Monday, February 28, 2011

Create mealtime magic by making meals fun for kids

(ARA) - Cooking a meal should be fun for both children and adults. By engaging your children in food preparation, you can demonstrate valuable food lessons all while enjoying time well spent with your family.

By including everyone in the preparation, you can introduce your children to how fun cooking and eating together can be. Not only will they learn a little bit about navigating the kitchen, but they will also discover how it can serve as the perfect platform for a math lesson or an art project.

Here are a few tips for making your family meals fun and child-friendly:
  • Get your kids involved in cooking preparation from an early age. Your little ones will get a kick out of doing something as simple as dumping a cup of flour into a mixer and watching you use everyday kitchen tools. You can also use the measurements that go into recipes as a teaching opportunity for your child with a built-in math lesson. Children can also lend a hand by setting the table or designing placemats for the family meal.

  • Make food fun. Keep your kids engaged by experimenting with different colors, shapes, and sizes of foods they know. For example, Barilla Piccolini bite-size classic pasta shapes are just the right size for little hands - and with a quick cook time of just seven minutes, you can add excitement to favorite family pasta dishes. Children can even make inexpensive and unique decorations using the pasta.

  • Create excitement for dinnertime. A great way to make sure kids look forward to mealtimes is to participate in fun activities as a family. Theme nights are a great way to engage children around the dinner table. You can prepare traditional meals from around the world, or cook a meal inspired by your family's favorite movie or vacation spot. Visit for lots of great kid-friendly recipes using Barilla Piccolini.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tips On Having An Affordable Wedding

I don't know about you but I am very excited about Prince william and Kate Middleton's wedding. I guess it must be all those fairy tales I read as a kid; you know the ones where the princess gets rescued by her true love or the prince finally finds the girl of his dreams. A royal wedding just brings out those "awwwww" feelings.

A lot of people can't wait to see what Kate's wedding dress will look like. I can't imagine the wedding plans they have think about and organize.

A wedding definitely is an unforgettable moment in a person's life. However, most of us are not of royal birth or hold high positions that make it compulsory for us to hold a grand wedding that costs an arm and a leg. I don't think a wedding should get in the way of a marriage. I know quite a few people who put off marriage just because they can't afford a wedding. How sad :(

If you are really tight on budget, plan a wedding that you can afford. Decide where you can save and what is worth spending on. Make necessary compromises. Don't live a life of debt just because of one fancy day. You don't need that kind of unnessary stress. You don't want to start a marriage with money problems.

So, what can you do to make your wedding more affordable?
  • Seek out discounts such as cheap invitations (but still of high quality) and clearance sales.
  • The celebration doesn't have to be at a 5-star hotel. Maybe your friend (or their family) owns a nice estate where you can hold a brunch. You can also consider a nice restaurant. You are not bound to hold a full sit down dinner. A buffet allows your guests to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • A lot of times renting is cheaper then buying.
  • You are not obligated to pay for your bridesmaid dresses. Invite them to be a bridesmaid but do let them know they will have to pay for the dresses.
  • You don't have to invite everyone you know or everyone remotely related to you. Keeping your guest list down will save you a lot of money.
  • Did you know getting married on a weekday will cut your expenses tremendously? Consider it.
  • You don't have to go crazy on the wedding cake. Do you really need a 3 tiered cake?
  • Don't be shy to ask your friends for help. Maybe someone can help you with makeup, another can do photography and someone can help you with flower arrangements. Your friends may have talent you can use.
When it comes to saving money on your wedding, shopping around and comparing prices is important. Don't be square and think out of the box too. You don't have to follow what everyone else is doing.

A simple, affordable wedding can be just as lovely as an expensive one. Better you put your money on your honeymoon or a new house.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Matters Most?

Many parents are worried about their children growing up in front of the computer. The computer can be for good or for bad. Well, it is not just the kids living in this internet age. Most of us parents too are knee deep (maybe even neck deep) in it.

Quickly go through this questionnaire:
  • Do you constantly wonder what to blog about?
  • Do you wish your children will go to bed early so you can have some time on the computer?
  • Does your heart drop when hardly anyone leaves a comment on your blog?
  • Do you experience a pang of envy when you come across someone else's blog that has 40 over comments?
  • Do you check your Facebook every hour to see what everyone else is up to?
  • Is your hobby tweeting? (and it has been a while since you heard real birds tweeting).
  • Do you have 1000+ followers (and you want more)?
  • Do you follow 2000+ people (and you are still adding to your list)?
Well, thus is the parent in the internet age. Maybe our children should be worried about us instead.

Take time to ponder what really matters in life.
  • Make sure you have more conversation time with your kids and spouse then your online buddies (whom you've never seen before).
  • It's more important to have your kids follow you than to have 5000 followers online.
  • Leaving constructive comments in your children's lives will have greater impact than commenting on other people's blog.
  • Wonder how to make your children feel loved and valued and not so much what to blog about.
  • It's okay if you're not the most popular blogger around (unless you're blogging for BIG BUCKS), what matters is that you are popular with your kids.
At the end of the day, it's your relationship with your family members that will bring you ultimate happiness, not the relationship you have with your computer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Get your family fit this spring

(ARA) - The frost is lifting, the snow is melting, and you're beginning to remember how good it feels to be outside. Your fingers stop going numb, you don't see your breath anymore and you can finally take your kids out of the house without wrapping them in more layers than a wedding cake.

Spring is coming and that means the ability to get back outside. Outdoor activities can be a great, inexpensive way to spend quality time with your family while staying fit and setting good examples for healthy lifestyles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get active at least two and a half hours per week. For teens, the CDC recommends at least one hour of physical activity per day. Anything that increases breathing and heart rate and strengthens muscles counts. Even exercising for small chunks of time - 10 minutes per day - can help improve overall health in children and adults.

One way to encourage healthy lifestyles is to incorporate your family into your exercise routine. Many outdoor activities that families can participate in never get old. This spring, greet the season with some of these activities:
  • Take a hike or plan a family picnic at your local forest preserve or state park. Start the hike at dusk to reach a clearing in time for a beautiful sunset and star gazing. Just be sure to bring a flashlight for the walk back.

  • For the baseball fans in your bunch, take a bike ride around your neighborhood park to release some energy before settling on the couch to catch the first pitch.

  • If your crew is on the competitive side, lace up your sneakers and rally your neighbors for a game of kickball at your local high school. Keep up the fun by tracking team scores all season long.

Outdoor activities require some safety equipment - helmets, sunglasses, sunscreen - and, if you have young children, extra accessories like the proper stroller or trailer are necessary. Several companies keep outdoor enthusiasts in mind when making new design innovations. Companies like Chariot Carriers, which offers multifunctional strollers that can be turned into a jogger, hiking or bike trailer and, even, a cross country skiing trailer, use their customer's varied and active lifestyles for inspiration in creating new products. The versatility of the product gives families a range of options to stay fit and active.

Spring is the time for new beginnings, so the time is right to set your family on a healthy path. As you put away the winter coats and start opening your windows, keep in mind all the outdoor activities you can do with your family. For more information on Chariot Carriers strollers, visit

Monday, February 21, 2011

From Mom's Garden

Just some stuff from my mom's garden.

With so many flowers in the garden, what do the kids do?

Friday, February 18, 2011

School Blues

Attending school is not always good for the kids. More and more people are opting to homeschool. Well, here are more reasons why school is not always the best answer.
  • Unfair punishments. School teachers have so many children to deal with, they don't really have time to deal with your excuses, even if they are legit.
    My daughter was told to write 200 lines "saya mesti bawa buku muzik" (I must bring my music book) by her teacher. The truth is, she didn't forget to bring the book. She had already packed it in her school bag, but her brother wanted to see the picture of the dancing frogs she drew. He took the book out and didn't put it back. So, K went to school without the book. Teacher wanted to check if they had drawn the frogs. K didn't have the book, hence the punishment of writing 200 lines. Poor girl! Poor brother also had to face a very angry jie-jie.
    I'm not slamming the teacher. It is just one of those things that comes with going to school.

  • Silly requests.
    My daughter said her math teacher asked them to use a "normal" pencil. They are not allowed to use mechanical pencil, 2B pencil or HB pencil. She says it is too dark. Errr... I am at a lost here. Besides 2B and HB, I don't know what other kinds of pencils there are.
    Sigh! Dear teacher, better you be specific what they CAN use, instead of telling them what they CANNOT use.

  • Rigid way of doing things.
    Each teacher have their own style and preferences. For example, K1 has to leave 3 lines between each sum. After doing her work, she proceeded to show me how she can only do 2 sums per page. There were plenty of lines towards the bottom of the page, but she can't fit another sum there because she has to have that 3 line spacing. So, what was my daughter trying to tell me? She was trying to tell me what a waste of paper.

    When doing double digit additions, D1 was told not to write the "carry" number. Like in 59 + 36, you would add the 9+6=15, write 5 and carry 1. Teacher said to "carry" the number in his head. Well, it got lost in his head I guess because he had quite a few sums wrong due to not adding the "carry" number.

    Plus, the kids are so scared of the teacher, they will obediently follow the teacher's way even if it doesn't make sense or doesn't work for them.

  • Beware of thieves.
    K1 came home yesterday and told me how a girl's text book was stolen during recess time. Many of the other kids' bags were opened. Teacher advised the students to get locks for their bags. Sigh! I bet you the day they start selling school bags with combination locks is not far away.

  • Very heavy school bag.
    Plus the bags don't last very long. 3 months into the school year, it looks like it's been through torture - strap coming loose, tiny holes waiting to become bigger holes.
Well, these are just some of the school blues my kids are facing.

If you are interested in homeschooling, check out Homeschooling ABC's class. Get guidance and action steps through email for 26 weeks. You also get Over $275 worth of curricula.

Click here to check it out now: Homeschooling Help

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Should Children Do Housework? Cast Your Vote

My DH and me believe that children should be taught to work. We constantly rope them in to help us around the house. We have them wash the car, vacuum the car, help prepare meals, vacuum and mop the floors, hang up the laundry, feed the rabbits etc....

When my 4 year old was happily vacuuming my kitchen the other day, my mom said "This is child labor. I never had you or your brothers do such things."

I know different people have different values, and practice different parenting skills. So I thought I'd have a little fun today to see what most people think about kids doing housework.

I've created a poll. Cast in your vote. Spread the word and invite your friends to have their say too.
The link to this poll is:
(* Voting ends end of April 2011)

If you're here and the voting has ended, you can still have your say by leaving a comment.

Snake? Where?

The kids came screaming into the house, "Mom, there's a snake in the garden".
Daddy grabs his parang, ready to act the hero.

So, where's the snake? Take a look.

It's an earthworm lah. A very long one.
Daddy picked it up and the rest of us ran screaming "Ewwwwwwww".

Mamas Parenting Tip
  • Teach children that earthworms are good for the earth.
  • It is okay to hate them. Muahahahahaha. (Sorry, I just can't stand worms).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Buns for the 3 bears

Made some strawberry jam filled buns the other day. I know I can never go into the baking business because what I make usually don't come out the same size. Just look at these buns, I have big, medium and small sizes. The 3 bears in the Goldilocks story will like them I'm sure. Big for papa bear, medium for mama bear and small for baby bear.

Guess who made the tiny sized bun?

Mamas Parenting Tip

Even though it is easier to do things yourself, you must give your kids opportunities to do stuff too. It may not look as nice, it may take longer, they may create a mess... it's okay. Some good will come out of it... some day.

Sow the seeds, sow the seeds.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Little Helpers

FIL is away for a few months. He usually helps me sweep and mop the house. Well, I've recruited new helpers. Meet my vacuumer and mopper.

D2 is now 4 years old. He was very enthusiastic about vacuuming.
D1 is 8 years old. He's a veteran mopper :)

Mamas Parenting Tip
  • A family that works together, stays together.
  • Be happy when you work. Teach them that being able to work is a blessing.
  • A clean house is everyone's responsibility.
  • Dare to delegate.
  • Try not to criticize too much.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interested in some FREE software?

Even though I hate the idea of kids spending endless hours on the computer, I have to face the fact that it is the computer age. I can't keep them away from the computer forever. Even so, it is important to have computer rules. Plus, if the kids are going to spend time on the computer, make sure it is worthwhile.

So, here I've found a place where you can get some discounted and really cheap software. There's stuff for you and stuff for the children. You can pick software for education, reference, business, home & life, games, children's fun and lots more.

Oh, forgot to mention that some of the software are FREE too.

Here is a sampling of some of the stuff they have available (collection is hugh).

DK My First Amazing Science Explorer

Click Here to find 100s of Free Kids Software (+S&D)

*The links are my affiliate links

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

How To Organize A Stress Free Birthday Party For Your Kid

Thinking of throwing a birthday party for your kid? Well, it doesn't have to be stressful. You just need to be a little organized. Here is a quick check list that will help you put together a successful kids birthday party.
  1. Decide on a theme.
    The theme of the party will greatly depend on the age of the child. For one year olds, it is best to have a theme that everyone can relate to. In short, you can come up with a general theme such as your kid's favorite character or TV show and the like. For older kids, you can ask them what they want for their party. If they have not decided yet, suggest kiddie themes such as Harry Potter theme, Pirates theme or Cowboys' theme for the boys. For the girls, you can suggest Fairy theme or Princess theme. Once you were able to come up with the theme, the rest of the steps will follow.

  2. Estimate how many people, including kids, in your guest list.
    This is the next best thing to do after the theme. You can start with the immediate family members, cousins, uncles and aunties, grandparents, god parents. Then, the friends of your child in the neighborhood and his or her classmates if he or she is already in school. Knowing how many people will be attending will give you an idea how big the party that you need to prepare is.

  3. Find a fitting venue.
    For some parents, their home is the most fitting venue for small parties. But if there will be many guests, it is best to find a location where everybody can move freely. You can consider the nearby theme park or a playhouse inside a mall for the location. In choosing a venue, always take note of the convenience of the attendees, wherein majority of which is kids.

  4. Set the time.
    Most birthday parties are usually set in the afternoon when everybody has rested. But, depending on the availability of your guests as well as of the venue, you can schedule it earlier, like before lunchtime or during lunch itself.

  5. Do the invitation and send it in advance.
    You can make your own invitations that bears the motif of the theme or you can buy ready made ones from craft stores. The most important thing is that you have sent it in advance so they the parents of the attendees can arrange their schedules.

  6. Call parents of the children to be invited.
    This is also one good way of knowing how many attendees will be there and if there are necessary preparations for the child guest.

  7. List down the foods you can prepare.
    Depending on the number of guests, you can make a tentative list of the foods to be prepared. In the menu, make sure to make the selections children-friendly.

  8. Make a list of supplies and decorations needed.
    This is also important so you won't have to cram when the day comes. If possible, decorate the venue a day ahead so you won't have to worry about it when the date comes.

  9. Create a program flow.
    Young attendees during kids birthday parties can be unruly. To maintain orderliness, try to come up with a program so they will know what to do.
Click here for easy and fun printable birthday party games.

Picking the right interactive game can help your child learn

(ARA) - Games come in all shapes and sizes, from basic toys to complex video games. While games serve the purpose of entertaining your children, there's more going on than kids just having fun.

Children explore and learn through playing as they practice making decisions and solving problems. So while kids are having a blast during playtime, games can help foster a variety of academic skills and a love of learning.

Through new technology, interactive video games in particular present a great way for kids to learn independently. Video games like Sesame Street's "Cookie's Counting Carnival" and "Elmo's A-to-Zoo Adventure" for Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PCs offer opportunities for children to practice basic math and reading skills while playing with their favorite characters.

"The games are entertaining and intuitive, enabling younger kids in the family to have fun while learning at their own pace," says Samantha Ryan, senior vice president of development and production for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

When selecting video games for your child, look for the following features:
  • Math and literacy skill building. Your child may be more likely to work on these skills when they are contained within a fun game.
  • Games that offer a range of ways to learn. Presenting material in a variety of ways helps kids retain information and helps ensure that they stay engaged.

  • Easy, intuitive play. Part of the fun of learning through a video game is that children are given opportunities to learn on their own. Therefore, the game should be easy enough for them to navigate with minimal adult assistance.

  • Clear, age-appropriate directions. Games designed for younger children should include audio and visual directions to help ensure that kids are able to play with minimal frustration. Audio directions can also help children develop listening skills.

  • Adaptability by skill level. Video games that offer different levels based on your child's abilities will help ensure that your child has a positive experience and offer room for growth as your child matures and becomes a more adept problem solver.

  • Active game play. Games that feature physical activity promote healthy living.
By choosing the right games your children will get more out of playtime than just smiles on their faces.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Chinese New Year Wishes

During Christmas, the children look forward to opening presents under the Christmas tree. Chinese New Year, the kids look forward to receiving their "ang pows".

Previously, it was always DH that distributed the "ang pows". This year, I distributed it to the kids. Instead of just handing it over to them, I had my 4 kids line up (from oldest to youngest) and had each of them come up with a Chinese New Year wish for me (apart from the usual "Kong Hei Fatt Choy). You know, chinese have lots of sayings like:
  • Sui Sui Ping An (everlasting peace year after year)
  • Shen Ti Jian Kang (good health)
  • Wan Shi Ru Yi (good luck)
There is more but I don't know all. I shamely admit that my chinese is very limited. I'm English educated. Yeah, a real "banana". If you know of any CNY greetings, please do add it here as a comment. Educate me.

Anyway, back to my story. So the kids had to come up with a New Year's greeting. This is what I got:
  • Jiejie K: Wishing you prosperity this Chinese New Year (she read it off an "ang pow" envelop. So much for creativity).
  • D1: I wish you long life. (That's nice that he doesn't want me to die early).
  • D2: I wish you life. I asked "what kind of life?" He answered "Funny life". Okayyyyy, I'll take it as he wants me to laugh more.
  • BabyK: She can't talk yet so I just asked he to give me a kiss.
So, my Chinese New Year wish for all of you out there:
Peace in your heart, money jiggling in your pocket, harmony in your family, strength and good health, more babies, more patience, more smiles and less stress.

Learn CSS For Free

Many of you have blogs and websites to make money. Would you like to improve on the look of your site?

It can be a pain to customize the look of your website. You search around the internet trying to look for instructions on a simple thing like changing the color of your links. Once you get the code, you stumble around lines and lines of code trying to figure out how and where to do the modification. Boy, I've been there.

I've also had my worst nightmare happen which is having the entire website disappear and an error code appear instead. Ooooo, the frustration and panic. Have you experienced that before?

Anyway, doing these customization isn't such a headache if you knew some basic CSS.
Click here if you wanna know about a one time Free CSS tutorial for beginners.

Need More Ideas On Parenting?

I just signed up for the Parenting Summit. It is an online event featuring leading parenting experts sharing parenting tips via video. It's going to take place from 1st March - 8th March 2011.

I'm curious to see what kind of parenting advice they will share. If you could use some parenting tips, sign up too. It is free.

Parenting Summit

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Care for some blog hopping?

One thing about blogging is meeting other like minded bloggers. I haven't been doing much blog hopping lately. Thought I'd do a little catch up and joined this blog hopping list. Why not jump on the bandwagon and meet new people?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Traveling Tips For Parents

Chinese New Year is fast approaching. Many families are making trips back to their hometown.
As for me, I have already left to go back to my in-laws. Here are some traveling tips for parents:
  • Make a list of things you need to pack e.g. toothbrush, underwear, telephone charger, camera, patience (hahaha).
  • Get snacks for the trip.
  • Plan some car games e.g. I Spy, Name that song
  • Have a good collection of songs to keep you awake while driving
  • Don't bring sweet drinks. Drink plain water. It is also easier to clean up if they spill.
  • As you approach the rest areas on the highway, ask if they need to use the bathroom. If not, 3 minutes after you drive by it, they will say "mom, I need to go".
  • Have a bag in the car for garbage.
  • Make sure you pop the hood and give your car a check before traveling. Put air in your spare tyre.
  • Teach your children to pack their own bag. Of course, if you let them do it on their own, check what they are packing.
AND the most important traveling tip I just learned:

Yup, we left without D2's bag of clothes. We got here to my in-laws, D2 went to take a bath and BAM, I realized we didn't take his bag along. Well, true to tradition, he's got new clothes for Chinese New Year this year.

Here's wishing everyone a Happy Rabbit Year! Let's all hoppity hop to the bank with fat checks.
Good health, peace and prosperity to all.