Dear Jack: Teaching Your Sister to Sword Fight, Who is Half Your Size and a Third of Your Age

8 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

A few weeks ago, you spent your allowance money on some swords and shields at the Dollar Store.

Well, this past weekend, your 3 year-old sister was as eager as you were to practice sword fighting with you.

So the living room become the arena, where a brave little girl who is half your size and a third of your age showed no fear as she begin sword fighting her brother.

You were wearing a dragon mask; meaning that your sister was fighting the dragon!

To her, this is simply normal. So I guess your allowance money is well spend that week!




Dear Holly: You Found a Way Around My Rules About Coming Downstairs Too Early in the Morning

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Our system has been working pretty well since I initiated it earlier in the summer:

You can’t come downstairs in the mornings when you wake up, until the old cell phone alarm goes off first.

This structure has successfully got you out of the habit of waking up at 5:08 AM; before anyone else.

But I do think it’s funny what you did one day this past week…

I had just gotten out of the shower, about to make my breakfast smoothie, when I heard your brother shout, “Holly! Quit being a creepy doll!”

Apparently, you woke up earlier than you knew you were supposed to that morning, and decided to camp out on the very bottom stair- so that you technically were not downstairs.

That is quite clever. As your brother, you accidentally scared him, as he was not expecting to see a little girl facing up at him as he made his way downstairs as it was still dark outside.

I like that is hilarious!



Dear Jack: Making a 3D Drawing of Your Blue Fangs Funko Pop Vinyl Figure

8 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

I love to see the pride you have in choosing how to spend your allowance money each week. In the past week since you bought your Blue Fangs Funko Pop Vinyl Figure, you have since been creating art based on the character.

You spent the weekend working very hard to perfect a drawing of Blue Fangs; then you carefully crafted a castle for the creature to stand in front of, as his domain.

Then you cut out of drawing and glued it over the background, to make a 3D picture.

I love to see you use your artistic skills!



Fun Ways To Teach Your Children Phonics 

As a parent, you’re responsible for teaching your kids a lot of things. The knowledge you instill to them can contribute to the quality of life they’ll have in the future. The more they know, the easier it’ll be for them to manage challenges and attain success.

One of the most essential things a parent is expected to teach their children is phonics. This is an important branch of linguistics that can help children spell, read, and communicate.

Because of the importance of phonics, parents like you should exert time and effort in teaching your children about it. This is especially true if your children are already going to school.

Here are some ways to teach your children phonics:

  1. Hunt For Letters

Teaching your children phonics is actually easy. Aside from having the free range of coming up with your own activities, you’ll have access to several online sources, such as The Happy Learner.

If you’re looking for an easy and cheap way of teaching your child phonics, start by looking for old magazines and catalogs. Pick a letter and let your children find this letter in the magazine and catalog. This activity will allow your children to develop their comprehension skills while making it easy for them to associate the appearance of the letter to its sounds.

If you want to take this activity up a notch, grab a pair of scissors and cut out the letters that your children spotted in these printed materials. Create a collage in a piece of cardboard and use these as flashcards for all the letters in the alphabet. If the cardboard you’re using has still space, cut out images that visually represent the letter, as well.

  1. Alphabet Ball

Children usually spend their time in front of a gadget. They’ll spend long hours playing with a tablet, laptop, or smartphone. While technology allows your children to be occupied and occasionally learn several things, going overboard can also have adverse effects to their development.

Spending too much time on a gadget can lead to eye strain and poor physical health. The solution? Invite your children to go outdoors and play alphabet ball. Alphabet ball is a physical activity aimed to teach your children phonics.

The game starts once an adult yells a letter, and the child is expected to respond and associate the letter with a word. If the adult mentioned the letter “A”, the child can respond with an apple or astronaut. After the child successfully does this, the adult will pass the ball to the child, and it’s now the child’s turn to yell out a letter. The adult then responds by providing a word that starts with the letter the child mentioned, and so on.

You can add more fun to the activity by kicking the ball or playing tag with other children.

  1. Create An Alphabet Book Through A Picture-Taking Activity

If your children already know how to use a camera or smartphone, let their creativity shine by letting them play a phonics adventure. This activity can be done anywhere – whether you’re inside the home, in your garden, or shopping for groceries.

Hand the camera to your child and instruct them to take pictures of items that start from letters A to Z. Give them the freedom to take any picture they want, regardless of how weird it can be. Once your child has collected enough pictures to cover the entire alphabet, print the pictures and compile them into an album. Or if you have the time and interest, place the pictures in a scrapbook.

You can choose to repeat this activity with your children, given that you’re doing it in another location. The compilation you’ll produce from these pictures can be an indicator of the progress your children made in learning phonics.

  1. Mystery Bags

Children naturally love surprises. They’ll be motivated to fulfill tasks if the prize involves a surprise. When teaching your children phonics, let them play Mystery Bags. This game will require you to use at least three bags and different objects around the house.

Start by hiding different items that start with the same letter in each of these bags. If you want your children to learn more about the letter C, you can place a candy, cup, and clip inside the bags. Let your children name each item and guess the mystery letter that’s common among these objects.

Don’t Forget To Have Fun!

The key to successfully teaching your children phonics is to disguise it as play. Instead of being too uptight with your sessions, change your routine regularly, and allow your children to have fun. Ask if there are certain toys or games they want to do and incorporate phonics into it.

Aside from teaching your children phonics, you can also utilize these activities as a way to bond more with your children!

3 Versions of Reality: How We Perceive Ourselves, How We Think Others Perceive Us, and How Others Actually Perceive Us

After a year of careful consideration and research, I finally purchased a Funko Pop vinyl figure for my cubicle in the office.

But before I made my official decision, I sought my 3 year-old daughter’s confirmation. I presented her with the character figure of J.J. Abrams; the producer of Lost and the new Star Wars movies.

I asked her, “Holly, who is this?”

She immediately smiled and responded: “It’s Daddy!”

In that moment, I received confirmation that my own perception of myself truly matched not only how I perceived how others perceive me, but also, how others actually perceive me.  And sure enough, once I debuted my avatar at work this week, all of my co-workers agreed that the Funko Pop vinyl figure of J.J. Abrams does indeed look like me.

A few of my co-workers actually assumed had the figure custom-made!

However, this is somewhat of a rare occurrence:

That my perception of myself matched how I perceive how others perceive me, as well as how others actually perceive me.

One of my life’s revelations this year, after turning 38, is this:

By default, we spend a lot of our time hoping to change things about ourselves that wouldn’t actually make others like us or respect us anymore than they already do. Instead, we remain unaware of the things we could change about ourselves that would actually make us more likable.

We tend to incorrectly assume that others give as high of a value (if any!) to the same traits we place in the category of “If I Only I Was More…”

The irony is that perhaps if we actually obtained the self-assigned “improvements” we wished upon ourselves, others may not even notice at all!

Therefore, we spend much of our time hoping, wishing, and trying to make changes about ourselves that wouldn’t actually improve other people’s perceptions of ourselves; most ideally, improving our relationships with those people.

I’ll be a bit vulnerable here and give you a personal example.

All summer, I have been receiving “What You Were Doing 5 Years Ago” notifications and photos through Facebook.

That was the summer I had recently become a vegan. I was never in my life more perfectly thin and fit. I had finally reached my ideal body weight and clothing size.

I enjoyed that for about a year, before my body found a way to overwrite the shock of no longer consuming cholesterol through my diet. Within a couple of years, I was back to my original weight; despite still being vegan.

I have consistently ran, worked out, and altered my diet to include some animal protein again, but I’m still nowhere near that initial weight from 5 years ago.

But now, I have come to the realization that even if I was able to get back down to my perceived ideal weight of less than 160 pounds, it wouldn’t make anything better in my life… beyond the thoughts in my head.

And actually, back when I was my perceived ideal level of physical fitness 5 years ago, I believe I was less likable of a person back then anyway!

Before the age of 35, I was still giving power over my emotions to other people; still giving the free world free reign regarding the ability to offend me, hurt my feelings, and disrespect me.

I also was still to some degree attempting to prove my views and opinions were superior. I made a fool of myself on Facebook, mocking the concept of human beings consuming eggs and dairy from other species.

Because at that point, I had not reached the level of emotional intelligence I now live in.

It took that experience to help get me where I am today.

The closer I get to age 40 (I’m now just a year and a half way), the clearer my perspective becomes about how the world actually works… especially when it comes to human interaction.

The reality is that most of the time, the things we think will make us be better perceived by others actually have zero value to others.

Instead, most people notice and appreciate a person who is confident yet humble, who knows how to make others feel better about themselves, and invests their time, energy, skills, talents, and/or to help others.

That is what actually makes us liked and respected by people.

So yes, there are 3 different version of reality:

How we perceive ourselves, how we think others perceive us, and how others actually perceive us.

We get to decide for ourselves which version to accept.

Dear Holly: You are Cindy Brady from The Brady Bunch?

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

After your brother made his decision to spend his allowance money on a Funko Pop vinyl figure at Books-A-Million last Saturday, I wanted for you to be able to buy one as well.

You still had $4 remaining from your great-uncle Al giving you some money recently. Near the cash register, I noticed a clearance table. I scanned the dozens of characters to find one that was perfect for you…

I lucked out.

For just $3, there was Cindy Brady from The Brady Bunch.

I immediately showed it to you, and asked, “Holly, look… here’s Holly! Do you want to buy it and take it home?”

The next day as I was taking you into your preschool class, you proudly presented it to your teacher, proclaiming, “Look! I got a Holly!”

Needless to say, you’ve been sleeping with it every night as well.



Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Funko Pop Vinyl Figure- Blue Fangs of Castlevania

8 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Here lately, you’ve been getting into the habit of saving your allowance for a week at a time so that you can afford greater things the following week.

After you recently witnessed me buying my very first Funko Pop vinyl figure, of J.J. Abrams, as your sister agreed it looks like me, you then realized how cool it might be to buy one for yourself.

So after two consecutive Saturdays of doing your research at Books-A-Million, you made your final decision.

Though you were heavily tempted by the alien from the Alien movie, you chose to spend your money on Blue Fangs from the Netflix series, Castlevania; based on the Nintendo game from when I was a kid.

Granted, the Netflix series is not for kids.

But for you, you just see a cool cartoon monster that you like to draw!

Dear Jack,