Homeschooling Week 2: Developing Fine Motor Skills

Hello everyone! How's your weekend?

After going over the enrichment books I bought a couple weeks ago, I realized that most activities involved require handwriting. Since Chesska has aversion to writing just like any other kids her age, it made me decide not to follow through everything from the Ebook (a Montessori-approached curriculum) that I purchased online.

Last week, I asked my child to trace standing and sleeping lines, but out of 20 she only made 3. Then she refused to continue tracing no matter how I convince her. But I didn't force her. I am child-focused, not subject-focused. But in order to keep her motivated and interested in our homeschooling, I have to change gear, means I need to vary my strategies.  Instead of following the curriculum sequentially, I just picked several activities there that I believe would help develop her fine motor skills. I also borrowed some ideas online which I modified a bit.

Now What are Fine Motor Skills? 

Are you aware that children need to develop first their fine motor skills before they can do writing? These skills are attained when children learn to use their small muscles such as muscles in the fingers to perform small tasks such as lacing, grasping, buttoning, stringing beads, etc. When these skills are fully developed, chances are,  children will have a better pencil grip and hand control when writing.  So mommies, don't get mad or label your child right away lazy when he refuses to write, he might just need to strengthen his fine motor skills.

Today, I am going to share with you what my child did for the entire week involving fine motor activities and will extend these activities until next week if needed. Of course, I couldn't have done this without my husband's help.

Solving Puzzles

Taking the pieces apart and putting them back together again are great ways to use muscles in the hands.


Of all the activities this week, she finds stringing beads interesting and fun. Concentration and patience have been inculcated on this activity.


She picks up marbles and transfers them into a toy pan.  She uses her fine motor muscles to squeeze tong.


I thought she could do it without a hitch. I just learned that scissor practice is also a foundation of writing. At first, I drew a triangle on cartolina and had her follow it. But I noticed she had difficulty holding the scissor, much less cutting the triangle. But we'll frequently practice scissor skill.


I made a butterfly out of cartolina and punched holes around it. She laced the yarn through each hole.



She scoops the beans and places them in another plastic container. I let her feel the beans and introduce sensory attributes such as smooth and hard.

That is all for today and thank you for reading!

Note: Unlike in the US where homeschooling is popular and structured, I just treat homeschooling as part of my child's  play, so it will inject in her mind that learning is fun. I don't impose anything such as schedule to follow nor activities that should be completed before the day ends. I don't force her to learn. Chesska is only 3, I wanted her to enjoy her childhood years.

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Thoughts About Homeschooling

If you are a parent of young kids between the ages of 2 and 5, you would have probably thought about preschool's options whether homeschool or send your child into formal school. Since Chesska is only 3, we rather chose homeschooling over the other options in the meantime. As a work-at-home mom and a former teacher as well, I know, I can take advantage of my time and teaching skills. Why spend lots of money for tuition fees when I am capable of teaching her (naman).

We actually started homeschooling Chesska since one year old. (Note: Husband is an awesome teacher too, better than I am) But I couldn’t consider it then formal and systematic homeschooling with all the lesson plans and time-framed activities. What we did was made sure she’s surrounded with educational and interactive toys, picture books, charts, etc. where she could have the opportunities to explore by using her senses , of course, with the proper guidance by us. But I have a confession to make that 70% of what she had learned was through watching educational videos and listening to music such as nursery rhymes.  Studies show that music stimulates learning. I could vouch that it really helped my child easily learn the alphabets and numbers concept.  

But the most important factor that I think works best in teaching a child is give your full attention first. In our case, when Chesska feels she is given much attention and love, she is interested and motivated to learn. We admired how she quickly learned a lot of skills such as identifying alphabets, naming shapes, identifying colors, counting numbers, naming animals, and pointing body parts before she reached this age. (I documented Chesska's learning progress here. )

Here are my thoughts on the benefits of homeschooling:

• relaxed and flexible schedule
• of course, it’s free
• plenty of opportunities for hands-on activities
• one-on-one tutoring
• provide lessons based on child's learning styles and needs
• strengthen parent-child relationship
• discover where the child is academically
• less stressful for the child and parents as well
• opportunities to review the lessons if it's not understood on the first day

However, homeschooling has a few disadvantages too. One of them is we cannot provide the interaction and socialization she needs, knowing how unsociable Chesska is. That’s why we've thought many times in the last month whether to enroll her or not. I even asked consensus from mothers of older kids, just for clarification, of what age they really enroll their kids. I also asked my co-teacher who is currently teaching in the preschool if it's just okay to enroll my child when she's already four. She said "it's really fine for as long as she knows already the basics before that age". Since then, I was enlightened. With regards to the social issue, our friend suggested to have Chesska join into a group of children called “Awesome Kids” every Sunday in the Church. There will be a gathering among kids where there are singing, drawing, story-telling, and other fun-filled activities. By then, she will eventually learn how to interact with others her age.

Just early this week, I already started following and implementing some activities from the Ebook which I bought online since I need to level up and enrich Chesska’s skills. 

Here are the materials I am currently using for our homeschooling.

Chesska knew her ABC, Numbers (1-20), and Colors before three by letting her watch the videos consistently.

I currently use these tools for counting, sorting out shapes and colors, and learning patterns.

These books contain plenty of activities that involve matching, coloring, identifying, learning vocabulary, and counting.

I found this at the mall yesterday and bought it right away. This hands-on tool will soon help her demonstrate basic addition, and eventually the three other operations (super advanced! hehe). 

Chesska was able to solve the puzzles except the frozen ones in less than a week. Each box contains 4 sets of puzzles.  Aside from developing logical thinking, puzzles will help develop fine motor skills by putting the pieces together.

I bought the exercise books last Sunday at National Bookstore to help her practice writing. I don't know, but Chesska is less inclined in writing than in coloring . I also grabbed a copy of phonics book in preparation for reading. She loves a bit more in reading (actually pretend reading).

From now on, I am going to share our homeschooling journey. I will try to update my blog as often as possible for more homeschooling ideas and tips. Thank you for reading moms.

P.S. Here are our sample activities this week and previous week. 

Counting: Fill the numbered eggs with marbles. 

Writing Patterns

Lacing: It develops fine motor skills (small muscles in the fingers to coordinate).

Of course her favorite, solving jigsaw puzzle. 

Sorting out shapes and colors. 

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How My Husband Got Me to Join "Truly Rich Club"

I don’t think I mention this to you before, but early this year, my husband, Ronan, whose new interest right now is investing into stocks  (while me is just waiting for his report of our gain, hehe ), had finally convinced me to join Truly Rich Club, founded by Bo Sanchez. (Good thing about Ronan is that he always consults me before he makes a financial decision because according to him "I am the boss!". Joke!)

Ok, let me share you a story. 

When I first heard about "Truly Rich Club", to be honest, I got intimidated.


, I don't consider myself rich, and currently living from a middle-class family (not so sure), to become Henry Sy, for exampleis a kind of hard to achieve. Second, I thought, in order to be a club member, you must be really, really rich. (Because it says nga, "TRULY RICH", toink!)

However, after learning TRC, where Ronan talks about it whenever he's got a chance, my perception about "being rich" has been changed. It's because I used to associate "rich" with people having a Montero, plenty of money, expensive gadgetand extravagant lifestyle. But I was completely wrong! Not all people with those expensive possessions are signs of truly wealthy. Malay mo driver lng sya ng Montero? I am just joking.

But who are truly rich?

Of course, it's not required to be like Uncle Henry Sy and Lucio Tan (hehe) in order to be called rich. As for me, one can be considered rich when he's got a financial freedom.  This means, he doesn't need to worry about finances in the years to come because he just let his asset, investment, and passive income work for him even if he quits his 8-hour job. Thus, he can retire as early as he wants to without waiting 60 years old (which all of us assumed), afford to buy a car with cash for example (instead of a car loan), sustain his monthly expenses, be financially prepared when anything comes up unexpectedly or what we call “emergency”, take his family somewhere for a vacation, and most of all use his money to help others. 

But let's keep in mind" 

"The most obvious measurement of wealth is gratitude. Bo Sanchez"

Why did we join the club?

By joining the club, it was one of the smartest decisions of our life. EVER!  It helps good people become rich.  Because of the guidance we get from the Club, we're now faithfully investing in the Stock Market each month. Yes each month. Shocking, right? I wish we had known TRC long time ago so we could have invested in stock market when we were still young. We could probably have gained bigger than what have now. But I know it's not yet too late! YOU TOO!
Isn't it challenging?
It’s really amazing how we are personally growing in our finances. We are inviting you to join the Club too.  If you’re interested, click the link here. Listen to Bo explain what it is all about.  And email me if you have any questions.

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Actual Wedding Expenses

We can't ignore the fact that wedding costs are due to family pressure either from the groom or bride, pressure from peers, or even influence from social media such as Facebook or Pinterest, posting nice and magical wedding photos. But as practical as we are, we strive not to keep up with the latest wedding trends. After all,  wedding is not a competition.

Month ago prior to our church wedding ceremony, I shared our estimated wedding budget, detailing all the important things we had to pay and purchase, making certain we wouldn't exceed to our allocated budget. (Note: Some figures reflected there were exact amount we paid especially fees for church, makeup, Eden resort's accommodation, and the wedding dresses, while the rest mentioned was just a rough estimate.)

Originally, we didn't want to spend more than 60,000 just for a single day . So Ronan and I had a long debate of who to invite, where is the venue, how much is the budget for photography, so on and so forth. Eventually,  we decided to have a smaller and simpler wedding. The simpler, the better.

Before I elaborate everything, let me share you our actual wedding cost, which was slightly higher than our estimated wedding budget. Note. Our wedding budget is neither loaned nor borrowed (We are proud of it!).

Details Pesos (1 dollar=44) 
Eden Accommodation (2 days) + Buffet (32 people) 25,378 $577
Virgin delos Remedios Fee 4,200 $95
St. Michael Chapel Rent 2,000 $45
St. Michael Choir  2,000 $45
Stipend 1,500 $34
Wedding Requirements 500 $11
Wedding Clothes Rent (second use) 8,800 $200
Makeup  7,000 $159
Photography  (shoot only) 6,000 $136
Bouquets and Flowers 3,000 $68
Eden Transportation (back and forth)  2,500 $57
Church Decor  2,581 $59
Shoes (6 people) 4,120 $94
Crucifix and Bible  750 $17
Postnup Suits 2,300 $52
Hair Color (Ronan and Me)  1,510 $34
Others 9,680 $224
Total Cost84, 569 $1922 

First, let's talk about our wedding venue. I genuinely love nature as much as my husband does. I told him if we could just find the right venue - quiet, intimate, and spectacular - then all else would fall into place. So we first agreed to have Eden Garden Resort as our wedding reception.

However, after calling them up, they said that the required minimum guests shouldn't be less than 100 persons. If we chose that option, our cost might have reached 100,000. Though that amount already includes foods for 690/pax, St. Michael Chapel fee for 12, 900, and the hall rent for 10,000. Hello, we were only 32 and didn't want to pay the excess amount. After making up our minds, we finally chose, still Eden, but this time, we only availed the accommodation (before and after the wedding) plus buffet during the wedding for 32 pax including the photographers and makeup artists. We had no choice but forget the reception, program, etc.

Second is hire a well-versed photographer . We were so completely happy of the outcome of our pictures. These didn't tell that we only had a low-budget wedding. We owed this from  King Perez, who happened to be Ronan's college friend. In fairness, his talent fee is the cheapest fee I know, considering how creative and professional he was during our wedding. I was unsure if he just gave a discounted price because first of all he's a friend. But tell you what, photography and video would have cost you as much as 16,000 - 40, 000, depending how long the shoot will be. We we're just so lucky we have King! hehe

Third, take into consideration the wedding dresses. Initially, our budget for wedding dresses is  7,000. We first scouted at Wedding Bells , along Ecoland, to see the dresses and most importantly ask the cost. For first user, the cost ranges from 25, 000 and beyond  (My eyes bulged a bit because it was outrageously high). While, second user's lowest rate ranges from 13,000, depending on the style. I told my husband, "let's go to some other boutiques to take chances and I believe we can dig a nicer gown there for a reasonable price". So our second route was Teresing boutique along Magallanes Street. Luckily,  we found for only 8,800 worth for the whole package already (bridal gown, groom's suit, entourage dresses, veil, cord, 3 flower girls ' baskets ), all are second used.

Fourth, don't be too thrifty when it comes to makeup. The groom and the bride are the main cast of the event so it's just right that you both look gorgeous. I think, 7,000 was just a fair professional fee asked by our makeup artists because it already included the whole entourage. By the way, don't you ever forget to get into pre-makeup from your preferred artists so they could study further what's the best makeup for you.

Fifth, the "Others" category was our prepared contingency fund, which was gradually spent for fare back and forth (brother and mother-in-law), snacks during errands,  foods the day before the wedding since we cooked our own foods at Eden, and a small "handa" in our house two days after the wedding prepared for friends and neighbors who had not been invited.


We did not pay for the wedding organizer. We did the planning ourselves, though it would entail effort, time and energy.  It took us 3 three months,  ironing out everything - from complying church wedding requirements, from scouting for venues and churches, from looking into the biggest details up to the tiniest. We save 20,000. 

We did not pay for cake. Since we didn't have a formal reception, (buffet is informal..hehe) we opted not to have it. We save 3,000. 

We did not buy wedding rings. We just reused the wedding rings worn during our first wedding (civil ceremony). We save 5,000 (Just an estimate).

We did not hire a florist. Our first preference was to hire someone to decorate the church but she asked 22, 000 for the floral arrangement and bouquets. NO WAY! Too expensive. So we made the ribbons and other decors ourselves for church by watching the process from YouTube. (You see how useful Youtube is..) For our bouquets, hair dresses, and corsages, my aunt knew a florist from Bankerohan,  so we got a discount and just paid 3,000. We save 19,000. 

bride's maids bouquets

bridal's bouquet

DIY Church Decors

We did not pay for the wedding car. St. Michael chapel is just a few minutes away from the room where we stayed so we just rode in the resort's shuttle. It was incredibly a unique experience. We save 2,000. 

We did not include video shoot.  I'll tell you, video would easily consume almost 1/4 to 1/2 of your budget so we already settled into photo shoot. We save 10,000. 

We did not avail the reception for 100 guests.  The ultimate reason was our budget was too limited so it turned out to be a small wedding. We save 56, 920.  

We did not bother for giveaways.  Most of our guests haven't gone to Eden yet, so I guess that was the best giveaway we had given them - plus memories and experience. We save 3,200. (100 pesos/pax)

We did not buy wedding invitation cards.  Personal invitation by mouth just worked really fine. We save 1000. 

By now, you might have known that we are the most frugal couple in the history (haha). But you know what, we have saved P118, 120 (just re-compute na lng if I got it wrong..hehe). If we chose a fancier wedding, our wedding cost might have been more or less 200,000, which is usually the cost of modern wedding nowadays.

Let's keep in mind that happiness is not measured by the extravagance of the wedding, but it's how the couple wholeheartedly works out the marriage vow until the end of time. Additionally,  Pope Francis said,  a Christian marriage is not just a big ceremony held in a church with nice flowers, and everyone wearing fancy clothes and taking lots of pictures.  Marriage is an act of faith between a man and woman who are both fragile and limited, but courageous enough to follow Christ and seek to love each other as he loves them. (source)

How about you? How much did you spend on your wedding? Feel free to share your thoughts.

I would be forever grateful if you help my blog grow by liking my facebook page here. Your single click means a lot to me. Thank you so much.

15-Minute Dinner: Vietnamese Pho Noodle Salad

It's been super busy these days running around and meeting numerous deadlines. What a crazy week! Besides, the weather is getting hotter too, which is not helping at all.

On busy and (hot) days like this, I love to try something quick and refreshing. That's how I came across my friend's recipe: Vietnamese Pho Noodle Salad, which consists of chewy rice noodles, aromatic Vietnamese cilantro, crunchy roasted peanuts and yummy roasted chicken. It's so quick to make, just 15 minutes and dinner is ready. Any leftovers can go neatly inside a container and bring for lunch next day. (I am lucky if there are any leftovers at all)

My friend, Nancy is a leader when it comes to helping busy modern women like us to save time in the kitchen. She definitely saved my time! Check out this irresistible new dinner idea, you will love it:


From the Bottom of Our Hearts, Thank You!

We would like to thank all the people who had been part of our second wedding (first was civil), which was held at St. Michael Chapel, right across Eden garden resort,  last April 24 @ 10am. This was only attended by 21 adults and 6 kids, excluding 3 photographers and 2 make-up artists. Ninety-eight percent of the attendees are all family members because we decided to have a simple, intimate, and family-exclusive wedding.

The people behind the success are the following:

First, Mr. Jack Javier, who is working in the US right now, and Ronan's long-time friend. Thanks for the help dude.

Also to Ms. Mimi, St. Michael in-charge, for helping us reserve the chapel knowing that St. Michael is mostly reserved for couples who avail the Eden wedding package. Thanks for the suggestion and advice.

To Virgin Delos Remedios, San Lorenzo, and San Pedro parish for approving our wedding requirements.

To Father Al Botero, presider of the wedding ceremony and the St. Michael GKK priest, for the heartfelt homily and advice. He truly appreciated the simpleness and the uniqueness of our wedding. He even asked my husband whether he is an Irish because Irish people love to have a solemn wedding.

To King Perez and company, for tirelessly shooting us starting from 6am to 5pm. King had captured 1600+ pictures. Your talent and creativity are admirable. You are highly recommended.

We also thank Marla Santos and Jopay, our make-up artists,  for the wonderful job. We all woke up at early dawn (3am to be exact) and they started putting makeup to us. The output was still impressive despite a few hours sleep due to the annoying and persistent noise from the creaking window from the pine lodge where we stayed. (I thought I was the only one who noticed it but everyone did hehe). You also managed to catch up even in the cramming time.

To Auntie Arlene Cornista, my ninang, for the flower arrangement.

To Teresings boutique located at Magallanes St.,  for our wedding dresses. The bridal gown looks simple yet elegant.

To Zipsite family, headed by Ma'am Maida and Sir Roy Barrientos,  for granting my husband, Ronan,  to leave from work. Thanks for your support and understanding.

To my employer Cathy Yeatts, for the support and for gifting us extra $$. It helped augment to our wedding expenses.

To my brother and his family all the way from Bukidnon, Algee and family, Papa Roy and Family, Auntie Delia and Family, Auntie Arlyn and Family, Mama Alice and Family, Mama for the all-out support, and lastly Pons, a last-minute invitee and the instant groom's man.

To Eden resort for the warm accommodation.

To the resort's shuttle drivers who patiently transported us back and forth,  passing through a bumpy and dark road knowing that pine lodge was very very far from the main (10-minute drive).

To all our friends for the well wishes, many thanks.

Above all, to Jesus Christ our Lord for the bountiful blessings, without Him, we can do nothing.

Once again thank you and God bless us all.


-Jeni and Ronan-

Does my face sound familiar?

No, I didn't join the latest and the most trending show in Chanel 2 today "My Your Face Sounds Familiar" (haha).  It was actually a pre-wedding hair and makeup test which I asked from my hired beautician to do before the final wedding.

I told him/her (actually she's a gay), to make me the most beautiful and gorgeous bride in the planet (hehe).

So here are the outputs of my newly-transformed self.

According to her she uses MAX factor make-up. (Hmmm e di wow) In fairness, it was apparent that my face looks glowing and the color just tones to my complexion. Sorry I didn't have a before-photo to compare.

Side View

Back View Showing the Hair Style

I was amazed of the make-up trick. I have originally a cute short nose but now it is a bit taller. 

When I arrived home, I let my hair free, dressed up, and posed as attractively as  I could.

As much as I want to try different makeup styles, her first touch is just perfect for my needs.