Keeping Them Close: Tales from the Youngest of 9 Children (Part 1)

I remember, around 20 years ago, a young mother of several children approached me to ask about my closeness with my sister. I was in college then and my sister was a young professional.  I vividly remember how she wanted to know how we “got to that point.” What were your growing years like? What did your parents do?   Do you have suggestions on how to make siblings become close to one another?

A few days ago, I just spent 5 hours which went by so fast  with the same sister . We pretty much just chatted and shared much of what was in our hearts and minds. Come to think of it, I can do that with all my sisters and perhaps even  my brothers (but they may get bored!)  and their wives as well.


I am the youngest of nine children and 14 years come between our eldest and me.   My mom was pregnant every  1-2 years and had undergone 2 miscarriages. We should have been 11. I should have been number 11,  our number 4 and 6 didn’t reach to full term :(. Looking forward to finally meeting them in heaven one day.

That’s me being held by Mommy Emma. Sister Nenette is taking care of brother John, Maricel is beside Mom then thats Joseph, Francis “Kiko” , then Angeli. With Dad are Felichi and Anthony.


L-R Nenette (Agnes) , Angeli (Anna) , Chel (Maricel, Rita) , Mommy Emma and Daddy Dony, Kiko with Buggy, Anthony, then Joseph with Chopper, In front : John, Me (not looking) and Felichi. Who cut my bangs? Daddy.

Maybe earlier, the age gap mattered a whole lot in fostering closeness and meaningful engagement. But then I started noticing myself, as I grew older, having different bonds with each one.


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Can you name my 8 siblings?

One only needs to sit within one of our frequent shared meals to know how much “engagement’ occurs. Many times, the crisscrossing of conversations, the butting in and quick  changing of  the subject, and all that comes in between drive my German brother in law crazy. I guess for as long he has his wine or beer,  I think love prevails over-all! We’re hopefully learning to lessen the craziness sometimes.

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I guess, to describe this closeness, I often say, that on  a weekly basis, we kinda know what each one is generally going through and add to that, since many travel, where everyone is.  We use our social media threads to share the most hilarious jokes, memories or experiences to  serious concerns and ardent prayer requests! Sometimes, it only takes a few hours away from your phone to miss 100 messages on our threads!


So the nine eventually ballooned to  18 children and  28 grandchildren with 2 additional in laws! And I am quite encouraged to see the a level of closeness developing among the cousins for similar ages which span from 3 to 32!



We all know that  all  parents yearn for  their children to grow in friendship through brotherhood/sisterhood. Every parent desires to have children who genuinely love being together and love each other .

My siblings and I can sometimes be too close,  or maybe too enmeshed maybe. It’s kinda like the ‘TMI” saying. You know, too much information. We can be  too engaged with one another, and we’ve had to learn to adjust and re-adjust as each one became part of another family, and raising own our children.     Though we enjoy talking and spending time together, we have different personalities, passions, jobs, hobbies, habits, preferences. So when different people connect often, disagreements and conflicts are bound to happen.  And I have witnessed a whole lot of it through the years.

However, I am thankful that we all seek to be committed followers of Jesus who are  called to love like Him. Love unconditionally, through thick and thin.  That then becomes the secret to overcoming the conflicts. In the end, Jesus’  call to love one another prevails.

We are also blessed with parents who taught and modeled to  us the value of honoring one another through love, support, sacrifice and forgiveness through the different storms and seasons in our lives.

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One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling  for our own family of 4 children is having our children have their own siblings as their first friends and classmates. I guess they have no choice but to really like each other genuinely because they’re the only ones they’ve got for some time.  With the older boys in regular high schools, they share a room during summers and weekends. I love their non-stop talking and  how they have found a common love for basketball (3 boys), Lego and Star Wars (all 4 , yes!) . Homeschooling, through daily interaction and joint experiences of fun and learning,  seem to have created a good ground for closeness to bloom and I am hoping and praying this carries on to adulthood and unto to their own families/ children as well.

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My sister in law in my husband’s side observed the closeness among our children and asked me what Gilbert and I did to foster that.  It’s not as if “closeness”  became a goal,  I guess, you just naturally related with one another and treated each other in the setting  of warmth,  positivity, love and yes, with lots of fun in loads of quantity of time ( something HomesCool provides).  That comment made me think for some time. I  eventually asked my own siblings what they believe were instrumental in keeping the bonds close as we grew up. I shall share them to you in another post very soon. Keep checking the blog for Part 2 then!


Hebrews 13:1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.


♡ Sewing Room Tour +✄Basic Beginner Sewing Needs ♡

Hi guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Today I’m going to show you my “Sewing Area”, because I’m planning on posting a lot of sewing tutorials.  Also I’m going to list out out all the basic tools you need if you are a beginner. ✄

So here is a complete shot of everything. I have a tiny corner beside my bed where I keep my sewing machine. 🙂


Here is a close-up of my sewing machine that I got for christmas 2013. It is a Brother XL-2600i, which is a great model for beginners.


On my sewing table ,I like to keep my scissors in this cute little kitten cup that I made using this video.


So on my window sill I have my cacti which i got from my tita and tito. They got them from Dangwa, Manila, but you can also get some in the plant stall in South Super Market Alabang.  I am sure you can find them in many other garden stores.  This is one of my favorite decorations in my room. 😉 ♡♡




If you’re wondering where I keep my other supplies. I have a shelf beside the table where I keep my fabric, needles, pins, ribbons, zippers, etc.


Now I’m going to show you basic supplies if you want to start sewing 🙂


1.  Fabric (you’re gonna need something to sew on!). Cotton Depot has a nice variety of fabrics.

2. Thread ( you’re going to need this to thread your machine)

3. Scissors -to cut your thread and fabric. Fabric scissors should only be used for fabric.

4. Pins -These are extremely helpful to keep your fabric in place while sewing.

5. Bobbins – You need this for threading the machine. ( Keep in mind that different machines have  different bobbins.)

6. Seam Ripper – if you make a mistake seam rippers can rip the stitches for you. (I promise this is a LIFESAVER!)

Okay a simple tip: If you are a beginner, use fabrics that are easy to sew with, for example cotton, felt etc.   Stretchy/ knit fabrics may be a pain to sew with 🙁

One last thing, I just want to show you the latest thing I’ve sewn for my mom’s birthday: A pen/pencil holder for her calligraphy pens! 🙂

Hope you like it Mom ! Happy Birthday!♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡IMG_8734




So that’s all for today, hoped you enjoyed my post! See you next time ~

An Art a Day Takes the Blues Away: Exploring with Lines and More Lines through Storybooks

For today’s post, we will be  using another great resource in teaching Art in a more meaningful and experiential way, Teaching Art with Books Kid Love by Darcie Clark Forhardt.


This book, like the How to Teach Art Book to Children, explores the various elements of Art and introduces them through children’s story books.   You will learn the principles along the way so if you don’t happen to have the suggested books to use, you can use whatever story books you may have, can borrow or browse through bookstores.  So you can turn the lesson in to Teaching Art with the Books My Kids Love.

If you have story books which you’d like to feature (as you will understand as you read on) , you can have Storytelling first with smaller students using these chosen books. The older children can read these books on their own and observe for the elements of Art.

Based on the past 2 posts on Lines , I am hoping we’ve gotten ourselves and our children excited in drawing all kinds of lines.  But let me introduce other ways to categorize lines.

Character lines : these are the kinds of lines that show gesture and create moods.  You may use very thick to very fine lines and may be jagged, curved , scribbled, pointed, and so on and so forth.

Such lines may appear “angry, confused, calm, serene, messy, confused, frustrated“. You may ask your children to close their eyes and ask them to think of lines. As you call out a mood, make them open their eyes and draw the line that they saw in their mind.  If you are working with more than one child, position them in such a way that they will not be able to see what the other comes up with so there is no risk of conforming or copying. This is also a good time to encourage expression (without judgment and correction!) and just being comfortable to speak.

Look at these illustrations from Smoky Night by EvenBunting.  (Or find similar story books in your own library) .  These consist of character lines that create some form of mood. Without the benefit of words, try to let you children try to explain what they think is happening in these 2 pages.

You can go to youtube to check this out:  You can watch this video on mute so you can ask your students what they think is happening.


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In these pages of “The Girl who Loved Wild Horses” by  Paul Goble, you will see a lot of curved and angled lines:

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Try to get story books  with clear and vibrant illustration, and check out  how they used different lines. Ask your children to show what they find:

  • angry lines
  • serene or calm lines
  • frustrated lines
  • any lines that show mood or character?
  • happy lines
  • strong lines
  • lines that show movement

This can be a fun time of discovery and discussion. Take your time and do not rush the activity.  You also get a chance to peek into your students’ hearts and minds when you do this exercise.

As we get more and more familiar with lines, we can now move to creating outlines,  or “Contour”.

Let the children choose 3- 5 small objects that have clear borders. Have them lay down on their table/ desk (Do this activity where there is ample space for students to rest their elbows and arms, and look at their “objects”).

Define first what an outline is. Some may opt to call this silhouette.   If you have a giant manila paper or even newspapers, you can even ask a child to lie down as you draw his contour – lines that follow the outline of any object, using a thick marker pen. While you’re at it, go ahead and tickle him/her. If you have more kids, let them draw each other’s outline.   You can also outline your own feet or hands.  No details are drawn within, just outlines.

Here are examples of outlines done by our sons under a dear friend and artist, Jerome Malic. Comment below if you’d like to get Mr. Malic as your Art teacher for homeschooled children or for summer/weekend classes for students in regular schools. Teacher Jing, Jerome’s nickname, suggests to use drawing pencil with grade of 2H for outlines. For shading, use 6B.

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This is really fun. Sometimes, you can try for the students to simply look at the object and draw without looking at their paper. In, it says:

“Contour and Blind Contour Drawing – Contour drawing is a process of line drawing where one must concentrate on a single point and follow the contours of the body. This process should be done in one long continuous line to mimic the way that the eye works. When doing a contour drawing, you are improving your eye-hand coordination, an important skill in both art and athletics.”

You can even have a “guessing game”.  Teacher and student/s goes to another area and chooses a few objects.  Contours of these objects are drawn and  you try to guess each others’ chosen objects.

For examples in Fine Art, you may google the following to stretch this activity:

Pablo Picasso’s Starry Night

See the wavy, curly, angled lines all in this painting

See the pencil sketches of Edgar Degas.

Buste-de-danseuse Dancer-II

Please make sure that you check images first before showing Fine Art examples to your students. We all know there are lot of “adult” material in most of the famous artists.  Other artists with distinct use of lines are Joan Miro in Morning Star:

miro63Paul Klee in Pastorale,


and Piet Mondrian ‘s Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue. 


For another day, you may try to borrow or find a much sought after preschool/ primary years book, Leo Lionni’s  A Color of His Own. This can be tied with Science as the child learns about chameleons.

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Do you notice that the animals are drawn in 2-D Contour like manner?

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Do you think your child can have a go in trying to create an animal’s contour? Let him choose what animal and find a photo in books or online. As a teacher, choose also your own animal. Do this activity with your students.

My daughter Raya eventually became a  much better drawer and painter than her first teacher.  I think what gave the children in our home the confidence and freedom to try is “seeing and being” with a teacher who also learned with them. If only laughter can be kept in a bottle, we have loads of them from my children seeing what their teacher came up with.

As I close, let me share with you one drawing of my daughter when she was probably 5 yrs old. She entitled it, Queen of Lollipop!! Oh, so many curly, spiral lines!!!


Have fun with Art!


Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Being Released from a Decade of Homeschooling: A Teen Shares his Experience

In this category, Precious Partners, features entries/posts from  our dear co-laborers in Homeschooling.  They could be parents, teachers, students, pastors, doctors  and experts in various fields of education and child rearing:)  For our ever first entry in this category, a former homeschooler opens up!  Read on and be blessed:)

“The days were ticking by fast, and once August rolled in, there was no turning back. Being homeschooled my entire existence in this world, I had the faintest idea of how it would feel to be attending real school or, as we homeschoolers like to call it, “big school”. During my childhood, my parents decided to homeschool me. The purpose was to prepare me for big school. This was an excellent choice!

My mother was an above par teacher for almost all subjects. It was very easy to learn with my mother as my teacher. This is due to the fact that homeschooling offers a more personal teacher-student relationship. Another reason to homeschool was due to our family’s faith. Being Christians, my parents wanted to educate me about the Bible and instill its teachings and wisdom. My parents wanted to teach these things to me at a young age.

When I reached grade 7, my parents thought it was time for me to go to real school. I entered a fairly small international school. As my first day of class drew closer and closer, many questions plagued my mind, “How would I fit in?” was one of the biggest thoughts in my head.  This and a lll the questions however, vanished during my first day of school. I had so much fun, I totally forgot about what bothered me in the first place.  No kidding!  I think it helped because my batch mates were really a great bunch of people!

I found it really easy to adjust to school! The hardest part, I think, was waking up early in the morning. I made friends quickly and I received high marks in most of my subjects. However,  I still had to work on certain things coming from the homeschool environment.  Let me share what  the adjustments that most homeschoolers will face when the big day eventually comes:

Classmates: Finding and making friends is an important task that homeschoolers will have to be accustomed to. Coming from a small a school with only about 30-40 students per batch, this was not too difficult for me. My advice is to find a group of friends or a “barkada” where you just can be yourself. It shouldn’t be your top priority to be in the “cool” barkada, rather you should try to find people who share similar interests and hobbies with you. I, for instance, am fond of playing basketball and  I just  love everything about basketball. The friends I made in school were mostly basketball players. I also suggest not to just stay limited within your group of friends. Do not look down or even maybe bully those who are different or seem “uncool” to you. Reach out to them and get to know them better!

Teachers: Every school will have a variety of different teachers. Each teacher may have different personalities or teaching techniques. While some teachers may be friendly there are also other teachers who can be very strict. Treat all your teachers with respect and kindness even the ones you dislike. Now that you are in a real school, not all teachers will act towards you like your mother would. In my experience, I had a very strict and even scary looking teacher.

Class: Being in a real classroom is very different from being taught at home. I believe that it is essential to be confident, hardworking and a risk-taker in class to succeed. It is critical to be attentive and to participate in discussions and activities. For me, it is all right to talk or chat with classmates but one should know when he or she has gone over the line. In my school, asking questions is very important. You should take a risk in asking questions and also answering questions, this shows the teacher that you are enthusiastic to learn and gives you a better understanding of the lesson.

Activities: One of the biggest downside of Homeschooling in my opinion is the fact that there are no regular sports teams and after school activities are limited. When you first enter a school, don’t be afraid to try out or join teams or clubs. It will make help you gain many friends and fun memories.

Influence: Another reason why Homeschooling is very crucial to our family is to that,  I believe, it created a strong foundation of values and principles early in my childhood and primary years. This will help avoid from picking up bad influences from other people as we are released to mainstream schooling. This is the reason WHY my parents wanted to prepare me before sending me off the real school. In reality, every school, I believe has a variety of bad influences which commonly come from other students. These may include constant swearing, cheating, lying, perverted jokes, pornography, drinking, smoking and even drugs. As a follower of Christ, I try to avoid picking up bad influences, but I am not perfect. The best way not to get influenced is to avoid hanging around students who are not the best role models. You may think that since a lot of people smoke, swear or drink, these then are automatically “cool” . This is called Peer Pressure and reality, I’m pretty sure God does not think such behaviors are “cool”. Peer Pressure is something that you need to avoid or resist. You CANNOT make use the excuse that “If everyone does it, why can’t I do it?” or “Since my friends are doing it, I think Ill try it”. You must learn how to simply just say “No” and if people do laugh at you then let them. This then ultimately shows how important it is for you to surround yourself with good friends as mentioned earlier. Being a good example yourself can help ward off bad influences.

I am still young and will face a lot more challenges and adjustments. It’s only my 4th year of being released from Homeschool. Since then, I have moved to a much bigger and more mainstream High School. But I am thankful for my Homeschooling Years. These, I totally believe, were one of the best experiences that I will ever encounter in my growing years. “

Fab Finds Batch 5

1. Found TIME to teach the kids how to play mahjong- Chow!

I grew up in 2 families playing mahjong.  Both my grandparents’ houses of both sides were “Mahjong venues”.  Several square Mahjong tables filled their living room and we would often criss cross as kids checking out the tables or the feast in the buffet table. I can still hear how the mahjong tile or pieces hit each other when you do the mixing before you build those walls.  So we had our own set and table in our own home in the 1970s/80s. Our summers were always filled with Mahjong games with siblings and cousins.  I had taught my eldest son to play Mahjong during a few visits to the beach where we brought a set.  Finally, I found the time to teach our 2 younger children how to play.  It was actually funny!  Imagine my kids’ horror when the mahjong set we used had no numbers in the Chinese Character tiles.  Now,  I hope to play the card game called  “99” next. We should play more. Maybe time to bring down the mahjong table from the attic (yes we have one!) .

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2. Giant Washi Tapes

Raya loves watermelons.  So guess what I found?  Toys R Us!


3. Oh my.  Salted Caramel Brownies in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Coffee Shop!

This is so yummy.  So rich, it must be shared with a friend over a hot cup of coffee.  It’s a chocolate, moist brownie with a little coffee taste!


4. Reward Stickers and cool tags  in National Book Store for less than 100.00 !!!

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5.   Reasonably priced Art Materials in Toys R us as gifts to your budding artists!


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6.  She finally gets her cacti ( apparently “cactuses” as plural for cactus is also accepted)

Remember Raya’s painting?  She loves cacti and was asking me where we could get some.  I guess, she couldn’t wait so she decided to paint some to display in her room.   And then her birthday came along and her sweet Tita Nenette and Tito Boogi got her own “real” cacti:) IMG_8538


7.  Nice crocheted throw pillow cases from Kultura for Php 250.00 each


8. Found time to do a quick art work for the blog.  Just watercolor and a pen:)

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9. Found a homeschooler who created  two designs for Homeschoolers of the Philippines (FB) community group logo!

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So thankful to Homeschooling Mommy Milona Barraca and her sweet once homeschooled daughter, Meg.  We love her work of Art and Heart! We are now working on cleaning and simplifying using a digital app so the logo can be more effective for use in shirts. pins or streamers!

10. Hole in a Wall in Century Mall in Makati

Entering this “food court” will remind you of the modern  yet cozy food courts in  high end malls in Singapore, Hongkong or even the modern airports of Europe.  We only tried Bad Bird for their Umami Fried Chicken and  Scout’s Honor Make Your Own Cookie stall . We hope to go back and try other “holes” in this great wall. The place has an indie feel as there are no fast food chains or famous restaurants .

My arm wasn’t long enough. Not yet good in taking the whole gang… Famselfie?
Photo Credit:
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HomesCooling: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. “

We often read and hear this famous verse uttered by St. Paul in Philippians 4:13, ” I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me,” quoted by many homeschooling parents.  Okay, we are all familiar with  the “ALL things”. We just need to see our “must do”, “wish I could do” and  “wish I could be” lists, the piles of clutter to fix, chores undone, people to meet, books to read, tests to check, moments to bond, dates to do,  and errands waiting. Those are the superficial must do stuff but there are deeper  concerns: recurrent problems, unanswered prayers, all sort of  tunnels in our lives that seem to have no light in the end. And these are the ones that weigh even more in our already tired heart,mind and body.

So  I would say, homeschoolers are  definitely familiar with the words “all things’! Oh there are so many things (literal and non literal) to attend to.

So we move on to the rest of the words of this verse , “ In Christ who strengthens me.” What does that really mean?  What does it mean to be  “In Christ”?  How do you know that you’re not doing it all on your own sheer will, strenght and effort?  How does Christ strengthen His own? How did Paul  do it?


Paul said these words shortly after explaining the various situations he had experienced in the past.  There were seasons of plenty and comfort. There were seasons of great need and despair.  However, Paul made it clear that he was not focused on what he had or did not have.  He made it clear that he had learned the secret of being content.  And that secret I believe is revealed in the next verse. The secret lies In Christ. 

Oh, we can truly apply this to our homeschool lives and the various seasons we encounter!  Whether it be financial, physical, emotional and social needs,  our journey will take us  to different scenarios that will test our “contentment.”  Truly there is nothing wrong in desiring for better conditions in the many areas of our lives, our homeschooling lives. But the desire itself should not cripple or derail us. If we find ourselves paralyzed with  the ” what’s not available, who isn’t helping, what is not affordable, if only situations were different, etc” then we must check our hearts.

If the secret is in Christ,  making  Paul say ,” He can do everything in Jesus”, then can we also apply that same principle whatever situation comes our way?  If you’d like to know what Paul has gone through, here is what he has to say in 2 Corinthians 11:25-26: “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”

How many of us in our HomesCooling journey have gone anywhere near what Paul has gone through?  If you read more of Paul’s epistles, you will see a pattern. He celebrates his weaknesses! He even says he boasts about them! Why because they all point to the One who strengthens him. His weaknesses become avenues for Jesus to work on and display His glory.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 Paul says , ” And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

So homeschooler, write down your own weaknesses. Write down everything that you believe is negative in your desire to homeschool and parent your children and ask Jesus to use them to display His power and His love.

A word about “All things”—as we seek to know Jesus and homeschool In Him, we will realize that we may have to give up some parts of our “all things” list. Surely, Paul did not get to visit every city, every community he desired. Surely he couldn’t meet all the people he thought he needed to meet but he had confidence that he can do all things that Jesus will lead him to do.  Believe me, homeschooling and its pursuits will truly lure us into so many directions as we seek what we think is best for our kids. And there are many pursuits that we may have to let go or say “No” to.

In Christ indeed for every HomesCooling follower of Christ! This is why I am beginning this category in this blog.  Take the journey with me to HomesCool in Christ. Let us by God’s grace,  learn to HomesCool in Him, in our weaknesses  and all.  As I try to grow In Him through HomesCooling, it is my prayer that you will draw to Him and Him alone as a result of what will be shared here.

But all this  begins with knowing Jesus. Who is Jesus to you?

1 Corinthians 15:3-6 I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (Paul wrote Corinthians;) 



“I Get to Crumple my Art Work? ” Creating the Cracked Wax Effect !

Yes, your students will truly get to crumple this one.   Taken from the one of the entries of Usborne’s Book of Art Ideas:


1. Get a strong card stock paper or probably water color paper.  And draw a flower in a pot. Or flower/flowers in a vase.  Use  wax crayons, craypas  or oil pastels.  Try to fill in every space with bold strokes.

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2. Crumple, yes crumple!  Please make sure you don’t tear the paper.

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3. Flatten the paper and using dark poster paint, cover the entire paper.  Fill every crease with paint.Distressed Flower5

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4. Rinse the front and back with water. Make all the water drip and let it dry.  After drying, if your work has many wrinkles, you may iron it in between 2 papers.

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You may spray some flowery cologne on the petals for added effect:) .

5. You can use cardboard to make a DIY frame or purchase a cheap frame with glass from National Book Store or home sections of department store.

Happy Crumpling:)

2 Corinthians 2:15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God…….

An Art a Day takes the Blues Away Series: Lines (Part 2)

If you were not able to check out the introductory post for this series, please click here.

I am using our much used and abused  Art Curriculum, How to Teach Art to Children by Evan Moor Publications in this post. I will also use some illustrations from old time favorite stories to demonstrate “the use of lines” in creating a specific effects.

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You can use your own story books. Choose your students’ favorites.  You can even go back to the ones your kids loved when they were younger.   Here are some examples:

See the many different lines and how its use creates some form of texture or feel.


 Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurrice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurrice Sendak

See how just by using lines, you can create a facial expression:

Owen, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

By the use of lines, you can create “movement” and “depth”:

Madeline, written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans



You can create a BLAST!

Petunia, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoism

For this post, we are doing another session on lines ( straight horizontal, diagonal or vertical, curvy, zigzag, spiral, etc).

This activity will stir your child’s imagination and see things in different ways .  If you feel like your student is stuck,  then you can show it first by giving your own idea and creating a small drawing.

1. Do some simple exercises such as these:

  • Draw any kind of line.  Ask your student to add simple details to create something out of it.  For instance , he can add a few details and make a rake/mop to a vertical line.  A curly line can be made into curly hair of a girl.  A spiral can be turned into a lollipop. Use colored markers to make it fun.  Tell your students that “lines put together make a shape.”
  • Draw a circle, an oval or square and make him/her create a drawing out of of it.  You can turn  this into a 3-D activity using play dough.
  • Draw letters and make him/her again create something form them. An “H” can be made into two people holding hands, or a “B” can be made into a butterfly.

2.  Divide a bond or A4 paper into 4 postcard sized boxes.  You may opt to make 2 lines per box  as shown. LINES3

Or you may opt to just do this:


Then ask the children to create a scene out of this pair of lines such as these below:




In detail, look at what my daughter, Raya did with these pairs of lines:

A spiral became a snail and a wavy line, a rock?
2 wavy lines became a curvy highway.
A zigzag/wavy line and straight line became a Christmas tree and a giant gift
A zigzag and straight lines became a row of mountains and a highway


So there!  Hope you have lots of fun with lines! Lines and more lines**

** you may stretch the lesson further to discuss the word, “line” ! What are the other definitions of a line :  Lineage/genealogy,  the connection (“The line is busy.”), a queue or to queue, a field of work, parts of a script or poem, a saying,…..oh my gosh, there are so many!


Did you know that Isaac, Judah, Rahab, Ruth, David and Solomon were all part of the line of Jesus?  Check out Matthew chapter 1! 

An Art a Day takes the Blues Away

As part of my commitment to help others with practical ways to teach homeschool subjects, I am starting a series on Art Activities. This is mainly as result of teaching Art in our HomesCool for the past 12 years.

I have no Art degree. I wish I had! I attended a 6 month course of Early Years Education that had a few lessons on Art and Creativity.  Somehow,  I just learned along the way. I read several books on how to teach Art, observed the teachers of the special Art classes our kids were enrolled in from time to time, and read  a whole lot on instilling creativity in children.

What I enjoy the most with teaching and doing Art is the amazing bonding with our children.  For some reason, Art is viewed as  a fun, relaxing and enjoyable time in our HomesCool so when I say we will be having Art, there are shrieks of excitement.  It is also a good way to create some “downtime” for your day. I am so thrilled as well as I learn more and more and have a go as well!  I think the children are also exhilarated as they see their own Mommy-teacher learning with them and in finding out that they draw better than me.

We also do Art in a more spontaneous way. I guess its like “Art as needed”. Depending on what we are learning in other subjects, we adjust our Art lessons. For instance, as completed the Flying Creatures series in Science (Apologia), we learned how to draw various insects, bats and birds. We even had a “Create a nest” activity from twigs!  As we learned about the Solar System, we learned how to create a giant poster of the 8 planets.  As we tackled Botany, we started experimenting on how to create various kinds of trees. For Social Studies, the kids drew the World and Philippine map, did sculpture with paper mache to create various land forms, and  as they learned about community and household concerns, we drew houses with the principles of perspective.  For History, they began designing their own coat of arms, creating 3-D ancient homes, doing comic strips, newsletter and even an amazing Viking Ship.  For Bible, we’ve done Noah’s ark,  a bookshelf of the books of the Bible, Tower of Babel and our own Nativity Scene (Belen). We also learned Powerpoint skills as part of Art/Design. The older students, using Art and computer skills, produced brochures about Philippine tourist destinations, about the Earth, United Nations, and so many other topics!   Art truly transcends all subjects !

These were the two books which somehow revolutionized my view of Art!  I hope to be able to summarize these materials in a another blog post soon.
These were the two books which somehow revolutionized my view of Art! I hope to be able to summarize these materials in a another blog post soon.


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The books we referred to in our 12 years of HomesCooling:) Eventually, many online resources became available and all you have to do is… “How to…” and type SEARCH!

Armed with some basic knowledge on some guidelines, I had to find a basic curriculum. God truly answered my prayer when I saw this in National Book Store 10 years ago, How to Teach Art to Children by Evan Moor Publications .

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What I loved about this material was the ease in implementation!  We had 4 students and so something so doable and practical was really very helpful.  At some point, you will get your own ideas on how to stretch and maximize the learning. You will also be able to connect it to the other subject matters.  Another feature I so appreciated in this material is how it presented the basic elements of Art in part one :

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Value
  • Texture
  • Form
  • Space

And how it will show ways in which these elements can be applied in part two.

So today, let me share the first lesson/s.

1. Line  –   Google about this. What is the definition of a line? What are the various kinds of  a line?  Can you tie this up with Math ( line, ray, line segment, parallel, intersecting)? As Bob the Builder usually says, “Yes, we can!” Just spend time discussing this with your student/s. Depending on their age,  you can do many things. If younger, find story books and see how they use different kinds of lines in the illustrations. For an older artist, he can research famous artists who are known for different lines.  For Filipino artists, google Cesar Legaspi, Malang and  even Arturo Luz to see how they prefer to use certain lines or illusions of lines in their work.  You can even use body movements with a toddler or preschooler, lie down and show a horizontal!  While lying down, lift legs to make it diagonal!  Go outside the garden and find curly, spiral, zigzag lines! Oh so fun! You can even connect it to the letters of the alphabet as you ask what lines are in each letter!

So this, session on “Lines” can be stretched to maybe 2-3 sessions. The first session may not yet include any “output” but if the kids are excited to try the lesson below then let them. It can just be taking a survey of what lines can be seen at home.

The key is to first stir your children’s excitement with good exposure to the elements of Art in a fun and relaxed session.

As your children start “creating”,  just give them freedom on how they’d like to apply what they have learned. Do not limit yourself on what you expect them to create. Don’t ask, “What is that? ” Wait for him to tell you what he is drawing if you can’t seem to figure it out at first.

This is a sample of the first lesson in How to Teach Art to Children:

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You can use colored pens, colored pencils and crayons for a more colorful effect.
You can use colored pens, colored pencils and crayons for a more colorful effect.

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HOw to Teach Art108

You can then give your students “free time” to draw making use of different lines like these two drawings below :

HOw to Teach Art110 HOw to Teach Art111

I am hoping that this helps you have a good start in teaching the basic Art elements.  From lines, we will progress to shapes, colors and other elements. How exciting!  Have fun in Art!

Exodus 35:30-35
Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze,

Teaching Language Arts through Stories (Storybooks, Readers, Chapter Books, Novels)

Initially,  Reading and Grammar, in our earlier years of HomesCooling, were taught separately. I had material for Reading and a separate material for Grammar. I even had another material for Spelling. Oh my!!!

I was then introduced to the Total Language Plus series, locally carried by Homeschool Global and sold by Learning Plus Bookshop.

The whole idea of using a reading material as a springboard for Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting and Creative Writing was really something I thought made a whole lot of sense.

However, we had some hits and misses in our choice of books from the Total Language Plus selection for the past many years. Though I tried to carefully select the books based on my students’ reading level and interest, there were really some stories that didn’t excite them and so learning became a bit of a drag. We had to abandon some books. However, some eventually lived up to its “awards” when we persevered.

So after doing Total Language Plus (TLP) for some time, I decided to just create my own workbook or worksheets for some other books we wanted to read.  For some books, I was just 1-2 chapters ahead, so everything was done in the notebook fashion: questions, activities, answers and all. For some stories, I was able to create “computer worksheets”. I think, there was a time when the Chinese embassy was at its busiest that I was able to compete one chapter book and write all the questions in a small notebook while applying for a visa!

I am certain there are other Literature based Language Curricula out there.  You can also try these programs. Check out Teacher Created Resources.

Before I proceed, I need to differentiate two types of HomesCool reading material:  Read-A-Loud and Readers. Read-A-Loud is when you read to your child/children a few pages or a chapter at a time.  Readers are the books that child can read on his/her own with minimal assistance from the teacher.  I try as much as possible to do both. I read a loud more when the children were younger but still try to read to the 2 younger HomesCooled kids in our family because I still believe it’s one of the best bonding moments ever.

Usually the books that have heavier subject matters and may need a whole lot of explaining, I read a loud. A few of our favorites are: Number the Stars, Gladys Aylward, Tales of Desperaux, Poppers Penguins, Robinhood and Dr. Doolittle.

Take for instance one of our favorite readers, My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.   This can be read and studied by a level 1 or 2 reader.

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As you begin a book, you’d like to picture the setting and study about it more.  This works well if you have a story that is based on real places and locations.   For this book,  the story mainly takes place in a fictional setting called Wild Island.  Thanks to the illustrator, there are interesting maps that come along with the book.

Tangerina map.img_assist_custom

Most kids, especially boys  I think, love looking at detailed maps.  So you can allow your student to study the maps and just imagine what the story will be like.  For another story like,  “The Mixed Files up Mrs.  Basil E. Frankweiler“, set in New York City, you can google NYC and take time to check it out.  We had a blast with that book because we recently took a trip to NYC and even went to the Metropolitan Museum (the main location of the story) and  took home a souvenir map of the museum. So we consulted the map as the story unfolded.  It was truly cool because we further stretched the experience as we  read the life story of Michelangelo ( whose work was part of the “Mixed up Files.. “reader !)

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You can orally ask questions about the setting. If the student is comfortable in writing 1-2 sentences, then you can write the questions in a notebook.  You can give instructions like “Google New York City.”  “Check google earth for New York City.” Or “What are the famous landmarks in New York City?”.   Apply the same line of questions or activities in whatever reader you choose. The goal is to stir your child’s interest and imagination as she begins to see the story unfold.

Going back to the The Father’s Dragon,  check the first 2 pages of this book.



As you read the story ahead, you will recognize words (vocabulary) that your student may not have encountered yet.  Write these down. For instance in these pages, I could choose the following words:  alley, oblige, furnace, apologize, cellar ( usually 3-5 words).  There are limitless possibilities with these words. You can have the child learn  hard copy dictionary skills and find the definitions and copy them, or you can also have an older child, use online dictionaries.  For familiar words, he can look for synonyms or antonyms.  You can do these prior to reading the story. Or you can let him read first and have him identify the new words and have him try to figure out what it means contextually.

You can mix it up.  Some days he reads first , on other days, he looks at the definition of the words first. Usually, you create some activities daily that will involve “spelling” these new words or using them in sentences.   I learned a lot of activities from various spelling workbooks like Spelling Workout or Spellwell. Such examples are :

  • making your own crossword
  • word find/search
  • pick the correct spelling for example : write the words “success, sucess, succes”  and make the student choose the right one
  • create a story with your spelling words
  • fill in the blanks with the correct spelling word
  • or the tired, yes tired ! and tested: “use the new word in a sentence” activity.

Usually,  you  can opt to create “word” activities for only misspelled words in a pre-test (usually done on Mondays).. Click on the link for Spellwell to see sample activities.

For instance , for the word, “success”, I may opt to write this down  in my student’s notebook : 1.  An accomplishment of a goal, aim or purpose  S ___  C ___  ___ ___ ___  !  (Fill in the blanks to give the correct spelling of the word being described) .

For younger children, you can use other ways for “Spelling” exercises. You can use words they’ll be excited to spell.

Ideally, the new words in your reading material, along with other  “newly encountered” words from your other subjects will comprise your “Spelling words” for the week. You can then do a post-test after several days of acvtities with these words.

Now depending on what you are taking up in Grammar, you can also use the text in your reader for exercises. You can assign  certain pages and have your child identify the “verbs, adverbs, prepositions” or you can photocopy the pages of a specific chapter and have him underline the adjectives. There are so many options.

Now, you come to drafting your Reading Comprehension questions. Remember you are trying to assess what your child has understood, not merely what he remembers.  So refrain from closed ended questions answerable by yes or no. Try not to also use factual questions heavily. Instead focus on “open-ended” questions.  If the child cannot write well yet, you can just let him give his answer orally and you take down his answers.  A good comprehension question makes the child review the material, wonder, imagine and make sense of things as he tries to answer.  For page  9-11 of the material I posted, a good question would be;  “Why did Elmer’s mother disagree to give the cat a saucer of milk?”  Now as you train your children to speak and /or write, always remind them to answer in a complete sentence (another Grammar Lesson) .

You can also expand the experience by asking the student, “What would you do if you were Elmer?” Again depending on the child’s level of confidence and readiness, you may opt to have him answer orally or in writing.  What I love about constructing your own questions lies on the  hidden beauty of being able to relate what they’re reading to their own lives or to current events in ones family/community/ society.  Again the possibilities are limitless.

If you don’t feel comfortable making your own worksheets, you can google and check for words like: “Reading Worksheets for __________________ (Title of Book) or   Reading activities /exercises for _________________”.  For instance, there were times,  I could not create our own so I googled for  “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” reading or activity worksheets.

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Though I purchased several Total Language Plus workbooks, I would say the bulk of what we’ve done in terms of Language Arts/Reading were pretty much done in that “2-3 chapters ahead kind of preparation“. So if you have only one student, then you can really do this. Imagine, at one point I was reading 4 readers??? What’s cool is that once you’ve read one, then it will be easier the next time around for the next child who will read the same material. That’s why it is also advisable to put your exercises/ questions per chapter in the computer so you can re-use these for the other children.

Here is an example of one of my “diligent” episodes where I created our own workbook:

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So, if you’d like a more fun and maybe relaxed way to tackle Reading and Grammar, try this approach. TLP workbooks are expensive so why not, based on similar principles, make your own?

The Father’s Dragon was a very exciting adventure and as a project, my son created  a “Book Report” in the shape of a back back from cardboard (since the plot revolved around items in his back pack and how Elmer got out of every predicament). I can’t seem to find the photos of that project.  Our grade 1 student, Gino, created pockets where he put the basic elements of the story like: setting, characters, problem, new vocabulary words, etc.

The same principles may be applied in your Filipino or Mother Tongue read-a-loud or readers. You can create daily activites (notebook style) using Filipino readers or chapter books, readily available in bookstores. You can start with the books recommended here( Smart Parenting Article on 10 Children’s Books that Celebrate the Filipino Culture). Choose books that are appropriate for your student’s maturity and reading level.

I would love to hear from you and maybe share with me how you do Language Arts with your students! I also would like to know if this blog helped you. You may comment below or email me at

Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—