Bread Pudding w/  Vanilla Sauce

Bread Pudding w/
Vanilla Sauce

I must say that it takes skill to balance one’s duties as a mother, wife, and a homemaker.  Add the duties of a homeschooling mother to that!  I’m a full-time SAHM and homeschool parent-teacher and just like all the other moms and homemakers out there, the kitchen is one major area in the house that I try my best to manage and prioritize.

Menu-planning is really not something I look forward to doing every week or every single day. But I do enjoy reading and trying out recipes when I come across something that appeals to my taste buds.  Here’s one, for instance, using left-over bread, which I often find sitting inside our refrigerator!

BREAD PUDDING with VANILLA SAUCE:

Pudding Ingredients:

IMG_7283

  • 4 cups cubed, stale white bread
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional (The girls don’t like raisins and I only like it in raisin bread, cinnamon rolls, and embutido 🙂 )
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Vanilla Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bread should be stale.  Cut into cubes and let sit out overnight or preheat oven to 300 degrees F and place cubed bread into oven for about 15 minutes or until they feel stale to touch.
  3. Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole, or 9 x 13 pan set aside.  (I used a square glass ovenproof dish.)
  4. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
  5. Pour mixture over bread cubes and let sit about 5 minutes.  Pour into greased pan and bake, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes or until puffed and browned on top.
  6. Remove from oven and serve warm with vanilla sauce.
  7. For the vanilla sauce:  Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, except vanilla, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens.  Then, stir in the vanilla.
  8. Serve a slice of warm pudding on a dish and pour vanilla sauce over it.  (I prefer to have my pudding cold from the ref and with warm vanilla sauce. If you want to make it even richer, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!)
  9. Store pudding refrigerated.

 

I thought I’d be disappointed again with how this would turn out after having tried quite a number of bread pudding recipes in the past.  But this one came out to be THE BEST and how I wanted it to be!  Arielle and Kayla liked it, and and so did our neighbor when she dropped by to have a chat with us and learn more about homeschooling 🙂

Bread Pudding w/  Vanilla Sauce

Bread Pudding w/
Vanilla Sauce

 

Now that’s one kitchen problem solved with leftover bread and a simple yet yummy snack to serve to guests and share a slice of our homeschooling life 🙂  With nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla in it, I am feeling the Christmas spirit!

 

 

 


 

I last shared with you a MAJOR DECISION we made and the FIRST STEP we will take to prepare Arielle, our eldest, for college.  That is, taking a gap year.  Next question to ask:  What to do during the gap year.

Let me tell you again that lately,  I’ve been feeling scared about this whole college thing.  I told you admitted that in my last post.  When I think about college preparation and Arielle graduating from high school this coming March/April 2015, it makes me feel like I’m a bad and somewhat careless or negligent mom because I feel that I haven’t been doing my part to actually start doing what’s needed to prepare her for college.  I’m still very much in our homeschooling routine of finishing quarter after quarter and presenting portfolios.  Arielle, too, has asked us many times “What am I going to do during my gap year?”, and I couldn’t give her a clear answer.  Every time she’d ask the question, I feel stumped.

Because of that, I’ve instinctively thrown the question to God every time, hoping I’d get an answer from Him right away.  But He didn’t.  So I just went on with our life and homeschooled day after day. Until recently, I’ve started feeling anxious about it again and so I prayed to God as honest and as straightforward as I could be.  I told Him, “God, please show me how to prepare for Arielle’s college.  Show us what to do and how to do it.  It’s beginning to scare me.”  As always, God’s timing is perfect.  He knows when to catch me when I’m panicking or in distress.  Unexpectedly, I got my speedy answer from God last week which gave me quite a big relief and made me very happy and thankful!

Since I was already beginning to THINK about the work involved in college preparation AND WORRY is starting to creep in, I reminded Arielle to keep on checking at the websites of the schools she’s interested in, locally and abroad, so we would be updated especially on the college applications.  She really wants to take up Animation and so she searched (again; she’s really been reading about the animation industry) for the top animation schools and saw an article where the school, SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, was included in the Top 10 list. It was ranked Top 3.  When she mentioned SCAD to me, I instantly wondered if it was the same school in Hongkong mentioned to me last October by her Ninang (godmother) who lives there.  I checked my phone for our past chat and it IS the school that she had told me about before but I didn’t really pay much attention to it since our chat ended abruptly.  After that recall, it felt like a light bulb lit up because that only means that we have another option and the good news is…it’s located in Asia! That alone would dispel my motherly fear of having our daughter separated and so many miles away from us, if Arielle does end up studying abroad for college. That really lifted my spirits! It would just be a short plane ride away from Manila as compared to USC (University of Southern California) and CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), schools known for Animation, which are both in the U.S.A. and which Arielle is hoping to go to.

Before I give you the impression that the cost involved in sending our daughters to college is NOT AT ALL an issue to us, for us to be even THINKING of applying in international schools,  I will tell you that this is another BIG LEAP OF FAITH we are going to take, another BIG CONCERN which we are SURRENDERING to God (who happens to be BIGGER than our problems, right?).  The feeling that comes with it is much like how it was when we were trying to decide whether to homeschool or not. It is a HUMBLING act of SURRENDER.  Every time Mike and I discuss this, especially with friends,  I find myself mum about it because just thinking about the finances involved is TOO OVERWHELMING for me.  But seeing how driven Mike is on helping Arielle pursue her love for art and passion for Animation (which is best taken up abroad) and how he’s really doing his best to provide for us, his family, and for the future needs of our daughters, most especially on education, I get encouraged and at least, feel positive that we, AT LEAST, give it a shot.

I digressed a bit.  Back to what to do during our gap year.  So, last week, after dinner, Arielle showed her Papa the website of SCAD and they both spent time together reading about the school and its application requirements.  And what do you know?  After they’ve finished reading as much info as they could and me hearing bits and pieces of their conversation from where I was seated, I suddenly found myself giving Arielle a rundown of the things she needed to do to prepare for her college application, locally and abroad.  #1, #2, #3….  We both now know what to do during her gap year.  I felt God had spoken to me from nowhere!  If before, I could only see my feet below as I take one step at a time in my journey, I now could see that the path ahead of me is starting to clear up!  God, you are AMAZING!

Though this list or action plan may not strictly pass or qualify as the acceptable or normal activities done during a gap year (like the way it’s being practiced in the U.S. or Europe),  for me, the break Arielle will have before she finally enters college will give her the time to do what’s necessary such as:

  1. Organize her artworks (traditionally and digitally made) and build her portfolio
  2. Backup her portfolio files (and have a backup of her backup!)
  3. Possibly, continue her apprenticeship and look for other mentors
  4. Take courses to learn more about art, illustration, and other skills that would help her in her application
  5. Review for SAT
  6. Possibly, do another take of college entrance exam review for local colleges or just a refresher course
  7. Accept and do real jobs or services for others
  8. Learn more life skills such as cooking, laundry, banking transactions, budgeting, commuting, traveling, time and work management

 

And God’s amazingness doesn’t end there!  The morning after the A-ha moment from God, when I woke up and checked my phone, my good friend in Virginia, USA, shared with me that the redesigned or new SAT will be administered in May 2016.  Don’t you think that my friend’s update particularly on SAT was all in God’s perfect timing to answer my prayers?  Plus, after checking out the travel fair of Philippine Airlines last Sunday, we were able to get a good discount for a trip to Hongkong in March 2015 to check out SCAD’s campus!  Our good homeschooling family friend based in Hongkong is all ready to bring us around when I updated her of our booking and final travel dates while we were making plans at the travel fair.  Just like that, doors were opened and plans were made.  Things are now beginning to be less vague which are allowing us to plan, organize, and put everything in order.  (We thought that we would also be able to book for a trip to California to check out the animation schools there but the time we should travel were off and we took it as a sign from God telling us not to push through with it.  But oh my!  The ticket prices were really discounted!).

With this, I am beginning to feel I am ready to face what’s next to come.  I feel calmer now that God has answered me IN DETAIL how to prepare for college and what should keep us busy during Arielle’s gap year. I know that I would have more questions to ask and more concerns to lift up to God as we go along, but God knows everything!  I truly believe that the future of our daughters are in His hands.  Just as God has been faithful to us ever since we decide to homeschool, I believe that He will not leave us alone and will continue to take care of our daughters and provide for us.

Homeschooling, from the beginning, has been all about FAITH and SURRENDER.  It continues to be so.

 


 

I’ve been thinking about Arielle’s college lately.  DEEP SIGH!  We can’t even seem to catch up with our 2nd and 3rd quarter requirements this schoolyear and the thought of college is starting to scare me!  STARTING TO.  To be honest, it has been A SOURCE OF ANXIETY for me this schoolyear.  I’ve been praying about it though.  A LOT. I’ve  always asked God to always guide and bless our homeschooling, most especially these days for Arielle’s college.  But still, I’ve been anxious about it and even GETTING MORE AND MORE ANXIOUS as each day of her senior year passes by because it only means a step closer and closer to college applications.  It means having to muster enough courage and wisdom to help Arielle really prepare for it (Gosh!  I don’t even know where to start and make sure I’ve got everything in order!), review for and pass the exams (What have I missed out? In Math? Science? History? English?).  What’s even MORE FRIGHTENING FOR ME, after all these years of homeschooling her from Grade 3 until 4th year high school, is to find out IF I have TAUGHT HER WELL enough NOT ONLY to be able to to pass the different college entrance examinations BUT ALSO, PREFERABLY at the school and course of HER CHOICE (You see, she’s been deadset to take up Animation as her college course).  Have I been a good and responsible homeschooling mom to her, wise and diligent enough as her parent to develop her God-given talents and show her what may be God’s purpose and design for her?  Don’t you think I have every right to feel NERVOUS about this whole college thing?  I do, right?  Because I feel that I am also the one being tested here and it’s a PASS OR FAIL kind of test!

Before I move on, although Arielle is currently in her senior high school year and will be graduating this March 2015, she WILL NOT be entering college right away.  Now that’s the major decision we have made and first step we will take TO PREPARE her for college.  We have ALL decided that she will take a gap year before she finally moves up to college.  Here are our personal reasons:

  • Because we feel that she did lose a substantial amount of time to learn what was needed to learn when her Grade 7 year was taken away from her after the Department of Education suddenly wanted a revamp in our K-10 education program and implement the K-12 program (That was one whole year of missing out basic Math, Science, and English lessons;  Although Arielle immediately moved up from Grade 6 to 1st year high school (She belongs to the last batch who is not under the K-12 program), we did not skip the Math, Science lessons that she should have taken in Grade 7.  We still took up the lessons in their order and degree of complexity as she moved up from one level to the next, after Grade 6.  The effect of which was she had to study two Math subjects when she was in 3rd year and now in her 4th year, in order to complete the requirements and make her eligible for graduation and as a college student applicant.  That gave her a HEAVY work load!  Added stress!)
  • Because we feel that she’s too young to enter college (After a 4-year course, she will just be 19!  She’s too young to apply for a job and be hired for one.)
  • Because she herself feels that she’s not ready for college (We’ve asked her about this so many times just to make sure that the decision also came from her and that we did not “order” her to simply obey us.)
  • Because we are not in a hurry.
  • Because we feel that real education is not a cookie-cutter kind of education.  Just because her friends who are in the same year level or age as she is, are all doing college reviews, taking college entrance exams and will go to college right after graduating high school, it doesn’t mean that she needs to do the same.  I believe this is also living up to the real meaning of homeschooling, which allows the child or student to learn at her own pace.  Since we also believe that that homeschooling encourages one to be a life-long learner, then as the term says, learning is for life! So there really is no need to rush and follow everyone else and end up what?  Shifting courses?  Not even knowing what you want to do in life?  Unemployed?  Underemployed?  And worse, not being happy with and feeling lost in life?

 

So that’s how we are preparing Arielle for college.  By not getting to it right away!  She will be taking a gap year and after spending a considerable amount of time deliberating upon this decision with our homeschool provider, we honestly and comfortably feel that it is the RIGHT THING to do.

 

 


 

Some of you may be wondering what we’ve been up to in our homeschooling and probably, if I’m still alive (LOL!).  Yes, I very much am!  It’s just that our homeschool life seems to have taken a different turn and things aren’t anymore like “This is our schedule for today” or “It’s time for me to sit down and teach Filipino to Kayla, and after this, it’s History for Arielle.”

Now that Arielle’s in her senior year in high school and Kayla is in 8th Grade, they’ve been pretty much on their own.  Yes, that’s how it’s been.  They’ve been independent.  They managed to come up with their own schedule that they feel would work best for them and where they will be most productive.  I thought my past method of making schedules for them every year (yes, every single year for the past seven years) would still work but apparently, I had to keep my hands off already in this area of our systems and routines.  This setup may not be totally perfect but it’s a learning curve that they must go through. Also, it’s another parenting lesson for me on letting go.  The fear and question that they might be missing out on a lot of things in terms of academics do haunt me so I still make it a point though to check up on them regularly so I know what they are doing and where they may be needing help on.  I also remind myself that I cannot and won’t be able to teach them E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, as Debra Bell had said in one of the homeschool conferences I’ve attended.  What’s more important is to teach them the skills on how to learn and how to be a lifelong learner.

So what’s been my role to them?  I can sum it up in two words:  a coach and a counselor.  I now wear different hats or let’s say, I now have new (or is “more” the more appropriate word?) hats to put on.  Here’s what it now looks like homeschooling our two teen girls.

With Arielle, Mike and I have been having a lot of discussions with her on the following:

  1. Responsibility and time management  –  Clearly knowing what is expected from her and when
  2. Identifying and setting priorities  –  Knowing what needs more of her time, attention, and efforts, and also the willingness to give up what shouldn’t be taking up much of her time
  3. Proper work habits and ethics  –  Learning how to handle and manage tasks and projects with diligence, persistence, patience, willingness, punctuality, responsibility, and maturity
  4. Dealing with different kinds of people and that includes difficult people in the “workplace”  – Since we’ve been exposing Arielle to (1) real-life professionals, mentors, teachers, speakers, trainors, who are older than her, and (2) kids of her age, via workshops, trainings, camps, and projects that she herself initiated or collaborated with other people, we’ve been telling her “facts of life” and realities that she is going to face in the real world when she goes to college or starts working.  This is a tough one to teach and impart wisdom on since we are talking about relationships and how to present herself to others and clearly communicate to them what she has to say, without appearing domineering, arrogant, or as someone who can be pushed around.
  5. Decision-making and facing consequences of her own decision  –  Taking responsibility for the choices she made and ownership for her actions

These areas are enough to drain me mentally and sometimes, emotionally, after a lengthy conversation and processing of thoughts and emotions with her.   I believe this is where most of my energy goes.  In the P-R-O-C-E-S-S-I-N-G, which is ultimately character-building.   I cannot emphasize enough how parenting teens can really be challenging and quite exhausting.

With Kayla,  parenting her these days is different since she has just entered the teen stage.  I cannot say that it’s easier the second time around since Arielle has been through this early teen stage already.  As we all know, every child is different.  Every child has unique needs.  Every child has a different love language.  Every child calls for a specific parenting style.  So for her, our conversations and discussions often revolve around these:

  1. Time management  –  Learning to identify what’s important and what must be done first
  2. Decision-making and facing consequences of her own decisions  –  Learning to make her own decisions and owning them
  3. Making and choosing friends with good moral character  –  Being conscious of her own and other people’s behaviour, character, virtues, and manners
  4. Money management  –  Need vs. want;  That money is a resource that must be used wisely and with care
  5. Identifying her God-given strengths and interests  –  Making her aware of her talents, gifts, capabilities and things that she can do naturally and with much potential, and believing that she is as unique as her Ate Arielle

 

It’s a new chapter in our homeschooling life and I myself am learning and being trained new skills as a parent.  It is sometimes so easy and tempting to just fall into the trap of just following what everyone does but I am constantly reminded by God that Arielle and Kayla were wonderfully and fearfully made by Him.  As the saying goes, they were born not to fit in but to stand out.  Now that’s where my parenting challenge lies.  To make sure that I am raising and molding them into the persons that God designed and purposed them to be.  I am hoping and praying that my efforts in doing so are close enough!

What homeschooling challenges are you faced with right now?  I can probably learn a few things from you.