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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lazy Weekend

This weekend was an incredibly lazy one for us. I think everyone should have these kinds of weekends once in a while. Two days dedicated to our inner couch potato – just relaxing, recuperating and rejuvenating. We all go thru such stressful work weeks and sometimes having whirlwind weekends, although fun, leave us even more tired. I say once a month people should have a weekend just devoted to taking it easy.

Saturday we woke up late, had brunch at a Hawaiian café, strolled around Bed, Bath and Beyond so we could finally use up a gift card I had gotten last Xmas. We bought a steamer (so we can steam dumplings) and a carbon monoxide detection kit, and headed home. We played Wii, watched tv, napped and just lazed around the rest of the afternoon. Went to mass at 7 then stopped at Blockbuster for some DVDs. On Sunday, we again slept in, walked to the corner supermarket and picked up a few things, grilled steaks and fresh asparagus for lunch, puttered around the garden, read, and napped. We made a quick stop at the mall to get my SIL a birthday gift and stopped next door at Best Buy to use Jojo’s gift card (which he also got last Xmas). Dinner was quick and easy - panini sandwiches made with smoked turkey and provolone.

It’s interesting that even if Jojo and I have been together for so long (8 years and counting), there are still things about each other that we are discovering. This weekend was one such time. We’ve found out that even if we both have different interests, we can find common ways to enjoy time together. And now, even after 8 years, we still have so many things we can talk about and share with each other. It’s nice to have someone who I can be totally comfortable and open with, and who can be so comfortable and open with me too. But the best thing about this weekend and what I learned about our relationship is, we are both very attuned to each other and so relaxed which each other’s company that we do not need to have activities and conversation and things going on around us. We can be taking a walk, sitting side by side in the garden, or reading the papers while having brunch, not talking, not touching, not making eye contact - and yet I feel connected and close to him each time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wiiiii!!!!!

My hubby is one happy camper today. He finally has a Nintendo Wii. He’s been wanting one since last Christmas when the game station first came out. But it seemed like half of the country wanted one too since all the major stores have been sold out for the last 4 months. There have been a few available on Ebay and other online sites but they were being sold over double the retail price. Outrageous! So Jojo’s been waiting patiently for our turn to get the Wii.

Yesterday one of my co-workers called and said that Toys R Us was releasing 50 game consoles this morning. They would sell them to the first 50 people in line. So bright and early this morning (on a Sunday!), Jojo and I were up and headed over to the parking lot of the local Toys R Us. We were a bit dismayed that the line seemed so long before 8 AM (the store opened at 10). But luckily even if most groups had 4-5 people, they were only purchasing one console. Toys R US was only selling one per party. We were number 39 and we settled at the end of the line.

It was so amusing to be there so early (some people were there at 6:30), standing in line for a videogame -- but there we were :) The sky was overcast and it was quite chilly. We stood around in our coats, trying to huddle for warmth. But everyone was in high spirits. I saw several of my other co-workers in line (about 5 of them and their families too). Because of that, the 2 hour wait (till the store opened) and the 1 hour wait (inside the store to get our game and to line up at the cashier) became actually quite fun. At around 9, the store was not yet open, but they were already turning away people who were driving up since there were already 50 families waiting in line.

We finally got our Wii at about 11 and headed home to try it out. It’s so cool! Super worth the wait and the money! We got the game console, the sports CD (which includes 5 games) plus double controllers / nunchucks - for a little over $300.00. You can buy other CDs with more games which we plan to do later on. For those who don’t know, what makes Wii better (than other game consoles like Playstation and X-Box) it is the fact that it is an interactive videogame. The graphics are amazing and the technology is pretty incredible.

First you start of by creating your “character” from a list of physical traits (eyes, nose, lips, face shape, hair style, and other facial features, tattoos, moles, make-up, glasses, etc, etc). Your character really does start to look like you! Then you get to play games with your character. You strap on the controls to your hands and your character does the exact same actions that you are doing. If you swing your right hand upward, so does your character on the tv screen. You can even do a little victory dance when you score a strike and your character does the dancing too! So you are actually playing the games thru your character. It is pretty awesome.

Jojo’s character’s name is “Ni” and my character’s name is “Deets”. Ni and Deets have been playing tennis, golf, bowling, baseball and even boxing all afternoon, while Jojo and I are getting quite a workout since we are literally going thru the motions of the game. And since Jojo and I are both so competitive, it’s been a very tiring afternoon. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Tragedy Unfolds

The massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday has struck a chord in everyone. The killing of 32 people and the wounding of 29 others, students and professors alike, while in their classes and dorms. The murders committed by a troubled gunman who was also a student at the school. I’ve been watching the news and reading article after article about this tragic event. I am transfixed by the individual stories of heroism displayed by many, caught up in the despair and anguish felt by the families, and horrified by the cold and calculating mind of the killer who ended up taking his own life after his acts of terror. The Primetime News coverage showed the beautiful, sprawling campus while the videos and photos captured by the students showed the dark horror that transpired inside.

Since first hearing about the event, I’ve been unable to get it out of my mind. Such terror that must have gripped the victims not knowing what was going on until it was too late. Such sadness and tragedy in an institution for higher learning. Such a waste of life, especially since the list of victims included promising students and esteemed professors. Such sadness for the parents who are watching the tragedy unfold in the news but unable to reach their kids and find out if they are safe. Such a tragedy for all of us trying to understand how this could have happened and what we could have done to prevent it.

The media has been playing the tragedy from all angles – on tv, over the radio, in the newspapers, and on the internet. Everyone seems to have an opinion, a new twist to the story, a new scoop about the killer or the long list of victims. Experts have come out of the woodwork and have talked about the lax gun laws in Virginia, the lack of security of campuses across the US, and even the role media has played in spawning violence among the youth. Before we all get on a soapbox with each of our own agendas, I think we need to keep in mind the sadness of today, the loss of human lives, and the loss of a sense of security, freedom and hope.

As we go on with our lives and come to grips with this senseless tragedy, let us keep our family and friends close. Let us remember to say a prayer of thanks for life. And let us pray for peace for the students, their families, and for us all.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend Dinners

This weekend I got to indulge in some of my favorite pastimes. Twice! I hosted two dinners here at home – which meant entertaining, having friends and family over, good food, lots of laughter and good times.

Friday night, I had some friends from work over for a dinner. Since none of them have ever really had Pinoy meal – I told them I’d prepare a homemade one just for them. I prepared a chicken and pork adobo (which I guess can be considered the Philippine national dish). Most Filipino households have their own versions of this dish that is made of either chicken and/or pork and the trinity of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. My secret (or rather my mom’s secret that I’ve copied) is frying the meat first, then stewing it with the trinity of ingredients plus bay leaves and lots of cracked black pepper. I also had sinigang (a sour, tamarind based soup), which had large fresh shrimps, eggplants, string beans, radish, onions, tomatoes, and chunks of taro that made the soup nice and thick. My hubby bought a big bilao (flat basket like dish) of pancit palabok – a rice noodle dish with an orange sauce (the color is because of a local ingredient called achuete – not sure what the Enlish term for that is) and topped with fish flakes, chunks of pork, hard boiled egg slices, and chopped green onions. I also made fragrant jasmine rice. After all, what is a Filipino meal without rice!

Dinner was a hit. My friends loved our home and the food. I could not have gotten enough compliments. And it was not just lip service either – they food was going really fast! Two of my friends brought dessert. Peggy made coconut milk based fruit salad – it was really good – very light (unlike other heavier fruit salads that are cream based). Emily made a milk pudding (similar to the Filipino dessert, leche flan) and I told her it was a perfect end to our Filpino meal. The biggest challenge of the night went to my other friends Sylvia, Shari, Anne and Elaine who had to figure out what wine to buy for our dinner. I guess that’s a challenge since even high-end Filipino restaurants back home don’t serve wine with dinner. We settled with Merlots and Rieslings which are sweet types of red and white wines and go well with pretty much everything. After dinner, we did another very “Filipino” pastime – we sang karaoke! Other than Emily and Sylvia, the rest of us were not really that musically-gifted – but what we lacked in skill, we made up for with loud voices and kept it up all the way till they left around midnight J

On Saturday night, I had my hubby’s family over for dinner. My SIL brought Korean barbecue and I steamed some shao long pao dumplings (I had ordered from someone at work). Since I didn’t have a food steamer I had to make quick call to my mom to find out how I could improvise. As usual, my mom came to my rescue and walked me through creating a make-shift steamer with a deep pot, an inverted ramekin in the center of the pot, boiling water all around and baking tray with the dumplings balanced on the ramekin. I also made a quick broccoli and baby corn in oyster sauce stir fry. My other SIL brought two huge pizzas (cheese and supreme) for the kids and anyone else who wanted a slice. And for dessert my hubby chopped up watermelon and Asian pears while the kids had cherry flavored jello. After dinner, we retired to our family room to watch a Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view boxing match while the kids watched Eragon on DVD in our office.

Today, Sunday, we are relaxing at home after all that entertaining and all that eating. After a stressful and hectic work week, my therapy is having people over and sharing our home with them. But after that, I think down time just hanging out with my hubby is just as great too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Work for Fun

While driving home from work, I thought about something I read on Sareet’s blog. She wondered about what it would be like to go to work doing what one enjoyed and was good at doing. Most of us are not that lucky. Many of us are stuck at jobs where we are neither happy nor fulfilled. So few are fortunate enough to be working jobs they enjoy, doing things they are happy doing, and getting paid to indulge in their passions.

I’m not belittling those people with good jobs who find satisfaction in their day to day work routines. Nor am I scrutinizing those who work hard to accomplish what they have in their professional lives. All I am saying is there are very few who wake up every morning energized by the thought of heading to work. Very few who dread the end of the workweek and look forward to the end of weekends. Very few who find that their work makes up a large part of what is good and fun and exciting about their lives.

Many of us do what we do because we “need the money”, “need to the security”, “need to be a part of something”, or are “obligated to”. It’s true – reality harshly dictates our decisions. And sadly, if there are few who really enjoy what they do, even less have the luxury of giving in to doing what makes them happy and what they are truly good at doing.

But on the other hand, my dad always says what’s important in a career is enjoying what you do – salary, benefits, the commute, the prestige of the company, your title, all of that is secondary. Life is too short to be unhappy and stressed. I guess the bottom line is finding a compromise of doing what makes you happy and can at least provide you with what you need to survive.

I thought about what it is I enjoy doing to see if I could potentially find a career choice in one or some of them. Here’s my list of things I like to do and would be excited doing every day (or at least most days):

1.) reading
2.) eating / trying new places to eat
3.) playing with kids
4.) shopping for books, shoes, food and housewares
5.) entertaining
6.) talking
7.) writing (blogging)
8.) surfing the net
9.) watching lifestyle shows and movies
10.)traveling
11.) staying in hotels
12.) sleeping in

Based on my list, I’ve combined a couple of my favorite pastimes and these are potentially some careers I can enjoy:

1.) pre-school teacher
2.) restaurant, book, movie critic
3.)
buyer for a lifestyle store or a specialty food store (like Crate and Barrel, Dean and Delucca, Pottery Barn, Trader Joes, etc.)
4.)
tour guide
5.)
travel or entertainment writer for a publication

With these career choices, I’ve pretty much covered all the things I enjoy and am good at doing – all except for “sleeping in”. Somehow I can’t seem to think of a career that would pay me to do that!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

LA County Museum of Natural History

After being inspired by the movie “Night at the Musuem”, Jojo and I decided to spend our Saturday exploring the Los Angeles County Musuem of Natural History. We’ve passed the museum building on Exposition Park a number of times and decided that to truly be considered residents of L.A., we should at least visit this landmark.

So, that’s how we spent our Saturday. Together with our nephews, Jorel and Elroy, we explored Exposition Park, had lunch at the museum café, took in the exhibits, and roamed the Rose Garden and the playground on either side of the museum.


Jojo and the boys sitting by the museum steps.


Here we are by the African Mammals exhibit. My nephews have this habit of making goofy faces every time we take a picture.


This is the hall of dinosaurs. The kids were in awe of the huge dinosaur figures! I was so worried they would climb the ropes and knock the whole thing down!


The beautiful Rose Gardens. Here's our nephew, Elroy, who was always 10 steps ahead of us! Jojo's workout for the day was chasing after him :)


Jojo, Jorel and Elroy relaxing with snowcones by the Butterfly Exhibit which opens in a couple weeks.


Our last stop. My handsome nephews hit the playgrounds!

It was a pretty good day. I would recommend stopping by these sights if you have time to kill while in L.A. and if you enjoy museums. Otherwise, you could probably find many other more interesting things to do in this city. The museum was generally okay (some parts more than others) and can pretty much hold the attention of an 8 year old and a 4 year old for about an hour and a half (two hours if you provide exaggerated narratives about the exhibits - like I did!). Beyond that, chaperones are on their own!