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.