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A Whole Lotta Laundry, A New World Record and A Give-Away!

If you read my post yesterday about all our art projects, you’ll notice that I like to learn from fellow progressive moms and parents.  Which is why Breeze has so generously sponsored a give-away on the blog!

What are your great #sigemom ideas for arts and crafts or creative projects you do with your children at home? 

Share them with us here and you could be one of three lucky winners to win a supply of Breeze with Activ-Bleach!  Easy multiple entries for all.  The more creative you are, the better!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Besides, who doesn’t want free detergent, and one that really really works?

Speaking of laundry, our friends at Unilever just informed me that last August 17, Breeze had set an all time New Guinness World Book Record.  2,132 SigeMoms washed a 1,200-meter long stretch of fabric, exceeding the current record by three times the magnitude.  Three times!  Wow!  And it was certified by adjudicator Kristy Bennett who flew in from London.

That's a lot of moms... doing a lot of laundry!
That’s a lot of moms… doing a lot of laundry!

So yes, it’s legit.  Congratulations to the Breeze team and to Unilever for this spectacular achievement.  You not only put the Philippines on the map of Guinness World Book of Records.  More than that I think it’s also because the cause the brand champions and celebrates moms who allow their children to learn by doing.  At the heart of it all, children are allowed to experience and explore freely and no matter what mess they make, mom has nothing to worry about.

The Breeze team with Kristine Bennett and Ms. Tessa Valdez-Prieto.
The Breeze team with Ms. Kristine Bennett and Ms. Tessa Valdez-Prieto.

 

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A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Mommy Lessons (on Parenting) Mommyology at Work My Mommyology's Manila Chapter On Becoming a Better Mom

The Art Exploration Projects

One thing I realized about Manila:  Outdoor play days are limited, and few and far between.  Some days it’s too hot and humid, and when we take the kids out they sweat buckets or end up sick.  On the intermittent rainy days – obviously we can’t play outside, either.  Even splashing in the puddles isn’t an option because… well you wouldn’t want to splash in Manila rain puddles (trust me!).  On the days after the rain, it’s still hard to get out because the sidewalks are slippery, the grassy portions are too muddy to walk on… and the traffic to get anywhere fun is really a buzz killer.

Because of these “limitations” I’ve had to improvise indoors.   A lot of the time, the girls enjoy some form of painting or crafting project.  I don’t know why I’m attracted to a lot of these artsy activities when I never had a lot of them growing up.  But Sam has always loved art in all forms and shapes and sizes, and Jamie enjoys the exploration part of it too.  So why not, right?  There’s no downside to it:  Art keeps them busy, they get to build their imagination, their creativity, and some other necessary developmental skills.  It’s all win-win and most importantly it’s fun.  After all, as my cousin-in-law Patty would say, “Creativity is the New Currency.”

Yet after pulling out the same paint brushes, crayons and paper for several days in a row, the girls got tired of the routine and the art time shortened considerably.  So the challenge was to keep their interest by making creative time a little bit more creative.  I invested (and kept) in several different kinds of materials which I hoped would extend their interest and their activity time.

At first we went the thematic route and I asked the girls to build a spaceship.  I remembered our Kindermusik class with Rebecca when she had said to “let the child lead the process” and so I’d ask Sam how she thought we could make a rocket ship, and what it should look like.  With a little bit of help from my husband and a whole slew of materials, this was the outcome.

Clockwise:  The "frame", the materials, and everything in between.
Clockwise: The “frame”, the materials, and everything in between.

It didn’t look like much to us adults, “It’s really just a box with splotches of paint”, my husband would say, but the girls flew to different planets with it.  I think this is even where Sam first said she wanted to be an astronaut.

Another time, we had cleaned out a cupboard and we found two extra plastic plates.  “So what can we do with this?”  Sam asked in a mood to do something with it.  She and her dad turned it into a pet turtle (with pink legs).

Sam had decided the Turtle was pink and purple.  (It had to rhyme...)
Sam had decided the Turtle was pink and purple. (It had to rhyme…)  I think it even had a name… Myrtle?

We also get some wonderful ideas from co-parents and friends.  My best friend Polly once asked us to buy some ping-pong balls for her son for one of his activities.  I don’t know what got into me but I decided to buy a few for the girls too.  And we made good use of them!

Weee!
Weee!

Sam started out by putting her paint dots on the paper, and at first, the ball would roll over them but not spread.  We had to come up with a solution, which was sprinkling water over the paint dots.  Sam had immense fun tilting and rolling, and trying to keep the ball on the tray.  When I asked her what she made, she said it was a map.  She could tell me exactly which places the map covered and where they led to.  She even had the topography mapped out – which were mountains and hills and which spaces were streets and rivers.

Jamie’s process was quite different.  I have to admit, I’m amused at how the same activities showcase the difference in the way my girls think.  She also asked me to put some dots across the paper.  Then after, she dipped the ping-pong ball into her water bowl, and manually “bounced it all around” to spread the ink (and of course, spread on herself…).

As you can see, the paint didn't just stay on the paper...
As you can see, the paint didn’t just stay on the paper…

Another time, I read DIY Corporate Mom’s Sandy Paint Weekend Play…  and oh my God!  What a genius idea!  I went on a manhunt for sand.  The best that we could get was black, but it seemed like the girls didn’t really mind.  They mixed it in with all their other art materials, again each in their own ways, and made some pretty cool messes out of them.  Jamie went full on with her hands, and Sam used popsicle sticks to mix and paint.

Jamie making rainbow sand, and then getting her hands messy in them.  Bottom pic:  Sam's "sea"
Jamie making rainbow sand, and then getting her hands messy in them. Bottom pic: Sam’s “sea guck”

Incidentally, a lot of people have been asking me about the shaped sponges — I got them off Amazon.  They’re very VERY useful and the girls ask for them each time.  Jamie loves to just put paint on it and squeeze.

Rub the paint on and squish squish squish...
Rub the paint on and squish squish squish…

And squeeze…

Oh no where is the paint going!
Oh no where is the paint going…!

It literally rolls down her arm and onto her dress.

And there it is folks.
And there it is folks.

We do these art exploration activities so often that half the time, the art smocks are forgotten.  Their clothes are bound to get some paint on them.

Sam: "Look mom!  My shirt wanted to paint too!"
Sam: “Look mom! My shirt wanted to paint too!”

Uh-oh right?  Let’s face it: kids’ clothes aren’t cheap.   And I’d like for Jamie to inherit Sam’s clothes, but if the nice ones are stained for life, then it won’t be as presentable for Jamie anymore to wear out of the house!

Then again I can’t complain.  I brought this upon us and filled our home with paint, sponges, sand and all sorts of things for creative educational purposes.  Of course I’d do it over again because I can see the tangible benefits these have on the girls.  The paint on the clothes…it’s part of their learning process as it is mine.  I will say though, that it’s made it easier to accept because I:

1.  Purposely dress them in situation-appropriate clothes.  The girls have dressy dresses, but we only bring them out once in a while.  Even the birthday parties they go to, I send them into shorts and t-shirts because they’ll just get messy, dirty and sweaty.  I try to forward-plan what the kids will do today and pick out their clothes based on the choices.

2.  Listen to Coach PiaSeriously, she has changed my parenting style as well as my outlook on parenting.  She said it’s the expectations we put on our kids that We need to learn to free ourselves from it and change our mindset.  When they paint, I expect stains on the clothes or fingerprints on the wall.  It’s too much to expect them to keep clean and neat without hindering their creativity.

3.  Use Breeze.  Again, no kidding.  my worries over stained clothes have pretty much disappeared (along with the stains!).  We’ve been using it since they launched last March and haven’t had any problems since.  And if you look at the clothes, they really look like they’re good as new and the colors don’t fade.  We also pre-treat tough stains with Breeze before sticking it into the washing machine.

Remember the girls' clothes with the paint?  Where's the paint now? :)
Where’s the paint now? 🙂

Painting and art exploration have become so integral in our playtime routines.  And the girls really get “down-and-dirty” with it, and it’s totally fine.   They love it, and so do I.  And I enjoy spending this time with them creating something unique, literally from nothing.  They teach me and make me see how they view the world.   It’s a  Sige Sa Mantsa moment in its truest form.

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Mommy Lessons (on Parenting) My Mommyology's Manila Chapter What's the Difference?

The Pleasant Poop Experince: Potty Training Round Two

I’ve literally been dragging my feet around this but I figure that it’s time.  Again. To potty train!

I think I’m still traumatized from my experience with Sam, even though it’s already been over 2.5 years since then.  I still maintain:  Potty Training is the most stressful part of child-rearing (for me) to date!

You’d think it would have been worlds easier because we’re now in Manila (added hands, wooden and not carpeted floors…) and because it’s technically my second attempt.  To a certain extent, yes.  It was a tad bit easier.  But before I get to that and why, I’ll be honest and say it was also so much more challenging on different levels.

From here on out, there will be a lot of errr… potty language.  So if you’re eating, I suggest you finish the meal first.  And if you’re a mom then it probably won’t be anything new to you anyway, so carry on. 😉

What made this challenging?

1.  A previously unpleasant experience.  The irony of potty training Jamie was that she got the peeing right fairly quickly.  It was the poop-ing which was causing us grief.  A few months back Jamie was heavily constipated and after a few days, the pediatrician suggested a suppository.  After I put it in, I sat Jamie on the potty because I thought it was the best place for her to spread her legs and push.  Of course it was a painful experience.  Worse, it stuck.  She refused to poop in the potty and would “hold it in”, at least until someone would cave and put her back in diapers.

At one point in the week, I realized this was becoming a habit, so I made the call to remove it completely.  We’d either have to live with poop falling everywhere, or gently coax her to poop in the potty.

There was a significant amount of poop everywhere.

Yes, you can laugh at my expense.  Let me tell you, I’ve never been so thankful for a) Lysol, b) Rubbing Alcohol and c) Breeze.  I kid you not, these three save my sanity.

2.  Depending on others.  Of course as her mother, I could somehow “withstand” Jamie’s poop.  However as Manila life would have it, I wasn’t always home, nor was I constantly following her around.  During Sam’s potty training days, I literally shadowed her everywhere and timed every attempt, so I KNEW.  We didn’t have accidents because for a whole week, that’s all I did.  I tried to teach the nannies to watch out for the signs so that they could rush her to the potty in time, to no avail.  And on the occasion that I wasn’t home, they’d take the easy way out and put her in diapers.  So the training wasn’t consistent, and I realized self-preservation was more important.  Everyone else would rather avoid the stinky mess and keep her in diapers.

3.  The trust (or lack of it).  And so because I was the only one trying to get Jamie through it, she would only poop with me.  I had to pencil in periods of time within my day to accommodate Jamie’s bathroom breaks.

I spent (spend) a good part of it sitting squatting at eye level, coaxing her through it gently.  I’d talk about what a brave girl she is, or what a big girl she’s turning out to be.  Who would have thought poop in the right place would make me so proud?

I learned that if she kept crying and struggling, then we were more at risk to have an unsuccessful attempt.  So I had to find ways to calm her down and distract her.  That’s when it hit me:  No wonder people bring in newspapers to the potty!

Credt to www.mylot.com for capturing the essence of my potty sanity.
Credt to www.mylot.com for capturing the essence of my potty sanity.

After I get her in place, Jamie would ask for a specific book to read while on the John.  We’d hit the chosen story midway before I’d hear a ploop!  Success.

4.  Screening her diet.  Working toward the goal of giving Jamie a “pleasant poop experience”, I’d have to veto favorite foods and convince her to put more fiber in her diet.  It’s not easy; we are in the thick of the terrible two’s after all.  Slowly though I’ve been able to reason with her on the basis that her bun wouldn’t hurt as much.

I can’t complain, Jamie’s a fast learner.  It’s the story of her life.  Even her preschool teachers didn’t have to put her back in diapers (which is normally the case I’m told after days of accidents in school).  She knew when and what to do right away.  Here’s what I think made it easier this time around:

1.  “Like Ate”.  Jamie is a fast learner because she has Sam as her teacher and model.  For a while, Sam would take Jamie with her to the bathroom and show her the “pee” and the “poo” that was in the bowl.  It was quite gross in my opinion — two kids putting their heads directly above the opening of a toilet bowl!  Ugh!  But I realized that this gesture helped Jamie grasp what needed to happen.  All credit to Sam too, she was very encouraging of Jamie throughout the whole process.

Agree with The Pinke Post on this one!
Agree with The Pinke Post on this one!  Sibling Potty Training rocks!

2.  Tempering my own expectations.  There is merit for having done this before.  I was less stressed when the accidents came because I was expecting them.  I knew how to limit the accidents, but I also knew that it would be a power struggle in the beginning.  I didn’t fight harder, I just knew how to handle it better. 😉

3.  Jamie’s self-awareness.  Gotta hand it to this kid.  It helped that Jamie hated the accidents too.  “Waaaaaaaah!!!  I’m weeeeet!”  she’d wail as if the world had ended.  We didn’t have to do the sticker rewards because Jamie was bothered enough by the consequences of being wet or dirty (in that sense).  Soon enough she took to the routine:  After waking up, before leaving the house, before going to bed, and so on.

4.  Having the right tools, especially in public restrooms.  Potty seat covers are my best friend.  I cannot leave home without it.  Alongside Lysol On-the-Go and a whole bunch of wipes of course.  (A noteworthy discovery:  the pay restrooms in the Ayala Malls don’t charge you if you tell them the kids will use the bathroom.  They’re much cleaner too.)

Find them at babiestotoddlers.com!
Find them at babiestotoddlers.com!

The happiness over Jamie’s potty achievements were (are) palatable.  The whole world knows she peed and pooped in the potty because she broadcasts it.  And we all congratulate her, applaud her, and do the dance of joy, and it’s good because it builds her self-confidence and self-esteem.  Deep down I rejoice for a different reason: Relief.  I don’t have to bathe myself in Lysol, rubbing alcohol and/or  Breeze for that day.

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Celebrate The Masterpiece In Your Child

It never occurred to me that Sam would appreciate yoga.  We once did a trial mom and me class at one of the local yoga centers and I sensed that it was a little too …. “still” for my busy active 4-yr old.  I felt she didn’t connect with the class and she got a tad bit antsy with the activities.  While the intent of yoga is good because it makes kids relax, breathe and focus and it’s supposed to calm them, I felt that this class just made Sam all the more hyper.  It’s as if she was just looking for what was next to do and she wasn’t focusing on the activities at hand.

In any case, I was pleasantly surprised that even after that first yoga experience, she wanted to participate in My Masterpiece’s demonstration on stage at the  Mommy Mundo #Momtuition ExpoMom.  She eagerly joined teachers Anna, Kara and Cocoy on stage and was one of the first children to raise her hand and volunteer.  She had a lot of fun too.  In fact, all I could get out of her for several days was when she could do yoga with Teacher Anna again.  “I love Teacher Anna Mom!  She’s so great!”

Anna, Cocoy and Kara are the trio that make up the school we know as My Masterpiece.  What all started out as playgroups at Anna’s house when her kids were younger eventually turned into creative and transformative movement open to kids 1 – 13.  They are truly a team of teachers, artists and parents.  Anna is a writer, a storyteller and most recently, a certified kids & family yoga teacher and facilitator.  Her husband Cocoy (also known as Rayyn by the way) is a musician and song writer by profession.  Anna’s sister Kara is a visual artist and art therapist.  So in every session, you can expect that they bring all these talents into the class.

The dynamic teaching trio :)
The dynamic teaching trio in action 🙂

We got a taste of My Masterpiece one time when Breeze with Activ-Bleach sponsored the SoMoms and our families to a morning of bonding and fun at Nuvali (and can I just say, from a marketing perspective – what a great fit it was for Breeze to sponsor this activity!).  Anna led the parents and the kids in some yoga activities, which were far from the usual boring stands and stretches.  Cocoy provided music that he wrote and the kids had to move to the beat.  The kids were asked to use their imagination when doing the different yoga poses, so it felt very interactive and exciting.

During the storytelling portion, Anna asked the kids to participate and gave them hats (that they created) for the kids to wear during the role-playing.

Kids loved the hats Teacher Kara made!!
Kids loved the hats Teacher Kara made!!  Photo credit: Lawrence Del Mundo

And the for the later part of the hour, Kara took over and led the art portion.  While the kids were having fun, getting messy and just creating their own works with the paint, Kara was still consciously giving them motions to make with their hands and fingers.  Talk about creative fine-motor skill development!  It felt like a very free-spirited “lose-yourself-in-your-craft” moment but from a parents’ perspective, it was still a good structured activity.  Win-win! 😉

Photo Credit: Lawrence Del Mundo
Photo Credit: Lawrence Del Mundo

The end result, if I may say so myself — was quite pretty!  And it didn’t look like a mess at all, when in fact the kids (and their clothes) were all getting into it full force.  Anna put it so aptly (and I will quote her again and again!):  What is a mess anyway, if it will bring out the masterpiece in your child?   I couldn’t agree more.

Tah-dah!
Tah-dah!

We got to chat a little bit more with Anna about My Masterpiece.  It was nice to learn that her vision and purpose for the school came from her Grandfather, Jose “Pepe” Diokno.

My Masterpiece's Inspiration
My Masterpiece’s Inspiration

Which is why, each class is also truly a multi-sensory experience every time.  There is a purpose for each part too:  from relaxing, breathing and moving to sharing oneself from the heart and bringing out the creative spark in each child and it is very thought-through by the teachers.  The biggest part of the outcome is still highly dependent on the make-up of the children in the class.  I don’t know about many other yoga or art or music classes that is as original and unique as this.  In fact, Sam is still singing praises about her experience that I need to make sure I get in touch with Anna ASAP to find a schedule where Sam can participate in some of their classes (a public note for the mom mush-brain!).

What I personally love is that from the get-go, they say that each child is already a masterpiece, and it’s really just a matter of bringing it out onto the surface.  And then they celebrate it too!  It’s true.  All our kids have their own unique talents and abilities, and they need parents and teachers (like Anna, Cocoy and Kara) to be able to recognize them and make them shine.  🙂

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Why We Let Kids Be Kids

***

Trivia:  The Filipino term “sige” takes its origins from the Spanish word seguir, which means “to follow.” 

The Filipino phrase “Sige Lang” (pronounced “cee-gue lāng”) is loosely used to mean, “go ahead” and “let (things) play out as they should”.  

***

I’ve recently discovered (or maybe the better term is “acknowledged”)  that I’m very paranoid when it comes to my kids’ well-being.  In Filipino the slang for it is praningprah-neeng),  and it actually sounds like a very apt description of my parenting style.  When the girls are sick, I lose sleep icing them down and checking to see if they’re still breathing.  If you recall, I had a scare with Sam over year ago, and Jamie actually ended up in the hospital, (can you blame me for being traumatized?).  When we’re at the mall, I hang on to both of them tightly because I fear they’ll run and I won’t be able to keep up.  There are so many kidnapping scares these days, you can never be too sure.  Sometimes we avoid the malls altogether.  On playgrounds, I’ve been known to call the attention of other caregivers and tell them their child is misbehaving (because they may have already or are about to cause harm to one of my own).  Yes, I can be very protective that way.

When the girls’ safety and health aren’t a concern however, I find I can take on a totally opposite demeanor (swinging my parenting style to the opposite spectrum).  For as long as they’re in a safe environment (school, home, a friend’s house…), I have no problems letting them explore and try new things.  If it builds imagination, creativity, confidence and problem-solving skills, then why not?

This is something Jamie’s and Sam’s teachers have talked to me about as well.  They’ve explained that the girls will inevitably get dirty and messy because they need to figure out how to complete the projects and exercises set out for them, and I do see how much they’ve grown developmentally because of it. (Side story: I remember a friend telling me that she sent her toddler to school and he’d come home looking quite untouched.  Even his projects looked very well-made, she couldn’t believe he’d made them himself.  One day she came in early for pick-up and saw that the kids were just placed in front of the TV!  She pulled him out the next day.)

A nostalgic photo: the kids splattering each other (and us) with paint in our old home...
A nostalgic photo: the kids splattering each other (and us) with paint in our old home…

I’ve tried to replicate this environment at home by having exploratory play-time with the kids.  We paint (a LOT!), play with play-doh, make things from scratch, and hit the nearest playgrounds when we can.  As our new Kindermusik teacher says, “Play provides a tool for discovery and it brings meaning to events in the life of a child.” 

Of course it goes without saying — when you have kids, it will get messy.  They’ll get sweaty and dirty.  There’s no way around it but to let it happen.  For as long as the girls have fun then there is no reason to do otherwise.  Besides… the mess, the dirt, the stains — they can all be washed away.  Literally!  It’s the philosophy behind the campaign of all-new Breeze with Activ Bleach.    They encourage moms to be Sige* Moms and say Sige Sa Mantsa! which essentially means, “Go ahead, let the stains happen.”  Breeze believes in the value of experiential learning, and has this at its core; so they encourage moms to let kids have their fun, explore the world, and pick up life lessons along the way. Anyway, Breeze is there to help clean up the mess (the stains) after.

In my past life, when I worked for the company and learned about this brand’s story, I couldn’t help but think it made a lot of sense.  Now that I’m a mom (and as such, the target market), I appreciate it more.  What I didn’t realize until recently though, was how much it needed to be said out loud.  A lot of moms and caregivers are so concerned with the consequences that follow –  more laundry, more things to clean up — that they oftentimes forget the importance  and the benefit the entire process brings.

Admittedly it is extra work that you wish you could do without.  I used to groan about the dried mud that I had to get off Sam’s pants, or the sand and mulch that she’d “take home” from summer camp.  Thankfully (and luckily) enough, I was surrounded by a community of moms in Chapel Hill who had this exact philosophy at the heart of their child-rearing, and so I internalized it too.  I think it did us a lot of good because Sam would always come home with animated stories about her day in school.  And so because it was the way I learned to parent, It was easy for me to get on board and advocate as well.

I see how this part of my parenting style has helped my kids here in Manila.  Sam comes home from school in her P.E. uniform (which is white by the way!), with dirt on her knees or at the ends of her pants.  She always has a smile on her face — and a star on her hand — and says it’s because she “played the game well and got a prize”.  Jamie, comes home with paint on some part of her clothes 90% of the time and I can’t complain.  During our parent-teacher conference, I was told that while she is one of the younger students in her class, she is the most independent and can complete tasks by herself.  Jamie has in fact blossomed so much that I was told she is smart enough to skip a level for next school year.

Jamie's shirt is hungry for snow cones too...
Jamie’s shirt is hungry for strawberry snow cone too…

These days, Jamie is learning to feed herself and refuses to let us help her hold the spoon.  Sam engages in a lot of arts and crafts, and will oftentimes stand up in between her projects to change the paint and the water on the palette.  Neither has mastered their respective tasks, so you can imagine what our laundry pile looks like.  But what else is there to say… except sige lang. 🙂

Congratulations to Breeze for a great brand story, and thank you for making us a part of your return into the market. 🙂