“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.

 

 

 

 

 


 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

What a coincidence that I am writing this as the last of the interview series I had with Arielle and we are at the same time at the final stages of her Hong Kong student visa application.  (The final document needed just arrived by mail and we are now ready to mail out to SCAD HK all visa application requirements.) It is somehow both an end and a new beginning for her.  I see it as an end of her longer than usual and yet well-prepared college application process; an end of this interview series that gave you a chance to hear her thoughts as a homeschooled high school graduate; and a beginning of her life-to-be as an international college student in SCAD Hong Kong.

If you missed the other interviews, just click on the links below and you’ll get to listen to Arielle’s brief answers to the different questions I asked her:

  1. After the SCAD Interview
  2. Animation in College
  3. Going Away for College
  4. Being Homeschooled
  5. Plans After College
  6. Taking A Gap Year

As a finale, Arielle gives her parting message, especially to homeschooled students, and how she feels (tired and all!) after a long day with SCAD and attending the SCAD Accepted Students Reception Day.

I hope that with these interview videos, we were able to somehow share with you how we spent our gap year in preparation for college and Arielle’s thoughts as well.

 


 

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.

 


 

Here’s the second to the last interview series I had with our eldest daughter, Arielle.  She’ll be leaving for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in Hongkong this September and will take up Animation in college.

The post before this was on her being homeschooled UNTIL high school and you can hear talk about it here.

This time, she thinks way forward (a natural trait of hers, by the way) and answers the question:

What are your plans after college?

I have one last interview with her and I hope you will watch out for that as well!


 

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!


 

For those of you reading my blog for the first time, I will be posting a series of short video clips where I interviewed our eldest daughter. Arielle, who is a homeschooled high school graduate.  For this second interview with her, she talks about the following:

What will you take up in college?

Who or what inspired you to take up Animation?

What did you do to learn more about art, in general, and Animation?

 

I hope that with the short video clips that we will be sharing, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of:

  • the kind of homeschool activities we interspersed with our learning
  • the steps we took to make our learning experience more intentional and individualized
  • how the pieces eventually created that tailor-fit education and growth experience which really made Arielle more prepared, confident, and happy with “school” and her growing up years.

 

 


 

With the main objectives and tasks of Arielle for her gap year over and done with, as far as college application is concerned (More posts about gap year here, here, and here):

  1.  her college application at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

–  transcript of records

–  English proficiency test

–  (2) recommendation letters

–  certificate of funds (bank statement)

–  application fee

–  enrollment and housing fee

 

2.  Achievement Honors Scholarship application

–  art portfolio (maximum of 20 best works) uploaded to SCAD’s Slideroom

–   resume

–   500-word essay on academic and personal experience, why she would want to go to SCAD, her goals, and how SCAD will be able to help her in her aspirations

–  mock interview

 

3.  International Student Scholarship

–  500-word essay on how an international education would influence her artworks, goals, and

experiences

 

4.  Final Interview and Decision on Scholarship

 

I decided to do a series of short interviews with her on the following topics:

  • college and scholarship application process
  • taking up Animation in college
  • going away for college
  • gap year
  • homeschooling
  • plans after college
  • parting words

 

To start the interview series, I asked her first HOW IT FEELS AFTER HER FINAL INTERVIEW LAST MARCH 3.  (Excuse the quite noisy background and venue.  I wanted to catch her in high spirits after her interview and I took advantage of the time we had before going to another SCAD event.

And so, for this and my next blog posts, I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from the homeschooler herself, for a change 🙂