Kindergarten Blues: Bus or Car?

Coco’s school is close enough to our apartment. It’s a little over 2 miles away. When we were preparing him for Kindergarten, we talked about the transportation situation. Metro Nashville Public Schools a school bus for kids who live within a certain distance from the school.

For the first month of Kindergarten, we told him that I will drop him off at his school in the morning. And in the afternoon, he will ride the bus home. He agreed.

Every time he gets home in the afternoon, he rides with a bunch of other kids from our apartment complex. He has made some friends, and so the bus ride is pretty enjoyable for him.

It was perhaps a little too enjoyable that he said he wanted to ride the bus in the morning, too!

That presented a bit of dilemma for us.

He tends to wake up in the morning and being the 5-year old that he is, he would dawdle. He wanted to spend an extra 5-10 minutes lying in bed, half-asleep, when we try to wake him in the morning.

And then, he would spend another 25-35 minutes eating breakfast. Then, another 30-40 minutes to take a bath, brush his teeth, and prepare for school! That pretty much ensures that we leave home just in time for us to arrive about 10 minutes before his class time.

For him to ride the bus, we needed to adjust our morning routines at least 20 minutes earlier! That would be even tougher in the winter!

But to be honest, I like driving with him, then dropping him off at school.

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7 Tips for Visiting South Korea in 12 Hours or Less

The land of Korean telenovelas, K-Pop, castles, kimchi and Korean barbecue! I am not really a fan of K-Pop and koreanovelas, but I love the sense of history of the place and the clash or coexistence between contemporary and historical.

You can visit South Korea visa-free!

Yes that is true if you have a US visa or a green card, together with an onward ticket from or back to the USA can enjoy a short visa-free stay in South Korea! I was surprised to learn this, but it was definitely a welcome development.

After my short trip to Mongolia, then to Malaysia, I planned a 12-hour layover at the Incheon airport so I could visit Seoul for just a few minutes. Thankfully, a friend of mine was there at the time. Another friend visiting from Manila joined us.

If you have a 4 to 12-hour layover, make sure to exit the airport through passport control. Don’t go to the gate of your next flight. I was so set on needing to take a shower after my flight from Kuala Lumpur. I explored Kuala Lumpur the day before and I was so sweaty and feeling icky that I felt like I needed a shower first!

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My Writing Process

I generally write about my own experiences, things that capture my interests, some solution to my personal problems, and anything that I get curious about. Since my area of work is related to young people, I have written a lot about young people and the issue they face in the past few years.

Sometimes, though, I confess that I also wait for the proverbial muse to come to me and inspire me to write. But if I waited for the muse to come every time I wrote, then I would have written only a couple of hundred words. And I would spend a lot of my time waiting and staring into space.

One of the best advice I heard about writing is “Get your butt on a chair, open your computer, and just start writing!”

It’s not romantic or profound, or earth-shaking. In fact, it is very practical and downright basic.

If you are a writer; if you want to be a writer, then you better start writing!

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Coco Goes to Kindergarten!

It just feels like yesterday when Coco started attending Pre-School! A week ago, he started attending Kindergarten! Thankfully, I had a full week of vacation before he started school. I came from a 2-week long work trip to South Africa. So we caught up a bit, played a lot, went on a picnic by the lake, and before we knew it, we needed to buy school supplies!

Supplies, supplies, supplies!

The Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) provide the list of supplies we needed. We logged on to the web page of his school and downloaded the list. The supplies he needed include the following:

  • 2– White Avery “View” 3 ring binders (1 inch size)
  • 4 – Wide-Ruled composition books (black & white)
  • 2 – Packs of wide ruled loose leaf notebook paper
  • 24 – Glue sticks (Elmer’s preferred)
  • 1 – Pair of scissors (Fiskars suggested)
  • 1 – Box of 24 count crayons (Crayola strongly preferred)
  • 3 – Boxes of 8 count classic crayons, Regular size (Crayola strongly preferred)
  • 2 – Boxes of 8 count classic crayons, Large size (Crayola strongly preferred) No JUMBOS
  • 3 – Packs of white unlined index cards
  • 2 – Packs of washable markers (Crayola strongly preferred-1 box classic colors & 1 box bright colors)
  • 2– Packs of dry erase markers with chisel tip (Expo strongly preferred-ALL BLACK-4 per pack)
  • 2 – Large erasers (2 or more in a pack)
  • 2-Packages of Mixed Construction Paper(9 by 12)

Strongly Encouraged Items:

  • 1 – Pair of headphones with strip across the head (no ear buds)
  • 2 – Boxes of Ziploc slider bags – Gallon Size
  • (suggested for ease of children’s use)
  • 2 – Boxes of Ziploc slider bags – Sandwich Size (suggested for ease of children’s use)
  • 1 – Pack of baby wipes or cleaning wipes (Antibacterial or Clorox suggested)
  • 2- Rolls of paper towels
  • 1 – Container of hand sanitizer, Large size
  • Paper Plates -Colored Copy Paper -Treasure Box Items

We were starting to get the hang of this process.

Off we went to Walmart to buy his school supplies!

It was Tennessee’s tax free weekend. We ended up saving at least $20 on taxes for our son’s school supplies! In addition to the school supplies, we bought a couple of shirts (with collar) that will serve as his daily uniform. This school thing can be a bit expensive. At least we don’t need to pay for any fees for him to go to school!

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Tools and Systems I Use for Writing

When I was younger, I thought of writers as near-mythical figures who would stare out into space, get inspiration, then start typing out awesome words, sentences, and paragraphs while huddled on their typewriters.

And when I was in College, I thought that writers got to sit at a café looking intently focused, concentrating in front of their palm top devices or laptops while drinking expensive coffee, and looking like sophisticated city dwellers.

I certainly paid my share of expensive coffee, though, I’m not sure if I fit the sophisticated city dweller image. Now that I have published three books (ahem!), I probably have some right to call myself a writer. So if you’re wondering what writers look like, look at my Facebook photos. We are normal looking, though whether we are actually normal people may be debatable.

The main criterion for being called a writer is that you write–a sentence at a time, a paragraph at a time, and then a book if you can manage it. But if you’re wondering about tools, systems, and processes that writers follow, here’s mine. I can’t really speak for other writers, so I hope that this could help you get started.

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Why I Write in My Native Tongue: Ilokano

It was almost an accident. I went back to my home province after college graduation. Then I met a friend of mine. He is older than I and he used to be a pastor. But he encouraged me to attend a meeting of writers in our province. I tagged along and attended a couple of meetings.

I didn’t really expect that anything would come out of it. They had self-published books containing poetry and short stories in our native tongue–Ilokano.

I could read my Ilokano Bible well enough and speak the language well enough but I did not have the skills needed to craft beautiful sentences in Ilokano. My education was thoroughly national–with Tagalog and English really dominating my communication skills.

Back in College, I took several English classes as my cognates. I took 3 units of Introductory Poetry and 3 more units of Business English. These weren’t really enough to bring my English writing skills through the roof. But I compensated by reading a lot, writing a bit, and joining our college newsletter as a contributor.

I have written some poetry that may or may not have shown some promise. At least it was included in the Literary Folio of our college.

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How I Published 3 Books in 3 Years

It took me two (2) years to finish the draft of my first book. I started writing it in early 2012 and finished the final draft in late 2013. By that time, it was ready for publication. It was edited by my good friend Butch, the same guy who introduced me to all the wonders of Lord of the Rings and helped me dive deeper into literature and writing.

Earlie, another good friend of mine, was working then as the publishing coordinator of a small startup publisher connected to our church. I filled out the book proposal form. It was approved and went to the press towards the end of 2013. By early 2014, it was out. Since my publisher was a startup, it didn’t have a good distribution network yet. So selling the book became a challenge.

Nonetheless, I learned so much from the process. More than that, it gave me confidence in my ability to write and to assemble my material into a publishable format. Although I have published a book, I continued to write and looked for ways to expand the materials that could eventually be used for a book.

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My beginnings in writing and publishing

I have published 3 books in the Philippines since 2013. It was a long journey, but totally worth it. Here are a few reflections on the craft and journey of writing and publishing.

I remember loving books even as a young boy. My parents are ordained pastors, which meant that if there were church events and conferences, they tagged me along. Because those events meant lots and lots of meetings, my father usually let me buy a book or two from the book display outside the church where the conference was being held.

While other pastors’ kids my age would be chasing each other and playing in the playground and yard of the church, I would find a nice place to sit and read the book that I recently bought. I thought nothing of it then, but looking back, I must have looked like a nerd with a book sitting in a corner while the other kids played.

During second grade, our teacher once let us organize three sacks full of books. We opened one sack after another and discovered a hundred or so books from the USA. I didn’t understand a lot of the social context of the books, then, because they talk about life in the USA. But I distinctly remember looking at the black-and-white illustration and text of those books, the musty smell of old books, and the worlds and meanings that those words represented.

It felt like heaven for a second grader.

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How to prepare for your first winter

If you’ve spent some time in Baguio City or Mountain Province in January or February, then you have an idea of what cold is like. You cannot take a bath without a heater or hot water. Your breath steams early in the morning and the fog!

But that is nothing when you experience your first winter in the United States. It is cold, nope not Baguio Cold, but refrigerator, freezer cold!

If you are new to the US you better prepare for the cold of winter!

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The Art of Accumulating Pasalubong

Every Overseas Filipino know the importance of stocking pasalubongs for loved ones in the Philippines. Some even send balikbayan boxes regularly. You probably see many balikbayans at NAIA with lots and lots of baggage and boxes, especially during the Christmas season.

Pinoys who have spent many years in the USA have probably come up with their system of buying and accumulating pasalubongs. But for newcomers, it may be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips on the art of accumulating pasalubong.

First things first: decide on a budget and stick to it!

Do not bankrupt yourself because you want to give something nice to family and friends. I repeat, do not bankrupt yourself! Decide on a budget and stick to it. Read my post on keeping up with the Joneses.

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