Countdown to college!

 

 

Last week, I was exchanging messages with a few close friends and sharing with them my current situation particularly, parenting stage.  Updating them, rather, as I try to keep myself together after I started doing a countdown to September 7. These are my friends who know that our eldest, Arielle, will already be in college, but she will not be going to any of the local universities here in Manila. She has her eyes set on pursuing Animation and Mike and I fully support her in sending her to a college abroad that seems to be a perfect fit to her creative personality and homeschooled lifestyle and kind of learning.  SCAD Hong Kong will be her home for the next 9 months, at the very least.

Anyway, my chat with a few of my friends was lightbulb moment of some sort.  I can’t seem to think of a one-word to describe that moment when I was in the zone of processing my thoughts and the parenting stage that I am in and at the same time, also understanding the honest feedback and reaction of my friends.  But the mere update and chat we had HIT ME. HARD.  And that’s why I’m writing this.

When I tell my friends and even acquaintances that Arielle will be leaving in a few weeks for Hong Kong to start her college life, most , if not all of them, give me the same reaction.

“Wow! Congratulations!”

“Are you ready???”

“Di ko kaya ‘yan! (I won’t be able to handle or take that!  OR  “I can’t!!!)

“No! I want to keep my babies forever!”

Like, do you really want to keep your children forever?!! To be honest with you, that reaction did cross my mind and made me pause a bit.  But I can’t wait to see them happily and successfully settled down with a job or career that pays for their rent, utilities, and food!

Thinking deeper after receiving those reactions and comments with the same tone, a quick flashback of our decision to homeschool flashed in my mind (in just like minutes!). I suddenly began to ask myself “Isn’t it more logical to have your children around and with you when they are babies, toddlers, in their growing up years, when they are tweens and teens, and release them and let them go when they reach the age of 17 or 18 years old, after you’ve trained them well enough and have given them roots then wings? Then, a followup thought immediately came, “Why are you keeping them in the house when they should be in school?”  It was one of those popular questions I was often asked by people who wonder why we are homeschooling our girls. One of those most asked questions where I didn’t want to sound exasperated every time I would give an answer.  Thinking about these questions and reactions indeed showed me that there many things, beliefs, principles that go against the majority and the world. Education, learning, parenting are a few of them.

Well, of course, I am speaking as a homeschool mom who’s currently on our 10th year to homeschool.  Call it defensive, but I’d like this post to come across as a statement of who we are and what we believe in.  I am merely sharing a decision we’ve made 10 years ago and that lifestyle choice we continue to make.  I am not putting down anyone who do not agree with me and our unpopular decision. Rather, I am hoping that this written piece will just give everyone a chance to really pause and think about the different choices they’ve made and where those choices have brought them.

Everyone in our family loves homeschooling and are happy with it!  We continue to reap and enjoy the many advantages and blessings it brings.

I honestly do pray that wherever you are right now, you are happy and at peace for making those choices.


 

What a coincidence that I am writing this as the last of the interview series I had with Arielle and we are at the same time at the final stages of her Hong Kong student visa application.  (The final document needed just arrived by mail and we are now ready to mail out to SCAD HK all visa application requirements.) It is somehow both an end and a new beginning for her.  I see it as an end of her longer than usual and yet well-prepared college application process; an end of this interview series that gave you a chance to hear her thoughts as a homeschooled high school graduate; and a beginning of her life-to-be as an international college student in SCAD Hong Kong.

If you missed the other interviews, just click on the links below and you’ll get to listen to Arielle’s brief answers to the different questions I asked her:

  1. After the SCAD Interview
  2. Animation in College
  3. Going Away for College
  4. Being Homeschooled
  5. Plans After College
  6. Taking A Gap Year

As a finale, Arielle gives her parting message, especially to homeschooled students, and how she feels (tired and all!) after a long day with SCAD and attending the SCAD Accepted Students Reception Day.

I hope that with these interview videos, we were able to somehow share with you how we spent our gap year in preparation for college and Arielle’s thoughts as well.

 


 

I said in my last post that I have one more interview with Arielle.  I was wrong!  I still have two more and the one I apparently missed is the interview on gap year.  How could I have forgotten to share the video interview about this topic?

Gap year is not a popular option taken by high school graduates here in the Philippines primarily because, Filipinos have this mentality that the sooner the parents get to finish their responsibility in sending their child/children to school, the better. Why? Because it’s economical and their child/children can then help in sending their younger siblings to school and in providing for the family as well.

But like our decision to homeschool where we took the road less traveled, we again took a leap of faith and let our homeschooled high school graduate take a gap year.  Here are Arielle’s thoughts about her gap year experience:

  1.  How was your gap year?
  2.  Was it a good decision to take a gap year?
  3.  What did you do during your gap year?
  4.  Would you recommend taking a gap year to high school graduates? 

 

Taking a gap year, I would say, is one blessing I am really grateful for.  It is the best decision we made for our homeschooled high school graduate. No regrets.

 


 

Here’s the second to the last interview series I had with our eldest daughter, Arielle.  She’ll be leaving for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in Hongkong this September and will take up Animation in college.

The post before this was on her being homeschooled UNTIL high school and you can hear talk about it here.

This time, she thinks way forward (a natural trait of hers, by the way) and answers the question:

What are your plans after college?

I have one last interview with her and I hope you will watch out for that as well!


 

Sorry, this took a while to be posted.  I had to shift my attention to a personal family matter over the summer and this video series was put on hold.  Now that we’ve just started another year in homeschooling, I thought this would be appropriate.

Here’s a brief video interview with Arielle and her thoughts on being homeschooled:

If you missed the past posts on this interview series, click here, here, and here.

Hope this series inspires and continues to encourage you.  Watch out for the last two interviews!


 

Arielle will pursue her passion in Animation and Kayla is pursuing her passion in golf.

 

What I am about to write is greatly inspired by two things: (1) Kayla’s best score in her golf tournaments, so far and (2) this video I recently saw and shared in Facebook.  Last weekend, Kayla joined The Junior Golfers League’s tournament at Southlinks Golf Club.  Despite the brief moment of stress AND panic Kayla and I experienced when we got lost in finding our way to Southlinks (Actually, it was not brief.  It was like an hour of being lost even if we were using Waze the entire time!) and finally getting to the place just 15 minutes before the tee-off time of 10:30 a.m., Kayla scored 88 last Saturday (her lowest so far!) and 89 yesterday.  I saw how Kayla was slowly losing her motivation and was on the brink of giving up and not joining the tournament anymore.   But as I was praying out loud to God behind the wheel and made it to the golf club by 10:15 a.m., I knew that I couldn’t and shouldn’t be a discouragement to Kayla.  Before she got off the car, I made sure that I lifted up her spirits by telling her to forget the getting-lost-part that just happened, that there was a purpose why it happened and that I think God was teaching us both character that moment.  I remember sitting in the car for a few minutes after Kayla went to register.  This time I was getting teary-eyed with mixed emotions of relief and feeling the tiredness for driving for 4 hours, and again saying a prayer to God and lifting up Kayla for her tournament.  It was clearly another moment of offering and surrendering to God.

I am really so thankful that Kayla found her passion before her Ate (older sister) Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college this September.  They are close to each other, more like best buddies.  If she didn’t rediscover her passion in golf, I think there’s going to be a big hole of emptiness in her when her Ate leaves because of the close relationship they have.  So I believe that golf will keep Kayla focused and will be a confidence and self-esteem booster for her.  I can only thank the Lord for His perfect timing on what’s happening in the lives of our daughters!

So what really happens when kids find their passions?  From my personal experience as a homeschool mom to Arielle and Kayla, this is what I think and have observed so far:

  1. They know who they are.  They know what they can do and what they do best and is not struggling to fit in.
  2. They are driven to learn more about their passion and take initiatives to become better at it.
  3. They appreciate the people who teach, coach, and inspire them, which also teaches them about humility and gratitude. (And that includes appreciating the parents 🙂 )
  4. They have focus.
  5. They learn to be disciplined.
  6. They learn time management, making priorities, choices and decisions.
  7. They persevere.
  8. They become more patient.
  9. They accept failures and setbacks not as failures but as opportunities to do better.
  10. Their faith in God and in themselves become strengthened.
  11. They believe in themselves.
  12. They get tired and frustrated but they get back on their feet to train harder, learn more, be better.
  13. They become resilient, learn how to bounce back, and move on with life.
  14. They are encouraged to dream and dream big.
  15. They give their all in order to go for their dreams, but if their dreams don’t happen, they know that they’ve done their best and that is what matters.

 

My parting message to you parents is…explore and let your kids try different things so you and they themselves can see where they are most comfortable at, confident in, and wired to do. Once they have found “IT”, give them full support and doses and doses of encouragement. And that is important even if the passion they have found for themselves is different from yours or something you don’t know anything about (just like me, with golf! ).  

Be by their side as they go through the discovery and exploratory process.  Once they have found their passions, there’s no stopping them and you will soon see them fly with the wings you gave them.  And what’s even better and gratifying is they will come back to you after a couple of months or years, seeing that you only not gave them wings to fly with but also roots to know where they should come back to.


 

It’s the 1st day of April (no, this is not a prank) and we have less than 5 months until Arielle moves to Hong Kong for college.  Up to this day, after 8 years of homeschooling her, I still can’t believe that this baby of ours is now all grown up.  The saying “Time flies” has been ringing in my ears since she like turned 10 years old!  Can you imagine the emotional parenting journey I’ve been having since?  It’s a tug-of-war between holding on and letting go, believe me.

Five months! Five months to teach her some more skills like banking, budgeting, safety, and especially cooking and laundry.  That’s what’s on my to-do list for her as her mom.  The feeling of “I have not taught her enough” continues.  And it’s also five months to enjoy being with our eldest daughter!

But what does she have to say about this new chapter in her life?  Here’s the third of this interview series with Arielle on going away for college.  In case you missed the first and second interviews, click here and here.

Let’s hear it from Arielle.  Her raw, unedited, honest (and funny!) answers.

How does it feel to be going to college…and in a place far away from home?

What are the top/strongest feelings you have about going to college?

What are your greatest fears?

What are looking forward to the most?

What do you think should we do in the coming 5 months?  What skills, DIYs, or hacks should I teach her? I would love to hear tips and great pieces of advice from other parents!


 

For those of you reading my blog for the first time, I will be posting a series of short video clips where I interviewed our eldest daughter. Arielle, who is a homeschooled high school graduate.  For this second interview with her, she talks about the following:

What will you take up in college?

Who or what inspired you to take up Animation?

What did you do to learn more about art, in general, and Animation?

 

I hope that with the short video clips that we will be sharing, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of:

  • the kind of homeschool activities we interspersed with our learning
  • the steps we took to make our learning experience more intentional and individualized
  • how the pieces eventually created that tailor-fit education and growth experience which really made Arielle more prepared, confident, and happy with “school” and her growing up years.

 

 


Right after Arielle’s interview and art portfolio presentation w/ SCAD-HK’s executive director of admissions, Arielle is officially a SCAD student with scholarships!

 

 

It’s been a hectic end-of-the week since Thursday and capping it off with the SCAD Student Reception Day today. I AM TIRED physically and mentally but I cannot go to bed without writing about God’s faithfulness and encouraging everyone to JUST PRAY ALWAYS (ALWAYS!!!) and OFFER EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR GOD’S GLORY. I thought we were already immensely blessed with how Arielle’s college preparation, scholarship application, and gap year are turning out but today we were affirmed even more of God’s goodness. After today’s in-depth Q&A session between parents, students, and SCAD (and me already feeling VERY TIRED AND ALL), God assured Arielle and me that He has really gone way ahead of us and has already prepared the path for Arielle’s college and career. Our eyes and ears were opened…that there’s MORE to the blessing of being accepted at SCAD and awarded scholarships.

I was ready to shut down and go to bed BUT this is THE message I got from all that has happened these past 2 days with SCAD:

Deuteronomy 31:7-8 — Then Moses summoned Joshua. He said to him with all Israel watching, “Be strong. Take courage. You will enter the land with this people, this land that God promised their ancestors that he’d give them. You will make them the proud possessors of it. GOD IS STRIDING AHEAD OF YOU. HE’S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry. (The Message version)

I still have ALL MY WORRIES about this whole college life ahead of us but after hearing God’s message through the (SCAD) people He placed in front of me yesterday, I am just privileged and really blessed to know that even after having gone through this entire application process step by step painstakingly and seriously, we have found a really good school as our partner who has the track record of having graduates and alumni successful in their chosen fields.  With a 97% employment rate to beat, SCAD has MORE NUMBERS and FACTS BACKED UP BY STATISTICS and TESTIMONIALS to proudly boast of!

I really have nothing else to say except that I am truly overwhelmed with this blessing!  I feel 100% assured and comforted that Arielle is where she should be.  I believe that she is where Mike and I dreamed and hoped she would be.

I give thanks, honor, and glory to God…Mama Mary…the Holy Spirit…Padre Pio, St. Therese, and all the angels and saints for being by our side ALWAYS.  Amen!


 

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!