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."