Thursday, August 29, 2013

Winning the Bedtime War


Its back to school time. Summer vacation has come to an end and fall is swiftly approaching. But honestly I love the change of seasons and autumn is actually my favorite time of year. I love fall fashion, the food, the scenery and fall day trips. Now that I talked about what I like, lets talk about what I don't like. There are a few things I don't particularly care for, but one that comes to mind was when I would have to play tug-o-war with my child at night! Yes, most parents know what I'm talking about, but I've found some simple steps that have helped me win the bedtime war.

First things first, you've gotta spell it out! There will be a million requests; "I need a drink", "I have to pee-pee" or the killer "One more hug Mommy?" It can seem like you're rejecting them when you say "NO!", but the best thing to do is keep a routine. Let your little one know that there will be..say, 3 books, 2 songs, 1 drink, 1 bathroom trip and 10 hugs and kisses each. You can always set aside extra kisses, stories and bedtime snacks for the next day. I tell Masaya that I kiss and cuddle him while he is asleep all the time and he likes that. The second thing is you as a parent have to follow your own rules. You can't set up this nightly ritual and not follow through with it yourself. I found this to be the most difficult because just as any parent knows, children are so unpredictable. Really, life is and some days are harder then others. But as early childhood education teaches us, young children learn best through repetition. Because I knew once Masaya got the routine, he would stop stalling and that's just what happened. Hell, I even wrote his routine down and hung it up in his room for a while so that I could be accountable as well and follow through.  And lastly, know that you are not rejecting your child if you say no. I had to understand that I was not rejecting my son, but I was only reacting to his stall tactics. I would feel so guilty and think "Oh, my sweet baby just wants me to love him and he needs me" and the next thing I knew it was almost 10:30pm and my child was still wide awake, with me lying next to him, pleading that he go to sleep. And its ok to show anger or frustration when your child pushes you too far. Children need to see real emotion and they need to know when they have over stepped their boundaries not only with their relationship with you, but also when they interact with other adults and other children. By recognizing anger, frustration or any other negative feeling, they can understand how to correct themselves, deal with the situation and not be caught off guard. If you do happen to explode (I have many times, I am not ashamed to say), apologize for yelling, but you MUST maintain your underlying message that it is time for the little one to go to sleep.

Listen, we've all been there, but the good thing is that it doesn't last forever. It could last a few weeks or several months, but not forever. This guideline should help if you're going through the bedtime war, but if you believe that there is a serious issue going on other your wee one staying up all night to party, make sure you contact your child's pediatrician. And hey, you may not always win the battle, but for sure, you will win the war.

Sweet dreams friends,
Malinda xoxox



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Want to Look Good Naked



Got your attention didn't I? Don't worry, I wont be exposing myself on this post. But, I do want to expose my motivation for staying fit. Notice I did not say I want to be skinny. Now, I understand if that is your build and who you are and what your goal may be, but its not mine. I am married to someone who is truly naturally skinny. My husband, Kenji has tried his best to gain weight through weight lifting, protein power and just sticking with a plain old junk food regimen. Nothing has worked. In fact he is the only person I know who came to America and lost weight! Take that obese statistics. But his frame is not one I long...the ability to pretty much each whatever he wants and not gain weight, yes of course I want that. But not the shape...here's why.

I want to look good naked, plain and simple. Its my main reason for trying my very best to change my lifestyle and be fit. Its a very selfish reason, nothing but vanity. But honestly, nothing seems to motivate my butt (no pun intended) more then this reason sadly. There are other reasons that are very close behind it; wanting to be an example for my child, living the best life I can live, looking great in cloths, but all these reasons still lag behind me in birthday suit everyday. And yes, a small part of me wants to be desired, I think its just natural. We are human after all and it does feel good to be noticed by others. At the same time, I like that fact that my partner, my love, knows what he has. Even though I am a goddess, as my girlfriend Katherine McFarland reminds me of (thanks girl! Back at cha!), as all us women are, I find that our partners need to be reminded from time to time about how lucky they are. That quick, 10 second, naked stroll from the tub to the towel is just that reminder. That quick glance and suddenly Kenji sees me as the only women in the world. Yeah, I like that power and that feeling. My mother has a great saying that she has used for years in her line of work as an esthetician and make-up artist: "When you look good on the outside, you feel good on the inside". Though true beauty comes from the inside, there is no doubt, knowing that the outside matches the inside only enhances that inner beauty. I've witnessed this with my own eyes. I have seen folks who have gotten healthy and through their change, not so much the weight loss, but their lifestyle change, they radiate confidence, security and overall happiness. Some journeys take time, but once that goal is reached, there is no stopping that light from shining.

Like I said, I don't want to be skinny. Skinny doesn't work for me (and after that Miley Cyrus VMA performance, honestly, I don't think skinny works for anybody). I am not looking for perfection either. I am realistic. I've had a child and eventually one day I'll have another. Birth changed my body as it's suppose to, but I love the woman I have become. I love my large bust, my big thighs and my muscular build. I want to be fit, cut, show off my great legs and tone up my arms and flatten my tummy. I want to take of my robe and look in the mirror and just say "Bitch, you look fierce!" I want to express sexiness, confidence and inspiration just through my walk. And when I'm strutting down the street to get my chai latte from Spot Coffee with Masaya, I want folks to think "Wow, I bet she looks great naked". Here's to all of us living a happy, healthy and blessed life.

Peace and love
Malinda xoxoxo

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Is There A Cast System In The Parenting World?


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up as I bring to you another mystical tale of adventure, love, heartbreak, vengeance and happily evader after. In other words, I'm going to tell you a story about the things I see and experience everyday. In particular, the things I've observed recently make me shudder and not in that sexy, 50 Shades of Gray kinda way (although I wish it did, wink, wink). No, I'm talking about the whole "one-upping" thing that many parental units do. Not sure what I mean, let me explain.

I was hanging out with my girlfriend recently; she is a mother of two, when we started discussing buying organic. Suddenly, she went into this story about how another mother put her down for not feeding her  daughter organic and that she was doing harm by giving her child cow's milk. My friend, still looking very annoyed, said "If I could afford to buy organic and drive 30 mins to the fancy shop to get goats milk, of course I would! But, that's not my reality. And I shouldn't be made to feel less of a mother if I can't do it." I feel like we've all been there. I once wrote about a woman who indirectly called me a bad mother because I only breastfed my son for 4 months and gave him supplements of formula to boot. I knew what my friend was talking about. This imaginary cast system that parents place on each other, like the haves and the have nots. I'm a better parent then you because I buy organic. I'm a better parent then you because I was able to breast-feed until my child turned 2, which is way too long for me, but I'm not judging. My child is in little league, yours is not. My son is in the best pre-school in the suburbs, yours is not. The list goes on and on and on. And this isn't just limited to women, fathers get in the game too. Something beyond competition, this ranking level in parenting is getting out of hand. I've seen it on so many occasions, even in Japan. Each class has a "boss mother", the one who runs everything, the one the others follow. Its her way or the highway...literally. You fall in line with her ideas of what a parent should be or you are an outcast, a bad parent, less then. I remember seeing this first hand for myself and being appalled. "That is so old school, it would never happen in America." I stand corrected. Its not a cultural thing, its a human being thing, rather a human weakness. Putting others down, to feed our own insecurity and power lust. Being a parent, I see it now. What kind of mom are you? Are you the type A mom? The bohemian mom? The lazy mom? The helicopter mom? The mean mom? So many categories that we place on ourselves and each other and all the while losing sight on being an actual parent, trying to keep up a standard that does not fit our lifestyle.

What kind of parent am I? I guess it depends on the day. I get frustrated and inspired. I get tired and annoyed, but I also get clingy with my child and there are days when I don't want to share him with another soul on this earth, even his father. But isn't that what parenting is, a changing sphere from day to day. Never a dull moment, never the same mundane thing. Always new, always different. That is why we are all so diverse as parents. We all don't fit into one mold. We are similar at times, but all so very different. Once we do away with this imaginary cast system and learn to be open and honest with each other, our children will flourish because...that is what they see their parents doing.

Love Always,
Malinda xoxox

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Parenting, don't take it too seriously


Here we are again friends. Nearing the end of another month and going into another. I have to say that even though we didn't get to do all the things we wanted to or planned to this summer, this season has been one of the best for me in so many ways, professionally and personally. I am riding this wave inspiration and I pray that it continues on. So let's get into this one.

From the day I announced my pregnancy and since I've become a parent, people have been throwing me great advice, whether they were conscience of it or not. Every kind of topic I could possibly think of has been discussed with friends, relatives, co-worker and complete strangers. Some with children, some without, some in relationships and others single. The opinions and examples that were presented to me were abundant. Everything from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, homeschooling or private school, cloth diapers to disposable ones, different ways of discipline and on and on the list goes.  But one thing that I hardly hear about is...well, just having fun with your kids. This is something that I have learned...don't take it too seriously. Now, I am not saying let your child hang from the ceiling fan and see what happens, but you need to understand that every moment of everyday, your little one is getting older and the older your baby gets, the closer your child is to going onto that next stage and no longer living the life you want them to, but living the life they were meant to live. Its in these little moments that I have the most fun with my son. Hearing his deep, noisy, belly laugh and his amusement at saying the word "booty" over and over again. I allow myself to be silly with him, to not worry about tuition or haircuts. I can just be in the moment with my wee one, enjoying...well, him being a child. And frankly, its relaxing. Its simple, there's no thought process. Its like the book Siddhartha, you just flow like the river, just go where it takes you.

My son is obsessed with cars and one of his favorites are Hummers. Every time he sees one, he yells out "HUMMER" as loud he can, along with my self support his love for the massive vehicle. But this is one of my favorite times with him, so much so that even when he's not in the car with me I still say "HUMMER" out loud to myself and smile. Its the little things, the silly moments that make all the difference and show the greatest expression of our relationship, our hearts and our love. So take some time to be in that child moment with your little one, I promise you its one of the best things that you can do.

love Malinda xoxox


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Stay At Home Mom: Great For Family, Bad For Career???


Well hello, hello. I never thought I would say this, but I'll be relieved when summer is over and my son goes back to pre-school. I am exhausted trying to keep up with Buffalo's summer schedule. But, then again, its better to have too many things going on then none at all.  I find myself falling behind with my writing and I want to make sure I'm back on it. This particular topic has actually been on my mind for a while, so let's get into it.

I've officially been a SAHM (stay at home mother for all you non-parent folks or those of you who just don't get acronyms) since June. I love it, I really do. I like taking care of my home, organizing it, cleaning, maintaining it. And for me, there is nothing better then my son seeing my face every morning when he wakes ups. And I am completely over the moon by the fact that I make my own schedule. I create my own structure for order, no one has put it in place for me at adhere to. But with all of these wonderful aspects of staying home, I have to wonder, as my child gets older...how will this effect my career outside the home once being a stay at home parent is no longer an option? The New York Times recently had an article called "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In", which examines the lives of several working women who "opted out" and left their outside, professional jobs to be full time, stay at home mothers for their small children. Fast forward ten years later, these women are now facing divorce, depression, difficulty entering the workforce and finding that jobs only pay a portion of what they were originally making. I have listed this article below.  Now, I have to be honest...that article freaked me out at first. I will be the first to tell you that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. Which is why I jumped at the chance to stay home and not rush off back to work when I lost my job at the end of May this year.  I knew that working full time and trying to hold things down at home was burning me out, not to mention the stress and feeling of guilty for not being at home and the envy for those who could actually afford to stay. I told myself, "Hey! You've had a job, non stop since you were 16. You deserve a brake from the corporate rat race". That's what I told myself. I cut out little luxuries and talked things over with my husband, who appeared supportive. And it seems to be working...but I miss outside work. I miss the office environment, the conversations with my co-workers, that feeling of "success" or at least what I had defined as success for so long. But I truly love being at home, I really do and remembering all the anguish I went through with my last job solidified it. I was not going back out there. Then I read that article and began to panic. I knew that my time with Masaya in his early stages was fading fast. He would be starting school full time next year and then what would I do? Maybe work part-time? But would that be enough to get me where I wanted to be? That article painted such a grim picture, but then contradicts itself at the end when it throws in the fact that these women had powerful ties and were able to assimilate back into the workforce easily or were finacnly able to balance both. I was confused, what about those who didn't have that luxury? What about the average joe trying to come back? Where was their story? I sent out resumes immediately.

Then it dawned on me...life isn't always that black and white. At times it is, but for the most part it is very gray with bits of brown mixed in there. Why couldn't I do this on my own terms? Why did I have to fit into this scheme of either staying at home or working outside. Yes, I miss having that extra income, there is no doubt about that, but at the end of the day I was working for day-care, cable TV and shoes that were gorgeous, but too tight. I miss those shoes, but I have bigger dreams. And being home allowed me to focus on writing again, my first love. Networking with other writers and getting my work out there. Not to mention having the time to work on a business plan that is still in its early stages, but I promise to keep you posted. My conclusion is you have to do what's best for you! And believe me, if it comes to the point where my husband is killing himself working trying to keep us afloat, I will be out there working faster then anyone as ever seen. I know its easier said then done, but if you can put your head down at night and sleep well knowing that you are happy and that those around you are happy and you are an equal contributor to the family, then you are on the right track.

I wish my husband was an well off investment banker and we could go on vacation every year and travel to Japan to see his family when we want, but that is not our life, even when I was working. I wish focusing on my home and child alone were enough for me, but it's not. I need both worlds, home and the outside workforce and I am doing my best to make it happen. And as far as that article goes, I found an interesting counter to it that settled my nerves at Refinery 29, its listed below as well. So keep an eye out, this mom may be the next big thing in screenwriting, e-books or even the owner of the hottest boutique in WNY.

Love Malinda xoxo

Here are the links for both articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-generation-wants-back-in.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

http://www.refinery29.com/2013/08/51458/nytimes-opt-out-generation

And here is the archived article that started it all in 2003 called "The Opt-Out Revolution":

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-revolution.html



Friday, August 9, 2013

A Tokyo Girl At Heart Top 10 Apps for Kids!

My son, Masaya, playing one of his favorite learning apps on my iPod Touch at Spot Coffee here in Buffalo, NY


Hello everyone, hello! I am here once again and let me tell you, this weekend is gonna be a monster! So, I wanted to send this technology post out before things started to get hectic, so lets get right into it!

Now, remember when I did my top 10 apps? If you didn't have a chance to see it, make sure you check it out. This time, its all about the kiddos and these are my all time favorite apps for the littles. I know there are some folks out there who are whole heartily against exposing their young ones to TV, iPhones, tablets and the like. And I respect that...however, I am not one of these parents. I did keep my son away from TV for almost the first 2 years of his life, but I can say that Yo Gabba Gabba was a godsend once he did start watching TV! Not to mention the fact that my son knows how to work my iPhone better then I do. I just see it as the new generation. I had Nintendo and Mario Brothers and he has an iPod touch and a LeapPad Ultra, different name but the same game. So here they are in no particular order.



1.  Toca Band- In truth, you can buy ANY Toca Boca app and expect marvellousness: the publisher has a well-earned reputation for quality. Toca Band has some quirky characters, with no set goals beyond having creative, musical fun. Highly recommend, this will not disappoint. 


2. Sago Mini Forest Flyer- This is a whimsical app that will entertain and delight young children as they explore the many surprises the magical forest has to offer. A truly wonderful app that should not be missed!










3. Smash Your Food - Even though this app is designed for older children, it doesn't stop the very little ones from having a great time smashing food. This app not only teaches about nutrition, but it lets
us see what we're putting in our bodies from a totally different perspective. And hey, who doesn't want to see a jelly doughnut being smashed to bits in a metal vice :)











4. Little Writer - This app is great for introducing the wee ones to letter, both upper and lower case,
numbers, shapes and other basic elements. Kids can trace and identify through didfenrt games and activities.











5. Little People Market - Now this app was introduced to me by one of my dearest friends, Rebecca. The fisher Price Little People toys are pretty much a staple for small children and this app is great for
reinforcing daily activities like shopping and following instructions and steps while baking.







6. Friendly Shapes - Great app for learning shapes, interactive puzzles and reinforcing colors. Some truly fun and entertaining games and the narrative is crystal clear.







7. Scout and Me - Scout was one of the first toys my son had, not to mention I attribute my son learning  to spell his name from that stuffed toy. So when I saw this free app, I jumped at it. The one word that comes to mind is...adorable. Though the objectives are basic, this is one app that my son loved and so did I.



8. Little Fox Music Box - I adore this app. Though I wish it had more songs, the ones that it does have are great! There are surprises around every corner. And just when you think you've solved all the little mysteries that are hidden, you found one more.






9. Nick Jr.'s Bubble Guppies - I am a big fan of this TV show. So when I saw that there was an app, I
got it. Just like the show it self, the app teaches but it also throws in tons of jokes and adds some really great songs too. This app in particular focuses on animals of all kinds.







10. Sushi Monster - This app is great for helping with basic math skills. Although my little one is a bit too young for it, he still loves feeding the monsters tons of sushi. Its fun and very addictive even for me :)







There they are, our top 10 apps. There are a few that we love that I didn't mention, but we don't want this blog post to go on and on right. So what are your favorite apps for kids? Make sure you list them in the comment area and thanks for reading!

Malinda xoxox

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

That Age Old Debate: City Vs. Suburbs


Hello everyone!!! I am so sorry I've been away for so long, but last week wore me out! I had to take a little break, rejuvenate my creative juices to bring you nothing but the best. Well, we are in our last month of summer and I can say that this has been a really top season this year with even more to come. Now, this post was very hard for me to write, but I have tried my best to be unbiased. So here we go!

City or suburbs? It's a question all folks have asked themselves at least once and its also a deeply personal question. Some of us are city folks at heart and couldn't imagine living anywhere else. For others, the third-floor walkups, downtown crowd and constant musical symphony of ambulances, police cars and firetrucks are just too much. But lets take a look at both. Now, no one can argue the fact that living in a city provides more diversity. Not just in cultures and races, but also economical, educational, class differences and age as well. It is truly one of my main  reasons for living in the city and raising my son here. There is also access and convenience that the suburbs cannot offer without a car.  Not to mention amazing old architecture. I could go on and on about why I love my century old home and how amazing it is. Would you like a tour? I will give you one in a heartbeat! Thinking of posting a video on it just so I can brag. Now, my girlfriend Kelsey loves the history of old buildings, but she has made it clear that she does not want to live in an old house. Many people don't. They love that custom, "built from the ground up"structure that only the suburbs can bring. Not to mention, lawn space. The city is lacking in this point and I just happen to be one of the few people on my block that actually has a backyard and a decent sized one to boot. Entertainment is everything in city living, but you have to deal with pockets of bad neighborhoods or whole sections of bad neighborhood to be honest. The suburbs provide a safe peace of mind. Now, I'm not saying that crime doesn't happen there too, because it does and not just brake ins. I remember a man murdering his pregnant wife with a  hammer just down the road where I grew up in beautiful, clean suburbia. That was lesson in understanding that crazy folks are all over the place and to always protect myself. My high school social studies teacher would always say "At least living in the city, you know where not to go at night. In the suburbs, you could be living right next door to Charles Bundy and not even know it."But I digress. Now, as a former teacher, education is everything to me and living in WNY, we have access to some of the best school in the entire country. Many of my friends moved to the suburb for this fact alone, the school district. Yet, they are paying out the wazoo in taxes. Don't get me wrong, the city has some excellent schools, hell there are even a few that are actually better then the suburban schools that get so much praise. But, there are also some very low preforming schools, so much so, the state is debating taking them over, which I am sad to say. But really, that's  whole other post that I don't want to get into...at least not now :)

So, no matter where you choose to live, you have to make your house or apartment or condo or beachfront property your own. It is your home and your castle. You have made the choose to live there and if you don't like it, then you have to change it. Like I said, this is very much a personal choice, but I would LOVE to know why you live where you live. Please leave a comment below and let me know where you live, city or suburb and why you chose to live there and I'll be following up on it. As always, thank you for stopping by and I look forward to your visit!

Love Malinda xoxox  



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Its All About the Corn


Hi everyone! Here I am again with another tip on the goings on in Western New York. This month is extrememly busy, like summer as a whole really. Its been non-stop and i have to say I'm pretty tired, but ready for some more. This post is dedicated to the Eden Corn Festival, an annual event to celebrate the corn season and summer. Here's just a little taste of what went on.




Yes, me and my mini me whirling around in a pink dragon ride. I tell you it doesn't get more summer then that. And did I mention the corn? The sweet taste of summer corn is a staple of any warm weather event and this year in Eden did not disappoint. Masaya and I couldn't even wait til we reached home as we both mucnched on buttery ears of corn on the way home. I know people thought we were crazy, but we did not care. It was too divine. And even with all the festivities, the main thing that sticks out in my head about this event is the people. Being greeted with a smile and seeing how helpful and together a community is was so refreshing to me. It says so much about this town and it makes me want to support this event for many years to come. Today marks the begining of the festival and it will run through the end of the week on Sunday. For more information please visit http://www.edencornfest.com

 Masaya riding like a maniac!
Tons of events & animals to see


The sweet, delicious corn that didn't make it to the house.

Look who won a fish!