All I Ever Needed to Learn I Learned in Homeschooling: Wrapping Up Thoughts As We End a 16 Year Journey

A line from my Dad’s favorite song …… “and now the end is near”….. is playing on my head.  As my eldest son and only daughter graduate from high school and middle school respectively this month, Teacher Mommy Donna and youngest son also graduate from homeschool,  Wait, Teacher Mommy Donna graduates too?

Yes, there are no more children to home educate.  I get joked nowadays that I may take it on and homeschool our adorable pug, Boo.   Yes, the end is near, in a couple of weeks,  I will be laying down my homeschool hat, apron and Teacher ID.

16 years. That’s as old as my 2nd son. ( Haha, I didn’t want to use my age as basis obviously!)

I still remember clearly, my wise sister’s words when she encouraged me to try homeschooling for our then 3 year old son Vince. I still  recall receiving our first homeschool preschool kit from Sing Spell Read and Write, and all the balikbayan boxes, year in and year out as more and more children came and more and more students joined our homeschool lessons.

Oh, there are so many days to share, so many experiences to ponder on but for now, I will just summarize this journey  with my take home lessons which  I will forever take with me  wherever I go.

  1. It is okay to have fun.

Learning can be fun. Fun will spell the big difference in the longevity of your homeschool:) Find the “fun” in your everyday and pursue that.  And get rid of the guilt of having fun while learning, or having fun for the sake of fun itself. Chill!

2.  Delegate what can be delegated.

Stop thinking of being a one woman show, or trying to be a martyr.   Do what you do best. Focus on what you’re good at. Delegate what can be delegated so you can save your time, effort and energy on what you do best. I clearly remember an advise of  parenting expert, James Dobson on what to do with extra funds, he said,” Get hired help. ”  Provide ways to support the main teacher of your children so she can focus on teaching and bonding with the children.

3. Find a system to deal with stress.

Stress is inevitable. It is part and parcel of every hour of our lives. It comes in all kinds of shapes and forms.  We have to have  a way to deal with them: prayer/ meditation, movement (sport/dance/exercise/hobby)  pockets of ways to express your creativity,  balanced nutrition/ supplements if necessary, regular BFF time,  reflection/journalling, aromatherapy!  Figure it out.  Determine your stress release regimen and do it regularly.   Find a way to set up a “stress meter” in your life and adjust accordingly.

4. It all boils down to preserving and nurturing relationships.

My favorite take home from our 16 year homeschooling — a good and steady relationship (and I’d like to believe a growing one with open communication )  with each child. Connect with others. You cannot homeschool alone.  I asked a dear psychiatrist friend one main advice for good mental health after almost 15 years of practice, her simple answer was, “Connect.”    Outside the home, I made the most amazing friendships and bonds with fellow homeschoolers!! Online, I have 11,400 plus homeschooling friends on FB!

5. Empathy goes a long, long way.

Empathy goes beyond sympathy (feeling for others). Empathy compels you to act after you “feel for others”; to do something to lessen someone’s pain or discomfort.  Empathy  is one important value I am hoping and praying was passed on to the our children.

6.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.

That is a verse from Joshua 1:8. I will be forever grateful for the Bible, God’s Word.  It is my manual for life, my marriage,  for homeschooling, my work….   I  have read many books during  my 16 year homeschool journey, I can give away all those books on marriage,  parenting, on child education , on homeschooling  and just keep one book with me forever, God’s Word, the Bible. And it is my prayer that my children will also seriously take this Book  as their manual for life too:)

7. Forgiveness

Forgive oneself for not meeting  the steep expectations you set , forgive others for not measuring up, forgive your children and ask for forgiveness when you have wronged others .. yes including your little children when mommy loses her temper or says hurtful words.  We will all have our share of bad homeschool days,  of pain from trials, of  “get me out here” moments that seem to last forever. Forgive. Learn. Re-set. Repeat. Ask for forgiveness. Learn. Re-Set. Repeat. There is no other way.

8. Prayer

Prayer I have come to learn is simply dependence on God.  The more you pray, the more you declare your inability, your finiteness, and your need of God.  The more you pray, the more you give back to God.  The more you pray, the less you want to control how life comes your way. The more you pray, the more you let go.  St. Paul saw the importance of prayer, prompting him to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” That is key to living any kind of life, really.

9.  Prepare & Plan

They say that “an ounce of prevention is  worth a pound of cure”.  In the homeschooling world, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of maximal learning.  Whether it be doing your own research regarding homeschooling or what makes a teacher effective, or giving 15 minutes to prepare your homeschool schedule or activities, it truly pays to prioritize “preparation and planning”.

10. Love. Love. Love.

Jesus put it simply. The greatest commandment revolves around Love. Love for God and love for thy neighbors.  Love is central in the lessons 1-9. To review:

  • Have fun in love.
  • Lovingly delegate
  • Love yourself and take care of yourself and manage your stress
  • Reach out and love others to nurture relationships
  • Love in action is empathy
  • Love God’s Word
  • Lovingly forgive.
  • When you pray, it is showing our love for God, His presence!
  • Love is more than a feeling, more than emotion. It is an act of will so you prepare and plan. Work is involved.

Love is the ingredient in all that you do that will spell the biggest difference. St. Paul says it again,  and  as let me paraphrase his words in 1 Corthinthians 13: 1,  “Without love, you are nothing but noise.”

Let me quote what was shared by my friend’s grandmother who dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing others, ” The best educator is the one who loves the learner.”

So there.  I can think of 10 more lessons as I give this topic much more thought. But hey ,they say, top of mind  answers sometimes are the best. And this restaurant I am in as I type away  is about to close. So I will leave it here  for now.

As I close,  I have 19 homeschool days left with our youngest.

My heart is full as we close this chapter.  I will be forever grateful for this awesome life changing experience. And wow, I have these life lessons, sealed in my heart, as I  move on to the next chapter of my life. Hallelujah indeed.  Sail away with me, Lord. Thank you indeed.

Psalm 37:4-5…Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way unto the  Lord and He will give you your hearts desire. 

When He Turns Our Weakness into Strength: My Daughter’s Journey on the Wheelchair and Crutches

It was a typical homeschool Friday with youngest Gino. I was leaving him some homework since I was set to join my daughter in her school’s field day. She was the captain of her house and of course, everyone wants to win in a day of games and relays!

Then I received a call from one of my co-parents, “Raya fell.”

And she fell hard.

She sustained a fracture on the upper portion of her left tibia and would be needing immobilization/ wheelchair and crutches for 6-8 weeks.

 

It’s quite confounding how one single event, one wrong twist, one wrong turn,  or one wrong split of the moment decision results in a myriad of consequences. As we heard “6-8 weeks”,  (and possibly the no running or heavy sports for 6 months), I saw  some things crumble down…… an upcoming school trip to Singapore for a  Youth Environmental Summit, the daily commute to 2nd floor classroom without elevator access, a school play,  her tennis training,  and her plans for summer to take football.

A mother is described as having one heart, her own heart,  plus the number of hearts of her children.  Without any lessons, or any reminders, we just automatically feel what our children feel. So I was beginning to see the repercussions of that fall, I had to  mentally and emotionally rush, rush, run to the finish line so I could feel,  and feel it all,  and find my own strength to carry her through ( literally too!)  And then, without looking back,  take on the “Mama is here” role and show strength for my daughter.

We have heard it again and again that setbacks are good, failures are part and parcel of life. We are encouraged to embrace them and to allow such unfortunate circumstances to build and mold our children. We are asked to back off and not to solve our children’s  predicaments all the time. Sometimes the best thing we can do is, come alongside and just let it unfold. We patiently wait in prayer and in anticipation.

A few days post-inury and few days before a much awaited and anticipated field trip abroad, reality set in and  the whole experience  and the future that was awaiting her overwhelmed my daughter.

After 19 years of being a parent, I have learned that we need to strike some form of balance when we try to uplift our discouraged children. There are dangers of belittling their situation, negating their emotions and feelings as being valid and in over doing the “Life is okay. It could have been worst. Cheer up.  Shake that off .” Sometimes, the best we can do is to listen, to hug and maybe weep with our children as well.  No words (not yet!). Presence and availability  may suffice.

As we began to paint the reality, my daughter then sighed, “It won’t be as fun.”  I am so thankful at that very moment an answer or more like a prophecy came to mind, and I just said, “Yes, it will be different.  But this (pointing to her immobilized leg) will usher in a whole lot of other opportunities and scenarios which may turn out to be fun and interesting too.”   I don’t know why I said that but it was like I had the coolest and most serene peace that all will be well and yes, she will be able to board a bus, navigate through the airport, do the toilet breaks, feed herself and yes board and move around a plane and yes, attend a youth summit in a foreign country without Mama or a relative around. I just knew I had to let her go (Pun so intended!)!

Then one morning, 3 days before their departure, “ I will go, Mom! I can do this.” From then on, I knew it, this is going to be great.

It was more than great indeed.  My daughter came home as the “most cared for student in the entire summit.”  She goes, “Everybody knew who that girl in the wheelchair was!” She came home with so many positive experiences of concern, care and going the extra mile from her classmates and teachers, and even from strangers who empathized with her and did what they could to assist her given her limitation.  Classmates and teachers just rallied to lessen her fears, her limitations and her difficulties.  Parents came to support as well with offers for prayers, wheel chairs,  for extra help, and for reminding their own children to look after Raya. What a blessing, right?

Taking a break from her activities of the Youth Environmental Summit in Singapore

And my best pasalubong (Tagalog term for treats brought by someone who goes for a trip) was her teachers’ words of affirmation and encouragement as they witnessed what a trouper this girl was: patient, flexible, content and cheerful, every step or should we say, turn of the wheel, of the way!!!!!

Of course,  half the time, Raya was with family and I was on Cloud 9 seeing her brothers (Thank the Lord for strong brothers, all taller than her (ok, she may argue if Gino is taller already) who also took on the role of helping her.  When we didn’t know yet how to use the stairs,  Marco for a good number of days, carried her up the stairs  like a backpack!

With eldest brother, Vince.
Love is when you can act like best friends, love each other like family, and protect each other like siblings. www.jarofquotes.com

My favorite date with Raya! Just me, her and this travel wheel chair! It was a good exercise pushing her from the parking, getting lost in the parking (Could you imagine how hilarious that can look) and yes, enjoying what we both love a whole lot, Art!

And the school play went really well! Now, Raya can say she performed, sang, and danced on a wheel chair !

A school play adapted from “Phineas and Ferb”! Guess who Raya was?

Last week, Raya bid farewell to her crutches and her wheelchair. She still walks with some limp as the the leg muscles become looser,  as they need to strengthen and re-learn how to walk efficiently but deep within, I know there is  stronger faith in God, a warmed heart from all the love she had experienced and a deeper gratitude for her healing and the blessings throughout her journey through it all.

I declare the faithfulness of our Good Lord in all this. From setting our hearts and minds at peace to providing the most cool and easy to use travel wheel chair for free, from MRI results that show no ligament tears to an increased faith in God, and a deeper appreciation of  thy “neighbors”                          (schoolmates, teachers, guards, helpers,  driver, siblings, strangers, other PWDS).

Indeed,  this is so true for we have truly witnessed it, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”  1 Corinthians 12:9.

Thankful, as I close this piece.

 

James 1:12  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

We are also thankful to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rolando Angelo “Jello” Ochoa of Asian Hospital and  PT, Karen Basco. And many more thanks  to the Lorenzo, Morris and Fabros families who really made Raya feel so loved and cared for during this time!

WHY AM I INTO ESSENTIAL OILS? Let me count 10 reasons…..

In a few months, I would be going into my 2nd year of using essential oils.   Back in our medical training, we really did not have adequate lessons on Natural Health. We may have had a few units on Preventive Medicine but that’s it.   And truly during those years in mid 90s,  there was a resistance to non Western approaches to health and wellness.  Life, however,  evolves and we all have begun seeing various approaches that are able to complement traditional, mainstream, allopathic Medicine: diet and supplementation,  nutritional healing, herbal, spinal manipulation, yoga and relaxation strategies, traditional Chinese medicine  to name a few.   I consider Aromatherapy as one possible complementary approach ( complement- to be used side by side with traditional approaches) to dealing with health issues.

Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit (www.naha.org)

You may read about essential oils here . You may add more information and read them about here too.  Online information is overwhelming and daunting, proceed with caution!

So here are my top reasons why I am into them:

  1. Scents matter.

I just love how some of my favorite oils smell. I am so relieved that I could easily extinguish any or anyone’s (hehe) smell that I am exposed to. Take that!  Fried fish smell, gym bag and used sneakers of 3 boys!!!! Help, where are my oils ? And they come to the rescue in an instant.  Your car smells like smoke, or someones shirt was dried in damp way,  shoo those foul odors away!!!

2. Scents affect mood and mental states!

Research ( I am putting together what I believe are credible and valid studies out there) is showing the powerful effect of aroma on mood and feelings.  Certain oils are now being used to address pain, anxiety and insomnia!

3. Natural complementary support for common health issues/conditions

Certain essential oils have been assessed and seen to have anti-inflammatory, anti-infective ( bacterial, fungal and viral), relaxing, restorative, immune boosting effects. I have seen them at work in our recurrent conditions at home such as breathing and allergy concern, infections, and stress and anxiety.

4. Touch therapy is more exciting with these pure and powerful oils.

Again, we have heard the power of touch ( haplos, reach out and touch somebody’s hand, hold me)! Remember the study of neonates in the ICU and the  difference of recovery for those who were held more?   So when,  my daughter who is now on an immobilizer due to a tibial fracture from a fall, comes home and says, her back/arms are tired from using crutches, Mama comes to the rescue with a blend of wintergreen, peppermint, lavender to sooth sore muscles and tired joints.  As we do this, we end up talking and bonding even more.  For immune support during periods of illness, this gives me a chance to also bond with our teen boys!   All our children are into sports , and thus, instead of going for over the counter medicines to relieve sprains and strains, we have an armamentarium of oil blends for sports issues!  My husband’s headaches and back pains are also helped with some  blend of anti-pain oils.  I may not have my own study to back this up, but I am 100 percent sure,  the oils with TOUCH therapy have a synergistic effect.

4. The limitless DIY options they provide.

Currently, I make our own light to heavy all purpose cleaner, make up remover, body and feet scrub,  throat soapy, cough and cold rubs, dry skin concoctions, puppy dog wipes, glass cleaner,  hand wash soap, facial soap!

For oils that are  considered and approved as safe for ingestion,  you can add  a drop  of lemon oil to your water,  or peppermint to your hot chocolate. Rosemary for your chicken? Basil for your pasta? Cinnamon for your tea?  Jade Lemon to your G &T?  The options are endless. (Note:  Make sure oils added to food and drink must always be safe for ingestion.)

For  high quality carrier oils, oily recipe tools and ingredients, aromatherapy books and accessories, check out 365 essential oil supplies !            

5.  The replacement phenomenon

I no longer purchase many beauty and skincare products, tons of its ingredients, I cannot  even pronounce, much less decipher!   I have lessened the toxic cleaners in our household and medications for symptom relief in general.

6. Essential oils are multitaskers

I haven’t even really scratched the surface in unearthing the gazillion ways oils can be used. Indeed we have such an awesome GOD in creating plants and trees with these miracle workers.

7. I have issues with my body’s immunity system.

Diagnosed a decade ago, I have low Complement 3, proteins that are important for immune function. Thus prevention and immune boosting are essential to maintain good health.  Friends from way back know how terrible my respiratory infections were ( and how they sounded!), and how I get stress blisters on my lips and under the eye.  Proper diet, mindful supplementation, sleep protection,  regular exercise and relaxation have helped a great deal and I have found essential oils truly helpful in my preventive regimen!   With diffusing here, inhaling there, rubbing this and spraying that  my anti respiratory infection oily habits), I have seen how I am able to nip impending infections at the onset, thus reducing the length and severity of an illness.  Runny nose, congestion and itchy throat abated and that means a whole lot for someone who used to struggle with nasty and progressive cough that can linger to 3-4 weeks!

8. It is fun!

Spot the Oils!!!

We do Science experiments for homeschool. My 12th grade son in regular school did a study of essential oils effect on E. coli
Our homeschool projects have included the use of essential oils: potpourri out of dried herbs and drops of essential oils , skin care and household cleaning products!

I was exposed to essential oils through a friend, BFF Cielo Vilchez  and a cousin, Angelica Cayzer, owner of Lemongrass House Philippines.  I have gained more friends through the sharing and evolving of its use and place in our lives and our homes.  Along with aromatherapy, I am a beginning to learn more about supplementation, herbal therapies and basic nutrition!  I have been able to travel with friends to learn more about these powerful oils!  Singapore, Malaysia,…. am excited to know where these oils will take me, maybe a course in Medical Aromatherapy abroad!

Essential oils and their products are so fun to use. They usually go where you go!

9. I am able to help others too!

Just ask my own family, our helpers, my siblings and nephews and nieces… Tita Oilbularyo is Tita Donna!  (Thank you to @gerigil for that “oilbularyo” term)

My prescriptions  and free samples  now are quite different. See! Samples from Mother Earth and not Pharmaceutical Companies!

10.  And I think one of deeper reasons why is this:

Oils have been utilized again and again from Ancient Times.    Doesn’t it make you wonder why two of the most well sought, powerful and expensive oils , frankincense and myrrh  were the ones given by the wise men to Jesus ? Jesus and Christian heroes of the faith have used them for healing and blessing, and I’d like to experience and see  more of this awesome blessing of God through nature!

Happy Oiling !

Email me donnsimpao@gmail.com for oily concerns:)

Matthew 2:11

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

*** Featured photo  is an Essential Oil/Aromatics Workstation from Sifr Cosmetics in Singapore.   Photo was taken during my visit to the store.

www.sifr.sg