Saturday, September 06, 2008

It was like an alien parasite

I know I've been watching too many of Gareth's sci-fi movies when I liken getting this cyst removed to removing an alien parasite from my head. But honestly, once it was done my head felt lighter. I've had this sebaceous cyst on the side of my head, behind my left ear for over a year now. It would vary in size every now and again, but it wouldn't get bigger than a single peanut. I essentially ignored it after my doctor said it wasn't anything to worry about. However, in the last week it got so swollen and painful, stretching my scalp so much it hurt to raise my eyebrows. You know for Filipinos wiggling your eyebrows is the same as saying hello, so this was a problem.

I called the dermatologist my doctor suggested. No opening until February 2009. Are you kidding me? But oh, wait I could see the physician's assistant in December! Oh, so much better, thank you. Not. So I went to Urgent Care Thursday night since I thought, hmmm this is urgent. I need care. They were worthless. So worthless, I'm going to dispute the bill for the visit. They gave me a prescription for drugs that knocked me out. Nice, thank you. But when I woke up Friday morning the lump was bigger and hurt worse than a mofo. Yet I still went to work. High as kite on these awesome painkillers, but it was my last day before my vacation started. My coworkers probably thought my vacuous smile and absentmindedness were from short-timers syndrome not some mild narcotics.

I worked on a new list of dermatologists the Urgent Care staff had given me. So they weren't completely worthless. Still, I wasn't impressed. I got an apppointment for October. Woopti-friggin-do. My head's bout to explode and they want me to wait a month?I decided that I needed to go to ER after work and I mentioned this to one of my vanpool riders. She was dropping me off at home because I was relinquishing responsibility for it for the next two weeks. I described the growing lump and the spreading pain to her. She says, "Oh, my grandmother had one of those on the back of her neck. A carbuncle cyst. I hope that's not what you have. She died from it."Wow. Nice. Thanks. Just what I needed to hear.

Anyway, in a panic now I get a hold of the doctor on call at my family practice and ask her if I should go to the ER. She said the doctor who would be in on Saturday could probably "drain it" to alleviate the pain until my appointment in October. I was desperate for anything positive at this point and grasped on to this lifeline albeit a flimsy one.

So I popped a pain pill Friday night and slept from 7p til 7a the next morning. This morning. I was not in a good mood. I was a blubbering mess, having convinced myself somehow in my sleep that I had something fatal. (Stupid carbuncle story! I mean really!?) But G calms me down, plays the solicitous husband and gets me my coffee then hands me off to his mother. I understand this. I love my husband and I know he loves me, but these kind of things make him nervous and I end up getting nervous with him, and since I was already a mess of nerves, I was glad my MIL was going with me and not G. So long story short we did a lot of waiting since I was a walk in but I finally got to see a doctor who said, "We can take care of this today." Such relief on my part I could've kissed him.

The procedure hurt like hell even with all the local anesthesia he pumped into my scalp. Actually that was the part that hurt the most. The rest was just uncomfortable pressure. He was kind enough not to shave my hair off, not even a little. However, I can't wash it for a couple days. Yuck. But it's not a bad trade-off all things considered.

I ruined G's plans today for a family outing to the Puyallup Fair with my MIL and my SILs Phee n Rhyana and my brother and nephew. Felt so bad about that. I'll make it up to them somehow. Thanks to all who asked after me and shared their concern. I'm doing well and now alien parasite free. Okay, it was a lima bean sized cyst, but it's gone for now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 16

I was challenged to list ten activities I do for fun but which may or may not be considered fun by anyone else. This was actually harder than I thought. There were the standard answers: reading & writing, but going beyond that and listing activities categorized as "for fun" as opposed to just daily things I squeeze in was actually very difficult. I would come up with something and think, "Well, I only do that during my breaks or when I'm waiting for something" or "but that's a fun thing I HAVE to's not really just for fun." I realized there were some activities that would be just for fun for me, but I don't make time for. Hmmm...gonna have to do something 'bout that.

1. Writing
I haven't had a chance to blog much lately, but I keep a journal in my purse and jot down things as they come to me. I have my 21 Days of Gratitude complete, actually, but I just haven't typed them up and posted them to my blog. I plan to transcribe and post them over the nest few days. I've decided to continue beyond the 21 days as it's become a habit to review my day and appreciate the lessons, experiences and the blessings it brought. Of course my blog titles will change after Day 21, but I think most of my posts from now on will be an off-shoot of this experience.

2. Reading
I am a voracious reader. I can be picky though, and some books I find a challenge to read unless I'm in a certain mood. I'll go through periods where I can only handle the light escape of steamy romances, then there are days I'll toss those aside for substantive tomes of classic literature. However, I don't limit myself to books. The internet has become another library of sorts for me. I've spent hours on the web reading personal blogs, articles and websites learning about all kinds of things. If I'm curious about something I heard or just thought up one day, it's amazing how quickly I can immerse myself in the subject as soon as I log on to the word wide web.

3. Gardening
I'm getting my green thumb back. But this is also a for fun thing I don't make enough time for. I love flowers and herbs and watching them grow. Our flowerbeds and yard are always going to be a work in progress, I've decided. Of all my personal hobbies and favorite things to do, this is one thing I wish Gareth would appreciate and work on with me. But he did buy a gazebo that we'll eventually set up in the back yard. And when I'm studying patio and deck plans, he can see what I admire about them. this regard, he is like our flowerbeds and yard. A work in progress.

4. Playing Webkinz
It's silly, but it's addictive. This exercise has taught me my "for fun" activities have to take me away for the moment and help me forget the various demands on my time. I have 11 Webkinz now...a pink dragon, a pink poodle, a cheeky monkey, a furry elephant, a google (platypus), a cow, a pig, a black bear, a Clydesdale, a raccoon and a koala. Don't know what I'm talking about? Look it up on the web. :)

5. Screening movies with Gareth
I don't get to do this as often as I used to when I worked closer to home. Screeners are usually on a weekday evening, and continuing up another half hour to Seattle when it takes me an hour just to get home isn't inviting. It almost becomes more work. But it's time with Gareth alone that can become the date night all married couples need at least once a week.

6. Traveling with Gareth
For the most part, a lot of our traveling is work for Gareth whether it's a speaking engagement at a convention or a review of a hotel or attraction. But it's a mini-vacay for me and when it gives me time and/or reason to indulge in my "for fun" activities, it's quite a bonus.

7. Studying & practicing calligraphy
Gareth, Trista and Mum indulged me one Christmas and bought me calligraphy sets and books. I keep my books at work and on my breaks I study and practice and think up designs I'd like to create. Maybe I'll put the practice to good use one day and actually create the designs I've thought up.

8. Loading up on music
Life without music is just not right. I enjoy exploring new artists and overdosing on my faves. Again, I need to make time to do this more, but with my Zune, my Myspace Playlist, my new cell phone, it's been getting easier.

9. Playing photographer
This is a sore subject with Gareth right now as I was clumsy with my birthday gift from last year. He bought me a Nikon that I accidently dropped last Christmas and I haven't made any effort to get it fixed or replaced. On our way to Oregon one time to review a hotel, he gave me a hard time about not taking care of the expensive things he gives me and said he didn't know if he could trust me with another camera. Of course, I was royally pissed and gave him the silent treatment. But when we got to the hotel room and I opened the honor bar, I saw a disposable digital camera and picked it up with, "Oooh...look what they stocked the bar wi--" and proceeded to drop it. Gareth could only shake his head as I cracked up and picked up the camera and carefully put it back where I found it.

10. Conceptualizing digital scrapbooks/videos
I do a lot of studying and conceptualizing, I realize. It's the daydreamer and organizer in me. The whole executing of plans is not my strongest suit. Hell, I don't know that I wear it that often. Something I'm gonna have to work on. This particular activity combines my love of photography, storytelling and music. Again, this is one activity for which I don't make enough time. Instead, what little time I have, I spend getting inspired. I've found great inspiration online and I admire the work my brothers and cousins have created.

I'm grateful for this exercise as it's shown me that I need to inject more "for fun" things into my schedule and work on a few things. It's not that I don't have time, I just have to manage my time better and change up priorities. I challenge you to make a list of your own and maybe you'll find inspiratin to inject more "for fun" stuff in your life.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D - Review

Remember those flimsy cardboard glasses with the blue and red cellophane that were supposed to help us watch movies “come alive” in 3-D? They never worked for me. Maybe it was my prescription glasses, and the fact that the paper lenses never fit quite right? My first experience with 3D glasses before this century were those given away for free via the newspaper or grocery store to watch Jaws on TV in the late 70s. I remember my older brother and I sitting expectantly in front of our television set and waiting for the shark to lunge out at us. I didn’t get it. Were those red and blue lines around Jaws supposed to disappear? Eh. Not impressed.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long for improved glasses and technology. Enter Disneyland, Michael Jackson and Captain EO in 1983 and 3D started making more sense. I was duly impressed, no purple haze and things did fly off the screen. We couldn’t keep the plastic glasses, though. But improvements came slower after the 80s, and it was only last year that I watched something that impressed me more, and hey! it was from Disney again! I have to admit, some of my pleasure with the movie was the fact that I didn’t have to travel to some themepark to watch it. Oh, and the glasses to watch “Meet the Robinsons” were cooler. Like shades. Still an awkward fit over my glasses, but at least we got to keep them.

I added to my collection of 3D glasses this week, again courtesy of Disney. The glasses were similar to those from “Meet the Robinsons” but maybe a little cooler, a little better constructed. I just wish I could say the same about the movie, “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.”

Brendan Fraser of “The Mummy” fame plays Trevor Anderson, a scientist professor whose theories on ..okay, I don’t remember. I could cheat and look it up on IMDB, maybe do some research, but really, you just want to know if this movie is good, right? It’s good. It’s enjoyable. But you have to watch it in 3D. Otherwise, there’s really no point. The special effects are what make this movie interesting.

Trevor finds himself playing substitute dad for the weekend to his nephew, Sean, played by teen star Josh Hutcherson, who is no stranger to adventure movies geared towards kids having starred in Bridge to Terabithia and Zathura, to name a few. Sean’s dad, and Trevor’s brother, Max, disappeared more than 10 years ago on an expedition and no one ever knew why. They just knew Max was a “Verne-ian” a believer of the incredible tale of Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Trevor and Sean discover notes in Max’s old copy of the book that allow them to trace Max’s steps to Iceland. Together, with pretty mountain guide, Hannah, played by slight, but capable Anita Briem, they embark on a fantastic adventure that takes them deep beneath the Earth’s surface.

Josh Hutcherson gives a dependable performance of a sullen, reluctant teenager who secretly wishes to know more about his father. As this is his directorial debut, Eric Brevig, may be forgiven for letting Brendan Fraser channel more of the goofy George of the Jungle character than the more in control Rick O’Connell of the Mummy. I just remember thinking, “Did he forget how to use his ‘inside’ voice?” towards the end of the film. Granted, they were careening through the center of the Earth through most of the movie, but still. Maybe kids who like yelling at the top of their lungs can relate. Me, I was always the quiet kid with her nose in a book.

Brought to you by the geniuses behind the digital effects of such movies as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and The Day After Tomorrow, Journey to the Center of the Earth is unique and groundbreaking as a movie that overwhelms yet still somehow disappoints. It is an epic adventure. For kids. Because they can suspend their disbelief better than adults and just be awed by the spectacular effects and enjoy the wild ride. As the first live-action feature film to be shot and released entirely in 3D, Journey to the Center of the Earth is an ambitious effort that dazzles and entertains just enough to keep an adult interested, and maybe just enough to keep a child enthralled. If nothing else, this may encourage kids to read the novel. If nothing else, this movie may get you excited for the future of 3D live-action feature films. If nothing else, you get a cool pair of 3D shades.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 15

Fourth of July this year was relaxing and way fun. I honestly don't remember what we did last year, if we did anything at all. Gareth and I watched fireworks the night before, which makes a lot more sense to me. Fortunately, this year July 4 fell on a Friday, but in years when it fell during the middle of the week, I always thought the late night fireworks should be done the night before since there's no work the next day. Kind of like New Year's Eve. I think there should be 4th of July Eve. Or make the day off July 5th rather than July 4th, since most people celebrate in the evening. Anyway, I digress.

My parents organized another gathering at the park, and like the picnic for Memorial Day, Gareth and I were responsible for the games. Water balloons were a big hit last time, so we loaded up again. We played the balloon toss game where you partner up then toss the ball then step back and get further and further apart with each toss. It's a silly but thrilling game because each toss could be the last and you could be a wet loser.

I love spending time with my nieces and nephews, and this post is about them, and how grateful I am to have them in my life. We had my brothers' kids, Jaylen, Jonah, Andrew and Aubrey and we had my cousin's girls Alexis and Nikka. Aubrey's my little princess, but I have a soft spot for all my nieces. At two years old, Aubrey still says too little, would rather point or have me guess what she wants. But she can sure let her frustration be known. When we were playing with bubbles and some of the bubble soap dripped on her hand, she muttered, "Dammit." I tried not to smile when I reprimanded her, but it was hard.

I had fun talking with Alexis and Nikka who've moved on (for now) from the Harry Potter series to the Twilight series. However, Harry Potter still made its way into the conversation when we sighed about how the boy who played Cedric Diggory in HP plays Edward. Jaylen contributed to our conversation by belching his way through his ABCs on a dare.

I learned with every generation, the opportunity to laugh at parents is a great bonding experience. Grace, Nikka's mom and Alexis' stepmom, saw us eating Gobstoppers and pounced on them, "Ooh! Gobstoppers! Is it gums?" That's almost as good as my mom offering us pistachio nuts by saying, "Here hab some pitashios!"

We didn't have as many nieces and nephews gathered this time as we did on Memorial Day but we still had tons of fun. Unfortunately we didn't have any cameras for this holiday (Doh!) but we were in the same exact spot and most of the kids we got to play with on the 4th are in this pic, except for Alexis who was traded for brother Maize for the rest of the summer.

For the amusement they bring, the opportunity to wonder at the world through their eyes and for the love they share, I am so grateful for these kids, and so proud to be their Tita Em.

Nostalgic for the 90s

Remember this group? Mark, my little brother, introduced Kai to me and hearing this song has made me feel nostalgic. For what, I don't know. The early 90s were a pretty carefree time for me. Maybe that's what I'm reminded of. Kai was the 2nd Filipino act signed by a major label, after Jocelyn Enriquez. Too bad they've broken up and gone their own way. Two members teamed up with Sway from American Idol and a member of Innerlude to form "6th Day" but it's a different sound. Anyway, thought some of you who liked them might enjoy hearing this.


source: HappySlip

Someone in HappySlip's world has a boyfriend! Thanks to KevJUMBA! Song - "Save Me" by Josh Verdes. Music arranged by Ken Rivers.

I love HappySlip.... Christine's just awesome for her willingness to make herself look silly to emulate her relatives.

Visit her website and watch some other podcasts. "Exposed" cracked me up.

"Bah-tel...bah-tell star gah-lak-tee-ka."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 14

Today should actually be Day 18, but my blogs for Day 14, 15, 16 & 17 didn't go through when I keyed them in from my Instinct. I don't think there's anything wrong with the cell phone, I may have just closed the browser before my blogs finished posting. Anyway, thank you to Mark for pointing out to me that my blog hasn't been updated since Day 13.

So... when I shared my dilemma with a coworker about trying to develop a habit by doing something for 21 days, he pointed out that maybe it doesn't have to be 21 consecutive days. I argued, "Well, maybe not. But what's the point if you do it only every few days or so?" He said, "Well, at least you do it. You do it regularly enough, it becomes a habit, whether it's a daily habit or a weekly habit."

Eh. Okay. I'll buy that argument. I don't have a better one.

Anyway, I've got TONS to be grateful for. The next few posts may be an amalgamation of the last few days, but I'll make it the 14th day of my writing, and hopefully this will post with no problem. This just means I'll have a few more than 21 posts altogether, which I don't mind. I'm grateful that this habit has given me inspiration to write more even though finding time to remains a challenge.

Today, Thursday the 3rd, we made a lovely young couple very happy by letting them have Avril and Dandelion, our silver and orange tabby kittens. A part of my heart is sad because we've split up the remaining three siblings. But when I met Julie and her boyfriend, I was comforted that they were both very thrilled and excited to take Avril and Dandelion into their arms. I felt assured the two kittens were going to a good home.

I felt bad for the remaining kitten later when I saw her running from corner to corner, peering under tables and behind couches and meowing, looking for her playmates. Now she's glued to her mom, Autumn. We're hoping by keeping this kitten, the calico in my profile picture, then Autumn will be more assertive with the other cats and won't cower and hide like she used to. We all know there's nothing more ferocious then a mama protecting her child. Well... I know in theory, not in practice.

I seem to grow more and more reflective on my birthdays each year and it takes a while for me to get out of a thoughtful funk. Birthdays make me think back on the past year, so I've been thinking heavily on everything that's transpired since I turned 35 last year. It's something inherent to birthdays, much like the New Year. To move forward, you have to look back. Year 36 was a tough one, equally full of triumphs, disappointments, joys and heartaches. To actually say I'm 36 years old is difficult because that number doesn't match how young I still feel. I don't begrudge getting older. I've loved being in my 30s. I feel I know myself better and better every year. What I'm learning is there's a big difference though between knowing and accepting. I guess that's on my "To Do" list for year 37 along with the things I didn't get to check-off from year 36.

The last couple of days have been tough for a variety of reasons. I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother as the 1st anniversary of her passing is approaching. All of a sudden, I remember more of what I was doing a year ago on certain days. One year ago I was still figuring my way around my new office and my new job duties. I was just finding an alternative way to make my commute cheaper and easier and still spending 3 nights a week with my grandmother.

I was still able to have late night conversations with Nanay (we never called her Lola, even though that's Tagalog for grandmother. We called her what her children called her). Nanay was still very observant even though she didn't talk much anymore. She could see I was weary on the nights I came over to spend the night, even if I tried to hide it from her. It was extremely tiring to do an hour commute to and from work, spend a couple of hours at home with Gareth then leave at 9pm to spend the night with her.

On one of those nights, the night of my 35th birthday, I was practicing my Tagalog and asked, "Palagay niyo ba Nanay magkakaroon pa kami ni Gareth ng baby?" (Do you think, Nanay, Gareth and I will ever have a baby?) Her answer, slow but determined, was, "Alam ko nahihirapan ka. Alam ko napapagod dahil kailangan ko ang tulong mo. Kaya't wala na kayong horas gumawa ng baby." (I know you're having a hard time. I know you're tired because I need your help. That's why you have no time to make a baby.) We both started giggling before quieting and getting lost in our own thoughts.

Nanay broke the silence with, "Palagay ko, oo. Bahala nalang ang Diyos sa ating dalawa."

She said, "I think, yes." The second part is harder to translate word for word. "Bahala na" is a Filipino value that loosely translates into "Whatever will be, will be." Paired with "ang Diyos sa ating dalawa" it essentially means "God will take care of us both."

Nanay passed away less than a month later. The circle of life in our family spins without hesitation. After a member of our first generation passes, a new member arrives. After our other Nanay, my father's mother, passed away, we were blessed with Nissa, Shenna's daughter. When my cousin's grandmother passed away, her daughter Nikka was born later that year. Jonah, my nephew, brought great comfort to my father when he was born three months after Tatay passed away.

This year my cousin Genesis and his wife will add a baby boy to the small circle on my mom's side. He will be the first boy born on my mom's side since Genesis' and Joseph's youngest brother, Jeremiah, was born. I find it poignant that he's due in September, the month we lost Genesis' mother, five years ago. To create joy where there was sorrow. That's coming full circle.

Maybe it'll be my turn one day. Maybe not. I will be a mother one day. Maybe biologically. Maybe not. Regardless, I'm thankful for being witness to the circle of life that continues to revolve strongly and unchallenged. Like Nanay said, "Bahala nalang ang Diyos."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 13

Didn't get the chance to post this yesterday because by the time my day was through I was too spent to think. First of all thank you to everyone who called, wrote, texted or commented on Myspace and Facebook to wish me a happy birthday. It's always such a pleasure to be remembered.

My birthday was a pretty relaxing one, leisurely spent going from one activity to another. Gareth took me to Pt. Defiance Zoo at my request. We got there early enough to beat the crowds because unbeknownst to us, it was Taste of Tacoma weekend AND Free Zoo Day for Tacoma residents. We started with a light lunch then took our time going from one exhibit to another but it got packed quickly. We then picked up new contacts for me and went to meet up with my MIL and SIL at Salty's at Redondo. We had a nice sun-drenched dinner out on the deck looking out on the Sound. While the heat was almost unbearable for most of the day it was still a fun and relaxing way to turn 36.

Again thank you to everyone who made my day special by remembering, and my utmost gratitude to Gareth, Mum and Phedre for celebrating my day with me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Being Lazy on My Birthday

Can you fill this out without lying?
Don't see why not....

What's the last thing you put in your mouth?

Have you ever kissed anyone named Matthew?
Don't think so...

Where was your default picture taken
In my house...the kittens were on the kitty condo...

Last person you rode in a car with under the age of 20?
My niece Michelle

Can you play guitar hero?
Yep...not well, but well enough

Last time you walked further than a block?
Last night after dinner, took a stroll with Gareth, Mum and the wee-wees on the BPA trail

Name someone that made you laugh today?
Gareth..... and Jimmy Fallon.

How late did you stay up last night and why?
11-ish... Called it a day after enjoying a lovely Friday.

If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
Someplace warm that overlooked the ocean...

Ever been kissed under fireworks?
*Thinking* There were fireworks going off outside....does that count?

Which of your friends lives closest to you?
Ate Chie lives just down the way...

Do you believe ex's can be friends?
I do. I've managed to stay friends with my exes, but of course it's not exactly ideal for the I'm with.

Do you prefer to call or text?

How do you feel about Diet Dr Pepper?
*shrugs* wutev...

When was the last time you cried really hard?
Really hard? Last July...

Where is your biological father right now?
Probably on his way home from work...

What bed did you sleep in last night?
The big, comfy one I share with Gareth...

What was the last thing someone bought for you?
Lunch at Black Angus from my parents...

When is your birthday?
Today! Wee!!

Who took your profile picture?
I did....

Who was the last person you took a picture of?
My niece Aubrey

Was yesterday better than today?
Yesterday was quite nice, but I suspect today will be even nicer.

Can you live a day without TV?

What are you listening to?
My husband singing song parodies

Are you mad about anything?
Nope...nothin' to be mad about....except maybe gas prices, but I vanpool, so I'm golden.

Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?
Of course.

Last time you spent the night at someone's house?
Hmmm... last July?

When was the last time you were extremely disappointed?
Extremely... I'd say October 2005 when i miscarried.

Would you take your ex back?
No, thank you...

Where do you wish you were right now?
On our Disney Cruise ....

What should you be doing right now?
Hmmm..nothin. It's my birthday and I can do whatever I want, Gareth said. So, actually, I should be getting ready soon to head out to the zoo...

Is anything bothering you right now?
A sniffly nose from allergies...

Are you a bad influence?
LoL...depends on whom you ask.

Night out or night in?
Night in...

What items could you not go without during the day?
Sunscreen, my wallet & my cell phone

Would you share a drink with a stranger?
Absolutely not.

Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?

Nanay before they let her go home...

Last hug?
My mama...

Are you more of a coffee or alcohol drinker?

Do you ever think about any of your exes?
They cross my mind some times...

How do you feel about your life right now?
I'm happy and content. Can't complain.

How many times have you been pulled over by the police?
Three... twice for speeding, once for a broken headlight

Do you hate anyone?
I agree with Lewie-- not worth my time or energy

Do you like anyone right now?
I like lots of people....

Will you have a valentine next year?
For the rest of my life I would hope....

Anyone upset you lately?'s my birthday, they better not....

Last person you talked to on the phone?
My mother-in-law

Can you easily tell if someone is fake?
I've got a pretty accurate fake-dar...

How's your heart?
Quite full....

Friday, June 27, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 12

I'm using my new cell phone to post this blog, so pardon my brevity. I love my new Samsung Instinct. So grateful that my husband understands my tech geekiness and indulges me my little tech toys.

I had a lovely Friday. My coworkers surprised me with a gift bag of garden decor. Unfortunately I will have to place the figurines carefully because they're frogs in various poses and my MIL is deathly afraid of frogs. Even cute cartoony ones. I was treated to a delicious lunch by my parents and my aunt (Ateng) and got to see my beautiful niece Aubrey and my sweet nephew Andrew.

After dinner at home I enjoyed a nice stroll around the neighborhood with Gareth and Mum who pushed the puppies in a pink stroller. We started what I hope is a new tradition of sharing 5 things that happened today that we're grateful for. Looking forward to a day at the zoo then an early dinner at Salty's at Redondo with my hubby, Mum and I think Phee is joining us. A mellow and special way to turn 36.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 11

Today I'm grateful for music. For the songs and lyrics that give voice to my feelings. For the rhythms and rhymes that stir my emotions and comfort my soul. For the movements and melodies that take me to a different place in time and pushes me forward in my life's journey.

Victor Hugo said it best when he said music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. Writing is how I express myself best, but more oftentimes than not, music is what inspires me to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard in this case. As a consummate observer of life, I participate by soaking in my surroundings, taking in the sights, smells and sounds around me. I turn to music to evoke these images recorded in my mind, bringing forth memories that move me to expound on my feelings.

As much as I love my Zune, when I have to put in time in front of the computer, the easiest way to add a soundtrack to my writing is to turn to my Myspace page and let my playlist run in the background. I add a new song now and again if one catches my ear, but the majority are my personal classics, ones I've enjoyed for a long time and have special meaning to me. Sometimes for the newer songs I'll take a break from writing and look up the lyrics and have my own private karaoke party. C'mon, I'm Filipino. I can't write about music without mentioning karaoke.

I'm posting my playlist and when I have time I will update this post to link them to their lyrics (if applicable) or the artists' website (how did we function before internet?) for my own convenience. Truth be told, this is just a tiny fraction of the variety of artists and music genres I listen to, but they're all I could find so far on

I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

The Way I Am -

Falling in Love in a Coffe Shop - Landon Pigg

You Give Me Something - James Morrison

Love Song - Sara Bareilles

She - Elvis Costello

The Prayer (featuring Charlotte Church) - Josh Groban (the playlist mislabeled this one)

Moody's Mood for Love - Elliott Yamin

The Nearness of You - Norah Jones

Overjoyed - Stevie Wonder

One Flight Down - Norah Jones

At Last - Etta James

Whenever, Wherever, Whatever - Maxwell

Sunday Morning - Maroon 5

Lost Without U - Robin Thicke

The Way I Are - Timbaland

Together Again - Janet Jackson

Let's Make a Memory - Bon Jovi

Whoops Now! - Janet Jackson

Falling Down - Duran Duran

Nite Runner - Duran Duran

Biggest Part of Me - Take 6

Fragile - Sting

Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae

Don't Know Why - Norah Jones

That's All - Michael Buble

Let's Stay Together - Al Green

We Could Be in Love - Lea Salonga

What Am I to You? - Norah Jones

Take Off Your Cool - Norah Jones

It Never Entered My Mind - Miles Davis

September - Earth Wind & Fire

That's the Way of the World - Earth Wind & Fire

Time to Say Good Bye - Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman

Thank You - Dido

This Ain't a Scene, Its an Arms Race - Fall Out Boys

The Only Difference - Panic at the Disco

Spoiled - Joss Stone

Music - Joss Stone (featuringi Lauryn Hill)

That's How you Know - From Enchanted

(Another Song) All Over Again - Justin Timberlake

Requiem - Mozart

Voi Che Sapete - The Marriage of Figaro

Fantasy Impromptu - Chopin

Silence - Beethoven

Sinfonia - Philharmonia Baroque

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 10

First of all, thank you to those of you who responded to my "Tag! You're it!" It's always fun to learn new things about our loved ones or be reminded of your weirdness.

I got to test out my new digs at work. I'm moving from "training row" to my new team block soon. My new teammates and supervisor seem excited to welcome me to the crew, which is very heartwarming. My supervisor is a little woman with a big laugh. Very nice and a straightshooter. Her husband once played an unnamed Ewok in the Return of the Jedi, and later played Wicket's dad, Deej in the Ewok Movie. He also starred in Night Court as the boss of as Dan, the assistant district attorney played by John Larroquette. I thought that was an interesting piece of trivia.

Anyway, I think I'll enjoy my new team and my new office space. Unlike many people, I actually enjoy moving and starting fresh. Now that I know my job better, I'll be able to set things up in a more practical manner. Not that my current digs was totally impractical ~ I just know better what I can save and what I can toss, etc.

For the 10th day of this exercise of mine, I've learned quite a few things about my daily life, and it's made me more aware of what or who the constants are and it's actually made time fast quickly. Weird how that happened considering my goal was to slow down and savor moments and reflect on all the good things happening in my life.

The biggest constant I have discovered is how Gareth, for such a complex and demanding individual himelf, can make my life a lot easier. I'm so thankful to not have to worry about the bills getting paid or building a savings, even in the toughest of economic times. We have a wonderful vacation planned in September, and I did not have to spend a moment stressing over details, Gareth saw to it all. Of course, it helps to be a Disney Vacation Club member where all we have to do is pick the dates and make a reservation. But Gareth has worked all the details out so there's really nothing to worry about. All I have to do is pick out things to do on the cruise, pack and be ready to leave on September 10. I'm sooo excited!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 9

Tag...I'm it!

Here's how you play: Once you've been tagged you have to write a blog with 10 weird, random, facts, habits or goals about yourself, at the end choose 10 people to be tagged, list their names and why you tagged them. Don't forget to leave them a comment saying (You're It!) and to go read your blog. You cannot tag the person that tagged you so since you can't tag me back let me know when you are done so that I can go read YOUR blog answers.

(I've been tagged before, so some of these may be repeats, but I'm trying to tie them in with my 21 Days of Gratitude theme. If I tag you, you can share whatever 10 things you want.)

10 Weird THINGS About Me (For Which I'm Grateful)

1. The ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime. There are nights insomnia kicks in, and those nights just kill me, but for the most part I can nod off whenever I need to. I don't particularly need to be comfortable or in cushy surroundings. This comes in handy for such things as long car rides or camping. Not so much at staff meetings.

2. I love making lists. To do lists, grocery lists, packing lists, gift lists, project lists, etc. Organizing lists mainly. One of my favorite books is "Checklists for Life." It doesn't make me anal. In fact, sometimes quite the opposite. But they do give me an opportunity to organize my thoughts and pick a starting point.

3. I'm very proud of the fact even though it's been over 30 years since I left the Philippines, I can still read, understand and speak my native language. I thank my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins who didn't let me forget. Like Verizon says, "It's the network." But Verizon has nothing on Filipinos.

4. I am the proud owner of 10 going on 11 Webkinz: Paddy the Google (Platypus-like), Penny the Pig, Diner the Black Bear, Budweiser the Clydesdale, Moo Baca the Cow, Rainier the Raccoon, Cerise the Pink Poodle, Heffalump the Elephant and Naga, the Pink Dragon. Mum just bought me a Cheeky Monkey I've yet to name. Yes, I play kids games online, but it's more than that. Mum go Gareth hooked and so it's a family hobby now. There aren't a lot of hobbies the three of us can share. I can't crochet or knit to save my life and I doubt Gareth will ever take up calligraphy. In fact I'd bet on it. But we all enjoy Webkinz and the silly online games that actually give us mental exercise.

5. I'd rather shop for books or office supplies than clothes. In fact, after Borders or Office Depot, Home Depot, Lowes and the Container Store would top the list before any department store. I guess I can't be accused of being superficial or materialistic that way, can I? That's not to say I don't appreciate a nice pair of heels or that I've stopped looking for the perfect purse, but they pale in comparison to the call of ink and paper.

6. I feel suffocated if I dont stick a foot out from under the covers. Gareth calls it my snorkel-foot. There's something liberating about it, especially when the rest of me is warm and cozy under a down comforter. Weird, I know. What's to be grateful about? It's a fact that never fails to make people chuckle when I share this little secret. And when I meet someone who does the same thing we bond instantly.

7. When I let myself remember something that wasn't exactly a shining moment in my life (said or did something rude or stupid) I berate myself out loud with, "Stupid, Gen!." It certainly helps that this only happens when I'm alone (like in my car or in the shower) otherwise people would think I have Tourette's or something. But I seem to remember these things when I'm feeling pretty cocky, so I think it happens to keep me humble and grounded.

8. I started a Happy Friday ritual at work. Every Friday, I march to my coworker's cubicle and brace myself at its entrance and jump in the air and kick my heels together. The first time I did this, it was just a few weeks after I started and it shocked my new coworker speechless before she fell out of her chair laughing. It was completely spontaneous but it convinced her I wasn't the prim and proper, stick in the mud I'm sure she thought I was. Ever since then, I've gotten a few other coworkers to practice this ritual with me every week.

9. Only as an adult have I eaten french fries WITH my burger. When I was younger, I had to finish the fries first before eating the burger. What makes this something I'm grateful for? To know I can still change, and find new things to enjoy. Was that too big a leap? Oh well, it is MY blog.

10. I can accomplish more things when I am under pressure. This could just be a better way of saying I'm a procrastinator. I'm better now because of my lists :) but sometimes knowing I work better under pressure instills me with a false sense of confidence when I am under the gun. Or maybe it's not a false sense. When it's a challenge I know I can beat, it just makes me more determined. Clock ticking? Bring it.

I tag: Phedre. Laura. Gareth. Kuya. Mark. Ces. Meeh-shelle. Helen. lil_bit. Joseph. Helluva Mrs. S.

Monday, June 23, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 8

I like the number 8. So, today, it's 8 things I'm grateful for:

1. Waking up without a lot of aches and pains from the manual labor yesterday. I wonder if the Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Gareth and I have been consuming has restorative benefits as well as preventative. I've been taking it for about a week now, and I haven't once had to reach for my inhaler.

2. Having such a thoughtful hubby who knew I wanted to screen WALL-E with him tonight. He made arrangements with the studio rep to save two seats in case we were late then drove south from work to pick me up from the park & ride to drive back north to downtown Seattle.

3. Being able to focus and meet all my deadlines at work today so all my June retirees will get their first benefit checks on time at the end of the month. Giving money is such a nice change from collecting it.

4. Earning my boss's appreciation for helping on a special, time-sensitive project. He gave me a gift certificate for the local coffee stand. It had been serving as a bookmark and I'd forgotten I had it. I skipped breakfast and had forgotten to pack my lunch today, so it was a much-appreciated lifesaver today.

5. A beautiful, sunny day. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. We might just have a summer season after all.

6. The excited couple who have decided to adopt two kittens: Dandelion and Avril, our remaining orange tabby and our silver tabby. They can't pick them up yet until they move into their new house in the first week of July, but they're so impatient they want visitation until they can take them home.

7. Myspace. For providing a venue for me to keep up with my family and friends through shared blogs and pictures. Imagine, just a few years ago it would take months before I could expect to see a picture of a new niece or nephew come to me in the mail. Now I can see them before they're even born. Techonology, you gotta love it.

8. A Monday cannot pass without a thank you to Samantha, from Dana's Housekeeping. I leave the house every Monday, excited to come home to a freshly cleaned abode. I still can't figure out how she gets done in 4 hours what takes me the whole week to accomplish. I credit her youth for her speed. I would wish she never grows up or want to be something else, but that would be selfish of me. But she's just so good at what she does. I guess that's why she's always fully booked. She cleans bigger and fancier places than ours, but I think she really likes ours because she's a big animal lover, too. And she pet-sits for free when we go out of town. She's just awesome.

Hope you all had a great Monday!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 7

I hurt. All over. My arms. My hips. My thighs. But I feel good. It's that good pain when you know you got it from being productive. I put in a few hours of yardwork today, wielding a weedeater, a hedge trimmer, a pruner and a rake. I tried starting the mower, but I guess I don't pull strong enough, so I left that to Gareth. Instead I tilled and weeded the flowerbed, all the while making mental notes of what still needs to be done.

Our yard is still a work in progress. There's just so much of it. But! I'm not complaining. When I see the size of yards in newer developments now, like the one going up across the main road from us, I give thanks that we have so much space between our home and our neighbors. The new houses are built so close together, one could literally jump from one rooftop to the other.

I would love a brand new house, but at the expense of our privacy? I don't think so. When we upgrade from our starter home, we'll still look for the same acreage and distance from my neighbors. I know land is at a premium now so it may take a while to find what we want, but we're in no hurry.

We live in a small, quiet multi-cultural cul-de-sac. Whites, blacks, Mexicans, Koreans and us. I know the families on either side of our house and a couple across the way. All friendly, but for the most part we keep to ourselves. It's not the best of neighborhoods. I can't even claim gentrification, because it's not the worst neighborhood either. But it's not bad. There are fancier neighborhoods in Federal Way. Much fancier. But for a starter home it's enough.

We have four bedrooms, a living room, a den, a dining area. The room off the den serves as our home office, where Gareth and I have our own workstations. It's nice to be able to share an office with him. Right now he's sitting behind me to my right putting the final touches on his revamped website, Skewed & Reviewed (

If we're not in the bedroom, we're in our office. If we're not in the office, we're chilling in front of the TV clearing out the DVR or catching up on DVDs Gareth has to review. If we're not in the house, we're working on the yard. If we're not at home, we're at work or at a movie screener. If we're not in town, we're on a weekend writing assignment/weekend getaway. Until I wrote this down, I wasn't aware we'd settled into this groove. It's nice. I like it. It's comforting.

Today, I'm grateful for the aches and pains I feel. It means I worked hard doing something I love.

I'm thankful for the great weather that I enjoyed, the fresh air I was able to breathe in great quantities as I labored under the sun. I feel like every improvement I make on our yard is an improvement on me. I am a work in progress.

I'm grateful that my asthma is under control and not once today did I need my rescue inhaler.

I'm thankful for this home I share with my husband and mother-in-law with plenty of room to spare for our many pets. Yes, it needs work, but don't we all?

Lastly, I'm thankful for the full weekend, that, while it's never as long as I want it to be, it was long enough to help me see just how fortunate I am.

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 6

What an interesting day.

I woke up not wanting to do anything but be lazy, but thankfully, my husband felt otherwise. Although it was a movie he had already watched, because he knew I wanted to see it, he gladly took me to see Get Smart, then out to lunch at Applebees. The movie was just okay, but I enjoyed the time alone with Gareth. Life gets so busy that even though we see each other every day and end the evening in the same bed every night, quality time together seems so few and far between. I honestly can't imagine how much more fleeting it could become when we add children to the picture.

I am thankful every day for Gareth, that almost goes without saying. But it's important to say it. I believe it's too easy for people to take their spouses for granted because you know they're always around. I didn't always appreciate Gareth as much as I do now because he is such a big presence in my life I just figured, "Eh...we're married, he knows I love him, that should be enough."

But it wasn't until I started spending more time with him after my grandmother passed away that I realized what an important role he played in my well-being. From the day I met him he brought new experiences for me, pushing me constantly to broaden my horizons, do something different. I wasn't always comfortable with that ~ I'm a creature of habit and to try something new was quite a challenge.

Some of those new things didn't meet with great success (i.e., riding a scooter), but not since I was little girl do I remember laughing so much with someone. He definitely brings out the kid in me. Sometimes it's awkward to find ourselves the only adults in a line at an amusement park, but I have to admit one of the most liberating experiences I've ever had was a water ride at Bullwinkle's Family Fun Center where Gareth and I were the only ones careening around the pool shooting water at each other. It was definitely more fun for me because Gareth's controls didn't work and he was more or less a sitting duck. But to be able to laugh and giggle and scream like a little kid really did make me feel young again.

So for days , like today, where I wake up feeling old wanting to just be lazy, I remember how fortunate I am to have a husband who refuses to grow old and forces me not to waste a day away. I know it's easy now because we don't have children, but I believe even when we do, Gareth will make sure we still have these fun moments. I just have to remember to be open and receptive to them. That's the tough part, because the role of serious, responsible adult came with turning 30, and this month I'll have 6 years experience at being one.

We get so caught up in being responsible adults we forget we weren't always so - and who can blame us? We have jobs, we have mortgages, we have bills to pay, groceries to buy. Most of you have kids to take care of, or maybe even elderly parents to care for now. The list of serious stuff in our lives is endless.

When I tell them my weekend plans, my coworkers always say to me, "Wow, you and Gareth get to do a lot of fun things together." It's hard for me to explain to them that we don't just get to do these things, we have to do these things. We need to do these things. For our sanity's sake, for our health's sake and for our marriage's sake. I'm so grateful to have a husband who knows this and makes things happen for us.

Now, by no means is he perfect. There are times we get on each others nerves, do stupid things, make thoughtless remarks. He loves TV shows I sometimes find disturbing, while he can't understand why I'd watch a TV show like Friends or Sex and the City. I grin and just barely bear it when he puts on his 80's rock CDs while he doesn't understand my thing for jazz or hiphop. There are times I feel he's very demanding and I'm sure there are times he wishes I would ease up on things I want done around the house.

There are plenty of times I feel he doesn't listen to me fully, but I've caught myself listening with half an ear just as many times. Maybe more. He does tend to talk a lot. There are times I'm sure he wishes I would be more affectionate, usually at times when I wish he'd give me some space. Yet at the end of every day, he's the one I turn to for comfort, love, reassurance and support because all he really asks for in return is the same thing.

And for all this I am grateful.

Friday, June 20, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 5

It's the summer solstice and my office celebrates it with an all day snack day. I made chocolate chip bar cookies. I was too lazy to do the whole spoonful drop thing. I just dumped the dough into the pan and rolled it out. It was a hit, but then again, all the contributions were thoroughly enjoyed.

Today, I'm thankful for all the great snacks brought in. My personal favorites were Dave's apple fritters, Tonya's ham & cream cheese wrapped asparagus spears, Wendy's guacamole, Vivian's summer sausage and Kerry's salami & cheese tray.

I'm grateful for a phone call from my mom telling me she and Papa and Ateng would take me out to lunch next Friday for an early birthday lunch. I not only appreciated the call, I appreciated the one week advance notice. LoL... My family's not well known for pre-planning.

I'm grateful for a phone call from my Kuya who always manages to make me laugh with his somewhat regular calls as he drives to work.

I'm grateful for an easy commute home where no one slept and easy conversations flowed.

I'm grateful that summer has finally arrived in Washington, just in time for the official first day of summer. Now I feel like I've just been ridiculously impatient.

Here's to a weekend with more things to be grateful about!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 4

Today, the commute home just wiped me out for some reason. I didn't drive, I was just a passenger, but the time from Tumwater to Federal Way just sapped me of any energy to talk, write or even eat. Luckily, my mother-in-law was home and tossed something together for dinner. I was just so tired though that I couldn't remember what I ate an hour after I ate it.

If there's a negative with my job, it's the commute. But thank goodness for my vanpool. I know I already blogged about my gratitude for only spending $74-$76 a month, when some people are spending that every week now, or maybe even more frequently, on a tank of gas. I used to be a casual passenger, because I couldn't totally give up the freedom and convenience of driving myself. But my Honda has sat in my driveway now for quite a few months. I can't even remember the last time I filled up the tank, since when I do use it, it's to either go to the library or the grocery store a mile or so away.

I now take the van home at night and bring it back to the park & ride in the morning to pick up the other riders. Being responsible for getting other people to work on time has pushed me to have a better work ethic. I used to stagger in to my old office 15 minutes late, and it was only a 10 minute drive. Now I'm early to work with a commute 5x as long.

In addition to the van, I'm grateful for the 4 other certified drivers in my vanpool who don't hesitate to take a turn at the wheel.

Mary has fast become a good friend. She's a young librarian for the state library across the street from my building. She is a great storyteller whose vocabulary I envy and admire. We're both avid readers, fans of The Office and Lost and fierce competitors on MarioKart.

Bob is a Southern gentleman, complete with an Alabama drawl. He's an industrial insurance adjudicator for Labor & Industries and he's my go-to-guy for all things mechanical and electronic and he's equipped with all kinds of tools! That he lets me borrow without hesitation! When he found out I built my own computer, we added all things computer related to our list of things to talk about. Some may find him a bit of a know-it-all, but he does really know quite a bit.

Robin is this brusque woman social worker with a big heart. She can't remember a name to save her life, and she can't tell a joke to save her life either, but she tries. She also has a habit of sharing too much information, using euphemisms like, "Sorry I'm late, I had to drop the kids off at the pool." And even though most of us figured it out but just chose not to comment, she still had to ask, "You get it? Drop the kids off at the pool? I had to use the bathroom...." WTF?!

The newest driver is Margaret, an auditor with the Department of Revenue. She's a middle-aged South African woman who has the cutest of giggles. I love her curious turns of phrases, which actually is just very proper English. She's so short, when I get in the driver's seat after she's driven I have to adjust the rearview mirror from giving me a good look at my neck. When she drives it's a bit like riding a roller coaster, and we all make jokes about kissing the ground when we exit the van.

Without these folks, I'd be one tired, miserable commuter. So for the van and for the drivers, I'm grateful.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 3

So, today I made myself get out of bed and go to work. There are days when calling in sick is just the easiest thing to do, especially when the weather's so nice. But I've been very good so far this month, so I trudged through the morning and by the time I got to my office I was glad I made the effort.

Nothing spectacular happened at work, but I'm staying on top of my workload and feeling pretty productive. Today marked my 1 year anniversary with the Department of Retirement Systems. I've been working for the state of Washington since July of 1994, and I have to say DRS has been the best agency to work for.

I still have many great friends from my two previous agencies, so it's not like they were awful places to work, but as far as my actual job duties, this is the first agency where I've truly enjoyed what I do. With my previous job duties, I wouldn't have fought the idea of staying home. I look forward to getting things done and I think a lot of it is because the people I work with and the atmosphere of the office is so laidback, that you want to get your work done so you can spend time being laidback. Does that make sense?

I am moving from training row to my new team's section in the next couple of weeks. I actually like moving because it gives me a chance to set things up in a better semblance of order. In 12 months I've managed to amass tons of files from fear I might need something from them. Now I know I can purge them and start anew. For that I am grateful.

My new team is an interesting cast of characters. I'm the type that gets along with anyone, so I'm not worried about fitting in. I can find you to be the most annoying being alive, but as long you don't impede my progress in getting things done or getting where I need to go, we're cool. It amazes me sometimes how much people thrive on drama or let the smallest things rattle them.

I'm not a workaholic by any means, but I certainly know how to look like one. I learned to fly under the radar in my previous offices, avoiding cliques and I always manage to always be at my desk when the bosses come around. Sometimes my cubicle becomes party central, with my coworkers gathered 'round. I'm a bit of a girl scout, try to be ready for anything, so people know to come to me if they need something like a nail file, floss, safety pins, hair clips, etc. But I generally try to avoid office gossip and if it's unavoidable, I ask subtly pointed questions that make the person start wondering why they thought the information they shared was worth sharing in the first place. Sometimes my curiousity does get the better of me, but if it does, I don't go for secondhand information, I just go straight to the source.

So what does this have to do with my subject? I don't know. It was just something to write about. I have an awesome workplace, with great people I get along with, and for that I'm grateful. I enjoy my work and the clients I get to serve appreciate my efforts, and for that I'm grateful. My trainer is a wonderful person who is generous with her time and praise and for that I'm grateful.

The majority of DRS employees are housed in one building, which is rare for a state agency. I was used to being out in a field office, just lugnut on the wheel of a giant vehicle. Now I feel like an integral part of a well-oiled machine. Where at the other agencies I felt there was us against them attitude between the different divisions, at DRS I feel a great sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Who knows, maybe it's still the infatuation phase and I'm just a giddy kid in love but that's okay. This is a nice change from feeling jaded and cynical about working for the state.

And for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 2

What to be grateful for today. Hmm..this isn't as easy as I thought it would be. I have tons to be grateful for every day but to highlight just a handful, or even just one....

I'm grateful for being able to breathe with ease. I am not as dependent on my inhalers as I used to be. Which is quite a feat considering I live with a lot of cats and dogs and pet dander is one of my triggers.

I'm grateful for a mother-in-law who knows just when it would a nice night for dinner out.

I'm thankful for microwaveable neck wraps. Especially this one draped around my neck and shoulders. Whoever invented the contoured versions are genius!

I'm grateful for books, glorious books! And the imagination of authors who toil over every word to keep me riveted and enthralled.

I'm extremely appreciative of coworkers who know how to make me laugh, know when to leave me alone and know when to get me away from my desk.

Monday, June 16, 2008

21 Days of Gratitude

I've read that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. So today, I start a new habit. It's something I try to do every once in a while, but always subconsciously, with no real appreciation of the moment. I'm going to find something or someone or both to be grateful for every day for 21 days. I plan for this habit to stick.

I'm an optimistic person and I rely greatly on my faith in God's will. But I wasn't always this way. There have been several times in my life where I've felt certain desperation, bleak depression and frustration with my particular lot in life. I realized that it was during those times that I stopped believing in the greater power that has always pointed me in the right direction.

I'm not one to push my beliefs on others. I will never claim to be an authority of religions nor do I feel the need to espouse on the merits of one religion over the other. I believe myself to be more spiritual than religious. But it's been my faith that I return to time and time again where I find great comfort. I've done countless things I'm not proud of, but yet here I sit, blessed with a good husband I adore, a home full love and happy moments, a tight-knit family, lifelong friends and a job I enjoy.

I believe it's important to find these things everyday that make us happy and thank God for them, or whatever deity you believe in. It's not just about turning off negative thoughts, but feeling true appreciation on a conscious level for the little things as well as the big things.

Today, in additon to what I listed already, I'm grateful for:

- Easy conversations with old friends, friends you may not hear from for months, but when you do make contact, it's like no time has passed.
- The helpful neighbor I have in Bob, my co-vanpooler, who never hesitates to loan me the tools I need to work on a home project.
- A vanpool that costs me in one month what most people pay for just one full tank of gas.
- The finances that allow us to house and feed the abundance of beautiful pets we have, with enough left to pay Sam to come in weekly to clean up after them.

And thus starts Day 1 of 21.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Check out GoodReads

Check out my reading list on Goodreads - where you can see what your friends are reading.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

60 things may not have known about me until you read this...

What color is your toothbrush?
Pink & white

What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Baking a double stack...chocoloate pecan brownie topped with pecan chocolate chip cookie layer. For my team meeting tomorrow.

What is your favorite candy bar?
Used to be Snickers. Now it's Payday.

What is the last thing you said aloud?
I love you. To Gareth before he turned in for the night.

What is the best ice cream flavor?
A toss up between Jamoca Almond Fudge and Butter Pecan.

What was the last thing you had to drink?
Coke Zero

What are you wearing right now?
Still in jeans and t-shirt.

What was the last thing you ate?
Barbecue pork ribs, corn and mashed potatoes. Crockpots are a wonderful thing. Turned it .. I left for work and when I got home, just had to make instant mash and steam some corn and had dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes.

Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Nopes. May do some shopping in Portland, Oregon this weekend. Tax free. Woohoo!

When was the last time you ran?
Huh. S'been a while. Does fast walking count? I was trying to make sure I got to my vanpool meeting place on time.

What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Just plain ol' buttered.

Who is the last person you sent a comment/message to on MySpace?
My cousin Melody.

Do you take vitamins daily?
I should. I forget. Probably because I forget to take 'em.

Do you go to church every Sunday?
No. I've done better this year than the last few years.

Do you have a tan?
A natural one.

Do you like Chinese food over pizza?
Depends on my mood.

Do you drink your soda with a straw?

What did your last text message say?
From Mama & Papa: Please call.

Are you someone's best friend?
Yup. Three someones. Sometimes four.

What are you doing tomorrow?

Look to your left, what do you see?
Gareth's shelves of DVDs.

What do you think of when you think of Australia?
That Oceanic Flight 815 departed from there before it crashed on an island that apparently can be moved...!

What is your birth stone?
Alexandria or Pearl

Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
Usually drive through.

Do you have a dog?
I love with four of 'em. Two I claim as my own.

Last guy you talked on the phone with?
My Kuya...

Last girl you talked on the phone with?
My Mama..

Have you met anyone famous?
Josh Lucas, when he was in town promoting Glory Road. Apparently he grew up in Gig Harbor, so there was a special screening of the movie. I met Jerry Bruckheimer too.

Ever go to college?

Do you dye your hair?
Nope... Tried to highlight it a couple times, but never really took.

Last song listened to?
The lyrics to Landon Pigg's "I Can't Let Go" are running through my head, so that must be it.

Can you say the alphabet backwards?
I suppose if I took the time to try. But why would I..?

Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
My Reebok or Nike sneaks are my favorite pairs, but what I wear all the time are my black or brown boots.

Are you jealous of anyone?
Honestly? All the women I know who've gotten pregnant recently. I know at least 5 women, coworkers and relatives, who are expecting within the next 6 months.

Do you love anyone?
Of course.

What do you usually do during the day?
Work from 8 to 5 with an hour commute each way.

Do you hate anyone that you know right now?
Nope. It's not right to hate.

Do you use the word 'hello' daily?

Do you like cats?
I have no choice.

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Yes, but it's been a while.

How did you get your worst scar?
I took on a bus while I was on a scooter in Victoria, BC. The bus won, of course. I had to have 32 stitches on my left calf. I remember being on my back on the side of the road and opening my eyes to see a bunch of Chinese people looking down at me. Apparently it was a tour bus full of Chinese tourists.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Badger & Guapo

Originally uploaded by genofeve72
They're such beauties.....

Badger, Rojo & Dandelion

Badger, Rojo & Dandelion
Originally uploaded by genofeve72
Rojo is actually going to be named Guapo by his new owner, which is Tagalog (and Spanish) for handsome. He's the one with the redder nose in the back. His younger (but bigger) brother is Dandelion (name courtesy of my mother-in-law) who, with Badger are still looking for their forever homes.

We'd love to keep them, but my deal with Gareth is if they stay, we have to find homes for 4 other cats. The idea is not to add to our menagerie. I contemplated keeping the one we don't place to provide Autumn, the mama cat, with someone to champion or someone who'll champion her. She's rather put upon by the other cats in the household.

We are picky though about who they go to. We have to know them or they have to be recommended highly by family, and if for any reason they're unable to take care of the kitten they choose, they need to return the kitten to us.

Meeting Nemo

Meeting Nemo
Originally uploaded by genofeve72
The meeting of orange minds.


Originally uploaded by genofeve72
Gonna say goodbye to this little fella soon...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sara Bareilles is awesome....

What can I say....I have a thing for well-written lyrics and catchy tunes. :) Plus she's an awesome pianist with a strong, refreshing voice. And a fun website on top of that!

Hey, can you be a fan without wanting to go see a performer live at your earliest opportunity? Hmmm.. I know she'll be at KISS 106.1's BFD this summer. But really. I don't do that whole mashup of bands who do a couple or so songs and leave. Not to mention the screaming teens and tweens.

However, I can't accuse only under-18ers for getting super overexcited. When we screened Narnia there was a preview of the Jonas Brothers' movie Camp Rock (sheesh...) Granted they are cute boys, but we had KISS 106.1 interns at well past voting age squealing and bouncing in their seats. When we went to see Duran Duran, there were women past child-bearing age offering blood-curdling shrieks whenever John Taylor moved on stage. Just for that I'm skipping the New Kids on the Block stop in Seattle if they have one. Sorry, Mary.


Love Song by Sara Bareilles

Head under water,
And they tell me to breathe easy for a while.
The breathing gets harder, even I know that.

You made room for me but it’s too soon to see,
If I’m happy in your hands.
I’m unusually hard to hold on to.

Blank stares at blank pages.
No easy way to say this.
You mean well, but you make this hard on me.

I'm not gonna write you a love song,
'Cause you asked for it,
'Cause you need one, you see.
I'm not gonna write you a love song,
'Cause you tell me it's,
Make or breaking this.
If you’re on your way,
I'm not gonna write you to stay.
If all you have is leaving,
I’m gonna need a better reason to write you a love song today.

I learned the hard way,
That they all say things you want to hear.
My heavy heart sinks deep down under you,
And your twisted words, your help just hurts.
You are not what I thought you were.
Hello to high and dry.

Convinced me to please you.
Made me think that I need this too.
I’m trying to let you hear me as I am.

I'm not gonna write you a love song,
'Cause you asked for it,
'Cause you need one, you see.
I'm not gonna write you a love song,
'Cause you tell me it's,
Make or breaking this.
If you’re on your way,
I'm not gonna write you to stay.
If all you have is leaving,
I’m gonna need a better reason to write you a love song today.

Promise me you'll leave the light on,
To help me see with daylight, my guide, gone.
'Cause I believe there's a way you can love me because I say,

I won't write you a love song,
'Cause you asked for it,
'Cause you need one, you see.
I'm not gonna write you a love song,
'Cause you tell me it's,
Make or breaking this.
Is that why you wanted a love song,
'Cause you asked for it,
'Cause you need one, you see.
I’m not gonna write you a love song,
'Cause you tell me it's,
Make or breaking this.
If you’re on your way,
I’m not gonna write you to stay.
If your heart is nowhere in it,
I don’t want it for a minute.
Babe, I’ll walk the seven seas when I believe that there's a reason to,
Write you a love song today.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spring has sprung! Just in time for summer!

I can't tear my eyes from the scene outside my study window. Good thing I'm a a good typist and I don't need to look down at my keyboard. There's some white stuff floating around but it's not snow! Woohoo! It's the pretty pink-tinged petals of apple blossoms as our tree sheds to make room for apples! I see bees flitting around the bright azaleas and blooming rhodedondrons as the branches of evergreens that tower over the nieghborhood sway gently in the light breeze. It's the start of a beautiful day and hopefully the harbinger of more sunny days to come. One can only hope!

I haven't blogged in a while. My cell phone makes it too easy for me to Twitter and update my status on Myspace, Blogspot and Facebook. I feel like the 140 character peeks into my daily mundanity were enough. I used to think blogging was silly. I don't really have an audience, so who really cares about my experiences? But a good friend who also loves to write told me, "You do have an audience. You. Even if it's an audience of one, if you're not going to capture your experiences, who will?"

I have a quote on my page from Anais Nin. "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." I haven't found a quote that better describes the reason to write. Especially now, when my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be. I can remember details of a Silver Spoons show that aired two decades ago, but if you ask me what I had for dinner last night, I'd have to think about it.

I'm starting to stumble for the right words, too. I know what I want to say, but there's some disconnection now in the synapses and neurons from my brain to my mouth. It's easier to replace nouns with "Y'knows" and "whatchamacallits." I think I'm turning into my mom.

That's why I could never do video blogs. I envy Gareth, my brother Mark and my sister-in-law Trista that ability to just say what they need to say. Me, I overthink and suffer from that inability to find the perfect word. I discovered that when I had to describe Cirque du Soleil's Corteo to my coworker a few weeks ago.

"You look tired, Gen."

"Yeah, Gareth and I went to opening night of Cirque du Soleil Corteo last night. It was press night, so we had free passes."

"Oooh! How was it? What was it about?"

"It was wonderful! Like the other productions. It was ...y' don't know where to focus your eyes, there's so much to see, you're just...."


"Yeah! That's it. It was overwhelming sometimes. This one, not so much as the other two we've watched, but still. The stuff they the air...the um...different acts...y'know..."


"Yup! People bouncing, rolling, swinging everywhere."

"What was it about?"

"A dead clown."


"Well, it was a clown's funeral..or what a clown imagined his funeral would be like...I don't know. The first act had these women swinging on ..those fancy crystal thingies...y'know those lights that hang from the ceiling?"


"Yeah! Those!"

So, no. Video blogging would not work for me. However, please take my written word for it, Corteo is a wonderful experience. I wasn't too jazzed about the seating under the "Grand Chapitieau" (Big Tent) in these seats built for grade-schoolers. Especially since I was squeezed in between Gareth and a hefty woman twice my size, and I'm hardly small myself. I was literally wrapped around Gareth the whole night. He didn't mind, but I needed a chiropractor visit the next day.

But once the show started, I forgot my discomfort. We watched Verakai at Marymoor Park and Ka in Las Vegas a couple years ago and Corteo is the first production I've seen that "fits" the circus theme because you had the trapeze and high wire acts, juggling, madcap mayhem and other aerial acrobatics. One of my favorites was the Bouncing Beds act, a playful reenactment of a scene from childhood for anyone who had to share a room with their sibling: jumping and bouncing from bed to bed. Except these kids had more talent and no one broke a collar bone.

After the chandelier act where four scantily clad women performed on swaying and spinning giant chandeliers, Gareth leaned over and whispered, "That's it. I'm getting you a chandelier." The next act was a group of shirtless beautifully-muscled men in pants and suspenders rolling around in Cyr wheels. I leaned over and whispered, "That's it. I'm getting you a hoola hoop."

I loved the Helium Dance where this little woman is tethered to these big balloons and is let go to float over the audience, where she pushes off the random spectator's hands to make her way around the theatre.

She also performed a charming pas de duex with a little partner.

If you have the chance to go, I strongly encourage it. It runs through June 1 at Marymoor Park. Easy to get to and a wonderful treat for a family. It is a little pricey, but the cheap seats are just as good as the higher-priced seats. Maybe even better for your neck. We were in the 4th row, surrounded by various anchors and field reporters from KOMO, KIRO, Q13, etc, and some parts of the show we had to crane our necks above us or twist to watch something behind us.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


randomness...feed your mind and your blog

A set of random questions:

1. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Jamoca Almond Fudge...yummm

2. What shampoo do you use?
Whatever’s available. Right now it’s a purple container. Suave Volumizer, I think. It works well and it’s cheap.

3. How do you like your eggs?
Usually scrambled because it’s easiest, but I really like em fried over-medium....

4. What’s the first thing you do when you get online?
Check my email.

5. What is your favorite tv show?
All-time? Arrested Development. I’m looking forward to 24 coming back one day soon, but I can watch The Office reruns every day.

6. Which do you prefer, the sunrise or the sunset?
The sunset. The sunrise usually comes to early. And nowadays, the only reason I’d see a sunrise is because I’m on my way to work.

7. When is the last time you went to the mall?
Last Saturday to kill time before going to my niece’s birthday party.

8. What was the last food that you ate?
The leftover sausage, mushroom, black olive pizza from Tacoma’s Engine House

9. What is your favorite animal?
My chihuahuas ~ Mahal & Prada. When they’re not constantly barking or running out the door when we’re not looking.

10. Do you collect anything?
LoL... cats & chihuahuas, apparently. Oh, and Webkins. I have

Paddy the Google, Penny the Pig, Diner the Black Bear, Budweiser the Clydesdale, Moo Baca the Cow, Adelaide the Koala & Rainier the Raccoon.

I have a pink poodle, but my cunning & dynamic sister-in-law Phedre is holding her hostage. Poor Cerise...

till next time....

Friday, March 28, 2008

1. Some relationships are meant to serve a certain purpose, and once that purpose is met, will find it’s natural end.

2. Van Halen is the last concert I saw; it was in December last year. Loud but entertaining. While it’s not my favorite music, Eddie, Alex & Wolfgang are amazing musicians. David Lee Roth? Not so much.

3. Spring should be a lot warmer than it’s been. Big fat snowflakes so not allowed!.

4. Oh no! I forgot to pick up my contacts this week. Oops!

5. I’ve recently started counseling retiring members over the phone and in person at work. I’m almost done with my 1 year training program as a retirement services analyst and it’s been fun finally applying what I’ve been learning. Sometimes it’s like taking a pop quiz or playing reverse Jeopardy.

6. All my pets make me happy, but Prada’s eager, almost maniacal, welcome home never fails to make me smile.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to relaxing and being lazy, tomorrow my plans include going to the optician and picking up my contacts (doh!) and Sunday, I want to start chipping away at the guest room and home office before Samantha starts spring cleaning this week. Things disappear permanently when Sam spring cleans. Okay, maybe not permanently. Maybe just for a year or two before I locate the logical spots she finds for our clutter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guten Tag!

Spent a very nice Easter Sunday traveling to Leavenworth, Washington with my husband, my mother-in-law, Gareth’s sister Phedre & her boyfriend Josh. The weather was awful, but the sights were still beautiful. It was supposedly the 4th day of Spring and yet we had to travel through a downpour then snow and ice before spending most of the day dodging a steady drizzle.

Leavenworth is a quaint alpine Bavarian village literally in the middle of nowhere. Okay, it’s somewhere between Western Washington & Eastern Washington. It’s actually a great place to go when you want to drive somewhere and feel like you’ve left the state and still be back in your own bed before nightfall. Sometimes driving is the best way to see Washington at its most beautiful.

As soon as we passed this sign, Mum spotted a bakery and squealed for us to stop. The guys dropped us off and went to refuel the car giving us time to peruse the delights of a German bakery. Mum studied in Germany for her doctorate, so it was almost a religious experience for her to find the pastries and breads she loved. I was just glad we had someone with us who could pronounce the German names correctly.


We enjoyed an Easter "dinner" at the Tumwater Inn Restaurant where I had my very first schnitzel supper before roaming the many delightful stores that line downtown Leavenworth. Many were closed, but there were enough open for us to walk off enough of our meal to enjoy the delicious desserts and coffee at The Mozart Cafe.

Mom took this picture with the idea of catching the mountain behind us. It’s there. Behind Gareth’s hat.

I told Gareth, "Now be loving, please." After I gave him "the look" and told him to try harder, this next picture came out better.

Phedre’s much better at the "Be loving" thing. Although right now she’s holding the Webkins we bought in Leavenworth hostage and asking us to meet outrageous demands in exchange for their safe return. Not very loving at all.

This is her plotting her diabolical scheme to traumatize Gareth’s Sir Hiss the snake, Mum’s pink poodle Can Can, my pink poodle Cerise and an unnamed panda.

Actually she was in the waterfall room of the Metal Waterfall Garden. But still. Behind this peaceful and tranquil facade I know that scheming mind was hard at work. She is Gareth’s sister after all.

Speaking of relatives, this picture kills any claim that Gareth makes that he’s adopted. Look at the identical smiles (grimaces?) on Mum & Gareth’s faces.

Meanwhile, Josh aka Ua, wears that same, albeit somewhat pained, smile as Mum later tries to convince him that a wedding in Leavenworth would be "wunderbar!" However, where Josh gladly donned a kilt for our wedding, I don’t know that Gareth would be as willing to sport a lederhosen. But oh, the blackmail pictures ....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I did see it! I did! I did!

I had to find out. It would just bug me all day if I didn't ask someone. I had just caught a glimpse of something and I wanted to be wrong about it. Badly.

I had a choice to make. Ask Tammy, or ask Amanda.

While Tammy is almost 10 years older than me, Amanda is almost 10 years younger than me. Would one be more sympathetic than the other? Would one understand my concern more than the other? If I did see what I saw, it would be yet another sign of the times.

Biting my lip and feeling slightly stupid, I steppped into Tammy's cubicle and cleared my throat. "Hey, could you look at something for me?"

Tammy turned from her monitor to find me with my back to her. "Uh..sure, what's up?"

"Can you look and see if you" I parted my hair behind my left ear. "Is that a white hair back there?"


"Tammy?" I ask again. "Do you see a white hair back there?"

"Ohmygod!" She cries out, grabbing a handful of my hair.

"What? Is there a lot?"

"Are you like seventy? You'll need to dye your hair to cover all that up!"

My stomach dropped. " Are you serious?!" My face must have betrayed my horror.

Tammy burst out laughing, "Are you serious?

"Well, I saw one and I wanted to make sure I wasn't seeing things."

"No, you weren't seeing things. You saw one. One lousy white hair. You want more? I can give you some of mine."

"Are you sure there's only one? Can you please look closer?"

"Go away."

Tammy chased me out of her cubicle where I ran smack into Amanda, her face flush from laughing at what she apparently overheard. "That. Was. So. Funny."

So I was wrong.

I would get no sympathy or understanding from either.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What is a meme?

I always thought these surveys were called "Memes" because they were "about me"...hence But it's not pronounced "mimi"'s "Meme" that rhymes with dream. And apparently, without the long Darwinian explanation, it's an idea that can replicate and evolve, like a gene.

1. Are you in a complicated relationship?
Complicated in that we're two complicated individuals, but the relationship itself is strong & comfortable in its complexities.

2. Is anyone in love with you?
I would hope so....

3.Where is your second home?
My parents' house in Lakewood.

4. When was the last time you cried?
December 17, 2007 was when I had my last long cry. It would've been my maternal grandmother's 93rd birthday had she not passed away earlier that year.

5. Who's the last person who hugged you?
My niece, Aubrey.

6. Who's the last person you held hands with?
My husband, Gareth.

7. What did you do 3 nights ago?
That would've been Friday night, and the Mr. and I went out to dinner then had a nice evening in watching a DVD.

8. Ever call somebody boo?
One of our two black cats, Boo.

9. Are you happy with your life right now?
I can't say I'm totally happy with certain aspects of it, but all in all, I really can't complain.

10. Does anyone have a crush on you?
Hmmmm....I think Gareth's moved beyond the crush stage. :)

11. What were you doing in May of 1994?
Geez...I believe I was just about to graduate with my AA and start my illustrious career with the state.

12. McDonalds or Wendys?
McDonalds for fries, Wendys for the Oriental Chicken Salad.

13. Have you ever broken someones heart?

14. Do you text message often?
I usually exchange a few during the day.

15. Do you have any scars?
Two major ones. One from a gash from my scooter vs. bus accident, and one to provide the skin for the graft to cover the gash.

16. What's the last thing you bought, and how much did you spend?
Trash bags, pet food & bread. About $10.

17. Who was the last person that texted you?
One of my brothers...I think it was Mark.

18. Who was the last person who called you?
My mother-in-law, to come fix her laptop. Yes, she called, even though she's just down the hall from me. I do that to Gareth, too, when he's in his study.

19. Who's your cell phone company?

21. What is your favorite thing to wear?
Jeans, t-shirt and sneaks.

22. Whos your craziest friend to be with?
Ruth provides the most laughs because no topic is sacred.

23. Baseball or Football?

24. Favorite type of food?

25. Have you ever gone white-water rafting?
Nope ~ but we've been talking about it.

26. How is the weather right now?
Just had the first gorgeous weekend in a long time.

27. what are you listening to right now?
My myspace player, right now it's on She by Elvis Costello

28. Where was the last place you went besides your house?
Stopped at Fred Meyers to pick up trash bags, pet food & bread.

29. What's the most important thing you've learned so far in 08'?
That even though time seems to fly faster as we get older, life is not a race.

30. Does a hug make you feel better?

31. What did you do today?
Just got home from an Oscar party at a friend's... my first Oscar party ever. We played Red Carpet Bingo and predicted the winners and a game where you racked up points whenever certain things happened or specific words were mentioned. It was silly, but fun!

32. How long ago did you hug someone?
Hugged my niece yesterday...

33. Did you believe that boys/girls had cooties?

34. Lyrics stuck in your head?
Everythings gonna be alright

35. What are you doing tomorrow?
Going to work.

36. Have you ever given money to a homeless person?
If the light's long and I have change in my coin tray...

37. What does the 14th text message in your inbox say?
Call me.

38. Do you like someone?
I like a lot of people....

39. Do they know you like them?
I would hope so....

40. Whats your middle name?
My maiden name ~ De Guzman

41. Where's your favorite place to be in the summer?
I like sun & lots of water ~ so, the pier, waterfront, Ocean Shores, Victoria, BC.

42. Whats your profile song?
I have a lot...

43. How do you feel about your life right now?
Like I said, I can't complain. There are certain things I wish & hope for but I'm a very patient person.

44. Are you scared of snakes?
Not really ~ but I've only seen them behind glass cages...if I came across one, say in my back yard, then I'd say yes.

45. What did you think about your last kiss?
It was sweet.

46. Who was the last person you rode in a car with under 18?
My nephew Andrew and my niece Aubrey when we babysat them last month.