Wednesday, June 25, 2014

First Day of School Tips for First Time School Children

The article below is my contribution to our office newsletter ezine for the month of June. I am sharing it with the readers of this blog, especially those with first time school children. 

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The month of June in the Philippines signifies the end of summer, and the start of the school year. First day of school for first time school children can either make or break their general impression of school, and can possibly affect their future outlook towards going to school. A child’s anxiety and apprehensions can prevent them from having that good learning atmosphere at school. As parents, we can help ease their anxiety using the tips below:

1. Good night sleep.
On the night before the first day of school, parents should advise their kids to be fully rested by having a good night’s sleep. This would allow the child to be well-rested and not sleepy during his/her first day of classes.

2. Preparing A Day Before.
Since most first time school children are not yet that independent, parents usually still arrange their school stuff like school materials and uniforms. In order to prevent unnecessary rush and panic in the morning, parents should make sure that all the needed school stuff is ready the night before – from books and pens to shoes and uniforms.  This will make the children more excited (than rattled) when they wake up in the morning.

3. Good breakfast.
Nutritionist all agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Before sending the kids to school, parents should make sure that children eat a heavy and nutritious breakfast. An empty stomach would cause hunger pangs later in school and may prevent the kids from focusing and enjoying school.

4. Come early.
Being early in school on the first day does not only leave a good impression on the teacher, but it also allows our kid to relax a little longer before the actual classes begin. They can get a feel of their classroom, their teacher, as well as their classmates. It also allows us parents to stay a bit longer and check on how our kids are adjusting. Being early also allows our kids to choose their seats (if they are not seated by the teacher based on a certain scheme like by class number). This would allow them to be seated in a spot wherein they feel comfortable and at ease.

5. Sending something from Home.
For those kids with separation anxiety, try to bring something that reminds them of home – a small family picture, a small toy car or toy that he/she can keep inside his/her bag or pocket.

6. Have a goodbye procedure.
When it’s time to leave our little children, try to set up a goodbye routine or procedure. Like a kiss on the check with a pat on the back. This will allow the kids to be more comfortable when it is bye-bye time for mom/dad. Once we leave, let us also try not to go back. Kids may be upset at the start, but it is a good time for them to adjust to their new environment, especially to their new teachers or nurse aid.

7. Be on time during dismissal time.
Nothing would be scarier for a little child than to be left alone when all of his/her classmates have been picked up by their parents/guardians during dismissal. It is important for us parents to be prompt when picking up our kids during dismissal time, even at least during the 1st few weeks. This will make the child more secured.

8. Check on the child’s feelings.
Upon reaching home, parents should talk to their kids about how school went. We can ask them what activities did they do, and how do they felt towards these activities. We can ask them if he/she have already met new friends, and if the teacher gave them enjoyable activities. This kind of activity not only serves as a bonding opportunity between parents and their small kids. It also allows our little children to be open about discussing the things that they liked or disliked about school. When the things they dislike about school seem serious (a classmate who suddenly pulled their hair or collar), then it could be a red flag of pending trouble, and as such should be reported early to the teacher.

Whenever we think that our kids are just being clingy when they have their first-day-of-school anxiety, it is always nice to remember that we were once in their shoes. Our parents were just patient enough to handle our apprehensions. As such, as parents we should also make sure that our kids have a good start in school. :-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Surviving Single Parenthood

The article below is my contribution to our office newsletter/ezine for the month of May. I want to share it with the readers of this blog, especially in case I have single parent readers. 


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Parenthood is not a simple stroll in the park. Similar to a farmer who nourishes a seed to become a full tree or plant, the mother and father nurtures a child to become a responsible adult someday. However, sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances which push an individual to become a single parent. At this stage, the individual takes on the role of both the mother and father in rearing a child. The role is doubled, and so are the challenges.

Below are a few tips on how to live through single parenthood.

1. Have a good support system:
Being a mom or a dad per se is difficult. What more if you have to take up a double-role of being both. Having a good support system of family and friends whom you can trust does not only provide a single parent some moral support, but can also serve as an extended pair of arms and legs whenever the single parent has so much tasks in his/her hand.

2. Make and Find time for Yourself:
Too often single parents are very much occupied with work and raising their kids, that they have less time for themselves. Setting up some personal “me-time” allows the single parent to rest and recharge – thus feeling less burnt out. A single parent can also learn new skills aside from the work he/she has been used to. This would allow him/her to not only have time for him/herself, but also to improve him/herself.

3. Always be Prepared:
A bottle of water, some snacks, an extra pair of clothes, some tissue or napkin, hand sanitizer or alcohol, a small toy or book to keep the little ones busy. With kids around, being prepared is always a must for parents. But by being a single parent, being prepared becomes a sole responsibility. It is important that whenever you and your child leave home, the “essential stuff” (i.e. the items listed in the first statement) is always within reach.

4. Maintain a Positive Attitude:
Having the task to juggle work, paying the bills, taking care of the home, and solely raising a child can become overwhelming and can sometimes stress out any single parent. It is always important to have a positive attitude if you’re a single parent.  When things get out of hand, a single parent can maintain a journal just to have an outlet to vent out all the negative feelings.  Children learn from their parents. And we want our kids to grow up having an optimistic “can-do” mindset.

5. Live Within Your Means:
Part of being a single parent is handling financial matters on your own, whether it is paying the bills at home or shouldering your child’s education. It is an important for any single parent to learn the necessary budgeting skills, spending wisely, as well as making sound financial decisions to save for the future.

6. Spend Quality Time With Your Kid(s):
This is one, if not the most, important part of this list. Spending quality time with your son or daughter does not only meet the child’s need for attention, but it allows the single parent to have some meaningful interaction. This meaningful interaction would allow the single parent to learn more about his/her child and sometimes, even about him/herself. Quality time need not always be expensive and extravagant. A good chitchat over dinner, or some weekend at the movies or arcade, or picnic at the park are good examples.

To summarize, single parenthood is definitely not for the faint of heart or those who fear responsibility. A single parent should be able to have the compassion and tenderness of a mother, and combine it with the steadfastness and the discipline skills of a father. But the rewards have always been great. Being able to see your child grow up successfully and knowing in your heart that you were able to do it on your own, is a reward any single parent can be truly proud of.

Special Note:
The author of this article is a single parent to an 8-year old boy.  The article includes the author’s personal insights and take on surviving (and thriving) as a single parent.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Inked and Loving It


After 3-4 years of planning, researching, and waiting for the proper timing, I have finally crossed out another item from my bucket list. I finally got inked.
 
Last April 26, 2014, while my parents were enjoying their Marian pilgrimage in Europe, I mustered enough courage to finally get my first tattoo. It was a tattoo of my all-time favorite creature - the mythical phoenix. The tattoo was a colored one. It was about 5-6 inches in length and was placed on my upper back which spread a little along my spine. It was done by Ms. Katz Lorenzana at 55Tinta Tattoo Shop along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City.
 
Funny, but it really took me 3-4 years to plan for it. The first stage was thinking about the design. This was an easy step as I've always wanted a phoenix. Why? There are several reasons. A phoenix symbolizes resurrection - "to rise up from one's own ashes". I can proudly say that I am a survivor. I have been through several challenges in my life (personal and in my career) and was fortunate to survive it (with God's help of course). Another thing with the phoenix. This mythical creature is the highest form in my astrological hierarchy (i.e. Scorpion - Eagle - Phoenix). At the back of the phoenix was a Celtic sun. I have always been fascinated by Celtic designs, and just as the phoenix rises from its ashes, the sun always shines everyday.
 
Second stage in my planning was to research about the tattoo artist and a reputable tattoo shop nearby that can execute the style that I want. I was lucky enough to find a female tattoo artist – Katz Lorenzana - who's very good with line works and outlines, and very good in colors as well. I must admit that I was mesmerized when I first saw my tattoo design on the computer. I immediately loved how the colors worked together. And I loved it more after Katz executed it on my skin. There’s a difference between seeing it on screen, and seeing it on your own skin. And I loved both. Katz Lorenzana also has that light touch (i.e. in Filipino, we call it "magaan ang kamay") that made my 1st tattoo experience a non-traumatic one. I cannot say that it was totally painless. The longer strokes which hit the more bony areas (near my shoulder blades) made me cringe a little, but overall the 3-hour session was very bearable (bragging aside, I even dozed off during those times when the tatt was being shaded). To compare, my bikini/brazilian waxing sessions were more painful than my tattoo session. For the tattoo shop, I initially chose 55Tinta because it was near my home. I was a bit hesitant at first, because I had an initial impression that people in tattoo shops were snooty, but I was proven wrong when I went into 55Tinta. The staff was accommodating and friendly – from my initial email inquiry, to my 1st shop visit, and until the day of my tattoo schedule. I had several revisions of my design but they were professional and attentive to my ideas. It was like discussing my ideas with a friend. The vibe inside 55Tinta was also super A-OK. The shop smelled like fresh soap. One would think he/she entered a spa, instead of a tattoo parlor. The airconditioning was a bit cold, but hey, I would rather have it that way than no aircon at all. They also had this wide screen television and a wide array of video selections. My cousin and my friend who accompanied me did not get bored as they enjoyed watching videos during the 3-hour session. Pricing was also reasonable. The price they charged was worth the design, the size and the colors scheme applied to my tattoo. I inquired from another known tattoo shop, and the price they gave me was way higher than 55Tinta.
  
Now you may have noticed that I have mentioned “waiting for the proper timing” in my first paragraph. This is the toughest part. I have to wait for a couple of things. I have to wait till I have saved enough for the tattoo, as this is an additional cut to my already-constrained budget. And the biggest timing issue – waiting for my parents to leave for their pilgrimage trip in order for me to get inked. Yes I’m in my 30’s, have my own work, and even have a son. But in a conservative family like mine, having my uber conservative Dad around while I’m getting inked will be an added stress factor. I had to wait till they have finalized their travel pilgrimage plans and scheduled my tattoo session on the 1st weekend they are away. There is no other date but that date. Having my tattoo done last April 26 would allow 2.5 weeks for my tattoo to undergo healing, so that by the time my folks arrive (2nd week of May) my tattoo has already passed the critical stage of healing (i.e. 1st 2 weeks). Talk about “Patience is a virtue” and “Timing is everything”. What would I do once they arrive and discovered my tattoo? Perhaps, I’ll just smile. I’ve made more infamous decisions in the past so I think the tattoo would just be a venial sin as compared to the more grave ones I’ve done before. *evil grin*…>:-)
  
Overall, I can say that my first tattoo experience was an awesome one. I am also thankful to God (and St. Pio my favorite saint) as I also prayed to them to keep me safe during the tattoo session, and to please give me a high threshold for pain on that day. I have no regrets in getting inked. My design was meaningful to me, is well-thought of, not blasphemous nor offensive. The location is decently and discreetly located. And my intention for having one was more of a personal statement bound by commitment than just being a fashion or beauty mark.  :-)

(L) Stencil of the Tattoo (R) Finished product






Thursday, March 13, 2014

Washified Kraft Notebooks

I am a fan of handmade stuff. As much as I can, whenever I try to give something to my friends, I always make it a point to put my personal touch on it.

As most of my high school girl friends enjoy writing on notebooks and journals, I decided to give them washi-fied kraft journals last Christmas. I had to ask each of them about their favorite colors, and from there, I had to select washi tape rolls whose designs complement each other, and at the same time, matched the favorite colors of my friends. It was pretty easy to create the washi-fied journals, and the experience of being able to come up with a gift that's a "labor of love" is something fulfilling. Luckily, my friends liked the journal. I had to remind them that I'm still a novice in the handmade movement so that they'll cut me some slack. I'm just glad that my friends were very appreciative. :)

For the details: the plain kraft journals/notebooks were ordered from Papemelroti; the washi tapes were purchased from PaperblushPh


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Frustrated Typography Artist

Since I was a kid, I've been resigned to the fact that drawing portraits, sceneries, and even still life was not my cup of tea. However, since my childhood days, I have always been fascinated with awesome typography.

Merriam-Webster defines typography as "the style, arrangement, and appearance of printed letters on a page". Typography is more commonly known as "lettering". 

As I've said I have always been a frustrated typography artist. I like the way letters are styled and written on paper. And since I can't find any school which offers a crash course on typography, I just rely on checking sample typography works on the net, and try to practice on my spare time. Practicing typography has also been a good stress-relieving activity for me. I have posted below some of my attempts at typography. Hope I can find to pursue and enhance this interest. :)






Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Of Colored Fountains and Fire Prevention Month

Last Monday, I went with my Dad at the Quezon Memorial Circle to try my hand (or feet actually) at brisk walking. I was (finally) convinced by my Dad to get into some form of fitness regimen, for Zion's sake.

Once we got in the park, I noticed there were a lot of fire trucks, and a lot of guys from the Bureau of Fire Protection. From the booming PA system, I realized that they were launching Fire Prevention Month - oo nga pala, March na (i.e. Oh yeah.. It's the month of March). I was a disappointed and lost my interest to jog that day because there were a lot of people and most of them occupied the joggers' path/track. After one and a half rounds, and being disappointed, I stopped by the cemented pavement facing the central park monument and just listened and watched the festivities (i.e. If you can't beat them, just listen and join them).

It was nice watching the fire trucks parading. It was even nicer watching the colored water that came out from the firetrucks. They were like colored fountains that sparkled in the morning sun. I suddenly remembered my son, that he would surely enjoy the sight of parading fire trucks and the colored fountain water, had he been there with me. I suddenly admired the courage of the people doing fire-fighting work. Their job is a very dangerous one but they were brave enough to take on the risks in order for people to be safe. I do hope the people in the park was not only mesmerized with the parade of fire trucks and the colored fountains. I do hope they would remember what was the festivity for - the launch of the Fire Prevention Month - a brief reminder to everyone that as summer is approaching, extra care must be taken to stay away from fire-related accidents.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mouth Melting Burger at The Burger Project

Maginhawa St. in UP Village, Quezon City (Philippines) is a food tripper's paradise. From pasta, to burger, to coffee, and milk tea - one only needs to explore the loooong street to find what would satisfy one's palette.

One of the places my mom tried and liked was The Burger Project. She was particularly craving for burger that time when she remembered me mentioning about The Burger Project. If Wimpy (Popeye's burger-loving friend) were a real human being, I would say that The Burger Project could be his brainchild. Aptly named, this burger joint allows their customers to create their own burgers - from the bread, to the pattie, and down to garnishments and sauces. 

As I was not with my mom when they visited the resto, my mom chose the Western Bacon Melt Burger for me (as a takeout). According to the staff, this is one of their bestselling, non-customized burger. When my mom handed me the takeout bag containing the burger, I noticed that it has some weight. It was not extremely heavy, but for a paperbag containing only a burger, it has some weight. When I opened the bag, I was delightfully surprised and almost drooled. The fully-loaded burger has a thick burger pattie, several bacon strips, mushrooms, cheese slices, tomato strips, and those huge onion rings inside the burger. It also has an accompanying bbq sauce in case the customer wants to pour in the sauce in small doses. It took some time before I was able to start eating. And it took me about an hour and a half before I could finish the entire burger. 

In my opinion, it was one of the best burgers I tasted. The burger pattie was cooked just right (medium done) - still juicy and flavorful to think it was a takeout order. The burger toppings and garnishments complimented each other and complimented the burger itself. For its taste and its size, it was worth the price (PHP 235). :)