How was your Holidays?  As for me and my family, I can say that we were able to really keep it simpler this year.  Less stress, more down time 🙂 How about your 2012? How did it go?  To me, it just went by so fast!  Even if I did try to slow down a bit more, it still felt more like 240 days instead of 365.  (Well, you know what I mean).

Now that 2013 is about to give us that BANG! in a couple of hours, it’s that time of the year again for our family to set new goals.  

 

NEW YEAR = NEW GOALS! 

It was only last December 2011 when we started doing goal-setting and I think I’ll try to do this as a family activity every time a new year is about to begin. It’s not really making New Year’s resolutions but more of:

  • putting more focus on our energies and efforts, 
  • identifying priorities, and 
  • setting a clearer direction for the year. 

Last year, we did a mindmap on the different things we were thankful for the year 2011 and our goals for 2012. This was the simple visual guide I gave to each one in writing down their goals, which involved the Heart, Hands, Health, and Head.

 

Photo Source: http://www.lifeskillseducation.in/lf_skill3.html

This is what each of us came up with last year:

MIKE’S 2012 GOALS on the RIGHT HALF PAGE
THEME OR KEY WORD: DIRECTION
He’s really not into colored pens when he does his mindmaps 🙂
Heart: Relating > Conflict Resolution / Caring > Nurture Relationships
Hands: Giving > Leadership / Working > Self-Motivation
Health: Being > Self-Discipline on Work, Exercise, Food Choices / Living > Healthy Lifestyle, Choices, Food
Head: Thinking > Learning to Learn / Managing > Wise Use of Resources, Projects
Others: Bike > Compete / Work > Create Biz, Look for Projects / Housing > Light Steel

 

MY 2012 GOALS IN FULL COLOR
KEY WORDS: SIMPLE YET SIGNIFICANT

 

KAYLA’S 2012 GOALS
It’s not clearly seen but her left bottom page says “I want to read more books, be more disciplined, responsible, make sure I return things where they belong, learn more recipes, be more obedient.

 

ARIELLE’S 2012 GOALS
KEY WORDS: TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW
You can see here that Arielle really has a lot of ideas and wants to do all of them!
She has admitted that one of her fears is getting bored!

When I was thinking of how to go about our goal-setting for this coming 2013, I thought of only two things, (1) Character (2) Skills, and I identified these specific areas where to apply the two:

1.  Myself
2.  My Family
3.  My Faith/Church community
4.  My Country
5.  The World

Here now are our 2013 goals:

MIKE’s 2013 GOALS
Simple!

 

MY 2013 GOALS

 

KAYLA’S 2013 GOALS
I like the way Kayla’s becoming more focused and specific.

 

ARIELLE’S 2013 GOALS
Like last year, Arielle’s mindmap shows the many things she wants to do!

I’ve read that when you write down your goals, it has the greater chance or possibility of being achieved or becoming a reality.  Looking back at our 2012 goals, I think we achieved most of them.  If we may have missed some, we can always look back and decide whether we are ready to work on those again this year or some other time.  As for our 2013 goals, I offer and lift them all up to God.  I really pray that He blesses me and my family with wisdom, guidance, and the spirit to work on each one of them TO BETTER OURSELVES and BE THE CHANGE that our family, church community, country and the world so desperately need these days. 

Finally, my wish and prayer for all of us is that we may all LIVE OUT our UNIQUE PURPOSE and DESIGN in GOOD HEALTH and with COURAGE, FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE every single day of 2013.  Individual purposeful living and yet, one and together in achieving.    Cheers!!! 

 

 


Year 2012 is about to take a bow and like most people during this time of the year, I look back and ask myself, “How was 2012?” What was the best or unforgettable thing that happened this year?  I don’t think I can or would want to pin down a single significant event that had happened to us this 2012.  There would always be something else that would come close to or contend with that top answer.  I also personally feel that there are a thousand things that have come my way this year that I ought to be grateful for, no matter how small or insignificant they seem.

I feel it would therefore be best to share with you HIGHLIGHTS of our 2012.  I choose to look back at each month of this year, recall what I did personally or what we did collectively as a family, and think of the special blessings each month gave us that deserve a heartfelt thanks.

I was thinking of doing a collage to capture the year at a glance but decided not to.  Doing so would make me (and you) rush through the year and would not allow me to slow down, recall with fondness and gratitude how this year went by, and take a few minutes to whisper a sincere “Thank you, Lord, for ALL the opportunities and blessings!”

Here it goes…

JANUARY:

New Year countdown with my BFF and her family (based in
Virginia, USA) at Hotel Sofitel. It was a blast!
Our kids and a few of their friends had a good time!

 

We took a short vacation in Singapore. A first time for all of us! It was a trip filled with first time experiences and it was a rich, cultural one. We loved the city! The diversity, the safety we felt when commuting, the efficiency of systems and the gov’t.
The short stay opened our eyes to opportunities,
bigger dreams, better ways of doing things,
better lifestyle.

The girls have lots of fun memories from this trip 🙂
We made sure each of our girls had the chance to spend time
on their interests. For instance, Kayla LOVES animals…
Here she was feeding elephants at Singapore Zoo.

 

…while Arielle is a theatre lover! WICKED was an amazing visual and auditory experience for her!

For more of our Singapore vacation, click here.

FEBRUARY:

My interest in photography was reignited by the Instagram app!

I started to take shots of ordinary things around me
that would otherwise go unnoticed.

 

And it was a creative form of expression and outlet for me.
How timely for this “love” of mine to bloom
on the month of February ❤

 

MARCH:

Next to Instagram, I discovered the app WhatsApp.
My US-based friend and I love this app!
We now communicate regularly,
talking about anything we fancy and take photos of what
we feel like and need to show each other.
It has been a very convenient app especially
when we shop for each other 🙂
This pic of Georgetown/DC cupcakes was for her daughter’s
10th birthday. My friend says these are to die for!
Now, we are able to share important events of
our motherhood, too…real-time. ❤
Our girls have their own private chat app called GroupMe.
This is how we use technology to keep our friendship
growing even if we are miles apart.

APRIL:

Summer (and spring break) vacation for our families at Sumilon, Cebu! It has always been sooo much fun planning and coordinating for our family vacations 🙂

 

This Tumalog waterfalls became an unexpected favorite of everyone!

 

Our kids have become BFFs, too ❤ My friend and I teach our kids that friends don’t have to be near you all the time. Quality of friendship is better than quantity. We may be far from each other but we connect, we share…from our hearts every time.

 

It was all about FUN…

 

…and FRIENDSHIP!
Of course, my friend and I had to have our own version of fun, too! 🙂

April was also the month when I had to consciously pay more attention to my health and took the more healthful route of food choices.  I went into juicing and started to avoid bad carbs, white flour, white rice, refined sugar, processed food, and now, I eat only deep sea fish for my meat. I’ve practically become a vegetarian.  It was difficult to make the change and still is, but I’m slowly seeing and feeling the benefits.

MAY:

Mike and I attended the 4th Philippine Homeschool Conference.

 

Having Ms. Debra Bell as the key guest speaker was a
great booster to motivate me and face the bigger challenge of homeschooling through high school.

Read more about the Conference here.

JUNE:  

A mini field trip to The Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City was a good way to slowly begin and transition to our SY 2012-2013.

 

One of things I like about homeschooling:
the flexibility of time it offers.We surely have
a lot of it now 🙂 (Too much, I think?)

JULY:

Mike turned 42 this month. We went out of town to Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay to have a healthful
lunch with a homey ambiance. The girls, up to now, remember the salad and Arielle craves for it.
I’m glad Arielle and Kayla are slooowly becoming more conscious of their diet, too.

 

We were able to spend some time with Mommy (my mom), giving our girls a chance to take her out and bond with her.

 

Arielle bravely went through another audition, Repertory Philippines’ Camp Rock. She didn’t make it to the final cast but bounced back from it all with
maturity, stronger faith in God, and lessons learned.

Read more about this nerve-wracking mommy experience of mine here, and Arielle’s reflection here.

July also gave us an opportunity to learn the character traits Respect and Humility when Dolphy of the Philippine entertainment industry passed away.

AUGUST:

August was my big month. It was my high school batch’s 25th year homecoming and my family knew and understood how special the events were going to be for me.

 

Friends forever!

 

BFFs through thick and thin! (Lyndee, Janette, and me)
It was really great to reconnect with old friends and simply be surrounded by familiar faces.
Whenever I tell Arielle and Kayla stories about my high school, they’re always so excited and interested to know how it was like. Definitely something that bridges whatever generation gap there is.
What’s also nice about it is they see the kind
of relationships I’ve had and kept all these years.

 

It also became a “low” month for us
when we found out that Sec. Jesse Robredo didn’t survive the plane crash.
This is our copy of a children’s book about him.

 

He was an example, a model on
humility and servanthood.

 

Kayla was a volunteer of Angel Brigade and helped pack relief goods for flood victims.

 

SEPTEMBER:

We went on a beach clean-up at Planet Dive in Anilao, Batangas.

 

It was a hands-on, real life activity on taking care of our natural resources.

Click here for that day spent at Planet Dive.

 

We were also blessed to have been able to watch
The Phantom of the Opera at CCP. Watching plays,
especially musicals, has been part of our homeschooling lifestyle.
Photo source: http://www.ourawesomeplanet.com/awesome/2012/09/the-phantom-of-the-opera-manila-is-there-inside-your-mind.html

 

September was also a month to learn how to blog better! Here’s Arielle with Arriane Serafico a.k.a. Wanderrgirl. She is one awesome blogger with a great vision and mission!
Check out her blog: www.wanderrgirl.com

 

I joined Arielle and we were classmates, blogmates 🙂

 

Blogworthy gave me a chance to rethink about my blog. I hope to be able to give it a make-over or at least, share more personal and interesting posts.
What’s my purpose? What’s my message?

For more of my experience being in a workshop together with our daughter and my take on what blogging really is all about, click here.

OCTOBER:

Arielle turned 14. (I turned 43!)
Her braces were taken off after 2 years,
something exciting in the life of a teenager 🙂

 

I joined an online community of WAHMs and WAHMS-to-be
and this was our first workshop, It’s a WAHMderful Life.
I felt I needed to look into this kind of lifestyle
after being a SAHM, full-time homeschool mom
for quite some time.
Besides, the girls are getting older and do need to become
more
independent. I need to start adjusting
my parenting skills and homeschooling strategies, too.
I think the changes would allow me to have more time
to do and venture into other things?
Praying for wisdom and provision!
Photo Souce: http://daintymom.com/2012/11/wahmderful-life-workshop-wonderful-women-wahm-ing-together/

 

NOVEMBER:

The girls joined Nuvali’s Dirt Weekend with Mike,
being a trail biking enthusiast.
Arielle and Kayla biked a 15-kilometer trail. All for FUN!
I simply biked around the vast, open, bike-friendly neighborhood,
enjoyed the breeze, and had time to sit down at a cafe all by myself, and catch up on my to-read’s 🙂

 

A great month-ender was the musical Aladdin by mybatchmate, director Bobby Garcia of Atlantis Productions.The girls and I were privileged to have been able towatch it (for free! orchestra seats!) with some of myhigh school batchmates and we tremendously lovedthe production! We three girls were all still raving about it even a few days after.
Photo Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4446676338431&set=a.1118392253409.19011.1635110831&type=1&theater

 

Mike and Kayla, at the end of the day, in Nuvali.
Father and daughter ❤

DECEMBER:

Mike and I, as husband and wife, turned 15
this December! Yep, it’s been 15 years!

 

Finally, Christmas this year was
intentionally made simple ❤.
Focus on what’s more important, the real purpose.

You can check out more of my posts on keeping this year’s Christmas simple, significant, more frugal, intentional, and more focused.

We were able to catch Camp Rock two days before its runended last Dec. 16. Choreography and performance ofmostly first-timers on stage really deserved an
applause!After the show, Arielle gave her friend who was part ofthe cast a hug and a sincere “Congratulations!” 🙂
Photo Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=379211608835439&set=a.348780658545201.82175.242625419160726&type=1&theater

 

There goes our 2012, month by month.  To recap,  our 2012 was spent and focused on:  (1) relationships, (2) rethinking of priorities and (3) repurposing.   It has truly been a year full of blessings AND blessings-in-disguise (Oh yes!) and I can’t thank God enough for all these.

How was your 2012?  Your year may not have turned out like mine and I do not expect it to be. We all have our own unique, very personal stories to tell.  The lesson that 2012 impressed upon me, which I’d like to leave as my parting words for this post,  is made up of two simple words: GRATITUDE and ATTITUDE.  They make such a big difference especially when dealing with life’s delays, turns, and detours.  I’d like to take those two with me as I welcome 2013 in just a few days and face another year of dreams, goals, and who knows what kind of surprises.  May I invite you to do the same? Then hopefully, by the end of the year, each one of us would have another celebrated chapter to add in our life journals!


 

Martha and Mary
I love how this image shows Jesus’ hand touching Martha’s shoulder.
Photo Source: http://thepraiseandworshipconnection.
blogspot.com/
2011/10/
essence-of-worship-martha-knows-how.html

Our calendar for December can be the most filled in all the months of the year.  Whose isn’t? (I personally want to meet that person). 

As days come closer and closer to Christmas, I find myself switching personalities from Martha to Mary, Mary to Martha.     I think every woman I know are Martha’s during December.  Everyone is just so busy with all the preparations needed to be finished before the deadlines they’ve given unto themselves.  Looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Buying tree ornaments and house decors.  House cleaning and decorating.  Shopping for Christmas presents.  Hopping from one shop to another.  Getting caught in traffic (the nightmare!).  Garage sales.  Meeting up with old friends and colleagues.  Going back for the 3rd, 4th time to the same shop for that gift you’re thinking of getting for someone on your list (or for yourself?).  Rehearsals of our kids.  Their final performances.  Sports competitions.  Trips to the grocery.  Submission of work, homeschool portfolios.  Drafting and publishing blog posts (ehem).  Community service or visit to the orphanage. Christmas parties left and right.  Family reunions!  All these on top of the regular routines and chores we do all year round.  

However, my decision to make this Christmas a simple, significant, more frugal, and intentional puts me back on track and reminds me to become more like Mary. It really helps me become more focused and teaches me to say “No” to things which I think would just leave us harried, stressed, and anxious instead of being more relaxed and having that joyful, peaceful attitude in anticipation of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

I think Christmas is THE most appropriate time to ask who we really are as Christian women.  I couldn’t think of a better time than this Season.  And I’d like to ask that question now:  Are you a Martha or a Mary? 

 

 


Last Friday was day 18 of our countdown to Christmas and our activity was to take a walk outside.  We arrived home past 9 pm and we were all tired from the full day we just had.  But I really wanted to do this activity with my girls because I knew that it was something that would give us some time to talk and bond. Something I felt that we need to do more of.  Arielle was not in the mood (because of her monthly period) and so, it was just Kayla and me.  I was thinking of walking on the nearby streets, well-lit and safe enough to allow us some leisurely stroll, but Kayla suggested we go to the playground at the ground level of our building instead.

So that’s where Kayla and I spent a good 10-15 minutes that night.  Just 10-15 minutes!  We each sat on a swing and I must say, it was one of the most enjoyable moments I had with her.  We didn’t talk about school, schedules, corrections or discipline areas she needed to work on.  We simply talked about how fun it was just to sit there and swing!  There was that cool December breeze and the night sky was twinkling with a few stars, enough to give it some beautiful glitter!  It was nice to listen to Kayla talk about things.  How she had grown a lot taller because her feet were touching the ground and she now had to bend her (long) legs.  How she had wanted to go to the playground more often.  When some “random guy” (those were her exact words) approached her before and asked if he could take a look at her journal.  How our building seemed taller than the one next to it (which was actually taller).  What struck me the most was when she said that we should go to the playground more often because we could just sit there and listen to nature (We could hear crickets that night).  Wisdom from my 11-year old.

This was an old day shot taken last year, 2011, just to show you
the carefree spirit we had that night at the playground 🙂

 

Kayla’s a lot taller now!

Because of this activity, merely swinging to and fro, I’ve come to realize and am reminded that it would really be advisable to have one-on-one’s or dates with each of your child and just talk.  Squeeze in just a few minutes to have some private time with each of them. It’s a good parenting strategy. The atmosphere is just more relaxed and communication lines are more open.  Definitely something that I must have, most especially now, with our growing teens.  Soon, they would have their own schedules and would be spending more time with their friends and doing other activities outside the house.  I think I would want to invest on TIME with them now before it’s too late.

And this was me last year, 2011…vowing to remember now to
have some private time with my girls.


 

”I’m participating in the Spend-Less Holidays: Saving While Savoring the Season Blog Carnival, hosted by The Frugal Fil-Am and Dainty Mom. We’ll be sharing our tips on how to spend less this holiday season, so that we can have a more meaningful Christmas. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

As I had written in my post last November 5, my family will be having a  K.I.S.S. Christmas this 2012.   There, first on my list on how we intend to celebrate this season in a simple yet significant and meaningful way is (drum roll please)…No more Christmas tree!  Call me a Scrooge but I gave it some deep thought and my inner voice told me that  if I really want a K.I.S.S. Christmas, then focus on the real reason for this season.  Is it the Christmas tree which we tend to elaborately decorate or the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ?  So…no Christmas tree!  We’ll just have our Nativity or Belen, in Filipino.

Our Belen at the corner of our living room…
The Christmas tree usually stands beside it.
Now, the ‘spotlight’ is all focused on Baby Jesus.

This is actually going to be my first Christmas, in my 43 years, that I won’t have any Christmas tree!  Am I being a mean mom to our 14- and 11-year old daughters?

To make up for this quite radical decision I’ve made,  I wanted to do something that our girls would still enjoy (and not hate me for me and my crazy idea!) and hopefully, even remember more.  I’ve come across projects like a Jesse Tree and different versions of an Advent Calendar but the printables were too kiddie for our teen and pre-teen girls.  So, I searched and searched for free downloads and printables that would be easy and fast to do.  I even prayed hard about it, asking our Lord to show me that specific link on a DIY project for this Christmas, if He would really want me to do something meaningful with and intentional for our girls.  My prayer was answered.  In my mind, I wanted to try doing an Advent Calendar, which is really a Countdown to Christmas kind of calendar.  It was going to be my first time to try making one, if ever.  Search after search, and after feasting on eye-candy pins on Pinterest, I landed on this pdf file which I then immediately printed out and started to follow its step-by-step instructions (It’s easy!):

 

 

It’s a good thing that I already had all the materials needed and I didn’t have to spend a single centavo for anything! Nada! Talk about spend-less! Everything on the materials list were common art supplies I had in stock, all ready to be used.   (If you don’t have scrapbook paper, like the 12×12 size, you can definitely make do with other materials available locally or whatever you may have in the house. For the 8.5×11 size, I simply printed out on board or cardstock paper Christmas scrapbook designs and they’re for free! All you need to do is input the password given then print away!  You can even just use leftover or scrap Christmas wrappers and paste them at the reverse side of your activities printouts, to give the cards that Christmas Holiday theme.  A great way to recycle those gift wrappers, too! Sticker paper can also just be substituted with ordinary blank paper and glue.)

What I really had to spend quite some time on was the 24 activities for the 24 countdown cards.  I didn’t want to do the a-treat-or-candy-a-day kind of calendar, so I had to think of activities that I know we would all enjoy and not be stressed about!  I also made sure that what we’d be doing would (1) require no or frugal spending, (2) allow us to do those simple things we are not able to do on our regular homeschooling days because of our busy schedules, and more importantly, (3) would mean spending more quality time together, as a family or on a one-on-one basis.

So, for our teen and pre-teen girls, Arielle and Kayla, here are a few samples of the activities on our 2012 Countdown to Christmas Calendar.  (The pages on the pdf file for this would allow you to type your own):

  • Choose your dessert!
  • Movie or tv night!
  • Make someone smile (happy) with your words!
  • Make someone smile (happy) with your actions!
  • You can stay up to 10:30 pm tonight!
  • Watch a cartoon or kiddie show on tv!
  • Visit the Blessed Sacrament and have a quiet time with God!
  • Look at old photos together (If old videos would play, watch them too!)
  • Let’s take a walk outside!
  • Surprise Lolo and Lola with a phone call!

It was actually fun and easy to put everything together.  It just took me around a day and a half to complete ours.  Just in time for the countdown to begin on December 1.

Calendar activity cards and countdown number stickers

 

I made sure that the card activities were in sync with our activities
already written down on my planner, especially those falling on weekends,
when we’re out of the house, most of the time.

 

I used my craft scissors to trim the countdown number stickers,
printed on sticker paper.

 

I changed my mind. I decided to use my 2 sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper,
even if they were lavender and yellow, instead of the first set of materials
I used which came out a bit narrower and longer.

 

I then laid out each card on the 12×12 scrapbook paper to make sure that all 24 cards would fit. I stuck the cards on the perimeter first to be able to give some sort of frame or right spacing to the rest of the cards. I used double adhesive tape on the undersides of each card
(As you can see, some cards are upside down here).

 

And our Countdown to Christmas Calendar is finished!

I’m really thankful that, in the nick of time, I was able to come up with something as meaningful (or maybe even more?) as the symbol and tradition we’ve had for years…the Christmas tree.  I am excited and am looking forward to doing this!  I’m also hoping that this Calendar would be something our family, most especially our girls, would enjoy, treasure, and keep in their memories of Christmas.  Who knows?  This might be the start of a new Christmas tradition for us 🙂

Let the countdown begin!

Do check out the rest of our Spend-less Christmas Carnival participants!

The Learning Basket 

Apple’s World 

A WAHM’s Life 

Changing Nappies in High Heels 

Savvy Saving Couple 

Kids Party Hub 

My Life in Letters 

Super Mommy Wannabe 

The Frugal Fil-Am 

Mrs. C’s Sugar-Coated Life 

Henry’s Mom 

Roller Coaster Mom 

Saved By the Miracle of Baked Mac 

Mommy Journey 

City Girl, Country Home 

Ate Maui 

The World is Our Classroom 

Lique’s Antics 

Mommy Bares All 

Consumer Queen 

Truly Rich Mom 

Saving Well, Spending Less 

Dainty Mom


Wow, I can’t believe that it’s the last week of November already!  That only means that Christmas is indeed just around the corner.  Have you started or are you done with your Christmas shopping?  We actually still have a few more gift-shopping to do but the girls and I are really bent on making this Christmas a K.I.S.S. one.  K.I.S.S…meaning, Keep It Simple Yet Significant. 

A few weeks ago, I posted about this K.I.S.S. intention but  I didn’t really have the specifics on how simple yet significant we can get when it comes to our gift-giving this year.  Well, I didn’t need to think hard after all!  Arielle and Kayla have each been working on crafts of their particular interests these past weeks and learned that what they’ve been doing would be their Christmas gifts to their friends.  Isn’t that nice?

So, this Christmas, we are K.I.S.S-celebrating it by doing handmade gifts!  What’s extra special about it, aside from being handmade and personal, is these are right-brain activities that come naturally for them.  Definitely something to balance their left-brain routines.
What’s keeping the hands of our girls busy these days?  I’m going to let you take a peek of what’s going to be wrapped this gift-giving season 🙂
Arielle just loooves pens and paper. Anything artsy! Last October, she joined a bookbinding workshop and is now very happy making her own notebooks.

Notebook on the left is what she did in the workshop.
She is currently working on the notebook on the right.

Punching and stitching

Painting a test design on one notebook
she’s going to keep for herself 🙂

Meanwhile, Kayla has been hooked on making friendship bracelets.  I’m amazed at how she can skillfully and intricately weave those threads into beautiful patterns!

She actually made friendship bracelet-making as one of her portfolio activities last quarter.  See how she was able to create an output for her Philippine Civics subject integrated with Character.

Lastly, we are also going to bake and give homemade goodies!   I can’t tell you yet what’s going to be swirled in our mixer and put inside the oven but oh, the kitchen is going to smell good this December 🙂

The Christmas rush is soon to be more felt by everyone and I wish you and your family your own K.I.S.S. celebrations and activities this December!


Hi, everyone!  This is going to be straightforward and I hope that you could spare a few minutes to answer this short survey of mine.  I would just like to ask you what kind of posts you would like to see here in my blog.  What topics would you be interested in reading?  Which of my past posts did you enjoy (or may have even bookmarked) and would like to see more of?  Your feedback, as specific as possible, would be a great help to me as I try to be more focused in my blogging.  Kindly post your comments here in my blogsite, please?

I would love to hear from you.  Thank you! 🙂 

 

I’ve always been the type who prefer simplicity over extravagance or boldness.  I don’t really like big parties and loud music (except when it’s my high school batch’s homecoming).  I prefer cafes over bars.  Cozy restos over gourmet and fancy ones.  Generic and yet personal over chic brands.

It’s November already and Christmas is just around the corner.  50 days to be exact!  Usually, by this time, I already have more or less some ideas on how to go about our Holiday season … different from last year’s.  What dishes to prepare for Noche Buena.  What kinds of gifts to buy for the persons in our Christmas list and where to, more or less, get them.  Where to have get-togethers with our different groups of friends.  What homemade Christmas tree decors to do this time (Oh! This has been quite a tradition in the past years!)  I don’t know, but I’m feeling a bit “more laid back” this year.  The Holidays has always been such a hectic season and I’m being reminded (again) that I shouldn’t make ourselves go with the mad rush and fall prey to commercialism that Christmas never fails to bring.  The reminder becomes stronger and stronger every year.  Is it because I’m getting older (a bit of denial here)?  Or is it because our girls are in their pre-teen and teen stage that they are no longer the toy stores’ main target market for the biggest toy sale season of the year?

It’s just making me think. HARDER. How should we celebrate Christmas this 2012?  It is quite a challenge now to think of more meaningful, concrete ways, most especially when everyone in the whole world seems to be synchronized and going through the same retail rush year after year. 

The mindmap, posted on the wall in front of me, which I did at the start of 2012, gave me the answer.  Simple yet Significant.  That was the theme/central image for my 2012 Goals mindmap and that’s how we’re going to do it this Christmas 2012!  Now, I’m inspired.  Here are six Simple yet Significant ways that I have in mind to celebrate our Christmas this year:

1.  No more Christmas tree.  We’ll just have The Nativity/Belen and focus more on it.  After all, Christmas is all about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not about how many gifts we have under the tree or how many and what kind we’d be receiving.

2. More quality time to spend with family members and friends. Reunions and get-togethers need not be something obligatory.  Time to really engage in conversations and listen to what another person is saying, young or old.  Listen…Connect…Engage.

3.  Prepare/Eat more healthful dishes.  More greens, less of the sweets and bad calories.  And be thankful that we have something on the table! With all the get-togethers, we actually may be having more than what our digestive system can take 🙂

4.  Gifts need not be expensive.  The more personal it is, the better.  And we don’t have to force our budget to buying gifts we cannot afford for the people in our Christmas list.  Buy local, too!

5.  Schedule a Skype/Face Time/Magic Jack session with loved ones in another country or location.  (I’m sure Arielle and Kayla’s Lolo and Lola, Titos, Titas, Ninongs, Ninangs, and cousins in the U.S. would be excited to talk with and see them on the computer screen.)

6.  Include in our list, presents for our house helpers, drivers, laundry woman, and others.  It may even be good to allot a bigger budget for them for their year-round services.  Make it the other way around?  More budget for them than our family members, friends, colleagues who can well afford and are already blessed.  (Hmmm…this is something to discuss with my husband and girls.)


How about you?  Have you already thought of how you’ll be celebrating Christmas this year?  

 



Today marks the 14th year of my motherhood.  Arielle, our eldest, turns 14 today!  It sounds cliche but I’m still going to say it.  HOW FAST TIME FLIES!  These past few days, I’ve been downloading photos I’ve posted in Multiply and looking back at them as far back as 2004 makes me sentimental, giving me that kind of feeling inside only mothers can perfectly understand.

Fourteen years.  Arielle, you used to be that little girl who happily drew and painted on the Manila paper I taped on the wall or refrigerator door.  The one who sat on the floor, enjoying the taho spilled all over your body, and squeezing the sago with your bare hands.  The toddler who confidently babbled as you read your storybook upside down 🙂  And of course, how could I forget your prophetic statement “I can see myself perform on stage doing the main character”, at the age of 9!

Fourteen years.  You’re now a young lady who has accomplished much already at your age and yet, with a lot more dreams you yourself have painted in your canvas of life.  I’ve seen you hang those stars, those dreams up in the sky, and am always elated to be your first witness every time each one lights up and comes true.

Fourteen years and my mind is now doing a rewind of how those years went by. How did I survive those fourteen years???  You were our first-born and everything I did as a mom, I did it the first time with you.  So that makes you my teacher, Arielle.  My hands-on mentor all these years! You may just be our daughter but no else has taught me simple life lessons like you did.  And to this day, you teach me to:

1.  like the color purple (at least, appreciate it more)

2.  be more colorful!

3.  be messy (Sometimes, it’s really more fun!)

3.  sing or listen to music while working

4.  draw more 🙂

5.  not be afraid to try something new or different

6.  visualize my dreams (You are good at this!)

8.  quickly bounce back from a fall and move on as if nothing has happened (This is one of your strong traits which I’m not very good at)

9.  look forward, be a dreamer, and yet live today like no other

10.  smile and laugh more

11.  take more and better pictures (Hahaha!)

12.  be more positive and always let the sun shine!

13.  be amazed at the things one can do and become by just self-learning (This is sooo you!)

14.  strongly believe that God truly has a plan for each one of us

Thank you, Arielle, for these 14 ordinary and yet, personal and meaningful life lessons you’ve taught and continue to remind me, your Mom, these past 14 years.  Our relationship may not have always been smooth, but it will never be like anyone else’s.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I can only pray that all your heart’s desires be given to you at God’s perfect time and that you will live the life and purpose designed for you and only you!  I LOVE YOU!


Last Saturday, Arielle and I joined Blogworthy, a two-day blogging workshop, by Arriane Serafico, a.k.a. Wanderrgirl. Yes, Arielle and I were (and will still be) classmates. Talk about learning together as we homeschool!

Let me tell first the reasons why we joined.

I, the mom, joined because:

  • I felt I needed and wanted to keep up with the modern techy times and learn a whole lot more about blogging. My BIG question:  How do others do it so well and differently?
  • I also wanted to look into the possibility of using a blog for a homebased business or entrepreneural ideas in the future.

My husband and I encouraged Arielle to join because:

  • we know that writing is an area of strength for her and that a blog is also where she can showcase her skills in photography and art, traditional and digital.  Plus, I’ve read somewhere that a blog is the new resume or portfolio.   We, her parents, just have to equip her for the future!  Now, don’t make me explain how our resumes were like during my time.
  • By joining, it would be an opportunity for her to develop this life and marketable skill.  This is an example of 21st century learning and this is how we homeschool. Real life. Intentional. Non-traditional.

 

I felt like I was in my 20’s again =)

Before the workshop even started, each one of us was already greeted by goodies from the time we registered to the moment we chose our seats.  Each had a tin pail (by Celebrations Party Central) with these as our loot:

The co.lab venue was not your usual dull-colored function or office room. The wide open space, with orange bursts of color, is equipped with office tools and audio-visual equipment, has a small pantry area, sofas, chairs and tables, and smaller rooms within, making it very conducive to work, collaboration, brainstorming and c-r-e-a-t-i-v-i-t-y!

This is just our lecture and presentation area, occupying about a fourth of the entire space.
See my VERY YOUNG classmates? 🙂

Day 1 was info-packed, I must say, with Arriane, first and foremost, sharing with us that my blog is not about me.  My blog is my message to the world which means I have to make a GOOD one.  She then moved on to the nitty gritty, giving my left-brain some serious stretching and warm-up! We worked on a few “Who am I?” kind of worksheets to be able to understand what it would take to come up with a good or better blog.  In between the brainy activities, we watched a scent-making demo by BC Fragrance, listened to the presentation, and a little while later, were treated with the yumminess of ice cream and sherbet sampling by Pinkerton Ice Cream.  That surely gave our thinking gears a boost! Everbody was happy! =)

Now, this is how I summed up what I learned in Day 1:

 

And I thought to blog is to simply write about something or anything.  Well, I thought wrong.  An interesting, persuasive, effective blog is actually a combination of all these “ingredients” before you can say that your blog is ready for the world:

                                  1. Psychology
                                  2. Marketing
                                  3. Art
                                  4. Communication
                                  5. Mathematics

 

Here’s why…

Psychology –  First, you have to do a lot of self-awareness exercises of knowing yourself, your personality, different roles in life, heroes and inspirations, passions and obsessions, etc.  Everything that makes you tick and makes you uniquely YOU. How’s that for a start?

Marketing – You have to show and celebrate your uniqueness.  Don’t copy other blogs or the styles of other bloggers.  Come up with your own concept.  Make it the best and give it a one-of-a-kind packaging and branding. I would say competition can be tough.

Art – A blog is very visual.  When readers go to your blogsite, the initial elements that would make them want to read your post would be the lay-out, color scheme, font, and other graphics.  Once you’ve got them hooked by those, there’s a big chance that they would stay a few more minutes on your site, read more or even follow you!

Here also comes the technical side of it.  As Arriane would say, working on the backend of your blog with the CSS or HTML codes plus webhosting and domains (which I do not understand at this point, but would definitely like to learn)  can make your blog stand out from the rest.

Communication – The heart of the blog! This is where your writing style and voice come in.  Is your style informative? funny or serious? casual? brief and direct?  What does your voice say about your personality?  How does one read “hear” your written words?  How do you connect with your readers? How do you bring your thoughts and ideas to life?    A great tip in writing that I learned is to use key words, categories or labels that are Google-able.

As an example, one writing exercise we had to do was to briefly write about scent samplers given out to us by BC Fragrance.  It was pretty challenging! How would you actually describe a scent in words that only your nose knows? Think about it.

Mathematics – Look at your statistics. Read and analyze those graphs. Use tools such as   Google AnalyticsBitly, and Link Within.  Know more about your readers and their demographics.  Where are they from?  What time do they go online?  What posts do your readers like the most? the least?  Shorten your links and link your post with other related stories.

So, at the end of the day, it turns out that blogging is actually a science. Hmmm…huh? It’s because for one to come up with and upkeep a blog, he or she needs to know the right mix of ingredients and formulas. Sounds easy, right?  But that’s not it.  I personally believe that it also takes time, effort, and I would say, passion, drive, and dedication to keep a blog.  Then and only then can one say that his or her blog is blogworthy!