“What about socialization?”, you may ask (up to now). I am proud and it makes me happy to say that it was NEVER a problem with our two daughters.  To begin with, socialization is NOT defined as (1) the number of friends one has or (2) as the different venues where one gets to meet other people.   It is not 935 friends or 2,684 followers.  Nor is it merely counting the classes our children are enrolled in and activities that keep their schedules full.  The piano class AND guitar class.  AND football training…AND church group…The dance class…AND art class…AND the weekend camp….AND the volunteer work…AND the party of a friend…AND the family reunion. The more Facebook friends, Instagram followers, and the more classes, the better socialized?  Not necessarily.

Social media today (FB, IG, Twitter, etc.) does not correctly define socialization or it twists the definition of socialization.  Overpacking our children’s schedules does not automatically make them well-rounded AND well-mannered persons either.  I honestly think Merriam Webster gives an easy-to-understand, practical definition of how it is to socialize.  According to Merriam-Webster, to socialize is TO TALK TO and DO THINGS with other people in a FRIENDLY way (take note of “talk to and do things” and “friendly”) and to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is ACCEPTABLE in society (again, take note of  “behave” and “acceptable”).

Currently a freshman at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Hong Kong for college, our eldest daughter, Arielle, already has friends of different nationalities.  She’s been able to ADAPT to different sets of friends and is not pressured to have to exclusively stick to just one group.  Being homeschooled for 8 years, she has learned how to WORK INDEPENDENTLY and BE INDEPENDENT, and at the same time, WORK IN A GROUP to foster TEAMWORK and CONDUCT HERSELF PROPERLY when with different kinds of people, WITHOUT COMPROMISING HER CHARACTER, HER FAITH, and WHO SHE RELALY IS. She knows when to say YES and more importantly, WHEN TO SAY NO.

The most recent pic sent to me by Arielle

The past 4 weeks have been a stressful adjustment, no doubt, on having to live independently, do basic life skills of budgeting, grocering, cooking, washing pans/dishes/utensils/glasses/food containers, meal planning, laundry, commuting while doing the intense demands of art school. But she’s coping and has learned “to adult”, speaking in their generation’s language.  We’ve really raised a brave, independent, confident girl.

Being in daily communication with her via WhatsApp and FaceTime with updates, questions, news, reminders, discoveries, and all sorts of stories (both good and bad) since we got back home, I’ve been through heartbreaking and joyful, thankful moments combined.  It may sound as if I haven’t learned to totally let go yet. But I realized that letting go does not mean having to lessen the communication between us.  After all, the OPEN, oh-so-HONEST COMMUNICATION and STRONG FAMILY BOND we have are the biggest benefits we truly enjoy from our homeschooling.  WE ARE A FAMILY.  We STAY TOGETHER AS A FAMILY no matter how far apart we may be from one another.  WE ALL DO OUR PART TO BE A FAMILY.  So why break the ties just to conform to the somewhat literal definition of “letting go”?

Our final parting with Arielle

So this is how it is and feels like to let go of your child after giving her the roots to ground herself with, and finally, the wings to make her fly.  It was NEVER the SOCIALIZATION that we were afraid of. NAH!!! It was really more of LEARNING HOW TO MANAGE HER TIME WELL AND BALANCE HER INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH HER STUDIES. TAKING CARE OF HERSELF PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY, MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, ARTISTICALLY, SOCIALLY in order to PRESERVE and NURTURE her WHOLE BEING. IT’S ALL ABOUT A BEING RESPONSIBLE ADULT GIVEN THE FREEDOM SHE HAS RIGHT NOW.

You know what? She has already begun to be one.  She has already proven herself to us that SHE CAN BE TRUSTED (This TOPS it all). SHE IS RESPONSIBLE. SHE CAN DO IT ON HER OWN!   Mike, Kayla, and I are SO PROUD of her! And WE DIDN’T and DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SOCIALIZATION.

 


 

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.


 

These will always be our favorite summer companion 🙂

 

I can’t believe summer’s over!  I’m in denial!  It’s June 8 and panic is kinda crawling over me because I haven’t planned well enough for this school year.  I feel there’s still a lot of room for improvement to make this year better than last year but I just haven’t found ENOUGH time to really think, plan, and strategize. Believe it or not, chores, household management, house repairs, maintenance and servicing have taken over my life these past months! And all those were happening while we continued doing the usual things during summer which included a beach trip, marine camp (Both required plane rides and hotel bookings which meant a considerable amount of time spent on research and planning), another watercolor workshop for me, and Arielle’s college review classes and Kayla’s dance classes, as the two added activities this year.

But before I succumb myself to stress (which I think I already did lately!), I’d like to look back at the fun things we did in Summer 2014 and remind myself that there is a time for everything. (And yes, I have to tell myself that it is that time of the year to officially start another homeschooling schoolyear!)

FAMILY BEACH TRIP:  We went on our yearly family beach vacation with my BFF and her family from the U.S. and this time, we went to Dumaguete.  This is our 4th year in a row of doing beach trips together.  First it was Bohol (Amorita Resort) in 2011;  Cebu (Bluewater-Sumilon Resort) in 2012; Palawan (Club Paradise) in 2013;  and then, Dumaguete (Sta. Monica Beach Club).  

We always look forward to this time of the year (summer vacation for us and spring break for them) because it simply means SEA, SAND, SUN, SWIM! For me and my friend, it is also the time we so, so look forward to because we get to have our mommy-break from everything that kept us oh-so busy during the year and from the clockwork kind of life. (By this time, I’m brain-dead!) Plus, we get the chance to simply sit down and talk.   Talk about ourselves, our families, home management, our health, food and recipes, our new discoveries, our girly topics such as fashion, shops, hobbies.  To me, it’s more like making the clock stop at my command 🙂  

We always try to take a shot of the two of us in our trips (because we often forget about us and take shots of the rest of our families!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whale-sharks at Oslob for the second time

Go-Pro-ing at Tumalog Waterfalls

This time, there was already a balsa!

Mike ready to dive with his new toy!

Arielle ready to go down with his Papa at Apo Island 🙂 (I really do have a mermaid in the house!)

Kayla and Lauryn swimming with the sea turtles the whole day at Apo Island!

I myself couldn’t stop swimming with these creatures! Such a beauty to see them under water!

Lunch at Manjuyod sandbar…I love crabs!

Eating kamayan style!

Enjoyed watching these crawl off the ledge 🙂

Had such a relaxing day at Manjuyod sandbar and of course, posing with and like The Diva! 🙂

Human Oreo 🙂

What made this year’s trip more fun was we were with our schoolmate (whom I haven’t seen since grade school years!) as our tour guide in Dumaguete.  Because he just makes everything happy, fun, and fabulous, Angelo Villanueva is known as The Diva of Dumaguete!  Dumaguete has become Divaguete 🙂

So animated! 🙂

The Diva of Dumaguete 🙂

Lunch is ready!

 

MARINE & WILDLIFE CAMP:   Arielle and Kayla joined for the second time, Danjugan Island’s Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp.  This time, they were able to invite five more friends with them (four from Manila and one from Bacolod)!   Our girls are such water babies that they cannot get enough of the sea!  This camp was a letting-go moment for me.  Mike and I are just happy and comfortable signing them up for this camp because they get to leave their comfortable and gadget-filled lifestyle in the city, rough it up on a solar-powered island for five days,  learn more about nature and how to be good stewards of our natural marine resources.   For more pics of the kind of camp they have in Danjugan Island, you can check out their Facebook page

These girls are ready to go fly on their own to next year’s marine camp!

 

WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP:   Finally!  ME time!  I joined another watercolor workshop by Alessandra Lanot of Life After Breakfast last May 17 & 18 at Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay.  

A zoomed-in shot of Taal Volcano from Taal Vista Hotel

Excited to have new materials! :)

Excited to have new materials! 🙂

Arielle joined me because we are the art partners and it definitely was MY time to get away, learn, and play!  The first day was how to watercolor flowers and the second day was on lettering.  

My white flowers in watercolor
(Arielle’s work was sooo much better than mine, believe me,
but unfortunately, we didn’t take a shot of it)

Arielle's quote on watercolor (She could have chosen a short one but she didn't!  She's soooo good!)

Arielle’s quote on watercolor (She could have chosen a short one but she didn’t! She’s soooo good!)

And this was mine :) The weekend workshop definitely gave me a time  to unplug myself.

And this was mine 🙂
The weekend workshop definitely gave me a time
to unplug myself.

 

ARIELLE’S COLLEGE REVIEW CLASSES:   Of course, I don’t have any photo of Arielle in her college review class but I should remember to blog about our intention and plan to let her take a gap year before she enters college.  She’s in her senior high school year this year (Schoolyear 2014-2015) but she will take a break before finally going to college in 2016.  

KAYLA’s HIP-HOP DANCE CLASS:  Lastly, Kayla took dance classes for the first time at Orange Dance Studio.  We finally was able to fit this into our summer schedule and she enjoyed this soooo much that she wants to continue to learn how to dance as her P.E. this schoolyear.  I’m just hoping that we could sync ODS’s schedule with ours.  

Watching their dance recital/concert last May 31, I saw for myself the gift that God gave Kayla with her body and that this girl CAN dance!  If you have the time, watch the two videos on their dance numbers which I posted in Facebook.  Just go to my June 1 and 2 timeline to enjoy their performance!

Kayla's class at Orange Dance Studio (photo by Orange Dance Studio)

Kayla’s class at Orange Dance Studio (photo by
Orange Dance Studio)

 

So that was our Summer 2014.  As much as I’d like to spend more time doing “more fun” things and think less of academics, I have to shift gears and put on my parent-teacher hat once again.  This is going to be another challenging year with our two teens, one in her last year in high school and the other in 8th Grade 🙂  

How did your summer go?  Are you ready to go back to school?


 

I know, I know.  I haven’t been blogging and I’m now having a difficult time getting back to the rhythm.  I’ve attempted a number of times to start writing but only ended up staring at a blank page and going to bed instead.  I was just too tired at the end of each day!

You see, we’ve moved in to our new place and we four are still adjusting in our new space and territory.  We don’t have a helper YET and we’ve been on our own.  I admit, I’m not one of those do-it-all SAHMs.  I’m not cut out for it, and I don’t intend to stress myself out to be one. I must have an ample Me time in order for me to be the best kind of wife, mother, woman I can be, in my own standards and not anybody else’s.

It’s been months and months of shuttling back and forth, packing, unpacking, buying, sorting, wiping, washing, cleaning, arranging wares, testing appliances, repairing and retouching.  These days, it’s all about grocering, cooking, dishwashing, cleaning up, and throwing the trash.  Our washing machine still needs some fixing so we can’t do our laundry just yet.

I’ve been living a more domesticated life and I still do.  There are times when I feel overwhelmed and wish I could go back to the kind of life I’ve been used to.  Everything was predictable.  Things were running like clockwork.  We had a cook and helpers which spell out the huge difference! 

But I can’t complain. Our new house is a blessing.  Everything in it is a blessing. THIS CHANGE IS A BLESSING!

What I love and treasure these days with this change is seeing my family growing in and with it. We’re all learning NEW house chores hands-on.  Yeah, our tiredness sometimes leads to squabbles, but we’re doing things together.  And as we do things together,  I see each one of us growing individually in character.  Being more helpful.  Considerate.  Understanding.  Patient. Giving.  Selfless.  Cooperative. Flexible. More responsible.  Respectful. Taking Initiative.  Joyful. Supportive. Appreciative.

I also embrace this change as a good training ground for our girls to be more independent.  The repetitive chores can be boring and mundane but these are exactly what they need to make them more mature and be prepared for life’s realities.  Arielle will be in college in two years and this is what she needs to learn, not found in textbooks or commonly taught in school.   Kayla, on the other hand, is also learning how to do hard things.

So this is where my family and I are at now.  We are in the midst of change and each one of us is doing his and her best to adapt to what’s different and new.  I think this change is doing us good. Yes, change can be good.

Have you been going through changes lately?  How are you taking them?


 

This post is going to be short.  I don’t even know exactly what to write here.  All I’m certain of is I’m feeling numb and “just floating” these past days since my mother-in-law passed away.  Add physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion to that. 

Our normal homeschooling life is on pause-play-pause mode these days.  Tomorrow will be Day 1 of Mommy’s wake and interment will be on Saturday.  We’ve been busy taking care of memorial arrangements, rearranging our schedules,  cancelling and rescheduling appointments, making back and forth trips to Manila. The shift in mindset and focus on the different things to take care of and pay attention to has taken its toll on me.  I really feel numb and unfocused these days.  I don’t even have the brain power to teach to the girls the life lessons to be learned from our present circumstances. 

As much as I’d want to finish our 3rd quarter already (we are behind our end-target date by 1 month), it’s been a slooow progress.  I have to sheepishly admit that I’ve been pressuring the girls to answer more exercises, work on their portfolios, and finally submit them to me.  Result? Not good.  We are not getting the kind of results we want and worst of all, we all end up stressed and cranky.

Well, this is life, I realize.  There comes a time when we really just have to take the time to pause. Maybe even drop everything we’re doing.  

I can’t wait to be “back to my senses” again.  I can’t wait to feel and be my “normal” self and get back on track.  This isn’t a great feeling to have but then again, it’s one of those “That’s life” moments.  

How do you cope up with life’s unexpected interruptions and when things are simply not going as planned? 

 


 

Wicked In Manila!

Wicked In Manila!

Last Saturday, my family and I went to see Wicked, The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.  This was our second time to see this musical (the first time was in Singapore in January 2012) but when we found out that this was going to be staged here in Manila, we all wanted to watch it again!  We booked our tickets as early as August 2013 and it was worth the wait! 

You see, we are such a musical family.  We try to catch productions, local and international, as much as we can, and every year, we find ourselves making a trip to the theatre at least once. Aside from the pleasure, the entertainment, the experience of being transported to another kingdom or era, we find it a good time to unwind, to “sit back, relax and enjoy the show”.   Musicals keep all of us engaged when we have our family conversations and listening to the soundtracks in the car is enough to keep us in high spirits while on the road.

Arielle is such a “theatre gal” (She came up with that name herself a few years back).  She really is serious when it comes to stage performances and Broadway! She reads about them, researches, and does her best to find as much info as she can about a production, and learns the songs on her own.  And Kayla just loves bonding with her Ate (big sister) when they talk about the plot, their favorite characters, when they sing songs at the top of their lungs, and even attempt to play a piece or two on the piano or guitar, just by ear.   That’s why Mike and I think that theatre tickets are worth spending on.  

Arielle with Suzie Mathers (as Glinda)

Kayla with Glinda
Suzie Mathers actually “liked” our photos with her
on Instagram!

Kayla and Arielle with Ali Calder
(as Elphaba)

Arielle with Steve Danielsen (Fiyero)

Arielle with Steve Danielen
(as Fiyero)

Autograph of Suzie Mathers (Glinda)

Autograph of Ali Calder (Elphaba)

Autograph of Steve Danielsen (Fiyero)

Wicked has become a personal favorite of mine because of the characters, Glinda and Elphaba, and all of the songs made me love the musical from beginning till the end (the whole 3 hours of it)!  It really is one “wicked” show to watch!

I will not attempt to make a review  (I am not a professional theatre critic, but if you’d like to read one, click here and another one here by Ms. Lea Salonga) or do a synopsis (link already shared at the start). What I’d like to do instead is share with you the lessons I personally have learned from the musical: 

1.  Don’t judge a person by his or her appearance.

2.  It is OKAY to be different.  

3.  It’s true that first impressions count, but they shouldn’t be the last impression.

4.  Be one of those people who care for and love those who are different and treated differently.  

5.  People deserve respect and love, no matter how different he or she is.

6.  There is good in every person.  Just as there is also wickedness in human nature.

7.  Do not push people too hard.  Don’t be a bully.  Don’t push them to their limits.  You can be the reason why they change their character and become a bad person.

8.  Totally different persons can actually get along.  It can be fun to have a friend who is your total opposite.

9.  Do not be a phony!  Be true to yourself!

10.  Every person can be some kind of wonderful.

11.  Stand up for what you truly believe in. 

12.  Speak up your mind.  

13.  Have courage! Believe and fight for what’s in your heart! Take that leap! Defy gravity! 

14.  Take challenges and do hard things.

15.  Go for your dreams.  They really can come true!  Just make sure that you do not lose sight of what really matters.

16.  People can do crazy things in the name of love. And there are people who do have the heart to love those who are considered outcast and different. 

17.  Sometimes, you do have to let go of the person you love.

17.  You reap what you sow.  Do evil and you will pay the price.

18.  Sometimes, we just have to dance through life.

19.  People do come into our lives for reason.

20.  And may the reason that we come into and touch another person’s life is to change the other for the better, for good. (I just love that song!)

May the magic of “Wicked” touch you with these not-to-be ignored life lessons! 

Have you seen “Wicked”?  What play or musical have you seen last?  Share your insights with me!

If you haven’t gone to the theatre lately, then I highly encourage you to do so!  The experience is rich and stimulating…culturally, artistically, visually, auditorily, linguistically, musically!  Such a great learning venue for the kids, bonding time for the whole family, and a conversation piece that could extend even after the show has ended (way, way after the show has ended 😉 ) Now that to me, is real learning.

* On the blogging side of this post, may I just add that as I was finalizing this article, the closing was inspired by Make It Blissful.com’s Tell Stories On Your Blog 🙂  

* Also, this post is a participating blog in Let’s Homeschool High School’s Blog Hop. Just click the link below if you want to join and link up with rest or if you simply want to read the other posts! 

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Last Saturday early morning, we were all awakened by Mike’s voice in the living room. One by one, we went out of our rooms to check what it was all about.  It was me first.  Then, Arielle.  Then, Kayla. That was before 5:30 a.m.  He was talking with his sister in the U.S.  Mommy’s gone.  Lola’s gone.  She passed away, January 25, Saturday, 3 a.m. (Philippine time).   She was diabetic and a mass was found in her kidney.  It was cancer. 

We knew Mommy/Lola was getting weaker and was in her old age.  She was in her late 70s or early 80s.  We were praying hard for her to get stronger and for her healing.  She’s been in our daily prayers ever since we knew that she wasn’t in the pink of health these past recent years.  We were even planning on flying to California when we found out last week that her organs were already failing. Mike had expedited the renewal of Arielle’s passport.  It was going to be too expensive but Mike wanted all of us to go.  He knew that this could be our last chance to see and be with her. Last year, he went on an emergency trip and was able to spend a few weeks with her when he learned that she was getting weak.  That was his last opportunity to be with her.  But she had gone too soon.  She took her one deep breath and that was her last.  At least, God answered our prayer to spare her from pain and suffering.

I had a WordPress workshop that day by TheHappy Wahm and The Technie Mom and to be honest, I wasn’t able to fully concentrate.  I don’t even know if I remember everything we discussed that day.  My mind was just floating.  Everything felt and still feels like they are floating.

During breakfast, I tried to lift up everyone’s spirits and the only way I knew how was to tell them to think of their fondest memory of Mommy/Lola.  Arielle remembers Sunday lunches with her and other family members gathered around the table.  Kayla remembers her reminder to drink milk and eat crackers during snack time.  Mike and I will not forget how she took care of the girls when they were still babies, especially during bath time.  She was very hands-on.  Those memories made us laugh and smile, lifting the burden off our chests.  Another fond memory of her was our conversations about food, recipes, theatre, and musicals.  She really loved talking about those! (As I write this, Arielle just posted a recording for her in SoundCloud, especially dedicated to her. Mommy was so, so supportive of Arielle in her theatre endeavors and dreams! I can tell that Arielle is really missing her so much already.)

We are trying to cope with the death.  Mike seems to be able to handle it well, except when I catch some moments of him quieter than usual.  Arielle cried during mass yesterday.  She said she could hear Lola singing.  She really cried.  Kayla seems to be okay…for now.  And I am in a daze.  She was a good mother-in-law.  Very caring.  Family and God have always been her priority.  

Mommy will be cremated and we are waiting for her ashes to be brought over this February by Papa and Mike’s second sister.  Life goes on, but this time, with much grief and sorrow, heaviness and bittersweetness in our hearts.

Mommy’s passing taught me these life lessons which I felt deserve space in my 365 notes challenge.  It is especially inspired by Mommy. 

Mommy/Lola, thank you for all the care, love, and support you’ve given us, especially to Arielle and Kayla.  You gave them overflowing love with all your heart and with your selfless hands.  Thank you for the wisdom and lessons you have imparted to each of us as a person and as a family.  WE LOVE YOU and WE WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR THE HAPPY MEMORIES WE ALL HAD WITH YOU.  Your life story was a good one!  Rest in peace and smile down on us, ok? 


 

If you think that we’ve been diligent in our homeschooling these past weeks, especially during this time of the year,  you are wrong!  Why do you think I haven’t been blogging lately?  It’s because our regular routines and schedules have become IRREGULAR. UNPREDICTABLE. EXTREMELY BUSY. QUITE CRAZY!  Sitting down in front of my desktop at this very moment is such a rare opportunity. So how do we homeschool during Christmas holidays?  How did and do we homeschool after supertyphoon Yolanda and when our normal lives have been taken over by volunteerism, bazaar days, rehearsals (for music recital and Christmas program), recitals, Frozen and The Hobbit movies, an archery competition, meetings and inspections for house renovation, more frequent back-and-forth trips from Batangas to Manila, and okay…part of the disruption is my fault…a book launch and meet up with my good high school friends?

To keep me and the girls sane, here’s how we’ve been doing it:

1.   Our 3rd quarter always falls during the most hectic time of the year where traffic is horrendous and long lines are just about everywhere.  That only means a big chunk of our time is eaten by these two major culprits.  We end up having only a few hours during the day to actually do schoolwork and the most practical way to do it is by NOT DOING EVERYTHING in our schedule.  It simply is not do-able.

2.  To make ourselves most productive, we’ve IDENTIFIED our CORE SUBJECTS to FOCUS ON.  These are Character, Christian Living, Math, Science, and World History as a breather from their Math and Science.  Arielle and Kayla have made their literature books for this quarter, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings,  their “bedtime” stories.  The other subjects are considered “minor” to us and can easily be tackled when our routines have normalized. 

3.  We’ve kept our STANDARDS or EXPECTATIONS at a MINIMUM.   Though I would have wanted to produce above average work, it simply is not realistic this time.  There are just so many things going on all at the same time and we all just have to do our best given the time that we have in our hands.  I have to remember that we all still need to rest, to sleep, and have some down time in order to be productive every single day.  

4.  Finally, I also try to keep in mind that even though the girls are not solving math problems and doing science experiments or research work, whatever it is that they are occupied with these days are still life lessons and skills for them.  All these are teachers in being flexible, time management, identifying priorities,  keeping focus, prioritizing family relationships and friendships, and discipline.

Our homeschool pace does feel slooow and I do feel quite abnormal about it.  But I myself am being taught by all these.  As what I’ve written in my last post, interruptions are blessings and lessons in disguise.  

So if you think that everything is going smoothly at the Guevara Homeschool Academy,  ah-uh! I am trying my best to keep myself in one piece these days!  

How are you all coping?