Monday, January 30, 2012


today, i feel grateful for:
  • awesome family & friends
  • gorgeous sunny skies
  • wonderful weather
  • shave ice
  • sharing a 2-bedroom suite with our best family friends, complete with kitchen
  • the kids' love of the beach
  • blow up animal floaties
  • spicy tuna poke
  • freshly pedicured toes
  • snorkeling

enjoying ko'olina lagoon #3

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


today, i feel grateful for:
  • awesome family & friends
  • a wonderful family trip to the "happiest place" on earth
  • coffee
  • (almost) finishing "the girl with the dragon tatto"
  • watching ellie warm up to "mini" after having freaked out with the rest of the characters
  • mom and dad's major discount off of our tickets
  • sugar free chocolate
  • comfy beds
  • free wifi
  • the anticipation of the next trip!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


today, i feel grateful for:
  • awesome family & friends
  • baby legwarmers
  • remembering to start my car a few minutes early to get it warmed up before i drive
  • productivity spurred by iced coffee
  • working collaboratively
  • cuddling
  • fried tilapia
  • hubby's beautiful albums
  • hair conditioner
  • 11 more days until fun in the sun with close friends who know how to have fun!
Can't wait!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


today, i feel grateful for:

  • awesome family & friends
  • a 3-day weekend, one in which the hubby is free!
  • our newly booked clients
  •  an incredibly clean & empty bedroom, courtesy of hubby
  • gorgeous weather
  • r & j for hosting us last night
  • jamba juice's teeny tiny smoothie cups, perfect for toddlers
  • supportive and sympathetic friends and coworkers
  • no longer craving carbs or experiencing the sluggish after-meal period with the south beach diet
  • ellie's silliness

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


today, i feel grateful for:
  • awesome family & friends
  • an early start to the day and being able to complete day 2/60 of "insanity"
  • having the sense to go easy during my workout to avoid overexertion
  • supportive people who root you on towards your goals
  • those with the same goal who travel along the journey with you
  • being able to keep my closet organized, as my cousins had intended when they set up  my closet
  • almonds
  • ellie's wiggly butt-butt dance
  • finding no new messages on my voice mailbox this morning after the long break and being able to keep it that way through the duration of the work day
  • 4-day work week!
woohoo! no new messages!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 11 Memories of 2011

Thanks for the idea, D! Here is a brief year-end account of my fave 11 memories of 2011:

1. January Oahu Trip: In January, Hubby, Bro-in-law, H, El, and I headed over to Oahu. Hubby & H had been contracted to be the official photographers for the "Throw Da Shaka" concert in Honolulu. This was H's first time on the island so we were very excited for him. We met a few of the artists, photographing their promotional artist photos the day after the concert. This trip's other purpose was to plan for our upcoming vow renewal. We visited a few sites and met with a few vendors. We also got a chance to hang out with the A fam, whom we absolutely adore. Good eats, good company, and as always, wonderful weather, beaches, and aloha spirit!

Throw da Shaka Concert ID
  1. Turtle Bay
    Laie Point Arch
    Waiola Shave Ice
    El, enjoying her shave ice, at 17 months
2. WPPI 2011: After having spent 2009 pregnant and 2010, bringing along the wee one, this was Hubby and my first trip back to this annual convention in Las Vegas, deemed the "pro photographer's spring break." We hung out with our good friends, the Riv's, and other photographers with whom we have become good friends and still network with. Late night foot massages and oxtail soup, party hopping,  business planning, and tradeshow booth speaking were in store. We had a blast!
  1. WPPI 2011 tradeshow entrance     

Airplanes & Blazers Party
The fun crew!

3. Renewing our wedding vows in Oahu: At the start of Spring Break, after spending the weekend with our good photographer friends in SoCal, we headed out to Oahu with our closest family and friends (minus a few who weren't able to make it) to Waikiki. We made good use of our vacation points at the Hilton, booking two 2-bedroom suites. At one point, we had 21 people in the two suites! Many of us had never visited the island before so it was a special treat. I love that we brought along my two grandmas for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even as I type this, I still get teary-eyed thinking of the best day of my life. After assisting Hubby at weddings since 2006, I finally got the chance to be the bride and our ceremony and reception was better than I could have EVER imagined! We opted for only the bare necessities of our wedding, things we considered most important: the gorgeous secret beach of Ko'Olina, Roy's Hawaiian Fusion gourmet food and drinks, a whimsical wedding cake with Honu toppers, simple flowers and leis, live island music, and of course, the best photography & video coverage. Little did we know that our live entertainment would be provided by local recording artist, Siaosi and crew. We imagined having a lovely quiet dinner but instead had an amazing reception, full of tropical drinks and dancing!
  1. So much luggage!
Our wedding party
  1. Lanikai beach and Hubby's air mattress & beach umbrella rig
3b. (Added this in a little late, after viewing my Instagram feed!) NAA Conference: The afterschool program coordinator invited me to represent the counseling department at the National Afterschool Association conference in Orlando in April. Since Hubby was free that weekend, he and El joined me. As they relaxed at the pool, I attended the conference. Of course, we also made some time to visit Disney World, which was my first trip out to Florida and Mickey's kingdom. 

Bill Nye was the opening speaker!

4. Kid-Friendly Summer: Little did I know that I would be in "soccer mom" status over the summer! My parents hosted my 9-year old nephew, B, and 7 year-old niece, R, for the summer, visiting from Oregon, having just immigrated from the Philippines. This was in addition to El and my 4-year old nephew, Ev. It was my goal to find as many free/low-cost kid-friendly activities for us 5: $1 movies and outdoor film viewings; swimming;  local festival and park visits; library visits; milk tea, smoothie, and ice cream runs. My SUV has never been more full (and messy)! =)

Lolo's makeshift kiddie pool

Kite Festival, Berkeley
Ice cream run @ Rite-Aid, Benicia
5. Trip to Panama: A welcome reprieve from the toddler-tweener world, Hubby and I had a few photog assignments in Panama in July. One of our fave client couples whom we have had the pleasure of photographing through the years had us contracted for their dad's big birthday party, their aftershoot, and their good friend's mentoring session and lifestyle portrait session. This is where we coined the phrase, "Sleep is for the WEEEEAAAAAAKKKKK!!!" Our schedule included early morning dim sum, chicken farm visiting/photographing, site seeing, visiting with friends, and resort-staying. Did I mention food? We ate about 7 meals a day and the food was AMAZING. Swear! I am so very grateful to have been hosted by the wonderful N fam, who are like our own family members. =)
Patacones (double fried plantains) are a staple in Panama, with every meal
  1. Bristol Buena Ventura, Playa Blanca
    Tan and relaxed
    One word to sum up our awesome trip
6. Welcome to AC!: In the midst of #4 and #5, we were also in the process of purchasing a new home in AC. We were looking for a turn-key, move-in ready home, and that we found! We love our new house and new neighborhood. Although we've lived here since the end of July, El still calls it "the new house." Even though we are not entirely unpacked, the living/family rooms are up to par with the furniture and wall hangings we want. Who would have thought it would take 5 years for a pro photog to put up some of his work in our home?!
  1. Hubby throughly enjoys the backyard, especially for BBQ-ing
7. El turned 2: In August, we celebrated El's second birthday at our local kiddie park, "Children's Wonderland." I love the idea of holding a kid's event outside of the home where preparations and clean-up are minimal! We enjoyed all of the park's thematic play structures, loads of food and cake, and decorating crowns for our fairytale-themed party. As much as I would have loved to just have the 3-hour event for the day, Hubby and I knew that we should also plan to have our housewarming on the same day, so that morning, one of the priests from our church came to bless our home and after the kid party, we brought back the food to enjoy at our home for a housewarming (after)party. 

  1. El's 2 year appointment: 23.4 lbs & 32 inches
8. Transition at work: With a few schools closing in our district, there has been much transition at every level but especially at the high school. We started off the year at high speed the first week of August, planning and instituting our own new ideas along with those not our own, and have barely had time to breathe since. With any change comes some anticipated stress but there have been some resulting positives, as well. Rh, my good friend from high school and my prior maternity leave sub, was hired on as a full-time counselor. Our counseling staff is top-notch and I am so thrilled to be a member of this strong group of colleagues, whom I can rely on not only as my professional core but for my own personal "therapy." They keep me grounded in this crazed work place and are always a source of support. 
  1. I also scored Ri's office, after he retired. New furniture FTW!
9. Seattle Trip(s): I heart Seattle. Big time! Since I'm trying to condense my points into eleven "events," I couldn't separate the two trips that I've had this past year in lovely Seattle into two different bullet numbers. In June, my colleagues and I attended the American School Counselor Association conference. With the school year having just ended, we had the opportunity to really reflect upon our student population's needs and formulate some great plans for the upcoming school year. Of course, there was plenty of opportunity for fun, along with work, including yummy drinks, coffee, and grub. The following trip occurred for a destination wedding in October. Referred by my good college friends related to the bride, we were able to hang out with A&B. We took in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Seattle and were able to get some work done at the local coffee shops. Hubby finally understood my love for fine coffee, once we returned and he ordered "the usual," only to be disappointed that it wasn't as rich and smooth as Seattle's beans. Oddly, both trips included very little rain with awesome weather!

We work hard and play hard!
    I love coffee!! 
Bremerton Harbor, site of the wedding reception
10. El's dance recital: After scouring the parks & recreation guide for activities that El would be able to join at the age of two, I found Miss L's pre-ballet/pre-jazz/pre-tap class for tots. Since August, El has danced one a week for 30 minutes, the first half in ballet slippers and the last half in tap shoes. It's the most adorable and funny sight to watch between 6-12 two and three year olds attempt to replicate the moves of their teacher to popular kid songs, like the Strawberry Shortcake theme song. At first El wouldn't leave my lap but she would surely watch in awe and then want to practice at home. At this point, I have to pry her out of her ballet shoes and tutus, which she'll sometimes sleep in. There are two main performances each year, one of them being the Winter Showcase. In December, El's group had one of the opening performances and the very last performance of the evening's event. So worried was I that she would run off the stage, screaming and crying, after having had a horrible pre-performance and worse dress rehearsal, that when she stood on stage for the first dance, frozen still for most of the dance, and then dancing for the last few seconds, that shed tears of proud joy. And I'm not usually a crier! The last performance resulted in more tears as she really danced the second number. And you can't even imagine how absolutely precious they looked in costume! =) 
El with both Lola 7 Grandma on the first day of ballet class
    El loves to run around during dance class
11. Holiday Parties: This holiday season was especially exciting since El is beginning to understand and is able to participate in the festivities and because my dear sis returned home from Hawaii in November. Excited to be at our new home, we hosted a small Halloween gathering and trick-or-treated in our neighborhood with our friends and celebrated Thanksgiving with family, complete with the traditional brined and roasted turkey that Hubby and I prepare. Christmas included a trip to Socal to visit college buddies for our annual Christmas White Elephant Gift Exchange Potluck followed by Christmas Eve at my mom and dad's, where Hubby just about perfected the Boiling Crab sauce recipe for our shrimp, sausage, and corn boil. We even tried our hand at PPQ's garlic noodles. So yummy was this meal that we replicated it for our New Year's Eve "Eve" dinner at our house but only after Christmas dinner at the R fam's house, where we had even more yummy food. New Year's eve included a small gathering at our good friend's house where Hubby finally participated in the ball drop with El (having slept through El's first NYE and traveling to the Philippines last year).

Bruin Cheerleader Ninja, Halloween at our house
Alton Brown's roasted turkey
Ev & El's annual pic with Santa, comparison of their first and recent photos
Christmas Eve at Lola & Lolo's house

I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful 2011. It wasn't without any stress or worries but overall, it was such a fortunate year for our family. Here's to the end of 2011 and the beginning of a new year. So excited am I for 2012!