Slow Down, Stop and Yes, Look at the Birds, Listen to them and Smell the Flowers

It has been a long while since my last post. And I think, it is mainly because I had to learn to slow down, to say, “No” and breathe. Some others think it is because  of the many homeschool seminars we’ve been running, not really.  Or, that I have become too busy. I have maybe an average of  2 half day runs per month and that’s really not so bad.  We actually have one this afternoon but instead of fussing about, I am now listening to the birds outside my  window and blogging away.

Yes, everyone needs to slow down and find that pace in life that isn’t too slow, lethargic and unproductive, yet is not too hectic, unhealthy and stressful (full!) .  The online world and social media aren’t really helping in this quest for the right pace. At one end, it can push you to sluggishness, consuming every content out there, but it can also lead to feeling the “super invincible woman” who can multitask and attend to so many demands with your smartphone and all the apps that make life simpler. Does it really?

Well, all I know is that I have slowed down.  For one, I have, without guilt, caught up with a TV mini series my husband was into and it has opened a world of conversation and connection for us.  Guess which series???

I have found time to reconnect with grade school, high school and college and even Medicine batch mates in the last several months. Trips to Quezon City no longer daunt and haunt me.  Remember the Danish proverb??? “The road to a friend’s house is never long.”

With Maryknoll Grade School Classmates Rina Puno Avecilla and Mian Alentajan! Despite a 3 hour trip, this bonding was sure worth it.
My UP College of Medicine Batchmates! We welcomed a few classmates from the US.
My precious Anatomy group mates: Hazel, Miko and Jep ( not in photo: Amelen and Liza!)
Highschool/College/ Med School BFF Dr. Nanette Lizardo-Lajo. Twinning here!

And yes finally, finally, I had time to bond with sisters on a joint or one on one dates, short ones or even overnight in the beach or in a farm.

Yehey for bonding in Anilao!

I was reminded of this need to slow down just a few days ago…  I  put this on a desk at home and one family member said, “It’s nice. What photo will you put into it? ”

Maybe, the image wasn’t worthy to display.  But then how about the message?  It was sure worth it for me. When I saw this card from  Floral Atelier in Tiong Bahru area in  Singapore, I just knew I had to get it… and thought of a nice silver frame for it, but I ended up with this acrylic frame, on sale, from Crate and Barrel in Makati.  But some can miss it really.

Slow down and read. Slow down and appreciate.

One weekend ago, I just decided to say “Yes” without much ado  and be the “malaking hadlang” (MH, one who blocks or one makes two, a crowd, by joining!)  to my sister and her hubby.   It has been tough gathering and uniting schedules of Gilbert and 4 kids for a beach trip so when there was a chance, I grabbed it. For myself.  I said I can go.  I figured my family can do without me for a one night and two full days.

Lovely time with the Coates family at Kawayan Cove !!!! Nenette , my sister is beside me.
And yes, I had tea with an English man and a German! Thank you Lori and Becca for that awesome tea!

We then decided to visit brother Kiko’s Sweet Spring Farm in Alfonso after a day in the beach in Nasugbu and I learned a whole lot from brother in law, Boogi.

Boogi: Do you see the ostrich up there? (Oh we need to stop and see indeed!)
Boogi pointed me to this nest on the ground. It has been one of my wishes to be able to take home a “discarded nest.” Sorry, Mama Bird if you still wanted to use this ( I doubt it though since it was on the ground already near many predators) . I took it home, I sprayed some lacquer into it and it is my reminder for God’s awesome creation and yes, to slow down indeed.
They always say “Look Up” . But in a farm??? You do need to look down. We found many amazing stuff!
Thank you, Kuya Boogi for teaching me to slow down and take time to look at life! Boogi Zipperich is my German brother in law married to Ate Nenette. They have an awesome shop called Boogi in Arnaiz St and LRI Plaza, both in Makati.
We grew up in our Antipolo farm house with lots of fruit trees and had santol, guava, star apple, balimbing as snacks! And just like the good old days, one would pull the branch down, and one would pick the fruits. We did that last week. Ate Nenette and I. Oh memories!
Our loot! Made some guava jam after!
Indeed, I took time to really stare at the flowing water in this sweet spring!

And finally, my BFFS bond with my sister Felichi! That’s not very often, and it was really heartwarming to see such bonding.

With BFFs in my tennis team, Joyce and Candy, and ate Felichi! Love it!
And a highlight of this month was seeing good friends from our days in London! Here with Jon and Arly ( my son Marco’s godmother) and Angeli. Jon and Arly came from a brief visit. Outside the window, my children were bonding with theirs! Take time, take time…

Indeed, we all need to slow down. Slow down doesn’t always mean doing less but I guess, slowing down  to know what really matters and focusing on those. And yes, we all need that. In this world of non stop calls for our attention, and distraction, we need to slow down.

What will this mean for you? Think it through and make the adjustments. It could be as simple as turning off the phone, limiting social media or simplifying some things like meals (my sister would have  sandwich nights when dinner preparations were tough to handle). For me, one of the best ways to slow down is to start your day early and slowly, when many concerns and people are still asleep (hehe) and listen to music, meditate, read God’s word and pray!

I need to sign off for now. Off to Quezon City for a seminar. It’s August 26 and let me take this chance to greet my ate (mommy) Angeli, Happy Birthday dearest sister!  I’ll see you later!

The blessings of 4 sisters. I need to slow down today to spend time with them and celebrate love and life, Happy Birthday Ate Angeli:)

Jeremiah 2:25 “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?
    Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (The Message) 

Multilevel Homeschooling: You Can Do It!

My husband Gilbert and I are in awe of how close our four children have become.  They can talk all night, share music, watch videos, do crazy stuff (that only they could understand) together,  have inside jokes from shared experiences. The  3 boys play basketball with their Papa, and Raya plays tennis with me.

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From eldest to youngest, here are their current ages: 18 y.o , 16 y,o, 14 y.o  and 11 y.o (turning 12 soon).  Yes, I finally had an “adult” this year, the kind of year they all turn “even” !  Yes, they once were like steps in stairs, marching according to height. Now, the 2nd has overtaken the first and the last is almost as tall as the 3rd. Haha, sounds like a mathematical equation ?

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Truly, truly, one of the best benefits of Multilevel homeschooling is the solid foundation it sets for sibling closeness.  I am actually smiling now as I write this.   It is our prayer that this bond will be rock solid and will be an awesome ally for all their  lives indeed.

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As more children have been released to regular school, I find myself having more time available for a few other passions:  running seminars for homeschooling/part time working, participating more actively in a non-government organization for the poor, and being active in HAPI (Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands).

Recently, I began a Homeschooling Mentoring  Seminar Series as a trial run for a smaller group of parents.   Homeschool conferences are quite helpful in the bigger picture encouragement and pumping up but I do find the workshops with small number of participants with a lot of interaction and experiential activities, a bit more personal and heartwarming.  I love connecting with others and hearing their homeschooling experiences. And yes, finally, I get to personally meet  many of my online friends from the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page.

This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!
This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!

One of the topics,  I love to share is How to Run a Multilevel Homeschooling Set up.  Multilevel Homeschooling is basically having a “more than one child/ one student ” set up and so, you are faced with a myriad of differences in preferences,  talents & abilities, educational milestones, personalities, demands, learning goals, etc and eventually, a whole set of varying outcomes!   You face different characters and character concerns, varying learning styles, and yes, even growth and development.

Did I ever research on this as I taught all the kids in a span of 15 years?  Believe it or not, I just began researching about it when I decided that it was time to pass on the best practices in Multilevel Teaching to other homeschooling parents.  Haha, I guess, I wanted a more solid backing in terms of “educational philosophies, studies and techniques” than mere experience.   However, much of what I had applied in teaching multiple kids could be drawn from general parenting books (of various topics like: discipline, creativity, teamwork, motivation, positive talk/speech, parenting during digital age, success, character formation) and my main manual in life, the Bible.

But then again, teaching is essentially parenting !  We learn parenting from many sources but I also realized that I had learned much from our four children (all made in God’s image, yes they are!!!!)  and actually “raising them”.. with a whole lot of trial and error, laughter,  tears and apologies,

So what did I actually find when I finally hit the books, searched online about Multilevel Teaching?  I was floored…..and yes in awe, because many of the beliefs I had formed in what we were doing, many of the techniques I had applied from common sense and practicality,  and  even the rationale in many of the adjustments and “tweaking” we had done to “thrive, bloom and soar” in the chaos of homeschooling 4 children  at the same time,  are emerging as solid approaches in multilevel set  up classroom !   These approaches  are now being implemented by regular schools that believe in Multilevel teaching!

So, what are these principles? What are the approaches ?  What are the best practices?   Well, be empowered like these  these amazing parents  by joining our next run on 29th of July, Saturday  form 900-12NN at the Unleash International, 31F Jollibee Plaza, F. Ortigas Ave, (former F. Ortigas Ave), Ortigas Center! Email homescoolph@gmail.com for inquiries and/or to book a slot!

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This was our 2nd run in Boogi Furniture Store along Arnaiz Street, Makati. As an added bonus, I pulled in my sister Felichi to observe and share her precious insights as well! This was a crazy, LOL kind yet heartwarming group of parents! We could not stop laughing!

It was  really fun to “positively overwhelm” these committed parents in the photo above.  And borrowing a pose from a bitmoji app I had made of myself;

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My sister, Felichi Buizon, another homeschooler of almost 20 years, encouraged the group to pose as in my  personal bitmoji ! See, how fun and game, this group was.   We declared, Daddy Jomar Hilario as the parent with the winning pose!

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So, are you feeling like  “You can’t even!”?  as you face the daunting task of homeschooling multiple children?  Join us! Book now:)

 

If you are a first time homeschooler, you may also opt to attend this:

Here are a few photos of our run last June at The Parenting Emporium :

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Here in The Parenting Emporium, QC, with our brave multilevel homeschoolers! From Alabang to Makati, From QC to Ortigas Center on July 29!
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With The Parenting Emporium owner, Ms. Maricel Soriano Cua and co-speaker and sister, Ms. Felichi Buizon. All from Maryknoll High School ! (now known as Miriam College!
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Learning Basket owners and fellow homeschoolers, Mariel Uyquiengco and Sanne Unson. Check out www.thelearningbasket.com

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Indeed, this last photo says it all.  Multilevel Homeschooling is another example of ways in which Parenting is indeed shared.  We hope to impart to more parents as we seek to make homeschooling more practical, more doable and sustainable and more fun for all!

Philippians 4:13  I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.

Be Positively Overwhelmed! : A Reminder Against Homeschool BurnOut

Said in the same fashion as “Confidently beautiful with a heart, “(Remember, Miss Universe 2016? Filipina Pia Wurzbach?”, I sort of coined this phrase during the recent homeschooling workshop on Multilevel Homeschooling as I wrapped up.  Yes, homeschooling on its own is overwhelming. What more Multilevel Homeschooling?

However, after sharing success stories, “pick up and stand up again from failure” moments, and tried and tested strategies for homeschooling several kids that differ in so many facets,  I said, “Yes, be positively overwhelmed. “

Stress we all know may be positive, negative or even neutral.  So in a sense, the key, in multilevel homeschooling, is to face stress as inevitable but taking  all the possible positives from it.   Veteran homeschooler and my “ate” Felichi Buizon says that, “Life in general is a series of interruptions.” And since homeschoolng is life, then expect, embrace and roll with them .  Don’t get us wrong.  It isn’t having a pessimistic, bleak outlook  or having a new mantra ala Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Rather, it is expecting , stress, interruptions,  and a whole gamut of things that are out of our control as teachers/ parents, and find ways to positively turn these experiences to benefit most, if not all.

Read more Be Positively Overwhelmed! : A Reminder Against Homeschool BurnOut

All Time Favorites! Materials to Pass on to the Next Generation!

After 15+ years of homeschooling, we’ve probably had 30x of major decluttering of homeschool materials, books, supplies and yes, even toys. I’ve passed on many of our favorite story and reference books to younger cousins but I’ve kept my all time favorites because the children, though a bit older now, still love looking at many of these timeless pieces and I guess, I still use several of them with my last homeschooled son at level 5.

But there are indeed timeless pieces which I want to keep in a room with a rocking chair and a rug!  Can you picture what I am envisioning? God willing, I will one day become more than just Tita Donna welcoming little and grown up nieces and nephews in my home with their favorite chocolate chip cookies. For the little ones, I sometimes read them a book, do some arts and crafts or homeschool a bit here and there.  God willing, I will be, hopefully  be a cool, endearing and warm grandmother with the best books and toys in her house!

Though not arranged in level of importance, here are my top favorite printed material: reference books, storybooks, and chapter books!

  1. For the Study of God’s Word and Character Education:

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storybook-Copy What-We-Believe-Series

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2.  Stories we just kept reading night after night for maybe close to a decade and our favorite Read-A-Louds!

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This was our children’s favorite for years and years of bedtime stories. They seem to have all the parent-child concerns laid out in a story book. As parents, we were able to deal with a lot of character issues in a non-threatening, light and fun manner through the Berenstain Bears series!
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Other series we collected: DW series, Amelia Bedelia, Franklin, Froggy, Frog and Toad, Geronimo Stilton, Thea Stilton, American Girl, How to Train a Dragon, Percy Jackson, Nate the Grate, Big Nate, Diary of the Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants,  Books by Beverly Cleary and Andrew Clements, Eloise & Amelia Series , Series of Unfortunate Events………….We love reading!
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Our Favorites: Go, Dog, Go! ; The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham,;One Fish, Two Fish; Wacky Wednesday
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One of the best collections of children’s stories for 3-8 year olds!
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We spent 2 years of our children’s growing years in Wondon ( that’s how our baby would say, London) and we loved the tales of Peter Rabbit!

All Time Favorite Read A louds:

  • My Father’s Dragon
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series
  • Five Dog Stories
  • Number the Stars
  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • Dr. Dolittle
  • Christian Heroes Then and Now Series
  • Mystery of History and Apologia What We Believe Stories
  • and many others!

3. Nothing beats Apologia Science Resource Textbooks – These are written as Read-A-Loud material with easy to apply Science experiments doable at home!

 

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4.  To keep the Filipino culture, history and language alive in a practical and relevant way.

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Brilliant way to introduce our nation’s history, told by a child living in a specific era, in the Filipino language (some with Ilonggo words, even) ! Click on the image to know more about the books by Adarna House.

I supplement these Adarna History Story books above with my own Read A Loud Style ( or assign chapters for reading for the independent student)  using the following and my student’s own Social Studies textbook. So I do read ahead sometimes so I can read the historical texts like a story!

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Here are our well loved story books from Adarna/Hiyas Publishishers
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Chapter book series for the older student (maybe 7-12 years old?)
Chapter book series for the older student (maybe 7-12 years old?),  we enjoyed this series by Xi Zuq!

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Health, Science and Filipino Language (and culture) for the win, from Hiyas!  Available in OMF Bookshops.

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Click on the image to know more about Hiyas Products

 

6. World History

a. The Mystery of History series

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b. The Story of the World Series

We began with this series when the kids were preschool age b
We began with this series when the kids were preschool age but eventually shifted to Mystery of History. We are now in Volume 3!

7. How I became the kid’s first Art  and Music Teacher

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If you’d like to start an art series with your preschoolers, try this series on this blog.  Just use the search bar and type Art, colors, lines and shapes and you’ll see a whole lot of Art Lessons you can do at home!

We only had a few of these. We also borrowed from other homeschoolers! Now, we're trying to also learn Filipino Musicians and Artists
We only had a few of these. We also borrowed from other homeschoolers! Now, we’re trying to also learn Filipino Musicians and Artists
From National Bookstore
From National Bookstore
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An All Time Favorite to introduce the famous composers, the orchestra and its member instruments

8. Various Reference Books! 

 

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Boys and yes even girls love maps! Teach them about the various countries while they color land and water!
Being a doctor-teacher, we just had to have this! Well guess what, I think our eldest son wants to become a doctor!
Being a doctor-teacher, we just had to have this! Well guess what, I think our eldest son wants to become a doctor!
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To learn about other faiths and religions and teach respect and awareness.
One Country a Day !
One Country a Day, use with map templates! Or adjust based on global issues!

Though online materials are truly award-winning, engaging and cost-efficient, we prefer to have a library of quality materials.  With four children, nephews and nieces, even using them as guides in teaching others how to homeschool, and probably grandkids in the future, I truly believe that costs both in time and money (endless searching for good deals, discounts, sharing balikbayan boxes with others, purchasing some in installment), were all super worth it.I am sure some books  in our library which were not mentioned for this first blog post of favorite materials feel bad! (“We were not featured yet we taught them so much!!!” said the unmentioned books.)  I will add and edit along the way but these are the ones that came to mind instantly! For Math, we’ve been Mathusee users for more than a decade and supplement a bit here and there with other approaches like Singapore Math or Simpao Math (Hahaha! The practical way of applying Math I guess!).

I shared these materials to give you a picture of what to look for  in reading materials to purchase! You may come up with a totally different set of titles and that’s surely OK!  I guess the best gauge for good quality materials would be how often they are used, the memorable experiences they bring and the in depth learning they provide.

 

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” -Ray Bradbury

Proverbs 10:14 “The Wise treasure knowledge.”

P.S. Am currently reviewing additional material such as  Worldbook’s New ChildCraft Series, Filway’s  Learning Math with Albert and will post soon!

How Homeschooling Guards Your Heart and Anchors You

We have been a homeschooling family for 15 years, and I am still homeschooling our youngest, Gino, level 5.  I have been teaching  non-stop for a  total of 15 school years! Praise the Lord indeed. Come to think of it, that’s a third of my life!

So, I’d like to encourage all homeschoolers out there to press on and keep enjoying the ride.  We are definitely doing something good.  Something good not only for our children, but also for ourselves. Yes, you heard it right. This is  truly good for us.  We may have had to set aside a career,  exchanged a high paying job to set “office” at home and lose a whole of benefits and add ons of work and “not homeschooling” our children.

We may feel that we are now so “tied” to our children, and “tied” to home but apart from the usual advantages we’ve already read and heard, let me share something very close to my heart.  Yes, I’ve had days that I have felt “tied down”, limited and unable to say ,”Yes” to many other opportunities.  However, as I see the bigger picture,  what tied me down actually guarded and anchored me.

We teach many subjects. Our passions, biases, willingness to learn, patience and creativity all affect what and how we teach.  We may decide to even outsource some subjects.  I have to say though that being our children’s main teacher on Bible & Character ( some may call this area as Christian Living, Catechism, Values Education) poses the toughest challenge yet provides the most steady guide and anchor for our own spiritual walk of faith.

When we we teach Math, Science, Language or even History, we can truly read from a scripted text or find good youtube tutorials to explain a lesson.  We may be the link to making the lessons more relevant, fun and experiential. If the material is unfamiliar to us, we can also learn like our own students.  However, when we teach Bible lessons, character traits, timeless foundational truths and principles,  we can’t simply read from the text or listen to others teach. To be effective teachers, there is a call to live what we teach. “Practice what we preach” as they say.  Or the more often quoted saying nowadays, “Character is caught more than taught.”

Of course, we can be transparent and authentic in also declaring that like our children, we ourselves are “works in progress” and we are also learning and relearning with them. But that doesn’t remove the tough calling on parents of being the first examples and models of the character traits being taught . For our case, it is only by His Grace, His Enabling and His work through the Holy Spirit that can give me the courage and boldness to live and teach this daunting subject. For Christians, the goal is always to point them to Christ, not really to ourselves. But  many experts say that young children need  “Christ in the flesh” first to be able to appreciate, experience and  believe in the spiritual Christ.

So, I guess what I want to to say is, the desire and commitment to teach our children about our “living and growing” faith, our God, our Savior and the work of the Holy Spirit (the Trinity),  and ensuring that we impart to them the biblical principles that will give them a strong foundation in becoming loving, responsible, compassionate and kind people,  are  amazing forces  that help me  stay in course, stay in the right path in my own walk of faith. Teaching keeps me in check, and always on guard, on my toes and yes, as much as I can, on my knees (in prayer)! And so, thank you, homeschooling! Thank you to my hubby Gilbert whose hard work allows me to stay at home and homeschool,  to our students: Vince, Marco, Gino and Raya,   and above all , thank you LORD!

I was so awed by this truth today and as I pondered more, I became so grateful.  I shared this today to encourage all you out there.  We can be sidetracked and stressed by so many things in life and all the must dos as we care for families, raise our children and yes, even educate them. It really helps to take back step from time to time and see the bigger picture.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

Christmas Thoughts from Our Home, My Heart

It’s December 21 and I am done wrapping  and sending out 95 % gifts that need to be delivered. So here I am, taking a break and writing.  9 days to go till we “wrap up 2016″… and it is not easy looking back.  It is actually painful .

The year was just about to roll in when we lost my Daddy Dony. It is actually going to be the first Christmas without him. Actually, he celebrated his last Christmas here on earth in the ICU on his 10th week in the hospital.  “Daddy Dony and Christmas” was always special because he loved special occasions to gather his loved ones. He thought of all ways to spice up the event and we’ve had the most “all out” gatherings because of his ideas.

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The only photo I unearthed from my file that showed our family ( half of our size now) in Filipino Christmas motif! There was also a Christmas gathering that we were to come as members of the Nativity Scene, and yes someone came as Baby Jesus in the manger!
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,,,,,one Christmas, the grandkids decided to have a family super selfie dance! If you want another one,  here.  We are a CRAZY bunch, and that’s partly due to Daddy Dony!

Please remember to pray for my Mommy Emma.  It was difficult  for her to live without her boyfriend and husband of 64 years this year.img_4074

But sadly, so many other precious lives left us this year: a  homeschooler  friend who had 4 children, a dear sister of  one my BFFs, my eldest brother in law,  my neighbor’s father,   several of our helper’s dearest relatives and several parents of other friends.

Our own family had one relationship problem after another,   and  so I think 2016 was my most “crying-ext” year.  I love how the Psalms in the New Living Translation says it ever so clearly in Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  I also soar in the assurance in  Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”  So when you really think about it, the Lord is near and so I must rest  and rejoice in that.  And truly this season is the best time to rejoice knowing, “Emmanuel, God is with us!”  So, instead of wallowing and yes, staring at my tears in my own “memory” bottle and reliving the hurts again in my thoughts and heart,   I have made a choice to rejoice.  God is with us. He is near us.  What an amazing , awesome, mind-blowing truth!!!!

So as I greet you all a truly MERRY “because God is indeed with us” Christmas, let  me do this using some of the Christmas sights here at home.

Let me take the simple messages from our tree this year.  (Set up by all our kids!)

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  1.  Be Merry, God is with us.    Take time to think of that. Close your eyes and say. “Thank You, Jesus.” “God with us” paved the way for  the redemption of  every believer in Christ. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

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2.  Life’s circumstances may cloud the way, dim our thoughts but as one follower encountered Jesus, he called out and said, “I do believe; Lord, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)  Even Mary had her own doubts, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34 ) So my dearest one, Merry Believing!

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3. May you have Joy and Freedom.   God, through Jesus, has already provided this with the greatest sacrifice at Calvary.  With Jesus, we have eternal joy and freedom from the burden and weight of our sins and failures. Again, take time to think and ponder on these. Indeed, we can really sing, “Joy to the World!”

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4.  Amidst the troubles at home, in our families and in our society, and yes in our world,  may you have  inner peace in believing in faith, that God is sovereign.  I weep as I think of children in  Aleppo, as I think of those killed in this “all out drug” war.   We know  that the  worsening  “darkness” has been foretold but alongside that, there is  the call to press on to be salt and light in this earth. I cannot let the darkness , whether in my own family life or in this word,  make me cynical, cripple me or paralyze me. ” You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. “For the peace of God that transcends all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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5. In faith, I have chosen to draw near to God and  believe. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. ” May then your faith in Him  be strengthened as you look back at 2016 and look forward to 2017.  God is faithful and He seeks those who will believe Him in faith.

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So there. Simple truths but truly profound and wondrous.  Let us, like Mary,  take time to celebrate as we meditate on these thoughts.  “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) As you do this, listen to traditional Bible based Christmas carols and be blessed with these 5 simple truths I drew out from our CHRISTmas tree this year.

Merry CHRISTMAS!!!!

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Making Science Come Alive Part 2 : The CardioVascular System

So, we’ve covered the basic cell and how these cells are viewed as part 1 of this Science series.  Since our homeschool microscopes are not as versatile or powerful, we can either ask them to draw using a simple worksheet the various images (usually there are pre made slides in a microscope kit) of various samples of “tissue’.  Or you can make your own simple slide of hair, a tiny speck of dust, water from pond, or even your own blood ( if you can prick yourself for some sample).  We can opt to just google for “microscopic image of _____________” and let our students copy and color using the same worksheet  and identify them.  As they do this, you can read aloud more about the cells they are copying. We worked on copying a bacteria, fungi and a heart muscle cell (as part of our upcoming lesson).   You may opt for other cells like an amoeba, a virus, skeletal muscle or skin cells.  The options are limitless. 

We also did to make play dough images of some cells we learned about.

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The skin ( Epidermis, Dermis with the hair and glands, blood vessels)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)

At this point, it would be good to remind your students that  a billion/trillion cells make up a organ/system in your body.

We then proceeded to discuss the Cardiovascular or Circulatory System.    When kids encounter big words as such, be sure to train them to try to understand these words by trying to get into root word analysis.  You may also introduce a bit of Latin as well and explain why anatomy terms mostly are based on Latin words.  Cardio – heart, Vascular – Vessels or passageways for blood. Circulatory – circle, or circulate.  It is a continuous cyclical process of pumping and receiving blood. So with the remaining play dough we had (oh these tubs were awesome finds, maybe 10 years ago from Toy Station in Rockwell) We had all colors! Now were down to the last tub (like an ice cream tub), pink and it suited us well. A doctor friend really thought it was closely resembling a hear which we dissected in anatomy class way back. We first read about the heart/circulatory system and watched some videos . You can ask your kids to take notes as you watch.  You may opt to use these templates  or worksheets to demonstrate basic parts of the heart. Here is another video. With a good model or diagram to follow, Gino then has a go!

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Can you identify the basic parts? Right Atrium, Tricuspid Valve, Right Ventricle, Left Atrium , Mitral Valve, Left Ventricle, Interventricular Septum (This is an opened up view of heart, if you lift the front covering. Ask your student to get the amount of dough equal to his fist, that is approximately the size of his heart. Now here is a tip:  Arteries- AWAY. They bring oxygenated blood AWAY. Arteries, Away.  As for Veins… forgive me here.. VACK. as in Back. They bring blood blood back to heart/lungs for oxygenation. There are a few exceptions like Pulmonic Artery, brings blood from the Right Ventricle to the Lungs for oxygenation .
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A Breast surgeon friend said, “Wow, may coronary arteries pa.!” Arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood! We had to do that so I could explain what happens in a heart attack!

Forgive me for my excitement but now that the students know the basics, we can spice it up a bit by giving some examples of abnormalities or illnesses of these organs. I punctured a hole in the wall of the heart that decided the left and right side and said, many babies are born with holes in these walls. Many naturally close at some point but others may need surgery to close the hole because you can’t have blood from different chambers mix!

Then you can even go further and demonstrate what happens with blocked arteries that may cause hypertension or even a coronary attack ( heart attack! Please remember attack involving the decreased or lack of oxygen to the heart is a heart attack while that which involves blood supply to the brain is a cerebral stroke.   Can you google what is the medical term for a heart attack?  Comment below for your answer. If you want to extend the lesson, you can even talk about Healthy Practices in keeping your arteries clog free!
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He actually should not be smiling here because his artery (using play dough and a toilet paper roll) is completely blocked!

If you have a stethoscope at home, have a go and listen to each other’s heart!  Count the beats per minute. Use Math here. Multiply the number of beats per minute  x number of minutes per hour, then hour many hours per day and viola, you can figure out how “awesome” our heart is!  While you’re at this, do some 5-10 minutes exercise and listen to your heart again. Your kids will truly be amazed at the big difference in  the beats per minute soon after you  move around!  Without a stethoscope, you can use your own pulse taken using your index finger on your inner side of wrist or on your carotids in your neck. Try to get your own pulse.  Do not use your thumbs for they have their own pulse! For older children, you make them research about the common pulse points and let him/her demonstrate such as this! You can assign a pulse log so he can see variation within the day! How exciting? Sorry! am really a nerdy Science person!

As mentioned, I super love relating seemingly Academic Stuff to “deeper stuff”.  I would probably use the verse below as we start the day and eventually relate it to our Science lesson on the heart. How does one spiritually and physically guard ones heart?  Wow, that’s a valuable application exercise , right there!

Oops, there was just so many things to share about this system, we will have part 3 then for our genetic material/ DNA topic. Have a heartfelt, heart full session with your students!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

 

Making Science Come Alive Part 1

I love Science. It is just so fascinating.  I still remember devouring that TIME magazine issue in the late 1980s featuring the amazing discoveries about that immune system. That and all the World Book Encyclopedias on Health really propelled my quest to earn my degree in Medicine.  Though Medical School was tough, the awe and fascination for the wonders of Science lingered.

I guess, that’s why I am a very enthusiastic Science teacher.  I have this feeling that I will do the subject such injustice if our Science lessons become boring and tedious.  I have to say that these materials have helped make our Science Come Alive:

So here is just a sample of what we went through in Science the past weeks. Our lessons were:

  • Cell and Cell Theory
  • Microscope/Use of Microscope
  • Parts of the Cell
  • DNA / Introduction to Genes
  • Plant/ Animal Cell
  • Cells->Tissue->Organ->System
  • Cardiovasuclar System
  • Introduction to the Hematologic System ( Blood)

When I think of how to teach a specific lesson, I always consider the following:

  1. How to  make it interesting and applicable
  2. Integrating the various senses ( Sensory Activation/ Integration) through use of interesting videos, doing step by step projects, looking for stories that can also reach out to other aspects of the student’s life ( emotion/ character/beliefs)
  3. What is available ( and of course, the 3 Rs of reuse, reduce, recycle) : Materials and Reference Materials/ Models
  4. Relate it to current events
  5. How to turn lessons into unit studies and find connections with other subjects (Sometimes, I can only find connections to one subject, but there are times, a whole unit study is born) .
  6. If Art projects can be incorporated

As I keep all these in mind (sometimes I take notes , but many times, ideas comes in a spur of the moment fashion), I then mix, combine, balance and alternate.  I try to intersperse lessons so as no to create information overload,  note taking fatigue or boredom: a bit of lecture here, then a video there and then working on steps in a project later on.  Is there a formula? No, just trust your instincts or better yet, a more “scientific”basis would be to observe your student’s non verbal ( or verbal, if they’re bold enough) cues if they need a break or need to spruce things up a bit.

So let me share with you our lessons through photos:

It’s good to start with the basics of Microscopy and Cell Theory.  Simply because the students need to understand how “microscopic” cells and details have been discovered and visualized.  We purchased a basic middle school level microscope with 1200x as highest magnification many years ago and with 4 children, it was a good investment. I think it was less than Php 2000.00 then.

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Image: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/microscopebasicspowerpoint-100326122819-phpapp02/95/microscope-basics-powerpoint-2-728.jpg?cb=1269607486
Image: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/microscopebasicspowerpoint-100326122819-phpapp02/95/microscope-basics-powerpoint-2-728.jpg?cb=1269607486

You may use a simple worksheet template for this as well.  You can also check some youtube tutorials on the use of a basic microscope.

In trying to explain cells or atoms,  I used to use styrofoam as a learning to tool.  However, we had this cloud foam product for the longest time in a cabinet of boxed toys/activity kits. Oh wow, what a treasure ! It looks like cells and they attach together like play dough! Eureka moment indeed.

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And so we go deeper in the the study of cells : structure and parts. Many years ago with our older boys, we did the edible cell in our homeschool Monday Gang,  The cell was made of rice, vegetables and macaroni uncooked noodles.  (I’ll try to look for a photo!)  The cytoplasm was made of rice glued as the floor on an illustration board and the organelles were from carrots, cabbage, onions, mongo seeds and other veggies that resembled the cell parts.  The cell membrane was made up of elbow macaroni!

This school year, we decided to follow Apologia Creation Science Anatomy and Physiology Textbook’s activity using everyday pantry or kitchen stuff.  We improvised on a few things. Look!

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Can you identify the main organelles in our cell?

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So we then proceeded to  cells make up tissues and groups of tissues make up organs.   Look at Gino’s heart, lungs and liver!

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I’m getting too excited here but will have to take a break!!!!   Watch out for Part 2 as we delve into a the Circulatory System and dissect the DNA!

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-20

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

Effective Stress Busters for every Homeschooling Parent!

Let me share with you how I have somehow reduced unnecessary stress with some very simple tips. Stress is Life’s middle name. It is inevitable.

One of the most important advice is  to shut your phone off! If you have a landline, let your loved ones call you there for emergencies.  Check your phone only during breaks. If this is the only thing you can safeguard and apply, you would have removed a whole of stress in trying to homeschool our children while being connected to all our contacts! 

And yes, there are many ways to reduce the amount of stress we face as we homeschool. Let me share my tried and tested tips.

https://www.pinterest.com/uhsmadison/stress-quotes/
https://www.pinterest.com/uhsmadison/stress-quotes/

Homeschooling is a teacher mommy or daddy’s full time job. Just like any other occupation, homeschool teaching has its own set of challenges and so, we also need to find ways to learn how to reduce stress  in our workplace , the homeschool classroom.

So here goes:

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  1.  If you truly believe in the power of prayer and meditation, make it a number one priority for the day.  We may differ in the manner / timing this is done.  Most prefer to do it at the first hour of the day while the kids are still asleep, however there are those who would rather do this at the end of the day.  Of course, the are days, we rush or miss out on this precious time, but don’t ever let that be the norm.   The battle they say is won on our knees.
  2.  Dress up, and look good:)  I don’t get motivated if I homeschool in home clothes. That’s just me. I feel better if I am dressed in ready to go clothes and yes, with fixed hair and some make up.  I am also ready for surprise visits, or if I suddenly need to leave.   Sometimes, when I have more time, I actually put more make-up.   Lest all the make up (which most moms have too much off) expires, and become harmful, by all means, use them. I’d rather have a toxic day looking smart and well than having a toxic day and feel “ugly.”
The day I wore red! Why not ? ( I never wear red so at least, I can while we homeschool!)
The day I wore red! Why not ? ( I never wear red so at least, I can while we homeschool!)

3. Move!  Find an activity that will make you move: running?  a sport?  a dance class? or simply be your child’s PE teacher! Learn badminton together, or aim to run 2 or 3 km and watch youtube tutorials on specific sports!

We love tennis!
We love tennis!

4. Keep your workplace in good condition (with  an acceptable level of organization, reduce the stress points in your classroom  <eye sores like clutter, excess amount of material, misplaced stuff, “i don’t what to deal with you” papers/ things>.

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5. Do something new or  different every week (or if it works for you, do such things more often). Fly a kite on a windy day,  take a bath under heavy rain, or just take your books and work in a coffee shop, in a park or in bed!

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6. Reconnect with friends from your childhood!  I have found regular reunions with people you grew up as one of the most effective distressing times. There is just so much laughter as we look back! Ang says!

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Here with classmates from Grade 2! We joined the Mega Magazine Independence Day Campaign! In return, we got a free makeover and shoot! We’ve recently become more deliberate in seeing each other regularly. A few couldn’t make it for the shoot but these are some of my  grade school besties, Noreen (right), then Mian and Michelle (left).

7. Be a blessing to others. Make it part of your agenda to encourage others.  Be purposeful and deliberate. Remember it says in Proverbs,  “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed!” That is so true!

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Here with German volunteers, Mona and Matilda for Visions of Hope. http://www.visionsofhopefoundation.org
Here are my friends in the Vision of Hope's Rose of Sharon Boarding Facility for Homeless street children. I taught them how to make yarn pompoms:)
Here are my friends in the Vision of Hope’s Rose of Sharon Boarding Facility for Homeless street children. I taught them how to make yarn pompoms:)
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Celebrated morning of my birthday with these lovely ladies of Rose Sharon:)

8. Take time before homeschooling session to jot down your non-homeschooling “must dos” in a notebook or planner.  Check the list out during breaks or while your children may be doing independent work ( which is a luxury ! ).  Do not  attempt to do a non homeschool task which you are sure will consume too much time during breaks.

9.  Involve children in helping with chores or assisting you in organizing your working area ( Today, Gino assisted me in organizing receipts, wrapping a gift and putting plastic cover on a book.) Gino helped me deal with a box full of receipts!

Gino was my assistant today! Thank you, Gino!

10. Make it a habit to declutter your hand bag, to reduce its weight and try (I struggle here) to keep it organized and neat. And always put car keys and parking ticket in the same place all the time. Nothing pressures me more than having a abyss-like bag and endlessly digging to find what you need!

If this list is overwhelming, try to choose 3 to start implementing and see the difference in your stress levels! Hope these work for you!  If you have more to add, please feel free to comment!

P.S.!!!!!

One more thing,  attend a regular activity with other homeschoolers to destress and know you are not ALONE.

Educating for Life Coffee time for homeschoolers
Educating for Life Coffee time for homeschoolers.

Why not join this year’s HAPI (Homeschoolers of the Philippine Islands) and Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschooling Conference come October 22, 2016?

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I will be involved as one of the workshop speakers, please come! Click on this link to register now!

 

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Seeing the Bigger Picture : Use Creative Summaries!

Oh, homeschooling can get so detailed. We can bogged down with the most minute thing. Rightly so, for Pete’s sake, we teach Spelling and Math Calculations and for those tasks, it is really all in the details.

However, we do need to periodically see the bigger picture in all this.  For those who are into homeschooling for the longer haul, a “bigger picture” mindset is easier to achieve on a daily basis. Oh, it’so ok if my student can’t get the lesson now, or isnt as motivated in a particular subject area, we can always try again next time.  But then, how do you remind yourself that this specific lesson needs to be revisited or presented again somehow?

Well, let me suggest, taking time to just jot down notes as you go along your day.  Let me share with you what I have done the past weeks.   You see, I love Arts and Crafts, and it has been some time now that I have been trying my hand ( haha literally that is) at the art of beautiful lettering ( brush, brush pen, pen, markers, calligraphy with Nib and pen holder). I really don’t have the time to attend workshops and do formal training so I just try to learn as time and opportunities allow.   Youtube overflows with lettering tutorials, it’s crazy!

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So, why not hit many birds with one stone. Summarize your lessons via a written ” brain map” of sorts and practice your lettering.  You may  also  allow your children/students to share in the doodling and jotting. Use this summary as a creative way to journal your learning homeschooling journey. Use it to get a bigger picture. Use it to encourage more ideas and application points as you tie up lessons and see amazing connections. Use it as well to filter out  and weave in ” activities, invitations, materials”  ! You may also review this before beginning the new homeschooling session the next day

Seeing the main points of your homeschooling day/ sessions help in being convinced ( if you continue to doubt) that a great amount of learning  is indeed happening!

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Processed with MOLDIV

 

So what goes into your CREATIVE SUMMARY?***  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Write down the main CHARACTER/SPIRITUAL/ TIMELESS truth  lesson of the day. It could be a verse , a quotation or simple just ONE word that may say it all.

2.  Write down vocabulary words in the main languages being learned ( English, Tagalog, Mother tongue or even foreign language).

3.  Jot down the main lessons (in phrases or simple sentences)  on various subjects and see connections across all subjects.

4.  Record any funny or memorable line/ event/ comment.

5. Drawings are allowed!

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Depending on the age of your students, try to do this as a joint activity:)  Children in Middle School or High School, can do this on their own !)

So go ahead, try it!  (and use unused pages of old notebooks!)

 

Luke 14: 27-29 And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple. 28Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it? 29 Otherwise, if he lays the foundation and is unable to finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,…