Tree Lighting Project

I saw this idea on Pinterest and wanted to try it out myself. It’s a very easy way to light up your tree beautifully.

Elijah and Titus hammered a hole on the jar cover so the wire could be thread through.  

This is what we used to thread through the cover – outdoor light sockets.
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And then a 16 gauge flat wire was attached to the light socket wires (the electrician did this).

  

We helped reinforce the wire with electrical tape. Get the rubberized one.   This kind of thing is super fun for me!

   We used our glue gun to seal off the hole in the center.  

Those are my toes…good thing they are pedicured.

     

The 16 gauge flat wire was connected to a thicker, heavy duty wire that was used as the main line.

 
We attached the lights onto the tree using wire and nails.

  
We also needed a ladder.

Our tree is so tall we may need to buy or rent scaffolding to reach the higher parts with lights. (Part 2 of this project)

We screwed on the bulbs and the jars after wires were securely in place and then turned on our lights to appreciate the finished look! I would have preferred Edison bulbs to complete the more vintage feel but they don’t last as long as LED ones do. 

 

Costs: 

1. Electrician’s labor – P1,500

2. Jars from Dapitan Street – P1,350 (for 15) 

2. Light bulbs – P1,500 (for 15 LED lights) 

 4. Other supplies (electrical wires, electrical tape, nails, and metal wire) about 4k

It’s much cheaper to get the more common tree lights that are made out of capiz shells, but I enjoyed this project a lot! I am the kind of person who likes the hardware store and do-it-yourself projects. Plus, I like giving the kids an opportunity to collaborate and get involved. It’s so much more gratifying to work towards a goal together. In Dapitan steet they sell a string of outdoor lights for a little over 1k. Waaay less than what I spent but, hey, the results were worth the trouble and  the cost. I am praying they will last through the rainy season! 

 

Saturday Crafty-ness

I finally pulled my Brother Sewing Machine out of its six-month old box. It was just sitting there, growing out-modeled. 

The saying, “It’s hard to teach an old dogs new tricks” was the first thing I thought of as I scanned the manual and surveyed all the different machine parts (much more high-tech than the sewing machine I used when I was a teen). 

“Elijah! Help! Can you help me set this up?” I called out to my techy-son who willingly assisted his confused looking mother. Basically, he read through the manual and explained, one step at a time, what I had to do. Right, that’s what you do with a manual! But, I hate manuals! 

Eventually, my rusty brain kicked in and I figured out how to use the “J” presser foot and the basic stitch. And then I was hooked! I used to enjoy sewing a lot. I made all kinds of things (very simple stuff). But I also designed clothes from scratch a couple of times, making my own patterns. Nothing couture! I wish!

The great thing about sewing is how many simple but pretty creations you can make. And you don’t have to be super amazing at it, like my quilt-making Canadian friend, Andi. (Maybe as my skills evolve I will try this, too.) One thing is for sure…there’s something incredibly rewarding about sewing that appeals to my artsy personality. 

For now, I am sticking to beginner level projects (no curve lines or button holes yet!) Here’s what I made last Saturday: a little baby carrier for Tiana’s dolls and matching, reversible skirts for the girls.





I bought my Brother Sewing Machine in the U.S. (it’s much cheaper to buy Brother sewing machines in the U.S.) and got a step-down transformer to convert my power supply to 110 volts. My friend, Andi, gave me some fabric for Christmas. I got all my other supplies at Carolinas (thread, scissors, snaps, etc.) But I plan to go fabric shopping soon so I can do more projects! 

Homemade Gift Tags

Paper crafts are another one of my loves. And every Christmas I design gift tags for myself and others as gifts. With a coloured printer and sticker paper, plus my wonderful paper cuter, I make personalized tags for family members.

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And since I spent so much time designing them on photoshop, you can download and print them for free! Gift Tags My gift to you! Enjoy…

Biz Kidz

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What a week we had! The kids had their violin recital and the very next day they were participants in a homeschool bazaar called “Biz Kidz.” Organized by homeschoolers for homeschoolers, this TMA Homeschool event encouraged kids to come up with a business idea, execute, and sell it.

The boys did origami art. Whew. Talk about labor-intensive. Next time, we are going to make cupcakes and cookies! (Our cupcakes topped with origami designs sold out and they didn’t take nearly as long to make.)

Three nights in a row, the boys stayed up way past their bedtime to fold paper hundreds of times. I was their quality control checker and I also helped them embellish their designs to make them marketable. So it was late nights for me, too.

We were all pleased with the finished products. But it was the process that was rewarding for all of us. My kids and I share a love for arts and crafts. We enjoy designing and creating. The kids were willing to push themselves to the limit with their lack of sleep. In fact, the evening before the bazaar, Edan fell asleep on a chair while waiting to be assigned another origami task. He was sitting upright with his eyes closed.

20130601_124239At the end of the day, the kids came away with P4,300 pesos. It was measly in terms of earnings, especially if we subtracted my part of the “investment.” But, the kids learned some great life lessons like…

Making money takes effort. The kids had to do the work and put in the time necessary to produce something sellable. I helped them out with conceptualization but they did the harder part. During the bazaar, the kids also discovered that selling origami products was a challenge. First of all, not everyone appreciates origami. Second, because all our stuff was laboriously hand-made, it wasn’t cheap.

Marketing and selling are an integral part of getting people to buy your product. In the beginning, we waited for people to come to our table. But after a while, I asked the kids to go around themselves. We saw other children doing this and it seemed to be much more effective. Edan learned that you can’t be self-conscious or afraid to talk to people. He didn’t want to go around with a tray at first. But, he ended up being a very good salesman! And he was very excited when he started counting how much money he earned. He told me afterwards, “It’s not scary!” (Referring to going up to potential customers.)

We also came up with a marketing idea that went something like this…Whatever origami art you buy, Elijah or Edan will give you a tutorial on how to make it. This got some people interested, especially kids who wanted to learn how to do origami.

Rejection is good for the soul. If the kids don’t learn this early, they will learn it later when there is more at stake. We didn’t sell everything. Elijah felt badly about some of his unsold goods because he thought they would surely interest buyers. But it was beneficial for the children to experience being turned down. Life will not roll out a red carpet for our kids. They receive a lot of affirmation at home, but it’s not always going to be like that when they finally go into a college or start working.

A recent Time article talked about the problems of the young people today. They jump from one profession to another because they have this entitlement mentality. They come into a job with high expectations about what others should do for them and when they don’t get what they want, they complain or leave. On the one hand, it makes corporations step it up in terms of benefits but on the other hand, there is a character flaw that we, as parents, have to weed out of our kids. Reality check: YOU ARE NOT A SUPERSTAR. I love you. I believe that God has gifted you to fulfill his plans and purposes for your life. But, honey, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your preferences. Get used to it.

Pray for success. When the kids began to be discouraged about having less than favorable sales, I told them, “Don’t worry. Just relax. If God wants us to sell our products, we will. He knows you worked very hard and you did your part. So pray and ask him to help you.” After they prayed, they started selling. But like I said earlier, they had to do what was within their control – go out and sell.

Be thankful and content. In Elijah’s words, “I learned to be thankful for the money we did make.” He wanted to earn at least P8,000, but it didn’t happen. Tempted to grumble, I reminded him to be positive and appreciative that we did make some money. We sold most of the items we had on our table.

“It’s fun to make money!” According to Elijah, it was rewarding to experience the fruit of his labor. Personally, I felt the experience was priceless for the kids for the character lessons more so than the actual money aspect. But it’s true, it is exciting to get paid for hard work.

Congratulations to the winners who received well-deserved recognition for all their effort, too! My personal favorite (besides my kids, he he), was a creative business idea by homeschooler, Isaiah Fernandez. He turned laundry clips into building materials and called them Clip Morphs. Over the years of hanging out with his mom while she did the laundry, he would play beside her and design all kinds of structures. So he turned it into a business concept. My kids are playing with his Clip Morphs right now! I thought it was a brilliantly simple idea that encourages hours of creative play.

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Even if we toiled and struggled to prepare for this Biz Kidz event, I’m looking forward to the next one. Hopefully, we can come up with an even better concept. The event wasn’t nearly as big as the Kiddopreneur bazaar, which draws a very large crowd. But this was a good start for our kids. Many parents commented that they want another event like this soon and I agree!

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Future Home

Nearly four months ago we started building our home. I will probably give birth before we are able to move in but that’s alright. We can squeeze in one more baby in our condo for a few more months until our house is finished. It’s been such a blessing to witness God’s faithfulness on this project. Today, Edric and I went to visit the site to take some pictures. I don’t know if it is genetically wired into me to like construction materials since my dad is a real estate developer but I found so many interesting things to photograph!
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Time to Pursue Interests

Homeschooling gives the kids plenty of time to pursue their interests. Edan, my second son, enjoys art. So he often asks if we can do art together. Elijah also likes painting so he joins in, too. Today, we didn’t do any book work. We just did painting and some projects for social studies. Titus and Tiana had their own easel where they made a big mess with paint. I am pretty laid back so mess looks like fun to me (as long as it is cleaned up afterwards).

Well, art is messy but it has many benefits. It teaches my kids to pay attention to detail. They learn proportion, balance, depth of field, perspective. Their fine motor and problem solving skills are developed as well. And one of the more important benefits is character growth. Persevering until the end, humility when corrected and while learning, appreciating the talents of others, and challenging oneself to keep improving are all part of the art experience.

I also like how art allows my kids to slow down and relax. It is amazing how painting for extended periods of time makes them calm down. Children need that. They don’t need to be harried everyday, stressing out over academics. When Edric and I were traveling in Europe, we noticed how celebrated the arts are — performing and visual arts. In Asia, hardly anyone wants their children to grow up to be artists. We tend to perceive it as a sure-fire route to starvation and poverty. So we encourage them to pursue business or finance. But what a beautiful world has come from the great artists of the past. And I would like my children to be able to appreciate this world, too. So we make room for painting, drawing, creating, building, inventing, and free play in our day as much as possible. I have noticed that when my kids are given plenty of time to pursue their interests, they are more motivated to study and learn.

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Homeschool Portfolio Idea

A friend of mine, Liza Berroya Salud, is a homeschooling mom of four kids. I admire her for giving her 100% in whatever she does. Whether it be homemaking, homeschooling, or ministry, she will do her best. And she is always radiant — a beautiful woman inside and out!

She is one of those moms who understands that homeschooling is so much more about character than academics. She wanted her kids to come up with a character “magazine” that they would put together for their most recent homeschool portfolio review. Each child was asked to contribute to a part of the magazine. When I saw it I thought it was a creative idea to teach and remember the character lessons they learned as a family. So I asked her if I could show what they did here. Thought it would be a good portfolio idea to share with others, especially those who are homeschooling a number of children. This is a great family project! Thank you, Liza!

Green Electricity

On somedays, I let the kids spend most of their time doing a project. Yesterday’s project was green electricity. Honeschooling allows the kids to explore their interests and develop skills that go beyond workbooks and textbooks.

I try to avoid hovering around them when they do projects like this.

Elijah read all the instructions and figured it out for himself and Edan was his efficient assistant. I also asked Elijah to research on energy. Titus was the “test-driver.”

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Frozen Goodness

A healthy snack for kids is ice pops! Pour fruit juice into ice pop molds and freeze. Throw in some sliced fruit for even more goodness.

Elijah sliced up mangoes and bananas and Titus helped put them into the molds.

It’s the easiest snack to make but it’s packed with vitamins (if you use pure fruit or veggie juices).

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Box Toys

My children love used boxes and so do I. Boxes can be cut up, collapsed, stacked, transformed, painted or decorated. This morning I made a baby carrier and a chair for the stuffed animals of my daughter, Tiana. The end product is a little bit crude looking because you can see all the tape on the edges. But kids don’t really care about details like that.

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If you have space enough to keep old boxes, store them somewhere for future projects. Unfortunately, condo living limits storage for us. But when I can, I keep boxes for the kids to play with. The kids find all kinds of uses for them and they are great for creative and imaginative play. Making toys out of boxes also encourages children to recycle. :)

Bandzies

When Tiana was a baby, she hardly had any hair. And sometimes my boys would say, “She looks like a boy!” So I made all kinds of bows for her hair and thought of creating a business, branding them “bandzies.” But after all the effort, I realized I only really wanted to make them for my daughter. Between homeschooling, breastfeeding and caring for a newborn, I did not have the time to source, manufacture, market, and sell them. Now that Tiana is 2 and doesn’t need to wear them anymore, I decided that I would give them away to friends with baby girls.

Anyway, for posterity’s sake, I photographed some of the stuff I made. Maybe it will also give moms out there who have baby girls ideas, too! I bought most of my ribbons, elastic bands and flowers at Carolinas in SM Megamall. Others I picked up in Divisoria or random places. With a needle and thread and a glue gun, anyone can make these.

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Making Filipino Fun

Lapbooks are a fun way to engage my older son, Elijah, in learning Filipino. Between the two of us, teaching and learning this subject can be a comedy of errors. But with the many bi-lingual books out there by publishers like Hiyas, Lampara, and Adarna, my kids can appreciate well-written stories in both English and Filipino. And I can better explain to Elijah grammar and comprehension when I see the parallels between English and Fililpino.

So this is what I do when it comes to portfolio submission time. Elijah makes lapbooks (with my help) that cover lessons during a quarter. Instead of learning Filipino topically, we take a story and extract the lessons from the text. For example, I will ask him to look for “pangalan pambalana” and “pangalan pantangi” in the story and he will make a list of both. We will creatively display his answers in the lapbook. We will do this method with all of the other lessons in his textbook. The outcome is a memorable folder that opens up in the middle to show what Elijah learned during the quarter.

Many homeschoolers use lapbooks. Personally, I feel they are most helpful for subject areas that are more challenging to teach. In our case, it’s Filipino. :)

Here are some photos of one of Elijah’s lapbooks:

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