Fab Finds Batch 3

Initially, I thought as I planned the categories of this blog that fabulous finds would refer to tangible store bought stuff. However, as I was beginning to compile the ” good finds”. I realized that I don’t have to limit this list to material stuff, but they can extend to people, groups, experiences and realizations.  So again, here are the winner finds this week.

1. Raya’s drawings of the four Disney princess when she was two years old

Can you identify them from left to right?

2.  A local  online supplier of art materials

It’s like the SM of Art Materials. “They’ve got it all!”   You can order and pay via bank deposit, paypal, credit card and for Metro Manila residents, they can deliver with COD (Cash on Delivery) payment scheme!!Check it out!  www.theoilpaintstore.com . Thank you  Alex, one of Raya’s painting teachers, for sharing this site to us.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 9.58.16 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 9.28.16 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 9.28.00 PM

For homescoolers, check you the kids section!  Whether you are a beginner or serious crafter, this is a must visit site!

3.   Reconnecting with another BFF from high school!

For a wake of a friend’s father, I had to make the long journey to Quezon City this week (2 hours from Alabang). And I am so thankful that BFF Dr. Nanette Lizardo-Lajo took time to meet me for lunch. Dr. Nanette Lajo is  a wonderful friend from both high school and Medical school! We were flat mates across PGH in Taft.  It was a short (2 hours is short for us) yet sweet reunion.  Should you need a loving and caring pediatrician in St. Luke’s QC or Delgado Hospital QC, look for her!  Her hubby, Dr. Marlon Lajo, is an amazing plastic surgeon.  Both of them were my batchmates in UP College of Medicine!

Nanette is my eldest son’s godmother. I am godmother to her two children.

Only a true BFF would do this:

After discovering our homescoolph IG account, she likes all the photos posted! Thank you, Nanette!

Life is short.  FIND time to meet up with your fabulous friends.

4.  An illustration of being yoked together as husband and wife I received via email this week

One of my mentors in the Christian walk, Debbie Alnutt, shared this image with me to illustrate being equally yoked with your spouse.  She shared with me fresh insights as Gilbert and I take on our 21st year together.
One of my mentors in my Christian walk, Debbie Alnutt, shared this image with me to illustrate “being equally yoked” with your spouse. She shared with me fresh insights as Gilbert and I take on our 21st year together.

5. Electric socket in a girl’s room

Another use for wash tape in Raya's Room
Another use for washi tape in Raya’s Room


6. Another painting from Raya’s Room

She has been asking for some cactuses for her room.  I guess, it is taking too long. She decided to paint this instead.


7.  Origami Roses Ready for Framing

Remember the list in the previous Fabulous Finds post?   With Raya’s help, using glue gun, the roses were finally mounted  for framing.  Good friend and artist, Van Tuico will do the framing. I’ll post the finished product soon.


8.  A transformed jar for supplies (from a plastic cookie container)

Raya based this project from an online craft tutorial (youtube user floritere!)

Fabfinds306 Fabfinds307

9.  An amazing truth to hang on to in Numbers 11:23

The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

As I prayed this week, this verse encouraged me as I begged the Lord for healing for several friends battling with cancer.  God’s arm is never to short.  In faith, we believe and we rest.



As I was about to go down after parking the car, this was the site that greeted me. Yes, I was about to walk towards a hospital to accompany my parents with a mismatched pair of shoes!  How on earth did I find myself in such a predicament?  My last recollection was checking which shoe fit my top. I believe I made the decision in my mind but didn’t follow through with the actual physical action of wearing the other pair of the chosen shoe. Oh my, can you imagine the suggestions of those I messaged ?  1) Take off the other shoe and roll up my pants,  pretend I was hurt and head to the ER.  2) Get those Operating Room shoe covers and use those as you go around the hospital.  3) Go to the nearest mall (5 mins away) and buy slippers.

But God knew about this and already planned a way on how I could get the other pair! God wanted me to be with my parents and accomplish His agenda for me that day! So yes, the other shoe arrived after half an hour! God was my Prince Charming and I felt like Cinderella as He saved the day for me.

Now on to the next batch of great finds…..

Numbers 11:23  The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

Thank God, it’s Tuesday!

This category is a tribute to our awesome support/co-op group which met on Tuesdays for several years! We eventually called ourselves the Tuesday Gang or TG:  6 HomesCooling families bonded by love for one another and homeschooling! From baby showers to debuts, from validation tests to college entrance tests, from bringing kid’s bottles of milk and blankets to securing their gadgets, we’ve come a very long and happy way.

Through this part of the blog, I will share the importance of coming alongside one another and being part of a community as we homescool our children.  Only two of the 6 families are still homescooling and about half of the children  are already in college! Though we have given up the weekly meetings, we are bonded for life. Homescooling has the most amazing way of bonding people.

We would not  have tremendously enjoyed and survived the journey without one another! Thank you, Tuesday Gang! Back then, we always said, Thank God, it’s Tuesday!

Tuesday Gang, 2007
"Tuesday Gang'" 2014 reunion:)
“Tuesday Gang'” 2014 reunion:)
From Left to Right: Bgit, Lori, Tasha, yours truly, Cielo, Lot and Len ( Len joined towards the latter part. Mavi, Cielo’s sister was part of the original Tuesday Gang. She  could not make it that evening when this photo was taken)
The Tuesday Gang parents!
Bonded for life by our mutual homescooling experience!


Hebrews 10:24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

♡DIY: Cat Painting ♡



Hello! Today I am going to show you how to make an easy and & cute cat painting.

You will need: A canvas (mine was 10×8), paint, paintbrushes, a pencil, and something you can use to mix your paints. ♡   ♡  ♡   ♡RayasRoomBlog#301

Okay, first step is to mix your paint for the cat. I chose a light beige color. (You can use any color like white, grey, brown, etc.)



Once you painted your canvas your color of choice, it’s time to add the face. This the face I wanted:


Use your pencil to lightly draw the face on to the canvas. Then go over it with a small paintbrush.




These are the colors I used for the face: RayasRoomBlog#31

Once everything is dry, you can hang/place it anywhere you like. You can even give it as a gift!  ♡

So that’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed ♡ See you next time!♡ॢ₍⸍⸌̣ʷ̣̫⸍̣⸌₎ (←this is supposed to be a cat)





Fabulous Finds Batch 2!

So here are  my new finds again!

1. Meow, Meow from Raya’s Room!

A snoozing cat in oil on canvass by Raya Simpao
A snoozing cat in oil on canvass by Raya Simpao

Papa Gilbert thinks this is the best ever so far. We love how the cat really looks so rested, cuddly and happy.  Raya has truly learned a whole lot experimenting and applying what she learned from  her Art Lessons under Teacher Elaine O. Herbosa of L’Arc en Ciel.

2. A collage of photos laid and mounted by P.S. Crafts with Soul.  Found them at the block party in Makiling Park two week ago. Check the link and see other gift ideas!

A Father’s Day Gift to Gilbert

A collage of photos mounted beautifully by @craftswithsoul.
A collage of photos mounted beautifully using decoupage and wooden boards


3.  A Colorful Bright Ideas Notebook (Colored blank pages) from Fully Booked.

Thank you, Tita Chel! She is the “Tita” with most beautiful yet effortless handwriting.

A l

Gift for Raya from Tita Maricel Arenas
Gift for Raya from Tita Maricel Arenas It’s like flapping the rainbow!

4. It was great catching up with my dear friend, Reena Ermintano of the Reading Specialist. I grew up with Reena in Maryknoll Grade School and High School and we’ve managed to keep in touch. We must fabulously find time to nurture such friendships! Reena together with teacher Cecilia “CJ” Jocson worked closely with Marco for several months during 6th Grade. As I homeschooled Marco from level 1-6, I noticed some “Reading” concerns that may have limited his leisure reading.  True enough, some Reading diagnostic tests have shown some areas that need to be professionally addressed. Teacher CJ helped him so many strategies to unlock  and understand the written word in various forms. I knew deep within that with 3 other children, I could no longer address this concern and called the experts! With Reena’s MA in Elementary Education and Reading Specialist and Cj’s  MA in Reading Education and 11 years of clinical experience, I had the best dynamic Reading duo, one could ever wish for.  As I write, for summer, Marco is reading Lord of the Rings (Book 2, after finishing Book 1 in a week!) ! Thank you Reena, CJ and the Reading Specialist team.   Marco first entered the Reading Specialist office in Civic Drive, Alabang,  a few inches shorter than Reena. Now even with heels, Marco has grown to be much taller!  He has also become a confident reader with their help!

Grade school classmate and high school barkada, Reena Ermitano with Marco
Grade school classmate and high school barkada, Reena Ermitano with Marco

5. A BFF Cousin’s Happy Birthday five page letter to my daughter, Raya!

Handwritten letters are a rarity these day!
Handwritten letters are a rarity these days! Thank you, Kaila!


6. Manuka Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar

The Manuka Honey helps me with my immunity issues.  On wounds, it somehow promotes faster healing and addresses inflammation.  I’ve tested it with sore throats, and oral ulcers/sores (singaw)  and they really speed up healing and prevent worsening of the condition.

My batch mate from PGH recently messaged me about a study done by her  Dermatology colleague testing the positive healing effect of  Bragg’s apple cider vinegar on a wart  (apply vinegar on non-facial warts) . We are testing it and will let you know!  So far, it really looks promising! My brother also told my mom to try  1 tablespoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with  1 tablespoon honey for arthritic pain (must be diluted with water and maple syrup). We have to test this first. I tried ingesting it and it’s really sour and strong despite mixing with honey so I will have to really dilute it!

Healthy Options
Healthy Options

7. The HomesCool.ph Staff – the kids!

The older teen boys are now my assistants as they try to take photos of their past portfolios and  arranging these in digital folders of easy access.   We will share them soon in more blog posts! Youngest Gino took photos for books for our coming online sale in Facebook page of Homescool.ph.


8. A Precious Find:  Siblings Playing:) The  four original HomesCooled kids are together!

It's always a blessing to see all four kids play!
It’s always a blessing to see all four kids play!

9. The hundreds of red roses created last year for my Mom’s 80th birthday

A few families (3 siblings) contributed to create as many red paper origami roses ( similar to the Senbazuru – I encouraged those making them to pray for Lolo Dony and Lola Emma as they were folding) for Mommy Emma’s 80th birthday. Siblings, grandchildren, and even helpers helped to create these as decor for the party. We unearthed them so we can mount, frame and display. Raya helped in laying the roses down, using glue gun and giant cardboard. I will show you once these are all framed!

Roses2 Roses3 Roses1

We would like to thank Tadashi Mori for the very thorough youtube demo! Try it!

10. The Farm Organics in Commercecenter, Alabang

I was there with my tennis team last Friday and after tasting the burger, I had to bring the family over. “Best burgers!” according to Vince and Marco. However, the size can find you wanting for more! Try the Kesong Puti Caprese Salad.   The serving staff though still needs to train some more in attending to customers and the restaurant needs to have better inventory since several options in the menu were “sold out” for a Saturday dinner.  It’s worth the visit though. Yumyum!

Team Tenez after Hillsborough Tournament felt, after some long games, that the yummy burgers were a bit “bitin” in size!
Pre-Father’s Day dinner with the family/Yummy burgers and creamy truffle pasta

Let me know what you think about these finds!!

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

My Father’s Day Gift to My Husband: A Re-Commitment to be a Wife First over being a HomesCooling Mother.

Many rifts are easily resolved by one of the toughest 3-word sentence, “I am sorry.” I have to admit that I have had to, by God’s grace, say those words so many, countless times in our 20-year marriage. And as I look back, most of those times were borne out of issues concerning the order of priorities for a Christian married woman: God, Husband, Children.

As a homeschooling mother of young children, it’s almost automatic to get this order all mixed up. Kids, Husband, God? Kids, God, Husband?   One thing seems certain. The kids have that tendency to always come first. The children need their discipline, need their education, need Mom to calm them down, and silence their 1000 decibel cries and tantrums.

1990s in a Christ’s Commission Fellowship Singles Retreat in Baguio; sketched by dear friend Jerome “Jing” Malic in colored pencils (adjusted ‘digitally to create B&W effect)
With Pastor Peter Tan-Chi in Union Church Manila, 1995. We are ONE!
May 6, 1995. Yes, 20 years ago!
May 6, 1995. Yes, 20 years ago!


The post-partum, breastfeeding, “taking care of newborn” and a toddler/infant stage is a very challenging time for a first time mother. So it seems acceptable for a time to really get this whole order of priority mixed up.  I mean, you can’t even have time to bathe during this time!However, after settling and adjusting as first time mothers, we have to be careful not to let  that be our default—our children taking priority over our own husbands.

For me, the kids just kept coming as I was teaching the first one to skip count by two! It’s as if we were skip counting my due dates! 1999, 2001, 2003 and then 2005!

July 2005. Newborn, 4yo, 6 yo and 4 yo!

FathersDay2I hate to admit it, or even rationalize it. But during these newborn-infancy-toddler years, motherhood seemed to come natural and being a wife did not. And I believe that is what can hurt most for our husbands. Why does he have to tell us that he wishes he came first? Why does he have to remind us of that? Why can’t it come as natural as our “ milk leaking” as nursing mothers when we hear a baby’s cry (it doesn’t even have to be our own babies)?

I guess, that’s one of the toughest realities for newbie set of parents. And the challenge from thereon is raising a new person together while safeguarding the marriage.

Mothers have a  natural, inborn bond with their children.  Children are part of a mother’s flesh, conceived and matured in our wombs. Fathers do not have this “natural” bond. I’ve read in one parenting book that during the new baby season, fathers are trying to find a way to connect and find their role.  The breastfeeding mom feeding her baby is just so natural. How does a dad mimic a similar bond? How does he try to fit in the nursing mother-baby set up? I can’t quote anything scientific study but I just instinctively, with all my mother’s genes, know that that bond is solid and so naturally formed. Am sure all moms can relate here. How come we wake up in the middle of the night to find our children awake coughing? How come we hear their every move as a baby while our husbands are in dreamland? How can we know by just looking at their eyes, that they need some “one on one” time with you to discuss something? Why can’t we sleep straight when we had to give them paracetamol for a fever at bedtime?

Children are often described as additional “hearts” outside of a mother’s own body.  Quoting Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”

I have four hearts outside of my body.  I am working on having 5!!!!! Why don't they say the same description for a spouse?
I have four hearts outside of my body.  I am working on having 5 !Why don’t they say the same description for a spouse?

It is possible that a marriage meant to last a lifetime is set to also create that heart. At some point, though wired differently, spouses will eventually have as many hearts as his/her children and his/her spouse as they get to know each other and eventually feel for each other . Didn’t God say we are one with our husbands?

 If I were to do it all over again, I would be more open about what goes on in my heart and mind (and body!)  during this stressful season of caring for small children. I would communicate and open up more.  I remember Gilbert telling me to inform him how exactly I would like to be helped and supported since many times, though the need is so obvious, husbands may be too preoccupied to observe and know. I would give my husband the license to “gently remind” (yes that’s part of the deal) if I was “overdoing” my role as a mom at the expense of our relationship. I would maximize baby sitters and try to ward of the guilt leaving my babies as I spend “quality” time with Gilbert. I would have explained back then to Gilbert that I had a tendency to let the “squeaky wheel get the grease.” That means that the most noisy or bothersome would get the most attention. And if you have four small children below 8 years old, they would seem to be THE “squeakiest wheels” that need to be greased. But we know that the  noisiest may not  necessarily be the most important need that requires attention at that very moment.

If you have many children, you will have many squeaky wheels!  (2 kids here are my nephew, Gino and Niece, Julianna; biking in Dana Point, Ca)
If you have many children, you will have many squeaky wheels! (2 kids here are my nephew, Gino and niece, Giulana; biking in Doheney Point, California)

I thank and appreciate Gilbert for being understanding during that long season of having very small kids as he forgave my every decision that hurt him as I passed the opportunity to show him who comes first. Thank God for my loving, forgiving and gracious husband. I thank God for promising us that we will heal, love more as we set out our next 20 years!

Regarding important relationships, John Maxwell has this to say.:

“Most people give away their relational energy on a first-come, first-served basis. Whoever gets their attention first gobbles up their time and relational energy. That’s why the squeaky wheels instead of the high producers at work consume so much attention and why so many people have nothing left to give when they get home from work. Your family provides the most valuable relationships in your life. They should come first as you plan how to spend your time. After that should come your next most important relationships. It’s a matter of practicing good priorities.” 

As time passed, the “squeaky wheels” became my homeschooled children who needed their education. Oh my, now the push and pull becomes even more complicated! I am now the teacher and mother! How in the world do I put being a wife above all that?? When you think about it, a working mother/wife will have the same struggle. However, the challenge becomes a little bit more intricate as  homeschooling is an all day thing and sometimes, we do not know when to take the teacher hat off. I am guilty of wearing it 24 hours a day: preparing lessons when my husband has come home from work, trying to Facebook  chat with other homeschooling moms when its supposed to be “couple time” or just being preoccupied with my role as a teacher.  The scenario however may be different if the parents co -teach or somehow equally share the homeschooling duties.

So let me ask and challenge every HomesCooling Mother out there. Does educating your children  come before your relationship with your husband? Do you have habits that seem to show that?  Be on your guard and open up to your spouse regarding this.  I believe when God calls us to homeschool, He doesn’t call us to prioritize being a teacher vs being a wife. You may be in charge of the homeschool part, but as husband and father, he has the God-ordained role to lead our family and we must be quick to accept our “leaders'” marching orders in protecting our marriage amidst the demands of homeschooling.

We are learning to “go the distance” to bond and grow together:) as our kids have become more independent and less needy.

I shall, in a future post, try to explain in detail some reminders to homeschooling wives and mothers on how to maintain the order of priority in our daily lives. We are all in this together, dear sisters! I have failed and have been forgiven by my loving husband and so I’d like to help others as we go through this together.

With older children, comes older grandparents. Yes, my parents. I have been the primary “child” in charge of my elderly parents, Daddy Dony and Mommy Emma. And I am thankful that I have learned (and still learning) to guard the boundaries in serving my parents and to also communicate more effectively with Gilbert this time.

So today, though a day late, let me honor my husband Gilbert Simpao as we celebrate Father’s Day! This is a post from the heart, a committed heart, strengthened and empowered by God so that He may use our union for His Glory and His Kingdom.  The blog’s readers are my witnesses ( and I hope they are many!!) in this commitment to love and honor you! Thank you, Gilbert, for the immeasurable blessing we have received from you as husband, Papa and “friend”(as eldest Vince said in a prayer this morning) to Vince, Marco, Raya and Gino)!

One on one with two year old Gino
Two on two every Saturday afternoon. Gilbert knows his days are numbered when these boys will beat him, enjoy the ride, Honey!
A collage of photos mounted beautifully by @craftswithsoul.
A collage of photos mounted beautifully by P. S. craftswithsoul  @craftswithsoul IG account.


Psalm 127: 3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!He shall not be put to shamewhen he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

If God leads, He enables (Confessions from a HomesCooler of 13 years) !

I truly believe “homeschooling” is a tried and tested form of alternative education. I have seen it as I’ve found myself immersed in many homeschooling communities in the past decade. I need not look far. My niece, homeschooled until grade school, recently completed her Interior Design course and garnered a perfect grade of UNO in her thesis. Congratulations to the Buizon Family, most especially to teacher Felichi and my niece, Tahnee!

This is my goddaughter, my inaanak, Tahnee:)
Hats off to Tahnee for this excellent and most compassionate thesis ever.

Being BFF to Ate Felichi, I was in the front seat to witness her homeschooling journey with Tahnee. God blessed me with a homeschooling mentor through her.

The Buizon family’s experience played a major role in our decision to homeschool. I wanted my own children to experience a lot of what they were able to do. So my sister said, “You will only know if this is for you if you try (and preschool years were the best time to test it). And the commitment is only one school year at a time. Don’t make the mistake of looking too far ahead and getting overwhelmed.” From her, I also learned that homeschooling is a learning and maturing journey for the entire family that pushes us to seek and draw from God. God is also going to homeschool the main teacher, usually the mother.

Tahnee just graduated from UP. Josh is in his 2nd year as Communications Major in Ateneo. Kaila and Ryan are still homeschooled.


All the members of our 6-family homeschooling support group called “Tuesday Gang” who have gone to regular schools (both college and high school) are all doing well.

"Tuesday Gang" 7 years ago
“Tuesday Gang” 7 years ago


"Tuesday Gang'" 2014 reunion:)
“Tuesday Gang'” 2014 reunion:)

If God leads, He will surely enable. That was my battle cry. He was calling us to homeschool therefore I knew He was going to enable us!

I wasn’t drawn to homeschooling as a way to create academically advanced students. Homeschool can become a dangerous ground if that is the motivation. I just wanted to bond with the children, instill the love for learning and to deliberately “train and disciple” them as Christ’s followers.

We have released our two older boys to regular schooling. Vince and Marco are incoming Grades 8 and 10 respectively. And I am in awe of God’s faithfulness as we witnessed our children’s transition and growth in their schools. Both of them, during their first year won the school’s New Student Award, given to students who exemplify both excellence in academics and character, manifesting the IB learner qualities. But there was more! Marco, our 2nd son, co-shared this award with another homeschooler, my BFF Candy’s daughter, Sophia Ochoa. Candy’s homeschooling journey is another story in itself but one thing ties our stories together, God’s faithfulness. I still remember that day when she was caught in her quandary and I gently suggested, “ Why not homeschool even for just a year?“

As new students in the same school, I knew that getting the new student award would be tough because Sophia always exceled in everything she set out to do. She also had higher grades over-all. Oh, why limit God? Why didn’t I think that He was more than capable to move the school officials to decide for the first time ever to award two (not just one!) formerly homeschooled, carpool mates!!! It was truly heartwarming to hear the Middle School coordinator say, “Is there some kind of magic in that carpool?” I could only look up and silently answer, “That was your magic, God!”

Two former homeschooled students share the award! How HomesCool is that?
Two former homeschooled students share the award! How HomesCool is that?

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Our eldest Vince as a homeschooler began receiving sports award as early as 8 years old. He even got the “Player with the Heart” medal in one season of Coach E in San Beda Alabang. As he moved to high school basketball, he was awarded the Coach’s Choice Award due to his professionalism, diligence and obedience as a player. As he graduated middle school, Vince also garnered citations for excellence in several subjects.


As all of these were unfolding, God was showing us that indeed good character and academic excellence are developed at home. God was encouraging us to press on as he allowed us to taste the first fruits through our sons’ experiences. I still have a lot of character “wishes” among my children (just as I feel that I have much to improve and learn as a wife and mother) but deep inside, I know that the promise of Jesus in John 15:4-5 is so true and therefore can be trusted, “ Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We will bear fruit as teachers, and our children will bear fruit as students if we all REMAIN and ABIDE in Him. If as Christ’s followers, we do our part as instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6-9,“ These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

….then God will follow through with His promises, Deuteronomy 6: 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors,

6:24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.

However, how will our children know what to obey if they don’t know WHO they are obeying and if they are not aware of the commandments that need to be followed?   That is then the core of a homeschooler who desires to follow Christ. We teach our children about WHO GOD is and what it means to live to a godly life.

God has indeed been steadfast in showing us pockets of blessing, “prosperity” and “bearing fruit” as we trod the radical path of homeschooling. I get so thrilled hearing positive feedback  about their character from the children’s  coaches, teachers, titos and titas,  and grandparents.  And that my dear homeschoolers, is far greater than a report card with many high marks. But again, why limit God? He can bless even more. Remember the Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us? “ Remember God’s blessing to Solomon who asked for wisdom over riches in 1 Kings 3:13 “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both wealth and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”

So when I began to wait for the school’s assessment of our sons’ first few months of school, I couldn’t help but have some form of anxious anticipation. All their lives up to that point, they were being graded by their “obviously biased” mother, tutors or coaches (paid by the parents!). I was immensely blessed and walked on Cloud 9 for several days when we first attended Parent-Teacher conferences, saw their report cards and heard good reviews from their teachers

God is gracious and faithful. Despite our little faith and tendency to worry, despite all the learning gaps, the missed days of homeschool because of other pressing matters,  and our own sinfulness as mothers/teachers, He will follow through, He will be true to His promises.

Our teen boys are still young and we continue to try to do our part in discipling them as we have entrusted their education to their schools. We pray, hope and believe by faith that we will all be faithful till the end. We know there will be lots more bumps and hurdles to face, the kids will face tougher challenges that may bring out unwise decisions and their corresponding consequences. But we as parents must hold on to God and trust His sovereignty. We have done (and still doing) our part and we will wait in faith as God fulfills His part.

A week before regular school ended this May, we received more “bearing fruit” medals as our sons were both honored in their schools. Marco won as he ran for their school’s House Captain (some form of student council). How in the world can homeschooled student beat a classmate who has been in the school since his preschool days? How can a homeschooled student for 11 years who is often criticized as “sorely lacking in socialization“ win a student council election as a new student?   My eldest son also got an Excellence in Academics award as he wrapped up 9th grade. God is honoring our family, honoring the homeschooling community, honoring His children. Reaping1


This was Captain Marco's campaign poster. He did it all by himself.
This was Captain Marco’s campaign poster. He did it all by himself.

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That week, my youngest son completed a basketball tournament for 8-11 y.o and received one of the “Mythical Seven Award”. Raya, our artist-daughter also began writing in this blog and each time she posts, our number of views skyrocket! Her artworks posted in my FB account receive the most likes!

Raya sells two Art works in her first official Art Exhibit with L'Arc en Ciel under Teacher Elaine Herbosa.
Raya sells two Art works in her first official Art Exhibit with L’Arc en Ciel under Teacher Elaine Herbosa.
The GREY TEAM under Coach Bernard Barcenilla of the Filipino Basketball Academy


Though this verse was referring to tithing, I really felt a similar principle occurring. “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. “ We are in awe and so we boast, only boast in the Lord in all this. For apart from Him, we are nothing.

I would  like to solely honor God with this post.  It took me weeks to put this together for I was wary (always checking my heart)  of becoming one proud homeschooler seeking praise from people.  But then Matthew  5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It is my desire that through this testimony, we have given Glory to God, our Maker, the Author of our homeschooling journey. It is also my wish that more HomesCoolers will take up my battle cry after reading this post, “If God leads, He will enable!”

2 Corinthians 10:17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”


Trash & Treasure

“Trash and Treasure”

This is one of my Mom’s favorite lines, “Trash and Treasure.” She always loves garage sales, thrift shops and antiques stores. She often says, “Ones trash can be your treasure.”  Let me share with you our different “treasured” experience with trash!

I was faced with the task of teaching another set of 3 R’s (Reduce, Reduce and Recycle) to four children below 10 years old and at the same time, introducing Measurement in Math (the more known 3 R’s of basic education are: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic)

When I think of ways of merging lessons and creating a “unit study” for multilevel kids, I just think of what could be most relevant, practical, doable and above all,  most FUN given our specific conditions and limitations.

So this is what I thought of: we were to choose a “road” or “street” strip of 50 meters or 1/20th of a kilometer and survey the kind of dry, non-disease producing trash we discovered in that given area. Gross? Well, I am a doctor in training and I think it would be very difficult to gross me out. So I was all game for this. Basically, we would collect (and the same time do our village a service) trash, sort them, measure and weigh them (introducing grams/kilograms).

The chosen area !


What did we need to do this?   First, I had a simple lesson on Garbage/ Trash and the whole idea of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. For the older students, you can teach the concept of biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials, and the effects of non-biodegradable trash to our environment. You may even push this further to topics about “Global Warming,” “Depletion of the Ozone Layer,” and the improper waste disposal to urban problems like flooding.

Second, we had to prepare our materials:

  • masks
  • gloves
  • long disposable or “old” tongs
  • pails
  • labels
  • charts for tallying or a black or whiteboard
  • measuring tape

I don’t know what it is with boys and “eeky and stinky” stuff but the kids couldn’t contain their excitement as I told them the plan.

I also had to teach the kids about simple measurement: one centimeter is made up of ten millimeters, 100 centimeters make one meter. They had to physically see and understand what these lengths meant. Whenever lengths are mentioned, I always try my best to make them “get it” first before proceeding. I even use my husband’s height like 180 cm or a famous, tall basketball player like Yao Ming or Kevin Garnett. That structure is like 10x Papa’s height or 6x Yao Ming’s height.

So we set out to measure a 50-meter strip of sidewalk and started “cleaning up”.

We had to mark the 50 meter strip with chalk.


Look at that ! Curiosity at its best!
Look at that ! Curiosity at its best!
The cutest garbage collected ever!
“Look Mama, we got a big one!”

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Of course, consider safety first at all times. You might encounter broken glass or bottles, pieces of wood with splinters, nails or sharp objects. Caution the children about these potential dangers.

You may use  old boxes, pails or sacks to collect the trash and then assign separate pails as you sort these out.  We then sorted the trash according to the following: bottles, plastics, paper products, and a miscellaneous category (yes, as expected we discovered  one slipper! Can you magine the conversations and laughter as we discovered the weirdest things? ).

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Trash&Treasure09Imagine how excited the boys were seeing these huge piles of junk!

You can also have a short discussion on garbage collection and disposal.  You can ask the children on how they can do their part in better waste management (tied with Social Studies). You can discuss current issues facing urban cities like Manila regarding garbage disposal.

You can use charts so the smaller kids can do tally marks (and skip count by  2s and 5s). They can count how many bottles, plastic bags, snacks wrappers, paper, etc.  You can also weigh them if you have a good weighing scale.  Now you can stretch this to teach more Math concepts (addition, fractions, percentages, graphs).  Older kids may be taught how to create charts and graphs manually or  by using Microsoft’s Excel software program. I think the the most trash we found were plastics: bags, wrappers of candies and snacks!



Trash&Treasure27After the lesson, we all took a bath and scrubbed all the germs! (that’s why I love HomesCooling!).  I think the faces (though hidden with their masks) show how fun the kids were having with this activity.   We collected so much trash in such a small strip of land! Because  of this, they were able to imagine how much more trash there were if you collected from a wider or longer distance!

This was one of our memorable unit studies ever.   There were so many lessons learned in such a a fun (and maybe yucky for some) experience for kids of all ages! Now who wouldn’t call that finding “Treasure” in “Trash”?


Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,


Out of the Box(es) Kind of HomesCooling!

Before you throw a grocery or appliance box, STOP! May I invite you to read through and explore the wonderful world of reusing or recycling all sorts of boxes the HomesCool way? You’ve probably read about “unschooling” or “out of the box” homeschooling. That’s really worth a read if you are new to homeschooling. For this post, however, we will focus on the literal, tangible box!

Come to think of it, in some way, it is “out of the box” to include more projects in your homeschool curriculum and to lessen the use of worksheets.

Our entire household, even my  inlaws, know how we “love” boxes. The bigger, the better! The stranger the shape, the more challenging! So the next time you receive boxes, just collapse them and store them first. You’ll never how much fun and learning can come “out of a box”! So here are some ideas on how maximize your boxes as you HomesCool.



Raya's Store made from lots of washable tempera paint and a big box from a kitchen appliance
Raya’s Store made from lots of washable tempera paint and a big box from a kitchen appliance. My favorite part is everybody helping out for this  sibling’s store:)


Raya and Gino’s Red Car. All four kids helped in making this. Raya was assigned to make the front license plate and Gino, the back license plate. 🙂





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Pretty in Pink!
Pretty in Pink!


The simplest DIY truck! It’s a CLOSE UP truck!

SUN SCOPE- One of the projects recommended by Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy





OutoftheBOX45 OutoftheBOX46 OutoftheBOX49 OutoftheBOX48 OutoftheBOX50



Made from cylinder containers and box flaps
Made from cylinder containers and box flaps



Gino’s Viking Ships as we studied about the life and culture of the Vikings:OutoftheBOX58



Why not add a “cauldron”??



Okay, my boys got a bit carried away here… too many animals fighting!


Painted the shoeboxes with acrylic paint

OutoftheBOX35 OutoftheBOX42

A box for Single Malt Whisky turned into pen holders
A box for Single Malt Whisky turned into pen holders


OutoftheBOX20 OutoftheBOX22 OutoftheBOX23






If you’re a biker, I think you may be able to guess what this box was originally for.


A beautiful story in “The Year of Miss Agnes“. Raya learned so much Alaska and one community’s way of life.
Raya’s Roman Villa from reading. “Roman Diary: Journal of Iliona“.




So, I hope this inspired you to see your “boxes” in a different way. Indeed, “Out of the Box” HomesCooling Rocks. Have a great time creating with your students!


Exodus 35:30-33 “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with allcraftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft.”

Fabulous Finds This Week

Through this corner of the blog, I would like to simply share the many things and discoveries I’ve found that put a huge smile on my face. We need that from time to time. I’ve cautioned HomesCoolers on hoarding material for children’s curriculum. But there are just “great finds”, that need to be found and brought home, right?

1. Great Maps for your HomesCool Room:

I saw these in Fully Booked, BGC and posted it right away in the FB page of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines.  After a few days, one member commented that Fully Booked ran out after a foreigner purchased all in one go! So I checked in Fully Booked, Alabang Town Center and I was relieved that they still had many in stock. Php 250.00  The one right below is for younger preschoolers:)

FabFinds111 FabFinds112


Check out for Maps #s 47 & 48
Check out for Maps #s 47 & 48

2. This  “Too Pretty” Cupcake Kit:

For Php 135.00, how can you not buy this? The box  comes with  200 cupcake liners and 34 flag toppers in many nice colors and designs, with a bonus cupcake recipe and idea book!

I am not sure if this is the last item on stock though.

Found at the Books Sale, Ground Floor, SM Southmall
Found at the Book Sale, Ground Floor, SM Southmall


3.  Plastic Glasses that Look Like Real Glasses:

SM  says, “We’ve got it all for you”. I’ve been looking for these “breakable looking” glasses for some time.  If ever I would find them,  they would be any of the following:  too expensive, too small  or in very bright colors.  These plastic glasses were around Php 40.00 each.  They’re perfect for  a family with many children where spills and breaking come quite often.

The glass the the left  of the photo is the plastic one.


4.  Framed Paper Cutting:

I gave this framed paper cutting from Hands Love Paper as a gift to my niece. I regretted not getting one.  I found the stall again in the recent Block Party at Makiling Park, AAVA. Php 500.00. Thanks, Ebony:)


5. Stuff from Hey Keys.   

Finally, I got an oblique pen holder for calligraphy. I met Mancy, the sweet owner of Hey Kessy.


6. Boxes from Cut the Scrap!




7.  Lovely Products from Habil Crafts

Wood and lots of green = Refreshing!



8.  Our Serendipity Find

Serendipity is defined as, “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” Well, that’s exactl y how this next “find” was found. Many say we make the best Choco-Chip Cookies.  However, due to the heat in our pantry, the Nestle Sweet Sweet morsels were moist and beginning to melt. So as the chips were added to the cookie dough and mixed using an electric mixer, the entire dough became dark chocolate brown and for some reason, after baking, chewy! Oh my, my friends couldn’t stop begging for more!


9.  A Find in Raya’s Room

It all began with some used brushes with a shade of green and red lying on the sink counter.  I knew then that Raya was up to something. I entered her room and searched. This greeted me near her window:

Though she doesn't eat them, Raya loves the look of watermelons.
Though she doesn’t eat them, Raya loves the look of watermelons.

10.  My  “Fabulous” Wish List Find

Sometimes as mommy-teachers, we need to reward ourselves, Or maybe, I should ask for you to pause now, and call your husband (the ones we regard as the principal of our HomesCool).  Let him read this. “Hubbies, from time to time, reward your wives/ teachers of your children, with something they ‘want’. ” And these my dear fellow HomesCoolers, are my “wants” ! (Please find a way and show this to my husband.)

Heels from Kenneth Cole! Lovely!
Heels from Kenneth Cole! Lovely! Which is more your type?


So there, my first post in this “Fabulous Finds” category!  Hope you liked the stuff that I had shared here. Comment and let me know:)

Jeremiah 29: 12-14 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 1You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD...



Photo Credit: www.meredo.com




Homeschool Portfolios : The Process and the Product


A  week or so ago, I had posted this photo on the Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook page.  Little did I know that it would end up as my being “MOST LIKED” post ever since setting this Homeschool FB Group early last year.

Thank you for the 202 likes on Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page!
Thank you for the 202 likes on Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page!

I had been summer cleaning lately, and decided to unearth these from storage boxes. I realized that this was like our HomesCools version of a “Trophy Cabinet”. I didn’t expect the overwhelming, positive feedback in seeing all this displayed in such a manner. But then again, like they say, “When the going gets tough, always look up. ” I love looking up at these and marveling at God’s faithfulness and the blessed opportunity to homeschool, and remembering the good and the bad days captured in every page of these binders. I also didn’t expect the flood of inquiries regarding ” portfolios and how to create them”. So I decided to just open the Trophy Cabinet of the Simpao HomesCool and share with you our portfolio experience through the years.

To date, we’ve done more that 50 quarterly porfolios for the four Simpao children. As mentioned, they’ve been recently displayed and arranged by child in one of our big shelves. I can’t wait to have unhurried time to look again at these, page by page.

From simple title pages to amazing works of Art
From simple title pages to amazing works of Art


Not all homeschoolers are required to present portfolios. However, I do see the immeasurable value of chronicling your journey in this manner. Some may opt for the traditional 2-3 ring binder, a clear file folder or a scrapbook. Others may do digital “electronic” or “e-porfolio.”

I was an independent homeschooler for around five years and so just kept our homeschool output in bins/ folders. I wasn’t keeping them for any requirement but I just knew it was worth keeping for a whole number of reasons.

As we opted to accredit with the Department of Education, I was faced with the humongous task of collating four years worth of “homeschooling” as requirement for validation tests (I don’t think this in required now) for my eldest who completed level 3 and 2nd son who competed level 1. Could you imagine my stress and horror at that time? As I was trying to beat the deadline, I kept asking myself, “Why or why, didn’t I ‘document’ our homeschooling work in an organized and timely manner?” During this time, we did everything the ‘hard’ way, or should I say that “hard copy” way? No digital reports yet. Projects, seatworks, tests, artworks, and printed photos were all in a giant 3 ring binder. Call it a CRASH course on making portofolios! And yes, I almost actually CRASHED due to fatigue, stress and exhaustion.

I truly praise God back then because He gave me a partner in crime. One who has doing a portfolio for six years (yes plus 2 years to my load!!!)worth of “homeschooling”,  my homeschooling BFF, Cielo Vilchez. That experience bonded us, I believe, for life!

Oh my, that experience brings so much laughter (and the never again tears) as we try to recall, those days of unearthing and filing work! And the most hilarious day was when we went to meet with the Dep-Ed officials with our trolleys of balikbayan boxes and suitcases of textbooks, workbooks, projects, folders and binders! Imagine having to ask two passionate, self-sacrifing mothers to defend that learning has indeed taken place as they’ve given up their lives to homeschool their children? It is surprising we didn’t bring our shotguns instead (Just kidding here)!

Part of the of my homeschool provider’s (The Master’s Academy) requirements is a regular portfolio review/assessment where the child will present what he has learned and applied the past quarter. As he/she presents, her projects are considered part of the “evidence” that indeed learning has transpired and the child was able to create some output as an application of his lessons per subject.

I have never attended any seminars in creating portfolios. I guess that CRASH course six years ago taught enough for me to survive and eventually enjoy quarterly portfolios for the years to come. Many more came as many more children came as well!

If we we’re not required to make a portfolio, would we still make one? We would probably still do but there would be no “external pressure or deadline” for which we are thankful to TMA for. We need that pressure, otherwise, just like any other scrapbook or family project, these  will just be shelved when Mommy teacher has more “free” time (which we never have!) to put them together. With a quarterly set up, it is actually the children who do the bulk of their portfolos. Teacher Mommy just guides them.

Let’s discuss the “basics” of porfolios in the form of questions.

What is a homeschooling portfolio?

It is a summary or collection of “learning” that has transpired in homeschooling as seen in: seat works, quizzes, tests, essays, and projects (where learned lessons are applied). The assumption here is that learning to some extent can be considered as “having transpired” as seen in these “evidences”. (So, it does not make sense for a parent to labor and lose sleep over “creating” his/ her student’s portfolio because it is not the parent’s work, effort or “learning” that is being assessed here, it is the child’s). Some regard portfolios as a way to record the student’s educational progress.

For those who need to present their portfolios, consultants who interview students don’t focus on “fact questions”, rather they give the students the opportunity to share what they have learned and to explain the ways in which they have applied these lessons in projects or even in real life. 

What do you need to create a portfolio (hard copy/electronic)?

  • 3 ring binder (have found this easiest to use for both young and older kids)
  • Subject dividers with labels – Let the kids label them!
  • 3 ring plastic jackets (bond size or A4)
  • 3 holed puncher
  • A cover page (could be done by the children) as title page
  • An easily accessible gadget to take photos during homeschool time
  • Homeschooling photos
  • A document/file that can showcase these photos (Pages, Powerpoint)
  • For those who have regular portfolio presentations: Laptop or flash drive and borrow your consultant’s laptop
  • Tests, worksheets,  essays, book reports, experiment reports, artwork, notebook or journal pages, tickets or programs to field trips, museums, plays and musicals etc.


3 ring binders are the easiest to use as you can easily arrange and update as you go along.
3 ring binders are the easiest to use as you can easily arrange and update as you go along.

A subject may have 2-3 seat works, 2-3 tests/assessments and written work/project related to the lessons covered. Some projects can involve many subjects.

Here are some sample materials that you can you include,  Some may be added directly using a 3-holed puncher or you may opt to use plastic page protectors.

1. Tests/Quizzes/Seat works


Some tests/ quizzes

2. Extraordinary Ways of Note-taking

Some interesting ways to take notes.
Some interesting ways to take notes.



Portfolios12 Portfolios13

3. Travel Journals


Traveling Paraphernalia


4. Written Essays/ Poems/Stories

Summary of Books Read


Another way to summarize a book:)
Poems of favorite things
Creative Writing exercises

5. Charts/ Tables

Chore Chart


6. Special Projects

Portfolios15 Portfolios14

"Jupiter News" - A newspaper project
“Jupiter News” – A newspaper project
Page 2 of the newspaper
Page 2 of the newspaper

7. Certificates/Awards


How are portfolios divided?

A portfolio is divided into different subjects. It would be good to purchase or make “dividers “ using board paper or recycled paper products. Label these dividers. Most binders can hold 1-2 quarters.

Schedule wise, I prefer submitting and presenting on a quarterly (8-10 week) basis. I find that a quarter’s worth of lessons are just enough for the child to present in a smooth, relaxed and non-overwhelming manner.  There is just too much to present in 2 quarters, either the child is overwhelmed or there is not enough time to properly report about the lessons learned.

Portfolio reviews are good because it gives the child opportunity to speak, to summarize, to be confident in discussing and to sort of “tie up” the whole quarter together as he reports his past 8-10 week. Don’t they say that “learning” has indeed occurred when a student can “teach” back what he has learned?

Who does the portfolios?

The student.

Generally, younger children like preschool and levels 1, 2 will need some guidance and help in preparing their portfolios. Older children may also create e-portfolios alongside. Powerpoint/Pages can be used to document photos of experiments, lessons, field trips, travels and projects too complicated to bring to the review. This can be tied up with ART/ HELE in using a software to create presentations. Videos of PE, Music lessons, games or recitals can be inserted as well. The student may use his electronic portfolio as he presents his 3 ring binder portfolio.

Parents should refrain from “creating” their student’s portfolios. Smaller children may need help and we give it as we deem appropriate.

When do you do portfolios?

The key is to ready the binder/folder, dividers and plastic sheets so you can file as you go. Some however, may opt to put all output in like envelopes and just file all in one go. It really depends on what works for you. But for proper organization, portfolio material needs to be easily accessible and arranged in an orderly manner. There is nothing more frustrating that losing important material that documents the student’s progress!

I guess one  thing I  may have failed to do so was to to talk to children about portfolio making. Sorry!!! I think, they just learned the ropes as I guided them to build them through the years. Looking back, it would be good to explain your students a few “must knows” about portfolios 🙂

I really, really hope this helped.  Remember, when the going gets tough, always look UP!


1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.