Sunday, September 05, 2021

5 things we learned from our first year of homeschooling

Been gone forever! August was a most exciting month. School started. And that's a whole big adventure there on its own, rights? So when this amazing job offer suddenly came up, logic said, "No, don't do it. You won't have the time!" But life is uncertain in a pandemic. Sieze the day! So now I have a new job. And still homeschooling. While cooking and cleaning. And trying to sell my book when I catch a breath!

Life is full!

Anyhoot, I missed you. I miss blogging. I have a lot to say, Loyal Readers know that about me. But life has to be lived and so I haven't been blogging. For now, I want to do a update - just so you know I'm still alive (I'm on Instagram btw!). Not just alive but thriving!

So anyway. I was a speaker at the Connect Homeschool and Intentional Parenting Summit #CHIPSThriveAtHome Homeschooling and Distance Learning Conference a few weeks ago. I was surprised they asked me to speak since I was pretty vocal about the daily hell homeschooling was haha But Tina S. Rodriguez (blogger of Truly Rich and Blessed) told me it's good to have someone at the conference talk about how hard homeschooling can be. They trusted me to be honest but not whiny haha I'm sharing with you the video I made on the 5 things we learned from our first year of homeschooling (scroll down belooooow). 

But let me tell you what happened here on my blog. Because at the conference, watched by strangers, I had to still be upbeat and inspiring. Here, I'm with friends (I hope!) and so I feel I can be a wee bit more honest with you all.

Last year, it was our first time to homeschool and it was HARD. I regretted it a few months in. But there we were and I'm the sort who will stand by a decision until it's impossible to stand it. 

Our unfortunate experience was mostly the fault of the homeschool provider we enrolled in. Yes. I say this not flippantly. I very rarely blame others for my difficulties but I, together with hundreds of parents, chose this particular provider because it was under the umbrella of the most prestigious homeschool provider in the country. It promised us a lot of good things that we desperately clung to because it was a pandemic.

But I should've listened to my gut when it felt queasy at the virtual Parents' Orientation and the speaker said very loudly, "Parents! Stop. Asking. The same. Questions. Again and again. Listen! Read! Pay attention!" I thought it was rude but hey, we were all stressed out last year, right?

Well, we got even more stressed out, I tell ya. Our former homeschool provider was disorganized, unhelpful, unprepared. Sad. We parents had to help each other out because our emails to the school were hardly ever answered, and when they were, the replies were curt and not helpful at all. Dismissive. Literally didn't answer the question. So upsetting. 

Well, we - as well as many parents - left that provider and things are soooo much better now with our new one. 

But our problems aren't over yet with the former provider. It's already September and I requested for my kids' report cards and certificates of enrollment many months ago. I need them so that my enrollment with our new provider will be complete. But still nothing from the old one. I emailed to follow up and an automatic reply said, "This email address is no longer active. For concerns, log your issue on this platform [link provided]." Not a surprise. But I dutifully logged the follow-up request as instructed and I got a reply that said (and I paraphrase), "Requests for report cards are filed by date. By sending another request, your request is now at the end of the list. Further requests will put your request at the bottom of the list. Refrain from following up."

Anyway. That's the least of my problems. There's a pandemic. There are anti-vaxxers. There's this government. The delay of my kids' records is my only problem in my life, and I'll take it. If that can be my only problem in my entire life, please let it be so. I'm not going to take all the good things in my life for granted. I'm happy, I'm healthy. I'm vaxxed. My husband is also super happy, also healthy, also vaxxed. Our kids are healthy and happy, too. And having so much fun with homeschooling! Hooray!

What a huge relief! Life is good. Life is great! So I'll leave you now with my little video on the 5 things we learned from our first year of homeschooling. I hope you like it and learn a few things from our experience.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Frances Finds: Beautiful house at The Glades Timberland

Hello! Ooh, I've been away. I've been busy preparing for the start of school and homeschooling, preparing my talk for the homeschooling event #CHIPSThriveAtHome summit, writing for the upscale property website Upside PH, and selling my book, Not Invisible!

(Please buy Not Invisible: A Memoir from Shopee, Amazon, Kindle, and Google Play. Thank you!) 

Anyway, I breathed a bit over the weekend, and for relaxation, I decided to watch property videos. Well, it was still kinda work since I wanted to enhance my real estate vocabulary for my Upside project but it was relaxing work. Anyway! I know you guys know I love Mid-Century Modern (MCM) houses. They're open, sprawling structures surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows. I just don't know if such a design works in the Philippines, what with our earthquakes, super typhoons, floods, and usyosera and pakialamerong neighbors.

Sa kaka-YouTube ko for houses, I saw three houses I really, really like, but I'll show you this one from The Glades Timberland first. Then tell me if you want to see the other houses!

But, first, no, hindi ko siya bibilhin so sa mga real estate people, please don't email me! Ang layo grabe. For me, sobrang malayo ang Timberland. Second, depende sa size ng lot, 16M to 25M yata ang price nito. Wala akong ganung pera haha Wish ko lang! And even if we had 25M, we wouldn't spend it on a house so far away from our families and friends. That said, I like it, I like it! Let's take a look:

Nice, no? Now let me share with you what I like:

This guy! He's not the best guy with describing things. Ako kasi, it was drilled into my head that when you present anything, you don't point out the obvious because that insults the audience. Don't go, "Oh, and this is the light. This is the staircase. This is the desk." We knooooow. We can see! But I like him because he's affable and earnest and he reads a Bible verse at the end of every video and I feel like he blessed me. He may not have blessed me with a house but I feel his intentions are sincere. I like that! God bless you, too, Zandro.  

Okay, back to the house! I like the roof, the big windows (almost MCM!). I like MCM's big windows aesthetics because it lets a huge amount of light in. I love light. I don't like dark houses. Sabi ng yaya ko nung maliit pa ako, yung mga parts ng house na di naaarawan, dun tumatambay ang mga multo and bad memories of the residents. So every day, Ate Marita would pull open curtains and doors and cabinets and wave away the bad spirits. And while I don't believe in ghosts now as a grownup, that remianed with me. Dark corners, dark houses - bad vibes.

In fact, that's why we chose our condo because of the windows that dominate practically every wall of our unit. Yes, we spent a fortune on curtains but the light and the views are priceless! But back to the house in the video:

Check out the spacious ground floor! That's just 80+ sqm but it looks so big, no? And ang aliwalas! I super like it talaga. I'd add a big, plush carpet and tons of bookshelves, and it's home!

Another thing I liked was the maid's quarters. The access is from the outside, it has a big window, and it even has its own toilet and shower! Nice! We don't have a kasambahay so I'm going to use this room as a home office. Lalo na ngayong pandemic, marami sa atin work at home. Sa totoo lang, my husband and I have a hard time separating work from home life because our workspaces are in the bedroom and the living room. Dapat talaga sana nasa labas ang home office para may mental shift and physical distance from work, kahit sa labas ng bahay mo lang.  

Another thing I loved was the kitchen! Look at it! It's soooo nice. It has that efficient triangle of traffic (ref, sink, stove). It has lots of counter space. And all that light! My goodness. I'm so in love with this kitchen. 

So there. I want this house. You can watch the video to check out the bedrooms upstairs. They're okay, too. It's only 3 bedrooms - master bedroom + 2 bedrooms, and I have 3 kids. Maybe I'll add a bedroom or just ask which of my boys want to share a room. 

Sigh, super like this house talaga! Please pray for me and my husband, for our dreams to come true! Para makabili kami ng lot at makapagpatayo kami ng ganitong bahay. Salamat! Mwah!

*Photos grabbed from Property Hunter Realty video.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

7 fridge organizing hacks you probably didn't know about

I was cleaning up my email and found these photos from my refrigerator campaign last year. These were the outtakes and I never got to use these pictures. So how about we do an entire blog post just so I can use these photos??? Today, let's talk about fridge organizing hacks!

There is no doubt that one of the most frequently used home appliances is the refrigerator. It is constantly plugged in and its doors are often being pulled open or pushed shut throughout the course of the day. Thus, it is important that the fridge is in top working condition all the time, and a big part of keeping it that way is organizing its contents. Making sure that all the stuff inside your fridge is stored properly not only makes it easier and more convenient to use, but it also helps the appliance to run more efficiently while saving you a lot in terms of electricity and maintenance costs. Here are just some ideas in organizing your refrigerator that you may not even have thought about yet.

1. Don’t overstuff it.

Before you can even begin organizing your refrigerator, you need to be aware of its capacity so you know just how much you can stick inside it. The best way to determine this is to check its specifications and not just rely on a visual estimate. You might think that everything looks fine, but the fridge motor may already be working beyond its limit. If you find yourself overstuffing your fridge, it may be time to get a larger one. When buying refrigerators online, always take into consideration the average daily food consumption of your household in selecting the right size and model.

2. Keep things in the right zone.

Did you know that there are different spots in your fridge that are ideal for various types of foods? The lower shelves are the coldest while the door is most prone to temperature shifts, which means it tends to be generally warmer. Therefore, avoid placing items that can easily spoil on the door shelves.

3. Separate fruits from the veggies.

You might think that these two go well together because they are both types of produce. However, the truth is that they’re best stored separately because as fruits ripen, they give off a substance called ethylene that can affect and age vegetables, leading them to rot faster. Thus, when keeping fruits and vegetables in the crisper, you should store them in separate bags. Better yet, leave the veggies in the crisper and place fruits on the shelves.

4. Transfer packaged food into containers.

You can save a lot of fridge space by chucking out the bulky packaging that a lot of food comes in and transferring the contents into smaller receptacles. Glass or plastic containers with airtight lids are good for most types of food and beverages, while plastic or reusable silicone bags are ideal for loose food such as fruits and nuts. As the milk or juice carton nears its end, simply pour the remaining liquid into a small jar or bottle.

5. Label, label, label!

Don’t forget to affix a clear label on the items that you repackage or store inside the fridge. Clearly identify what kind of foodstuff it is and place the date when you stored it. This way, you can determine whether it’s still good to eat later on. You can use a good old permanent marker to write on plastic bags, or better yet, invest in a sticker label printer that you can use for plastic or glass containers, bottles, and jars.

6. Observe the FIFO Rule.

How many times have you reached deep into your fridge only to find rotten or spoiling food? You can easily prevent this by making sure to pull old food stock out into the front of the shelves every time you load your groceries in the fridge. This way, you can use or consume older items first. Just like what they do in the supermarket shelves, this is called the “first in, first out” or FIFO concept. You might also want to use contraptions like a lazy Susan to help you rotate items inside your fridge better.

7. Do a weekly clean-up.

Schedule a weekly audit of all the items inside your fridge. Throw away any expired items and wipe up any spills or messes on the shelves and on the inside surfaces of your fridge. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also cause odor and lead to the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and mold. A good idea is to use plastic or rubber mats to line your fridge shelves and to prevent spills from getting bigger. You can also place a cup of baking soda in the fridge to prevent any nasty odors from forming.

A hallmark of a well-organized fridge is the owner being able to quickly find what they need the very moment they need it. You can only achieve this by making sure that everything inside your fridge is in its proper place. While it may seem like a difficult task indeed considering the flurry of daily activities in the kitchen, it is not at all impossible. All you need is a bit of planning as well as dedication to a regular fridge organization schedule.

*Photos courtesy of Panasonic and SVEN.