I am currently in the Visayas. ¬†I’ve been here with Mike since Sunday, April 21, and I am enjoying a short vacation here in Bacolod, the City of Smiles ūüôā

Photo Source: http://www.exploreiloilo.com/bacolod-philippines

Photo Source:
http://www.exploreiloilo.com/bacolod-philippines

 

The reason why Mike and I are here is because Arielle and Kayla joined for the first time, a¬†Marine and Wildlife Camp in Danjugan Island,¬†southwest off the coast of Negros Occidental. ¬†They are joined by their two other friends from CISV Camp, another camp they’ve been joining in Manila.

Photo Source:http://prrcf.org/about-danjugan

Photo Source:http://prrcf.org/about-danjugan

 

While the kids are in camp for 5 days (See photos here), Mike and I are grateful for the hospitality given to us by our couple friends we met in Singles For Christ many years ago (20, to be exact!). ¬†Their eldest son, now all of 17 years, towering at 6’1″, and will soon be in college in Manila, is my “inaanak” (godson) and his dad is also the “ninong” (godfather) of Arielle. ¬†They’ve been touring us around, cooking homemade dishes, and taking us to different local restaurants here, making everyday a “food trip”! It also is a good opportunity for all of us to renew ties, recall and laugh at fond memories, and give our kids a longer time to spend with each other. (Take a look at more happy photos ūüôā )

On A Short Vacation in Bacolod

Had the famous Bacolod specialty,
chicken inasal, etc.
at Golden Food Park in Silay for lunch
upon arriving in Bacolod!

On A Short Vacation in Bacolod

Dinner at Kuppa; then, Spa Natura afterwards!

On A Short Vacation in Bacolod

Dinner at Delicioso! Had two kinds of soup, two kinds of paella, steak, two kinds of pizza, chocolate lava cake…BUSOG!!!

On A Short Vacation In Bacolod

At The Ruins

On A Short Vacation in Bacolod

Dinner at Aboy’s

At Aboy's during our short vacation in Bacolod

Leisurely chatting and seriously eating
with good friends
at Aboy’s ūüôā

Fresh Buko Juice During Our Short Vacation in Bacolod

Fresh Buko Juice! My health drink fix!

The past 12 months gave me a different set of concerns and demands which I wasn’t quite prepared for; hence, I felt I was being pulled in all directions, leaving me exhausted and drained, not only physically but mentally as well (too much thinking and deciding!) ¬† I’m glad Mike and I decided to stay, instead of go back to Manila, after sending off the kids to camp because this short vacation in Bacolod is giving me the respite I so need to temporarily keep my mind off the usual household, domestic, and homeschooling concerns and duties. ¬† ¬†Mike is also one happy guy after being able to play golf at the Marapara Golf and Country Club¬†twice. ¬†Here in Bacolod, I was able to focus on two tasks (as opposed to 10!) which would most likely not be completed if I was back home because of the many other distractions and demands around me. ¬†I was able to sort out our hundreds of photos from our recent Palawan trip (hmmm, another blog to write about?) and as you can see, I am able to continue blogging. ¬†The two things I really wanted to accomplish before I move on to the bigger and more serious ones. ¬†And the good thing about it is I was able to do these with focus and in a more relaxed manner and setting.

I feel recharged and it really feels GOOD inside! We still have a few days here to explore the place some more (see ancestral houses, go to the sugar mill if there’s something to see in their operations, buy pasalubong), ¬†check out other interesting places to eat after the kids get back from camp (and have a small get-together for Kayla’s birthday; She turned 12 yesterday, April 25!), and simply enjoy this laid-back city. By the time we all fly back to Manila and go back home to Batangas, I’ll be ready to look into a new work opportunity and get down to the nitty-gritty of planning for our coming homeschooling schoolyear (I will write about it). ¬†But the important reminder for me to take home is to make a conscious effort to slow down, be more focused on the things I need to do by not over scheduling my day, and enjoy the company of my family members. ¬†The kids are just growing up soooo fast!

We all need to take short vacations or at least, short breaks.  It definitely is a GOOD THING!  How about you?  What do you do to recharge and let your body, mind, and spirit GROW (my one-word for 2013)?  Any activity, a place of retreat, or perhaps, a hobby of special interest?

OneWord2013_Grow


 

I’ve repeated¬†admitted a number of times that Arielle’s been doing a better blogging job than me. ¬† Starting out as a tween¬†blogger (at age 12), she’s able to tweak her blog layout, post her own illustrations showcasing her self-taught skills, learn Photoshop basics and tricks she learned all by herself, take great photos in one click (which would take me about 10!), do ad swaps, and connect with other bloggers from all over. Now,¬†Arielle’s just been featured on¬†Cici Bean‘s blog,¬†Celebrating Awesomeness Tween Blogger Edition¬†(After clicking this link, please scroll down until you see the post that looks like the one below)! ¬†How cool and awesome is that?¬†

Awesome Tween Blogger on Cici Bean

Photo Source: http://letyourheartbeyourguide.blogspot.ca/

 

How she ended up being featured on a Canadian preteen clothing brand for girls, I have no idea! She said they just emailed her and everything flowed from there! ¬†The wonders of technology! ¬†And how small the world has become because of it ūüôā ¬†Although she did mention to me about the guesting feature, I only remember advising her to read more about the company and check its values. ¬†Plus, my only condition for her accept the invitation was to make sure that it only gives out a positive image and message to its readers. ¬†To read more about Cici Bean, click on the links below:

About Cici Bean

Cici Bean’s Vision¬†

Cici Bean’s Ambassador Program

Cici Bean’s¬†Collection

Words of Wisdom

If Cici Bean wanted AWESOMENESS, CREATIVITY, PASSION, and ENERGY, celebrated and shared, then, I think they made the right choice on Arielle who personifies all these ūüôā ¬†I say this not because I’m her mom but because her blog is plain proof showing her true colors. ¬† ¬†Arielle is really one girl who definitely knows who she is, what she’s got, and is comfortable with it. ¬†No need really to conform, to be like the rest. ¬†And that is exactly the message she personally wants to share to the world through her blog. ūüôā

Blogworthy

 


Time does fly when you’re having fun. ¬†And definitely when you have your hands full! ¬†That’s how I’ve been since the onset of summer days when we finally submitted our last quarter’s requirements, had our portfolio review, and the girls took their year-end test. ¬†So, summer hasn’t really been much of a vacation for me because after having the fun part (which was a short R&R trip to Palawan last week of March), the busy-ness took over! ¬†¬†

My kind of vacation!

My kind of vacation!

As soon as we settled down, unpacked from our beach trip, ¬†I was instantly back to work mode. ¬†I immediately started our summer cleaning and it was only yesterday when I told myself that I’ve covered 98% of the areas in the house which needed purging and reorganization. ¬†I think I’ve done a good job already! ¬†That was about two weeks straight of back-aching work from morning till evening (insert trips to Manila in there, too)! ¬†Add the intense summer heat and dust to that! ¬†(I need a massage!!!) ¬†From the pristine white sands and vast, open, tranquil space with the blue sky and turquoise water enveloping me, I was back to reality. I now have to work my way through the different rooms of the house, from corner to corner and pack away stuff in boxes. ¬†And I am indeed back home because I could hear the construction workers doing their job in our back garage (no more silence which was music to my ears for 4 days). ¬†Gotta start Project Clean-up!

If you’re like me and our girls, who just can’t throw or give away or resell our used things just like that, (especially BOOKS!), then putting them away in boxes is the best thing to do for now. ¬†At least putting them together and labelling the boxes would make locating and retrieval easier and faster. There are only four materials I needed to have with me to do this task:

  1. sturdy boxes (I either get mine from the supermarkets or wholesale groceries, and directly from the supplier of Merit boxes, which is my favorite storage box of all!)

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  1. packing and/or thick masking tapes (duct tape, if you wish)
  2. a pair of sharp scissors
  3. thick markers

 

The reason why I like love Merit boxes is because:

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  1. they’re made of thick material
  2. they’re packed flat

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3. ¬†they’re easy to assemble and assembly instructions are printed on the box (love this!)


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4.  they can fit letter and legal size files

5.  they have strings to secure the top cover in place

6.  they have holes on the sides where you can slip in your hands to carry the box

7.  there are spaces to write down labels or notes on the box

8. ¬†there’s no need to use tape for extra reinforcement especially at the bottom of the box and to seal the cover

9.  and the size is just right to store, carry, and transport

 

I can always choose the used and cheaper boxes from the grocery (which I also use) but most of the time, they just don’t give me the right size (especially for documents, homeschool portfolios, and some books), sturdiness, and convenience that I need (for someone who has minor scoliosis, prone to lower back pains…and I admit, I am an organization freak ūüôā )

When I did end up using boxes from the grocery or even “balikbayan boxes” (which was way too big and VERY HEAVY(!!!) to carry books if full to the brim), I still had to do some extra work to make sure that the boxes will be able to hold the contents I put in them:

  1. I made sure that I folded the bottom panel of the box securely and even generously tape it afterwards.

  1. I taped the corners which were usually dented or torn.
  2. I covered punctures with tape as well.

 

Now, that was extra work for me; the time for which, I’d rather allot for something else in my to-do list.

Since most of what we packed away were books, this was how I put them in the boxes so I can easily see the titles and pull them out.  Book spines were visible from the top, especially those placed at the very bottom of the box, which is the harder-to-reach area.  Then, I filled up the remaining space on top and along the sides with books in whichever way they would fit and maximize space. 

 

You may be wondering why such a mundane or non-sense post? ¬†Well, somebody’s gotta do the job! Fact of life is… organizing and storing away our things is something we (especially the homemakers AND homeschoolers) will certainly be doing for sure, whether we like it or not ūüôā ¬†And this chore can be a drab, so might as well create a sane way of doing it!¬†

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Another year has just ended! Yahooo!!! And WHEW!!! We just finished our last portfolio review with our academic consultants and the girls are scheduled to take their year-end OLSAT this April 10.  After that, schoolyear 2012-2013 is officially over.  

The girls and I are currently doing a major summer cleaning and the house looks like a war zone. Our hands are all black and dirty; ¬†boxes, books, paper, toys, knick-knacks are everywhere; Kayla’s sneezing from the dust; my lower back is aching and I am sweating in this summer heat! ¬†This isn’t actually my favorite thing to do at the end of each schoolyear (I actually hate it!), but looking at the bright side, we have just finished another homeschooling year! ¬†Our sixth, to be exact! (I still wonder how we’re able to do that!)

Every year, it seems like we haven’t done enough and that we have missed out this and that, and this and that. ¬†But I just have to remind myself that we will go crazy if we attempt to cover EVERYTHING in one schoolyear. ¬†Learning should never stop anyway and reality is, we will never get to learn everything in our lifetime! ¬†

The best way to end a schoolyear is to look back with gratitude on our accomplishments, milestones, hurdles, and victories that we have encountered along the way. ¬†And the blogs of our girls, Arielle and Kayla, deserve praise and recognition! ¬†(In a few years time, I’d most likely look back at their blogs, a bit teary-eyed, and asking “We did this???”)

myblog

Photo Source: http://digitalparentscollective.com.au/
category/blogging/

So now, I am proud to share with you the girls’ blog portfolios for Schoolyear 2012-2013:

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 11.49.31 AM

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 11.49.48 AM

  • Kayla’s Adventures With Kayla, where I was able to see Kayla evolve from a Reluctant Writer to a Budding Blogger ūüôā

 

The Homeschooled Mermaid

I hope you’ll enjoy reading them and pick up some good things from the girls’ blogs. ¬†I now have to go back to our cleaning duties (which do not make us look, smell, and feel clean at all!) ūüėÄ

 


 

Do you like French Fries? ¬†I think most of us do, especially the kiddos. ¬†Kayla loves potatoes and she enjoys eating French fries, but when I think of how it’s cooked, I cringe. ¬† Imagine all those potato sticks deeply submerged in a pool of oil! ¬†

But I found a BETTER snack alternative {a big Mommy smiley face here}…ZUCCHINI FRIES! ¬†I’ve been loving zucchini lately and this cucumber-looking-but-freckled vegetable, from the squash family, is packed with nutritional benefits. ¬†

Here’s where I got the recipe of Zucchini Fries. ¬†It’s more healthful since it’s baked and not deep-fried. ¬†It’s very filling, too :). ¬†Yahoo for that! ¬†The only ingredient I substituted was store-bought bread crumbs for the whole wheat bread crumbs, and I followed every step of the procedure EXCEPT that¬†I baked ours at only 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 30-35 minutes. (Don’t forget to first wash the zucchini with water before slicing them; no need to peel. ¬†The nutrients are in the skin and the seeds are edible, too!) ¬†The baking time would also depend on how thick or thin you sliced your zucchini sticks. Just take note that the zucchinis will shrivel up (Water content will evaporate as they are being baked inside the oven), so, don’t make your slices toooooo thin. Remember also that the longer they’re baked inside the oven, the more they’ll tend to shrink in size (and get burnt!). ¬†You just have to see to it that¬†they end up a bit crispy with the bread crumb coating a bit golden brown. ¬†I personally like ours with the crumb coating crispy and the zucchinis a combination of crispy-and-juicy. ¬†

IMG_3647

 

As for the marinara sauce, I used the ingredients listed down but did a little tweaking by:

  1. ¬†using canned stewed tomatoes (undrained) since that’s what I have in our pantry
  2.  adding a few fresh, chopped tomatoes
  3. ¬†omitting the fennel seeds since I didn’t have any
  4.  carefully adding about a pinch only of crushed pepper flakes, just to give it a hint of spiciness
  5.  using bottled spices:  basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning (If you find this too much, you can just use Italian seasoning since it is already a mixture of basic spices and already has basil and oregano in it.)

 

The marinara recipe above is for lasagna which yields a big batch. ¬†But you can easily scale it down to match your batch of zucchini fries. ¬† Come up with your own version according to your taste. If you end up having leftover marinara sauce, you can use it as your pasta sauce next time, or even as a dip for your chips (but make it the more healthful kind, ok?) ūüôā

 

MonthlyOneWord_2

Every 15th of the month, Melanie of OnlyABreath.com is having a Link-up Party to encourage us to keep going with our one-word for the 2013. A great way to keep us motivated and help us in keeping our one-word alive throughout the entire year!