Friday, January 30, 2015

Catching Up: Philippines | Winter Vacation Edition

Philippines. I can always count my trips to the motherland to be filled with family, memories, and good food. After all, Filipino culture does revolve around family and food ;)

What was even more special about this trip is that it involved New Year's Eve which is one of my favorite holidays when I'm in Philippines. Seriously, it's the best. It was even better this time around because I had Russell with me to experience it. I tried taking photos but some moments are impossible to capture. Just image seeing fireworks coming from every direction you look, loud noises everywhere, all the neighbors awake, and the smell of barbecue and food.

Here's one photo of Russ and I holding sparklers in Pampanga, Philippines on New Year's Eve.


I saw and visited many places in Philippines but that all seems kind of meaningless and redundant when it's family that made all the trips wonderful. I love being with my cousins, Titos (uncles), Titas (Aunts), Lolos (Grandpas), and Lolas (Grandmas). It's the best feeling to sit around a dining table with them and laugh and talk. Russell picked up so many Tagalog phrases that he would use at the right circumstances, delightfully surprising my family. This made my heart soar even more. To have a husband also embrace his wife's culture and family is one of the best feelings.

Family:
Borocay

Subic Beach

Manilla
Writing this all down makes me miss my vacation there so much. I still ache for it. Sometimes I catch myself calculating the current time in Manilla/Pampanga. I count those 16 hours ahead and wonder what my extended family is currently doing. Are they sleeping? Eating? Laughing? And then I'm pulled back to my current state and to my current time zone, and I get just a tad bit sad. I'm chasing the impossible time lapse.

Anyways, I'm all caught up. Readjusted to America and all it's glory. I remind myself that the majority of the world does not look like Southern California. And that I am spoiled for living here. But then I am also thankful.

One day I'll visit again. When I have kids (and when they're old enough to not cry and whine on an airplane), I'll be sure to take them there. I want them to see the beauty and joy of family, to eat until their stomachs hurt, and experience a culture that's warm and inviting.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Catching Up: Singapore | Winter Vacation Edition

Hello!

I've been away from blogging for awhile. And the more I don't write, the more I don't want to write because there's so much catching up to do. So here it goes...

Russell and I left California on December 23rd for a three week vacation. It was wonderful, tiring, heart-warming, and lovely. The first part of that trip was a 5 day trip to Singapore. I lived in Singapore for about two years of my childhood so it was a treat being able to take my little brother and Russell there--both of whom have never been to Singapore.

We walked down Orchard Street (main street for shopping and a tourist area):


Walked around Marina Bay:






Went to the aquarium:


James walking through the shark tank 
This is glow in the dark cotton candy
The Singapore Zoo:


And the Singapore Night Zoo Safari, definitely a unique experience:



Singapore is not that big of a country. I think we did everything we possibly could in our 5-day stay there. We came curious and ready and left satisfied and tired.

Look out for the next post where I write about the motherland: Philippines!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving

Russ and I spent Thanksgiving in Oroville. We try to go up there as much as we can; however, I've never been there during Thanksgiving. I always hear stories from Russell telling me about the amazing food/feast they throw up there and I am so glad I got to experience that this year. It only took us 10 hours (yay?) to drive up there during the dreaded most-traffic-on-the-road day of the year.


The feast was on the ranch. There was crab, oysters, ham, and of course turkey. I got to try American Thanksgiving side dishes I've always heard about but have never eaten like green bean casserole. Aunt Linda brought the wine she makes. We brought up beer my brother-in-law made. My mom-in-law brought her infamous homemade pies. We feasted like kings.

Afterwards, we took out the four-wheelers to explore Grandpa's ranch. Curtis and Lauren were with us and I got lots of cutesy photos of them like this:


Here's one that Lauren took of me and Russ:


We went around the ranch until the sun started to set. I love exploring Grandpa's ranch and watching the cows just chilling and eating. I don't know the land that well but it seems endless.

Boys being boys

With cousin Jimmie after we couldn't restart the 4-wheeler
Besides that I also played with the little cousins on a giant trampoline. I don't know where little kids get their energy but they are so much fun.

Uncle Pete and Aunt Maureen's house with the giant trampoline and an awesome view of the pond.
We will be back in Oroville later on this December! Till next time...

Thankful for this goofball.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making Things

Look what Russ and I made:

Isn't it beautiful?
I am pretty proud of this. Russ' family all paint and they all have these beautiful paintings hanging in their homes that they've painted and I've always wished I could paint like the Henrys.

Russ is an awesome husband though and his love language (verbal encouragement) comes in when he encourages my creativity in different ways. I may not be able to paint but give me some twine, mason jars, and a hot glue gun and I can sort of maybe make something.

Russ put the wooden frame together. We went to Home Depot and–yes, I am going to brag a little–it was attractive watching him pick out wood pieces and actually know which ones should be used. It's handy having a handy man around (pun intended). He nailed it all together and stained it. I came in only close to the end when the plants were involved. I mostly just hot-glue-gunned my fingers together and complained to Russell that the hot glue gun was hot. I also bought the fishing line.

But the idea behind this Succulent Plant Frame was something we saw in a coffee shop once on a lunch date. We tweaked it a little and made it our own. Also, Russ has a hobby of building things with his hands and gardening. This included both and it was nice being able to do this with him.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making Friends

We've been in Carlsbad for just over seven months now. Overall, it's been good for us to move here and learn how to adjust and settle in a different city where we don't know lots of people. It's definitely forced us out of our comfort zone. It's definitely forced me out of my comfort zone. Let's just say I grew up always surrounded my a majority of Asians. That isn't the case down here. It's a slight culture shock if anything else. There's only one close boba store and not much of a variety when it comes to trendy and/or Asian cuisine. Yes, food plays a big factor in my comfort levels.

Besides the food, it's colder here because we are living closer to the ocean; there are no 24-hour donut shops; recently found out that Carlsbad is mainly filled with retirement communities; and there aren't as many malls as I was used to in Orange County. I am learning new discoveries everyday. Like how North San Diego County and South San Diego County like to distinguish themselves from each other.

Anyways, while down here Russ and I found a great church (that financially supports Center Church in Irvine which was where Russ and I were going to) that has great community. We love it. Our weekly community group is filled with young couples who all have little kids under the age of two. Community group is always lively and always filled with real conversation that I am thankful for. They make me feel more at home down here. We met a few more people from our church when we went to our Pastor's open house. I even got invited to a Nancy Drew book club (!!) after revealing that I was obsessed with Nancy Drew. How awesome is that?? I've always wanted to be part of a book club outside of college.

Church has been our main source of friendships down here. Our spiritual lives are being cultivated and at the same time we get to meet some of the most interesting and sincere people we wouldn't have met otherwise.

Russell's brother and sister-in-law live in Oceanside (city next to ours) and it's been great having them nearby. Having family close by helps tremendously in terms of feeling at home.

I've made a couple of friends through my job. However, my walking buddy at work recently ended her contract because she's moving to Japan with her husband. Here's a picture of me with her on Halloween. Ignore all the gore in the background. Our department went with the theme of "CSI Investigation".
Cindy and I
[SIDENOTE: The contracting company I'm with and the medical company we're currently under totally get into the spirit of Halloween. I've never seen a company like this. It's spectacular. Whole departments picking a theme and sticking with it (Disney, Legos, Google Maps, etc.). Here's my department's "dead body" buffet:

Ribs for his ribs, and sausages for his intestines...
It's kinda gross yet fascinating, isn't it?]

This has been a challenging season for me yet so rewarding in all the new relationships I get to make. It's true, when you get older you have less friends since it's all about quality not quantity. But moving to Carlsbad definitely enriched the quality and the quantity of friends I've made. It's been an answered prayer and a blessing.