Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Diamond Head Hike and KCC Farmer Market

This is one of the highlight of our visit to Honolulu. To get there, we can take local bus or trolley but since we rented a car, we drove from our rental apartment. We chose to go on Saturday because it is located right above the famous KCC farmer market so we can just park our car for free at the Kapi Ľolani Community College, where the farmer market takes place. 

My mom can no longer hike that long so Max, our ten years old, who wasn't too excited about hiking volunteered to stay with grandma going around the farmer market.  The market open at 7:30 AM on Saturday; we arrived at the parking lot a little before that then start walking up to the entrance. Just a few minutes into the walk we got to enjoy this view
There were many people already even before 8 AM. 
About 20 minutes or so we reached the entrance. We only have to pay $1 per person to enter the park. Somehow I forgot to pack my walking shoes so I had to wear my regular shoes. Thankfully, it wasn't a strenuous hike so I can still do it with my booties. I wouldn't recommend wearing flip flop though.

This is one of the most touristic trails on the island, so be prepared for the crowdsBe ready to let others pass you and be patient with those slower hikers ahead of you on the trail. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Oahu Trip Day 1: Honolulu Zoo and Pearl Harbor

Honolulu has been one of my mom's bucket list so when she told us she was coming to the States this winter, we immediate booked tickets to Oahu. We are not into crowded/ touristy place so the truth is we won't go there if it's not because of her, but the more we read and learned about the place the more excited we became.

Max was not feeling well the day before so we thought going to the zoo may cheer him up. We stayed at the rental condo nearby the Waikiki Beach and the zoo is about 6 minutes walk from our rental.
Useful tips: wear hat, bring sunblock, water bottle, and lunch. There's a nice large shaded area where we can sit down and have a picnic/ lunch. 
The beautiful flamingos are among the first creatures to welcome us
The majestic giraffe
This was interesting, who know fire is a friend to grasses

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Learning Habit Book Review - Part 2

Learning to make wise/ responsible decision
One of the hardest things for parents to do is to give their children the opportunity to make choices that may not turn out well. Helping children learn through making both right and wrong decisions is the only way to learn habit of decision making. Our natural instinct is to make excuses, complain about injustice, or blame someone else.

Communicating Effectively
Teach the children respectful adult communication. Four keys sentences:
a. I feel..., I want ...., 
b. I am sorry. I was wrong.
c.  I need help. 
d. I don't know. 

Concentrating on Focus
Lack of self-management skills is part and parcel of the problems children face in developing the learning habit of concentrated focus. Using time-limited tasks is reassuring to children; it's easier to concentrate if you know you don't have to do it for very long.
Use effort based praise such as "Good concentration, I see how hard you play, you were such a good sport today." Catch your kids doing something right and appreciate it make your child feel valued and encouraged.

For rewards to work, they have to be immediately follow the event you want to reinforce; they need to be small, so that you can use them frequently. For instance, having snack only after they put away their toys; screen time only after their practice piano or finish their homework, etc.

Set up your child's study area to be distraction free, with no media. You are nearby but not interacting, during homework time.

Because of their limited capacity for self-regulation, teens and children are susceptible to internet addiction and sleep deprivation. 
Some example of focus boot camp rules:
a. A media-free bedroom
b. Borrow books from the library
c. Limit media/ gadget time to 1 hour or less as a reward when homework and chores are done.
d. Set alarm, get themselves up and ready for breakfast.
e. Spend a certain amount for instance 60 minutes on homework at the same time every day. If the child doesn't have homework have them do some reading.
f. Practice relaxation techniques and positive self-talk when anxious or frustrated. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Learning Habit Book Review - Part 1

I found this book from the library couple years ago and kept going back to read it again and again. It filled with so much useful information for any parents or educator. This is just the summary of bits of wisdom I learned; read the book to get further details and examples.

Empowerment Parenting:
  • Build habits through clear, realistic, time oriented, and consistent rules that allow them to reach their goals.
  • Empower children through choices and allowing children to experience the consequences of their actions.
  • Encourage children through effort based praise, for instance: praising for trying hard, keeping a positive attitude, and continuing to work at solving problems. For example saying things like, "You did so well; you must have practiced hard," instead of "You are very smart."
  • Encourage children to take responsibility by allowing them to experience the consequences of their actions.
  • Establishing a learning environment means encouraging the behaviors that, over time, become habitual. The earlier we start, the easier the task. 
Media Matters: Managing Our Kids' Media Use
Gaming can be just as destructive to a child's academic performance, social skills, and emotional balance as other addictions.
  1. Eat dinner with your kids, unplugged.
  2. Start a family activity night play spots or board games instead of video games
  3. No media in the bedroom, including cellphone.
  4. Screen time as a reward (after tasks are done, never before)
  5. Unplug the media and bring out the books; you will be helping your child master a skill that will get them both into and out of college - with a degree
  6. Introduce media creation instead of media consumption: word processing and presentation skills, digital drawing, Legos: Bricks in Space, and WeDo Robotics. Apps: Book Creator, My story, iMovie, iPad Boot Camps.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Our 1000 Square Feet Home Sweet Home

It's been a while since I write anything here. I thought mom's life will become less busy once the kids are older turned out it's not true with homeschooling and chauffeuring the kids to their activities. I was cleaning the garage the other day and came across my journal reading the silly moments when the kids were under 5. It makes me want to write again so in the future I can read and remember those times.

I thought I started with this post, which has been in my draft folder for a while. We moved to our small 1960 house more than 3 years ago. We love the open floor plan, the big backyard, the fact that it is small and fit our budget. We slowly renovating and making it a home that fits our need. Without further ado come on in!

When you first enter the house, you will see this space, where I spend time blogging, paying bill, or working on my tax. Next to it is my beloved Ektorp armchair from Ikea. I changed the cover three times due to spill and much use over the years but the inside still fluffy and in good shape.

Next is our living/ family room and kitchen where we spend the majority of our time. The kids still prefer to bring their toys out and play here even though we put all their toys in the bedroom. 
The Gallery Wall:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Japan Travel in one week itinerary and tips

Thanks to our family and friends who went before us and gave us many useful information so we managed to explore this beautiful county on our own. If you are thinking of visiting Japan for the first time below are the list of things to do and a few tips. Most of these information were given by my kind friends Rini and Yunita. Thank you!

3-6 months before:
  • List down the areas/ cities/ places you want to visit. Some people like temples, some like outdoors, shopping, eating, or amusement parks. The beauty of traveling on your own is you got to choose which places you want to go. If you are visiting for less than a week, focus on 1 or 2 cities. For first time visitor, my take would be visiting either Tokyo and Fuji mountain area such as Hakone or Lake Kawaguchiko or Osaka and Kyoto area. If you are visiting 7 to 8 days like us then you can visit all four of those cities.
  •  After deciding which places to go, book your accommodation as early as you can. Many hotels are fully booked months ahead of time especially during holidays or cherry blossom season. Some well known hotel chain with washer/ dryer like "Tokyu Stay" is fully booked 6 months prior. We use to book our accommodation but other travel sites such as or airbnb should work too.
  • If you want, you can book a free service travel guide in Japan through this website. We use this volunteer guide service on our one day in Tokyo.  As exchange of their service, the tourist usual pay for their transportation and meals. Our volunteer guide was very helpful and courteous. We won't be able to go to many places in one day without his help.

1-3 months ahead:
  • If you are planning to stay for a week and travel to different cities; it is worth it to buy JR Pass Rail than buying individual train ticket. You can buy it online or if there is a Japanese travel company in your city; you can buy JR Pass from them. When you purchase the JR Pass, make sure you use the same name on your passport. When you activate your JR Pass, the staff will match it with your passport so it is very important to have the exact same name. 
  • Rent wifi online. We use this website. We used google map to navigate our way in Japan. Our trip wouldn't be possible without wifi. You can also rent wifi at the airport but it will be more expensive. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day trip to Hakone from Tokyo

A day after we got back from Kyoto, we decided to go for a day trip to Hakone. We use early morning bullet train to Odawara Station then bought "Hakone Free Pass", a discount pass that provides unlimited use of transportation: trains, boats, cable cars, and busses in Hakone area. 
 Trip to Hakone with kids
 A day trip to Hakone
 Hakone travel with kids
I love how the Japanese manage to plant greenery despite having limited outdoor space:
Japanese small front yard
First destination in Hakone:
1. Gora Park - free admission with Hakone Pass Gora Park in Hakone

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kyoto Day 4: Kiyomizu-dera temple, Nishiki, then back to Tokyo

This was our last day in Kyoto. We could choose either spending the day here or leave early and spend the day at Tokyo. We decided to spend the day in Kyoto to visit UNESCO World Heritage site: Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
Travel Kiyomizu-dera temple

We knew the temple would be crowded with tourist so we arrived early to avoid the crowd. It was my birthday so I thought it would be fun to get a makeover.
Kyoto travel with kids kiyomizu dera
The before (above) and the after Ta Da.... I was the first customer at the kimono renting store nearby the temple. They told me if I didn't come that early they won't be able to accommodate me because they have a long list of reservation that day. So if you know ahead of time you want to rent kimono in Kyoto better make reservation first. Renting Kimono in JapanThey have professionals to help me putting on the kimono and styling my hair. Surprisingly, the kimono was comfortable. The sandals made of memory foam not wood so it's easy to walk on.
 Travel kyoto with kids
Stunning historic site with impressive architecture details

Monday, November 13, 2017

Kyoto day 3: Kyoto Aquarium, Railway Museum, Nishiki Market

According to the weather forecast; it's going to be rain the whole day that day so we reserve that day to visit Kyoto Aquarium. Originally, we were going to the famous Osaka Aquarium but going there would take us at least two hours while this one only 10 minutes from our hotel by foot.
 Kyoto travel with kids Kyoto Aquarium

Travel Kyoto Aquarium
Group of Japanese school children on field trip. Aren't those yellow bags lovely?
 Japanese school kids
 Dolphin show at Kyoto Aquarium