BLOG: Reflections of 2020
Do you remember playing "highs and lows" in school? It was more or less a quick reflection or feedback of the good parts (highs) and the worst (low) parts of an activity. My school drama teacher would play it with us after a field trip. I don't want to reminisce the lows of 2020. I'm sure we've all lost track of the many disappointments, anger, and grief. I had to scroll through my Instagram feed to remember the highs of 2020. I didn't capture nearly enough photographs but what I did take, reminded me that 2020 is not the "worst year" for our family. Sure, it wasn't the best either, we were merely surviving half the time, along with everyone else in the midst of a pandemic, but for a family used to "sheltering in place" when one member has an autoimmune disorder.....it was just "another" year for us.
I did have high hopes of having a summer beach vacation or a Disney holiday, we did start the year watching the sunset on the beach. So without further ado, here are a few things I learned, am grateful for, and what I will take with me from 2020:
1.) Our family (husband's sisters) saw the birth of two beautiful healthy baby girls.
2.) A surprise birthday backyard celebration (a week before shut down in Texas happened) with friends.
3.) I passed my Special Education Teaching certification exam for K-12.
4.) Stepping out of our comfort zone by retelling my birth story and reliving that trauma for ACOG (interviewed in May), Mom&Mind (interviewed in September) and 2020Mom Story (interviewed in December).
5.) Being nominated for 2020 Mom Ambassador!
6.) We cooked more at home than we've ever done in our whole 12 years of marriage life.
7.) I had always wanted to homeschool. Covid hit and I'm proud to say that we have managed to "survive" a semester of homeschooling. It was a LOT of tears. I learned to walk away. She learned to breathe and took responsibilities for her outbursts - meaning, she was able to come to me after we both calmed down and provided insight on why she was having trouble concentrating or learning. I learned (am learning) to let go of "public school" expectations and trusting that she is not behind. She is where she needs to be and we are going the pace she sets - not mine.
8.) We walked and explored various trails and nature centers around our area. It's amazingly good for the soul to step outside and breathe in fresh air, hike down paths unknown to us, and curate this memory of walking trails.
9.) We had our first family campout in October and every single one of us loved it! I didn't think my 4 year old would enjoy a single moment without electronics, but he loved looking for sticks to toss into our fire pit. Both kiddos enjoyed seeing the stars light the sky.
10.) My marriage isn't something I talk a lot about. My husband is my partner, a provider, and my friend. While he sometimes locks himself in, there were times that he managed to break out of his fortress to let me know where he was emotionally. There were situations in the year that gave us both pause; and where I found anger as a companion, he cocooned himself in grief. Thankfully, we've both voiced our thoughts - however jumbled they were (and still are). But truly, I am grateful for my husband. And while we can never know what 2021 will bring, we've decided it will be our "year of health."
So I actually thought I'd find 20 things for 2020, but 10 seems like a good number to end on.
Homeschool: work in progress
Before Covid came into our lives, I had this goal of finishing up my teaching certification classes online and be ready to teach for Fall 2020. I was subbing for different grade levels to get a feel for who I want to teach to. I was asking Ellie's teachers what study guides they've used in the past and volunteered for everything involving planning parties, games, etc.
I had plans.
I was studying and was "on track." I passed my Special Education Certification test and scheduled to take my Elementary - 6th (E-6) general certification. That was in February.
By March, the schools were closed and I wasn't able to do any in-person teaching observations.
By May, we started toying with the idea of doing homeschooling full time in the fall. This was later affirmed that we were making a right decision from my daughter's hematologist (Short story: she has an autoimmune blood disorder and on immunosuppressants).
Last week, I sent out my letter of resignation to our local district where I worked as a substitute teacher and then officially, un-enrolled my daughter.
I had a really hard week.
And while it still stings that my goals once again will be put on the "back burner" as they say, I have already made peace with the fact that I may not get my teaching certification for a few more years, or at all.
So here we are, truly, all works of progress.
And once again, a reminder from the Universe and in the words of John Lennon that
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
How and where to beginThe first thing is decide, are we really going to do this?
Unfortunately thanks to our patriarchal society, mommas are going to be the teachers. That's not to say that dads won't help and my husband will leave the homeschooling all up to me....it just means that the burden (like most things) fall onto the mom. We are teachers. Are you going to be able to teach your child while taking care of home, of work, of yourself?!
Self care, ladies.
If you are not able to do distance learning, or homeschool full time.....it's okay. We all have our individual burdens to carry and I can only speak for what is possible in our home.
If you need permission, this is it: do what feels right for you and your family. Don't apologize or be tricked into feeling guilty.
However, if you have made the decison to homeschool, I urge you to look at what your state requires.
The first step is here:
In Texas, homeschooling laws and requirements are very relaxed compared to most states.
Texas Homeschool Law At a Glance
In Texas, homeschools are considered private schools. To legally homeschool, you will need to follow these requirements:
1. Teach the required subjects. The required subjects are:
2. Use a written curriculum. The private school law as interpreted by the Texas Supreme Court requires that you use some form of written curriculum (online programs meet this requirement) and that you operate your homeschool in a “bona fide” manner.
I’m a planner girl and I was super excited to get the “organized home school planner.” I read a few reviews, watched this homeschooling mama break it down....and went out and bought it, Let me just say, for $50 a pop, it was a regretful buy. While I appreciated the layout and it had sections for ideas, design, planning, etc..... I basically was able to do the same things (plan) by doing a “brain dump.”
I wrote down things that I thought would be appropriate to learn in different months, like pumpkins and how seasons change in October... or many different ways people celebrate Christmas around the world.
if you’re still looking, I suggest you do a big brainstorm day with you and your kiddo. Ask them what they like, what they’d like to learn and explore. Jot it down. And then find ways to incorporate that into the year. I also researched themes or awareness month and planning lessons around it. For instance, from September 15th-October 15th, is Hispanic Heritage month. We will be focusing on the people, the culture, the different foods and ways to appreciate the culture.
CurriculumThe third thing, after deciding you are going to homeschool and then planning, most people do is go out and BUY ALL THE THINGS.
It's great if you can afford it, but some of us want to slowly spend what we can and then if its worth it, buy it outright later.
In your research, do join homeschool groups in your area or online. See what everyone is using, ask around what would be appropriate for your child(ren) and then ask some more. Shop around. Remember what works for one family, or one child, may not and does not work for you and yours.
My upcoming 3rd grader is a tactile learner. She looks to read and play with manipulative and crafts.
She may not do well doing a workbook and sitting in one spot all day long.
You know your child(ren) best. So it's important when you're planning to get their input and see if they'll like what you picked out.
We will be using "Easy Peasy All in One" which, by the title, also gives you an "all in one" curriculum with health/pe, Spanish, poetry as some of the extra addons you can do besides math, science, history and language arts.
What has been good is that there are daily lessons you can do and it goes up to 180 days (your typical school year). It also has an "offline" or workbook option in case you didn't want to do all the computer work.
I will be supplementing this with another math workbook I found but this was the only one that I wanted to stay on track for, as math isn't Ellie's favorite subject.
It does go from preschool all the way through high school. I will be opting to do another workbook for Ro but I like that I can use their "daily lesson plans" as a guide to what he will be doing.
English, Language Arts, Reading (ELAR)
I patiently (not really) waited on the Good and the Beautiful work set. Although it is free to download online, I wanted to have the beautiful art work and poetry book, instead of what my black and white printer would dish out.
These books are gorgeous inside and I can't wait to get started. Each lesson can be done in a day, and per their website, if you do 4 lesson/week, you should be able to finish out the entire book by the end of the school year (end of May).
For science, I signed her up for a chemistry co-op. A local woman is doing a small Chemistry group for elementary aged kids and I thought, what fun! I'm loving that there is freedom in what she wants to learn. She asked to do Chemistry and that is what we are going to do this semester!
Luckily for her, 3rd graders only covers community, the helpers and various roles within a community. So we are going to be covering what it means for her to be a first generation Filipino American (my side) and a second generation Mexican American (dad's side). This basically means a LOT of books, a lot of arts and artists who are Filipinos and Mexicans. I moved to the US when I was 9 years old, so a lot of Philippine history was lost since here in Texas, there was no reason to cover it....we are a blip in most US textbooks and I know at some point, my children will learn all about US, what being a citizen means, the wars, etc....... but while I have them at home, we can learn Filipino folktales together, the different dialects across 7600 islands, and how it was colonized and by whom.
We are going to be living and breathing her history and I'm so excited to dive in!
She is currently taking her piano lessons from her teacher online, so we will keep doing that.
She has expressed interest in wanting to be a graphic novelist/animator, and we recently bought myself an apple pen. Can't wait to see what she does with it, however, I am excited to use it for coloring/lettering apps!
Spanish and Tagalog
This is where the "por favor" (please) and salamat (thank you) comes in. I want to give both my kids a living, breathing embrace of their roots.
So salamat for reading this far. I'd love to know your thoughts and what you have found so far!
Poetry Marathon in 3, 2, 1...
Sometime in 2017, I stumbled into the The Poetry Marathon and signed up to do the "half" or 12 poems in 12 hours. Sadly, a series of events by the creators of this awesomeness meant they weren't going to be able to do it in 2018. I forgot all about it until recently when I saw a call on one of the many writers submissions group I'm in. I loved the energy, the camaraderie and the challenge of creating a poem, following their prompts and uploading it before the hour was up.
Naturally, when I saw they had returned and were going to be doing another anthology call, I jumped at the chance to redo this experience. This time, however, I am aiming to do 24 poems. A full marathon.
Honestly, the other day, my husband said he hadn't seen me so excited and happy in a while. It was after I got on a call with my sister and we were brainstorming and exchanging ideas for this Filipino folklore I've been saying I want to do. Writing stories gets me so excited, and I'm only sorry that I don't do it quite often.
Anyhow, the marathon starts this Sunday and I am pumped!
Write on, friends!
not my story to tell
I'm a terrible liar. When I tell a lie, I know my eyes twitch and I can't look at whoever I'm lying to in the eyes. I'm pretty sure I stammer a bit or bite my lip as soon as I've uttered untruth.
So whenever my children asks me a question - about death, about the world around them, about the candy stash in my purse - I have to swallow the reply to make sure I've filtered it for their little hearts.
Sometimes, it works, and they accept the lie. Sometimes they frown and demand the truth (or the chocolate).
There are times when I respond and then make this passionate speech about the truths (as I see them/interpret them) and by the time I'm done, I know I've either confused my children, or opened up their world of innocence just a little bit to let clouds come in.
I've been glued to the news for the past few days. It's one of the most unhealthiest thing you can do. But I can't help it. I've been soaking in the hurt, cursing a little out loud in anger and trying my hardest to find God in the midst of the chaos.
When my children sees the news, they ask what's happening. They wonder why there are marches and fires, what the chants mean and why people are screaming.
I told them it's because black people are tired of being judged and killed for the color of their skin.
I told them that a black man died just because he went out jogging.
I told them that a police officer who should be protecting people made an evil choice and took a life.
I told them people are angry and hurt and exhausted.
I wish I knew a better response.
I wish I could shelter them from hate. I know there will be a time when they'll be asked a seemingly benign question of "where are you from," but really the truth is they're fishing for confirmation that you're different, a 'foreigner,' and your answer confirms that they could tell from far away that you're not from here.
That you don't belong.
I wish I could hold their hand and tell them that they won't be judged because of their skin color.
But the truth is that they will be. They won't see the preemie fighters, or the sweet boy and his precious big sister, they'll see a brown Mexican boy and a brown girl.
And then I think about my own shortcomings and the way I brush off people. I think about the circle of friends and people I surround myself with; mostly white, Middle class women. I know of 2 black women in my mom circle and I rarely see both of them (mostly thanks to nursing school, and travels). I'm the lone Asian in my book club. And I can count on one hand, how many Hispanics I'm friends with in this upper middle class suburbia I'm in.
I need my son and my daughter to be proud of their mixed heritage and their rich culture.
I need them to understand their privileges and to make sure they are able to help those around them who do not.
I need to educate not just myself but the generation I am raising to do better and to listen to stories that aren't ours to tell.
We need to amplify the voices on the screen screaming for justice and take our voices to the polls.
Revolutions were never peaceful.
And that's a story I want to tell.
Some resources I've found:
If you have this urge to reach out to the nearest POC (person of color) in your life about what this all means, please pause. They are tired of having to explain themselves...again. There exists a plethora of information, if you google it. I recommend you start here at "Be the Bridge," as they have educational resources, books, podcasts and movies that can educate you about racial injustice and inequality.
If you know of any other resources, please list them!
https://bethebridge.com/ - which serves to "Inspire people to have a distinctive and transformative response to racial division and be present and intentional toward racial reconciliation. Equip bridge-builders toward fostering and developing vision, skills, and heart for racial healing, and partner with existing organizations who have a heart for racial justice, restoration, and reconciliation.
https://diversebooks.org/ - We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. Our aim is to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
https://thelovelandfoundation.org/Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Our resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. We are becoming the ones we’ve been waiting for.
http://www.shadesofblueproject.org/index.html - The Shades of Blue Project is dedicated to breaking cultural barriers in maternal mental health by raising awareness and ensuring action is taken to break the stigma surrounding seeking treatment in the minority community when experiencing complications after childbirth. We do this by helping women before, during and after child-birth with maternal mental health advocacy, treatment and support.
I miss blogging and I hate the idea of starting completely over because
1.) I don't have time for that - let's be honest
2.) I don't have the monetary funds to restart, buy another domain, etc.
So I'm reconstructing this website - originally intended to separate my writing about life and the silly little accomplishments like a poem being published.....not that its silly, I just wanted to form barriers for myself. But the thing I've learned over the past few years is that it's actually quite exhausting to separate things. I am a writer. I've blogged my way through preeclampsia, anxiety and depression. I am an author and I've been so excited to share new books, new poems, etc.
If Covid has taught me anything, it's that I need an outlet so badly. I've gone stir crazy. I've been on edge and barely hanging on.
So off to the blogging world I go. I haven't decided where I'm going with this. But this is better than nothing; better than the urge to scream every day.
Anyway, here's an update:
- Love, Defined will be available for 99cents May 29th - June 2nd!
December and a decade to remember
2009 - 2019. Have you seen those decade challenge on Facebook? I haven't had a chance to participate yet. But apparently, since I can't find a 2009 picture of me anywhere....I wouldn't have been able to participate in said decade challenge.
Wowzers, what have I accomplished in 10 years?
I had 2 lovely babies (2012, and 2015).
I went from working gal (2009) to stay at home ('13 and '16 through now).
I learned about Preeclampsia in 2012.
I understood grace and kindness from being in a postpartum depression storm (2015).
I learned what strength comes from surviving storms.
I became a volunteer for International Association For Premenstrual Disorders last year and went one step further and started lending a hand as a Peer Support Provider (PSP).
I published my first book in 2012 and dabbled with poetry.
I lent what courage I had and started submitting works to various anthologies. I'm so proud to say that my words are in 9 different anthologies, some benefiting mental health charities like MIND UK and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
If I can sum up what I've learned, and lost, and gained in a decade with just one word, I would say, "transformative," but that feels like a cop out. I should hope everyone's decade was transformative. I hope everyone saw growth, and happiness, and learned from triumph, and walked away from negativity, and pain.
I don't know if at the brink of 2009 I pictured my decade challenge looking like this. This messy, perfectly chaotic, constantly changing view of self but I'm feeling hopeful, and secure about this coming one. I went from dreaming what was possible to living what could be, finding out my whys of existing, and grabbing hold of a passion. I want my next decade to continue to live with purpose.
If this decade of going from mid to late 20s to mid to late 30s has been transformative.
My word for the following 10 years would be AUDACITY.
I want to have the audacity to write about maternal mental health and speak to others about my lived in experiences.
I want to be bold enough to speak up about what I am: author, writer, poet, versus the identities that are my current seasons: stay at home mama, substitute teacher.
My identities of always aspirating for more.
I want to have the audacity to pick up that sword fighting class I say I'm going to do and be a black belt, sword fighting ninja or run across a finish line 13 1/2 miles away.
I want to be bold in speaking up about my faith, my courage, my dreams and hopes.
I want to have the audacity to do
and live for Christ
this coming decade.
May your Christmas be bright, your year be sparkly and new.
Happy Holidays and a bright decade is my wish for you.
Here we go again
Just in case you didn't know one thing about me....it is that I crave change. I get overtly anxious when things stay exactly the same. I don't know why. But every so often (and because I have a husband and 2 kids) I like to change the look of my house. Some are small: a little lamp there, a new vase here, a framed picture there. Some things are big and more noticeable: moving furniture around, taking down curtains, hanging giant posters there.
I can't seem to sit still and therefore my house shouldn't either...it seems is my random thought.
So, due to it being summer and I have kids all day long and my budget-friendly husband has had to put his foot down, I recently decided I need to make a change here. I don't blog anymore and I so do miss that. I'm not online anymore as myself and for a while, I loved stepping back from it, but I am more involved online repping for another organization and it's made me want to revamp my whole online 'self.' So I'm looking at you, website. Here's my "under construction" notice. I'm still toying with the possibility of having 2 sites: a blog and this author website but I've neglected both. I'm going to start combining both...starting in July. My goal would be to blog once a week about what I do best: mental health and preeclampsia advocating, book/author goals and whatever I feel like.
Thanks, friends for your continued support and hope you are still writing!
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.
Hi there! Here's a quick bio