Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On Smart Parenting.com.ph: How to Teach Your Kids about Holy Week and Easter

I'm so blessed and honored that I am able to spread God's message of love through what I do as a writer. I started out contributing to Smart Parenting, a local parenting website here in the Philippines, because I primarily wanted to earn extra money to augment our missionary family's monthly income. Little did I know, God had and still has another plan for me as one of the more regular contributing writers to the site. (I used to contribute under two names, i.e. Teachermama Tina and Tina Santiago-Rodriguez. Starting this year though, my editor asked me to choose just one, so I stuck to Tina Santiago-Rodriguez).
Image from the Smart Parenting website
One of the biggest blessings of writing for Smart Parenting is being able to write about things close to my heart, like my faith, homeschooling, breastfeeding, intentional parenting and other subjects. One of my latest articles on Smart Parenting really blessed me in a special way, because I was able to "kill two birds with one stone," as they say — because of the research I had to do for the article (about how to teach your kids about Holy Week), I was able to come up with ideas for our own family's Holy Week and Easter celebrations.

Image source here.
I'm sharing the link to that article here, i.e. "Ways to Teach Your Kids about Holy Week," in the hope that it will be of help to you and your family. :) May you have a blessed, beautiful Holy Week and Easter ahead! :)

P.S. Oh, and to those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, or part of my Facebook groups, or followers of my Facebook page and Twitter feeds, THANKS OH SO MUCH for praying for my sister and Baby Pia, the latest addition to our family — our "miracle baby," conceived after almost 11 years of waiting, through St. Pio of Petrelcina's intercession. :) (I wrote about that here.) We are truly blessed because of you all! :) God bless you and yours abundantly!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Preparing to celebrate the Day of the Unborn {Preborn} Child - Videos of the Annunciation to Mary (celebrated on March 25, but for this year, March 26)

Tomorrow is the Day of the Unborn (or Preborn) Child. In the Catholic Church, we also traditionally celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation on the same day. This year, however, since March 25 falls on a Sunday, we'll be celebrating the Annunciation on March 26.
I already posted several resources one can use to celebrate this special day on my main mom blog, i.e. Truly Rich Mom. However, I wanted to post these videos here, too, so that I don't have to go searching for them on YouTube again tomorrow. :)

1. The Annunciation to Mary from iw on GodTube. (Click on the link to view the video on GodTube.)

2. These are short animated scenes (amateur, but cute nonetheless!)

3. This is TOO cute! :) It's actually a home video of kids acting out the Annunciation. :)

4. This is from Gloria.tv. (If it doesn't work here, you can view it here instead).

5. This is in Japanese but has English subtitles.

Besides watching these videos, we'll be reading Bible stories and books about the Annunciation, looking at pictures of Jesus in the womb of Mary and praying a decade of the Rosary (the first Joyful mystery).(The website http://unbornwordoftheday.com/ has some good images. Or, we could always go to Google.)

We'll also be praying for the babies in their mom's wombs and those who have died because of abortion. I have some plaster models of Baby Joshua, the pro-life "model" of how a 10-week old fetus/unborn baby looks like, and will take them out for the kids to see. :) We'll pretend it's Baby Jesus and pray over Him. We'll also be reading one or two books about how babies are conceived and born. :)

I'll also ask the kids to make a Happy FirstDay Jesus card or poster, as suggested on the Day of the Unborn Child website. If our budget permits, we'll get some cupcakes and ice them with blue and white icing, just like we did for Mama Mary's birthday last year.

Please pray that we'll be able to do all the things we plan to do! :) Thanks and God bless, everyone!

+ AMDG +

Friday, March 23, 2012

Freebie Friday: Online Children's Bible Stories :)

Image source here.
Lent is almost over and soon, we will be preparing for Holy Week and Easter, the grandest celebration in the Church calendar (yes, as grand as Christmas!). For those of you who are already thinking of ways to make Holy Week more meaningful for your kids, you may want to consider reading with (or to) them Bible stories that are related to the events of Holy Week and Easter.

If you don’t own a good children’s Bible yet, I really encourage you to get one! In the Philippines, local secondhand bookstores like Booksale and Books for Less usually have good children’s Bibles or Bible storybooks. In the meantime though, here are some links to websites that contain free online children’s Bible stories, which may be of help to you:

Whatever you choose to use, remember, there's no point in reading the Bible to and with your kids if you're not living out God's Word in your daily lives! ;) (And if you struggle with this, like we do, don't fret! Our God is a forgiving God, and His grace is new every morning! Just keep at it! :)

God bless us all!

+ AMDG +
Teachermama Tina (also known as Truly Rich Mom)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A brief update on our discernment about homeschooling :)

OK, so, as usual, I am supposed to be working but am blogging! LOL! :) So, I'll make this quick: God has been absolutely amazing at how He has been speaking to us lately, especially with regard to our discernment whether to continue homeschooling or not. Family members, friends, fellow homeschoolers, even complete strangers have contacted me and given me their own inputs, thoughts, suggestions, shows of support and prayers - and I am deeply humbled and grateful! THANK GOD for all of you! :)

I've also received amazing links to posts and articles that have been greatly encouraging, including these:
Daily Focus - Totally Discouraged
I Want To Give Up - But I Won't (Fellow ROCKERs mom Racquel posted about this too, on her blog here).
Before You Say 'I Quit!'
For When You Want To Quit

And, my all-time favorite now:
Help! My 5-Year-Old Won't "Do" School! {I can SO relate to this one! LOL!)

I like this article too:
What Medical Education Can Learn From Homeschooling {since I have a medicine-related degree too, i.e. a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy, which was supposed to be my pre-med course at the University of the Philippines. After graduating from UP though, God called me to be a fulltime missionary instead, and now, a writer. Go figure! I wonder what would have happened to me if I had been homeschooled!}

Anyway, I said this would be a brief update. So, the bottomline is this: we're still discerning. (Yes, even after all your helpful and touching comments, calls, messages! And attending the HAPI Media Launch at Expo Kid 4 last Saturday!) I'll post about Tim's assessment at Cradle of Joy soon, probably after his assessment at Brainworks next week, to save time. :)
Image source here.

Having said all that though.. you can probably guess which direction we are more or less leaning towards! ;) Do keep praying for and with us, and thank you so much for your love, support and prayers!

...nevertheless {Lord}, not my willbut Yours, be done.'' 

(Luke 22:42)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To Homeschool Or Not To Homeschool?

Image source here.
If you've been following this blog, you'd know that this newbie homeschool mom and her family are in a discernment process again: to homeschool or not to homeschool? You'd also probably know that I've already inquired at a few progressive schools, namely Brainworks, The Learning Tree and Cradle of Joy. I plan to inquire (again!) at Progressive Little Saints too. In my post here, I even listed down the reasons why I liked Brainworks.

The day after I inquired at Brainworks, we brought Tim to The Learning Tree Child Growth Center for an assessment. It went rather well, and I'm guessing I was more nervous than Tim at the time! The teacher was rather surprised that he still wrote his words with fairly large spaces in between letters (needless to say, writing is our waterloo when it comes to homeschooling! *sighs*) and suggested we let him play more with playdough and other things to improve his fine motor skills for writing.

To make a long story short, Tim finished the assessment and the teacher told me we could enroll him in the "Fives" section (he's turning six in October) if we were really interested, then he could take the exam for Grade 1 at the end of the coming school year (which starts in June 2012). Hubby and I are still praying about it though. (We also need to factor in the COST - homaygosshh, school is soooo expensive these days! Imagine, almost P70,000 for preschool! Me thinks our missionary salaries may not be enough to sustain this! LOL!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Updates on the Kingdom-Seekers Academy :)

OK, so I haven't been very consistent in chronicling (is there such a word? haha!) our homeschool days on our Kingdom-Seekers Academy blog. Huhuhu! :(

SOOOO.. for the sake of ease in posting updates et al, I've decided to just record everything here. AS MUCH AS I CAN. Please pray for me, LOL! :)

May God be glorified in everything we do! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

SAVE THE DATE: 4th Philippine Homeschool Conference on May 19!

OK, so I know I/we have been having our doubts about homeschooling lately and have actually been scouting around for good progressive, preferably Catholic, preschools (I'm guessing every homeschooling family/mom goes through this at least ONCE, right?!), but how can I NOT post about this, right?! I mean, homeschooling is, like, part of us now. And even if we choose, by God's grace and wisdom, to enroll our kids in a brick-and-mortar school eventually, homeschooling will always be something I advocate for parents to at least try out.

So, save the date, people! :-) The Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands, or HAPI's 4th Philippine Homeschool Conference is coming soon! :-) (We were so blessed to be able to attend the 3rd Conference in 2010!)

And, YES, no matter what happens with our discernment (to continue homeschooling or not), you'll most probably see me and hubby there! :-) And some of the ROCKERs (our local Catholic homeschool support group) too! ;-)

P.S. Praise GOD! :-) HAPI finally has an official Facebook page here and an official website here. The website is still a "work-in-progress" though, but should be all set up soon! ;-) I highly recommend everyone who is homeschooling or considering homeschooling to link up to HAPI. :-) We need all the support we can get! ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Little Therese and her Mother Goose "obsession" {AND "How to introduce Jesus to 2 to 3 Year Olds}

Last week, I stumbled upon this video on YouTube while looking for nursery rhyme videos to occupy our not-quite-three-year-old Therese (aka Rysse {pronounced "Reese," like the chocolate "Reese's Pieces" or the actress, Reese Witherspoon) while I was writing an article.

Little did I know that I would be creating a "Mother Goose `monster,'" i.e. that Rysse would become half-obsessed with Little Bo Peep and the other Mother Goose Club videos! It's come to the point that she asks for Little Bo Peep in the morning, as soon as she wakes up, and at night, when she sees my office-issued Mac (which she cutely calls "your printer," haha!). She even cries sometimes, "I miss Little Bo Peep!"

On the brighter side of things, I'm hoping she'll learn to love rhymes, finger plays and such through the videos, which I try as much as I can to watch with her. :-) However, I've been trying to tell both Rysse and her older brother, Tim, that it's Lent, and we / they should try making small "sacrifices" for Jesus - including less TV/computer time (oh yes, I'm one of those moms! Sorry!). OK, I don't know about you guys, but it.has.been.DIFFICULT. How does one explain to a 2+ year old about Jesus' ultimate sacrifice of love in terms she'll be able to understand?! *Sighs* Enlighten me, please.

Anyway, to answer my own question, I think I'll begin by telling her that Little Bo Peep and her Mother Goose friends are all nice and stuff like that, but Jesus is the most fun, most awesome and most musical Person alive! :-)

By God's grace, I discovered this great site earlier while doing research for Mustard, the magazine that I'm in charge of, called Crusader Castle. Looks like a great place to start introducing the Faith to Rysse (and reinforcing it, for Tim!) :-)

Also, I found some informative articles about introducing or explaining Jesus to young children below. If you're in the same "boat" as I am in now, you may want to check them out as well:

Teaching Toddlers: How Do We Catechize the Little Ones? (Scroll down to see the comments, which are all very informative!)

How to Explain Jesus to a 3-Year-Old

How to Explain Jesus to Your Toddlers

How to Teach Little Children About God

"Jesus Loves Me" Toddler Lessons

And last, but not the least, I think I should "review" this article I wrote for Smart Parenting's website over a year ago:

Praise and Play - How to Teach Your Kids About God

Let's pray for one another, shall we? :-) Let's pray for our little ones, too, that they may come to know the height, breadth, width and depth of God's amazing, astounding love for them! :-)

Teachermama Tina writes about

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