Homeschooling Adventures: Here we come!

Like everyone else, I am absolutely exhausted. Mustering up all the energy and courage I have left to move forward in this ongoing pandemic. After attending N.'s school open house once we returned from our August birthday festivities with family in Jersey, we made a tough decision to homeschool until N. is fully vaccinated and has an extra layer of protection. It's the most comfortable choice we could make for our family right now. 

It's not the choice I would have liked to make. In fact, I was hopeful after speaking with N.'s nurse practitioner about her thoughts on full return to school in person. Sadly, the principal's truthful look of desperate defeat in his eyes as we asked about other mitigation strategies in keeping students safe was not convincing enough for us to have confidence in N.'s return as a fourth grader. And so the less fearful for us is to homeschool. I am deeply aware of how privileged we are to see homeschooling as a temporary alternative, and I am grateful. 

Now that we've committed to this educational challenge (I had to formally complete the paperwork to withdraw from our local public school system), my body has been waking me at 5.30am
every morning. I've tried to use this time to center myself -- breathing, praying, and lying in silence as I try to just be in my body and let myself be with whatever I'm feeling at the moment, mostly anxiety coupled with madness along with gratitude. When I'm running errands alone, I have my moments of welling up, giving in to feeling doomed, a chance to decompress, only to shake it off and find something positive such as  . . . While we focus to stay alive during covid, I'm not in the same circumstances as the many Afghan women and girls who struggle to survive or others elsewhere in the world who suffer.

Deep breaths. Thankful that the summer's been good to us. 

Especially for those with young kids, whether you've chosen in person, virtual or homeschool, wishes for a smooth and healthful return to learning.


Beyond the sun

I scan albums for photos of just my Dad and me as a newborn or baby. Disappointed there are none.

I search for him
beyond the sun
where the bay and sky meet
where some of his ashes
are free to roam
the memory of a final family outing
crabbing at the Keyport pier
I search his smile
through cancer's misery
where a daughter and father's love understood
tackles this heartprint
like a bluefish wrestling
at the end of the line
we wrangle to make
this moment magical
beyond the sun
where love sparkles
across the wild and blue


Waiting for the moonrise

rocking outside on the terrace
twilight waves lull me 
into a hypnotic jersey state
shoreside flashbacks
where the seascape is 
home to my mind's eye
and my heart fills 
with familiar embraces
longed for in the throes 
of a pandemic
the spirited ocean breeze 
nestles me close
i breathe the moonrise
glowing golden
love is


Rare moment of stillness

sometimes the serenity of
lemon tulip trees as they sway coolly
in the Sunday afternoon's May breeze
surprises us.
sometimes the everyday
cacophony of family life
soothes us.
sometimes we find ourselves
somewhere in between
the sweet scent of honeysuckle
and a smooth, but bold glass of Maipe's Malbec.


Rescue, our favorite breed

Can't say I love her just yet. I'm certainly grateful that I'm free to be my uninhibited self around her. She's my new audience. As we adjust to life with our rescue dog, I'm mindful of how long N. has been wishing for a dog. As a three-year-old, she paged through her dog encyclopedia carefully studying each breed and their characteristics, whether or not they were a good family dog. We'd been buying our time, telling her we'd consider a dog when she turns nine. 

What better time to adopt a rescue than a year into the pandemic? Now we have Creagh, a two-year-old beagle mix, we think black labrador retriever, whose got the most exquisite freckles on her chest and front paws. She's just the right dog with the right temperament for our first-time-dog-family, snuggles up to anyone sitting on the couch. Still wary of unfamiliar people and other dogs, she delights in being the only dog in our home. Most of all, as an only child N. is thrilled to pal around with a four-legged companion.

With great expectation, we drove an hour and a half away to Walkersville, MD to pick up Creagh from her foster family. I'd bought and cancelled two crate orders before settling on my third choice. Still had to borrow a crate for transport as I hoped our new crate would arrive in time for Creagh to settle into our dog-friendly home. I'd scrubbed our home in preparation for welcoming a new resident, and our Creagh Advisory Board of expert close friends and family dog owners was on call. 

Three weeks in, I've warmed up to having Creagh on my daily treks and certainly appreciate even more being in the now. With her open smile, she appears happiest on the trail as she constantly looks back at me and putters along, soaking up her daily dose of tree oil during a woodsbath.

You know that Subaru commercial? The one where the parents watch as their daughter grows through the years? Just like that commercial, I find myself charmed in the moment -- N. in the backseat of our Forrester with Creagh on our way to the park for a hike and some fishing. 

And the moment is . . . perfect.



I see the light. I think. I hope. Qualified for a covid Pfizer dose based on my BMI. Yay to being overweight by 2.2 points! After what feels like waiting so long for my turn, getting the first dose finally gave me permission to sigh. Big. 

And it's been a terribly heavy hearted week. Particularly disturbing has been a homily a few weeks ago at what we thought was our progressive church when the priest in all of his fire and brimstone spoke how love and marriage was only between a man and a woman as my 8.5-year-old asked, What about Uncle Mitch and Ninong Ben (and others in our family and friend circles who are gay and married). This is the same priest who has spoken about how maybe it was Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. It's also the same church that pushes its pro life propaganda during a family Mass, and I have to answer my daughter's question, What's abortion, Mom? Because she actually is listening and picking up on the rhetoric. Child-appropriate explanation, of course. 

Then the Pope's declaration that same sex marriages cannot be blessed by the Catholic Church. Really? You let your cardinals and bishops reel you in like that? I had so much hope for you, Pope Francis. 

You'd think as a nine-year-old, I would have been immediately turned off by the image of my parish priest arrested in handcuffs because he had sexually abused and offered pot to a high school student. I vividly recall the image of him in the local paper, The Jersey Journal. Not really understanding the gravity of what had happened even after I read the article, just knowing that it was bad and scary. This is around the 1980s when the made-for-TV movie about family incest starring Ted Danson and Glenn Close, Something About Amelia, debuted. 

Without a doubt, I credit the Sisters of Charity who raised me to have strong values in community and feminism, and I stuck it out because of and despite the deep cultural colonized heritage ties of Filipino Catholicism. Not to mention years of pent-up angst around sexual abuse cover-ups and misogynist attitude towards women as church leaders. 

But enough. 

So Catholicism, we must part ways and return to exploring truly welcoming faith communities that are much more in tune with today's humanity and commited to social justice.

Then the murders in Georgia, in my dearest cousin's neighborhood. So much is circulating in the media and on social media. So much there. The class, gender, race, power and sexualized dynamics AND the hate that leave our Asian American communities terrorized and eight families mourning their loved ones.

Last night, I treated myself to a 90-minute guided sit with my former MBSR teacher, who encouraged us to intentionally place our hands on our hearts. This much deserved time gifted me the needed space to connect with and be in my body and feel the heavy-heartedness. To courageously sit with the anger, disappointment, sadness as I continue to process the madness of hate and violence. To remember to be heart-centered as I lead with my heart in all of my actions as a woman, partner, mother, friend and community member. 

In these trying times, let this be an invitation to place our hands on our hearts and ground ourselves in a moment of heart-centeredness. 


Keep on going

Almost a year since pandemic lockdown, and I am definitely covid fatigued as we patiently await our turn in the vaccine rollout and watch others as they finagle their first and second doses, every person for themselves. Myself included. I would have never been able to schedule my Mom for her first dose had it not been a tip from my cousin's husband who received word through local politics. It's maddening. While I usually exude optimism, I'm admittedly silently defeated trying to stay strong for myself and those around me . . . because what other choice do I have? I take solace in the words of others whose poesies artfully hold space for me as I struggle to hold space for others. 

What happens when we can no longer hold space for each other? 

At the end of the day, the only thing that helps to feel good about such a sh*! year is to work at being in service to others with whatever energy I have left. That means taking care of myself, finding ways to be more healthful, so I can keep showing up. I'm exhausted and heartbroken. Can I still connect, give, change and grow? Yes, I can. We can . . . keep going.

Yes, it's really hard right now. I cry while watching a movie. Then I write when the spirit moves me. I read, then I well up. I binge on some hulu or netflix series. I give to my family, myself, my friends and my community. I try to sleep, and I engage again. Day after day, longing to see the light as we continue to muster up patience with much grace and gratitude. I can . . . keep going. 

The Great Command
by Jacqueline Suskin

The great command holds
my attention at various points
throughout the day and night.
Keep on living, keep on living, keep on living.

I hear a voice ask me what abilities
can I manage, or what am I able?
I respond with
whatever I can muster.
I follow up my ideas with infinite thanks.
What else is there
in the face of such mystery
other than continuous celebration?
I'm just happy to be anything at all.

I say yes without fault
for nothing could be too wrong --
everything is as it should be.
How could it not be? 


Roaring twenties

2021 is off to a roarin' start. In the midst of writing my representatives (again and
Ricardo Levins Morales

again) about impeaching the lunatic resident in the White House, I've been appreciating the delicious ease between deep breaths, 
crafting love notes with wax seals, and planning more shared mindfulness opportunities, all with the intention of creating more heartfulness within myself and around me. 

As we await our covid vaccine turn, I pray that my daughter focuses on the gifts of the pandemic, not on all that sometimes feels lost. 

May she remember . . .

  • lazy summer days in the garden tub
  • s'mores, hotdogs, and chicken on sticks around the firepit
  • zooms with family and friends -- just like the Jetsons!
  • treks to the top of the mountain for our healing dose of riverside air 
  • calamari and pizza runs after our weekend morning hikes to support our local restaurants
  • holiday celebrations eating ice cream for breakfast
  • fireside movie viewing 
  • lunchtime breaks from online school exploring around the creek's bend
  • afternoon playdates writing scripts and composing songs with her best pal
  • nighttime kitchen dance routines
When the Universe forces us to strip down to what we feel like we can control, all we have to offer to each other is our dulcet Spirit.