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