Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's In a Name?

    When I was a little girl, I always loved pretending to be a teacher. I liked the idea of writing on a blackboard, checking test papers, and teaching non-existent students ;D. Now that dream has come to life! haha! I may be an architect by profession, but I'm now officially Teacher Mom, as Audrey fondly calls me :)
    And because I am not really a pro at teaching (and only have the heart for it), I made sure that I would be able to come up with a good lesson plan for Audrey's summer home school by asking those who know. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by great preschool teachers all around! My two sisters in law have been preschool teachers, and I have a number of preschool teacher friends. They have all given me very useful tips in preparing Audrey for her first time in school this year. I put together all the information that they gave me and did some online research as well. I then prepared all the materials needed prior to 'summer home school' so it would be legit! We even have a regular schedule for class and an ID that we made hehe!

    They all told me to start by teaching Audrey her NAME because it has the most meaning for her. Audrey has already known how to spell her name for quite some time but for this summer, we have been practicing how to write it - in all caps because she's still just starting (small letters will come later). 
    I printed out some worksheets which I got online and would also write the letters in dots for her to trace. Will give more tips on that on my next post about Handwriting :) And for those of you who want to teach your kids at home too, just remember to make it fun and keep these 2 words in mind: NO PRESSURE! :) :) haha! Kids love to learn but being impatient or forcing them to do something that they don't want to do will make them lose interest.

Audrey knows the letters of her name by heart but I put that to the test by
First - making her write it, and Second - by having her identify things that
start with the letters! We looked for objects around our house that started with
each letter (i.e. an umbrella needs to be placed under the letter U) and so far she
aced my test! hehe! Good to know that she knows her letters :)

The happy student was more than willing to pose for pics!

My other student :) She knows how to say Audrey by now :) 

Our writing table

Our practice exercises include writing vertical and horizontal lines and
curves on lined paper.

Here's Audrey tracing her name so she can get used to writing
the letters and knowing the proper strokes.

      Teaching a child how to write her name may sound simple to us adults, but it takes time and effort. I actually found it a bit challenging to make Audrey write her name prior to summer home school. There were times when she would be willing, and more times when she wasn't. But thanks to the suggestion of my sis in law Mic, which is to make her 'sign in' for class every morning, it became easy to have her practice writing her name. I didn't need to convince her - it worked! :) Audrey now makes writing or 'signing in' her name part of our every day routine. Class doesn't start without it! :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

How Much Influence a Mom Has

  I'm a mom of two, and by now I've seen how much of an influence I actually have on my daughters.
  When I mess up my own routine, I mess up theirs.
  When they see me eat sugary sweets, they want to eat some too.
  When they see me brushing my teeth, they want to brush theirs.
  When they see me read books, they too develop an interest in them.
  When they see and hear me pray, they follow suit.
  When they hear me say Thank You to others, Audrey does the same even without being told.

  So what am I saying?

  Mothers are a living example and model to their kids. We mess up, and they copy us not knowing that what they're doing isn't good for them. But when we do what's right, it not only benefits us - it benefits them.

  Motherhood is not an easy task, nor is being a good example to little ones who are sharper and smarter than we all think. Every move we make, every word we say - all are being recorded in those little big brains! There is practically no escape! The only way to reassure their healthy growth physically, emotionally and spiritually is to continually aim to do our best, improve ourselves and be intentional about what we're doing and why we're doing them.

    Are we up for the challenge? :)

Edited Image from www.hdwallpapermania.com

“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.”
                                                                                                                                           ― David O. McKay

P.S. Dads aren't exempt either, especially if you have sons. Your kids are watching you too! :) 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Make Your Own Pizza

      Before you read any further, it would be good for you to know that this is me, Audrey 'speaking' :) My mom thought I would enjoy talking about pizza for this post because it is my favorite food to eat! :9 Whenever we're out, I would always ask mom and dad if we could have pizza for lunch or dinner! 
      So I was excited when Tita Patty told us that Project Pie had invited our whole family over for lunch! Mom said we could make our own pizza in this restaurant (but not the dough! I guess they don't want us to make a mess? haha!) - we get to choose the toppings and flavors for our pizza and that sounded so good and yummy! I couldn't wait! :)

Here I am placing my order with Tita Patty ;)

Look how happy Nalie and I are! We absolutely love pizza! :)
Oma, Opa and Lolo JJ were with us too!

This is the dessert pizza! It had strawberry, mango and nutella! Yum!

Check out Natalie's grin! (she's my fellow pizza monster)

Mama loved the banana, cinnamon, sugar and nutella dessert pizza!

Do we look crazy for pizza or what?! :D

Do check out Project Pie! Get those creative chef juices flowing and mix together ingredients 
for your very own pizza satisfaction! It's fun for the whole family! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Broadwater Parklands

    One of my favorite places to go to at the Gold Coast was the Broadwater Parklands. Our host and family friend from the area kept telling us to visit it because it was really fun for families with very young kids. So when we finally went, I was able to see why.
     The parklands was a sprawling land with lots of open spaces, picnic areas, playgrounds, bike paths and my favorite - the Rockpools. And it was right by the beach too. How I wish we had something like this back home! 

To the Rockpools!

I love how child friendly this place was! It was a water playground with sloping
grounds, fountains and areas to lounge around in.

Audrey enjoying the rockpools!

We went back here around 3x within two weeks. Wish we could've gone more!

The whole family enjoyed the pools and hot sun!

Being silly! Check out Natalie's expressions haha!

Water fountain fun!

The girls and the other kids there for that matter, just couldn't get enough!

Relaxing by the turf!

Natalie loved watching and playing with the birds in the park!

Audrey clearly loved it here ;)

As the sun was starting to set, we walked around the parklands and took over
this stage! The girls had so much fun!

Open spaces, grills, picnic tables and a cafe.

    These public spaces are great places to spend time with family. We were also able to visit the South Bank Parklands in the city of Brisbane, but this one remains to be our favorite :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What We've Been Up To

     The past two weeks have been very busy (and quite crazy) for me. As preparation for Audrey's coming entry to preschool, we've been doing summer home school. To be honest, it's been more of a challenge for me more than anyone else, including Audrey. She's been more than willing to be my student and would gladly trade TV watching for learning time at our little home school. We set up their room as our classroom and she always looks forward to going to class every morning after she and Natalie have eaten breakfast and taken a bath. 
     I on the other hand have had to wake up extra early, consistently, ever since we started so that we can meet our schedule for the day. This has not been a walk in the park - because of the word CONSISTENTLY. I have no problem waking up early, especially if I was able to sleep early the night before. But doing this every single day is not easy. I used to do it so I could work on my projects, have more me time and quiet time (and hopefully squeeze in exercise) - but adding preparations for class, breakfast and having the girls wake up early as well is just hard (our housekeeper comes in at 8am so I do whatever needs to be done prior to that time). I now have less hours in the morning to do what I would like to do for myself and for work.
      But I am hoping that I'll get the hang of it and squeeze in more time for work (and this only means I need to wake up extra extra early because there's just not enough time anymore). I also have to factor in time for interruptions during the day, meetings on some days, errands, time with my husband and rest (yes it's pretty tiring!). What a challenge!
      Here are some photos of preparations prior to beginning summer home school. Will post other photos of what we did and are learning for Audrey's age group. Natalie was a willing participant in our class so hopefully she was picking up quite a lot of stuff too :)

We prepared our caboodles and shoe boxes for class!
We use it to store items for arts and crafts, musical instruments, manipulatives,
books and other learning materials. The plastic shoe boxes are for sorting exercises.
I asked Audrey and Natalie to wipe and dry them after we had them washed
and cleaned. They were very willing and had fun helping out!
Toddlers are natural born helpers so this activity is actually enjoyable for
them and it's an opportunity to teach them responsibilities and the
value of helping out at home.

Natalie had fun playing with the shoe boxes ;)

Before these boxes were used for what they were intended to
be for, they first became a chair, a boat, a picnic table and a
building! Kids' imaginations can be quite creative so I let them
play and pretend to their hearts' content ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Breastfeeding Fashion

     I find that breastfeeding or nursing clothes are quite expensive. I'm not exactly sure why they have to be. After all, they're pretty similar to most clothing styles for women. There are a lot of regular clothes that can meet the criteria for easy breastfeeding. All you have to do is check, fit and pull here and there and you'll be able to tell if the outfit will work. At least that's what I do ;)

    All you need is to be creative and know which style works when breastfeeding. The main points to remember are:

    1. Baby has easy access
    2. You won't need to take off everything in order to feed baby (because breastfeeding in public is most likely going to happen)
    3. You feel comfortable
    4. It has to make you feel good and confident

Here are some of my favorite breastfeeding styles:

1. No Fail: Strapless 
    Whether it be a mini, midi or maxi strapless dress or a simple top, this works well all the time! Just match with a strapless bandeau or bra.

2. Easy Access: V-neck
    A v-neck top in the form of a wrap around dress or blouse is also good for breastfeeding. Just make sure it is deep enough that it's easy to pull when it's time to feed baby.

3. Pull a Fast One: Cowl Neck
    A cowl neck top or dress in a stretchy material is always a nice staple in your breastfeeding wardrobe because a little pulling here and there and baby can drink to her heart's content!

4. Work It: Button Down
    A classic button down polo or blouse always works especially for working moms who have to feed baby and then attend a meeting shortly after (based on personal experience haha!). 

5. Cover Up in Style
    Even though most outfits listed above are comfortable and easy to breastfeed with, I along with most moms would agree to using a nursing cover for modesty and comfort while feeding. Scarves can be a fashionable and useful breastfeeding cover alternative. I've found myself using my scarves for cover whenever I forget to bring my nursing cover and it does the job pretty well!

    I actually have not bought a single outfit or top specifically designed for breastfeeding mothers. I just rummage through my closet or go to my favorite stores and look for something suitable. So far it has worked for me and these styles are still fashionable even after you're done breastfeeding :)

Images from the Web

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Don't Drag Your Feet

      Do you believe we can learn a whole lot from our kids? I do. Every day I learn. Every night I look back at my day. And every time I collect my thoughts I am reminded that my kids have shown me something that I can change about myself - again.
      This learning process can be humbling. But it is also very, very good. I would rather learn from the youngest and most precious teachers in my life, rather than through painful and humiliating experiences.

       It still amazes me how my 19-month old can pick up instructions so easily. Even instructions that aren't necessarily directed towards her. 
      "Please pack away," I say to Audrey and even before she so much as moves her body towards the area concerned, little Natalie has already gone there and is picking up and putting away the blocks, papers or toys. How awesome is that? We've noticed this about her sometime after she turned one. Our baby must have bionic ears! Or just a helpful heart. 
      She's so efficient that she even puts me to shame! (Now the pressure is on to move move move whenever a task needs to be completed!) There's simply no room for dilly-dallying when even my little baby is capable of picking up instructions and following them right away. And instructions meant for someone else at that!
     Sometimes, she does things voluntarily like handing over Audrey's clothes when she's done with her bath. Or she pushes the dining chair closer to me during times when I ask Audrey to come over to my side so I can help her eat. Even when I'm just looking for something in particular and happened to wonder about it aloud, she responds immediately! You will either see her looking for the object along with me or be surprised that she's handing it over because she found it already!
      How she became this way, I'm not entirely sure. But I am definitely thankful and amazed at this wonderful character trait that she possesses. Again, even adults like me are learning from her. 
     How many times do we put off things that are asked of us? Or purposely delay doing them? Maybe we're busy. Or tired. Or lazy. Or maybe we just don't want to do it. If we just did things right away with a good attitude, instead of procrastinating, we'll be able to achieve more. And if we did things even without being asked, so much more can be accomplished. 
    If we applied this principle to our daily tasks, our work, our relationships and especially to our faith, then we will begin to see change and the results that we are hoping for. Procrastinating was never a good idea. Responding without delay always is.
"I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands." 
                                                        - Psalm 119:60 NIV

"I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet, was quick to follow your orders."
                                                                     - Psalm 119:60 The Message

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Our Summer Getaway

      Summer just isn't complete without a trip to the beach. We live in a tropical country and not soaking up the sun and enjoying the warm water even for a weekend just isn't right! haha! :D
     This year my family and I decided to head over to Pico De Loro at Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu, Batangas. With the recently opened Cavitex Highway, it was closer than ever. If you're from the South area (Alabang, Parañaque, Las Piñas), you can get there in an hour and a half to 2 hours (depending on how fast you drive). At least you won't have to go through Tagaytay anymore where all the traffic seems to converge especially on weekends and holidays.

This is the beach at Pico De Loro Cove

Our friends joined us on this trip and we all had a blast, esp the kids!

It was a very hot day at the beach but we were ready!

Natalie had fun swimming (or floating)! :D

Our friends left a day ahead of us but we made the most of our time together.
We went to the Astro Photography Event on our first night and Audrey got to
see the moon up close on a telescope (really close!), plus we saw the stars
in the sky projected to the big screen they set up and it was just awesome! :)

The girls loved swimming in the big pool because it had a shallow area with
beach lounge chairs submerged in the water

This was the kiddie pool and adjacent to it was the slide
(recommended for bigger kids hehe!)

Just chillin'!

Dad and the girls!

Heading to the beach again!

Time to make sandcastles again!

The day always ends at the big pool :)

The look-a-likes! :)

I love Natalie's grin! :D

Ready with our shades before heading out again

Lunch at Pico Restaurant before heading home!
Love the pasta and burger here :9

Checked out the St. Therese Chapel right before leaving the Pico De Loro premises

Check out the magnificent view! :)