Family Time#7: Fun at the Fun Ranch

I’m lucky enough that the company I work for has extended our weekend to today, Monday, in lieu of the May 1 Labor Day holiday. My daughter and I couldn’t help but give out a shrieking “Weeeeee!!!!!” This is one of the rare times when I get to spend time with her, as normally, she gets to stay with my ex-husband on weekends.

Sunday, we went to Fun Ranch near Tiendesitas. It’s the one place she never gets tired of going to, much to my chagrin, because the place is extremely hot! We always make the mistake of going there at near noon, so you could just imagine the blazing heat. But I always give in to whatever makes her happy, so even I ended up a happy camper, notwithstanding the sweat brewing on my armpits.

My daughter went on all the rides as many times as she desired. I almost pitied her, as she frolicked around Fun Ranch alone, hungry for a playmate. If I had it in my power, I’d give her the little brother or sister she has been asking me for the past few days. But of course, given my present status, that is best left to wishful thinking.

Sentimentality aside, we both had a blast that day. In the final analysis, that’s all that matters.

This is my entry for this week’s Family Time. View other precious family moments here:

Introducing photography to your kids

If you feel your little one has grown tired of his crayons, poster paint and clay, take consolation in the fact that there is still another option out there to enhance his or her creativity: photography. Don’t be too quick to think that this is a hobby best left to adults. You’d be amazed to see how even your preschooler can handle a point-and-shoot with unbelievable skill.

photo by Google Images

For your preschooler, you don’t need to get him a DSLR or any of those other fancy photography equipment. You can start with any old 2-megapixel digital camera with automatic settings. If you feel you’ve got a few extra bucks to spare, go get him one of those shatter-proof digital cameras made especially for kids.

To start with, tell your 5 or 6-year old to stay still while holding the camera. Tell him to make sure that the subject of the photo is in the finder. Gradually introduce basic principles like taking pictures with the right distance from the subject, lighting basics, etc. Remind him to keep the camera inside its case when not in use.

You can start with animals or scenery as subjects. His active pet hamster could be a willing model for a photoshoot. When you go on a picnic with your kid, encourage him to take snapshots of the scenery, or even of still life like fruits in a basket or a huge rock by a tree.

It’s never too early to introduce your little kid to photography. When you teach your child how to take good pictures, you teach him a skill which develops his independence, creativity, and at the same time, helps him value life’s precious memories.

Mommy Moments…And She Turns Five

My daughter celebrated her 5th birthday in school, as it happened to fall on a school day. She wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, because she didn’t want to miss partying with her school crush. Yes, my heart skipped a beat when she told me she fancies one of her boy classmates. Ay, caramba! Well, I better save my sentiments on that for another post.

She's the one at the far right.

We just had food delivered to her school. The kids enjoyed the loot bags which I’ve oh so painstakingly prepared…Ok, that may have been a slight exaggeration :). They especially loved the Dora-topped cupcakes which were arranged to form the number 5.

Turning a year older is always a joyous occasion. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 8 or 80. Birthdays are a constant reminder to us of the gift of life. It’s a time to have your cake and eat it too! :)

This is my first ever entry to Mommy Moments.
Check out other worthwhile Mommy Moments here:
mommy moments

Family Time #4: A Weekend With Dora

Ours is just a family of two, so family time means just my daughter and I having fun. This past weekend was an extraordinary one, as my kid usually spends weekends with her dad. The mommy fairies were smiling down on me this time, as I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend with her.

It was a hot summer Sunday, with the sun beating down hard on us. We went over to the NBC tent for the Working Mom children’s workshop expo. My kid was extremely delighted as soon as we entered the doors. We were greeted by different mascots in all their furry glory. My kid excitedly hopped from one booth to another, to try out their various activities- arts, cooking, play. She even got to try her hand at the abacus.

The highlight was the photo op with Dora the Explorer. Though I must say, Dora could lose a few inches from her stomach.

It was a weekend I will sure cherish for years to come.

Just Beautiful: Boracay

Powdery-white sand, clear, blue waters, fresh seaside air….despite the advent of technology and urban development, a slice of paradise still does exist…and it’s an island called Boracay.

My daughter and I just got back from a 3-day trip there. It was her first out-of-town trip, and I must say, she enjoyed it so much. The plane trip for her was like a theme park amusement ride. I was impressed at how maturely she handled her fear. As the plane took off and landed, she just firmly held my hand while singing and laughing.

Hotel Soffia is a good place to stay, if like me, you prefer to keep away from the main hubbub of activity at the beachfront of Boracay. The resort we stayed in was atop a mountain, so the breeze was invigorating, and the view… simply breathtaking.

Need I say more about the beach? The beauty of the surroundings speaks for itself. It is a testament to God’s marvelous creation. Although Boracay can get somewhat crowded, we still managed to find a fairly private spot on the beach, where I was fearless enough to wear a two-piece bathing suit. I sneakily snuck away from the intrusive cameras of the (imaginary) paparazzi that kept following me closely wherever I went. I was immensely entertained as I watched my daughter and her friend make castles in the sand.

The food was sheer bliss. We picked out our grub from a wide array of fresh seafood, and then had them cooked the way we wanted. My daughter wolfed the food down like there was no tomorrow.

More than anything, I enjoyed spending precious time with her in such a beautiful island. It was the closest thing to heaven on earth. The memory will forever be etched in our hearts.
[ad#just beautiful]

Have cheap fun with your kids

If taking your kids to the mall is something you dread (like I do), it’s a consolation to know that there is a fun – and not to mention, a low-cost – alternative to it. A couple of bean bags, and huge throw pillows on a carpet are enough to set the stage for hours of enjoyment and bonding with your kid. Here are some, as they’d like to say, “Awesome!” board games to play with:

Scrabble Junior: Yes, there is a kid-version of our all-time favorite word game! Children ages 5 through 8 will surely enjoy this. The premise is to teach children about the formation of words. There are pre-formed words on the Scrabble Junior playing surface. Each kid in the game picks seven letters and then tries to match these letters with the words already on the board. When all of the tiles are played, the one with the most chips wins.

Connect Four: this is a two-player game in which the players first choose a color and then take turns dropping their colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row vertical grid. The pieces fall straight down, occupying the next available space within the column. The object of the game is to connect four of one’s own discs of the same color next to each other vertically, horizontally, or diagonally before one’s opponent can do so.

Sorry!- The objective is to be the first player to get all four of his color pawns from his Start location to his Home space. The pawns are normally moved in a clockwise direction, but can be moved backward if directed. You draw a card from the pile, and move your pawns as directed. It can be played by 2 to 4 people.

Mastermind for Kids: a two-player game where one tries to guess the other player’s secret code in as few turns as possible. I just can’t get enough of those cute jungle animal pieces on a Rocky Mountain tray.

So, instead of getting him that Wii or Nintendo DS, why not try these games out for a change?

How to give your kids an awesome summer

You can almost feel it in the air-well, not really, given the current unpredictability of climate change-summer is fast approaching. Kids are gearing up for their final exams. School bags are getting nonchalantly tossed around like pizza dough, with hopes of being replaced with new ones for next school year. Swimsuits are slowly seeing the light of day after being stashed away for ages. In between chants of “No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks!”, we parents try our hardest to contain that excitement and redirect that energy into something more productive, and less destructive. Out there is a wide range of summer activities for kids to choose from, so we shouldn’t pull out our hairs just yet:

1. MILO Best- tried and tested, this summer sports clinic has been around since time immemorial. Some of our popular local basketball stars (and not-so-popular neighborhood hunks) have emerged from this program. Their summer sports clinic offers a varied selection of activities, ranging from basketball to martial arts.
2. Cooking- perfect for the budding young chef. With a spatula in hand, our little one will surely have fun whipping up yummy desserts in no time.
3. Dance- develop grace, rhythm and form in your kid as he or she learns basic or advanced steps in ballet, hip-hop, etc.
4. Swimming- Bert Lozada is at the forefront when it comes to swimming lessons here in the Philippines. Visit his site for more info.

Get your child immersed in the arts, or in sports this summer. He or she will surely blossom into a more multi-faceted individual. And that, in turn, will make us proud parents.

TV shows for kids to watch

Newsflash: An asteroid just hit the earth and selectively wiped out Barney and his friends from the face of this planet. Well, that’s wishful thinking for me. Nothing used to annoy me more than seeing that purple dinosaur singing while shaking his belly on TV. Watching him just ruined my day. So, I was only too happy when my daughter finally had enough of him, and dropped him altogether, cold turkey.

Now, my daughter has moved on to, I must say, more sensible and at the same time, entertaining TV shows which especially cater to kids. Here’s a brief rundown of these shows which I would like to recommend:

Word World– it’s a 3D animated show which promotes literacy in preschoolers. Animal characters’ (aptly named Sheep for the sheep, and Duck for the duck) body parts are comprised of letters spelling their name. Example, Duck’s body is D-U-C-K put together. The fun part comes when they “build a word”. They put together their stock of letters (usually just lying around) to form everyday objects. My daughter enjoys this show, and her reading skills continue to improve with watching this.

Timmy Time– it’s the “little lamb with a lot to learn”. Also in 3D animation, this is about a lamb, Timmy, who goes about his day in preschool with his other animal friends. Here, kids learn essential values such as friendship and sportsmanship. Even for an adult like me, I find this show funny.

Angelina Ballerina– “the little mouse with big dreams”, as she is known for. Angelina is a positive role model who uses her talents to help others. This mouse in a tutu has greatly influenced my daughter’s love for dancing. I’m pretty amused at this show myself.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse– you can never go wrong with singing M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e. He just never goes out of style. This program teaches problem-solving and early numeracy skills to preschoolers. Moreover, the show directly interacts with its viewers.

Instead of us parents going about our chores while we plop our kids in front of the television, we can use TV viewing as an opportunity to channel (pun intended!) our energies into spending quality time with them.