Monday, October 05, 2020

Homeschool Month 1: We get down to work

Guess what? It's MY day today! And every parent who's teaching their kid this crazy year! And of course the day of real teachers everywhere. Dearest teachers, I think I'm doing a great job as Teacher Mama but I certainly know now I'd rather not do this haha You guys are the best!

We need to raise teachers' salaries everywhere. (Wait. I'm not even getting a salary.) Good heavens, what an insane occupation this is. But I'm going to claim this day as MY day. And I'm going to celebrate with a Cledor coffee ice cream bar. 


That's the photo on my Teacher Mama ID, by the way. That's why I chose it for my little "Yey me!' card I made for me haha. It's been a month and 1 week of homeschooling. There have been yelling (me), ripping of a Math book page (wasn't me), and tears (all of us). So 8 more months of this! 

Well, there's also been tons of fun with us dancing, singing, reading books and poems, discussing governments (especially this government - y'all know I got a lot to say about that!). We all learned new things - yes, even me! We've been poring over books, the Bible (for their Christian Education), and Googling and Google Translating everything to death. 

We've done mental health checks (I got the materials from Big Life Journal). We've painted and glued and drawn cute animals. We've played catch and throw, prepared for the zombie apocalypse (that's what we call cardio), and are now studying street dance. We're discovering a lot of things together and it's been, well, fun most of the time. It's definitely been an experience!

It sounds like a lot of play but it's not. I know many homeschooling moms blog about how they make learning fun and they play all day. We don't. I'm a very serious teacher. I think that's what makes me unsuitable for this homeschooling thing haha! 

I like academic excellence. I like competition. I like good grades. I like sitting up straight and doing well. I like structure. My kids - because their experience of learning is through a traditional school - have no problem really with my way because it's very much like the school they know, except at their pace, more focused, and a bit more flexible. I think they also like it that way. And yet there's a part of me that second-guesses myself, especially when I'm being hard on the boys.

We're doing okay. I think we're going too slow, to be honest. I'm a bit surprised that there's a Tiger Mom inside me after all. I'd never had known if it weren't for this pandemic! I don't want her to come out because homeschooling moms are gentle lambs who respect their children's pace and interests. They're not supposed to be Tiger Moms. Well, we'll see!

I know I sound like I'm unhappy. I'm not. It's more on I'm still finding my way through this whole new experience, trying to understand myself and my kids, trying to be the best I can be as a teacher, as a mom, and as a woman who doesn't like mediocre work. It's difficult: Who responds to this learning situation - the gentle teacher, the loving mom, or the mentor who demands excellence? There are no lines.

When people were greeting teachers today on Facebook Happy Teacher's Day, I didn't think I was a teacher. Mostly because this morning, I was in mom mode. Only after dinner, while I was scheduling lesson plans, did it hit me that I was a teacher now, too, and that this is my day. I didn't feel like I should celebrate. I've been on the job for just 5 weeks, no mentors and no helpers, and not much to show for it yet. 

But as the day ended, I decided I'm claiming this day - for me and for my boys. My kids and I are learning together. We may not be doing this whole thing professionally, we don't even know if we're doing it correctly, but we're teaching each other something new every single day. And sometimes, okay, most times, we're thrilled at what we find out. I guess that's all that matters. 

Happy Teacher's Day to all of you parents-suddenly-teachers. Happy Teacher's Day, too, to our kids who teach us so much about life and ourselves. God bless us all.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Blender, juicer or food processor? A comprehensive guide on food processors

Whenever I watch cooking shows, I always thought food processors were for the serious chefs and blenders were for home cooks like me. That's why I have a blender at home, not a food processor. But my guest post today talks all about why we should add this heavy-duty kitchen appliance for all the useful things it can do for our cooking.

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Crispy Omelette Bites with Spinach Sauce. For the recipe, go to @ounceofoz.

GUEST POST - One of the necessities of man is food. We need food substances to survive and carry out our daily activities with ease. You can consume the likes of fruits in their raw state; however, you have to prepare other meals before consumption. For some, cooking these meals is something they look forward to, while others find cooking takes way too much time and energy. For them, finding an alternative to manual meal preparation will be a welcome idea.

They need to get themselves a food processor pronto. Anyone can enjoy a fantastic cooking experience with the use of food processors. It takes a bit of practice to get to know how to use such appliances, but once you do, meal preparation becomes easy and enjoyable.

Are juicers food processors?

You may be quick to classify a juicer under food processors; after all, it processes fruits. But here is the thing – with juicers, you extract both the liquid and solid substances from a fruit or vegetable. The juicer stores the juice in a separate compartment, and the non-useful parts goes to another section to be discarded later. 

On the other hand, a food processor works differently; it merges and refines different food substances at once to get a desired and more edible outcome. There is no addition or removal of the final prepared meal.

Fancy Homemade Pesto Sauce. For the recipe, go to @lettuceromainecalm

Are food processors blenders, just bigger?

Definitely not! Even though food processors and blenders handle an entire range of ingredients you need for a meal, the latter processes these food substances into semisolids, which you can further use to prepare the final food. Just as its name implies – you use the appliance to blend raw food materials. On the other hand, a food processor creates various edible meals based on what you put into it.

What should I look for in a food processor?

The market houses a wide range of appliances, most of which perform a single task per time. Purchasing these items may not be ideal for individuals on a tight budget. Hence, getting a versatile kitchen appliance would be a better option – this is where a food processor comes into play. These processors come in various brands and models, ranging from small, entry-level gadgets to industrial-size appliances. However, they basically perform the same functions: chop, mix, grind, among others.

With food processors, you get value for your money. Each model has additional features that make meal preparation straightforward and convenient. They come with varying price tags that meet all budget sizes. Depending on how often you use this appliance and what you use it for, you can either purchase a cheaper model or a more hi-tech gadget that can handle whatever you put into it.

Homemade almond butter. For the recipe, go to @dannifeinestein.

Welcome to the new age of fast food

How fast and easy it is to prepare your meals when you use a food processor. Imagine the time and energy you will spend dicing an onion by hand and risk cutting your fingers, not to mention the fact that onions irritate the eyes. You won't have to go through literal blood and tears when you use a food processor! So if you're looking to make your time in the kitchen faster, more efficient and more fun, consider getting a food processor now!

* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email frances@topazhorizon.com. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

7 steps for self-improvement we can do now

So it's Day 200 of our GCQ/ECQ/MECQ/I don't know what it is anymore. Aaaaaaand I'm now at 130 lbs. Yep, I gained weight. I was actually losing weight at the start of quarantine. I was 130 lbs in January but I was 125 lbs by April. I was eating homecooked meals (well, we didn't really have a choice when quarantine started), exercising, biking, finally sleeping 8 hours. I felt great!

Then I became depressed. Remember when I told you how I've been? Ya. That happened. I was wallowing for around 6 weeks. Stopped exercising. Stuffed my mouth. Couldn't sleep. Even when I started feeling better, I just couldn't start exercising again and I couldn't stop eating. Considering all that, it's a miracle I only gained 5 lbs! (Big blessing - it's hard for me to gain weight.)

Then one day, I was scrolling through my Instagram and Welch's, my blog sponsor, had a post that reminded me I had fallen off the wagon. 



I may not be overly overweight but I realized that it's the last quarter of the year and I don't want to end the year the same weight - or heavier! - than when I started it. That would just be another reason 2020 sucks but this time it would be all MY FAULT! But I can always start fresh, as Welch's so wonderfully reminded me. 

So can you guys be my accountability partner? I'm going to start improving my health, my body, and my habits again. And here are the steps for self-improvement I need to take:

1. Wake up before my kids.

Because I sleep so late working on articles, preparing for homeschool lessons, and spending my much-needed alone time, I wake up later than my kids. They're fine - the boys eat their breakfast and start doing their chores. This is good, right? But as soon as I get up, they bombard me with "Mama, look at this! Mama, I did that! Mama, can I do this?" And to the groggy me, it's jarring and isn't really not the most calming way to start my day. I feel like I lose control of the day.

2. Meditate.

I started doing this in August, scheduling my Bible study every morning. I've been a Born Again Christian for 30+ years but meditating on God's Word is hard for me. And it still is! But around the second week, I started feeling excited about what I'm reading. I think it's because I'm older and I have a better perspective on life, faith, and God now.

3. Just drink water and healthy drinks.

At around June, I started drinking a lot of Coke, coffee, and milk tea. So bad! Even though I still drink water and Welch's 100% Grape Juice, their goodness was outbalanced by all the sugary and caffeinated drinks I was consuming. But since 2 weeks ago, I am now just drinking water, black tea, ginger and turmeric tea, and Welch's. I don't feel so bloated anymore!

Ever since my family started drinking Welch's around 3 years ago, we've slowly and then completely stopped drinking sugary powdered juices. Real fruit juice is naturally sweet anyway so adding sugar completely distorts how it tastes. Plus, you can't beat the Vitamin C and antioxidants, which not only help strengthen my immune system, it also keeps my skin clear and improves brain function. Definitely a must for a middle-aged woman like me!  


4. Go on the Smaller Portions diet!

I actually eat healthy. Almost all our meals are homecooked. There's almost always a salad or a vegetable dish on the table. My problem is I cook soooo well, I eat so much of my cooking! Oh dear! I love my cooking. My husband just said at dinner tonight, "You make the best tinola." And I do. But I end up eating maybe up to three platefuls of my cooking. It's terrible haha So I'll still prepare my yummy healthy meals but I really need to eat just one serving only! 

And of course, wash everything down with just water or Welch's grape juice because, as Livestrong.com says, "Those who drink 100 percent fruit juice, including grape juice, possess a lower mean body mass index, smaller waistline and lower insulin resistance."

5. Start exercising.

I tried a few times this September. I have exercise apps but what I like best are the walking videos of Leslie Sansone. I should do it more often! Pray for me haha. By the way, when I exercise, I drink just water or Welch's 100% Grape Juice. I don't need energy drinks because Welch's has tons of natural-sugar energy in it already. Plus, grape juice made from Concord grapes has a beneficial effect on the heart and blood pressure.

6. Spend less time on social media.

Facebook especially is a time-sucking monster. I sometimes get shocked that I start scrolling at 11pm and then it's suddenly 3am! My sleep suffers. My work suffers. My mental health suffers. Must really manage my time on Facebook. My plan is to set a timer - 30 minutes! - and follow it strictly. I can get so much done, I bet. All those saved hours I can use to sleep, exercise, read a book, paint, work!

7. Sleep!

Yes, sleep! It's the most neglected area of my life. Scary because studies show that consistently lacking sleep leads to lower immunity, higher risk for diseases, and early death. I haven't really been getting 7-9 hours of sleep for more than 10 years (thanks, motherhood). Such a bad habit.

I specifically chose these steps for their immediacy. I can do them without having to do anything big, like sign up for a skills class, or join a support group (I already have Lean In PH!), or buy a gym membership. Many times, we can't take that first step to improve ourselves because it takes a lot of work and the thought tires us out even before we start.

My list is simple and super doable. So I have no excuse. I'm really going to start these steps for self-improvement. I'll update you on my Instagram and blog my progress on my birthday next month. Wish me luck!

Source: "What are the benefits of Welch's Grape Juice?", Livestrong.com

*This post is brought to you by Welch's 100% Grape Juice. Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Juice Cocktails, and Sparkling Juices are available in all leading supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores. You can have your favorite health drink delivered right to your doorstep! Visit the Ace Food Service website, or place your order in the following online groceries: Metro Mart, Lazmart, and Waltermart.