Thursday, November 29, 2007

Living life out of the box

Remember when we evacuated from the fires in October? I still have all my keepsakes packed in boxes in the living room. When we first got back, I kept them there because I was afraid we'd have to evacuate again. Then I got lazy about putting stuff back where they belong. Then, I got a little worried that after I put the things back to their places, I would forget where they were and forget to get them should we ever need to evacuate again. So, I need to make a list of where things are, for evacuating purposes. This led me to wonder today... the concept of living life out of the box. If we put all our best stuff, our most valuable stuff, in boxes all the time, and don't take them out and enjoy them, why would they be our most valuable stuff? Shouldn't we take them out and enjoy them, and share them with our loved ones? Maybe we fear that if we took them out of the box, they would get broken, misplaced, etc. But isn't it better to surround yourself with stuff you love and treasure, rather than have them stored in boxes? Hmm... this could also be an analogy for our hearts. Lots of times we don't want to open up our hearts to share with others, because it's safer to just keep it in our hearts. But sometimes it's worth it to open it up and bring it out to share with others, even if it stands a chance of being broken. Deep. Deep. Stuff.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Life is good

Last Christmas I gave everyone in my family a "Life Is Good" shirt for Christmas. Since EVERYONE meant me, Todd, my mom, my dad, my sister Joyce, my brother in law Alex, my nephews Xander & Andrew, Todd's mom, Todd's dad, and Todd's sister Amy, it actually was quite pricey. But totally worth it! They have totally cute stuff, and the message is so life-affirming.
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Saturday, November 24, 2007


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We spent the week before Thanksgiving in Dallas at my sister's house. Due to schedule coordinating issues, we decided that the week before Thanksgiving worked better for everyone. The bonus is that the airfare was cheaper than going the week of Thanksgiving, and the airport wasn't as crowded. All good things!

I loved spending time with Joyce, Alex, my nephews Xander and Andrew. I love spending time with my Dad too, but I can see him on any weekend! We got to stay at their house and watch them be themselves in their own environment, which was very cool. They always used to come to California to see us, so this was definitely a nice change.

We got there Thursday night (11/15) around 9 PM. Alex picked us up from the airport. The drive back to the house took about 45 minutes. Once there, everyone else was sleeping already, so we chatted a bit with Joyce and Alex, then we went to bed early.

The next day we hung out around the house until lunch time. We had lunch at a Mexican place called La Posada. It was alright, not totally authentic. But the service was really good. I had just a single crispy taco with rice and beans. After lunch, we hit Wal-Mart. We got some groceries so that Todd can make his famous chili for dinner. Needless to say, it was delicious and everyone liked it except for Alex, who is a "beanist". He doesn't like the texture of beans.

On Saturday, Joyce went to pick up our turkey meal at Tom Thumb. We had a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, yams, rolls, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. It was all so delicious!

Saturday was also the annual rivalry game between the OSU Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. So we all watched the game while enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner and togetherness. We were all so excited when the Buckeyes beat Michigan 14-3 and secured a spot in the Rose Bowl by winning the Big Ten conference!

As for the actual Thanksgiving day, we spent it at home with just me and Todd. We really enjoyed our own non-traditional Thanksgiving meal of chicken corn chowder, balsamic butter asparagus, and pear crisp with ice cream for dessert.
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Well, before all the eating started on Thanksgiving Day, we got up early at 6:15 am and headed to Balboa Park to run the Father Joe's Thanksgiving Day 5k Run. The start was at 8:00 am, but we had to get there prior to the start so we could pick up our race shirts. I did okay. Not my best, but I hadn't been running regularly for a few weeks. It's easy to get out of shape! I have been doing more weights though, so at least I feel more toned. The race was fun, and afterwards we sat by the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park and listened to live music and ate some refreshments that the race organizers provided. It felt good to run for a good cause on Thanksgiving Day. Especially since we're so blessed.

I did miss my mom this Thanksgiving. I kept remembering last Thanksgiving when we thought she was in remission. My parents had invited a bunch of neighbors, coworkers, and friends over for dinner. It was really awesome. Needless to say, I still miss her lots. I keep having dreams that she was dying and we were trying to help her. Those dreams are full of anxiety, just like when it was happening in real life. You just feel so helpless. I wake up all sweaty and uneasy. I hope those dreams go away some day. I hope I have one of those dreams where she smiles at me from heaven and tells me how great it is.
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Wii! Yippee! Hooray! was having its Thanksgiving sales promotions. They put three related items up for vote, and you can only vote once. Then, on the specific day for those items, if you voted for the winning item, you get into a lottery for a chance to purchase the winning item at a DEEP DEEP discount. So, the first day was for Thanksgiving day, and it was between a Nintendo Wii, a Sony Playstation 3, and Microsoft XBox 360. I had voted for the Wii. Then Todd was looking through his emails, and I told him he should vote. He was going to vote for the Sony Playstation 3, but I told him he should vote for the Wii because that one is going to win. So he did. Come Thanksgiving morning, we get emails from telling us to go check and see which item won, and if we won the chance to purchase that item. So I was upstairs when Todd ran up and said "I think I just won a chance to purchase one of the 1,000 Wii's at for $79!". I couldn't believe it. We never win anything. So he went downstairs and sure enough, he was able to purchase the Wii for $79! That was a deep deep discount from like $279. And look what it's selling for now!
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I had lunch with one of People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive

Yes, it's true. In 2003 my cousin Bertha came to LA for a film festival, which featured "Face", a movie she wrote, directed, and produced. Some of the actors from the film came. After the screening, we all went out to lunch at a Korean restaurant with Will Yun Lee, his parents, and Peter Mensah, who had a part in the movie "Tears of the Sun" with Bruce Willis. Anyways, Will was very nice and so were his parents. Fast forward to last week, when People Magazine came out with its list of the 2007 Sexiest Men Alive. Will Yun Lee was named "Sexiest Fighter". So, I had lunch with one of the sexiest man alive. How about that?
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Excellent things

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Last Thursday (11/8) we brought dinner to AJ & Meera's house. They had just come home from the hospital with their new baby Andon the night before. We ate with them and it was so much fun to see Andon and to watch them take care of him. What a blessing for them! On Saturday our beloved Buckeyes lost 28-21 to the Illinois Illini. It was a shock. Now they're no longer undefeated and no longer #1! :( But this Saturday will be the Big Game between Ohio State and Michigan, so we're still very excited to watch it. Speaking of watching TV... last Sunday (11/11) we finally joined the Hi-Def world and got HDTV through Dish Network. We already had Dish before, but we didn't have the HD receivers and the HD dish on the roof. The installation guy came and put the mega-dish on the roof and he brought us two HD DVR's! Can't wait to watch my favorite shows in HD! I've been loving the "Planet Earth" series on Discovery Channel. It is SO excellent in HD! This past Sunday, we went to Bon Jiorno's in Del Mar for a pizza lunch. They have thin crust NY style pizza and it's yummy. Then we walked around the coast in Encinitas and enjoyed the low tide. Then we drove to Elizabethan Desserts in Encinitas. But it was very difficult to find it, because it is located inside the Sunshine Gardens Nursery, a place that sells plants/flowers! How random! Then on Sunday night, our next door neighbor Fred brought over a bag of his fresh roasted coffee beans. DECAF especially for me! I was so excited on Monday morning to crack open the bag and grind the beans and then put them into the coffee maker. I can't have caffeine now, so it was really nice of Fred to roast some decaf beans for me! The last few days both Todd and I have been battling a slight cold. We're not sure how we got it, or if it's even a cold. We both started out with a sore throat, then some congestion in the nose/sinus area. I wonder if it's allergies or reactions to the stuff in the air caused by the October wildfires.
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Friday, November 9, 2007

Just got paaaaid... Friday night...

Friday night came and we made a trip to Target to get some toys for my nephews, and some household stuff. Love Friday nights! Then I watched Todd play Madden Football 2007 on the Gamecube, all the while bundled up in my favorite couch blanket. Cozy. Warm. :) I also scrapped. Below is a page I made using photos from a band that Todd was in, The Northstar Session. The photo shoot was back in 2005. Rebecca Waer shot the photos.
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{Credits: background paper made by me using Michelle Coleman's watercolor brushes; stitched border and glitter stars by Gina Cabrera, star overlay by Scrap Girls, frame cluster by Nancy Comelab, fonts are Scrap Calligraphy, Rosewood, and CK Fashion.} Another fun layout I put together last night. Photo by Tara Whitney.
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{Background papers by Ashley Olson; Stitched borders by Gina Miller; Font is LDJ Funky Fun}
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Thursday, November 8, 2007


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{Photo by Tara Whitney; blue background by KristinCB; photo overlay by Katie Pertiet; star paper template by ScrapGirls; title font is Doodle Cursive; journaling font CK Marissa}
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dim Sum and sum more

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Today one of my very good friends from high school, Minnie, came down to San Diego for a conference. So I met her and we went to lunch. We went to Pearl for dim sum and it was soooo good. I ate lots of shrimp because I don't get to eat shrimp at home. The chef doesn't cook shrimp because the chef doesn't like to eat shrimp, so I eat shrimp when I eat out sometimes. I really like dim sum but I enjoy it with other friends because Todd doesn't like a lot of things at dim sum. Anyways, we took a long time to eat, therefore we ate a lot! We also talked and talked and just had so much fun catching up with each other's lives. This week is busy at work because of month-end reviews. Yesterday I worked out with weights for the first time in a while, so now my muscles hurt. But it's a GOOD hurt! I also rowed on the rower for 15 minutes and ran on the treadmill for 15 minutes. I plan to get back into shape. The last few months I've been eating a lot (as chronicled here!) and not exercising as much as before. So, while I've only gained maybe 3 lbs, I'm much more doughy and not as lean as before. I need to build up the muscle mass so I can burn more calories and get lean and mean again! Anyways, that's my plan. I'm inspired by Minnie's bikini on the beaches of Oahu pictures. She looked so good with her six-pack abs. I couldn't pull that off right now! Time for bed now as I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow... :-)
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Monday, November 5, 2007

Whatever is true

Word art by Gina Miller Designs

I like this Bible passage a lot. I found this world art and thought it looked so pretty and the message so good that I wanted to share.

Also, our best friends AJ & Meera had their baby today! Welcome baby Andon!

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween 2007

This Halloween was the first time I have EVER carved a pumpkin! Of course, I chose a pattern that was slightly difficult to do, so it took me a good two hours. But look at it, it's a work of art!

Todd roasted the pumpkin seeds and they actually turned out to be delicious!

We put on our costumes and handed out candy to kids. About 30-40 kids came. That was less than we thought, but that's ok. More candy for us!

You like our costumes???

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Weekend withTodd's parents

Todd's parents came to visit us from Thursday night to Monday morning (10/25-10/29).

Last Friday (10/26) I went to work for the first time since the fires swept thru Rancho Bernardo. The building smelled like smoke still, and something was irritating my eyes. I went home at lunch time because the air quality at home was much better. Todd picked up lunch for all 4 of us from Rubios, so I went home and ate 2 fish tacos. Then we waited and waited for U-verse people to come de-install U-verse and re-install DSL, but they never came. There was some kind of order-input error. They said they’d call us back to set up another time to come, but they never did, so Todd had to call them again today.

Friday evening we went with Todd’s parents to Fidels for dinner. I had the chicken tortilla soup. It was so salty that it was almost inedible. I was sorely disappointed, even though the tortilla was really good. After dinner we went over to Fletcher’s Cove in Solana Beach and walked around. The sunset was really beautiful because of the fire ashes in the air. Then we went back to Carmel Mountain and went to Sports Authority, Radio Shack, GameStop, and Trader Joes to get a box of Mango Moji ice cream. Todd’s dad loved it and ate two!

Saturday morning we headed out to La Jolla to walk around. We found 2-hour parking and walked around Girard Street. They kept finding home décor shops to visit. I really like the shag area carpets/rugs for accent. It’s so modern yet so 70’s. That was fun to walk around, except that it was kind of raining too. We also went into some photography/art galleries to look around. Then we walked to the Cove (Ellen Browning Scripps Park). There were people with homemade cookies, brownies, desserts there, raising money for fire relief for the Salvation Army. Todd’s dad paid 10 dollars and got a couple of platefuls of desserts. He was so excited about them. Then we walked around and went back to Girard to eat lunch at Thai Spices & Rice. I had the Spicy Fried Rice with Chicken. It was pretty good.

After lunch we went home and chilled. Then we watched the Buckeye game versus Penn State. They beat Penn State 37-17 and it was so much fun! Then we watched the World Series and saw the Boston Red Sox beat up on the Colorado Rockies. For dinner, Todd made pasta with roasted veggies, but without garlic.

On Sunday morning we went to run in Encinitas from Beach City Café to Swami’s and back. Then we tried to go to Yogi’s for the Browns game, but the parking lot was too full already. So we went to eat lunch at Souplantation. Afterwards we went to Vons and got some groceries for dinner. We were just eating a simple dinner with leftovers and morningstar burgers. Then Todd’s mom, Todd, and I watched an old foreign heist movie called "Rififi" in which all the perpetrators died at the end. Monday morning around 8:30 am they left. It was a very nice visit.
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Good things

I got 8x10 photos from our photo session with Tara Whitney printed out at White House Custom Colors. Then I went to Michaels and bought these frames with matting. I really like the placement of the photos down the wall!

On Wednesday 10/24, I looked out the window into our backyard and saw the cute little tuxedo cat was taking a nap on our deck. So I whipped out our Canon with the 12x zoom lense and took a bunch of pictures of her. After a while, she stared at me and then she left.

I made this layout after we came back from being evacuated from the fires. Photo by Tara Whitney.
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What would you take with you?

When your house is in danger and you need to evacuate, what would you take with you? This is what we took with us:
  • Important documents: passports, birth certificates, safety deposit box information, homeowners insurance policy, etc.
  • All our photo negatives (2 full binders of them, from pre-digital cameras). I was so glad I had organized this at the beginning of 2006. Go me!
  • All our photo albums, scrapbooks, and boxes filled with photos.
  • My mom's little jewelry box.
  • The Tiffany cross necklace that my mom gave me for Christmas 2005.
  • Medication
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing for a few days
  • Computers
  • Personal DVDs - Buckeye games, my 2004 dance recital with Danceology, our Puerto Vallarta zip line adventure, my skydiving video, and our family videos.
  • Tax documents. (They say the only sure things are death and taxes. So if I survive the fires, I need to file taxes.)
  • Cameras
  • Ipods
  • Memorabilia, cards, and notes from my junior high and high school years.
  • Box full of written journals that I've kept since sixth grade.
  • Large envelopes filled with year-by-year of cards & letters from family & friends, vacation memorabilia, and ticket stubs.
  • My Honolulu Marathon finisher's medal.
That's it. That was what was important to us. Nothing that would be of value to anyone else but us. Looking back, I'm totally amazed at the clarity of thoughts as we went around each room and decided what to take. I didn't really have any thoughts of "I forgot to take that" after evacuation. We were lucky we had an hour to get out. Some people saw the fires coming towards their house and only had minutes to get out. It also occurred to me that it was good that I have this blog. This is on google's servers and would still be around if my house burned down.
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Fire & Smoke

This picture was taken on Sunday afternoon, October 21st. It wasn't even the worst of the wildfires yet.

Our phone rang on Monday morning, October 22. It woke us up around 7:20. Ironically, it was the best sleep I had had in days. Our friend AJ was on the other end, telling us to turn on the TV. Apparently, the fires had swept through Rancho Bernardo in the early hours of the morning before dawn, and now there's mandatory evacuation for all of Penasquitos. We got up and got dressed. Todd went to check the internet to see what's going on. My good friend Sally called and said that it looks like we're supposed to evacuate as well. She said we can put our stuff in her garage, and stay at her place in North Park. We thanked her and told her we'd let her know if we need to stay with her. We started packing and frantically trying to find our most important stuff. Then the phone rang again. My friend Lara in Pacific Beach wanted to know if we're okay, and she also offered for us to stay at their place. It was good to know that friends were concerned for us. Since the fires were in the East and slightly north of us, we had to go west to evacuate.

We turned off the gas line to the house. In under an hour, we loaded up the Explorer and left. The streets in Penasquitos was filled with traffic. I called my manager and coworker at work and said I was evacuating and won't be in the office, and won't be online continuously. I called my Dad and told him about the fires and that we were evacuating. He was surprised that the fires got so close, and said he would get together with his coworkers and pray. It was stop and go all the way across the 56-West. We saw so many cars filled with clothing, boxes, and pets. Dogs and cats crammed into cars everywhere. Smoky haze was everywhere. After we got on I-5 North and passed Solana Beach, we could see the edge of the smoke and it was blue skies after that. There was a sharp divide between the smoke and the blue skies. It was so surreal to see it. When we got to Oceanside, we went East on the 78 and went to AJ & Meera's house in San Marcos. They welcomed us with open arms. We glued ourselves to the TV all day and watch the progress of the devastation. On of the reporters for a local TV news station actually reported right in front of his house as he watched it burn down. It was incredible. We watched TV and there was no news that the fires had reached our neighborhood, so we figured no news was good news. I work in Rancho Bernardo, and that was a different story. They showed house after house, all burned down. The hardest hit was the neighborhood right across the street from my office, Westwood. I wondered if my office would be safe, or if it would burn down or be damaged. They sent out an email that they evacuated from the office as well.

Ironically, during these two days, I felt strangely peaceful and at ease. I was with my loving husband and my best friends. I had everything important to my life with me. All the rest of the stuff was just, well.... stuff. Stuff can be replaced. People before things. I slept well. I ate well. We had Chick Fil-A sandwiches for lunch on Monday, burritos for dinner. Tuesday we had Panera sandwiches for lunch, and we bought groceries and Todd cooked a delicious BBQ chicken sandwich and green beans.

On Wednesday, we called our next door neighbors Fred and Annie, and they had gone home already on Monday night. So, we packed up our stuff again and went back home. The air smelled slightly bad, and there was dark ash and soot everywhere. But our house was totally undamaged. We thanked God for his mercy and goodness to us.
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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Internet down

Our internet has been down at home, courtesy of AT&T. It is still down. I actually have lots to share on this blog, but I don't like to blog from work, and I have no internet connection at home. So, look for more posts from me later this week, when hopefully the internet is fixed at my house.
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