The Strange Stage of The Teenage Years

Most would agree that the teen years are the best years of our lives. Though we were lacking in financial independence, it is during these years that we got to fearlessly face the world around us and discovered our true identity. However, the onset of our teenage years isn’t remembered as fondly. Remember that awkward stage between childhood and young adulthood? Perhaps, you’ve chosen to forget those embarrassing prepubescent years. Alas, if you now have kids of your own, these cannot be kept hidden in the depths of your memory. They must be unearthed for you to be able to help your own kids adjust to the many changes they will undergo as they enter their teens.

Children’s bodies will change in different ways and at different times. Most often, physical changes occur between 10 and 12 years old but may start as early as 8 years old or as late as 13 years old. In both genders, changes in body shape and height occur along with growth of pubic and body hair. Some unfortunate ones also have to deal with acne. There are changes though which are unique to each gender.

Physical Changes in Girls

Among the physical changes unique to girls are breast development and the start of menstruation. Their bodies start getting a womanly shape – curvier and with wider hips. As their hips widen and breasts develop, they might feel that they are getting fat and try to lose weight so it’s important for you to explain to them these changes beforehand. As early as 8, orient them in the changes that their body would undergo. You really wouldn’t want them to freak out once they see that first vaginal secretion or blood from menstruation.

Physical Changes in Boys

In boys, the journey to adulthood is heralded by a change in their voice, a growth of their penis and testicles, and involuntary erections with ejaculation. Their Adam’s apple becomes more prominent as their voices turn squeaky then deep. Their penis gets longer and wider while their testicles get larger. Sometimes, their breasts may look like they’re also developing but this goes away at the end of puberty. Erections are quite normal at this stage and are not associated with lewd thoughts. These erections are often embarrassing to young boys so you must assure them that this is perfectly normal.

Along with these physical changes, your children will also have to deal with emotional and psychological changes. It is very important that you as a parent be there to guide them during this stage. Hormonal changes also bring about mood changes and their feelings get all mixed up. As your child goes through this overly self-conscious stage, shower them with admiration and appreciation to boost their self-esteem. Most importantly, encourage them to enjoy this stage of their life to the fullest.

Zyc and his License

No, not a driver’s license  of course. He got his license to use the fountain pain. Yes you read it right, a fountain pen. 😛

fountain pen, füller, LAMY

During the latter part of the kids’ first grade, they started learning the cursive writing. I could still remember everytime they get home they would tell which letter they learned to write that day. Cursive writing here is not the same as what I have learned in the Philippines. Ours was the American while here, the Latin cursive writing is used. I find the Latin more stylish and requires definitive handling of pen which I think was the reason why the kids here are required to learn first how to hold their pens properly.

After the kids finished learning the proper way of writing each letter, the kids have a choice which they would prefer using. I already noticed that Zyc used it more than Ryz. I see him more comfortable writing in cursive. I wasn’t expecting it actually. Nevertheless, I let him be. I find his handwriting so nice. I recalled what her teacher said, Zyc’s handwriting is so nice and his works are always neat unlike the other kids his age who doesn’t care how their works look like. The downside of this though, since he always makes it a point to write legibly this slows him down. His teacher sees him wanting his work (writing) to be perfect. Still I find it amusing. :)

schreibschrift, cursive writing, LAMY fountain pen

How to hold the pen the right way.

A month ago the use of cursive writing was already imposed. No more kids can use print writing. While they are getting the hang of using the technique, we were informed that the kids will start using a füller or a fountain pen after the Spring break. Several brands were mentioned during the meeting and I took note  of course which were the “trusted ones” by the parents.

Since I saw many kinds and with different prices of fountain pens in the store, I had to asked one of the store assistants which of those is the one the kids need. I really had to ask ‘coz I wasn’t expecting the price of the pens mentioned in the meeting. The assistant was kind to explain to me after I told her that the kids are just beginning and learning to write in cursive.

LAMY fountain pen, LAMY füller, LAMY fountain for beginners

We chose the LAMY brand among the others since I saw it’s made of wood. Really, the price was no joke and just imagine we needed to buy two of them. Haha!

The kids mentioned they have rules to follow on having the fountain pen. Here goes:

Do not drop it. We all know how sensitive fountain pens are and slight pressure could damage it. I’m relieved too ‘coz that would mean Zyc writing lightly now unlike before.

Always have an extra ink refill. Although there are also ink refills available in their classrooms, pens and of course inks vary in sizes so better they bring their own, right?

Your pen belongs to you. No, the teacher’s not teaching them to be selfish. I bet she’s just reminding them that they have their own pens and be responsible for it. They should always have it with them not be borrowing from others.

Always cover it. Of course they have to do this unless they want their pens to dry up.

When we were young, we only had those fat pencils, regular-sized pencils as “training pens” and went straight to roller pens for writing. I also don’t remember practicing the “proper way to hold a pen” which I think explains our different strokes and handwritings.

With the special pen and the rules, I just realized how serious the school system is here when it comes to kids’ cursive writing.

Ryz on Ad Shot and at Work in the Kitchen

I’ve been baking a lot lately. I’ve been trying different kinds of recipes; from breads, cakes and pastries. I once craved for this bread I used to like back home, the Spanish bread. From its name, I guess it came about during the Spanish time when the Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards. It’s a sweet bread so no wonder the kids liked it. I think I’ve baked it thrice already. Once, Ryz requested me to bake it again so that she could bring it to school as her snack.

She was just too happy with the bread and the thought that I made it again for her. Funny when we were taking pictures I told her to pose like she was sooo happy and “surprised”.

Her TV ad shot

Glad that hubby caught this perfectly. I was really laughing at this shot. It’s seldom that I see my kids, especially Ryz, do such poses in front of the camera. A friend even suggested I should have done a “video ad” and I told her that with Ryz’s personality, we’re asking too much. 😛

Everyone knows how baking can be a lot of work. Not just the process itself but what awaits after. What with all the utensils used which needed to be washed. Today I was glad I got some help from Ryz. Actually she’s been asking if she could help me wash some dishes in the kitchen but I haven’t let her. This time she asked again and I just let her wipe the ones I’ve washed. I was laughing when after a few minutes she was looking at the wok I’m washing and said, “Actually I really want to wash”. I was laughing at how she looked at the wok! Then I finally let her and taught her how to wash properly.

kid washing dishes, kid helping in kitchen

She was even humming while doing the work, hehe… When i first heard her asking if she could help in the kitchen, I thought maybe she’s already bored and she wants something new and challenging to work on. I actually see her as someone who wants to always challenge herself. I hope she stays that way and constantly seek new tasks to know herself better.

Convincing Your Techy Kids To Exercise

With the existence of today’s gaming consoles, more and more kids are staying at home racing cars or killing zombies and similar villains. Running and sweating out are not their kind of thing anymore. If these activities are being tolerated, do not expect your kids to help you out even in carrying grocery bags because this simple weight-bearing task makes them weak. They don’t have the stamina because they’re used to sit down and maneuver those joysticks.

However, health experts come up with an innovation for these kids to be out of the sedentary lifestyle. They introduced “exergaming”, a portmanteau of “exercise” and “gaming”. Basically these are games that enable the players to move around while enjoying the game. Some of those games are the digital versions of lawn and table tennis, soccer, basketball and among others.

Instead of just sitting down with eyes fixed on the screen, your kids will now move around the entertainment room to play the game. Common these are the Kinect and Wii which gained much popularity. Even though long time ago there were similar gadgets like those dance revolution already exist, the interest didn’t last that long and they remained inside the arcades.

Convincing your kids to exercise is must for their own good. Studies have shown that kids who are having an active lifestyle do better in school compared to those who aren’t. This is based on the 2009 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card in Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Even though their study time has been reduced due to the activities, the kids amazingly improve in their academic performances.

These innovations are absolutely great but if you can still convince your kids to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight outside, please do so. These ancient way of sweating are still the best and your kids get to learn more from it.

A Roll of Family Fun with Board Games

Smart phones, laptops, or game consoles are staples in the lifestyle of most kids today. Prying them away from these techie tools seem to get more challenging each day. Introducing kids to classic bonding activities like board games can help you strike a balance between virtual entertainment and real life social interaction with fun and learning too. Here are some board games that can make spending time with friends and family better than a whole day in the virtual world.

board games, playing with kids

Hubby and son playing Blokus, a game which improves kids’ strategic ability

Board games may sound dull and boring compared to the animation and 3-D effects of video games. But do not underestimate the fun and learning that these games can bring. For instance the classic game of Snakes and Ladders combines the lessons in virtues and vices together with the excitement of chance and competitiveness to win the game. Ladders that help you get ahead of the game are represented by virtues while snakes that drag you down are represented by vices.

Another timeless classic is the Monopoly which has evolved into different versions since the 1930s. This game demonstrates the economic effects of market domination by a single entity. The objective of the game is to drive all your opponents to bankruptcy leaving the winner in control of the whole economy. Aside from Monopoly, games like Cash Flow and The Game of Life also has some practical life lessons that can be learned while playing the game.

Parents who would like to help their kids hone their math and verbal skills while having fun can turn to word games like scrabble, boggle, and Upwords. Players in these games earn points by forming words in the game. The one with the highest score at the end of the game wins. The Quirkle board game may be a better fit for families with young children. Instead of words, this game makes use of colors and shapes to form combinations and score points. Tiles of the same color and/or shape are matched to form a row or column, pretty much like a combination of domino and scrabble.

There are loads of board games that cater to a wide variety of interests. You can bring out the geek in the family by playing with board games like Smithsonian Be the Expert, Big Brain Academy, Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?, and Trivial Pursuit. There are also games that incorporate some physical activity like Reverse Charades where players are required to pantomime, and Twister where players challenged to different poses as instructed by the game cards. With all these options, there is little chance of the whole family getting bored with board games. Choose age appropriate ones or look for the latest versions to get the most fun out of them.