Friday, February 28, 2014

Will Write for Food (or, Keeping a Hand In)

Once upon a time, or so it seems, (only a decade ago, really) I was a wedding coordinator. Big A's flatmate's girlfriend ran the business, and when her partner had a high-risk pregnancy she needed someone to fill in. She offered me a chance to earn quite decent extra money working on a Saturday or Sunday about three times a month. I decided to give it a shot, and voila, my weekend career took off.

With my day job in marketing/PR and then account management, this events experience led to other moonlighting opportunities with another colleague who did corporate shindigs and now handles restaurant publicity. The weddings kept my weekends busy until both my boss and I tied the knot ourselves, whereupon she retired from the business. Since Little A came along, I've only done weddings on request - for people I know, or through their recommendations. Other events are accommodated as my schedule allows, particularly since I now manage two shops. It can't hurt to keep a hand in, as you never know who you'll meet and what might come out of it.

Since things returned to a normal pace at work this month, in order to keep from getting too complacent I found myself agreeing to organise a surprise party for our book club's founder, write a press release and assist at a media launch for a high end bakery, and speak at my son's school Open House - all of which took place within the span of five days. I had little choice in that last one, but it wouldn't be a good idea to turn down an invitation to speak when one's son will be attending that school for another decade or so of his academic years.

The party came together thanks to some very talanted and organised individuals in the book club. On seeing what I thought would be a perfect present for the club founder's upcoming birthday, I suggested to some of my fellow members that we share the cost and surprise her, and from there things snowballed quite quickly into a surprise party with a set theme, handcrafted decorations, a cake, goody bags and the completely styled venue. It was quite a success, if the attendees' reactions and the post-event Facebook posts are anything to go by.

On the morning of Party Day, I was slotted to speak at my son's school Open House/Fundraiser. With an email of brief guidelines (3-5 minutes, talk about the IEP programme), I wasn't sure what to speak about or how to prepare for this. I arrived a little early, and sat and wrote a few notes. When the parent testimonials began, however, I quickly realised my three minute bullet point speech wouldn't cut it. So when my turn came, I had to wing it.

As with most spur-of-the-moment speeches, I recall very little of what I actually said, but an assistant headmistress from the international school Little A's teachers came from told me later that I "spoke very well." Two mornings later, Little A's headmaster asked if I would be the official marketing spokesperson for the school, because so many parents had been impressed by my testimonial. That was a nice thing to hear.

On to the writing for cookies bit, my friend took on a PR job with very little time to prepare. Accustomed to delivering under pressure, she asked me to help. Payment would be partly in kind - gift certificates for baked goods. Who could say no to cookies, croissants and delectable eclairs?

Again, that went well, and I was especially thrilled when my press release, corporate profile and post-event release were received without revision requests by the bakery's owners. It gave me a little extra cash (promptly spent on theatre tickets) and an ego boost to realise that time may be flying by, but in terms of professional capabilities, I still haven't lost it. Til the next party, then! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Artist in the Making

A few months ago, Little A started art classes at school, under the care of a young artist I met through my secondhand book supplier. It turns out this artist also works with special needs children, so I gave his number to Little A's school heads and after one interview, he was hired.

Little A has never liked colouring. He has no patience, or desire, to shade in a large space with colour, and his fine motor skills need work, so it requires extra effort for him to hold a crayon for a period of time and move it in repeated strokes. Finger paint makes him gag, as does play dough, and he likes to spread paint on the floor so he can swim in it.

Why then, would I enrol him in art class?

Ever since he was tiny he has had books featuring the work of artists, and loves the bold colours of Van Gogh's art in particular. That much interest can only be positive, and so I am exploiting it as such. Just as his love of instruments will lead to music lessons as soon as I find a teacher, so the love of art has led to this.

At any rate, the art teacher is more of a blessing than I expected. He is working closely with Little A's OT and schoolteachers to work on the hand positions and strokes that need strengthening. They begun with colouring - crayons on paper that increased in size as Little A's tolerance for the activity increased. I was told painting on canvas would be next.

Shortly before Christmas, Art Teacher told me that Little A and his schoolmates would be joining a students' Biennale at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, running for three months. They would collectively produce a painting that would be the school's piece for the fair. In addition, the works the students had done so far would be printed onto Christmas cards for sale to parents.

I proudly bought a pack of cards featuring Little A's coloured Christmas ball ornaments, and sold several packs at my stores in lieu of the charity cards we normally sell. His work on exhibit though, I only saw last week, when I went to the theatre to see "Wicked." Little A will be taken to see his work on display before it comes down, as soon as we get a free day.

Two weeks ago, Art Teacher came out to show me a square canvas with an abstract design on it. It was still wet, but he told me this was Little A's work. I immediately saw the influence of the abstract hanging in our dining room, which Little A has tried to paint over several times.

Since starting with oil on canvas, my son has resisted going back to crayons on paper. Yesterday, at the bookstore, he spotted this rubber "palette" (actually a coaster) and insisted we buy it. He proudly carried it all the way home, and last night tried to paint using it and my makeup brush.

An artist then, is something my son might be. I can totally live with that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Loose Tooth

Possibly the last photo of his full milk-toothy grin
The moment when a parent realises their child is officially no longer a baby, or even a toddler, is when the first milk tooth begins to wiggle. Usually, this happens around age 5 or 6, just about the time the child enters "big" school.

Little A's milk teeth came in late, with the lower two making an appearance just in time for his first birthday. So I expected he wouldn't lose them as early as other kids, either.

As the "first in, first out" policy seems to apply here, I wasn't surprised when, a week or so ago, Little A showed me his tooth, which had just started to wiggle. I explained that it would get looser and looser and eventually fall out, and then a new tooth would grow. I also told him that other teeth would get loose as well.

Finally, I ordered a book online, which was reviewed as being an excellent resource for parents, particularly those with ASD kids. I hope it turns out as good as the reviews claim, as it will be regularly read from here on in!