Workshop: Blog Branding

Last Saturday was my second time to join Dainty Mom‘s writing workshop.  First one I attended was all about Thinking Editorially.  This time it was about Branding.  Both workshops were held at La Creperie in San Juan.  Although I don’t consider myself a legit blogger (I just felt something inside me that I do have something to share about our homeschooling lifestyle and journey via blogging), I find myself looking forward to joining workshops like these for two reasons: to improve my writing in order to share our experiences as a homeschooling family and (2) to also meet and connect with other women who have their own stories to tell.  Plus, it’s also a bonus to meet other women who happen to share the same interests as I do and who are generous enough to share what they know in areas I don’t know 🙂

My family and I came all the way from the south, from our morning sewing class and arrived just in time to have lunch.  We chose to have it two doors away from La Creperie at Calderon, a Spanish resto (which was a great foodie discovery, by the way).  Last Friday, we also discovered two other new places in Kapitolyo, Pasig in search for a place to eat dinner before heading home. Our friend recommended Poco Deli, which unfortunately did not have a table for four available and so, their staff immediately pointed us to their other place, Epic Coffee Roastery, which was just a few meters away.  Our food interestingly came from the kitchen of Poco Deli and was “delivered” to Epic.  Good service and good food for first-timers like us.   After trying out places that are totally new to me in the past two days, spending my Saturday afternoon in a workshop at La Creperie felt more like going and being “home”.  Its hole-in-the-wall kind of place, pretty interior, and of course, yummy food especially their crepes (obviously) were really a warm welcome, considering that I’ve experienced a freaky kind of weather, alternating between rainy-windy-stormy and fair-almost-sunny, from just moving from one part of the city to another in the last 24 hours!

Welcoming us on our seats was
our giveaway from our sponsor, Mustela!
And our printed workshop material made by Dainty Mom 🙂

The afternoon turned out to be a unique and interesting gathering of women bloggers with different personalities, interests, professions, and backgrounds.  We were just nine but that was enough for me to feel comfy.  I guess we ALL already felt comfy because from the time we introduced ourselves, we were already candidly talking about how to conceive a baby girl or a baby boy and later on, about relationships that developed with a significant other in a music choir! In the group, we had a corporate trainor on communication and personality development, a military wife, a single lady, a marketing manager with cute twins, a theology college professor, a full-time working mom who also sings for a band, a working mom based in Singapore, a soon-to-be blogger (who was the luckiest among us to win that coveted Moleskine planner!),  and me, a homeschool mom.  Different women.  Different stories to tell.  Different messages to share.

That brings me to WORKSHOP NOTE #1:  MY BLOG IS MY MESSAGE TO THE WORLD.  It goes deeper and beyond the theme, the colors, the logo, although all these elements should consistently and clearly reflect who I truly am and is all part of blog branding.  Strip down all these and what’s left is my unique voice, my YOU-nique message that nobody else has, that nobody else can tell the way I would and would want to.

I will never forget my very first blogging workshop with Arriane Serafico called Blogworthy. That was what I would consider my leap of faith on blogging and we had a giveaway which sums up what blogging is all about. YOUR BLOG IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THE WORLD.  MAKE IT A GOOD ONE.

What is THE MESSAGE you want to share
to the world?

 

Martine, the blogger behind Dainty Mom, spelled out the same message in the workshop, loud and clear.  How you share that message of yours in your blog, photos, tweets, posts is part of what makes up your branding.

BRAND = YOUR MESSAGE; YOUR “WHY”; YOUR PURPOSE

 

Snack Time: Mini Burgers and Fries!

Snack Time: Mini Burgers and Fries!

 

WORKSHOP NOTE #2:  I may be writing FOR an audience, TO a particular set of readers, but I must remember that when I write, it is not about pleasing everybody or somebody.  I sometimes fall into that trap.  Quite tricky, actually.  After giving it some thought, it was clearer and it made sense to me.  After all, it’s MY BLOG.  It’s MY MESSAGE.  I decide what I want to write and how I want to write a piece of article. That keeps me true to my UNIQUE self AND how I want to be remembered by my readers.  If I decide to share something negative, then it would be my discretion on how I would want to impart that thought or experience.  Do I keep it negative all throughout and make it a tell-all kind of post?  Or do I make it a point to bring out the positive in the end?  Do I expose my entire self to my readers or do I keep a part of me private?  The key is to be as comfortable as I want without putting up a pretentious front (You really wouldn’t want to fake your readers, would you?).   The blogging platform can be my comfortable home or an extension of myself but at the same time, I really don’t need to expose my dirty laundry (Unless, that’s how I would want things to be and I’m okay with that!)  

And it was really time to snack on La Creperie’s house favorite! 🙂

La Creperie's house favorite: Salidou (homemade salted butter caramel crepe)!

La Creperie’s house favorite:
Salidou (homemade salted butter caramel crepe)!

 

Lastly, what I found new and helpful in the workshop was our Brainstorming #2 session where each of us had to create a character of our blog reader.  To me, it was both an exercise on looking outward and inward, a thinking of whom I’m connecting via my blog and of myself.  It was kinda like a 360 degree kind of turn where it gave me an opportunity to identify and get a closer look of my audience, describe her and give her a full profile, which for me, was also a reflection of myself. It was an exercise that I felt would help in MAKING THAT CONNECTION to my readers to be able to CONSISTENTLY AND CLEARLY IDENTIFY THE MESSAGE I WANT TO IMPART THROUGH MY BLOG. What made the session also interesting was when Martine cited sample blogs similar to each of our blogs (to most, if not all of us), giving us some kind of reference as to how to give our own blogs our unique brand and voice. (Unfortunately, Martine didn’t show a homeschool blog similar to mine.  I take it as both good and bad.  Good, because it means my blog is truly unique and there’s really no one out there blogging about homeschooling tweens and teens who is based in Asia or in the Philippines, specifically.  Bad, because I may be the only one doing it as of the moment, leaving me alone in this and trailblazing it in the local blogosphere. I feel alone and with no one to look up to!)

 

Workshop: Blog Branding

Our varied personalities in the workshop
and yet intimate

 

Overall, the workshop ended on a happy note!  We all gained from Martine’s expertise and learned from each other.  I personally went home with a full tummy, and with new insights and learnings. I’m glad I joined this workshop (which was also a clear example to our homeschooled girls of what lifelong learning is all about!) 🙂

 


 

Crafts and more

I decided to doodle for this post.
After all, doodling is a craft
and it’s a creation 🙂
I doodled the different crafts we did
as described in my blog.

Last August 27 and 28 were not D-Days, but C-Days for us.  We took the S out of School and had SC(h)OOL days.  Our school was temporarily spelled with a “C”, making it COOL days.   

Since Arielle had to go to Manila (August 27) with her Papa to attend her NCAT (National Career Assessment Test) Orientation and Kayla was almost done with her 1st quarter portfolio, I decided to take a break before we all move on to 2nd quarter.   When I told the girls about the plan, Kayla got soooo excited!  So, I let her decide on what we were going to do.  Now that’s another C!  

C-hild-led Activities! 

Kayla and I spent those two days doing Crafts and more!  Let me just show you the pictures of our C-reations.  (C-aution:  Lots of Photos!)

Crafts and more

We spray painted pendants for
Kayla’s necklaces,
which she had planned
to design with washi tapes.

Our stash of washi tapes!

Our stash of washi tapes!

Crafts and more

Dye for tie-dying our shirts

Crafts and more

Kayla was doing her blue ombre
dyed shirt.

Crafts and more

She showed me step by step
a method on tie-dying a shirt.

Crafts and more

Powdered dye and rubber bands
are a few essentials on shirt tie-dying.

Crafts and more

Applying different colored dyes
on the different sections of the shirt

Crafts and more

Washing off excess dye with water

Crafts and more

Tada!!! That’s MY tie-dye shirt! 🙂

Crafts and more

I love my tie-dye shirt!!!
Thank you, Kayla!!!

Crafts and more

We also made some rubber stamps.

Crafts and more

The rubber stamps
Kayla and I did

Crafts and more

Kayla’s rubber stamps;
I love her TARDIS (from Dr. Who series) stamp!
She is sooo good in C-ARVING out
those cheap erasers…talk about fine motor skills!

Crafts and more

The ones I made:
a star, smile!, a smiley face,
a flower, and a Mickey Mouse hat

 

The next day, Arielle liked my shirt so much, she also tie-dyed her white tank top (with Kayla as her teacher, of course!)

Crafts and more

Arielle’s now tie-dyed tank top

 

Kayla was able to work on her shirt last.

Crafts and more

This is Kayla’s version…
LOVE the deeper colors!

 

And we’re not done yet!  We also tried making Creme Brulee, which Kayla had been wanting to do since summer.  I was scared to figure out how to make the torch work and was willing to wait for Mike to get home, but Kayla was able to  do it.  Finally, Kayla researched for an eggless recipe of Cookie Dough as topping for ice cream and made a batch herself.

Crafts and more

Creme Brulee in ramekins
ready to be baked
in the oven!

Crafts and more

For the final touch

Crafts and more

No, those aren’t raisins;
they’re chocolate chips 🙂

C is definitely for Crafts and more!  For Creme Brulee!  For Cookie Dough on ice cream!  C is for Creativity!  C is for Creations!

(Imagine me doing a C-artwheel now!)

Do you also have C-days in your homeschooling? It is a good breather and is sooo much fun to do!!!

 


I recently shared with you what the girls are learning for their TLE (Technology and Livelihood Education).  They’re into sewing and are having such a wonderful time learning the craft!

Here’s what Kayla has sewn so far:

Life Skill: Sewing

A sewing bag, a notions bag,
a denim skirt, and
a square-necked blouse

Life Skill: Sewing

Buttons at the back of the skirt

 

Arielle has made these:

Life Skill: Sewing

Arielle’s sewing bag and
notions bag

Life Skill: Sewing

A pair of denim shorts

Life Skill: Sewing

A dinosaur print shoulder-tie bag
with a mushroom print fabric as lining

 

Okay, I can’t help it!  Here’s my PREEETTY shoulder-tie bag! I’m so proud of myself and I’m sooo sew happy with this!  Some stitches weren’t straight but hey, for a first-timer, don’t you think I did well in actually following the pattern and sewing the pieces together? 🙂

Life Skill: Sewing

I just looove my shoulder-tie bag!!!

 

Sewing has been such a worthwhile learning experience and we are all, especially the girls, are looking forward to sew more! 

 


 

Wow!  I can’t believe the first three months of the schoolyear are over!  We just finished our First Quarter Portfolio and are now on our Second Quarter.  Arielle and Kayla continue to do a blog portfolio and you may check them out here and here.

I honestly feel “just okay” with our performance and portfolio for the First Quarter.  So, I’m hoping that as we move on, we’ll have better ideas and get those A-HA! moments more often.  High school homeschooling IS really a challenge!

First Quarter Portfolio

Yes! I need IDEAS
for our homeschooling!

 

Since I desperately need some direction on how to go about our next months, I decide to google for portfolio samples:

The Portfolio

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschool Portfolios

I’m also starting to think about portfolios upon exiting high school and for college application and entry.  Mike and I honestly don’t know yet where God will lead us and our girls for college, here or abroad, and so I’m keeping these two sites in mind as guide and reference.  I’m sure there are more out there. 

Homeschool Portfolio for High School

Sample Portfolios 

I didn’t realize the kind of the planning and forward thinking I would have to do at this stage of our homeschooling, especially for Arielle, who’s in 3rd year high school already.  On one hand, I’m homeschooling her, coaching her in her subjects, still attempting to read and understand her Chemistry, and most importantly, teaching her time management to be able to identify priorities, do what’s required, and teaching her other life skills.  On the other hand, I’m also thinking about her future plans for college, how to prepare for it, document-wise, as early as now.  Then, I have our tween Kayla who needs to develop good study habits, learn about time management, sharpen some academic skills like comprehension, organizing ideas and writing.

WOW!  That is really all I can say.  WOW!  I try not to be overwhelmed but sometimes, I can’t help it.  I’m really bracing myself for more CHALLENGING DAYS ahead!

 

 

 


 

Mixed Emotions

Photo Source: http://livelistendream.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/
mixed-emotions/

 

I’ve been going through mixed emotions these past couple of weeks (more of months, actually). Now, I don’t know if these are my 40+ hormones going wayward or what!

HAPPY…that we’ve actually gotten on board another year of homeschooling (after a physically taxing kind of summer vacation which isn’t how we normally spend it)

HAPPY…that I was able to put in place my survival tools (all the preparations and requirements, and finally, guide schedules, with an ‘s’) before officially and slowly starting the schoolyear last June.  Everything I finished just in time!  WHEW!!!

THANKFUL…that we have new materials to use in Religion or Christian Living (books that are specifically Catholic), Grammar, Reading, Business Mathand even new activities for P.E. (archery for Arielle and golf for Kayla; They’ve been doing competitive swimming ever since they started to homeschool.) and for TLE (sewing, where I ended up joining our girls in class! 🙂 )

TIRED and UNMOTIVATED…that I’m teaching again to Kayla the same topics in Filipino and Social Studies (which is Philippine History) and with no really good textbooks and accompanying teacher’s guide to use for both subjects!  (A fellow homeschool mom suggested The Other Philippine History Textbook by Christine Diaz (Books 1 and 2) but as of this writing, we only read about the Spanish colonization of the Philippines so I can’t say yet if I can totally ditch the hand-me-down textbooks which Arielle used in the previous years).  That’s just Filipino and Social Studies.  There’s still Math, Science, and the other subjects. 

TIRED and FRUSTRATED…that I’m still reminding our girls some routines which I had expected them to know automatically by now.  

STILL THANKFUL…that since my homeschooling family stays with my parents (I’m the only child left to BE with them), we share helpers who do the cooking, laundry, and the rest of the household duties, which I don’t have to worry much about.  BUT I make sure that our girls still are aware of their responsibilities and duties at home and that they do their share of chores, too.  We still are a family unit who move about our own ways and live our own lifestyle.  I actually ADMIRE homeschool moms who manage to homeschool their kid(s) and still do all the chores at home, and even add a full-time or part-time job to all those duties and responsibilities, whether as a WAHM (work-at-home mom) or commuting daily to the office!  HATS OFF to these SUPERMOMS! 

(Back to) FRUSTRATED…that I’m running out of ideas how to teach (well, more of coach) the different subjects to our girls! How do I do out-of-the-box teaching in Algebra, Chemistry, Physical Science, World History?

CAREFREE ATTITUDE…since I feel I lack the motivation and I don’t have any brilliant and new ideas to put some excitement in their lessons and spice up our discussion.  I usually am geared up every start of the schoolyear! But not this time 🙁  (And to think that we just started! What a way to begin!)  

(Back to) THANKFUL…that Arielle and Kayla are actually working more independently now. I still think that this is an accomplishment and victory to be celebrated.  

Do you now feel the roller coaster ride of my mixed emotions?  Brace yourselves for a few more dips and turns!

HAPPY...that I’ve found a new hobby in doodling and journaling.  It really feels good to discover that happy place for some ME time and self-expression.

AFRAID…that I won’t be able to get back on track in the next quarters with this kind of attitude and totally having no fresh ideas to make their learning more fun and exciting.

AFRAID and FRUSTRATED COMBINED…that I’m shortchanging my girls, especially Kayla,  because I’ve been less involved in their learning. 

PRETTY MUCH DETACHED, WORTHLESS, and LESS FULFILLED…because most of the time, I’ve really been just letting the girls work independently and move on from one subject to the next. Did I just change our homeschooling setup and lifestyle to one where I simply brought the classroom to our home?  Where did the “beyond books and walls” go?  How about that person in me known as “the best teacher of my children”? Did she go on leave?

UPSETwith Department of Education’s K-12 program which I feel is messing up Arielle’s high school and preparation for college and how this K-12 is making our homeschooling now feel like traditional school done at home.  That makes me feel even worse since I already feel traditional-ish in my teaching style in the first place!  The K-12 issue and our view about it should be another post to write about (if only I could put down all my thoughts, every bit of emotion in words and have the inspiration plus time to blog about it!)  

Is this how it’s supposed to be after 6 whole years of breathing the homeschooling lifestyle?  Or is there also such a thing as a 7-year itch in homeschooling?   I wonder (Hey, I’m serious.)

The only thing that’s keeping me together in one piece these days is the thought that whatever I’ve been feeling lately (ALL of it!) is probably going to do us good (GOSH! I HOPE SO!), and that with God’s blessing and promise, EVERYTHING’S GOING TO WORK OUT JUST FINE (Breathe in, breathe out). After all, Arielle’s already in 3rd year high school and Kayla’s slowly moving up to higher levels.   They do need to learn how to be independent.  I’m probably at the stage where it’s quite difficult for me to LET GO of our girls, let them stand on their own, and start flapping their wings.  I’ve probably been so attached and hands-on to them that actually seeing and letting them do things on their own gives me a weird, uncomfortable, different feeling.  Maybe, I’m not yet used to their telling me “Ma, I’m okay.  I understand my lessons.  I can do it by myself.”

I just didn’t expect this to happen this year.  So soon?  I’ve been harping on teaching the life skill, independence, and now that’s actually and slowly happening in front of my face, I don’t know how to deal with it.  It is quite a surprise…something unexpected.

All these mixed emotions! SIGH!!!  All I can do right now is to chill.  To let go.  To pray hard to be a better and wiser parent to them as I go through this parenting AND homeschooling stage combined and make sure they feel that I’m just right behind them when they need me.  I probably need a change of perspective to be able to deal with these growing-up and moving-on changes in our life. 

How have you been feeling lately with your homeschooling?  Have you had mixed emotions, too? How did you cope and how do you deal with them?