Our KidZania Experience

Yesterday, we were given the privilege of visiting KidZania for their preview. It was through the generosity of the group Homeschoolers of the Philippines that we were able to enjoy the facility at a discounted rate. Today, I will share with you some details about our experience as well some tips to maximize your stay, as you plan your trip to this wonderful play space.

First of all, knowing that this place is designed for play, remember to dress yourselves appropriately. Make sure to wear comfortable garments especially, shoes, as the place is quite big. KidZania’s activity areas are originally designed for children between 4-14 years of age. Younger and older kids are welcome, but they won’t be allowed to enter some establishments and cannot participate in the activities.

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This is Matilda at the check-in counter sponsored by Cebu Pacific. Our personal information such as her name and age, parent’s name and contact number were taken here. We were given our security/ID tags in the form of this bracelet. In Matilda’s case, it was placed on her ankle, so as not to disrupt her from her play. This bracelet is given to all who will enter KidZania, and each one matches with you and your child’s identification to make sure that every child will go out with their original companion. We were also given the map and the city codes as references.

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Matilda holding her boarding pass to KidZania. She personally handed it to the “flight attendant” before we passed through the x-ray machine.

Here’s a look at what you’ll see when you get inside:

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Upon check-in, children classified under 4-14 years of age would receive a total of 50 kidZos to jumpstart their stay in the city. Here are some of the job opportunities designed for ages 4-14 years old:

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By applying for these jobs, children would earn money called the KidZos Currency. This money can be used in different establishments. Each actual job pay differently, so it depends on which job they would choose. Other activities require payment such as the Goldilocks cake decorating as well as the salon. This is where children must learn to earn their money first and then pay for the services they want or spend it on whatever they desire.

Here are the favorites where lines were pretty long:

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This is the hospital sponsored by St. Luke’s Medical Center. It has 3 units, the Baby Care Center by J&J, Emergency Room by Green Cross and an Operating Room, where children are taught the basics of having an organ transplant. All of which have different entry points, but all are beside each other.

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In this hotel sponsored by Holiday Inn, the children have different tasks to fulfill. They can be at the reception, catering or housekeeping.

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The construction and the supermarket were big hits as well.

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This is the Veterinary Clinic where children are taught basic pet care. There are stuffed animals in cages as well to make it look realistic!

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Here at the Urban Garden, they are taught about the basics of gardening.

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It is nice how children can actually work on designing their very own chiffon cake, also known as mamon! Goldilocks, however would need the child to pay for this activity which costs 15 kidZos. 

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This Cebu Pacific plane is really nice, as it looks like a real airplane with all the details. This flight training service requires a child to pay 15 kidZos. I can’t wait for Matilda to be older and get to experience how fun it is inside. 🙂

Here are some of the jobs wherein kids get to explore the city and be like real men and women working in the field:

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LBC: Delivering items

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Firemen responding to a fire and on the side are Paramedics attending to a victim.

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Here we have the ambulance with the Paramedics inside, and on your right are the CSI on patrol.

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This is the RightZKeepers’ House designed specifically for ages 1-3 years old. The place is quite small and only one companion is allowed per child. Each child is permitted to stay for a maximum of 20 minutes only.

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This is the Kindergarten ABZ where toddlers can play with some Play Dough and various molding shapes. They can also paint and learn the alphabet using the different items available. This also has a one companion policy and a limit of 20 minutes per play time.

Now, let me share with you some of the food choices inside the facility:

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I was told that they prohibit bringing in of food and drinks. However,  I didn’t know about this policy and we did bring in some food and water, for snacks which were all tucked inside my bag. Guards checked my bag before entry and they did see it, but it didn’t bother them. I guess, if you will be discreet about it and eat at the designated areas, it won’t be a problem. Just don’t bring in too much, as if you are going on a picnic! 🙂

Going back, the primary goal of the kids here is to be able to find a job and experience it first hand. Because parents are not allowed to enter these establishments, the children are taught independence, and they learn more by interacting with other people. Just the mere exposure to the different jobs available is already a great opportunity for them, truly educational. I wish we had this when I was younger! I believe it can greatly influence a child’s decision later on when they go into college.

It is just amazing to observe the kids and watch how good they are at following instructions even at a very young age. The kidZos money they earn on the other hand, is a good representation of the hard work they were able to provide in the company. Children will learn the value of earning money before they go on spending.

Having the KidZania passport, valued at 250 pesos, is also a plus because a child gets a stamp and eventually becomes a citizen when they complete all of it. Being a “citizen” they claim give you many benefits and perks. Children are also encouraged to open their very own bank account using their hard-earned kidZos money to instill in them good stewardship, which we really appreciate.

Overall, I believe the facility exceeded our expectations and I highly recommend it for children 4-14 years old.

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Lastly, let me show you the one and only job that Matilda was allowed to do where she earned her 8 kidZos.

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As parents, we felt so proud seeing our 2 year and 8 month old toddler ‘working’ at the laundromat. She was a pro at following instructions and she finished her task with minimal assistance even though she wasn’t actually qualified for this activity yet. KidZania is one great place for play and learning. We will surely come back when Matilda is big enough to try the other activities. 🙂

KidZania is set to open for public tomorrow, August 7, 2015. For details such as prices, schedules, rules and regulations, please refer to the details below:

Ticket prices from August 7 to October 7, 2015:

Visitor Type Mondays-Thursdays Fridays – Sundays
(and National Holidays)
Children (4-14 years old) Php 750.00 Php 1,000.00
Toddlers (1-3 years old) Php 420.00 Php 550.00
Babies below 1 year old FREE FREE
Adults Php 420.00 Php 550.00

Ticket prices from October 8, 2015 onwards:

Visitor Type Mondays-Thursdays Fridays – Sundays
(and National Holidays)
Children (4-14 years old) Php 900.00 Php 1,100.00
Toddlers (1-3 years old) Php 500.00 Php 600.00
Babies below 1 year old FREE FREE
Adults Php 500.00 Php 600.00

*Prices are VAT inclusive and subject to change without prior notice.  

Operating Hours:

  • Mondays to Thursdays:  
    • 9AM to 4PM (1 shift)
  • Fridays to Sundays (and National Holidays):
    • 9AM to 2PM
    • 3PM to 8PM

KidZania is also open for class field trips as well as party celebrations. You can send them an email in the following addresses, tourism@kidzania.com.ph and celebrations@kidzania.com.ph, respectively.

Rules and Regulations: http://manila.kidzania.com/en-ph/pages/city-codes

Source: KidZania Manila Website http://manila.kidzania.com/en-ph

 

 

 

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Homeschooling Part 2: Getting Started

As a continuation of my first post, today I will talk about our other activities. It gets quite challenging as a baby grows, to get their focus and to keep their attention. A lot of creativity and patience is needed to make sure your baby will love the idea of learning.

One must understand that Homeschooling is not limited to the confines of the home, just like learning. Books and materials are all good supplements for learning, but the more the child is exposed to the reality of the world, the better they become at understanding concepts. With Matilda, we make it a point to communicate with her, in every opportunity. We never get tired of explaining the reasons why a certain thing needs to be done, the consequence for each and every action, and the hard, but reality of the truth. No matter how complicated something might be for her to grasp, we never lie to her, we just patiently explain and ask for her respect and obedience. When a child is brought up knowing you have only pure interests at heart and their welfare is all you think about, it wouldn’t be very hard to instruct and teach your child. They will instantly develop love for learning, and this will become your lifestyle.
Whenever we are at home, we always try to make certain activities to be able to spend our time wisely. One of the things we started with, apart from those that I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, is coloring books.

Crayons and Coloring Books/Sketch Pads – this is an activity I personally loved while growing up. Because I have seen Matilda’s interest in writing through copying me by holding my pens, it was then I realized, she is ready. We started to introduce crayons and pencils just a few months after she turned a year old. After I showed her how these were used, I just allowed her to doodle, color however way she wanted, and just observed. There were times I’d sit beside her and color with her. She would watch and copy what I was doing and sometimes would ask for my help, I’d remind her how it is done and she’ll go back to doing it on her own.

I also used crayons to teach her colors by writing the alphabet and numbers on a sketch pad. I would also draw certain objects and would name them one by one. This helped in building her imagination as well as her vocabulary. Indeed, a lot of things can be taught through this activity. You just have to learn to be creative. 🙂

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Another thing we love to do is build things with play-doh.

Play-Doh – this is a good exercise for fine motor skills. The molding process is a good means for them to gain control and make their own shapes. Also a good way for them to develop in the area of art and crafts. To make it more fun, we sometimes use her toys and include some pretend-play, like a tea-party for her dolls. She enjoys this activity a lot and it pays really, as she gets to be imaginative in her play. Just be careful not to leave your child unattended with this as this is a choking hazard.

Educational Posters – I think this is a must in every home. These posters are what your child will get to see everyday and that is one of the best ways for them to memorize different things such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, parts of the body, animals, opposites (big and small, short and tall, open and close, long and short etc.) It is really cheap and readily available at any local bookstores.

Another approach for learning is through Montessori-Inspired Materials. Because I came from a Monterssori school, I am familiar with the type of materials used when we were still in CASA (Nursery level). I incorporated these materials in our play-based learning in order to cover certain areas that are quite difficult for a small child to understand.

Ring Stacker – this would teach them colors and the concept of size recognition and differentiation. This is also a good activity for hand and eye coordination as they stack the rings to the rod.

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Nesting and Stacking Blocks – this teaches them the importance of balance and it’s relation to various sizes. Also a great activity for building whatever they like.

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Spindle Box – this is quite hard to find, if there is any. I made my own by using an illustration board with printed numbers and number words and bought a set of wooden sticks. This is a great material in teaching a child how to count and associate the numbers with actual counting objects, such as the wooden sticks. I would just show her how it is used and she watched me until she was able to get it. She now knows how to properly count because of this.

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Basic Skills Toy -this toy is for practical life skills. This will help your child in teaching them independence when it comes to tying their shoe lace, buttoning their shirt, snapping and unsnapping probably their clothes as well, opening and closing zippers, and fastening or buckling belts. You can also make your own and all you will need is an old shirt, a frame (optional-as this is Montessori-inspired ), and add whatever activity you’d like for them to master.

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Pizza Party – this toy or any other toy that has a similar concept will be a great tool in teaching them how to count as well as the concept of same and different. The different toppings on the pizza is useful in identifying which go together (alike) and which do not (different). This toy is also a great way to introduce fractions later on. It is a really good investment and even I enjoy playing with it!

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Puzzles – this helps in introducing the alphabet sounds or phonics. Getting them acquainted with the pictures and their corresponding names will enable them to identify which letter they begin with. A good activity you can practice to prepare them for reading.

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Practical Life Skills – I cannot thank my parents enough for exposing me to household chores at such an early age. They allowed me to play at the laundry area and wash hankies and socks, at the kitchen to wash the dishes (with help of course!), sweep the floor, polish shoes, wipe the tables to remove dust, and a lot more. These helped me in being responsible for my own room as I grew older, and eventually in our own house as a wife. These are activities which your child will surely enjoy as I did when I was younger.

There are really so many ways to make these materials and lot others are available as well. You don’t have to spend much to achieve the same kind of concepts. All you need is a bit of creativity using ordinary art supplies with your own recyclable things at home, and the internet to get ideas, with that, you are good to go. Try searching for toddler or preschool activities at home and you will be surprised at how much information there is on the web. Some examples are lacing beads for fine motor skills, using buttons or same colored objects to teach colors, painting for art, sorting same and different items, and a whole lot more depending on which area your child needs to improve on or develop.

There is something you have to keep in mind though, in whatever instance, do not pressure your child to sit down and do these activities if he/she is not ready. You don’t want a child getting traumatized with the idea of learning just because you are too eager to teach them or just because you think your child is far behind with what he/she knows. Remember that they develop at their own pace. Some kids develop early and some at a later time, and this doesn’t make them any better nor less smarter than others. As kids, they still love to play and are still very curious about other things. They easily get bored too, and you really have to find ways to motivate them to learn something new each day.

One of the things I noticed with Matilda is, words of affirmation gets her going. Whenever she hears me compliment her for something right she has done, or whenever she accomplished an activity, this gives her a boost to continue on. It really pays to know your child and in this case, it would be great to use that certain characteristic to your advantage when it comes to teaching.

Have you got other suggestions? Leave it in the comment box, so we can try them too! Also, would you happen to be interested in what activities we are up to now? These are more advanced and already include textbooks and workbooks. Just let me know so I can share them to you and make a Part 3 of this series. 🙂

Homeschooling Part 1: Where do I begin?

When I married Joey, I never imagined myself homeschooling our future child. It has entered my mind though, and I thought it was good, but it never really made an impact until I had Matilda. We realized how much children actually learn through their peers and how they can be easily influenced to do almost anything. Honestly, this scared me having gone through that lifestyle myself. The horror of having some random kid bully my child entered my mind as well, so many times – an experience I had that I never want her to EVER encounter. And above all, we wanted to really be intentional in our parenting which led us to the ultimate decision, which is to homeschool.

Homeschooling is something that needs love, patience and passion. What drives me to stay focused is the idea that Matilda will learn from me, first hand. That whatever she learns will be coming from me and the materials we will be using. That’s quite scary, don’t you agree? Being the one responsible for your child’s knowledge and skill is daunting. But you know what? Something else is much more important that all of that – Character. When you have a child focused on God, and you raise him/her with love and fear in the Lord, everything else will follow. Joey and I agreed on this decision, wholeheartedly, knowing this is what is best for our daughter.

Deuteronomy 11: 18-19 New International Version (NIV)

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 22:6 New International Version (NIV)

 6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 6:20-23 New International Version (NIV)

20 My son, keep your father’s command
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
    fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
    when you sleep, they will watch over you;
    when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
    this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
    are the way to life

These verses I cannot stress any better. The truth is, we, as parents, are commanded by God to disciple our own children. To disciple them means to teach them about God, to be intentional in the way we raise them, which is the most important thing of all. To be clear, I have nothing against traditional schooling, it’s just that we want to protect the character of our little girl. We believe that our home is the best place to start, to keep her away from bad influences, and also for her to have a more focused form of learning. We always pray that we will be able to instill values that she will hold on to and practice as she grows. The academic aspect is just a plus for us, we will just feel accomplished, that we have successfully done our part as parents, if we are able to raise a child who knows that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

On the other hand, the frustrated teacher in me is very happy to be doing this for our Matilda. Even though she isn’t formally enrolled yet to a homeschool provider, which we will eventually do so with TMA, (The Master’s Academy) we have begun long ago in building this dream, one step at a time.

As a hands on mom to my child, I made it a point to observe her individual traits and qualities. Since Matilda was young, I have seen her interest in music, books and educational toys. These are some of the tools we used, to foster learning. I remember, she was still in my tummy when I started collecting books that I wanted to read for her during the day. We started doing this as soon as she was born even if she doesn’t seem to understand anything yet. Looking back, I’m really glad I started early, because good books, award-winning titles at that, are quite hard to find and they can be very pricey too! Plus, because I introduced books at an early age, Matilda is so fond of them and she would personally request her favorites to be read, sometimes, over and over again! Here are some of Matilda’s favorites you might want to get your hands on: Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight Gorilla, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Runaway Bunny, Mommy Loves, The Going to Bed Book and Counting Kisses, and of course, The Bible.

Another thing I like to do is sing her songs as well. We both love listening to nursery rhymes and children’s worship songs and I try my best to make it fun and interactive by making movements or actions, for her to follow. At around 5-6 months she already began copying some actions, and it felt so rewarding to see how much she was learning. Some of her favorite songs with actions or sounds she can mimic are as follows: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Wheel’s on The Bus, Old MacDonald had a Farm, Incy Wincy Spider, Barney’s Mr. Sun Song, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Father Abraham and Jesus Loves Me.

Constant communication has also given us great benefits. I never underestimated Matilda’s capability to understand. In fact, even when she was a small baby, I’d talk to her like a normal adult. I’d give her instructions, reminders, and affirmation like I would do with an older child. Yes, I cuddle her, show her love and affection like any mother to a child, but it didn’t stop there. I taught her independence as well at a very early age, like in the area of eating, and packing-away her toys. Some simple activities that enhance her self-discipline, and as I have said, independence.

Because we have a no-TV policy at home, this also helped a lot to make sure our time is really well-spent. Joey and I invested in good quality educational toys, mostly made of wood, which Matilda really enjoys until now. The reason why we prefer wooden toys over plastic or battery-operated is that, these toys help a child in using their imagination. A child who is used to playing with battery-operated ones tend to be easily bored, just like those babies who are used to watching TV or videos. Their attention span are shorter and they can’t seem to enjoy quality play-time anymore. We just introduced certain videos, which are also educational, when Matilda turned two years old. Although, people we are close to can actually attest that she would still prefer to play rather than watch videos, as this is what she was accustomed to, since she was a lot younger. We truly praise God for this!

Each child is unique in terms of reaching their development, however, I believe that “play” is the best foundation of learning. Educational Toys will be your best friends when it comes to teaching your child. Some of our favorites when Matilda was around a year old are as follows: Shape Sorters, Wooden Puzzles, Wooden Blocks, Lego Blocks and Musical Instruments. These toys helped me teach her the basics like the Alphabet, Numbers, Colors, Shapes and Animals. I actually never thought she would learn from them until we got to prove it ourselves. Now at 2.5 years old, Matilda has mastered all of them and is already showing signs of readiness to read and write. It is really all by God’s grace. He really amazes me with all of His blessings!

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You may even be surprised upon reading this that you are already doing some sort of informal homeschooling. Congratulations! Isn’t it fun? You get to play and learn at the same time while bonding with your child. Remember, you don’t need to spend much to be able to do all of these. Sometimes, all you need is a little creativity. And don’t forget, that children do not necessarily learn all these things right away. Do not compare as it usually takes some time for others. Just be patient and consistent in doing your daily activities, and again, find it in your heart to enjoy it. 🙂

PS: Watch out for Part 2, as I will talk about in detail our activities from when Matilda was around 18 months, until now that she is about to turn 2 and a half years old. I will share the materials we use as well as my personal strategies and tips to make learning fun and easy. Hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post!

Pick Your Pack of Crayons by Crayola for only Php 99.75!

Back when I was a child, one of my favorite activities was coloring. I remember having piles of books and tons of coloring materials, my favorite of which was crayons by Crayola. So when Matilda was already a toddler, I introduced her to the same activity not only for fun, but also as a tool for learning. For a toddler, however, she is already showing preferences for certain colors. Her favorites are shades pink, purple, orange and brown. And in a box of 24 crayons, you only get a shade or two of each color, it’s a bit sad! Although, just a few weeks back, upon passing by a store called Ogalala in Shangri-La Mall, I had one of my childhood dreams come to a reality. We got to choose the colors we want in a box of 24, for only 99.75 pesos!! Most of those colors I haven’t seen before and are not included in the regular box of crayons. I was so ecstatic! And these were our top picks:

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The names of the colors from left to right: Granny Smith Apple, Olive Green, Green Yellow, Goldenrod, Atomic Tangerine, Mango Tango, Peach, Melon, Carnation Pink, Tickle Me Pink, Mauvelous, Lavender, Purple Pizzazz, Red Violet, Plum, Tan, Bittersweet, Copper, Violet Red, Razzmatazz, Turquoise Blue, Aquamarine, Sky Blue, Cadet Blue

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Ogalala is located at the 3rd level, East Wing (new mall) of Shangri-La Mall. Near Mamaway and the Barbie Store.

The Biblical Aspect of Discipline

Matilda now at 2 years and 4 months old, has become very much curious in everything. A normal toddler just like her, has the ability to make her parents joyful and disappointed all at the same time. Well, that’s really how raising a child goes, don’t you agree?

Ever since Matilda was still in my tummy, we have always contemplated on how we will be able to raise her as a Godly child. I, myself, for example, wasn’t raised in a Christian home, but Joey on the other hand was. He grew up a fine man, with respect toward authorities, and has been very obedient to rules, whether set by his parents, in school, and now, as a professional. I praise God for how he was brought up to be the man he has become.

I know A LOT of people will take this post negatively. You might think that what I am about to tell you is some form of child abuse. You might even misjudge me for being impatient and worse, a bad parent. But don’t you worry, I have been judged way too many times with how I am raising my child, and honestly, it is just us, her parents, who reap all the benefits that Biblical Discipline has given her. And soon, as she grows up to be the woman she is bound to become, I know she will be grateful for it, just like her Papa is, to his parents.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

As Christians, we are commanded in the Bible to train and discipline our children. This means, we as parents, are fully responsible in how we will be raising God-fearing, obedient and respectful kids. Ever wondered why your kid suddenly became so disobedient? That even though no one taught them to say no, or do the opposite of what was asked of them, they still grow up doing EXACTLY that? Why do you think children are so entitled thinking they should always have it their way, or else they will give you such a hard time pacifying them? Well, this verse clearly states the reason why.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15 NASB)

What is this “foolishness” the Bible is talking about? Because of The Fall of Man, we have all become sinners in the eyes of our God. We have all been sinful even while we were inside the womb of our mothers. This means, we are to commit these sins even as children. And the most common of these are Disobedience and Disrespect.

Now that Biblically, I am painting this picture for you to understand why discipline is necessary, knowing the basis and background as to why children are really born to be like that, let us now go back to how we enforce this to our Matilda.

On the second part of the verse above, it says, The rod of discipline will remove it (foolishness) far from him. What is this “rod” we are talking about here? The rod is an object we use for spanking. It may actually be anything, but for us, we use the belt.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (Proverbs 13:24 NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)

We discipline by spanking because we believe that it is what God wants us to do. The Bible’s credibility cannot be questioned because of its infallibility and inerrancy. Did you know that from Genesis to Revelation, there is not even one contradicting statement in the Scripture? It’s one of the many reasons, apart from History, great amount of evidences, fulfilled prophecies and promises, and so on, why we believe it’s true. That it is in fact, the Word of God. And because of our faith in Him, we should obey His Word.

Since we realized the gravity that disciplining a child entails, we then started seeking God’s word. We wanted to learn even more from Him, on how we can raise a Godly child in order that we may bring all the Glory back to Him as we raise her. We also got the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart (where most of the principles written here are derived from), which explains our role as parents, and how we can be intentional in molding the heart of our child. It all begins from the heart, the behavior of your child is an overflow of the heart.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45 NLT)

Discipline is not an easy task. It takes a great amount of patience to be able to get it right. You see, we should never spank in anger. Children will know when you are angry, they will remember this, and it will give a negative effect in the implementation of discipline. In fact, being angry in itself is already sinful. Being angry, usually when we don’t have it our way is considered unholy anger, but to be angry at the sin in itself, knowing that this specific sin is never tolerated by God, and it makes you upset, that is holy anger. Always make sure your heart is on the right place. So, when do we spank? And how do we begin to do it?

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1:19-20)

First of all, for a child to know the concept of obedience, we must instill this to them at a very young age. If I remember correctly, I started talking to Matilda about obedience when she was around 6-7 months old. Around this time, they already show their very distinct behavior. When you observe them play, interact with others, eat, or even during idle time, you will notice their character slowly forming. With Matilda, I began by getting her familiar with the word “obey”. I would always remind her this whenever I attend to her. For example, during diaper changes. Babies can be very irritable especially when you put them down for this. So what I do is, I look her in the eyes and say, “Matilda, you have to stay still and behave, I am going to change your diaper. You have to OBEY Mommy.” I tell her this, every opportunity I get, with a firm voice. It may be during play time as well. Like when she started dropping her toys from the crib to the floor, I would remind her, “Matilda, the floor is dirty, if you want to play with your toys some more, you have to keep them in your crib. You have to OBEY Mommy.” These are just some instances, so you would have an idea. And this advice was something I learned from Deonna Tan-Chi when we attended a Parenting Seminar at CCF, called Counterflow.

You have to understand something, babies are very smart. They can already comprehend even when they can’t talk yet. So, never underestimate their capability to understand and never get tired of explaining to them these things. As for Matilda, we knew she could very well understand us at around 9-10 months. It was the time we started contemplating that it may be good to start spanking. Just so you know, we spank only on two occasions, and that is when she disobeys or disrespects us. The moment she defies our authority, we administer spanking. So here’s how.

Knowing FULL well that Matilda understood that she had to obey and instead she still defied us, we would get her and bring her to a private place (for us it’s our other room where we store our things). I put her on my lap and talk to her. I would remind her of what she did, explain to her why it was wrong and reinforce that she had to obey. I would then tell her that I would need to spank her because it is what God wants me to do in order to discipline her. I’d go on and tell her how many swats she’ll get, (we do just one) and then I proceed by telling her I love her, and that I am doing this for her own good, so that next time, she would learn to OBEY. Next is to put down her pants, and lay her face down on my lap, her bottom exposed. I would get the belt and give one swat. One is enough for us because I do it effectively. It should be hard and painful but not to the point the skin breaks. (With us, her skin usually turns red for a while). And then I immediately put on her pants and hug her tight. I console her from the pain, and then reassure her of my love. When she is already calm and collected, we say a prayer together.

For the first few times we did this, it was very, very difficult. I cried with Matilda at the sight of seeing her in pain. I also had a hard time accepting my responsibility to enforce discipline and have not been consistent at it. Those inconsistencies brought confusion in Matilda and I realized I am making it even more difficult for her, because she couldn’t get the message clearly. Although, remembering all the promises in the Bible gave me peace knowing that what I am doing is God’s will, and His will is always good. Also, knowing the fact that I am just His agent, whom He expects to do his duty, I, myself, am bound to obey. So, I then made it a point to consciously be on the lookout for circumstances wherein discipline should be enforced, and did it consistently this time around.

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.(Ephesians 6:1-3)

I praise God that we are now even more blessed to have Matilda understand the gravity of obedience and respect. She is growing up to be a good little girl who listens and obeys without question, challenge or delay. Sure, there are still moments wherein she fails, and acts differently, but those times are now becoming very rare. As of this moment, I can no longer remember the last time I spanked her. This is the exact validation how we know, we are on the right track. As I have said in the beginning of this post, we do this because we believe that this is our duty as parents. God entrusted us with a child who will someday become of influence to this world. It is a big responsibility to be able to bring her up in the fear of the Lord, so that someday, she will be useful for the glory of His kingdom. Discipline is not easy and without God’s grace, we wouldn’t be able to do it effectively. It is our prayer as parents, that Matilda will remember the principles we are instilling in her young mind, and then hopefully apply it, as she grows.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17 ESV)

How is the heart of your child? Have you been diligent in disciplining them? If so, are you happy with the result? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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Potty Training 101

It was not my absolute intention to actually start potty training our then 22-month old Matilda. It also came as a big surprise that she just began telling me she wanted to go and make wiwi. Well, we have been using cloth diapers since she was 3 months old and I think that is one of the reasons why potty training was a breeze for us.

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With any child, I think, it is actually recommended that they have nappy-free time, also known as presko time. This enables their skin to breathe, to avoid rashes or skin irritation. We started having longer presko time since she turned around 18 months. I allowed her to be in her underwear while playing on the floor. Because she didn’t know when to go yet at that time, she would usually wet her undies and then what I always told her was this, “Uh-oh look, baby, you made wiwi. Come, let’s have you cleaned up”. This wasn’t an everyday thing. Since we travel a lot, we just got to do this whenever we were at home.

It was one evening when we were on our home from my husband’s workplace, that I intentionally removed her wet diaper, and did not bother putting on a replacement. I thought, we’re almost home anyway so I’ll jusy clean her up when we get there. Upon arriving home though, I got a little busy dealing with some mess in the room and totally forgot that she was diaper-free. Tired from the day’s activities, I settled on the bed and watched her play and roam around the room. Suddenly, I noticed she was becoming uneasy and that’s when I realized, she wasn’t wearing a diaper! In which, it led me to ask her this, “Baby you want to go make wiwi?”, I got so surprised when she actually said, “Yes, mommy, wiwi.” I immediately brought her to the restroom, (praying she would make it) and there, she made her very first successful “wiwi-moment” in the toilet. Can you imagine what I felt at that time? If you are a parent, you’d very well understand. I honestly felt like I won the lottery! I felt so proud of her and I was almost teary eyed as I realized, she’s really no longer a baby.

So for the benefit of my fellow-mothers, I decided to write about how our potty training experience came to be and the tips and tricks that I think worked well for us.

Embrace the mess!

I believe allowing her to have diaper-free times sent her the message clearly, that if you do not hold your pee and go to the toilet, then you’d get yourself wet with your own pee. Eww, I know! But it really works! I just constantly reminded her that the next time she want’s to go, she has to inform me. (Yes, babies do understand. Never underestimate them!)

Having been on cloth diapers also made her more aware of this because when cloth diapers are full, it usually leaks and the baby feels the wetness. I made it a point to actually tell her every time that her diaper leaked, that the feeling she is experiencing is called wetness. This is why I like cloth, it doesn’t turn your child’s urine into a scary gel, full of chemicals.

Communicate with your child

As I have mentioned above, it would be great to start teaching your babies about the feeling of wetness. Once they understand this concept, it would be easier for you both to understand each other. Do not give up on your child even though they sometimes think they want to pee, but doesn’t. Or sometimes they would only tell you AFTER they have finished. That is totally okay and normal. It is part of the experience and it is the only way they will actually learn. Also, remember to complement them whenever they try to do it right even though they make mistakes sometimes. It boosts their self-esteem. And you know, kids have this nature that they want to impress their parents. Make it a point to show them your appreciation.

No pressure, no rush!

Most of the time, parents (moms in particular) set certain standards for their child’s milestones. It’s always, “She has to be able to do this and that at this age.”, and so on and so forth. Hey you, (yes you) parenting isn’t a battle. It is never your child versus my child. “My child can do this, yours can do that.” Come on! Can we just stop and observe our own kids? Can you just wait until they are ready? Potty training isn’t a race. Children develop at their own pace so please save your energy and just stop comparing. Allow your child to reach their milestone in their own time. Believe me, they will get there when they are READY.

Set an example

I think one other thing that really helped us is that, because we don’t have a nanny, I always bring her with me to the toilet whenever I need to go. She sees me actually do it and I always explain to her what I am doing. I tell her the things she needs to do, like flush the toilet, and wash her hands afterwards. Again, I communicate to her so that she knows what I am doing, and also for her to understand the reasons why I have to do them.

Keep it real and simple

Because we didn’t really expect she’d be potty trained so soon, we weren’t actually prepared, or so I thought. I was on the impression that a potty was necessary, but I was wrong. We didn’t buy one and I just don’t see that it will be of help in any way now that we went through this whole process. I guess, it may be good for some and maybe it helps  in a way for children to feel that potty training is fun, but as I think of it, it might send them mixed signals, don’t you think? Well, someday they’d have to go into that regular, adult-sized toilet seat especially when you are out and about. And that specially cute potty might cause problems when they start looking for them whenever they want to go. I believe it is not only beneficial in terms of the budget, but it would also eliminate confusion for your child later on. Keep it simple and allow them to experience the reality that soon enough, they would be stuck to using the adult-size toilet anyway!

Be EXTRA patient

When starting out, expect that you will really have accidents. There will even be days they would forget, or sometimes they will not be able to hold it any longer, no matter how long they have been potty trained. Never let your child down or go crazy and start blaming them for it. Be kind and compassionate and show them that despite the untoward accident, you still love them and that you believe they will be able to do it right next time. Take it easy and give it a litte time for them to master it.

As I post this, Matilda is officially fully potty trained for 3 months now. I have also sold my cloth diaper stash to my fellow-moms – ouch! The cutest prints were very hard to let go! Anyway, I hope you will get my tips helpful and practical for potty training your kiddos. Just comment away for any questions or tips that I might have missed out, or wasn’t able to try, that may be beneficial to other moms as well.

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Extraordinary Sunday

Two Sundays ago was one of my not-your-kind-of-day, day. To give you a brief background of our usual Sunday, we are at church (CCF – Christ’s Commission Fellowship) the whole day. We start at around 10:45 by attending our GLC (Global Leadership Center) class, followed by a 12 noon service, that ends at about 1:30, and then a Discipleship group, or a Bible Study at 3-5pm.

So you see, our Sundays are mainly for Church activities and we are very much happy to be part in all that. Happy as I am, it is quite a challenge to do all these with an active toddler. I try with my very best to keep her busy, but, sometimes it is a bit exhausting to keep her from roaming around or playing with other kids. I’m kind of used to it though, except that Sunday, it was particularly different.

We left a bit earlier to pick up breakfast before heading to church. I got pancakes for Matilda and a burger for me. She ate one pancake during our class and she was well-behaved throughout the session. When the class was about to end, she began being a bit more “clingy”. In fact, she was very “clingy” and somewhat sleepy. I even noticed that she was closing her eyes while standing up and clutching onto my thighs. At first, I was on the impression she was sleepy because we kind of slept late the night before. So, I breastfed her and she then fell asleep. – This was the beginning of an EPIC day.

On the way to the up the worship hall, Joey noticed that Matilda was missing her other pair of shoe. One of her favorites! So we asked the guard to please inform us if someone would surrender it. Joey also volunteered to go back down and try to search for it just until we are settled on our seat. Before entering the hall though, our friends from GLC, Paul and Aish, handed it over to us. Whew! I felt so relieved! Apparently, someone approached them with the shoe, and they followed us going up.

Before finally entering the hall, Matilda woke up from her nap. She was asleep for about 30 minutes only, and not her usual 2 hour nap. I thought it was just because of the sound of the worship songs that woke her, to my surprise, I was so wrong.

As we were already seated, while the announcements were being given, Matilda started vomiting. It wasn’t the usual one-time vomit, but several episodes with lots and lots of liquid. She vomited on herself, on the chair, on my hair, chest and practically my entire body. She didn’t look bothered, though I knew she wasn’t feeling okay. I rushed her to the nearest washroom and started cleaning her up without even looking at how much vomit she expelled onto me. I was busy making sure I had her cleaned well because I didn’t want her soaked in a very sour smell – (….eww).

After I finished cleaning her up, I handed her to Joey so I can look at myself. My oh my, my top was all wet including the tips of my hair. I then realized I catched most of it. I smelled terrible and my hair was a mess. I didn’t bring any extra shirt – which I know I should have! So I decided I’d buy a shirt later after the service. I cleaned up myself (quickly) just to catch up on the ongoing service.

As soon as I finished cleaning up, Matilda told me, “Mommy, Matilda (Matata) poopoo. Mommy, hug.” And then I knew she was really feeling upset. I attended to her and allowed her to finish before I cleaned her up. After which, finally, she was settled and ready to go back to the service.

When the service was about to end, Matilda started being uneasy (again), and began passing gas. I knew that she was about to poop again and so I brought her to the back to find a spot where she can do her business. While walking around waiting for her to finish, I suddenly noticed the ribbon on my shoe has gone missing. I tried searching and I saw it was lying on the floor. (Insert music: cause you had a bad day…)

Can you imagine what I was feeling at this point? And to think that was just around 1pm? I was already exhausted. I felt so smelly and dirty. I was also hungry and to top it all off, Matilda’s condition concerned me. But even though all these things troubled me, I focused on this verse – Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5‬:‭18‬ NLT)

I had to remind myself that every single thing that happens in our lives has a purpose. It is all part of God’s plan and it is always for the good of those who love Him, as also said in Romans 8:28. What good came out of it? I got to buy a new shirt! Yay! And because Matilda just had a short nap, she was asleep during our bible study – which helped me focus on our very meaty topic about the End Times. I believe this was His purpose, apart from the fact that He wanted to strengthen my faith in Him. I just prayed that He would please heal Matilda and the rest, we just lift and surrender to Him.

Matilda woke up 2 hours after, as if nothing had happened. She even ate a lot and played around for a bit. She even joined kids thrice her age as if she was a big girl! Who would have thought of our incident that morning? My baby girl was such a sport! I think God also made me realize that I should be really thankful that Matilda is an active toddler because if not, I’d be worried all the time thinking she is probably sick! And that I should really stop saying, “Ang likot na ni Matilda!”. What a wake-up call that is! As for my shoe, Joey promised to fix it. 🙂 It was a good Sunday, indeed! Thank you, Lord!

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