Lilypie First Birthday tickers

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

First Anniversary


Today we celebrated our eventful first year here in Torrance. Last year at this time, we were sitting down to a quick Chinese take-out dinner after a whole day of moving, cleaning, and unpacking. It's amazing how much has happened since that day.

There was of course the inevitable first few days where we lived amidst moving boxes, crates of books, hampers of clothes, and furniture wrapped in plastic bubblewrap. My brother was attending school full time, while I was in a new job. Nights and weekends were hardly enough to find time to unpack, decorate, arrange and clean.

But after two weeks, the best thing that could have happened, did. My mom came! It was glorious! For those of you who know my mom - you would know what a godsend her arrival was! She was amazing - taking charge of cleaning, fixing, unpacking, ironing and even having homecooked meals waiting when we came home! Her three week stay was over way too soon!

We had our housewarming party towards the end of August. Hosted my first dinner for my future-in-laws in September. Had our first guests over for dinner in October. Celebrated our first Thanksgiving here in November. And then in December (for our wedding) all hell broke lose! We had guests every day and every night and in every room! It was crazy, and fun, and great, and bedlam, and awesome - all at the same time.

Christmas Dinner was held here as well as New Year's Eve. We celebrated my 30th birthday here. I prepared my first Valentines Dinner for my husband here. We had barbecues for my brother's birthday, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, and the 4th of July. My SIL's surprise birthday was held here. And there was my hubby's surprise party which was also a huge success - just 2 weeks ago. Not to mention the number of people who have stayed over (moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and lots and lots of friends). Trust me, we have had a LOT of people over. I was actually contemplating hanging up a "no vacancy" sign up front to make sure we didn't overbook!

All this in the first 365 days.

But really it's been wonderful. After almost 4 years of living in apartments, coming home has never been as fulfilling. Yes, there is definitely more housework, and garagework, and yardwork, and everything else in between. But the satisfaction of owning your own home is truly priceless. And having the chance to share this with family and friends is really icing on the cake. I may joke a lot about having people over - but in all honesty I don't think I would have it any other way.

I spent the first 25 years of my life in a home where there was always lots of love, laughter and tons of entertaining. My parents were the grand masters of entertaining. Martha Stewart had nothing compared to my mom and dad! Eversince I was little we always had people over (our place was always the designated after school and weekend hangout). There were parties for every conceivable occasion and sleepovers were the norm. Between my parents and us kids, we had school meetings, study groups, bible studies, dinner parties, dance classes, luncheons, mahjong sessions, Acquire games, garage sales, karaoke parties, soirees and even debuts at our place. So, now with a place of my own, this is all I know, and this is what I want.

Yes, I guess we've come a long way from just owning "a house" to now welcoming people to "our home".


(P.S. My first blog picture is courtesy of my hubby. In case you can't tell, it's our home as seen from the curb. It does not show our teeny-tiny backyard where today we planted a foot-high navel orange tree to commemorate this anniversary. According to the garden center at Walmart, navel oranges produce the best OJ. This time next year, we are hoping to be able to have our own "best" freshly squeezed OJ. Given our gardening abilities, please say a prayer for our tree!)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Bits and Pieces

Since I don’t want anyone to lose any sleep over this (as if!) – here’s an update to my post 2 days ago. I had an hour long meeting with the DOC yesterday. She seemed very impressed (I’d like to think so!) with my proposal. My next step is to work on a budget (argh!) for this entire program, which she’ll take a look at next week. I think it's a good sign that she asked for a detailed budget breakdown though. Although my fingers remain crossed.


It's Friday, and therefore time to review our weekend plans.
What we want to do:
a.) Have dinner and catch a movie tonight (Stealth opens today and my hubby wants to go see it).
b.) Go to Knott’s Berry Farm with my hubby’s family on Saturday.
c.) Spend Sunday at the Redondo Beach Pier.
d.) Sleep in every chance we get.
What we have to do:
a.) Visit Home Depot and buy supplies to re-paint the trim around the house.
b.) Clean out the gutter.
c.) Sort stuff in the garage and donate things to Goodwill.
d.) Find a plumber/gardener to fix our busted water sprinkler.
It’s always tough choosing between what we want to do and what we have to do. You could choose to do the "wants" and feel guilty about not doing the "have tos". Or you could do the "have tos" but be miserable about missing out on doing the "wants". I'm telling you it's tough ...


My hubby and I paid a long-planned visit to our local community center last night. In a supreme effort to have at least some form of physical exercise, we decided to drag ourselves over to check out the sports complex. Incidentally, this complex has been within a 1-mide radius of where we live and we have been driving by the place every day for almost a year now – and yet, we’ve never been compelled to stop and visit. On the other hand, in our first 6 months here, we have been to every mall, movie theater, shopping complex, supermarket, and restaurant row in the South Bay. This is an excellent indication of our priorities! Anyway, for a community center, the place was impressive (as in clean, spacious, and had parking) and the customer service was great (as in someone was willing to walk us around, answer most of our questions, and sign us up). So much so, that I found myself signing up for yoga classes and step aerobics. (It’s strange to see the words “I”, "sign up", “yoga” and “step aerobics” in the same sentence). My first class is next week. (Stay tuned! I have a feeling this will be the start of many embarrassing and hilarious posts!).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

O D

I'm so excited! I got a call from a potential client a few minutes ago and had a really interesting conversation. According to the Director of Compliance (DOC) that I spoke with, their company is in the process of expanding and is looking to hire a consulting team to come in and create an assessment to measure their organizational structure, leadership style, corporate vision/goals, policies, and procedures.

Finally a chance to put my graduate degree to use! It was exciting to finally talk to someone who understood the importance of going through a systematic process. Starting with a proper needs assessment; taking the time to develop the appropriate methodology; creating a timeline for actual implementation; carefully documenting results; presenting the findings to management and hopefully getting buy-in to implement suggested recommendations.

I was actually giddy about the fact that while the DOC knew what she was talking about, she was very open to hearing my approach and input. For the first time I actually felt an adrenaline rush as we discussed goals, timelines, budgets, processes and expected results.

Working for an HR/OD consulting firm for the last 2 years has not been bad. But OD is such a misunderstood field and certainly often overlooked in corporate budgets - so largely I've been involved with working with clients that need compliance training or outplacement. As part of a boutique firm, I've even had to do my fair share of sales/marketing/administrative tasks. No complaints really - but this is a chance to really focus on Org. Effectiveness and Change Management!

Of course it would be icing on the cake to actually get the account! Wouldn't that be something to blog about? But for now, I'm just glad to have something exciting to work on! :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FATHERBEAR!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dad! He is one of the most amazing people I know and definitely one of the greatest influences in my life. Living away from home for the last 5 years has really taught me how to appreciate him more and (despite the distance) has made us so much closer.

Happy Birthday, FatherBear! I wish you good health, continued success, peace of mind, and all the love in the world! I wish you many more happy days of "dancing in the malls", playing good games of tennis, traveling the world, enjoying mom's good cooking, and sharing laughter around the dining table. Oh alright, I wish you many busy days at the office too! :)

Thank you for believing in me and for your unending support, encouragement and understanding. Thank you for being a wonderful role model and for being the greatest dad to all of us. Thank you for always being there and for the countless pep talks we've shared. You mean more to me than I ever show.

I am proud of you, FatherBear. For being a loving husband, a wonderful father, a caring son and brother, a good Christian, a loyal friend, an astute businessman and most of all a great man.

I miss you and I love you.

Junarakasa

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Blackout

Last night, for the first time in 5 years, we experienced a blackout. We were having a late dinner - after streneous babysitting! (Gathered round the kitchen counter were my hubby, brother, both nieces, nephew, as well as my SIL and both BILs, who were here to pick up the kids), when all of a sudden all the lights, the TV, and the airconditioner went out. It took a second for anyone to react. My two year old niece started crying and that got everyone moving around in the dark. My hubby found the flashlight and I got out a couple of candles. My brother went outside and noticed that the houses on our side of the street had their lights out too. (So it wasn't just us - and certainly not because I had mailed this month's electric bill 2 days late!).

I got on the phone and called SoCal Edison and started talking to a very bored guy named Larry. I am sure Larry had better things to do on a Friday night that sit and wait for a call from someone like me. But I still think he could have handled the call better. Larry tells me that the power outage is not showing up on his screen. I assure him the problem is real. He then tells me he will call me back when the problem appears on his screen. So ... we ... wait...

As we wait, we all sit around and talk - and I mean really t-a-l-k (by the light of three candles). It's funny since most of us never really sit down and have long conversations anymore. There's always too many things going on. Tonight was a perfect example. Over dinner we had the tv going, the kids were running around from room to room so once in a while someone had to go get them, there was someone in the bathroom, someone on the phone, I was heating chicken wings on the microwave ... Too. Many. Things. Going. On.

I remember a few years ago when blackouts were very common in Manila. Every other week there would be a night when the power would go out and my family would all find ourselves in my parents' room. All 7 of us. We had 1 rechargable lamp that my dad would claim as he read his newspaper. Anyone else who needed the light would have to sit around his feet and share that lamp. My dad also had a small battery operated radio and we would listen to that as well. But the best part was how we would all lie down and spend "quality time". My sisters, brothers and I would invent silly trivia games to while away the time. We'd swap stories about what was going on with each of us. My mom and dad would regale us will "back-in-my-day" stories. Sometimes we would take out the Scrabble Board, or the Monopoly Board or the Boggle cube and play. Inevitably though when the power came on we'd all go back to what we were doing before that ... my brother would go watch tv, the twins would go do homework, I would get on the phone with friends, my older sister would go back online, my dad would read his paper and my mom would go back to reading or watching tv. We would be in different parts of the house. And as always, we'd have Too. Many. Things. Going. On.

I guess we all have too many things going on all the time. It's human nature. We invent things to save time, but end up using all that time we save doing more things. So we invent more time- saving measures and end up with less time than before. Vicious cycle. I think the moral here is we need a few more "blackouts" in life. It's times like these where we are forced to catch our breath and slow down. It's times like these where we actually have conversations and need to rely on ourselves to find ways to entertain us. Come to think of it, it could be what we really need. Imagine... NEWSFLASH: Nationwide Blackouts Cause A Surge in Family Bonding ..... (we may be on to something here).

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yay! It's Friday!

Now I don’t normally say this. But after the week I’ve had, I’m thinking “Yay! It’s Friday! Finally!”

I woke up yesterday and actually thought it was Friday already. I went thru most of Thursday morning thinking that it was the end of the workweek. (I kept telling my clients to “have a great weekend” and told our Office Manager that “I’d get back to her on Monday” about something she needed ASAP). What a bummer to actually find out I was a day short till the weekend.

But today, I know for sure it’s Friiiiiday. This morning there were “end-of-the-workweek” glows on everyone’s faces and a robust “Good Morning” from George, our parking valet, as I stepped into the crowded building elevator. (On most mornings there is a half-hearted nod from 1 or 2 people along with a mumble of incoherent phrases, while the rest stare blankly into their coffee cups).

Not that the coming weekend holds such promise of a wild and crazy time. Well, at least not the typical “wild and crazy time” most newly married thirtysomethings have in LA! I guess it’s safe to say, my hubby and I are not the typical “wild and crazy couple”. For example, here’s our agenda for this weekend:

Friday Night:
Visit with neighbors who we found out are relocating soon.
Baby sit adorable nieces and nephew (ages 6, 2 and 1). A night filled with Disney videos, story books, microwave popcorn and apple juice!

Saturday:
Morning: Prepare loot bags for niece’s birthday party.
Afternoon: Attend niece’s first birthday.
Evening: Dinner out with my hubby’s friend who is visiting from Pittsburg.

Sunday:
Morning: Do stuff around the house – usually involves cleaning and laundry.
Noon: Go to mass.
Afternoon: Visit a friend in Sta. Monica – while hubby checks on her computer.
Evening: Have an early dinner with the same friend.

For us this translates as: “Hoowee! Good times, good times!”

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Golden Girls

I grew up watching Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia. I remember how much my mom loved this show. It’s the only one that could leave her shaking and breathless with laughter. Back when I was younger, it was a Sunday night ritual to have dinner at ama and angkong’s place and then come home to watch The Golden Girls and The Nanny. My whole family loved it!

Moving to the States a few years ago, it was a pleasant surprise to find Golden Girl reruns on the Lifetime Channel. It actually seems like it’s on all the time now. Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Late Night! I actually start the day watching it as I blow-dry my hair for work and I have it on in the background as I make dinner in the evenings too.

Incidentally, I used to watch the news in the morning, but really found it depressing to start the day with bad news. I think The Golden Girls is a much better show to start the day with before heading out onto LA rush hour traffic and 8 hours of work!

This morning I saw a commercial about the sequel to the show called The Golden Palace. I didn’t even know about this! Only then did I realize the mass appeal of my 4 favorite quirky grandmothers – there was a petition asking Lifetime to air the sequel. And one of the blogs that I frequent (Sareet’s) actually talked about the show too.

So now I’m marking my calendar: The Golden Palace on August 1st. I’ll be sure to tell my mom if it’s just as good! :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

First Time Post

This should be a momentous occassion. My first blog entry. I've been reading a couple of my friends' blogs and some random ones too. I've had a dozen really great ideas for my first entry. But typical of me, I'm now drawing a blank. I guess it's just as well since I'm not sure how this works - and in case I don't post this properly, then my great blog ideas aren't lost forever! I'm ready to try posting now. Here goes nothing ...