Support in the Little Things

Part of being married is supporting your husband’s decisions. While I personally don’t find it difficult to support my husband on the big things, I struggle when it comes to the little things. The incident I’m about to share is so trivial to the point that I didn’t even bring this up with my husband until now! Surprise, honey! 🙂 Haha!

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My husband and I are both work-from-home writers and we love what we do. Omar writes about superheroes and basketball. He’s very fortunate that he gets to write about the things he loves. 🙂 Sometime last month, I noticed that he was spending so much time writing about this article on the best Spider-Man costumes of all time.

There are ways to get articles done quickly. Most writers know that. I was surprised that he was spending hours on this one piece! He was getting paid per article. In my mind, I was computing that if he wrote 3 or 4 articles in that span of time that would’ve been more profitable, right?

At one point I even commented, “Hon, parang ang tagal mo ata sa article na yan.” (Hon, it seems like you’re spending a lot of time on that article.) I just couldn’t help it! Omar said that it was taking some time because he needed to research more and he was analyzing the best of the best.

I was tempted to suggest that he should stop doing it. My husband was creating an original article and not a curated one. When I say curated it’s more of a rewrite with a little bit of your opinion. Original articles take more time and effort obviously but he couldn’t ask for a higher rate for that.

I had the choice to either make a big deal out of it or just let him finish. I couldn’t remember exactly what I needed him to do but I needed his help that time either with our son or something else. But whatever it was, I knew it could wait. I could’ve insisted though that he drop what he was doing and attend to me. I had no doubt that he would but it would mean interrupting his momentum.

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I was overly concerned with him wasting time for an article that brought him minimal returns. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me shut up, literally. I asked Him to calm my heart and trust my husband that he knew what he was doing. Then God opened my eyes to something.

I saw that despite the challenge of writing that piece there was JOY in my husband’s eyes. I saw PASSION in what he was doing. His focus was different. He was really enjoying what he was writing! I may not understand why but I knew I should support him even for just a few hours (around 4-5 hours to be exact).

God assured me that letting my husband be was the best form of support I could give. That meant allowing him finish the article without disturbance, letting that concern wait, and leaving the results to Him (in terms of provisions). I couldn’t shake the feeling of dismay that Omar would’ve earned more by writing more articles in the span of time he supposedly “wasted” for that Spidey article.

When he posted the blog and shared it on social media, it generated more than 157,000 in reach and over 18,000 in post clicks (the actual number of people who actually clicked on the Facebook link and read the article)! The engagement in their Facebook page was unbelievable, too! His employer was so pleased with him! That blog has become one of their top performing articles to date.

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Best of all, my husband created a perennial article that could be reposted or refurbished anytime regardless of the trend. It’s a classic, so to speak. Fanboys of their site loved the article. It doesn’t matter if a fidgety wife didn’t get it. What mattered was, their target market were hooked on it. 🙂

And I couldn’t be prouder. 🙂 When I actually read it and saw his picks for the article, I was impressed! I became appreciative of the art and the stories that went along the creation of each Spider-Man costume. I saw how thrilled my husband was when he realized how quickly the fans were consuming his content. He saw the reach increase by the thousands in a matter of minutes!

I got excited about it, too! I planned to blog about this sooner but I got busy with other things and then this morning in my devotions about marriage I was reminded to be your husband’s biggest fan. I was brought back to that time when that article was published and realized that I had the chance to be in the front row seats, cheering for him when we were seeing the engagement that his article generated. 🙂

His success eventually led to his employer becoming confident again to invest in Facebook ads for his articles so they can get more traffic on the site. More traffic means more earnings for his employer and more stability for him and ultimately, for our family. In a volatile, fast-paced world of the web ENGAGEMENT is everything. Writing compelling articles that get people talking can give unprecedented traction for a website and that’s exactly what his article did. 🙂

He wouldn’t have achieved it if I gave in to my worries and asked him to stop doing it and go with something easier. I never thought that supporting him in that small thing and simply letting him be could result in something great. It took a lot of restraint on my part not to comment further when he was so engrossed in his writing.

It was only GOD’S GRACE that helped me that time. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says,”Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”

Support through gentleness and being quiet was what my husband needed from me at that time. I’m extremely thankful that God gave me the grace to do so. He reminded me to trust in Him and trust the leader (my husband) He has given me. 🙂 If I didn’t allow the Lord to reign me in and hold my tongue, I would’ve missed out on that moment when my husband got the recognition he deserved from his employer and the people who make their business thrive. That seemingly small support I gave him, allowed me to witness one of the highlights in my Omar’s writing career. 🙂

More often than not, our husbands require us to support them on the trivial things. Those small increments of support when accumulated over time builds our husband’s confidence. It makes them bolder to take on risks and face challenges knowing that they have their wife by their side. My husband isn’t perfect and he makes mistakes but he knows that I, his biggest fan, will always cheer for him regardless. It’s not easy when you need to do it at that particular moment but when you’re looking at it in hindsight, God will make you realize that it’s worth it. 🙂

I know that I still fail and struggle in this area, hon. But I want you to know that I will always be your cheerleader. No amount of arthritis and gray hair will stop me from cheering for you. 🙂 I love you! 🙂

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5 Things We Love About Kidzania Manila

I’ve been waiting for Kidzania Manila since last year. So when a special preview was offered to our Facebook community group Homeschoolers of the Philippines I was beyond ecstatic! Before I go on, I want to say thank you to our ever faithful and hardworking founder Donna Pangilinan-Simpao of Homescool.ph. She has been a huge inspiration to all of us. She was on top of things, coordinating this preview with Mr. Rudy Villar, Ministry of Tourism of Kidzania Manila. 🙂 It was also a great way for our community to celebrate our 4,000+ members! 🙂

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Just got his first Kidzos! 🙂

A lot of homeschoolers have already shared their Kidzania Manila experience from tips to FAQs and you will find these links helpful as you plan your visit. So instead of doing a thorough review about it, I’ve decided to share with you 5 things we love about this awesome city!

1. Kidzania is where learning through play is experienced on a grand scale.

I’m an advocate of learning through play. My son is 4 years old and he loves learning new things especially when presented in the concept of play. 🙂 We love to play-pretend at home so you can just imagine how awesome it was for him to take on different roles with matching uniforms! Your child can be an actor, gardener, judge, innovator, doctor, and more! They can even study first to get a degree so they can earn more Kidzos (the Kidzania currency). 🙂 We didn’t try that, though, because we thought it was more for big kids. Besides, we’re already studying at home and we wouldn’t want to study outside! Haha! 🙂 I made a slideshow of the sights and spots at Kidzania to give you a glimpse of what to expect. 🙂

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With our homeschool co-op. 🙂 The rest of the moms in our group got in early! 🙂

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Timmy and Daddy. 🙂

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Timmy and Mommy. 🙂

It wasn’t easy at first because Timmy had a minor meltdown when we entered the city. There was an ongoing make-believe fire and the kiddie firemen were on their way with the fire truck and fire alarm blaring. In short, it was way too noisy and it scared our little man. He really wanted to go home! New place + just arrived + no nap + overwhelming noise = perfect meltdown formula. Yikes!

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Job 1: Construction Worker (still feeling his way through) 🙂

Good thing we were able to take him somewhere far from where the fire was. We found a construction site where he had his first “job” but it was more of play for him because he just needed to calm his nerves down. He wasn’t too keen on listening because he only wanted to play with the bricks. He didn’t even wear his uniform. The staff were so patient and nice to just let him be! That good and relaxing experience gave him the confidence to take on more jobs! To give you an idea on how confident he got, he took on 8 jobs in the 5 hours that we were there! 🙂

2. The staff of Kidzania treat your kids like professionals.

They were called Mister or Miss by the staff. Although I think it would be better if the kids had name tags because sometimes they don’t know if they were the Mister or Miss the staff was calling. The kiddie interns were given instructions on what they ought to do. 🙂 Timmy’s second job was an innovator. He loves to write and doodle so when he saw that there were lots of colorful pens at the Creative Hub, he jumped right into it! He even made a product presentation! Too cute! 🙂

Job 2: Innovator :)

Job 2: Innovator 🙂

Job 3: Drummer

Job 3: Drummer

3. Kidzania allows children to experience responsibility and independence.

With so many options for them, kids are given opportunities to choose the activity they want to participate in. They get paid for the job they do. Parents are not allowed inside the establishment during activities so your child is on his own. 🙂 We first went with what we knew Timmy really wanted like construction, innovation (write and doodle), and music (as a drummer). He really wanted to drive a car but he couldn’t until he got his license. He took a job as a gasoline boy first and then took his driving lessons. Unfortunately, he didn’t pass. Our 4-year-old enjoyed bumping posts and cars more than abiding in traffic rules. I actually saw him do that during his exam. Haha! 🙂

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Job 4: Gasoline crew

Driving lessons. :)

Driving lessons. 🙂

For his succeeding jobs we just went around showing him establishments and asking him if he wanted to try it. We skipped what he didn’t like and also the ones with long lines. He wanted to be a fireman but every time we checked it out the line was too long. To maximize our stay we would let him take on another job while waiting. The fire station is definitely the first establishment we’ll check out when we come back. 🙂 Oh and by the way, Timmy eventually got desensitized with the fire drill noise.

Our busy little guy also tried making some of his favorite treats like ice cream and chicken nuggets! 🙂 For activities like these you pay Kidzos because you get the actual product at the end.

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Job 5: Ice cream maker

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Job 6: Food tech (creating chicken nuggets)

Trying a mouthful of his own creation! Haha! :)

Trying a mouthful of his own creation! Haha! 🙂

4. The variety of establishments and professions cater to different ages.

Kidzania is for ages 4 to 14 and they can choose the establishment that is appropriate for their age. For young kids, there are many options like gardening, delivery, hotel, salon, and more! The bigger kids can be cable operators and show off their wall climbing skills. 🙂 There are also free play areas for kids ages 3 and below so if your little ones get tired of roaming around, they can stay there and relax. There’s also a parent recharging station and a breastfeeding station for moms. 🙂

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Job 7: Arborist. 🙂

Timmy wanted to ride the tour bus so we did! We also needed a breather that time. 🙂 It was actually tiring for parents with young kids because you have to wait 20-30 minutes for the activity to get done. You’ll be standing up most of the time so wear comfy shoes! Big kids can roam around on their own and parents can just wait at the restaurants or resting areas. Hopefully they’ll add slim benches near each station. Heehee! 🙂

Tired but happy parents. :)

Tired but happy parents. 🙂

Energy level is going down now for this little boy. :)

The cutie who wanted to ride the tour bus. 🙂

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Job 8: Delivery man. 🙂 Look! He’s receiving his salary! 🙂 Last job for the day!

5. There’s always something to look forward to on your next visit.

There are still so many jobs that Timmy didn’t get to try especially the ones with long lines like the fire station, airport, and hospital. I guess it would take 3 to 4 visits to actually cover everything and by then more establishments would’ve been open! Before we went home, Timmy spent his earnings at the Kidzania Department Store. 🙂 You actually have the option to save but we wanted him to enjoy the fruits of his labor/playtime. 🙂 I hope they’ll provide a store where kids can buy food or drinks with their Kidzos. As for the saving part, maybe we’ll consider depositing some of his money when we come back. 🙂 By the way, parents are not allowed inside the department store, too. Timmy chose his reward and ended up spending his money on football erasers. 🙂 Good choice, buddy!

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Football erasers for the hardworking little man! :)

Football erasers for the hardworking little man! 🙂

Kidzania Manila is now open to the public! We encourage you to go and experience this fun educational theme park with your family! 🙂 We’re pretty sure you’ll have a blast! Zank U, Kidzania! Z-U soon! 🙂

We love Kidzania Manila! :)

We love Kidzania Manila! 🙂

Zank U! Z-U!

Zank U! Z-U!

An Open Letter to My Ex-boyfriend

Dear Ex-Boyfie,

It’s been six years since I said YES to you. Not long after that, I said YES again to your marriage proposal and six months later I gave you my final YES during our wedding. 🙂

I know we’ve been so busy the past few months but I couldn’t pass up the chance of greeting you Happy Anniversary today! Boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary, that is. 🙂 I think it’s important that we celebrate this day because it’s the first commitment we made to each other. It’s the door that led us to where we are now. 🙂

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Let me just say that you’re the best ex-boyfriend ever! Haha! Because you did it right! You were forthcoming in your intentions, you didn’t leave, and you took the next step. You’re the right kind of ex who knew from day one that you want to be a part of past, present, and future. And for that I want to say THANK YOU. 🙂

I truly praise and thank God for you. Every day I see Christ’s love manifested in the way you take care of me and Timmy. Your daily sacrifices don’t go unnoticed, hon. 🙂 We appreciate it a lot. You walk your talk. And I couldn’t ask for a better role model for our son than you. 🙂

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You help me with chores, you proofread my work (haha!), you teach Timmy about God (basketball and superheroes, too!), you massage my aching joints and muscles (you thought you married someone young but no! Haha!), you partner with me in disciplining and homeschooling our son, you rebuke me with love (correcting me gently), you allow me to see things objectively and not emotionally, you encourage me to go shopping (sometimes you even force me!), you come up with the silliest songs (and dance moves!), you keep my health in check, and you never fail to make me laugh each day. 🙂

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I’m not saying you’re perfect. But you’re an 8/10. I left two small increments for improvement in our remaining lifetime together. 🙂 Seriously, if this is what an 8-husband rate looks like, I wouldn’t mind that you remain this way forever! Haha! 🙂

Happy 6th anniversary, my ex-boyfie-now-husband HONEY! 🙂 I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! I don’t have to read your comic books and graphic novels to know that superheroes exist. I already have one in you and that’s the only proof I need. 🙂

Much love,

Your ex-girlfriend 🙂

 

Confessions of a Laid-Back Homeschooler

I’m a very laid-back homeschooler. I’m not even sure if that’s a good thing or not. Haha! But so far it’s been working really well for me and Timmy. 🙂 It may look like that I have it together with all my posts about letter of the week (LOTW) activities but the truth is, most of them just happened on the fly! I just love documenting everything and putting them on collage because I plan to put them in a scrapbook. 🙂 But it’s NO WAY an indication that we had a well-planned week. Seriously! And let me tell you a little secret, those activities only take a few minutes (15-30 minutes tops)! 🙂

Sometimes I just stare at our pantry cabinet looking for something we can do a few minutes before Timmy wakes up. I know I’m cutting it close but some of my best ideas have come during buzzer beaters! 🙂 I always have my colored pens and colored papers within reach for quick activities. I do a quick Google and Pinterest search. I plan in my head what we’ll do for the day and leave room for something random.

My organized hubby :)

My organized hubby 🙂

The thing is I’m not much of a planner, really. And I’m also forgetful. That’s a pretty bad combination right there. Haha! That’s why I’m so grateful to be married to a man who likes to put everything in order. Omar keeps me organized. 🙂 There were days when I forgot to calendar our activities and it has caused us a lot of stress (e.g. surprise commitments, unplanned meet-ups, etc.). Sorry, hon! Thankfully, he’s very forgiving, too. 🙂

So how does a laid back, disorganized, forgetful mom homeschool?

I seek daily wisdom from the Best Teacher. Spending some time alone with God helps me relax and focus on what I need to do for the day. Apart from Him, I can’t do anything. Praying and reading His Word helps me start my day right. 🙂 It’s my time to declutter my thoughts. Recognizing my daily need for His guidance and wisdom has helped me a lot regardless of how my day goes. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that a lot of my homeschool eureka moments have come during this time. 🙂

My little teacher. :)

My little learner. 🙂

I take my teaching cues from my son. When Timmy shows interest on something—a book or topic—I latch on it quickly and take advantage of it. Is there a language or math principle we can learn from it? I also test his capabilities every now and then. When he showed interest in counting beyond tens I casually asked him to go on counting up to hundreds last year (he was 3). He enthusiastically worked on it! When we bought a book about skip counting he got so into it that now we’re skip counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. Even and odd numbers are his new favorites. 🙂 I go full blast when I see that he’s ready but I also retract quickly when he shows signs of difficulty and resistance.

This is especially true with writing. He’s not a big tracing fan so I kept all his tracing worksheets and focused on how he wants to write—which is by copying my strokes. 🙂 I let him watch me write all the time. Those who have seen Timmy write were surprised at how legible, fast, and smooth he does it. I guess it comes from the fact that he watches an adult do it and when I do it I make it look easy, right? I also let him write in a fun way by using Q tips, colored pens, finger paints so that he will look forward to doing it over and over again!

Practicing letter D. :)

Practicing letter D. 🙂

Writing with Q tips! :)

Writing with Q tips! 🙂

Now I understand from a child’s standpoint how much of a chore tracing can be because you’re left to do it on your own following boring dotted lines. Whereas when you write using engaging materials, see an adult “demo” it, and do it together often, your child will see how easy it is! Well, at least for my son. There are kids who thrive in tracing and if that’s your child just go with it! 🙂

That’s exactly what I love about homeschooling. You’re not tied to a curriculum that forces your child to learn all subjects at once. You can focus on his strengths and interests then change your approach in areas where your child is struggling. You’re not limited to using one medium. You become more in tune with your child’s learning style and adapt to it accordingly. 🙂

I follow a flexible schedule and flexible curriculum. I have an outline of some sort which serves as my guide for our routine during the day. We start our homeschooling around 9:00-9:30am (yup, we don’t struggle with waking up early). We finish at around 11:00am. It’s not all sit-down learning. Reading time (our favorite) is part of it, playing and lots of tickles in between (another favorite), arts and crafts (especially painting), and writing activities.

In the afternoon, after his nap time we read again and we either do art or another homeschool activity after. Nothing is broken down into minutes like 10:00-10:30 is this subject, etc. Timmy knows his schedule (i.e. the outline of his day) and the predictability helps him cooperate and adjust. 🙂 But no, he’s not confined to a rigid minute-to-minute period.

Timmy's schedule board. :)

Timmy’s schedule board. 🙂

We do the LOTW activities for structure purposes. But I’m very flexible with it. There are days when the bulk of our activity happens in one day. Then the next two days we won’t do any LOTW stuff. We would do other learning through play activities instead. We would go back to it over the weekend or something. We’re also doing Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) on the side. Again, for structure purposes just so I have a guide. 🙂

Here’s the thing, preschool homeschool should really be unstructured. The attention span of 3 to 4-year-olds is way too short for sit-down learning. Aside from our flexible schedule and curriculum, I also consult different reliable sites for developmental milestones and signs of delay and use it as guide for age-appropriate activities.

Sure my son knows a lot for his age and I could have well enrolled him in a homeschool provider for Kindergarten or even Grade 1. But he’s only 4 and won’t turn 5 till December. He will be 5 1/2 years old when he gets into Kinder next school year and we’re totally fine about it. Besides, he’s still within the age-5 bracket. 🙂 By that time, he will be more cooperative and attentive.

635727663375033139 (2) The choice between enrolling him at 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 was crucial for me and my husband. Childhood is too fleeting to be hurried. Knowledge is one thing, maturity is another. We went for the latter because based on how we know our child we assessed that he will be more ready by then not based on head knowledge but based on everything else. Less frustrations for me, too! 🙂

I make up for what we missed. I confess that we have gone through an entire week without any homeschool activity. There were days when our letter of the week became letter of the day, meaning we only had the chance to tackle the letter in one day. So what did I do? I made up for it the following week. It’s not like he stopped learning for one week. We still did the basics—play (yup, it’s a requirement), read, sing, and write/draw. We just didn’t covered a lot for a certain letter. 🙂 Sometimes those breaks help, too. It gives Timmy more options to learn other things before he goes back to his routine.

Being a laid-back homeschooler doesn’t mean being irresponsible. It just means that you’re not too uptight with teaching your child like clockwork. It means that you allow for breathing room and reasonable breaks to change things up to encourage creativity and self-discovery in your child. 🙂

Planting carrot seeds. :) There are carrot sprouts now! :)

Planting carrot seeds. 🙂 There are carrot sprouts now! 🙂

The fun part right now is that my son doesn’t have any concept of “catching up on lessons” yet so he doesn’t feel any pressure. He just knows that we’re always learning something new. 🙂 But in my head, “This was supposed to be for last week, sweetheart.” Haha!

I know that as Timmy grows up and his lessons become more complicated I will need to step up my game, prepare my lessons way ahead of time, and be more organized. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun anymore. It could be that we will find new ways to be engaged in our subjects and find dynamic tools and resources to make learning consistently enjoyable for both of us! 🙂

Will I outgrow being a laid-back homeschooler? Probably not. That’s who I am and so far it matches the spontaneity and flexibility that homeschooling provides for us. 🙂 Imagine you can discuss history for an entire week and put math on hold because your child is so engrossed with your Vikings lesson! There are so many things you can do without being confined to a rigid schedule! Being laid back not only means being relaxed but also being willing to embrace unique, non-traditional learning opportunities along the way. 🙂

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We’re a homeschooling family! 🙂

What matters to us is that our son learns in a way that is most beneficial for him. There will be days when worksheets will take a back seat when we see the need to deal with character issues first. There will be weeks when we’ll struggle with certain concepts. But when your child knows that he can count on his mommy-teacher and daddy-teacher to find ways to help him through a steep learning curve, he’ll be more motivated to learn. 🙂

So yes, I’m a laid-back homeschooler teaching my son under the constant guidance of my Heavenly Father and the full support of my husband. Although it’s far from ideal, it’s what works for us. After all, when you think of home shouldn’t it be welcoming and relaxing? I believe the same rules apply for homeschooling as well. 🙂

The Blame Game

It has been a tough two weeks for me and my little trooper. Asthma found its way to creep into his healthy body and tackled him down again. Taking care of a sick child is not only physically daunting but also emotionally draining. Every time Timmy gets sick I end up doing the blame game, pointing all fingers at myself for my irresponsible parenting and defective genes.

Timmy got his asthma from me and being an asthmatic kid I know how tough it is to have those attacks. I remember spending birthdays in the hospital and getting confined almost every year. My mom took care of me like I’m a fragile bird with a broken wing. Now I’m doing the same except that it really breaks me up inside knowing that he inherited it from me. I find myself apologizing to him every time he’s sick. He doesn’t hear it but God does.

12252010631-001 When we found out he had Neonatal Lupus when he was born I cried buckets. I bawled in front of my husband and parents. I remember my dad comforting me saying that it’s good that we already know how to manage the disease because I’ve had it for years (17 to be exact) and we can take care of Timmy better. As good as it sounded back then to me it was just unbearable. Living with Lupus is not easy and I didn’t want my son to experience it.

By God’s grace, my rheumatologist (i.e. Lupus doctor) said that most Neonatal Lupus cases are transient. They go away once the child develops his own antibodies. She told me not to subject him to further tests. She added that Lupus rarely occurs in men so it could be that my little boy didn’t have it. She advised us to just watch out for symptoms, which I am very well-versed at, but other than that I had nothing to worry about.

10302011093_2 And then his asthma manifested at 10 months old. I jokingly told my husband that our son keeps getting all the bad stuff from me. But inside I was blaming myself again for his health issues and every time he gets an asthma attack the blame game happens all over again. I put on a strong face and double up on my nurturing to restore my son to good health but inside it’s a battle.

His recent attack two weeks ago was no different. Usually, Timmy gets better after a week of medication but this time he didn’t. He was given antibiotics but his cough and colds are still there (yes, up to now). We have lessened his activities so he can rest. I have placed work on hold just so I could attend to him. But his recovery has been slow. His pedia said that it will take 10 days for the antibiotics to fully kick in but she said that he sounded better and he’s on his way to recovery. He was given maintenance meds for 30 days to help speed up his healing.

Phototastic-6_23_2015_b251d9d1-12e5-4acc-9343-e660229fe571My heart broke each time Timmy said, “I feel sick.” I feel a stab inside my chest every time I hear his wheezing, hacking cough. This is one part of parenting that I’d gladly skip. It’s just too much to bear to see your child sick. Good thing, my son remained upbeat and active through it all. He would even encourage me saying, “Mommy, Jesus will heal me.” Or he would say, “Mommy, I feel better now because Jesus healed me.” To which my husband and I would reply happily, “Yes, He did!”

I take comfort in the fact that Jesus will heal me, too. That every time I feel broken and guilty about my son’s health condition He can restore and bring healing to my soul.

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I have been a recipient of God’s grace all my life. He has healed me time and time again. He forgives me for all the blame game I’ve done and He continuously gives me a new slate to start over once more. His track record of faithfulness in my life is impeccable. He has given me every reason to trust Him. He even “crowns me with love and tender mercies.” My all-knowing God is not too hard on me and I have no reason not to do the same.

So today, as I watch Timmy sleeping peacefully I choose to forgive myself. I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus, the One who saved me, forgave me, and restored me. I choose not to blame myself or anyone for my child’s health condition. I choose to believe in God’s power and ability to bring healing to my son. I choose to rest in His loving arms, knowing that He loves my son more than I could ever love him.

WP_20150616_20_16_14_Pro My son is His. His health is His. Whatever future health problems we’ll encounter I know that we will still remain His. And in that I take the most comfort knowing that He’ll be with us every single time. My prayer is that the next time any of my boys get sick that I’ll be able to stand firm and shun the lies of the enemy. That I will not play the blame game anymore but instead put all stakes on my God who is sovereign and true. I know He will give me the grace to do it and the strength to overcome it. He always comes through for me, always. 🙂

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

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

So I encourage every mom out there who feels guilty every time their child gets sick, Jesus holds you by the hand. He doesn’t accuse us. He extends His grace to us every single day. He knows what we’re going through. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We can count on Him to help us. All we need to do is believe and trust that He can. 🙂

How Homeschooling Helped My Shy Son Socialize

Parents with shy kids know how frustrating it can be when you’re child refuses to participate in group activities. No amount of encouragement and assurances can make them do it. They would hide behind your back and on a bad day they would even cry when pushed too much.

As early as a few months old, Timmy already showed that he was an introvert. He didn’t want to be carried by other people except family members. Between 1 to 2 years old, it would take him 2 to 4 hours to warm up to guests. By the time he’s ready to play with them, the party’s over or they’re about to leave. I couldn’t help but think that he was just waiting for them to go away and he couldn’t contain his excitement that’s why he played with them for a few minutes to make their visit worthwhile. Haha!

My son is shy and he got this from his dad. 🙂 Most of our friends don’t know that my husband Omar is an introvert. Maybe because he’s a teacher and he really speaks eloquently in front of a crowd. But if he had it his way, he would rather stay at home.

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On the other hand, Timmy’s momma has no idea what it means to be shy. I’ve always been a people person so I had to adjust to my son’s personality. Unlike his dad, who has learned the ropes of socialization already, Timmy is just beginning and it’s not easy especially for someone who’s still exploring and discovering things for himself.

For most people I’ve already perfected the “bad parent” equation:

Only child + shy personality = homeschool

It may look that way on the surface but as I see my son progress in his socialization skills God affirmed that our decision to homeschool him was the right one. God removed my fears by showing me first-hand the improvements in the way Timmy interacts with different people as he grows older. 🙂

Confidence begins at home

A child seeks approval from his parents. We are the big people they look up to, run to, and extend their arms to. Our nod is the incentive they want most. Whenever Timmy says or does something really funny and we laugh at it, he keeps doing it again and again. He gains satisfaction that what he does solicits a positive response from us. Every time he receives compliments from us, he beams with pride. 🙂

He loves showing his artwork, writings, block buildings—anything he creates because he wants to hear what we have to say. Are we going to approve? Criticize? When he gets an enthusiastic cheer from me, whether it’s a homeschooling exercise or the basketball shots he makes, he’s encouraged to do more. 🙂

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When he talks, I look him straight in the eye and listen intently. If he can’t find the words to say, I would encourage him to go on. I would fill in the words sometimes but mostly I would let him figure out a way to express himself and help him process it better after he’s able to finish his sentence. Timmy knows that mommy and daddy are ready to listen so he can take his time when telling his story. 🙂

At the heart of socialization is confidence. It takes confidence to talk to someone, express one’s thoughts freely, and interact with other people. We first noticed Timmy initiating conversations with old people. He loves grandmas and grandpas in the malls or restaurants. Maybe because he talks to adults most of the time. He’s more comfortable talking to strangers than having people we know talk to him. In short, he prefers initiating. 🙂

Even in his homeschool coop, I noticed that he has significantly changed in the way he interacts with his friends. Warm up became shorter and shorter as he got to know them longer. He enjoys playing with them even if most of the bigger kids like to carry him. Haha! They look at Timmy as the baby in the group. Whenever we get home from our coop, he would say that he misses his friends. 🙂

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Timmy is not rejected or put down at home. It’s the safest and most secure environment for him emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and socially. This gave him the confidence to socialize with other people. He is encouraged to speak his mind. I ask him questions and allow him to interrupt our storytelling if he has ideas or some random thoughts. When he makes mistakes in our homeschool exercises, I would tell him that it’s okay and ask him if he wants to do it again, to which he will agree. 🙂

Sometimes he intentionally commits mistakes because he likes my “oh no” face. Haha! So I have to tell him that we can fool around later but he needs to focus on his activity first. I would challenge him to show his toy animals or something else that he can finish it. Haha! He would cooperate not out of fear but out of obedience, respect, and I guess fun. 🙂

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My shy boy’s shining moments

Once we were eating at this restaurant that had a play area. Timmy always looks forward to going there. It was a weekend I think and there were a lot of kids. He approached everyone and said, “Hey, guys!” I was like, “Did he just say that?” Haha! He then started talking to the boys there. He has the habit of telling other kids the object he’s holding like, “This is a dragon. This is a porcupine. This is a killer whale.” It didn’t bother him that some ignored him. I mean that’s rejection right there. He just kept talking until someone responded!

I think he’s a teacher in the making. 🙂 He likes to share his books to other kids and sharing something informative. At first, he would put the book on the floor near the kid because he’s shy. Now, he would give the book directly and tell the title like, “This is Barry the Fish with Fingers.” Most of the time, kids are not interested in the books he offers. And it breaks my heart! Not because he looks rejected but because a lot of kids don’t like books anymore. 😦 But when Timmy shows toys, he gets their attention.

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One time we were at a bookstore and Timmy approached this little girl sitting on the floor. He offered his book again. She didn’t look interested so he got another one and showed it to her. I think the girl was only two years old. He read the title and some of the words inside. The little girl just stayed there but looked at other books. Timmy didn’t leave! He stayed there and kept trying to engage the girl in a conversation. Haha! 🙂

He actually does this every time we’re in a bookstore. He would approach kids, give them books, and talk to their parents! Sometimes he would sit beside the parent reading to the kid, listen, and answer the mom’s questions. Seeing these moments affirmed our decision to homeschool Timmy. 🙂 We took our time developing his confidence at home, observing what kinds of environments overwhelm him, managing his emotions, and helping him adapt.

It’s a process

As Timmy gets older, I’m also learning how to deal with his shyness better. Omar has also been very helpful giving me an inside look in the world of an introvert. 🙂 This socialization progress didn’t happen overnight. Being with him all the time allowed me to see what situations are threatening to him and allowed me to help him cope under those circumstances. Let me share with you some of them:

Situation 1:

Timmy doesn’t like it when he’s asked to perform on the spot. Sometimes he just runs away, although he does this playfully. I told him that instead of running or hiding to just tell me or the person asking him, “I’m shy” or “I feel conscious.” I told him that they will understand. He doesn’t like it when people are staring at him. This has helped him especially when friends or relatives ask him perform his antics. Given enough time, Timmy shows off his dance moves and shooting prowess but not instantly. 🙂

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Situation 2:

Timmy doesn’t like being surprised. The anticipation scares him. I have a friend who has a big personality and she tends to get really loud and shout whenever she sees Timmy. He gets shocked every time he sees her. As a result, he doesn’t like being with her. He has this impression “na gugulatin sya” (that he will be surprised) when she’s around. He would play with her eventually but it would take a long time. We slept at her house for two nights and he only felt comfortable on the day we were about to leave. I told my friend not to surprise Timmy and when she took my advice, the next time they saw each other they became instant best friends! Homeschooling allows me to not only help my son but also other people around him by orienting them on how to deal with shy kids like him. 🙂

Situation 3:

Timmy doesn’t like loud birthday parties (e.g. Jollibee or McDonald’s parties). The noise is just too much for him. One time I told him that we’ll be there to just watch them. No one will force him to join the games. He took comfort in the fact that we’re just there to observe. Being an introvert, new environments can be overwhelming to him. So we would stay at the back and I would let him go and roam around when he’s ready. He would leave my side eventually and interact with other kids but at his own pace. 🙂

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I’ve learned NOT TO FORCE my son because socialization doesn’t really work that way. There’s a way to approach people and interact with them without feeling awkward or coming on too strong. Some kids are just not built for the stage. My son is one of them. And it’s definitely okay. 🙂 God beautifully and wonderfully created him that way. Maybe he’ll be the director or scriptwriter but not the actor. Other children are born to perform. I was the type who could sing and dance whenever my preschool teacher would ask me to. Meanwhile, my husband wailed his way through preschool not wanting my mother-in-law to leave.

We didn’t want to subject Timmy to that. Now, our shy boy is getting more and more independent and confident. He skipped all the stress of being thrown immediately to a new environment and being left there to survive alone. I’m sure some kids will thrive there but not my son. I would rather build his confidence at home and let him go at his own pace rather than rush him to “socialization maturity” and be traumatized in the process. He’ll get there anyway and we see it right now in the way he interacts with other people regardless of their age. 🙂

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Yes, he may be an only child and a shy one at that. But he is our child and we know him more than anyone. Homeschooling didn’t shelter him from the world. It prepared him in a way that best fits his spiritual, emotional, mental, and social progress. He’s still an introvert but he’s learning socialization in a way that’s easier and more enjoyable for him. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂 He even has random spurts of performing on the spot when asked to! He’s still finding his way with people and we’ll happily take our time. 🙂

Socialization was the homeschooling giant I secretly feared but I held on to God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” And that meant that He will also take care of his people skills. All He asks of me is not to fear nor be discouraged. He’ll give my son the ability to slay that giant. 🙂 God has already gone before me in this homeschooling journey. He is with me, covering all the bases. I just need to stay close to Him every step of the way so that I don’t lose sight of what truly matters—building my son’s character and creating a loving, God-fearing, and accepting home where he can thrive inside and out. 🙂

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P.S. My husband cried while reading this blog because I was able to articulate what a shy child needs. Those were the very things he needed, too. He added that he was grateful that we’re able to do it right with Timmy this time. 🙂

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. 🙂