This topic was something I was planning to write this Holy Week but it didn’t happen. Then, a question posted by one of the moms in our homeschool groups asked about it just today and I said to myself, “There you go! Write about it.”

Having two daughters, one is 18 years old (technically and officially an adult already) and the other turning 16 soon, the life skills I taught and am still teaching them are probably more household-related and about learning how to be domesticated. But then again, I don’t think these skills are gender-biased  and I honestly think boys and sons are not exempted from these life skills and should learn them as well.

When and how did or do I teach these skills to them?  I can classify them into two major occasions: (1) when we do not have a household helper and (2) when THEY really have to be the one to do it themselves and not me. You’ll understand what I mean as I list them down.

(1) The life skill that would probably be easy and the first to teach would be CLEANING UP their study area or whatever place they used to work, play, or do some activities.  This started early on when the were still in traditional school and continued when we shifted to homeschooling.  I believe it was also a way to teach them boundaries in their work spaces and where they are allowed to freely work within those boundaries. Providing them various storage spaces and organizing materials (in fun colors, all kinds, shapes and sizes), I would say, helped a lot in making them cooperate. This skill or chore eventually moved up to cleaning up their own rooms, and although their way of cleaning up is not the same as mine (Believe me, we still argue about this often!), they now KNOW when it is time for them to do some cleaning and organizing.  At least I do hear it now from them, “I need to clean my room”  or “I’m going to clean my closet and take out clothes that don’t fit me or I don’t use anymore”.  I used to do this for them but not anymore. Making them clean up their own study/work spaces or mess would benefit them most especially because they themselves would know where their things are kept since they were the ones who put them away after use. No blame game which could spark a fight or tension in the house (unless Mom asks for something and they couldn’t find it!)

(2) CHANGING THEIR BED SHEETS, BLANKETS, PILLOW CASES

When Arielle and Kayla got their own separate rooms, which is both a privilege and responsibility, they also had to be the one in-charge of changing their bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases. I was going to say “MAKING THEIR BEDS” but this is still actually a work-in-progress!

(3) CLEANING THE BATHROOM including TOILET

When we do not have any helper, our girls had no choice but to help in cleaning the house and they had to clean their side of the house which is their bedrooms and bathroom. I remember fondly that they actually enjoyed the house cleaning chore one time when they were younger because they thought it was like being “Annie”, the musical!

(4) PRE-HANDWASH their underwear. I think I taught them this when they were going through puberty and when they both finally had their menstruation period. As girls, I think it’s but proper to give their own undies a pre-handwash before finally putting them in the laundry basket or before our household help gives them a final wash. And it would, of course, be better, if they know how to fully wash their undies themselves.

(5) LAUNDRY – Again, during the time we didn’t have a household helper with us in the house and couldn’t find someone to stay with us, we had to do our laundry. Back at my own home, we’ve always had a “labandera” to wash our clothes.  I wasn’t used to doing this chore so we ALL LEARNED it together.  We all figured out which ones would go together in one batch and in the next.  Separating whites from coloured ones, putting delicates like underwear, bras, and socks in a mesh bag, turning them inside out; how to operate the washing machine and dryer, where and how much detergent and fabric conditioner to put.

When our daughter moved to Hong Kong, one of the skills I crammed in teaching her was READING FABRIC LABELS. I almost forgot to tell her to read the labels on her clothes before shoving them in the washing machine and dryer, to avoid shrinkage and unwanted damage. By learning this, she also learned to read labels before deciding to buy a piece of clothing. Will this be washer-and dryer-friendly or do I have to handwash this?  Aside from the price, I think this has become of one of her deciding factors when buying clothes. With her very busy schedule, handwashing, of course, would be more time-consuming for her and would mean another chore requiring extra time.

Confession to make: I don’t know how to iron and so, this is one skill I wasn’t able to teach or haven’t taught our girls.

(6) COOKING & BAKING – With cooking and baking come a whole list of other skills to learn.  You have:

  • reading and following recipe instructions
  • measuring
  • knife skills
  • how to operate the stovetop hob, ovens, and different kitchen appliances
  • learning the terminologies used in culinary and baking
  • proper plating (at least, knowing where to finally put or how to serve them) and proper food storage

 

I’ve written about this skill before where our girls learned from simple to more complicated skills in the kitchen.  Kayla, our soon-to-be sixteen-year old daughter, was in most, if not all, of these blogs because she was really the one more interested to cook and bake when she was younger (while Arielle, our eldest daughter was probably, happily doodling in her corner :)) You can read about our Being Absent from Books, Culinary at Home, Baking as a Life Skill, Kayla being Our Junior Chef, and Unschooling Kayla. Now that Arielle is in college by herself, exposing her in the kitchen both as a fun and forced activity made her equipped with the skills to now live independently.

IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE. Teach your sons and daughters how to cook. How to cook rice in a rice cooker. How to brew coffee in a coffee maker. Believe it or not, Arielle had to teach her COLLEGE friends how to do these!

 

(7) TABLE SETTING

I’m not big on table-setting because it’s usually just the four of us on the dinner table and we don’t throw parties.  What’s more important for me is they know how to help prepare the table and do a simple setting before our family meals.

 

(8) DO GROCERY

The grocery is another place where you could teach a number of skills to your sons and daughters. In the grocery, our “lesson plan” usually revolves around:

  • needs vs. wants
  • budget (Math lessons in here!)
  • making healthful choices
  • reading food labels
  • weighing between price and nutritional benefits
  • how much quantity to buy

The girls would often come with me to the grocery and so they see and learn every time from this chore  or regular routine that I do. And since they’ve seen the products I buy in the grocery, there have been times that I ask them to get a few items by themselves when I can’t do it myself, when we’re pressed for time, or like when there’s no parking available!

The other thing I taught, or crammed in teaching Arielle rather, was KNOWING WHAT MEAT CUTS TO CHOOSE AND BUY for the recipes she intends to cook. I gave her a flier from Monterey Meat Shop which had an illustration where the meat cuts came from and did an extra research online since I also realized that she may not know the English translation of some meat cuts in the recipes which are written and which we are more familiar with in Filipino.

 

(9) MENU PLANNING

Ahhhh…I have another confession to make. This is one of things I dislike doing. Why? Because for me, it takes E-F-F-O-R-T to think about what you would cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day, and that’s 3x a week! I honestly don’t how I manage to hack this skill but somehow I do. When I do plan our weekly menu, what I try to keep in mind is to have a balanced diet and have our fill of vegetables during the week.  I also distribute our beef, chicken, pork, fish/seafood menus during the day and week.

The one thing that goes side by side with our menu planning is learning WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS. This is also the time when the menu plan does not go as planned, which can be a good thing, because I don’t really like throwing away food that can still be eaten.  So, we try to eat and finish our leftovers immediately or come up with a recipe with them.

One of the things I asked Arielle to put together for college is a binder of her favorite and easy-to-follow recipes.  I found this article on the Ultimate Planner which we try to copy for her to bring with her to college but she eventually learned to plan her menu, do grocery, and cook as she goes. She learned to do all those on the fly.

You can read more about the skills, especially kitchen-related skills, that I taught Arielle during her gap year and before finally moving to Hong Kong here.

 

(10)  OTHER KITCHEN CHORES

Now that I’ve covered cooking, baking, doing grocery, meal planning, the girls also learned how to help out in the kitchen by:

  • washing the dirty pots, pans, appliances, dishes, utensils
  • cleaning the kitchen counters
  • throwing garbage
  • replacing the trash bins with trash bags
  • mopping the floor

 

(11) WATERING OUR SMALL GARDEN

We have a small bermuda garden which needs to be watered twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. An extra helping hand to do this when our helper is not around is much appreciated!

 

(12) WALKING OUR DOG

Same with watering our garden, walking our dog in the morning and afternoon is something that must be done daily and regularly. When our helper is not around and I’m already busy in the kitchen preparing our meal, then that’s when Kayla (in this case, it’s just Kayla since she’s the only one left with me in the house) does her share and responsibility.  And this includes picking up our dog’s poop!

 

(13) FILLING UP FORMS, MAKING BANK DEPOSITS

One opportunity that probably made me teach them how to make bank deposits was when they had to pay someone for something that they bought from them. As homeschoolers, filling up forms is not something we are used to doing. So, filling up those bank deposit slips, counting the bills and writing them down into denominations, lining up and finally making the deposit with the bank teller (Aha! Socialization skill!) is important and should not intimidate them.  It is also a good opportunity to teach them to deposit their own savings in the bank and how the process goes.

 

(14) BUDGETING

Now that Arielle is in college and living independently, she now sees how her cash flows. She now understands the need to budget her allowance properly, wisely, and how to be prudent in her spending. When she just moved in to HK, I had to do one more thing for her to help her track her spending. I made a spreadsheet for her so she can plug in details of her expenses in cash and credit card. Yes, she is a supplementary cardholder because we felt it would be best for her to have one as a backup. Since at that time, we haven’t learned yet what the requirements are to open a bank account in HK (which she had extreme difficulty with and still failed to open one later on), she needed to have both cash and credit cards with her.

 

(15) SEWING

The girls took sewing as their HELE and at one point, we were all classmates.  It is one hobby that is nice to take up and definitely another skill worth knowing.  Learning to sew was one of the fun learning experiences in our homeschooling and the girls even had a chance to model their creations and help others in need with this skill.

 

(16) TIME MANAGEMENT

As life becomes more serious, more demanding, and schedules more hectic and rigorous as our kids get older, they need to learn how to manage their time well.  Arielle’s schedule as a freshman student is VERY HECTIC and she is learning to balance all the things she needs to do in school, at home (grocery, cooking, laundry), for herself (personal time alone, with friends, and with God during Sunday mass). On  the other hand, Kayla is also learning how to do her academic requirements while making time for her golf training and tournaments. I can see both of them having a tough time but I can’t do these for them. They have to learn it for themselves.

 

(17) DEALING with OTHER PEOPLE

Dealing AND living with other people whose ways and lifestyle are different from hers is one of the first and the biggest lessons Arielle had to deal with in college.  It was tough and it still is for her. But she’s learned to speak up, accept and deal with their differences, walk away if she has to and find a place to be able to do what she needs to do, be more patient and to exercise empathy, be flexible and yet, to do what is right. It can be frustrating and exasperating for both of us, and for me as well, as I listen to her stories, but again, this is something she can’t escape from and has to learn herself.  She has to learn how to deal with different kinds of people and experience it herself.

I would also like to add that learning how to DISCERN PEOPLE who would be a good company or good friends is very, very important.  This is where all your character-building lessons would come in later on and would be tested.

 

(18)  WHAT TO DO WHEN TRAVELING/GOING ON A TRIP

I almost forgot about this! This is one life skill that was fun for me to teach and for them to learn. When we had opportunities to travel locally and abroad, it was good time for me to teach them about:

Arielle and Kayla were already able to join summer marine camps and travel by plane from Manila to Bacolod and vice-versa without us. When it was time for Arielle to move to Hong Kong and fly back to Manila during her breaks, she already knew what to do.

 

There are so many more life skills I want and should teach our daughters, and one of them is how to commute. But because of fear and safety issues here in Manila and in our country, Mike and I would rather drive or take them to where they want or need to go, pick them up and drive home together. Commuting in Hong Kong is easy and tourist-friendly as long as one knows some navigation and map-reading skills, which I’m glad Arielle has.    Another skill I would want them to learn or develop is entrepreneurship and financial literacy. On the more mechanical side, I would also love them to learn how to troubleshoot a car, to at least know how to change a flat tire (that includes me, actually!). Lastly, we all need to learn or refresh on how to administer first-aid, how to put out a fire, and how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do when there’s an earthquake.

The young ones today would say, “How do you adult?”  When they say that, they are actually referring to the many life skills that they all need to know to be able go through their daily activities, routines, responsibilities, and survive at the end of each day! Did you know that there’s now an Adult School in the U.S. that intends to teach grown-up skills to young adults??? We are indeed blessed and privileged to be able to personally teach our children and have that flexibility of time because the truth is, life is not all about books, school and academics.

What life skills do you teach to your children or have taught them?  What other life skills do you think they should learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

“What about socialization?”, you may ask (up to now). I am proud and it makes me happy to say that it was NEVER a problem with our two daughters.  To begin with, socialization is NOT defined as (1) the number of friends one has or (2) as the different venues where one gets to meet other people.   It is not 935 friends or 2,684 followers.  Nor is it merely counting the classes our children are enrolled in and activities that keep their schedules full.  The piano class AND guitar class.  AND football training…AND church group…The dance class…AND art class…AND the weekend camp….AND the volunteer work…AND the party of a friend…AND the family reunion. The more Facebook friends, Instagram followers, and the more classes, the better socialized?  Not necessarily.

Social media today (FB, IG, Twitter, etc.) does not correctly define socialization or it twists the definition of socialization.  Overpacking our children’s schedules does not automatically make them well-rounded AND well-mannered persons either.  I honestly think Merriam Webster gives an easy-to-understand, practical definition of how it is to socialize.  According to Merriam-Webster, to socialize is TO TALK TO and DO THINGS with other people in a FRIENDLY way (take note of “talk to and do things” and “friendly”) and to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is ACCEPTABLE in society (again, take note of  “behave” and “acceptable”).

Currently a freshman at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Hong Kong for college, our eldest daughter, Arielle, already has friends of different nationalities.  She’s been able to ADAPT to different sets of friends and is not pressured to have to exclusively stick to just one group.  Being homeschooled for 8 years, she has learned how to WORK INDEPENDENTLY and BE INDEPENDENT, and at the same time, WORK IN A GROUP to foster TEAMWORK and CONDUCT HERSELF PROPERLY when with different kinds of people, WITHOUT COMPROMISING HER CHARACTER, HER FAITH, and WHO SHE RELALY IS. She knows when to say YES and more importantly, WHEN TO SAY NO.

The most recent pic sent to me by Arielle

The past 4 weeks have been a stressful adjustment, no doubt, on having to live independently, do basic life skills of budgeting, grocering, cooking, washing pans/dishes/utensils/glasses/food containers, meal planning, laundry, commuting while doing the intense demands of art school. But she’s coping and has learned “to adult”, speaking in their generation’s language.  We’ve really raised a brave, independent, confident girl.

Being in daily communication with her via WhatsApp and FaceTime with updates, questions, news, reminders, discoveries, and all sorts of stories (both good and bad) since we got back home, I’ve been through heartbreaking and joyful, thankful moments combined.  It may sound as if I haven’t learned to totally let go yet. But I realized that letting go does not mean having to lessen the communication between us.  After all, the OPEN, oh-so-HONEST COMMUNICATION and STRONG FAMILY BOND we have are the biggest benefits we truly enjoy from our homeschooling.  WE ARE A FAMILY.  We STAY TOGETHER AS A FAMILY no matter how far apart we may be from one another.  WE ALL DO OUR PART TO BE A FAMILY.  So why break the ties just to conform to the somewhat literal definition of “letting go”?

Our final parting with Arielle

So this is how it is and feels like to let go of your child after giving her the roots to ground herself with, and finally, the wings to make her fly.  It was NEVER the SOCIALIZATION that we were afraid of. NAH!!! It was really more of LEARNING HOW TO MANAGE HER TIME WELL AND BALANCE HER INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH HER STUDIES. TAKING CARE OF HERSELF PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY, MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, ARTISTICALLY, SOCIALLY in order to PRESERVE and NURTURE her WHOLE BEING. IT’S ALL ABOUT A BEING RESPONSIBLE ADULT GIVEN THE FREEDOM SHE HAS RIGHT NOW.

You know what? She has already begun to be one.  She has already proven herself to us that SHE CAN BE TRUSTED (This TOPS it all). SHE IS RESPONSIBLE. SHE CAN DO IT ON HER OWN!   Mike, Kayla, and I are SO PROUD of her! And WE DIDN’T and DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SOCIALIZATION.

 


With just a month and a week left before Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college, guess what I’ve been teaching her, as both hands-on and plain verbal lectures and reminders (lots and lots of them)? They all have one thing in common. They are the things we adults do everyday or 99% of the time.  They are the things we struggle and juggle to do, making us survivors or experts of these skills.

They are all home management and real life skills.

Here is what my College 101 “lesson plan” or curriculum for Arielle looks like.  I came up with 5 categories: (1) meal planning, (2) laundry, (3) finance or money management, (4) social skills and character-building & application, (5) getting to places.

MEAL PLANNING:

  • Weekly Menu Planning

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, Arielle’s been in-charge (and I mean, IN-CHARGE!) of our weekly menus. She lists them down using a printable menu planner such as this.  I taught her to try as much as possible, to have vegetables at least once a day, or if not, at least have a good distribution of beef, pork, chicken during the entire week.  My very least requirement for her when she’s already in Hong Kong is to prepare green smoothies every morning.  That is the fastest way to make sure that she gets to eat greens.

Since Arielle will be staying in a 3-bedroom unit with a small kitchen (like a condo) and the SCAD building does not really have a cafeteria where she can buy food (but there are lots of places to eat nearby), she has to learn how to cook and be economical.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest and so, Arielle and I made one (minus the actual binder/folder since it will be an extra weight in her luggage) with our own recipes, downloads, or photocopies.

We also made a pantry staples list with items that need to be in her grocery list to make sure that they are in stock in their kitchen.  Things like eggs, cooking oil, bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, condiments, salt, pepper, rice, coffee/tea, honey, sugar, milk, etc.

  • Making a grocery shopping list

Based on her weekly menu plan, she learned to list down the kitchen and pantry items that need to be replenished and ingredients that need to be bought at the grocery.

  • Actual Meal Preparation, Cooking, Cleaning Up = TIME MANAGEMENT

This is probably the most challenging to teach.  Arielle hasn’t quite gotten the concept of time involved in preparing a meal.  The meat thawing (we don’t defrost meat using a microwave or oven method), cleaning and chopping of vegetables, marinating of the meat, tenderizing, different cooking methods all require TIME.  She still hasn’t fully understood that IT TAKES TIME to prepare a meal, to cook a meal (not unless one is going to eat straight from the can or bottle, which I do not recommend), and clean up afterwards. So, if she’s going to bring lunch to school or cook dinner after school, MENU PLANNING, a WELL-STOCKED PANTRY of INGREDIENTS, and CLAYGO (CLean As You GO) are key.

  • Leftovers Management

This is where Mike speaks.  “You have to learn how to eat leftovers.”  And I’m just glad that she is not a picky eater that she can eat leftovers.

  • Beef and Pork Meat Cuts Illustration, English translations, Cooking Guide

I was too focused on the meal planning and cooking tasks (since our daily meals depended on her!) that  I almost forgot that some of the recipes she follows have the meat cuts written in Tagalog. I realized that when she goes to the grocery or if she gets to go to the market in HK, she wouldn’t know the English translation of those meat cuts.  So, I immediately photocopied the flier I have in my files from Monterey, a local meat shop, which has an illustration of a cow and where the different beef cuts come from and their English names.  I didn’t have any flier on pork and so, I went to the website of Monterey, googled some more and went to Pinterest.  Whew!

 

LAUNDRY:

  • Laundry (How-to to links and videos, International Fabric/Laundry Care Symbols)

Arielle admitted that she is not too confident about this.  She did laundry before using our washing machine and dryer when we didn’t have a house helper but it’s not something she mastered.  All she knows is to separate the whites from the colored, put the delicates in laundry wash/net bags, and to button or zip those that have buttons or zippers.  So, just last night, I emailed her links on how to do laundry plus visuals on the different fabric/laundry care symbols attached to the garments.  This is  still her reading assignment.

FINANCE or MONEY MANAGEMENT:

  • Opening a bank account

I am hoping that we would be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong on the day we arrive or at the latest, the day after.  But having seen the schedules sent by SCAD on the activities for the new students, everyday (including the Saturday and Sunday before their first day of class) is filled up with activities.  If we don’t get to do this with her, then she would have to do it by herself.

  • Budgeting, Wise and prudent spending

From the very start, Mike and I already explained to Arielle that her going to SCAD is going to be very expensive and that keeping the scholarship given to her would help A LOT.  So she knows and fully understands that she needs to be wise and prudent in order to keep spending low and on what’s necessary.  I’m thankful that when Arielle and I talk about her moving to Hong Kong, what really, (and I mean, REALLY!) excites her is going to class and learning!  Yes, she’s excited to try out new food, go around and see where she can buy clothes, but hearing that she has that attitude and love for learning inside her, it just makes me more at peace and confident that she’ll make it through college.

 

SOCIAL SKILLS and CHARACTER-BUILDING & APPLICATION:

  • Social skills
  • Chores assignment, Meal planning, Cost sharing of common household items

Arielle will be with other international students and professors from different countries at SCAD. For this freshman year, she will be having two roommates with her who, fortunately, are going to be Filipinas. She will be in a Chinese-speaking territory. This is going to be the real test on socialization and character, on adaptability and getting along with different kinds of people.  I can’t wait to hear stories from her after a few weeks or so in Hong Kong.

 

GETTING TO PLACES:

  • Commuting (map reading, navigation, trip planning)

Fortunately, there’s a free scheduled shuttle bus that takes SCAD students living in the housing to the campus and back to the Residences throughout the day until evening. But going to other places like the grocery, restaurants, and shops would mean taking the MTR or bus.  Commuting will be her way of life in Hong Kong (which she never did in Manila or we never allowed her to do for safety reasons) and she would learn how to read maps, navigate and plan her trips well to maximize her time and be cost-efficient.

 

So you see, her gap year has been well-spent and she is still learning valuable skills that she needs to take with her before she finally leaves for college.  We all feel well-prepared, most especially, her, and that’s what’s important.

Our pieces of luggage are next in line, ready for packing.  Now that’s going to be another skill to teach her. How to pack (within the set baggage allowance) and eventually, how to travel on an international flight alone.  This college life is going to be one exciting journey (literally and figuratvely) for both Arielle and me!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

My BFF from Virginia (Yes, mommies need and have BFFs, too!) was in town recently and we met up to have our usual girly-mommy chat.  Of course, we never miss to talk about our kids and update each other about them.  We’ve been friends since Grade 7 and so, we practically grew up together from the teenage years to motherhood.

After asking how her aunt’s passing, wake, and funeral went (the reason for her trip), we talked about Kayla and Arielle.  Kayla first.  Where I plan to transfer Kayla by next schoolyear, Grade 10. How different senior high school here is from the U.S. (Junior High School is Grades 7 and 8; Senior High School is Grades to 9 to 12) and most especially, how SERIOUS and EARLY they do career planning over there as opposed to how we’re trying to implement it here only in the last two years of high school under the K-12 program.  (It really makes we wonder if the Department of Education will be able to successfully implement the program and really prepare the students in the fields of their strengths or choice.)  Her daughter is in 7th Grade and they’re already carefully planning courses she will take now so she can start getting high school credit.   HIGH SCHOOL, not COLLEGE!  My friend said that choices in high school are overwhelming her and she herself has so much to learn about how high school works!  Her daughter’s school (and I believe, all U.S. schools) has a database where each student has a record, an inventory of strengths and goals, career explorations, documentation of activities, volunteer hours, and most importantly, they already begin to identify courses they may want to take in HIGH SCHOOL (again, HIGH SCHOOL, not college yet).  All these so they can do a goal-setting and a learning plan IN HIGH SCHOOL so by the time they enter college, they are all set;  they are prepared; they are focused and they know what they want to do. How amazing is that!  It just MAKES SO MUCH SENSE, right?

That’s why I am taking a conscious effort now to really find out Kayla’s strengths and interests.  I plan to let her take an assessment with Career Direct (just like what Arielle took where art was an obvious result of the assessment) this coming May or June after she turns 15.  Hopefully, we would be able to clearly identify what careers she will really thrive in and be successful at.  I’m also praying that her golf would open doors of opportunities and more specific options for her.

With Arielle, it’s another kind of planning.  My friend and I first talked about how her scholarship application with SCAD is going and then, we eventually ended up with the topic on how she will eat while in college!  You see, Arielle will be staying in a residential unit in Hong Kong with two roommates and she will be in charge of her meals (and laundry).  Since SCAD-HK is just a building, not a campus, it has a small cafeteria which doesn’t really offer much or offer meals on a regular basis.  That only means one thing: she has to cook.  She can’t buy her food all the time.  That would not come out budget- and health-friendly (the MSG in Chinese food!).  And this is exactly what Arielle and I have been working on these past weeks.  Skills in cooking, food preparation, and meal planning.  It always makes me so happy when my BFF and I are always thinking about the same thing.  We call each other “my other brain” because we help each other process each other’s thoughts and we think of the same things 99% of the time!  You see, I feel that Arielle doesn’t seem to understand my point when I tell her that she has to P-L-A-N her meals AHEAD of TIME.  She just can’t go to the kitchen 10 minutes before mealtime, thaw frozen meat that can take hours, prepare the ingredients and cook.  It just doesn’t work that way. I’m just glad my BFF and I were on the same page and she started talking as if I was the one talking to Arielle.  Her mommy talk was just what I needed.

And that brings me to another point.  An important one: why it’s highly recommended for homeschool parents to meet up and do activities or fellowship.  Because the meetups and gatherings are not only venues to get out of the house, relax, but more often, it is a venue to exchange notes and tips on what works with you and what works for the others that could be worth-trying.  Just like meeting up with my BFF for lunch and dessert, the face-to-face encounter with other homeschool moms and dads brings a different personal interaction (as opposed to FB or Viber groups, although they have their own benefits and advantages) which I believe becomes a soothing therapy, and a much needed encouragement and inspiration.

So, the talk on meals then reminded me of a pin I recently saved in my Pinterest.  It was about meal planning using Post-Its and a binder.  Ok, who doesn’t love Post-Its???  I knew Arielle would need this and with the colorful and easy-transfer Post-Its, Arielle will survive college!  It’s also making me think now to redo my recipe binder into this one!

After showing her how this meal plan binder works, I told her to make a spreadsheet of all the recipes she knows how to cook or wants to cook.  Categories were:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Pasta/Noodles/Rice/Oats
  • Eggs
  • Soup
  • Smoothies (If she can’t always cook vegetables, then she has to drink them!)
  • Dessert (her favorite!)

After creating the file, we were able to see visually what she lacks (more recipes on fish!) and what recipes she needs to learn and practice some more.

Plus, we also realized that she not only has to learn how to cook but what would help her save time every morning before she leaves for school are:

(1) make-ahead meals

(2) freezer meals

(3) one pot or one skillet meals

In order to complete her menu planner binder, Arielle still needs to do the following:

(1) type out all the recipes she will put in the binder

(2) print out the menu planner printables

(3) assemble/put them together in the binder

(4) make categories for the Post-Its (green for vegetables, yellow for beef, blue for pork, and so on)

(5) and start doing a mock-up/sample menu plan for a week

(6) plus, make a list of pantry/kitchen ingredient staples

 

With a lot more to do and teach about menu planning and cooking, Google and Pinterest are now my new best friends 🙂  They will not only make teaching more fun and visually appealing but it will also make life much easier for a homeschool mom like me with a college-bound, visual-learner daughter who will be living on her own overseas.

How do you plan your menu and organize your recipes?  I would need all the tips I could get!


 

Sew Easy’s “I Made It!” first Fashion Show 2014!

Last Saturday, March 22, 2014, Arielle and Kayla joined other kids of Sew Easy For Kids Manila in its very first fashion show entitled “I Made It!”.  It was the studio’s culminating event for the year where all the students, ages 8 to 15, proudly walked down the runway wearing their very own Lounge Wear and Casuals pieces which they sewed themselves!  The event was a collaboration of supportive moms, friends, and sponsors (Brother International Philippines, California Advanced Nails and Skin Care (CANS), McDonald’s, Claire’s, Mean Green, Alabang Town Center) who made it all possible!  Ooops!  Let me correct that.   It was really the Lord who made it possible because all the pieces to put up a show just seamlessly (ehem!) fell into place in such a short period of time. And it was also the love and passion of the kids and parents to bring back the craft and life skill of sewing which made the work behind the show easier.  

Before I share some of the FUN! photos of what happened before, during, and after the fashion show, you may read more about the event here and here.

And now for the photos..

The runway!

Thank you, McDonald's, for our lunch!

Thank you, McDonald’s,
for our lunch!

Havin' their nails done by CANS :)

Havin’ their nails done by CANS 🙂

Time to glam up the hair!

Time to glam up the hair!

Arielle wanted a braided hairstyle :)

Arielle wanted a braided hairstyle 🙂

Just one of the scenes backstage:
Everyone helping out each other
with their makeup 🙂

 

Kayla's Night Shirt

Kayla’s Night Shirt

Kayla's Square-Neck Blouse, Denim Skirt, and Shoulder-Tie Bag  (Yup! She did all those!)

Kayla’s Square-Neck Blouse,
Denim Skirt, and
Shoulder-Tie Bag
(Yup! She made all those!)

Kayla's Pants

Kayla’s Pants

Kayla's Flowy Skirt  and Backpack

Kayla’s Flowy Skirt
and Backpack

 

Arielle's Denim Shorts

Arielle’s Denim Shorts

Arielle's Capri Pants and Backpack

Arielle’s Capri Pants and
Backpack

Arielle's V-Neck Blouse and Shoulder-Tie Bag

Arielle’s V-Neck Blouse and
Shoulder-Tie Bag

Arielle's Flowy Skirt

Arielle’s Flowy Skirt

 

The woman behind Sew Easy, Teacher Anne
del Rosario!

Everyone just clowning around after the show! :)

Everyone just clowning around after the show! 🙂

 

I am just so proud of these young girls and so thankful to Teacher Anne for making sewing SO FUN and SO  SEW EASY! 🙂

If you want to give sewing a try and discover for yourself a new craft or hobby (Believe me, it’s quite addicting!), then check out Sew Easy studio along Aguirre Avenue in BF Paranaque for their summer camp!  That will be a total of 15 hours of pure sewing fun! 🙂

 

 

 


 

No, it’s not a typo error.  It is really spelled as W-R-I-T-E.  But before that…

I haven’t been able to blog lately because of some unexpected turn of events (mother-in-law’s passing, home renovation finalizations, moving in chores (which seem endless!), among others), which were happening all at the same time!  All these kinda shook up my life (and sanity) just when I was trying to psyche myself up for a brand new 2014!  But something took place last Saturday which is worth blogging, and I am talking about I KNOW WRITE, a teen bloggers meetup, organized by three teenage girls, Arielle (our eldest daughter), Jodie Alejaga, and Nina Alvia. The first ever of its kind!  Woot! Woot!

I Know Write MNL 2014

Name and Design by Arielle

I wasn’t really planning on being the “stage mom” kind of mom last Saturday.  All I had asked permission from Arielle was to take pictures (which she agreed to last minute!) so I can blog about it.  I was even seated at a table outside their reserved function room at Kuppa Roastery & Cafe, to keep my distance.  But as I was observing how these newbie teens were handling the nitty-gritty of the event, I felt they somehow needed a standby coach just to help them smoothly go through their activities without having to pay extra for going over their two-hour reservation.  Planning for and hosting this meetup was one great opportunity to teach Arielle life skills in a real-life event that they themselves organized.

Even before Saturday came, Mike and I were already giving Arielle our suggestions and advice on how to go about this meetup from the time she told us about the idea (like maybe since October 2013?).  We had a series of conversation on this real-life project in the car, at a resto, while having lunch or dinner, or wherever.  Discussion had a serious tone to it since we were talking about something that adults normally do in their job or career but at the same time, we made sure we did not miss out the elements of FUN and YOUTH ENERGY.

What exactly did we teach Arielle in planning for and organizing this event?  Here’s a list of life skills that gave Arielle a taste of how it is like to think, decide, and act like an adult (a responsible adult, that is)!

1.  PLANNING and PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

  • Planning ahead
  • Having a timetable
  • Why having a planner/calendar is essential
  • Why having meetings is essential
  • Decision-making: learning which areas need decision and action, especially immediate ones
  • Having an objective, action plan, and getting down into details of the event (venue, food, activities, invited guest speaker)

 

2.  TIME MANAGEMENT

  • Identifying priorities
  • Focusing on priorities
  • Using time well on the event itself (keeping track of the time!)

 

3.  PEOPLE SKILLS

  • How to work with different people (in the team and with everyone they had to deal with as they were organizing and doing the event)
  • How to make different personalities work together to achieve a goal
  • How to collaborate with the common objective in mind
  • Being a team player

 

4.  MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS

  • Coming up with a name for the event,
  • a logo
  • a hashtag
  • a souvenir t-shirt
  • Creating an Facebook page and group
  • Making a sign-up/registration sheet
  • How to go about payment
  • What token of appreciation to give to the guest speaker
  • Doing an evaluation after (what worked and what didn’t; things to consider and improve on in the future)
  • A follow-up activity to keep the high energy level of the group after the event

 

5.  FINANCE/COST MANAGEMENT

  • How much to charge each participant 
  • What would/should the fee cover
  • Cost analysis and implications

 

6.  LOGISTICS

  • Looking for possible venue options
  • Choosing what would be the best one
  • Making reservations (personally talking with people in-charge or on the phone)
  • Making a downpayment for the venue
  • Choosing the menu (food, drinks, dessert)
I Know Write MNL 2014

One of the yummy pizzas served!

I Know Write MNL 2014

Fruit Dessert w/ Yogurt

 

  • Setting up the venue (e.g., cameras, laptop, decor)
I Know Write MNL 2014

Preparing the room before everyone arrives!

I Know Write MNL 2014

Let’s video this event!

 

I Know Write MNL 2014

Adding some fun colors!

 

  • Preparing other needed materials (such as name tags, ice breaker, and photo op paraphernalia)
I Know Write MNL 2014

Sample Name Tag

I Know Write MNL 2014

Human Bingo as Icebreaker

I Know Write MNL 2014

Hashtag! #IKNOWWRITEMNL2014

 

  • Settling the bill after the event (which they really needed help on to be able to understand the math of having a “consummable” kind of package)

 

7.  CHARACTER

  • Being responsible,
  • efficient
  • reliable/dependable
  • Taking initiative
  • Being cooperative
  • Being a leader
  • Showing good manners and one’s best character that the situation calls for

 

Whew! That’s a long list of life skills for a two-hour meetup (not a workshop, not a seminar) kind of event!

What exactly was the highlight of the meetup?  It was none other than their guest speaker, Arriane Serafico, a.k.a. Wanderrgirl!  You may find her in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.  

I Know Write MNL 2014

Sharing all that she knows about blogging!

I Know Write MNL 2014

She gave an inspiring and encouraging talk on how she started out in blogging, shared her ordinary and extraordinary experiences, and gave tips and advice to the young ones on what to do with their blogs.  She was simply AWESOME that the girls couldn’t stop taking photos with her and just chatting with her!  Arriane is actually the one who gave me a jumpstart in my blogging journey. Arielle and I attended her blogworthy workshop and to this day, she is an inspiration both Arielle and I look up to!

Now that these teen girls have started their own teen blogger community, I give them my big CONGRATULATIONS for being able to successfully pull off this event.  It’s a first and there are still lessons to be learned.  But hey, did you think that teeners would be able to come up with something like this and organize it on their own?

I Know Write MNL 2014

They’re on Facebook 🙂

I Know Write MNL 2014

IKW Team (Arielle, Jodie, and Nina) with Arriane Serafico

I Know Write MNL 2014

IKW MNL 2014!

I Know Write MNL 2014

The objective of the event was met.  The girls had fun and went home inspired and all charged up. The big question now is “What’s next?”

I leave it up to these girls.  They were able to do this and I believe that they are capable of coming up with another meaningful activity or event.  Maybe even bigger and better!  As for me, I’m thankful for this opportunity to teach Arielle important life skills that books and hours of staying in the classroom would not have been be able to.  

How about you?  What real life skills have your children learned lately?


Photo Source:  Sew Easy For Kids / Anne del Rosario

Photo Source: Sew Easy For Kids /
Anne del Rosario

These crafty kids are on a roll! They are even busier these days as they turn their craft and life skill into a business! As I write this blog, they’re all preparing and gearing up for their first bazaar this coming November.  Their hands are all so busy cutting and sewing the different cute stuff they will be selling…ALL SEWN BY THEM!  Teacher Anne del Rosario of Sew Easy For Kids and I (and I’m sure all the other parents are, too!) are sooo sew excited about this!  Thank you, Brother Philippines, for sponsoring this event!  Thank you for being at our side 🙂

I invite you all to go to the:

WHAT:  WOODROSE FAMILY BAZAAR

WHEN:  November 23-24, 2013

TIME:   9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:  CUENCA COMMUNITY CENTER, AYALA ALABANG VILLAGE

WHY:  BECAUSE YOU GOTTA CHECK OUT WHAT THESE KIDS HAVE MADE withTHEIR HANDS and BROTHER Sewing Machines!

This is REAL LEARNING.  A CRAFT INTO A BUSINESS.  ENTREPRENEURSHIP at WORK!  Save the dates and hope to see you there!

 


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! 

 


 

Life Skill: Sewing

SEW EASY Sewing Class for Kids, Teens, and Adults
Photo Source: https://www.facebook.com/
seweasyforkids

A confession of a homeschool mother:  I don’t know how to sew.  I remember learning some basic stitches when I was in high school.  We had to do the different kinds of stitches on a cloth (Was it basketweave? Wait, or was that for cross-stitch?) and submit it as a final project.  I can mend a small hole on a shirt or sew buttons, snaps, or hook and eye’s, but that’s just how far I can go with a thread and a needle!  So, when I found out from a fellow homeschool mom about this sewing class being offered in the south, I took note of it so we could include it in our activities for this schoolyear. Whether I would have the sewing class credited for their TLE (Technology and Livelihood Education) or not, I really think that as girls, Arielle and Kayla should know at least the basics of sewing.  For me, sewing is one of the life skills to learn in my checklist, a survival skill. You not only learn how to sew because there are other “hidden” but valuable lessons from it as well! 

Arielle and Kayla started last July 6 with Sew Easy and even before that day came, they were already sew so excited about it!  They’ve always enjoyed doing things with their hands and they already had ideas and plans on what they want to make as they eagerly talked about it in the car. Well, that’s their side of excitement!  Mine was when I met the owner and teacher of Sew Easy, Anne del Rosario, on that first day I accompanied the girls to their class.  It turns out that Anne was a homeschooler herself way back in the late 90’s when just a handful (or practically no one else) was probably doing it here in the Philippines, or at least in Manila.  She homeschooled her son back then who’s now at Mint College. You can already imagine the kind of getting-to-know-you we had (It’s always a different kind of warm, hyper feeling when homeschoolers meet, moms and kids alike 🙂 )  

Having a FUN (as described by the girls), friendly, accomodating, and a former homeschool mom (YES!) as a teacher, a classroom studio with bright, clean, and minimalist-inspired interiors, and  just four students in a class for a closely supervised instruction really make sewing SOOO SEW EASY! 😉  Their one-hour session every Saturday is just not enough, the girls say! 

Here are some shots I took of the girls in preparation for their class and while at work: 

Life Skill: Ironing

Kayla learning how to iron
her fabric at home

Life Skill: Ironing

Arielle’s turn to iron hers

 

Life Skill: Sewing

Ready to learn how to sew! 

Life Skill: Sewing

Photo Source: Anne del Rosario of Sew Easy

Life Skill: Sewing

Photo Source: Anne del Rosario of Sew Easy

Life Skill: Sewing

Photo Source: Anne del Rosario of Sew Easy

Life Skill: Sewing

Photo Source: Anne del Rosario of Sew Easy

 

 And their first project…

Life Skill: Sewing

First Sewing Creation:
Sewing Bag & Notions Bag

Life Skill: Sewing

Stamp of Workmanship!

 

Guess what?  After seeing their first completed project, I decided to join them myself!  I have to admit, I did feel envious that our girls know how to sew and actually made something themselves (The iron-on label got me! :D)  We three are now all classmates in sewing.  

LIfe Skill: Sewing

My first sewing project!

Life Skill:  Sewing

Inspiring quote
on my worktable

Life Skill: Sewing

My Stamp of Completion!

 

It’s my third time actually to be their classmate. The first was with Arielle in a blogging workshop, which was a worthwhile learning and awakening-of-some-sort experience for me (Two thumbs up!!!)  The second was in a craft rubber stamp making workshop, which was also so much fun to do! For this sewing class, Anne politely had to check with me (and the girls) if being together in a class would be alright since some kids tend to act differently when their mom is around.  Just to make sure, I asked Arielle and Kayla if it would be okay for me to join and be with them and Arielle nonchalantly replied, “We’re always like that anyway! 😀  (There goes my expressive, outgoing, and uninhibited teen! The exact words of description used by Anne herself 🙂 )

In our homeschooling, I don’t just teach, teach, teach. I learn and get refreshed as I teach lessons and topics. I have opportunities to again become a student myself, enjoy, and be an example of lifelong learning to our kids.   Oooops, and not to forget! To have a fun time with my tweenie-teens classmates 😉


Kayla’s interest is in culinary.  As of the now, she says she wants to be a chef someday. One Sunday, I told the girls it was going to be a baking day.  Being the kinesthetic learner, Kayla was the more excited one.  She pulled out a boxed cake mix from the shelf (We usually bake from scratch) and the rest of the ingredients and tools we would be needing.  Well, she ended up doing everything by herself from measuring the ingredients, mixing them, cleaning up (This is still a work-in-progress), lining the cupcake pans, and pouring the batter into each hole in the pan.  She also did the frosting all by herself: measuring, mixing, and preparing the piping bag and decorating tip, and decorating the cupcakes.  The only thing that she can’t do yet is turn on our gas-fired oven, put the pans in and pull them out when the cake or cupcakes is done.  That’s still my role.

I congratulated her for doing a better job this time and really showing that she can bake by herself with less supervision.

On another occasion, she again baked cupcakes but from scratch.  She chose the recipe from her own recipe book and came up with her own combination of a chocolate kind of cupcake and frosting which she hasn’t tried doing before.  And VOILA!  This is her cupcake creation!  I was kinda uncertain at first as to how her cupcakes would taste like because it didn’t make use of butter, which I think is THE  ingredient that always makes cakes, cupcakes or cookies flavorful.  But when Arielle and I tried what she made (actually, not tried but ate! I avoid white sugar and bad carbs these days but I just couldn’t resist!), we were really surprised to taste a VERY YUMMY FROSTED CUPCAKE! I’m not kiddin’! It was the frosting that did the magic! JUST PERFECT for the chocolate cupcake!  We gave Kayla a two thumbs up!

Kayla’s tweaked and simplified version of S’mores cupcake

 

She decorated her cupcakes with mini marshmallows

 

She did a photo shoot of her creation.

 

Kayla’s BEST cupcake recipe so far! YUM! YUM!

 

There are a number of other skills and lessons learned from simple baking.  These are:

  1. Reading recipes
  2. Following instructions or procedures
  3. Math concepts:  measurements, fractions
  4. Hygiene, cleanliness
  5. Safety
  6. Chemistry (although we didn’t dig deeper into this last Sunday)
  7. Workflow efficiency
  8. Home economics: food handling and storage
  9. Creativity
  10. Sharing with others 🙂 – A remark we would always hear from Kayla is that she’ll bake cookies or pack food items and give them to the poor or those in the streets.  That’s her.  That’s her heart ❤.
  11. Entrepreneural spirit – She’s been wanting to make this a full-blown business but I just haven’t found the extra time to do it with her.  We’ve however touched on the topics of product development, packaging, purchasing, suppliers, costing and pricing, marketing, etc. and still continue to discuss the processes involved to set up and operate one.

Baking. Another life skill to teach our girls. What else?  Cooking. Knife skills. Basic hygiene in the kitchen. Food preparation. Marketing. Budgeting. A lot more! (No wonder the kitchen is usually the place where homeschooling families gather ’round!)  This is another way we make LEARNING REAL and BETTER for our girls.

Have you baked with your kids lately? It’s fun (and yummy, too!)