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Monday, October 27, 2014

Helping Your Kids Learn How to Study

One goal of homeschooling is independent study. This means that we aim to make sure that more than spoon-feeding our children with information we teach them how to find the information and how to retain the information.

I learned in a conference in OD that most adults use index cards to help them learn. What they normally do is write a term they need to remember on one side, then they put a definition on another side. This is mildly effective. Researchers have found a more effective way of studying, and this is something Andrea and I have been using these past 3 months. So far I am thrilled, by how useful it's been and so I'm sharing them with you.


We write the terms on one side, I say WE because at the beginning,I would write the

terms, but, now I started making her write the terms herself to practice spelling and for better retention.

I normally do this at the end of each topic. I ask her to go through her textbook and write down the things which she thinks are important to remember. If she misses some things, I point her attention to it.

I then ask her "What questions can you ask to give you the answer ______" and she comes up with as many questions as possible. We write those questions on the other side of the 3x5 index card.


When we are reviewing, I either give her a term, and she will give me a question or I ask her the questions we wrote and she will tell me what I'm referring to.

At times, we would have quiz bees using the card. I would have her and her dad or her and her yaya try to answer the questions.


Andrea recommended using symbols to identify the cards. We came up with this legend. We put those symbols to differentiate the cards per subject.


I bought this pouch to store the cards while travelling. This means, we can review while waiting at the doctor's office for example. At home though, it would be nice to have a bigger index card holder to store all the index cards.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Things I am Loving this October:

1. The Mindy Project
    • I love comedy. I like funny and silly things. This comedy takes the place of 30 Rock and The Office in my life. I know I am so late as the show is currently already on its 3rd season and I've barely finished the first season. 
    • Side note: I cringe at some of the things shown here. The morals and values are questionable so please don't watch this with kids.
2. Honey Citron Tea
    • I tried this for the first time in Hong Kong and was instantly hooked. Thank goodness SnR brought these babies over.
    • I personally drinking this as hot tea but my husband likes it iced. 

3. Revlon Raisin Rage
  • I have been getting back into dark lipstick at the moment. I am into reddish-brown colors and this just fits the bill perfectly.
  • Confession.Growing up, I started getting into dark red lipstick because I saw that everyone was afraid of wearing them. Being a naturally rebellious girl, I decided I would continually wear red lipstick. It was awkward at first but I grew into it and now I would say 50% of my lipsticks are dark red.  

4. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

  • I guess I'm over my sharpie addiction? What I love about these is that I can use them to write inside my planner and my notebooks. They make color coding so much fun!

5. Chirashi

  • I AM OBSESSED! This wonderful creation filled with shrimp, tuna, salmon, sea urchin, and tamago (I purposely neglected the crabstick because I hate those and I never eat them) on top of japanese rice. YUM!

6. File Organization

  • At this point I think my love for color coding does not even need to be said. I set this up over 3 years ago and I have let our yaya take care of it. This month however, I decided to take the reigns again and organize our files and I LOVE the way I set it up =)

7. Peppermint Tea

  • I used to hate tea but now I can't get enough of them. This month my favorite has been peppermint tea (from any brand) because it helps soothe my tummy and digestion just seems to go smoother with this yummy tea. 

8. Counterflow  2014

  • I thoroughly enjoyed last year's parenting conference and I spent the last two months waiting for Counterflow 2014 and I wasn't disappointed. It revived my drive for parenting. =) I will now have to wait for 11 more months till the next one. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Material Kids - 5 Ways I Teach My Daughter The Value of Things

Most of my friends see me as a calm mom. And for most parts, that would be accurate. I seldom get mad. I hardly ever shout and it takes a lot to get me upset with my daughter (or with most people for that matter).  I do however, have certain triggers -- things that are sure to spark anger or irritation in me. One is stupidity and the next is when people don't value what they have.

I struggled with the latter when it comes to Andrea. In our quest to not make her materialistic we might have gone a bit too far. Andrea cared very little about material things. She never asked for clothes. She didn't care what her clothes or shoes looked like. She wasn't careful with her books or toys.  For some time I had to figure out how I could teach her the value of money without making her too materialistic. 

Here are some things I did to help Andrea learn about taking care of things and the value of things.

1. I don't replace broken/lost/damaged things right away.

  • I make sure that she feels the natural consequence of her carelessness. I went as far as letting her go to class without pencils because she forgot where she placed hers. (She never forgot them again)
2. She earns her money.

  • She has an ice candy and candy business that helps her earn. This is the money she uses to buy things I normally wouldn't buy for her like books that don't teach a particular value or magazines.
  • She also uses this money to purchase things she needs to replace. For example, she once lost her guitar pick. I refused to replace it (because I have already warned her about keeping that small thing safe) and told her she'll have to buy the replacement if she wanted to replace it. 
3. Smart shopping. 
  • I teach Andrea to be mindful of prices. I would sometimes treat her when we are out by telling her "Okay Andrea, today you can spend 100 in this store" (or whatever amount I choose).  She will then scour the store and find something she wants. She also has an option to pass on buying that day and buy a more expensive toy or book next time. 
  • The concept of money is very hard for kids to understand because it's abstract so I use concrete examples. For example, we go to 2 bookstores. I show her how 200 pesos can buy her around 5 books in the second-hand bookstore but only 1 (if she's lucky) brand new book from the other bookstore. 
  • My proudest moment came when she chose to buy this book. I asked her why and she said "Well I love the Avatar and this book only costs _____ and there are 4 books inside it!" 
4. I avoid duplications. 
  • If she already has crayons, then we don't buy another one. No matter how cute. 
  • When we receive duplicates we either sell or donate things. 
5. I control myself.
  • As parents we are often the biggest instigators for materialism. Because of our love for our kids we shower them with presents and material things that they start losing their value...and what for? To make ourselves feel better? Because we didn't have those things as kids and we want our kids to have them? These reasons are not bad in moderation...but excessively they lead to kids who can become spoiled and consequently, adults who are never content. 
  • Andrea has a set of markers we use for homeschooling. This school year, we went to the mall looking to replace her old set (which I have donated to someone else) and I saw a set with double the amount of colors than her previous set for not a whole lot more price. I asked her if she wanted the bigger piece instead (I was convinced it's the best purchase) and what she said shocked some sense into me "No thanks. Why do I need that many colors anyway? I'm happy with my old one". I remembered one thing then. We don't buy things for our kids because we can afford them or because those things are available. We should buy things if they add value to the lives of our kids. 
How about you? How do you teach your kids to value their things? 

7 Steps To Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Growing up in a country like the Philippines, most of us matured never having had "the talk" with our parents. We, the new generation of parents, are better informed and know that talking to our kids about sex can be extremely beneficial, some benefits are:

- You control how little or how much information to give your kid
- Your kids will be more comfortable talking to you about relationships in the future. More communication, more influence.
- You get to instill your family's values into the discussion.
- Studies show that teens who have talked to parents about sex tend to delay their first sexual encounter and when they do have sex, they do so in a safe environment.

- If your kid can talk to you about sex, they will also open up to you about relationships, bullying, abuse, etc.  

So we all want to have this important discussion with our kids, the question in most parents' minds is, "How do I talk to my kid about sex?". I hope to help address this question with these 7 Steps to Talking to Your Kids About Sex.

1. Know Yourself 

It's very important to know just how much or how little you know about sex. Also be clear about your stand on important issues. What are you comfortable discussing with your child at the moment? What are your values?  These will all come into play when you talk to your child.

2. Set the Stage

Setting the stage means educating your child early on by using anatomically correct body parts. Use words like vagina, vulva, anus, penis, breasts, when you are talking to your child. Use these terms casually throughout the day. For example while giving your child a bath  you can say "It's time to wash your vulva". These words are neutral and should not be given any malice.  You can start using the correct terms as soon as your child starts talking.

Photo taken from
At around the age of 2-3 would be a good time to talk about the biological difference between the sexes. I would also begin introducing the idea of private parts that can only be touched by your child or the guardian cleaning it or a doctor examining. No one else.

3. Child-led Conversations

All my conversations with my child started with a question from her. I didn't push or sit her down for any unnatural talk, I just waited for openings. Here are some possible openings:

- a pregnant friend
- showing a picture of her/his birth
- pets giving birth

When my daughter asked how babies get inside the stomach of the mother I drew the internal anatomy of a woman (I memorized it from biology class) and I explained that eggs that are fertilized by the sperm settle in the uterine lining (which I drew) and very slowly grow into babies. That's it. No talk of sex just yet.

4. Keep the Answer Simple and Age Appropriate. 

Your answer should only address the question of your child. No need to go into details that are not needed at that time. In order to find out what detail is needed always ask your child "That's an interesting question. Why do you want to know?" or "What do you mean?".  There is no need to go into explicit details unnecessarily. Just answer the issue.

A few months after explaining the fertilization of egg cells in Step 3, my daughter finally asked "How does the sperm get inside your tummy?".  Here's my explanation: "When a grown man and grown woman love each other very much they want to be as close as possible. And one way that people who love each other can be close is by having sex. Sex is when the penis of a man goes inside the vagina of the woman. It fits because God made man and woman perfectly. This is how the sperm gets inside the woman"

5. Input your own morals 

This is where it gets tricky. Our kids will internalize the things that we teach them so teaching them about morality here is very important. I have a lot of relatives who gave birth out f wedlock though so I had to explain it in such a way that she understands the value of sex being done in the context of marriage without being judgmental.

Here's what I told her "Sex is something all adults can do BUT God gave us some guidelines so that we will remain safe and happy. When you are married and you have sex, you are able to enjoy the blessings of God. And when you have kids your kids will enjoy being loved and taken cared of by both mommy and daddy".

We discussed this more than once and we went into different details. This was something I didn't discuss until she was 7.

6. Don't Cram Everything in 1 Go

Talking to your kids about sex is a process. It's something you will have to repeat and review and add to throughout the years. Don't cram it all in one go or you'll be exhausted and your child will probably not understand it all.

7. Set Boundaries

This is something I failed to do and I am trying to teach her now. While sex is something we can openly discuss with each other, it would be great to explain when and where appropriate discussions about sex should take place.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What a Treat

One of Andrea's favorite restaurants is Pancake House, so it's no surprise that when I asked her where she wanted to eat she eagerly replied "Pancake House!". While seated we saw a sign that said kids can show a high mark, a perfect score in a quiz, or any other achievement and get a free order of small soldier.  Andrea looked thrilled and so I asked the waiter all about it and true we were qualified to get the treat.

Luckily, I have her books and quizzes with us (one perk of homeschooling) and so I showed one perfect quiz to the waiter et voila! Free pancakes!

Here's the details of the promo for your info:

Thanks Pancake House. You made one little girl extremely happy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Notebook to Rule Them All

I like my lists. I also like taking note of things. My planner has been extremely useful for me but I feel so limited by the amount of space I have to just simply write things down. I have found a system with my planner that works for me (I might write about it soon) but I still need 1 place to write down the things that come to me in the middle of the day. I also struggle with having to bring my planner all the time because it can be bulky, plus its extremely colorful exterior (which I love)on top of all the color coded post-its make my clients look at me funny when I pull it I decided to have a more discreet notebook. Something I can easily carry around with me to help me corral all the thoughts, ideas, goals, to-do lists inside my brain down into one place.

After several trips to several bookstores (I've had my eye set on this for literally a year before finally taking the plunge) I gave in and purchased this:

What I love about it is that you can put in any notebook inside. This way, when I run out of space, I can just replace the notebook with a new one.  I chose this particular model because I like the snakeskin pattern and also because I like the garter straps around the edge...or so I thought. While I love the straps and the fact that I can put in as many things inside the notebook as I want. When the straps are open they cause the back of the notebook not to lay flat which makes writing a bit more difficult than it should be. It's only a slight discomfort though and it still works for me. 

Let me walk you through the inside of the notebook as well as an explanation of how I use it for my needs. 

The top photo shows how it normally looks like. See how the notebook is just inserted into the leather cover while it is perfectly secure it is also very easy to take it out and replace. The bottom photo shows the objects I chose to keep inside the vertical slot. ( I covered the front page with a post-it to hide my private information)

I have a legend of my color coding. I use pretty much the same codes as I have in my Google Calendar, planner, and iPhone (which is basically just a copy of my google calendar) but I added 2 new colors: green for dreams/goals/ideas and purple for inspiration. 

TRIVIA: The legend is an idea Andrea gave me when we were making study cards for her homeschooling =) 

I also store these sticky flags to help me identify where I have to-do lists.

At the top of the page I write the date. Then I just write whatever comes to mind or whatever I feel like writing. The yellow mark indicates something Andrea said that I found funny and would like to remember. The green mark is an insight I had on reaching for your dreams and then followed by things I have to do in relation to a goal I am currently pursuing. I put boxes similar to those used in bullet journaling and check the boxes off when I've accomplished them. I then put a sticky flag with a tiny bit protruding at the edge of the page to mark my to-do lists. That way it will be easy for me to find my to-do lists at any point. So if at the moment I want to work on my personal goals...I will find the pink flag and turn to that page. The flags will be removed or transferred when all bullets have been completed. Here are more pages for you to see how I am using this notebook.

This has worked so wonderfully for me and I love it very much. It does not in any way take the place of my planner but the planner is something that I generally use at night to plan out the day before or my general schedule. This notebook goes down to the nitty-gritty of my daily grind.