Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Power of a Story Plus Giveaways

Stories are powerful. The greatest speakers are mostly, if not all, great storytellers. Even Jesus used stories a lot to proclaim about the kingdom of God.
Stories help people, especially ordinary ones, understand even the most complex of concepts. Stories help establish connections between people that once were not there. Stories inspire, encourage, motivate and change lives.
That is why I chose to include a number of breastfeeding stories in my book BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking. Aside from sharing my own breastfeeding story, I gathered moms from different walks of life to share their breastfeeding stories as well. I wanted moms who will read my book to find at least one story they can relate to... a story that will touch their hearts and make a difference in their breastfeeding journey and their family.

I believe that with just one story, the course of a life can be changed. With one man's story, humanity has been saved from their sins. With another man's story of bravery, a nation got the courage to rise against a dictator and staged a peaceful revolution.
As the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month comes to a close, I'd like to ask the readers of BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking which breastfeeding story in the book moved, inspired or encouraged them the most and why it did so.
This will be my last blog giveaway in celebration of breastfeeding awareness month. I will choose 2 lucky winners via Rafflecopter who will win 1 box each of Obi tie-side and pajama set.

The first to leave a comment/tell us which breastfeeding story moved her the most will get these prizes.

The second to comment will get this prize.
The first three (3) to join (leave a comment on this blog post) will win prizes from MomBabyFabric. 

This giveaway is open to all Philippine residents who have read my breastfeeding book.

The third to comment will get this prize.

I will announce the winners next week. Join now!


The winners for our MomBabyFabric items are the following:
Nappy Pouch - Darl Corral-Piquero
Bib and Clean up cloth - Nor Ann Balatbat
Madison Pouch - Yen Morales

The winners of our Obi tie-side and pajama sets are Mommy Que and Mommy Sigrid!

Congratulations to all our winners!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Linggo ng Wika Activities 2014

We have just celebrated Linggo ng Wika in our homeschool. It was nothing fancy. I just thought of activities that my little ones would appreciate at this time.

Let me share what we did:

1. We bought Filipino books for the boys that feature things about our Filipino culture and read these books to them repeatedly in the past week. The two books we bought were Si Jepoy Dyip and Ang Barumbadong Bus. The books were instant hits to my boys! I wasn't surprised because boys usually like things that go. We especially liked Si Jepoy Dyip because the book comes with a DIY project that can eventually become a toy for kids. You can make a toy jeep and a toy police car with the cut outs included in the book. At first, my eldest didn't like us to read the story in Filipino. He preferred the English version. But last week, I insisted that we try reading in Filipino for a change. I'm glad he agreed eventually. The boys liked the book very much and they liked playing with the toy jeep and toy police car with the book. The toys fit the illustrations in the book so the kids can pretend that they are actually driving the toy vehicles on the streets of Barangay Pag-asa just like in the story.

We bought our copy of Ang Barumbadong Bus last Saturday only. We've been trying to get a copy earlier but it was always out of stock in the bookstore. Good thing we found at copy at National Bookstore's Sucat Branch. I was very glad that we bought a copy of this book. Through it, we discovered that our eldest son can already read Filipino well. He read it while we were waiting at the doctor's clinic (for my monthly ob-gynecologist check up). He was reading if fast as if he has been reading Filipino in years! That was one pleasant surprise for me. I have tried many times to teach him how to read Filipino books but he wasn't open to it in the past. So he read English books only in the past years. They also do not have any Filipino books except for the beginner board books that we got years ago in the Manila International Book Fair. The only other time I heard him read in Filipino was a couple of years ago when we were in the car travelling. He read a road sign and asked, "Bakit bawal tumawid?" That also surprised us because he was still learning how to speak in Filipino then. We did not expect him to read in Filipino. This discovery and milestone make our Linggo ng Wika celebration this year extra memorable for me/us.

The other thing that I liked about the book Ang Barumbadong Bus is that it teaches my boys to be extra careful with their toy vehicles and it reminds them to be careful with their actions so as not to endanger themselves or others around them.   

2. I also taught the boys how to count in Filipino. Both of them know how to count in English but they are not yet well-versed in Filipino. I used this opportunity to teach them this.

I also taught my five-year-old son how to add using Philippine currency coins and bills as our Math homeschool lesson last week.

Our little genius listening
to the original Pinoy Henyo.
3. I spoke more to them in Filipino and patiently answered their questions or clarifications whenever there were words that they did not understand or that they asked me to translate in English.

4. We scheduled a field trip to Museo Pambata last Sunday as part of our celebration. My husband and I already brought our eldest son to the museum when he was still almost two years old. But it was our two-year-old's first time to go to this museum. Our eldest got to appreciate more our visit this time because he can now understand more of the things that he saw in the museum and because he can already read. Our two-year-old enjoyed the visit as well because he saw many things that he liked in the museum. We spent the whole afternoon in the museum. The kids got to explore all of the exhibits except for the exhibit on the human body, which was currently under renovation. But we got to check it out when we first visited years ago.

5. We ate Filipino food for merienda last weekend to cap our Linggo ng Wika celebration. We bought cassava cake and suman. My husband and I had halo-halo after our field trip and I had pancit luglog. 
Halo-halo to quench my thirst after walking around the museum.
Our activities were very simple but I believe that they still helped our kids appreciate and learn more about our Filipino culture, not just the Filipino language.

Strolled at Manila Bay after eating merienda.

How did you celebrate Linggo ng Wika this year? Do you already have a copy of the books we read last week? I recommend these books to parents of little boys. Si Jepoy Dyip is only P149 while Ang Barumbadong Bus is only P75. You can buy these books at local bookstores or from The Learning Basket.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Quarter Celebration in our Homeschool

I shared our homeschool accomplishments in the past quarter in my previous post. We have covered a lot of topics surprisingly given our busy schedule. Thus, I've decided to spend this weekend to celebrate.

I was very happy to discover a very good deal a couple of weeks ago at Metrodeal. Unlimited play at Active Fun, The Fort was at 56% off! This was definitely good news to our family since our kids (our eldest son especially) love playing there. I bought 8 vouchers right away. I plan to use the other vouchers in the next months to reward the boys for their accomplishments and as a gift to my eldest when he celebrates his birthday in October.

The voucher/deal is valid for use from Monday to Friday from August 6 to October 15, 2014. That's ok with me because I'd rather let them play there on weekdays when the play center is not too crowded.

We went to Active Fun, The Fort last Friday after we had lunch at home. We went to my husband's office first for our flu vaccines. Then, the boys immediately played as soon as we arrived at Active Fun. Incidentally, because last Friday was in between a holiday and the weekend, there were many parents who brought their kids to play at Active Fun as well that day. I was mildly disappointed but when I saw that my boys were still having a great time playing there even when there were a lot of other kids also, my disappointment was replaced with joy. Active Fun unlimited play was perfect for my active boys!

Unliplay at Active Fun equals unlifun for my active boys!

My original plan was to work on my next book project while the kids were inside playing. But I've decided at the last minute to check out the stores nearby. I hardly go out these days that I'm pregnant so I used that time to see if I could find some of the things I'm looking for in those stores. I'm very glad I did! I found a number of things that made me really happy!

Yanthy was so happy when
his Dad finally bought the globe.
First, I found a globe that is cheaper than the globe that we saw at  National Bookstore. My eldest has been requesting us to buy him a globe for some time now. We saw some at National Bookstore last week but I thought of checking other stores first before deciding where to buy in case we find better and cheaper options. We saw two kinds last week. One was around P1,700 while another one was P2,700 plus. The main difference between these globes was that the more expensive one can be lighted like a lamp. The cheaper alternative I found at the Fundamentals store, Active Fun building at The Fort was only P1,400 and it was the same size as the other globes we saw at National Bookstore. That was surprise number 1 for me. 

I got my second surprise when I went to Mothercare which was also in the same building. I checked out some clothes with bulldozer or backhoe designs. I plan to give this as a gift to my 2-year-old son on his next birthday. It will also be his birthday outfit because that's the theme that I chose for his next birthday celebration. I was so happy when I found two possible outfits! One had a bulldozer design in front and a backhoe at the back. It was almost perfect for my son! Almost because the biggest size available for that design was for 2-year-olds. My son will turn three (3) already in November. The other shirt I found had bigger sizes. It had a backhoe design in front. I waited for the boys to be finished with their play time before deciding what to buy. I asked Mateo to fit the shirts first. As expected, the shirt with a smaller size was a bit small for him. I bought the shirt with the backhoe design instead. the shirt came with another construction-themed shirt in yellow color. My son and I were still happy with our find.

My third surprise was that I found briefs with Thomas the Train designs. Mateo loves Thomas a lot! We are also potty-training him. So far, he has not been wearing diapers anymore during daytime. He only wears diaper at night. We are hoping that he would be completely potty-trained before I give birth to our third child or by his 3rd birthday. Like what we did with his older brother, I thought of giving him briefs as part of accomplishing this milestone. His older brother got Lightning McQueen briefs before. This motivated my eldest very much. I'm hoping that this would work again with Mateo. So, I bought these Thomas the Train briefs for him together with the construction-themed shirts. 

I got a bit hungry while walking around so I had my snack first in a coffee shop at Bonifacio High Street. Then, I went back to check on my boys. The boys were sweating even though the place was air conditioned. I asked the boys to change their clothes first and drink some water. Then, I looked for a table where I can work on my laptop.

Good thing there was still a vacant table and I was able to squeeze in some writing time. I got to write a few sections on my upcoming ebook. Before I knew it, my mobile phone was already ringing. My husband is already on his way to fetch us so we can hear Mass at the chapel in SM Aura. It was a bit challenging to make the kids stop playing. They still want to play even though they were already playing there for over three hours. I made a mental note that next time, I will let them play from morning until evening.

I hurriedly asked the boys to go out and go to Mothercare with me to ask Mateo to fit the clothes I found for him. We didn't have time to buy the globe though because we were running late. I'll just ask my husband to buy it tomorrow.

We got to the chapel just in time. The Mass started a few minutes after we settled on our seats. I was very happy that we still got to hear Mass as a family for it was the Feast Day of the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

After the Mass, we had dinner. We granted my eldest son's wish to eat fried chicken for dinner. I chose to have lechon macau with yang chao fried rice. I enjoyed my dinner very much! I even got a bonus! I found a store that sells avocado ice cream! I thought that I was just rewarding the boys for a job well done. But when I found the avocado ice cream, I felt that God was also rewarding me that day. :) Shared the ice cream I bought (avocado and vanilla with brownie flavors) with my husband and eldest son. 

Next, we headed to the bookstore to buy some supplies for our homeschool. We also checked some books. My fourth surprise came when we found a nice book about the planets in the solar system. My husband and I bought it right away. Our kids were so happy and excited to read their new book!

Mateo loves this book! He loves singing the planets song
while looking at the pictures.

It was a long and tiring day for us but we enjoyed every moment of it! I thank God for all the blessings and surprises we received that day.

Do you also celebrate milestones in your homeschool? Would love to hear from you. Feel free to share by leaving a comment on this post.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Homeschool Recap: June to August 2014

August is almost over. Time flies so fast indeed especially when we are very busy. But I'm happy because my family and I had been busy with the right things -- things that are important to us.
I praise and thank the Lord for the grace to still homeschool my two kids even though I'm currently pregnant and I took on a project (making my breastfeeding book into an eBook and releasing on Amazon) in the past month.
I'm writing this post to somehow document what our family did during the first quarter or in the last two months. We had a slow and relaxed first month. (You can read about it here.) I'm very blessed though that my eldest learns fast most of the time and he has been generally cooperative.
Let me start my recap of what we did by enumerating the things/activities we had most days or almost everyday. I say almost because there are days when I'm busy with my project and I just let the kids play.
Yanthy seriously reading The Life of Fred.
1. Reading - We read everyday -- books, magazines, anything that the kids find interesting. I do my best to read to my kids everyday even when I'm busy. My goal is to read at least books to them daily. The boys read on their own also, particularly my eldest. Actually, he's quite unstoppable when it comes to reading. He's such a bookworm. I sometimes need to tell him to stop and rest so he could nap or go to sleep already at night. One of his favorite reads in the past quarter is his children's dictionary. (You may read my review of our awesome children's dictionary here.) My youngest loves books also. He can already read a few sight words. When my husband and I are not available to read to him, he asks his older brother to read to him. This is one of the blessings of having more than one child. The older ones eventually take care of the younger ones. Sometimes, he 'reads' on his own. He pretends that he is reading by retelling the story or he recites the story verbatim from memory. He has memorized some of the books we read frequently. We make our books accessible to the kids so they can pick up a book anytime they want. We also do a lot of activities based on the books that we read. Most of our kids' art and craft activities are inspired by the books in our library. Some of their games are also inspired by these books. Reading has a lot of benefits. You might find this article that I wrote in the past interesting: The 6 Stages of Reading Development and Why You Should Read to Your Baby. I taught my eldest phonics using the Phonics-in-Reading Series. You may read my review of these books here.

My son's notes on the Mass songs
he studied.
2. Music - My kids are very musical. They are either singing or  making music or dancing to the tunes that they play or are listening to. My eldest son is very much into playing the piano these days. When he was younger, he was very interested in playing the guitar. He learned a few chords but when he started playing the piano, he really got motivated and flourished. He can now play several pieces. He practices at home using our keyboard and he practices also in the church after we hear weekday Mass. He has made it his goal to master all the songs usually played/sang in the Mass so that he can serve in the Mass eventually. He practices on his own everyday. He already knows how to play Alleluia, Holy and Amen. He close to memorizing Glory to God and Song to San Lorenzo Ruiz. My younger son likes to tinker with the piano also. Well, most younger kids like to imitate their older brothers. He also likes to sing. He has learned some of the songs in the Mass also. One of my joys daily is hearing my kids sing songs in Mass with so much gusto. I'm sure that God is smiling down at them as well every time they sing their heart out to worship. When the kids are not tinkering with any musical instrument, they play some tunes on the stereo and sing along. My youngest usually listens to nursery rhymes. When his older brother is already awake, we change the music to worship or praise songs. They like pretending that they are performing in a worship concert. If your kids are musical like mine, you might find this article helpful: 5 Games for Musically-Inclined Children.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 in a box!
Inspired by The Cat in the Hat.
3. Pretend play and free play - My kids spend most of their time  doing these every single day. I let their imagination run wild the whole day. They like imitating the usual activities that we are engaged in like going to the grocery, cooking, travelling or having a business. They also sometimes invent their own games. Some days, they play with the other boys in our neighborhood who are almost the same age as they are in our garage or in the basketball court in our subdivision. Most days, they are each others' playmate. They play tag, basketball, hopscotch or throw and catch. Indoors, they like playing with building blocks, wooden blocks, puzzles, foam letters, paper planes or boats with matching maps, they build forts or houses or they play hide and seek. You can read my previous articles about the lessons kids learn from pretend play below:
7 Lessons Kids Can Learn from Playing Store
7 Benefits Kids Can Get from Playing Doctor
Lessons Kids Can Gain from a Farm-Themed Birthday Party
4. Doodling, drawing, writing - The kids like to draw or doodle. I just make sure that we always have plenty of scratch papers and that they know where to get their pencils or crayons. As I've mentioned earlier, younger kids like to imitate their older siblings so when my younger son sees his older brother writing or drawing, he does the same. I ask my eldest son to practice writing his name, the day and date almost everyday. I also asked him to write three words that start with the same letter of the alphabet each handwriting practice day. I'm happy to share that today marks our completion of this exercise. We already finished all the letters of the alphabet. Aside from our regular practice exercise, my eldest son gets to practice his handwriting every time his Dad teaches him a new song to play in the piano. He writes the chords of the new song he's learning in his small notebook. Then, he uses his notes when he practices on his own daily. he and his younger brother also had a chance to practice their handwriting and drawing skills when we made birthday cards/notes in the past months. Sometimes, my eldest would copy some of the title of his books on his notebook or anything that catches his attention. On a few occasions, he would write notes to his younger brother in his notebook or on a piece of paper when the younger boy would not listen or obey. He also likes making signages , receipts or play for their pretend store. There was a time when he wrote his own 'book' (he likes to pretend that he's also an author just like me).

Yanthy wrote a letter for my mom on her birthday.

The boys made a birthday card for the pianist in our church, Tito Ed.
He is also my eldest son's inspiration and piano teacher.
5. Daily prayer and Mass - We do our best to participate in the weekday Mass aside from going to church on Sundays. I usually bring both boys with me. I'm also happy that my husband gets to hear Mass with us often since we moved to our new home, which is a bit closer to his office. It's quite challenging to make the boys sit still or to be behaved for the duration for the Mass. But I believe that bringing them to Mass as often as possible would teach and train them on the proper behavior. I want to give them as much practice as possible. I want to instill in them a love and hunger for the Holy Eucharist. I'm glad that so far, they are exhibiting these traits even at a very young age. They usually say before bed that among their high points for the day is participating in the Mass. It also helps that we have made some friends in our parish and we got to know some of the servants in the church. These new friends encourage the boys to sing and participate although sometimes they can be noisy. Well, kids are kids. My boys are only 2 and 5. I can't expect them to sit still, not move a finger or make a noise for an entire hour. I'm happy that at least they are participating by singing and responding during the Mass. Even my 2 year old knows most of the responses and anticipates singing some parts of the Mass. They have also developed the habit of praying at different times of the day. I was very happy one time when our 2-year-old tried to pray the rosary with us while we were in our vehicle travelling. I also love that when they get hurt, are wounded or not feeling well due to an illness, they turn to God and prayer right away. One of our main reasons and goals in homeschooling our children is to introduce our Catholic faith to them and to teach them to make their relationship with God their foundation in life. I'm very happy to see this happen now.
6. Chores - My kids' daily chore is to make sure that they pack away their things to their respective areas after using them. These include their books, toys and clothes. I train them to always put things back where they got them and to clean up after their mess. Of course, the kids need to be reminded of this rule daily. Sometimes, they do this right away. Other times, it takes them a while before they obey even with verbal cues or reminders. I do not require them to sort the clean laundry and put them back into their closets but whenever they see that our maid is doing this, they help out even without prodding. We are blessed because these boys like to help out most of the time. They also like helping out in putting our groceries into their respective cabinets or putting the fresh produce in the refrigerator.

7. Storytelling - My husband and I tell a lot of stories to our kids. We tell them fictitious stories as well as stories from the Bible and from our past experiences. We usually do this before they go to sleep in the afternoon or at night. The boys love this time! Then, they also take turns telling their own stories or retelling ours. It helps build and develop imagination, focus, vocabulary, confidence, comprehension and communication skills.
These are the things that we regularly do or do almost everyday.
For our structured homeschool activities, we used Fun Thinkers, a few activity books and recently The Life of Fred.
There were weeks when we did not use these materials daily. There were also days when my eldest wanted to use these materials until we finished a certain level. My boys liked using Fun Thinkers. Even my 2-year-old enjoys using it. (You may read my review of this product here.)

A sample page from Critical Thinking Level 1 of Fun Thinkers.
This was answered by Mateo.
I started using Math, English and Critical Thinking Level 1 with my toddler. We're taking it slow.

Moreover, I developed a Transportation-themed Alphabet Curriculum for my 2-year-old. You may download a copy of this for free if you have a child who likes cars, trucks and trains too like my sons. Just head to my blog's sidebar and sign up. We started using it last week. It's my way of gently integrating the concept of alphabets in my toddler's play activities. I also let him watch for a few minutes the educational videos I used in teaching his older brother the alphabets, phonics, counting, and colors.
As for my eldest son, we finished English Levels 2 and 3 in the past two months. Actually, it took us days only to finish each level. My eldest is quite fast in this topic. We took up Level 2 in July and Level 3 this August.

Addition and subtraction lessons using building blocks.

Lesson on sets using wooden blocks.
We finished Math Levels 1 and 2 also in the past two months. He's not as fast in Math as he is in English. I supplemented our Fun Thinkers books with manipulatives (toys and things he can use for addition and subtraction).

Addition lessons using coins.
We recently bought The Life of Fred book Apples. It's the first in the series of The Life of Fred Math books. My eldest son liked it right away. He read it from cover to cover on the day it was delivered to our house. We have only used it for one day so far. But we have covered and answered the questions in the first 6 chapters already. I predict that we'd be able to finish it at the latest before Christmas. At the earliest, my son might choose to finish it next week! 
For our Science lessons, my kids use their natural curiosity and observe their surroundings and the things that usually happen in their environment. They are naturally inquisitive. I sometimes run out of answers to their questions. In the past quarter, most of their questions and lessons were about the weather, plants, insects and the planets in the solar system. When we studied the planets, the kids also drew and painted circles to symbolize the 9 planets. They also learned a song to help them memorize them.

My eldest also answered a number of mazes in the past quarter. He enjoys answering them so my husband and I looked for mazes whose themes match his usual interests.
My eldest also became interested in maps recently when my husband bought him a map of the Philippines and a map of Asia. because of this current interest, we will buy him a globe soon.
We only spend an hour at the most in my eldest son's structured homeschool activities. That happens when my eldest is on a roll and has gained momentum in answering either Fun Thinkers, a reading and comprehension book or The Life of Fred. Our activities last around 20-30 minutes each then we take a break. We either eat or my son plays on his own or with his younger sibling.

As for my toddler, his lessons last between 10 minutes to 20 minutes. Most of these are play-based.

Our structured activities usually happen in the morning before lunch and after lunch before nap. My younger son goes to nap earlier than my eldest. That gives me and my eldest more quiet time for our homeschool activities.

My husband teaches our kids in the evening or at night and during weekends.

The kids exercise (PE) through walking, jogging and running during weekends and on holidays at the park.

But I believe that we homeschool all day and everyday through our conversations and our regular activities at home.

Our activities last long like an hour or more if we do art and craft activities.

You may read about our homeschool activities in the past quarter in the following previous posts:

Math Lessons Today Using Fun Thinkers and Building Blocks
Our Homeschool Lessons Today
A Fruitful and Fun Day in our Homeschool
Spelling on a Rainy Day

It has been surprisingly a productive quarter for our homeschool family! Thank God for His abundant grace and inspiration!

How was your first quarter in your homeschool? Feel free to share about it in the comments.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Breastfeeding Awareness Month Plus Blog Giveaways Courtesy of Mama Chows

The month of August has been designated as National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the Philippines in order to protect, promote and support breastfeeding as the normal, natural and preferred method of feeding infants and young children. According to the bill introduced by Senator Pia Cayetano, it has been reported that 16,000 babies die every year because of the harmful effects of bottle-feeding/formula-feeding.
Moreover, breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival during their early months than children who were not breastfed. This was based on the 2008 report by Lancet, a renowned medical journal.

Let me share a few more things about breastfeeding.
1. Did you know that children who were breastfed have a 20% lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and one year than children who weren't breastfeed? This was based on a study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the US.
2. Did you know that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers? And that studies have shown that the longer mothers breastfeed, the greater is their immunity to these two kinds of cancers?
3. Did you also know that breastfeeding helps a family save at least P4,000 each month (could vary depending on the kind of milk formula bought per household to feed their child)?
These are just a few of the benefits of breastfeeding to the child, mother and the entire family. You may read and learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits when you buy a copy of BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking. You may purchase a copy here and here.  

One of my reasons for writing this book is to help educate more women, especially Filipinas, on the benefits of breastfeeding. I want to inspire more moms to breastfeed their babies and to equip them as they take on this challenging but rewarding task.
The paperback edition of this book was first published last year in October while the Kindle/eBook edition was published in July of this year. With the launch of the eBook edition, it is my hope that I would be able to help more moms in their breastfeeding journey through this book.
And since it's National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we are celebrating it with a blog giveaway. We were blessed to have Mama Chows as our major sponsor for this blog giveaway. We are giving away five (5) gift certificates for a one (1) week supply each of oatmeal cookies from Mama Chows to five (5) lucky winners. It's so easy to join! Those who have read the book BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking simply need to tell us by leaving a comment on this blog post how the book helped them in their breastfeeding journey or how the book enabled them to win over their breastfeeding challenges. We will pick five (5) winners through Rafflecopter at the end of this week. Also, we will be giving one gift pack each, consisting of 1 box of malunggay capsules and 1 box malunggay tea, from Moringana to the first three (3) moms who will join our blog giveaway by leaving a comment on this post.
Do you already have a copy of this bestselling book? Are you done reading it? Join our blog giveaway and tell us how this book helped you?


Congratulations to our winners!

The 3 winners of 1 gift pack each from Moringana are the following:
1. Sally Yu
2. Darl Corral-Piquero
3. Kehrin Morales

Kindly email your complete name, address and mobile number to so we can ship your prize. Thanks!

The 5 winners of 1 GC each from Mama Chows are the following:
1. Yen Morales
2. Christine Plata
3. Aegeane Brioso
4. Marites Panio-Rojas
5. Jenina Tuazon
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How God Prepared Me to be a Homeschool Mom

Do you believe that everything happens for a purpose? That there's a reason why God allows us to go through certain experiences? I do.

I believe that God has an amazing plan for our lives and that He guides our every step. I believe that He doesn't waste our experiences -- be they good or bad, happy or sad. Everything that happens to us contributes to the kind of person that God wants us to become. It's up to us to make the most of these experiences so that all these can bring us closer to our destiny.

In line with these beliefs, I'd like to share with you how I think God prepared me to be a homeschool mom to my kids.

Let me share a bit about our family for the benefit of those who came to this blog for the first time. I work from home to manage a consulting and publishing business while I homeschool my two boys, ages 5 and 2. I'm also currently pregnant with our third baby. My husband works outside the home but he helps me homeschool the boys whenever he is home.

I consider homeschooling as one of the biggest blessings we have received in our family life. Recently, I realized that it's no accident that my husband and I are now homeschooling our kids. I realized that God prepared me for this role of becoming a homeschool mom.

Why do I say so?

First, God led me to make a career shift early in my career. I graduated with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration and I was blessed to land a job right after graduation that allowed me to practice what I studied in college. I was doing well and was being promoted from one position to the next. But something inside me was moving me to look for something more. This led me to discover that helping people grow to reach their full potential and watching them improve their performance gave me much fulfillment. This insight came while I was a Certified Training Manager in the restaurant where I was working at that time. I was still part of the restaurant's operations but training the team members, supervisors and managers were also part of my main responsibility. Eventually, I decided to concentrate on training and to turn my back on restaurant operations. I resigned from my job in the restaurant industry because there was no vacancy in the company's Training Department then.

Second, God led me to work in a training firm where I learned a lot of skills related to training. The company had just closed a deal with a big client when I joined them. We needed to create a number of training programs for this client. Aside from conducting regular training for the company, I also learned to design training manuals and materials in this new job. It was in this job that I learned many basic skills like using Power Point for presentations, to write training manuals for the programs we've created and to make participant handouts. After this company, I moved to another company where I spent a lot of time going around Luzon to conduct training regularly.

My biggest break in training and human resources happened when God led me to work in a multinational company first as a Training Officer and then eventually as Training Manager. I spent around six years working in this company learning and developing my skills in training, organization development, and human resources. It was in this company that I designed countless individual training plans for its employees. I have also created a number of training programs for this company which was used in the Philippines and abroad. I also learned to use and create structured learning exercises (SLEs) for my trainees or audience to make our training and workshops engaging, interesting and more effective.

Looking back, I realized that these jobs helped prepare me in what I'm currently doing now as a homeschool mom to my kids, especially to my eldest son. My husband and I have not bought a curriculum ever since we started homeschooling them. I was the one designing their programs and curriculums. Our children benefit much from my experience because they get curriculums customized to their needs and interests, something similar to the individual training and development plans that I design for our employees in the past as I prepare them for advancement to different positions in the company where I used to work. I also use SLEs to vary my teaching methods and to address my kids' unique learning styles.

Aside from the fact that the schools that provide individualized curriculums to their students are very few (I discovered this as I tried to search for this kind of schools for our eldest son), our family was able to save on education costs because of this. The tuition fee per school year in progressive schools ranges from at least P50,000 to over a hundred thousand pesos. Yet, these schools do not offer individualized curriculums for their students. I discovered a school a couple of months ago that provides individualized curriculum design for their students who exhibit giftedness and advancement in certain areas but this school's location is very far from our home. So, my husband and I decided to continue homeschooling our eldest son together with his younger brother.

Me and my two boys. Coming soon is another baby boy!
I have grown to appreciate my previous work experiences because of my role now as a homeschool mom to two kids. Their special needs make me even more grateful to God that He has led me to this path. Homeschooling is still not a walk in the park given my background and experiences. But these skills I have developed through the years make my job a bit easier and more manageable. Because of these skills also, I have grown to trust God more in the face of uncertainties. We still have a long way to go in our homeschool journey. My eldest is still in elementary (Grades 1, 2 and 3 because of his asynchronous development) while my second child is still in pre-school. This knowledge though that God has prepared me for this role gives me confidence and hope that whatever future challenges I would face, God is guiding and equipping me every step of the way. 

Last but not least, I thank God that because of the skills I have developed and honed through the years, I can now afford to be a consultant for Management, Training, and HR solutions. This enables me to work from home most of the time so I can homeschool my kids. And even when I need to conduct workshops or training outside the home, God blesses me most of the time with clients and projects that allow me to bring my family with me to these events.  

Do you also feel that God prepared you for your role as a homeschool mom? Feel free to share your story by leaving a comment. I'd love to connect with other homeschool moms, especially those that homeschool kids with special needs.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On to a New Adventure with God

I was supposed to write this blog post yesterday but I chose to go to bed early so I'm writing it now after our family's morning exercise.
God has called me to a new adventure. I was not expecting Him to do that this soon. I have just followed Him in a recent one. You may read more about this adventure here, here, here and here. I thought that He would let me have a break. I was expecting Him to call me to a new adventure months after I give birth to my third child. But our God is truly a God of surprises!
God has called me to write a new book! I have just launched the Kindle edition of my breastfeeding book on Amazon last August 1-3 and it became #1 on two categories (Motherhood and Child Care) during our 3-day book promotion. I was ready to rest and savor this recent victory from God for months. I planned to resume writing after my maternity leave.
But God has a different plan. I had difficulty sleeping in the past days because of this recurring book idea. I thought writing down my ideas on my notebook would do the trick. But after writing them down, more ideas kept pouring in. The prompting to write again was so strong. Still, I chose not to act on act right away. I wanted more time to rest and just focus on my other duties (managing our household, caring for our 2 little boys, homeschooling them and running my business).
Yesterday, God spoke powerfully to me through a reflection from Didache ( a scripture guide for Catholics). The writer of the reflection captured my hesitations. But he was also used by God to speak courage and peace to my heart.
Let me quote a some lines.
Friend, God may be calling you to do something greater that you feel you're not ready for. God's message for you is that He doesn't need you to feel ready. He just wants you to follow and obey.
Blessing is God's department, obedience is ours. Even if you're not ready, God is saying you can get ready on the way, because He is ready. He is ready to empower you and provide for you.
So today I encourage you to say yes and trust God for the greater things He has envisioned for you.
I believe that it's not a coincidence that it was one of Mama Mary's Feast days yesterday. It was the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. I was reminded of Mama Mary's faith and obedience to God's Will and plan for her life even when she did not fully understand. Thus, I chose to say yes just like her to God's prompting and entrust all my concerns to God's able and mighty hands. I may feel that it's quite impossible to finish this new book before my due date (the time when I will give birth to our new baby) but I choose to let God guide and empower me as I obey Him. This will surely be another great adventure with Him!
Is God calling you to a new adventure? Feel free to share them with me by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Transportation-Themed Alphabet Curriculum for My Little Boy

I have a two-year-old son who loves cars, trucks and trains. He is especially fond of Thomas the Tank Engine. He spends most of his time engaging in pretend play with his older brother. They pretend that they own a parking lot or a parking building. Sometimes, they pretend that they own a carwash. Other times, they play with their wooden trains and train tracks. And there are also times when they pretend that they are in a construction site. I guess that's what many little boys do.

Since he will be turning three years old this year, I've been thinking of how I can introduce the alphabet to him in a gentle and fun way. I tried flash cards but he was not very responsive. He is still very playful. My experience with his older brother was different. His older brother was very eager and ready to learn the alphabet and other beginner concepts as early as the latter part of his first year. So, I was challenged to think of something creative to integrate learning into his play activities.

I shared my experience in teaching him with my husband. My husband suggested that I tailor-fit my teaching style and materials to our child's interests. Last weekend, I was so happy to finally come up with an alphabet program that is customized to my little boy's interests and needs at this time -- a transportation-themed alphabet curriculum! 

It's very simple (but I spent a lot of time making the worksheets! haha). I placed big upper case letters at the center of each page and included two pictures of vehicles or modes of transportation at the bottom. For some letters, I only included one picture of a mode of transportation. Then, I put broken lines on the letters to make them look like roads. 

I will let my son use these sheets as his "play-sheets" where he can move around his toy vehicles with the letters as the roads or waterways.
Mateo playing with the sample play-sheets.
My goal is to help him become familiar with the letters of the alphabet and their shapes while playing with his favorite toys. I want him also to be familiar with words that start with the different letters of the alphabet. I'm using his interests as a spring board to teaching him this basic concept.

I also plan to use these sheets to improve his fine motor skills. One activity I used to do with his older brother is tracing letters with glue and sprinkling sand on them. Then, I guide my son's hand in tracing the textured letter afterward. This was one of the effective tools I used in preparing my eldest to write. I hope it would also work when I do this activity with my second son.

The boys already tried using these sheets over the weekend. My eldest son was very excited when he saw me working on these sheets. I printed some sample pages and the boys played with them while I continued working on the rest of the letters of the alphabet.

I actually learned new things while making this alphabet curriculum. I discovered modes of transportation I didn't know before while trying to complete the worksheets. I'm excited to share the stories about these vehicles to both of my sons.

Do you also have sons who love cars, trucks and trains? Are they also around the same age as my boys? Feel free to download a copy of this transportation-themed alphabet curriculum, which now part of the Hands-On Parent while Earning (H.O.P.E.) Toolkit.

Download this for FREE by signing up to the HOPE Toolkit. Click here.

Hope you enjoy teaching your son/s with this simple alphabet program!

Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz 2014
I'm linking this post to the Catholic Bloggers Monthly Link up Blitz for August.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heaven is Real Because God is Real

Have I ever doubted that heaven is real?
I don't remember doubting this...
But I do remember that there were many times when I doubted God's love for me... I doubted that He wanted to give me what is best... I doubted that He wanted me to be happy. Those were dark nights in my soul.
I'm very grateful though that in even in my darkest night, not once did God ever leave my side.
He was always there... ever-present.
Even when I didn't talk to Him. Even when I didn't even want to remember Him. Even when I was very mad at Him.
He listened to me patiently, lovingly... He waited for me to be ready to see things as they really are.
When our eyes are filled with tears, we can't see clearly. We see a vague reflection of what's around us. But even when we are weeping, I discovered during those dark nights of my soul, that's it's possible to see God clearly and to experience His loving presence powerfully, vividly.
I just watched the movie Heaven is For Real with my husband. This moved me to ask myself if I ever doubted that heaven is real. That got me to write this post.
I discovered interesting things as I watched the movie... like a painting of a girl with visions of heaven and what Jesus looks like.
Then, I thought, "Does it really matter to me what Jesus looked like in heaven?"
My answer is NO.
I don't care how he looks... if he has blue or green eyes or dark eyes. I don't care if he has blonde hair or dark hair.
To me, what is most important is I know that He loves me immensely... 
I know this to be true not only because it is written in the Bible that He died for me on the cross. But most importantly because He lets me experience His love in a very real and personal way. 
Yes, there were times when I doubted His love and His plans for my life. I'm glad that during those times when I went through a dark night or dark nights He never left me on my own. He never gave up on convincing me of His love. He never turned His back on me (although there were times I thought He did).
Heaven is real to me... because Jesus is real to me. God's love is real to me...
I think it's hard to convince people what is real and what is not because God gave all of us free will to choose what our reality would be.
But if we just open our hearts and minds even just a bit to God, to Jesus, I know that we will never be the same again. If we allow God to transform our lives and allow Him to be an integral part of it, we will certainly say that God, Jesus, His Holy Spirit, are real.
Do you believe that heaven is real? Do you believe that God is real? Why? What makes you say so?
Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz 2014
I'm linking this post to the Catholic Bloggers Monthly Linkup Blitz for August.