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!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Holistic Homeschooler: 10 Ways to Ensure Homeschool Burnout

As I searched the net for activities for the kids during the break, I was led to this site. This would serve as a reminder for me as we get ready for another homeschooling year. Credits to Michelle for this blog.

The Holistic Homeschooler: 10 Ways to Ensure Homeschool Burnout: In the homeschool community, we hear about homeschool burnout. Many of us have experienced it. There are many things written about how this ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Coby completed third grade! It was a turbulent homeschooling year for the family. There were just too much to deal with last year. Moving out of my parents' house and venturing out on our own. Chores, chores and more chores. Jianne started homeschooling too. In and out of the house because of ballet and art lessons. Noisy and stressful neighbor. Online job but gave it up eventually. And a growing 8-year-old boy.

 I am ashamed to narrate the gory details of how I acted during the school year not only as a mom but a teacher as well, but by the grace of God, I know I have been forgiven and I am forward.

The negative experiences not only highlighted my weakness and how I really needed God to watch over me every second of the day but it also opened my eyes to what God wants me to do. How he wants me to respond and not react, to speak softly and not to shout, to let go of situations I have no control of and to be patient with others and myself.

Here are some of my aha moments the past school year:

  • Whether you're a homeschooling mom or not, it is a necessity to have a  personal quiet time with the Creator before you start your day. It may 10 minutes or 1 hour, as long as you commit the rest of the day to Him, I am sure the troubles of the day would have less impact on you compared to having no time with Him at all.
  • I saw that our homeschooling year for the third year lacked planning and scheduling. Because I just had too much to do doesn't give me the excuse not to plan appropriately the lessons to be covered. Whether you're new at home education or a pro, I believe nothing beats a parent-teacher who is prepared with the lessons and has extra tricks up her sleeves when the need arises. Diligence in planning and consistency in implementing need to be developed. 
  • If the emotions are running high, run away from it. Don't let your frustration and anger get the best of you and hurt your child. You know yourself. You know what makes you lose it. So before you finally explode and do crazy things, stop and run away from the situation. Tell your child, you just need to step away for a while, you need a time out. Go somewhere where they cannot see you and breathe. Calm down and PRAY! There is no urgent need that a mother whose top is about to blow! Cry out to God to help you and I assure you, He will give you the grace you need for that moment. 
  • Parenting skills and homeschooling work together. If you have not developed good parenting skills, you might find it difficult to to teach your child at home. How can you expect your child to do what is asked of him or her if obedience is not a trait demanded at home. I am not a parent expert but I seek older parents who share the same values as I do. Read books or blogs on parenting that are biblical and whose aim is encourage you to  be a God-centered family. 
There are a lot more aha moments this year but I focused on these first. I know I would be adding more to the list as the days go by. 

As I computed Coby's final grades, I was amazed at the improvement. I showed him his grades and he was happy with it too. I thanked him for  being patient with me and bearing with my flaws. Although, he is not yet graduating, I feel it's like a graduation of some sort for both us. Graduating from the childish ways and facing the challenges in a mature and Christlike way. We are both looking forward to the fourth grade with a new perspective,  healed hearts and a new home. To God be the glory. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

School Starts at Home: What You Should Know About Homeschooling

It was a sunny Tuesday morning at the first day of swim camp.  The coach guided the boys and girls to the other side of the pool, while their moms settled on the benches nearby.  One mom initiated a conversation with another mom, “So where does you child go to school?” The mom would then reply with a smile, “Oh, he is homeschooled.”  She paused for a while before replying while the other moms listened in the conversation.  “Oh, home school,” she looked puzzled.  “How about his socialization,” she further inquired.  The homeschooling mom asked back, “What about it?”

Socialization starts at home
As a homeschooling mom now for three years, the question on socialization would always be raised whenever I reveal that we are a homeschooling family.  I would patiently explain that socialization is never an issue with homeschooled kids as some would assume.  The Encarta dictionary says that to socialize means to take part in a social activity or behave in a friendly way to others.  ‘Social activity’ and ‘behaving in a friendly way to others’ is not confined solely inside the classroom amidst 40 or so classmates.  A child can be friendly in any social setting, may it be in the kitchen with mom and the helper, in the playroom with a younger or older sibling, in the neighbourhood, in church, in family get-togethers—name it, there is always a place where a child can “socialize”.  I believe that socialization really starts at home, as soon as the baby is born.  The baby’s first connects with the mom, the dad, brothers or sisters, the grandparents, helpers, relatives and friends.   The parents’ values, behaviour and manners are unintentionally or sometimes intentionally modelled to the children.  Homeschooling encourages bonding with the family and for parents to teach and model character traits that teach independence, responsibility, confidence and respect. 

Math in the Kitchen
One homeschooling program’s slogan says, “The world is my classroom!”  How fun would that be if the whole world or the universe is your classroom! Our son and I studied Science in the garden as we planted new seeds, cared for them and watched them grow.   He appreciated the lesson about caring for the earth so he practices the three R’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at home.   He is fond of creating artwork from old cereal boxes, cans or disposable containers.   We learned fractions in the kitchen by cutting one slice of bread into small squares and putting different spreads on top, 1/6 has peanut butter, 2/6 has strawberry jam and 3/6 has Cheez Whiz.  Our son loves to write love letters, so his grammar and writing skills are being developed constantly.  One homeschooling family shares that for social studies, they took a trip to Kawit, Cavite to visit the Aguinaldo shrine, the site where our country’s independence was declared.   Joy, another homeschooling mother of 4, takes her boys to the park along with crayons, paintbrushes and lots and lots paper to draw and paint whatever they see.  Homeschooling can be done anywhere.  Homeschooling families are not prisoners of the home.     

Homeschooling accredited by DEPED
The Department of Education has allowed homeschool programs to operate provided such programs are under the umbrella of a formal or traditional school.  Prospective homeschooling families can choose from a variety of homeschooling programs available including The Master’s Academy Homeschool Department located in St. Francis Square Ortigas, Pasig City (, The Catholic  Filipino Academy in Chicago Street Cubao, Quezon City (, Victory Christian School in Parkway Avenue Bonifacio Global City (8171212), The Living Heritage Academy of the Philippine School of Tomorrow located in Levitown Executive Village Don Bosco Paranaque City (8224433).  For more information on other homeschool programs, visit the Department of Education website

More time to develop child’s skills and gifts/talents
The concept of homeschooling allows the children to spend more time in special skills or interests.  Since DEPED requires that homeschooling program adheres to the government curriculum, Music, Arts and P.E. (MAPE) classes are required.  Whether the child is interested in sports, music or art, he or she can attend any classes offered by the homeschooling programs or elsewhere.  MAPE classes are a venue for homeschooled kids to meet other kids.   Since these kids meet regularly they eventually become friends and can schedule playtime with them outside the MAPE classes.  Support whatever interests the kids are inclined to. Who knows they might turn out to be the next Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Eric Buhain, Lisa Macuja or Lea Salonga.  Aubrey, a homeschooling mom of two, says that homeschooling gave her daughter the freedom to explore her dreams of becoming a ballerina.  During her elementary days, Alex would have school in the morning with mom and pursue ballet in the afternoons and sometimes including weekends.  Now Alex is part of a prestigious ballet company in the country and has also been competing internationally in ballet competitions. 

Character is priority
When my mother who is in the U.S. learned that we plan to homeschool our first child, she was not really enthusiastic about it and I understand why.  She would argue that my brothers and I grew in traditional schools and we ended up okay.  But growing up in the 80’s is far more different than growing up these days.  Kids these days are so in a hurry to grow up that you can’t keep up with them.  An 11-year-old girl would beg her mom to allow her to have a boyfriend.  Young boys think it’s cool to smoke and tease other boys who don’t.  Sad to say but in the generation that we are living in now, it’s not all academics, it’s not how intelligent you are or whether you got a 97 or 98 in the card.  In one article I read about hiring employees, the interviewer does not really focus on what school you went to or what were your achievements, but the employer is looking at how you can deal with the people around you, they are not looking for IQ but for EQ. Tita Girlie, who is one of the pioneering homeschooling families in the Philippines just sent his son to one of the well-known universities in Quezon City.  Before entering the university, Josh confidently spoke in front of a panel of heads and professors of the university he is about to enter.  He shared with his mom that he is quite shocked by the way his schoolmates dress in school but he adds that he is thankful for the Bible verses and the lessons he and his mom studied in his homeschooling days.  Once Josh was asked who are his best friends, he proudly said that his best friends are his mom and dad.

Got Any Grapes?

"Got any grapes?" is a catch line I got from a Youtube video our kids watched called "The Duck Song". No, this blog is not about ducks nor is it about grapes...if I could, I can talk about food too. I just love how our kids  enjoyed the video that I decided to use it as my blog title.

Although, I kind of connected the grapes to one of the lessons I had years ago from BSF study. We studied the Life of Moses then and I remember the time when the spies were sent out to a foreign land to, you guessed it right, spy on the land. After spending some time there, the spies came back and gave conflicting reports about the land. Most of them were fearful and cautioned their leaders not to proceed with their journey. However, Caleb, who was one of the spies gave a different report. He said the land is promising and he even brought back gigantic grapes that were fastened to a staff and carried on the shoulder by two men. For Caleb, that land can become a blessing to the Israelites if they tread on.

Got any grapes?... Got any blessings? Despite negative circumstances and challenging people that surround us, God will always make sure we will have small blessings in our way. So... got any grapes?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mama Needs Her Me-Time

I have met moms last year whom I have shared the benches with nine months. All of us wait for our little daughters in their ballet class. I cannot say we have developed a deep friendship but I would say, each of the moms at least care for the well-being of the other moms. In one of our candid conversations, I have shared that all of us dedicated :-) moms should have our break, a day off or a Me Time. We need to get out once in a while just to recharge and think about ourselves even for just a few hours or a whole day even.
Thursdays are my Me-Time. My day starts with BSF, which is a bible study I have been attending for 6 seasons now or about 5 to 6 years. Check out BSF bible study classes all over the world at After BSF, my BSF classmates, who have become friends through the years, and I have lunch in one of the restaurants nearby. We catch up on things, family, business and just about anything. It’s our way of reconnecting with one another. Keeping the friendship alive. After lunch I would usually do my errands, pay bills, do grocery shopping. I would do anything on that day. I will not teach during that day but would leave work for my son to do while I’m out. I don’t spend the whole day out because by the time we finish our lunch or my errands, I am just too in a hurry to see the kids once again with a refreshed mind, recharged body and renewed spirit, ready to serve again. 
Some tips on how to spend your Me-Time:
1. Have an appointment with yourself. Moms need to have at least a few hours in one day without the husband, without the kids. Motherhood can be overwhelming most of the time because we are on call 24/7. That is why we need some alone time, just to step back and take care of ourselves.
2. Plan how to spend your day off. It may be a time to reconnect with old friends, who are also moms who need a time off from the family. Get together and have coffee and just have a good laugh. Laughter is good for the heart :-)Maybe these meetings may spur new ideas on business or part-time work or even new inspiration to workout and be healthy. You may also inspire other moms. Build bridges, build relationships. When you became a mom doesn’t mean you have to be “alone” in your world.
3. Start a hobby. This may be a time to restart your old passions and just enjoy them. Passion for writing, for cooking, baking, arts and crafts, fitness, the outdoors. Or it may also spark an interest in reading. Spending your day off with just coffee and a book is time well-spent.
4. Have an eternal perspective. What do I mean by eternal perspective? Your life, where does it all lead to? Have you ever thought of where you are going to spend eternity? How is your relationship with God? Jesus Christ? We need to consider this when we think of eternity. This world and everything in it all are temporary. They will rot away, turn to dust and be destroyed. What is important is knowing who we are and where we are headed. Get to know God. Get to know Jesus Christ. You can do it on your own by reading the Bible or find a bible study group that help you get to know the God who holds the universe in his hand.
5. Beautifying mom. The current business trends today are food carts and spas or salon. There are a lot even in your neighborhood. Get the nails done, scrub those tired and achy feet. Treat that sore back with a massage. Not only will you look good but you will definitely feel good as well. I’m sure the hubby won’t mind touching those smooth and silky feet again.
It doesn’t matter where you spend your day off or how often you do as long you do have one. It is a must for moms! How can you give love and care to your family if you don’t care for your own body. You cannot give what you do not have. If your schedule is too hectic or you just can’t leave the kids, again as I said in number 2. Plan ahead. Ask a trusted person to look after the kids for a few hours. I don’t think they won’t mind, if they care about your well-being too.
If all else fails and you can’t go out, do what my friend does. She tells her boys that she will be reading her favorite book in her room and that she needs them to help her enjoy the book by not knocking on the door unless it is important. So far it has worked for her. She did not even spend anything at all. She just needed her kids’ cooperation. Or else the monster mom might come out of hiding.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Move the Body, Awaken the Mind

To say that our third year of homeschooling is challenging, is surely an understatement. Coby, who is now 8 years old, is still excited but not about school anymore. He is excited to use the computer and play his heart out doing construction games. He is so eager to watch his favorite cartoon shows on T.V.  Sadly, for this third year, I have to compete with these insidious modes of technology.

I find it difficult to "talk about" the lessons with him now because he seems distracted most of the time. Although, these distractions can be good sometimes when he recalls movies or events that is related to the topic. Like when we were talking about MOTION in Science, he would interrupt me and get his matchbox cars to show me that the cars's position changed because they were in motion. But most of the time, these interruptions are not helpful at all, quite annoying in fact, for the teacher-mom.

His heart has been in the wrong place too, lately. He just seems disinterested and his eagerness to learn is dwindling resulting in the increase of  my emotional outbursts. Because of this, we find each other crying and asking for forgiveness again and again.

Imagine my frustration every time we do school. My student is disinterested, distracted and just have no energy to work at all. Quitting, again, is the quickest solution for me.  I just can't take it anymore. I have asked other homeschooling moms for tips on how to handle my predicament, which they say is common to all homeschoolers, but the advice just didn't work with him.

I read from one homeschooling blog that we cannot confine our boys to textbooks and sitting for a long time. They need to move around. They need to burn those tons of energy stored inside their small bodies. The writer suggests allowing these active kids to run around the house and do jumping jacks. One time, I asked Coby to do jumping jacks, he said he cannot do it and reminded me that he does not exercise.

Coby is not a sports person. He does not enjoy any sports activity at all. We tried soccer, swimming and even jogging but he is just not that into sports. Although, he loves to ride his bike and scooter.

But this morning, I secretly tried something new with him. He woke up early and had his breakfast. Since it was still early to start school and I have not yet completed my morning chores, I asked him to do some physical activity. Since he was riding his scooter inside the house, I asked him to take it outside and just ride it, without him knowing that he was already exercising. He did about 15 to 20 minutes of "scootering" and was huffing and puffing when done.

He said he was tired and wanted to rest first before school. I agreed with him and allowed him relax for a while. He took his bath and was ready for school. We completed all that we needed to for the day and an added bonus was Mama did not get angry! Yahoo! Coby was "pumped up" to work. He completed his work with minimal complaints. I would like to attribute that to the scooter ride. When his body moved, his brain was awakened so to speak. His sleepy mind came to work and it worked well, alright.

A new ritual is now part of our homeschooling day. I am praying that this would really work. I am hoping the effect would not be temporary as he surely enjoys riding his scooter or his bike. Next time, I will let him ride the bike, which would give him more energy, I hope.