Monday, August 25, 2014

Why Did We Choose to Homeschool Our Daughter?

Even before I got pregnant I was already contemplating where to put my would-be child when the time for her to go to school comes. As an educator myself, I believe that investing in one's education is of paramount importance, thus that idea inside my head. Along that line of thought was (and still is) the desire to make sure that my kid would not only get the best learning but also acquire the kind of beliefs and values that we, her parents would instill in her tender heart. And because I have had teaching experience for more than 5 years, I would also like to see to it that my kid would be taught the way she learns best; that her maximum potential would be tapped and brought out; that she would leave the school building one day armed with the knowledge she needs; confident yet clothe with humility; prepared to serve God and help her fellowmen.

Then I got pregnant; the wheels inside my head started to turn again. As I began to search for schools (yes even when my daughter was still in my womb), I realized that "best education" comes with a tag price; it's like you get what you pay for. There's nothing wrong with that, I believe. However, for an average or middle class family like ours, we won't be able to afford that so-called "best education" (or should I say, "best schools").

The Lord must have seen my anxious heart because at that time, someone introduced to me the idea of homeschooling. She and her husband are missionaries and because they need to be traveling all the time, they homeschooled their only daughter. I have high regards for this couple and I have seen and met their daughter who is now a missionary also and children's pastor in Thailand. I love what I saw! So, I mentioned this to my husband who at first was very apprehensive about the idea but now is so supportive of it.

Now you might be wondering,  why then did we choose to homeschool our daughter? If you will look closely, I somewhat have mentioned most of my/our reasons for having this option. But for a more elaborate look, here's why:

1. We want to inculcate in our daughter the beliefs and values we hold dear.
My husband and I believe in the God of the Bible. The Lord Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior. We acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit; that He is a Person and not just a force. These are the beliefs we hold to and would like to pass on to our daughter. It would be the greatest or best legacy we could leave her. Having said thus, we desire that the values she'll live by are founded on Biblical truths and principles. There's nothing like seeing our offspring walking in the path that God has prepared for her.

2. We want to make sure that she will be taught the way she learns best.
I taught for quite a number of years. I know that most teachers teach the way they learn because I was like that before. The nice thing though was, most of the students I taught have the same learning style as I do. But come to think of it, how about the children/students that learn differently? I'm so glad that I taught in a school that believed in the uniqueness of each child so the teachers were trained and equipped to teach the students the way they learn best. I saw the positive impact of this to my former students: they were confident to show or display what they have learned either through arts, music, dance or drama, that means beyond the use of paper and pen.

3. We want to be her first and best teachers.
My mom was my first teacher: she taught me how to write my name! :)  Until this very day, I can still remember how my mom would write my name on the paper bag (supot) of pandesal (local bread) and then give it to me and I would write my name on it following the pattern she gave me. I cherish it and I want to do the same for my daughter; not just teach her how to write her name though, even more. I believe all of us, in one way or another was "homeschooled" even before the idea itself has become phenomenal. Someone said that for children, love is spelled as t-i-m-e. I believe that spending time to teach and learn with our daughter is one of the ways we can show her that we love her.

I know that to do homeschool is not an easy feat, that is why I am so grateful and I feel blessed that nowadays homeschooling is making a big wave in the Philippines. A lot of parents are opting to be their children's first and best teachers. Thus, a Homeschool Conference is going to be held on September 6, 2014. This is presented by The Learning BasketManila Workshops and Unilab. More than the learning I will gain, I am going to this conference to meet like-minded people who I believe will become my friends eventually. Also, I know that the inspirational talks of the seasoned and passionate homeschooling parents will come in handy on those days when I feel like giving up. 

How about you? Do you plan to homeschool your kid/s too? Will I see you on the 6th of September at the conference? Hope to bump into you! :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

How My Daughter Potty-Trained Herself (That's How I'd Like to Think of It)!

I know most of you won't believe it. Some may even say that it's impossible, haha! But I'd like to believe that my daughter potty-trained herself. Here's a little bit of the story.

Barely 18 months old, our baby would always go to the bathroom door, point to the toilet bowl and say, "Mom, poop." or "Mom, weewee." So, was that it? No! The problem was, I wasn't ready yet to potty-train her. I thought she was too young to do it. I believed at that time, kids that age need to wait for at least another 6 months to be able to do it. What I did was (please don't follow this example), discourage her from using the toilet. Every time she would go to the bathroom door, take off her pants and diaper, I would always say, "Baby, you don't have to use that yet. You're still a baby. Let's wait until you're 2 years old, okay?" And she was like, "Mom, weewee." This went on for 2 to 3 weeks, then she stopped.

Finally the day I have been waiting for came; she celebrated her 2nd birthday. Two months after her birthday, I told her, "Baby, now is the time for you to use the potty." She stared at me and said, "No Mommy, baby pa (I'm still a baby). When I'm big girl. Baby use potty." My jaw dropped and I couldn't say anything. So I started looking for articles on how to potty train a toddler. Then it hit me. Potty training starts when the child, not the mommy or daddy, is ready. :(

A couple of months passed by and nothing happened to our potty-training. Six months after her birthday, we bought her a pink potty and several books about potty training (since she loves to read) but still this was what she would reply to my prodding, "No, mommy. When I'm big girl na."

Potty-training paraphernalias
My heart sank and I thought that she would never learn to use the potty. Or if she does learn, it would be too late or she might be too old (or at least 5 years old) by that time. I was so guilt-stricken; I would always tell myself, "I should have allowed her to use the toilet when she was younger. What have I done?" It came a point in time that I even prayed for it; that the Lord would make her ready to potty train (and I know the Lord answers prayers). :)

And then one day, in July, two months before she turns three this year, she told me, "Mommy, help baby take off pants and diaper please." I was like, "Why?" She said, "I no want wear diaper, Mommy. I want wear panty." I was like, "Really?" Of course my smile was from ear to ear! So I obliged and helped her wear her underwear. Then it happened. She got her potty, put it inside her bedroom and shouted, "Mommy, baby weewee, I use potty!" Then she sat on it. "Mommy, come here please." I said, "Hold on baby." Because I wanted to take a picture of her, haha! And then she asked me, "Hear that?" I said, "No." Then she asked me again, "Hear that?" Finally, I heard the tinkle! Yay!

So, how did my daughter exactly potty-train herself ? Well again, that's how I would like to think of it. :)

Because her Dad and I surrounded her with books about it, she kept reading them.
My daughter loves books, as in she really does! So we grabbed that advantage; I bought books (two books only); her Dad and I took turns in reading them to her while she kept reading her favorite. She specially likes Karen Katz' "A Potty for Me". She so likes that part "I'm so proud of me!" And I guessed at that time, part of her was wishing she could also say that one day. And she did!

Karen Katz Books
She read it everyday and every night.
She would do some "practice".
We do know that practice makes perfect, don't we? I just can't believe that at her age she already knows the principle! Last June, she told me, "Mommy, I no want diaper." I was like, "No, baby. You should wear it or else you'll wet your pants." My daughter said, "No, mommy. Baby wear panty." So, I took it as a sign that she was ready. But then of course, she wet her undies. And I reassuringly told her, "It's okay, baby. It happens. That means, you have to use your potty now. " She was like, "No, mommy, I wear white diaper (training pants/diaper) and baby get no wet." Then I helped her wear her white diaper. That was the scene every other day that month. It was what I call, "practice number 1".

"Practice number 2" is like this: every time she would feel like she wanted to pee, she would ask me to take off her underwear and then she would get her potty and sit on it. And because I so badly wanted to document it, instead of helping her, I would get my phone and prepare to take a picture. She would say, "Mommy, no picture please." Of course, I would listen and then hold her hands while singing to her so she could finally do it. Then she would say, "Ayo, mommy. No weewee." So, I would help her put on her undies back again. That went on and on for like 2 weeks.

It's one of those days (practice number 2) :)

The Day We Have Been Waiting For Finally Came
Then one day, as I have already mentioned above, last month - two months before she turns 3 years old this year, it happened. She sat on her potty and peed! Hooray! And I was right, she was looking forward to that day when she could say, "Mommy, Am proud of me!" I told her, "You did it, baby! I'm so proud of you!"

"Hear that?"

"Am so proud of me!" Yay!
From that day onwards, she has been using her potty to pee and poop. We are able to save on diapers; she would just use them when we're going out /traveling or when she goes to sleep at night. The nice thing is, even during nap time, she would insist not to wear diaper. At first I got worried that she might wet our bed so I told her that wouldn't work. But one afternoon, she begged me not to put on her a diaper even if she'd take a nap. I obliged but was kind of worried. You know what? She's right! She didn't pee while asleep but as soon as she woke up she told me, "Mommy, baby weewee. Go toilet, please."

Potty training, I believe, isn't about how good the parent/s is/are in training their kid/s. It's about the child in training. It's his/her readiness that really matters. As parents, we need to be as understanding, patient and supportive as we can be.

How about you? How did you potty train your kid/s? Am I right to think that my daughter potty-trained herself? I would love to hear your thoughts. :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Inside This "Good Box" is Good Food

Lately, I have become more conscious of what I put inside my mouth; I wanted to make sure that what I'm eating is something that does not just satisfy my palate but benefits my body as well. However, in this fast-paced era of our existence, fast foods have all sprouted like mushrooms, which means, food available for consumption is more that of "instant" or "quick" than "slow" cooked and well-prepared.

So, imagine my delight when I got an email from Mommy Bloggers Philippines Head Admin, Lanie informing me (and other mommy bloggers as well) that I was one of the recipients of a healthy sample meal from The Goodbox PH. Yay! (Note: All mommy bloggers were invited to sign up to try a day's set of The Goodbox Ph meals.) Also in that email, we were given careful instructions as to what to do with the package as soon as we receive it.

The Goodbox PH Sample Meals
My package arrived on a Sunday (which was as scheduled) but my family and I were not home at that time. I informed the building's security guard that I was expecting a meal package and told him to put it inside a fridge as soon as it arrived. Fortunately, my good box was delivered 10 minutes before we came home. After taking a picture, I immediately put it inside our fridge.

So, here's my take on it.

I was thinking the package would come in a box but it did not. However, this didn't, in anyway affect the quality of the good meal inside. :) Each meal was neatly packed and sealed in microwaveable plastic container; each had a "heat/chill" label. A check mark was placed to indicate whether I have to heat or chill the food.

As good as the packaging was, I believe a lot could be done to present the good box more creatively and appealingly. After all, when it comes to food, the "looks" always matters. :)

Breakfast - Apple Cinnamon Rolls and Coffee (350 kcal)
I would say that this is one of the best breakfast meals I have had! It's so filling I wasn't able to eat the morning snacks on time, haha! I felt full even when lunch time rolled in.


Because I am not a too "sweets" person, I really liked how this cinnamon tasted; not too sweet but just right. At first, I was like, "What? This is for breakfast? How will I survive?" So I was really surprised when after an hour or so, I was not yet hungry, nor there was any craving. Another plus point was, it came with coffee. For someone as coffeeholic as me, this was really great! This breakfast of 350 kcal really worked for me!

Morning Snack - Grilled Ratatouille Salad (100 kcal)
As I have mentioned above because I was still full to eat the morning snack, I ate it a little bit early for lunch, maybe 15 minutes before lunch time? It was already a meal in itself.

Morning Snack
This salad was so delish! It had tomato, zucchini, eggplant, onion and bell pepper, all grilled. Now, how healthy is that! I don't know though what the green leafy thing is but it surely added flavor to the salad. The dressing used was vinaigrette. If you are a vegetarian or simply a veggie lover, you'll find this a treat!

Lunch - Persian-Spiced Fish with Couscous and Mixed Vegetables (330 kcal)
Honestly, I wasn't able to taste the fish though it looked so good. The reason? I am still breastfeeding my daughter and since she has allergic reactions to fish (and seafoods for that matter), I can't (and won't) eat anything that might trigger the allergy. I gave it to my husband instead.

My husband liked this Persian-spiced fish so much that he got to finish it in no time. He said it's a little bit spicy but he enjoyed it nevertheless. To hear that from someone who is not a fan of spicy foods, that is really something! :)

While my husband took care of the fish, I ate the couscous and the mixed vegetables. If you're used to eating salty foods, you'd find the vegetables "bland". However, for someone like me who is getting used to taking in food with less salt, I find this perfect for my palate!

The couscous was a tad tangy. I think two or three drops of lemon were added to it. It was not my first time to eat couscous but to taste a hint of lemon in it was. I must admit though, I didn't find it quite pleasing to the taste (well, that's just me). I'd rather have a plain couscous and I'd be happy with it. The mixed vegetables on the other hand delighted my tongue.

I got hungry after a while; I was thinking it's because I didn't eat the fish. So, if you would like to feel full until snack time comes, make sure you don't skip some good food in your lunch. :)

Afternoon Snack - Baked Apple Slices (90 kcal)
The baked apple slices was superb. It satisfied my already growling tummy at that time; what's more, it was toothsome! With the cinnamon syrup slathered to the apple slices, each bite was a delight!

Afternoon Snack
Because I was so hungry and it was so yummy, I finished this snack in no time. If given another round of this snack at that time, I would gladly accept it, heehee! :)

Dinner - Spaghetti with Olive and Mint Pesto and Vegetables in Vinaigrette (280 kcal)
When dinner time came, we were out of the house. It was raining cats and dogs so the traffic was so heavy, cars seemed not to move even an inch. We came from the doctor and then had to meet someone after that. Everywhere we turned, vehicles were bumper to bumper. I got so hungry that I ate my daughter's biscuits and crackers; we shared actually. :)

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we were able to get to the meeting place. Because I was not expecting the delays, I didn't bring with us my dinner. Nevertheless, I was still able to eat it when we got home.

What I liked about this pasta was that it used pesto, had olives and good for more than one person (in my case). I think I had eaten half of it and I felt already full. That's why I shared the rest to my better half. :) I don't know if it's just me, but I didn't taste the "mint"; I was expecting for a hint of mint because it said it's Spaghetti with Olive and "Mint" Pesto. Am I right? I would say a dash of salt and pepper or even chili flakes would bring out more of its flavor.

And because I am a veggie lover, this was a sure winner for me. The amount of vinaigrette was just right, not too sour and the veggies still looked and tasted fresh; indeed a perfect partner to the pasta.

Overall, my good food sample was really good! I love it and can't wait to have another one, haha! I used to think that good food means your body benefits but your tongue suffers. I am so glad and grateful that The Goodbox PH doesn't believe in that for they have made meals that are both healthy and savory. Indeed, inside The Goodbox (PH) is good food ready to be served to us. If you would like to know more about the good food inside this good box, please visit The Goodbox PH. If you're craving to book your good box now, please go to their site.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

35 Months and Counting: The How and Why of My Breastfeeding Journey

Every time the 4th of the month rolls in, I cannot help but smile and utter a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord. Primarily because it was on the 4th of September in 2011 that He gave me and my husband a very precious gift; our daughter. Also, it was the start of my breastfeeding journey. As I look back, the smile widens as I say, "Well, those were the days." You see, my journey as a breastfeeding mom didn't start as a walk in the park. It began with buckets of tears, loads of doubts and series of pains. I never thought I would come this far: 35 months (and still counting), yay!

At 35 months

Now why did I continue to breastfeed my daughter if it wasn't as easy as pie? Because I believe that to breastfeed my daughter is to let her know how much I love her. I wrote about it here B-R-E-A-S-T-F-E-E-D-I-N-G is the Longest Spelling of Love.

How then was I able to sustain it?

It is through God's amazing grace. Without His strength and grace being given to me everyday as I nursed my daughter at that time, I wouldn't have been able to go on. I would have just stopped and told myself and others that I had all the reasons not to do it. During those days, I would ask Him to enable me to give the best I could give my daughter. Prayer really works. :)

I have a very supportive husband. I felt so blessed to have been married to this man; I felt doubly blessed to have him as my daughter's Dad. During the first 3 months of breastfeeding our daughter, he would offer his hand so I could press it hard and somehow transfer the excruciating pain I was feeling at that time. Now that breastfeeding is easy peasy, though he is not holding my hand anymore as I nurse our daughter, he upholds what I believe in, that is, to breastfeed our daughter for as long as she needs and wants Mommy's breastmilk.

Our daughter's pediatrician continued to encourage us. I have heard some of my mommy friends say these words which unfortunately came from their children's pediatricians: "You don't have enough milk. Use formula so your baby will grow (or something like that)." Sad, isn't it? When these mommy friends told me about it, I couldn't believe what I heard. Really? Those words coming from the "experts"? My reaction was like that because I have never ever heard any discouraging words regarding breastfeeding my daughter from her pediatrician. It was she who enlightened and encouraged us to exclusively breastfeed our daughter. At that time, while others (including my husband and I) were so concerned about having a "cute and big" baby, she would divert our attention to the proper nutrients and antibodies our baby was getting from my breastmilk alone. She was the one who made us realized that a healthy baby is not necessarily "big or fat". A healthy baby could be slim but heavy and doesn't easily get sick. And that's exactly our daughter!

I stay focused on my goal. My goal is to be able to breastfeed our daughter for as long as she needs and wants my milk. Well, that is my ultimate goal now. It was not my goal at first. As I've mentioned above and in my first post about breastfeeding, the first step I took in traversing this path was not easy. So what I did was, take one step at a time, a bite-sized goal if you will. My husband and I were like, "Okay, I'll breastfeed her for a month, let's do one month." And one month passed by like what? A breeze? Yes! It was that quick. So, we took another step. "Okay, let's do it for another 2 months. Breastfeeding her for at least 3 months will give her so much benefits already." Then before we knew it, we're already on our 6th month. It still hurt at that time, but I was "obstinate" and told my husband, "I want to breastfeed her until she's one year old. I believe by that time she'll wean by herself." With God's grace and my husband's support, yes, I was able to do it when her first birthday came. But she didn't wean. She'll be turning 3 next month and she still loves Mommy's milk!

As I write this, I am in tears. Tears of joy. I never knew we would be able to do this, this long. I am so grateful to God for giving me the grace to breastfeed; grateful for my supportive and caring husband; grateful for our daughter's pediatrician's encouragement; grateful that God helps me stay focused on my mini, monthly goals which have become now my uttermost breastfeeding goal.

Fellow moms, being able to breastfeed our babies is a gift. Let us cherish this gift; enjoy it and celebrate it! Happy Breastfeeding Day (everyday)! :)