I’m different now. I feel different.

I started thinking about this when a friend brought it up in a recent conversation. “You have so many toys now. Do you still have a wish list of dolls or toys? Do you have a grail doll? A grail Blythe doll?” I couldn’t really answer her without thinking about it.

And so I ruminated on this question for a couple of days. I ran through a list of what I could possibly want. I looked at pictures on the Net and surfed for dolls and toys. But the more I thought about it, the less I found to really ask for.

Some people -collectors most of them- find it strange that I don’t have a wish list of dolls and toys. I really don’t. Now that I think about it, I haven’t had one in a while. In the beginning, when I was starting out, I would spend hours looking at dolls and Sylvanians on the Net. I had a list; I knew what I wanted to look for on trips abroad or in local sales. Today,¬†while there are still many beautiful things in this world that make me catch my breath and dream- even for a split second, for the most part, I am quite content to simply look at them from afar. In the last few years, I have torn my original list into pieces and started a new one filled with experiences and activities, of things to do and places to see, and of memories I would like to make¬†with my husband and children. But things? No more.

I suppose you could say that¬†I’ve experienced a change in mindset. By simply accepting what material graces come my way, I don’t feel the envy or covetousness that ruins the act of collecting. The truth is, I don’t beg or ask my husband for dolls and toys because he gives them willingly. Perhaps one could argue that I have it easy, and that would not be an unfair assessment at all. But I have seen firsthand what material want does to even the most prolific of collectors and it is not something I’d like to happen to me.

I don’t covet anyone else’s collections. I’ve never felt jealous or envious of things my friends own. On the contrary, I feel a great deal of pride in knowing they enjoy what they have, without reservations. I don’t “snake” someone else’s reservations or purchases to add to mine. And if I ever once thought of you as a friend, even just once, I would never ever think to compete with you.

I guess when you live with the gratitude that comes with knowing you have enough, another doll or toy won’t make a difference. I have what I have, and that’s enough. If I don’t have it, then it’s just another one of those things that I can probably live without.


In the end, it all boils down to knowing that everything material in this life is transient, but love, peace, friendship, these things are eternal. These are my real grails.

Happy 57th, Barbie! *

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*Barbara Millicent Roberts turned 57 yesterday, March 9, 2016.

I’ve never been a girly kind of girl. Ask anyone who knows me. Apart from a short interlude with a Fisher-Price Mandy doll and a 1974 Baby Alive doll when I was nine or ten, dolls were never really my thing. I liked reading and playing video games more.

As a young girl, I hoarded back copies of Reader’s Digests from my relatives and spent the bulk of my allowance on Nancy Drew books. I bought music cassettes with what was left of my allowance, spending hours sitting by my huge “portable” radio/cassette player (the kind that needed six D-cell batteries to operate). Long before emo and goth were fashionable, I was the girl in black in the middle of summer, listening to songs of loss and death, writing essays about the futility of “being” and the death of love. In short, I liked solitary, nerdy, dark things and not the glitzy, glam, bedazzling life of a Barbie doll.

ballerina barbie

Wish I had been able to keep mine. (Source: http://www.giank.it)

Eh, Barbie dolls? I only really had one. It was a Ballerina Barbie with pale blonde hair, a white and gold tutu, pointe shoes, and the highest arched heels I had ever seen in a doll. She was so beautiful she made me want to become a ballerina myself. She was my inspiration for taking up the dance in my childhood, never mind that I always had thirty pounds over my peers in weight and body mass. Unfortunately, Ballerina Barbie suffered an early demise. She survived me for all of a year, until my younger sister Joee accidentally decapitated her in a brief struggle for ownership.

My sister Joee was the one who loved Barbies. She still has many of them today, dolls we bought together on summer trips to Hong Kong. Given time to explore the small city by ourselves, Joee and I would find ourselves entering dimly lit stores along Mody Road, looking for Barbie dolls to take home. Along the stretch of Nathan Road, we found many of our treasures and hoarded them happily- Barbie for her, Hello Kitty and Game And Watch for me, or as much as our combined allowance for the three- or four-day trip would allow.

All of my love affairs with dolls ended unhappily and lasted no more than a summer’s worth of boredom. Even as I maintained my fascination for Sanrio, books, and video games, I lost interest in dolls, Barbie dolls most of all. On hindsight, I think my body and self-esteem issues as an adolescent contributed a lot to my inability to connect with a Barbie doll. Try as I might to look or feel like one- beautiful, glamorous, perfect- I was always a gawky, nerdy ugly duckling in my mind.

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My first Silkstone- Trace of Lace: A‚ô• got her for me because her hair is like mine. *blushes*

It thus comes as a big surprise that as I cross the threshold of middle life, I find myself an owner of not just one or two Barbie dolls, but, ehrm, quite a few. Silkstone Barbies and Kens make up my current Barbie collection. They are all beautiful in their exquisite ways, all perfect, and all mine.

What caused this change of heart, you ask? For starters, they were gifts from my husband. He must have noticed me spending a little more time viewing doll pictures on Facebook and so he gave me one on Mother’s Day three years ago. This was followed by three on my birthday, and some more on the countdown to our 22nd anniversary. So, even as I whine and complain about the cost (Silkstone Barbies are not regular, play line dolls and do cost a bit more), I find myself quite fascinated with them.

The truth is, despite my long history of angst with what I used to perceive as the “impossible perfection” Barbie endorses, I have made my peace with her. These days, I no longer see Barbie’s beauty and unlikely body proportions as a critical reflection of my deepest personal flaws. I don’t diss her choices to become a nurse, secretary, cheerleader or any of traditionally female gender work roles that stereotyped her for years; after all, she has made larger strides in gender equality in her 57 years. I don’t blame her for materialism, eating disorders, intellectual inferiority, promiscuity, or the sexualization of young girls. These problems are not Barbie’s doing; they come from a much deeper place than a doll or the ideal of the doll. Instead, I think of Barbie as a reflection of the changing times. She is not perfect but she knows how to adapt and survive. And while I would wish for her to temper her mind blowing expenses on fashion, I laud her for the zest and love of life she espouses, for the kind of giggly enthusiasm that is hard to match by jaded men and women of her years.

(Below are some of my dolls. Click the picture to view it on a larger scale.)

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barbie 07My silkstone dolls (well, some of them)

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barbie 04I love the doll and dress sets best!

barbie 05Lingerie Silkstones 1-6 
barbie 06My favorite Barbie and Ken set- Darya and Nicolai

I can only think of one more argument that trumps all of the above and it is this: all of my Barbies have been gifts. As such, I choose to focus on these acts of giving. For the first time in ages, I know what it feels to be a girly kind of girl, even just a teeny weeny bit. I doubt I’ll ever be one completely, knowing how most days, I’d give up a bath for a couple of hours of The Sims 4 or Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Some things never do change. But if there’s anything I learned from my experiences with Barbie these days, it is that Mattel might have had it right all along.

“Girls can do anything.”
“Be who you want to be.” 
“Be anything.” 

I am A‚ô•’s best friend. I am a mother. I am a geek. I am a wife. I am a nerd. I am a gamer. I am a collector. I am an advocate. I am a girl.

And I like being all these.

I like being me.

Happy birthday, Barbie! Thank you for the inspiration.‚ô•

HBD Barbie

The Ban Kee Trade Show 2015

Ban Kee Trading, Inc., ¬†the official distributor of Sylvanian Families toys in the Philippines, held its annual Trade Show at the Shangri-La Hotel last Friday, September 4, 2015. The trade show¬†featured the company’s impressive line-up of well-loved toys and baby products; it also¬†showcased new items for the coming holiday season. The whole day affair was by invitation only, with Ban Kee’s clients, business partners, and special guests in attendance.

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At the Ban Kee 2015 Trade Show

For almost 30 years, Ban Kee has brought to the local market a wide variety of toys and baby products. Partnering with some of the largest and most trusted names in the children’s market industry, Ban Kee has made these once inaccessible products readily available and at reasonable cost to local consumers. One of their most¬†well-loved products, Epoch’s Sylvanian Families, has experienced a resurgence in collectors’ interests,¬†caused in large part by the effective marketing of the toy line. This included a special dedication to the creation of¬†charming, whimsical displays that are outstanding advertisements for the brand the world over.¬†Although Sylvanian Families is said to cater to the upper end of the market, Ban Kee’s efforts¬†to¬†bring in¬†a more diversified line helped create new¬†enthusiasts and renew flagging interests of the older collectors.

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With Mr. Joseph de Leon, Ban Kee’s Brands Department Manager

For 2015, the Seaside series¬†comprise the bulk of Ban Kee’s Sylvanian Families offerings. These newest themed play sets which can be purchased as individual pieces¬†or as gift sets are still available in toy stores all over the country. As an adjunct to brick and mortar stores, ToyTown, Ban Kee’s retailer arm, has also partnered with Lazada, a popular e-commerce site,¬†to beef up its online presence and bring their products to other parts of the country.

Aside from the featured products, the Trade Show also brought in another piece of good news for Sylvanian collectors. In the works is a special 30th Sylvanian Families Anniversary celebration, with commemorative events, sales, and activities for the diehard Sylvanian fan. (Me! Me!) Even as I write this, details of the said event are already being ironed out. I will follow up this news and update local fans accordingly.

I hope that Ban Kee Trading is able to bring in the newer releases of the Seaside series. We’re keen on the new ice cream parlor, the adventure figure set, and the merry-go-round. One thing for sure, there’s loads of fun (and education!)¬†to be had with Ban Kee’s choices of toys. And if the Trade Show is any indication of just how much fun it’ll be, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2016 and in the coming years.

Sylvanian Page Update!

SF Cleaning TipsI am reposting the Care tips from PH Sylvanian Families in this blog to make it easier to find. Mobile Facebook, unfortunately, does not make accessing¬†notes easy for fans of the page. I’ve added a new section in¬†my Sylvanian¬†pages¬†called ” Sylvanian Play Tips: Collecting, Organizing, and Taking Care of Your Sylvanian Families Toys.”¬†¬†You can either click this link to go there or click the tab and scroll to the subpage.

If you have any more suggestions and helpful tips, please feel free to comment so I may add to the lists.

Happy Sylvanian collecting!

Sylvanian Families- Collection Update 2015 P1

I should really get around to uploading these pictures to the Sylvanian collections. If I don’t do it now, I’ll never get them done, I just know it. With me being at Alphonse’s beck and call these days (and he does beckon very often, alas!), there’s hardly any time to do much of anything else except look at a few figures now and then.

Usually, I no longer bother to post separately before I upload these pictures in their proper categories. I thought to do it differently, just so I can see in one glance what I’ve done so far. Doing this also allows me to know right away which boxes and bags I still have to work on.

These figures are part of last year’s purchases from London, Japan, and Hong Kong. There are also a few that were bought locally, precious finds from local toy collectors and resellers. As much as furniture and houses are fun, I’ve¬†discovered that I love figures more and can’t wait to add more to my collections. I have some more that will need to be reunited with their families so here’s hoping I have more time tomorrow to haul them out. In the meantime, please enjoy my new figures.

Warning: This post is graphic heavy.

The Grandstand and Souvenir Shop with Shopkeeper Zoe Barker (FL)

New SF 0315 01- Sue Barker and games stand

The Fish and Chips Van with the Osbornes (FL)

(Papa Finley comes with the van, Mama Francesca comes in the “Francesca the Fish Fryer and Sonny” play set, and Andrea comes from the “Canal Rowing Boat” set.)New SF 0315 02- osbornes and fish and chips van

This is Sonny Barker. He has a thing for fish and chips.

New SF 0315 06 FL Sonny Barker

Dolly’s Candy Floss (FL)

New SF 0315 21 FL Dolly's Candy Floss

Elsie’s Ice Cream (FL)

New SF 0315 20 FL Elsie's Ice Cream

Chocolate Labradors (FL): The Hunter-Smyth Family

Papa Charles, Mama Camilla, Brother Hector, Sister Isabella, Baby Gerald and twins Thomas and Georgina

New SF 0315 04 FL Chocolate Labradors

 Striped/ Caramel Cats (JP)

New SF 0315 03 JP Caramel Cats

 Beavers (JP)

New SF 0315 24 JP Beavers

 Gray Mice: The Thistlethorns (FL)

New SF 0315 17 FL Thistlethorn Gray Mice

Goats (JP)

New SF 0315 16 JP Goats

Yellow Labradors (JP)

New SF 0315 15 JP Golden Labradors

Monkeys (JP)

New SF 0315 14 JP Monkeys

Hamsters (JP)

New SF 0315 07 JP Hamster

Solitaire Cats’ Wedding Set (FL)¬†

New SF 0315 08 UK Solitaire Cats

(Grandma) Hazel and Rihanna’s Day Out (FL)

New SF 0315 19 FL Grandma Hazel and Rhianna Dappledawn

Babblebrook Grandparents (JP)

New SF 0315 13 JP Babblebrook Grandparents

Chocolate Rabbit Grandparents (JP)

New SF 0315 23 FL Chocolate Grandparents

Berry Grove Cheerleaders (FL)- renewal figures for SSK membership

New SF 0315 22 FL Berry Grove Cheereleaders Renewal Figures

Maypole Dancers: Abbie Keats and Poppy Dappledawn

New SF 0315 18 FL Mayflower girls

Oakwood squirrel brother (JP)

New SF 0315 12 JP Oakwood Squirrel Brother

JP Milk Rabbit sister with JP Cake Shop Special Gift Set

New SF 0315 11 JP Cake Shop Special Gift Set Milk Rabbit Sister

 JP Prize Pink Cotton Rabbit (c.2000)

New SF 0315 10 JP Special Prize Pink Cotton Sister Yr 2000

Woodland Princess (JP)

New SF 0315 09 JP Woodland Princess

Part 2 coming soon…


The PH‚ô•SF Sylvanian Families Clay Crafts Workshop and Party

It started¬†with pure serendipity and a most opportune one at that. By a fortuitous turn of events, while browsing at the many attractions of last month’s¬†Kawaii Convention, I bumped into¬†a friend¬†at¬†Whitespace Manila.¬†(See us below saying “hello” to each other):

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Kittymama: It’s you, Ingrid! Ingrid: I knew it was you the moment I saw Nimes. *shrieks of joy*

Ms. Ingrid Guerrero, the artist behind Provenance 1800 Designs and Crafts, was holding a clay workshop for attendees of the convention that day. I was not aware she was one of the events participants and finding her there, amid a throng of young people, was such a pleasant surprise!

We barely managed a conversation because of the noise and din of the crowd, but in those short minutes, Ingrid planted the seed for what would turn out to be a Sylvanian clay workshop. When she suggested having one for collectors like me (and her), I jumped at the opportunity to organize it for PH♥SF, my Facebook-hosted community of Sylvanian collectors.

I have to confess, though,¬†that in the process of organizing the event, I¬†had my moments of doubt.¬†Would I be able to pull it off? Would people come? Would they pay to learn this craft?¬†The initial interest generated was enthusiastic but in the course of the month’s preparations, I began to run into stumbling blocks. There were people who had confirmed¬†and reserved slots, only to change their minds when payment was due. There were also cancellations at the¬†very last minute. All¬†these gave¬†me a serious case of¬†angina. However, when I thought long and hard about the help and generosity of the people who stepped up for the group, and yes,¬†for me, I knew giving up was not an option.

There was Ingrid, who¬†had whittled down the price of her¬†kits to accommodate our group, even as she would be doing most of the work during the workshop.¬†Another friend, Blooey S.,¬†had generously allowed¬†the use of their office space¬†in Makati for a very minimal fee. And Ban Kee Toys, our country’s official local distributor,¬†had said¬†yes right away when I sent Mr. Joseph De Leon, Brands Department Manager, a request for¬†assistance.¬†Ban Kee even¬†had ToyTown¬†personnel set up a pop-up store¬†just for us. I¬†owe these people a great deal of gratitude for their support and help.

Despite the difficuties of planning and getting everyone on the same page, we- Ingrid, Bloeey,¬†Ban Kee, and I-¬†made it happen. It turned out to be a great day for learning and fun, as also for fostering old friendships and making new¬†ones.¬†As a crafter wannabee, I had expected dismal results¬†in my first foray into clay, but what do you know? I made a reasonably looking (read: not ugly)¬†mango cream pie (inspired by¬†Bizu’s mango chiboust, my favorite)!¬†Yay for Kittymama!

Below are some more pictures from the event. If you’d like to see more, head on to¬†PH‚ô•SF’s Facebook page where you can access the pictures from Blooey’s camera (hers are really nice, I tell you).

This was Blooey’s handmade welcome bunting for PH‚ô•SF! It’s so pretty!

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Our first guests were Ayen’s lovely girls. They were so well behaved!

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Loot bags and clay kits and dolls, oh my!

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Sylvanian Families sold at a discount! *dances for joy*

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Ms. Love of Labor of Lovewas our special clay guest and supplier. Thank you for coming, Ms. Love!

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Teacher Ingrid started the lessons with an introduction of the projects we were going to be making that day. There were three in all: ice cream cones, pies, and sushi! Nom nom nom nom nom.

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We were all ears.

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I loved the mommies and kids’ table! Our youngest participant was only six, followed by an eight year-old, a nine year-old, and a tweener¬†(twelve).

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I borrowed this photo from Ingrid’s page to show you that I was as engrossed as everyone else in our little crafts. I was a bit nervous and unsure of how mine would turn out, but they didn’t look so bad in the end, heehee.

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Photo borrowed from Provenance Designs and Crafts

While we all listened to Teacher Ingrid (you can see Ayen at the background), Nimes was doing a fashion shoot with Cecil Mace, the Sylvanian photographer.

Fashion credits: blouse and jacket from Jenny Dolls/shorts from Manuheali’i Blythe/boots from eBay/styling by Kittymama

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You can see the little ones bent on perfecting their craft projects. They definitely made their mommas proud!

V made itty-bitty, tiny cones.

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His sister, V, wasn’t feeling well at the start of the day but the workshop cheered her up! (I hope you’re well now!)

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Little J has grown up since I last saw her and she was even better at this than I was!

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A worked with full concentration, despite the critters she brought along to play with. These kids worked as hard as the adults. Bravo!

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We took a break halfway through the lessons. The break allowed us time to stretch, get a drink and a snack. It also turned into shopping time!

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Our pies all turned out well, though, we had to admit, some were naturals at it. Blooey even had time to make chocolate chip cookies. (Now why didn’t I think of that?) The really nice cherry pie in the middle¬†was Jeng’s. I wonder who made that really nice pie with the braided crust?

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Kittymama admired my pie. “It’s the sweetest thing there is” she declared.

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Our ice cream cones came in all flavors and looked delicious!

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Nimes and Kittymama¬†posed with their imperfect, albeit still delicious, cones. (Now how will they ever eat it if their elbows don’t bend? Heehee.)

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Our sushis came out last from the oven and each one looked scrumptious! While others stuck to the prescribed lessons, the more adventurous and more industrious of us made waffles, pork buns (siopao), hotdog sandwiches, and hotdog on a stick! Amazing!

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 Our industry was well rewarded. Aside from the lessons and the kit, we brought home a special gift from Ban Kee. We love our loot bags!

We ‚ô• Sylvanian Families! We ‚ô• Ban Kee!

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We had our picture taken as a group to remind us of this fun day and our new friends.

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¬†Our critters and girls also had a special group picture to commemorate this wonderful day. (Nimes eyed her cone with envy while Ayen’s girls tasted theirs.)

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Thank you, dear friends, for making this day a success! Shall we start planning for another one soon?

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