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Monday, November 9, 2015

A Hundred Million Miracles - The Miracle Mindset Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about the abundance of miracles around us. I also talked about how we fail to perceive these miracles when we focus just on the mundane. Today I want to share how I try to instill a miracle mindset in my child.

1. I am intentional in pointing out miracles. 

 When I am at home, I am a walking exclamation point. My language is filled with phrases like “Wow!”, “incredible!”, “Isn’t that amazing?”, “Can you believe that?” and “What are the chances?”. When my child was younger I had to spell things out for her in order for her to see the awesomeness in things. Now, she has internalized this attitude and would often be the one to point out amazing things. One time we were out of the house and she was so thirsty. There was no vendor in sight but I brought an extra water bottle for her so she was able to drink right away and she turned to me and said “Wow mom isn’t it lucky we have water? We didn’t even have to spend money!”

 2. Teaching a point-of-view of abundance vs Want. 

Want, want, want. We live in a culture that celebrates materialism and wanting something newer, better or bigger. The first thing I had to do was unlearn my own mentality of want and boy was that hard. We routinely purge our home for things but I have learned that more than the actual purchasing of things we also have to watch what we say. Do you repeatedly say “I want to buy____” or “I want another_____”. Do you always take your child window shopping? What could that be teaching your child?

How about appreciating what we already have? Instead of talking about wanting to buy a bigger tv
why not talk about how blessed your family is to be able to have a tv set to enjoy together as a family? One time, while playing a board game with my daughter, we discussed how lucky we were to have that board game that has brought us so much happiness. Did my daughter really understand it at that time? To be honest I am not sure. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't -- but doing that is a start towards the direction of making that mindset more automatic for both of us.

 3. Counting the miracles we have. 

 A lot of people practice keeping gratitude journals and this would be a great place to count miracles. My daughter and I personally do this during prayer. 2 nights ago, Andrea’s grandfather invited her to Kidzania (a place she loved so much) part of our prayer was “We are amazed once again by how many people you put around us that love us and bless us Dear Lord. Thank you for Wowo and thank you for impressing in him the desire to bless Andrea with a trip to Kidzania.”

4. Restedness in God’s Wisdom and Provision as our Father. 

One thing that’s sometimes hard for kids to understand is how a good father like God would ignore the fervent desires of His people. I told Andrea that God only gives us what’s best for us, and sometimes the things we think would make us happy are not really the best for us.

My daughter particularly loves it when I talk about how I initially wanted to have a son and not a daughter. However, God didn’t bless me with a son and instead I had her. I talk about how lucky I am that God didn’t give me what I thought I wanted and how much happier I am now with what God gave me. We then talk about how sometimes God loves us so much that he can’t give us the things we think we want because they won’t really make us happy.

 5. Shifting away from the selfishness towards others. 

 Lastly, we try to shift her focus away from herself and her wants to the wants of others. This is still a work in progress but there are things we do like routinely giving away her toys and her books. Or when we go to parties and receive a lot of prizes we split them and share them with other kids. One of my happiest (and proudest) moment was during the birthday of one of Andrea’s friends. We bought a present that I knew Andrea would also enjoy *. On the way to the party Andrea exclaimed “I’m so happy for _______. He’s going to love this toy so much.” Isn’t that a great attitude?

 (*NOTE: whenever we buy presents for other kids it’s so tempting to buy Andrea a toy as well but we realize we are robbing her the joy of giving to others. When she was younger she would look enviously at the toys she is giving away but that has since changed)

All in all, these steps are great in helping our kids develop a miracle mindset but ultimately the best way to teach our kids is for us to model that mindset ourselves!

A Hundred Million Miracles - The Miracle Mindset Part 1

 The Way We Think 

I have spent the last week reviewing for a critical exam I will be taking for 2 weekends. This exam will determine if I can move on with my masteral degree and it means having to go back and review all the courses I have taken. One of the things I had to relearn was Cognitive Psychology. Cognitive Psychology is basically the study of how we think. I had to study the way we perceive things, how we pay attention, memory, thinking, making decisions, creativity, etc. The more I learn of the intricacies of our mind the more convinced I am that this can’t be an accident. The mere act of seeing and recognizing something involves so many processes that the fact that we are able to do it at all is nothing short of a Miracle!

A Hundred Million Miracles 

One of my favorite songs from a musical is this little-known song called A Hundred Million Miracles from the musical Flower Drum Song. The song goes:

“A hundred million miracles
Are happ’ning ev’ry day
And those who say
 They don’t agree
Are those Who do not hear or see…” 

The song talks about the multitude of miracles we encounter every day should we only notice them. The mere fact that our planet balances perfectly due to the pull of the planets and the gravity of the sun is already an inexplicable wonder, and that is just one of a million miracles we can point out. The song brings to light an important fact, these miracles are everywhere, they are happening! However, not everyone perceives them because, as the song suggests those who don’t agree that there are miracles are those who fail to hear or see those miracles.

 But, you may ask, how can one not see things if they are so miraculous? Aren’t we sure to see something if it were indeed miraculous? You know the answer to that? It’s because we have stopped looking! We perceive things when we are looking at them and we shut out everything else! This is an
interesting phenomenon in Cognitive Psychology called inattention blindness. Inattention blindness is this phenomenon where people fail to see things that they are not paying attention to. One experiment that showcases this phenomenon is the Gorilla experiment. Participants were asked to watch a video where the actors were busy with Basketball drills, the participants were then given the task of watching the video closely and counting the number of times the basketball was passed from one member to another. Unbeknownst to the participants who were watching the video, there is also a man in a gorilla costume that will be appearing and dancing around all over the basketball court as the people were busy performing basketball drills. At the end of the experiment none of the participants reported seeing the dancing gorilla. NOT ONE! How can nobody notice a dancing gorilla wearing a basketball uniform? Because, as with miracles, no one was looking! We have become so caught up, so focused on our lives that we are desensitized and fail to perceive the wonders and miracles all around us!

Losing Sight of Miracles 

I don’t know exactly when my focus started shifting from my child-like wonder to the jaded adults’ mindset. But I realized that I have become a bitter and jaded person when I was an adult and finding it difficult to find happiness in anything. I look at old blog posts from when I was still a food blogger and see someone so full of dissatisfaction! I had complaints about practically every restaurant, every meal and I felt justified in my point-of-view. I was spoiled. I wanted things a certain way and was extremely unhappy when I didn’t get what I expected. And I expected a lot! I felt entitled to things, I deserved it after all…or so I thought. My focus was in acquiring more but when I did get what I thought wanted, I was still unhappy.

Joy in Gratitude 

Thank goodness for the blessing of motherhood. There’s something about being a mom that forces you to focus on the ordinary, the mundane, the day-to-day and see it all from the point-of-view of a child. When you're a mom you have to realize the beauty and wonder in a spider web. You get the blessing of seeing things again like you did the first time you saw them. You then start experiencing things with wonder and you start seeing the miracle in the day-to-day.

There are times though, that motherhood itself is the thing that keeps us from seeing the miracles. How can you appreciate the glorious things around you when you are covered in projectile vomit and poop? I realized though that as a mom I have to be the thermostat and not a thermometer in our home. I have to set the tone and make sure that my child can see and appreciate and therefore experience the hundred million miracles around her.

 There are things I try to do at home that help me with my goal of creating a mindset of miracle in my child. I will share them in my next post. =)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

October Favorites

I am always excited to share things I am loving and so I compiled the things I've been loving since October. Here are the things I've been watching, listening to, eating and using.


I was on a flight back to Manila when I chanced upon an article talking about the show Empire. It got me curious so I got the first was downhill from there. I am enamored with every single aspect of the show. Taraji P. Henson described it as a mixture of Dynasty and Glee. It has drama, fashion, wit and amazing music.


In line with this obsession I have with Empire I have re-discovered my love for old school hip-hop and RnB. This album has kept me company for 2 weeks of very late night working. It's phenomenal! The only track that seems out of place is Courtney Love's track but I just skip over that.


Oh how I curse the day when an Infinitea branch opened around 200m from my house. I initially thought all they had were milk teas but I have been loving all their other drinks. A personal favorite is their Peach Mint Yoghurt Slush with nata de coco. Oh I'm salivating right now!


Let us move on to this wonderful thing I chanced upon in Starbucks. I happened to be at a Starbucks branch at 6 am on the day they were set to release this gorgeous Swarovski studded card and I took the plunge and I'm soooo happy! Look at how pretty it is:


I almost let out a screech when I found out that Pilot released a line called Hi-Tec-C Coleto. It's a pen system that includes an empty barrel that you can fill with any one of their ink cartridges that writes like my favorite Pilot Gtec pen. There are 15 available colors internationally but in the Philippines I only saw dark blue, light blue, pink, orange, green, violet, red and black. The empty barrel can be filled with 3-5 pen colors. 

I would just like to say that I'm a pan of the Pilot brand and I've been using their pens since I was 10. (I still remember my first pencil case with the basic blue, red and black Pilot pens) And the products they recently released in the Philippines truly make me happy. I personally love their Frixion erasable highlighters which work beautifully for marking my Bible and other thin sheets of paper.

Lastly, I am obsessed with the essential oils from Human Heart Nature. I am so in love with it that I even made my own deodorant using two of the available oils! 


I have been working so hard recently and the lack of sleep coupled with the stress has really made my back hurt and thank goodness a decent massage place opened near our home. Ruy treated me to a hot stone massage last week and I just about died and went to heaven. IT WAS AMAZING. The heat helped ease the tension from my muscles allowing the therapist to offer a deep tissue massage that helped alleviate my back pain.  I am a new fan! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Learning Plus

Book and toy hunting/shopping for my daughter has always been a frustrating experience for me. It seems that when I go shopping I encounter any one of these problems:

  • -          Toys or books that I call junk food. They are inexpensive, readily available and take up a lot of our kid’s time but add no value to their mind, character, or life. I would say that around 80% of the toys I see fall into this category.
  • -          Premium toys. Those that stimulate our kid’s brain and add a wealth of value to our child’s life. These toys however cost an arm and a leg! They are also incredibly hard to find.
  • -          Premium yet inexpensive toys.  Like I previously mentioned these are wonderful but are pricey. There are a lot of inexpensive toys but are only available in other countries and would therefore entail going through the process of ordering online and enduring the extended wait for shipping and then crossing all your fingers that you custom doesn’t charge you an exorbitant amount when your package does arrive.

Needless to say, while I espouse and appreciate the benefits of playing and reading to our kids the limited availability of resources can be stressful. Imagine my delight when I found out that TMA Homeschool is opening its very own bookstore called Learning Plus.

Learning Plus

I hurriedly drove over to Fun Ranch where Learning Plus is located just so I could personally see what this store is all about and boy it did not disappoint. It was filled with amazing books and even more awesome educational toys (I am embarrassed to admit that I ended up buying a toy for my daughter and for myself). 

Even though Learning Plus is an offshoot of TMA Homeschool everyone is welcome to drop in and purchase the products for their kids. The books, toys and other educational materials would definitely benefit all students. Learning plus aims to have a venue that will provide kids with as many tools as possible to do better and be better.

Wonderful Offerings

Learning Plus differs from your typical Filipino book store in that every single thing inside it aims to help your child develop in Wisdom and in Character.  I would admit that my daughter and I were giddy as we looked at all the books and educational toys available. Here are some of the products we saw that really sparked our interest:

Learning about Magnets is cool. But you know what's even cooler? Testing out what you've learned by performing some tricks and experiments with this kit!

Mighty Mind and Super Mind are awesome puzzles for kids. It's such a great brain twister for young kids. My daughter has had hers for 3 years and she still enjoys it to this day. It's a great alternative to iPad games.

I am in love with this Magnetic Mighty Mind game. Perfect for long car trips or even air place rides.
Nourish your child's creativity and innovative mind with Zoob Jr!

This wonderful kit would have your child building one of Leonardo Da Vinci's inventions.
There are also books that you can use to supplement your child's textbooks, educational shows (like Magic School bus) and many more!

More to Come

Learning Plus is still at its soft opening so some products are still on their way. I was told that they're going to be selling art materials that are safe for kids! Be still my heart. 

Official Launch

I am thrilled to let people know that Learning Plus will officially open this October 16, 2015 and the launch is going to be filled with so many fun activities for parents and kids:

Hope you all could make it!


If you can't make it to the launch you can still visit the shop during their regular store hours:

Tuesday to Friday from 8:30am - 3:30pm

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Recommended Activity: Penguins on Ice

In my work with kids I often see kids who are adversely affected by constant exposure to technology. I encounter kids who can't sit still, kids who can't identify fact from fiction, kids who are unable to tap into their creativity/imagination, and kids with so many other issues.  Most moms are willing to stop their kids from using tablets and/or watching tv but they are now left with kids who have nothing to do! While I certainly believe that kids would thrive with just pens and papers I do understand that having some educational and fun activities around the house will help lessen the pain of being torn away from their beloved gadgets so I want to feature some activities that I highly recommend AND that my daughter enjoys.

I will begin with a toy/board game called Penguins on Ice. 

One thing I love about this toy is that it's a single player game. This is awesome for parents with only one child.  Your child can spend hours playing different challenges of increasing difficulty. Each pack comes with 60 challenges and that may seem limiting but trust me when I tell you that 60 challenges for this game is plenty.

I also appreciate how the pieces are quite big making it difficult to lose pieces. We parents all know how frustrating it can be to have an expensive toy become useless because of one tiny part gone missing. The game comes with a square plastic container holding 5 pieces or icebergs together making storing it easier.  

As you can see below, the light blue puzzle pieces will be removed from the dark blue square at the start of the game. The child (or adult) will then try to recreate the exact positioning and layout found in the challenge book. 

This may seem too simple I know but wait till you realize that the pieces can be transformed and re-shaped into various shapes making the game a bit more complicated (and more fun!). 

The game has great benefits for our kids! 

- It encourages solo play
- The increasing difficulty promotes the idea that we should always keep challenging ourselves.
- It sharpens spatial ability
- It encourages strategic thinking.
- It improves problem-solving skills.
- It can help you teach your child to compete with himself. (By challenging him to complete more challenging puzzles or do the puzzles faster)

I am just such a fan of this game! I highly recommend it to parents with kids ages 6 and above. (It might be too complex for younger kids) Check out the amazon link below for more information about the game.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

One Decision that Immensely Helped Our Relationship

My husband and I met in the year 2000. I had just turned 18 and he was in his early 20s. We didn't get together until the year 2001 and at that time we didn't know much about how relationships worked and we had an extremely dysfunctional relationship. We never physically hurt each other but there are other ways we could hurt each other without using force. Our friends who knew us then are still awed that we are somehow still together...and even more surprising is that we're actually quite happy!

I reflected on our relationship and I realized that some decisions we made early on helped preserve our relationship throughout the years. I thought I would share one particular decision that I feel has helped us so much. Ready? Here it goes:

We decided that breaking up is not an option.

Isn't that so ridiculously simple? It was a simple statement we both agreed on during the first few months of our relationship but it proved to be incredibly powerful and liberating. Because of this statement we were forced to move away from empty threats (if you don't like it then just leave!) and forced to face issues head on. If we were to stay together we better fix the relationship ASAP.

It was also liberating. I know that at my grumpiest...I am accepted. I know that I won't be rejected. My husbands knew that to.

This decision we made 15 years ago still stays with us to this day. It has become second nature to us that in all our issues and disagreements leaving or breaking up has never ever been mentioned.  This kind of security in our relationship is so powerful in bonding us. Have you made the same promise to your partner? 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Don't Listen to What I'm Saying, Listen to What I Really Mean

I read this in a book before and I was struck by it. Ain't it true? I go through this a lot with Ruy. I tend to be critical of his actions (completely ignoring his intention) and to make matters worse I refuse to take accountability for my actions because I insist on justifying my actions with my intentions. Ack. Take what happened last Sunday for example:

Ruy: Where are your (prescription) glasses?
Liv: I forgot them.
Ruy: Again? (I misplaced them 3 months ago) You're a bad example to Andrea.

Ouch.  My ears started ringing. I was upset. So many thoughts ran through my head. ""You are calling ME a bad example? You mean I'm a bad mom. Do you even know me?" I was snippy. I was hurt and I was ready to hurt him right back. Hurt people hurt people. In a chilly way I told him off. He was shocked because he didn't realize he said anything wrong. It took us 20 minutes to untangle the issue.  Ruy was so surprised at how hurt I was he said "Why would I say that (you're a bad mom)? Am I the kind of person who will tear people down? I'm not like that! And how can I say that about you? You're such a great example cause you're a great mom. what I meant was that behavior of not being responsible with your things is the behavior we're currently teaching Andrea"

I kept quiet. I knew I overreacted. He did make a mistake in his phrasing (he could have said "Again? That's not a good example for Andrea") but then again I should have looked at the heart of this man and looked at his intention. This is an extremely nice guy who would sacrifice everything for me and my daughter...this is not the kind of guy who would attack me and my character.

I wonder how many issues I would have avoided in my life if I tried to focus on people's intentions?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Trying to Improve our Child's Vision

Andrea's eyesight deteriorated so quickly in a span of 7 months. She had her lenses adjusted last January 26 and the doctor pegged the grade at around 200 but when we had her checked in August her grade went up to 350. We were bothered and so I decided to ask the doctor if there's something we could do to help her or to stop the deterioration.

This really great doctor explained to me that this is becoming more and more common these days. In fact, he talked about having another 9-year-old patient with the same case just a few days prior to our check up. He said that he has been researching about this and they found out that the biggest cause is that kids don't play outside as they used to. He said that our eyes also need the rays of the sun just as our bodies do. In line with his research (he was a researcher on this topic) he came up with the following recommendations for Andrea:

1. She's required to go outside and read or play under the sun from 30-60 minutes every day. It would be preferrable if she didn't wear her eye glasses during this time.
2. She's supposed to take 1/4 teaspoon of rock salt a day (not iodized)
3. She is supposed to eat one plantain (saging na saba) a day.
4. Eliminate nitrates and preservatives from her diet as much as possible
5. Drink 1.7 liters of water

We have been doing this for around 10 days so we can't tell for sure if there are any effects. The way I see it is, these steps are easy and not harmful so I don't see the harm in trying them out in the off chance that it might help improve her vision.

*DISCLAIMER: I consulted with my doctor for this advise. Make sure to ask your doctor before taking anything for your health.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Thinking About Our Legacy

One day, I was stuck in a hotel room channel surfing when the show Who Do You Think You Are? caught my eye. You see we don't have cable at home and we barely watch television so I have never heard of this show before.

I told Ruy about it because it combines things we both love. I am a psychologist and I love stories of families while Ruy is a nut for history. So we started watching this show and Ruy ended up loving it even more than I did.  One night he saw an episode featuring J.K. Rowling. Now my daughter is a huge fan of J.K. Rowling and  so they sat together and watched the episode. One part of the episode saw JK Rowling talking to people who were explaining the accomplishments of J.K. Rowling's great great grandfather. I then asked my daughter "In the future when we're all in heaven and your great grandchildren are learning about you, what would you want them to find out about you?"

To be honest that question was experimental. I wasn't sure if my daughter at the age of 8 can grasp the gravity and importance of that question. I was basically asking her what she would like her legacy to be! She warmed my heart when she said "I want them to know that I worked hard". That's a nice legacy.

Wasn't it Stephen Covey who said that we have to begin with the end in mind? I know this in theory but I often forget that I'm thankful for shows like this that remind me of this. I often fixate on my life now that I don't worry about my earthly and my spiritual legacy. With that I decided to be more mindful in my actions. Are my actions going to bring me closer to my desired legacy or not?

Looking at our Husbands Through Another's Eyes.

There is something that happens when we are exposed to something constantly, we are in a way desensitized to their presence. It's like when you first put on a perfume. You smell it, you appreciate it. Then as hours pass your brain stops recognizing the scent.

This blindness we experience translates very much to our spouse. When Ruy and I first became a couple I recognized every positive trait I saw in him. For example I appreciated how tall he was and how he made me safe even when we find ourselves in sketchy places. I appreciated how he would always try to do things to please me. I appreciated how he would drive 80km to help me fix a flat tire. I noticed and appreciated him. I saw him.

As time went by I grew more and more accustomed to him and the things he did. I guess I can say that I took them for granted. I see this in so many couples. How we forget the things that once drew us to our partners. It's bad enough to forget but at times we even go the other extreme...we focus on the things we dislike about out partners.

One of the best blessings I have experienced as a wife is seeing my husband through the eyes of other people. I heard how his staff spoke about him. I heard how clients praised him. I hear how others talk about him.  This is why I was extremely blessed this morning when my friend sent me this message:

I can't tell you how helpful this text message was. It was like my blinders were lifted and I can see Ruy again. Yeah, he's a pretty awesome guy for me. Yes there are things he does that annoy me but then again I'm sure there are even more things I do that annoy him too. It took another person appreciating my husband to remind me that I do have a pretty great guy and that I need to appreciate him too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Love is Patient, Love is Kind - Teaching our Kids About Love

An article was going around the web a few months back with a great tip for teaching our kids how to choose their partner. In the article it mentioned reading the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with our children. Then you tell your child to replace the word love with the name of their prospective partner and see if the statements would still be true. 

I loved this idea! I think the Bible holds the secrets to a happy and peaceful life and any time we can teach our kids how to practically apply the Bible into their lives I would totally recommend it. 

Yesterday gave me the perfect opportunity to apply this to my daughter. We were watching an episode of Duck Dynasty. One of the sons got married at quite a young age by today's standards and my daughter asked if that's okay and also how the young people knew it was time to get married. It called for a long discussion but one of the things we discussed was the tip from that article.

We went over the verse and we talked about what each part meant in real life (or practically). I told her that when she grows up and she needs to choose a boyfriend or a partner she needs to pull out this verse and replace the word love with her suitor's name. We decided to try it with her dad so we read this together:

Ruy is patient, Ruy is kind.Ruy does not envy, Ruy does not boast,Ruy is not proud.Ruy is not rude, Ruy is not self-seeking, Ruy is not easily angered, Ruy keeps no record of wrongs.
Ruy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.Ruy always protects, always trusts,always hopes, always perseveres.

She was excited to see that her dad fits the description! She was really excited with this trick but then I knew that while this tip was wonderful it was incomplete. I then told her "Honey, while you need to make sure that your boyfriend will be all of these things it is even more important that YOU fit these descriptions."  

I realized that with a lot of my counseling clients they often demand their partners to be a certain thing while not holding themselves to the same measuring stick. The goal in our life shouldn't just be to find a good partner in life but to BE that good partner to someone else. 

So we replaced the word love again but this time replaced it with her name. 

Andrea is patient, Andrea is kind.
Andrea does not envy, Andrea does not boast,
Andrea is not proud.
Andrea is not rude, Andrea is not self-seeking,
Andrea is not easily angered,
Andrea keeps no record of wrongs.
Andrea does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
Andrea always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.

I asked her to look over all the statements and see which one is easiest for her. She said that she finds it easy to be kind to people. I said that's wonderful and then I proceeded to ask her which statement is the most challenging for her. Her answer was so interesting, she said "Mom I have no problem with feeling envious but it really drives me nuts when I know that the other person is saying things just to boast and make me feel bad.". We talked about how she can address that in the future and she was pleased. 

Andrea loved the lesson so much that a few hours after she told me "Mom I think I am going to tell my children and my grandchildren about that lesson you told me cause that's so important! But only after I tell them the top-secret family recipe for Hot Chocolate."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Raising the Standards of Our Kids

Do you ever feel so frustrated at your kids output? During one of Andrea's standardized tests her output scored around 30 points below her potential or her IQ. I was dumbfounded and extremely upset. I have tried so many things yet they don't address the heart of the issue. They don't teach Andrea how to be mindful of her work and how to critical of good work versus mediocre work.

Let me share with you 2 things I've tried one that did not really work as well as I would have wanted and one that has transformed our homeschooling tremendously.


Andrea has some fine-motor difficulties so writing is always somewhat of a pain point for us. Initially I would give her 5 pages of writing exercises a day. I saw though that she just basically rushed through the exercises just to finish them but still not learning the lesson that I had wanted her to learn. I then told her that we will only do one page a day...but it has to be perfect. If she submitted something that was poorly done then I will make her do another page. This sort of worked because she started giving me really great output...the problem was it didn't translate to excellent output in other things. I decided to try something else.


I decided to introduce the concept of effort. I told her that what matters most to me is that she exerts the best effort possible. I told her that effort is the only thing that will guarantee competence. I then showed her this effort meter I found online:

I printed this out and showed it to her. We discussed each level. I then pulled out a writing book she had completed. We went through every page and rated it based on the amount of effort she exerted. I pulled out her artworks and she rated those as well. When it was clear that we were on the same page when it comes to rating I sat down with her and asked her: "Honey, what level of effort do you think is acceptable for your homeschool?". We decided that right now, we will be happy with GOOD EFFORT. We will make that a habit then after 6 months we will try to go one level higher.

Since we have done this exercise Andrea has been going the extra mile in her work. For a few weeks before she would show me her work I would ask her "What effort did you put in this work?" and then she would run and make adjustments. But I haven't had to do that recently by God's grace.


Discipline Time - Gadget Edition

In our family we have two main rules: 1. Obey (immediately, going the extra mile and with a good attitude), 2. Don't Lie. Those two are the main rules.

We do also have some minor rules when it comes to gadget use. These rules were thoroughly discussed with Andrea. She understands them and understands the repercussion for not adhering to them.

1. She is allowed 1 hour of total gadget use a day.
2. She can only use gadgets after homeschooling and after her chores. (Needs first, then wants)
3. She can earn more time by reading news articles and discussing it with an adult (plus 10 minutes for each article).

These rules have been followed properly for a month...until yesterday. She got excited over an app and forgot to time herself. I know it was a mistake of the mind and not of the heart for several reasons. Number 1, she was telling me the entire time what she doing on the computer. She wasn't sneaking around. Number 2, when I asked her if she went beyond the agreed time she immediately said "Oh no. I forgot to check the time." She was honest about this and I know it came from her excitement with the new app.

So I told her we're going to have to have a talk about gadget use. I told her maybe making her keep track of the time by herself without my supervision was too much at the moment. I told her from this point she will only play beside me for a month because I will use that month to teach her how to be mindful.

She resisted. She was polite and kind but she wanted to understand why the consequences were so dire. Why do I need to do this beside you mom, why don't you just track the time? Why does it have to last a month?

It was hard for me to stay calm. But I tried my hardest. I told her "Honey, you don't have to do these things. You are free not to use the tablet. It is a want. Not a need. It is a privilege not a right". She then explained to me that it's easier for her to follow when she understands. So I explained to her the following:

1. She is free to make mistakes but not to choose the consequences of the mistakes. I am very consistent. If I tell her that so and so will happen if she doesn't follow our agreement with gadgets...then that's what will happen. No negotiations after the agreement (she can negotiate before the agreement)
2. The month long period is not arbitrary. The first week will be with me sitting beside her and watching her play. The second week will be me teaching her different ways to keep track of time while she's playing. The 3rd and 4th week will be me observing if she's ready for the responsibility and privilege of freedom on her tablet.
3. Another consequence is that she is now going to be unable to use the tablet when I'm not home. She is sad about that but that's part of the consequence of not being mindful of the time.

She cried during this discussion. She said she was embarrassed of her mistake. I told her I was also responsible. I apologized for not teaching her how to manage and keep track of her time before giving her this huge responsibility.

(Note: I am very strict. Rules are agreed upon and implemented. Consequences are meted out with no bargaining. I do however differentiate between mistakes of the heart and mind. In this case the mistake was of the mind so I am taking steps to strengthen her knowledge by giving her tools to help track her gadget time. If it were a mistake of the heart however like sneaking around to play with the gadgets when she knows it's already past the agreed period then the consequence would be no gadget use for 2 weeks)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to Really Win in a Fight (Specially with your Partner)

Let me premise this post by saying that I am a woman and I have this belief that I am right maybe 95% of the time. Here's the problem with this belief. If I believe I am right practically all the time it must mean that someone else is wrong. If that belief wasn't bad enough I would also have to point out that the people who I deem as being wrong usually end up being my family and friends. Did I mention that I'm also not very shy about pointing out that they're wrong?

When I was younger (and so much more arrogant) I would defend this behavior by holding on to the fact that "Well I'm right. I'm just telling it how it is". What a senseless way of losing friends and loved ones huh?  

My friend Vicki once asked me "If you were given a choice between being right and being kind, what would you choose?".  I would admit that this question caught me off guard. Up until that point, I thought being right was being kind. Because I am after all educating (scoff,) people when I tell them how wrong they are and what the right thing is. But the more I think about it the more I realized how often we cling on to what is right and forget to be kind. We are often emboldened by the belief that we are standing for what is right that we lose our ability to feel for others.  

I realized that I know so many wonderful, smart, empowered women who are winning all the arguments because they are right but are slowly losing their relationships. I ask myself is this really winning? These past few weeks I have been talking to people and have been giving these two advise that I thought it best to write them down. Here are two things you should do to really win in a fight.

Just a note; this is not my husband.
This was my boss and we were being silly and acting out scenes in public.

1. If given the choice between being right and being kind, choose to be kind.

There is no point in rubbing it in. Sure, sometimes the point of your partner may seem ludicrous to you but do you really need to rub it in his face? Would it be a victory if you end up winning and being right but you are left with somebody who has a crushed spirit and ego? 

My friend Vicki used to tell me that in arguing you always have to spare your husband's ego because once you crush that it would be hard to build back up. 

2.  Always give people the chance to exit gracefully.

Would it really kill you to allow your partner to have an excuse? Always make sure that you and your husbands leave the argument with your dignities intact. Let's look at a case where you feel like your husband needs to spend more time at home with your kid. 

Wife: You really need to spend more time with our son
Husband: Sure I've just been so busy. 

(It is at this point that you are faced with a fork in the road. Would you be kind and give him his dignity? Or would you be right and secure what would be a winning argument for yourself?)


Wife: I know you have been. It must be really hard balancing work and family. I wonder how we can schedule an activity for you two together next? 

See this approach is kind. You recognize his situation and you suggest working together to come up with a solution. Let's look at the other scenario. 


Wife: Busy? But we both work and I get the time to spend with our son. 
Husband: (will now recognize he is being questioned and will get defensive) Your work is easy and you go home when you want to. I'm the one who needs to adjust to clients all day.
Wife: That's not the issue. The issue is you don't know how to prioritize us. If you have time to play golf and play computer games then you should be able to spend time with your own kid. 

Which approach would be the winning approach for you? Sure scenario 2 proves the wife right but it is peppered with judgment and accusations that could build up and slowly drive a wedge between you and your husband. So my dear ladies, I hope we always try to be like the wife in scenario 1. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stop Start Continue - An Approach to Helping Kids Improve

In general, my daughter is incredibly well-behaved but she is definitely a work in progress. These past few weeks we have seen some changes in Andrea's attitude and character that needed more molding. The attitude was escalating which resulted in 5 crying spells yesterday and 4 today. My husband turned to me and told me that we had to do something about this. I racked my brain for an idea as I know my daughter's personality. She's very sensitive (which makes her incredibly compassionate and loving but also makes her sensitive to criticism) and she likes the cerebral approach. Combined with the fact that she's celebrating her birthday soon, I decided to design an activity to guide her in figuring out how to change her attitude.

STEP 1: Reminding her of her positive traits.
- I told her that as she is about to turn 8, it would be nice to remember all the awesome things about 7-year-old Andrea. We talked about 7-year-old Andrea's traits, learnings, accomplishments, etc.

This helped lift her spirits up and lessened any defensiveness and sensitivity she might have to the succeeding steps.

STEP 2; Start - Stop - Continue
I asked her, what should 8-year-old Andrea Start doing, Stop Doing and Continue doing to become what God intended her to be and to be even more awesome.

I gave her an example but she basically took the reigns on this activity. Surprisingly, she really enjoyed this. See a few of her answers below:

This is insider her planner so she can continually refer to the list and update it.

STEP 3: Prioritize and Plan
- Ask the kid what's the most important. What would she like to work on first. Then ask the following questions: What steps do you need to take in order to do this? What help will you need from me?

STEP 4: Pray
- Tell your kid that change is always difficult but God can empower us to be the best versions of ourselves all for his glory.