Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Highlights

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Dear Friends and Family,

Since some of you may not be regular readers of our blog, I've decided to highlight some things in our lives this year. By all means explorer different parts of the blog, but this is a good summary of us in 2007.

Our year started out very stressful and sad. On January 2nd, we rushed my mom Grace to the ER because she had been having trouble breathing and it got progressively worse. They took some x-rays and noticed that she had fluid surrounding her lungs and her heart. She was also retending fluid all over her body. She stayed at the hospital and they performed a thoracentesis to remove the fluids surrounding her lungs. She felt much better after that and went back home. However, the doctor at the hospital told us that the cancer had spread to her lungs and she didn't have much time left. That was the first time that we all realized that my mom was terminal. That was really tough news to swallow. The next few days were very difficult for us, especially my dad and me. It was hard to know how to behave in front of each other and in front of my mom. Dad would sneak off to grieve by himself. I stayed at my parents house for a few days and then I went home. Once home, I fell apart and cried for about two days. I called my church to talk to a pastor who could counsel me. I talked to my best friends Meera and Sally extensively. Of course, Todd was there for me anyway he could. Over the next two months I spent as much time as I could with my mom at my parents house. She declined very fast. Three nights before the Lord took her to heaven, she initiated a heart to heart chat with me regarding my feelings. She wanted to know how I felt about her leaving us. How Dad and Joyce felt also. It was a difficult conversation and I cried a lot, which I had tried not to do in front of her. But she didn't cry at all. She was very calm and told me lots of things that she had been wanting to make sure we knew. I spent time in the middle of the night that night writing it all down, as much as I could remember. Three days later, on Valentine's Day morning, she went to be with the Lord.

I hadn't written about all this in my blog, because at the time it was happening, I was too sad and too stressed, plus I wasn't blogging so regularly back then. My mom's illness and death took a toll on all of us, especially my Dad and me. We spent the next couple of months just physically recovering. It took me a while to just be able to sleep well and to eat like a normal person. Towards the end of my mom's time here, I had lack of appetite and when I did eat, I got heartburn/sour stomach really bad from the stress. I was better by about April. I started to feel alive again, like I could be happy about everyday things again. That was when I started blogging regularly on this blog.

Lots of things happened to us this year. Through the many trials, I feel that God has blessed us tremendously. We know that He is continuing to shape us to be people of character, whom He can use to further His kingdom.

2007 Highlights (click links to read):

We wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a great beginning of 2008!

Love,

Christine & Todd

Sunday, December 30, 2007

50 Nifty United States...

Map of the states I've been to (in red). create your own visited states map I had no idea I have been to so many states already! I'm thinking a visit to the NE portion of the country can knock off a bunch of those little states too! Road trip!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On the 12th day of Christmas...

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Finally today is Christmas Day! As per our tradition, we always go to the beach on Christmas Day. We've been doing that since 1999 when we first moved to San Diego. We were unable to do it last year because my mom was really sick already. That was the only year we missed Christmas On The Beach.

So this morning we packed up and left our hotel around 10:30 AM. We drove down the I-5 freeway down to Carlsbad, but didn't see hardly any restaurants open there. We got back on the I-5 south and headed to Encinitas. We had lunch at the St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro, which was open, surprisingly. It was crowded, so we had to wait in line to order. I had eggs florentine, potatoes, mixed fruit cup, and decaf coffee. Todd had a chicken caesar salad. We both like our food. We also shared a neopolitan custard cake, and got an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie to take with us.

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After lunch, we drove down to Swami's for Christmas on the Beach. First we took a picture of ourselves with Todd's long arm:

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Then we asked this goofy older couple to take our picture, and the guy made us pose for different pictures, of which this was one of them:

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Merry Christmas from our house (beach, in this case) to yours!

Monday, December 24, 2007

On the 11th day of Christmas...

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and we went to Disneyland!

Christmas Eve at Disneyland, what could be more magical?

On this Christmas Eve, we woke up around 9:00 AM. We brought some fruits and nuts with us, so we ate some oranges and some almond nut bars for breakfast. We also went to Starbucks down the street inside the Marriott hotel. Todd got a pumpkin spiced latte while I got a peppermint white chocolate mocha. Mine was a little too sweet, but other than that we both liked it a lot.

We took the 12:35 shuttle to Disney and set out to find some lunch at Downtown Disney. We settled on Napolini, the fast-food offshoot of Naples Ristorante. Todd got a baked ziti with sausages dish, while I got a portabello mushroom and mozzerella panini sandwich. I liked my sandwich, it came with real & thick slices of mozzerella cheese! Todd did not like his baked ziti at all because it didn't taste that great AND he had to pick out the embedded cheese. So, to make up for it, he got a small bag of caramel kettle corn, which he happily ate. After we got the popcorn, I got to pet a really cute black labrador retriever dog whose leash was tied to a bench, but whose owner was nowhere to be seen. He was such a gentle and cute dog.

Todd was still eating his caramel corn, so he sat on a bench while I went into Sephora to check out the smorgasbord of makeup. I found some fun stuff but everything was so pricey. :( I didn't buy anything.

After lunch we entered Disneyland. Right in front of Main Street USA was this huge decorated Christmas tree.

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Disneyland was PACKED full of people! Everything had a really long line, so we decided to go on the rides that were changed especially for the holidays. We were in line for a good 45 minutes or so for the Haunted Mansion Holiday.

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Well, it was worth it because it was really fun to see and it was all new to us. It was like a mix of Halloween and Christmas, Tim Burton style. Don't write me a comment/message about the true meaning of Christmas and how evil Halloween is. I know what the true meaning of Christmas is, and it doesn't prelude me from enjoying a ride at Disneyland. It's just a ride people.

We really enjoyed the holiday decorations at Disneyland. Everything was top-notch and it was almost worth it to come just to see all the holiday decorations.

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After that we went to Santa's Reindeer Round-Up and got our photo taken with Santa Claus.

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I don't have the Santa photo yet because the Disney photographer took the picture, so I'll have to wait until I order and receive my Disney Photo Pass CD before I show you.

We walked around the park and stumbled upon "A Christmas Fantasy Parade".

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I totally waved at Santa!

After that we finally found "It's a Small World Holiday", which was a different ride from the regular It's a Small World. They intersperse "It's a Small World" with "Joy to the World", and the whole ride was overhauled and redone with Christmas-themed decorations.

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By the time we finished the ride, it was sunset already! We went over to the Sleeping Beauty Castle to take some pictures, since it's the iconic Disneyland landmark.

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After that we went to Tomorrowland and walked around, enjoying the sights and sounds.

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Our heard our stomachs growling, so we found ESPN Zone Restaurant to eat and to watch the Chargers play the Broncos on Monday Night Football. Good thing we went around 5:30, because we already had to wait 20 minutes just for a two-person table! Todd had the Smokehouse Chicken Sandwich, which he claimed was super-yummy, while I had the Asian Chicken Salad.

After dinner we walked around the Disney store and tried on different hats...

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Which one was your favorite?

We went into Haagen Dazs and shared a Dulce Dazzle for dessert. Then we literally RAN all the way to the white shuttle station to catch the 7:20 shuttle back to the hotel. We ran like half a mile! Burned off maybe 1/10th of the Haagen Dazs!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the 10th day of Christmas...

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About 10 days before Christmas, on a whim, we decided to spend our Christmas long weekend at Disneyland. Why not? Disneyland is a magical place. Disneyland is all decorated to the tilt in holiday stuff. It seemed like the perfect idea. So we purchased 2-day park-hopper passes, got reservations at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim, and we were all set! So this morning around 10:30, we packed up and left for Disneyland. There was a lot less traffic going through Orange County than we had expected. I got really hungry, so we stopped off at Carl's Jr. for a hamburger. It was the strangest Carl's Jr ever. Located in a strip mall with no drive-thru! We got to Anaheim and checked into the Crowne Plaza around 12:30 PM. We rested a little and took the 1:05 shuttle to Disney's California Adventure Park. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a holiday-decorated miniature scale of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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We went to the Hollywood Studios backlot first and went into the Hyperion Theater to see the Aladdin Musical Spectacular. The production value was high. The set design and costumes were great, and the singing was good. It was like seeing a 45 minute Broadway production.

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Here's Todd in front of the Hollywood Tower of Terror ride. It was too scary for us to ride it.

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After Aladdin, we went to the MuppetVision 3D show. I've always loved Kermit so I really enjoyed the show. With the provided 3D glasses, it was as if objects were flying around in 3D.

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Yes, it's true. While some of you were spending your Christmas holidays in rain, freezing sleet, and snow, I was wearing a tank top at Disneyland.

In the courtyard between attractions, they put on musical productions. I've never seen this, but I've heard that High School Musical is all the rage these days.

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We stopped by "A Bug's Life" section to check out the fun oversized decorations.

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The best ride of the day was "Soarin' Over California". You fly over famous California scenes and landmarks in a simulated hang-glider. It was spectacular!

After that we headed over to Paradise Pier to check out the rides and attractions there. It was nearing sunset and the scene was aglow in gorgeousness.

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We saw this huge tree all decorated for Christmas. It was so pretty!

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I caught a few pictures that I found to be exeptionally beautiful due to the sunset lighting. The Sun Wheel is one:

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The Paradise Pier restaurant is the other:

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I love the reflection off the water!

Unfortunately, we made the bad decision of going on the California Screamin', a high-speed rollercoaster. I did not enjoy it at all, as it made me dizzy right before dinner!

We had to wait a little while after the dizziness of the roller coaster, so we went on a tour of the Mission Tortilla Factory, where they gave us free FRESH tortillas, and the Boudin Bakery Tour, where we got fresh sourdough bread!

After the tours, we left California Adventure and went to Downtown Disney, where our search for dinner began. We finally settled on Jazz Kitchen, some New Orleans style cajun food, and ate Gumbo-Ya-Ya, Red Beans & Rice, and some Bread Pudding for dessert. The food was okay, but the dessert was great!

After dinner, we went to the Lego store. We found some life-sized Darth Vader and R2D2 from Star Wars, made out of Legos!

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We also visited a store called Basin, where we got some gingerbread soaps, lavendar bath fizzies, and an almond bar shampoo. Everything smelled SO good. I could stand in there and sniff around all day!

After the long exciting day, we took the shuttle back to our hotel and relaxed while watching Sunday night football. What a great day! :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On the 9th day of Christmas...

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It's good to remember the reason for the season.
Christmas is nearly here! I've not been exercising as regularly as I should have been. So yesterday I did a new DVD workout called Ultimate Fat Burn. It was actually really hard for me. There were 2 strength segments and 2 cardio segments. I had to take breaks between each segment because I was huffing and puffing. There were lots of squats, lunges, jumps, etc. By the end I was so tired! Then, as expected, today I am so sore! I did some light running and heavy walking today at the coast, but my legs are pretty darn sore. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll be better at it. I'll be making a workout schedule for January. Whenever I make a schedule or a list, it motivates me. Today we "freecycled" our old desk to someone who came to pick it up. We had listed this desk on Craigslist twice and got very little interest, so we decided to give it away on Freecycle. It was taking up room that we didn't have. So Todd listed it on our local freecycle yahoo group, and we got three people interested in taking the desk, and Todd chose one. They were really excited to get it. They came with a van and took it home. This was the first time we've ever "freecycled". The sky was so clear and blue today! On our way out to go running, we could actually see the ocean from the end of our street! That's pretty rare, for the sky to be so clear all the way out to the coast. I love this time of year because every magazine, newspaper, tv show, and other media come up with their "Best Of" lists for the year. Of course, being listgirl (I love making lists), I love to read through them. I will leave you with Time magazine's lists. First, why do we go list-crazy at the end of the year? Then, here is Time magazine's 50 Top Lists. Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the 7th day of Christmas...

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One of the best things about Sea World is their animal shows. Whether it's Shamu, dolphins, otters, sea lions, walrus, dogs, cats, or pigs, they're sure to put a smile on your face! Going to Sea World during the holidays is especially fun. They decorate the park for the season. No snow here, but we've got water!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the 6th day of Christmas...

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On Monday Todd and I took the day off to go to Sea World. We have season passes and it ends at Dec. 31st, so we thought we'd go one last time this year to enjoy the animal shows and the holiday decorations. We were not disappointed! They really decorated Sea World beautifully for the holidays. They had special shows for the holidays too. We always run to the sea otters when we first get there. "Tube Time" is 11:00 AM. That's when they give the otters frozen tubes of shrimps, and they bang them against rocks to get the shrimps out. It's a natural behavior for them. I love watching the otters swim around and eat. By luck, there was a rescued baby otter who was only 35 days old in the otter nursery. We got to watch her for a while and she was incredibly furry and cute! After that we headed to the Clyde & Seamore Sea Lion show. We've seen this show before, but it's still so fun, especially when "Opie the Otter" comes out! We had lunch at Shipwreck Cafe. Todd had Chicken Jambalaya and I had a shrimp and smoked salmon salad. They were both fair. You know how theme park food is. Probably a little overpriced. The best part was the breadsticks. After lunch, we headed to the "Petz Rulez" show. In our opinion, this is the best show at Sea World. They take many rescued dogs, cats, and other animals, and train them to do lots of tricks. They even get cats to walk on wires! Here's a scrapbook page I did with photos of the scenery at Sea World.
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After Sea World, we headed to Pacific Beach to go to Belgian Frie! We had the large fries with parmesan peppercorn and honey mustard dipping sauces. I had been waiting MONTHS to go back and get the Belgian Hot Chocolate there. What a disappointment! It wasn't nearly as good as when we went back in April! Not only was the hot choco barely warm, but they forgot the chocolate shavings on the whipped cream! I decided that I can make a better hot chocolate than that! I was disappointed, especially after waiting so long. But I got over it because the fries were delicious!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the 5th day of Christmas...

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Last Saturday night we went to Todd's company Vistage's holiday party downtown at the US Grant Hotel. Upon arriving, I met many of Todd's coworkers. We got our place-cards and door prizes ($10 gift cards to Michaels and Borders!) and headed into the foyer for cocktails. We each received 2 drink tickets. I got a Cranberry Mojito (red and green, very festive). Todd got a Coke, which was free. So we ended up giving Todd's friends 3 drink tickets. While waiting for the ballroom to open, we stepped into the photo booth for some fun pictures. You can see them a few posts below.

Finally, around 6:15 PM, the doors to the ballroom opened and we heard and saw the live band. The tables were all decorated beautifully.

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I put a special lighting effect on this photo, that's why you see the gold stars everywhere. :)

Dinner consisted of Lobster Bisque soup, Filet Mignon with purple mashed potatoes and veggies, and desserts of raspberry and apple tarts. I enjoyed the filet mignon a lot! After dinner, they had raffles for various prizes, some of which are really big prizes like airline tickets. But alas, we didn't win anything. :( We left around 9:30 PM. I enjoyed meeting Todd's coworkers, after hearing about them for quite a while.

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