No time to grieve

19 years has passed since Papa went back to the Heavenly Creator.

I clearly remember everything that transpired that week–from the day we visited him–our last time to talk with him– to the day he passed on two days after that visit–his birthday, and until after he was laid to eternal rest.

BREAKING THE NEWS

It was a normal school day for me and my sister, and normal work day for my mom. Mom received the news while at work, and had to shepherd my sister and I back home. I was in the university at that time, an hour away from home, and had to hurry back just as I arrived school, clueless as to what was happening. As I arrived home, that’s when they broke to me the sad news.

It came as a surprise, as Papa was even excited for his upcoming birthday when we saw him. But thinking about it, it was probably a sign–it was enough that he saw us before he passed on.

AUTOPILOT

Mama had to be on top of wake and burial preparations. Looking back, she was really a SuperMama for doing everything, despite the situation and circumstance back then. She barely sleep, super tired, and seemed like she was on autopilot. She had solutions to everything, and we were really so grateful for family and friends who supported and assisted us.

And since she was too preoccupied, she had to leave the Eulogy to me. Writing it was one thing, reading it in front of so many people was another, and a tough act to do.

NO TIME TO GRIEVE

After the burial, we went home, heard Mass the following day (which was a Sunday), and went back to work and school on Monday. My sister and I had to catch up on missed school days, quizzes and exams. I recall now, every Saturday after that was spent on general cleaning at home. Some evenings, we spent laughing at classic Papa moments. We rarely saw Mama cry. But when she does, she has few tears. Or none, as she has dry eyes.

Or probably, the general cleaning was her grieving. But we know she has to grieve at some point, too.

She lost a baby boy seven months in her womb, two years after I was born. She probably didn’t grieve properly yet with that, I’m not sure.

She had no time to grieve.

She had to work for me and my sister who had to study. And probably, she carried this grief for always.

My sister and I probably had no time to grieve, too. We got back to school immediately and had to study really well, cos Mama singlehandedly raised us, and it’s our way of honoring and thanking our parents, especially her.

GRIEF AMBUSH

This pandemic made me discover so many dishes. As we are all quarantined at home, I have to learn to cook more types of food for my husband and daughter.

And lo and behold, I was crying during the first weeks of the lockdown last year while cooking.

I miss Papa, best cook ever.

Grief ambush. I first learned this term from a pastor friend. And yes, it attacks you at the least unexpected moments.

You’d suddenly recall a special moment, a happy one, and tears start to fall.

What do you do during these moments? Do you deny the grief? Do you acknowledge it?

I acknowledge it, cry if I must, and communicate how I feel to my family and friends.

Of course, I pray, and lift up my grief to the Lord. And pray for the eternal repose of Papa, and all our loved ones and friends who went back to the Lord ahead of us. That’s what our shrine rector and friend reminds us of always–to pray for our departed.

You know what made me even sad? Papa never saw me as a singer anymore. He passed away just as I was beginning to study for a career I never thought of doing, and I bet Papa would be the proudest and happiest if he was able to watch my shows and operas.

Papa, we love you and we will forever remember you in our prayers and in every moment we can. Sometimes I tell Aria about you, because she is so smart and witty just like you.

Thriving (and learning) at home: online summit for homeschooling and distance learning families

A lot of relatives and well-meaning (and some who are not so) friends/people have asked me and my husband WHY we homeschool. Our answer is usually simple: because we can.

And I tell you, you CAN, too, as long as you pray for it, strive for it, so you can thrive as a homeschool family, even while at home.

Technology, I must say, helped us make decisions for our family. Because resources and readings are on my fingertips literally, I can easily do my research and share a link to my husband, who is the best partner in this thing called child-rearing. We agreed on so many life-changing things like breastfeeding, attachment parenting, babywearing, and homeschooling. Now we’re going trying to be vegans. You might say, that’s going way overboard, but really, it isn’t–for us, we just make decisions for our small family.

The pandemic somewhat made it “equal footing” for all–that all learners are at home and studying. And I think attending this online summit might just help you decide better for your family. Looking at the topics and the speakers, I’d say there’s something for each one in the family. I am so grateful to the many homeschool online communities for the exchange in ideas and inspirations. Visit www.educatingforlife.net and check out #CHIPSThriveAtHome.

Educating for Life (EFL), the organizer of national homeschool conferences in the Philippines since 2014, and the creator of the Philippine Homeschool Convention and Connect Homeschooling and Intentional Parenting Summit (CHIPS), is proud to present CHIPS 2021: Thrive at Home or simply #CHIPSThriveAtHome.

Happening online via the Accelevents platform, the Summit will take place on July 30-August 1, but participants will be able to access the event anytime and learn from all the Summit talks even after the event dates, up to August 31, 2021.

#CHIPSThriveAtHome is similar to EFL’s CHIPS event last year, which was their big-scale online event created in response to the needs of families who suddenly had to face a year of strictly home-based learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Driven by this same objective to help families, #CHIPSThriveatHome will feature bite-sized learning sessions for families who are already homeschooling, exploring or preparing for homeschooling, or struggling with the challenges of their kids learning at home via distance learning. 

With talks focused on the sub-themes Thrive In Your Mind, Thrive in Learning, and Thrive in Family Relationships, EFL hopes to equip families with strategies for joyful homeschooling and distance learning. Through the specific parenting and family life topics of #CHIPSThriveAtHome, EFL hopes that more families will be able to cope—and even thrive—despite the pandemic.

The Summit’s line-up of speakers consists of both international and local speakers who will leave the participants inspired, encouraged, empowered, and equipped to start or continue their respective home-based learning journeys more than ever before. This applies to both homeschooling and distance learning families.

Below are just some of the 30+ #CHIPSThriveAtHome topics: 

  • “Well-Being Matters: Supporting Parents’-Kids’-Teens’ Mental Health” by Dr. Michele Alignay
  • “Lead Your Family to Thrive: The Importance of a Father’s Presence” by Bo Sanchez
  • “Mother Culture: How to Thrive When You’re With Your Kids 24/7” by Gina Guerrero-Roldan
  • “How to Thrive as a Solo Parent During Challenging Times” by Professor Nina Era
  • “How Homeschooling Helps Our Family’s Relationships to Thrive” by Julius and Tintin Babao
  • “How to Help Your Kids Thrive in Distance Learning” by Dr. Queena Lee-Chua
  • “Survive and Thrive: Stories of Homeschooling COVID-19 Survivors” by Joe and Rica Bonifacio
  • “How to Keep Your Family Safe Online” by Kenneth Lingan
  • “What We Learned After a Year of Distance Learning” – A Panel Discussion by Ina Arabia-Garcia, Jing jing de Guzman, Michelle Aventajado, and Pehpot Pineda
  • “The Most Important Person in Your Homeschool is You” by Julie Bogart

There will also be sessions for kids and teens. All the #CHIPSThriveAtHome topics and speakers can be seen here.

ONLINE EXPO

Besides learning from all the talks, #CHIPSThriveAtHome participants will also be able to visit the virtual expo within the Summit event platform. The expo will feature products and services that will help support families in their respective home-based learning journeys. Business owners and entrepreneurs that may be interested in joining the expo may sign up here or contact Michelle Padrelanan via michelle@educatingforlife.net.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND THE EVENT?

#CHIPSThriveAtHome is open to everyone who wishes to learn strategies for joyful homeschooling and distance learning. This includes parents, students (kids and teens), educators, and other people who see the importance of thriving in your mind, thriving in learning, and thriving in family relationships.

REGISTRATION PROCESS AND FEES

Registration is currently ongoing at www.educatingforlife.net 

The fees are below:

Early Bird Family Learning Fee: P1500

Deadline of payment to avail the early bird rate is 11.59pm July 23, 2021

Regular Family Learning Fee: P2000

Effective July 24, 2021

SPECIAL EARLY BIRD OFFER!

Right now until July 15, 2021, EFL is running a SPECIAL EARLY BIRD OFFER! Participants who will register AND pay the family learning fee of P1500 by 11.59pm on July 15 get FREE access to exclusive bonus talks worth P13,0000+++, including:

  • A live webinar on “Grit and Resilience: The Most Important Things Parents Can Do to Help the Pandemic Generation Thrive,” to be given by Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, one of the most sought-after speakers on parenting, education, and mental health in the country.
  • A “He Says, She Says” type talk on “How to Handle Family Finances During the Pandemic,” to be given by Charlie and Paula Fernandez. Charlie is a financial advisor and Paula is a child advocate who shares her husband’s passion for helping families be financially literate.

EVENT SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsor: Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal
Silver Sponsor: HomeLife Academy
Media Partners: 
ANC 24/7
theAsianparent Philippines
WhenInManila.com

It all began with a brownie

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have no photos to share about my day today. The three of us were busy bees–at church, at home, with online choir rehearsals, ballet class, etc.

But it was a fun day, it was just busy. And I received the best gifts–the gift of music and service during the Mass, a surprise email from my little darling, and a bouquet of flowers from the man of the house. We had a hint he’s getting us flowers because he went missing after we finished online rehearsals! My mom and sister, and one of our co-volunteers gave chocolates, too.

How about me, you might ask. Of course, I got them something! Yesterday, I gave them tikoy and hopia (post-Chinese New Year treats) while today, I got them a box of brownies–the same first gift I received from my husband back when he first said he loved me.

It all began with a brownie. A box of six brownies was his first “gift” to me back when he first courted me. So, this particular store has a special place in my heart (and in my tummy!).

Not an ad. But yes, special place. With special yummy brownies, too.

He loved giving gifts. He made sure I get something during special occasions. He’s the same with Aria now, so he also gave Aria flowers to celebrate today.

Having him as my husband is the best gift. I really wouldn’t ask for more. I appreciate him more everyday, especially the past year facing this pandemic. My daughter and husband are the best quarantine buddies.

Happy Valentine’s Day again, everyone! Especially to my one true love and my little lady love. I am so blessed to witness God’s love through the two of you.

#

And, that’s it for my short Valentine’s Day post. Keeping up with the blog with one post a month (at least!), but will try with all my might to blog as often as I can. Until the next!

~ Touringkitty

Catharsis: My 2020 roundup

Hello again, blogverse! It’s been a long while.

Holidays schmolidays are once again over, and we have to begin another year of work…all the way to the next holiday season.

2020 is definitely one for the books for humankind. And as I was not able to write yet a proper 2020 roundup on Facebook, I shall just do it here in my blog.

Pandemic. Quarantine. Face masks. Face shields. Ayuda (or the lack of it). Rapid or swab test. Isolation. Death. Not to mention typhoons, fire, crimes (in whatever manner). Those are just some of the words that permeated the most part of 2020. That clear cut vision the year suggests didn’t seem so, not for most of us, for sure. But perhaps looking at it from another perspective can make things crystal clear.

Stay-at-home. Work-from-home. Facetime, Messenger, Viber, Zoom, whathaveyou. Online classes. Online meetings. Online chikahan (and e-numan). Online concerts and virtual choirs. Online Masses and rosaries. Netflix and chill. Family. Bonding. Love.

It can also be…

Home cooked meals. Instant bakers and cooks. Home and balcony gardening. Dalgona coffee. Salamat, Shoppee! Salamat food delivery! And new businesses sprouting because of this pandemic, even my sister began her own late last year (support Rae’s Gourmet!)

But for me, music became my catharsis. I sang, taught, shared music, in so many ways last year.

Also, music was my catharsis as we grieved for the deaths in our family. My cousins did a musical tribute for our uncle. I prepared a musical tribute for my grandfather. All these were done online. It was quite a challenge for tech challenged me, but it was definitely my catharsis, my sadness translated into beautiful music. I was lucky that family and friends supported and contributed to this mini online concert.

20 days into 2021. Here’s hoping this will be a definitely better year than last year. We set our expectations too high for 2020, as it seemed so confidently a good year. But yeah, here’s hoping everything would go well for the world.

Check out my cathartic videos, I mean, online productions during the quarantine on my Youtube channel. More to come this year!

~ Touringkitty

Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol introduces new brand ambassadors

The Gutz Family (Sarah, Kai, Zion, and Richard) as brand ambassadors for Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol.

Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol continues its campaign to be Filipino families’ ally in germ protection in the new normal as they welcome newlyweds, Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati, together with their adorable kids Zion and Kai, as their brand ambassadors.

Adjusting to the New Normal with Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol

Richard and Sarah, who got married in a solemn ceremony earlier this year, celebrated their new life together in quarantine. While being stuck at home was an opportunity for them to spend more time together as a family—planting, painting and playing all sorts of games, they also needed to go through a lot of adjustments as a family. 

One adjustment that they had to do was to look for better ways to protect their family against germs, with the threat of the virus still continuing up until now. They found their newest ally in Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol, which promises a higher level of protection against germs and viruses. 

“We believe in innovative products. Not only does Defensil come from a company we trust, Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol is also recommended by experts,” said Sarah. 

“And since we use alcohol more frequently to sanitize, I also like how it not only kills germs and bacteria, but also has moisturizer to not dry our skin,” she added. 

One way to prevent the spread of germs is regular disinfection of hands and high touch surfaces using a rubbing alcohol. To provide a higher level of defense against germs in the new normal, the Philippine Society for Microbiology is recommending Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol.

Created by Beauty Elements Ventures Inc, Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol kills 99.9% of germs to give Richard and Sarah’s family the peace of mind that they are well-defended. It starts to kill germs on contact and upon constant use, provides up to 12-hour protection.

New Normal Holidays

Celebrating the holidays is surely going to be different for the Gutierrez family this year. For Richard and Sarah, social distancing is something that they’re keeping in mind as they celebrate the holiday season, along with making sure that everyone sanitizes and disinfects using Defensil. 

The family wishes to go on a local holiday trip with family bringing their new ally, Defensil. With this, Sarah shares three simple tips to fellow parents on how to keep their family safe from germs during the holiday season. 

First, social distancing is a must. Second, always wear a mask. It is important for parents to teach their kids the importance of wearing masks, which help to prevent the transmission of the virus. And, lastly, always disinfect with an alcohol that makes sure you and the family are well-defended— like Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol. 

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more about Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol:

CHECK YOUR LABEL!

Admittedly, I have been checking brand labels and nutrition facts on whatever new item I encounter. Especially now that we need more effective protection against germs and viruses. So, always check your label when buying, especially alcohol. Check the labels below for comparison.

To know more about Richard and Sarah’s newest ally, Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/defensil.philippines

#ForProtectionThatsReal #DefenIsopropylAlcohol #MommyBloggersPh

***

*Defensil 70% Isopropyl Alcohol was tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli or E. coli and Candida albicans

Goodbye, damaged hair, Hello, stronger hair with newest Rice Oil Essence Trend

If it’s worth any consolation, 2020 has been such an inventive year for the beauty community. The beauty world has been constantly introducing big ingredient innovations we’ve never seen possible before. Just take a look at the micellar and collagen trends that were only thought to be beneficial for the skin but are now being sought after for hair. Who knows what’s next? And yet here we are again.

Who would have thought that the food we eat 3x a day would be the newest trend that’s about to take over the beauty shelves, especially the hair care section?

Enter, rice oil — the underrated hair beauty secret of ancient Japanese women, and now Filipinos are bound to experience its powerful benefits.

Here Comes Rice Oil Essence, The Solution to Luscious Damage-free Hair

The age-old secret to beautifully long hair comes from the 2000-year old Japanese tradition of using rice water to wash hair. For thousands of years, East Asians have taken advantage of this superfood’s high concentration of vitamin E and have been using it since to maintain their luscious long hair. The gold colored concentrate comes from the outer brown husk of grain. The abundance of vitamin E in rice oil can help reduce inflammation and reverse damage to the hair follicles. It can also act as a natural UV protectant, shielding strands from the harmful effects of too much sun exposure. It’s the perfect ingredient to maintain strong, long and shiny hair.

If you’ve been dealing with limp, brittle, dry, and damaged hair — a shampoo with rice oil essence might just be what your hair needs.

Pantene took the hair game up a notch by extracting and distilling rice oil essence extracted in Wakayama, home to the Aragi-jima Rice Terraces to create a more potent ingredient, blended with Pro-Vitamin formula.


So Long Damage, Hello Damage-free Strands with Pantene Long Hair Solutions!

The New Pantene Long Hair Solutions with Pro-Vitamin Formula & Japanese Rice Oil Essence can help you grow your hair long without worrying about damage. This new Pantene shampoo is rich in Tocotrienol—a super Vitamin E, which has 50X anti-damaging benefits versus tocopherol in other oils.

What does that mean? Pro-Vitamin B5 and Lipids fortify the inside, while Japanese Rice Oil Essence fortifies the outside. It ultimately repairs damaged hair and keeps it protected from external factors, allowing the hair to grow longer, stronger, and beautifully smoother.

Now you can say goodbye to hair damage, without worrying about growing it out with the New Pantene Long Hair Solutions with Pro-Vitamin Formula & Japanese Rice Oil Essence! After shampooing, follow it up with Pantene Total Damage Care Miracle Conditioner that helps prevent protein loss and protects hair from damage caused by frequent styling and chemical treatments so you can enjoy stronger, silky-smooth long hair!

Maintain beautifully long, and damage-free hair right at the comfort of your home when you checkout the Pantene Long Hair Solutions from Pantene’s official Lazada and Shopee stores.

Last two minutes…make that months!

Did we just blink and it was suddenly November already?

I have been long wanting to create an entry here, at least once a month (which I am kinda keeping up with, hooray!). But I would have wanted to write more, especially with the many many things–both good and bad–happening in my life.

So once more, it’s already November first! We would have gone to the cemeteries around these days to visit our beloved departed. Sadly, because of the pandemic, we can’t. So here we are, stuck in our homes, and settled with praying and lighting of candles.

What’s making things more complicated is the upcoming typhoon. Have you been preparing, too? Please do now and include prayers while preparing your mind, body, and soul for it.

Anyways, going back to the title of my blog. Last two months before the year ends. And if, you were given a chance to say something, perhaps encapsulate the first ten months in under two minutes, what would it be?

Hmmm let me see. Can’t think of any now, but probably in a vlog. Don’t forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

I’ll see you there. Or through the other social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, and Kumu. Follow @touringkitty on all social media.

~ Touringkitty

Touringkitty Travels: Baguio 2020

2020 is such a…weird (?) year.

We began the year on a not so good note, with the three of us going to separate ER visits from New Year’s Eve 2019 to the first week of 2020. I was sick the longest, for almost a month, but we pushed through with this trip to Baguio which was likewise rescheduled twice from last year.

Off we went to Baguio on the third week of January, right on Chinese New Year weekend and before the Panagbenga celebrations began. At that time, COVID-19 cases have reached the Philippines, and warnings of social distancing, wearing masks, and hand hygiene were slowly introduced. Some Baguio events that time were likewise cancelled already, as to avoid mass gatherings.

We had second thoughts of pushing through, but we still did, and made sure to avoid crowded places and make trips outside the hotel as quick as possible. So blessed we were, we saw Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage along the way! Most of the time we stayed at the hotel, since I was also sick and it was terribly cold that time. Hello, post-Christmas winter feels!

We stayed in one of the best hotels in Baguio, Azalea Hotel. They’ve got the best room and the best service! Our daughter got to sleep on her own bed. The room was so spacious, it had areas where my husband set up his laptop for sudden work, and my daughter for her homeschool. Yup, we still have to hustle while on a trip! We got a discounted rate from Lander’s, and we booked for two nights. Plus, they have Kuya J’s restaurant, so you can really stay in the hotel, and just eat in your room. They catered our buffet breakfast, too!

It was also the first time that my husband is driving for a long trip as this one. We are so blessed to have Tomy our car, who celebrated his first birthday during the trip!

Watch this video to see what Baguio had for us. Details after this clip. Don’t forget to subscribe to Aria’s YouTube Channel! bit.ly/ariadnespeaksYT

Sleep: Azalea Hotel Baguio

Savour: Kuya J Restaurant, Pizza Volante across Wright Park, Bows and Whiskers Cafe, Bencab Cafe

Sights: BenCab Museum and Ecopark, Strawberry Farm La Trinidad, Benguet, Pony ride at Wright Park, Baguio Botanical Garden, Pilak Silver Shop

Where to next?

~ Touringkitty

The story of the small e

Almost five months into quarantine. Still okay? I do hope and pray!

As we begin another homeschool year, and as I was doing some spring cleaning, I found an old notebook, from five years ago, which had an interesting poem I wrote for my daughter, who was at that time, HATED writing. Far faaaar away from what she LOVES doing now–writing essays, stories, and songs.

On our first year of formal homeschooling (meaning enrolled as Kinder under a provider), I kicked in homeschooling my daughter a month late, because I came from a Europe concert trip. Likewise, at that time, my daughter was just turning five, so writing did not come easy. In fact, we had accomplished writing very last minute–at the last quarter of that school year.

At that time, my daughter was having a hard time writing the small letter e, which is the last letter of her super long seven letter name. So, I had to think of ways to make her like writing it.

So, this story-poem came.

The story of the small e

Once there was a letter, a letter I always see,
It’s such a lovely letter,a nd it is called small e.
Small e is in bed, hen, and bee
It is also in pencil, and so is in sea.

Small e is easy to write, if you will just practice it
You start with a small c then put a line in the middle of it.
Or you can start with a sleeping line then finish with a c
That’s the trick of the small e, now, won’t you try it?

Feel free to share to anyone who has problems writing the small e.


~ Touringkitty