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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

BSP's Money Matter for Kids Exhibit - UPDATED

Andrea and I trekked over to Gateway mall to see Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas' roving exhibit called Money Matter for Kids. I have heard of this exhibit in the past but it was situated in Museong Pambata and that was just too far for us (considering I had to go to school myself after homeschooling). So imagine my delight when I saw them setting up in Gateway Mall.

So I asked my daughter to go on stage so I can take her photo
and this is her pose of choice

When Andrea and I got there, my expectations were at an all time low. The place was tiny and was a half-open space in the middle of the mall. I was sure we'd be in and out within 5-10 minutes so we registered and went in.

We had the kindest guide take us around the exhibit and she recommended we start with the history of money board:

Here she is reading the display. Please don't judge
the mismatched clothes, she insisted on dressing herself.

A lot of the written things are a bit too complex for young kids but with parental supervision it is a good jump off point for parents to start talking about money. I simplified some concepts for Andrea.

We then headed to this cool activity where the kids are given paper and asked to shade the paper to reveal the picture of the coin under it.

The exhibit featured various old coins which kids nowadays
haven't seen.

The part I thought would excite her the most was the giant money puzzle.

She did enjoy it, but I think it was too simple for her. 
(Addendum from Andrea - Andrea: It wasn't too simple for me. I just did it fast because the instructions said that the time would run out)
There were lots of photo ops here!

There are also opportunities to learn about the various currencies from different countries.

And a place to learn about ATMs.

The furrowed brows means she is concentrating on
reading the instructions on the ATM. She was a bit
disappointed when no money came be honest so
was I! ;p

The best and most exciting part for Andrea was the shopping area. Here, the kids are given various shopping lists and a budget. They are to find things in the list but have to make sure they stay within budget. They have their own calculator where they can check and see how they're doing and at the end of everything they need to go to the check out counter where they themselves will be the cashiers.

ANDREA HAD A BLAST!! She loved it so much that she and her dad are planning a return trip soon. The exhibit runs till Aug 17 so do try to check it out if you have big kids. =)
(Addendum from Andrea -- Andrea: I really did have a blast!)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Recommendation: Who Was Helen Keller

I am so grateful that Andrea's not into princesses. She once told me that "Princesses are boring they don't do anything but stay in the castle. I want to be a knight and keep the kingdom safe"

Unfortunately most books available for young girls involve either princesses or girls who are obsessed with fashion or being fancy and prissy. While I see no problem with these characters in moderation I do wish for better role models for my daughter. 

I was beyond excited therefore to find this series of books:

It is a biography of famous people in history written for kids.  The language used is simple enough to understand: 

The spacing between words and paragraphs make it perfect for early readers. The biography is also broken down into short chapters that would be easily digestible by young kids. 

There are also lots of illustrations to help kids better understand the concept being discussed.  I personally highlighted words I knew my daughter would struggle with in order for us to remember to discuss them with each other.

There are also pages focused on discussing or teaching various concepts related to the story.

At the end of the book they present a timeline showing the important events of the person's life.  

Amazon claims this book is for 8 years old and older but I think younger kids who are voracious readers would also appreciate and love this book. My daughter's crazy about it and couldn't put it down. 

I purchased this book in Fully Booked For 210 pesos and I think it is well worth price!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family of Eggs

One of the concepts I was fascinated by while taking up my undergraduate in psychology was the difference between a hard-boiled egg family and a scrambled egg family. 

We learned that some families are like hard boiled eggs in a sense that each person respects the other's boundary. They are able to maintain their individuality and their identity while being member of the family.

Some families on the other hand are Scrambled Eggs in the sense that their lives are forever enmeshed in one another. What happens to one person is known by everyone, is felt by everyone. 

One is not necessarily better than the other, the best scenario I suppose is a healthy middle between the two kinds. I suppose a sunny side up that doesn't have a hard outer shell yet is still able to maintain its shape. 

It fascinated me because our family was on the extreme side of being scrambled eggs. My grand parents knew even about the lives of my classmates, my colleagues, we are just so enmeshed in each other's lives and we spend so much time together just talking to each other. I didn't know that there could be a different way of living. I thought the way I grew up was the normal way. Imagine my surprise when I married Ruy whose family was on the other extreme side of the spectrum. 

It took some adjustment. Some hemming and hawing before we found a life that fits us and makes us both happy and comfortable. A life where I can happily and comfortably keep my family of origin in the dark of some aspects of out lives for the sake of privacy which is important to Ruy, and also be able to share everything with Ruy to have hat connection I needed and I grew up with.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Obedience: Punishing the Behavior v.s, Influencing the Heart

When people talk about discipline people automatically think of how to "punish" a child for certain behavior. Is there really a difference between the two? In today's world most people don't seem to think so. Discipline has become almost synonymous to punishment in such a way that when you ask a parent how hes/she disciplines his/her child the response would most likely be:

"I spank."
 "I give time-outs."
 "I withhold certain things they like."
 "I make them sit on a corner. "

These answers don't really show discipline, they talk about what you are supposed to do to reinforce discipline.

Punishing may successfully curb behavior but it doesn't address the root issue...the attitude. Let's say for example that your child screams at you when she's angry. You can give her time out and say "Don't shout at mommy". But what does that teach? Does that address the issue of respect? Does it teach her how she can better deal with her anger? Maybe, just maybe, your child would stop shouting at you but unless the root issues are addressed the behavior would just manifest itself differently. Maybe your child would start hitting, or talking back, or slamming the door to show her anger. If a heart problem is not addressed, it is sure to show itself again in again in different ways.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FAQ - Time Out

Parents who come to me for help or advise usually want to know how to discipline kids. Disciplining is such a broad topic and covers a wide-array of things but for the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on time outs.

  1. What is time out?
  2. Time out is a tool used to aid in disciplining.It is NOT a magic tool that will somehow magically transform your kid into an extremely obedient child in one go. Time out is one small part of the disciplining process that aims to reinforce what you should have already taught your kids.
  3. Who can use it?
  4. It can be used by parents with kids who are around 2-6 years old. You can gauge if your kid is ready if they can at least understand what you are saying already and can respond accordingly, even by grunts or nods. I personally introduced the idea of time out a little before my daughter turned 2 but I never had to use it until she turned 2. While it may still work for older kids, it will be harder and would take longer to see the effects. It might be best to consider alternative tools for kids who are 7 and up. 
  5. When do I use it?
  6. You use it when: 1. You have previously established a rule, 2. You have given a warning, 3. You are not upset or mad, rather you are calm but authoritative, 4. You are not in public (the goal is not to embarrass your child)
  7. How does it work?
  8. It works because kids use attention from parents as a sort of reinforcement. Kids value attention from their caregivers so much. Be it positive (like praise, and affection) or negative (shouting,anger directed at them); they will keep dong things that get them attention. Time outs remove attention from the kids and create a strong correlation between the "bad" thing they are doing and the lack of attention. The beautiful thing about the time out is that it ends with a hug so we are not withholding love from our kids...we are just removing attention away from the negative behavior.
  9. Okay, I'm interested. How do I do time out?
  10. Here is my daughter giving herself a time out. This was taken when she was 4.
    First, you give one warning/reminder like "Please stop hitting your brother". Then if the child doesn't obey, kneel in front of the child so that you are eye-level with your child. Speak in a calm but firm voice and say "I told you to do this...but you didn't. Now you need to go one time out", hold your child's hand and help him go to the designated time-out chair. No need to say anything else at this point. I assign one minute per year of the child's age as a general rule and it has so far worked for us. I set the kitchen timer and put it in front of my child (to avoid the repeated question "Is it time yet?") and then I leave. Most people stop at this point, but this is not enough. You need to go back to your child when the time is done, talk to your child kindly and ask "Do you know why you were on time out? Why?" and discuss it in simple terms with your child. Then ask the child to say sorry for the specific behavior. Say "I forgive you", then hug your child. 
  11. Why doesn't it work for me?
  12. When parents say it doesn't work for them these are the normal culprits: the rules aren't clear yet, the parents are not consistent, they didn't follow all the rules of the time out.
  13. Are there other options?
  14. I personally spank (biblical spanking okay, not beating) but I don't suggest this to my clients as I'm always afraid of them going to far with this. Withholding things kids like also works for older kid.
  15. What if my kid doesn't sit still?
  16. You have to patiently keep bringing the kid back to the time out space without talking until the kid finally sit stills. You need to keep your face and expression calm. This may take a long time specially for kids who don't understand instructions too much. They will eventually get it but the first couple of times might be challenging.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Learning How to Play from the Experts

A year or so ago, I gently told my husband that he should try to join Andrea as she plays. I understand that he often tries to play with Andrea by making Andrea do the things he chooses. There is actually a value to this. Fathers teach kids all about cooperative play, and about following other people's rules. On the other hand, there is also value and beauty in playing with your kid by not interrupting their rhythm and just slowly immersing ourselves into their imagined world. You see into their wishes, their fantasies, their fears. You see just how they see you, how they understand family. How they see good and evil. You see all of that in play.

My husband though, is such a manly-man. As much as his heart wants to play with our daughter as she plays with her doll houses, and ponies, and stuffed animals, he just doesn't know how. He told me as much himself so I gave him a tip. I said, the next time you see her playing you can ask her to show you or teach you how to play.

It was a passing conversation and I didn't think much about it. My husband is very intentional about playing with our daughter and he consciously spends time with her teaching her about the bible, and character and about Jesus. I didn't feel the need to nag about that one thing.

One day, I was in school and my husband got home earlier than usual. They ended up playing with her doll houses and ponies. My husband excitedly told me about it when I got home. I asked him how he managed and he said  "I told her: Hon, I really want to play with you but I don't know how to play with this. Can you show me?", not only did my husband get to show his eagerness in spending time with my daughter. My daughter got the experience of being the "expert" at something and showing my husband how to play with dolls (I swear, I wish I could have seen this).

How Can I Improve as a Parent?

Three years ago, I finally got the courage to go and visit CCF? I was born and raised in a Catholic home but unfortunately, I barely exercised my faith. I wanted to try various churches but, at that time, my husband was hesitant as he felt he had a good enough relationship with God and was satisfied with where he was in the Catholic faith.  He eventually agreed to bring me to church and we visited CCF for the first time.

I remember coming in late and standing in the back of the church completely unaware to how they did things. I remember listening to the speaker talk about parenting, how serendipitous that that happened. Parenting was my passion or obsession then. The speaker (I believe it was Pastor Peter Tanchi) would quote things from the bible and talk about how this can be applied in real life. I was hooked.

I learned so many things about parenting from CCF. One of the things I learned which I now regularly do is asking my daughter (and sometimes my husband) how I can improve as a wife and or as a parent. I first started doing this with my husband and to be honest, it's a scary experience. You have to check your ego at the door. You have to humbly accept whatever it is they tell you. You can't argue.

I was sure at that time (my daughter was around 4 I believe) that this process was too complex for my little girl to understand but something in me pushed me to try anyway. The first time I asked her, she said I should play with her more. Then, around half a month after she told me I should listen to her more. She kept telling me to listen to her (which I guess shows I haven't been improving as much as I thought I was) until yesterday when she finally told me something different. Read about it here.

I highly encourage this exercise. We often look at other people and think about how they should change to make us happier, rarely do we turn the mirror over and ask how we can improve. The bonus is that when we improve, the people around us change with us.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Being Intentional in Teaching Contentment

My daughter has very simple needs. Feed her, read to her and play with her and she's happy. We have been trying to make sure she doesn't become materialistic. We generally don't always buy her toys (she has A LOT of toys as gifts) and if she really wants something (like she wanted a bicycle) then she needs to work for it. (she has an ice candy business). 

For her birthday around three months ago she wanted fake glasses. I told her that she had money to spend and she's free to buy them. She chose a pair that costs 75 pesos which were not very cute in my opinion. She was very happy with it though so I let her be. 

Around a week after her purchase I came upon a store which sold the cutest fake glasses for kids and so I wanted to buy her one.  I then told myself "What are you doing Olivia? Your daughter was so happy with one pair of super inexpensive glasses and here you go getting her another one? Why? What value will that bring to her?" I realize that if I buy her another pair, I am training her not to be happy with one thing. Why would I want to do that?

I have since then stopped myself from buying her more things. Sometimes though, I fail the test. Take what happened to us two weeks ago for example. I found out that Andrea's one and only headband (which she lovingly chose) broke. When I say it broke I mean that the flower decoration fell off leaving one thin green band. I looked at it and said "Don't worry honey, we'll go and get you a new one when we go to the mall"

It was an insanely stupid statement. First, she wasn't worrying. She wasn't even sad. She was perfectly content. Why am I offering to buy her something when she didn't even ask for it?

Then what she said blew me away, "Why mom? This one still works. See, I can still wear it." 

I was so happy that my daughter knows the meaning of being simple and of not needing things to be happy. I think I have to be more intentional in teaching MYSELF contentment.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Mother's Wants

A single friend of mine was chatting with me over Viber about what it's like to have kids. She asked about so many thngs but one thing stood out.

She said mothers have told her in the past that she's lucky to be single as she gets todo what she wants. I disagree with this thinking. I know that what has changed in me when I became a mother is not my own ability to get or do the things I want rather it is my idea of what I actually want.

From enjoying glamorous parties and trips I now look forward to quiet and messy mornings watching movies while snugging in bed. Or finger painting or watching your kids swim or learn a new craft. And i can honestly say that I get more pleasure in these things over the things I used to do.

Glass Water Bottles by Life Factory

I love water. I can drink a whole lot of water in a day. When I was pregnant I was asked to drink 3 liters of water daily (I had Oligohydramnios) and I had no problem doing so. The problem is, I would drink water only when it's within reach. Once the water is a few meters away, I would totally forget about it and spend half a day without even taking a sip of water. It's horrible I know.

For the past two years, I have been obsessing over water bottles. I love having portable cups, portable bottles, etc. The problem is I always, always put other things in these containers. I put coffee, coconut water, lemon water, shakes, etc and all my containers end up smelling and tasting a bit funky after about half a year. Life Factory water bottles solved this dilemma for me.

I found out about Life Factory while watching Organized Jen in youtube. I got curious cause I found the design super cute. The more I read about it, the more I realized just how perfect it is for me. First, it's made of glass which is recyclable (yay, it's good for the environment). Second, because it is made of glass, it doesn't retain flavor and smells from drinks. Third, the silicone wrapping makes it super cute and safe even for kids (the small one's for Andrea). So I loved it in theory already and I went crazy when I found them in Manila.

Here's what makes them great in my opinion:

I like that it has marks on one side showing both liters and ounces. This makes it easier to really keep track of your liquid intake.

I like that a big part of it is clear enough for you to see just how much water you have left. It also helps keeping it clean as you can clearly see if there are any yucky stuff still left.

While the more common model is the kind where you have to unscrew the entire lid to drink, I very much prefer this flip top cover for convenience sake. I must say, I am a bit nervous because it has more moving parts and moving parts are more prone to wear and tear. There have also been some comments/reviews on the flip top model stating that it's prone to leaking but I have not experienced that problem at all.

Lastly, I love the wide open spout which makes cleaning a breeze. Oh, and I can very easily put chunks of ice in as well without any issue.

All in all I have nothing but love for these water bottles and I believe it's well worth the cost. Fortunately neither my daughter nor I have dropped our bottles so we can't really say if they can withstand such impact but I would say that it's more than enough for the normal wear and tear of our every day life.