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.

 

 

 

 

 


 

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.


 

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!

 

 


 

I don’t even know how to start this post.  I am still high on adrenalin and even if I couldn’t sleep last night and wasn’t able to have my 8 hours of sleep, my energy level is high.

Arielle called me up last night (She went home to Batangas for a few days) to tell me that she got accepted at SCAD Hong Kong.  She received an email from them last night congratulating her for being accepted for enrolment to their bachelor’s degree program.  AND… that the committee is considering her for Honors Scholarship.  WOW!!!  Just WOW!!!

I only wanted her to get accepted.  I was just asking God to show us if SCAD is really an option for her to pursue her dream to be an animator.   If she makes it, then my next step was to pray for provision.  For the finances to fund her college.

We only submitted the minimum admission requirements to SCAD and have not even submitted a portfolio of her artworks yet.  Even her official IELTS (English proficiency) test hasn’t been released yet.  Arielle was only able to find out how she did in her IELTS test taken last May 9 AFTER receiving the good news of acceptance from her admission advisor from SCAD.

In case you’re interested to know what documents we submitted to SCAD-Hong Kong, they were the following:

  • Transcript from Walkersville Christian Family School, The Master’s Academy’s partner (We enrolled for an international accreditation for her and Kayla only last schoolyear, SY 2014-2015, and for this schoolyear, SY 2015-2016).
  • Transcript from The Master’s Academy (Philippine transcript)
  • High School Course Syllabus (all subjects taken and books used with ISBNs from 1st year to 4th year) – It’s a good thing I was able to keep a record and recall all the materials we used and still kept most of the books!
  • Certification of TMA Home Education Program
  • Certification of English Proficiency
  • Recommendation/Reference Letter of Academic Consultant fr TMA

 

This is truly a testament of God’s faithfulness to our family and our homeschooling journey.  He has been our guide and provider, and I believe that He will continue to be by our side, every step of the way. Not only for Arielle, but for Kayla as well.

I’d like to end with these truths:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
  • Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
  • Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
  • Matthew 7:7 – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
  • Matthew 21:22 – And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.
  • Hebrews 13:21 – equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

All things are possible for one who believes!

I am still overwhelmed with the turn of events, and my eyes are welling up again as I think of how awesome God is and how unworthy I am to be receiving so many blessings from Him.

May this serve as an encouragement and inspiration to all homeschooling moms, children, and families reading this.  I have wanted to give up homeschooling so many times but God didn’t give up on me (Oh no, I am crying again).  No matter what, it is always God’s plan that prevails and He equips those He calls.


 

I bared my heart in my last post.  It was a sincere one.  I wanted to let you know that I’m not a SuperMom or a Super HomeschoolMom always with her red cape on.  There are actually many times in our homeschool journey that I am just as lost and vulnerable as other moms are out there.

I received a feedback from my friend and art playmate (Yes, I do have a playmate!), Dette Ramos of Bananabellieboo, on my last post.  She told me that what I shared triggered a loooong discussion between her and her husband on how they could also encourage their young kids to dream for themselves and how they want to be able to support them in their dreams.  I was surprised when she told me that it actually took them about one whole hour just talking about it from her office to their house!

It made think how Mike and I started “dreaming” with Arielle and Kayla.  To be honest, I can’t seem to clearly recall what we did first or when the dreaming phase all started because to me, their growing up years, especially when they were toddlers, were more of just teaching them basic skills, making them wonder how and why things work they way they do, and checking if they are actually enjoying whatever they’re doing and interested to doing more.

Let me just share what I vividly recall doing with Arielle and Kayla when they were still very young and we were all trying to discover their potentials, talents, gifts, preferences, and inclinations.

1.  Books

I surrounded them with a lot of books, magazines, and newspapers.  That’s one thing for sure. Picture books, storybooks, chapter books, coloring books, activity books!  I remember I was able to take a video of Arielle with a book upside down in her hands, babbling on and on as she pretended to be reading the book she was holding 🙂   We noticed, on the other hand, that Kayla grew up liking Almanacs.  She would look forward going to National Bookstore or Fully Booked and buy the new almanac that comes out every year.  This mere observation made me see the personalities of our two girls.  One prefers lengthy books and that would be Arielle, while the other prefers bite-size chunks of information (Kayla).

It is through books and a lot of reading and printed materials that Arielle and Kayla were able to “see more” than what’s around them, explore possibilities, and express their thoughts and feelings after reading and having a casual conversation with them.

2.  Arts and Crafts

Being and arts-and-crafts person myself, it wouldn’t be a surprise that I also exposed Arielle and Kayla to a lot of cutting and pasting, drawing, painting, lots of paper, crayons, markers, pencils, paint, etc.!   Doing art activities was one way of discovering more of who they are through the images they drew, the colors and strokes they used.  Art, being a visual and tactile activity, was a self-expression activity that I was able to use to know more about Arielle and Kayla in their younger years.  As they grew older, I saw all the more, through their works and time spent in the activities, that Arielle’s interest in arts was becoming more pronounced and Kayla wasn’t as much into it.

3.  Music and Theatre

Music has been part of their lives as early as probably when they were 4 to 6 months old when they were still in my belly.    I had headphones on my tummy with classical music on for them to listen to, and I remember playing the classic children’s songs (still in cassette tapes!) when we would play in the living room, when we would take afternoon naps, or when we would ride in the car.

We also watched musical plays for their entertainment value and a trip to the theatre was what made us discover that Arielle had this “dream” of performing on stage…as the lead role!  Yup!  We watched Peter Pan at CCP in 2007 and Arielle said, “I can see myself on stage doing the main character.”  She was watching at the edge of her seat (I’m not kidding!) the entire time!  And true enough, the next year, at 8 years old, she bravely tried out performing arts for the first time.  She took a summer theatre workshop and she loved it!  She landed the lead role (as Jack in Jack in the Beanstalk) in the workshop’s production and we knew that the stage was “part of her world” (as the Little Mermaid would sing it 🙂 )  A year after, she did “A Christmas Carol” professionally and it was one experience she’ll never ever forget!  It gave her the confidence to try out audition after audition, go to callbacks and open auditions) and even if she didn’t make it to the cast, it was still a dream for her to show to others what she can do and what she’s got.

We also convinced Kayla to try out theatre since she saw her Ate enjoying it immensely.  So she did too at age 7 and played one of the main characters, Pinocchio, in a summer workshop.  She confidently performed on stage, but she herself said that she liked it, but it’s not her thing.

Up to now, watching movies and plays, especially musicals, is a family activity we enjoy.  It is a way we support the visual, musical, and kinethestic personalities of Arielle and Kayla.

4.  Sports, Physical/Kinesthetic Activities

When we shifted to homeschooling, competitive swimming has been their P.E.  They did it for 5 years.  They got tired of it and found themselves trying archery and golf.  I admit that at times I still wish they stayed on with swimming but I know that even if they didn’t stick with the sport, they have learned the discipline in training for a sport and the other character traits that they have developed while at it like obedience, perseverance, working with team members, humility, among others.

Now that Kayla’s liking golf again (Thanks to Mike who is also playing again after giving up on it for a while), I see that this could be her “dream”.  Although she may not fully admit YET that golf is a dream of hers, I see that she’s BEGINNING to realize that this is a strength of hers, after being given positive feedbacks on how she plays the sport, and that this could actually open doors for her to somewhere we don’t know yet.  Kayla is also currently at the stage where she is starting to question what she really wants to do in her life.  Knowing that her Ate Arielle clearly knows what she wants to take up in college and what she really wants to do, Mike and I can sense that she is beginning to search for her unique path and calling in life.  So for now, we are here to support her in a strength of hers that is obvious and hopefully, it will really take her to bigger dreams.

Prior to golf,  we thought that she wanted to do cook and bake.  That she wanted to take the culinary path when the time comes.  We enrolled her in summer cooking classes. We tried recipes at home.  We baked cookies, cakes, and cupcakes.  We bought her cookbooks and encouraged her to print out recipes she would like to try and keep a file of them.  But again, her interest in it wasn’t sustained although she still likes to work in the kitchen.

5.  Travel

Another worthwhile activity we do as a family when we have the finances and time to do it is travel locally and abroad.  It is through first-hand experience of other culture and lifestyle that our girls learn for themselves what they would want to change in their own way of life and how they would want to live their own lives when they go to college and after.   Seeing for themselves how other people do their day-to-day activities in another place or country teaches them to think of better ways to do things and improve systems.  It is a way of dreaming for themselves and for our country. It also opens their eyes to opportunities that may not be available to them in Manila or in the Philippines, making them dream bigger and bolder.  It was when we went to the U.S. and Singapore that we all dreamed with Arielle in taking up Animation and being an animator someday!

6.  Meet other people

Of course, as we were doing all these activities…buying books, doing arts and crafts, watching musicals, enrolling in workshops and classes, traveling to places, we were able to give Arielle and Kayla the opportunities to meet other people in their natural settings who, in one way or another, were able to inspire and encourage them.  What can beat SOCIALIZING with REAL PEOPLE from different professions, from different fields, and from all ages?

So you see, encouraging our girls to dream involves a number of things:

1.  a hands-on and intentional parenting

2.  a discovery process which includes trial-and-error; It really is exposing your children to VARIED activities and finding out in the process which ones they are wired to do or where their potentials are.

3.  influencing them by our (parents’) own interests at the onset of or during the discovery process, but not dictating to them

4.  having faith in God, our Maker, who designed each one of us with a unique purpose, who ultimately knows what we are cut out for and who can make dreams come true

The words of Pope Francis when he visited our country a few weeks ago are still fresh in my mind. He stressed how important it is to dream in the family.   It was truly an affirmation of our decision and chosen lifestyle to homeschool our children because it is in homeschooling that we are all able to dream as a family and support one another in our dreams.

What are your and your children’s dreams?  How do you hold on to and pursue them as a family?


 

The recent visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines has affirmed our decision and chosen lifestyle to homeschool our girls.  What a grace to hear and be touched by the words of our Holy Father!  He gave a number of homilies and memorable quotes during his 5-day visit here, but what I’ll remember most and keep in my heart are these:

  1. “It is important to dream in the family.  All mothers and fathers dream of their sons and daughters in the womb for 9 months.  They dream of how they will be.  It isn’t possible to have a family without such dreams.”
  2. “We too need to protect, guide, and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage.”
  3. “Protect your families!  See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments.  Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them!”
  4. “When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world.”

 

Just this week, we started to look deeper into Arielle’s college options and realistically identified which schools would help her pursue her dream to be an animator.  I’ve sent a request for assistance from our homeschool provider, given the fact that she will be taking a gap year this 2015 after she graduates in April and will concentrate on preparing herself for college in 2016.  This headstart of preparations is actually giving me anxiety attacks and making me nervous! For instance, one requirement for international school application given to me by our academic consultant is to list down all the books Arielle used in high school with their ISBNs, in order for WCFS (Walkersville Christian Family Schools) to prepare and process the document we would need for international application.  I panicked upon receiving the email last Thursday and immediately went through our library of books and listed them all down!  In a matter of hours, I had completed most of the books Arielle used from 1st year to present, but my state of panic would not go away until I’ve gone home to Batangas where the rest of the books were.  Now that I’m here in Batangas, I’m just glad and thankful that I’ve kept 99% of the books and materials of Arielle with the intention of passing them to Kayla, more than anything.

This DREAM of Arielle to become an animator, a Disney animator, has been a childhood dream.  Mike, Kayla and I are together with Arielle in praying for this dream to come true!  As a family, like what Pope Francis said, we have always been together in dreaming!

Amidst the fear and stress, a Bible verse timely spoke to me this week, which left me humbled and speechless.  It was only two days after that I was able to write down my reflection on it.  So, I’d like to share with you an honest-to-goodness prayer of a homeschool mom.

JEREMIAH 17:7 (NLT) – BUT BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD AND HAVE MADE THE LORD THEIR HOPE AND CONFIDENCE.

Lord, the reality that Arielle will be graduating from high school AND homeschooling soon is beginning to scare me!  Choosing colleges, preparing for entrance exams and applications, and praying that we are doing the RIGHT thing every step of the way and not missing any detail, info, and deadline are stressing me out!  I honestly feel that this is MY measure of success or failure as a homeschool mom.  I need You now more than ever!  You were with us from the beginning.  I TRUST, HOPE, and am CONFIDENT that You will see us through.  AMEN.

 

Can I ask you to pray for and with us, please?  Your prayers would mean so, so much!  Thank you!

 


 

Photo taken from globalination.inquirer.net

 

 

I really had no plans of writing about Pope Francis’s arrival in the Philippines.  I didn’t think we’d be able to catch the media coverage because we were on our way home to Batangas from Manila when he was expected to arrive at NAIA.  Since it was declared a holiday in the metro, we got home in a jiffy just a few minutes before his plane landed at the airport, was able to immediately turn on the t.v. and follow the coverage of this much-awaited event.    I can’t help but join the Filipino Catholics with so much eagerness, anticipation, excitement, and joy as we welcomed him from afar!

Arielle and Kayla love Pope Francis!  Like many, they find him joyful, humble, simple, lovable, non-discriminating, and with a charisma which sets him apart from the past popes and other church leaders.  And maybe because they know that Pope Francis takes selfies with teens like them! 🙂  Arielle cried just watching him on t.v.  I’m just glad that our girls are able to have Pope Francis during their youth in the same way that I had Pope John Paul II in my early adult years.

Pope Francis has shown himself to be non-traditional which I personally think is the reason why he has attracted Christians and non-Christians alike to the church community, and why he has won back the hearts of non-practicing Catholics, those who have turned away and have been discriminated from the church.   I also think that his love, mercy, and compassion for the poor and the outcast are pure reasons why we Filipinos love him all the more.  And who doesn’t love his cute and genuine smile? 🙂

Meantime, I found these quotes by Pope Francis which our government and church leaders should seriously take note of.  Here also are 10 things we should know about our beloved Pope Francis.

I’m excited to follow the Pope’s 5-day stay here in the Philippines.  I can’t wait to hear what his message is for the Filipino people, and I really mean his personal message for us as a nation.  We are one nation that needs to be healed, to be prayed for, to be blessed.  I honestly and fervently pray that Pope Francis will be able to touch the majority of us, especially our leaders, and that he be the instrument we need to be united as a people and heal us from our brokenness. This is not the time to put one’s political agenda and selfish motives first.  PLEASE!

I join our country in prayer for the safety of the Holy Father in the Philippines.  May his stay here be an unforgettable one for him and for us Fiipinos as well.  More importantly, may he be able to fulfill his intended mission while here in our country and continue to ALWAYS keep us in his prayers.


 

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.

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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!

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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!


 

Just like that, another year is about to be over. I know, I know.  Christmas first before New Year, but I can’t help myself but do a fast forward and think 2015 already.  New Year. New Beginning. New Plans. New  Dreams.  Who wouldn’t be excited???

With this year’s major changes for our family which included the passing of my mother-in-law, moving in to our new home, new season in teen parenting, homeschooling and in both parenting-teaching, can I just say, “2014, I survived you!”  You made me feel like I ran a marathon and made it to the finish line.

Why do I love 2014?  Simply for the reason that in spite of the transitions and busyness that happened,  I learned:

  1. How to listen to my body, stop the stress build-up, and enjoy those simple and yet meaningful pauses;
  2. How to rediscover myself and feed my soul by creating in fun ways;
  3. How to surround myself and connect with like-minded people and with those who are generous to extend help in whichever way they can;
  4. To decisively take another leap of faith to do what’s more essential and than what’s simply conforming;
  5. How to make the most of the time in my hands, accepting those that I’m able to do, and not fret too much on those that I wasn’t able to accomplish (or start, in the first place).

 

I’m thankful to say that as early as now, my 2014 has truly been a year of faith just as I had declared it to be. It has been a year of, shall I say, CENTERING myself, which allowed me to live each day of this year even more intentionally and so meaningfully.

How was your 2014?  Can you also say that you love it as much as I do?

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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