The Art Positive Discipline

Last May, Dens and i started a new reward system for Troy. Every time he does something really good (ex. being very obedient, helping us out with baby sister, doing his assignments well), he earns a 'very good' sticker.

When he reaches 20 stickers, he gets rewarded with a toy of his choice.

I cannot express how happy i am to have implemented this system. It helped me solve several things on my discipline checklist:

1. Less negotiations in the toy store

Like any kid entering a toy store, Troy would start scouting for things that he likes. Leaving the store would often include some discussion on why we cannot purchase and what he can do to earn the toy that he desires. It can be a pretty lengthy process, i tell you.

With our new sticker reward system (am i starting to sound like a Home TV Shopping salesperson?!), Troy now goes to the toy store looking for his next target prize.  He happily leaves the store, thinking of ways he can earn more stickers.

2. Minimize clutter in the house

We used to reward him with small toys each time he finishes his assignments. This means that if he is given 3 assignments per week, he can earn a maximum of 3 toys. Imagine how much toys he has now accumulated in his room.

This time, he earns a sticker for each assignment that he finishes. It still motivates him to do a good job withouth us having to stock up on 'rewards' in the closet.

3. Teaches value for money

Now that he has to earn for the toys that he likes, he treasures them more. Although to be honest, Troy has been a pretty good steward of his toys ever since. He packs them away after use and knows where to find them later on. He probably has over 100 cars (no kidding) already but he knows each one of them. He can even identify where each car came from.

Anyhow, the sticker system is still a good tool to teach him that things don't come easy. 

To help you get started with this system, all you need are stickers, pen, colored paper, and design materials.  In order to build a sense of ownership, we asked Troy to write his own name on the sticker board and also design it himself.

We placed his sticker board on the refrigerator so that he can regularly check how he is progressing. He completed his first sticker board in 4 weeks and bought his much desired Iron Man toy. He is now on his second sticker board and has already earned 7 stickers on the first week! His current motivation is to purchase the Captain America action figure.

Positive discipline is way better than punishing when the child already did something wrong. It's more rewarding (literally) for the child and more pleasant for the parents.


Homemade Birthday Card

When Troy was still in Toddler school at two years old, he came home one day with a cute little handmade chinese lantern. Being the proud mommy of a new school-age kid, i happily displayed the lantern in our bedroom immediately.

One day, as I was proudly admiring the lantern that Troy gave me, I asked him "Hey, Troy, did you make that in school for mommy?"...and my very honest son answered 'No, mommy. Teacher Marlene did'.

Two years later, Troy can now make his own handmade crafts (Yey to his sentimental mommy!). Last June 6 was my mom's birthday and I came home to find this.

My very artistic sister helped him out.  He obviously enjoyed the concept a little bit too much and over-designed it but hey - he made it himself, right? When my mom said he should have put his name there, Troy said 'My name is there, Grandma. Look!' (pointing at the letters) - T in birThday, R in gRandma, Y in happY...and when i said 'But where is the O?' He pointed at the little round scribble above the D. 'There oh!'

Here's to more funny memories, Troy. You make mommy proud!


Co-sleeping, anyone?

Before we got married, one weird but sound advice that a friend gave us was 'BUY A KING-SIZED BED'. He said it will come in handy when we already have kids. After 8 years of marriage, i will officially say 'He spoke with wisdom'.

Our kids have their own bedrooms but my husband and I are firm believers of co-sleeping (at least in the same bedroom) so they only use their rooms for afternoon naps. Come night time, both kids sleep with us. We want some level of independence so even if we are all in the same room, our 4-year old still has his own foldable mattress on one side while our 1-year old daughter still sleeps in her crib.

Every night, we start out with just the 2 of us on the bed. Around 1am, my daughter would wake me up and request to be transferred to our bed.  How, you ask, at 1 year old? She would call me (not crying but literally call me - 'mum' or 'mommy') and i'd wake up to see her standing inside the crib holding on to the railing. She'd point to our bed and when i lay her down beside us, she'd just go back to sleep effortlessly. A couple of times i tried bringing her back to the crib but she would just cry or shake her head saying 'no'.

I go back to sleep and would usually wake up around 4am for my daughter's midnight feeding. By then, my son would already be sleeping on our bed - well, more like the edge of the bed, beside his dad. There is very little space but he would always manage to squeeze himself in and amazingly never falls off the bed!

So by 5am, there will already be four of us on the bed...and guess who takes up the most space?

How could someone so little take up half the bed? The body pillow beside her is where i normally end up sleeping right before i wake up.

What about you? What's your family's sleeping position?
Thank you for this illustration


Improve Your Vision Naturally

With the barrage of gadgets these days, it is very important that we take extra steps to ensure our family's eyes are all in the best of health.

Last week, my Aunt sent around an email about her 73-year old friend who still has very good vision. She did not mention if he has 20-20 vision but the fact that he does not need eyeglasses at his age is quite remarkable.

He shared with my aunt that he learned an eye exercise several years ago and have been diligently doing it ever since. He said that the exercise is supposed to allow our eyes to go back to its natural shape by stretching the eye muscles. I assume this means that you don't only retain your current vision but might even help correct any vision impairment.

Eye Exercise
- Relax and close your eyes
- Roll up the eyeball as high as you can and bring it down low (as if you're looking at the floor).
- Roll it now to the far right, then roll it to the left.
- Follow this sequence 10 times daily also shares some popular eye exercises that may help promote circulation to the eyes.

"Palming is frequently used to relax the eyes. In this exercise, rub your palms together to warm them and then placed them over your closed eyes for a few minutes. This technique helps to relax the eye muscles and ease eyestrain. Other eye exercises include training the eyes to focus by tracing an imaginary figure eight or relaxing the eyes by massaging areas around the eyes to promote circulation to the eyes."

Now these are not conclusive and are just based on people's experiences. I have tried doing the eye exercise shared by my aunt for a couple of days now. It's too soon to tell whether it has truly improved my vision but following the procedure actually relaxes my eyes afterwards.

I hope i will be diligent with the eye exercise so that i can really test to see how it affects my vision. I will follow it for 3 to 6 months and get my eyes checked afterwards. If there is a remarkable improvement in my vision, I will share it with you. If i am silent about it, it just means that it did not work for me or i failed to do it religiously. Well, let's wait and see (pun intended).



Richmond Public Library, Canada

Canada is one place that a lot of Filipinos love to migrate to. A few years ago, i joined the bandwagon and also rallied about the benefits of moving to Canada. Our family has even submitted our application forms already but after some hiccups and re-evaluation, we decided to stay in the Philippines.

This summer we visited Vancouver again. We stayed with our cousins in Richmond and got a feel of what it was like living there. Amidst the clean city and family-friendly environment, one place that i found quite extraordinary was their public library.

After some research on the net, i found out that there were a number of libraries in the Richmond area. The one that we visited was the main library in Brighouse.

Entrance to the libray (photo taken by selihpxe8)
I was amazed at the number of books, magazines, and even DVDs that are available for rent. More amazing is that you can borrow and browse for free! The number of materials is a lot more extensive than most of our bookstores here in the Philippines.
I am not a big fan of libraries maybe because i really did not have a very good impression of them growing up. When i was younger, going to the library meant that I had to do research for a school assignment or write a book report. It was almost never fun. This is why i love the idea of the Richmond Public Library. You will see kids excitedly reading books and learning through the available e-centers.  While the grown-ups can browse the web for free using the available desktops, the kids has a really cool space (Kid's Place) with multiple i-Pads that have pre-installed educational games for them. I know some friends and families with kids who say this is their family's favorite place to go during weekends. Isn't that such a blessing for parents who always try to look for fun ways of learning for the kids?

As mentioned earlier, the library does not only house books but even all of the newly released DVDs and magazines. Each copy comes with a bar code.  You can just get what you need and self-check out by scanning the bar codes before you leave. The rental period is normally around 30 days which, i feel, is a very reasonable timeframe.

The library does not have a quiet atmosphere. There is a kind of buzz when you enter. From the families excitedly discussing which new DVD to rent to the kids running to their parents with a ton of books they'd like to borrw -- you just know that excitement is in the air. I mean, imagine going to Fully Booked/Powerbooks or a music/video store and being told that you can take anything you like for free. You just need to return them after a month. Wouldn't you also be excited?
Visiting the library has made me realize how much i want to instill learning through reading to my children. I truly wish we have the same facility here in the Philippines where our family can enjoy learning together during weekends.  But then again, having no similar venue here should not stop us from teaching our kids that reading is fun. We have mega bookstores here where we can browse and purchase the books that we like. We may not be able to rent for free but i personally believe that books are a worthy investment anyway.

For those of you living in Canada or visiting the Richmond area, do check out the Brighouse library. Trust me, it's not your ordinary library.

100-7700 Minoru Gate
Richmond, B.C.
V6Y 1R8

Learn more about the Richmond Public Libraries here


Just Be Present
I was reading an article last week about basic business etiquette and one tip that struck me the most is Focus on the face, not the screen. It talked mostly about the use of Blackberries (phones). It says "When you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone. Don’t check your emailPay attention and be present.

A lot of people abuse the concept of multi-tasking these days. I feel that when you try to be  efficient by responding to an email or a text while talking to someone, the line between being a multitasker and just plain rude is very very thin.

Urban Dictionary defines a Multitasker as Someone who can listen to his iPod, read the newspaper, and even answer the phone while sitting on the toilet. It sounds funny but it's true. Most of us have been a 'victim' of a multitasker and/or have been one ourselves. Do you read the newspaper during family meals? Or continue to play that game on the iphone or ipad during a conversation? You know who you are.

I took a day off from work today to spend time with the kids. I started the day thinking that i was being very efficient - I was having breakfast with my family while checking for new emails on my blackberry once in a while. Lunch was served with my laptop on the side as i check updates on Twitter and Facebook. We may think that we're accomplishing so much when we multitask. But the truth is, there is always something that is being compromised. 

Today, i have learned to always be present for my family. Not only physically but all of me - mind, body, heart. 

As my daughter lay down to sleep, she looked at me and babbled words i cannot understand. I smiled at her and told her how much i love her. Then she took my hand and placed it on her cheek.  She smiled at me and gently said 'mommy'. She's only 1 year old so communication is still limited.  But her actions tell me she was happy I was there with her.   

I am sure that our kids, no matter how young, appreciate our undivided attention. As days speed by, give your family the gift of your quality time. It may require some lifestyle adjustment, but i am sure you will not regret it. Your family is worth it.


Disney Hollywood Star Sightings and Autograph Books, Orlando Florida

Troy's autograph book
On our first day in Florida, my sister, Trixie, bought Troy an autograph book.  The purpose of this book was to collect the signatures of the different 'stars' (read: mascots) that he will meet during our visit. During our first trip to Florida over 10 years ago, Trixie was still around 10 years old and she had a fun time getting all the mascots to sign her autograph book. My sister thought it would be a good experience for Troy to do the same. I was not initially sold on the idea thinking it won't really mean anything since those will just be the signatures of the people inside the mascots.

Then my aunt shared with me how my cousin, Shaun, had a similar autograph book when he was small. He is now 15 but as he was growing up, he would check his book once in a while to see which characters he met during his Disney visit. I thought that made for a nice souvenir. And so i was convinced.

So off we went and Troy started getting the characters to sign his autograph book as we took pictures with them.

Here are some of the characters that we met in Disney Hollywood.
Mommy and Dawn walking along side Minnie Mouse
Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Handy Manny 
Handy Manny's signature on Troy's autograph book
Remy the rat from Ratatouille
The boy scout from UP
Mr Potato Head and Bulls Eye behind him
The green soldier from Toy Story (he wrote 'the green solder man' in the autograph book)

Phineas and Ferb
Boo and one of the monsters from Monsters Inc.
And of course, Mickey Mouse
For your little girls, it's best to meet the princesses at the Magic Kingdom. The Animal Kingdom also has a lot of animal characters and classic Disney mascots in their Safari costumes. Troy loved Disney Hollywood the most because Disney Junior and all the recent Movie characters were there. Spell S-T-A-R-S-T-R-U-C-K!

Hope you enjoyed snippets of our Disney experience.


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