Guess what?  I discovered something new!  At first, I couldn’t figure out how to feel my way through the site, since it’s still on beta stage, and I didn’t how it would benefit me 100%. My question was “Will I be able to use this?”  But after just a couple of minutes of clicking here and there, I slowly saw myself navigating through the site with ease and actually having fun creating a few test designs.  

I’m talking about Canva, a new, simple, easy, and fun graphic design platform.  Take note of the keywords:  CREATE. DESIGNS. GRAPHIC. NEW. SIMPLE. EASY. FUN.  


Canva. Making designing simple and fun!

I’m no techy person; my knowledge and skills on graphic and digital designing are very limited. Doing a photo book is the only thing I can boast of when it comes to using digital imaging and image-publishing tools online.  I have to admit.  I run to our 15-year old daughter whenever I need some editing done with my photos or images with the use of Photoshop.

Well, now that Canva is here, I am excited to make new projects other than a photo book!  


What can I do with Canva?

With Canva, I can create designs for:

  • a Christmas card
  • an A4 Document
  • a Presentation
  • a Blog Graphic (HURRAY!!!) 
  • a Facebook cover
  • Social media
  • a Card


Speaking of Christmas cards,  with just five days away from Christmas Day, one does not have an excuse anymore of not having the time to mail out those store-bought or handmade Christmas cards because Canva can make it so easy and quick for anyone.  With a collection of designs, layouts, backgrounds, texts to choose from, all one has to do is choose, click, customize, and send them online!  You get to write your personal message…express your creativity…and you keep in touch with your family and friends!


Christmas card-making
with Canva


Customizing my Christmas card with Canva


What actually got me more excited about Canva is we can actually use this in our homeschooling.   Woohoo!!!  A new tool for us! With other applications available, such as A4 document and Presentation, our girls can make their homeschool portfolios more visually attractive.  Design elements you opt to choose and use can either be free or paid (I’ve seen design elements at $1.00 each).  Plus, they will learn new and improve their skills on presentation, graphic designing, marketing, communication, and even collaboration.  This will surely add fun in their learning and raise it to a higher level!


Recipe presentations, for example,
will be more interesting!


Analysis of facts or data will be remembered better.


I think I’m going to like Canva!   I can’t wait to tinker with it some more and be surprised not only with my creations but also with our girls’ projects!  

In the meantime, why don’t you head over to Canva’s website and start designing Christmas cards that you always fail to send out during the Holidays and start following them on:

to get updates.  


P.S.  One reason why I was greatly encouraged to write this blog about Canva, aside from the unexpected discovery I had about them, is because Canva will be donating $50 for the Yolanda victims, for every blog written by Filipino bloggers.  That just makes my blogging more intentional and my Christmas even more meaningful 🙂 

I was praying to God one morning to help me start another homeschooling day.  After starting off my prayer with thanksgiving, I was already giving God a rundown of all my fears.  The FEARS that I’m having these days and that are constantly bugging me!

  • Fear that after all these years of homeschooling Arielle and Kayla, I have failed  
  • Fear that Arielle won’t pass the college entrance exams 
  • Fear that Arielle won’t get into the school that she wants 
  • Fear that she won’t make it to the course she has already set her mind on 
  • Fear that she’d be settling for her second choice course only  
  • Fear that Kayla won’t be able to discover what she really wants to do  
  • Fear that I failed to show her what her strengths are 
  • Fear that I also failed to pinpoint her weaknesses and turn them around to make them into strengths or at least, a comfortable acceptance of them  
  • Fear that I failed to teach them the skills that they need when we finally release them to the world 

All these fears are really making me feel like they’re rolled up into one, ugly monster following me wherever I go and the only weapon I have is my prayers day and night and in-between which act as my sword in order for me to survive each day.  It does feel like the story of David and Goliath in the Bible and of course, I’m the little David. 

How I wish I could fast forward our lives and peek into the future, especially the future of our girls. How I wish I’d know what’s going to happen so I can do something about it now!  To spare us from hurts, struggles, rejections, and disappointments.  But that would be insulting God.  That would be losing my faith in Him.  I’d be looking only at my efforts and failing to look up, believing that I have a God who’s a lot BIGGER than all my  problems and fears combined! 

But my fears are so real, I want to cover myself up in a blanket until someone can come up to tell me that everything’s going to be okay.  That’s how strong and real my fears are.  So what do I do? What is really there to do?  Each day, I can only continue to do my best to homeschool and parent our girls.  The days are not always perfect but I honestly do try my best (You know that, God!)! I not only look at and live in the present but I have come to see now the need to plan ahead and study the options out there for our girls, especially for Arielle, who will soon be in college.  Now that’s what’s making my fear so big.  It feels like I’m exploring the unknown and am faced with the “real thing” as I join the rest of the world when all these years, we’ve been comfortable with our lifestyle choice of homeschooling on this so-called road less traveled.

All the “What if’s” are cropping up and I am asking God to show me how to homeschool these days (and I mean, REALLY HOW). To show me specifically which areas I failed to cover and now need to make up for. These are the times when homeschooling parents like me say “It feels we haven’t done enough!”. But I suddenly get a reality check.  And I do mean A REALITY CHECK! A friend, the girls’ teacher for a brief period of time, a coach, a person my girls and I sometimes go to for advice, posted a short testimony in Facebook on how her life was and is right now.  I am talking about Martine de Luna.  What makes and keeps her close to my heart is she was homeschooled and this is her life story in a nutshell.  Truly encouraging! Truly inspiring! 

Who is Martine de Luna?   This is her life story in a nutshell.

Who is Martine de Luna?
This is her life story in a nutshell.


Turning fears into faith, can’ts to can’s!


The Expert Enough Manifesto
which Martine is living up to.


Isn’t that just amazing?  To make her story even more interesting, she adds: My two homeschooled brothers have the same story, and yet, they are the CEOs of a company that strategizes and consults for some of the most successful and innovative companies in the Philippines. Life hacking and an insatiable lifelong love for learning: this is truly what has allowed us to live towards our “unschooled” lifestyle, which we lived out as kids.

WOW!  After reading her post, it felt like my fears were suddenly doused with cool, refreshing water! Here is one real person I know who was homeschooled, unschooled, went beyond the conventions, and is now successful in what she’s good at and living the kind of life she had pictured and planned for. What she had shared showed me that:

  • My girls have more options out there than I thought.  
  • The options and paths to success are LIMITLESS!
  • Success too is a RELATIVE word! 
  • I was and actually am putting my own limitations, or call it walls and boundaries, to the future of our kids.
  • I’m holding too tight to my CAN’T’s instead of my or our girls’ CANs.
  • LEARNING is, no doubt, a LIFELONG PROCESS that does not end with a college degree or diploma.
  • THAT piece of paper is not the sure end of it all! A diploma is not a sure ticket that will 100% guarantee one’s success.
  • The suffix -less and the word LESS could, on the contrary, mean MORE.


Do you know who Martine instantly reminded me of?  If you ask me, Martine is no different from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs :).  Like these big, iconic guys, she followed and is following her passion, her bliss, and she is LOVING what she is doing.  She did not limit herself to how everybody else should be doing what.  She went out-of-the box and carved her own path.  And that’s what she continues to do! Now doesn’t that make one an EXPERT of his/her own life?  Isn’t that taking charge of it and not letting anybody else dictate and run it?  To read the full story of Martine, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.

I can’t stress enough how Martine’s story really inspired and encouraged me. Her story is proof that there’s SO MUCH MORE WE CAN DO THAN JUST WHAT WE and OTHER PEOPLE THINK WE KNOW.  ONE’S STATUS and WORTH is NOT SUMMED UP BY A COLLEGE DEGREE OR DIPLOMA.   It is how you live each day using and sharing the talents and gifts God has given you to its best and fullest that makes your life an A+.   And to keep in mind that LEARNING is a LIFELONG PROCESS.  As Aristotle had put it,  “The more you know, the more you don’t know”.

So, I really shouldn’t get stuck in my fears allow myself to get stuck in my fears.  As long as our girls know:

  • what they CAN do and are STILL CAPABLE OF DOING, 
  • and are WILLING to LEARN
  • and to GO BEYOND the NORM and what’s ACCEPTED
  • that BEING DIFFERENT doesn’t give others the license to judge, label, and discriminate you
  • that BEING DIFFERENT could actually mean BEING BETTER

then THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS! What works for one doesn’t necessarily mean it should and will work for all and vice-versa.  

If and when Arielle and Kayla would come to a point where they realize that they made wrong choices, then I put my trust in the Lord and am confident that they will be able to make wiser and better decisions as they go through life.  (After all, that’s one of the main reasons why we chose the homeschooling path…To first and foremost, build and develop strong and godly character traits in our children!) One will never find out what works unless he makes choices, does it with faith and courage, and is ready to accept its fruits or consequences. Life is after all, all about making choices, and the choices one makes spell out the difference.   Then and only then can you say that you have lived a FULL, SUCCESSFUL, HAPPY LIFE!   No “If only’s”.  No regrets! 


I’ve repeated admitted a number of times that Arielle’s been doing a better blogging job than me.   Starting out as a tween blogger (at age 12), she’s able to tweak her blog layout, post her own illustrations showcasing her self-taught skills, learn Photoshop basics and tricks she learned all by herself, take great photos in one click (which would take me about 10!), do ad swaps, and connect with other bloggers from all over. Now, Arielle’s just been featured on Cici Bean‘s blog, Celebrating Awesomeness Tween Blogger Edition (After clicking this link, please scroll down until you see the post that looks like the one below)!  How cool and awesome is that? 

Awesome Tween Blogger on Cici Bean

Photo Source:


How she ended up being featured on a Canadian preteen clothing brand for girls, I have no idea! She said they just emailed her and everything flowed from there!  The wonders of technology!  And how small the world has become because of it 🙂  Although she did mention to me about the guesting feature, I only remember advising her to read more about the company and check its values.  Plus, my only condition for her accept the invitation was to make sure that it only gives out a positive image and message to its readers.  To read more about Cici Bean, click on the links below:

About Cici Bean

Cici Bean’s Vision 

Cici Bean’s Ambassador Program

Cici Bean’s Collection

Words of Wisdom

If Cici Bean wanted AWESOMENESS, CREATIVITY, PASSION, and ENERGY, celebrated and shared, then, I think they made the right choice on Arielle who personifies all these 🙂  I say this not because I’m her mom but because her blog is plain proof showing her true colors.    Arielle is really one girl who definitely knows who she is, what she’s got, and is comfortable with it.  No need really to conform, to be like the rest.  And that is exactly the message she personally wants to share to the world through her blog. 🙂



Another year has just ended! Yahooo!!! And WHEW!!! We just finished our last portfolio review with our academic consultants and the girls are scheduled to take their year-end OLSAT this April 10.  After that, schoolyear 2012-2013 is officially over.  

The girls and I are currently doing a major summer cleaning and the house looks like a war zone. Our hands are all black and dirty;  boxes, books, paper, toys, knick-knacks are everywhere; Kayla’s sneezing from the dust; my lower back is aching and I am sweating in this summer heat!  This isn’t actually my favorite thing to do at the end of each schoolyear (I actually hate it!), but looking at the bright side, we have just finished another homeschooling year!  Our sixth, to be exact! (I still wonder how we’re able to do that!)

Every year, it seems like we haven’t done enough and that we have missed out this and that, and this and that.  But I just have to remind myself that we will go crazy if we attempt to cover EVERYTHING in one schoolyear.  Learning should never stop anyway and reality is, we will never get to learn everything in our lifetime!  

The best way to end a schoolyear is to look back with gratitude on our accomplishments, milestones, hurdles, and victories that we have encountered along the way.  And the blogs of our girls, Arielle and Kayla, deserve praise and recognition!  (In a few years time, I’d most likely look back at their blogs, a bit teary-eyed, and asking “We did this???”)


Photo Source:

So now, I am proud to share with you the girls’ blog portfolios for Schoolyear 2012-2013:

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 11.49.31 AM

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 11.49.48 AM

  • Kayla’s Adventures With Kayla, where I was able to see Kayla evolve from a Reluctant Writer to a Budding Blogger 🙂


The Homeschooled Mermaid

I hope you’ll enjoy reading them and pick up some good things from the girls’ blogs.  I now have to go back to our cleaning duties (which do not make us look, smell, and feel clean at all!) 😀



Beyond Books and Walls.  Thinking of a domain name for my new blogsite surely gave my brain a good amount of stretching!  After coming up with a list of about 20 names, I finally chose Beyond Books and Walls.  Why the name?  Simple. It’s an offshoot of my tagline “The world is our classroom” from my previous blogsite, which I decided to keep.  Call me Ms. Sentimental but I would like to take something with me here from my old blog.  I really think the name Beyond Books and Walls best captures the kind of homeschooling we try to live out.  It paints a picture of the kind of learning we want our girls to have.  Not only learning, but also living.

Arielle did a clean and pretty design of my header and logo 🙂  I’m so thankful for her!  Her work is a showcase of what “beyond books and walls” mean.  She wouldn’t have learned real-life skills had she been confined to the four walls of the classroom.  Not only skills but the self-initiative and discipline to learn more what she needs to learn and what she wants to learn.  For more of Arielle’s artistic self, click here (for her personal blog) and here (for her homeschool blog as her portfolio for this year).  I’m telling you, she’s doing a lot, lot better than me in designing her blogs, keeping them and making them blogworthy!  Doing my header and logo gave Arielle the experience to work on a real application (not a homeschool requirement), with a deadline, and also, to think things through and make improvements on her own work and not just settle for what’s good enough.  Her first rendition of my header was the traditional watercolor paint on paper, pictured and then, edited using Photoshop.  But I gave her my feedback (just like a client but I may have sounded more like her mom though) that I personally would have wanted the colors brighter and bolder.  So, changes were made to what you see now on my homepage.

That’s my handwriting there on “The world is our classroom!”



As for the small logo that you see on the upperleft corner, I gave Arielle my idea after seeing an image that served as an inspiration.  We talked about using colors from the header to give the space some consistent elements or continuity, and that’s what she finally came up with.  An open book against or positioned slightly on top of a wall, with the sun shining from behind the open book, and the letters B B & W at the bottom.

So, there!  The name and images behind my new blogsite. It may not be as eye-candy as the other blogs, but I’m happy with it!  It’s something very personal, a reflection of our lifestyle,  which I would now like to share with you. 




Between Arielle and Kayla, Arielle is the one naturally into visual arts.  She never lets a day pass without drawing, making a quick sketch, or learning a new technique using her tablet and Photoshop.  Never.  Kayla?  She’d rather be outside playing with our dogs or trying a new recipe in the kitchen or doing something else.

I’ve been telling Kayla that even though she’s not as passionately interested as her Ate (meaning, “big sister” in Filipino) in drawing, whether traditionally or digitally, it would be also be good for her to learn the skill and the basics.  Most especially now that everything’s practically done with and on the computer, learning how to use a tablet and Photoshop would definitely be a plus.  Kayla didn’t really take my advice seriously and I have a confession.  It was a frustration on my part.  Me wanting her to learn how to edit photos.  Me wanting her to learn a marketable skill.  Me wanting her to learn something I feel is useful and important.  (Maybe it’s also because I myself do not know how to use Photoshop and have been wanting to learn how! Well, that’s one of my goals for this year.)

I let it pass and am happy that at least, she’s now trying to learn how to write more creatively through her blog and add photos to her posts.  Until one time, last January 8 to be exact, I came home from Manila and was totally surprised with what Kayla did during the day when I was away.  I expected her to be doing Science as what she had told me before I left the house.  To my sweet surprise, she not only did her Science but also showed me three blogs she had written, two of which had photos done and/or edited with the use of techy tools.  One was with a drawing she made using her Ate’s old tablet and another blog with two photos she edited using Ps. They were simple edits (Nothing super dramatic, ok?) but when I saw what she did, I felt she was off to a good start.  Totally unexpected!

These are her blog posts:

Sandman, The Guardian of Dreams (She used a tablet and Photoshop for her drawing)

My Little Bit Of Heaven (She Photoshopp-ed the first and last pics)

Missing The Beach (She did not use the tablet nor Ps here, but a blog she wrote, nonetheless; brief and so personal)

I praised Kayla for what she did and she herself told me that she’s now enjoying photography, art, and Photoshop. I did sense from her pride, the desire and enthusiasm to learn more. Now that’s another BIG PLUS!  Arielle also made me proud of her for (finally) teaching Kayla what she knows about Photoshop (I’ve been bugging her about it, actually).

Kayla was not the only one who learned here.  I myself was taught and reminded:

1.  about her personal learning style,

2.  to give her her own space and time to learn things,

3.  that learning and positive results naturally happen when she’s not pressured or forced to.

This may seem such an ordinary occurrence, but I believe there are valuable lessons here we must remember when teaching our children.  Don’t you agree? 


We’re starting to wrap up another schoolyear and I thought I’d write about AND remind myself why we’re still doing this. Homeschooling Arielle and Kayla.

We’ve been homeschooling for six years and as our daughters grow up and older, their needs, objectives, and purposes also change. Here’s a collection (14 in all!), which I personally love (after all, it’s February ❤), of my past blogs on the different and changing reasons why we choose to continue to homeschool our girls. Why we continue to believe in homeschooling as a non-traditional approach and a better choice for our children’s education and development. I hope these will serve as inspiration and encouragement, or just plain awareness and knowledge, to those who are curious about homeschooling; or to those who would like to know why more and more are choosing this option, this lifestyle for their kids and family.

  1.  What? You’re Homeschooling? Why?!! 
  2. 20 Great Reasons to Homeschool
  3. Homeschooling Works!
  4. Life Skills
  5. Are We Preparing Our Child for the Job Market?
  6. Why Homeschool in High School
  7. Why Homeschool Teens
  8. Eight Common Myths About Homeschooling In High School
  9. Five Years of Homeschooling…So What?
  10. Can’t Decide Whether to Homeschool or Not?
  11. What I Ultimately Want Our Kids To Learn (Part 1)
  12. What I Ultimately Want Our Kids to Learn (Part 2)
  13. Philippine Homeschool Conference 2012
  14. Ten Skills for the Future Workforce



Last Saturday, Arielle and I joined Blogworthy, a two-day blogging workshop, by Arriane Serafico, a.k.a. Wanderrgirl. Yes, Arielle and I were (and will still be) classmates. Talk about learning together as we homeschool!

Let me tell first the reasons why we joined.

I, the mom, joined because:

  • I felt I needed and wanted to keep up with the modern techy times and learn a whole lot more about blogging. My BIG question:  How do others do it so well and differently?
  • I also wanted to look into the possibility of using a blog for a homebased business or entrepreneural ideas in the future.

My husband and I encouraged Arielle to join because:

  • we know that writing is an area of strength for her and that a blog is also where she can showcase her skills in photography and art, traditional and digital.  Plus, I’ve read somewhere that a blog is the new resume or portfolio.   We, her parents, just have to equip her for the future!  Now, don’t make me explain how our resumes were like during my time.
  • By joining, it would be an opportunity for her to develop this life and marketable skill.  This is an example of 21st century learning and this is how we homeschool. Real life. Intentional. Non-traditional.


I felt like I was in my 20’s again =)

Before the workshop even started, each one of us was already greeted by goodies from the time we registered to the moment we chose our seats.  Each had a tin pail (by Celebrations Party Central) with these as our loot:

The co.lab venue was not your usual dull-colored function or office room. The wide open space, with orange bursts of color, is equipped with office tools and audio-visual equipment, has a small pantry area, sofas, chairs and tables, and smaller rooms within, making it very conducive to work, collaboration, brainstorming and c-r-e-a-t-i-v-i-t-y!

This is just our lecture and presentation area, occupying about a fourth of the entire space.
See my VERY YOUNG classmates? 🙂

Day 1 was info-packed, I must say, with Arriane, first and foremost, sharing with us that my blog is not about me.  My blog is my message to the world which means I have to make a GOOD one.  She then moved on to the nitty gritty, giving my left-brain some serious stretching and warm-up! We worked on a few “Who am I?” kind of worksheets to be able to understand what it would take to come up with a good or better blog.  In between the brainy activities, we watched a scent-making demo by BC Fragrance, listened to the presentation, and a little while later, were treated with the yumminess of ice cream and sherbet sampling by Pinkerton Ice Cream.  That surely gave our thinking gears a boost! Everbody was happy! =)

Now, this is how I summed up what I learned in Day 1:


And I thought to blog is to simply write about something or anything.  Well, I thought wrong.  An interesting, persuasive, effective blog is actually a combination of all these “ingredients” before you can say that your blog is ready for the world:

                                  1. Psychology
                                  2. Marketing
                                  3. Art
                                  4. Communication
                                  5. Mathematics


Here’s why…

Psychology –  First, you have to do a lot of self-awareness exercises of knowing yourself, your personality, different roles in life, heroes and inspirations, passions and obsessions, etc.  Everything that makes you tick and makes you uniquely YOU. How’s that for a start?

Marketing – You have to show and celebrate your uniqueness.  Don’t copy other blogs or the styles of other bloggers.  Come up with your own concept.  Make it the best and give it a one-of-a-kind packaging and branding. I would say competition can be tough.

Art – A blog is very visual.  When readers go to your blogsite, the initial elements that would make them want to read your post would be the lay-out, color scheme, font, and other graphics.  Once you’ve got them hooked by those, there’s a big chance that they would stay a few more minutes on your site, read more or even follow you!

Here also comes the technical side of it.  As Arriane would say, working on the backend of your blog with the CSS or HTML codes plus webhosting and domains (which I do not understand at this point, but would definitely like to learn)  can make your blog stand out from the rest.

Communication – The heart of the blog! This is where your writing style and voice come in.  Is your style informative? funny or serious? casual? brief and direct?  What does your voice say about your personality?  How does one read “hear” your written words?  How do you connect with your readers? How do you bring your thoughts and ideas to life?    A great tip in writing that I learned is to use key words, categories or labels that are Google-able.

As an example, one writing exercise we had to do was to briefly write about scent samplers given out to us by BC Fragrance.  It was pretty challenging! How would you actually describe a scent in words that only your nose knows? Think about it.

Mathematics – Look at your statistics. Read and analyze those graphs. Use tools such as   Google AnalyticsBitly, and Link Within.  Know more about your readers and their demographics.  Where are they from?  What time do they go online?  What posts do your readers like the most? the least?  Shorten your links and link your post with other related stories.

So, at the end of the day, it turns out that blogging is actually a science. Hmmm…huh? It’s because for one to come up with and upkeep a blog, he or she needs to know the right mix of ingredients and formulas. Sounds easy, right?  But that’s not it.  I personally believe that it also takes time, effort, and I would say, passion, drive, and dedication to keep a blog.  Then and only then can one say that his or her blog is blogworthy!


As promised, here’s the link to Arielle’s blog portfolio.  She just finished all her blog posts for the 1st Quarter.  Whew! She’s 13 years old and in 2nd year high school, by the way. 

If you have noticed, she has another personal blog called “Spaceship to Infinity”, whose link can be found right below her profile pic.  She really is naturally into writing, visual arts, and music.  Kayla, on the other hand, is kinesthetic, more into logic, culinary, and nature 🙂  Ahhhh…celebrating their God-given uniqueness and opposite personalities 🙂

We are almost finished with our 1st Quarter for this schoolyear and this year, Arielle and Kayla are doing blogs as their portfolios.  Something different.  Something new, especially for Kayla.  She’s 11 and at Sixth Grade.  

Here’s the link to her blogsite. (Layout is very simple, made by her Ate Arielle for her.  Our primary objective really is more of content than appearance.  Later on, we hope to be able to work on the theme or layout, which would be another area to learn!)  

Adventures with Kayla

* Arielle’s still working on hers and I will share the link as soon as she’s done!