It’s Christmas Eve and now that I actually HAVE a break and AM enjoying one, I’d like to look back at what 2015 gave me.  Each year has its own story to tell and blessings to be thankful for and 2015 is no exception. Here’s my 2015 story:

  1.  A homeschool high school graduate – Arielle finished 8 years of being homeschooled, from Grade 3 to 4th year high school! 8 years!  It may have been a tough ride but no regrets!

2.  A gap year –  After graduating from high school, we decided to let Arielle have a gap year before she moves up to college.  And I must say, that this is one of the best decisions we’ve made (next to homeschooling, of course).  A time well-spent preparing Arielle’s whole being for college, and not just mentally or academically.

3.  A golf pursuit – After years of worrying about and guessing what Kayla’s life path or at least, college  opportunities would be like, we finally got our answer.  She is gifted in this sport and so far, golf is giving her the focus, the drive, and determination to do everything she can to do and be her best.

4.  A visit to SCAD-Hong Kong –  A trip to Hong Kong to visit SCAD started the clear path towards Arielle’s college.  The campus and residences tour, the application, the acceptance, the assignment of an admission advisor to Arielle (I still can’t get over this.  How I wish all colleges and universities do this!), the 24/7 support and assistance of SCAD’s assistant director of admission.  What a bundle of blessings one after the other!

5.  Acceptance to SCAD-Hong Kong – Two months after our visit to SCAD-HK and submitting basic requirements, Arielle got in! When we found out the good news, it was one big answered prayer!  Although Mike, Arielle, and I couldn’t decide (to the point, it became stressful and divisive already!) whether Arielle should still take the entrance exams of the local universities or not, her acceptance to SCAD gave us the opportunity to really ask ourselves: what we want, think about long-term plans, and where we should put all our efforts, time, money, and most importantly, FAITH, in this college journey of Arielle.

5.  An Academic Honors Scholarship grant – Thank you, Lord, for this scholarship!  You know that we DO NEED all the financial help we could get and this is another answered prayer.  We are still praying for another scholarship, Achievement Honors Scholarship, to be awarded by SCAD in March 2016, and we put our trust in You.  You, O Lord, has always been our Provider!

6.  Internships and Basic Animation Workshop – This gap year gave Arielle internship opportunities that helped her learn work and life skills which I believe, is a very good training ground in preparation for college life and the workplace.

7. Golf Training and Tournaments – I am really thankful for the opportunities Kayla has been enjoying since she decided to take her golf seriously.  Her golf coach, who happens to be the brother of my high school batchmate, is one good one and I just feel Kayla is in good hands.  And for someone who’s been training for less than a year, placing in tournaments is indeed a good sign of her potential in this sport.

8.  Summer Vacation in Siquijor – Something not related to homeschool this time.  My family and I were able to go on our yearly family beach trip (minus our usual travel companions from the U.S.) and last April, it was the enchanted island of Siquijor.  To this day, I still can’t believe that Arielle and Kayla want to go back to Siquijor when asked which of the places we’ve been to they’d like to visit again.  To think that the wifi signal on the island was very spotty and none most of the time, actually!  I’m just glad that our girls do appreciate simple living and can actually live their lives off the grid.

9.  My One-Word for 2015 came alive! –  My word was OPEN: O from the word Opportunities… P from the word I made up, sParts (Sports and Arts)… E from the word advEnture … and N from the word coNnections.  I can’t wait for my one-word for 2016 to be revealed to me!

10.  A new home –  It’s been a year and 8 months since we moved to Manila.  I totally do not enjoy the traffic in the metro and the house repairs and maintenance that I still have to take care of, but having our own home in Manila made our homeschooling life and activities so much easier.  I believe this blessing from God came at a right time for Arielle and Kayla.

11.  Possibly, a new “career” path for Mike – Coming from a political family, I avoid being involved in politics as much as possible.  But it looks like, I cannot totally run away from it.  Mike is running for councilor and all I can do is pray for this decision he made.  I know my husband.  And I know that this is one major decision he prayed about, and as his wife, I must give him all the support that he needs.

12.  Lastly, a better health for me – If there’s one, just one, thing that I always pray for myself, it’s good health so that I would be able to do what God called me to do.  And God gave it to me this year.  My slightly elevated test result for a tumor marker in the ovaries is now normal, and I praise God for being my faithful Healer!

What a year this was!  I feel this is the most challenging year I’ve had.  But as shown always by God, I would not have been able to overcome the challenges that came my way, if it weren’t for the love and faithfulness of our Lord to me and family.  God is good.  All the time.

How was 2015 to you and your family?  I’m sure there are things to be thankful for.  All we really need to do is look harder and be grateful for the simple things we already have.  A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS from my family to yours!


 

(Photo from colorful.bigbangfish.com)

(Photo from colorful.bigbangfish.com)

 

They say that Christmas is the time when everybody goes back home to their families.  Well, I had the chance to feel this heart-tugging moment with our two teenage girls a couple of weeks ago, way before the month of December had set in.  I didn’t have to wait for Christmas.

Arielle went to a dinner party with some old friends and I was expecting her to be home past midnight.  She doesn’t go to parties often and I thought that this would make up for all the parties she missed as a homeschooler.  I was having a bad, bloated tummy that evening, was tossing and turning in my bed when I finally decided to get up and find something to eat to hopefully make me feel better.  That was around midnight.  To my surprise, I saw Kayla AND Arielle, both lying down on the sofas and awake.  Kayla was apparently waiting for her Ate to come home so she could open the gate and door for her.  Arielle greeted me and asked if I was surprised to see her home early.  I actually was. So I asked her how the party went as I was preparing myself a bowl of cereals with milk.  Then, both my girls joined me at the dining table and Arielle started talking.  I was waiting for a non-stop storytelling session…with all the animation…and excitement.  But to my surprise, it was the total opposite!  She shared with me how disappointed she was.  She was disappointed seeing how her old friends were not able to carry a “smart” conversation.  How “shallow” they were in their ways and thinking.  How they preoccupied themselves with selfies!  She honestly felt that they just didn’t connect anymore and that she felt she had matured and grown up faster than most, if not all, of them.  What I didn’t expect to hear from her was this:  “Ma, see???  Eating cereals with you now is so much better than the party!!!”   AWWWW…my HEART!!!!!

That moment with Arielle and Kayla at the dining table.  Past midnight.  In my jammies.  In Arielle’s party clothes.  In Kayla’s casual, don’t-care clothes.  With a bowl of Koko Crunch and milk.  The three of us gathered around the dinner table.  THANK YOU, DEAR GOD, FOR THIS MOMENT!!!

Here’s more.  The next day, when we went to church to hear mass, in our family huddle-time prayer, Arielle made sure she spoke up with a prayer to the Lord, thanking Him for FAMILY.  That she has her FAMILY to always run to…where she can be herself…and a FAMILY to always have and keep.

As I write this, my HEART is FULL.  FULL of LOVE.  FULL of WARMTH.  FULL OF GRATITUDE. THANK YOU, LORD, for my FAMILY and for this WONDERFUL AFFIRMATION that we are doing the right thing for and with our children all for your greater glory!

May God bless your families and homes for your children to always come back to…not only during Christmas season but everyday of the year and everyday of their lives, no matter what they go through and how old they become.


 

Placing 4th in the Interschool Golf Tournament

 

Kayla went back to golf January of this year and she has been taking it seriously.  She would wake up a little past 5 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for her training at Camp Aguinaldo and would also play with her Papa in Batangas during weekends. She’s been training for almost a year now with Coach Jun Cedo and she has greatly improved over the past months.  I don’t play golf.  I don’t totally understand how it’s played and the terms used in the sport. And to be honest, I’d rather stay in bed and get some more hours of sleep than wake up really early and be among those driving on the road and going through the morning rush.

But I do believe in Kayla’s potential and giftedness in golf.  I believe this is God’s gift to her and it is her area of strength.  If Arielle is gifted in the visual and performing arts, Kayla, being a kinesthetic learner,  is gifted in physical activities and has found golf to be one of the fields where she’s most comfortable at and physically designed for.  I remember I was starting to get frustrated and worried around 2 to 3 years ago, not clearly knowing what Kayla is inclined to do.  It was easy and so obvious with Arielle but with Kayla, I had no clue.  Her interests kept on changing, after letting her try different things like theatre, swimming, cooking, baking, and her on-and-off interest in golf.  So I started praying to God, asking Him to show us where Kayla’s strength lies and what she was made for.  God’s answer did not come right away which I believe was teaching me all along to trust in our Lord and learn that there is a time for everything.

Well, God’s answer came clear this 2015 as He revealed to us that Kayla CAN actually PLAY GOLF and she has a very strong potential in the sport.  Now that Arielle is already going to SCAD-HK for college in Fall 2016, I am so thankful to the Lord for now showing me how I should guide and support Kayla.  After Arielle, it’s now Kayla’s turn to carve her path.  God’s timing is always perfect! He just knows that it’s now time for me to focus on Kayla after I’ve homeschooled Arielle.

Kayla still has lots to learn in golf but she’s off to a good start, now that she’s serious about it.  Golf is definitely giving her the focus and the drive to perform better, not only in the sport but also in her studies. Her improvements in her swings and distance over the months, placing in the tournaments she has joined so far, and even the discipline she is now showing to balance her academics, trainings, and tournaments are already small victories worth celebrating.  They are blessings I am really thankful for!

First Runner-up in Class B Division

First Runner-up in Class B Division

 

May this be a reminder to all parents, especially homeschooling parents who feel pressured by family members and friends that:

  1. Each child is unique and has his/her own strengths and talents.
  2. Each child will naturally learn and grow at his/her own pace.
  3. Progress is more important than perfection.
  4. God’s timing is always perfect.
  5. There is a time for everything.
  6. We are not to conform to what everyone else is doing, if we really want our child to happily and successfully live a life specifically designed for him/her by God.

 

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Just like the objective of a golf game, which is to get the ball into the hole with the least amount of strokes or swings of the golf club, it is my goal as a homeschool mom to help Kayla focus and reach her target, her life goals, her life calling, by equipping her with the skills and training in order to play the game of life well and successfully.

I pray that as parents, we may all be able to discern God’s will and purpose for each of our children, and that when it is revealed to us by the Lord, we will have the strength, love, and faith to give them the guidance and support that they need.

 


 

Yesterday, December 8, was the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation for Catholics.  The girls and I were supposed to hear mass at Christ The King Church in Greenmeadows after I finished my doctor appointment by 4:30 p.m. but found out that the mass won’t be until 6 pm, giving us a little over an hour to wait.  We didn’t want to wait that long and decided to call Padre Pio Chapel nearby to check what time their mass was going to be…5:30 p.m. That gave us enough time to drive from Christ The King to Padre Pio Chapel.

What is Immaculate Conception and what is it not?  Here’s the answer:

(Photo from Catholic Sistas in Facebook)

(Photo from Catholic Sistas in Facebook)

 

The priest gave a very insightful homily yesterday which made me realize that we were meant to hear mass at Padre Pio Chapel instead of Christ The King.  What a divine blessing!  Let me share what he said.

 

What were the words of Mary as recorded in the Bible?  There were 4 instances:

(1)  The Anunciation

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

 

(2) Her Visit to her cousin Elizabeth

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of th humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call be blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” (Luke 1:46-55)

 

(3)  Finding of Jesus in the Temple

“Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  (Luke 2:48)

 

(4) The Wedding at Cana

“They have no wine.”  (John 2:3)

“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)

 

After her last words at Cana, Mary said nothing else.  Which only means that we are to LISTEN, FOLLOW, and TRUST her SON, JESUS CHRIST, after that! That was an enlightenment for me, Arielle, and Kayla!

 

What were 3 moments of prayer of Mary?

(1) The greeting

(2) Followed by the pondering

(3) Finally, the surrendering

I searched for Bible verses of these moments, which are actually all about the Anunciation, and found the one from The Message as the best imagery version:  Luke 1:26-38.

 

How can we be like Mary?

(1) No lies

(2) No deception

(3) No pretension

In other words, BE BEAUTIFUL FROM THE INSIDE.

 

Our Mama Mary is indeed the perfect model for Catholic women.  We are to emulate her simplicity, beauty, humility, trust, and faith.

As parting words, may we mothers and our daughters be beautiful just like Mary and live a life leading others to her Son, Jesus Christ!

 

 


 

Last November 28, SCAD-HK held an Information Session at Hotel Intercon in Makati.  As the event name says, it was an afternoon intended to give interested students and parents information about the school, the application process, scholarship application, portfolio submission, and what one can get from a SCAD education.  Current SCAD students and an alumna were present and shared their personal experiences with SCAD, and a professor was also there to look at students’ portfolios and give feedback.  We, however, was invited by SCAD’s assistant director of admission in order for Arielle to have a mock interview, a sort of a practice round for the real interview for scholarship application which is still going to be sometime in March 2016.

But before that, I’d like to share that Arielle was already granted an Academic Honors Scholarship by SCAD based on the GPA reflected on her high school transcript of records.  We didn’t expect the email to come this soon because we thought that all scholarships will be granted in March next year.  We were VERY, VERY HAPPY, of course!  The scholarship amount will be a big help to us and can be alloted already for her living allowance. There is another college scholarship, however, that we can still go for: the Achievement Honors Scholarship.  This is now going to be based on her portfolio composed of her artworks, 500-word essay, resume and interview.

From the very first time we met up with SCAD’s assistant director of admission last Aug 31 until this November, Arielle focused her time and effort to build her portfolio by doing her artworks, writing and revising her essay (We ended up having 6-8 versions after asking friends for feedback), drafting and formatting her resume, making sure that we fit all her relevant info and experiences in just one page (That was tough to do!).  I also consulted a contact to professionally coach her on interview and presentation skills.  The coaching session was held first week of November which gave us enough time to improve what Arielle had tirelessly worked on and practice answering possible interview questions before the mock interview day.

How do I describe the two to three months period of working on a portfolio?  It was intense.  It was real skills building.  For Arielle, it involved a lot of time management, research and looking inside herself…who she is…what her style is…who her inspirations are…knowing who she really is, the gifts she has as given by God, and identifying her focus and goals in life.  To be real honest, it became stressful between the two of us but…it was rewarding at the end.  Arielle’s mock interview, lasting about 30 minutes, went well and the assistant director of admission was impressed.  From the impromptu interview last August to this mock interview, he saw Arielle bloomed and more confident.  She answered the questions with energy and passion which he liked very, very much!  It was apparently what he wanted to see in Arielle. With only a few things to improve on the presentation of her artworks, we are good to go for the real one in March 2016!

Arielle was very encouraged and high on adrenalin after her mock interview. She even told me that the quarterly portfolio review she did with her homeschool academic consultant all these years helped her a lot for this one. Although different because her homeschool portfolio reviews were academic in nature, she said that it was a good exercise and preparation for the real thing. Her hard work has already paid off.  With one scholarship already in the bag, we can still try and do our best to be granted another one.  Mike and I were straightforward in telling the assistant director of admission that we do need that scholarship.    If we can double the scholarship amount that was given to us, then that would really be a BIG HELP!  The assistant director told us that he cannot promise us anything but he said he will try to see how he can get more information on this year’s scholarship grants.

On a different note, the experiences shared by the current freshman and sophomore students (One was taking up Animation, the other, Sequential Arts, and the other, Fashion) and alumna (in Fashion and Masters in Luxury and Fashion Management) were very inspiring and encouraging.  Mike and I had the chance to chat with the current students and ask them questions, and they were all very helpful and accommodating.  I saw how confident they were and also saw how happy they were in their decision to study at SCAD.  It somehow gave me the comforting assurance that Arielle will be fine and will make it in that school.  Just what I needed!

Everything has been going really well so far with Arielle’s application at SCAD-HK and preparation for college. Taking a gap year has been doing Arielle good and is definitely worth it!  I am so thankful that God showed us this option and continues to guide as we tread along this path.

The pieces of advices I’d like to end this post with are:

  1.  Take a gap year if you feel that your child needs that break to discern what he really wants to pursue in college and later on in life.  Just because all of his or her friends will move up to college right after high school graduation, it doesn’t mean that you have to do what everybody else does.  Remember that this is the future of your child.  It’s his or her life, not yours…not his or her grandparents’…not his or her classmates’…not his or her friends’…not his or her neighbor’s.  Give him or her the chance and time to give his or her future more thought.
  2. Start discussing plans and options as early as, I would say, 7th Grade.  Explore opportunities and let your child try different experiences.  I believe that is the only way he or she would know what his or her interests are and what options are available for him or her.
  3. Be open to possibilities.  Do not limit yourself and your child’s dreams.  Dream BIG…Dream big WITH YOUR CHILD…Dream big WITH GOD!
  4. Learning these skills are important when applying at different colleges and universities:
  • public speaking skills
  • presentation skills
  • interview skills
  • portfolio-building/making
  • resume writing
  • essay/creative writing
  • time management

 

Lastly, pray fervently and without ceasing (I mean it!) and trust that God will make known to you and your child what he or she is uniquely designed to do.