Last Saturday early morning, we were all awakened by Mike’s voice in the living room. One by one, we went out of our rooms to check what it was all about.  It was me first.  Then, Arielle.  Then, Kayla. That was before 5:30 a.m.  He was talking with his sister in the U.S.  Mommy’s gone.  Lola’s gone.  She passed away, January 25, Saturday, 3 a.m. (Philippine time).   She was diabetic and a mass was found in her kidney.  It was cancer. 

We knew Mommy/Lola was getting weaker and was in her old age.  She was in her late 70s or early 80s.  We were praying hard for her to get stronger and for her healing.  She’s been in our daily prayers ever since we knew that she wasn’t in the pink of health these past recent years.  We were even planning on flying to California when we found out last week that her organs were already failing. Mike had expedited the renewal of Arielle’s passport.  It was going to be too expensive but Mike wanted all of us to go.  He knew that this could be our last chance to see and be with her. Last year, he went on an emergency trip and was able to spend a few weeks with her when he learned that she was getting weak.  That was his last opportunity to be with her.  But she had gone too soon.  She took her one deep breath and that was her last.  At least, God answered our prayer to spare her from pain and suffering.

I had a WordPress workshop that day by TheHappy Wahm and The Technie Mom and to be honest, I wasn’t able to fully concentrate.  I don’t even know if I remember everything we discussed that day.  My mind was just floating.  Everything felt and still feels like they are floating.

During breakfast, I tried to lift up everyone’s spirits and the only way I knew how was to tell them to think of their fondest memory of Mommy/Lola.  Arielle remembers Sunday lunches with her and other family members gathered around the table.  Kayla remembers her reminder to drink milk and eat crackers during snack time.  Mike and I will not forget how she took care of the girls when they were still babies, especially during bath time.  She was very hands-on.  Those memories made us laugh and smile, lifting the burden off our chests.  Another fond memory of her was our conversations about food, recipes, theatre, and musicals.  She really loved talking about those! (As I write this, Arielle just posted a recording for her in SoundCloud, especially dedicated to her. Mommy was so, so supportive of Arielle in her theatre endeavors and dreams! I can tell that Arielle is really missing her so much already.)

We are trying to cope with the death.  Mike seems to be able to handle it well, except when I catch some moments of him quieter than usual.  Arielle cried during mass yesterday.  She said she could hear Lola singing.  She really cried.  Kayla seems to be okay…for now.  And I am in a daze.  She was a good mother-in-law.  Very caring.  Family and God have always been her priority.  

Mommy will be cremated and we are waiting for her ashes to be brought over this February by Papa and Mike’s second sister.  Life goes on, but this time, with much grief and sorrow, heaviness and bittersweetness in our hearts.

Mommy’s passing taught me these life lessons which I felt deserve space in my 365 notes challenge.  It is especially inspired by Mommy. 

Mommy/Lola, thank you for all the care, love, and support you’ve given us, especially to Arielle and Kayla.  You gave them overflowing love with all your heart and with your selfless hands.  Thank you for the wisdom and lessons you have imparted to each of us as a person and as a family.  WE LOVE YOU and WE WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR THE HAPPY MEMORIES WE ALL HAD WITH YOU.  Your life story was a good one!  Rest in peace and smile down on us, ok? 

My 2014 365 Notes Challenge Notebook (handmade by Arielle)

My 2014 365 Notes Challenge Notebook
(handmade by Arielle)


I don’t know what got into me but for this year, I am taking on a challenge.  The challenge is: To write a note each day of the year.  Words of inspiration or something that will serve as a personal reminder. Something POSITIVE daily.

Aside from coming up with my One Word for 2014 and my 2014 Declaration of Intention, I was bold enough to do My 365 Notes Challenge, as inspired by Cindy Cheung of I’m no graphic designer like her but when I saw a post in Instagram which led me to her own IG account, I was inspired!  I searched for her and her Pinterest board on her 2012 365 Notes Challenge was SIMPLY AWESOME! 

I couldn’t find a notebook to fit all 365 days of the year and one with pages that won’t make the ink bleed (but I had to settle with our supply of multi-purpose paper).  So, Arielle, who was with me in my search for THE notebook, seeing how frustrated I was, offered to make a handmade notebook for me, applying the bookbinding technique she had learned from before.  I couldn’t be more thankful!  And to complete the essentials for this challenge, I stocked up on black pens, asking for recommendations from our girls, who actually gave good ones! 

I’m now on Day 23 and so far, so good.  This challenge has allowed me:

  • To have some MORE quiet ME time.  
  • To pay attention to what’s going on around me.  
  • To be more reflective on words.  To be more introspective.  
  • To find more meaning in life, in general, or in the simplicities that life offer which I often ignore.  

Plus, I get to try to be more creative in terms of writing and taking photos. 

Here are my favorites, so far:

I love that I’m doing this!  My mind sometimes go blank but there is always something to write on a new page.

Just as each day has SOMETHING different to tell us, if we only listen and pay attention more. 


I was scribbling for three hours last Saturday.  No, not with an ordinary pen, but with a nib and ink! That’s because I joined a calligraphy workshop by Ink Scribbler at Kitchen’s Best in Bonifacio Global City. 

I arrived at the patisserie early since Mike had to do the rounds of dropping us girls off to our scheduled activities that afternoon (He was forced to think of what he could do while waiting for all of us to finish which literally took us the whole afternoon…from 1:30pm to 6:00 pm!)  I didn’t mind being an hour early for the workshop because I was really excited and have been looking forward to this Saturday.  My newfound “art friend”, Dette of Bananabellieboo, was going to be with me, and we were just together on an art date last Saturday! 

Upon entering our private room, Alexis Ventura of Ink Scribbler introduced herself and warmly welcomed me to the workshop.  As soon as I chose my seat and put down my things, I started to take photos of her little display table by the corner which showed her different kinds of nibs and ink. 

The workshop started promptly at 3:00 p.m. and like any other workshop, we all gave a brief introduction of ourselves. (Prior to this day, I did wonder who my “classmates” will be and if I was going to be the oldest or one of the oldest ones as always.  Alexis herself looked very young!  Well, she IS.  That was another story of inspiration to share with Arielle and Kayla.)

With our materials prepared and all laid out on the tables (worksheets neatly filed in a folder, a pencil, a nib holder, a bottle of black ink), our afternoon started with a very well-presented introduction of what calligraphy is (from the word’s etymology to the parts of a nib and how the nib works).  It smoothly proceeded to how to learn fancy calligraphy (as I would like to call it, and not the really formal, technical kind) with the use of pencil first then, using the nib pen.   

The afternoon went on with all us serious and yet having fun going through the motions and filling up each sheet of exercises.  No one even bothered to take a snack no matter how many times Alexis tried to invite us because we were all engrossed with what we were doing! 😀  We even jokingly said that we were holding our breaths when doing the exercises! Hahaha!

Here are samples of what I did (minus the ink blots and ink-less strokes!):

It felt like doing those
writing exercises
back in grade school!

Trying to write "Beyond Books and Walls" and tracing words cards

Trying to write “Beyond Books and Walls” and
tracing words on a card

Quite getting the hang of it!

Quite getting the hang of it!

My certificate :)

My certificate 🙂


Arielle was, as expected, excited to hear from me after.  So, I showed her what I learned and she immediately tried her hand in using a nib pen.  She is a natural with pens! 

I still need A LOT of practice and I’m glad that I joined this workshop.  My January weekend workshops are enough to give me a boost for 2014 🙂  

On a final note, if you feel like your life is getting monotonous or becoming so predictable, here’s my advice:

As posted on my Instagram
(Day 19 of my 365 notes challenge…
Soon to post about it!)


And to our homeschooled girls, this is also living the example of being a lifelong learner 🙂

Start The Year Right

Let’s Start The Year Right!


Yes, life is back to normal in terms of routines and to-do’s.  Nowadays, I find myself very conscious of how I am transitioning from 2013 to 2014 and very aware of how things are slowly unfolding as each day of this new year passes by.  

I had carefully thought about my Intention, One-Word (Faith), and Verse for 2014.  I had declared it.  I had made a visual of it using watercolor (which happens to be one of my art pursuits).  I had taken a step further by specifically listing down the things I would want to have less of and do or practice more (this time in calligraphy, another art pursuit of mine).  And recently, I also had reflected on the different Faith areas in my life

Then, I somehow managed to schedule my first month of 2014, my Saturdays in particular, with activities that are really just for me.  Nothing to do with my being a wife or a homeschool mom…But TIME to do things I really want to do and wasn’t able to last year.  Talk about starting the year RIGHT! 

Last January 4, the first Saturday of the year, I joined Martine de Luna’s “Blog Your Best Year” Creative Blogging Workshop, which for me, was the perfect way to jumpstart my new year! Attending the workshop helped me refocus on my blog, which I felt was a bit neglected during the last two or three months of 2013.  Like in the other workshops I’ve joined, I met new bloggers and friends, and was partnered with Bituin Callanta of Quite Simple Bits for the exercises of the workshop, who happens to be doing something I’m really interested in (Simple Sustainable Living) and who was also a “teacher” in her previous job.  The workshop, the venue, the food, the people…everything was just RIGHT.

Blog Your Best Year Workshop...perfect time to take this!

Blog Your Best Year Workshop…
perfect time to take this!

Next calendar activity was January 11.  I had an art playdate with Bernadette Ramos of Bananabellieboo and Vanessa Salas of Shed Mom at Early Bird Breakfast Club.  It was my second art date with Dette and my first time to meet Van.  We all gelled instantly.  It was a casual meetup. No pressure.  Just pure fun and sharing of what we do and have, in a cozy restaurant, over good food and with good company 🙂 

Art Date with Dette and Van at Early Bird Breakfast Club

Art Date with Dette and Van at Early Bird Breakfast Club

Yin Yang Champorado made with Belgian choco!  A yummy twist of the traditional snack!

Yin Yang Champorado
made with Belgian choco!
A yummy twist of the traditional snack!

What I ended up doing, not at Early Bird Breakfast Club, but at home, after being inspired by Dette and Van :)

What I ended up doing,
not at Early Bird Breakfast Club,
but at home,
after being inspired and encouraged
by Dette and Van 🙂

It’s been only two weeks and things have been off to a good start.  I still have two weekends of January to go and I am definitely looking forward to two more workshops in my calendar.  One on calligraphy and the last is about WordPress.  

It feels really great to have started off the year this way.  I feel rejuvenated.  Energized.  More focused.  Maybe it’s because of what I’ve chosen as my Word for this year.  Maybe it’s my Intentions? Or maybe it’s because of making time for my Me Time.  Whatever it is, things are feeling just right! 

How’s your 2014 so far?


My 2014 Declaration of Intention


It’s been two weeks since we welcomed 2014 and I have been busy trying to catch up, move forward, go back to normalcy (whatever you call it) after all the Holiday rush and stress.  And yes, I can say that life is back to normal 🙂  Should I say “Whew!” or “Gulp?!!”  

This is where my Declaration of Intention, One-Word and Verse for 2014 serve their purpose. Because I know that every time a new year comes in, my life is given a new twist for the following reasons:

1.  We have the remaining two quarters to finish, which we will cover from January until March or April, at the most.

2.  But before that, trying to get back to our homeschooling groove in the first place is a struggle we inevitably deal with. With the busyness of the Christmas season, it really is difficult to homeschool on a regular basis and go back to our normal routine after all the merriment and celebrations.  That only means ending up being behind our intended targets for the different subjects. 

3.  It will soon be time to wrap up another school year.

4.  Then, we choose and plan the girls’ summer activities, which mean new logistics, new schedules, new routines, new learning objectives.

5.  We also usually have our family beach vacation during summer (usually in March or April where Holy Week falls), with my good friend who’s based in the U.S., which means travel and itinerary plans have to be done online via a long exchange of emails and WhatsApp messages. We’ve been doing this for three years in a row and it’s actually been really fun!  Everyone now looks forward to the next summer destination every time.

6.  And after being on a vacation mode and enjoying a brief break, I move into my “planning session” and seriously make plans for the next school year.  This is when I do the nitty-gritty of identifying our school year learning goals, scheduling, and listing down the scope per subject, per quarter…per child (I thank God that we only have two and I’m able to handle this duty quite diligently).  This really takes so much of my time, I feel I need another vacation after doing it!  That’s why, as much as possible, I carefully space my activities and duties during the one or two months of summer that we have so that I can still enjoy some respite before we officially start another year of homeschooling.

Then add these major, shall we say, milestones for us, this 2014:  

1.  We plan to move in to Pasig soon.  Well, as soon as we can.  Currently juggling homeschooling (working on our books and going to other classes and activities), back and forth trips to Manila, and house renovation on a weekly basis can really be quite exhausting and can majorly shake up one’s predictable routine or shall we say, one’s normal life.   My family and I find this new place of ours a blessing and with the girls moving up to high school and soon college, we do need to be closer to schools, or at least to other resources and options we can explore.  New house in a new city…a whole new lifestyle! 

2.  Arielle will be in her 4th Year High School next school year and we really need to sit down and start looking into her college plans, and take more concrete action steps.  Now this scares me, to be honest!  Kayla, on the other hand, is now also in her high school years and that calls for another approach and strategy when it comes to homeschooling and parenting. 

3.  I have to manage my time really well to still be able to manage the existing business we have and possibly, have a few others, which are all based back in my home province, Batangas.

4.  Since Mike will be based in Batangas because of the businesses to take care of, I have to make sure that partner and family relationships will continue to work and even blossom.

These are just the big chunks, if I were to describe them.  The daily chores and unexpected interruptions are not yet in the picture.

That’s why I really felt that there could be no better One-Word and Verse for me this year than FAITH.  I can only see and visualize up to a certain point and plan in the best of my abilities and knowledge.  How to execute plans, follow where the events will lead me, and accept how things turn out need FAITH, even if it is as tiny as a mustard seed, in order for me to believe that my dear God up there is in total control and everything in my life is going to be A-okay! 

How has your 2014 been with the One-Word or Verse that you have chosen?