Friday, February 27, 2009

Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Stores and Old Navy: Friends and Family 30% off - March 12-15, 2009 ONLY

Get 30% off during our Friends & Family event. We're calling it Give & Get because for every purchase you make, we give 5% of the amount you spend to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and in thanks, you get a 30% discount on your total purchase.

When: 4 days only, March 12-15th

Where: Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory Stores and Old Navy

How: Present this page at the register. Use it as many times as you'd like.

Link to coupon

The Love for Ketchup

I don't know why he loves ketchup so much. He eats about everything. He hasn’t been that finicky type of kid, thank goodness, but of course there's moments when he doesn't feel eating at long. That is, unless there's ketchup on it! He won't take no for ketchup! If he doesn’t want to eat, all we have to do is bribe him with ketchup.

Mike, of course, insists that Ethan got that disgusting habit from me. He’s a little weirded out that I put ketchup on almost everything – eggs, pizza, any kind of protein – so we always have several bottles in the pantry because I flip out when we run out. It’s tomatoes, people! I don’t think there’s anything weird about it!

Except I don’t put it on Jello…. Now, THAT’s a little weird…..

The other day, he was snooping around in my car and saw my secret ketchup stack and got so excited. I’ve had to start doing that since I get so livid when I go through the drive thu (and even after asking for it numerous times), they still forget to give me some. Thanks to my superfluous planning skills, I am never disappointed any longer so long as I keep up with my emergency stash.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



For the past couple of days, Ethan and I have seemingly been having the same conversation.

Ethan: It hurts, mommy.

Me: What hurts baby?

Ethan: :coughing: My throat :his hands on his chest:

Me: You mean your chest? Does your chest hurt when you cough?

Ethan: Nooooooo. :annoyed that I didn’t get it the first time: My throat hurts. And it goes down, down, down and down. :motions from his head to his shoulders to his tummy to his knees and all the way down to his toes:

Me: Your toes hurt too?

Ethan: Yes, it hurts too.

Me: I’m sorry.

Ethan: I’m sick. Make it feel better.

Me: What do you want me to do sweetheart?

Ethan: Take me to the doctor.

Me: First, you have to rest, and eat and drink your medicine. That will make you feel better.

Ethan: Are you a doctor, mommy?

Me: Yes, I’m Dr. Mommy.

That nasty cold is back, and the nasty cough that comes along with it. It started a few days ago, and we’ve just been giving him some over the counter suppressants and his breathing treatments. The last time around, the pediatrician didn’t give him medicine until he had been sick for at least 2 weeks. He suggests we let these viruses take its course, before rushing to give him antibiotics. But when my kid is wheezing in the middle of the night and coughing up his lung, what else am I supposed to do???? The other night, we saw him for the first time puking in the toilet. Of course, he was more fascinated with the chunks coming out of his mouth and flushing the toilet a hundred times than the fact he just pushed out stomach acid through his esophagus.

Then again… aside from the coughing, snots, loss of appetite and heightened irritability… you wouldn’t guess that this boy is sick. If anything, he is MORE hyper! Either that or he’s learned very quickly that he gets to get away with a little more stuff when he is “sick”.

This is why I shouldn't own a gun

Monday, February 23, 2009

Army Buddies

8 years.

I signed 8 years of my life to the Army.

For 8 years, I trained, I traveled, I sacrificed, I obeyed and disobeyed orders, I led. I met the biggest assholes in the history of mankind, the noblest of leaders, and best of friends (one I ended up marrying!).

It's amazing. It's one of the things I miss the most. Forming bonds with people who you probably otherwise wouldn't consider to say hello to - let alone trust your life with.

Last night, Mike and I met up with an old friend, Pete. We all survived (and enjoyed) Bosnia together - years and years ago. I don't know why, but we all somehow, someway, stay in touch even after we got back from the deployment. We're all in different places in our lives now - and I suspect Pete is going to be a lifer (probably retire in the Army) - we have lived in the opposite sides of the country - but sitting around happy hour last night just re-affirmed that these are the kinds of friendships that sustain any time or distance.

Tight is the new fad

It sucks not having vacation time.

I used up all of mine during the holidays and I now barely just have a day and a half of paid time off. What’s even more annoying is that my current job recently changed their time off policies (before I came on board) and now there is only one pot of accrued time for both vacation or sick.

Needless to say, I missed out on a good trip last week – Mike and Ethan went to Paso Robles and Solvang on later in the week to watch the the Tour of California in all its glory. They got to see the cyclists cross the finish line on Stage 5 on Thursday and then watched the time trials on Friday.

Looked like they had a BLAST!

Levi Leipheimer won the Tour of California (for his third straight year). He is in the same team (Team Astana) as Lance Armstrong, who finished in 7th overall -- not bad for his first ride back from retirement. Go USA!

Get a Free Quiznos Sub

Sorry I didn't get to post over the weekend. I have TONS and TONS of photos I want to scrap and post, but just didn't quite get to it. I'll try to get some up this afternoon...

Meanwhile, here's another freebie I ran across! Yummmm....

Quizno's is giving away one million free subs by just registering with your name and email address here. You will get an email with a link to print the coupon for ONE FREE SMALL SIGNATURE SUB or SMALL EVERY DAY VALUE SUB.

It has a unique coupon code so I'm guessing you can only use it once, but you can use separate email addresses. Coupon also says Photo ID required for redemption.

You may also want to call the store ahead of time to make sure they are participating and will accept the coupon. Store Locator


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mini Shutterbug

Every once in a while, Ethan gets a hold of either my pocket digital camera or Mike’s, and is quite a budding photographer at age 3. He’s outgrown his Kidzoom Vtech digital camera (even though the dang thing is a waste of $70 since it never took good pictures anyway), so he always tries to sneak off one of ours. The only thing that was good with his camera is you could chuck that thing (literally) to the other side of the room and it wouldn’t break into a million pieces.

He used to just like pressing the button and seeing the flash go off. Now, he’s actually got quite a steady hand and a keen eye for things. I like to think he gets that from me.

This is New York from Ethan’s perspective.

It was funny seeing some people react to Ethan trying to take our picture. At least half a dozen people offer to take it for us instead, but we don’t mind having pictures from such a short angle.

And then there are days when I turn my camera on, and I find this:

I'm opening this to your interpretation. To me it looked like a cab getting robbed by a bunch of pirates.... what do you see?

Our Budding Artist

We finally broke out the easel out of the box last week. It was a Christmas present from Sissy (even though it was my idea), but we just haven’t taken it out since my mom’s house is starting to look like a Gymboree.

Ever since he was smaller, we’ve never shied away from paint – finger paint, water color, we’ve even painted with ketchup!

We have to be careful nowadays, though, to put up the art stuff when we’re done. Ethan recently got a hold of Sissy’s collection of markers and thought it would be “artistic” to draw circles on the door. So I think lesson #1 for us is to teach him that the only place we’re allowed to paint now is on the easel!

He loves it though. And by he, I mean we. He can paint on one side, where we learn our colors and which combinations of color make a different kind of color. I wish either side would’ve been magnetic, but it’s still good to have around nonetheless. And there’s a chalkboard on the other side, where lately we’ve been trying to focus on his letters and numbers. He recognizes A-C, it seems like, and the numbers 1 and 2. Though he can differentiate pretty well between a letter and number. He also recognizes his name, Mom (calls it “mommy”) and the word Dad (calls it “daddy”). He incredibly knows all of his shapes, and now he’s starting to do some imaginative drawings – for example, he would draw a house, and the mountains and a plane flying in the sky – and even though now it only looks like a big blob of rainbow, I’m proud that he tries.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Sometimes, I feel like we're living in a sports bar.

Football is on hiatus, we never miss a Cavs game, Mike has taken a keen interest in hockey, and when there is absolutely nothing else on, he'll watch gymnastics.

For the past week, the highlight has been on the Tour of California. Since he took on cycling as a hobby sometime last year, he's been following the sport closely, and was especially excited to see Lance come back this year after retiring a few years ago.

Mike met Lance at the "Support the Troops" weekend last summer in Las Vegas.

If the weather cooperates, Mike plans to go up to Solvang on Friday to take Ethan to see the "bicycles". Maybe we'll come see them when they get to Southern California this weekend.

Will I ever get on a bike myself? Well, Mike's still trying to convince me. He convinced me once to do a cycling class at the gym, and I swear I walked around funny for the next four days after that. So unless they pad those seats by ten-fold, I'm not gonna rush to the bike shop just yet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going Brazilian

For Valentine’s eve, we went to Amazon Churrascaria – which is a Brazilian steakhouse. I’ve only been to one once years ago, and Mike has never tried it so we’ve always thought about going. Mike had found this place online, the reviews are somewhat mixed. But it’s a lot closer drive than Fogo de Chao in Beverly Hills (no doubt, a better choice, but we couldn’t justify driving 2 hours for ANY kind of meat).

Amazon was average. The walls are decorated with faux stones surrounded by fake vines, trying to give an ambiance (but cuts short) of a Brazilian rainforest. The seats are very dated, reminiscent of a Hometown buffet.

The bad taste started from the door, when we were told the wait would be “a while”, especially since we were told after calling earlier that day that they didn’t take reservations for smaller parties. That was a lie. There were, in fact, a bunch of people there who had reservations and were put on a separate waiting list, which of course, was considerably shorter than the one we were on. We were finally seated after an hour of waiting.

The salad bar was ok… best part were the cheese balls! I couldn’t get enough of those… I was seriously contemplating sneaking some in my purse. LOL. 20 minutes into our meal, the server hadn’t brought our drinks yet. We had to flag down the hostess, who brought us some water almost immediately. OK, granted it was Valentine’s eve and we got there at around 8 – notably their busiest hour, they should’ve anticipated the rush in my opinion. They had ONE bartender working, who was obviously inundated and took forever to get everyone’s drinks served – although I think he tried to make up for the delay by putting a little extra alcohol in my margaritas because I was feeling fanciful after only having 2.

The meat was DELISH (but didn’t make up for the bad service). For those who have never been to a Brazilian restaurant, you are given a small wooden cylinder with one end painted red, and the other painted green. Keep the green side up and the server will endlessly come by with oversized skewers with all sorts of meat. We got rib eyes, flank steak, kabobs, alligator and chicken hearts (I passed on the latter two, but Mike was all for it). When you get full, you flip the cylinder with the red side up. We did that shortly before we saw the table across from us getting served short ribs – then we flipped that sucker back up to green.

There’s only so much bbq meat and cheese balls a person can take in one sitting though. After dinner, we headed up to a Wyndham hotel where I got another free room (booked it sometime last year). It was nice to have just the night off from diaper duties, and just spend some time with my hubby uninterrupted. We normally try not to wait to do that just on special occasions (now that we have more help), but Valentines sure presents itself as a good reason to get away. Had a bottle of wine, exchanged gifts, good company. It was nice…

Thank God for the best babysitter in the world – Sissy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

My Valentine

Dear Babe,

Through these years, we've laughed, and fought through hard times, and shared great memories. We became a family. I feel so blessed to be with you. You're not only my husband... you're my bestfriend and my soul mate. You're the first one I turn to when I'm sad. You're my encourager in times I doubt myself. You always make me feel like there's nothing we can't do together. I know I don't always show you how much I appreciate everything you do for me and Ethan, but do. I notice. And I appreciate it all-- even the little things like doing the laundry and making the bed. I cannot even stress how happy I am that you're finally home. And I hope we don't have to spend another Valentines day apart. I love you Mike - more than words, more than life. Thank you for being you. I hope that I can keep making you happy, like you make me happy.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Laughing Out Loud

Last night, Mike and I went on a double-pseudo-date with Sissy and Roro at the Improv. I scored some free tickets from Craigslist, so we figured why not. They did enforce the 2-drink minimum though, which is really where they get you. You feel good about not having to pay to get it, but then have to spend 10 bucks for a foo-foo drink x 2...

The show was mediocre. Jokes were over-done, the "producer" stopped the show and made us watch an excruciatingly stupid self-produced skit about masturbation, and the other half the comedians took a little longer than they probably should to read the crowd. It was a tough crowd, though, so I felt some sympathy for them.

We sat at about the second row beside the stage so I had a pretty good view of people's reactions (or lack thereof). There was an old guy who plopped right in center stage who NOT ONCE even break a smile. Seriously dude, maybe you shouldn't come back.

Ironically enough (considering more than half of the audience was probably latino), the jokes that got the most attention were the ones that screamed racial connotations. They didn't care much about skits on alien invasions but laughed their asses off when the comedians started calling Mexicans lazy. Go figure.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Quote from my Starbucks Cup

I had one of my sporadic Starbucks run this morning – which was a moment of weakness since I have been really good with cutting back on my sweet tea lately. I haven’t had it for nearly 2 weeks now, a record worth mentioning. But TWICE, I’ve gotten these almost irritating cravings – the first time, I went to Starbucks because I had a coupon for a free Tazo tea, and then this morning, when I was craving some hot chocolate.

I digress.

I was enjoying my hot chocolate when I saw the first two lines of this quote peek through the sleeve...

"I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just have to say, "Hi." They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word."

-Augusten Burroughs
Author of Running with Scissors

How many times a day do you pass by a complete stranger, and instead of being a human being and acknowledging the other person by saying “hi” or even just giving them a simple nod? My guess is you regularly turn away and afford eye contact, if at all possible.

These days, I guess, sometimes you don’t even know you’re doing it since you’re too busy yacking on the phone, typing a text message or otherwise consumed by daydreams of other things you wish you could be doing.

But do be careful when you make that leap of faith and say hi to a complete stranger. A smile and comfortable eye contact is (most of the time) all you need. Don’t look overly enthusiastic that may embarrass the other party – meaning, no matter how attractive they are, don’t look like you’re undressing them with your eyes. If you catch their eye, you could say “hi” or an appropriate greeting like “good morning”. Most people seem to prefer just a smile. Waving is not recommended unless they’re sitting on a porch or at a distance away (and they wave first) or else you’ll look like a dork.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Treasure Hunting

It’s true. Ethan knows the word “yardsaling”.

Like me, he’s not keen on getting up earlier than you have to… UNLESS it’s a Saturday… then all bets are off. You don’t even have to fix yourself, who cares if you have raccoon eyes from the night before. It’s a different state of mind when you get ready for a morning of yard sale rounds. You just go. Cash in hand. Ready for a hunt. Eye boogers and all. You know what they say, early birds get the worm.

I’ve even taught him to look out for neon signs with directional arrows. It’s seriously how he learned how to distinguish left from right.
He even helps me "scope out" a sale - that's when you do a slow drive by and determind whether their junk is worth your time to get out of the car. A few times, he's told me to keep going because "they don't have any toys".

That’s not the best part.

The best part is giving him a dollar and giving him the freedom to decide on what to spend it on. Seeing his eyes light up when he sees colorful toys laid out on the driveway for his pickings. Never mind that he just got hundreds of dollars worth of new toys for Christmas and his 3rd birthday… He likes the adventure of finding that treasure… that unwanted toy that’s probably been sitting in the garage for months, worth no more than a fraction of what it was bought for, then suddenly becomes his proud new possession. What’s even funnier to watch is seeing him negotiate with the chum change he has in his pocket and get freebies while he’s at it.

This is his latest find – “gun water”, as he calls it.

I asked him how much he paid for it, and he said “Only 1 dollar, mommy”.

That’s my boy…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Engagement Shoot: Emily and Dean

I’ve known Emily since I first moved to California when I was 12, and our parents have been friends for even longer than that. We’ve both seen ours shares of boys that came and went, so when she called me a month ago and told me she was getting married, I was ecstatic for her. She asked me if I would shoot her wedding, but since I’ve been overdue for some equipment maintenance and upgrades, I regrettably had to decline. I did tell her I would love to take their engagement photos…

They picked the spot at Balboa Beach by the pier. The intent was to do an early shoot, but they didn’t quite get there until the sun was too harsh so we were forced to shoot entirely under the pier.

Dean, like every other guy I do engagement photos of, was a little timid at first but loosened up after a few lame jokes from behind the lens. Emily glowed like people-in-love glow. :)

We had a lot of fun… Mike came along, so we hung out at the beach for a few hours… chasing dolphins and sharing a Ruby’s strawberry shake.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Sissy!

My sister is 5 years my junior. Growing up, we didn’t really have a lot in common (although that didn’t stop my mom from dressing us alike until I was about 12 – maybe she always wished she had twins?) In fact, I hated her bald-headed guts when she was born for taking all the attention that were all mine for 5 good years. All of a sudden, it wasn’t a one-man show anymore. Not to mention I was suddenly responsible for watching her, and feeding her, and making sure she knew how to play with MY toys.

I remember fighting a lot with her… once, my mom actually gave each of us a knife and told us if we hated each other so much, we should kill each other. A bit much, huh? Probably, but I’m pretty sure we made up almost immediately after that. Sure, I didn’t like her… but I wasn’t about to stab her to death.

But through the years, she grew on me.

We’ve been through a lot together. We spent a few years growing up in the Philippines without our parents… which is tough for a 3 and an 8 year old to go through. But we had each other, and back then, that was all that mattered. I went to all her school plays. I packed her lunch. I fixed her hair. I helped her with her homework. I put band aids on her cuts after I coerced her to do things I wouldn’t do.

Those were yesteryears…..

Now, I still don’t know what life would be like without my Sissy!

I feel like she’s stopped needing me to watch over her years ago, though I still try. She may not like all my advice, but I know she takes them by stride, and she knows I’m always here to listen (even though sometimes she knows it may warrant me making fun of her). In a few months, she’ll be graduating college, thinking about going to law school, enjoying life as she knows it. She’s grown to this beautiful, funny, and smart woman – but she’ll always be my little sister.

Happy birthday Sissy. I LOVE YOU!

Hugs and kisses,

Freebie: One Year Subscription to SELF Magazine

Since my whole family's trying to jump on the healthnut bandwagon, I figured it wouldn't hurt to have these lying around... especially when it's FREE.

I put my real address (for obvious purposes) but I used decoy info for the rest of it, especially the email.

NO CREDIT CARD REQUIRED. Allow 8-10 weeks for your first magazine to arrive.

Get your subscription here.

Coupon: Buy 1 Get One Free Entree at TGIFs

I got this email for joining their Stripes program. For signing up, you get a free appetizer/dessert coupon and a "jump in line" coupon for joining... and you get these coupons every once in a while. You put em together and it makes for a not-so-bad (less-guilt) trip out.

So for example, one day for lunch last week we got:

$0 - Free appetizer - Stripes members automatically get free potato chips
$8 - Entree for me
$0 - Entree for Mike - Used the BOGOF coupon
$3 - Drink for me (for some reason, I always end up getting strawberry lemonade)
$2 - Drink for Mike
$0 - Free molten brownie dessert - Used the Free dessert coupon
$13 for our entire meal

Not bad at all if you ask me! Of course, bill could've been a lot less if we stuck with water, but we like to live a little :)

But if you don't want to sign up for it, you can still download the coupon here.

It expires March 1st so you have the rest of the month to use it as MANY TIMES as you want (or in our case, as many times as we can afford). :) So enjoy FRIENDS!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Blast from the Past

Talk about a blast from the past...

An old friend of mine from grade school just posted this on Facebook. It's my 5th grade class!

Can you tell which one I am?

(And yes, those are nuns, and we wore uniforms past the knees)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Birthday Recap: Part 3, Party Time

I know I'm about 2 weeks too late in posting his birthday party photos... just got a little busy, sorry! I sometimes try to sneak and blog at work but that doesn't always pan out, especially since we're all in open cubicles.

Anyway, this was his party in a nutshell! I tried to start planning on it about a month ahead and everyone just looked at me like I was crazy. I emailed a "to do" list to my sister to get her feedback one day, and she showed it to all her coworkers and sat around and laughed about the neurotic-party-planning-mom.


So at first I contacted a few girls from Craigslist to get a personalized cake. I wanted something unique, something cool. I'd make it myself but my creative skills haven't quite crossed over to cake decorating (or baking for that matter). One girl quoted me for $50 at first. She'd only done a few cakes, working from her home, she seemed easy to work with so I decided to give her business. That is until she hiked up the price to $85 after I told her I wanted a building instead of a flat sheet cake.

I don't think so.

So.... we ended up getting this at Vons for $50 and it turned out to be a HIT!

As if the cake wasn't enough, Sissy conjoured up an old friend through myspace who had just finished culinary school and ordered these cupcakes. They turned out a little more expensive than I imagined, but they looked cool..... and they were a hit too.

If you hadn't already figured out, we decided on the Spiderman theme (okay, I decided). It was either that or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but that seemed a little too babyish for Ethan. He's only 3 I know.

One thing that was non-negotiable was the bouncer. In JANUARY?!?!?!?! If we were back in the east coast, you couldn't even think about having anything outdoors. But this is California, baby! Granted I probably picked the worst weekend in January (chance of showers?) - but I'm stubborn so I did it anyway.

We set up camp in my mom's front yard. Her backyard's great for pool parties, but with kids running around, I thought it'd be safer if we didn't have to worry about preschoolers falling in the pool.

Sure enough. Even after I prayed to the rain gods to bypass our party, it rained for about a good half hour just before guests started to arrive. I was pissed. We had to move everything back indoors. But it passed, and we all eventually went back outside.

The bouncer, as you can imagine, was a hit with the kids. I don't know how... but they jumped in there for hours. I got in there just to "test it out", and I was dying in 10 minutes. There was a basketball hoop in the bouncer that kept my brother and his highschool friends occupied (after the little ones were finally done with it).

Popcorn anyone? Despite being teased for going over-the-top, I ended up renting a popcorn machine (yes, I would've rented a circus too but they were booked - MAYBE next year?). Mike burnt the first batch, poor guy, but the rest were great. Everyone loved it.

And what's a Spiderman party without a silly string fight? I kind of forgot that not everyone knew how to work silly strings... so we probably should've had a little tutorial before arming everyone with a can.

But everyone had a blast once they figured out the whole shaking the can part. My mom's yard wasn't too happy about being covered in it, but it got over it!

I was so busy running around making sure all the guests were taken care of... trying to be a good hostess... making sure the kids weren't bored... that I think I could've enjoyed the party a little better with Ethan. There were a few times I had to look for my camera after forgetting where I had put it down. Thank God my Sissy was there to pick up the slack!

I was glad some of Ethan's friends from school showed up. I gave his entire class invitations, and to my surprise, a few parents actually called to RSVP.

One of the games we played was the "put-a-sticker-on-the-villain" game. Each kid is blindfolded (or in our case, masked). Then they are given a sticker and the object of the game is it put a sticker on the villain that has the highest points. So instead of aiming for the middle. You're supposed to do your due diligence and figure out which direction the highest points are from the center -- before you're blindfolded. Or you could have someone yelling directional instructions and distracting the other kids by telling them the wrong stuff - but that would be cheating. Try explaining that to preschoolers.

I personally like games that are pretty self-explanatory... like the pinata. You line them up, give em a bat, clear everyone away, and let em swing til their veins pop out. Simple enough! Except they don't exactly make those pinatas kid-friendly. It takes a really pissed off full-grown adult to even crack it, let alone bust it open.

Finally, the blowing of the candles. It's actually my favorite part of any birthday party... when everyone gathers around and sings together. Every one knows the lyrics to the song, and no matter how horribly off-pitched or silly you sound, it doesn't matter. You don't even have to be synchronized with the rest of the group. All that matters is that that one person knows that they're the center of attention and that everyone's there to celebrate their birthday.

Overall, it was a lot of fun! We had more people show up than we actually expected which was great -- the more, the merrier!

Next time, I'd probably be just as obsessed if not more with all the little stuff like how much to put in the party favor bags (no lessons learned there) -- but I will definitely start planning WAY ahead of time for next year. Hmmm... pirate theme maybe? :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails