Monday, January 2, 2017

Faithful in 2017 (Word for the year)


In 2014, my little family and I faced quite a difficult circumstance which compelled us to make a very tough decision. My husband resigned from his job. He had worked there for 16 long years. We went to the US to "look for greener pasture", believing that this was God's will for us. We chose to traverse the long and winding path without really seeing what was ahead of us. At that time, I felt like we were defeated and without direction.

Then I remembered my one word for that year: HOPE.

Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, it struck me: there is hope for me and my family! Yes, we were like walking in an extremely long and dark tunnel, but we didn't give up. I was hopeful. We were hopeful, that after that seemingly prolonged and extended journey in that tunnel, we were not staying there. We were going to see the light at the end of it. And we did! We came back to the Philippines and after almost a year of praying and waiting, he found a new job!

Why have a "word for the year"?
It has been three years now I am in the habit of creating my ONE WORD for the year. This one word has served as my guide or North Star for every year that has come. It somehow helps me focused on where I would like to see myself and my family headed. It reminds me of my purpose, gives meaning and richness and points me to the course that I must take. And for this year, it will not be different. I am ready to establish and live my one word for the coming year.

It was last October when the word "FAITHFUL" kept showing; in my quiet times with the Lord, in the preacher's sermons, and even in chatting with my friends. I don't know why but every time I hear it, it's like it's being stamped in my heart. The more I hear it, the more it is stamped and becomes indelible in my heart. Then one night last week, in the most undramatic scene (while brushing my teeth), I asked the Lord, "Lord, you have been and are so faithful to me. I want to be faithful to you as well. In what area of my life do you want me to be faithful to you?" Instantly, the Lord impressed in my heart where He wants me to be faithful to Him.

Talent

I believe everyone is gifted and talented. It could be one, two or even hundreds. I may just have one but that is not the question. The question is, do I use that talent to glorify God and bless other people? I remember the Parable of the Bags of Gold Jesus told His disciples. A man entrusted his wealth to his servants because he was going on a long journey. One of them received five bags of gold, the other, two bags and to another, one bag. After a long time the man returned and called his servants to give account. The servant who had received five bags of gold returned the five bags of gold with five more, while the servant who received two, gained two more. However, the servant who got one buried the master's gold in the ground. Who got the master's commendation and praise? The servants who traded their golds and earned from them. But the one who hid his was reprimanded and was even called "wicked and lazy servant". So, it's not really how many talents and gifts I've got. It's how faithful I am in using them to bless others and honour my Master.

Time

As a stay-at-home wife and mom, I thought I always have all the time in the world. But I'm mistaken. I don't have time if I'm not using it wisely and productively. There was a time before when a day would pass and I felt like I have not done anything worthwhile; that I just lived for the sake of existence. I felt so purposeless and unfaithful. Each one of us is given the same number of hours in a day, whether we're working in the office or staying at home or working from home.

We all have 24 hours. How we use this precious time is important as well. For this coming year, I would like to be more mindful of the time I am entrusted with. I want to live each day with a sense of purpose and accomplishment; making each day count, making a difference to my daughter, my husband and to every living individual I come in contact with, and being the best person I can be. I believe that's what's being faithful to the Lord for the time He has lent me, means.

Treasure

"Those who can be trusted with small things, can be trusted with big things." I would like to rephrase it and say it in my own words: those who are faithful in big things have been faithful even in small things. I am not rich but I would like to be more faithful in the area of giving to the Lord. I am sure that God is not really after my riches and wealth when He tells me to give to His ministry and share what I have to the people in need. I believe that He is after the condition of my heart. He is training me to trust Him more. He is providing me an avenue to show my faithfulness to Him. Just like the parable I have mentioned above, it's not actually what I have but who I am becoming that He is after. And I firmly believe that that's what matters most.

There you have it, my one word for 2017. I am hopeful that being faithful  to the Lord in the talent/s, time and treasure I am entrusted with, I will also become a blessing to others and be blessed.

How about you? Do you also use "one word" for a year? How does it help you? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Learn with Joy: Why We Do What We Do (Part 2) and An Invitation


Sometime ago, I shared with you some of the reasons why we choose to homeschool our daughter. I used letters A to E to drive my message home. Today, I hope to give some more reasons why we do what we do.

First and best teacher
The first time I heard about this was when I attended for the first time a homeschool conference here in the Philippines. At the time, my husband and I were still contemplating whether to  homeschool our daughter or not. Going to the conference made me realise how I would like for me and my husband to be our daughter's first and best teachers. 

God's calling
I believe that this is what God wants us to do as a family; it is our calling to homeschool. 


Heart-schooling
Homeschooling is heart-schooling. Just like what I mentioned in my previous post, it's educating the heart that's more important. Without disregarding the importance of academics, I strongly believe it's the attitude of the heart that must be shaped and moulded. Homeschooling is not just producing individuals that spit out facts and information, rather, life long-learners who value their relationships with God, people and environment. 

Independent, self-directed learner
Homeschooling provides an environment that helps my daughter learn meaningfully; understand things around her and connect their relevance to her daily life; experience the joy of learning through her own discovery. Homeschooling doesn't spoon-feed a learner with details and data, on the contrary, it gives the learner the freedom to explore, uncover and find the answers to her own questions.

Joyful learning
When I was still a schooler, the lessons I understood quickly was those taught by teachers whom I liked. Because I felt no pressure as I studied and listened to them. Unfortunately, there were just a few of them. Most of them made me want to finish school as early as possible. 

Homeschooling cultivates joyful learning. It creates a learning environment that is relaxed and therefore, stress-free. 

There you have it, my F to J reasons for choosing to homeschool our daughter. As beautiful as it is, I would say that homeschooling is not for everyone. However, there is still no harm if you explore it. And I believe, now is your chance.


I invite you to attend this year's Philippine Homeschool Conference "From Roots to Wings" on October 22, 2016 at SMX Convention Centre, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City. Please click on the link to  register and know the details. This is an opportunity for you and your family to determine if homeschooling is for you. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Learn with Joy: Yes, I'm Raising a Reader and I'm Not in a Hurry!



Whenever I hear some parents say, "Oh, just look at that! My toddler is already reading! I'm so happy," I get excited for them. Although sometimes it stirs me a little bit, I'm not actually worried if my love bug is not fully reading yet. In a world where the beliefs"earlier is better" and "getting ahead" are slowly creeping and becoming established, I still embrace the philosophy "better late than early" which was popularised by Dr. Robert Moore. Don't get me wrong, of course, I want my child to be able to read well but I'm not hurrying her up.

Each child is unique. 



I believe that each child is special and learns in his/her own unique way and at his/her own pace. I learned how to read at the age of 5. I was a fast reader at age 6. At age 7, I was teaching my classmates in 1st Grade how to read. My teacher would tell me to hold the fort and lead my classmates in reading exercises while she's in a meeting. That was me. My husband has a different story and so does our daughter; I acknowledge that. Yes, she loves books and she loves being read to. I am contented with that. There's no point to compare her with me because, although she's my daughter, she is still an individual who has her own personality traits, likes, dislikes and learning style. I must respect that. And I know that when she's ready to read, she is really ready.

Learning should be meaningful.



I don't want my daughter to learn how to read just because she is pressured to do so. I want it to be meaningful to her; that she'll discover the beauty of each word because she understands it and its relevance to her day-to-day life. I remember the time she learned to read the word "mom". Because she always calls me "mom", one day she just asked me how to write it. So I wrote each letter while saying the sound of each one.  And for a time since then, she would always say the sounds of the letters first before she would call me "mom". The same thing happened with "dad". 

Childhood is not a race.



When I was a kid, I felt like I need to grow up fast; that I need to understand stuff that adults or grown ups know and understand. I was in a hurry to become an adult. It's not because my parents were hurrying me up. It's just that I felt that way. Then I realised as I grew up and became a full-fledged adult, there's so much to be enjoyed in childhood; that there's no cause to be in a hurry. Childhood happens only once and a child must take pleasure in it. My daughter still loves to play not because she doesn't want to learn how to read but because she's still a child. If she chooses play before reading time with Mom, then I must give her that freedom. After all, she will not play her tea sets and blocks for a long time, but she will definitely read all her life once she learns how. An article I have read says it perfectly: "Childhood is not a dress rehearsal for adulthood, nor is it a race. It is a separate, unique, and very special phase of life. And I’m afraid that we’re essentially wiping it out of existence due to a misguided belief that earlier is better." 

Yes, I'm raising a reader and I'm not in a hurry because I believe that my daughter is unique, that a meaningful learning is more effective and that she's not in a race to speed up. How about you? Are you also raising a reader? How do you do it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

"Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. 
It is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child. Earlier is not better."
Magda Gerber


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Learn with Joy: How I Helped My Daughter "Break Free" from Gadgets and Do the Things She Loves Instead

Nowadays that we are in the age of unparalleled technology, it seems hard for parents to manage and control its negative effects on our children. As a mom who is also struggling to be detached and free from these devices specially when I am with my daughter, I am constantly aware that my love bug is looking at me. 

Now when I say "break free", I am not saying that my daughter (who is just turning 5) has already been hooked on the gadgets. But there was a season when the 15 to 60 minutes iPad time or what she fondly calls "me time" had become two hours every. single. day. The effect: headache and watery eyes. I have finally put my foot down and told her this can't go on. So, how did I help her minimize the use of iPad or limit her screen time?

Get the support of the "authorities" she looks up to. 
Aside from dad and mom, one of the authorities our daughter looks up to is her paediatrician. When her doctor says, "This is good for you," she believes it. So, during one of her regular check ups, I brought this concern up to the paediatrician. She talked to my daughter and explained to her the probable cause of headaches and watery eyes. She then advised to stop using her iPad for a week and then told us (my husband and I) to regulate her use.

our love bug and her paediatrician 
Make a "house rule" together with her and stick to it.
From the time the pedia told us to regulate the use of iPad and other electronic gadgets, we establish a rule that all of us are subjected to: no iPhone, iPad or laptop on the table at mealtimes and on the bed before going to sleep. As parents, my husband and I always make sure that we set a good example to her.

Provide alternative (enjoyable) activities for her to be busy with.
We all know that when we remove a habit we should replace it with a new one. Just like any other kid, our love bug loves to play. That's one thing that she won't forget everyday of her life. But things change when her focus was on the gadgets. So I became more intentional in providing her with activities that I know she really loves to do.

What kid doesn't want to play sand...


playing sand
Or bubbles?

playing bubbles

Our love bug likes to extend help so we make sure we give her opportunities to do so.


cooking pancakes for breakfast
watering the plants

cleaning/washing the car

Childhood happens once; let her play pretend.

"Let's have a tea party, Mom!"

"This is my boat and these are the bubbles."

"Mom, I'm Rapunzel and this is my long hair."

"Let me cook your orders, Ma'am!"

"This is my boat."

"I'm on a sailboat."

Encourage her to be physically active.




Take her out and let her enjoy and explore nature, parks and museums. 

enjoying her swing ride
at the National Museum

Supply her with materials/tools/instruments that will challenge her creativity and imagination. 

watercolor painting

"Look Mom, I made a strawberry and tree!"
musical toy instruments

Enjoin her to workshops interesting and suitable for her.

pretzel-making workshop

Give her books that are fascinating to her and then read them together.

she loves books
For the first week, it was a struggle for all of us. But I'm glad that after several weeks of sticking to our rule and these activities, our daughter didn't look for gadgets as often anymore. Of course, we give her time to use her iPad. It's sort of a "treat" that she gets to enjoy only once a week. The result - no headaches and watery eyes. In addition to that, she is more physically active, creative and responsible. 

These days, it seems impossible to disengage our children from gadgets. But it can be done. We, parents should just be determined and intentional. Hope these ideas help you. If you have anything more to add, please feel free to write it in the comment box. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Halili-Cruz School of Ballet Meets the Bloggers

Last Monday, July 18th, I was invited to attend a bloggers' conference to meet the people behind the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet (HCSB) and to know more about it. I didn't know where the school was located so my husband took a half-day leave from his office so he could accompany me and our daughter. I know right? He's the sweetest! Well, I also thought it would be a nice bonding moment for us. Our daughter has been showing interest in ballet since she's one year old. How delightful it would be if both of us, her parents, would be around to witness her first ballet experience.


The event was to start at 2:30 in the afternoon but our little (and excited) family came a bit early. One of the perks of being an early worm is you get to take photos of the place while it is still "empty". Others are you choose to get your preferred seat and  you are able to converse with some of the prep staff.






My daughter with her new friend, Rylee
While we were waiting for other bloggers to come, the Associate Artistic Directors of HCSB, Ms. Grace Garalde-Perez and Ms. Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno were interviewed by some media people. We were fortunate to witness this too. 

Ms. Grace Geralde-Perez

Ms. Anna Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno

After the interview, more bloggers arrived so the program had finally started. It was hosted by Ms. Grace Bondad Nicolas of TAG Media who gave us all a warm welcome. Then she introduced Ms. Grace and Ms. Ana to us. 

Ms. Grace of TAG Media
Ms. Ana Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno
HCSB was established by Shirley Halili-Cruz in 1985 to share her love and passion for dance. The HCSB Main Studio is housed in an imposing 2-storey edifice located at 1227 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. It has 5 spacious studios (4 of which are fully air-conditioned) equipped with ideal barres, resilient wooden floors, full length mirrors, audio systems, dressing rooms, rest and shower rooms, waiting areas, ample parking space, dance shop, costume room and canteen.




In order to provide an appropriate and comprehensive program, Shirley Halili-Cruz, the school's director and founder, authored a 2-level Tiny Tots Ballet Syllabus, a 5-level Baby Ballet Syllabus and a 12-level Classical Ballet Syllabus based on the Filipino physique, innate artistic ability and culture.





The syllabi covers the different levels of ballet which HCSB offers all year round. The school enhances its program by using the following: Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing, American Academy of Ballet and the Philippine National Ballet syllabi. HCSB has developed a systematic promotion procedure that checks the progress of the students through semi-annual oral and written examination coupled with actual evaluation in both theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline. Students of HCSB also participate in a yearly International Examination with the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dance from Australia.




The school is staffed by competent teachers who are all one with the director in the vision to equip its students with the tools and rudiments of the art to uphold excellence in dance training.

The Artistic Team
Aside from the information that was shared by both Ms. Grace and Ms. Ana, they also introduced to us Ms. Shirley Halili-Cruz, the founder, through a video presentation. They also prepared a number of stunning ballet dance performances that captivated the hearts of the adult guests and charmed the little ones'.

My future ballerina and her new friends; Ms. Shirley on the video
Group Performances










Solo Performances






Tiny Tots Performance


While the tiny tots of HCSB were preparing for their performance, the guests' cygnets were invited to join. My future ballerina however was not able to do so. 


The guests' little girls surely had fun! What added to the enjoyment was, the moms were also taught some simple ballet steps and somehow relived our childhood dream (of becoming a ballerina. And yes, I did join the fun)! 



After the impressive performances of HCSB ballet dancers (and our impromptu "dance number"), the floor was opened for questions and answers. Ms. Ana was so gracious enough to answer all the queries we had in our mind about ballet. When everything was said and done, we were treated to a sumptuous snacks catered by La Milagrosa.

It was an afternoon of ballet and delight. I'm so glad I was invited and able to come to this event together with my husband and daughter. And as if that weren't enough, we were also given a gift voucher that entitles my daughter (or me) to a free 1 month of ballet classes. Now, isn't that something? 

Guests, bloggers, bloggers' kids together with Ms. Grace of TAG Media, Ms. Grace Geralde-Perez and Ms. Ana Kathrina Halili-Cruz Bueno Artistic Directors of Halili-Cruz School of Ballet

To know more about the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet, you may contact:
email: halilicruzballet@gmail.com
Instagram: @halilicruzballet
Facebook: halilicruzballet