Thursday, April 17, 2008

SDC: Field Trip Friday - Nature Park

For our Field Trip Friday (which I moved to a Saturday) I took the kids to La Mesa Eco-Park. We haven't been there before, but I heard some good reviews about the place so I decided to check it out with the kids in tow, plus my sisters and nephew and niece.

I was having a Nigella Lawson moment again, and baked corn muffins early in the morning to bring to the park for our lunch picnic. That was going to be our food contribution. My sisters took it upon themselves to bring BBQ and pancit palabok made by my mom's cook, of course. Come lunch time, the kids wouldn't touch my muffins finding them too "grainy". A quick aside about the corn muffins: I made them with organic medium ground cornmeal and organic ground flaxseed, bought from Healthy Options. So there was a price premium to that, which I thought shouldn't matter because it was healthier. I personally liked the nuttiness that it brought to the muffins. I guess it's just me. My own kids wouldn't touch them, and preferred to use them as fish food instead. Those traitors! :)

click on the pic for enlarged view

Click on pic for enlarged view

The park is clean and the attractions are well-maintained. There are a lot of activities to do : fishing, koi fish feeding, biking, swimming, butterfly park, hiking trail, if you count the numerous flowers blooming, then you also have a botanical garden. All in all, I'd have to say the park is worth another visit - if the place is not crowded. So going on a weekend or on a holiday is definitely out of the question. The weekend crowd is just about as crazy as Megamall having a sale - only this is worse! Entrance cost P50 and if you are a Quezon City resident you get additional discount, if you can show them a valid ID. Take a hint from the entrance fee!

SDC: Make It Monday (Tie Dye Shirts)

If you have the patience for it, tye-dyeing with your kids can be a really wonderful bonding activity, and a great way for the kids to make their own summer fashion statement. If you are a newbie to the tie-dye fashion bug, make like me and head off to the nearest computer and look it up in the web. There are a lot of resources available to help you get started and get some tips from the experts along the way.

It is really simple and the materials needed can easily be found at any
grocery or department store: bowls, rubber bands, marbles, fabric dyes, hot water, clothespins, and of course the garments to be dyed.. Since I only had one size of marbles lying around the house, and I wanted a variety in our spherical patterns, I made do and used salad macaroni instead.

It was a make-your-own fashion adventure for the kids, as I made
them choose what pattern and color they wanted for their shirts. J chose to have a blue striped shirt, with some green in the middle to break the monotony. B, my li'l fashionista was adamant and wanted a "golden yellow" (her exact words) shirt with spherical patterns. R decided on a blue ombre.

The whole morning was spent soaking up the garm
ents in the dye. Since the dye is permanent, I had the kids don C's tatty shirts. The over-sized tees, which I pinned with clothespins at the sleeves gathering towards the neckline, made them look like ancient Romans and they had a kick out of it.

The expressive patterns that resulted when we took off the rubber bands thrilled the kids. I am sure this is one activity that won't be forgotten.

click on the pic for a larger view

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Attachment Parenting

I would just like to share with everybody what my friend, Betty P, e-mailed me about the importance of having one-on-one time with each of our kids. I remember attending a parenting seminar by Maribel Dionisio sponsored by B and R's pre-school early this year, where one-on-one time was also mentioned as vital to our relationship with our kids.. I did take her example to heart and encouraged C to do the same. We started incorporating that to our family routine, although not as often as the kids liked it to be.

Let me share with you what transpired on a recent one-on-one date between C and my eldest, J. They both left home after dinner to have dessert. This was J's reward for actively participating in a recently concluded soccer clinic sponsored by our church. As C shared with me, banter was light at first. They had fun talking about whose nose was bigger, archie trivia (did you know that Mr. Lodge's first name is Hiram?), and J fretting the fact that she got her dad's genes. She worried that her feet would grow so big and her height would shoot up making her the biggest girl in class - and that no one would like her because of this.

Then they moved on to more serious matters of the heart. J mentioned that mommy was grumpy a lot lately. And so, of course, C, being the good husband that he is, justified that i might just be pre-occupied and tired, and needed some personal time. That rationalization went well with her, but after thinking (i guess) about it, she wanted to know why couldn't I simply make my cup bigger? If I had a bigger cup, then it won't be filled right away, she reasoned. Yes, of course! Now, why didn't I think of that first? :)

Having shared that, I am grateful that my "grumpiness" has been called to my attention. Of course, I want to make life at home as pleasant for my family as possible, and a being grumpy mom is not the way to do it.

Here is the article, which I am attaching in full.

Keeping Attachment Strong

By Toni Schutta, Parent Coach for Unlimited Growth Potential and President of Families First Coaching

What makes a good mother?
"You don't need to be rich or
smart or talented or funny. You just have to be there." -Psychologist Robert Karen

friend, shared a wonderful story recently in a seminar on "Smart Parenting." She said that ever since her children were little, she's set aside special one-on-one time with each of her children. She made a commitment to do this once a week and put it on the calendar. As her children became teenagers, this became harder to do, but yet they persevered.

One time, my friend had an important work commitment that conflicted with the breakfast date she'd made with her 15-year-old son. When she told him that they'd have to postpone, he actually got tears in his eyes, even though they were just postponing the date until the next day.

Wouldn't we all love to have that type of bond with our children, at any age?

We talk a lot about "attachment" when our children are young, but then the conversation fades to other topics. I contend that we must work diligently to make sure our attachment with our children is ever-growing and ever deepening. In fact, I believe that keeping attachment strong
is our most critical task.

Attachment is the basis from which discipline, respect, communication and authority grow. When your attachment is firmly grounded, the other parenting duties are more likely to be effective.

Many factors contribute to keeping "attachment" alive as our children grow. Being emotionally available to our children, loving them unconditionally, meeting their basic needs, being consistent in our discipline, being responsive to their pain and maintaining open communication, to name a few. But I'd like to go out on a limb and say that one of the most concrete things that you can do to deepen attachment is to spend one-on-one "special time" each week with each child.

Why is this so important?

A child is far more likely to reveal intimate feelings to you when you're alone with them. It¹s highly unlikely that a child, who may be feeling vulnerable already, will reveal perceived weaknesses in front of a sibling. But, given time to let down their guard with a parent, they may let you in on struggles they wouldn't reveal at the dinner table.

By having your sole attention, the child will feel valued. You're making a huge statement to them that nothing else is more important to you.

Your child will treasure this time. Remember when your kids were little and they¹d say "Look at me!"? They still need us to look at them and let them know that they're #1.

In his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" Stephen Covey talks about an "Emotional Bank Account" that you can develop with other family members. He says
the Emotional Bank Account "is like a financial account that can make deposits by proactively doing things that build trust in the relationship, or you can make withdrawals by reactively doing things that decrease the level of trust."

Things like being kind, apologizing, not criticizing others, keeping promises, forgiving and providing unconditional love, all contribute to the bank account. I'd say that weekly
one-on-one time with each child would contribute a substantial deposit in the emotional bank account from which you could leverage things like compliance to your requests, respect, and honest communication.

Given that attachment is the base from which all other aspects of parenting flow, I hope you'll consider making this weekly "investment" that is guaranteed to bring you even closer to your child.

Here are some guidelines for getting started:

*Start small. You can commit to as little as 15 to 30 minutes a week.

*Put the special time on the calendar in ink! Try very hard to keep that commitment.

*Let the child choose how you spend your time together.

The child's inner needs will direct them to choose an activity that brings them joy. Let the child be the leader for a change! (Before you get started, feel free to set boundaries about the activities, such as the amount of time or the cost.)

Relax, and enjoy this special time with your child!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You go, soccer girl!

Sharing with you the photo layout that I made of J during the one-week soccer clinic at Corinthians. I have decided that this summer is going to be a sports-filled summer for the kids. And the plan is, after soccer comes swimming, and in between that biking - without trainer wheels!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Cup Runs Over

With three kids that came one after the other, and with the two younger ones that came so close together, I have always experienced a limit to my creativity, energy, and most important of all, patience, when dealing with them. In my quest to be God's best for my kids, I continuously attend parenting seminars sponsored by the school or church, read parenting articles and books... anything to motivate and inspire me. No matter how many articles I read or seminars I attend, inspite of my best efforts, my patience still leaves me at those times when I need it the most.

J would ask me every so often which child do I love best. How do you answer that? Each one of them is truly unique and one child's strength is the other's weak spot.

Take J for example, she is the perfect eldest child - patient with her younger siblings, joyfully helpful with chores, and her willingness to try new things is just simply God-sent especially when I need to encourage the 2 younger ones to participate in a new activity/sport. But she is not that diligent when it comes to matters of hygiene and organization.

B, on the other hand, doesn't need to be reminded to arrange her things in a neat and orderly manner. She is fastidious and attentive to detail and this is where my problem with her stubbornness comes in. She wants to do things her way and at her own pace. Threats and glares don't work on her. She takes some time to adjust to new places, people and activities.

R, being the only boy and the youngest one at that, is emotionally attached to me.
He is constantly trying to compete with B for my attention, prompting B to call him her echo. However, he also lives to please his dad. His playful spirit and active body makes for a tired yaya.

I try to have some quiet time in the morning when they are all still sleeping, and pray for more patience and love to give during the day, wisdom to teach and lead by example. But on the days that everything just go from bad to worse, when frustration, annoyance, exasperation, irritation, infuriation (well, you get the drift) takes over, I end up hating myself at the end of the day because I know I had let myself and the kids down again.

To let the kids understand where my frustration comes from, I have thought of a simple way to illustrate how negative feelings build up. I started with J since the I didn't think the 2 younger ones would be able to understand it yet. I brought her to the sink and showed her an empty cup. I turned on the tap a little and let some water drip to the cup. I did this a couple of times till the cup was almost full. I stopped (for added drama, of course) and pointed out to her that now all it takes was just one tiny drop to make the water inside the cup overflow. And having said that, I turned on the tap again, and true enough the water overflowed. And that, I said, was how Mommy sometimes just simply blows her top at seemingly petty acts. Presentation done. Point made.

I thought of Stormie Omartian and remembered that it's not being a perfect parent that makes a difference in our children's lives. It's a being a praying parent that does! As Stormie wrote: For it's the power of God that penetrates a child's life when a parent prays. God knows our thoughts and our needs, but he responds to our prayers.

And with that, I say good night. Tomorrow morning will find me praying again for more patience
and love to give during the day, wisdom to teach and lead by example.