I’m excited today to introduce you to this week’s Living With Kids family, the Cornistas. Khrista and her husband are both immigrants from the Philippines and work in the medical profession. When they started their family, they wanted to stay in Los Angeles, but they were priced-out of real estate there, and ended up settling down in Santa Clarita — which is still in Los Angeles county, but about 30 miles north of the city. Their home has a calming and classic color palette and a lot of fun details that I think you’ll really enjoy.
Come say hello! Here’s Khrista:
Hello from the CornBunch! It’s a “corny” little nickname we gave our family (inspired by our surname Cornista), a few months after we moved into our very first home.
We are beyond humbled and grateful to be here, and giddy with excitement all at the same time. We are a family of four: AJ, my husband who is an anesthesia technician; myself, an RN; Jesse, a three year-old chatterbox boy; and Brooke, a two year-old eating-machine girl.
My husband and I first met in 2006. My friends and I were moving to an apartment in West Los Angeles, five minutes away from where we worked — and he and one of his best friends helped us with the move. We both grew up in the Philippines, and we both moved to Los Angeles before we turned 21.
This is one of the common scenarios for Filipino immigrants: children getting petitioned by their permanent resident parents to move here before they turn 21. Some are able to finish a degree first, while others might be a year (or even a few months) short of graduating. Some enter the U.S. as tourists and become legalized unexpectedly (through employment, love/marriage or education). Some enter as investors. And some find love and enter by fiancé visa. No matter what brings them, I can tell you that most of the Filipinos I know who come to the U.S. have one thing in mind: to make their mark.
And before I switch gears, a few more of my thoughts on being Filipino:
The Filipinos I know here in the U.S. are compassionate, dedicated, and hard working. I think this is why I know so many registered nurses or other healthcare professions who come from the Philippines. Caring comes naturally for us! We have huge hearts and we are capable of almost any task. We smile through life’s difficulties and go along on our journey with a positive attitude, as if everything is picture perfect.
Something else about Filipinos? We love food! If you ever get the chance to try Filipino cuisine, chicken and pork adobo, served with steamy white rice, is one of the most famous Pinoy dishes.
Last but not least, Filipinos are known to be very spiritual — acknowledging God’s hand in all we do and knowing He’s working to make everything happen in His own beautiful time.
We definitely felt His guidance in our home buying process. Once we had kids, AJ and I decided, for several reasons, that we needed to move away from Los Angeles. We needed space, we wanted a good school district, and we needed something that fit our budget.
A decent sized single family home in a nice area in Los Angeles (like Culver City) easily costs $700,000. In fact, that would be a really good deal on an older home. You might be able to find a 1-bed condo in the $400,000 range in nicer parts of the city, but your HOA (Home Owners Association Fee) would still be an additional $400-500 a month.
If you’re willing to go about twenty miles away from the city (places like Glendale, Carson, Burbank, Cerritos, and Universal City), an average 3 bedroom home would still be around $500,000.
And our budget was only in the high $300,000s.
So off we went, house hunting even further away from Los Angeles.
We had heard good things about Santa Clarita. Disney has its offices and studios there, there were some newly built hospitals, and other developing businesses underway. The schools had good-rankings, and more and more new home developments were popping up.
At first, we were searching with a real estate agent who kept bringing us to homes above our budget. So frustrating. So I ended up trying a new agent who a coworker referred. He had us meet him at the model home of a new development at 6pm, not realizing that the home closed at 5pm.
Since we had already made the drive out to Santa Clarita, our agent looked on his app to check homes nearby that fell within our budget. The first home we went to we fell in love with! And the rest was history. We closed escrow in 26 days and after a week of kitchen renovation, we moved right in.
It turns out we really love Santa Clarita. We love how we hear birds chirping when we get out of the car from work, how parking is never a problem, and just how peaceful and quiet it is out here compared to L.A.
Last December, we fell even more in love with Santa Clarita, when a Filipino supermarket opened five minutes away from our house! We now enjoy our favorite delicacies and favorite ingredients from back home more frequently and conveniently. They also sell ready-made Filipino food that can be bought to go. That means we’re covered on the days we decide to sleep in instead of cook. : ) This can be a huge benefit when I work 12 hours shifts and I feel like I can barely keep my eyes open on the drive home.
After moving into our new home, I really felt a personal passion around the work of being a parent growing. I discovered sharing my experiences as a mom, living with kids, and beautifying our home, was a great way to convey that passion.
This new parenting passion caught me by surprise, because when I was single, I thought I would never be able to handle living with kids. I’m just not a naturally domestic, homey, picture perfect mom that you assume would thrive in that role.
But now that I’m here, I love the feeling that we are all in this together, and that it’s possible to work at parenting and work at beautifying our home, and to be good at both.
Our first project in this house was the plank wall by the dining area. My husband and I worked on it together. And then, after we built the wall inside, we made the outdoor table to match the plank wall.
Speaking of the outdoor table, my husband is a great cook and an avid griller and our weekends usually involve chicken grilling outside, outdoor table set, and kids playing in their makeshift pool on the lawn.
Speaking of my husband, I like working with him on house projects, and I like to incorporate his input on the color scheme and overall feel of our home. I really want our home to be appealing to both of us, and want to avoid making it feel overly feminine or masculine.
When my husband and I happen to steal moments together (kids asleep at the back of the car on a road trip, rare date nights, etc.), we make sure to discuss what we imagine our kids will be like when they grow up. We agree that at the end of the day, we hope they will have respect for everyone and anyone, that they will focus on the deeper aspects of things, and that they will acknowledge there is a higher power conspiring to make our dreams come true.
We feel very, very lucky to be part of a culture where families are tight-knit and grandparents are so fond of taking care of grandkids. We are so thankful to have more than enough support to raise and provide for our family. Lately, I’m also grateful for our blog. It’s still pretty new, but I love having an outlet where we can express our creativity.
I personally hope my kids will one day fully know my heart through the things I write, as I’ve always had a difficult time communicating my true thoughts and emotions. I hope they will forget the times I lost myself in the journey, the times I wasn’t as present in the moment with them as I would want to be (and as they most definitely deserve), the times I lost control of my emotions, and the times where they may have felt negative vibes in this home.
While I love being able to dress my kids up and take photos with them, my absolute favorite thing about living with my kids would have to be to seeing them grow and discover new things. How their eyes often become pools of awe and how they learn to adapt to everyday life in their own way (like how my daughter instinctively protects herself when her brother plays plastic nunchucks!). Watching them grow and develop is like a continuation of the growth I felt before they were born and it doesn’t get more magical than that.
Every time I realize the baby phase is over, I can’t help but get a little teary eyed. I guess mostly because of how time flies so fast and before you realize it, it’s gone. And also because I wonder if I could have appreciated and savored the moments more if I’d known how quickly they would pass me by.
I wish someone had told me (and I had listened!) how being a spouse and a parent will push you to extremes far beyond you’ve ever imagined, both high and low.
When I hear the term “life events” I think of things like marriage, a new child, or a new home. I think they’re called life events because these are moments we feel the most alive! This is what life is all about. But then we also encounter moments that call us to acknowledge it’s not all about us. I wish I had listened (and will make sure to remember now) to let my knees hit the ground in order to touch the sky. There is a song that I love that reminds me of this. You can listen to it here.
So many great little nuggets in this tour! I love the simple color palette of black, white and grey. It makes everything feel so clean and pulled together, right? And you can really tell that Khrista and her husband are focused on raising their kids to be kind, compassionate and hard-working. I like when she said that she hopes her kids grow up with respect for anyone and everyone. What a beautiful sentiment that seems particularly relevant in the world we live in now.
Do you have one particular dream for your kids? Do you focus on teaching them to be respectful? Kind? Hard-working? All of the above? What do you do to make sure those values come alive in your home? How do you emulate them for your kids?
Credits: You can follow Khrista on her blog, The Corn Bunch or on IG here. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram. Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.