Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rush Rush


I asked Coby to read aloud his lesson in Language this morning. I noticed he was rushing through the paragraph without even stopping for the periods. I called his attention and reminded him to read slowly and with understanding. I would often catch him at times doing that, rushing himself to complete a task, a lesson or a project. And the results were always not so good. 

There was a need to stop the lesson and discuss this attitude of rushing. When asked why was he in a hurry to read, he could not give me an answer. Maybe he just wanted to finish the lesson right away so he could do something else, play, draw, or watch TV. He did not admit anything though. I pointed out that there was no reason to be in a hurry. He was not in a race, nor is there someone waiting for him to finish. So, why the hurry? I reminded him of our talk a few months back, about having time for everything. There is set time to study. There is set time to play. To eat. To sleep and rest. 

When asked if he could give me topic of the paragraph he just read. He stuttered because he couldn't give me the topic. That's because you were reading so fast you didn't have time to picture the words in your mind. Being a visual learner, Coby needs to have images in his mind in order for him to fully appreciate or grasp the lessons. I reiterated the need to understand the lessons well and not rushing to finish it just so he can complete the task. I told him I would rather that he completes a task in an hour with correct answers than completing the work in five minutes but with endless revisions and corrections. 

I asked him to remember how he was able to create beautiful works of art in his art class. They were all done well because he was not in a hurry to complete the artwork. He just enjoyed what he was doing and so the results were fantastic. The same principle or attitude can be applied to studying or even life. Completing the task hastily would get the job done alright, but how would it turn out? 

There is a time for everything. We don't need to rush into things or make things happen hastily. Everything has it's own time. 

God's word says it best in Ecclesiastes:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiates 3:1-8

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Little Can Read

Homeschooling this year is different than the previous years. Primarily, because I have a new student. Our youngest, Jianne, just entered Kindergarten this school year. I have no idea how to divide my time between a third-grader and a preschooler. But again, I know that if God calls me to do this seemingly impossible task, He will equip me with patience and creativity. As expected, He never fails to do so. He has been faithful despite my impatience, my disobedience and my laziness. Despite my insecurity, He has blessed me recently with the first fruit of Jianne's homeschooling journey. In a matter of 6 months of homeschooling, Jianne is able to read independently.

We used the Sing, Spell, Read and Write Reading Curriculum for Kindergarten. The set includes a CD of songs included in the lesson, short vowel sound charts, two activity books for the student, a teacher's manual and five mini story books.

As many longtime homeschooling families attest to the effectiveness of the said curriculum, I need to find out for myself. The curriculum, as it is so implied in the name, allows the student to sing letter sounds first rather than memorizing the alphabet. The student listens to the songs in the CD, which is included in the curriculum set, and by heart learns the letter sounds. After a week or two of listening to the cd, she doesn't want to hear it anymore. She would just sing it on her own. There are also other numerous activities included in the curriculum that a parent or teacher can use to reinforce such learning. But because Jianne learns quickly, we skipped some of the activities as she gets bored with the repeated activities. I would download other activities for her to work on when she is not in the mood to work on her Sing-Spell.

She is just so excited to read, that on the first month of schooling, she is so eager to read the mini storybooks included in the set. She would be the one to tell me that would like to do school that day.

Like I said, just last month, Jianne started reading on her own. Both of us were ecstatic. I can't believe she can actually read. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach my kids. I am grateful that the time I spent with her paid off.  I was doubtful of my own abilities in the beginning to teach my child to read but as God calls me, He equips me. I know I have nothing to do with it, it was all of God's doing, I was merely an instrument. I realized now that no amount of money can ever pay the opportunity given to me to reap the fruits of our family's obedience to God's call to homeschool.

Jianne was so hyped of this achievement that she prayed, "Lord, thank you for allowing me to read. I don't have to ask Mama and Papa to read me a book anymore. I can do it myself." But we still need to read to her. In fact, my husband and I still read to his older brother, who is now 8 years old. Not that he needs assistance in reading but he enjoys the time we spend together reading his chapter books. Time spent with your children is never a waste of time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How Does Your Child Learn: The Different Learning Styles

The Science teacher explains the leaf system in class. Jonah, who sits at the back of the class, enjoys Science a lot and he is just too eager to learn about how leaves actually make food. Although, the teacher uses visual aids, Jonah still can't appreciate the lesson because he is just too far from the board. So what does he do? He gets bored and tries to strike a conversation with his seatmate. 

Katie, who is in the same class as Jonah, is seated in the front row, right in front of the teacher. She sees the chart, the colorful pictures shown by the Science teacher but she somehow dozes off to lala land without the teacher seeing her. 

Matthew, who also finds the lesson interesting, feels that there is more to this Science class and sneaks out of the classroom to investigate in the school garden. 

Jonah, Katie and Matthew learn differently from each other. All three students have different learning styles.

Jonah: The Visual Learner
Because Jonah was seated at the back row, he could not appreciate the lesson. The lesson interesting to him but because he has no direct access to the visual aids he cannot completely grasp what the teacher is talking about. Visual learners learn more when they SEE the actual actual pictures or drawings being presented. They learn more when they READ themselves rather than somebody reading to them.  Grasping the lesson would take time as they are trying to visualize or picture the subject in their minds. So, getting the attention of visual learners could be a challenge unless you provide them with vivid, colorful pictures or provide the actual objects. Field trips could also be beneficial too for these kids as they could see the real thing in real life. Visual learners would be delighted with art classes, photography classes, and cartooning.

Katie: The Auditory Learner
While Katie is seeing the pictures presented by the teacher, she feels overwhelmed because not only is she having a visual representation of the subject but she is also hearing it closely. Auditory learners, learn more when they HEAR the lessons instead of having a visual experience of it. I remember when Coby was in preschool, the teacher told me that every time the teacher explains a subject to him, Coby does not seem to be paying attention. But when the teacher asks him to repeat what she said, Coby would echo the lesson back to her in toto. He does not need to see what is being talked about, all he needs to do is hear the speaker. Auditory learners work well with music on their background. You will find them, sometimes, humming while playing, eating or just busy doing something. I would like to believe that they also love to talk and finds comfort in vocally expressing themselves. Auditory learners would be excited to learn how to play musical instruments, attend dance classes or take up singing lessons.  

Matthew: The Kinesthetic Learner
Matthew wants to absorb the lesson well, so he goes out and searches for plants. He wants to touch them, smell them and look at them. He needs to touch everything. He needs to manipulate objects and learn from it. He needs to move. In Math, kinesthetic learners would appreciate manipulatives like coins, pebbles, sticks and counters. They also love to use clay, play with sand or building blocks. These kids move around a lot, because their brains are telling them to. They do not do it intentionally to irritate people, it's just how they are wired. They also enjoy tinkering things. Small kids would accidentally destroy a toy because they want to find out how things work. Kinesthetic learners would probably enjoy sports or gymnastics. 

All children, including adults have different learning styles. It is said that all three are seen in each individual but only would stand out which could help your child/student learn well. Figure out what your child's learning style is and provide the necessary tools that would enable him/her to absorb the lessons well. Just because one style stands out doesn't mean, the other styles should be left out. Allow the child to also develop other learning styles to create a holistic approach to learning. 

You can check out to determine your child's learning style. Remember too that each child was created by God to have their own unique character traits, gifts, and innate intelligence. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Once There was a Storyteller...

I received a phone call from my editor-friend, Beng Alba, two weeks ago. She said that she recommended me to fill in for her as a storyteller for a book table event of OMF Lit Pergola. I was surprised that she would even think of me, gosh! I would only read stories to my kids but I never imagined doing it "professionally" (naks). I was hesitant but Beng showed that she had faith in me and so I said yes.

A few days later, another call came from Gracia, the bookstore manager, who confirmed the gig. Again, I hesitated and shared with her that I was really nervous since it's going to be my first time and I doubted if I could pull it off. But Gracia, patiently listened to my whining and still insisted I get the job.

The Boy Who Doesn't Like to Take a Bath by Beng Alba
The book, "The Boy Who Doesn't Like to Take a Bath", which was written by Beng, was given to me so I could study it.  It was a funny story so I immediately read it to my kids and it was my preparation for the actual storytelling session. I had to project  my voice and use varying tones to highlight the different characters in the story. Both Coby and Jianne enjoyed the story and begged that I read it again -- for the next several days.

Friday came, my storytelling day! I was a nervous wreck! I changed outfits maybe three or four times. I had to pick the right clothes, you know. It had to be something colorful so the kids would pay attention (that's my personal theory, right there). So after asking God to be with me that day and my kids in tow, we headed to the preschool before 9:30 A.M.

The bookstore staff were already there because they had set up their book table. Gracia, with her contagious smile, gave me final instructions before the host/teacher called on me to start.  With hands shaking and heart pounding like a jackhammer, I got hold of the mic and introduced myself to the little people. Taking my kids along really gave me a confidence boost because I know no matter what happens, they will support Mama.

Storytelling went well during the morning session. It was fun to hear the kids' reactions while I was narrating and some were even predicting what's going to happen next in the story. I guess some of the questions I prepared were a bit complicated for the 3 to 5 year-old's, so with the help of the other teacher, I modified them so the kids could answer. And the kids who answered correctly (all of them did) received a prize from OMF Pergoal c/o Gracia.

The afternoon session was different. The confidence kicked in and I was not distracted by the tantrums of one toddler. At the end of the session, I was surprised to receive a token and a Certificate of Appreciation from the school! I had it displayed on top of our bookshelf at home.
With Teacher Gina and Ms. Mara

As we headed back home, Coby asked me. "Mama, what do you call yourself now?" he inquired. "I mean, what you did there in that school?" he continued. "Oh, storytelling and I was a storyteller", I replied. "Now you're a storyteller. You sure have a lot of jobs, Mama," he concluded. And I just laughed in agreement.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A 100-Peso Afternoon with the Kids

After days of rain, rain and more rain, the sun finally came out today... well, let's just say, the sun just peaked through the clouds.  I thought of bringing the kids to the park or the soccer field in Ayala Alabang but I remembered the grass might still be wet and we might end up getting all muddy and messy.  How about an indoor playground then for the kids to stretch those sleepy muscles?  So we headed to the indoor playground in Alabang Town Center.

Alabang Town Center before the renovation

One of the perks of homeschooling, is that we can go to the mall anytime we want.  And the best time to go is when all the other kids -- who are not homeschooled-- are still in school.  The indoor playground in ATC was not full of kids and only a handful of toddlers were playing.  Jianne enjoyed running around without fear of bumping other kids.  She climbed up and down the ladder and the ropes.  She had the monopoly of one this one horsey-springy-whatever ride that is.  Don't worry there were three other horsey-springy-whatever-ride that-is that the other kids were able to hop on.

I thought when we arrived that Coby, our 8-year-old would run to the playground.  But he just sat on the bench with me and as I watched his sister.  I told him to go play but he does not want to.  At first, I thought he was only shy but I realized playgrounds don't excite him anymore.  He likes different activities now and it does not include playground time.  I realized our Coby is growing up.  Good thing his Papa saw that he was getting bored and decided to take him to Time Zone.  So no more playground, Time Zone is the new playground for our 8-year old.

But before we left the house, I told my husband that we will just go out, allow the kids to play, and not spend anything.  I don't want the kids to feel that every time we go out, we have to buy something or spend money. We can just enjoy our time together without spending... or so I thought.

Okay, so there we were at Time Zone, both kids wanted to play but I have to stick to my policy of "No Spending Today".  Aha moment! I allowed them to play just one game each and that's it.  Both kids agreed.  Coby spent 18 pesos on his car racing game while Jianne spent 17 pesos for her mini-carousel.  Total money spent on games, 35 pesos.  After both their games ended, they readily went out of Time Zone with smiles on their faces.  No crying, no pleading for more games.  Simply calm and satisfied.

As we hopped on the escalator, our little muncher, Jianne, said she wanted to eat.  This little girl loves to take a snack every so often.  She would always tell me that her tummy is biting her and she needs to eat.  Drama queen, don't you think? :)  Just then we saw the Panaderia Illustrado stand near the exit.  Each of them chose the glazed doughnut, so one glazed doughnut --- 30 pesos, times 2 is 60 pesos.

Panaderia Illustrado's doughnuts

I always bring with me their water bottles wherever we go.  Not only do we save money on drinks but the kids are always reminded to drink water all the time.

Total money spent with the kids on a Friday afternoon, 95 pesos--- very cheap.  But time spent with the family--- truly, truly priceless.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ligo Sardines Levels Up

Disclaimer:  I am not a professional food critic nor am I a product reviewer.  Just sharing my two cents on certain food products my family consumed over the last month or so. 

This would be the first time I would be "reviewing" a product in my blog.  Well, this post is not really a review but merely a sharing a positive experience I had with the Ligo Sardines Gata (In Coconut Milk) Style.  By the way, I was not paid by Ligo Sardines to post this :-)

I saw on TV that a certain local brand of sardines has included a "gata" variant in its sardines line up.  Being a certified gata-dish-lover, I searched for this brand in the nearby supermarket but to no avail.  I was about to leave the supermarket aisle downhearted but then I saw Ligo, another brand of sardines, also has a gata variant, so I grabbed it and headed to the cashier.

I love sardines -- ordinary, spicy, even the mackarel or the white kind.  I especially enjoy it for breakfast combined with scrambled eggs and fried rice and a warm cup of coffee.  But that evening, I decided to try out this gata sardines for dinner.

 I prepared my crushed garlic and sliced onions for sauteing.  As I opened the can, I was surprised to see a slice of ginger inside, the size of a one peso coin.  Ask  any gata-dish lover out there, any gata dish would not be complete without the flavor of ginger.   After sauteing happily for a few minutes, I just garnished the dish with spring onions and served it to my hungry husband for dinner.

One bowl is not enough for the two of us

As the kids munched away their macaroni dish, my husband and I savored every bite of this spicy yet flavorful surprise.  The coconut milk overpowered the fishy taste of the sardines that we hardly noticed that we were eating canned fish.  Washing the dishes afterwards was a cinch as our plates were all cleaned up!

tapwriter: New Family Routine Brings Blessings

tapwriter: New Family Routine Brings Blessings: "Our family's Sunday night routine recently included a family devotions hour. I have been wanting to start this 'ritual' with my family but ..."

New Family Routine Brings Blessings

Our family's Sunday night routine recently included a family devotions hour.  I have been wanting to start this "ritual" with my family but I have yet to allow my husband to initiate it.  Good thing our pastor introduced the family devotions booklet to the congregation last Sunday and my husband was encouraged  to start spending time with the Word as a family.  

Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  My husband led the kids and I in reading the verse and talked about what the verse meant and how we can apply it to our lives.  The devotions booklet also included questions related to the verse and the kids readily answered them.  Although Jianne could not really understand the what we were talking about, at least she was hearing our insights as well as her older brother's thoughts and learning from us too. 

Just before we ended the devotion, our son Coby expressed his doubts whether he will be going to heaven or hell and he was quite fearful about it.  This became an opportunity for me to share the gospel to him.  In my mind, how come you still have that fear because I know that we have been studying about eternal life and salvation since he was 5 years old.  Anyway, after the devotion I explained to him again what salvation is, why we needed to be saved and who can save us.  I saw that was able to grasp what I explained to him, I even illustrated it on paper.  

After making sure he understood the truth about our salvation, I asked him if he wanted to do something about what he just learned.  Without batting an eyelash, he said yes to me.  So I led him to pray the sinner's prayer.  I congratulated him afterwards and told him that he is now officially a Christian, a follower of Christ.  His eyes widened in amazement when he realized that he is indeed a Christian, that Jesus is now living in his heart.  And then his questions kept coming... how will Jesus talk to me?  Will I hear his voice? Will I still sin? All those questions made me realize that he really understood what had just happened.  

Like all of us who chose to follow Jesus, living in this world is not easy, in fact, it is impossible.  But because God continues to supply us with his grace moment by moment, we can go on in this difficult but joyful journey of life with Him guiding us.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To Multi-task or not to Multi-task

(Imported from my previous blog)
Women, or more precisely, moms have been known to be great at the science of multitasking.  I, for one, has succumb to the call of the times to do hundreds of things all at the same time.  In my pursuit to juggle the daunting task of raising kids, managing a household, loving a husband, not to mention homeschooling and working from home, I am surely tempted to perform all these responsibilities, as they say, in one sitting.  I must admit that I have been a victim of this art, as some people describe it.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that multi-tasking is a crime.  Like I said, I was and still am (in some instances) a multi-tasker but I am able to let go of its hold on my life. defines multitasking as the concurrent or interleaved execution of two or more jobs by a single CPU.  Really? CPU? As in computers? I had to laugh for a while after reading this definition.  Multitasking was originally referred to as a task of computers.  No wonder I find it stressful!  First and foremost, I am a human being created by God with feelings.  I am not made to last a millennium.  And second of all, I can REALLY only do so much.  Hey, even computers break down right?
When I began to juggle all my do-lists altogether, at first, I felt a sense of pride.  Wow! I was able to do complete my list, I must be very good.  This multitasking thing is great! I would unashamedly share the experience with other people who don’t have the ability to do it… or so I thought.  Unfortunately, reality bit me and it bit me hard.  Yes, I could teach my son, work with my abstracts, take care of my little girl and entertain calls at the same time but it’s just too stressful.  So, here I am doing three to four things at the same time but what kind of ME is in it.  I mean, I have to divide ME in all these tasks, so I only give let’s say 1/4 of me in teaching, 1/4 in working, 1/4 in caring and 1/4 in calls.  Now is that giving my best? Where’s the quality control here?  I am only giving a part of me, not the whole of me and the recipients are getting not only a portion of my time but the worst of me, the stressed-useless-angry-frustrated me.
Here is how my schedule looked like while I was still multitasking:
Wake up stressed already.  Be on the computer requesting for work while having breakfast.  Wake up the kids and hurry them up, “Faster, I have to do a lot of things today”.  After kids’ breakfast, school starts with the frantic mom always in a hurry thus creating tension between the teacher and the student.  While teaching, I log on again and download work load for the day and constantly standing up to check on the progress of the download.  Not to mention the text messages I have to reply to (do I really have to). Just thinking about it makes me sick really.  Then the self-induced stress continues throughout the day leaving me exhausted to the bones.
Again, as I always do in my aha moments, God has always been the author of my realizations.  I cannot think of solutions on my own, He gives me the wisdom and I owe it to Him always.  So, as I tread on the dangerous (for me) journey, God has opened my eyes to the reality of the craziness I am in.  I am putting my sanity on the line and He  is not pleased with that.  Daughter, how about prioritizing things? Well, I do prioritize but I put them all in number 1.  I realized that there should be a hierarchy in all things.  I don’t have to pull my hair every waking moment thinking of how I could accomplish everything I need to do.
So I asked God.  What do I do first?  What would my day be like if I choose not to multi-task but instead order things and do my best in each task I am set to do?  I tried slowing it down and it worked, really worked.
Now, after realizing that I was spreading myself too thinly I decided to intentionally change the way I manage my day, my life.  I start my day with a conscious effort to read His word first and ask Him what He wants me to focus on for the day.  I leisurely take my coffee or tea for breakfast and listen to soothing music.  I check on the subjects we need to do for the day and remind myself not to put burden on our school time too much.  After giving 100% of my time to teaching the son and assisting my daughter in her writing, school ends for the day.  Right before lunch time, that is the time I turn on the computer, check my email and request for work load for the day.  While having lunch with the kids, I download the  files to save time.  After lunch and playing with the kids for a few minutes, I prepare my mind to write those abstracts.  Depends on the how much load I have, I try to finish it before 6PM so I could spend some time with the kids again and prepare for the arrival of my husband from work.  If the workload is light, I could squeeze some time in the gym for my boxing session.  At the end of the day, though exhausted still, I feel less frustrated, more grateful and looking forward to the next day.
I am not saying that multitasking is bad.  I still do multi-task but on a minimal level only like watching TV and texting or  meditating while taking a bath :) But that was my personal experience and if other people can manage it well, good for them.  I was just probably not wired to do it or just getting old :-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Homeschoolers' Flag Ceremony

When we started homeschooling three years ago, I thought I could skip teaching my son about our National Anthem.  Although, we have encountered the national symbols including the national anthem in our Social Studies class in Grade 1, I never really took the time to explain to him what the lyrics mean.  Until about last year, when the concept of nationalism came up in one our conversations.  I will not dwell on the actual conversation per se but it dawned on me that our homeschooling is not complete without paying homage to our motherland and instilling in our kids minds that we are Filipinos and must be proud to be one.

One day, an idea came to mind that I should start a regular flag ceremony day in our homeschooling schedule.  
So I searched the net for an mp3 version of our national anthem, downloaded it and saved it on my desktop.  I knew that our "Panatang Makabayan" or National Pledge has been changed years ago, but I have to admit I have no idea how the revised version is like.  So again, I searched the net, saved a copy from the net and wrote it on a piece of cardboard so the kids can read along with me as we recite it.  

I also got an idea from Coby's DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) two summers about doing a pledge to the Bible.  Since we are a Christian homeschooling family, who believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, we needed to commit our homeschooling journey to the Bible, God's Holy Word.   

To complete our flag ceremony and pledge day, we needed a flag.  I really didn't want to buy a mini Philippine flag because I know that the kids will just play with it.  So I asked Coby to draw a Philippine flag  on his sketchpad and we can just stick it on our wall or behind the front door.  Not only did we save money, we also used the resources we have i.e. Coby's art materials and artistic hand. :-) 
Our own Philippine flag

With all our paraphernalia ready, we started our first flag ceremony two weeks ago.  I decided to do it every Monday to start the school week off.  But first we discussed what we needed to do every time we hear our national anthem.  Wherever we are, we need to stand up straight, put our right hand over our chest (heart) and sing the song proudly.  No unnecessary movement whatsoever.  Even though Jianne does not know the song, she would hum along with me and was really serious at it. 

After singing along with the music, we recited the pledges.  I held the cardboard of pledges and asked Jianne to follow Kuya and Mama as we recited the Panatang Makabayan, Pledge to the Bible and Pledge to the Christian Flag.   

Pledge to the Flag

I thank God that He has prompted me to include a flag ceremony day in our homeschooling.  Now I can say that we are proud to be a Pinoy homeschooling family! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Goodbye Chips

Our weekly trips to the supermarket would not be complete without passing the chips aisle.  Each family member will pick one to take home for the week.  After watching Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution and how he advocates for healthier snacks for kids, I felt ashamed as a parent.  I mean why would I feed my kids and my husband these oh-so-crunchy-and-oh-so-salty snacks?  Although, we do not eat chips everyday, probably once or twice a week, I still feel the need to really take it off our grocery list.  

One of the things I am thankful for is that my kids love fruits.  I failed to mention that aside from chips and other snacks, our grocery cart would also include apples, oranges, pears or bananas.  Coby, our eldest, loves munching on these healthy snacks when he runs out of chips.  Somehow this habit has rubbed off to his Jianne who would fight over the last piece of banana with his kuya.  

For moms and dads who find it hard to deprive the kids of the chips, I suggest doing it first and be a model to your children.  My husband is a certified chips junkie.  As my sister-in-law says, they were deprived of chips and processed foods like hotdogs when they were young, so it is only now that they are enjoying these "sinful" food.  When I talked to my husband about letting go of his chips, he was hesitant at first because he says he needs the "crunch".  But he told me he would just get the nacho chips without salt, the one you use for making mexican nachos.  I on the other hand is not really fond of chips.  In fact, I cannot consume a bag of chips on my own.  But I must admit that I have a sweet tooth and I would die for chocolates! Letting go of my dark brown buddies is not easy but I have to for my sake and also for the kids sake. 

So here are my healthier snack alternatives that you might want to try with your own kids.  

Fruits, fruits, fruits.  I do not need to emphasize the importance of fruits in our diet.  Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that our family needs every single day.  If your kids, don't like fruits, let them see that you are not only eating them but enjoying them yourself.  Kids model their parents right? So whatever we parents do, our kids will follow.  For smaller kids, parents can cajole them into eating by making up stories about fruits or reading them books about fruits and vegetables.  Fruits are very colorful so let them see those bright red apples, sunny bananas, juicy watermelons, yummy mangoes and delectable grapes arranged in nice bowls sitting on the kitchen counter or on the dining table.  We have to patient in cutting up the fruits into smaller portions for our younger kids.

You go, Yogurt.  Ice cream is good but yogurt is better and a healthier choice.  There is huge range of flavored yogurts to choose from in the supermarkets and pick ones your kids will like.   One trick I got from the net is to insert a Popsicle stick in the middle of the container and let it freeze, ergo, yogurt Popsicle!  By the way, you can also add fruits to the yogurt to counter the sourness.  

Pop-corn my heart.
 Yes, popcorn is a healthier choice than chips.  But you need to get the ones with plain, low salt or natural flavor.  We usually buy the natural ones and we don't add salt anymore.  They smell and taste like the good 'ol popcorn from the movie house and it gives you the crunchiness regular chips give.  

Extra Cheese please.
 Slice up some cheddar cheese and arrange them alternately with plain crackers on a brightly colored plate. Again, plain crackers with no salt or low salt plus creamy cheese is a great combination for a light snack.   

Bottomless Fruit Drinks.
 Freshly squeezed fruit juice is best.  If you have the electronic juicer at home or just the plain handheld juicer, use this to prepare fresh fruit juices to the kids.  If squeezing is too tedious for you, try to get the canned fruit juice in the supermarkets.  They are a little more expensive that the powdered juice drink but remember healthier is always better.  Dads can also make fruit shakes or smoothies at home.  Get any fruit in season and shake, shake, shake!  

Please Pass the Veggies.  Carrots and celery cut into strips matched with dips like pesto dip, cheese dip other homemade dips will get your kids to eat those dreaded vegetables.  Steamed corn is also one of my daughter's favorite.  If I can't get the cobs packed ones in the supermarket, I get her the canned whole kernels and she enjoys them just the same.  Instead of frying french fries, try baking  them which eliminates the use of too much oil.  Try to find baked potato wedges recipes on the net.  

These are just some snacks our family has tried and has been enjoying up to this time.  Remember we need to be intentional parents.  We must be involved in every thing our kids are doing especially what they eat.  It would take much of our time but it's all worth it.  Let's not take our health or our kids's health for that matter, for granted.  Happy munching!!! Don't forget to brush your teeth too :-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mom's Milk

Created June 24, 2011

Breastfeeding is still best for babies…

I was a young girl when I first a mother breastfeed her child.  I was shocked to see our helper exposing her breast while her little baby boy tried to latch on. I tried to figure out what she was doing then I realized she was feeding her baby boy. I did not know that those two frontal bumps had milk in them.  After suckling on her mother's breast, the baby boy fell asleep and our helper put him down and went back to work. 

When I became a senior in high school, we were required to submit a term paper.  As I browsed through magazines at our school library for interesting topics, an article in bold letters struck me, it said, "BREASTFEEDING: BEST FOR BABIES".  I forgot what magazine that was but I knew this topic would be great for my first term paper.  I researched on the topic and finally got to finish my paper in time. After submitting the said project, our English teacher, Mrs. Lee then asked us to defend our project.  When it was time for me to do the defense, she asked me about the benefits of breastfeeding which I quickly answered.  Then her final question was, " If you have a baby of your own in the future, would you breastfeed then?"  Without batting an eyelash I answered, "Of course!".  Then she followed it up with, "What if you have to work, how will be able to feed your baby?".  "I would stop working in order to breastfeed my baby," was my reply.  She gave me a smile and gracious grade after that.

In 2002, I became pregnant with my baby boy.  My husband and I attended a breastfeeding seminar at the Asian Hospital.  There we learned how breastfeeding really works.  We were coached and taught by the wonderful breastfeeding advocates who later became very good friends.  It was my goal then to really breastfeed my baby.

I gave birth a few months after and tried to breastfeed him.  I would go down every 2 or 4 hours to the nursery and try to feed him.  But I found out later that the nurses gave the babies formula in the nursery that is why whenever I try to nurse him, he does not seem interested.  But still I tried as per the nurses’s instruction.  We went home that afternoon and the baby was crying relentessly, I gave him my breast but he was pushing it away.  I tried for a few minutes still the same response.  I felt frustrated and cried because I felt he was rejecting me.  I asked the helper to buy formula because he would not stop crying.  I was so disappointed with myself and could not stop crying.  I tried to breastfeed him for 2 to 3 months only combined with formula feeding.  Until I finally gave up and let the formula do the feeding.

After a while, I became so envious of mothers who breastfed their babies for a long time. My sister in law breastfed all her babies until they were a year old, a friend who breastfed until 3 years old (gosh) and my best friend who did it for 2 years i think. I secretly wished I did the same.  Though I knew it was the best food for babies, I failed to give my son the best. 

Three and a half years later, I became pregnant again.  This time I vowed to give it my best in feeding my baby.  I had to undergo a C-section this time because of fetal distress.  I remember asking for my baby girl to be roomed-in just after a day.  I wanted to do things right this time.  The pediatrician asked me if I really wanted her to be roomed in despite my stitches and I said yes.  So there she was, my baby girl,so tiny.  I tried to latch her on and feed her.  And that continued until she was 2 years and 8 months old. 

Those three years (almost) were filled with joy and frustration.  When she was teething, oh boy, one cannot imagine the pain and I would not share how I felt that time.  Every bite would bring tears to my eyes and vow not to feed her anymore.  Babies grow 20 teeth for the first two years of life, now how many bites would that be? Not to mention the accidental-bite-the-nip-because-the-baby-is-sleepy thing.... But you know what? It's all worth it.  If I could have one more child, which my husband and I planned not to anymore, thank you very much, I would still breastfeed.  I see it as God's wonderful design for mothers and children too.  

Now that she is almost five years old, she would sneak her hand in my shirt once in a while.  Of course, I would stop her especially when she does it in public.  She would also put her head close to my breast when she sleeps.  Lately, I asked her why she keeps putting her hand on my breast.  She tells me, "because your dede (breast) has a magnet!"

Why I Love Homeschooling

created Ma 23, 2011

Why do I love homeschooling, let me count the ways...

I love homeschooling because ...

it gives my child the flexibility to learn and master a particular lesson before moving on to more complicated lessons without being labelled as slow or lazy

it allows my child to explore the world and everything in it without strictly sticking to the lessons

it gives my child the opportunity to know God more through his creation and to learn to love him

it causes my child develop a love for reading and learning

it allows my child to have immediate life application of the lessons he learned at home

it  opens opportunities for my child to be creative by enhancing his or her talent in the arts, dancing, and sports

it encourages my child to talk confidently to other people not only to kids his age

it enables my child to develop long lasting friendships with other homeschooling kids and non-homeschooling kids as well

it deprives my child the stress of mom him waking up early in the morning just to reach school on time

it develops Godly character in my child as it is taught intentionally and unintentionally in all our lessons

As a parent-teacher...

it pushes me to lean on God more and depend on Him alone as He equips me in this task

it allows me to see my faults, ask for forgiveness from my child and God and start over again with a new heart

As a family...

it gives the family the freedom to express one's feelings toward another without being talked down to or criticized

it creates a bond which is founded on God's love that would last a lifetime

Math Drills Before School Starts

Created May 19, 2011

As I headed to the bookstore last week to get art supplies for my son's art classes, I was surprised by the long queue and this reminded me that school is just around the corner.  When I got home that afternoon, I heard my 8-year-old arguing with my 4-year-old on whose turn is it to use the computer, again! This has been a typical scene every since Jianne (the 4-year-old) learned how to play games on the computer.  Although, her use is still limited compared to Coby (the 8-year-old), every time she tries to use the older one tries to lure her into something else just to keep her off the PC. 

Vacation is almost over and I need to study which curriculum I am going to use for the two kids. As I do this daunting task of selecting the correct curriculum, I need to review as well as prepare Coby for his Math.  I used to give him pages of Math drills which to me is really overwhelming and gets boring at the same time.  So I decided to cut small pieces of colored index cards and write either an addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problem.  This method helps him because he can focus on only the problem written on the card and not get distracted by the other problems written in that short bond paper.  I thinking of assigning different colored index cards per operation like pink for addition, blue for subtraction, blue for multiplication and yellow for division.  I think this would also brace him for the problems he needs to solve.  Like if I give him a blue index card, he knows he will do multiplication and recall his multiplication table. 

The index card worked for him and me as well and as an added bonus I gave him an incentive.  For every index card completed with the correct answer, he is given 5 minutes to play on the computer.  I tried this during the third quarter and the result was impressive.  He not only solved the problems correctly but he did it so fast because he wanted to play right away.  Not only that, because of the limited time I gave for each index card, he wanted to do more drills so he could spend more time on the PC but he cannot exceed one hour.

As we prepare for Grade 3 this June, we will do the cards again and hoping that we find our own way of doing Math and this time encouraging each other.

The Summer I Met My Son

“The word of the Lord came to me saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1: 4-5
He was a typical one-year-old boy.  He was full of energy, strong and loved to laugh at lot.  People would comment that he is a happy baby because he smiles a lot.
Then God added years to his life and he began to “mature.”  At three years old, I thought something was wrong with him.  As a wife of special education teacher, I was always on my toes trying to assess him because if indeed there is something wrong with him, I want to address it right away and seek early intervention ASAP.  I searched the net for the “signs” he was exhibiting.  It seems to me he was defying everything I tell him.  He would be opposing me all the time and I found that very frustrating.  So I saw the condition related to autism which is Oppositional Defiance Disorder or ODD.  So I prematurely concluded that Coby has ODD.  I searched the hospital for a developmental psychologist right away to confirm my “findings”.  Finally, we went to see the doctor and we waited while he assessed Coby.   After such time, the doctor spoke to me with a tinge of sarcasm, “Mommy, stop over-analyzing your child.  Nothing is wrong with him.  He is as normal as any three-year-old could be.” I really felt embarrassed and then I jokingly replied, “Doc, do you think I need the assessment?”  The doctor laughed in agreement.
Throughout the years he has developed close friendships with the kids of former cell group members.  Since they are mostly of the same age, he easily bonded with them and looked forward to every meeting with them.  He also made friends in Sunday school.  Coby looks forward to visiting his cousins and playing with them too.
This summer however, I realized something about our eldest son when he attended our church’s Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS).  Coby has been attending DVBS for three years now but this year the DVBS program was changed which incorporated more time for games and bible study.  Whenever we get invited to kiddie parties, Coby would not join any of the games.  Despite our prodding, scolding and encouraging, he would glue himself to the chair and not move at all.  Unfortunately, for him, DVBS has more games now and they encourage all the kids to join.  As I looked at the the other kids excitedly joining the games, I watched Coby sit on the sidelines and do something else.  I would observe him everyday for one week and really felt frustrated that despite the teachers’ encouragement, he would still not get up and join any of the games.  One afternoon after DVBS I talked to him and explained to him how fun it is to join those games.  He insisted that he did not like joining because of the noise.  I just ignored his reasoning and continued to talk him out of it.  The following day, I thought my so-called talk with him worked.  He stood up to join but  did not finish the game.  I was fuming mad and acted like a stage mom at that moment.  I was not so proud of how I acted that time, I let the enemy take hold of me.  After that moment of drama with Coby, I told him to go back to his group.
I was asking God, why is my son like this? Why is he not like other kids.  I admit that I was jealous of the other kids’ moms because their kids are “like the other kids”.  But then I realized after much prayer, that each child is unique.  Like what God said in Jeremiah, He was the one who formed Coby in my womb.  He was the one who gave Coby his unique traits, his character.  He already knew Coby was going to be different from the other kids because he created every one special in His eyes.
He does not lack social skills as some would put it.  He relates well with his friends, his cousins,  older people and new acquaintances.  He talks, talks and talks a lot.  I realized he is just not like me.  I am the outgoing, extrovert type while he is more introspective and has a quite nature.  That is why he enjoys drawing because there is not much fanfare when he does this.  Drawing and music relaxes him.  In fact, up to this time he would hum a tune whenever he draws or creates something out of his Lego.  Sometimes too he would hum while munching on his favorite cheezewhiz sandwich.  Although he enjoys playing with other kids, he would prefer being in a small group only. He does not thrive in big group settings because it overwhelms him.  This is who Coby is.  This is how God created him but I know in God’s time Coby would come out of his shell.  In fact, he has been showing confidence in talking to other people and “reporting”.  Because he loves to talk, I told him he could be a reporter someday.  He said no, because he wants to be an inventor (see, even his career is introspective).  Then I said, well maybe after inventing something, you could explain your invention to other people then he said that it was a good idea.
Coby sharing what he knows about dinosaurs to his Papa
I realized that I need to accept how my child is different from other kids, even how different he is from his sister.  He has God given qualities that make him who he is.
I suggested he take soccer for summer, he does not like he says.  Then what kind of sports do you like?  I want golf Mama! Uh oh! Me and my big mouth!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pinoy Characters You Meet at the Mall

When was the last time you went to the mall? Was it yesterday? Last week? Pinoys flock the malls to shop, dine in restaurants, meet up with friends and family, do grocery shopping, pay the bills, or just to simply hang out.  As a frequent mall-goer myself (because of the 5-minute walk time to reach the mall) I have observed a bunch of characters who go in and out of these huge, air-conditioned establishments.  And here are some of the few I often catch while malling.  See if you spot them the next time you’re there.
The Lovebirds  
The lovebirds are the college sweethearts.  One could easily spot them simply by the young lass’ college uniform and she would then be holding-hands-while-walking (HHWW) with her young escort.  Funny how the young escort proudly carries his girlfriend’s pink-floral-studded-with crystals shoulder bag or purse on his own shoulders.  They are oblivious to the busyness of the mall and walk as though time is slowing down for them.  If you are in hurry, better overtake these two as they could cause mall traffic.
The Royal Family
This group usually comes with an entire entourage of yayas and drivers/bodyguards. The signature-outfit-clad mom with aviator shades resting on her head would be strutting like a model while the yayas are busy tending to the whims of the toddlers strapped in their expensive Maclaren strollers.  From the mom’s outfit alone you would know they belong to the upper or upper middle class of the society.  The dad would also be there but would usually walk far behind his brood as he tinkers with his iPad or talks on his iPhone4.
The Hurried Mom
Whether the mall is owned by the Spanish-mestizo clan or the Chinese tycoon, malls would never be without the hurried mom.  She is a stay-at-home or working-part-time mom who after dropping her kids to school would rush to the mall to buy groceries, pay the bills or run errands.  She would either be wearing jeans or capri pants with either flip flops or sneakers with her hair tied in a ponytail.  You also have to keep away from her because she has a schedule to follow and there is no dilly-dallying for this mall rat.
The Posse 
These, to me, are the official mall rats.  They are a group of more than five teenagers you would see slumped on the floor in front of a photography studio or just hanging out at the basement food court.  They are easily spotted not only because of their number but because of their trademark look –oversized jerseys on top of oversized-low-waist trousers accessorized by bull caps worn backwards.  Mall guards are wary of these groups because of the threat they supposedly pose.
These are just some of the many characters I would meet at the mall.  I am sure there are more interesting characters that are uniquely Pinoy which I am hoping to spot very soon.   Is there any particular mall-goer that I missed? Or perhaps you are an outrageous character inside the mall yourself?