how to keep a tropical igloo from melting :)

Great hopes for 2012

For a lot of people 2011 was not an easy year. There were a lot of calamities around the world – the big earthquake and tsunami in Japan (March), floods in Thailand and typhoon Sendong, which brought additional suffering to many Filipinos before the year ended. Aside from devastation brought about by natural phenomena, there were notable social and political events like the London riots, uprisings in Arab countries, rise and fall of governments worldwide. One can also recall the death of several significant people – both loved and loathed by many.

In the Philippines it was yet another year of increasing commodity prices, chasing crooked politicians and winning trophies (from beauty pageants to boxing championships). Hot topics included the reproductive health bill, divorce, art vs. blasphemy,  tourism slogans, abortion and sex video scandals, football fever and social networking.

For me, 2011 was a life changing year. Here are some of the things that shaped my 2011:

1. I became a full-fledged stay-at-home-mom with no yaya (household help).

2. We started to home school Buchi. One of my highs for the year. Learning never stops.

3. I conscientiously filled out my budget planner and we religiously deposited money to save. One great leap to full financial freedom.

4. Lots of lessons learned about life, love and family. Lots of hugs, kisses and laughter.

5. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary. I’m blessed with an understanding, loving and sweet husband.

6. We made beautiful memories during our family trips here and abroad. We also started a monthly family dinner date.

7. I found a job that I love and the people I work with are wonderful.

8. We get to spend a lot of time together as a family. Eug has a great work schedule that enables us to take turns in taking care of Buchi.

9. I personally witnessed our son learn to read, count and acquire other life skills.

10. God kept us and our immediate families safe and healthy this year.

11. Old trustworthy friends who stand by me through thick or thin. New friends who made the year extra special.

12. Celebrations of all kinds: birthday parties (drinking and chatting till wee hours), family reunions (with siblings, parents, relatives) and weddings (standing witness to union of love).

13. I got bitten by the social networking bug. I love being updated with the latest news about almost everything.

14. I started writing again. It is good to be able express my thoughts. I wrote to God, to myself, to my loved ones and to the universe.

15. Last year was about trying out new things from food, books, movies, skills.


2012 will be better, brighter and happier. I can sense it. I read somewhere that it is healthy to get rid of relationships that are toxic and cultivate those that bring joy. This year I will surround myself with happy people, find time to do things that I enjoy and be more health-conscious.

Thank you 2011 for 365 days of surprises, memories and lessons. I’m ready for 2012.


Done with All Aboard!

Today we celebrate a milestone in our homeschool journey. We finished Book 1 (“All Aboard”) of the Sing, Spell Read Write (SSRW) curriculum. Buchi and I are both happy and excited to start with the second book “On Track”.

SSRW’s All Aboard

Around July of this year, I was lucky to be able to talk to Shawie, a homeschooling mom. She answered a lot of my questions about homeschooling and recommended this reading program. I was amazed that she homeschools her three children and was immediately impressed when she told me that her youngest daughter was able to read by the age of 4. I wasn’t still decided on a lot of things regarding homeschool but I was sure of one thing, I wanted to teach Buchi that reading is a fun activity.

So off we went to buy the starter kit of SSRW. When we opened the box, it was like Christmas morning. Buchi immediately wanted to write his name and color all the pictures. I explained to him that we would take things one page at a time. Initially we did all the recommended activities. Later on, we skipped some that Buchi found boring and replaced them with others (if you have Google, you’ll never run out of ideas).  However, we worked on every single page of the activity book and did a combination of art, science, math and writing projects in between reading and writing exercises.

Colorful alphabet card

The kit comes with a manual, which includes a reading list in case you are clueless on which books would be suitable for your kindergartner. I complemented the SSRW reading program with Dr. Seuss and other books from our mini-library.

Today, we wrote the letter Z and officially closed the book. We are taking a 1-month break from the reading program and will start with the second book on January 2012. This morning Buchi said, “Mama, I AM A BOOKWORM!”

Color-and-paste activities

Proud moment as a parent!

What he learned with this book:

Writing his name

– write his full name and nick name

– write the capital and small letters A-Z- draw basic shapes (triangle, circle, square, rectangle)

– recognize primary and secondary colors

– recognize patterns

– identify beginning sounds

shapes and colors

– identify rhyming words

– letter and sound recognition

– refine his fine motor skills (cut straight lines, color in pictures)

– recite simple poems

– master nursery rhymes with actions

– write numbers 0-9

He also learned the following:

– patience (waiting for one’s turn)

– perseverance (finishing work that has been started)

– independence (learning to do activities with minimal supervision)

– confidence

Resources and Materials:

Sing Spell Read Write

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Counting to 100 and other math games

3 August 2011

Buchi can count to 100, hurray! His natural fascination towards numbers is really something that makes me smile because I have MAD (math anxiety disorder). This is why I chose a major that wouldn’t require me to sit through hours of calculus lessons. I see the practicality of math and I use a lot of math everyday: household budget, cooking measurements and time management. I’d be lost without my handy calculator (good thing this is available in all cellphones). I don’t really know where my lack of confidence comes from. I didn’t exactly fail my math exams (got pretty satisfactory grades actually and even aced the accounting subject).

Knowing that homeschooling Buchi would mean teaching him all subjects myself, I’m a bit nervous about my arithmetic abilities. Eug told me to appear confident so that the little one would think that math is easy and fun. As early as two, Buchi could count 1-10 in 4 languages. He liked The Count (Sesame street character) and would attempt to count everything (even hair). This puts me at ease because math lessons at this point are fun.

Here’s what constitutes our math lessons for now:

1. Dominoes: This teaches math comprehension, visual recognition and patterns. There are various domino games  that cover basic arithmetic concepts like addition.

2. Card games: There’s a lot you can do with a deck of cards. I let him sort by suit, color or number. He loves to play “Go Fish” or “Monkey monkey” (pair card game). He arranges the cards by order and sometimes plays solitaire. You can teach patterns, ordinal numbers, differences (high,low, more, less), addition, subtraction and even basic probability.

3. Bingo: Playing electronic bingo is so much fun. Aside from racing to cross out all the numbers in our cards, Buchi likes to shout out the number when it gets picked. It is the perfect way to practice pronunciation and number recognition.

4. Coins: We do a lot of pretend play with money: going to the bank, buying produce at the grocery, paying for food at the restaurant, shopping at the mall. This activity covers addition, subtraction, assigning values. You can even introduce the concept of saving for a rainy day and utilizing resources properly.

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Alphabet lessons: Mr. A

1 August 2011

After two weeks of preparing Buchi for formal language lessons, I’m glad we were able to start the month by learning the first letter of the alphabet: A. We colored a picture of an apple — the most common example for this letter. Shortly after that we did manuscript writing of big and small letter A. There was an activity in his pre-k book that required him to cut out pictures and choose the words that started with the letter A. He did wonderfully and I can say he’s getting better at cutting square pictures. He even wrote a few lines of the letter A in uppercase and lowercase to practice his penmanship.

We read three books of his choice emphasizing “a” sounds and words whose initial letter is A.

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Fan Club

30 July 2011

Yesterday we did another skype call with Pappy and auntie. Buchi proudly showed his Auntie Hippie his workbook, who in turn told him he had done a great job (talk about boosting confidence). The first time Buchi wrote the letter E, I was so excited and I drew a star beside it. Now, whenever he finishes a task he always asks me if what he did deserves a star. I want to put stars all the time (as a mom, you think anything your child did is the best in the world) but since we are homeschooling him I also wanted to be objective. My cousin Jola, who is a preschool teacher and a great mom, shared that she would encourage her kids more and avoid negative comments as much as possible. I try to keep that in mind when Buchi and I are having lessons. When he asks if he wrote his O’s correctly (and they look like eggs),  I say I’m proud he can write letters and through practice he’ll write beautifully. There’s also variety in how I evaluate his work: aside from stars I draw emoticons, suns, hearts and musical notes.

Even before Buchi was born he has had a fan club comprising of two loyal members: me and his Tatay. When he said hello to the world his fan base grew: my siblings, his Mamita, his Pappy, his Lolo. Friends and relatives occasionally say nice things about him (positive comments are always welcome) I don’t expect everyone to love my kid as much as I do, of course. I’m lucky that I have wonderful siblings who adore him and encourage him to do his best all the time.

The other day Buchi called Pappy to show him that he could play basketball very well. Auntie Hippie, Tito Benj and Pappy clapped every time he scored a point. Last week we were solving puzzles and we were racing against time. After the game, he said in the vernacular: “I will show Mamita next time that I’m very good with puzzles and she will kiss me and tell me I’m great.” Buchi also knows that his Lolo is always the first to say that he’s a smart boy.

Yesterday Buchi asked me why he had so many names. He has three given names plus one nickname. Eug and I fondly call him Buchi. He gets called “baby”, “babe”, “kulit”, “little guy”, “sweetheart” and “darling”. My answer: A person who has many names is well-loved. (I got this from my mom, but I’m not really sure if I said the adage correctly). Anyway, he got the point.

There is too much negativity in the world today. When he grows up people will tell him that he isn’t the most handsome guy, that he’s not smart enough, not strong enough, not good enough. But hopefully that wouldn’t matter when that time comes. He received and re all the love and encouragement from the people who are important to him. That being said, I think that every child should have their own fan club to cheer him on.

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Teaching patterns

28 July 2011

Buchi was very eager to do several pages of his kindergarten activity book. It is quite amusing to see him as a very competitive little guy. He treats learning as if it’s a game — wanting to go to the next level all the time. This is okay but sometimes he’s hard on himself. We always remind him to take it easy and that mistakes make us a better person.

The lesson today involved some of his favorites: colors and shapes. It wasn’t really difficult to teach him patterns because some of the games in Sesame Street and Nick Jr. are all about identifying which comes next. We played “follow the leader” game. I kept things pretty simple: clap, jump, sit and stand. Buchi and I switched roles and he came up with outrageously silly actions. We ended up dancing.

Using markers and crayons, I introduced the lesson on patterns. He could quickly identify which item would come next so I decided to let him create patterns on his own using whatever items were available (blocks, toys, pencils). We drew circles, triangles, squares and rectangles.

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Bed weather and books

27 July 2011

It has been raining for two days. Apparently, another huge typhoon (Juaning) hit the country. I hope it’s not as destructive as the previous ones. We tuned in to the news last night and it was all about flooded streets, horrible traffic and people in evacuation centers. It can be quite depressing really. This is probably one of the reasons I’m not so fond of rain.

If there is something nice about the rainy season and typhoons, it is couch weather.  It is the perfect alibi to stay in pajamas and laze in bed all day. I had to work for a few hours today but that didn’t stop me from staying under the covers for the rest of the day. Buchi was a bit relaxed too so we didn’t do any writing, math or art lessons today. That didn’t mean halt machen for learning.

Buchi chose four books and we snuggled up in bed. After I finished reading one, he told me that he wanted to read another book all by himself. He would pause once in a while when he was unsure about a word. That was my signal to give a clue. He read at least half of Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop (64 pages) without my help. He was beaming. This is a milestone because we had just bought the book last week and have only read it less than 15 times.

I think he was a bit exhausted from all that reading he fell asleep shortly afterwards.

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Writing his name

21 July 2011

Buchi was able to write his nickname and surname all by himself! The pre-kindergarten kit we purchased contained charts which showed how each letter is written. First we traced the letter with his finger. Next, holding the pencil we wrote letters in the air. Then he was all on his own. He carefully wrote down each stroke on his book. When he finished writing his name, there was a big smile in his face. He looked so proud. I was too.

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DIY molding clay

Today Buchi and I did a special art project. We made our very own molding clay!

colored icecream

I did the blue one first and I’m not really happy with the consistency. (I was able to perfect it though towards the end) But who cares? The little one is jumping all over the place. I was able to work out my arms with all the mixing and kneading.

Thank you Tita Jola for the recipe!

Here’s the fool-proof recipe


1 cup flour

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons cream of tartar (I added another tablespoon)

1/2 cup of salt

food coloring

1 cup boiling water



1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl

2. Mix wet ingredients (food coloring and boiling water) in a separate bowl.

3. Add the colored water slowly to the dry ingredients.

4. Mix well. I used 4 separate bowls since I was making 4 different colors.

5. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface for kneading until you get the consistency you desire.



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Busy bee

It has been quite some time since my last update. The past few months have been crazy. Summer is always a busy time. Last April we decided to let Buchi take swimming lessons. You could tell that he was really excited because he would dress himself up and prepare his bag (towel, extra clothes, snacks) everyday. May is a special month in our family. We celebrate Mothers’ Day with the Rodises. This year my mom turned 50 and so we threw a theme party for her. Eug and I go on a trip for our birthdays, which is a day apart. Last May we went to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with Buchi. It was physically tiring but we had a lot of fun.

June went by so fast. I needed this month to fully adjust to our daily routine as a work-at-home mom. In the Philippines, school officially starts in June. I felt a bit of pressure to start looking for a suitable preschool. After careful thought and weeks of prayer, we finally decided to home school him instead.

More than half of the year has passed and soon it will be Christmas. I am grateful for  6 months of small miracles everyday.

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