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!


 

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!


My 2014 Declaration of Intention

 

It’s been two weeks since we welcomed 2014 and I have been busy trying to catch up, move forward, go back to normalcy (whatever you call it) after all the Holiday rush and stress.  And yes, I can say that life is back to normal 🙂  Should I say “Whew!” or “Gulp?!!”  

This is where my Declaration of Intention, One-Word and Verse for 2014 serve their purpose. Because I know that every time a new year comes in, my life is given a new twist for the following reasons:

1.  We have the remaining two quarters to finish, which we will cover from January until March or April, at the most.

2.  But before that, trying to get back to our homeschooling groove in the first place is a struggle we inevitably deal with. With the busyness of the Christmas season, it really is difficult to homeschool on a regular basis and go back to our normal routine after all the merriment and celebrations.  That only means ending up being behind our intended targets for the different subjects. 

3.  It will soon be time to wrap up another school year.

4.  Then, we choose and plan the girls’ summer activities, which mean new logistics, new schedules, new routines, new learning objectives.

5.  We also usually have our family beach vacation during summer (usually in March or April where Holy Week falls), with my good friend who’s based in the U.S., which means travel and itinerary plans have to be done online via a long exchange of emails and WhatsApp messages. We’ve been doing this for three years in a row and it’s actually been really fun!  Everyone now looks forward to the next summer destination every time.

6.  And after being on a vacation mode and enjoying a brief break, I move into my “planning session” and seriously make plans for the next school year.  This is when I do the nitty-gritty of identifying our school year learning goals, scheduling, and listing down the scope per subject, per quarter…per child (I thank God that we only have two and I’m able to handle this duty quite diligently).  This really takes so much of my time, I feel I need another vacation after doing it!  That’s why, as much as possible, I carefully space my activities and duties during the one or two months of summer that we have so that I can still enjoy some respite before we officially start another year of homeschooling.

Then add these major, shall we say, milestones for us, this 2014:  

1.  We plan to move in to Pasig soon.  Well, as soon as we can.  Currently juggling homeschooling (working on our books and going to other classes and activities), back and forth trips to Manila, and house renovation on a weekly basis can really be quite exhausting and can majorly shake up one’s predictable routine or shall we say, one’s normal life.   My family and I find this new place of ours a blessing and with the girls moving up to high school and soon college, we do need to be closer to schools, or at least to other resources and options we can explore.  New house in a new city…a whole new lifestyle! 

2.  Arielle will be in her 4th Year High School next school year and we really need to sit down and start looking into her college plans, and take more concrete action steps.  Now this scares me, to be honest!  Kayla, on the other hand, is now also in her high school years and that calls for another approach and strategy when it comes to homeschooling and parenting. 

3.  I have to manage my time really well to still be able to manage the existing business we have and possibly, have a few others, which are all based back in my home province, Batangas.

4.  Since Mike will be based in Batangas because of the businesses to take care of, I have to make sure that partner and family relationships will continue to work and even blossom.

These are just the big chunks, if I were to describe them.  The daily chores and unexpected interruptions are not yet in the picture.

That’s why I really felt that there could be no better One-Word and Verse for me this year than FAITH.  I can only see and visualize up to a certain point and plan in the best of my abilities and knowledge.  How to execute plans, follow where the events will lead me, and accept how things turn out need FAITH, even if it is as tiny as a mustard seed, in order for me to believe that my dear God up there is in total control and everything in my life is going to be A-okay! 

How has your 2014 been with the One-Word or Verse that you have chosen? 

 


I can’t believe it.  It’s the last weekend of 2013 and in a few days, the whole world will be ushering in another year!  How was 2013 to you?  To be honest, I had a couple of bumps here and there in my relationships with my family and with myself, but overall, 2013 was a year of blessings and God’s faithful provision for our family.  We had more than what we needed, enjoyed so much of life, and was even able to share what we have with others. 

Now that 2014 will soon be here, my family and I will be doing the activity we’ve started doing in 2011.  Every January 1st (or during the 1st week of January), we all sit down with blank sheet of paper or page of our new planner/journal and coloured markers.  We then think, think, think about our goals for the coming year and put them in writing, mindmap, or some artistic doodle.  

To show you how we did it for 2012 and 2013, look here.  We all did mindmaps that allow us to see the big picture at one glance.  That makes it easier to keep each one of us motivated and to keep our eyes on our goals.  As an added challenge to myself, last year, I thought of my One Word for 2013 to keep me even more motivated and focused on the activities I was going to engage myself in for the year.  

In a few days, we’ll be doing the tradition again.  Arielle, Kayla, and I already have our 2014 planners, pens, and markers ready!  New Year, New Goals, New Plans!  What I’m also looking forward to, before we start making our goals for 2014, is looking back at what we’ve all written as our goals for 2013 and see how much we’ve actually completed or achieved!  Then after we have set, written, or drawn our goals, we offer all of them to God and pray that He blesses them.

For those of you with younger kids, doing a mindmap might not interest them yet and they might find it difficult or intimidating and end up being discouraged.  That wouldn’t be a good way to start a new year, right?  Here are some of my suggestions to help them set a “bigger goal” for themselves:

1.  Help them think of their One Word for 2014.  Something that is do-able for them.  Make that one word a verb or adjective.  My One Word for 2013 was Grow.  How about…Learn…Serve…Give…Listen.   Adjectives such as…Friendly…Obedient…Caring?

2.  Or you may prefer to prompt them with questions like “What was the favorite thing you did or made last year?” … “What was your most memorable experience?”  Then, follow it up with “What would you like to do this year?” … “What would you like to see, do, or learn?”  

For older kids, like tweens and teens,

1.  Doing a mindmap of their goals is a great way for them to map out their plans.

2.  Writing their top goal or top three goals and pinning it on their bedroom wall or cork board where it is highly visible would be a great encouragement.

Okay, this is not for 2014 but Arielle had already pinned down her ultimate dream in life and this is her target.  I do hope and pray that she hits the bull’s eye someday.  Who knows? 😉

3.   I saw these pins on Pinterest and these might tickle your tween or teen’s fancy more than a mindmap or a note of what they want to achieve this 2014.

2014 New Year's Resolution

2014 New Year

2014 New Year

2014 New Year

A mindmap, a list, a note, letter to himself or herself, or doodle.  It doesn’t really matter which style you would do.  What’s important is the exercise of goal-setting, probing of oneself, and doing a self-evaluation.  And remember…goals must be S-M-A-R-T (To find out what S-M-A-R-T means, click here)!

How are you welcoming and preparing yourself for 2014?