Let me call it “unschooling” because there were no books on the table, no academic rules to follow to foster these learning moments:

Just this week, Kayla amazed us with her creative idea!  She taped her cellphone on top of her remote controlled car and put it on video mode.  So, while the car makes it way around the house, the video is running and records the car’s movements, its bumps, stops and turns.  It’s just like those cameras on a biker’s helmet.  It was fun watching the video and see how it scared our dogs, Teri and Hershey, like crazy! 

Now, she’s waiting for her pretzel dough to rise.  She was inspired by another culinary show on tv last night and was itching to bake pretzels! So, she did it this morning.  We were supposed to do Art this morning but she just couldn’t wait.  (When she wants to do something, she really has to do it and will do it.  It can be both a positive and negative trait that I’m still trying to accept and understand.)  On her own (again), she brought out all the ingredients and started to follow a recipe on Youtube.  I had to remind her though of some kitchen basics, like preparation of ingredients, mise en place (a French term which means arranging all the ingredients necessary for a dish before you start cooking to make the cooking process more efficient and to avoid mistakes), cleaning up as you go, and taught her how to divide a recipe into two with fractions (I knew there had to be some Math to teach in there!).  Plus, reading recipes (This is where English comes in) practices her to follow directions, which I think is an important and a basic skill to learn.  This is one of her weak areas and culinary may be able to help her be more attentive to instructions and details. 

Our verdict: Kayla’s pretzels were edible 🙂 and tasted good!  (I’m not being biased here).  She chose to do cinnamon sugar coating.  She still has to practice though how to twist the dough into those pretzel shapes instead of looking more of like mini croissants 🙂  We have to go to Auntie Anne’s one time and watch how they do it.  But overall, I see Kayla really driven now when it comes to cooking and baking.

 

 

 

Kayla’s pretzel! This is PERFECT!

 

 



Kayla wants to be a chef!  The kitchen seems to be her turf.  Her interest in culinary is becoming stronger and stronger that I find her researching for recipes on the internet, reading them, printing them out, filing them in a clear book I gave her, experimenting in the kitchen, preparing dishes and plating them!  She loves the tv show “Junior Master Chef” every  Sunday, and most of her writing exercises is about cooking, baking or her dream of becoming a chef.

For lunch today, she did strawberries on toothpicks with chocolate sauce, on her own.

 

Afterwards, we both worked together in doing a 6-inch Oreo cheesecake.  She did the measuring and mixing of ingredients while I did the springform pan preparation, placed it inside the oven and waited until it was done.  (She still has to overcome her fear of placing pans inside a gas-fired oven.)

 

Ate Arielle wanted to try putting the whipped cream on top.

 

My turn!

 

Our Oreo cheesecake!

For quite some time, we didn’t know exactly what Kayla likes to do or pursue. What we know is that she’s a kinesthetic learner. So seeing now that she really likes to cook and bake, it’s a wonderful feeling (and a relief!) to clearly identify her interests and what makes her tick.  It definitely is an A-ha moment!   I also noticed that when I do give Kayla a chance to work with her hands and do anything related to cooking or baking, she’s more wired to do her other academic subjects, making it easier for me to teach and for her to learn.  That could only mean happy and smooth-sailing homeschooling days 🙂



 

God really knows when to come to my rescue when I shout “Timeout!”  Here’s another fresh one from my email inbox!

 

Today was actually a “light” day since I decided last week to just concentrate on one subject the whole morning, given that the girls already have something scheduled the whole afternoon until dinner time.   Arielle and Kayla pretty much did the activities I assigned to them on their own.  That kept them occupied the whole morning until about 12:30 pm.  Then, they had their usual piano lesson scheduled after lunch and Mike finished his work early, picked them up for their swimming lessons, and needless to say, came to my rescue just in the time!  

 

With that, I practically was able to slow down today, listen to my body, and just have some time for myself. I am still enjoying the rest of the afternoon now.  I am blessed and thankful to have a supportive and hands-on husband and dad, and a faithful Almighty Father who knows exactly when to take over when both my body and mind need rest.  I wouldn’t have survived homeschooling our kids without those two men in my life!

 


Ever since we started to homeschool, we still followed the June to March school calendar and have been able to stick to it these past 3 years.  The summer months after are usually scheduled with camps, workshops, classes or short trips that still keep me occupied alongside with the planning that I have to do for the next schoolyear.  Now on our 4th year and with about a month and a half to go to again target for March, I can say that we’ve done much and our best, and yet a part of me is saying we can do more.  I am starting to feel the need to take a vacation but I know that I have to push ourselves just a little more.  Only when we’ve accomplished what we’re supposed to do can my family and I say it was a job “Well done!”.  Now that’s another set of character traits and life skills being taught and learned:  diligence, perseverance, responsibility, goal setting and the final completion of tasks.  (And I sure do hope that with our efforts, we would be able to put a big smile on Jesus’ face 🙂 )

He who began a good work in me
will be faithful to complete it.
– Philippians 1: 6

 

 


I read this poem in one of my email subscriptions from Alpha Omega Publications’ Devotional for Homeschoolers.  It’s always good to look at the brighter side of things.

Count Your Blessings
 
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.
 

 
 

We didn’t feel like homeschooling today.  I felt we three girls needed a break from our daily routine and so we took a day off from our books and worksheets (except Arielle wanted to do a worksheet in Science).  We spent the day cooking and baking!  Kayla has been very interested in culinary lately perhaps because of the Culinary class in their Hybrid Homeschool Program and the new tv show Junior Master Chef. In fact, she now dreams to become a chef someday!

So what did Arielle, Kayla, and I cook and bake?  For lunch, we cooked beef salpicao and Kayla wanted to learn how to make mashed potatoes.  With instructions orally given to her by her Papa during breakfast, she was able to do the mashed potatoes on her own.  The beef we bought yesterday from the grocery didn’t turn out very tender but our helper said she can pressure cook it so we can still have it for dinner. Something quite didn’t turn out right with the Devil’s Food Cake but it can still be eaten and the decorating that I did with it was  appreciated!

 

Kayla’s been wanting to make meringue and it was a success even if I couldn’t set the temperature of our oven to what was on the recipe.  The green beans with beef we had for dinner was flavorful too.

 
 

Even if we did not stick our noses to our books or laptops, today was rich in hands-on learning! What SKILLS exactly did the girls learn today?

1. How to pick out the ingredients we would need in the grocery (Kayla and I went on a quick trip to the grocery yesterday)

2.  To put away grocery items upon arriving home

3. To pay attention to another person when he is speaking  or giving instructions

4.  Knife skills:  slicing meat, vegetables, mincing garlic

5.  What ‘boil’ means

6. How to properly measure the ingredients using measuring spoons and cups (for dry ingredients and for liquid ingredients)

7.  How to use the calculator to convert fraction to a decimal and to multiply with fractions (I had to tell Arielle to find out what 3/4 of 225 grams is.  That was for the butter 🙂 )

8.  To use and read the numbers on a weighing scale

9.  To read food labels

10.  To carefully read recipes and follow procedures

11. How to use other kitchen utensils such as a potato masher, peeler, angled spatulas, rubber spatulas, piping bags and cake decorating tips

12.  To familiarize oneself with and operate kitchen appliances such as a Kitchenaide mixer and induction stove

13.  How to crack eggs, and separate the whites from the yolks

14.  New baking terms such as “soft ball stage” and “hard ball stage”

15.  The difference between “soft peaks” and “stiff peaks”

16.  To wait for the precise time to add the next ingredient or do the next procedure or when it’s time to turn off a running kitchen appliance

17.  To take turns and cooperate with others to be able to finish a task

18.  To appreciate one’s efforts and give praise to another for a “Good job!”

19.  To share what we cooked and baked to our helpers

20.  To clean up and share in the house chores

21. To simply try and learn how to make things better next time!

 

So when we do have those days when I don’t feel like teaching and the girls also don’t feel like studying, simple daily activities in the house come in as the “substitute teacher” and usually turn out more fun, more memorable, more engaging and more personal to Arielle and Kayla.


Homeschooling multi-level girls, with different learning styles, can be a real challenge and leave me exhausted even before the day ends.  Add the other mommy and wife duties to that and sometimes, I find myself just wanting to be alone (Hang the “Do not disturb!” sign please), trying to find an ‘escape’. So how do I recharge myself during down time?  Here are some things I do and that have worked for me.

1.  I take coffee.  Yes, I take one cup every morning (a must!) and another one before or just a little after lunch.  Coffee both perks me up and relaxes me.  With it, I’m able to do what I’m supposed to do for the day.

2. I read books and magazines.  I love self-help and inspirational books! For a short period of time, they keep my mind off the many things I have to do.  It helps me concentrate on a single task first, which is to read, and then helps me to refocus after.

3.  I keep in touch and reconnect with friends, whether they reply or not (But they often do!).  It’s a form of release, just being able to say ‘Hello!’ to them or express my thoughts and feelings.  Also, I try my best to use all these social networking sites (Yahoo Messenger, Facebook, Twitter…) as productively and as beneficial as possible.  I chat with my homeschool friends online, often times ending up the one giving advice and encouragement to them.  It feels good being able to help another person and realize that the sun has been shining down on me all along!

4.  I say short prayers!  And I do this a lot! This is another form of release for me.  It’s a comforting feeling knowing that God is listening, knows what’s in my mind or what I’m going through that very minute I’m praying to Him.

5.  I take naps.  I try to listen to my body and often times, naps make a big difference as to how I will function the rest of the day and how my mood will be. (So when I tell my girls that I need to take a nap, they know that means no disturbance.  Or else, they’ll be having a Grumpy Mama! 🙂 )

6.  I cook or bake.  The sensory experience it brings is therapeutic…and it’s fun to eat, especially if what you cooked or baked for the first time, turned out YUM-O!

7.  I watch tv.  This goes to the bottom part of my list because at this point in my life, I noticed that I rarely get to actually sit down, watch tv, and finish an entire show.  I always find myself turning on the tv, finding a channel to watch, and standing up a couple of minutes after, already doing something else.  But when I do get to watch segments,  I feel like being in another setting, just like when I read a book or a magazine, a break from the usual humdrum.

8.  I play with our pet dogs!  Animals, especially dogs, are such loving creations of God!  We have a mini daschund, named Hershey, who loves getting a belly rub from me and my girls, and a Jack Russell Terrier, named Teri, who is very active and playful.  She is one ‘Energizer Terrier’!

When outside the house,

1.  I meet up with friends!  Sharing laughter with a friend or two is always a welcome treat for me.

2. I go get a massage or acupuncture (Acupuncture has become a form of relaxation and an alternative health treatment for me), facial, haircut or scalp treatment, manicure  and pedicure.  These girly stuff have become my ‘best friends’.

3.  I watch a nice movie with my family.

4. I eat in a restaurant that serves good meals, to give in to my cravings or take my comfort food, which is…dessert :).

So this is how I’m able to do what I’m supposed to do when  my mind and body go through down time.  It’s amazing how I’ve managed to reorganize my life after we’ve decided to homeschool and recharge to keep up with our always on-the-go lifestyle.    I’m just thankful that God has been blessing me with an able and pretty  healthy body  to answer the needs of  my homeschooling family.   (But I still need to get back to a regular exercise regimen 🙂 )