Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tantrum Talk

Since the start of school for our 1st grader, it has been a struggle to get her up from bed and get ready for school. On some days, she just refused to go to school saying she's tired already. I asked some mom friends what to do and mostly said to give it time. The little girl is going through an adjustment period. 
Actually, seeing Sophie now in the morning makes me realize 'that's how I was until high school!' I was never a morning person so waking up at crack of dawn was such a big effort. I even slept while taking a bath so from then on my mom would monitor my activity in the bathroom from outside the door. It's totally irritating but it got me to school on time (on some days, that is). I think my mom was secretly reminiscing our school days when she saw Sophie prep for school last week. Oh mama, I didn't realize it could be this hard. 
The worst part would have to be the tantrum thrown by my daughter last Friday. She wouldn't go inside the bathroom, she just don't want to go to school. She said school takes too long to finish and she's tired already and she doesn't feel well. As much as hubby won't hear any of her excuses, I just told him to let the little girl rest at home. You know hubby is willing to play the bad cop and I the good cop (I'll share that in another post). 
Yesterday, I googled ' school kids tantrums' and I got this article from among others. I want to better understand why my little girl who never cried during her first time in preschool now throws a tantrum in grade school.

Why do tantrums happen?
Tantrums usually occur when your child is frustrated, stressed or tired, and with limited means to communicate how he's feeling, he vents all his strong emotions in one long tirade that is a tantrum.
As your child matures, he will develop better ways of communicating how he feels - mainly through language - and so tantrums naturally tend to decrease with age. - not in our case it seems. 
If, however, your child is still tearing into a tantrum on a regular basis, you should consider whether he has developed the right vocabulary to express how he's feeling.
  • Ensure that she understands that she can talk to you about how she feels. Perhaps ask her questions that may open the door to this type of self-expression.
    The kids and I have a very open communication. They can talk to me about anything. It helps for parents to go down to the children's eye level for better communication especially if it's a serious matter or to discipline. 

  • Don't reward his behaviour. Your pre-schooler may view throwing a tantrum as a tool to getting what he wants, so be sure that you don't give in to his demands while he's displaying out of control behaviour. - 
          Uh oh, for the past days, I personally accompanied by daughter to school, as per tantrum request. She wouldn't go to school without Mommy. I actually scheduled a talk with her class adviser to discuss my daughter's behavior concerns. Too much too soon, you think? I think I actually gave in... :(

  • She may be using tantrums as a way of getting your attention. If you suspect this to be true, you're best off ignoring the tantrum while it goes on. Stay close by and keep an eye on her to make sure she won't hurt herself, but try not to respond to the tantrum itself. Once it's over, engage with her normally again.
         To see a child having a tantrum, giving in is the easier way out or a faster scheme to get the house to quiet down but, truth is, it's a route to worst scenes from your child. Key word: ignore.

  • Try putting a reward system in place that may encourage calm and appropriate behaviour in situations that would ordinarily result in a tantrum.
           Let's see if this works. Do you all agree in reward system? I have doubts and worry about the long term effect. 

  • Often kids react strongly to situations that they don't feel prepared for, so give timed warnings when you are about to do something that might result in a tantrum - 'In five minutes I want you to turn off the TV' - and make sure that he's not only looking at you but he's listening as well!


School-aged kids tend to take themselves very seriously and while there are those parents who find tantrums very upsetting, there are others who find them funny - here's this little person flinging himself around in a blind fury. Don't laugh at him or even look vaguely amused because he'll find it even more upsetting that you're not taking him seriously. 

Do you have the same problem with your school kid? Care to share your story and tips?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Baon Ideas for School Kids

I have mentioned in my previous post that I enjoy preparing the kids’ baon. The previous school years I wasn’t able to do this much because of my work schedule; I was tied to giving instructions to the helpers lang. Now with a fixed schedule I get to prep the kids' school stuff including their baons. 

Planning kids’s school snacks/meal is no easy task. It’s the same way as planning the family weekly menu. I’ve been doing it for 8 years now and boy, sometimes I just run out of ideas. You need a lot of brainstorming and research so meals won’t redundant and so that you’re sure the family gets enough nutrition.

Here are what I prepared for Sophie and Sam’s baon yesterday. Before I took a bath I made these:

Happy face mini-pizzas made of 2 types cheeses (quezo de bola and quickmelt cheese), ham and olive oil. I decorated with a little ketchup to make the eyes, nose and mouth. Easy to do and fun to eat. Who doesn’t love pizza anyway? :

these babies are ready for the oven 
use this to make catsup eyes and mouth
I also packed ‘em snacks with bread sticks, wafers and nuts. This goes alongside slices of crunchy, juicy apples :) For the drinks, we send them juice boxes every now and then but not too often. Water is always the best way to go.
party mix for baon with wafers, crackers and mixed nuts
Other baon options to share with you in case you run out of ideas (just as I sometimes do):

  1. Pancakes. Create a smiley face or draw a flower (or their fave character like train for my little boy) on the pancakes using melted chocolates or pack with a fat free maple syrup in a small container.
  2. Quick pasta cooked with olive oil, finely chopped fresh basil, onions, seasoned with salt and pepper. My little ones like it with scrambled egg. I use fresh basil instead of dried because the kids prefer it that way. You can also make kids spaghetti with meat sauce, carbonara or mac and cheese.
  3. Chicken or fish fingers or nuggets (depending on how you cut the chicken/fish fillet). Make homemade nuggets which are way healthier than the store bought packed nuggets. Just combine evap milk, flour, eggs, salt and pepper to make a batter and coat the chicken/fish slices with batter. Before cooking, I dust the nuggets with a little cornstarch for more crunch. You can either fry or bake the nuggets.
  4. Quesadillas – so easy to make with just flour tortillas spread with olive oil, mozarella cheese and some veggies like spinach or fresh basil. Grill them and they’re ready to go! See my post here.
  5. Make ahead viands – could be adobo or pork steak. Just last Thursday, my daughter brought pork sinigang (pork tamarind soup) for baon. Haha! She loves my sinigang cooked with boiled real tamarind.
  6. Fluffy shrimp cakes – recipe here.
  7. Boiled eggs with crafty designs – the little boy calls this oval eggs. 
I found some cute and crafty designs for boiled eggs and other meals on the web. Look how interesting a simple sandwhich or boiled egg can look. Kids will surely love to munch on these.
Care to share more baon ideas? Moms and Dads need as much ideas to last the whole school year :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Assorted Thoughts on Parenting

I am exhausted beyond words. I haven’t had a single proper sleep for almost 3 weeks now. In the morning, we have to be up before 6am or it’s cram time to get Sophie prepped before her school service arrives. After she leaves, it’s hubby and mine’s turn to get ready for work. Good thing before school started we decided to change our little boy’s schedule from morning to afternoon because if not, the chaos at the Garcia home is unimaginable.

As for the laundry, because we haven’t found a 2nd helper yet I decided to get someone else to do our laundry and ironing per week. I really need to destress and declutter our life soon because I’m about to explode due to physical, emotional and mental exhaustion :( I have to be honest with myself that being an (almost) full time homemaker and full time working mom is not a good idea for sanity sake. 

Honestly during times like these, I imagine myself or imagine my single friends’ lifestyle. Please don’t judge me, I’m just thinking out loud.
photo credit
Don't worry I try to be more presentable than this when I leave the house. 
How life would have been better if I am single, no family with kids, no major responsibilities. All I have to worry about is good ‘ol me. Or, how life would have been if there was only one child to think of. Maybe, just maybe, it will be easier financially, emotionally and physically. Just being honest with myself here because I want this blog to be as truthful and realistic especially when it comes to parenting. As I always tell my friends who are planning to have kids for the first time and asks for my advice – make sure you are prepared emotionally, physically, financially and mentally. Being a parent is a wonderful thing, it’s truly priceless and rewarding but it will definitely turn your life around 360 degrees. The cost of milk and diaper alone is overwhelming, the emotional ups and downs you go through whenever your child has a milestone or an accident, and all else in between is just insane. Insanely good or insanely suicidal, your choice on how you look at it. 

Parenthood, in all levels and angles, is never an easy walk in the park. It’s really more of a roller coaster ride, the kind that’s gets your guts upside down and makes you vomit and not those cutesy caterpillar-designed rides for kids. So kids, always appreciate your parents. They may not be perfect but they try to make life perfect for you any way they know and can afford. 'Ya hear me? 

Of course, I never wish for a single life now. Imagining is different from wishing. My kids are everything to me and I can’t as well imagine life without them. I just wish that we will find a perfect balance in our life, the permanent answer/s to all our problems now (if there's such a thing). While I await that moment I need to manage my expectations and be happy and contented with what we have now. 

I am always hopeful at the end of the day. I try to find something good in bad situations and believe that it all happen for a reason. Like our scenario now in which I sleep late to finish some chores and get up really early the next day to prepare Sophie and Sam's baon, I like it (well, parts of it). I enjoy preparing their bento meals, with all those fancy decors and accessories. It brings out my crafty and sometimes kikay side. Last night I made sure I did the grocery really quick so I have time to drop by a Japan store for more bento accessories before my ride arrives. The kids were excited with their mini pizza, chocolate croissant and fruits bento baon today. 

one of their bento baon - heart shaped rice, sausages and grapes :)
Simple things to make me smile and makes kids smile the more. Happiness is a state of mind after all.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Life

Only 3 letters to describe this week and the last - O.M.G! Only God knows how we survived the weeks with no helpers (nada, zero, bokya). The last one left two Saturdays ago and as much as I know I still need her while the replacements are not yet in, I let her go for both our own good. So much drama in goodbyes but the scenes were so much opposite than with their predecessors. I know, not the perfect time to lose a helper because school is here and we are going through adjustments now that Sophie is going to a big school and both kids now have different schedules. 

Thank God for mother-in-laws, my MIL stays with the kids so hubby and I can manage to go to work. As much as I want to take a leave to take care of the house, work is as demanding because of several projects that we need to launch and all other important stuff that needs my attention. When it rains it really pours sometimes, noh? So I’m very grateful that my MIL agreed to stay with the kids.

If there is one other thing important and rewarding that I learned from this experience is that my kids rose to the occasion especially our little Ate Sophie.

Every morning before we leave for work, I always tell her to be a helpful Ate. To help Mama Karol (my MIL) take care of the house and his brother.

I’m proud of my little girl when my mother-in-law will tell me how Sophie fixed our bed, cleaned the 2nd room and helped babysit his brother. She would also remind Sam to not go out without the company of an adult. These stories bring a big smile on my face and special warmth in my heart. I must’ve done something right with the little lady. Something that I sometimes doubt because I’m a working mom and my career is a non-9-to-5 type.

Every night since Monday, we have a ‘good-job-Ate’ special talk and I know how much she is proud of herself as well. Did I mention that she’s also a good dishwasher? She’s only 6 but behaves and thinks beyond her years :)

My little boy has become doubly independent as well. He eats by himself now and can manage to do simple errands here and there. My reward to the little ones? Storytelling night of as many books they want, in character! They have a blast listening to mommy.

Last Sunday night, a new helper arrived. Thank God because our laundry is pile high! I attempted to do the laundry last weekend and boy was it exhausting! I haven’t done that much laundry in my entire life.

We are still waiting for helper #2 and I'm seriously praying we can get right back on track and have a hint of normalcy at home soon. Our schedules are chaotic right now and I'm totally beat (I think I need to take a muscle pain reliever anytime soon) but we will have to live with that for now. 

Last Monday, I took a leave from work to bring the kids to school and orient the new helper on household schedules and chores. It was another being-pulled-from-all-directions kind of experience but I firmly believe this is only a phase and we will get pass this soon. That after the rain, a rainbow appears (with pot of gold please :)). I’m still thankful that at the end of the day, blessings are far greater than the mishaps and our family stays strong together.

I’m so looking forward to our weekend vacay, time for some serious R&R :)

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