Monday, September 3, 2012

When Coby Becomes President of the Philippines

After learning about the Philippine government and it's role, a significant change has happened to Coby. One of the things I noticed was how keen he was on following the rules of the land. After paying for an item at the toy store, he asked me if we already paid the taxes for the toy. I told him that yes, we did because the price already included taxes. He would be very conscious about paying the right taxes, people's rights, following rules and not following rules.

One day, while we were walking home quietly, a motorcycle suddenly came out of nowhere and almost hit us. The incident made Coby really angry and blurted out, "Mama, when I become the president of the Philippines, motorcycles are illegal!' He said it with much conviction.

He still has a lot more "laws" to make when he becomes the president of the Philippines and here are some of his ideas:
  • Motorcycles are not allowed to drive on the sidewalks. 
  • Dog-eating is illegal. 
  • Making animal skin products is illegal. 
  • Motorcycles are not allowed to go fast inside villages only on highways. 
  • Making "siga" is very illegal but you won't be arrested. 
  • Smoking in apartments are not allowed anymore. 
  • Selling fake DVDs, video games and PC games are illegal. 
  • Toxic items are not allowed like China-made toys. 
  • Littering in important places are illegal like the house of Jose Rizal and other historical places
  • Plenty of recycling factories should be opened.
  • Recycle materials to useful furniture and toys.
  • There should be guards in places were people can use spray paint and vandalize.
  • Poor people including the homeless should not pay for their hospital bills. The government will pay for it using the money that they don't need. 
  • Kids should know more about outer space and astronomy so we should open our own space station. There should be schools where kids can sign up and learn about space called SASC or Space Astronomy Studying Center. 
  • People cannot use shark's fin for soup.
  • There will be new Sea Patrols working day and night to see if anyone has drowned.
  • Sea Patrol units guarding the oceans should help other people from other countries who need help. 
These were just some of his ideas. I don't what else he will come up with... :-)

Someone to Watch Over Me

Have you ever had that feeling as if someone is watching you? Well, I do and it's not that eerie kind of feeling :-) I know for a fact that Coby, our eldest child, is watching over me, literally.

You see, we don't have a helper in our home so I do most of the chores especially when my husband is at work and I start the day at 4:30 A.M. and turn in at around 8 P.M. Before the kids wake up in the morning, I make sure that at least 90 percent of my morning chores are done, which includes doing the laundry, dishes, cleaning the living and dining areas, and hopefully I have taken my morning shower. As soon as the kids run down to have breakfast, I have to attend to them. After a few minutes of chatting with them, I run upstairs and tidy up the rooms there. A few minutes later, they will then have their baths and we will start school. 

There may be times when I will be asking Coby to work on his own while I prepare lunch. My mornings are really, really busy! But the load gets lighter after lunch and Coby completes one or two more subjects then he is free. We are both free :-) That's the time I check my email, get updates on FB, read blogs, post blogs or just simply surf the internet.

Then, my afternoon routine would soon commence. I would prepare the lessons for the next day. Fold the clean clothes then prepare dinner, if dinner has to be prepared unless I still have leftover food from lunch. Doing all these things is no chore to me really, I actually enjoy doing them. Unfortunately, I am not Supergirl . I do get tired and at times lazy too to clean up. To say that I regret being a homemaker is a false statement. I love "making a home" for my family even if it's exhausting and stressful. 

One afternoon, while I was busy doing something Coby approached me and said,"Mama, something tells me that you don't like what you're doing." I was surprised by his comment so I asked what made him say that. "Because you're not smiling when you're doing the chores. It looks like you're angry," he blurted out. Bothered by what he noticed I reassured him, "I'm not angry while I'm doing chores, anak. I'm just too focused what I am doing. Don't think I don't like what I'm doing. I love it but my face is just really serious when I'm working." 

Still not satisfied with my answer he asked,"Are you sure? Because you really look angry?" I put down whatever I was holding and looked him in the eye, "I'm okay Coby. I'm happy, just seriously working. Remember when we are working, we have to focus on what we are doing so we can do a great job, right? That's what I'm doing!" 

I hope he was satisfied with my reply. Then he asked me again, "Do you need some help with that? I can help you." I was so touched that I tried to make him help. He probably felt I was tired, which is the truth but I'm still fine. 

Other times, I would do the laundry right after dinner. While they are all resting and watching TV upstairs, Coby would go down and check on me. He would ask me why I'm doing laundry when it's time to rest. I would give him my reason and he would say, "It's late, Mama. It's time to rest."

Ever since that time, I would hear him going down the stairs and stop at the landing. He would hold on to the railings and watch what I'm doing. Sometimes he would ask if I needed help but most of the time he would just be sitting there and watching me. He would do this everyday. 

Two days ago while I was preparing dinner, I heard the same footsteps again. I knew he was watching me, so without looking at him I reassured him, "I'm okay Coby. I'm just preparing dinner. You can go play now. It's okay." 

After hearing that, he ran upstairs and I heard him turn on the TV. 

In the beginning, this routine of his would annoy me, because I don't like the feeling of somebody watching over me. But then I realized, Coby is just loving me. He speaks his love language through acts of service. He wants to help Mama any little way he can. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Testimony of Faith

I was a school girl in the 80′s when I learned that it was God created the universe, all the animals, plants, trees and yes, including me. He created everything good until sin entered the world. Eve believed the devil’s lies and took a bite of the forbidden fruit. She then offered the same fruit to Adam and soon they felt shame and hid from the Lord. Our teacher then told us that every time we commit sin, our heart gets filled with black dots and I became very conscious of this at that time. I tried my best not to stain my heart with black dots. But because of my sinful nature and living in a sinful world, the concept of black dots filling my heart did not bother me anymore. I thought maybe I could do something to remove those black dots.
3 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Genesis 3:3-7
During this time my mother became a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, a born-again Christian. I would know that she spends her mornings praying because she would lock the door in her room and would not be bothered for hours. She didn't want to be bothered. There were also times when I would wake up and see her laying her hands over me or my brother. She would take us to where she attends church service and my brother and I would just spend hours playing in the parking lot. We didn’t know what they were doing, all we know is that it was boring and the pastor talks for a very long time.
In college, my mother continued to live a life as a born-again Christian but moved to another church.Pastors from that church would visit us and have bible studies at home but my brother and I would make up a ton of excuses not to join their session. I would often hide quietly in my room until their bible study is over. My mother would also drag us to church every Sunday probably hoping that we too would be committed followers of Jesus. 
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16″
One Sunday morning in church, there was an altar call. The pastor called on those who want to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and asked them to raise their hands and step forward. My mother, raised my hand and my cousin’s hand, who was living with us at that time, and literally forced us to go to front and become followers of Jesus Christ.
We were taken to a room after the altar call and the person in charge was trying to explain what had just transpired but I guess my heart was never really in it. I mean, I understood what the gospel is. I know what Jesus did, dying on the cross for sin but it never really struck a chord at that time in my life.
 After that, I was pushed to continue to doing bible studies after church. I thought of becoming part of the choir. You see, our church choir was very popular those days because of our praise and worship style. It was lively and would guarantee to bring people to tears! I had a different goal then for joining the choir. And because my motive was not really to please God, my stint as a choir member ended early. I just left the choir because I didn't get what I want and I was too busy hating God for ruining my love life. You see, during this time in my life, I thought I had met the love of my life, my soul mate. The one I am supposed to marry. I was dead-set on marrying this guy but God has other plans for me. Because the relationship didn’t work out, I rebelled against God. I stopped attending church. I stopped doing anything for God.
I would seek my happiness elsewhere. I was always on the lookout for someone to love and love me in return, someone to fill the void in my heart. A friend  once said I was desperate to find love and I would search anywhere for it. 
Years passed and I finally found someone who would love me and that was in 2002 when I married my ex-boyfriend (my husband now). He was raised from the traditional religion and I said might as well go back to the same traditional religion. We got married in a quaint yet beautiful 400-year-old church and had our first child a few months after. Sundays became a “routine” for me as we head to our community church. Somehow during these times, I felt a strong tug in my heart. I miss the old way of worshiping God. I miss singing my heart out in thanksgiving to the God of the universe. I respect what the priest was saying during his sermons but it did not affect that much to change my ways and live my life according how God wants me live.
Retracing my story, while pregnant with our first child, my husband and I attended a breastfeeding class. There we met a couple who taught us how to successfully breastfeed the baby and more. Later as they followed up on us, we found out that we have a lot of things in common, we live in the same village, same work setting and they were Christians. I already shared with the wife that I used to attend a Christian church and I somehow connected with her. We became friends instantly and they initiated a bible study for us in their home. We were still attending the community church while learning about God through the bible study. It came to a point, one Sunday as I sat there in the pew, I need to look for a church that would help me find God and help me change my ways because I knew I needed to change badly.
   We studied “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren in our bible study. This book was used by  God to finally open my mind and my heart to Him. I am filled with information about being born again, about the significance of Jesus’ death and the need for salvation but it never really went down to my heart to change it. I believe it was God’s appointed time that my husband and I decided to turn back on our old selves and follow Jesus. The process of transformation is not easy neither is it completed. There was a lot of resistance in the beginning, a lot of questions, and struggling for control. But whoever said that following Christ is easy? I am still undergoing this process and the journey is exciting.
All that we are now is because of God, because of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can change a person a sinner like me. He is the only one who can lift my downcast life and give me a new life that is totally surrendered to Him.
I heard of the Lord when I was a child. He became an acquaintance in my youth. Now he is my Lord, my Savior, my friend, my bridge to the Father and my makeover professional.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Leftover Makeover

Spaghetti is one of our family's staple meals. I prepare this pasta dish not only for birthdays or any other celebration but for our everyday"lutong bahay" meals. When the kids have licked the bottom of the sauce pan, they would ask me," No more sauce?"  We will be left with pasta noodles good enough for one more meal. This weekend, spaghetti was on our menu.

It was a very lazy Monday for me. We were still tired from a birthday party yesterday and hubby and I slept late.  Not to mention I had to wake up my usual waking time at 4:30 AM to prepare for hubby. By mid-day, after doing arts and crafts with Jianne, I was sooo sleepy. I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore plus the weather was so conducive for sleeping. I told Coby to continue his Language lessons while I take a nap upstairs.

We still had leftover spaghetti from the weekend, so I was confident we would have enough for lunch. No need to cook.    I woke up a few minutes before 12 noon and took out the food for reheating. Lo and behold, the spaghetti sauce was just enough for two kids. It's too late to take out the fish from the freezer. What will I eat? Hmmm I could do an aglio oglio which is just noodles with lots of garlic, olive oil and basil. But I was not in the mood for aglio oglio.

Then I remembered I still had left over San Marino Tuna Fillet Spanish Sardines.  Yes! Still Aglio oglio but with a twist, instead of anchovies, I would do a Pinoy version using spanish sardines.

I crushed as many garlic as I want. Garlic and olive oil, oh so yummy! So, I flaked the tuna first. Then I sautéed my garlic and put in the flaked tuna. I added the oil in the can to add flavor to the pasta. Then I tossed in the leftover spaghetti noodles. Seasoned it with salt and pepper and topped with dried parsley. The spiciness of the sardines added flavor to my 5-minute meal!

Voila! Lunch is served!

Pinoy Aglio Oglio

I really need to be educated in the art of food photography :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Marriage Mystery Revealed Part 2

This is the second installment of the entry I posted recently on marriage. Again, these are the highlights of the marriage retreat my husband and I attended recently in a sister church, CCF Las Pinas.


Mending the Gaps

A study was conducted regarding the differences between men and women. The study also revealed the differences in the needs of both men and women.

Needs of Men: 

1. Sexual Fulfillment

2. Recreational Companionship

3. A Good-looking Wife (seriously?)

Needs of Women:

1. Affection

2. Conversation

3. Honesty and Openness

At times, unmet needs are the source of conflict in relationships or marriages. These conflicts when not brought out in the open or resolved, could be barriers in communication. What then are the other barriers to communication?

First, it's not knowing the differences between the needs of your spouse. Men and women are total opposites. Women are organized, talkative, people-oriented, see the details, put things in order while men are disorganized, use few words, goal-oriented, see the big picture and scatter things. These differences are not absolute truths about men and women, there are a lot of women who are clutter-bugs while there are men who TALK a lot!

Second barrier, is having unresolved conflicts. I believe most of the unresolved conflicts arise from unmet needs. For example, because of the natural tendency of men to keep to themselves and not talk about "things" with their wives, they become cold, distant. The wives in turn, would be wondering and bombarding the husband with questions. Soon, conflict would arise only because issues were not resolved right away.

Third is taking each other for granted. The wife could be too focused on the kids that they unintentionally neglect the poor husband. The exciting honeymoon stage fizzles out as soon as kids are born. Somehow the wife gets preoccupied with the new baby that hubby feels left out and unwanted. That's why it is necessary for the husband and wife to continue to devote their time to each other. Having babies should not be the cause of conflict in the marriage. It should solidify the bond of the husband and wife. Because as the child grows up, he or she would look up to his or her parents as role models when he or she has her own family in the future.

Another barrier to communication is bitterness. It is said that bitterness is a crushing mental attitude which triggers a wide variety of other sins. Bitterness only means unforgiveness and this will rob the marriage of stability. I like what the speaker said about forgivness, that it is a lubricant that reduces the friction between husband and wife. 

The prophet Hosea was given as an example. Hosea was a prophet of God yet his wife became unfaithful, in fact, she became a prostitute. But despite what the wife has done to Hosea, he forgave her and welcomed her back. This kind of love shown by Hosea is the kind of love God shows us. We are unfaithful to God. We are sinners who love our sin. But wherever our sin has led us, God still calls us to come back to Him. He still runs after us. He loves us no matter what we have done. All He wants is for us to come to Him and turn our back on our sin and follow Him. He says in Jeremiah 31:34
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more. Jeremiah 31:34

So how do we mend the gaps in our marriage?

1. Show genuine interest in your spouse.

2. Build relationships. We should not find time,  but we need to make time for your spouse.

3. Demonstrate a willingness to forgive and ask for forgiveness. As Jesus said in Matthew 18:21-22, our forgiveness knows no limit.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

4. We should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

Friday, August 3, 2012

Homemade School Uniform

Teaching the kids at home is so convenient. They don't have to wake up early, rush breakfast and hop in the school bus just to make to school on time. I don't have to keep their uniforms pearly white and neatly pressed. I don't like ironing that's why!

But sometimes they get too comfortable with learning at home that being in their house clothes or even in their pajamas sets the "lazy or slow" mood.  So, when I started years ago, I made it a point to get Coby some decent shirts, not necessarily going out clothes, to wear as his "school uniform".  For him, there should be some sense of "formality" but we're not "that" formal really :-) It's like setting the tone for him everyday that we have school today and we go to our study area or "classroom".

And because Jianne is now officially enrolled also, I decided to that they should have their uniform and that we create them! I got the idea from a college batch mate, who I think is a Martha-Stewart in the making. In her blog, she shared how to make your own stenciled T-shirt. It looked so easy and it was! The difficult part was cutting the template but the rest is easy. We enjoyed it too much that I will make one for me and my husband soon. I did not give the details of the project but I included a link to her blog here Thanks Irene!

By the way, don't forget to wear face masks especially when painting on the template. It's better if you do it outdoors :-)

Ironing the template on the shirt

jianne painting on the template

homeschool sister
Kuya's turn

Peel off! Peel off! Peel Off!

wearing it proudly 
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead,where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiates 9:10

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Being Uncommon

When people find out that we are homeschooling our children, we get varied responses and they are as follows:

"Homeschooling? What is that?"

"Really? How do you do that?"

"Oh... (pause) why?"

"Who teaches them? You? Are you a teacher?"

"I just don't have the patience to do that!"

"What about socialization?"

Since I usually get these reactions from people, I would  patiently answer their inquiries as much as I can. Most of the time, people would get it right away. However, there would be times when you see the skepticism in their eyes and they couldn't keep their eyebrows down. When this happens, I just brush it off and let them be especially if they are strangers or persons I just met. But for those who are in my inner circle, it's a little frustrating. Especially those who are very close to me. Every time they say something negative about homeschooling, I find myself defending it and my children. Even if you share the joys and fruits that we are reaping because we choose homeschooling over conventional schooling, their minds are shut and wouldn't listen to reason. It's like I'm in a courtroom and being tried for not sending my kids to conventional school and not EARNING money. Aaargh!

Still, I'm blessed to have met other homeschoolers who have patiently taught and guided their children till high school. I am just in awe at how they teach chemistry, algebra and trigonometry! I wish I could do that... but then again, I have to focus on a preschooler and 4th grader first :-) Talking to these homeschooling moms encourages me to continue with what the Lord has impressed upon us four years ago. It is an honor to be called to teach our children.

Aside from these homeschooling families, there are people though not really that close but has shown support to what we do. They say they couldn't possibly do what we are doing, but I know they can too if they trust God. I thought I was a patient person until I started teaching Math in Grade 1! But the reality is, when God calls us to do something for Him, He will equip us. He will give us the ability to complete the task. And while completing his mission for us, He will sustain us with His grace, love, and supernatural strength. Yes, I mean SUPERNATURAL strength and Looooooooooooooong suffering! :-)

When my father-in-law came to Manila for a visit, he knew that our kids were homeschooled. The last time we saw him was two or three years ago and I don't remember mentioning to him that the kids were homeschooled. So, he met the kids again who are, of course, much older now. We went to my sister-in-law's house and spent the day with my in-laws. Our kids love going to Ninang's (my sister-in-law) house because they get to play with their cousins. They were their usual selves playing endlessly and laughing boisterously all day. As we were relaxing in the afternoon, I saw my father-in-law talking seriously talking to my husband. I didn't want to disturb them so I just let them talk.

Days after the visit to the in-laws, my father-in-law visited our new apartment. The kids were so hyped that that they took out all their stuff, their artwork, paintings and books and showed it to their grandpa. Their grandpa was overwhelmed by the barrage of stuff the kids wanted to show him. Then my father in law says, "You know what? I was not  sure about the idea of homeschooling. Not because I question your capability to teach but my concern really was their socialization. But my fears were unfounded. I saw them with their cousins and they were able to relate to them. They can relate to adults too. I see also that you really ground them in the Word of God which is important. Continue what you're doing. If you need any books, let me know."

What an affirmation from the Lord!  After all the hard work, we can see something good coming out of this. It feels good to hear that we are doing a great job with our kids especially from my in-laws. But then again, it's all about who gets the credit. We are God's instruments molding these small people the way God wants to mold them. My husband and I were not able to do it by our own strength but because God gives us strength. In the end, it is God whom we want to please not the people around us nor the world.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may  prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. "Romans 12:1-2

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Marriage Mystery Revealed Part 1

Living with a person who is an opposite of me is  not easy. Imagine putting two different individuals in one roof. Two individuals each with their own unique characteristics who came from different family backgrounds and make them stick together till forever.

My husband and I have been married for ten years and we have gained a handful of very special married friends too.  These couples who have been married longer than us have become our spiritual mothers and fathers. I could not count the number of blessings God has given us because of these friends. And one the best blessings we got recently was a one-day marriage retreat. This was totally unexpected from a couple we just met not so long ago.

I would like to share part 1 of the Marriage Mystery Revealed Retreat last July 28, 2012 at CCF Las Pinas.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper[a]suitable for him.” 19  Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the [b]sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the [c]sky, and to every beast of the field, but for [d]Adam there was not found a helper [e]suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God [f]fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,

“ This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
[g]She shall be called [h]Woman,
Because [i]she was taken out of [j]Man.”

24  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  Genesis 2:18-24

  • God is not only the designer of marriage, He is also the builder. It was God who instituted the first marriage between Adam and Eve and His plan was wonderful. Until the serpent deceived Eve which led to their sin against their creator.

  • The principle of "Leave and Cleave". When marriage happens, the husband and the wife must leave their previous relationships, which refer to the relationship with their respective parents. This simply means when the couple agrees to get married, whatever decisions they make must be dependent on each other and not on the decision of their parents. Parents can only give advice but the final say should be from the couple themselves.

  • To cleave to one another or to join connotes commitment to develop a deep and loving relationship with one another. It becomes a commitment, a pledge and a decision to stay together no matter what.

  • Because they become one flesh, they should not be separated. God hates divorce, he says so in Malachi 2:16.

3  In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior.  Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; butlet it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b] without being frightened by any fear. You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:1-7

  • Wives being submissive does not only connote following the husband and submitting to whatever he says. Submission also means respecting the husband. By not talking down to him. By not using sarcasm to make a point. By being careful in our speech.

  • Husbands should not look at his wife as someone inferior because he is God's appointed spiritual leader instead the husband should care for the welfare of the wife. He should make sure she is protected, she is loved and is growing spiritually. If he choose to ignore the needs of his wife, it says in 1 Peter, his prayers would not be heard.

  • God is the architect of marriage and husbands and wife should refer to the architects blueprint, the bible in order to complete the marital journey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Onion Aha Moment

It's been almost a month since we started our school year and Coby hasn't opened his Science book yet. I was unsure whether to use the old Science curriculum or get a new one for his fourth grade. Though I really wanted to use the new one, Singapore Science, I opted the old one, Science by Scott Foresman. And because of that, I delayed studying Science because at the back of my mind, I knew I would change curriculum very soon.

Unfortunately, Coby cannot hold his enthusiasm anymore in Science. He was so eager to jump right in and just do it. In fact, he was reading his textbook as soon as we bought it. He is our Science boy. He loves Science so much that depriving him of the "did-you-know-facts" is like telling him not to draw or keeping all his art materials.

So finally, I decided to start with cells, which was the first lesson in the textbook. It would have been great to have our own microscope but Google Images can substitute in the meantime. We talked about the onion and how it looked like under the microscope. Told him to compare and contrast the onion with and without the microscope.

In order to make your lessons really interesting and get your child's attention, you need to KNOW your child. What are his interests, what makes him excited... At 9 years old, he still loves building with his Lego and K'Nex. So I integrated Lego building with cells. How each lego block or piece is connected to each other to make one house, a car or whatever. Cells are the same. They are called the building blocks of life because life indeed starts with just a single cell. Same cells performing the same function are grouped together to form a tissue. A group of tissue to form an organ. Organs then form an entire system then all the systems connected to each other to create a living organism, whether an animal, a plant or a baby.

As we repeated the process over and over, he had his aha moment. He said, "So, Mama, are you saying that's how I was formed inside your tummy? I started with a cell, then tissue, then organ and then became a person?" With my eyes sparkling with delight at how he connected our lesson to his own life, I eagerly answered, "Yes!"

His eyes grew big and I could really sense that he GOT it. He kept saying, "That's awesome!" He appreciated how God created minute living cells to form an organism, a man in his own image.  I immediately put a note in my lesson notebook to remind me of the day that Coby had that aha moment.

One of the best things about homeschooling is that not only does the child learns the lesson and memorize it  but he learns life lessons without memorizing and connecting all lessons to his life and to God. There are times we intentionally integrate love for God in the lessons but most of the time God really intervenes and allows His lessons to be learned by the child personally.  Thank you God for allowing Coby to see You in our lesson today. May you forever be praised!


 13 You created the deepest parts of my being. 
      You put me together inside my mother's body. 
 14 How you made me is amazing and wonderful. 
      I praise you for that. 
   What you have done is wonderful. 
      I know that very well. 
 15 None of my bones was hidden from you 
      when you made me inside my mother's body. 
      That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth. 
   When you were putting me together there, 
    16 your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. 
   You planned how many days I would live. 
      You wrote down the number of them in your book 
      before I had lived through even one of them.  Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Old and New

Our school year just started this week. Prior to enrollment, my husband and I were "mapping out" where our homeschooling area would be. Since our apartment now is bigger than our previous one, I feel more excited to teach the kids. I follow other homeschooling mom bloggers and got ideas from their own homeschooling set up. I would just drool at how these families created a homeschooling room for their kids. Since we have a limited space, we are confined to having  just an area instead of a room. Lots of great ideas at organizing, de-cluttering (believe me, there will be  A LOT of clutter) in our own school at home and just creative ways of using ordinary house items.  I realized that we really don't need to buy anything new.  For weeks my husband would frequent ACE Hardware, furniture stores and even thought of doing our own bookshelves ourselves but we calculated the cost.... ah, maybe next time.

But when we came home one afternoon after enrolling the kids, we just decided to move things around. Put this here, put that there. We had saved a used biscuit container and turned it into a mini pen organizer. You see, every time we start school, my first question would be, "where is your pencil?" Usually, it would take minutes before they find a decent one. Though I gave each of them their own pencil case, somehow the pencils don't end up there. So with the pen organizer, all the pencils, markers, erasers, scissors are put together in one container and every time they need it, they just take the whole container and put it on the table. I just have to remind them to put them back in the same container so we could easily find them again the next day. So far, this idea is working, thank God!

The first consumable item that runs out easily is the scotch tape. Why? Well, our eldest is not only into drawing and painting, he is also into recycling and crafting. When he sits down and creates something out of nothing, our dear old scotch tape would be the "victim". Soon after completing his craft projects, it would lying somewhere around the house. Jianne, our little girl, on the other hand, would create mini books for herself and would use up our colored paper, construction paper, bond paper and even scratch papers.  She would be busy on the floor drawing and creating her own story books. And these too would be scattered all over the house. So hubby and decided to get a mini filing cabinet for their projects, and also our supplies. Mind you, this was the only thing we purchased, every thing else is reused and recycled from our existing stuff. The mini cabinet houses our all our supplies, from tape to papers and they each have their own drawers to keep their projects, their drawings and whatever crafts they make. Organized cabinet, working fine.

Encouraging kids to read at a very young age, is for me, one of the best influence any parent can give to his or her child. Reading and love of  books would definitely take them anywhere, figuratively and literally. The kids have lots of books at home but are kept in a cabinet upstairs. I was encouraged by one blogger because she made it a point to have a reading nook in their homeschool room. So I decided to take out all the books from the cabinet and take them to our area and create a small nook where they can just pick up a book and read. To make it more comfortable, I got an old rug and placed it strategically in front of the books to get them to reading. When we called the kids to show our completed homeschool area, the first place they checked out was the reading nook. They got a book, sat on the rug and read until it was time to eat!

I pray to God that this year would really be different from the rest of our homeschooling years. I was not afraid to try a new curriculum which I know would help my son. It may be more expensive than the previous one I know that it would create a different attitude in him. I believe he would be more confident to do his Math with the Singapore Math, My Pals are Here. In fact, when he opened the textbook, he got so excited because of the visuals seen on the pages. And when his Papa began to teach him the first day, both of them enjoyed. The curriculum even has games to encourage retention and practice for the child. Why didn't I heard of this before????

For the little one, as soon as we came home with the books, she wanted to start school right away. After doing the dishes that night, she came to me and said that she wanted to do school that moment. I told her that she can check out her books and do school the following week. I told her I have to "study" her lessons too. She agreed but kept bugging me to start every day since then.

With a new mindset, a new set of goals, a more directed homeschooling plan, our family is so hyped with school.  I had learned from my mistakes in the past and admittedly I had to learn them the hard way. But we have a gracious God who will equip, encourage and inspire us to do great things not only for our kids but for Him as well.  All that we are now is not because of our own doing, but because of our Lord who strengthens us and connects us with the right people. Everything  is all for His glory.
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-8


Monday, June 18, 2012

While Waiting

Being married to a teacher has it's perks.  Hubby usually comes home with bags filled with gifts from parents, students and co-teachers especially at the end of school year and before the Christmas break.  One memorable gift from the class was a box of Twinings tea. I love tea! The bags were encased in this special wooden box with small compartments that I just don't want to touch any of it. 


Most of the time he would be blessed with gift certificates from Rustan's, SM, Starbucks and Fully Booked. All of which we are so grateful for!

It was a rainy first day of school for most of the students of the Metro. But for our homeschooling bunch, we headed to Fully Booked in Bonifacio Global City to finally redeem our GC.

Since Jianne is formally starting school this year, I was in search for school books for her. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time because our "Prinicipal" had a tutoring stint that day. For almost two hours, we searched the entire building for books. There were tons of chapter books for boys but Coby was not too keen on getting chapter books since he has other books at home he hasn't read. He was searching for encyclopedia-like-sci-fi book but when we found one, it was way over budget. We need to get something for everybody, that's our rule.

So finally, we found an origami plane set. It was way too cool! He couldn't wait to open that bright orange box. For our little girl, we got her a Little Bear level 1 reader book, her own choice of Princess book and a 300-page huge coloring that's a lot of coloring! We also got them their favorite Princess Diaries DVD and The Tale of Despereaux DVD.

Papa got his car magazine and I got my food magazine. Everybody happy!

We were out of the bookstore just before 1PM to grab a quick lunch before hubby goes to work. He gobbled up his lunch at McDonald's and hurried to the nearby condo where his student stays.

After the kids and I finished our meal, I decided to take them walking along the busy streets of BGC. We saw different restaurants, some peculiar looking, while some are dainty. We were walking slowly just to pass the time and until we reached the frontage of The Mind Museum. We haven't been there and we will surely visit one of these days. Soon, we headed back to McDonald's and ordered a double caramel sundae while waiting for our papa. We were supposed to go to Market Market but I am not used to driving in that area with strict traffic rules.  So I just told the kids we can do something fun while waiting. The kids were getting bored in McDonald's so we headed to the open parking area.

Instead of waiting in the car, I decided to wait outside and let the kids run around an open space near the parking lot. The place was so windy and the kids were enjoying the cool breeze. While waiting, they run, pretended to be giants and did their version of Temple Run. I was happy because the kids were not bored anymore but were just enjoying playing with each other, laughing, and taking pictures. Slight drizzle ended our Temple Run adventure and we headed to the car and soon papa arrived just in time.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Two Peas in a Pod

My husband and I are blessed to have a boy and a girl. When I was pregnant with Coby, we prayed that it would be a boy. God blessed us with a happy baby boy. The second time we found out we were having another child, we again prayed for a girl to complete the Brady Bunch. In His graciousness God gave us our little princess.

Two different individuals coming from the same parents. Indeed each child is unique. No one is exactly the same. Even twins are not exactly the same. We, as parents, should celebrate their differences. Our kids were created wonderfully and fearfully by our Creator, of course, including us.

Just for fun I wanted to look at how different our two kids are...

During my pregnancy...I gained so much weight when i was pregnant with Coby and had not much morning sickness but with Jianne, I was skinny and had a sensitive first trimester.

Breast feeding... Coby was breast fed for only two to three months while Jianne was at it until she was almost three years old.

Putting the baby to sleep... Coby easily gets startled with the slightest noise and has trouble falling asleep while Jianne will easily fall asleep while being breastfed.

Language skills... Both started talking early by age one.

Love language... Coby feels loved when you do something for him. He appreciates you when you put syrup on his pancake. He feels loved when you prepare food for him or make him anything. His
love language is service. Jianne on the other hand is very clingy, very attached. She enjoys hugs, kisses, scratching her back and brushing her hair. She craves physical touch as she herself generously showers you with hugs and squeezes.

Food... Coby enjoys gourmet dishes. He wants sophisticated food at times. He does not like "lutong Bahay". He would always request that we eat in restaurants or asks me to prepare something different. He eats a lot when dining out. He calls himself a "fruitatarian" because he loves all kinds of fruits. Jianne craves for sinigang, nilaga, typical pinoy dishes but does not eat much when we eat out. She does not care much fruit except for mango and banana but would finish the okra in sinigang and eat broccoli with her fingers.

Coby is the talker in the family. His voice would always fill the house. Jianne is quiet, a bit reserved, quite shy too.

Learning style...Coby is a visual learner. He learns best with visually attractive curriculum and materials. Maybe that's why he is into art. He paints and draws well too. I still have to find out Jianne's primary learning style but I could see that she may be an auditory or kinesthetic learner. She loves music and dancing.

There are still a lot more waiting to be discovered from these two blessings. I just pray that God would allow me to witness all their milestones in life. I also pray that despite their differences, they would continue to love each other no matter what and wherever God takes them.









Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Taming the Tongue

The greatest influence our children would have is us, their parents. We taught them how to talk and guided them as they started to walk. It's funny when I see kids walk and talk like their parents. It's like looking at mini versions of Mom and Dad. Not only do we pass on physical traits and mannerisms, we also intentionally and unintentionally pass on to them the values that we want them to have.  Because I homeschool our kids, I would say that I am my children's greatest influence, not to exclude my husband, of course. But since I am with them 24/7 I have more opportunity to teach them and impact them in a positive way. 




When I talk to Coby, our eldest, somehow I could see some semblance of me in him. I claim or even argue that he looks like me but some people insist that he is a little Peewee. Go figure  :-) Aside from the physical aspect, I see his interest in writing, creating his own stories and cooking as well. But the most striking trait he got from me are my  exasperated expressions like "Hay naku!"Image

He expresses this phrase exactly the same way I do especially when he is dealing with his younger sister, Jianne. From the tone, to the facial expression and hand gestures, it's all me. The first time I saw this I thought it was kinda cute but then again, it's not a good thing. I would hear him talk to his sister in a mean way and I would always call his attention and correct him. I would even ask him, "Why do you speak like that to your sister? Why are you so mean?" I could sense that he feels there is nothing wrong with what he said maybe because I could be mean to him too at times. He would feel ashamed afterwards and say sorry to his sister.

Somehow Coby's negative behavior only mirrors what I do when I do not control my tongue. But the Lord is good at reminding me of my weakness and my need to tame my tongue. Realizing, again, that I used harsh words on him, asking for forgiveness is the next thing to do.

Did you know that the tongue is the most powerful muscle in the body? Such great power for a tiny part of the body. Likewise, in the words that we use to communicate with other people, our children or our spouse, we forget that the words that we speak have so much impact on other people that we end up either encouraging them or hurting them. 

James 1: 19 says, Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.


James 3:5-6 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

We, as parents, are the primary life teachers of our children. Let us not let our our anger and our untamed tongues influence them. Instead, we should acknowledge that we cannot parent our children by ourselves. We need someone who is the best example of patience and love and this is our our Heavenly Father who richly gives us everything we need. He will give us the patience, the wisdom, and compassion to bring up our children the way He wants us.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How We Won an iPad at the Philippine Homeschool Conference

If we built a school from the ground up based on how children learn best, we’d build a HOME. – Debra Bell

The Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) recently concluded the 4th Philippine Homeschool Conference last May 19, 2012. Throngs of homeschooling dads and moms along with prospective homeschooling families flocked the 5th floor of St. Francis Square to attend this blessed event.

Hubby and I arrived a little after 8 am and we saw most of the seats at the plenary occupied already, good sign :-) As we headed to the registration, I saw a glimpse of  a mini  orchestra of homeschooled kids on stage serenading the delegates.

I was surprised to find out that the DepEd representative, Mr. Tonisito Umali, also homeschooled his son while transitioning from the United States to the Philippines. He believed that the parents have the responsibility of delivering the basic foundation of their children’s education. He narrated some of the programs of the department that addresses the issue of lack of classrooms, which is somehow patterned to homeschooling.

Catholic Filipino Academy founder, Bo Sanchez, delivered his message with wit. While sharing his personal experiences on homeschooling his kids, he encouraged the delegates by citing that children receive worth, wisdom and the Word when they are homeschooled. He added that the highest priority of the parents is to develop a relationship with their children and homeschooling is the best environment to do that.

Pioneer homeschooling mom and author of the book, “The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling”, Debra Bell, affirmed our family’s decision to homeschool four years ago. She talked about why homeschooling works. She said that kids learn best when they are able to process things using their five senses. Homeschooling caters to the multi-sensory approach in learning as they experience first hand the lessons taught at home. Homeschooling works because of its academic advantages such as independent learning, acceleration if need be or remediation. She added that homeschoolers have the advantage of being mentored by adults and  influenced by positive older peers.

As my husband and I listened intently to Ms. Debra Bell, we acknowledged that there is still A LOT more to learn. Though we have been doing this for four years, we need talks like these to be better parent-teachers. The old way of doing homeschooling in our family simply does not work and it only wears us down. With new insights and wisdom from the Lord, I am looking forward to the next school year. We pray that our home and the world be the best classroom for our kids.

On the aside, after pre-registering for the conference, I found out that four iPads will be given away. As much as we want to get one for the family, it’s not on our NEED list but on the WANT list. Since enrollment is just a month away, purchasing this tablet would be on hold indefinitely. I shared to the hubby and the kids that iPads would be given away at the conference. So daily, we prayed that God does not give us only our need but also our want.

The day of the conference, my husband and I were both pumped and just excited to learn more. Towards the end of the program, minor prizes were being given. My husband won a tumbler and a USB from TMA. After announcing the winners minor prizes, the hosts went up the stage for the grand prize. Three names were called and everybody was cheering for the winner. I almost lost hope for the iPad, I said, it’s okay Lord, maybe it’s not for us. When the lady slowly shouted the winning ticket number, “4…0… ( My heart was pounding at this time, please say 1 or 2, 1 or 2) and then 2! Wilfred Agbayani!”

I jumped from my seat and grabbed my husband. I even hugged the person in front of us, who we just met. What a way to end the day, indeed! Thank you Lord for this bonus for the family! We would surely use it for our homeschooling.

first win of the day, 2 movie tickets at any ayala cinema

won another minor prize, TMA tumbler and 2G USB

and the winner is ticket number 4…0..2!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Free Milk for Babies

I was a senior in high school back in the 90's when our English teacher asked us to visit the library. We were told to search for subjects that might interest us for our term paper. As I rummaged through the old books and encyclopedias, I stumbled upon an article on breastfeeding in a woman's magazine. When I saw the title, "Breastfeeding: Best for Babies", I was immediately taken back in time.

I was 5 or 7 years old, minding my own business, when lo and behold, I saw our helper expose her breasts to feed her baby. I was confused as a child as this was the first time I saw this mother and child scene. When my mother saw that I was dumbfounded, she explained to me that our helper was breastfeeding her baby. She said the baby is taking in milk from his mother's breast. I didn't know milk came out of that!

After that brief moment at the library, I immediately copied the title in a 1/4 sheet of pad paper and kept it in my pocket to be submitted later to my teacher. I found two more additional topics during our library time  but the one that my English teacher approved was, you guessed it, the breastfeeding subject.

Fast forward to the future, I had our first child. I told myself that I would breastfeed him since I have all the information on breastfeeding recorded in my brain. My husband and I even attended a breastfeeding seminar in one hospital in Alabang just to make sure that I would really be serious at it.

After giving birth at the hospital, it took a while before I was able to get up and see him in the nursery. At first attempt, it did not work. Why didn't it work? It was because the nurses already fed him using a feeding bottle. I remember giving instructions that I would be breastfeeding him but still they gave him formula. The nurse told me that it's normal. Milk does not come out easily during the first try. She told me to come back after two hours and try again. I came back and tried again, he suckled a little and then just gave up.

On discharge on route to our house, our baby started crying incessantly. So, my instinct tells me to give him my breast. I remember that I was so frustrated because he couldn't get any milk from me. The flow of milk was not that strong and he was getting angry too. I tried my best until we reached home.

After the ooh's and aah's at home from my parents, he started crying again. I tried to feed him but to no avail. He kept on crying and I can't do anything about it. Imagine my despair as a first time mom who is trying my best to feed my baby but how come the lessons I got from the breastfeeding class does not work at all. My mom, seeing my inability to feed my child, asked the maid to buy formula at the supermarket. I really felt I cheated on my child that day. I was crying too feeling helpless.

To cut the long story short, I was only able to breastfeed him for only 2 to 3 months, which was unfortunately supported by formula which I regretted later.

I vowed after that, if God would bless us with another child, I would not give up that easily on breastfeeding.

And God heard our prayer, He gave us a baby girl. This time I made sure I did my homework. While still pregnant, I told my doctor that I would be including breastfeeding in my birthing plan. I think the doctor had written down my instructions in my chart plus I also informed the nurses that I would be exclusively breastfeeding her.

What we thought as a "easy" delivery turned out to be the opposite and a delicate one at that. Because of the baby's position in the womb, it was going to be difficult for me to push and the baby to go down the pelvis. They had to do an emergency C-section because I have been pushing for so long and the baby might be in trouble. Finally, she was out but I was so dazed I couldn't remember seeing her in the delivery room. As soon as I went up to my room, I immediately asked that the baby be roomed in with me. The doctors advised me not too because of my surgery but I insisted because I has to breastfeed. I wanted to make sure that I would be the one feeding my baby. So she was brought in, all bundled up in that tiny blanket. After checking if all the body parts were complete and smelling and kissing her, I tried to feed her. There was no milk coming out yet, which was normal, as I was told. Because I had no milk at that time, the baby was hungry, the hospital sent their formula to my room. I had no choice but to take the formula. So I put a small amount of formula in a medicine cup and tried to feed my baby. Little by little she was able to take in milk. I was so happy because no feeding bottle was used. For 2 or 3 days, that was how she was fed because my milk supply was not available yet.

After about one week, the milk came in and boy was I sore. I was crying because my breasts were so engorged that I could breathe anymore. I had to call my friend, who is a breastfeeding coach on what to do. She told me to just massage the breast and put hot compress over it. It was painful and again, it was normal. The milk supply is just coming in that's why I feel that my breasts are so full. I needed to express some of the milk to help relieve the pressure. I could not remember how many days the fullness and pain lasted, but when it did, it was such a relief. I could now feed her more comfortably and I was more relaxed. My friend told me when my body is relaxed, the milk would flow easily.

It did flow for almost three years. I exclusively breastfed our second child for 2 years and 9 months. She never liked the taste of formulas. Neither did she like bottle feeding. There were times I had to express milk and put them in bottles, she would not take them. So I had to bring her with me everywhere I go.

Good thing that moms and Filipino moms have been open to the idea of breastfeeding. Even companies have been supported of breastfeeding moms that they have allowed us to breastfeed our kids comfortably and in public without shame.

Some of the breasfteeding items I enjoyed the most were:

Nursing blouses or dresses. Not only did it keep our private feeding time with baby discrete, these blouses are stylish as well. There are different styles and some of which you can wear as an ordinary blouse. The blouses either have zippers or slits that would hide the breast while feeding. Mommy Matters from Havin' a Baby sells these cute blouses for moms.


Nursing bras. Some moms I have talked to didn't like wearing nursing bras but I appreciated them. Search for them at the lingerie section of your favorite malls.


Breast pads. Oh so helpful in those days when the milk just can't stop. Have to change it often too especially is your milk supply is more than enough.

Nursing bib or Cover up. If you don't have a nursing blouse, the nursing bib can help you cover up when baby is feeding. I was blessed by my sister in law who gave me not two but three of her nursing bibs and they are just so cute.



Baby sling. This is my all-time favorite breastfeeding/attachment parenting tool that was ever created. We ou see African women or even here in our country, mothers who live in tribes carry their babies either on their backs on a sling. This modern day baby slings have different designs to suit you and your baby. The baby sling that I bought can also be used as a cover up because of the style. I got mine from Babyland and when you purchase one, an instructional CD is included in the package. It will teach you the different ways of carrying your baby or toddler.

I believe God designed mothers to breastfeed their children. Not only is this free, it has great health benefits for both baby and mom. No bottles to clean or bulky bags to carry around. Moms can feed anytime and anywhere and it creates an intimate bond between mother and child that lasts a lifetime.