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.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Winning and Losing

 Galations 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)

Three weeks ago, Jianne, our 5-year-old, attended her first Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) in our church. It was a 2-day affair with a culmination activity on the third day. During the culmination, the kids get to dance to the songs they learned for the past two days. Following the song and dance and video showing, the awarding ceremony followed. Awards were given to kids who were most attentive, most obedient and who were best in crafts. Two students from each grade level were awarded with a certificate and a toy. I was unaware that Jianne was anxiously waiting for her name to be called. Every time the awards were Prep were announced, she would sit at the edge of her chair getting ready to stand up. One of her seatmates got an award and she proudly showed it to Jianne. I think this really did it for her. After the awards were given, she looked at me with angry eyes. She blurted out, "I don't want to attend this anymore. I don't like it!" "Why?" I prodded knowing what the reason for her anger. I gently told her that it's okay if she doesn't get an award since it was her first time to join DVBS. She wouldn't listen and was moping until the event was over.

When this little girl's mood turns sour, it's difficult to bring her back. Her Papa tried to console her but she just wouldn't budge. As we exited the sanctuary, the kids were given loot bags and tumblers as souvenirs. Those were not enough to cheer her up. While in the car, her Papa and I explained to her that not all the time she will be receiving an award or prize for something she did. She did not listen and her face showed how disappointed she was.

We headed to the toy store afterwards to buy Coby's gift from my mother. Mommy sent Coby money for his birthday and asked if we could just pick out the gift for him. I told Jianne that we would pick out a gift for Kuya and that I could her something simple (meaning cheap) because she did well on her first DVBS and danced well too. She said she did not want any thing but after much prodding she finally gave in. What child wouldn't want any toy? So we got her something really simple and she was happy after that.

As construction worker

The following night, we got a set of Pick-Up-Sticks for the family. While the family was playing, I noticed that Jianne was getting frustrated again because she could not get any of the sticks on the floor. Every time she tries to pick up one, the other sticks would move. After a few tries, she just gave up. She stood up and walked out on us. We called her back and she was sulking. Her Papa and I, again, explained to her that she doesn't always have to win the game. I told her it's her first time to play Pick-Up-Sticks and it's not easy to play it. I taught them some techniques on how to make sure the other sticks won't move. I added that if she really wanted to be good at it, she has to practice and practice. The same thing she did in her ballet class. When she started her ballet lessons there were some steps that she found difficult to execute but because of practice she mastered the steps.

After that, almost every night, Jianne and I would play Pick-Up-Sticks together. She is getting the hang of it and she is getting more sticks now! The last game we played, I won but it didn't bother her anymore. She was just happy to have gotten more sticks than in the previous games.

We would always tell the kids that in a game there would be winners and losers. Sometimes we're the winners and at times we're at the losing end. It feels good to win, of course, but more importantly is how you played the game. If we really gave our best and yet somebody else got the trophy, it disheartening but that's how it is. We need to accept that. Maybe in another game, we will be winners too.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (NIV)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Join the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2012

You might be hearing about homeschooling from friends or relatives and you are clueless about it. What is homeschooling all about? Join us at the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2012 on May 19, 2012 at the 5th floor of St. Francis Square Ortigas and discover the best education you can give your kids. Conference is a whole day affair from 8 am to 4pm. Learn from a homeschooler pioneer, Debra Bell, best-selling author of "Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling" and other Philippine-based homeschoolers and pioneers. Visit for more details. See you at the conference!