Sometimes We Have to Let Nature Take Its Course and Bee Grateful!

We’ve just wrapped up our 4th quarter of SY 2016-17 and we are down to the our last homeschooled son at Level 5.  One more year? Maybe two?   Oh wow, who would have thought, 15 years would come by as it did.

Since he is our 4th homeschooled child, we did Botany again this year using Apologia’s Young Explorer Series: Exploring Science with Botany and as we did with our 2nd run with Astronomy, it was really a fun ride.

A few days ago, I was delighted to see our Guava Tree back in full bloom and ready to bear fruit.  I was in awe.   It was just a several months ago that I posted an image of luscious green guavas with a crunchy outside and bright pink, sweet tasting inside  Guava fruits, leaves and trees are  very much part of the growing years of my side of the family. We  climbed its branches,  hung from it like Tarzan as we jumped into a pool, ate its fruits for snacks  and yes, even boiled its leaves for wounds and skin infections.

However, I noticed, after bearing fruits, parts of the tree began to decline. Leaves were drying  and shriveling up,  the branches looked ill and the last few fruits didn’t anymore taste as good.  I thought that was the beginning of  the end of “reliving” our childhood days in our Antipolo residential farm.
Some who saw the tree said, “It may die soon like the langka tree beside it.”

But a few days ago I was in shock, as I peeked out of my window,  lush and green leaves  blended with  bees  feasting on the countless flowers!  Our lessons in Botany came in full swing again. The bees would play a crucial role in pollination in order to produce seeds and fruits!

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How does a tree heal? How did our guava tree heal?  With proper conditions of sunlight, lots of rain lately, and yes, the presence of helper birds and flying insects, it looks like our tree will yield fruits again. This whole idea made me think and smile.

We often find ourselves in situations whether as wives, mothers, sisters, aunts,daughters or friends, where we have done everything within our control  to try to solve a problem.  The problem however lingers.  The self preserving nature in us just wants distress, discomfort and pain out of the door as fast as possible.   But there is no clear answer ahead, there is no light visible in our the “tunnels” of our lives. And so we do what we all hate to do, wait.

The happy bees reminded me that waiting can bear fruit when that is what our dear Father in Heaven is asking us to do, to wait and trust. Waiting hones character and builds up faith.

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I remember one mom sharing in a seminar that she fears  her homeschooling experience with her preschool daughter has gone really sour  and it’s time to click “restart”. Sometimes, all it takes is probably saying sorry to our loved ones to see the beauty in “restarting”.  On other occasions, it may mean, letting go of the “self inflicted” pressures we put into our homeschooling days that put our relationships with our students in jeopardy.   In the rush, we all need to take a few steps back to see really where we are going and to check what areas in our lives really need a restart. And when we have put in place the elements for a good restart, many times, we just have to wait and let new memories with our children replace the hurtful ones, and like the guava tree, we just grow together and for sure, the tree will be fruitful again.

Prayerfully waiting in some way is similar to  what happened to our tree. Nature and time  just took its course  and eventually healing and blooming set it.  It’s toughest to wait and “do nothing.” I’ve once read that “Praying” is not doing “nothing”.     We seem to always  have the tendency to believe that many of our stressing about can actually change, heal, restore, solve problems but we do need to know when Someone is asking us to just wait and let go.  Then one day,  the blooming and bearing fruits will happen again.

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I so needed that learning that day.  And I am sharing it  with it you. It’s fascinating how Jesus Himself looked at nature to explain foundational lessons in life in  Matthew 6:28-30, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” That morning, I knew it was Him who was saying , “Look at the guava tree, Donna, Look at it everyday .” (and while your at it, “Bee grateful” for those who have come alongside in the painful process of waiting). 

 

Matthew 6: 31 – 34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Reading “Shiloh” for the 4th Time and Still Loving It!

Gino is about to complete his reader for this month, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This will be my 4th time to read and discuss this material in maybe 10 years as it has been an  a required reader for all of our 4 children.

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This was how the first copy looked around 8 years ago. I think I borrowed and reborrowed a friend’s copy and eventually bought our own copy. The cover has even changed! See below.

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For some readers, I began using  some accompany workbooks or supplements to help “maximize” the learning experience.  I have used the Total Language Plus  (TLP) series for other titles like Charlotte’s Web, The Cricket in Times Square, The Wheel on the School, Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe, Christmas Stories, Twenty One Balloons, Where the Red Fern Grows, Courage of Sarah Noble,  The Whipping Boy and after using Total Language Plus several times, I started doing my own DIY version of  book review lessons/ extensions of Reading via notebook activities.  For non TLP titles, I just either created exercises and reading comprehension questions in notebooks or downloaded study guides or activities.

Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from http://www.totallanguageplus.com; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.
Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from http://www.totallanguageplus.com; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.

“Shiloh” is a fairly easy read for levels 3-5 with some guidance on some “slang” or even colloquial terms.  It deals with a very familiar, close to home “kiddie”  subject: “a beloved animal/ pet that needs to be saved.”  Both boys and girls will easily get hooked with the suspense and captivating plot.

Set in an Appalachian town of West Virginia, devoid of all digital modernities children are so accustomed with nowadays,  Marty and all the other characters become a part of very thought provoking, interesting yet unsettling plot.  The twists and turns are exciting and you would not be surprised if your child asks to read more than the assigned chapter for the day!

I appreciate the ways in which this story will allow your children to think through their motivations, their plans, and decision. It will give you a springboard to teach valuable moral lessons on honesty and integrity, righteousness, respect and honor.

It will provide the venue for you  and your students to dig deeper on the areas of compromise,  rationalization and justification and of the  questionable belief that “the end justifies the means. ”

In this world of uncertainties, where the  boundaries of right and wrong can be made to appear blurry, this material is truly spot on in challenging our children to think and reflect.

The book costs  about Php 290.00 from National Book Store or Fully Booked. Truly worth every peso!  Every chapter is overflowing with opportunities for deep reflection and pondering.  Your children can easily draw valuable insights from the situations presented in the the story!

To create lesson extenders, or to help you have a richer experience of the story, you  can download good study guides on it by just googling the key words : Study Guide on Shiloh, Reading Comprehension Questions for Shiloh, Lesson Plans for Shiloh. I particularly liked this one and we’re completing it this May 2017.

My daughter who loves to draw, paint and do Arts and Crafts painted her own version of “Shiloh” when she read the same story several years back.

Raya read the book, "Shiloh" for her HomesCool Reading/Language Arts. It was a story of a boy and a beagle. We then had some lessons on how to draw a beagle and then she did this on her own.
As her Art activity,  Raya painted “Shiloh” using acrylic on canvas.

So, I encourage you to give this book a try.  It may hook you to the habit of having good and well thought of discussions with your students!

James 1:22- 25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Pass It On, Dearest Homeschooler, Pass it On: The Joy of Being Part of the Cycle of His Blessing

I first came across the “mentoring” idea when I was part of our youth group in Christ’s Commission Fellowship in the late 1980s. It was through the verse:  2 Timothy 2:2  You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

For some reason, it was ingrained in my mind that we need to be constantly passing on what we have received to continue the cycle of blessing.  From teaching Sunday School and and leading a teen care group,   to volunteering in a creche when we were assigned in the UK, from  hosting couples Bible study groups to beginning the MILK (Mothers of Infants and Little Kids) with my bff Candy when we were young mothers,  I just happily received and passed on.

When I would feel inadequate or unworthy, I would remember,  another verse from Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4: 14 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. I rested in the fact that I didn’t have to reach some sort of gold standard in order to start teaching others but I I was simply a vessel to pass blessings and always, always point to the Great Provider of blessings. Focus on the Giver they say, never the gifts. Point to Him, never to yourself.

Parenting, however, is a daunting, close to impossible task.  And when you are asked to share about raising children, you have this nagging and crippling feeling that you can never start preaching when the products of your own “parenting ” journey have not been tested. But then , the call is to pass on what you have learned.  Paul didn’t say, perfect the skill first, memorize the principles and produce awesome children then start teaching others.  Just pass what you have learned from God in the most real, authentic and transparent way.

I found some solace and peace in an Apologia textbook  entitled “Who Am I?”  the 2nd of their What We Believe Series.  They reiterated the  call for parents, the call to faithfulness to what God was calling us to do as fathers and mothers to our children. The business of transforming hearts of our children is God’s, not ours. The same principle applies for all relationships, we cannot change people. We can simply help with ingredients needed for growth but  I firmly believe, it is God who causes growth or change.  What a liberating thought!

Eventually this passing on nature found its way to homeschooling as  I began opening our doors to teaching and mentoring others. As we released one teen after another to regular schooling, (we’re now down to one tween).  I had found more time to actually share what I had learned from our own homeschooling journey through this social media, some interviews, and eventually to seminars and conferences.

The last 6 months opened a whole lot of doors to  come alongside homeschoolers and parents in the homeschooling/parenting journey and it’s been a great ride. Let me post a sort of timeline here:

Nov 2016: with support of  Phoenix Educational Systems,  I spoke on “Raising Creative Learners”

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I have to say, homeschooling moms are part of very sweet type of mothers.I felt like this was a photo with my BFFS, but actually I have just met 3 of them for the first time: )

Dec 2016:  with Sunlife and Businessworks, Inc, we mounted the “Building Blocks of Homeschooling” seminar.  It was really memorable doing this with my family: brother Anthony and sisters, Felichi and Maricel! IMG_3715

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Here with a book on training our caregivers/nannies, “I Love You, Yaya!” Co written by Maricel Laxa Pangilinan, Felichi Buizon and yours truly.

February 2017: CCF “Chosen, A Retreat for Mothers” at the Makiling Retreat and Training Center.

Here speaking to mothers on, “Becoming Mothers After God’s Own Heart

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One of the highlights of this retreat was meeting the many women being led by one of the teen girls of a care group I  led in the late 80s to early 90s. Oh my, that is indeed 2 Timothy 2:2! I was blessed beyond words, meeting them all. Best of all, apart from speaking in this retreat, I was able to participate as an attendee with my BFF sister Felichi who was my first “church” care group leader . Great grandmother meets her great grand daughters. Ching Tan-Sy, the lovely lady in between us, was the “mother”  link:) Thank you Ching for passing it on as well:)

February 2017: Educating for Life’s Flavor of Homeschooling at, “The Study” by Enderun in Podium. This was a workshop on Unit Studies.  I met another bunch of the sweetest and most dedicated mothers ever!

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March 2017

I finally took on something that I’ve been wanting to do for several years now. I wanted to run a small, mentoring class on homeschooling.  Though big, high impact conferences may have its place in moving homeschool forward and creating real ‘homeschool” noise, nothing beats the connection ,  the laid back, relaxed set up and lots of interaction which a small group can offer.  So with the encouragement of Ms. Arlene Sy and with help of some friends, and Gino, my working student-seminar assistant, we pulled of the first of hopefully a continuing and evolving Homeschool Mentoring Series with 2 sessions in Alabang. Our topics were: How to Start Your Homeschool Journey and Multilevel Homeschooling.

Again, these  two groups floored me with their commitment, friendliness and warmth!

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As mentioned several times in  past posts, I do volunteer work with Visions of Hope Foundation.  And by God’s awesome orchestration, when  the poor children we work with needed to be home educated in home care facilities several years ago, I was at the right place at the right time. They needed a homeschooler! And I was willing and available. It has been several years now that we had been training and providing material for preschool teachers in the poorest preschools of our country where Visions of Hope foundation operates. Recently, I had the chance to spend 3 days with another set of passionate and committed teachers (and mothers): the  Visions of Hope  Christian School teachers of Malungon, General Santos and Palawan .  In June 2017, the Visions of Hope Christian School in Malungon, Saranggani will be opening its doors to around 130 students with a new building and new, somewhat homeschool inspired curriculum!!!!   This, for me, is a kind of “passing on'” that I never really envisioned. It is amazing indeed when you just make yourself available for God’s work.  Visions of Hope Foundation  sees every child as a vision of hope. If you are led, to “pass on” in whatever, way, shape or form, do check our website and, volunteer and give.

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With the grant from Security Bank Foundation, the two story building by God’s grace will be ready for turnover in June 2017!
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With building engineer, Norman, foundation executive  director Ms. Arlene Sy and teachers Carol, Diza, Lei and Nurse Hannah with our student for next school year (I forgot his name, so sorry) .

 

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Visions of Hope Christian School Staff/ Teachers with our consultant on culture identity and preservation for teaching children in indigenous communities, Mr. Romeo dela Cruz.
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These teachers are so excited (and yes, a bit anxious, please pray for them) to use the new “homeschool” type of material as they teach 130 students this school year

And so, the “passing on” continues and may I invite you to any of these coming seminars:

May 11 & 12 , 2017:

Inspire Creativity

May 25 & June 1:
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Hope to see you in any of these  above mentioned events! And for those who have been a able to learn a thing or two in any of the recent seminars I  have conducted, please continue to pass on the learnings and yes, do give me feedback on how we can improve further through homescoolph@gmail.com.

 

Titus 3:5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Credits to www.mrsikhnet.com for the featured image of passing the baton.