Why Being Advanced Doesn’t Really Matter

One of the first things I discovered being a mom is that I live in a culture where being advanced is applauded. When Timmy was a little over a year old, a local TV show featured a 2-year-old genius who can write and read like a 5-year-old. My mom even called me to watch and said Timmy could also be like that. While it sure was a compliment from a grandma who sees the potential of her first apo (grandchild), it really got me nervous.

InstagramCapture_0025089a-06fa-4f0c-8ac1-29cec0c942cbClearly, that kid was the exception and featuring him was a great idea. But then it also added unnecessary pressure to all the parents watching the show at that time. I remember feeling so competitive back then but when I looked at my baby who was exploring, walking tiptoed, touching everything out of curiosity I asked myself, “Do you really need to do all that at 2 years old?” So I decided not to let that show affect me but I still couldn’t shake the pressure that came along with it.

As parents we all want our children to succeed and do well in life. But as I navigate this parenting journey, I realized that success is relative and it’s up to us to define what that is to our kids. I’m proud of my son and all the things he accomplishes—big or small. But I also realized that he can’t possibly do well in everything.

Advanced but not quite

Timmy may be way too advanced in reading but he still doesn’t color within the lines and he still finds it difficult to use scissors. Whatever big words he knows today will also be read by other kids of his age when they all grow up. We all follow the same curriculum guide from the Department of Education (DepEd) anyway and they will all learn the same thing down the line.

InstagramCapture_8c77beba-6775-4bba-bc56-0d32fbd17cf7He may write fast and I mean quickly scribble the letters/words that come to his mind but he doesn’t draw the usual stick people, cars, or houses that most boys do. He’s unconventional in so many ways like going for bond paper over ruled paper, colored pens over pencils, paints over crayons—and God has been using all these things to remove the conventional student mold in my head, to get my cue from my child’s interests more than what traditional schools dictate.

InstagramCapture_0a5db76c-3001-4bbe-bda2-6fe890dc785dTimmy loves numbers and reads them by the thousands and enjoys skip counting of even and odd numbers. He’s so fascinated with numbers that he even memorizes car plates! Haha! But he’s a careless counter. He loses track of what he counts because he gets too excited. He tends to skip pointing on objects or points twice at the same thing. So we’re still working on his slow counting. :) Slow, slow, slow like a sloth as Eric Carle would put it. :)

I need God’s grace to remind me continuously that I’m dealing with my child more than he is my student. And I guess this is something that every homeschooling mom struggles with, balancing our parent-teacher side. Every day I am learning to use his preferences as my teaching springboard to communicate with him more effectively. :)

WP_20150325_10_11_19_ProAlso, I have to keep reminding myself that he’s only four and to stick to what he needs to know at this age. I think it’s something that all newbie parents should keep into perspective—to never rush their kids, to enjoy every age and every stage. Because they really do grow up really fast. But that doesn’t mean I will limit him. I also have to be sensitive and follow where he wants to progress faster and at the same time rein him in if we’re going too fast so that he won’t get confused. :)

What really matters

I’m not an expert in parenting. I’ve been at it for only four years. And every time Timmy gets a year older, it’s a whole new ball game for me. Like when he turned four, I was so excited to know and discover with him what it’s like to be at that age again! :) All this time God has been repeatedly teaching me to be gentle and patient with my child; to listen to his thoughts and stories; to ride on his interests and leverage it for learning; to spend quality time with him; and above all, to draw Timmy closer to Him.

20150516_161135I didn’t become a parent to raise a genius. There’s much more to parenting than teaching academic lessons. The values and life skills our children need to learn outweigh the need to master the 3 R’s (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic). They will learn those things eventually because they have to. But character building is a different story. We need to be more intentional on this one because they NEED this more than academics when they face the world on their own.

No one would care how smart your child is if he’s such a pain to work with. No one would bother to listen to him if he’s full of himself. He may be smart and talented in many ways but if all he wants is to get his way then no one would follow him. Companies now even value EQ more than IQ because anything can be learned these days. The way you deal with people and your overall work ethics are given more weight than head knowledge.

20130312_211104A teachable student can only come from a teachable heart. If my son doesn’t learn about obedience and respect first then he won’t listen to me. There are values that he needs to develop before he could even comprehend fractions or geography. He needs to learn patience, perseverance, hard work, honesty, humility, and more to help him not just with his academics but with real life challenges as well. Life skills are learned more easily when they have the foundational values first.

Like for example, cleaning up his toys took repetitive obedience before Timmy got used to it. You earn cooperation by doing things together like washing the dishes. It sure takes time and a lot of wasted water and dishwashing soap but seeing my son beam with pride makes it all worth it. Last night as he went down his chair (because he can’t reach the sink yet) he said, “Thank you for helping me wash the dishes!” It was as if he owned the chore and I was just there to help him! :)

Those little things help in easy transition to learning like, “Let’s read together! It’s writing time! Let’s count together!” Because you get to him to cooperate and participate on non-academic things, getting him on board during study time becomes much easier. :) There’s so much more that our kids need to learn. Even us adults learn something new every day. So why stress out on getting everything right the first time or being ahead of everybody else?

20150517_094834At the end of the day, it’s never really about whose kid is advanced where. It isn’t about how many degrees my son will finish or how many awards he will get. I would rather measure his success by how many lives he will touch by his kindness and how many will follow his lead because of his integrity. It isn’t about finishing first all the time but about finishing well in life. :)

I remember my dad would always say about drivers overtaking, “Okay lang yan, sabay sabay din tayo sa dulo ng stoplight. (That’s okay, we’ll all meet at the stoplight anyway.)” Same goes with being advanced. Our kids will all get there. They will all become adults and converse like adults. But the question is, will they become responsible adults? Will they be part of a God-fearing generation who will walk with integrity? Will they be compassionate and kind?

20150516_161822While it may be great to have an “advanced child” let’s not forget to advance them on the things that matter. Let’s give them a head start on values and character building because those are the foundational life skills they need that will help them thrive in the real world. :) I’m still learning and growing in these areas up to now, which is why I recognize that my son still has a long way to go. And that’s the beauty of parenting right there, you grow and learn together—and it never stops. :)

Countdown to Half a Decade

Today marks our fifth wedding anniversary. I really can’t believe five years went by just like that! :) Half a decade, WOW. It may seem like a short period for some but for me it’s a huge achievement—a milestone that only God can accomplish. :) Our marriage is not the fairy tale type. It’s more of reality TV. We have our good days and bad ones. It has been a journey of ups and downs, strengthened by steps and leaps of faith.

As I am doing this countdown, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how much Omar and I have grown both individually and as a couple. I think the past five years we’ve had is equivalent to ten years’ worth of highs and lows for the average couple. But if I were to give a ratio to how it has been so far, I can say it’s 90% good and 10% tough but still not that bad. :)

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I say that not because we’re perfect people but because God has proven Himself faithful all throughout our marriage. :) We wouldn’t be where we are today—stronger than ever—if not for His grace. He allowed us to love, accept, forgive, and appreciate each other while keeping the “kilig” (spark) factor. :) I still find myself telling my husband, “Shucks, hon. Ang pogi mo naman.” (You’re handsome.) Haha!

Honey, I’m sure you’re reading this. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! :) For a stats junkie, I’m sure you’d appreciate an overview of our marriage in numbers. Haha! Here’s where we’re at right now. Spoiler alert! It’s been quite an adventure. :)

5 YEARS

In our five years of marriage, we have made countless decisions. From something trivial like what we’ll have for lunch to big ones like should we get a yaya (nanny) or not, we try our best to be a team. We only had roughly seven months of being alone together but during that time I was already pregnant with our honeymoon baby. :) We try to make up for that by having date nights as much as we can. We set aside time to watch our favorite TV series and basketball games. And we have our annual year in review every New Year’s Eve. :) I look forward to more of these with you in the coming years!

20140223_2038514 JOBS

When we got married I was a consultant for a bookstore chain and you were teaching at a Christian school. So that’s two different jobs. A couple of years later, I left my consultancy job to become a full-time, home-based copywriter. You also decided to quit teaching and become a home-based content writer—that’s two new jobs for us. At first it was tough because being a freelancer means we’re mainly dependent on projects. But by God’s grace, the shifting tides are over and He has provided us with long-term clients and employers and we are still working with them. :) Yay!

Some may think that your job is not ideal for raising a family. Being in the corporate world, climbing the corporate ladder, and having an 8-to-5 job have been society’s model of how a husband should provide. Good thing God’s ways are different. He didn’t provide on-the-job specifics. :) God’s command to husbands is to love his wife as Christ loved His church (Ephesians 5:25). YOU’RE DOING THAT AND MORE. :) Your home-based job gives you the opportunity to be with me and Timmy. You’ve been able to provide for us and I’ve never seen you happier, too! You write about your passions for a living and that’s pretty awesome.

Will we ever go back to the daily grind of the 8-to-5 workforce? Probably not. :) I wouldn’t trade the time flexibility and stress-free work environment we have. The opportunity to raise Timmy with both of us around every day is also a privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted. We may have changed career paths over the past five years but looking back, it’s all been worth it. :)

20130908_1721033 HOUSES

From the time we got married, it was a no-brainer that we’ll have our own place and we did (house #1)! Those first two years felt like we’re just playing around. Haha! Then we decided that I’ll not continue with my consultancy job anymore and you lost your big client around the same time. We had no choice but to move out. Since your parents were in Canada that time, we moved to their place first (house #2) and I marked on my imaginary calendar that we’ll move out when they come back or after Christmas so we can spend the holidays there. That didn’t go as planned and we ended up staying there for a year.

I’m so blessed to have kind and loving in-laws who made our stay as comfortable as they can. :) I only have the best words for them! But our tenure there I think was more for me. God kept me waiting until I’ve learned all the lessons and character-building I needed before providing the means for us to move. Last October we found an apartment (house #3) that’s perfect for us! It’s also at a very strategic location (behind a mall). :) Are we staying here for good? Probably not. We don’t know when the next house will be or if it will be the one we’ll own but I’m glad that we’re content where we are. :) I know that when we’re ready, God will give it to us. :)

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2 IMPERFECT PEOPLE

This perfectly describes who we are. We entered into this marriage knowing that we’re two imperfect people that will be living under one roof with lots of quirks which we’ll either love or hate. Haha! Just like any couple, we have disagreements, miscommunications, and a million shortcomings in between. My forgetfulness, being accident-prone (bumping here, getting wounded there—everything!), and being disorganized is something you need to put up with forever. But believe me when I say that I’m trying my best to improve on these areas. Seriously! I’m just so grateful that you’re very patient and gracious with me. :)

You have your own set of things-I-need-to-tolerate, too. Haha! And I’m learning to be loving and patient about it as well. :) One of the things I really love about you is that I can talk to you even if we’re not agreeing on something. You have NEVER raised your voice at me. You sometimes speak loud unintentionally but not because you’re mad or anything. I think it will never go away especially since you’ve been a teacher for a long time and you’re used to speaking to an audience. Haha! You’re a master of gentle rebukes, hon. :) And you know that it’s the most loving way to deal with my faults. :)
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1 GOD (AND 1 BABY!)

God has already written our love story even before we were born (and I mean we were born almost 9 years apart). :) He has already seen how we’ll navigate through our married life. He has planned everything! Part of that plan is being blessed with a baby boy named Timothy. :) Our little guy has been a source of joy! He’s a firecracker, full of energy and life. :) We couldn’t be more grateful for this privilege of not only being husband and wife but also being PARENTS. We didn’t even expect it because of my condition (Lupus). But God graciously gave us Timmy despite all my health constraints. :)

Every day Timmy never fails to make us laugh. He has all these antics, random acts of sweetness, and crazy one-liners. :) He’s a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness—a reminder that God can truly turn something GREAT out of a bad circumstance (i.e. a complicated pregnancy and premature delivery). Now we have a little team! Are we going to add more? We’re still unsure. It’s too risky. Having one is more than enough. :) Maybe we can have pets? Haha! I don’t know. For now, we’ll just focus on being good stewards of the life God has entrusted to us. :)

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What a countdown! You know what? It got me thinking, like if we reach 10 years that would be what 10 houses? 9 kids? 8 jobs? Maybe 7 cars? Haha! Whatever it is I know that it will be an adventure worth taking with you. :) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONEY! Thank you for being the spiritual leader that you are. :) Thank you for loving me the way Christ does. Thank you for being a spectacular dad to Timmy. Thank you for being a ninja husband who can do almost anything! You are my smart prince charming, ultra powerful super hero, and lifetime MVP. :) I LOVE YOU! :)

The Fight We’ve Always Wanted Wasn’t The Fight We Expected

I watched the fight multitasking. I was clutching a pillow, scrolling through Twitter, and hugging my 4-year-old son who got surprised every time the men in the room shouted when Manny landed a punch. Every round was stressful and nerve-wracking. Before the fight, we prayed for Manny Pacquiao to win. We rallied for him in social media. As a nation, we were so pumped up to watch him defeat Floyd Mayweather. But when the fight started, we all knew that it would go down to the wire. And it did!

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

The Fight of the Century reached 12 rounds and when it ended I felt blah. See, I can’t even describe it properly. Both fighters fought well but it fell so short that underwhelming is even an understatement in my opinion. This match was so hyped that it raised the expectations so high that Manny and Floyd couldn’t reach it. Here’s why:

We wanted blood and bruises, we got scrape-free faces

Everybody expected a dog fight. Fans of both parties wanted their opponents to be photographed with fifty shades of black and blue. But no, both fighters looked like they just came from a sparring practice. There were no stitches or blood. I’m not a boxing expert but based on what I saw, the flow and dynamics of the fight didn’t dictate such an outcome. One was calculating and the other was trying to catch a slippery opponent. If you have one party dodging a lot, you simply can’t expect a slug fest. And for most of us, it was a major letdown.

Image: Eric Jamison/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: Eric Jamison/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

We wanted more punches, we got more hugs

And a million memes to go along with that. As Pacquiao fans, we wanted him to be more aggressive. We wanted Mayweather to stop hugging our hero. But from Manny’s point of view, he punched enough. He was also cautious because he didn’t want to get knocked out. Mayweather is a strategist and for Manny to go all out and attack him would be careless and stupid. So if he said he did his best then let’s take his word for it. I believe Manny knew what he was doing. He is an experienced fighter and a champ. As for the hugs? I can only say the same thing. Money knew what he was doing, it was part of his strategy, and yes, it made him look like Olaf but at the end of the day, he won within the rules of the game.

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

We wanted Manny to win, we got Money declared as champ

I don’t know with you but when the final bell rang, I only had one thing in mind—Money won, Manny lost. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Sure Floyd danced the night away but he threw and landed more punches. And sometimes that’s all you need to see. Was he the better fighter? That’s for the real experts to decide. From what I saw, he looked scared at some point. His father was even nervous to the point of asking his son, “What’s wrong with you?” But that didn’t stop him from sticking to the plan. Manny did his best to get in but I think he was also trying his best to avoid a counterpunch that will knock the lights out of him. I think he made the most of the openings he saw. Freddie Roach also told him, “Don’t walk right into it.” And he was wise enough not to.

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images; Posted in Mashable.com

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

For both fighters it was a balancing act all the way. No one went all in, not in the fans’ standards anyway. It was a battle of who outsmarts who. I’m a Manny Pacquiao fan but I wouldn’t even say that it was a close fight. From a literal stand point, Money was too far most of the time. Too far to be reached, too many hugs, too many elbows, too many dirty plays. But despite all that, I also saw Money landed more punches than Manny. And I’m not a boxing expert; I’m a stay-at-home, full-time wife and mom. I have 20/20 vision and I’m not delusional. It sucks to even say this but Money won because he did what he had to. Not in the way I like it but he found a way to win within the rules and in any game that’s all that matters.

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Manny looked more careful to me but I’d like to think that he also stuck to his game plan. He didn’t go there careless and brash. He, too, was calculating albeit more aggressive. Maybe he should’ve done more but maybe doing more would’ve gotten him KO’d, too. So I’m with Manny when he said he really did his best but it wasn’t good enough.

The fight we’ve always wanted is over. It didn’t meet our expectations but at least we finally saw it. It reached 12 rounds with both fighters sizing each other up to the very end. It was a good fight but not a great one. It was like a story without a climax but still worth telling. From the moment the bell rang, we had a calculated boxing match. And maybe that’s really all there is when you’re fighting an opponent who wins with that strategy. Hats off to Floyd for remaining undefeated and winning the way he best knew how.

Image: Harry How/Getty Images; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: Harry How/Getty Images; Photo from Mashable.com

And for Manny, you’re still our champion, the pride of the Philippines, the hero that brings our nation together in a way that nobody else can. We’re proud of you. My son even wants to be like you. We’re still not on the same page in terms of a boxing career, though. Haha! But on the character side, yes. :) I know that when you watch the fight again you’ll see that Money won. It may be hard to see that immediately after the fight but I know you’ll come to terms with that. But I am happy that during your post fight prayer service you acknowledged that God’s ways are higher than ours and you have peace of mind. :)

Image: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Photo from La Times

Image: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Photo from La Times

This loss is nothing to be ashamed of, you fought a good fight, you made Mayweather think twice, and you escaped some nasty blows. You’ve proven to all of us time and time again how great of a fighter you are. So stand tall, champ! God has already given you the platform to show the world that He can make a world-class fighter out of nothing. And you have shown that last night. A third-world fighter in a first-world country battling a first-world boxer. We couldn’t ask for more. Thank you for fighting for our country and for God’s glory. Thank you for making us proud again. :)

Ikaw pa rin ang nag-iisang Pambansang Kamao ng Pilipinas. Mabuhay ka!    

Starting your preschool homeschool

As a newbie homeschooler, I love asking tips and advice from moms who have been in this journey for quite some time. I haven’t been able to attend any seminar or workshop that’s related to homeschooling until last January when our Facebook group, Homeschoolers in the Philippines, held a south meet-up and last March when The Learning Basket held a workshop for preschool homeschoolers! I was so glad to attend both events! Usually, when there are homeschool events or seminars, I’m not able to go because either it’s too far or I’m sick or my toddler’s sick. I even skipped the Hippomum’s Mothering or Smothering parenting seminar, which was hosted by my dear friend Diane. It has been pretty challenging for me to get into these workshops for some reason.

Photo credit: The Learning Basket

Photo credit: The Learning Basket

I had been planning to attend The Learning Basket’s workshop “Starting your Preschool Homeschool” for the longest time but the location was always somewhere in the north. I live in the south so just the travel time of going back and forth is twice as much as the actual workshop. When they announced that they will hold one here in BF Menlo Clubhouse, I almost screamed in delight! :) I wasn’t able to register online because guess what? I was sick again up until the day before the event. I messaged Mariel Uyquiengco to ask if they were accepting walk-in registrants and I was so grateful she said yes! She was also the host of the workshop and founder of The Learning Basket where you can learn a lot about homeschooling, shop for great books, and discover ways to reinforce that you are your child’s first and best teacher. :)

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I want to attend talks like these for three reasons: information, validation, and correction. I want to learn something new from parents who’ve been there, done that. I also want to feel validated if I am on the right track. And lastly, I want to correct the way I approach homeschooling if there are more effective ways of doing so. :) My husband actually asked me if I really wanted to go because for him he thinks I’m doing well in homeschooling Timmy. He’s so encouraging, no? :) However, I told him that I really need to learn more about this journey. And being the supportive partner that he is, he readily agreed and joined me, too! :)

Here are some of the things I’ve learned from the “Starting your Preschool Homeschool” workshop:

1. Play is a child’s work. :)

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Mariel explored this idea in detail about how important it is for children to play and learn through play. Timmy has his “free play” time for stuff he wants to do. It’s unstructured. He shoots some hoops, plays with his trucks and cars, and scatters everything he can find in his toy boxes. His one-hour daily gadget use is also part of his free play. When we homeschool, every time I present him an activity I make sure that I’m overly excited about the counting game or craft activity I’m about to give him, making it appear like it’s still play time. I provide him with an audience of animals, dinosaurs, and trains to watch him finish our homeschool activity. :) Sometimes I ask myself if I’m letting my son play too much at home because our homeschool time is only for 20-30 minutes at a time and spaced throughout the day. Meanwhile, other kids are in daycare and regular schools. Being reminded that PLAY is what children are meant to be doing removed that recurring guilty feeling that I had. :) I also realized that those few minutes of learning we have are quality moments when Timmy is very much engaged. We don’t need to study 1.5 to 2 hours straight with distractions in between. We can learn through play for a few minutes and maximize that time. :)

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2. Preschool homeschool is not school. It’s about preserving my son’s childhood.

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Kids grow up very fast and I’m experiencing some serious separation anxiety right now. It seems like yesterday when Timmy was exploring his wobbly first steps and now I can’t seem to run after him! Spending each day with him is an opportunity to preserve and prolong his childhood. He just turned four last December and I really want to preserve and document every moment I have with him. I post his #timmyisms on Facebook so that I can go back and read his funny quips. I take lots of pictures, blog about his adventures—all because this season is too fleeting. It’s very encouraging to hear that it’s okay to not rush your child to grow up and mature because they’ll get there anyway. Let them be a toddler or a preschooler when they’re at that stage.

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Timmy loves being swaddled just for fun. Haha! :)

3. Learn at home NATURALLYrelaxed, unhurried (my favorite word lately), playful, and fun!

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This is the advantage of homeschooling that I truly love. Timmy and I can read as many books as we want because we’re not pressed for time (unless it’s time for me to cook…haha!). He can work on his homeschool activities wearing his pajamas. He can do stuff anywhereliving room, dining room, and yes even the bedroom! The floor is his oyster. Haha! It’s a good reminder for me to keep his learning environment relaxed because this will encourage him to cooperate and participate even if we’re tackling something easy or difficult. :) I recently had Timmy take an online reading test from Sonlight and the San Diego Reading Assessment. At age four, his reading level is somewhere between Grades 3 and 4 or ages 8 and 9! We know that it’s only by God’s grace that Timmy is able to do it. :) At the same time, it was an affirmation that our decision to homeschool him was worth it because we’re able to leverage his strengths and interests to allow him to learn in a relaxing and fun environment. :)

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4. Life is the curriculum.

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A lot of the things that your child can learn are part of your daily activities. Timmy has been helping me wash the dishes and boy is he having a blast! Haha! It takes a while and a lot of wasted water, not to mention the wet floor but seeing his eagerness to help and learn how he can wash better next time has been very encouraging. :) Cleaning up after playing is one of the ways to teach discipline and organization to your child. Timmy shoots his toys in his toy box or cleans up really fast when we ask him to be like the Flash. :) I realized that there are still many things I could teach Timmy every day not only at home but also when we go out. We should really keep in mind that teachable moments are everywhere, we just need to open our eyes and be intentional. :)

Ahoy mateys! It's pirate mommy and pirate Timmy! :)

Ahoy mateys! It’s pirate mommy and pirate Timmy! :)

5. Make memories!

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Indoor camping with Daddy! :)

Go places. Play pretend. Run around the house. Indoor camping and swimming. Makeshift slides and tents. Read together (at least 20 minutes a day—but my recommendation is, the longer the better!). :)  Rough games! Wrestling! Sing and dance like crazy! These may just be small things but when accumulated will create a childhood full of wonderful memories for you and your child. :) Making memories is all about the intangibles. It’s that ear-piecing shriek, snorting chuckle, and soundless laughter that make the biggest impact in your child’s life. I know this when I hear Timmy say either “more” or “again, again.” :)

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Mariel also shared lots of activities on how to homeschool your preschooler. It has become my checklist and go-to guide for things we’ve done and the things we have yet to do. The Learning Basket conducts this workshop all year round so you can simply find a schedule that works best for you! :) Thank you for bringing this event to the south! :) Continue inspiring parents to be their child’s first and best teacher! :)

Y is for Yarn

I never thought that my dream of becoming a preschool teacher will actually come true when I started homeschooling Timmy. :) I have come to admire parent teachers and preschool teachers all the more because of the hard work and dedication they put into their kids/students. Mind you, it’s not easy to keep a toddler preoccupied! Letter of the Week is just one of the things we do at home. We have lots of free play and reading time, too. :)

For me it’s very important that Timmy enjoys what he’s doing especially when I’m trying to teach him something. So far FUN has been pretty much the key to his LEARNING and COOPERATION. Timmy gets really excited when we have a new letter to explore. While he was looking forward to our “Y” week, I was dreading it. Haha! Homeschooling truly humbles me and makes me dependent on the ultimate Teacher of all. And during those times when I felt that I couldn’t find anything Y-related for Timmy to do, God has led me to different sources and gave me some cool ideas to work around with. :)

Reading

We really didn’t have any books with “Y” titles on them so I settled with books that emphasized the word you, your, and you’re. It was an opportunity for Timmy to learn the differences between those three words, too! But we have huge story cards which I bought from the Homeschoolers in the Philippines South Hangout event. I actually got an entire set of phonics-based stories covering the entire alphabet! Special thanks to Teacher Felichi for this awesome material! We enjoyed reading the story of Yalta the Yak who got a yarn, yearbook, and yoyo for his birthday! :)

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Bible Character/Values

This one was pretty challenging. My husband suggested the phrase “young man” and I realized how apt it would be for Timmy to learn about this verse on keeping his way pure. He’s now on his way to becoming a young man so this verse really came at the most opportune time. :)

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Arts and Crafts

I asked Timmy to fill in the big Y and small Y (in the word yoyo) with yellow foam. We also explored using yarn in our crafts. I drew a tree and a house and asked him to fill it with color using yarn. I realized that it was hard to glue the yarn! My poor boy got frustrated but good thing he didn’t give up and still finished his craft. So for our next activity I placed double-sided tape on the word YES and asked him to fill it up with yarn, too. This time it was more enjoyable for him. Talk about hit-or-miss moments! :)

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We had so much fun doing another yarn art this time using paint. I saw this activity on Pinterest. Anyway, I taped yarns on an open box and asked Timmy to change the color of the yarns by painting on them. For example, he made the red yarn yellow. It was a good practice for fine motor skills because painting on yarn was challenging. I was pleasantly surprised that he was so focused and determined to repaint the yarns! After which, we placed a bond paper on top of it, pressed it, turned the paper in another direction, and pressed it again. The result looked amazing!!! :) So proud of you, Timmy for making this! :)

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We had our usual writing practice, which was always fun for Timmy. :) He also practices in magnetic boards and white boards. I encourage him to doodle and we also bring papers and colored pens when we go out as part of his boredom buster bag. :)

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For math, we had some basic addition practice with a twist. We used yarn again! Haha! We were able to maximize the use of that material and we still have a lot left! :) Timmy counted the yarns, placed the correct number, added them, placed the right number of yarns at the end (I helped him tape it), and he placed the corresponding number. :)

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I created some Filipino cards for him but I couldn’t find it. Anyway, we’ve been more intentional in speaking to him in our native tongue and so far he’s been improving a lot in terms of speaking and understanding Filipino. :) Sometimes he even surprises me with his statements like, “Mommy, malamig itong tubig.” meaning “Mom, the water is cold.” :) One time he said, “Mommy, baligtad!” meaning “Mommy, it’s upside down!” :)

My dreaded week turned out to be one of the best ones we had so far. :) Sometimes you just have to explore and try different activities even using the same material because you’ll never know which one will be a hit to your kids!

For my next blog I’ll share with you the activities we did for letters J and O. :) Till then! :)

That fine line between opportunities and distractions

Being a work-from-home wife and mom is probably the best thing that has ever happened to my career and health condition. Stress is one of the main triggers of a Lupus flare (i.e. relapse) so I really needed to eliminate that from my life as much as possible. With tons of writing opportunities online, it’s very tempting to accept job offers because after all I’m just at home. But with my condition and a toddler always demanding my attention, I can’t simply take on any additional writing job. Still, I didn’t listen to that tug in my conscience to step back when an opportunity came my way.

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Months ago, my husband’s client asked us if we still have niche topics we want to write about because he wanted to put up another website. I mentioned three and he said he had been planning to put up a site in one of the genres I mentioned. So I helped him come up with a name for his site along with all the copies he needed. I really enjoyed writing about it but I didn’t realize that the scheduling of these posts can be quite overwhelming. Not only that, he asked me to run Facebook ads on the blogs I write to get more traffic to the site. I didn’t realize that it could be so time consuming, too.

Prior to this job opportunity, I was really content and happy with my job. I get some writing gigs from time to time but for the most part I only fulfill what my company requires of me. I’ve got my schedule all figured out every day. I was having a blast learning with my son and homeschooling him. My cooking skills had been improving because of constant practice and my husband had been giving me compliment after compliment. But when this job opportunity came, I didn’t anticipate how much time it would eat up from my responsibilities as a wife and mom.

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Soon I found myself sacrificing my homeschool time. What used to be our letter of the week had become our letter for two weeks. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that if you did a lot of things with one letter. What happened to me was it got extended because I wasn’t intentional on what we were supposed to do that day. I gave Timmy some time filler activities for those days when I didn’t prepare anything for him.

The new writing job may have brought in more income to our household but it also made me lazy and it slowly took away my growing love for cooking. Why cook when you have the money for food delivery? In our village, there’s a place that delivers really good home-cooked viands so we would opt for that. Although my writing jobs were never compromised, my time with my husband and son was. I had no problem with my deliverables but I was struggling with the service I was delivering to my two boys.

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Irony of all ironies, I even prayed for this job. I was pretty optimistic that I could juggle my responsibilities. The fact that I used the word juggle was a tell-tale sign that it wouldn’t turn out well over time. You can only juggle for a short period of time; soon enough one of those things would fall and break. Around the last week of February, I was really considering giving up that website. But I felt guilty because my client already made a substantial investment on this venture. He really likes creating new blog sites with niche topics.

My husband was trying his best to help me in the “growing pains” stage of the project. He was doing this longer that I was. I was barely a month into this new writing stint when I felt like giving up. I just didn’t know how and when. I didn’t even know what to pray for. I liked what I was doing but I didn’t like what it was costing me. During my prayer time I just allowed God to look into my heart because that’s where all my intentions, plans, confusions, and needs are. I didn’t know what to ask for so I was just asking Him to look and deal with my issues internally. When I took on this job I didn’t grab it with a tight fist. I remember telling God that this new opportunity was His and it’s His for the taking.

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After a month and a half, my client stopped the project. I have never been so happy losing a job! I knew it was God who pulled the plug. The peace was so overwhelming, I cried. I even sent a cheery “thank you” email to my client. That day, I apologized to my husband and son for not being there for them. When my toddler saw me crying, he didn’t know what to do so he just said, “Dad, can you pray for mom?” And so he did. :) My husband told me that I wasn’t neglecting them. He even commended me for having the ability to even homeschool Timmy despite the work that I was doing. He said that “we even watch TVseries together” so I never really deprived him of time (doing series marathon is our one of our favorite “we” times).

I guess it wasn’t really that obvious but it was the little things that I mentioned earlier which could dangerously morph into big things that could endanger the peace and harmony in our home. And then I remember the story of Nehemiah when he was building the wall. He faced many oppositions and distractions. He said in Nehemiah 6:3, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” In the NIV, it used the words “I am doing a great project.” My great work and project right now is (and will always be) my family and I cannot allow anything to distract me from that.

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I have a real copywriting job with an amazing company and I didn’t really need that other job. It was a WANT not a need. As a writer, sometimes I just want to write about the topics I like so maybe that’s why I was all too eager and excited to take that on. The line between an opportunity and a distraction is a very fine one that only a discerning eye can see. I wasn’t too discerning the first time it was presented to me. But I praise and thank God because He opened my eyes and grabbed my attention before things went out of control.

Today, I remain content and joyful with my family life—homeschooling with more vigor and creativity; spending quality time with my husband; cooking with gusto; and managing our home with love. I’m still gratefully working from home. I got my routine and schedule back. I managed to catch up on my reading. Life is simple again. God rescued me early and I couldn’t be more thankful. He even made me realize that if I feel the need to write about something I want, there’s always my blog to go to. :) Each one of us is doing a great work and we just can’t go down and stop. We need to press on until our job is done whatever that may be. For me, it’s being a wife and mom.

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This experience has really taught me the value of setting my priorities. I have three main relationships that I need to nurture—my relationship with God, my husband, and my son. The rest are secondary. If anything will compromise those three relationships then it’s not an opportunity, it’s a distraction. It could bring in more financial gain or even world acclaim but if I don’t earn the approval of the people that matter most to me then it has no value. I truly praise and thank God for that 42 days of juggling. I’ve learned that balancing acts can only last for a short time. It’s good for a season. We’re not made to walk on tight ropes. It is the intentional management of time and priorities that will last for a long time. God wants us to experience a full life and not a fast, always-on-the-run, catching-up, all-too-busy one. And a full life is achieved through incremental investments of time on relationships that mean most to us. :) It’s not about carpe diem, dive-head-on all the time. It’s about seizing the right moments and making those moments count. :)

What is the great work you’re doing right now? Is there a distraction that’s disguised as an opportunity that is preventing you from continuing or finishing your great work? Feel free to share your thoughts! :)

H is for Horse

My goal over the next few days is to catch up with my blogging. :) Timmy and I have already finished letters H, Y, J, and S. I’m very excited to share with you what we’ve done so far and the FUN we had while learning different concepts through our letter of the week. :) Let’s begin!

Reading

I picked books with prominent H words for our weekly reading staple. I don’t limit Timmy to my recommended H books for the week. I only use it to reinforce the letter. :) My little reader wants different books every day but he also has his favorites that we go back to repeatedly. There was a season that he was obsessed with Horton books! His interest dwindled but was resurrected when they were featured during our H week. :) “The Big Honey Hunt” is one of Timmy’s all-time faves. We also love “Bible stories that end with a HUG” because it ends the lesson with something like “Give the one who likes to share a great big hug!” :)

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Our Bible character for the week was Hannah and we learned the value of waiting on the Lord. I also let him watch a video from Gracelink on the story of Hannah. Gracelink videos is one of my recent discoveries and what’s great about it is that it has a memory verse and a one-liner lesson that goes along with it. It tells a Bible story through storybook-like cartoons which worked well for Timmy because he wasn’t distracted with too much effects and it got him to really pay attention to what the story was all about. He really liked the video and watched it repeatedly throughout the week! :)

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English/Language/P.E.

Sometimes I just stare at the stuff we have at home and think of something we can do about it. That week I saw this carton and a used happy birthday gift wrapper. I also saw that we have lots of chopsticks! God once again sent some creative ideas my way for an activity that would harness his gross and fine motor skills, alphabet familiarity, and imaginative play! I wrapped the box, gave him a pair of chopsticks and asked Timmy to hit and punch holes on all the letter H’s he can find. Boy, was it fun and noisy! Haha! He then asked for more chopsticks and turned it into birthday candles! We sang the “Happy Birthday” song repeatedly, too. :) Later on, he used the chopsticks to form the letter H over and over again. :)

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Arts and crafts

For arts and crafts we made a horse and a house. :) We used construction papers, glue, and googly eyes for the horse. We used both big and small H for these activities. Timmy also wrote lots of letter H on the house he made. :)

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We also did some handprint art! At first, Timmy was feeling so icky about having to put so much paint on his hands. This little guy uses finger paint, watercolor, and poster paints all the time so it was really a surprise that he wasn’t into it. But when I started to put some on my hands and showed him how cool and fun it was to stamp” your hand on paper, his face lit up! Before I knew it, we were lathering his palms with orange paint and he was happily stamping his hand! :) Sometimes you just need to show that you’re having fun, too, to engage your kids in the activity. :)

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I used the missing letter technique again to get him excited to complete the words and write H. :) It’s so amazing to see how his hand writing improves over time. I couldn’t help but imagine what it was like for me when I was starting to write at his age. :) I also asked him to “draw” not write H in different colors! The idea of drawing gets Timmy pumped up more than writing. Since two of his favorite things to do are reading and doodling, our writing activities are done under the guise of these two. I mentioned it before that he wanted to read the words so bad that he gets into writing mode quickly when it comes to guessing the mystery words. :) Using colored pens to “draw” letters got him hooked, too! :) Yay! These are simple but fun activities that can help reluctant writers, especially boys. :)

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We did a counting exercise using heart stickers. :) Timmy likes sticker activities and I love it, too, because it enhances his fine motor skills as tries to take out those teeny tiny stickers. :) So I decided to integrate that to our math exercise!

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Filipino

I just made a simple word list of Filipino words that begin with H along with its English translation. I then folded it when it was time for Timmy to identify the English/Filipino counterparts of these words. In one of the pictures below you will see him mixing his toy animals because I said, “Haluin mo yung mga hayop sa lalagyan.” or “Mix the animals in the container.” We also used these “featured” Filipino words often during the week. :)

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There you have it! Our HAPPY “H” Week. :) The following week we did Y and I really thought we couldn’t do much about it but surprisingly we had some pretty cool activities and had a blast with it! Stay tuned for our Y week! :)