Monday, July 30, 2012

Parents as Managers and Leaders

A few weeks ago, I attended a refresher program on Basic Management Function. This program is offered to management level who handles people in their department/section/unit. It taught more on leading and managing and how one differs from the other and how we, as managers, should attain to become both.

I won’t go over the work-related stuff here but on how our speaker related the topic to parenting because managing a household with children is pretty much managing people in the workplace. Interesting right? Let’s start because this is one looong read but I hope you get to read 'til the end. 

First off, I will share all about PLOC, management/leadership funtions where:

P -   Planning
L –  Leading
O – Organizing
C – Controlling

Those who are already parents will most likely get this one at first glance but here are a few insights on these functions:
Planning is important in a household. In our household, major vacations especially with kids are planned at least a year in advance. We make sure that everything is well thought of: location should be kid-friendly and safe, budget is computed / allocated properly to include meal per day/person, lodging, gas, entrance fees to sites, incidental costs, etc. When going on a major trip for 3-5 days with kids, make sure logistics are all considered.

Another thing that I feel is important to share is to plan your goals and budget every year. Set your goals and identify which are short term, mid-term and long term. A short term goal may be a trip to a local amusement park like Zoobic Safari; something that can be achieved in a 6 months to two years and costs a fair amount of budget. Fair amount depends on each family considering your household income and expenditure.
A mid-term goal would be like buying a car or an asian trip, something achievable in 3-5 years time. Meaning if you plan and save for it, can you achieve it in 3-5 years time? Achieve it and not go bankrupt, that is, so planning is important. If a new car isn’t achievable as mid-term goal then move it to long-term goal. A long-term would be something major like owning a business, a house and lot, a Europe trip or children’s college education. Super major and cost a lot of money and time. Before we bought the house, we made a 5-year budget plan considering that by 2009 we will have baby number two and that by 2011 Sophie will be going to school. We looked at how our finances would look considering those factors (and others that may arise) before we made the decision to quit renting and get our own home. In making a major decision, it is also very helpful to know the nice-to-haves and the need-to-haves so you know where to set your priority.
As parents set, we need to set our goals early in our family life and that we revisit every six months or every year to know where we are in terms of achieving them. 

Now comes Leading. First, it is important to identify the difference between a leader and a manager.  According to our speaker:
Leader:                                                 Manager:                                        
Formulate strategies                              Implements strategies                           
Provides directions                               Administer projects/plans
Innovate/Visionary                                Day to day / short run                          
Focus on people                                   focus on systems/structure


While a leader is more focused on visions, plans, strategies, managers are more of the day-to-day implementer of goals. A manager makes sure that employees are guided well to achieve the vision of the leader. While leaders are focused on macro-management, nd managers are micro-managers. But don’t you think that parents (as well as managers) should be both a leader and manager; someone who thinks on a big scale and someone who can also focus on the everyday necessities of the family? I think so too. Not easy but that’s how we can become effective at what we do.

Organizing. This is pretty obvious, right? What happens when parents are not organized at home? Chaos, right? Chaos on how you manage the kids, how money/budget is handled, how to handle household. For any group to be considered an organization, it should have a system in place - a set of rules and policies that becomes the guiding principle of the members. A family should have a system as well. Here’s one tip that I learned from my mom and share to friends who ask me how we manage our finances: our system of managing the budget is that there is only one parent who handles and budgets the money. At the start of our marriage, hubby and I decided that I handle the finances since I'm better at that. We also agreed on how much to spend for school fees, household expenses and even the occasional expenses like parties, travels, charities/donations, Christmas gifts. It’s all budgeted. So every payday, he gives me most of his salary (I let him leave a budget for his comics for his sanity sake:) ) and we set aside money for the house, bills, school, etc. Because I handle the budget, I know where we are overspending and discuss with husband how we can get back on track. If a rule or system needs to be created to manage like say electrical or water bills, so be it. A system becomes futile if not everyone comply so it is also important that every family member knows and understands why such a rule was made and why they have to follow. Do I make it seem like at the helm of our household? Not really. The truth is that all plans and decisions are made by husband and I and working 

Controlling. According to the speaker, as a manager we cannot and should not control people but only performances, deliverables, budget, workload. This is so right. What happens if you try to control your child, either they become rebelious or lose confidence. What happens when you try to control you household help? They feign a family emergency and leave for good! 
A set of rules/system is important in the family as well as in the workplace but each needs to be applied differently based on the kind of environment that we have. With the kids, it should always be positive reinforcement and rules should be well understood on why they are being enforced. Example: to pack away toys after playing, we need to explain why this has to be done and what happens if they don’t follow (someone could get hurt with the clutter or they could lose their precious toys). As with our household help, I have a way of monitoring their performance. Every 6 months, we have a Perfomance Appraisal at work so that’s also a reminder for me that, at home, I should go and talk one-on-one with the household helps too. It usually starts with something positive like how they have adapted well to the routine of the house, how the kids adore them, etc. Then discuss how they can further improve on certain aspects that needs improvement like getting instructions right, etc. If you think your household is doing well then just spend sometime to talk about their family, how they are, etc. I’m sure they have a lot to share but are just shy to initiate.

Quite a long read but I hope you still reached this part of my message. As parents, we only want the best for our family and that we do all we can to rear responsible children. I hope that I was able to impart something helpful and insightful to you dear parents :)


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Food Share: Wholesome Pop Rice and Live Yoghurt

Happy Tuesday everyone! The past days have been just rain, rain, rain right? This is the season when we stay home more to keep safe and warm and nothing beats staying in bed longer than usual, watching your fave series on cable or dvd while munching your fave snack.

Here are some snacks I found in the grocery, healthy and delicious. A guilt-free way to munch and crunch :)

 Wholesome Pop Rice (P79.00)
A dairy-free, gluten-free and cholesterol-free vegan snack that tastes good and nutrient-packed. I found these in Rustan's Supermarket in Il Terazzo, T. Morato. 

It's got a number of variants with interesting combination of flavor. I tried the 5 grains variant but the green tea and black sesame seem interesting as well. I'll try that next time.

 The 5 grains variant really hit the spot for me. I love how the taste of cashew, almond and sunflower seed comes together in my mouth. And the pop rice, it's always been a personal fave snack. 

The size of the pop rice is as big as a one peso coin for easy snacking.

 Bought the pop rice for me and the Quaker Twinkle fruits (12.00) for the kids. They just love these. 

Here's another new find from the grocery, Live Yoghurt from Hacienda Macalauan in Laguna (approx. P 25) 

I found this in Cherry Foodarama. It's like having your quick fix of live lactobacillus but with the blueberry flavor. Other flavors are mango, nata de coco, pineapple and full cream. My little boy love yogurt because he think it's ice cream and doesn't mind that it's a little sour than ice cream especially if the flavor is mango.

As with any yogurt, this should be kept refrigerated and consumed within 48 hours from the time it was bought.
Healthy yum and it's proudly Pinoy made :)

 How about you, any recent healthy snack discovery to share? :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Open Letter to Papa

Dear Papa,

I know you are a man of very few words so I’ll also make this short...and sweet. Happy birthday my dearest Papa. You turn 70 but somehow the joy and vigor of youth has not left you. Okay sometimes it’s not nice for a 70-year old to act like a teenager but sometimes it’s cute.

I will always love that cute demeanor, the wacky jokes and faces you love to make matched with the dance moves only you can manuever especially after, say, half a case of beer.

They say that children not only get physical attributes from parents (check out our noses) but the personalities and even mannerisms. I agree because I think my sense of humor I got from you as well as that no-worry attitude. That everything-will-fall-into-place and let-the-problem-face-itself outlook really works especially for the stuff that we need not sweat out one bit. 

We love you Papa and I will always cherish your sweetness and dotingness that you so profoundly express: the kisses on the forehead, the blowing of my hair, the way you support me and my siblings in all our decisions in life. Your belief in what we can achieve surpasses the fear and uncertainty when we face a challenge. Heck, I always tell my husband 'My papa thinks I sing better than Banig' (a child singer in the 80's that belts out high notes) when he criticizes my singing voice. I know there is no truth that I can sing better than Banig or even sing in tune but I appreciate the trust you have in what I can do. It's the thought that counts.

I know it’s not easy raising four children and how much you and Mama have to make ends meet to keep us in school and teach us how to be responsible adults. Thank you because whatever I am today, I owe it all to you, to Mama and my siblings. Despite all that we went through, I can say that we are one happy family bounded by love, hope, compassion, laughter and faith in God. 

Now that you're a lolo, you continue to be doting and your grandchildren loves to be around you. You just spoil 'em rich and make them laugh all the time! 

Happy birthday to the man who we fondly call Papa and others call Tito Tito, Mang Tito, Lolo, Jugs. May have more happy years ahead of you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Recipe Share: Good Ol' Bread Pudding

Good Ol' Bread Pudding 

2 large eggs
2 tbsps. granulated sugar (we stopped using white sugar at home so I always use brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 cups milk (your choice what type of milk to use: full cream, skim, etc.)

What You Need:
wooden spoon or spatula
mixing bowl
9-inch loaf pan or round baking pan

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees C. In a deep bowl, dissolve sugar in milk. Sugar should be used in moderation as the bread already has sugar in it. If you are using left over bread that’s a bit sweet, you can omit sugar altogether.
  2. Beat in eggs, butter, vanila extract and cinnamon. I also sometimes add in half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg for extra flavor :)
  3. Cut left over bread into pieces and soak in the milk mixture. I like texture so I also include the crust and sometimes cut the bread into chunky pieces. Make sure bread pieces are soaked with milk mixture inside and out. If you like really soft pudding texture, you can mash it up.
  4. You can add in chocolate chips, raisins or  other dried fruits – imagination is the limit :)
  5. Butter the sides of a 9-inch loaf pan or a round baking pan and pour the pudding mixture. Once the mixture is in the pan, the goal is that the milk mixture should just be enough to cover the bread pieces like this.

Too much milk will make pudding too gooey, watery. Less of it will make it dry when baked.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes. This part is tricky as ovens are not born (or made) equal so baking time will be dependent on how your oven functions. You can also use good ol' toothpick or fork trick- insert toothpick or fork into the center of the pudding and if it comes out clean its done. You can also bake this in an oven toaster (just make sure you use a loaf pan that can fit into the toaster). Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil while baking in the toaster and bake for 20-25 minutes. At the last part of baking, that would be 5-10 minutes before time ends, remove the aluminum foil and bake the pudding uncovered.

There, finally I was able to post this recipe. Sorry for the delay, I know some of you have been requesting for this for weeks now.See how easy? Enjoy baking! :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mommy Moments: Weekend Bakers

Last week, my little Sam and I were under the weather and so I stayed home for two days. I think it was a relapse for me because I got sick two weeks ago but opted to report to work the following day. Workaholic much? With tons of work to finish, who wouldn't be? 

One of my helpers was also on bereavement leave and with one less handy helper, I had to stay to make sure that both kulitogs were well taken care of. 

Come weekend, with both the little boy and I feeling a lot better, I decided to make a pudding out of leftover  pandesals that have been sitting on our ref shelf for days. They seem to cry out 'please eat us already!'

Nobody wants hardened leftover pandesal so I decided to make a pudding out of it. Pudding is one of the first few recipes that I mastered over the years. This relationship between the pudding and I have long been running that I can actually make them without a recipe guide, just pure taste of the raw mixture. It's so easy to make with milk, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. You can top them with caramelized sugar or whipped cream. 

before and after, with additional ingredient of chocolate chips. 

 When the little kulitogs saw the pudding, they immediately said, 'we wanna bake too!' 
So I took out a Betty Crocker chocolate swirl cake box and let them make their own cake. The thing is, they just want to bake but don't really eat them.  

cake batter with chocolate sauce before the swirling action. 

While the cake was baking in the oven, they once again made a plea to bake some more. Haay, why did  I ever introduce them to baking? Oh, I know. Because someday, they may become great chefs and I imagine me just sitting on the couch while they bake yummy treats. hehe.

Next thing we did was a homemade playdough made of flour, salt and water. Easy and economical as I'm running out of ingredients. We tried to add color to the dough with a food color but it was not as successful (which reminds me to make a research on how that's done).

Kulitogs busy being Baker King (and Queen) 

Empty bottle used as rolling pin

Our weekend went out pretty well. We also trooped to the mall and kids played in Storyland for hours. It was also the first time Sophie rode a roller coaster and she surprisingly went gaga over it! The little boy, on the other hand, went to the Playzone and couldn't get enough of the giant balls and the slides :) 

Have a happy and safe weekend mommies! :)
mommy moments

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