Friday, June 29, 2012

15 Sandwich Filling Ideas for your Kid's Baon (and your Husband's, too)

I mentioned in my post yesterday (Native Delicacies for your Kid's Baon) that my younger brother and I were not allowed to eat junk food like chips and cheese curls and drink soda when we were little.  To make sure we adhered to this rule, my mom would take time to plan and prepare our snacks ahead of time.  Our mom would usually prepare sandwiches for us as baon during school days.  Not only does this strategy help parents monitor what their kids eat, it also allows the family to save some money.  Buying ready to eat sandwiches or snack items is usually more costly than preparing them yourself. 

A reusable bag for my husband's sandwiches.

 
Let me share some of the sandwich fillings that I used to have for my sandwiches as a student and a few that I learned to make while in college.  These are very easy to prepare, even kids can help or do these themselves.

Some tips on how to make the sandwiches healthier:
  • I suggest that you use whole wheat breads (sliced breads or pandesals).  In fact, there are now malunggay pandesals.  
  • For the mayonnaise-based fillings, you can use lite mayonnaise or you can make your own. 
  • Another tip in making your sandwiches, spread some butter on both sides of your sandwich (the mayo-based ones) to prevent it from becoming soggy.
  • Add vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes.

1. Hardboiled Egg with Mayonnaise - This is one of my favorites.  I like preparing this at home with my little boy.  He likes removing the eggshells from the boiled egg.  You simply mash the egg using a fork and mix with minced onions and just enough mayonnaise to make it spreadable.  Then season with iodized salt and finely ground pepper.  You can also add minced pickles or coarsely chopped celery.  Celery is good because it gives it added texture by providing some crunchiness and by being a source of fiber.  Do you know that celery can help reduce weight because it has negative calories?

2. Cheese - You can do it the old fashioned way of slicing your block of cheddar with a knife or buy thinly-sliced cheese from the grocery.  Buying the already sliced packs of cheese makes preparing your kid's baon faster.  of course, it's costs a bit more.  You can thinly spread some butter or mayonnaise on the bread before putting the cheese.

3. Ham - You can choose to buy uncooked ham or cooked ham.  Spread some mayonnaise before adding the ham.

4. Ham and Cheese - Ham and cheese, on their own, taste good as sandwich fillings.  But they taste very good as well when combined.  You may choose to spread some butter or mayonnaise again on your bread before adding the filling.

5. Ham and Egg - You can prepare this by cooking the egg first.  Beat the egg and fry.  Cut the egg to make it fit your bread before adding the ham.  Again, don't forget to spread some mayonnaise or butter. 

6. Chicken with Mayonnaise - This is one of my favorites.  We prepare this by boiling the chicken first and chopping or shredding it to pieces.  Then, mix minced onions, mayonnaise, salt and ground pepper. 

7. Tuna Flakes with Mayonnaise - Another one of my favorite spreads.  Just flake the tuna and add minced onions, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

8. Corned Beef with Mayonnaise - We prepare this by sauteing the corned beef first in minced onions and garlic.  Once cooked, we add some mayonnaise.  I love having this filling on hot pandesal!  Yummy!

9. Peanut Butter - I think most kids experience having this as their baon to school because it's so easy to prepare and it's delicious.  There are now healthier versions of the peanut butter.  You can try using them, too.

10. Peanut Butter and Jelly - Peanut is delicious in itself but paired with a fruit jelly, it tastes heavenly! haha I'm sure a lot of kids like this combination. 

11. Peanut Butter and Banana - I think I learned this combination when I was already in high school or college.  Anyway, better late than never because it also tastes very good. Plus, you get to make your child eat a fruit while enjoying his peanut butter sandwich. 

12. Cheese Pimiento - I liked having this also on crackers, not just bread.  When I was in college, I found out that this sandwich tastes even better when you grill the bread.  Thus, giving you a grilled cheese pimiento sandwich.  Try it!

13. Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato - We prepare this by cooking the bacon first, which usually takes just a few minutes.  Then, we arrange the bacon on the bread with a spread of butter or mayonnaise and add the lettuce and slices of tomato.

14. Crab, Carrot, Cucumber and Mayonnaise - You can use crab stick or crab meat flakes and mix this with thin strips of carrot and cucumber. Add mayonnaise, a few drops of lemon juice or calamansi juice, and season with salt and pepper.

15. Burger - You can buy mini or regular burger patties from the frozen section of the grocery or make your own.  Just pan fry and serve in a bun.  Don't forget to spread some mayonnaise again.  You can add a slice of quickmelt cheese and some vegetables also.


There you have it!  Fifteen sandwich filling ideas for your kid or hubby's baon.  Hope this post helps you in your meal planning and in making sure your family eats healthy. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Native Delicacies for your Kid's Baon

Since we are still in the month wherein we celebrate our nation's independence, I thought of suggesting some native delicacies that can be part of your choices for your kid's baon.  This is one helpful way to share or teach them about our culture.

I grew up with my grandmother mainly in charge of our kitchen.  She loves to cook and she was a good cook.  She was the one who helped me and my brother to become familiar and to eventually like Filipino cuisine.  We were not allowed to eat junk food in our household then.  No chips or cheese curls.  No softdrinks.  Our grandmother would usually cook our merienda (snacks) and meals.  My younger brother and I were her little assistants.  If she doen's have the time, she likes to buy kakanin or other native delicacies.

Here are some of the native delicacies I grew up with as influenced by my maternal grandmother, Lola Caring.  (Bless her soul.)

Baon suggestion #1: Puto - There are different kinds, colors and sizes of puto - putong puti, puto maya, puto seco, puto calasiao and the famous puto bumbong, which is usually served during the Christmas season.  I've also seen and tasted puto with butter or cheese on top or salted egg.  I love eating puto with warm dinuguan.  But before I digress from my topic, let me tell you why it is a good baon for your child.  First, it's readily available in stores or markets.  You can even buy them at Goldilocks.  I love their butter puto! :) Second, it's cheap.  Third, it's easy to pack or bring to school.  Fourth, it's easy to eat, not messy.  This would be very easy to eat for kids especially if you choose to buy them the small ones like puto calasiao or the colored ones with cheese on top.  Buying the colored ones makes this snack more attractive to kids.  Fifth, they don't spoil easily.  And finally sixth, they are yummy!  




Baon suggestion #2: Kutsinta - I loved eating this delicacy or kakanin since I was a child.  I remember almost covering my share of kutsinta with grated coconut when I eat it.  My brother and I had fun looking at how it would shake and move (just like jelly) as we dangle it in our fingertips before taking a bite.  Just like puto, kutsinta is a popular delicacy among Filipinos.  I recommend it for your kid's baon for almost the same reasons.  Almost because based on experience with kutsinta, it spoils faster compared to puto.  Still, it doesn't spoil easily. 


Photo source here.


Baon suggestion #3: Suman - Whenever I eat or remember suman, I could not help but remember my Lola Caring.  This is one delicacy she loved cooking for our family.  Thus, I was introduced to many kinds of suman.  Suman sa Ibus, suman sa lihiya and sumang kamoteng kahoy are just some of them.  My favorite among the kinds of suman that my Lola used to make is sumang kamoteng kahoy.  I recommend this delicacy for your child's baon because it's filling and it's a good snack for kids who are very active and who needs to sustain their energy while in school.  Moreover, kids would enjoy unwrapping the suman.  I remember myself happily and excitedly twirling the leaves wrapped around my suman (sticky hands and all) as I bite more and more of this delicious kakanin.  Today, there are stores that sell suman with a wide range of flavors already.  It also takes days before a suman gets spoiled.  And in our household before, the suman doesn't reach it's maximum shelf life because there are many hands who can't help but grab it.


Sumang Kamoteng Kahoy.
Photo source here.
Baon suggestion #4: Fried Saging na Saba - This snack is very quick and easy to prepare compared to the other popular saba recipes like banana cue, maruya or turon.  Plus it's still tastes and looks good even after an hour or hours since it was cooked.  Unlike with turon that loses its crunchiness when no longer warm.  Another nutritious and delicious native snack.


Photo source here.


Baon suggestion #5: Bibingka - Bibingka is very popular during the Christmas season but there are still many Filipinos wo crave for this delicacy even before or after the Christmas.  Thus, it was not surprising that there is now a chain of stores called Bibingkinitan.  This makes it easy to find even outside of the Christmas season.  They sell bibingka that is smaller than the regular serving and that's the serving size I would recommend that you give to your child.  The size would not overwhelm him/her.  He/she can have another serving anyway if he/she wants more.
Photo source here.

There are more yummy delicacies that we can be proud of.  I encourage you to try the other delicacies we have that are not mentioned in this post and tell me if there is one that you would also add to this list of suggestions.

Hmmmm... suddenly I feel hungry...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Tribute to God’s Wisdom and Faithfulness

Surrender your dreams at Jesus’ feet.  Allow your dreams to die.  If God wills them to resurrect, He will give them back to you purified.

I first learned those lessons when I was still working full time and slowly growing in my career as HR professional.  One of my dreams then was to become a consultant one day.  I continued doing my job to the best of my abilities without sacrificing my priorities.  I saw my efforts bear much fruit. 

In addition to that, God opened up opportunities for me to develop my passion for writing.  Doors of opportunities came along and I seized them.  I was excited for the many possibilities in store for me.

Then, my dream of meeting God’s best for me happened and we tied the knot.  A few months after our wedding, God called me to surrender these dreams of mine.  I quit my full time job.  I focused on building our home and new family.

I saw my dreams die before my eyes.  It was difficult, painful, and disheartening.  Deep inside, I was wondering why God would plant those dreams in my heart and let them die that way.  But I chose to fix my eyes on my Lord and chose not to question His wisdom and plans for my life.  I chose to obey.  If He chooses to reveal to me His plans or His reasons, I would be happy.  But if not, I would be happy still, knowing that I had been obedient to Him.
I grew to love my new career as a wife and mother.  I’ve been doing my best to honor God in my new mission field, when slowly I noticed God giving me opportunities again to practice what I used to love doing before I got married and had children.  From a few or occasional projects (both on HR and writing), God has showered me now with more than what I think I can handle.  This prompted me to spend more time listening to God for direction. 

When I chose to let go of the security that a full time job gives, I didn’t know how and where I’m going to start looking for part-time or free lance projects that would enable me to continuously develop and use my skills while working from home most of the time.  I only knew that I was doing what God called me to do.  Around four years later, I find myself surrounded with many opportunities that make me stop and ask God if I should take them on or not because I don’t want to lose sight of my priorities and sacrifice my two most important duties now. 

I write this post as my way of thanking and honoring God for His faithfulness to me.  He has been true to His promises.  He was always there to provide for my family’s every need.  Whenever a need arises, He would provide for us through my husband’s job, through a project that I could work on, or through other unexpected means. 

I want to honor Him too for His wisdom.  He knows perfectly well when to fulfill my dreams.  He allowed my dreams to die to prune me.  Then, He gave them back to me purified and in a much better version.  God continues to give me new opportunities to take on now.  I pray that I would be faithful to my call as a wife and mother even as I welcome these new opportunities in my career as a consultant and writer.  I don’t want to fulfill these dreams at the expense of my family.  I pray for a double portion of God’s wisdom now so I would be more discerning.  I want to say yes only to those offers or opportunities where I can best glorify God.  I want to have the discipline and the strength to say no to those that will compromise my priorities and values.  Truly, blessings are also responsibilities.  I need to stay close to God to remain attuned to Him.  I pray that I would be able to honor Him with my choices and that it would be evident that He is in control of my life and career, whether I say yes or no to an opportunity or offer. 


"Instruct me, O Lord, in the way of your statutes, that I may exactly observe them.  Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.  Lead me in the path of your commands, for in it I delight. Incline my heart to your decrees and not to gain.  Turn away my eyes from seeing what is vain: by your way give me life.  Behold, I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life." Psalm 119:33-37, 40
To God be the glory!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mommy TG's Herbed Sausage and Macaroni Soup Recipe

My family and I has just arrived from attending the The Feast at PICC.  I needed to come up with a dish for dinner that is easy to prepare and can be cooked fast so I can feed my hungry family ASAP.:)  So, I decided that we'll have Sausage and Macaroni Soup tonight.  It's almost the same with the Shell Pasta Soup I included in my four-week cycle menu that I posted years ago in this blog.  You simply need to replace the shell pasta with elbow macaroni and the freshly chopped tomatoes with tomato sauce. 

There are other things about this soup that I love aside from it being quick and easy to prepare.

1.  It's delicious!  And if you follow my recipe, it can be mildly hot. :)

2.  It's a complete meal in itself.  It has macaroni (carbohydrates), sausage (protein) and vegetables (fibers).

3.  It's budget-friendly.   I can't give you the price per serving now because I don't have the luxury of time to compute it now.  But I guarantee that it's easy on the pocket.  Come back next time.  I promise to update this post to include the estimated price per serving.

4.  It's a feast to the senses.  It smells good.  It's colorful.  It's flavorful!

5.  My son likes it.  That's the best part! ;)  Isn't it what most Moms look for in recipes?


So, here's my version of Herbed Sausage and Macaroni Soup.


Ingredients:


2 Italian sausages sliced into thin ovals
1 1/2 to 2 cups elbow macaroni
1/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese (or more if you love cheese)
1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (cubed carrots, green peas and corn)
1 medium pouch of tomato sauce (I like using the tomato sauce with MMK, which stands for Malunggay, Mongo and Kalabasa, to make the dish more nutritious.  A Mommy TG Tip to include veggies in your kids' diet minus the tears.)
1 thin slice of butter (1/4 to 1/2 inch)
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
a dash of basil
a dash of thyme
a dash of rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups water or chicken broth (you can dissolve 1 chicken cube in boiling water to substitute for real broth)


Procedure:

 

1.  Slightly brown the sliced sausages in a pot with olive oil. 

2.  Set aside the sausages.

3.  Saute onions and garlic in olive oil and butter.  You can use the same pot where you browned the sausages.  Just make sure you leave around 1-2 tablespoons only of olive oil before adding the butter.

4.  Add the sausages again into the pot and add the broth or water and chicken cube. 

5. Bring to boil.

6.  Once boiling, add the macaroni and mixed vegetables. 

7.  Cook until the macaroni is al dente and the vegetables are soft enough for your child to chew.

8.  Add the tomato sauce, herbs and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper according to taste.

9.  Simmer over low heat while mixing regularly to prevent the macaroni from sticking at the bottom of the pot.

7.  Serve hot.  You can choose to enjoy it with bread or with rice.

Makes approximately 6-8 servings, depending on your family members' appetites. :)

Note: We like this with Italian sausage but if you and your kids don't like it spicy or hot, you can substitute hungarian sausage or your choice of sausage.

Our family loves to eat this hearty soup not only when it's raining or cold but even on hot evenings like tonight.  Try it! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our Father's Day Art Project

We were supposed to do this art project last Sunday as a Father's Day bonding activity for our family, especially for my husband and our kids.  But my husband needed to go to the hospital for an MRIS to find out why his right shoulder is persistently aching; so, we had to postpone it.

The concept is very simple.  We simply need to paint their feet and have them stamp on a white cartolina.  I had a message in mind but did not reveal it to my husband until he got home to see our finished art project.

We finally had the chance to push through with our activity last June 19, which incidentally is our baby Mateo's 7th month.  It was a great way to document Mateo's footprint. 

I asked my husband to do his part of painting his feet and stamping it on the cartolina before he took his bath and went to work yesterday since he sometimes gets home late and by then, the kids need to slow down already and get ready for sleep.  We wanted this to be a project done during day time for the kids.  Moreover, I didn't want my husband to see me and my sons working on it for some element of surprise.

So, when our kids woke up and had their breakfast, I painted their feet as well.  I painted Yanthy's feet first.  Just like his Dad, I asked Yanthy to choose the color of the paint we will use for his feet.  He chose green.  After putting his footprints on the cartolina, Yanthy took a bath.  It was Mateo's turn now.  I chose yellow paint for Mateo's footprint.  We also gave Mateo a bath after we stamped his footprint on the cartolina and while letting the paint dry.

The next step I did was to write a message with a pencil using broken lines so my eldest son, Yanthy, can practice his writing skills by tracing them.  We did this exercise to finish our art project when he woke up from his afternoon nap.

Yanthy patiently tracing the letters
using watercolor pencils while on the floor.


He used our watercolor pencils at first.  He finished them all without assistance from me.  I had to motivate him though every now and then because there were times when he wanted to quit and do something else.  I noticed however that the lines were too thin thus making the words difficult to read from afar.  I asked him to use his jumbo crayons instead to trace the message again.  This time, I had to give him some assistance because he didn't want to do it anymore except if I hold his hand.  I also involved him in choosing some of the colors we would use in tracing the words or our message to his Dad to get him to cooperate.

We eventually finished our Father's Day art project and we were so happy and proud with our work.  We had it taped at the wall near our main door so my husband can see it right away when he comes in.

Below is our finished art project.






My son liked reading the message over and over even when his Dad is not around.  I hope and pray that he would take this message to heart and really grow to take on the good and admirable qualities of his Dad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quesadilla Recipe: Healthy and Yummy

I'd like to share a healthy option for your family's breakfast or snack.  It's quick and easy to prepare plus you can make a lot of variations depending on your preference or taste.


Here is the basic recipe.


Ingredients:



Whole wheat tortilla
Grated cheese
cooked ham sliced into thin squares
spinach leaves
olive oil


Procedure:



1. Spray or brush olive oil on your teflon pan.  Don't spray too much.  Just enough to make sure your tortilla will not be burned.


2. Heat a whole wheat tortilla over low heat.


3. Sprinkle grated cheese on the tortilla.


4. Scatter ham slices.


5. Add spinach leaves.


6. Cover with another whole wheat tortilla.


7. Check if the tortilla underneath is becoming golden brown.  Each side should be done within 2-3 minutes.


8. Turn to the other side to cook the tortilla that was placed on top.  Wait for another 2-3 minutes until done.


9. Cut into triangles andd serve while hot.


Variations:
  • You may change the ham into grilled chicken breast strips or choose not to put meat at all.
  • You may change the spinach leaves to bell peppers or tomatoes cut into thin strips.
  • You may experiment with other fillings that go well with cheese.


Enjoy this delicious and healthy breakfast or snack with your family!  You may even involve them including young children because it's so easy to prepare.  You can ask the kids to spray oil on the pan before putting on the stove or they can help grate the cheese.  The key is to give them a task they are capable of doing or is appropriate for their age.  They will surely be more excited to eat something they prepared themselves.  It's just like playing to them.  Try it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Recommended Books for Father and Child Bonding on Father's Day and Beyond

This post was inspired by my Mother's Day post, Recommended Books for Mother and Child Bonding on Mother's Day and Beyond.  Since I came up with a list of books to help moms celebrate Mother's Day, I thought that it would be nice to come up with a similar list for dads to help them find the perfect book to use for their reading time bonding today.

Below is my list.  I might be adding to this list in the future as I discover more books fit for father and child bonding.  Hope you find a copy of at least one of these books today.

1. A Day with Dad by Bo R. Holmberg

2. A Perfect Father's Day by Eve Bunting

3. Because Your Daddy Loves You by Andrew Clements


4. Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz


5. Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman


6. Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino


7. Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin


8. I Love My Daddy by Sebastien Braun


9. Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer


10. Me and My Dad by Alison Ritchie


11. My Dad and Me by Tina Macnaughton


12. Papa, Do You Love Me? by Barbasa Joosse


Click on the book title to read the description and a review from Amazon.com.

Happy reading on Father's Day!



Saturday, June 16, 2012

Learning the Days of the Week through Song

Yanthy learned the days of the week at around the same time he was learning phonics.  As usual, he learned the days of the week, their correct sequence and how to read them through a song video.  I found this song video in YouTube when he was around two years old.  He still likes to sing this song sometimes (now that he is three years old) even though he can already enumerate the days of the week without singing the song.

Below is the video.  Check it out and see if your child will like it too.




I reinforced this lesson by showing him the days of the week in our calendar and in the devotional I use for my prayer time wherein the days are also printed.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Learning Phonics in our Homeschool

I have mentioned in my previous post entitled 3 Daily Activities in our Homeschool that music plays a vital role in our homeschool.  We sing songs, make music using our musical instruments or watch music videos everyday.  My eldest son, Yanthy, learned many concepts including addition and the spelling of his name and that of his baby brother's through song.

Since we noticed that Yanthy is musically-inclined, we consciously integrated music in our teaching methods to make it fun and easy for him.  Thus, teaching him becomes fun for me and my husband as well.

Below is the phonics video that Yanthy loved to watch when he was around two years old.  He learned phonics mainly through this song.  He would play his xylophone while singing with the video and dancing around.  To supplement and test his understanding, I asked him questions or I made up games where I get to ask him about phonics.  We hardly used worksheets for he is more an auditory and kinesthetic learner.  It's hard to keep him still and make him stay in one place.  I used the activity book I bought about phonics as guide in testing his understanding.  Today, at three and a half years old, Yanthy can already read words he is not familiar with through phonics. 





I plan to use this same video when it's time for Mateo (Yanthy's younger brother) to learn phonics. 

Music really helps a lot in teaching small children especially if the child is musically-inclined.  So, I encourage you to try this video.  Your kids might like them too. 

Helpful Video to Teach Music Skills

I feel so blessed to be led to very good videos for our homeschool. This is one of them.


This video shows kids (and adults, too) how to play popular children's songs on the xylophone. Even small kids can try to follow. You can use this video to teach kids colors too by using the colors on the xylophone to instruct them what to hit next.
Another reason why I like this video is that it uses a xylophone which is a relatively cheap musical instrument compared to violins and pianos. You can buy xylophones at P100 or less. So, if you don't have a xylophone yet in the house, go and buy one soon so you can bond with your kids making music through it with some help from this video.

This is fun! I'm sure the kids wiil enjoy banging their xylophones while dancing around.

Another Song for our Homeschool

I just want to share about this animal alphabet song I found in YouTube this morning. Both of my sons like music a lot so we expose them to songs and we teach them with the help of music. I was so happy to discover this wonderful song today.




It's not the usual alphabet song that simply enumerates the letters of the alphabet. On top of that, it sounds out the letters and shows pictures of animals together with other things that start with the letters of the alphabet.




Here is the video.









I let Mateo listen to it this morning and he seems to like it. I'm excited to show it to my eldest son, Yanthy. I'm sure he will find this intersting, too.




I thank the Lord for consistently inspiring and encouraging me to homeschool.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inspiring Lessons from Babysitting Mateo

Persistence is defined as firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Determination is defined as firmness of purpose; resoluteness.

I had been seeing these two admirable qualities in my baby, Mateo, since he started crawling at three months old.  He would keep on practicing -- in his crib or on our bed.  When he has mastered crawling after keeping at it for a number of weeks, he started practicing how to sit.  Then, he started kneeling down.  Lately, he has been practicing how to stand.

He would use whatever he could lay his hands on to help him achieve his purpose, which is to stand.  Just like his older brother, Yanthy, when he was still a baby, Mateo would use his hands, his face, and his head to support himself as he tries to stand.  If someone or something is near him, he would grab or hold on to that someone or something to pull himself up.  He is resolute.  He would not stop practicing even at night.  He keeps on trying.  He keeps on keeping on even as he falls repeatedly on all sides.  He doesn't mind if he gets hurt.

Look Mom, one hand only.
That's why I'm not surprised that he can already stand on his own inside his crib, sometimes using only one hand to support himself at six months old. There are also times when he challenges himself.  He lets go of whatever he is using to support himself as if testing how long he could stand without support.  Then, he smiles as he lands on his bottom. 


First time to stand on his own inside crib.


Twisting and turning while standing
using one hand only for support.
Last night, he was able to stand on his own by spring up from sitting position inside his crib and slightly touching the sides of the crib with his two hands.  Then, he twisted and turned to his sides with only one hand supporting him.  We were all amazed!  It must have been almost five minutes before he eventually fell down, enough for me to take a number of pictures and for us to converse with him while he's standing.

I couldn't help but admire this child.  He has been inspiring me in the past weeks to be persistent in working towards my dreams and goals in spite of difficulties and disappointments.  He has been modeling to me how to be persistent and determined.  His successes in hitting his milestones quite fast inspire me and sends me the message that if I also continuously do what I need to do in spite of my challenges, I will be surprised as well one day to realize that I have already achieved my goals or dreams.
"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:36

I thank the Lord for these inspirings thoughts and lessons.  I thank Him that He used my baby, Mateo, to inspire me.  I thank Him for blessing me and encouraging me through my son.  I am amazed once more that God has spoken powerfully to me as I performed my duty as a mom.  Moments and lessons like these make ordinary days at home extraordinarily joyful.

"I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.... I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking." (Og Mandino)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

6 Things You Can Do with Your Kids on Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!  Today, Filipinos all over the world celebrate our Independence Day.  If you're a homeschooling mom like me, you must be wondering, "How can I share with my child this special day in our country's history?  How do I make him understand how special this day is?"

Here are some of my suggested activities to help moms celebrate Independence Day with their young children.  My husband and I also plan to do some of these with our kids, especially our eldest son who is 3 years old.  

1. Teach him our national anthem "Lupang Hinirang." - Our musically-gifted son doesn't know how to sing this yet.  He has learned a lot of other songs (most of these we sing in the Masses and prayer meetings) in the past but we have yet to teach him this.  So, we feel that today is just perfect for our little boy to learn our national anthem.  I also plan to share the beat of our national anthem and how it is done (ala orchestra conductor hehe).  I can still remember vividly how we as students during my elementary days would take turns doing the beat with our hands everyday during flag ceremony.

2. Make a flag as an art activity. - I plan to make this with Yanthy.  He will fold, cut and paste colored paper to make the red, blue and yellow parts of our flag. Then he will color the stars and draw the lines for the sun's rays.  Once we have our flag ready, we will sing our national anthem in front of it with our right hand over our chest, a mini flag ceremony at home. :) 

Rizal monument at Rizal Park in Manila.
3. Visit a historical place. - You can visit the nearest historical place to your home or choose to visit Rizal Park and introduce yoour child to our national hero.  Have your pictures taken at the site and have a picnic on the grass.  My husband and I were thinking about going there and showing the park and Rizal's monument to our son.  We hope it doesn't rain or he wakes up early enough to go there before it rains.

4. Introduce a hero to your child. - We have so many Filipino heroes we can be proud of.  This would be a good time to introduce at least one.  Like if your child doesn't know any hero yet, you can start with Jose Rizal or someone you feel that he can identify with.  You can read a book, watch a video, go to a monument, show the hero in our money (bill or coin), etc.  I think that it is better to introduce kids to real life heroes first before introducing them to fictional heroes.  Real life heroes like Rizal, Bonifacio, and the heroes in the Bible are heroes I'd like my sons to look up to more than the super heroes in films because these are real people with real challenges who conquered their challenges thus making them heroes.

5. Play a Filipino game. - In this time where gadgets dominate, it would be nice to go back to old fashion fun through any of our old favorite games -- piko, holen, patintero, shato, agawan base, agawan panyo, etc.  Whatever was your favorite Filipino game as a child, share it with your child.   You can even play bugtungan which was one of the favorite past times of Filipinos long ago.

6. Eat a famous Filipino food or dish. - Today, we will introduce the mango to our son as our national fruit.  He eats mango already but we want to tell him that it is our national fruit and that it is a famous fruit exported to many countries.  You can also choose other foods we Filipinos are famous for like you can cook adobo today or binagoongang baboy, dinuguan or bicol express.  Your choice!


These are just six of the things you can do to celebrate our independence day.  You may come up with your own list.  Whatever will work best for you and your kids depending on their ages and interests.  The important thing is that with what we do today, we make them proud to be Filipinos and teach them to love their country more.  Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

3 Daily Activities in our Homeschool

This post of mine is another attempt to document what we do daily in our home school.  We’ve been home schooling independently.  We have not used any curriculum so far.  We take our cues from our sons’ interests.  We plan and design our activities based on what our kids enjoy doing and what we think they need to know at their current ages.  We look for ways to integrate appropriate lessons in our activities with them.  Bottomline, we do our best to make it fun for the whole family.


1. Play. – When asked what he does in school, my eldest son would usually say, “Play!”  I do my best to teach him things through games or by playing with him.  I know this to be very effective even with adults since I had been conducting trainings for more than ten years now.  In my experience, I’ve noticed that people learn more while having fun and sometimes learning happens without them noticing it.  But when you guide them in processing the activities you did with them, they would give you good answers and insights.  So, that’s what I do with my kids especially with my eldest who is three years old.  We let him play or we play with him and let him learn in the process. 

One of my eldest son’s favorites is playing pretend.  He pretends that he has a business – grocery, car wash, book store, restaurant, toy store, water delivery, pizza delivery, etc.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up having at least one of these businesses in the future.  I wrote about the benefits of pretending to play store here.  Sometimes, he pretends to be a pilot, teacher, a handy man, a guard, a receptionist, a writer, a priest, a concert artist or whatever catches his fancy on a particular day.  Sometimes, he imitates me or his Dad or his baby brother.  And he’s very good at imitating people that I wouldn’t be surprised as well if he would someday want to be an actor.
My sons playing with building blocks.

In our home, we make sure that the toys are appropriate and safe for our kids.  I screen the toys that get into our household.  I don’t let my son play with toy guns or swords.  He hardly plays with games on modern gadgets.  As much as possible, I expose him to games that will be very engaging for him physically and mentally.  So, I let him play soccer, bowling, badminton, tag or piko.  He plays with cars, airplanes, trucks, puzzles, building blocks, clay, and other kinds of toys he can manipulate and use to feed his imagination.  We also use every day objects and reuse things in the house to make our own toys.

So far, this approach proves to be effective to our eldest son, Yanthy, who is a kinesthetic learner.  He loves to move around most of the time and it seems that he learns fast and best while on the move.

2. Read. – We are a family of book worms!  We have books scattered all over our place.  We read at any time of the day.  My husband and I read aloud to our kids daily.  My eldest who started reading words at age two can already read on his own at three years old so he’s no longer waits for me or his Dad to read to him.  He reads whenever he wants to read.  He also likes reading to his baby brother.  But he still looks forward to being read or reading with us. 



Mateo reads The Purpose Driven Life :)
I do not limit my kids to reading children’s books.  I read the Bible to my kids.  I read devotionals to them.  I read to them my books.  I let my eldest son read our magazines (on Catholic faith, interior decoration and design, parenting, gadgets), too.  When he wants to read my books or that of his Dad’s, we also let him.  So he gets to read the books of our favorite authors like Bo Sanchez, John Maxwell, Robert Kiyosaki, and Stephen Covey among others.  When we are walking or in the car, we read street signs, road signs, store signages and whatever we see around us.  When waiting at the doctor’s clinic, we read the signs in the hospital and those posted on the doors.  Reading is a big part of our lives.
  
3. Listen to music or make music. – Another activity that we love doing with our children is listening to music and making music by singing or playing musical instruments.  My kids had been exposed to music since birth – from Mozart to nursery rhymes, praise music to songs for the Mass, from folk songs to current popular songs (I screen the songs of course to make sure the songs we listen to do not contain words or themes that come in conflict with our family values.).

Yanthy rocks the house
as he plays with his drum set.
Our eldest likes to play keyboards, guitar, drums, harmonica, maracas… whatever musical instrument we would make available to him.  His Dad had a big influence on him because he sees his Dad playing the guitar so he like to play his own guitar whenever his Dad plays, too.  That’s why these days, song books and chord books are among the “books” Yanthy reads as well.  He has not received formal lessons yet in music.  So far, we have just exposed him to different kinds of music and musical instruments.  We expose him to different songs.  And we’ve noticed that he is gifted in music because he learns to sing songs fast.  He easily picks up the tune and he remembers the lyrics right away.  Sometimes, he learns the tune of a song after listening to it once or twice and he can sing lines of the song afterwards.  We notice this whenever we attend prayer meetings or the Mass because he sometimes sings some of the new songs we heard on the way home.

Since, this approach and methods had been effective with our eldest son, I plan to continue doing these things with our second child, Mateo, who shows interest in books and music also even at 6 months old. 
Mateo reads his big brother's book.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New Books for the Coming School Year

I was very happy yesterday when I went to the Book Sale again.  While George and Yanthy were in the grocery buying our supplies for the week, Mateo and I were at the Book Sale nearby to search for good books for our home school.

These are the books I found.

Help Me Be Good books

Each book was only P65 and all of them were new and in good condition.

I'm very grateful to God for leading me to the Book Sale again yesterday.  I know deep in my heart that it was the Lord who disturbed me from my computer chair yesterday so I would go to the mall with my husband and eldest son.  He had a purpose for leading me back there.  He wanted to help me mold my son's character through these books.

I was also happy to find a copy of the highly recommended book Harold and the Purple Crayon.  We even had a bonus treat because the book I found was a compilation of the four books on the adventures of Harold and his purple crayon.  It was even on hard cover and it only cost us P140!
book front cover
book back cover
Aside from these books, my husband also bought two books for our eldest son on sight words and addition and subtraction.


I praise and thank God for affirming the inspiration and leading I got for our home school this school year.  Even before we bought these books, we were already thinking of focusing on these things this school year:
  • values formation
  • mastering reading through sight words and phonics
  • writing
  • music

 So excited to use them! 

A Missionary Even While At Home

I first came to know her when I was a little girl. I grew up admiring her and desiring to follow her footsteps… all the way to the Carmelite monastery. She was a shining example for me as a child and now as a mother who stays home with her children most of the time. I first came to know her through books and other forms of literature. Then, as a teenager, I came to know her more as I investigated the way of life of the Carmelites. She is St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the Patroness of the Missions, Doctor of the Church and author of the Little Way.

My favorite Saint
I so admired her and wanted so much to follow her example that I too desired to be a Carmelite nun. When that desire was not granted, I prayed to be a Carmelite Missionary. That prayer was not answered as well. God led me to understand that His Will for me is not to be a Carmelite nun or missionary. He revealed to me that His Will for me is to be a missionary wherever He places me, and that includes my home with my family.  So, inspired still by the example of St. Thérèse, I strove to be a missionary in my own small way wherever God led me.
The Carmelite Missionaries
(Photo taken from their web site)
These days, I can identify with St. Thérèse very much again because I hardly leave our home because of my duties as a wife and mother to our small children. I served God and the Church mainly through my gift of writing. And as I do this service, I feel God reminding me of my prayers as a child and young lady. I realized that God has granted the desire of my heart by calling me to be on mission in the past years in many different ways. He allowed me to be a missionary by spreading the Good News through the communities I led and was a part of. He also answered my prayer by letting me spread the Good News by giving talks. But lately, I had been spreading the Good News more through my writings. I may not be travelling a lot like I used to but God tells me that I had been serving Him and His Church far and wide.
 
 
Today, God affirms that message to me through the reflection in Didache. God reminds me that there are many ways to be a missionary and one of them is by being an example through the lives that we live. He me reminded me too this morning as I reviewed the life of St. Thérèse that I don’t need to leave my house to be a missionary. My home is also my mission field. And like St. Thérèse, I am able to serve His priests and His Church even while at home as I use my gift of writing. All I need to do is answer every call from God and saying yes to every opportunity He presents to me to share the Good News and bring hearts and souls closer to Him.

The message in my desk calendar confirms these insights as well.
 
 
“Your primary gifts will lead you to your sacred mission.”
“For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
 
 
I thank the Lord for keeping my heart burning with love for Him and for the desire to make Him loved. I pray that St. Thérèse’s Little Way would continue to inspire me especially when I face challenges to keep on loving in the way our Lord wants me to love. I pray that like St. Thérèse, I would be love in the middle of His Church even as I stay at home.
 
 
I choose to do whatever God calls me to do, big or small, right here, right now, with all the love in my heart. In the words of St. Thérèse herself, "You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions,nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”