Friday, October 31, 2008

MC's First School Break

MC's on a school break, herbstferien (autumn break) for one week.

We thought she would take advantage of this school break to, well, to take a break from school work. But nope, her enthusiasm about school and school works continue (despite some problems.)

Last Friday, she showed us a bunch of homeworks that she voluntarily brought home to work over the break. I told her she could take her time. But nope, since opa was with us for a visit, she had to show off. She started working on her homeworks with him, one page at a time. Until she realized she's got only three more pages to work on. On which she said, 'I should have brought more!'

She didnt realize that bringing more homeworks would entitle her to some points that would mean a 'homework free day or days' depending on her amount of homeworks submitted. I told her about it and she just shrugged.

Well, I am glad she is still so enthusiastic about school. The teacher told us that kids should only be allowed to work on their school assignments for a maximum of 30 mins so that they would not feel overwhelmed. Not with MC. She really enjoys working on her assigments that we let her. Because when we stop her when she's still eager, it would only mean tantrums. I guess, it is her own way.

The highlight of the one week break is the invitation that the first graders got from their former kindergarten. A letter were formally sent, asking them to come to their old kindergarten group bringing their school bags set to show the kindergarten kids what they did in school.

At first, MC wasnt eager to go; saying it would definitely be boring. But when I told her that she would be showing the kids what they do and what they have learned in the school, she began to look forward to that visit. She even practiced writing and worked hard with her early reading prowess.

In fact, she worked on some dictation with me and she did well. Of course, we ony worked on those two syllable words that she already learned in school.

When it was time to visit the kindergarten, she was eager to show off. And when the hour was finished? She told me she had fun sharing her experiences and she told them that school is fun!

And you know what, we are all having fun with her. Especially IC who is really getting the benefit of learning together with her big sister.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Opa Stayed for the Weekend

I told the kids that opa would be staying with us for the weekend. They were happy to hear it. But of course, I told them there are rules...

1. Always put on their house shoes as opa hates it when they go around barefoot. There was a sudden scramble to find the right pair of house shoes for the next minutes.

2. Make sure their toys, especially the real tiny ones, are not lying anywhere around where were we expect the opa to be walking and spending his time while he's staying with us. They immediately started tidying up their rooms and gathered those scattered toys around the house.

3. Opa would have the remote control when it comes to television time. They took turn to asking opa's permission if they could watch their own shows.

4. There are scheduled times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We couldnt be simply spontaneous with our dining hours as opa needed his meals and his medicines. No problem with the kids, they find it a great adventure having opa on the dining table.
5. Be there to help opa and if possible, keep him busy. This was answered with enthusiastic 'yes' as they hauled their toys, their homeworks, their art books to start keeping the opa busy.
And there were even those unspoken rules that the kids, in their sensitive souls, took to heart such as:

1. They never left him alone in a room. Even if the opa is busy with his puzzles, with his newspaper, with his tv watching -- they were around him, quietly playing in a corner. They even sat on his lap while watching opa's favorite folk music shows and opa watched with them their Barbie shows :)
2. MC, upon hearing that during opa's first time to bath with us had difficulty getting out of the tub, started waking up earlier than usual. In the hope that he'd call her for help.

3. There were much cuddling between them, I cant even believe it myself. Opa waking up with kids ready to cuddle with him and keep his bed warm. Opa always sorrounded by the girls that he sometimes almost stumbles on them in every turn.

4. MC started getting ready for bed earlier than usual as she wanted to be there when opa started to get ready for bed. She takes of his socks, brings his pajamas, prepares his clothes for the next day, etc.

5. It was a friendly fight between them on who would give opa his house shoes. They never did this to their papa nor to me!

6. IC made sure that opa took his medicine, morning and evening. She would whisper to opa everytime it is time to drink his medicine.

We brought opa home yesterday morning. As MC's got a one week break from school, she readily assigned herself to helping opa settle back home.

MC proclaimed herself available for opa. She carried things for him, she helped opa cook (while I had to pick up IC from kindergarten), she prepared the table, etc. In the end she said, 'Mama, it is fun to help the opa.'

The visit was not only good for the opa but for the girls as well, not to mention for my husband and me. It was actually a breath of fresh air.

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 31 is also Reformations Day, not only Halloween

Well, I didnt know that.

I'm used to celebrating October 31st as Halloween and not as Reformations Day.

What is Reformations Day?
Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31 in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed church communities. It is a civic holiday in Slovenia (since the Reformation contributed to its cultural development profoundly, although Slovenians are mainly Roman Catholics) and in the German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony Anhalt and Thuringia.

Reformation Day is considered a lesser festival, and is officially referred to as The Festival of the Reformation. Until the 20th Century, most Lutheran churches celebrated Reformation Day on October 31st, regardless of which day of the week it occurred. Today, most Lutheran churches transfer the festival, so that it falls on the Sunday (called Reformation Sunday) on or before October 31st and transfer All Saints' Day to the Sunday on or after November 1st.
I am Catholic, as the kids; but we also attend the Protestant church because MC and IC are enrolled in a Protestant kindergarten and my husband is Protestant. We are exposed to their church traditions and are present in most of their activities.

But although I have been here for almost eight years now and through me we have also started our tradition of Halloween decors and trick or treating and giving away treats during Halloween
(this is really a new festival here in Germany) -- this is the first time that I became aware of the other significance of October 31.

But it is good to know, right?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Decors Mostly for Free

Halloween is almost here and our decors are up! And here is what our Halloween decor looks like (see photo).

A bunch of hay which we have been using for five years now, bought from the local farmer for a few cents; and the different types of squash (Dont you know that squash types with round, orange fruit are referred to as pumpkins?) that we planted in our garden and are now ripe for the harvest; and not to forget the walnuts and the chestnuts that the kids collected during our weekend strolls; and the a few dried corncobs that we found lying on the roadside.

The fruit basket came home with us free during the strawberry season. We would only be lighting up orange and black candles for the night and that would be that. Of course, I already have some sweets ready for the 'walking spirits' on Halloween night!

Posted last year at PMN: Home and Garden.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Would you ask the teacher?

There's one question that's not related to our loss that's been bugging MC for days now.

A mom of one of her classmates came into the classroom one morning, when the teacher was not yet in. She asked if her son's pail is there, found it and began to destroy that pail right in front of the kids. After that, she set the pieces of the pail on the teacher's table.

Let me tell you the background about that pail.

The little boy's got a problem. One could say he's suffering from attention deficit disorder as he wont stay still for even a few minutes. He's with MC's kindergarten and he was a difficult kid during those years, too -- biting, hitting, throwing things around, etc. He couldnt be controlled by anyone at all. He was like that in kindergarten and again, in the school.

Almost everyday, he's starting chaos in the classroom and within the school grounds -- he sometimes leave the school without saying anything, packing his things and declaring school is boring and that he wants to go home, wont do his school works and his homeworks, bugging kids and always been involved in a fight. The teacher told us that they wanted to give the little boy a chance during the parent-teacher meeting, and of course, everybody wanted to give the little boy a chance, but....

The last time that he started a fight with the older boys, the rector of the school gave him a warning. The rector said he's giving him a pail. Everytime he's done something bad, water would be poured in that pail. And when the pail is full, then a decision would be made.

Since that incident with the pail, the boy's never been back to school. I know he's not sick as they live near the house of my in laws and I always saw him playing there or driving away with his mom.

And then that 'pail incident' in front of the kids. My husband wants me to ask the teacher on what action they should make. The thing is, he wants to know as we dont really know what to tell MC about that. What to answer MC.

MC's been retelling the story for days now. She said what that mom did was bad. That shouldnt be done. That something should be done. Well, we agree about that.

So, should we ask the teacher about it?

PMN: home and garden talks about Halloween decors

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How are the kids?

IC kept on bringing home drawings and artworks created in kindergarten specially for the oma. These things I collect and I told her we would bring them together when we visit oma's grave.

She kept on telling stories of her 'oma encounters' when she's alone. The last time, she said oma asked her to pray for oma and she did.

MC kept on with her continuous quest for answers.

Why couldnt the oma wake up again, isnt it that she's been sleeping and waking up for a long time, why not this time?

Papa said oma's sleeping in the cemetery and Mama said she's already in heaven. (We told her oma's body in the cemetery but her soul is now in heaven.)

Why is it that it took her a long time to decide that she wanted the oma to be the first one to sign on her friendship book, and now, she's gone. Oma left only her signature on it.

Why could we leave the opa alone at home when we didnt do that to oma when opa was in the hospital?

Why could the opa sleep with us when oma didnt only wants to sleep in her own bed?

Sometimes we answer her questions immediately, sometimes we simply told her to ask her questions and the answers would come sooner or later.

It is not easy but we are coping especially since the opa's been released from the hospital late yesterday. Thanks for the prayers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How did I cope with our loss?

Although it is hard, I tried to keep the normal phase of our everyday life.

In between doing the arrangements for the funeral with the whole family, I was all over.

I cooked. I cleaned the house. I went grocery shopping. I brought the kids to school and kindergarten. I brought them to their sports and ballet classes. They were allowed to visit their playmates. MC did her homeworks. I even joined MC's class during their outing to pick apples on a farm near us.

There was only one concession, I talked to MC's teacher that MC might not be able to work on her homework that Thursday during the funeral, (the teacher was generous enough to say that MC could work on her assignments on the weekend). But MC wont hear of it. Despite the crowded living room (some cousins arrived early); MC eagerly worked on her assignments.

But there are also things that I did more just because I wanted to get myself busy and just because I know I would find help from such things: I baked bunches of cookies and cakes most of which are still in the freezer; I sorrounded myself with loads of reading materials that focuses on spiritual, inspirational and self-help; I wrote and wrote about things I felt and I saw and I smell and I hear; I gave more hugs and kisses; I threw more words of comfort; and I looked with more love. And yes, I held long phone conversations from some cherished friends.

And thank God, opa's recovered enough to get out of the stroke unit in the hospital after a mild stroke that happened right after the funeral. But I would like everyone reading to pray for more strenght for him.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Tribute to Sheila Deyro 1969-2008

No, we were not really close friends, nor were we classmates in high school

I only know Sheila as one of the CAT officers during fourth year

We didnt even move in the same circle of friends, in fact, I was in awe of her

She always stand so tall and so proper esp in uniform during those CAT sessions

I didnt even dream we'd meet again after more than 20 years!

But we did, in a supposed to be, mini reunion with my high school batchmates during our trip to the Philippines this year

It really a mini reunion, as it was only Sheila with her daughter and Cecil with her husband; who came

In those few hours, during a short evening visit with us this February 2008

Right there...Sheila became a big part of my life.

She with her long, curly hair

She with her ready smile and tingling laugh

She who twinkled when she asked me to find a man for her

She who visibly got shocked when my husband asked if her daughter also wanted a boyfriend

Emphatically saying 'No, she's only 14!' But you see, her daughter is also as tall as her. (Malaking bulas)

You wouldnt know they arent sisters! And of course, she almost blushed when we told her that

Almost, because she gave in to laughter

It tickled her to know that she really looks good

Despite the fact that she's been struggling with cancer for a year

But you see, that sickness didnt put her down

It brought her closer to Him. It made her look at the world differently -- with more hope and more love and more laughter.

She have given herself up to the Lord from the moment she realized how difficult her condition would be. And she is open about her faith and I admire her for it.

She enjoyed life. She laughs with her heart. She talks with her eyes. She embraces with strenght. And she makes her friends smile with her quips

And oh yeah, could I ever forget, she wants to look good, our dear Sheila

She dont want to face the camera without flicking her hair here and there

Without retouching her make-up, without puckering her lips -- which brought all of us to laughter and she laugh with us, too

Of course I told her, you dont need to do anything, you already look good

And she does, Sheila looked good.

And those few hours of storytelling and reminiscing, those few hours of giggling like high school girls, those few minutes of pizza sharing, those few minutes of cola drinking, those few minutes of picture taking, and those prolonged goodbyes with loads of hugs and bussies...

Sheila made me feel good. When I should have been the one to make her feel good.

And then the next few days of exchanging text messages... I didnt think she would bother with nurturing new and a long distance friendship at that, but she did.

And she grew in my heart from then on.

We both tried to keep in touch regularly. Until she had to go back to the hospital a few months ago. Her condition worsened. From then on, her number became silent.

I could only hear about news from her from friends and batchmates. I sent prayers her way.

And last Thursday, Sheila left us.

Sheila, the tall girl with curly hair and a ready smile is gone.

But I know, she'll stay in the heart of the people she touched, like me.

Dear Sheila, you have fun, wherever you are!

Blind them with your sparkling smile, dear girl!

Throw them that tinkling laugh, you lovely woman!

Dont forget to flick your wonderful mane, you look great!

And remember, we love you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How did the kids cope with our loss?

IC works it all out in her fantasy.

She said she's been seeing and talking to oma for a few days now. Like yesterday, she wanted a new dress to wear for oma's funeral. She said she wanted to show off the dress to oma. I left her alone for a minute when I came back, I saw her dancing and flaunting her new dress in front of the mirror.

I asked her what she's doing and she told me, 'mama, I am showing off the dress to oma. Oma asked me to dance for her so I did.'

And this morning? I left her for a second in front of the breakfast table. When I came back she told me that I just missed oma for a few seconds. I asked what oma wanted and she said, 'oma wanted a piece of bread and a bottle of water. And then she went to the rooftop to have her breakfast.'

I told her it is too cold to have breakfast on the rooftop. And IC said, ' dont worry, mama. Oma's an angel now, she's got her wings and a pink angel dress.' As if to assure me that oma wont feel the cold anymore.

As for MC, after the funeral and during tea time with the family and friends, she worked on this drawing -- which shows the funeral procession in the cemetery. She said it is not yet finished, there must still be something under the brown earth.

I think it also helped a lot that they got a book from the woman pastor who held the memorial mass. It was entitled, 'Adieu, Herr Muffin' (Goodbye Mr Muffin) from Ulf Nilsson which talks about a death of a guinea pig. I read it to them last night and it told them all over again, in the simpliest of terms, what death is all about.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is oma really gone?

IC's asked me that question a few times these past two days already.

She wants to know where oma is.

She wants to know why she's not here anymore.

She wants to know how she died.

She wants to know if she could talk to her again.

She wants to know what would happen to her.

And this morning, she told me that she finds oma 'gemein' (tricky) because she died.

We tried to answer all her questions, but sometimes, we react with more hugs and kisses as words arent easy to find or tears would clog the throat and no words would come out. But I think, she understands.

MC's first reaction when she learned about it? She wanted to go to oma and opa's house after school. She's too cool about it.

She wants to give her drawings which she made specially for oma and for opa the night before.

She doesnt ask much. But her eyes, her actions and her silence hold enough questions.

And her sleep walking and sleep talking tell us more than when she's aware and awake.

Both of the girls want to be there for the funeral. We asked them, because you see, they discourage kids in funerals here -- and they said 'yes, we want to be there.'

And I agree. I would really want them to know what this is all about. After all, oma loved them and I know, they love and miss the oma very much. And oma was also a big part of their lives after all.

Plus, this is a chance for them to say goodbye.
It's helps to blog about it. It eases the pain. And yes, I really wanted to talk about it but I cant as tears would always get in the way. Writing about it is easier and it helps a lot.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guten Nacht, Engel Oma

Dear Girls,

I have to tell you something
The oma left us last night
She's gone to heaven
The Lord God wants her
To be one of his angels

And tonight when IC and I finished our evening prayer, she added, 'Guten Nacht, Engel Oma' (Good night, Angel Oma).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Enjoying Pajama Time

I love our lazy weekends. When we dont have to go anywhere, when we dont have to rush off to work on something, when nobody would disturb our pajama time.

And yes, we call it pajama time because we would be on our pajamas the first few hours of the morning. Well, the kids would remain in their pajamas until it would be bedtime again, sometimes. I would have loved to keep my pajamas, too, but... I dont know, there would always be someone ringing the doorbell or there would be things to be fetched from our cellar so we adults just have to dress up.

But staying in our pajamas longer make our day start more comfortably. No stress, just a slow awakening to a new, lazy day.

The kids would be in our big bed cuddling with us. It is also a good time to keep up-to-date with what everybody's done and plan to do. It is a chance to tell our stories. There would always be some fights for space or a struggle with the blanket which would surely end up in a tickling match. And of course, there would be shouts of laughter and girly giggles.

Sometimes we would all end up sleeping again. But mostly, the girls would find their own corner in our bedroom to play. That would give us at least an hour, sometimes two, to snuggle and go back to sleep with the lullaby of the girls' soft chuckles and giggly whispers.

Do you enjoy a pajama time, too?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When should kids use public toilets alone?

The question bugged me during a dinner with some family friends a few months ago. The family we were with are frequent visitors to this restaurant. But seeing the girl going inside the toilet all alone, she's only 5 years old at that time, was still a surprise.

I only found out that the girl used the toilet because I had to weave thru the restaurants tables and chairs searching for the toilet because my girls must go, too. I even had to ask the girl what she was doing there all alone, a bit worried myself; but she just shrugged and said she needed to use the toilet. I am amazed and worried, to be truthful.

I wont even think about letting the girls use the public toilets alone. Especially if I am there with them, if I could go with them. My girls dont want to use public toilets alone, even if we urge them to go together. And we only ask now coz MC's almost seven years old, you know, just checking if they would really jump at the chance. Well, they wont.

The first complaint being they wont be able to cover well the toilet seat with toilet paper, as I always taught them to do, before sitting on a public toilet. Meaning, they were concerned more on their hygienic than being afraid to go alone. Something else to think about, huh.

Call me a worrier but at the young age of 5, I think it is still so risky. Or is my judgement colored by the story of a girl who saw a masked man in the public toilet in the public school here?

How about you, when do you think kids could use public toilets alone?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm in the newspaper coz of global crisis

There was an emai interview by business editor Salve Duplito of Money Smarts asking overseas Filipinos on how they are affected by the global financial crisis.

Reyna Elena whispered that I am one who's got a story to tell so am it. I am glad that I got to meet the deadline, too. Thus, my story was published in one of the Philippines' daily newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer, last Monday, 06 October. See the photo above.

If you want to read it, go to the

Meanwhile, the almost unedited text, including a photo (you see, my photo didnt meet the deadline that's why the image appeared in the newspaper) appeared just today, please read at blogs.

Have fun reading and let me know what you think, too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


MC said her homework is already finish.

I dont have a reason not to believe her since she's been doing her homework right after arriving home from school. And we even took time to review.

And then she got playtime and was off to her gymnastics class.

When she arrived home from her class; she saw IC watching TV. Usually, MC's not allowed to watch TV during school weeks, esp evenings. But she insisted, saying she needed to take a short break right after vigorous gymnastics. Well, we agreed to let her watch for a short time after she begged with us and said she did finish her all her school things already.

Lights out at 7:30 pm. Then I learned from the papa, who brought her to bed, that she 'forgot' to let us know that she's got another page of homework to finish. Actually, she also confessed that she 'conveniently forgot' about it because she wanted to watch TV. By that time, she's already too too tired to work on it. So Papa said, then you need to wake up earlier than usual.

Thus, she had to wake up an hour earlier today to finish her homework. Nope, I didnt hear any complaints nor did she asked for 5 minutes longer in bed.

MC learned something last night. The consequence of choosing to watch TV instead of doing her homework.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hackers are Real, Unfortunately

Someone tried to hack my email account.

What a way for me to find out that hackers which I would also call spammers, scammers and con artists; are indeed, very real.

I really thought I'd read them only through forwarded emails, sometimes in headlines because they hit a big company and more I heard from rumors; from a long list of a friend of a friend. But now I am not at all happy to tell you, a hacker almost got me.

It was done smoothly. Someone buzzed me in yahoo messenger. I really thought I was chatting with someone I know. The hacker was using Haze's yahoo messenger ID. How should I know it wasnt her at all? Plus, the hacker was also texting me in Tagalog language (the national language of the Philippines) so I wasnt really suspicious at all. Yup, the hacker is from the Philippines.

I wasnt really suspicious. Even though the hacker started telling me to download new pictures. Even though clicking to that file asked me to log in into my yahoo account. Even though that hacker asked me to open my webcam to check if his/her webcam is also working. Actually, I became a bit suspicious when my webcam just wont work -- meaning, when it wont focus on my face at all. Because then the hacker started texting me in all caps, as if he/she's getting angry with me.

Well, the hacker's only trying to get a good shot of my face in the camera, what a fool I am! Even if that's on my mind, the hacker wasnt responding to my texts, anymore. I just logged off. But you see, I didnt know I'm being hacked already.

Good thing Haze reacted quickly because the very next day when I opened my email, I saw a warning note from haze, saying that her previous YM ID is now being used by a hacker, that her yahoo email is now blocked from her. Somebody else is pretending to be her! I really panicked then. I didnt know what am supposed to do.

But Haze assured me that I could still do something as I could still access my email. I decided to change my yahoo password right there and then. But I didnt really think about logging off from chatting as I wanted to know what really happened with Haze (I have already gotten her new YM ID by then) and I wanted to chat up some blogger friends who I know could help me as soon as possible with such technicalities. It also helped that I first logged into my notebook, instead of my computer, as I was using the PC when I was online with the hacker.

And you know what, the hacker tried to chat me up again, using Haze's ID during the time that I already knew that Haze's been hacked. What a nerve! Kept on buzzing me, until I decided to click ignore. I dont really know what to do. It was one very stressful morning. All I wanted was to save my accounts and make sure my computer and my data are all secure.

I am glad for the quick help from my blogger friends. And of course, I commend Haze for sounding off the warning immediately. It turned out someone from her YM list had already been connned into sending globe telecom loads to the tune of a few thousand pesos just because they didnt know that they werent talking to Haze anymore.

So, to anyone on my list of YM contacts, I have decided to stop logging into my YM ID. If ever someone tried to buzz you, I am not that person. Be warned.

It would be easier to give you a list of tips I learned and I got from my blogger friends:

1. Never ever accept contact, esp on chat rooms, without checking out if that person is known to you.

2. Dont click links that are strange to you. Now if you do click them, be suspicious when it asks you to log-in to your email or messenger account. Log-off immediately. The trick of that hacker was to give me a link saying it's a new photo... curve your curiousness as it could save your account.

3. Always have anti-virus and anti-spyware in your computer. We are using F-Secure and Pao, (thanks a lot, dear friend) recommended this Spybot. Pao also told me to always update your anti virus and your anti-spyware. Scan your computer completely. I scanned and scanned!

4. If you think you've been hacked, dont log-in into any of your accounts in the same computer. Try to use a different computer to change all your passwords, just in case a Trojan or a keylogger's already sneaked in your computer. And log in only if scanning showed no problems.

5. Azrael helped me loads, too (thank you very much for your patience, az)! He told me to uninstall my yahoo messenger, delete it and install it again. I did that, too, although as I've said, I am not using my account for now.

6. Avoid using your messenger account but immediately inform your friends on what happened so they wont be victimized. Haze was quick in posting shout-outs in her friendster and facebook accounts. I blogged about it in Tagalog here.

I hope that by blogging about it, everyone who would be able to read the story would be warned. Let us be careful who we meet in the internet. I know there are lovely people out there, but sometimes, there are bad wolves, too. Unfortunately, I met one big bad wolf. I hope by sharing this, you'd be able to skip this experience.

Let's learn together.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dining out with Kids Made Fun

I was amazed when an acquaintance once told me that they avoided going to restaurants when the kids were with them. Ooops, what did they mean? Their children were 3 and 5 years old at that time. She explained that it is just an exercise in futility, as they would not even get to enjoy the food and the kids would only be distracting the people around. Worse, they would only get hurt by running around or be reprimanded to silence by the proprietor and fellow diners. Thus, the only restaurants that the kids knew were the McDonald’s restaurants.

I mentioned that to my husband who replied “then they don’t need children.” Of course eating with a small child in a restaurant would be a big challenge, but so does eating at home. I cannot follow the logic really. We always bring our kids wherever we go, and eating out is one of the special bonding times we have — either in fast food restaurants or fine dining halls.

Most of the restaurants offer a high chair, if you are big on safety. Some restaurants even offer gifts of toys or activity books to keep the kids busy and not bored to tears. In Germany, I know a lot of restaurants that have kid’s corners–where they arrange small tables and chairs, with loads of crayons and papers or even books, sometimes even a box of assorted toys to choose from.

One restaurant in Austria became our kids’ favorite. It has an extra room that serves as a playroom, complete with lego blocks, building blocks, table games, doll houses, etc., and a carpet big enough to really let loose. The set up also includes a kiddie table for dining, and even high chairs. The door of the playroom can remain closed, in case the other diners would deem the kids to be a distraction. What’s more, the children’s menu (which serves also as a coloring pad) comes with a surprise gift. They really spoil the kids in there. At the end of our more than two weeks vacation, the kids were calling it ‘their restaurant.’

I heard nobody complaining when we were there. It was really a big hit with vacationers with kids. And to be frank, that was our first vacation where we have really dined! No need to hurry, no tempers flaring — a real vacation! That the food was good was just luck. The thing was, as long as the kids ate and left us in peace long enough to enjoy our food, then everybody was happy.

Another favorite is a Greek restaurant near our home, where which we frequent during summertime. They have a playground complete with seesaws, slides and a sandbox with big boxes of toys. Of course, you can find such offers in club resorts, with animators to drag the kids from one activity to another, even dining with them together. But that would be another story.

Important, too, is that we make sure that we would be in the restaurant before 5 pm, the time when the kids are not yet so hungry, thus still in a good mood. Since the dining places are not yet full, we are able to choose a comfortable place for us.

Another thing is that every time we order our food, we make sure that the kids’ orders would arrive a little earlier. Thus, we, parents can focus on helping them out, if needed. And they would be almost (if not already) full and satisfied when it is our turn to dine. The kids would then have a choice–to stay with us in our table and play or go to the kids’s corner.

We also make sure that they know the golden rule: that playing on the table meant a silent game or drawing time. If they cannot abide by the rule, they have go to the kids’ corner, if there’s any. if there’s none, they should try to sit still.

But what happens if you cannot find a kid-friendly restaurant? Stuff your mama bag with pens and pencils, small card games, their favorite toys, even books. In some cases, the kids would even find games between stacks of paper, bottle, mats/saucers in restaurants.

You know what we usually do? We always call to ask if there is a kids’ corner in the restaurant that we want to visit. When on a holiday, we check out the internet or look at the brochuresupon arriving at the place. We alo look around the place. When there’s something for the kids’, then we stay. Because as long as they get busy, then dining out is just another child’s play.

First published at PMN: Parenting.