Back to Neighborhood

August 12th, 2020
Running at the Park

For the first time in a while, we went walking around the neighborhood again. Normally, we would just be sitting at home, perhaps with the TV on, waiting for dinner. Tonight, we went out walking and actually got to osee/talk to some of our neighbors. More than that, the kids got some much-needed exercise. Especially after the cold beach weather yesterday, it was nice to feel the warmth of the outdoors right in our neighborhood.

Resting after running

Since it has been a while since we’ve walked, the usual places where we frequent seem a bit smaller and somehow more accessible now. What used to be a struggle for the kids have now become easier. Especially for J, she easily climbs up hills and begins pedaling her bike longer without getting tired. For Ian, he is bolder with the scooter and actually ran circles (of his own accord) around our resting area. It is a marvel to watch them grow. While we talked to some neighbors, they waited patiently. Ian urged his sister to be quiet when she asked why we were not moving. J boldly asked me if she could talk to her Papa, and she got out of the bike and proceeded to approach him to ask when we could go. These are just some of the changes.

Listening quietly to the outdoors

Physically, Ian is getting taller and wider. I can barely wrap my arms around him now, much less carry him. He is quick-witted and humorous, playful and sometimes, philosophical with his responses. What used to be a chore to him, mechanical and boring, is now something he expects and looks forward to. This is him with his devotional. He is following instructions to listen to the silence and see what he could hear. He wrote: birds, cars, and ambulance.

No more story time

Normally, on a given Wednesday, Ian has piano lessons followed by J’s story time two hours later. We actually get her ready for it. Last week, we figured it was VBS so we didn’t think much of it when no one answered our zoom call. Today, there was still no one. When I finally emailed Ms. Winnie, she responded by saying there is no more storytime. J is a fearless participant who says what’s on her mind without thinking much of what people think of her. Perhaps she is still young, but with her bright eyes and clear thoughts, she comes at people like a straight arrow. I am just so proud of her.

Bolsa Chica

August 11th, 2020
fun in the sand

This was supposed to be a family picture but because of Covid, we didn’t want others to touch our camera. So here are the three of us out in the sand. We were actually excited to go to the beach today despite the 70 degree forecast. But boy! Not only was it cold, it was so very windy, too! I don’t think the kids had the best time shivering and needing blankets as extra layers. The most fun they had was playing in the water. Ian actually started running in the waves. It was the first time I saw him brave the elements and engage himself. So proud of my boy.

ball of energy

J preferred to stay with me. When I was jumping the waves with Ian, she held on to her Papa. When he was the beach with Ian, J and I were enjoying the waves together.

Me and my girl

She also played with the sand toys for a while. After a while, Ian joined her.

double layer

Sam and Nancy brought the lunch. It was chicken and rice, plus kutsinta, a Filipino delicacy. Were it not for the strong winds and cold weather, it would have been better fellowship. We would have been able talk better. As it is, I think we were just on “survival” mode. It’s really too bad. Maybe we’ll do it again. Here’s our token picture, tent and all.

group picture, plus Marilen on FaceTime

When we got home, we were all tired. I managed to roast a chicken for dinner. But at the end of everything, we were ready to call it a night. It was then I found that I got sunburned! So I headed to RiteAid for some sunburn relief. While I was out, the kids had their own fun. Here they are, at the end of a long and tiring day at the beach.

crazy kids …
…my kids

New Bed

August 10th, 2020
princess bed

After sleeping on the sofa for all this time, J finally got her princess bed. Her papa spent the whole afternoon putting it together in between complaints about its construction. Part of it is because we didn’t choose the bed he wanted but went with my first choice on Amazon. I like it because she can use this until she’s older. It will grow with her. Of course, we chose her favorite color, pink.

tan cang copycat

I forgot to post this meal that we had last Saturday. I actually bought lobster so I can try the copycat Tan Cang recipe, along with the garlic noodles. It was very good, but the flavor is admittedly not as strong as the restaurant’s. We used three lobster tails, saving the other three for another recipe. Tonight, we tried the western version. Slathered in butter, I broiled it for 7 minutes and it’s done. I think we got ourselves a winner. Verdict: we will make this again with all 6 lobster tails. Back story with the pork chop: we marinated for three days and the flavor definitely went into the meat. It turned a bit saltier than usual but still good. We saved the leftover.

butter lobster and pork chop

Summer Cleaning

August 10th, 2020
sofa cushions

Today was major cleaning day. Among the most important things we cleaned today was the sofa covers. Here’s J with all the cushions while the covers are in the laundry. Ian came afterwards to join her in their little “house.” (He was still finishing lunch). Besides the sofa laundry, we did regular laundry, including all the sofa pillows, all the bedsheets, and all the stuffed animals that they hug all night long (and play with all day long, which also involves dragging on the floor!). Taking out and putting back all the sofa covers was no easy feat. It took quite a bit of patience, too! Afterwards, we swept the upstairs and downstairs floor, including the bottom of the sofa, the piano, the buffet table, mopped it, cleaned the windows upstairs and downstairs — inside and out, cleaned up the toy boxes, and . We were so tired by the end of the afternoon that we just decided to order fried chicken (one of our staples) and made salad for dinner. That’s pretty much what this day has been like. It was good teamwork.

Covina

August 9th, 2020

I had a chance to revisit my old stomping ground where I spent a good decade of my life. It was the time I lived with my parents and all I needed to do was eat, sleep, study, work, play. They were definitely simpler times. Today, I drove on the same roads, saw the same landmarks (many of which have now changed business), reminisced on the season that shaped who I am today. I wrote in my journal that it was a chapter in my life where there was “so much space, so many dreams, so much scope for the imagination, so stable and secure.” Looking back now, I am in awe of how much experience went into that period of life.

I met up with Marilen, a true kindred spirit and a loyal friend. She brought me a mango boba drink, chatted with me at a nearby park, gave me some baked good goods, invited me to her childhood home (where I also visited quite often as a teenager), and “shared” her parents with me as we chatted inside their living room. In the time of Covid, this is a big deal. I told her it was reassuring to see her parents in the same house all these years. It’s like going back to somewhere warm and familiar. They commented that I haven’t changed (physically). The older I get, the more I appreciate the mystery of the gift of life, how memories and experiences are gathered in years and decades, and we are somehow able to keep it all in our hearts.

Marilen

More Summer Fun

August 7th, 2020
inflatable

After the lake trip yesterday, we were all pretty tired. Maybe except these two. After homeschool, the fun continued with them. Here, they got into the empty inflatable. I tried to fill it with balls but that’s all I could find in the toy closet. I wonder if it would be worth getting a whole lot balls to fill this with.

We promised the kids they can share a room on August 8th. We decided Friday night would be a good night to start. Here they are, this time in J’s room, happy as bugs. J is holding Mulan and Aurora. Ian is holding Little Mi and Little Fa. Each with their sleeping buddies.

sharing a room

Bonelli Park

August 6th, 2020
first time in a lake

Today was a special day because it was our day-off from the norm. We got to go to Bonelli Park. Yup, that special place where I used to meet with the Lord regularly. I’ve visited a few times before but this is the first time that the whole family is there with me. It was a beautiful high-70s weather under the tree shade with good friends. My two little ones were so cute, testing out the dirt on their sandals, eyeing the bugs all around them, inspecting the trees surrounding us, dipping their toes on the beach, and finally embracing the lake water. It was certainly a break from our daily routine. On our way home, both of them said they had a great time. Next week, we are making plans to meet up with Sam and Nancy at the beach!

the Bangits

Free Topic

August 5th, 2020
Awwww …

I’d been saving this picture for a day when there’s not much that happens. Today was a regular homeschool day, plus work meeting/piano/storytime. It was a regular Wednesday. It was relatively uneventful. I’m sure there is always something I can pick on to write about today but maybe I’ll use my freebie.

My husband said something the other day that encapsulates what our marriage has become these past 8 years. He said, “I love that we are together. We work so well with each other.” I bit my tongue from saying something cynical or sarcastic to lighten things. The truth is, we do work well together. Ever since he started working from home, we’ve managed to divide up the work from homeschooling the kids, preparing meals, running errands, shopping, cleaning the house, doing chores, taking care of the kids’ general needs, scheduling, etc. We do have tense moments, and we even have our occasional flare-ups, but for the most part, it’s been an easy-going, functional, and smooth operation. I suppose that’s what they say about being married for a while — you start to anticipate and become synced with each other’s tendencies.

The picture was taken three days ago. I think it shows warmth and genuine affection. We are very different people but we are making it work, and we are constantly still learning about each other and how to love unconditionally, especially in this extraordinary season.

Homeschooling

August 4th, 2020

This is something I’ve been living for 8 weeks now. I put a lot of thought into planning and implementing. But today is the first time that I actually shared my day-to-day with someone who is thinking of homeschooling for the upcoming school year. I felt self-conscious because a lot of what I’ve done is out of my own vision. I don’t necessarily follow a set curriculum, and I definitely did not do any assessment. The way I see it, I put in the time to know where my kids are at, what their interests are — their strengths and weaknesses — and what will work most for their personalities and learning styles. I continue to monitor them day by day, changing my teaching as I go. And so, when I give counsel, it’s coming from this mindset. I’ve never had to verbalize what I’m doing until now. I take pride in what I’ve formulated, but at the same time, I could see how people can judge me for what I am not doing. It’s a work in progress, but at this point, I am just thankful to be this far, considering many people are still on square one!

daily schedule

On a lighter note, my parents finally made it outside (to the bank — where else?)! This was after FIVE months quarantined indoors!

hurray!

VBS

August 3rd, 2020
Day One

It’s a Monday. The beginning of the week. And I have energy and vision and drive. Today, we started the day with VBS, material I received from Mariners. I’d been planning since last night and I was finally able to put it all together right after breakfast. It went well partly because I was able to cull the ideas that best fit with my kids’ personality and abilities (preschool). I’ve led VBS before (in Mexico, in Ireland, in Uganda) but I’ve never done it with my own kids. What a strange experience. First of all, I realized all that time and attention I spent putting together VBS for other people’s kids were a lot more than what I was willing to put into my own kids. I pretty much forced myself to put heart and mind into this. It was rewarding in so many ways. My kids responded so well. They were riveted and they were so responsive. I feel gratified as their teacher.

my students

I had an ice-breaker (“cement” and “crane”), costumes, visual aids (screw, washer, builder toys), posters (Bible verse, Day one illustration), Bible story, Song (with hand motion), and crafts. It was complete. It was eye-opening to see how my kids embraced each activity. I didn’t need to be self-conscious because they were so willing to just receive what I gave them. Especially during the singing, I watched them as they followed me when we sang, “Jesus Loves Me.” I almost choked because, indeed, a child’s faith is so precious in God’s sight. No wonder the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. After VBS, we went on to do homeschool. It was a good start to the day and the week.