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.