2016 was a BIG year for our family, especially in homeschooling and parenting. Well, that’s how I see it, being the Mom Organizer in-charge.  I knew what was happening to each member of my family and what I had to do for each of them.

Slowly easing my way through the new year, I can’t seem to be in the 2017 zone just yet. I feel I have to spend a a little more time looking back at 2016, the year that was.

So this is how I see the year that had just passed. 2016 was…

  1. A year of CHANGE
  • Arielle moved up to college and moved to Hong Kong, her new home
  • Kayla transferred to a U.S. homeschool program, Seton Home Study School, after being with a local homeschool provider, The Master’s Academy (now Homeschool Global) for 9 years.
  • Mike ran as city councilor in the last May elections but learned and accepted that politics or holding a public official position may not be for him. The valuable lesson we all learned was what matters most is he played fair.

 

2. Both FEAR-full and FAITH-filled

  • With the changes I just mentioned, how could I not be both afraid and keep my faith, as a mom and a wife?

 

3. EASY and DIFFICULT at the same time

  • After homeschooling Arielle for 8 years and taking a gap year after that, letting go of her was easy because deep in my heart, I KNEW and FELT CONFIDENT that I’ve spent those 8 years + 1 year well with her. Mother-daughter relationship was cemented. Seeds of trust and communication were planted.
  • But I also realized that no matter how much you prepare your daughter for college, adult life, and independent living, being separated from her DOES LEAVE a hole in your heart. My life was not the same (and will no longer be) after Arielle left last September.

 

4. Both LETTING GO and HOLDING ON

  • It was LETTING GO of our eldest homeschooled child and HOLDING ON to the FAMILY that we’ve raised, the identity, the values, the dynamics, the traditions, the ways only the four of us will understand and cherish.
  • LETTING GO of what is old and comfortable and yet, HOLDING ON to our core, what we believe in deep inside and what kept us going.

 

5. Having ROOTS and WINGS

  • No doubt, Arielle’s roots and wings were evident this year as she adapted to the HK culture and fast-paced lifestyle as an international student and stayed true to herself and remembered the things we’ve taught her all these years.
  • It was also Kayla’s turn to firm up her own roots onto the ground as she did her best to develop the gift that she has in golf and we are happy to see her steadily improve her performance in the sport. I continue to pray that soon, she will flap her wings and ready to take off.

 

Oh what a year!!! 2016 was not a year that ended but only the beginning of the next stage in my parenting, a new phase of my life, which is slowly releasing our daughters to the big and real world with high hopes that they will be living happily a life of purpose uniquely designed for them by God.

 

 

 

 

 


 

After AAALLLL the thinking and planning we’ve been doing these past 12 months in our gap year, this is a no-brainer post.  Just all-heart <3!  I just wanted to share with you what I’ve come up with for Arielle’s college care package.  I’ve never heard of the term until we were getting down to details on her transfer to Hong Kong and I came across the term in an article.  A college care package is basically a package of items put together that your son or daughter needs (or YOU THINK your son or daughter will need!)  For us Filipinos, I think we’re familiar with this tradition or gesture as “padala” or “pasalubong”.  But in other countries, care packages are just sent via mail, while we would most often ask a friend or relative to bring it over or if not, via couriers like LBC.

Since I needed to make the care package as light as possible, I reused an old bubble wrap envelope (yes it was an envelope and not a sheet) used by my sister in the U.S. to send over something to us.  The items I had been putting (and hiding) together fit PERFECTLY!  Take a look!

Bible verses and quotes from Padre Pio and St. Therese which I hand-lettered and painted myself

Bible verses and quotes from Padre Pio and St. Therese which I hand-lettered and painted myself

 

 

Printed photos of each one of us, our family, and Kayla and Arielle with wooden clips, jute string, and 2 rolls of washi tape to decorate her room with

Printed photos of each one of us, our family, and Kayla and Arielle together with wooden clips, jute string, and 2 rolls of washi tape to decorate her room with

 

 

Crucifix for her bedside, an engraved pen, manicure set, room and linen spray, Korean face masks, and over-the-door hooks

Crucifix for her bedside, an engraved pen, manicure set, room and linen spray, Korean face masks, and over-the-door hooks

 

 

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (a must natural therapy!), more hooks!

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (a must natural therapy!), more hooks!

 

Just wrapped the printed photos in paper

I wrapped the printed photos in paper

 

 

The next photos are to show you the Post-It notes I had written on each 🙂

I had her name engraved on a pen.

 

A bottle each of room and linen spray

A bottle each of room and linen spray

 

A vanity mirror

A vanity mirror

 

Something that the two sisters bond over!

Something that the two sisters bond over!

 

The crucifix

The crucifix

 

Half-pans to store tube paints and be on-the-go!

Half-pans to store tube paints and be on-the-go!

 

The final care package now looks like this!

Store-bought and handmade masking tapes with messages

Store-bought and handmade masking tapes with messages

 

The back part of the package

The back part of the package

 

The only items I wasn’t able to take pictures of are bars of Kit-Kat chocolate, 2 packs of regular and mini M&M’s and a pack of mints.  I was planning to add packs of chocolate chip cookies (her favorite!) but she had already grabbed 2 packs for herself when we went to the grocery last weekend.  She told me those will be for Hong Kong!

After packing all sorts of things (and we’re not yet done!), this is going to be a surprise package we will put on Arielle’s bed on her moving-in day!  (Kayla also has “something” for her Ate.)

Now I see the value of care packages.  It is a way to keep in touch with your son or daughter who has left for college and to make them feel that family is not too far away.  Whether or not someone’s love language is gift-giving, I think care packages, big or small, are a sure way to let someone know that we’re thinking about him or her.

 

 

 

 

 


 

(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.


 

I was planning on writing about something else but a scene I caught this morning of Kayla made me write this instead.  This is what I saw:

As I walked down the stairs, I saw Kayla on the couch looking at our photo books, flipping through the pages, smiling and laughing at her photos when she was about 7 yrs old (7 years ago!).  I think what prompted her to look at our photo books again was my telling her and her Ate Arielle two days ago that we will be going back to the resort we went to last 2008.  That got them super duper excited (Actually, any beach trip excites them!  We are one beach family 🙂 ) and it looks like Kayla is showing her eagerness more than her Ate.  Maybe because Arielle still has to go through her mock interview and portfolio presentation to SCAD-HK this Saturday, Nov. 28. She’s probably still feeling the pressure.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but sit down beside Kayla for a good 5 minutes and “be in the moment” with her.  That moment was something important to her and it was a very brief but special bonding opportunity with her.  Only a few words were said but I was able to capture the essence: She fondly recalled our family vacations, especially to the beach.  She couldn’t believe how “awkward” she looked when she was 7 years old and how tall she is now.  And she is SOOO EXCITED to go back to the beach in March 2016, to the same resort we were at 7 years ago, and hopefully do the same fun activities again that we did back then.

Then, I realized that family vacations was something we’ve been doing since 2007.  We only missed one year and that was in 2010.  And now I see the value in it and that family tradition matters. For us, it was traveling especially during summer and the beach is a favorite destination. We are normally away just for 4 days but those days are uninterrupted bonding time with one another and a time to get away from our normal routines, explore new places, do outdoor activities together, unplug from technology, and plug in nature.

We have no other family tradition that we hold close to our hearts as much as this one, and I’m happy to be able to do and keep this!  It may just be one tradition but it is truly something that keeps our bond as a family stronger.

Now that Christmas is just around the corner and it is usually a time for traditions, what family traditions do you have?  Whether it’s a one-on-one date with each of your child and your husband, birthday celebrations, visit to the province, yearly reunion with Lolo, Lola and cousins, I think it is important to keep one because family tradition matters.


 

The past two days have been celebrations for our family.  Last April 24, Arielle graduated from high school and the eight years of her being homeschooled was a REWARD and an AWARD in itself!   A REWARD because of the many, many memorable moments we had together in this journey as a family that we would not have experienced had she been in a traditional school.  There are just so many experiences that enriched and strengthened us individually and as a family unit.  Too many to count!  An AWARD because SHE DID IT! And I, as a homeschooling mom, did it, too! 🙂  Then, yesterday, April 25, was Kayla’s 14th birthday!  Gosh, the girls are just growing up way too fast, I want to stop time and keep them as my babies forever!

I’ve been on a blog hiatus for the plain reason that there are just too many things going on that I literally do not have that extra time to sit down and start writing. The 8 hours, even 12-14 hours, in a day, doesn’t seem enough for me to accomplish what I both need and want to accomplish for my family and for myself.  We currently do not have any helper in the house (again!) which makes that an added role for me to fulfill, aside from being the girls’ driver, secretary, home manager, and homeschooling mom, of course.  We are also currently going through some house renovation where the flooring on two floors is being changed, leaving our house in a mess!  And being the super-organized mom that I am, seeing the state of our house now is giving me OC (obssessive-compulsive) attack.  I tend to grumble and complain everyday, disliking the endless chores that I need to do, day in and day out.

But something happened yesterday which taught ME (Yes, me, the homeschooling mom!) a lesson just this morning during breakfast.  Nepal was hit with a 7.5 magnitude earthquake leaving over a thousand dead (as of this writing) and almost 5,000 injured and so many buildings and homes destroyed.  When I saw pictures from a fellow homeschooler based in Nepal of how they are there now, and more pictures of the aftermath, I was humbled.  And CORRECTED.  I told myself that I didn’t have the right to complain about dirty floors, unkept rooms, dust all over, washing the dishes, and all four of us temporarily squatting and sleeping in the master’s bedroom.  I HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN AT ALL!  Instead, I ONLY have to be THANKFUL for our home which is standing up and not in rubbles.  We have an ample supply of food in the refrigerator and pantry cabinets.  Our faucets and showers are working.  We can afford to turn on the aircon.  There are workers willing to offer their service for us in order to change our flooring!

With this, I am also reminded by this article I came across very recently.  I should have known that this was already a lesson God was trying to tell me amidst my complaining and questioning on why I do not seem to be doing enough.  It is really time for me to change the question I keep on asking myself, from “Why can’t I seem to do enough?” or “Am I doing enough?” to “Am I doing what’s mine?”  or “What is it that I’m supposed to do at this very moment?”   I must admit, my brain works on a fast-forward mode.  I do have the tendency to think of EVERYTHING that’s going to take place in the future like during the week, in the next two weeks and even month, instead of focusing on the now.  That’s how I put order in my life.  That’s why I get overwhelmed and feel disappointed with Mike and the girls when they don’t seem to be working and even thinking in the same pace as I do.

It is a lesson that I am now trying my best to learn.  To BE IN THE MOMENT and BE THANKFUL, most especially when things are not running “on schedule” as I want them to be.

As I end this, I AM thankful for the time God gave me to put this piece of writing together.  It was a good and quiet time for me to slow down and assess my life right now.  Our house may be a mess but I wouldn’t trade it for the situation the Nepalese are in right now.  They are in my prayers and trust that God will also make this disaster an opportunity for them to receive and see unexpected blessings.

This is WHAT’S MINE NOW:  To appreciate and love Mike, Arielle, and Kayla and celebrate their uniqueness even though they may be the exact opposites of who I am, to keep things simple and uncomplicated during this temporary moment of our house being in a mess and our household being maid-less,  to make sure I stop and listen to the girls when they are trying to converse with me or show me something, to continue to support Mike in building a HOME, and to continue homeschooling and parenting Arielle and Kayla based on God’s standards and not the world’s.

To appreciate and enjoy a full life, one must really be able to BE IN THE MOMENT and BE THANKFUL!  How about you?  What’s YOURS right now?


 

It was the unusual rainy day of January 1st, New Year’s Day, the warm coffee Mike and I ordered at Starbucks and the milk tea drinks that Kayla and Arielle were enjoying that pulled us all together to think of our one-word for 2015.  I’ve been thinking of mine since the last week of December 2014, but the words that came to mind didn’t feel “the one”.  I thought of SHARPEN. HONE.  FAMILY. EMBRACE.  Each had a special ring to it but they didn’t totally capture what I was feeling in my heart.

After we had all sat down around our table, I threw the question again, “So, what’s your one-word?”  Then, just like that, one by one, they said it.

Arielle:  Since it’s going to be my gap year, my one-word is ADVENTURE!

Kayla:  Sports and Art…SPARTS!

Mike:  Opportunities

I said to myself that maybe, my one-word should be EMBRACE.  To embrace Mike’s opportunities, Kayla’s interest in sparts, and Arielle’s adventure in her gap year.  But a better and more apt word came to mind.  It’s OPEN!  That’s it!  This 2015, I will be OPEN to opportunities that will come our way in terms of business ideas and means of living.  I will be OPEN to Kayla’s rekindling interest in sports, particularly golf, and her developing skills in art.  I will be OPEN to Arielle’s adventures while she’s on her gap year…her new discoveries and new experiences to prepare her for college!  Lastly, I will be OPEN to new connections that I will be making as I go through my 2015 journey.

http://www.beyondbooksandwalls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/IMG_7712_zps0bca8f36.jpg

Since 2013, thinking of my one-word every start of the new year has been a yearly tradition for me and it’s been a powerful motivator.  It has helped me to stay focused when I get distracted or discouraged. 2013 was GROW, and 2014 was FAITH.  Last year, I also declared my INTENTION which was another great inspiration to have side by side with my one-word.

It just feels GREAT to have that one-word to guide me this year.  That one-word to remind me to be optimistic and keep the positivity. But a greater reminder for me would be the unchanging TRUTH that God has a plan for me and that whatever happens, I should live each day of the year trusting that all is part of God’s great plan and unique purpose for me.  Ultimately, I should be OPEN to God’s mysterious ways and handiwork in everything!

http://www.beyondbooksandwalls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/IMG_7711_zps35abea4e.jpg

As I end this, here is a perfect prayer with my one-word for 2015:

God, I’m excited to see what You have planned for me this year. Whatever I face, I will not be intimidated. I will begin this year by seeing myself as You do — happy, healthy, and prosperous. Thank you for the gift of another year. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Happy New Year, Happy New Beginning, everyone!  I would love to know what your one-word is for 2015 and why!


It’s Sunday, December 7, past nine o’clock in the morning (so early for a Sunday!) and here I am sitting on a couch outside the recital venue of the girls, finding my quiet time to review how my 2014 went.  In just a couple of weeks, Christmas is here and then comes the explosion of fireworks to usher in 2015!  Wow!!! It makes me ask where and how my year went.  Was I true to my one-word and declaration of intention for 2014?

2014 was pretty tough!  We moved in to our new place in Manila, which we can now call our own, while doing our best to be on schedule with our homeschooling.  I honestly don’t know how I survived! But I’m pretty sure doses of prayers, lots of home-service massage, and cups of coffee made everything work!  If I were to do it all over again, I would take a break from our homeschooling and concentrate on the nitty-gritty of home renovation.  Really!!!  I guess I did what I did because I had to make sure that Arielle would still be on track since she’s in her senior year in high school and need to graduate on time with her batch, even if we had decided that she would take a gap year before she enters college.

Looking back at the past months, they were really C-R-A-Z-Y!  Let me add to the home renovation, homeschooling, and moving in craziness, the temporary moment of being without a helper!  That was 6 months of me being domesticated and doing my best to balance home duties and parent-teacher responsibilities.  It was really physically taxing, but I’m glad everything is less frantic and chaotic now in the homefront with God finally blessing us with a helper (Yeyyy!!! I can sleep longer!).  We can now all say that we have already settled down in our new home with all the boxes unpacked and every little thing in its proper place.

The point of this post is not for you to picture me as a Supermom or as a Superwoman.  Or to challenge you to be one!  Believe me, taking more than what you can handle would take its toll either on your health, productivity, relationships, and there’s even a big chance, on all of these.  You wouldn’t want to end up having a life all messed up, would you?

What I’ve learned from having gone through these changes and challenging times in order to successfully cope up is not to lose oneself in the midst of everything but rather, to find oneself.  And that’s what I discovered and learned.  Finding my CREATIVE self.

This year alone, I’ve engaged myself in arts and crafts activities which made me feel like a kid again! I’m also very happy to have found my “playmates” or better known as my “tribe” who share the same giddiness as I do over beautiful artworks, art materials, and workshops!  They are my Art Friends who are gifted with their own creative talents and are very generous with words of encouragement and resources.

Here are the things that have kept me child-happy (and adult-sane) this 2014:

1.  Calligraphy and more calligraphy!

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2.  My 365 Notes Challenge  (which I’m about to successfully complete by the end of the year!)

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3.  Life Documented Manila‘s Scrapbooking

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3.  Watercoloring (please scroll down for the portion on watercoloring)

     and Hand-Lettering

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4.  Bible Journaling (my new Me Time! God found a way to bring my notes challenge to a higher level…to spend time with Him and journal on His Word, the Bible!)

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I’m looking forward to doing more of these as I learn something new from and be inspired by others.  I learned that in finding my creative self, I discover more about myself too and I re-create myself more.

What do you engage yourself in to cope with life’s demands? Do you also have a creative self in you?


 

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:

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  • 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!

 

 

 


Photo taken from https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-news/2014/06/exclusive-dolphin-tale-2-poster-debut

Photo taken from https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-news/2014/06/exclusive-dolphin-tale-2-poster-debut

 

Last night, after our girls’ sewing and music classes for the day, my family and I went to watch the movie Dolphin Tale 2. We’ve been waiting for this!  Being the beach persons and marine life lovers that we all are, we were all excited to see what happens next, aside from the fact that Dolphin Tale 1 deeply inspired  our family, most especially our girls, and has our votes as one of our most-loved, never-will-forget movies.

I am not going to give you a synopsis of what Dolphin Tale 2 is about (Hint: You HAVE to see it for yourself! Go see Dolphin Tale 1 first if you haven’t. In case you didn’t know yet, the kids in this movie are portraying characters as homeschooled kids).  What I would want to share with you are the three lessons I learned from it.

Lesson #1 – rescue, rehab, release

At one point in the movie, this goal of Clearwater Marine Aquarium had to be made clear by Dr. Clay to his daughter, Hazel, who became attached to Mandy, one of the dolphins they took care at the aquarium.  Hazel, who works at the aquarium, became attached to her and wasn’t ready for that day when she was told that it’s time to release Mandy back to the wild.

Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release. It sounds very much like our roles as parents, doesn’t it?  We nurture our kids and take care of their needs the moment they are conceived in our wombs.  Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Educational, Financial, and practically, everything else.  When they fall or hurt themselves, and most especially, when they go through different, painful learning curves in life, we come to their rescue and do our best to mend their wounds and scars.  Then, the inevitable time comes when, first, we learn to start letting go of our precious ones and finally, making that release even when it hurts deep inside and we don’t really want to.

This was just one of those scenes in the movie where I was reminded that I do not own my children.  They are God’s children and I was just given both the privilege and the responsibility to parent them and be good stewards of God’s own.  Ultimately, Arielle and Kayla, are God’s and it is my role to raise them up in their uniqueness, help them to live their lives according to their design and purpose, and release them as responsible and God-fearing adults.

LESSON #2 – let others see what you are passionate about

What a coincidence that it was also yesterday, just before going inside the cinema,  when I saw a post shared by a homeschool mom on what the top universities look for in their applicants.  Times have changed where grades and academic standing are no longer the end-all or the golden ticket to colleges or universities.  They are looking for something else.  What drives you?  What do you involve yourself in outside school?  What is it that you are ready to pursue and spend hours on beyond the walls of the classroom?

In the movie, Sawyer was presented and given the opportunity to join a program by Sea Education Association (SEA) on full scholarship!  The man from SEA saw SOMETHING in Sawyer and he saw how driven and passionate Sawyer was as a volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  Because of that, they want him!

This sort of served as another wake-up call to encourage Arielle to START DOING SOMETHING given her strengths and what she really is passionate about.  I hope and pray that her taking a gap year before college would give her even more time to focus and work on her passion.

LESSON # 3 – SHAKE IT UP!

At Sawyer’s congratulatory/send-off party, he was given an old timepiece by Dr. McCarthy that wasn’t in tip-top shape and had to be shakened up in order for it to start running.  It wasn’t easy for Sawyer to decide whether to take the offer by SEA, move to Boston, or just stay in Florida.  He felt he couldn’t leave Winter, the aquarium, his family, his friends.  Now that was the lesson from the broken timepiece.  One cannot always stay in his comfort zone.  No matter how good everything seems to be in one’s life, in one’s box, you have to be shakened up, take other challenges, and move forward.

Before the movie, we were just talking to Kayla about this.  She didn’t want to join an upcoming piano competition (which is still in February!) because she feels she is already struggling with all the pieces that she is learning and that she can’t do it.  After the movie, we had to remind her about this scene in the movie and that she has to take up challenges presented to her, and not shy away from them.

The movie just started being shown in the cinemas last October 8 and I highly recommend that you go see it as a family.  It really is one beautiful movie!  As we walked out of the cinema, the girls and I confessed to one another that we were crying or at least teary-eyed as we were watching the movie.  Marine life,  taking care of the environment, supporting a cause and the other lessons woven in the story all make Dolphin Tale one of the top favorite films of our girls and our family.

I would love to know your take on this movie.  Do share!


 

I recently shared with you how our summer went.  There was one other event I went to, which I wanted to make a separate post on.  I’m talking about my trip to Laguna to go to Balik Bukid Country Fair.  I’ve been wanting to check this out in the past but there was always a conflict in schedule.  Last May 11, I was able to go…finally!  And I was all by myself because that was the day the girls will be flying back to Manila from Bacolod from their marine camp.  I purposely stayed behind so I can go to this fair and Mike didn’t mind being the one to pick up the girls in Bacolod.  Let’s just say that it was a Mother’s Day treat for myself 🙂

I left Batangas City before 8:00 in the morning and got to Sta. Elena Golf and Country Estate after about an hour (maybe even less).  It was on a Sunday and so, the trip was stress-free.  I really wanted to get there early so I can have more time to go around before the day gets too hot.  By noon, it really got too humid for me and so, I left for Alabang Town Center to meet up with Mike and the girls.

My refreshing drink!   Fresh buko juice!

My refreshing drink!
Fresh buko juice!

Although I knew beforehand that there will be vendors showcasing and selling their unique products which are mostly handmade, homemade, natural, healthful, and organic, I was excited to actually SEE them!  Just the idea of seeing something NEW got me so curious and it’s also been a long while that I went to a fair that’s not the usual bazaar I’ve gone to in a city setting. I’ve also heard about the farm, also in Sta. Elena, which could be an alternative venue to celebrate special occasions such as kids’ birthdays.

My stay at Balik Bukid may be brief but I was able to take some shots to share with you.  I refuse to do enhancements or edits because I wanted to also keep them pure and natural. Just the way I saw them 🙂

Before I share my photos, just a final note.  I’m glad I was able to make time to check out Balik Bukid this year.  Here are my take home notes from the Fair:

  • It’s good to know that we have unique fairs such as this, PROMOTING LOCAL PRODUCTS (or at least, LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS), mostly geared towards WELLNESS.  Though it still is a slow movement here in the Philippines, it’s a good start!
  • We really should SUPPORT our LOCAL VENDORS, PRODUCTS, SUPPLIERS, ESPECIALLY, FARMERS.
  • My ultimate wish is to have GREEN, NATURAL, ORGANIC, HEALTHFUL, NON-GMO PRODUCTS MORE READILY AVAILABLE IN GROCERIES!  To have MORE OPTIONS, VARIETIES, AND ACCESSIBLE SOURCES!
  • AWARENESS and EDUCATION is what we need to be able to make a successful campaign on switching to a more healthful lifestyle and making more healthful food choices for the entire FAMILY.
  • Families should SPEND MORE TIME OUTDOORS.
  • It was nice to see families on a banig (woven mat), a kid on a horse or kalesa, feeding animals, and children just playing their kind of fun with natural outdoor “toys”.
  • Children should SPEND LESS TIME ON GADGETS and ELECTRONICS, and MORE TIME to FEEL and BE in NATURE.  Parents should really be INTENTIONAL in their parenting nowadays to make sure that they give these opportunities to their children as a natural experience in their entire lifetime, and not just a snippet of their childhood.
  • Old school as it may sound, let’s GO BACK TO NATURE.

 

Now, for my no-filter, unedited photos!  I’ve chosen only some as there were too many!  I hope you’ll get to feel the vibe of the place!  It just felt relaxing for me to be in the midst of so many trees, surrounded by GREEN, and with farm animals and outdoor playground not too far away!

Though it was one hot summer day, the sun and everything around me was refreshing to the mind and senses and reminiscent of how I would spend my vacations in my childhood days.  It makes me so proud to be part of that generation! 🙂

I hope to experience THIS with my family more often.  The unhurried lifestyle.  The family bonding and real connection.  The outdoor.  The green.   The NATURAL.  Balik Bukid inspires and reminds me to take the earthy experience to my everyday life and put more of what’s pure and natural in my daily encounters and living.

How about you?  What do you think of the idea of spending more time outdoors and going back to nature?  Which do you prefer,  urban living or laid-back lifestyle in the countryside?