One of the unique or not-very-common steps we took during our high school years was deciding on taking a gap year for our eldest daughter, Arielle. Arielle took a gap year before she finally entered college. She graduated April 2015 and didn’t go to college right away in Aug/Sept 2015. Instead, she made 2015 to August 2016 her gap year.

After a long process of evaluation and much prayer (along with another homeschool friend whose son was Arielle’s batchmate), we decided to take a gap year even if it was not recommended to us by The Master’s Academy, our homeschool provider.  We were told that Arielle might not get accepted in 2016 because colleges will have no freshman batch entering the universities all because of the K12 program. We did our own research and legwork. We went to U.P., Ateneo, and UA & P, and made an online inquiry with DLSU and asked the different admission offices if they will accept our daughter and our friend’s son after taking a gap year. We just clarified what the requirements were and it was quite a relief to know that there would be no problem at all if they went on a gap year.

Why did we take a gap year? Because we were not rushing. Mike and I were not rushing. Arielle felt she needed more time before going to college. If she didn’t take a gap year, she would be graduating college at the age of 20. We considered it too young for her to be accepted and employed by a company, if there would be a company who would hire her at that age. Also, knowing what she really wanted to take up in college and being prepared for it is better than changing courses along the way and not knowing what to do with her life! That’s even going to be a waste of time and money and stressful for both the child and the parents. We DISCUSSED ALL THESE with Arielle. There was a lot of talking, questioning, reflecting, processing, decision-making…all to let her roots grow and flex/strengthen/tone up her wings.

During her gap year, Arielle did internships (w/ Martine de Luna and Flow Surf Yoga, mainly doing graphic designs, posters). It gave her the experience of how it was to work and with deadlines. She also took basic animation workshop at Toon City Academy which made her experience how it really is to work in the animation industry and learn the basic skills. (God really works in mysterious ways. I met Roselle Rodrigo-Gonzales in one of my art playdates, who happen to be the TCA Administrator!) More importantly, she was able to prepare for her college application at SCAD: art portfolio with 20 pieces of her best traditional and digital artwork, her resume, two 500-word essay (which for me was the toughest and most brain-draining part of coaching her!). We were also able to seek professional help on how to undergo her interview with SCAD. It was totally NOT how the real interview went but it was a good experience to go through.

The gap year also gave us time to learn life skills on living independently: cooking, kitchen management, menu planning, food preparation and storage, what to do with leftovers, house chores, etc, etc! (Believe me on those etc’s…Whatever I was doing, I taught them to Arielle and gave her words of wisdom and lots of reminders!)

Back to the “default system” I mentioned in my earlier post on SOCIALIZING: Is breakfast (or lunch or dinner) always ready at your dining table? One of or the VERY FIRST “Duh?” comment we received on Arielle’s moving in day was when we were waiting for our turn at the elevator with all her pieces of luggage and a bag of rice that Mike bought last minute before moving in.  A parent saw it and said, “You’re going to cook???” SECOND, her male friends called her up one time asking her to teach them how to cook rice…in a rice cooker. Her flatmates also didn’t know how to cook rice in the rice cooker nor did they know how to use the coffeemaker…YET.  So, teaching her the life skill of cooking and other kitchen skills was one of the things I’m glad we had the time and opportunity to learn during her gap year before going to college.  These millennials are lucky to have the technology literally at their fingertips, they can just FaceTime their parents or whoever when they need a live tutorial session on how to cook real food in their dorm kitchen instead of eating instant food all the time!

Moving on to RESUMES. One important tip I’d like to share is start documenting/recording/noting down the experiences that your child had in high school and maybe as far back as grade school, if the experience shows your child’s growth and passion in an acitvity.  Do it as you go and not only when you are about to submit an application to a certain university. It would be more difficult that way. So the EXPERIENCING I talked about earlier, the resume is where they will be put into good use, document-wise.

Also, do a skills inventory of your child. Make a list. What computer programs does he/she know? Can he/she paint? Do graphic design? Does he/she know Photoshop? Can she make videos and edit videos? How about coding?

 

 

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

 

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname “Arielle” instead to make it not sound and look too formal.  After all, art is out-of-the-box and goes “outside the lines”.

 

Overall, our gap year was a good preparation time for college. Emotionally, mentally, psychologically, financially, relationship-wise.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our homeschooling journey which truly made Arielle’s education intentional and personalized.

 


 

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.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Countdown to college!

 

 

Last week, I was exchanging messages with a few close friends and sharing with them my current situation particularly, parenting stage.  Updating them, rather, as I try to keep myself together after I started doing a countdown to September 7. These are my friends who know that our eldest, Arielle, will already be in college, but she will not be going to any of the local universities here in Manila. She has her eyes set on pursuing Animation and Mike and I fully support her in sending her to a college abroad that seems to be a perfect fit to her creative personality and homeschooled lifestyle and kind of learning.  SCAD Hong Kong will be her home for the next 9 months, at the very least.

Anyway, my chat with a few of my friends was lightbulb moment of some sort.  I can’t seem to think of a one-word to describe that moment when I was in the zone of processing my thoughts and the parenting stage that I am in and at the same time, also understanding the honest feedback and reaction of my friends.  But the mere update and chat we had HIT ME. HARD.  And that’s why I’m writing this.

When I tell my friends and even acquaintances that Arielle will be leaving in a few weeks for Hong Kong to start her college life, most , if not all of them, give me the same reaction.

“Wow! Congratulations!”

“Are you ready???”

“Di ko kaya ‘yan! (I won’t be able to handle or take that!  OR  “I can’t!!!)

“No! I want to keep my babies forever!”

Like, do you really want to keep your children forever?!! To be honest with you, that reaction did cross my mind and made me pause a bit.  But I can’t wait to see them happily and successfully settled down with a job or career that pays for their rent, utilities, and food!

Thinking deeper after receiving those reactions and comments with the same tone, a quick flashback of our decision to homeschool flashed in my mind (in just like minutes!). I suddenly began to ask myself “Isn’t it more logical to have your children around and with you when they are babies, toddlers, in their growing up years, when they are tweens and teens, and release them and let them go when they reach the age of 17 or 18 years old, after you’ve trained them well enough and have given them roots then wings? Then, a followup thought immediately came, “Why are you keeping them in the house when they should be in school?”  It was one of those popular questions I was often asked by people who wonder why we are homeschooling our girls. One of those most asked questions where I didn’t want to sound exasperated every time I would give an answer.  Thinking about these questions and reactions indeed showed me that there many things, beliefs, principles that go against the majority and the world. Education, learning, parenting are a few of them.

Well, of course, I am speaking as a homeschool mom who’s currently on our 10th year to homeschool.  Call it defensive, but I’d like this post to come across as a statement of who we are and what we believe in.  I am merely sharing a decision we’ve made 10 years ago and that lifestyle choice we continue to make.  I am not putting down anyone who do not agree with me and our unpopular decision. Rather, I am hoping that this written piece will just give everyone a chance to really pause and think about the different choices they’ve made and where those choices have brought them.

Everyone in our family loves homeschooling and are happy with it!  We continue to reap and enjoy the many advantages and blessings it brings.

I honestly do pray that wherever you are right now, you are happy and at peace for making those choices.


With just a month and a week left before Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college, guess what I’ve been teaching her, as both hands-on and plain verbal lectures and reminders (lots and lots of them)? They all have one thing in common. They are the things we adults do everyday or 99% of the time.  They are the things we struggle and juggle to do, making us survivors or experts of these skills.

They are all home management and real life skills.

Here is what my College 101 “lesson plan” or curriculum for Arielle looks like.  I came up with 5 categories: (1) meal planning, (2) laundry, (3) finance or money management, (4) social skills and character-building & application, (5) getting to places.

MEAL PLANNING:

  • Weekly Menu Planning

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, Arielle’s been in-charge (and I mean, IN-CHARGE!) of our weekly menus. She lists them down using a printable menu planner such as this.  I taught her to try as much as possible, to have vegetables at least once a day, or if not, at least have a good distribution of beef, pork, chicken during the entire week.  My very least requirement for her when she’s already in Hong Kong is to prepare green smoothies every morning.  That is the fastest way to make sure that she gets to eat greens.

Since Arielle will be staying in a 3-bedroom unit with a small kitchen (like a condo) and the SCAD building does not really have a cafeteria where she can buy food (but there are lots of places to eat nearby), she has to learn how to cook and be economical.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest and so, Arielle and I made one (minus the actual binder/folder since it will be an extra weight in her luggage) with our own recipes, downloads, or photocopies.

We also made a pantry staples list with items that need to be in her grocery list to make sure that they are in stock in their kitchen.  Things like eggs, cooking oil, bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, condiments, salt, pepper, rice, coffee/tea, honey, sugar, milk, etc.

  • Making a grocery shopping list

Based on her weekly menu plan, she learned to list down the kitchen and pantry items that need to be replenished and ingredients that need to be bought at the grocery.

  • Actual Meal Preparation, Cooking, Cleaning Up = TIME MANAGEMENT

This is probably the most challenging to teach.  Arielle hasn’t quite gotten the concept of time involved in preparing a meal.  The meat thawing (we don’t defrost meat using a microwave or oven method), cleaning and chopping of vegetables, marinating of the meat, tenderizing, different cooking methods all require TIME.  She still hasn’t fully understood that IT TAKES TIME to prepare a meal, to cook a meal (not unless one is going to eat straight from the can or bottle, which I do not recommend), and clean up afterwards. So, if she’s going to bring lunch to school or cook dinner after school, MENU PLANNING, a WELL-STOCKED PANTRY of INGREDIENTS, and CLAYGO (CLean As You GO) are key.

  • Leftovers Management

This is where Mike speaks.  “You have to learn how to eat leftovers.”  And I’m just glad that she is not a picky eater that she can eat leftovers.

  • Beef and Pork Meat Cuts Illustration, English translations, Cooking Guide

I was too focused on the meal planning and cooking tasks (since our daily meals depended on her!) that  I almost forgot that some of the recipes she follows have the meat cuts written in Tagalog. I realized that when she goes to the grocery or if she gets to go to the market in HK, she wouldn’t know the English translation of those meat cuts.  So, I immediately photocopied the flier I have in my files from Monterey, a local meat shop, which has an illustration of a cow and where the different beef cuts come from and their English names.  I didn’t have any flier on pork and so, I went to the website of Monterey, googled some more and went to Pinterest.  Whew!

 

LAUNDRY:

  • Laundry (How-to to links and videos, International Fabric/Laundry Care Symbols)

Arielle admitted that she is not too confident about this.  She did laundry before using our washing machine and dryer when we didn’t have a house helper but it’s not something she mastered.  All she knows is to separate the whites from the colored, put the delicates in laundry wash/net bags, and to button or zip those that have buttons or zippers.  So, just last night, I emailed her links on how to do laundry plus visuals on the different fabric/laundry care symbols attached to the garments.  This is  still her reading assignment.

FINANCE or MONEY MANAGEMENT:

  • Opening a bank account

I am hoping that we would be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong on the day we arrive or at the latest, the day after.  But having seen the schedules sent by SCAD on the activities for the new students, everyday (including the Saturday and Sunday before their first day of class) is filled up with activities.  If we don’t get to do this with her, then she would have to do it by herself.

  • Budgeting, Wise and prudent spending

From the very start, Mike and I already explained to Arielle that her going to SCAD is going to be very expensive and that keeping the scholarship given to her would help A LOT.  So she knows and fully understands that she needs to be wise and prudent in order to keep spending low and on what’s necessary.  I’m thankful that when Arielle and I talk about her moving to Hong Kong, what really, (and I mean, REALLY!) excites her is going to class and learning!  Yes, she’s excited to try out new food, go around and see where she can buy clothes, but hearing that she has that attitude and love for learning inside her, it just makes me more at peace and confident that she’ll make it through college.

 

SOCIAL SKILLS and CHARACTER-BUILDING & APPLICATION:

  • Social skills
  • Chores assignment, Meal planning, Cost sharing of common household items

Arielle will be with other international students and professors from different countries at SCAD. For this freshman year, she will be having two roommates with her who, fortunately, are going to be Filipinas. She will be in a Chinese-speaking territory. This is going to be the real test on socialization and character, on adaptability and getting along with different kinds of people.  I can’t wait to hear stories from her after a few weeks or so in Hong Kong.

 

GETTING TO PLACES:

  • Commuting (map reading, navigation, trip planning)

Fortunately, there’s a free scheduled shuttle bus that takes SCAD students living in the housing to the campus and back to the Residences throughout the day until evening. But going to other places like the grocery, restaurants, and shops would mean taking the MTR or bus.  Commuting will be her way of life in Hong Kong (which she never did in Manila or we never allowed her to do for safety reasons) and she would learn how to read maps, navigate and plan her trips well to maximize her time and be cost-efficient.

 

So you see, her gap year has been well-spent and she is still learning valuable skills that she needs to take with her before she finally leaves for college.  We all feel well-prepared, most especially, her, and that’s what’s important.

Our pieces of luggage are next in line, ready for packing.  Now that’s going to be another skill to teach her. How to pack (within the set baggage allowance) and eventually, how to travel on an international flight alone.  This college life is going to be one exciting journey (literally and figuratvely) for both Arielle and me!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I said in my last post that I have one more interview with Arielle.  I was wrong!  I still have two more and the one I apparently missed is the interview on gap year.  How could I have forgotten to share the video interview about this topic?

Gap year is not a popular option taken by high school graduates here in the Philippines primarily because, Filipinos have this mentality that the sooner the parents get to finish their responsibility in sending their child/children to school, the better. Why? Because it’s economical and their child/children can then help in sending their younger siblings to school and in providing for the family as well.

But like our decision to homeschool where we took the road less traveled, we again took a leap of faith and let our homeschooled high school graduate take a gap year.  Here are Arielle’s thoughts about her gap year experience:

  1.  How was your gap year?
  2.  Was it a good decision to take a gap year?
  3.  What did you do during your gap year?
  4.  Would you recommend taking a gap year to high school graduates? 

 

Taking a gap year, I would say, is one blessing I am really grateful for.  It is the best decision we made for our homeschooled high school graduate. No regrets.

 


 

It’s the 1st day of April (no, this is not a prank) and we have less than 5 months until Arielle moves to Hong Kong for college.  Up to this day, after 8 years of homeschooling her, I still can’t believe that this baby of ours is now all grown up.  The saying “Time flies” has been ringing in my ears since she like turned 10 years old!  Can you imagine the emotional parenting journey I’ve been having since?  It’s a tug-of-war between holding on and letting go, believe me.

Five months! Five months to teach her some more skills like banking, budgeting, safety, and especially cooking and laundry.  That’s what’s on my to-do list for her as her mom.  The feeling of “I have not taught her enough” continues.  And it’s also five months to enjoy being with our eldest daughter!

But what does she have to say about this new chapter in her life?  Here’s the third of this interview series with Arielle on going away for college.  In case you missed the first and second interviews, click here and here.

Let’s hear it from Arielle.  Her raw, unedited, honest (and funny!) answers.

How does it feel to be going to college…and in a place far away from home?

What are the top/strongest feelings you have about going to college?

What are your greatest fears?

What are looking forward to the most?

What do you think should we do in the coming 5 months?  What skills, DIYs, or hacks should I teach her? I would love to hear tips and great pieces of advice from other parents!


Right after Arielle’s interview and art portfolio presentation w/ SCAD-HK’s executive director of admissions, Arielle is officially a SCAD student with scholarships!

 

 

It’s been a hectic end-of-the week since Thursday and capping it off with the SCAD Student Reception Day today. I AM TIRED physically and mentally but I cannot go to bed without writing about God’s faithfulness and encouraging everyone to JUST PRAY ALWAYS (ALWAYS!!!) and OFFER EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR GOD’S GLORY. I thought we were already immensely blessed with how Arielle’s college preparation, scholarship application, and gap year are turning out but today we were affirmed even more of God’s goodness. After today’s in-depth Q&A session between parents, students, and SCAD (and me already feeling VERY TIRED AND ALL), God assured Arielle and me that He has really gone way ahead of us and has already prepared the path for Arielle’s college and career. Our eyes and ears were opened…that there’s MORE to the blessing of being accepted at SCAD and awarded scholarships.

I was ready to shut down and go to bed BUT this is THE message I got from all that has happened these past 2 days with SCAD:

Deuteronomy 31:7-8 — Then Moses summoned Joshua. He said to him with all Israel watching, “Be strong. Take courage. You will enter the land with this people, this land that God promised their ancestors that he’d give them. You will make them the proud possessors of it. GOD IS STRIDING AHEAD OF YOU. HE’S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry. (The Message version)

I still have ALL MY WORRIES about this whole college life ahead of us but after hearing God’s message through the (SCAD) people He placed in front of me yesterday, I am just privileged and really blessed to know that even after having gone through this entire application process step by step painstakingly and seriously, we have found a really good school as our partner who has the track record of having graduates and alumni successful in their chosen fields.  With a 97% employment rate to beat, SCAD has MORE NUMBERS and FACTS BACKED UP BY STATISTICS and TESTIMONIALS to proudly boast of!

I really have nothing else to say except that I am truly overwhelmed with this blessing!  I feel 100% assured and comforted that Arielle is where she should be.  I believe that she is where Mike and I dreamed and hoped she would be.

I give thanks, honor, and glory to God…Mama Mary…the Holy Spirit…Padre Pio, St. Therese, and all the angels and saints for being by our side ALWAYS.  Amen!


 

This is going to be a short post.  Just to share with you that we are done and ready to submit to SCAD-HK Arielle’s best artworks (19 to upload, maximum of 20), resume, and two 500-word essays for two more scholarship applications.

This is what we’ve been working on since September 2015 and after 5 months of detailed and intentional planning, brainstorming, thoughts and ideas processing, revisions, edits, improvements that felt endless, we’re ready to submit everything we’ve done.  Deadline given to us was February 28, 2016 in preparation for Arielle’s March 3 interview and I feel it would be better to submit everything a few days early and not do it last-minute.

I must say that this whole process was INTENSE.  I decided to throw Arielle a few questions  and check on how she feels about this.

 1.  So, which is the most difficult part in what you did?

Compiling all the info in the resume!

2.   How about doing your artworks?  How did you find it?

It wasn’t that bad.

3.  Even if you had to produce at least 10 and a maximum of 20?

I think the hard part is choosing which ones to let go and which ones to present and submit.

4.  How about writing the essays?  How was it for you?

What’s tough was trying to get your thoughts across but you have a 500 word-count to keep in mind.

5.  Which did you find more difficult, the resume or the essay?

Resume

 

I’m actually surprised with her answers here. If you were to ask me, it was the essays that were the toughest to do with her since I had to make sure that it would be her words, not mine, that will be put in there and my role was really just to help her process, organize, articulate, and bring out her voice on the essay topic on paper.  ESSAY WRITING WAS BRAIN-DRAINING FOR ME!  I also thought that she would also show some difficulty in coming up with artworks since she had to come up with as much artworks and show her BEST ONES, but apparently, it was easy-peasy for her.  It just goes to show that if you really like what you’re doing, then it wouldn’t be considered as “work” for you.

That’s the latest update on our college application, more of scholarship application. The next big day will be next Thursday, March 3!  Please continue to pray with and for us?  I will share with you news from Arielle’s interview day as soon as it’s done…and I’m breathing 🙂

 

 


 

My BFF from Virginia (Yes, mommies need and have BFFs, too!) was in town recently and we met up to have our usual girly-mommy chat.  Of course, we never miss to talk about our kids and update each other about them.  We’ve been friends since Grade 7 and so, we practically grew up together from the teenage years to motherhood.

After asking how her aunt’s passing, wake, and funeral went (the reason for her trip), we talked about Kayla and Arielle.  Kayla first.  Where I plan to transfer Kayla by next schoolyear, Grade 10. How different senior high school here is from the U.S. (Junior High School is Grades 7 and 8; Senior High School is Grades to 9 to 12) and most especially, how SERIOUS and EARLY they do career planning over there as opposed to how we’re trying to implement it here only in the last two years of high school under the K-12 program.  (It really makes we wonder if the Department of Education will be able to successfully implement the program and really prepare the students in the fields of their strengths or choice.)  Her daughter is in 7th Grade and they’re already carefully planning courses she will take now so she can start getting high school credit.   HIGH SCHOOL, not COLLEGE!  My friend said that choices in high school are overwhelming her and she herself has so much to learn about how high school works!  Her daughter’s school (and I believe, all U.S. schools) has a database where each student has a record, an inventory of strengths and goals, career explorations, documentation of activities, volunteer hours, and most importantly, they already begin to identify courses they may want to take in HIGH SCHOOL (again, HIGH SCHOOL, not college yet).  All these so they can do a goal-setting and a learning plan IN HIGH SCHOOL so by the time they enter college, they are all set;  they are prepared; they are focused and they know what they want to do. How amazing is that!  It just MAKES SO MUCH SENSE, right?

That’s why I am taking a conscious effort now to really find out Kayla’s strengths and interests.  I plan to let her take an assessment with Career Direct (just like what Arielle took where art was an obvious result of the assessment) this coming May or June after she turns 15.  Hopefully, we would be able to clearly identify what careers she will really thrive in and be successful at.  I’m also praying that her golf would open doors of opportunities and more specific options for her.

With Arielle, it’s another kind of planning.  My friend and I first talked about how her scholarship application with SCAD is going and then, we eventually ended up with the topic on how she will eat while in college!  You see, Arielle will be staying in a residential unit in Hong Kong with two roommates and she will be in charge of her meals (and laundry).  Since SCAD-HK is just a building, not a campus, it has a small cafeteria which doesn’t really offer much or offer meals on a regular basis.  That only means one thing: she has to cook.  She can’t buy her food all the time.  That would not come out budget- and health-friendly (the MSG in Chinese food!).  And this is exactly what Arielle and I have been working on these past weeks.  Skills in cooking, food preparation, and meal planning.  It always makes me so happy when my BFF and I are always thinking about the same thing.  We call each other “my other brain” because we help each other process each other’s thoughts and we think of the same things 99% of the time!  You see, I feel that Arielle doesn’t seem to understand my point when I tell her that she has to P-L-A-N her meals AHEAD of TIME.  She just can’t go to the kitchen 10 minutes before mealtime, thaw frozen meat that can take hours, prepare the ingredients and cook.  It just doesn’t work that way. I’m just glad my BFF and I were on the same page and she started talking as if I was the one talking to Arielle.  Her mommy talk was just what I needed.

And that brings me to another point.  An important one: why it’s highly recommended for homeschool parents to meet up and do activities or fellowship.  Because the meetups and gatherings are not only venues to get out of the house, relax, but more often, it is a venue to exchange notes and tips on what works with you and what works for the others that could be worth-trying.  Just like meeting up with my BFF for lunch and dessert, the face-to-face encounter with other homeschool moms and dads brings a different personal interaction (as opposed to FB or Viber groups, although they have their own benefits and advantages) which I believe becomes a soothing therapy, and a much needed encouragement and inspiration.

So, the talk on meals then reminded me of a pin I recently saved in my Pinterest.  It was about meal planning using Post-Its and a binder.  Ok, who doesn’t love Post-Its???  I knew Arielle would need this and with the colorful and easy-transfer Post-Its, Arielle will survive college!  It’s also making me think now to redo my recipe binder into this one!

After showing her how this meal plan binder works, I told her to make a spreadsheet of all the recipes she knows how to cook or wants to cook.  Categories were:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Pasta/Noodles/Rice/Oats
  • Eggs
  • Soup
  • Smoothies (If she can’t always cook vegetables, then she has to drink them!)
  • Dessert (her favorite!)

After creating the file, we were able to see visually what she lacks (more recipes on fish!) and what recipes she needs to learn and practice some more.

Plus, we also realized that she not only has to learn how to cook but what would help her save time every morning before she leaves for school are:

(1) make-ahead meals

(2) freezer meals

(3) one pot or one skillet meals

In order to complete her menu planner binder, Arielle still needs to do the following:

(1) type out all the recipes she will put in the binder

(2) print out the menu planner printables

(3) assemble/put them together in the binder

(4) make categories for the Post-Its (green for vegetables, yellow for beef, blue for pork, and so on)

(5) and start doing a mock-up/sample menu plan for a week

(6) plus, make a list of pantry/kitchen ingredient staples

 

With a lot more to do and teach about menu planning and cooking, Google and Pinterest are now my new best friends 🙂  They will not only make teaching more fun and visually appealing but it will also make life much easier for a homeschool mom like me with a college-bound, visual-learner daughter who will be living on her own overseas.

How do you plan your menu and organize your recipes?  I would need all the tips I could get!


 

I just want to take time to pause and say that our year 2015 to 2016 has been great!  I am really so glad that we took that leap of faith (again! next to homeschooling) to take a gap year after Arielle graduated from high school.  I just feel a whole lot more prepared WITH and FOR her, as a mom and a parent-teacher.   I honestly can’t imagine how my life would have been like if we decided to go straight to college.  I am sure my days would have been all panic, rush, and stress, given not ample time (well, that’s how I feel) to prepare well enough for college testing, application and my daughter’s life to be.

Although I know that going on a gap year does not guarantee a total preparation for Arielle’s life ahead, it has given us the time to prepare for all the things we could.  Aside from building an art portfolio, a 500-word essay, designing her own resume and business card, Arielle has learned how to cook, attend to a few home repairs, manage her time, is learning how to budget her money, drive a stick shift car, and choose meat cuts in the grocery.  She knows the basics of laundry with the use of a washing machine, but I think I will let her learn that chore herself in Hong Kong.  With ironing, I honestly don’t think she’ll have the time to iron all her clothes and so, one of the two things in my To Buy list in Hong Kong is a good steamer and a blender so she can still have her veggies and fruits smoothies, even if on-the-go.

Right now, Arielle is finalizing her artworks for her portfolio, after receiving tips from a SCAD professor when SCAD-HK had their Information Session here in Manila last November 2015.  Having that practice round of interview and portfolio presentation was really helpful, giving us a feel of how it is going to be like for the real thing this March 2016.  That gave Arielle the time to improve on her artworks before she would finally submit/upload them to SCAD’s so-called SlideRoom before March.  She is not as stressed as before when she was doing everything from scratch and my prayer these days as she completes her SCAD scholarship requirements is for her to see who she really is, her strengths and gifts, who ultimately gave those gifts to her, and how she should use those.  That this whole process be a revelation to her by God of who she ultimately is, her purpose and unique design.

Meanwhile, Kayla is also doing well with her golf.  So far, she’s been placing in tournaments she has joined.  Yesterday, she brought home this:

Kayla's trophy!

Kayla’s trophy!

 

We are sooo proud of her!  The very first thing I did when Kayla told me on the phone that she has a trophy was immediately thank the Lord for an answered prayer.  I really am praying that 2016 would be  HER year and that God will bless her with good opportunities in golf and in her studies.  I know that she’s been thinking of what it is really that she wants to take up in college, what she wants to do in her life and that it hasn’t been very clear to her.  I’m praying that golf would somehow give her some answers or clues.

After sharing the good news with Kayla’s golf coach, he congratulated and then reminded me to work on her Curriculum Vitae or Biodata on her golf achievements.  That brought me back to my role as a homeschool parent-teacher to do the important task of record-keeping.  So, as early as now, I am making sure that I will record Kayla’s golf achievements and other activities worth including in her resume.  That way, I have a file of her various homeschooling activities, especially golf, as they happen and I won’t rack my brain in trying to recall what she did and when, when it’s time to submit those college applications.

So this post is actually a tip and a friendly reminder to homeschool parents and kids out there.  Start recording and/or keeping a file of your child’s activities and achievements.  Have a notebook for it, if that’s what’s going to work for you for now.  Or start creating a Word or Excel file.  That’s what I just did.  I had to backtrack and think of Kayla’s golf trainings, golf coaches, and when she had them.  I went as far back as Grade 6 which was 4 years ago and I was already having a quite difficult time remembering dates!  The other activities she joined would be easier since most, if not all, of them are the same activities Arielle had and they are already on record.  Plus, aside from keeping a file of their actual certificates from workshops and camps, I also keep a folder in my email per schoolyear and in there goes their academic and extra-curricular records, notes, activities, including flight details on out-of-town camps, for instance.

I wish I had done this record-keeping even before Arielle took her gap year.  Believe me, starting it early is going to make things easier for your college-bound students.  So, for the record, one way to organize your homeschool life is to record your child’s achievements, activities, and involvements.