Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Utah

I'll mostly let the pictures tell the story of our Christmas in South Jordan, Utah with my in-laws. But to be honest, each great memory was very much punctuated by how much I missed my family in San Jose, California.

Sidenote: My own Filipino family is a mix of denominations, so Christmas is somewhat downgraded to Holidays. But, my mom knows our weakness, seafood and her ribeye, so each December, she tries to get everyone between after Christmas and New Year to have a Holiday Seafood Feast. We enjoy shrimp, oysters, crab, lobster, fish and of course my mom's famous mouth-watering ribeye steaks that melt in your mouth, plus noodles and rice, to keep you enjoying more seafood! Now that's what I call partying!

In Utah, we loved that we didn't get trapped in any of the heavy snowfall; we managed to get groceries and last minute things. But the best part of it, I didn't slip on anything once! If you know me, that is truly a miracle; I'm not the classic "klutz", but I do find myself "instantaneously looking up at the ceiling or the sky", more often than I want to admit.

Here are the pictures to tell you how much me and my family (especially the kids) enjoyed this year's "White Christmas":

Christmas Eve
Grandma & Grandpa surprised all of us with new PJ's!
Christmas Day
Ian with his "loot"Jasmine's "haul".Lisa with her "goodies"; she later discovered she got 1000 minutes of texting when Charlie called her phone that mysteriously appeared next to her. :D

The next day, we had to deal with the snow, so...
Jasmine worked hard to help Grandpa clear the driveway while Ian... ate snow!
Of course, he didn't just eat snow, he also...
Played in it! Where was Lisa and I? We were warm and toasty inside the house, in our pajamas! Charlie had a great time taking pictures of the two little ones!

After dinner, we can't ignore that we are a reading family, so...
Taryn and Jasmine enjoying, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid".

Lisa hiding from a camera; with a book, of course!

Todd Guyaux & Sarah Kindred's wedding; Dec. 27th:
Dave Guyaux, Todd's Dad, married them in the Brogdon home, the "grands".

(She's a little cutie like me; actually she is gorgeous! Her and Todd knew each other 7 weeks, from meeting to wedding date!)

Todd is Dave and Debbie Guyaux's son, Debbie is Charlie and Kate's cousin. Todd's grandpa Norm Brogdon and Frances Mathews (Charlie and Kate's mom) are siblings.

Here's Grandma & Grandpa Mathews and Lisa, Charlie and Ian after the ceremony

Here are some of our goodbye shots; December 28th:

Carter testing out his "bye-bye" kisses on his mom, Kate.
Carter and Ian trying to figure out when they will "see" each other again.

Our kids playing "Uno" with Grandma and cousin Taryn, at 9PM as if we're not going anywhere at 4:30AM the next day...

"Ah(all), done... No."
Our "beautiful" future.
I think they're trying to make a pyramid.
Most of the men in the family; Uncle Gary's on diaper duty; the culprit, Carter, the then stinky cutie!

We had a great time and lots of wonderful memories to greet the New Year with.
A big, big thank you to Grandma & Grandpa Mathews, Aunt Kate, Uncle Gary, Taryn and Carter.

Hope to see you all again soon!

Next December stop; San Jose, California and seafood!!!

December Miracles...

To most of you, these may not mean much, but to me and my family, December is such a sweet time of the year that every little good thing is a true miracle for us. Of course, the recording of such discoveries are left up to me. So, I hope you find ones that you and yours may have experienced.

-Receiving an 11-piece Nativity set for free after declaring my interest in collecting Nativities, on the same day.

-Finding cute red and white snowflake square plates for Christmas, for 60% off. So, so cute!

-Seeing that Las Vegas was clear and warm when we landed from Austin, Texas.

-Getting on the flight to SLC that we wanted despite other passengers who got diverted to Las Vegas, heading to Seattle, because Portland, Oregon had to close down due to snow storm.

-Finding all the gifts we wanted to give in two stores, in one day.

-Meeting an adorable Japanese elderly woman who taught me that who and how I am, there are lots of us out there. We are just misunderstood for our friendliness and kindness and for our love of all people. I needed to meet her, that’s why we got on the flight that we thought we would have to miss out on.

-Getting snowed in after we have safely arrived in Salt Lake City and inside the house, warm and cozy.

-Arriving safely and on time, to a relative’s wedding, despite warnings of black ice on the road.

-Not slipping once, throughout our whole Utah vacation, though I have no traction on either my dress shoes or boots.

-Purchasing not one, but two great coats, with the same money I received for Christmas, after praying that I don’t want to spend all my money on one warm coat.

-Lisa finding a coat she and I can both agree on, and she loved! It was two winters’ overdue!

-Ian being asked to participate in a school winter performance for something he loves, dancing!

-Having my in-laws ask me to make Filipino food before we came to Utah. I love making it and wanted them to enjoy some.

-Finding Black Currant sparkling juice (in Utah) after about three years of hearing it from Food Network! It was yummy!

-Ian only having a mild allergic reaction to walnut and felt immediately better without any medication. He excitedly dove into a cup of ice cream before asking what’s in it. We still took him right away to the ER, and the doctor gave him what he needed to prevent any later reactions.

-My in-law’s giving us the exact cocoa/latte machine I envisioned I can get so that I didn’t have to keep microwaving cups of unfinished hot cocoa cups the kids leave behind. It swirls it around, making it frothy and smooth while heating it up to the right temperature. Yum!

-Making my graduation goal of qualifying to be a part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Yes!

-My brother getting to see his wife in Montreal, Canada safely despite pretty bad turbulence close to the airport.

-Getting home safely and with smooth travel adventure.

-Charlie getting almost a month's worth of time off with pay! It was a combo of trainings and holiday floaters. It felt great to wake up each day and he's right next to me!

-Getting the classy plates I wanted (remember, I collect dishes) for 50% off and 8 of them, on my birthday. It perfectly coordinates with our wedding dishes, which we still cannot afford, he, he...

-Having a cousin in-law's (Heather) sleeping baby in my arms and have her stay asleep for almost an hour despite the noise and foreign smell (I wore perfume). She was precious, a true princess… I held in my arms royalty; she was three months old.

-I missed my family so much that I was always in the verge of tears, but my prayers were answered when I had great conversations with each sibling and my mom. It all ended with me laughing so hard, my sides hurt!

-I found a great advent calendar for 50% off that goes with Lisa’s theme, completing her theme. Jasmine has hers, now I only need to look for a good Disney one for Ian.

-Finding great AZ friends' through their blogs and Facebook. What a great way to keep in touch!

-Getting all of our luggage within seconds of arriving at the Baggage Claim carousel at Dallas Love Field airport.

-All of our packages stashed in our luggage, intact!

We feel very blessed this year; Christmas, my birthday and New Year's Eve are just icing on the scrumptious cake we call December. We just love it!
Who else knows how to best give us the best things in life but our Lord Jesus Christ? And... How else can we see and appreciate them if He doesn't let us exercise our free agency? You see, it all works out!

Never the one without the other...

Ok, love you all! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm 37? Are You Sure?

Well, ok, I am 37 today and this so far has been the greatest birthday ever!

Why you ask? Because... On the way to SLC from Las Vegas, I sat next to this cute and adorable little Japanese woman named Fusi Peck who took one look at Lisa then at me and said,
"You don't look like you have any business having a teenager, are you sure she's your daughter?"
Yes! Fountain of Youth, not needed yet! :D

(Taken right in front of my in-laws' house, Sunday; my legs sank up to the bottom of my skirt hem. I didn't want to look obviously cold, so I donned a silly pose instead.)

Taken behind and the at the left side the house, looking into the surrounding mountain range; gorgeous views!)

We started my morning leaving the "enlightened"(ha, ha, get it, because of all the snow?) state of Utah from my parent in-laws' South Jordan garage and ended it "talking" to all of my blog friends back here in "evergreen" Texas. Got tons of birthday "loves" from people and I got to have a good laugh with my family in California. Nothing better than that!

I received wonderful gifts (songs, hugs, money, phone calls, Facebook shoutout, shopping spree and a dinner out).

Naturally, Charlie's gift was the best...

In the midst of our (mostly his) packing, I decided to wash my face in the bathroom since I was starting to get really sleepy, after a brief phone chat with my mom. He suddenly came in with his cell phone but didn't look at me. He just fiddled with it for about a few seconds. When he finally did, he leans down to give me a kiss and says, "Happy Birthday, Mahal (beloved)", gave me another kiss then showed me the time on his cell- it was exactly 12:00AM!


Then again, I shouldn't be surprised; this is the same "Romeo" who flew me around San Jose, California on a beautiful night, for our 1st date! Yep, he can fly a plane and fix them, too! (Ladies, back off, he's all mine! lol)
We were also granted safety and good health throughout the day (though there was that brief time this morning in Albuquerque where I had to lie down instead of sit while waiting to be called for boarding because every muscle in my body ached... Charlie and the kids let me nap for almost an hour. That was an amazing gift (I speak to all insomniacs and nap-deprived out there; just sayin'...).

I'll post more Utah pics tomorrow and my "December Miracles" soon.

Thank you to all who remembered my birthday; it was an amazing day!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gotta Tell Someone

I got this from Lara Neves' blog. I know you'll like it so I hope you'll try it.

Here are the rules:

1. Put your music listening device on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it makes you look.
4. Title this post what the answer to your last question is.
5. Good luck and have fun!


When You Say Nothing at All (Alison Krauss)


What's Your Name? (Jesse McCartney)


Got to Believe in Magic (David Pomeranz)


Ikaw Lang Pala (Sharon Cuneta)
Translation: It was you all along; this is a Filipino soundtrack from the movie with the same title


Somebody (Depeche Mode)


If You Asked Me To (Celine Dion)


The Way You Do the Things You Do (UB40)


In My Daughter's (Children's) Eyes (Shania Twain)


The Only Thing that Looks Good on Me Is You (Bryan Adams)


She's No You (Jesse McCartney)


King and Queen of Hearts (David Pomeranz)


I Love You Always Forever (Donna Lewis)


When I Saw You (Mariah Carey)


What Child Is This? (Josh Groban)


Can't Help Falling In Love (UB40)


It Must Have Been Love (Roxette)


Everything (Michael Buble)


Gotta Tell Someone (UB40)

Since I don't own an IPod or an MP3 player, I used my Rhapsody Playlist to do this. I just closed my eyes, swirled the mouse a while, then looked to see where the cursor pointed.
I love this game, being silly sometimes takes the edge off any stress.
Thanks Lara for a great idea!

Obviously, what's next is I gotta tell someone!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


It's finally here! It's finally here!

The birthday of our Savior and Redeemer.


With all that HE has done for us, how can we not celebrate, be merry and feel more joy in our hearts, homes and associations?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last Minute (Only) Shopping! (5 Days to go...)

Last night, we found out that we can and will be spending Christmas in Utah with my dh's family. So the hunt for the perfect gifts began.

We've had ideas of what to get, but time just weren't on our side until we forced it to. Isn't that always the case? To clarify, we did not procrastinate; we weren't sure we were going anywhere and were perfectly comfortable with shopping for late presents after New Year's day. Remember, it's one of our traditions now. :P

The result? I think I'm quite impressed with the fact that we stuck to our list and waited until stores "restocked" for the week of Christmas. We found everything that we needed in two stores! Yep, you read right, two!

Plus, we even managed to get a haircut, a trip to the storage, a carwash, a new key, 7+ loads of laundry and watched 3 movies in under 7 hours! Now that's a record for our family for last minute activities that involve a trip.

I honestly don't know if I'll be able to blog the next few days starting Monday, so I hope that everyone who sees my blog has the best, merriest and blessed Christmas ever!

I'll see you all next post!

December 19 (6 Days to go...)

If I would have posted this last night, it would have born the title, "A Day in the Life of a 1st grader."

I went to Ian's classroom Breakfast Winter Party in the morning and helped them with musical book exchange & winter bingo games plus their "breakfast snack" of muffins, grapes, cheese and fruit punch. I had a great time taking pictures. Though today was an "early release" day, it was still packed with worksheets, reading and conditional learning. On a typical day, this is how they normally get things done:

1. Attendance, Pledge of Allegiance (both federal and state) and lunch count
2. Calendar and Superstar (aka Line Leader)
3. Homework check and instruction
4. More instruction and in class work
5. Recess, lunch and bathroom break
6. Downtime
7. More instruction
8. Class work
9. Homework pickup
10. Clean-up and more staying put
11. Lining up and...
12. Remembering if you are a "bus or car rider".

It's fun, but very exhausting at the same time. Often, Ian comes home so tired that when he hits the couch, he's out like a light!

We also had a late lunch, a gift exchange with one of Lisa's school friends, Daniel, a quick trip to Target, three rounds of Rummikub, a great dinner, video games and we all watched "Bridge to Terabithia" for the first time. Of course, since we were all home, we read a Christmas story.

Story: History of Silent Night (Stille Nacht)

Song: Silent Night

We had an awesome day! What a great kickoff for our Winter break. :P

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dancing & Winter Party (7 Days to go...)

Today, Jasmine had her Winter party and I took lots of pictures (been like that lately). They played three rounds: at least one on each finger, using different fingers for each and walking backwards. It was a blast! Feasting on a cheese and grapes platter didn't hurt either.
Getting ready for the candy cane relay

Passing the "baton"

"Mommy, can I think about having my picture taken first?"

Lisa came home long enough to change into her Sunday clothes because she was headed to the temple with the other youths in our church ward.

At night, we had to go back again since Ian was invited to be part of the 5th grade Winter performance. It was wonderful! Seeing him dance with a partner just melted my heart...

(We couldn't take any stills of Ian dancing because there were so many people when the music teacher called out the 1st graders on to the front, plus it was too dark without using the flash which was a no-no...)

Busy, busy, busy...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stressful Day! (8 days to go...)

(All 18 children participating; Jas' 3rd from the left front)

So I went to Jasmine's 1st ever Spelling Bee today at school. Afterwards, I decided to stick around and make copies for all the 4th grade teachers, and eat lunch with Ian. Well, it didn't start out in a good way at all.

First, Jasmine reveals that she never studied for the Bee. She claims she doesn't know where the list is.

Then, I couldn't find my keys (that Lisa borrowed and she couldn't remember where). I had to ask my neighbor to watch our apartment since Jasmine begged that I come to the Spelling Bee.
(2nd round)

(Taking a little break)

(Third round; she misspelled "chronicles"; I wasn't the only one that thought it was a hard word to hear and spell.)

After that, I get to the school, and proceed to watch the Bee, make copies and eat lunch with Ian. Everything went great, the copier worked perfectly and I did all that I was supposed to do. I ended at exactly 3:00PM

I proceed to look for my two children. Where are they? Nowhere to be found! Ian's teacher and I looked for him everywhere, including Jasmine's room. Well, she took the bus, so I knew Ian was with her. (We have a standing order that if I'm in the school, I take them home) Yup, they forgot!

I call my neighbor to watch out for them. They got home a few minutes after I hung up the school phone. I call to make sure they're inside and told them to stay on the couch and not to touch anything. I was both worried and fuming...

Charlie eventually shows up at 3:40 to pick me up and we get home. I found them on the couch, surprisingly enough, with nothing on either hand.

I asked them and they tried to make the excuse that "I didn't tell them", so I asked them, "What does it mean when Mommy's at school?" Of course, the answer was, "Go home with you..."

Then I saw that one more piece of my new utensil started to rust which made me remember that I need to contact Gibson again to see if they received my e-mail yet. The answer, NO! They never received it and the person I left the message with never even researched it! According to the new rep I talked to, they don't just replace their defective products, which meant weeks of waiting for me! And this is my only set of utensils right now and it's almost Christmas! Aaaarrrrggghhh!!!

We were also feeding the missionaries tonight, but they forgot, so my hubby picked them up and the food was already cold by the time we got started. I felt so bad feeding them cold food. I think I made up for it with three different kinds of chocolatey treat though... :D

Even with a great evening with the missionaries, I am still looking for my keys, stressing over tomorrow's schedule and still waiting to have our Christmas newsletters out.


Such is life during the holidays...

But of course, it is also a good day because... it's Aunt Kate's birthday!!!

How was your day?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Majestic Music...(9 days to go...)

(Lisa with her friend Kyla, just before the start of the concert)

It would seem that our cold spell is destined to be punctuated by warm, beautiful, reverent and majestic music, "out of the mouths of babes". Just as it ought to be... Lisa's Choir class have been performing almost every other night for various reasons. Tonight was no different; they traveled to Flower Mound, about 15 minutes away, to sing with the Flower Mound High School Choir to commemorate the 10th anniversary that these schools have been around. It was done at a local church in Flower Mound and they had special Choir director from Nova Scotia and a professional harpist from University of North Texas Music Department, as guest conductor and accompanist.
If there was one event that hearts were turned to what this season is truly about, it was here, tonight... All of their songs were gospel hymns dating back centuries like Deo Gracias and Stille Nacht (Silent Night).
It was hard to take any pictures; even the recorders that normally accompany them, opted for just an audio copy because they couldn't get a good angle where you can see everyone.
Our lord Jesus Christ must have been smiling and felt "well pleased" with these collected voices... I know, as a family, we were. RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET... Was this shopping center that had wonderful lighted trees in the front. I tried to capture them without flash, but it was so cold, I couldn't stop my hands from shaking!

How did you spend your Tuesday night?