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.  



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:

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

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




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.


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:





I like the way Kayla’s becoming more focused and specific.


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…


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.


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 ❤



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.


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…


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.


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.


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?)


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 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.



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:


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:


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.


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
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:



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:


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


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:


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.

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.