Davao Homeschooling Family: 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Week 2014

Hey, hey! How's everybody? Still hung over from all the holiday food? :) Because the Davao Homeschooling Family certainly is! We spent our Christmas Week with the in-laws in Davao del Norte and the food was endless! The seafood feasts (shrimps, crabs, fresh fish) just kept on coming. We all probably gained five pounds from all the eating we did there. Haha! Add to that the parties from my side of the family. The holidays are truly nasty to our waistlines, heehee! Anyway, here's a review of our family's Christmas Week this year:

12/21: Hubby and the girls with their #SelfieSunday pics :) I was busy packing our stuff for our Christmas mini-vacay at the in-laws and hubby was the one who watched the girls.

12/22: New pup at the in-laws!! :)

12/23: How we wrapped our gifts this year :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Hohoho! How are you guys doing on this lovely and cold Christmas Eve? Us? We are waiting for the family's much-anticipated food feast, the Noche Buena, to begin! Yep, we're forming moarrr fats! Haha! But hey, Christmas just comes once a year, so hubby and I don't feel really guilty indulging in all the rich holiday food :) We promise to shed all the December pounds come January~ and we're not kidding! Just trying to be responsible parents okay? ;-)

Even if it's not officially Christmas yet, let my lovely homeschooling family greet you a wonderful Merry Christmas and a fantastic Happy New Year too! If you don't celebrate these holidays, have an awesome end of December / 2014 yearend to you! :) I know our family photo above isn't perfect (look at the kids, lol) but it's the only one where we are complete. Most of our pics are one parent + two kids, sigh! So for 2015, my #1 resolution is to have a complete family photo MONTHLY. That way, come December, we have lots of photos to choose from for our family Christmas card.

That's about it for now. Thanks for dropping by our blog on this special day. Happy holidays and let's get on feasting! Hihi!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top 4 activities homeschoolers do on Christmas break

For us homeschoolers, the term "Christmas break" (or any other school break) is a misnomer because we don't really take a break from educating our kids. I've noticed that homeschooling families or parents are always wired to look for opportunities that encourage hands-on learning and let the kids work on non-academic (but equally important) skills :) They are actively participating in their kids' education~ wherever, whenever. Of course, there are non-homeschooling parents who are like this also so I'm not judging okay? Haha!

We live in a tropical country by the way so it's easy for us to spend time outdoors as listed below. If you are experiencing winter during Christmas, you can substitute catching and petting animals to making snowmen or playing with snowballs. We would love to experience that! Soon, we hope.. <3 Anyway, without much further ado, here are the Top 4 activities my homeschooled kids did this Christmas break

1. Learn new skills. In our case, the girls started their piano lessons. The Eldest also expressed that she wanted to learn playing the guitar / ukelele AND doing art lessons. Okaayyy.. That will take up her summer break as well, haha! Ask your child what his / her interests are and look for lessons in your area that fit it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

10 Hacks for Christmas!

Before we go on, I wanna say that this is a milestone post. Why? Because this is the first time I'm sharing a YouTube video! Unlike most people in Earth today, I am not a YouTuber. I hardly ever frequent this website which is a shame because it's the #2 search engine (next to Google) and the #3 most visited site in 2014 according to Alexa (next to Google and Facebook). I could have used it to earn money online, learn new crafts, etc. But thanks to my preschoolers, I am now exploring the world of YouTube ;-) And yes, I let my kids watch YouTube; mostly cartoon shorts of their current faves: Peppa Pig and Lego Friends.

Anyway, without much further ado, here's the YouTube video that made this post a milestone. It's such an eye-opener that I was so compelled to share it here. Haha! I love life hacks (i.e. tips that will make your life easier) and this holiday-themed one is just perfect for Christmas next week!

So, how did you like the Christmas hacks video? Told you it was an eye-opener! Haha! The Doritos one was bordering on yucky and mind-blowing :p Best to use when there's really nothing left to wrap things with. Hihi! How about you? What hack impressed you the most? Do share in the comments below!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FREE Homeschooling Resources - MOOCs 1

One of the many reasons why I am thankful for the internet is that tons of educational sites are literally just a click away from me and my kids. And because of these sites, I've started "homeschooling" too :) The websites where adults (or highly advanced kids) can learn university-level subjects or courses are called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. I have tried and finished (some, haha) different courses from different MOOCs, and loved it all! I'm a lifelong learner so it wasn't a surprise that I'd take to this new learning tool like fish takes to water ;-)

I first heard about the term "MOOC" in 2011 when Sebastian Thrun made his artifical intelligence class available online. I think I saw the link to his class being passed around in Google+. He's a much-respected Stanford professor so a lot signed up for his free, QUALITY course. I was one of them. But alas, I wasn't able to finish it as I became pregnant with our second child (plus a hyperactive toddler) which left me with no energy at the end of the day. Due to the popularity of his course, Mr. Thrun soon founded Udacity in 2012. I signed up there and took CS101 or Introduction to Computer Science. I love tech, CS and programming* but my teen brain was stuck on making my childhood dream of becoming a doctor come true so I took BS Biology in college instead of BS CS. But thanks to Udacity, I was able to self-study CS at my own pace in 2012 :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore ala Issa ;-)

Yes, I have to put "ala Issa" because this dish does not pan-fry the chicken pieces as in the original cacciatore dish. Remember I told you that I like to simplify cooking? Well, this Chicken Cacciatore recipe is one of my simplified dishes :) Instead of pan-frying the chicken, I just stewed it along with the vegetables and tomato sauce. No frying = less effort, less cooking time, less fat. Win! Below is the easy peasy recipe.

YOU NEED: olive oil, minced garlic, chopped onions, salt & pepper to taste, milk, tomato sauce, olives and cut chicken pieces. Your choice of carbohydrate; we chose spinach fettucine. And no, I can't give you how much you need for each ingredient. I just toss everything and hope to God it works. Haha! My mom says it's talent ;-)

1. Saute garlic and onion in oil until slightly brown.
2. Add the chicken pieces and let simmer in olive oil and its unhealthy (but yummy) skin fat.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

DIY Advent Calendar

The last I checked the calendar, it was December 1. And now we're down to the last 12 days to Christmas! That meant we were halfway the Advent season! Which reminded me that I haven't shared our DIY Advent Calendar here yet. This is actually our first year of doing the calendar and introducing the concept of Advent to the kids. Which, of course, leads us to the discussion on the real meaning of Christmas :)

That's our calendar above, which I posted in my Instagram last Nov30, the first day of Advent 2014. Here's what I said then: Our #AdventCalendar! :) The kids and I painted the paper rolls a few days ago and I finally assembled it today as it's the first day of #Advent. To assemble, I used leftover ribbons (to tie rolls together), washi tapes (to decorate white rolls), and Sharpie pens (to write numbers). Easy peasy! <3 As for the daily gifts, since the preschooler can read already, I'll tuck in clue notes inside the rolls on where to find the gifts. Exciting!

Yes, we used recycled toilet paper rolls. And yes, I hoard the rolls. Haha! We used poster color to paint the rolls and let it dry fully for days before I assembled it :) How about you and your family? Do you celebrate Advent? If yes, do you make your own calendar or do you just buy one in stores? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

FREE Nativity Printable set for PreK-K :)

Yey! The search is over! I've been looking for a cute and not-too-academic Nativity printable set for the girls to work on this Christmas season and I finally found one! We are already doing Advent calendar daily and occasional Christmas worksheets but I felt the need to have Nativity printables. Probably to instill more in the kids that Christmas is about CHRIST and not gifts, hihi! ;-) Thank you mommy Tara of EmbarkOnTheJourney.com for making this. It is very lovely! :) Take a look at it fellow Catholic homeschooling parents:

Nativity printable set for PreK and K students :)

As you can see, it has writing exercises (whole alphabet and names of the Nativity characters), puzzles (for pairing small and big letters), do-a-dot page (dot "J" for Jesus), stick puppets (sooo adorable!), and The Eldest's fave activity: beginning sounds! :) The whole set is 19 pages in all. Go download the FREE set here <-- Mommy Tara also has a great Polar Express printable set if you and your kids are into this wonderful classic story. For free also! So generous of her! <3

How about you mommy? Found an awesome Christmas printable for your PreK/K student? Do share in the comments below! I looove hunting down lovely printables!

Monday, December 8, 2014

2-ingredient healthy cookies recipe!

YES, you only need TWO ingredients! Curious? Read on below! :)

Us moms are always pressed for time. Too many household chores to do; some you do over and over again. If only we can automate these mundane tasks! One of the chores that we do daily, for at least 3 times a day, is cooking. So much time goes to that~ meal planning, buying the ingredients, preparation, and the actual cooking. Add a toddler or two to the mix and you know you're gonna be "cooking" for a looong time! Haha!

I have two preschoolers who are always vying for my attention~ especially when I'm doing something that requires close attention. What's up with that anyway? Kids always know when to disturb you, lol! So I have since learned to SIMPLIFY everything, especially cooking. The truth is, I'm luckier than most moms as my own mother cooks most of our meals. So I'm not that stressed on cooking really. But on times when I'm the head cook,  I always go for the simple dishes. Time is gold! ;-) I'd rather be spending my time playing with the girls than slaving away in the kitchen.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

3 Tips for Homeschooling Success!

My girls have been homeschooled for more than a year now, and it has been such a joy to witness them bloom and learn! There were rough days (mostly me being impatient) but the reward of being part of their learning makes everything worth it :) If you're new to homeschooling or has hit a rough patch (it's normal by the way, hihi), here are the top 3 things I learned to make it enjoyable for you and your kids:

And use it in their lessons. When I started homeschooling the kids, they were very fascinated with penguins and anything that lives in the North / South Poles. And so, for Math, we counted penguins (stuff toys, small figurines, etc) jumping into a bowl of water. Needless to say, it was a hit and it made abstract Math more concrete and enjoyable :) For pre-writing, I look for writing implements with penguin design. That's how The Eldest learned to make shapes (see below). See the pattern here? Lessons with the kids' current favorites WILL hold their interest long enough for them to learn what you are teaching.

PRE-WRITING / Preschool Writing :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Homeschooling young kids

And by young, I mean less than four years old :) When I started homeschooling, very informal mind you, my kids were 15months old and 3years & 3months old. Our "lessons" consisted mostly of sensory play with play dough and blocks. Some involved food, hihi! Here are some of our Instagram photos from mid-2013:

PRETEND PLAY WITH PLAY DOUGH! The Eldest made bacon, spaghetti, burger, and pizza. Green bacon doesn't look appetizing noh? Hihi!

PRESCHOOL ART by The Eldest. Correction fluid + wooden blocks = toddler modern art :p

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What's in a name?

In my previous post (which also happens to be this blog's first post), I related why I decided to blog again. But instead of updating my old blogs with new write-ups, I made a brandnew one~ Davao Homeschooling Family :) It took me awhile deciding what to name this blog, and I was thisclose to parking it at www.melissaelbanbuena.com to establish my married name. Everything is about branding in this day and age of the Internet, and having my own .com will be a great boon.

My old personal blog was at melissasolito.blogspot.com and I wanted continuity, i.e. from blogging my experiences as a single girl to sharing snippets of my married life with two kids. However, when I thought of the posts I'll write in this blog, a pattern emerged~ it's either about our experiences in beautiful Davao, the girls' homeschooling adventures, or assorted family matters. Can you see now where I got this blog's title? Hihi! Davao Homeschooling Family, simple enough words, direct to the point, and sums up our family perfectly as well! ♥

Saturday, November 29, 2014


In English, that means 'Welcome!' :) And in Filipino / Tagalog, it's the popular greeting, 'Mabuhay!' ♥

So here I am, blogging again after a self-imposed hiatus of four years or so. That's also the age of my eldest kid. And with that, you can surmise two things-- one, having kids / parenting and blogging doesn't jive with me; and two, I have more than one kid. But thank god, I 'only' have two! Who will be hereby known as The Eldest and The Youngest. Creative, I know. Haha! Sorry, my creative juices are still dry.

TE and TY meet Diane, the baby Triceratops in Universal Studios SG.

So, blogging hiatus of 4 years. Did my brain cells die? Nahh, coz that didn't mean I stopped writing or engaging my intellectual faculties. Blogging isn't synonymous to writing you know. Anyway, for the latter, Google+ was (and still is) my source since it launched in 2011. I'm quite active there and you can visit me at http://google.com/+MelissaSolito ♥ I have nearly 6500 followers from all over the world (not PH or FB friends, lol) and more than 1.5 million views there. And that's because I post good content!

Which brings us to the next topic: where did I write during my blogging hiatus? Two words: social networks! You already know about Google+, and the other one is Instagram (you know, where the Millenials post their selfies 100x a day, lolol). But yes, IG. A lil back story here. You see I'm the memorykeeper of our family. Since grade school til now, I keep diaries (now called journal / planner) to preserve memories. Then digicams and mobile phone cameras came, and memories were just a snap away to preserve!