We have now come to the end of my blog series on the sharing and presentation I did at the last 2016 Philippine Homeschool Conference. I shared our homeschooling journey covering the topics on:

 

If you were with me from the beginning of this blog series, I started my slide presentation at the conference with a list of ironies or opposites in our parenting roles to our teenage daughters, and I ended my presentation, my sharing with an opposite imagery as well as seen below.

ROOTS and WINGS.

ROOTS to know that they are first and foremost created by God. ROOTS to know where they are anchored. That they are unique. That they were given gifts in order to fulfill their God-given purpose in life. Not their parents’, not their friends’, not the society’s. That they have a family who loves them that they can come back to.

WINGS to help them fulfill their purpose and become even more than what they can imagine. WINGS to bring them to places and people where they can share their God-given gifts, talents, and resources.

Teenage parenting is tough. Homeschooling high school is challenging. But with prayers, and only with prayers and faith and surrendering of our children to God, it can be done!

These are the girls we are slowly setting free. Arielle already took off.  She is now an international freshman student at SCAD HK campus. Hopefully, after 4 years and having graduated from college, she will come back home, to us, her roots, her family.  Then, it will be time to take off again to start or perhaps continue her career that she already started. I realized that after sending her off to college last September, this is it!  It is really LETTING GO. Because when she graduates from college, she will be on her own, hopefully doing what she loves to do and earning from it, and doing what God had designed her to be.

Kayla’s still firming up her roots in the ground and soon, it will be her turn to flap her wings. In 3 years, it’s Kayla’s turn to move up to college.

So, in 3 years, Mike and I will be empty-nesting. Time flies too fast! So make every day count.

Teenage parenting plus homeschooling is a different stage altogether. As you go through your days, you’ll realize and learn that there are things you just have to let go (the small stuff…Will this matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now?) and at the same time, things that you have to pay attention to and hold on to (Same question…Will this matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now?)

 

Speaking here in front of you doesn’t make me an expert. It makes me cringe every time other homeschoolers see me as an “expert”. I would like to assure you that I am still with you in your homeschooling journey. I-AM-WITH-YOU in your search for the best materials and planning the best homeschooling schedule. I-AM-WITH-YOU in your doubts, fears, feeling lost and tired, and even wanting to throw in the towel a couple of times (or many times!). But you know what, God is probably whispering in your ear and the one who doesn’t want to let go 🙂 Mike is working very hard for Arielle’s 4-year college education and it personally scares me every now and then (being a fulltime wife and homemaker). We have no idea yet as to what Kayla would like to take up in college. I wish I already knew! HOW I WISH (!) we already knew… But all these question marks, I believe, is God’s way of making us turn to Him. He is teaching us to put all our TRUST in Him. Day by day. Because where God guides, He provides. And it’s really true because with Arielle, He gave us the people and placed us in circumstances that led us to SCAD. Now, He gave us angels who can watch over Arielle in HK. Not just one, but five! (1) Our homeschool friend I mentioned earlier whose son also took a gap year at the same time w/ Arielle… (2)my high school kabarkada who is her “ninang” (godparent)… (3) my ex-officemate… (4) then, there’s another homeschool mom in our FB group who knows a couple whose daughter is already a sophomore at SCAD… (5) then a SCAD dad who volunteered to be on call ANYTIME! And I would say that even Kayla’s golf coach, God personally picked, because he happens to be the brother of my high school batchmate! My other “kabarkada” became Arielle’s scuba diving teacher, by the way. Plus all the teachers and inspirations we have met along the way who all helped us make our homeschooling individualized, personal, and so intentional.

So, this is the second message I’d like you to bring home from this sharing. The first one…is give them ROOTS AND WINGS. And this second one: WHERE GOD GUIDES, HE PROVIDES. You will be surprised with God’s leading and provision.

Last but not least, here’s a list of resources and my contact info that you may want to take note of or look into. These are the materials and activities we did in high school which helped them acquire the skills they have now and which helped me survive as their parent-teacher!

This ends my sharing! I hope you were able to pick up something from our life as high school homeschoolers and may you be blessed in your homeschooling journey as well!


 

It’s Christmas Eve and now that I actually HAVE a break and AM enjoying one, I’d like to look back at what 2015 gave me.  Each year has its own story to tell and blessings to be thankful for and 2015 is no exception. Here’s my 2015 story:

  1.  A homeschool high school graduate – Arielle finished 8 years of being homeschooled, from Grade 3 to 4th year high school! 8 years!  It may have been a tough ride but no regrets!

2.  A gap year –  After graduating from high school, we decided to let Arielle have a gap year before she moves up to college.  And I must say, that this is one of the best decisions we’ve made (next to homeschooling, of course).  A time well-spent preparing Arielle’s whole being for college, and not just mentally or academically.

3.  A golf pursuit – After years of worrying about and guessing what Kayla’s life path or at least, college  opportunities would be like, we finally got our answer.  She is gifted in this sport and so far, golf is giving her the focus, the drive, and determination to do everything she can to do and be her best.

4.  A visit to SCAD-Hong Kong –  A trip to Hong Kong to visit SCAD started the clear path towards Arielle’s college.  The campus and residences tour, the application, the acceptance, the assignment of an admission advisor to Arielle (I still can’t get over this.  How I wish all colleges and universities do this!), the 24/7 support and assistance of SCAD’s assistant director of admission.  What a bundle of blessings one after the other!

5.  Acceptance to SCAD-Hong Kong – Two months after our visit to SCAD-HK and submitting basic requirements, Arielle got in! When we found out the good news, it was one big answered prayer!  Although Mike, Arielle, and I couldn’t decide (to the point, it became stressful and divisive already!) whether Arielle should still take the entrance exams of the local universities or not, her acceptance to SCAD gave us the opportunity to really ask ourselves: what we want, think about long-term plans, and where we should put all our efforts, time, money, and most importantly, FAITH, in this college journey of Arielle.

5.  An Academic Honors Scholarship grant – Thank you, Lord, for this scholarship!  You know that we DO NEED all the financial help we could get and this is another answered prayer.  We are still praying for another scholarship, Achievement Honors Scholarship, to be awarded by SCAD in March 2016, and we put our trust in You.  You, O Lord, has always been our Provider!

6.  Internships and Basic Animation Workshop – This gap year gave Arielle internship opportunities that helped her learn work and life skills which I believe, is a very good training ground in preparation for college life and the workplace.

7. Golf Training and Tournaments – I am really thankful for the opportunities Kayla has been enjoying since she decided to take her golf seriously.  Her golf coach, who happens to be the brother of my high school batchmate, is one good one and I just feel Kayla is in good hands.  And for someone who’s been training for less than a year, placing in tournaments is indeed a good sign of her potential in this sport.

8.  Summer Vacation in Siquijor – Something not related to homeschool this time.  My family and I were able to go on our yearly family beach trip (minus our usual travel companions from the U.S.) and last April, it was the enchanted island of Siquijor.  To this day, I still can’t believe that Arielle and Kayla want to go back to Siquijor when asked which of the places we’ve been to they’d like to visit again.  To think that the wifi signal on the island was very spotty and none most of the time, actually!  I’m just glad that our girls do appreciate simple living and can actually live their lives off the grid.

9.  My One-Word for 2015 came alive! –  My word was OPEN: O from the word Opportunities… P from the word I made up, sParts (Sports and Arts)… E from the word advEnture … and N from the word coNnections.  I can’t wait for my one-word for 2016 to be revealed to me!

10.  A new home –  It’s been a year and 8 months since we moved to Manila.  I totally do not enjoy the traffic in the metro and the house repairs and maintenance that I still have to take care of, but having our own home in Manila made our homeschooling life and activities so much easier.  I believe this blessing from God came at a right time for Arielle and Kayla.

11.  Possibly, a new “career” path for Mike – Coming from a political family, I avoid being involved in politics as much as possible.  But it looks like, I cannot totally run away from it.  Mike is running for councilor and all I can do is pray for this decision he made.  I know my husband.  And I know that this is one major decision he prayed about, and as his wife, I must give him all the support that he needs.

12.  Lastly, a better health for me – If there’s one, just one, thing that I always pray for myself, it’s good health so that I would be able to do what God called me to do.  And God gave it to me this year.  My slightly elevated test result for a tumor marker in the ovaries is now normal, and I praise God for being my faithful Healer!

What a year this was!  I feel this is the most challenging year I’ve had.  But as shown always by God, I would not have been able to overcome the challenges that came my way, if it weren’t for the love and faithfulness of our Lord to me and family.  God is good.  All the time.

How was 2015 to you and your family?  I’m sure there are things to be thankful for.  All we really need to do is look harder and be grateful for the simple things we already have.  A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS from my family to yours!


 

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?

 


 

Photo taken from Manila Workshops

Photo taken from Manila Workshops

 

Last September 6, I attended the Homeschooling Conference organized by Manila Workshops and The Learning Basket at Bayanihan Center in Pasig.  It was a last minute decision because I was still recovering from a sickness.  After praying to the Lord for healing and the strength to travel from Batangas to Manila for the conference, I told myself the night before that I was going to the event even if I was going to be alone.  In the past, Mike was always with me.  This time, however, he was in Davao for a golf tournament (Dads need to have their Me time, too!)

In general, the conference had a strong line up of speakers (as seen on the poster above).  Each shared personal testimonies on their homeschool experiences and encouragement to at least consider homeschooling, not only as an education option for the children, but as a lifestyle for the families as well.  I think it was an equal show of hands of those who are already homeschooling and those who were just thinking about it!  At every homeschool conference I attend, I get amazed at how the number of homeschoolers in the Philippines and those interested to homeschool have multiplied so fast!

Even if we are currently on our 8th year of homeschooling (Yes, I can’t believe that’s how fast time flies!), I never fail to be inspired, encouraged, and to learn from the invited speakers and from other homeschooling moms and families.  There is truth to the saying that when you homeschool, every year feels like the first time, and it’s because there is really so much to unlearn and learn (Well, that’s how I feel) in order to give that individualized and personalized education to each of your unique child.  There is that tendency to fall back to the traditional ways of teaching and somehow get stuck with it, making you feel sorry and incompetent and at the same, you being reminded that it’s not how you want things to be and you need to get out of that trap as soon as you can.

As I was listening to each of the speakers, I was asking myself what am I supposed to take home from them?  Lord, what are you trying to tell me through these speakers?  At the end of the day, what am I supposed to think about and reflect on at THIS PARTICULAR SEASON of our HOMESCHOOLING JOURNEY? I then realized that even if I had already expected each speaker to give words of encouragement, to cheer on everyone in the audience and to strongly recommend homeschooling as an option, I really didn’t need to be encouraged anymore.  I didn’t need to hear those words.   I didn’t need to make a decision because we’ve made the decision 8 years ago and we are living the lifestyle already.  We are breathing homeschool life day in and day out! The day was about halfway done when a few moms and I shared among ourselves that what we need is a conference for those who have been homeschooling for quite some time now.  A conference (or even a weekend retreat would sound good!) for the “fatigued homeschool moms”, as we had called ourselves 🙂

So that day, I listened to the talks speaker after speaker.  Even if I was looking for something in the conference I wasn’t totally sure of,  I still considered it a blessing to listen to each speaker and be in the company of a homeschooling moms I was able to chit-chat and exchange notes with throughout the day.  But it wasn’t until I heard Donna Pangilinan-Simpao give her talk on Conquering Homeschooling Fatigue that IT finally hit me.  Her talk was what I needed to hear that day!  From start to finish, like a physician, she identified the symptoms of homeschooling fatigue and gave a prescription on concrete action steps how to successfully overcome that fatigue in one’s homeschooling life.  What a refreshing, inspiring, encouraging, and life-giving moment for me!

After Donna, I looked forward to Ivy Marquez‘s talk, Nurturing the Love for Learning, which was the very last for the day.  Because I know Ivy personally, I just felt I had the connection with her when she was speaking in front.  Arielle and Kayla learned how to do mindmapping from her and have joined her Hybrid homechool program last 2010.  She has been a great teacher and was very encouraging to our girls.  Her out-of-the-box and real life teaching methods are truly inspiring for me.  With all her 3 children successfully homeschooled by her, she is one role model I look up to and a wonderful blessing to our homeschooling journey as a family.

Before I end, let me share this.  One night, as lay in bed preparing to go to sleep, I was praying to God like I always do.  As I was silently praying to Him, another realization hit me which, up to this day, has been talking to me loud and clear.  I realized that with Arielle being in her senior high school year already, it is her last official year of being enrolled at The Master’s Academy Home School as a homeschooler!  After this, she’s bound to college!  (She’s going to take a gap year though and that’s going to be another chapter in our homeschooling journey and perhaps, another experience to write about.) IT IS TECHNICALLY THE END OF HER HOMESCHOOLING YEARS!  And I said, “God, this is it???…God, THIS…IS…IT!!!” (It felt like a bucket of ice cold water on my face!)

It would be the end and although I was aware that Arielle’s going to graduate from high school this year, what I didn’t see from behind the planning and discussion we’ve been having for Arielle’s college was the realization that technically, I wouldn’t have anything to pray for anymore with regards to homeschooling and teaching Arielle.  That night, I continued my conversation with God praying, “Lord, you knew and have seen how hard I’ve prayed to you when we were thinking about pulling out our girls from traditional school and putting on the responsibility to teach and educate our girls.  You heard my deepest prayers day and night on this major decision we had to make 8 years ago.  And you also saw the times I cried, got confused, felt lost, wanted to give up, and asked for strength to continue to homeschooling and show me the way how.  Now, we are about to reach an end of A (not THE) road (I still have Kayla to homeschool)”  As these thoughts were rushing through my mind, I think I was also talking to myself repeatedly saying, “Oh my!  Could this really be the end?!! Have I reached the end?  Can I say that I’ve successfully homeschooled Arielle and it’s actually time to let go and release her already?  Lord, does this mean that there would be nothing to pray for anymore?   WOW.  The REALIZATION that it’s Arielle’s last year to be homeschooled just confronted me face-to-face and was one big REALITY CHECK!

A part of me hasn’t come to terms yet that it indeed will be the end soon.  A part of me doesn’t want to let go yet.  A part of me is still holding my baby girl in my arms.  But after that night when I was laying in bed in prayer, the Lord has been gently speaking to me and has been telling me, “Racquel, there is a season for everything.  You are not really ending your homeschooling.  You are just in a different stage or season. Homeschooling as the lifestyle choice you’ve chosen will never go away and will not die.  It will continue as all of you grow old as a family and it will always be a part of you.  Homeschooling is My calling for you (Please read the entire post all the way to the end) that you’ve accepted and it will always be in your heart.  It will never go away.”

So now, I consciously remind myself of where I started out, where I’ve been in our homeschooling journey, and what season in our homeschool journey I am in now.  I may have started way ahead of the others but I still need a lot of encouragement and support to face a different set of challenges in our homeschooling life.  I am a work-in-progress and am not sure if I’d ever be a work-completed or work-accomplished.  The fact is I am now in a different season in our homeschooling journey.

Have you thought of where you are in your life right now and what season in your homeschooling journey you are in?