October 27th, 2020

There’s not much to write about today. It’s supposed to be a busy day but I’ve assigned a writing assignment that frees up my time. It’s also a kind of catch-up day for me. House chores, homeschool, and house cleaning … homemaking stuff. So, I think I’ll write about something I’m surprised I’ve been able to pull off. I think I’ve successfully made readers out of my kids. My goal is actually to make them lifelong learners, to make them love learning all their lives. But reading is a big first step towards it.

One example is how I’ve gotten Ian into the habit of reading is how easily he slips into the reading mode every afternoon (quiet time). He also has his morning and evening devotions, which requires a lot of reading. Now that he’s completed the Magic Treehouse series, he is now working on his Fact Trackers. He spent weeks convincing me to get him the whole set, and once he got it, he was so excited that I think he made up his mind to read the whole series. Because nonfiction is slower than fiction, it has taken him days to finish one book, as opposed to a day or two for one Magic Treehouse. I convinced him to start on a new book set I got for him: A to Z Mysteries. He just completed Deadly Dungeon today, but not after pleading with me to finish the Fact Tracker books. I do believe he likes the new series but he is still determined to meet his goal. The book shelf in his room with all of his books certainly helped. There are two other book series waiting for him: Boxcar Children and Narnia. I guess I’m the one who’s excited to get him going with reading. The other day, by recommendation of a friend, I also purchased a new one : Tuttle Twins. This should keep him in the books for the next year or so.

For Joyanne, she also has her morning and evening devotions, although her independent reading comes only at night. Her homeschool mornings mostly consist of letters, numbers, cutting, coloring, simple math, stickers. After completing the BOB books, I also got her into reading simple chapter books, one book a week. After she gained confidence in her reading, she has started venturing into other books. When Ian got his new bookshelf, J inherited his old one, and that’s where all her books went. I think this has come in handy during quiet time when I can just ask her to pick out a few books (which she had already completed for weeks) to read. I’ve also gotten her to read on the iPad using Vooks and Epic. These days, she is getting more and more versed with reading everything and anything around her.

One of the things I purchased with EOS is this new set of books from Good and Beautiful on their Character series. I thought maybe it would be good for them to read other kinds of books that are substantial and vetted by Christian publishers. It came last week, and the kids were so excited to open the box of books. That’s when I realized I may have turned my kids into lifelong readers (and hopefully, lifelong learners).

books, books, books!

Ian was so excited that he’d already picked out his books to bring up to his room even before I asked him to choose which ones he wanted. He left the primary books on the table for his sister. When I went upstairs to check on him, he had already made room on his shelf for his new books.

Silverado Fire

October 26th, 2020
evacuation map

This morning, we were immediately made aware of very strong winds whipping our house. I can hear our wreath knocking constantly against the door. I imagined that our Fall decorations have all blown away. And when we checked, sure enough, they all have fallen off. Surprisingly, we were still able to pick them up from the driveway. I can only guess what happened to our neighbors’ more elaborate decorations. In the backyard, there was chaos — ladder, inflatable pool, soccer net, potted plants, boxes, all littered everywhere. We later ventured out to grab the inflatable pool just because it was threatening to blow away, the wind was so strong.

We found out that many of our Irvine friends have been evacuated. Joanne called to see if we needed a place to stay in case we had to evacuate since she lives in the Back Bay. That’s when we started taking this more seriously, following the news, monitoring the situation, and watching the skies. We actually saw the thick smoke outside our window. People started texting, too, asking how we were doing. At around 4 p.m., the winds died down and things became calm again. My gut told me that even though our area was surrounded by mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders, we were going to be fine. The orders haven’t been lifted yet for tonight, but it seems that the fires are traveling the other way. Such was our excitement for the day.


October 25th, 2020

Today, we decided to fast. These days, we’ve been keeping up — consuming — so much politics, that we’ve formed our political convictions in keeping with our biblical beliefs. We are participating in this fast put together by Franklin Graham as a way to bring God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We truly believe we are at a crossroads in our country’s history. And so, even as we fasted, we were also able to pray together. It was refreshing to the soul to not only consume but also to give, to express, to have an output.


In the afternoon, we decided to take the kids for a walk. They were getting squirrely at home so we took them to a place where they can move about more freely — Spectrum. We were able to go all the way to the movie theatre from the Apple store (original intent — long story). Even though we were fasting, we were still able to walk far. On one of our stops, I was able to take a picture of the kids in front of this store where J marvels at these big lips. She is such a girl. I have a feeling I have a girly girl in my house.

lip lab?

I also wanted this picture because I just love their outfits. It’s the first time they are wearing long sleeves and long pants because the weather has gotten cooler. First day of the fall season?

Piano Recital

October 24th, 2020
second one!

So, today was Ian’s second piano recital. It was a Halloween one so he dressed up as the piece that he planned to play: Puff, the Magic Dragon. He was so cute. And I think he played very well, too. But of course, that’s coming from a very biased Mom. We decided to have a relaxed Saturday. Here’s another proof of our lazy afternoon.

three loves

I love this picture because it shows how happy they are. It also shows how much we dote on our little girl, even Ian. I love her expression here. She looks so content, confident of the love she has from her family.

Playground Finally

October 23rd, 2020

We didn’t really plan on taking the kids to the playground. I don’t think we were ready for it but as it turned out today, I guess we were. We were originally going to take a walk at the Sports Park, which we did. Afterwards, the playground just looked so inviting. Every time we passed by a playground, the kids longingly ask to play. Today, they were already there, and they went for it. And we let them. They were so happy. I think that’s what the kids need and want — outdoor play time. I’m so glad they are able to do that now.

happy campers

Before the playground, we took our walk around the park. Ian was on his scooter and J was on her bike. It was a cool late afternoon with crisp air. Good Fall weather for a walk.

walk at the park

Today also, we had a visit from Magdalen. She came over to ask about using the pressure cooker. What ended up happening was me also taking advantage of the opportunity to ask her about beef shank. I had the ingredients and she showed me how to make it. It turned out so well. I’m so glad to have another recipe under my belt! Yum!

beef shank

Amazon Fresh

October 22nd, 2020
more dollies

Here’s one more instance of my little girl reading to her dollies. I just can’t get over it. This time, she got her Barbies to join the Russian dolls. She was reading the book Mix-it-up to them. This was during her quiet time, and it was the time I went to go shopping for the afternoon.

I headed to Amazon Fresh today because I saw that it was opening day. It’s the same site where Babies R Us used to be, where I used to shop for baby items when my two babies were born. So, I have a lot of memories there. I called my friend whose husband works for Amazon and whose department specifically worked on this project. It was nice to see her.



October 21st, 2020

Yesterday, I wrote about Ian being nurturing to his sister in her time of need. Today, I saw the same with J during her quiet time. She has always loved taking care of her “dollies,” especially when she plays the mother or the big sister. Here she is with the Russian dolls during her reading time.


I thought it was so cute that she wanted all of them to read with her. She said that she wanted to teach them. I am really enjoying her at four years old. She says the funniest, most delightful things. I’m sure going to miss them at this age!

Tonight, I had a great time chatting with my cousin Charm from the Philippines. It was almost an hour of catching up. She has been a staple of my childhood and we go back a long time. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to check in on her, especially just after the passing of both her parents within a year’s time.

Best Night

October 20th, 2020

My son had another reflection tonight as he watched his little sister go through a tantrum and get in trouble for it. It started after dinner when I asked them to go up and brush their teeth/take their baths. J started arguing that she wanted to watch a movie. Then, she started crying loudly. Ian, on the other hand, went up right away and did exactly what he’s supposed to do. I was feeling impatient because I was also waiting to make a parent phone call so I wanted them to all come up. I told J that she can keep crying until Ian is done with everything. I left the scene to make a call and when I came back, I saw J on the sofa with a pillow behind her and a blanket on her stomach. Ian was about to read her a story. He had also asked me to talk to her to make her feel better. He said he was trying to talk to her, too. When did my son become so nurturing? As it turned out, she thought I promised them a movie tonight but I had been talking about movie on Halloween night. She breathed, “Oh.” That was it. She was fine. If I had known it was that easy, I would have just cleared it up right then.

Ian was so proud of everything he had done right that he went several steps further. Not only did he set everything up so nicely for evening devotions, he even tried to schedule our future dinner and nightly routines so that we’d have more time to do everything that needs to be done. When I went into his room, that’s when I saw that he wrote “Best Nigth” on a piece of paper. That kid.

natural leader

About that phone call, I worked myself out of a job today. I actually made a decision to pull out of a tutoring job. In the past, I would have persisted and forced myself to go through the grind, whether for money or pride or principle. This time, I know better. Maybe it’s maturity, practicality, or common sense. Whatever it is, I think my days just got easier.

Well-trained Mind

October 19th, 2020
new curriculum

I changed curriculum today because the one I’ve been using for Ian’s English was too easy and too elementary for him. I notice that he zones out more than he already does when he does his phonics exercises and simple fill-in-the-blanks. Today, when I actually went through the lesson with him, he was engaged, maybe in part because I was actually interacting with him. I think it’s also because the lesson is more challenging in its scope. I can also tell that they are part of the foundation-building I’m looking for as I want him to have a good grammar, language, and writing education.

I no longer include PE in the morning schedule because I notice that they have begun to ask for it themselves, particularly Ian. In the afternoon, he actually asked to take a walk around the neighborhood. So, here we are, in our matching red shirts (we are a “team,” as they are so fond of pointing out these days), going up their “castle.” And there I am with my AirPods listening to my favorite podcast.

Ian took his scooter for this walk while I pushed J on her tricycle. We usually have a stopping point at this particular house with a hilly mound.


It is delightful to see them enjoying the cooling autumn air as they run across the grass. The jump and dance and enjoy themselves. Ah, to be youthful and carefree …


Sous Vide

October 18th, 2020

I couldn’t sleep well last night because I kept thinking about sous vide. I got the machine but was still waiting on the container. Today, it finally came but we just had steak. And so, I decided to go for the ribs. Here it is, my sous vide at work today:

spare ribs

I had it set for 4 hours at 167 degrees. It was my first go at it. I did the dry rub real quick, vacuum-sealed it, and dropped it in the water bath, as they call it. I must say it turned out as well as can be expected (I didn’t expect too much). I thought that it could’ve been more tender but I can’t ask too much for my first go.

smoked spare ribs

As I think back at this experience, I think I could’ve used better meat. I also didn’t think too much about picking the right recipe online. I went for the fastest, most convenient I could find. So, here it is. Next time, now that I’ve broken the machine in, I’ll be more careful and more thoughtful. For now, I’m thrilled to have used my sous vide!

For those hours that we left the sous vide running, we actually went to Balboa Island to join the festivities for the Trump’s fundraising at Newport Beach. Here’s a little of what it looked like.

Trump supporters

Actually, we were mostly stuck behind traffic waiting for our turn at the ferry. Here’s what it looked like.

auto ferry

Nonetheless, it was still a good family outing. Here’s another one of our obligatory family pictures at the ferry.