Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Confessions of an Imperfect Parent

Since it is still the season of Lent, which is known to be a time for going to confession and changing one’s sinful ways and bad habits, I thought it would be apt to make my own confession of sorts here. It would be my way of seeking “absolution” for everything that I have done wrong lately.

At my blogs (Truly Rich Mom and Teachermama Tina), I try to be positive and upbeat in most of my posts, though there are times when I can’t help it but be honest about my feelings of sadness and disappointment. This is one of those blog posts where I am going to be honest.

I have been struggling a lot these first weeks of Lent with questions about our parenting style. Honestly, I have no right to claim being a “perfect” parent to our kids, especially to our eldest, our strong-willed little boy. In fact, I am far, far, far from being the mom (and wife! Haha!) that I want to be. People who read my blogs and Facebook updates may think otherwise, but I am coming clean here. I AM TOTALLY NOT PERFECT.

In fact, I am ashamed to say that there are times when I can be a downright nasty, mean, people-should-report-me-to-child-protection-agencies mom. There are days when I end up losing my patience, snapping at the kids, and being physically harsh. Honestly speaking, I am NOT a fan of corporal punishment and believe that discipline is about teaching more than punishing. However, there have been many occasions when I have failed to “practice what I preach.”

There are times when I end up feeling like I am a Tiger Mom in the worst sense, and can only pray that my kids will not end up broken and bitter like the many young people I have encountered, especially during my time as a missionary to the youth. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that I don’t love them or am always angry at them.

What I hope and pray and wish for is that our kids will grow up to be God-fearing, secure, confident and emotionally stable individuals, no matter how imperfect I am as a mom (and Hubby is as a dad). I want them to know that our decision to have them in Timor Leste on mission was born out of our desire to witness to God’s love and faithfulness, and that our decision to finally settle in Manila was born out of our desire to share God’s message of hope, forgiveness, peace and love in our own homeland.
Our family in Timorese attire during our CFC Timor Leste community’s farewell party for us

To continue reading this post, please go to my article on's Unblogged section by clicking here. :-) God bless all parents everywhere! :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Filipinos Unite Under God For Life!

This is a delayed post. I was supposed to post it at 3am this morning (March 26). Fell asleep before I could post it, that's how tired I was! LOL! :-)

I am going to try to make this short and sweet. :-) It's almost 3am and I want to get recharged enough for this Saturday's activities - going to attend an awesome private warehouse sale for selected Mom and Baby brands, and of course, bond with the kids before their Papa leaves for mission to Siquijor on Monday. :-) We might drop by SM Megamall for the free Cyberzone event in the afternoon too. Bo Sanchez's internet marketing mentor Jomar Hilario will be speaking about working from home and virtual assistant work! :-) It's sure to be a packed Saturday ahead! :-)

Anyway, I couldn't help blogging about this afternoon's (March 25 in the Philippines) event. Earlier today, our family was privileged to be part of the Filipinos Unite Under God For Life Rally at the Luneta Grandstand (you can read more detailed reports about it hereherehere and here.) Yup, the WHOLE family was there i.e. the kids were with us. Remember my earlier post where I said I hoped they would grow up to be pro-lifers too? Well, I guess today was a good start. We joined other fulltime workers from the CFC Home Office on the bus to Luneta, along with my dad and Ate Joy (thank You Lord for her! :-) She has been such a great help to us!). 

Anthony and I are SO proud of our kids, Timothy Alan and Alyssa Therese. :-) They were relatively well-behaved during the six hours or so we spent at Luneta. We had no seats/chairs with us, but thank God for perfect timing - 2 days earlier we had bought a playmat/spill mat on sale for only P100 at Toys R Us, and I brought that along so we could at least sit on something on the ground. There were only slight tantrums on Tim's part (he wanted to play on the grassy part of the Grandstand, which by the way was PACKED with pro-lifers!) and two weird undress-me-I-don't-want-to-put-on-a-new-set-of-clean-clothes episodes with Rysse during the Mass (our apologies to those near us who got distracted by the sight of Rysse butt-naked, saying "Ayaw!" every time I tried to dress her! LOL!). 

Aside from that they were little angels, and even if they ended up really dirty by my standards (there were times when they would even lie down on the mat, which had been trampled on by people passing by! Haay) and didn't even get a chance to get cleaned up when we got home (near midnight) because they were fast asleep (I just ended up wiping them down with lots of wet tissue and changed their clothes), hubby and I are so happy and proud that they were with us to stand for life! :-) 

Anyway, if you want to know more about what actually went on at the Rally, you can check out the news articles I mentioned earlier: here, here and here. Although the most accurate reports/articles would be from the Filipinos for Life website. I will also be writing a more detailed article about the Rally for the Ugnayan Supplement of the April Issue of the CBCP Monitor - coming out soon! :-) Will post the link once it's up! :-)

In the meantime, here are some pics from our camera (didn't get to take much pictures, but am waiting for friends who had SLRs to tag me on FB! :-) LOL!).  So proud to be Filipino right now, and to be Catholic! :-) Not like how I felt after the sad and tragic event that happened at Luneta last year. At this very moment, I know and believe that united under GOD, we Filipinos, whether at home or abroad, CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! :-) Filipinos Unite Under God For Life - not just today, but until we are called Home. :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Making A Stand For Family And For Life

The RH Bill has been an issue of debate among many in the Philippines lately. People from both sides have been saying a lot of things to defend their respective stances. Some have even resorted to slander, others to literal verbal abuse. Many, though, have little to no idea at all about what the RH Bill is all about. That’s the saddest part of it all.

Truth to tell, there are probably many Filipinos out there who are against the RH Bill, not merely because of their faith, but also because of the scientific reasons why passing the bill will be disadvantageous to the Filipino people. (To those of you reading this who are pro-RH, I do urge you to read on. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, so I hope you won’t mind me airing out mine here.)

I am one of those people who are against the RH Bill. I am quite vocal when it comes to all things that are for building up and strengthening the family, and am decidedly pro-life in my convictions. This is my stand not just because I am a Catholic and a member of a community that is pro-life, but also because I am a member of the human race. Even people from my beloved alma mater, which is known to be “secular” in nature, are against the RH Bill! I believe that all of us, no matter what religion or nationality, have this innate characteristic to foster and care for life in all forms. Our fellow human beings – MuslimsBuddhists, and even some atheists recognize the value of human life.
My Facebook profile picture
More than anything else though, my main reason for being pro-life is because I am a mother and have experienced the miracle of life firsthand – in my womb, and outside of it, as a mom who provides the best nourishment for her children, her breast milk. As a mom, I only hope and pray that my kids will learn to love and cherish life in all forms just like my husband and I do.

To read more about my being a pro-life mom, please click here to view my article on's Unblogged Section

Happy Feast Day of the Annunciation and International Day of the Unborn everyone! :-) 
P.S. If you are free later at 4pm, come be one with us as we unite for LIFE at the Luneta! :-) Stand up, be counted, Pinoys! Hubby and I will be there with our kids and our CFC community. :-) (I declined invitations to two press conferences because I believe that this event is much, much more important and relevant! :-) Hope to see you there as well, dear friends!) If you can't be with us physically, watch us LIVE at :-) Be blessed always!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Our Four Year Old Should Know

It is the time of year for school graduations and I find myself looking at Facebook pictures of my friends' kids during their graduation and moving-up ceremonies. Some of them have finished preschool, and even gotten awards for reading, math and the like. It is times like these that I can't help but think - am I "depriving" Tim of learning and reaching his potential by homeschooling him? Are we teaching him "enough"? What should he, at 4 years 5 months, know? I begin doubting my ability to teach him, especially since we have been in a lot of power struggles lately. I start questioning the Lord "Is homeschooling really part of Your call for us?"

At times like these, I find relief in the article below from Magical Childhood and am grateful for the people who have written them. It feels like God is assuring me somehow. Here is the article below:

What should a 4 year old know?

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. "What should a 4 year old know?" she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL's to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn't. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn't be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy.

But more important, here's what parents need to know.

  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important-- building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too-- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.

    They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they're a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

And now back to those 4 year old skills lists.....

I know it's human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we're doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool:
Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there's anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn't been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it's not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven't happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they're exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he'll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you're mixing a cake and he'll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It'll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site though:

What does a 4 year old need?

Much less than we realize, and much more.

Tim has a lifetime ahead to do his "formal education." What we need to do is focus on teaching Him to love God above everything else, and everything else will follow. I guess God also wants to remind us about our roles as parents, as laid out in my post on my other blog. I find comfort in knowing that we are doing our best to make sure that our children learn the four most important things they need to know before going to college (which is years and years away!) Also, it's probably a good time to go back to Susan Lemon's 4Rs of Homepreschooling again - just to check our own homeschooling journey! Thank You Lord for the loving reminder today! :-)

P.S. It helps too that I got to read this article about what four year olds should be able to do educationally. Seems like we are on track so far! :-) Praise GOD!

And to you our dearest Kuya Tim, one day you will be able to read this. We just want you to know how much we love and cherish you and your sister, Rysse. We are not perfect parents and we have failed you and hurt you in too many ways, despite your young and fragile age. We only hope and pray to God that His grace will fill in all the gaps in our parenting you, and that His love and forgiveness will prevail over any hurt feelings and trauma we may have caused you, intentionally and unintentionally. Always remember what we try to tell you every single day: 
You are God's special chosen son, and Rysse is God's special chosen daughter - our greatest gifts and blessings from the Lord! We love you and are proud of you no matter what.

Papa and Mama
You are a prince because your Father is King! :-)

We are blessed and privileged to have you both with us when we are called to serve! May you grow up to have missionary hearts - a man and woman after God's own heart! :-)

We love how you love each other :-) 

May Jesus, Mama Mary and all the Saints accompany us in our journey towards our True Home!

May you always be a blessing and joy to your grandparents and elders! :-)

May you always find joy in the simple things in life! :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free E-Book: 7 Secrets To Finding The Best Homeschool Curriculum

If you know me personally, and have been reading my blogs (this one and my Truly Rich Mom blog), you may already know that our current method of homeschooling is more like unschooling. After all, Tim is just 4 years 5 months old, and Rysse is turning 2 only in July. However, since I am the type who thrives more on structure, and sometimes have this OC-need to be assured that I am on the "right path" when it comes to homeschooling, I have been looking around for curriculum that will suit our kids. (Funny huh? Considering that I already posted a lot of links here for free curriculum and what-not. LOL!)

Anyway, I discovered this freebie over at Successful Homeschooling and thought it might be helpful to others like me who are undecided on what curriculum to use.
7 Secrets to Finding the Best Homeschool Curriculum
Download the book by clicking here.
According to the author, Carletta, a homeschooling mom of 4, this book, 7 Secrets To Finding The Best Homeschool Curriculum, will help you:

  • Clarify your needs and goals,
  • Identify your child's learning style,
  • Understand the many ways to homeschool,
  • Choose curriculum for specific subjects,
  • Homeschool special needs and gifted students, and
  • Choose programs for preschool, kindergarten and high school!
This FREE e-book also contains excerpts of interviews with the following homeschooling experts:

Valerie Bendt of Unit Studies Made Easy,
Lee Binz of The Home Scholar,
unschooler Sandra Dodd,
Corin Barsily Goodwin of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum,
Dennis Gunderson of Grace and Truth Books,
Sarita Holzmann of Sonlight,
Mary Hood of The Relaxed Home School,
Catherine Levison of A Charlotte Mason Education,
Jessica Parnell of Bridgeway Academy,
C.J. Rezak of Little Giant Steps, and
Larry Shiller of ShillerMath!

To avail of this freebie, simply click here

Incidentally, Carletta has a lot of other great resources on her site. Check them out at :-)

God bless everyone! :-) And do include us in your prayers, that we will be able to decide on a "proper curriculum" soon! :-)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The first 10 days of Lent

It has only been ten days since Ash Wednesday (it's already Saturday Feb 19 here in Manila), yet so much has happened during these first ten days of Lent. I helped Tim make his offering box, as suggested by Lacy of Catholic Icing, and also had her Lenten Calendar printed out for us to use.
I had Tim scribble his name "T-I-M" on the front of the box and color the hearts.

Should have removed the flash so the letters "TIM" are more visible :-) LOL!

Holding his Lenten Calendar - Thank you Lacy, and thanks Lolo Mon and Lola Tita for printing it! :-)
Nic, our friend, co-missionary and the new Kids for Christ International Coordinator also gave us a copy of the Holy Childhood Association Calender, which you can download from the Pontifical Missionaries Societies website. It's really nice too; here's what it looks like:
Download it here.
We've been trying to teach Tim the concept of sacrifice, of not demanding to get what he wants instantly, to deny himself. It's been really challenging, and I have personally been struggling with some things he has said and done lately - most of which have made me feel that I have not been as good a mom/teacher/homeschooler as I hoped I was. (I don't feel ready to share about it here yet, but when I am, and if I feel I need to, I surely will!)  Haaay. I can only trust in God's grace right now. And have hope and find comfort in the words of fellow moms whom I have confided to (thanks Ate Rita, Marts and Blessie!).

Come to think of it, I guess Lent is the BEST time to really go back to the Lord's loving arms and be reminded of His grace, mercy and saving work. I need to be reminded that nothing I could ever do could guarantee that my kids go to heaven - it is only God's saving, unconditional, perfect, unwavering love and grace that can do that! In the meantime, as imperfect as I am, I need to do my part. I guess more than trying to teach Tim (and Rysse) about the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus even at their young age, I need to remind myself about it too. :-) Thank You Lord, and thank You Mama Mary! Here's to another 30 days of reflection and renewal... :-) Pray for us!

P.S. By the way, just in case you're looking for things that you could do this Lenten Season, I'd like to share my article about "Being A Better You" with you, which you can read here.

P.P.S. This homeschooling mama is proud to be a breastfeeding mama as well! :-) If you want to read about how breastfeeding has made me a better woman, feel free to do so here.

P.P.P.S. I am also so grateful to the Lord that, despite our weaknesses and sinfulness, He allowed us to serve Him in Baguio last weekend! Read about it here. Also, I got published in print for the second time around! This year, it's on Smart Parenting magazine's March issue! Check out the sneak peek here. I wrote the article on the 10 best family-friendly cities. Incidentally, the March issue also has a special section on homeschooling, so I really encourage all of you to get a copy now! (Thanks in advance for the support! hehe).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

February At A Glance And Our New Home School

Haven't been blogging for quite some time now. Been a bit busy with events the month of February, to name a few: the Filipinos Unite for Life Pro-Life Rally, the Aprica Media Launch (which reminds me, I should really write Part 2 already! LOL!), free financial education lectures, the Jason Evert Real Love Revolution Conference plus the other activities we regularly attend for our community. We've also started attending Bo Sanchez's The Feast gathering at Valle Verde, mostly because they have weekly gatherings for kids (their kids' ministry is aptly named Awesome Kids!) and we've been wanting to get Tim involved in a Catholic kids' group that meets weekly and not just monthly. (But of course, he and Rysse will forever be Kids for Christ!) So far, he has attended 3 sessions and seems to be enjoying! (Hopefully he is learning too! hehe)

I've also been having difficulty trying to adjust to working from home. And juggling my sideline writing jobs. I swear, I have no idea how other work-at-home moms do it! I salute you all, especially those who are homeschooling, have more kids than we do (I know a few moms who are homeschooling 5 kids of different age levels! Wow!), AND have no household help to boot (we are blessed to have two right now, but am thinking of letting one (or both!) go soon)! Grabe! How do you supermoms DO it all?!!! Honestly, sometimes I find myself thinking that working 9 to 5 may be better for me - but when I look at our kids, despite all my complaints, imperfections, weaknesses and seeming "Tiger Mother" moments, I would not trade my situation right now for anything! (Except of course, having multiple passive income streams! Now that would be GREAT! hehe. In God's time!)

Anyway, February came and went by so fast! It was truly a whirlwind month for us too, in the sense that we ended up moving to our own place (You can read more about it here!). One of the main reasons was so that we could have a proper place to homeschool the kids.

So far, so good. :-) We have been able to work more on Tim's writing and reading, and he has started to enjoy coloring more (he used to dislike coloring before for some reason). Praise God for all His goodness!

Here are a few pics of the kids enjoying their "homeschool room" :-)

Tim LOVES his wooden trains and blocks! 
Fun fun fun!
Choo-choo! He likes making up his own stories as he plays. He even does different voices for the trains as they "say their lines"! Sometimes, it's like listening to a Thomas and Friends episode! LOL!
Our little scientist :-)
Rysse, future doctor? :-) Whatever you choose to be, we will always be proud of you and your Kuya!
She loves playing with this microscope - a steal at P200! Bought on sale at Toys R Us.
Playing dress-up - Tim: "I'm going to the office, just like Papa."
Papa and his little man :-)
Playing dress-up with our Timorese tais
Future model? :-) (Incidentally, check out her modeling pics here. Here's a sneak peek below. hehe. Thank you Lilymoms!)
Our two angels :-)
P.S. Feel free to read about my take on International Women's Day (March 8) here. To all you fabulous women out there, especially you moms, thank God for you - you are making the world a better place by your love, gentleness and kindness! :-)

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