It’s almost New Year’s Eve and we will all soon be saying goodbye to 2013 and welcoming 2014!  A HAPPY NEW YEAR to my family and friends, near and far!  

Like what I’ve written in my last post, we’ve been doing a New Year’s tradition to prepare ourselves for the coming year.  Arielle and Kayla did their goal-setting this morning and it didn’t take long for them to write down what they want to achieve in 2014.  Their planners had pages dedicated on goals and those instantly served as prompts for them to put in writing what they intend to carry out.

I didn’t want to call mine “New Year’s Resolution” because it just didn’t give me THE motivation.  I came across another word which just feels so right for me and more personal. The word is INTENTION.  I also wasn’t planning on writing a long post on this simply because I was able to create something that I feel says it all. 

I so enjoyed doing this! 

2014 Intentions

Here’s my 2014 Declaration of Intention, which contains my:

One Word for 2014…FAITH

and my

Verse for 2014…Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

My 2014 Declaration of Intention

My 2014 Declaration of Intention in watercolor

2014 Intention

More specific intentions of mine
as I tried out my calligraphy dip pen for the first time!


Have you thought about your 2014 Intention(s)?  How about your One Word or Verse for 2014?  Do share!  It’s the perfect time to start anew and be inspired to make things better this new year!


I can’t believe it.  It’s the last weekend of 2013 and in a few days, the whole world will be ushering in another year!  How was 2013 to you?  To be honest, I had a couple of bumps here and there in my relationships with my family and with myself, but overall, 2013 was a year of blessings and God’s faithful provision for our family.  We had more than what we needed, enjoyed so much of life, and was even able to share what we have with others. 

Now that 2014 will soon be here, my family and I will be doing the activity we’ve started doing in 2011.  Every January 1st (or during the 1st week of January), we all sit down with blank sheet of paper or page of our new planner/journal and coloured markers.  We then think, think, think about our goals for the coming year and put them in writing, mindmap, or some artistic doodle.  

To show you how we did it for 2012 and 2013, look here.  We all did mindmaps that allow us to see the big picture at one glance.  That makes it easier to keep each one of us motivated and to keep our eyes on our goals.  As an added challenge to myself, last year, I thought of my One Word for 2013 to keep me even more motivated and focused on the activities I was going to engage myself in for the year.  

In a few days, we’ll be doing the tradition again.  Arielle, Kayla, and I already have our 2014 planners, pens, and markers ready!  New Year, New Goals, New Plans!  What I’m also looking forward to, before we start making our goals for 2014, is looking back at what we’ve all written as our goals for 2013 and see how much we’ve actually completed or achieved!  Then after we have set, written, or drawn our goals, we offer all of them to God and pray that He blesses them.

For those of you with younger kids, doing a mindmap might not interest them yet and they might find it difficult or intimidating and end up being discouraged.  That wouldn’t be a good way to start a new year, right?  Here are some of my suggestions to help them set a “bigger goal” for themselves:

1.  Help them think of their One Word for 2014.  Something that is do-able for them.  Make that one word a verb or adjective.  My One Word for 2013 was Grow.  How about…Learn…Serve…Give…Listen.   Adjectives such as…Friendly…Obedient…Caring?

2.  Or you may prefer to prompt them with questions like “What was the favorite thing you did or made last year?” … “What was your most memorable experience?”  Then, follow it up with “What would you like to do this year?” … “What would you like to see, do, or learn?”  

For older kids, like tweens and teens,

1.  Doing a mindmap of their goals is a great way for them to map out their plans.

2.  Writing their top goal or top three goals and pinning it on their bedroom wall or cork board where it is highly visible would be a great encouragement.

Okay, this is not for 2014 but Arielle had already pinned down her ultimate dream in life and this is her target.  I do hope and pray that she hits the bull’s eye someday.  Who knows? 😉

3.   I saw these pins on Pinterest and these might tickle your tween or teen’s fancy more than a mindmap or a note of what they want to achieve this 2014.

2014 New Year's Resolution

2014 New Year

2014 New Year

2014 New Year

A mindmap, a list, a note, letter to himself or herself, or doodle.  It doesn’t really matter which style you would do.  What’s important is the exercise of goal-setting, probing of oneself, and doing a self-evaluation.  And remember…goals must be S-M-A-R-T (To find out what S-M-A-R-T means, click here)!

How are you welcoming and preparing yourself for 2014? 




Guess what?  I discovered something new!  At first, I couldn’t figure out how to feel my way through the site, since it’s still on beta stage, and I didn’t how it would benefit me 100%. My question was “Will I be able to use this?”  But after just a couple of minutes of clicking here and there, I slowly saw myself navigating through the site with ease and actually having fun creating a few test designs.  

I’m talking about Canva, a new, simple, easy, and fun graphic design platform.  Take note of the keywords:  CREATE. DESIGNS. GRAPHIC. NEW. SIMPLE. EASY. FUN.  


Canva. Making designing simple and fun!

I’m no techy person; my knowledge and skills on graphic and digital designing are very limited. Doing a photo book is the only thing I can boast of when it comes to using digital imaging and image-publishing tools online.  I have to admit.  I run to our 15-year old daughter whenever I need some editing done with my photos or images with the use of Photoshop.

Well, now that Canva is here, I am excited to make new projects other than a photo book!  


What can I do with Canva?

With Canva, I can create designs for:

  • a Christmas card
  • an A4 Document
  • a Presentation
  • a Blog Graphic (HURRAY!!!) 
  • a Facebook cover
  • Social media
  • a Card


Speaking of Christmas cards,  with just five days away from Christmas Day, one does not have an excuse anymore of not having the time to mail out those store-bought or handmade Christmas cards because Canva can make it so easy and quick for anyone.  With a collection of designs, layouts, backgrounds, texts to choose from, all one has to do is choose, click, customize, and send them online!  You get to write your personal message…express your creativity…and you keep in touch with your family and friends!


Christmas card-making
with Canva


Customizing my Christmas card with Canva


What actually got me more excited about Canva is we can actually use this in our homeschooling.   Woohoo!!!  A new tool for us! With other applications available, such as A4 document and Presentation, our girls can make their homeschool portfolios more visually attractive.  Design elements you opt to choose and use can either be free or paid (I’ve seen design elements at $1.00 each).  Plus, they will learn new and improve their skills on presentation, graphic designing, marketing, communication, and even collaboration.  This will surely add fun in their learning and raise it to a higher level!


Recipe presentations, for example,
will be more interesting!


Analysis of facts or data will be remembered better.


I think I’m going to like Canva!   I can’t wait to tinker with it some more and be surprised not only with my creations but also with our girls’ projects!  

In the meantime, why don’t you head over to Canva’s website and start designing Christmas cards that you always fail to send out during the Holidays and start following them on:

to get updates.  


P.S.  One reason why I was greatly encouraged to write this blog about Canva, aside from the unexpected discovery I had about them, is because Canva will be donating $50 for the Yolanda victims, for every blog written by Filipino bloggers.  That just makes my blogging more intentional and my Christmas even more meaningful 🙂 


Now that Christmas is just a few days away, parties and gift-giving have already begun for some of us. Amidst the merriment and abundance around us, here are just a few reminders for kids and adults alike on how to “properly behave” this season to make Santa Claus Jesus Christ happy:

1.  Always remember to say “THANK YOU” to the giver of your gifts. Expressing it verbally, via text message, email, chat or private message, or writing a short note would be appropriate.

2.  Appreciate your gift, no matter how simple, meaningless or useless it may seem to you. It could be the 5th coffee mug you’ve received this year or that a pair of socks has become a gift you receive year after year from the same person.  No matter what it is, just be thankful that someone actually took the time to get you a gift and wait in line. It also probably was a last-minute errand for him or her to do or he or she only had a few pesos in his/her budget.  Remember that you were remembered.

3.  Say a prayer for all the persons who remembered you this Christmas and most especially, for those who do not have enough or are not able to celebrate the Holidays with their loved ones.

4.  Focus on the thoughtfulness and not on the pricey-ness of the gift.  A sincere greeting or a time spent with friends at a cafe or restaurant for a fun get-together or simply to catch up on each other’s lives will most likely be remembered more than the presents.  Presence vs. presents.

5.  If your gift is share-able, then by all means, do so!  Cookies, candies, cake, brownies, food for the gods, ensaymadas, fruits, pies, suman, lechon, leche flan, spaghetti, fruit salad…these are all for sharing and not meant for us to transform into a Grinch or Scrooge (unless your goal for 2014 is to gain 10-20 pounds more!)

6.  Last but not least, this may sound cliche.  Remember and focus on the REASON for this SEASON.  Not the presents, not the glitter and lights, not the food, booze, and wine.  But our Savior Lord Jesus Christ! 

I am actually starting to slow myself down these days in order for me to really appreciate all the blessings I have received this year and the many others that continue to come my way this season, before another year begins.  I would just like to wish you and your family a


Let us not forget to celebrate Christmas with character 🙂 


If you think that we’ve been diligent in our homeschooling these past weeks, especially during this time of the year,  you are wrong!  Why do you think I haven’t been blogging lately?  It’s because our regular routines and schedules have become IRREGULAR. UNPREDICTABLE. EXTREMELY BUSY. QUITE CRAZY!  Sitting down in front of my desktop at this very moment is such a rare opportunity. So how do we homeschool during Christmas holidays?  How did and do we homeschool after supertyphoon Yolanda and when our normal lives have been taken over by volunteerism, bazaar days, rehearsals (for music recital and Christmas program), recitals, Frozen and The Hobbit movies, an archery competition, meetings and inspections for house renovation, more frequent back-and-forth trips from Batangas to Manila, and okay…part of the disruption is my fault…a book launch and meet up with my good high school friends?

To keep me and the girls sane, here’s how we’ve been doing it:

1.   Our 3rd quarter always falls during the most hectic time of the year where traffic is horrendous and long lines are just about everywhere.  That only means a big chunk of our time is eaten by these two major culprits.  We end up having only a few hours during the day to actually do schoolwork and the most practical way to do it is by NOT DOING EVERYTHING in our schedule.  It simply is not do-able.

2.  To make ourselves most productive, we’ve IDENTIFIED our CORE SUBJECTS to FOCUS ON.  These are Character, Christian Living, Math, Science, and World History as a breather from their Math and Science.  Arielle and Kayla have made their literature books for this quarter, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings,  their “bedtime” stories.  The other subjects are considered “minor” to us and can easily be tackled when our routines have normalized. 

3.  We’ve kept our STANDARDS or EXPECTATIONS at a MINIMUM.   Though I would have wanted to produce above average work, it simply is not realistic this time.  There are just so many things going on all at the same time and we all just have to do our best given the time that we have in our hands.  I have to remember that we all still need to rest, to sleep, and have some down time in order to be productive every single day.  

4.  Finally, I also try to keep in mind that even though the girls are not solving math problems and doing science experiments or research work, whatever it is that they are occupied with these days are still life lessons and skills for them.  All these are teachers in being flexible, time management, identifying priorities,  keeping focus, prioritizing family relationships and friendships, and discipline.

Our homeschool pace does feel slooow and I do feel quite abnormal about it.  But I myself am being taught by all these.  As what I’ve written in my last post, interruptions are blessings and lessons in disguise.  

So if you think that everything is going smoothly at the Guevara Homeschool Academy,  ah-uh! I am trying my best to keep myself in one piece these days!  

How are you all coping? 


As of this writing, it’s been 20 days since super typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) wreaked havoc on the towns, cities, and islands of Eastern Visayas of the Philippines. My family and I were, as usual, in Manila that Friday, November 8, for our weekend activities when Yolanda came.  As early as November 5, I already knew about this super typhoon because posts on weather updates and call for prayers started to trickle in my Facebook feed.  But that Friday evening, we were comfortably tucked in my dad’s condo unit in Alabang.  The howling wind was a lot stronger and creepier than the typhoons in the past which kept me awake most of the night, for I was fearing that our windows and sliding doors would break!  It was really a blessing that we were kept safe by our Lord and guardian angels when Yolanda made herself felt in Manila.  

We have no tv in Alabang and our source of news was and is always Facebook and Twitter. A BIG THANKS to social media! We went about our schedules that weekend (sewing class, Kayla’s golf training, and an orientation for our family, as first-timers, on Make A Wish Philippines Foundation and its upcoming Wish Grant event scheduled on the next weekend). We heard about the extensive damage Yolanda caused in the Visayas, particularly, Tacloban and Samar.  However, little did we know that this super typhoon was probably the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history and our poor country was its victim.  

By Monday, November 11, we were back home in Batangas and it was only then that we were able to watch news on tv and see the destruction, the wiped out barangays, towns, cities, islands brought about by Yolanda.  The images we saw were simply UNIMAGINABLE! 

From then on, I was glued on Facebook as I await news about the real condition of the Visayas region.  I have to say that this was the calamity where I found myself mostly affected and which really moved me to be more involved and to actively spread news and updates in Facebook.  I told myself that this is the perfect time to stay longer in front  of my desktop, check my Instagram often, and use my social media tools responsibly.  I just couldn’t do my normal routines and duties! Only to find out, too, that I wasn’t alone.  Fellow moms and female friends in Facebook were feeling the same and before I knew it, relief operations and donation drives started to be organized with everyone so ready to join and volunteer.  It then began to hit me that it was really time to stop whatever we were doing and start giving help to our fellow kababayans (countrymen).  It was an interruption to our work, to our busy schedules, to our deadlines, but that only brings me to Lesson #1 of this unexpected interruption we all experienced.


Oftentimes, I consider interruptions just as that.  Major disturbance!  With Yolanda, I learned that interruptions can be blessings.  The interruption itself is the blessing!  To be able to stop and give ourselves a break from our clockwork routine.  


Sure, our homeschool schedules were disrupted but the stops and standstills of this tragedy allowed us to make an assessment of where we are in our lives, what we have and are currently enjoying.  It is an opportunity to say “I am blessed and have so many blessings!”

As news started pouring in, with international news channels and correspondents delivering updates on the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda, my family and I continued to live our normal homeschooling life but only found ourselves refocusing our energies on what we could do to help those stricken by the calamity.  


Our sewing class’s initial plan of joining a pre-Christmas bazaar soon became a bazaar for a cause. Our plan of donating a big portion of the sales to the earthquake victims that hit also the Visayas region just last October then included the victims of Yolanda.  It all the more motivated the kids, tweens and teens of Sew Easy and everyone was ready to spend extra hours sewing out of their normal class schedules to sew more headbands, bags, and hair bow ties, all out of scrap fabric! What an opportune time to recycle and make something beautiful out of scrap or what may be considered as trash!  


The Sew Easy kids were all aware of the national calamity that our country was faced with, and we all wanted to help in a way where our collective efforts would work best, and that was to sew with what we have, which were ALL SCRAP fabric.  Everything (the sewing machines, scraps, spools of thread, elastics, cords) was ready and everyone became busy with their hands.

(With God’s grace, we were able to sew more than what we thought we would be able to do and our sales was over our target!  The two-day bazaar was a success!)

Using our hands to be a blessing to others!


These are just some of the kids who are pure blessings!

These are just some of the kids
who are pure blessings!


Read our shirt: Never underestimate the power of a woman with a sewing machine

Read our shirt: Never underestimate the power of
a woman with a sewing machine



While we were occupied within the confines of our homeschool activities, relief efforts by different groups have already started. My family and I were becoming more and more aware of how urgently the people from Ormoc, Samar, Tacloban, Cebu, and many different places need help. After Kayla’s Confirmation in BF Homes, Paranaque, we, in no time, brought a donation from a friend and classmate in sewing to Angel Brigade whose relief operations were at that time, in Fort Bonifacio, Makati.  Even if it was just one large bag of tent, blanket, mat, and old tarpaulins from another sewing classmate, we felt it had to be given IMMEDIATELY.

Angels are real blessings! 🙂


These can keep a family warm.


Over 4,000 bags packed by Angels
last Nov. 16;
These are just about a third of a fourth of the bags they’ve packed.


With everybody else donating and repacking food, water, clothes, I started to wonder about the victims’ need for temporary shelter.  I took my chance and started tweeting on Twitter, tagging IKEA and ShelterBox, after I’ve seen posts on IKEA’s modular refugee shelter and ShelterBox’s emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies, and heard Ormoc’s 4th District Representative Lucy Torres appeal for help, specifically for tarpaulins that could serve as temporary shelter.  Not only did I tag Oprah and Martha Stewart in my tweets as a desperate and urgent call for help, but I also emailed the foundation of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (as suggested by a college friend)!  I didn’t care! All I knew was our countrymen need help…FAST! 

(A deep and heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to my batchmates who helped in spreading the word about the need for temporary shelter and for their donations.  Most of them are overseas and yet, the distance was not a hindrance to give what they can give and extend assistance in the quickest way possible!) 

By November 20, we’ve signed up as volunteers at Villamor Air Base.  Signing up online was not easy and I didn’t even know if we were counted in because there were changes made in the system a day or two after we signed up.  But that didn’t stop us from volunteering.  We headed for Villamor Air Base that Wednesday and by 1:30 p.m., we were able to sign up again at the base and enlisted ourselves (the girls and I) as volunteers at the clothing section and Mike as a marshal.  We were there until about 9:30 p.m. which gave us a whole 8 hours of community service!

This was where I was stationed last Nov. 20…clothing section for kids
from 1 to 12 months old.


Where Arielle and Kayla were section from 13 months and up (adults)

Where Arielle and Kayla were stationed…clothing section from 13 months and up (adults)


Mike as one of the marshals (He's the one wearing a grey shirt and a white visor)

Mike as one of the marshals
(He’s the one wearing a grey shirt and a white visor)


Algebra, Chemistry, Ibong Adarna, Noli Me Tangere, and all other academic subjects were set aside to give way to more important lessons that our girls need to learn.  That of service to others, volunteerism, giving without asking for anything in return.

As a final lesson…


What Yolanda did to our country may feel like we will never be able get out of this pit or dark tunnel, but we shouldn’t let this setback and all the problems we have to hurdle now cripple or stunt us.  Instead, we should slowly and eventually learn to pick up the pieces and get back on our feet.  I may not have lost a home or a loved one because of Yolanda, and I know that it is easier said than done.  But I am reminded of the saying:  When you’re down, there’s no other way to go but up.  With the resiliency spirit that the Filipinos are known for, the interruption that this natural calamity befell upon our country should not break the spirits of both victims and volunteers alike. It can all look hopeless and a hard uphill climb, but together, we can do it.  

  • Kaya natin mag-BAYANihan! (We all can do communal effort).  
  • Ang bawa’t isa sa atin ay kayang makipag-BAYANIhan (Each of us can contribute to communal effort and all be heroes (BAYANI) ).


The Philippine government and our very own people were not ready for Yolanda’s wrath.   Its strength and the magnitude of its destruction were just way beyond our country’s capability and resources.  Admittedly, the government units, officials, the different sectors of society were not totally prepared from the time the warning was given on the path that Yolanda will take to the time when we all first saw the extent of the damages and started to call for S.O.S,  and up to now, where relief efforts and rebuilding projects have not ceased.  We see pointing of fingers, blaming, ranting, a display of pride and arrogance, and a lot of suggestions and recommendations on what we should do to avoid finding ourselves in this same predicament when another calamity strikes.  Let Yolanda be a lesson to us all.  Let her be our teacher on life, on service leadership, on gratitude, on appreciation for our blessings and for one another, on giving, and on living as one nation and as one with the other countries.

I am praying for my country.  I am praying for our leaders.  I am praying for the Filipino people, most especially the victims of the earthquake and Yolanda.  There are too many bad news we hear everyday and I only pray that we will all start to learn how to be a blessing to everyone.  That we will all come out from this interruption as wiser and more compassionate individuals. 

How did this natural calamity affect you?  What life lessons and blessings did you learn from it?