Monthly Archives: July 2011

Celebrating 5 years in Reno!

Now that we’ve got internet at our new apartment I can finally post the anniversary message I wrote for Kevin to celebrate our five years of marriage

Five years ago today we were gettin’ hitched.  We were surrounded by so many friends and family on that hot summer evening in San Pedro and the day could not have been more perfect.

To commemorate such a milestone in our relationship I thought I’d make a list of some of my top five favorite things about our marriage:

Five of my favorite adventures

  • Australia
    • Sand-boarding down the dunes on Moreton Island, the eco lodge in the Glass House Mountains, hanging out with the huge group of kangaroos, eating an apple for dinner in the park watching the trapeze artist in the trees, walking with our luggage through downtown Sydney for what seemed like forever, watching the sun set over Darling Harbor and the Opera House
  • Hawai’i
    • Our honeymoon was our first major trip together and we had such an incredible time snorkeling with sea turtles, eating dragon fruit and pineapple and papaya from fruit stands on the side of the road, waking up early to watch the sun rise (on the wrong side of the island!), hiking across a volcanic crater
  • Nicaragua
    • Braving the bus ride to Granada, being the translator between Kevin and my homestay family, going out for pizza and beer with Erin, cracking jokes with Danffer and Dorelia, getting to show Kevin the country that I had called home for three months, and of course, getting engaged
  • Moving to San Francisco
    • This move really opened up my eyes to the world beyond Long Beach and I have enjoyed every minute of it—we have grown so much closer and our relationship is so much stronger because of it, Kevin being able to go back to school to pursue one of his passions meant a lot to both of us, growing closer with my sister Jessie and reconnecting with our dear friend Carleigh, and we have kept ourselves very busy exploring and falling in love with the Bay Area (mainly to fill this blog up with fun things!)
  • Bringing Lola home
    • I think that Lola was one of the best decisions we made together—she is the apple of our eye and makes us so incredibly happy, she many times gives us a reason to get off our rears to get outside and go for a walk or make a trip to the park which is so good for us, and she is such a great companion for us

Five of my favorite things about our relationship

  • Wrestling
    • This may sound weird but Kevin and I love to wrestle and play fight with each other and it’s one of my absolute favorite things, more than anything it just shows how goofy we are and the fact that we’re able to be that way with each other is so perfect to me
  • We learn so much from each other
    • I know that I have grown by leaps and bounds being with Kevin and I think it’s the same for him and it is my hope that we continue to grow and learn from each other for years and years to come
  • How much family means to us
    • This is not only a favorite of mine because of how close we are with our families and what wonderful families we feel we married into but because I know that our kids are going to grow up in the same kind of close-knit family which is really important to me
  • How alike we are
    • Although we have a lot of differences I think we are a lot alike as well which makes us a great pair
  • How much we laugh together
    • We are constantly cracking each other up and I can’t think of a better trait to have in a relationship than a shared sense of humor. It’s so nice having someone who laughs at (almost) all of the goofy, dorky jokes that I come up with. He’s like my personal laugh track!

Five things that I’m most looking forward to in the next five years

  • Traveling
    • I’m not sure what’s exactly in the cards for us but we plan on doing a lot more traveling in the years to come—on our wish list: La Virgen Gorda island in the Caribbean, a return trip to Hawai’i, Kevin’s first trip to New York, somewhere hopefully in Europe (like Ireland), and lots of camping
  • Buying a home
    • This one is definitely not set in stone but it’s a goal of ours and I would love nothing more than having an entire home to fill with memories
  • Seeing where life takes us with our jobs
    • I’m excited to see where Kevin ends up as an Aircraft Mechanic and I’m excited to see where I end up in the field of education, I know that there are great things ahead for us both
  • Gardening
    • We tried our hand at a flower garden at our last apartment and we’re looking forward to starting a vegetable garden at our new place, we both want to grow a lot of our food and I can only imagine how the incredible home-grown dinners are going to taste
  • Starting a family
    • We both want children very much and can’t wait until the day that we’re finally parents, that is one chapter in my life that I truly can’t wait to start with Kevin

The night of our anniversary (Friday, July 8th for any of you wondering) we spent the evening exploring a small part of our new city: Jack London Square.  We weren’t sure where we were going to eat so walked around for a bit trying to scope out a good place for dinner.

At first the place seemed dead, so much so that we were wondering if we weren’t really supposed to be walking around down there, haha.  But looking into the windows of all of the restaurants we figured out where all the people were since every place was packed!

We finally decided to eat at Bocanova, a pan-American grill, and holy smokes and I glad we did.  They serve small plates but just about every plate we got was fantastic.


Bottle of locally-brewed beer to share

Papas fritas, green/yellow beans, and a salmon tartare (I gotta be honest, I didn’t know what a tartare was until the plate showed up, haha)

And what anniversary dinner would be complete without dessert? We were STUFFED but just had to get a dessert.

Kevin about to start in on his cheesecake

Cheesecake and croissant bread pudding with Mexican chocolate ice cream (YUM!)

The happily married couple of five years!

Jack London’s cabin

We came out of the restaurant to a huge group of people taking salsa lessons, how cute!

The next day we were off bright and early to meet Carleigh to take our two pups to Pet Camp for the evening while their parents went to relax in Reno!  We’ve never left Lola at a pet boarding place before but we know she was left in really good hands since most of the staff worked with Kevin and remembered Lola really well.

Bye bye puppies, hello Reno!

We made a quick stop in the cute little town of Auburn

A giant gold miner statue

Welcome to Reno! This was my first real visit to the city (I think I had driven through it before growing up)

It was just Kevin, Carleigh and I for the day and into the early evening since Scott was at a conference at another hotel.  After checking in we went straight to the Island Buffet (not the best buffet in the world, but it did the job alright).

Then it was off to the POOL!

Yum, water

Beautiful pool!

After the pool we went to have some drinks at the bar inside…

Carleigh and martini.

Then we got ready to go out to dinner at Naan and Kabob across the street from the hotel.  I cannot complete this blog post without saying how AMAZING the food and service at this place was. We were so incredibly impressed by everything about the restaurant and I can’t believe we found such a place in Reno!

All dolled up!

Me and Kev at Naan and Kabob

After dinner we went to pick up Scott and went straight to the slot machines!

The Peppermill, the hotel/casino we stayed at

I was up about $100 but quickly lost it between Kevin and I 🙁 but Carleigh ended up being the big winner of the evening with a $300 win off a penny machine!

Concentrating a little too hard on their machines

She’s a winner!

Can you see us in the reflection of the ceiling?

Scott listening in to the “Yeee Haw!” machine

“Texas Tina”

Pretty casino ceiling

After a late night at the machines we surprisingly were able to get up early for some morning pool time!  Even at 8am it was hotter than heck out so was totally worth it for a dip in the pool.

On the way out of Reno we ate atPeg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs (sounds like the *perfect* place for a vegetarian and a vegan, right?) and it was surprisingly an amazing little breakfast place! I was so impressed by the food in Reno, something I was definitely not expecting to say after the trip.

Eat at Peg’s

My vegetarian skillet. Holy moly it was SO good!

I was SO incredibly happy that we were spending our anniversary weekend in Reno instead of moving like we had planned on. Thank you Carleigh and Scott for suggesting such a brilliant idea and for letting us tag along!

Photo of us in front of the casino’s wedding chapel

4th of July festivities/Moving weekend

The weekend of July 4th, Kevin and I packed up our entire little apartment in San Francisco and drove across the Bay Bridge (about a hundred times) to move all our junk to our new not-so-little apartment in Oakland!  I don’t know what it is about July 4th weekend but that’s the same weekend we moved up to San Francisco two years ago, remember?

Although we had signed the lease and were planning on moving in July, we weren’t planning on moving quite so soon so it was a bit of an impromptu move.  We initially decided to move the following weekend (our anniversary weekend) but after hearing about a potential trip to Reno that weekend with Carleigh and Scott we decided to move the big weekend up some and over the course of 48 hours had rented a truck, packed up (almost) all of our junk, and moved on out of the city.

Some of our junk stacked up and ready for the truck

A blank canvas just waiting for us to fill ‘er up

A lot of photos of us sweating, huffing and puffing are missing since, well, I was too distracted and exhausted to document the actually moving part.

Now entering Alameda County/Oakland city limit

The drive across the bridge (the Budget truck is the second car ahead, that red truck pulled in front of me just as I was about to take a photo of Kev in the truck)

Because our move was so impromptu, with the moving truck we mainly just moved over our furniture and big, bulky items and left a lot of the smaller things at the house thinking that a few car trips across the bridge would do the trick.  A few turned into probably 7-8 total and that was definitely the worst planning on our part for this move.  It doesn’t seem like it would be that bad but it turned out to be so exhausting moving carloads of junk everyday for an entire week.  I’m just glad that’s over!

Photo of Kevin hiking up the hill on one of our last trips

So far we are in love with our new place.  Lots of space, soft carpet, beautiful lake, active neighborhood (lots of runners and cyclists and dog walkers, etc.), and amazing FOOD!  Here are a few photos of the new place, I’ll do an apartment tour when things are put together a little more.

Kevin and Lola taking a break from all the unpacking

Lola. Wiped.

Our new shower curtain! (Can you tell I’m excited?)

Bedroom. Lots of clothes.

We decided to spend Sunday July 3rd relaxing and enjoying friend’s company instead of unpacking (wise decision!)  We went to the AMAZING Lake Anza in Berkeley with Carleigh and Scott for some sunshine and swimming.  Who knew that such an amazing lake would be found in the middle of Berkeley?!

Lots of people out enjoying the holiday weekend

Me and Carleigh in for a dip!

Lifeguard on duty

Carleigh and Scott out for a swim

Nap time on the inflatable swan

Me and Kevin (and inflatable crocodile and random dude)

Disco mermaid hanging from the ceiling in the ice cream shop

I was SO happy to have found this lake and I can’t wait to go back!

After going home to wash up we went to our friend Terri and Scott’s house in Concord for a 4th of July BBQ with the grillmaster Scott in charge.  Our friends Mika and Matt also came along with their adorable 13-month old Mia!  See Mia’s 1st birthday party post here.

We were all just hanging out in the backyard and Terri/Scott’s dog Madeira started paying special attention to Mia, so much so that she tried to herd her!  It was so adorable and eventually the two new buddies sat side by side just hanging out…

My favorite photo of the two

“Hmm, I wonder what this pink thing feels like”, haha!

Best buds

Scott and his furry gang plus Mia

Before dinner we went down the street to the local bocce court (what, your city doesn’t have a bocce court?)

Splitting up the teams

Mia and mama

Trying to figure out whose ball was closer

Mid-game shot

Lola patiently waiting for us to hurry the heck up so she could get back to playing with the dogs

The night sky on the drive home

Catalina with the Girl Scouts

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was lucky enough to spend two days and two nights with my niece’s Girl Scout troop in beautiful Catalina!  We jumped on the Catalina Express and an hour later we were in Avalon.

The last time I was on a boat to Catalina it was 1998 and we were in the middle of El Nino.  And the boat was full of 100+ seasick 9th graders.  This trip, luckily, was a lot less eventful.

Like aunt, like niece–me and Katelyn!

The only time I had ever been to Avalon it was at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) in Toyon Bay so I hadn’t been to Avalon before.  The town is super cute and I quickly fell in love with it.

Welcome to Avalon!

Views of the boat and the island (see the casino in the background? I think I’ll have to check that out next time around because, as you can imagine, there is no “Gambling” Girl Scout badge to be earned, haha)

We were too early to check into our hotel so after leaving our luggage at the front desk we went to explore the main drag on foot.

Three of the girls…and a giant hamburger.

J…and a giant buffalo.

The girls looking out onto the water

The troop!

Feeling adventurous?

Like I said earlier…like aunt, like niece, am I right? 😉

J being contemplative

We stayed at the Hotel Atwater…it was very cute but the windows and walls were paper thin!

Mr. Ning’s…it’s what for dinner.

I had the shrimp egg foo young…I’ve never seen egg foo young served like that before! It was beyond delicious, though.

After dinner we walked around some of the neighborhoods taking in the sights…

“No Turkeys Allowed”?!?

S and B with the mermaid/man/cat bench!

I love this bench

We went back to the hotel pretty early to get some rest before the big day of snorkeling…

Rest? Did I say rest? I meant to say goofing around.

We were up bright and early to get to our appointment at Catalina Scuba Luv a few blocks away.

The girls looking out on Lover’s Cove, our snorkeling destination

Me and Katelyn getting suited up!

S and her giant flippers

Mom and daughter in wetsuits

The clouds were parting just as we were walking to the snorkeling site, so cool!

Lover’s Cove

Following our snorkel guide down the steps

Mom and daughter in wetsuits again but this time *with* their masks on

Hot, I know.

Much better.

The group! Katelyn, Judith, B, S, J, the snorkel guide guy, and me

It wasn’t easy getting out of the water as Katelyn is demonstrating above

The group post-dive

Since the girls were already soaked we decided to stop off at the little beach to let them do some swimming

S taking a dive off a floating platform

Katelyn’s cannonball!

S post-swim

After getting cleaned up we decided to head out on foot again to check out the town.

An adorable dog in a golf cart! So cute.

We  decided we were ready to take or exploring to the next level so decided to take a little trolley around the island (yes, we were those people).

The girls gave the trolley a thumbs-up! Or at least Katelyn did.

Me and my fabulous niece!

One of the stops on the trolley route was the Wrigley Memorial Garden…it was totally news to me that Mr. Wrigley, as in Wrigley gum and Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field, had a huge part in the preservation efforts on Catalina Island and for that reason his memorial and a beautiful garden are located there.

Cacti, cacti everywhere!

The girls were fascinated by the heart-shaped cactus (and apparently so was I)

The mosaic ceiling on Wrigley’s memorial

Judith down below!

More trolley fun…me, Katelyn and J

Maureen and Judith

B enjoying the ride

J acting like a goofball

We also did our share of shopping (because there ain’t that much to do!)

Hahaha, these two crack me up!

Yes I told them to jump in the golf cart. But they did so willingly (as you can tell from their facial expressions)

View of the island near sunset

Our final morning we were there Judith, Katelyn and I took a long walk up, up, up a steep staircase to get a good view of the bay.

Katelyn and Judith enjoying a scrumptious chai tea before jumping on the Catalina Express back home

I was so so so so happy when Judith invited me along to the troop’s Catalina trip, it’s so nice being able to still be connected with the girls and the troop in the two years since moving up here!  And I really miss those stinkers a ton.

Trip to Long Beach!

Thursday, June 16

That afternoon I set off on a week-long trip down to Long Beach.  Lola and I jumped in the car and made our way down the too familiar 5 freeway.  This time, though, we went a slightly different, more scenic route–we went down the 101 until we hit Gilroy and then took the Pacheco Pass (highway 152) through beautiful winding roads and around the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area until we got to the 5.  This was at the suggestion of Carleigh and I’m glad we did it since it made the drive a little more bearable.  🙂

Our only real stop on the trip down was at Casa de Fruta (also at the suggestion of Carleigh) which is a huge compound with a farm, train track, pond, and tons of fruit/nuts/gift shops.  Lola and I walked around a bit and then quickly jumped back on the road.

Casa de Fruta farmhouse

Casa de Fruta railroad

Casa de Fruta peacock (that Lola desperately wanted to get a hold of, haha!)

Casa de Fruta rusted and beat-up jalopy

Casa de Fruta carousel

Casa de Fruta’s Casa de Choo Choo

Friday, June 17th-Sunday, June 19th

The main reason I went down to Long Beach this weekend was to join my niece’s Girl Scout troop (the one that I used to be a co-leader for) on their trip to Catalina!  I took a ton of photos so I’ll make a separate post for the Catalina trip.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 19th (Father’s Day)

As soon as I got off the Catalina Express I was off to my in-law’s house to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad-in-law George and my brother-in-law Thomas (dad to Sophie).  With me to celebrate were my mama-in-law Dorothy, sis-in-law Sarah and her boyfriend Rob, a good family friend Judy and Sophie!  Sarah and Rob had just returned from living in New Orleans and it was so so so good to see them.  And I realized that I hadn’t seen Sophie (my other niece) since Christmas 2009 (1 1/2 years!) so it was a special treat to see her after all this time.  She has grown SO MUCH!

She had lots of fun playing with her buddy and cousin Lola…

Sophie and her sidekick

Sophie gave Thomas an adorable gift: the card was in the shape of a fish that said “Dad, you’re a great catch” and inside was a fishing pole with a bag of fish bait (trail mix) attached.  So cute!

Sophie and her Auntie Judy playing with the iPad

Mmm…strawberry shortcake!

On the way back to her mom’s house, just chillin’

Monday, June 20th

The weekend following the Catalina trip was my 10 year high school reunion so I asked my boss if there was any way I could work from home (Long Beach) during the week so that I could stick around for the event and she graciously said yes!  Lots of appreciation for my job that week. 🙂

Here’s my view from my laptop each day in my mom’s dining room:

Aren’t those stools so cool?

My work buddy

I worked a full day (with a few walking breaks here and there with Lola) and that night I met up with Brianne & Brian at Open Sesame on 2nd street.  I’ve been to this restaurant a handful of times before and I can’t get over how amazing their food is!  Their dolmas (grape leaves) leave a little something to be desired but other than that the food is incredible.  It was so nice catching up with two of my favorite buddies too!  Lots of laughs and story-telling was shared over dinner as well as plans to catch up again during the week.

Tuesday, June 21st

Vacation detour: I actually came down with a really painful health issue so took part of the day off work to visit the doctor’s office.  After seeing the doctor, though, I didn’t feel any more confident about the condition and had to anticipate another doctor’s visit the following day in Norwalk (with Dorothy) and then another doctor’s visit again in Norwalk on Thursday (with my mom).  After being bounced around between doctor’s offices and feeling scared because I didn’t really know what was going on luckily the issue cleared up on Friday evening and the rest of the trip was spent much more comfortably.  The main lessons I learned from this experience: advocate for yourself with the doctors and receptionists/phone operators and read any online forums about the issue that you can find!  That’s where I read about the at-home treatment that ended up helping with the problem.

After going to the doctor’s on Tuesday I spent the rest of the afternoon resting up so that I could meet up with my brother Derek that evening.  We went first to visit my lovely Auntie Tina which included a couple of hours of hilarity (both by Derek and Tina and even the nurses at the front desk!)

Tina and her favorite nephew

Wednesday, June 22nd

Like I mentioned earlier, Dorothy accompanied me to my second doctor’s appointment and after getting the run around again we spent the rest of the afternoon/evening together.  We checked out a couple of new (to me) scrapbook stores and then spent a couple of hours just hanging out in the garden with Lola and talking.  I was invited to dinner with her and George and I had an amazing shrimp and asparagus pasta…mmm, mmm, mmm I can taste it right now!  🙂

Thursday, June 23rd

My mom accompanied me to my third doctor’s appointment and we then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening together.  She took me to Ranchito, an AMAZING Mexican supermarket in Westminster.  At first we went there specifically to get a giant fresh squeezed juice but then ended up buying a bunch of food and inviting Derek over for dinner at my mom’s house.  This supermarket is incredible–they have an entire counter dedicated to the jugos naturales (natural juices).  There are a few options available to order–I got the Azteca with orange, spinach, nopal (cactus), pineapple and honey and it was SOOOO GOOD!  My mom got the Vampiro with pineapple, orange, beet, celery and apple which was good but a little too beety for our taste.  The woman behind the counter throws the entire piece of fruit or veggie into the juicer so no nutrients are lost.  I wish there was a Ranchito by our place in Oakland!  We’re on a mission to find something like this since it sure beats Jamba Juice!

The huge counter dedicated to fresh juices!

Take yer pick!

Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Although I didn’t buy anything from the meat counter I couldn’t help but take a photo of the HUGE chicharron–they fried up the entire skin of a pig!  Crazy and so gross at the same time, hahah.

Friday, June 24th

I had intended to go to my friend Alison’s yoga class in Irvine at Yoga Shakti (she teaches a few times a week, check her out if you’re in the Irvine area!!) but my health issue became extremely painful that day so I slept for a long time that afternoon.  When the pain didn’t subside I finally followed the advice on the online forum posts I had found and after taking a second nap the issue had begun to clear up!  Again, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of doing your own research and trying to heal yourself naturally.

That night I met up with Dorothy, Brianne and Brian at Judy’s house for some dinner and games.  We used to go over to Judy’s to kick each other’s butts on Wii and hadn’t done that in a long time so we had a blast.

Saturday, June 25th

I was so happy that I was down in Long Beach for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Manazar Gamboa Community Theater!  I was honored to have known Manazar through my mom (he was my mom’s writing mentor at the Homeland Cultural Center in LB, directly behind the new theater) and it was so perfect that I was able to attend such a wonderful event honoring his life 10 years after his death.  Here’s a Press-Telegram article which talks about Manazar’s life and the theater (and my mama’s even quoted!)

Beautiful mural of Manazar on the side of the theater

The entrance

The program–see my mom’s name? 🙂

My beautiful mama

Mom with some of the Homeland staff

The growing crowd

African drummers

A very cool belly dancer who shook her hips while balancing a sword on her head.  Now that’s talent.

My mom reading Manazar’s biography and two of his poems

She is at home in the spotlight!

Right after my mom finished talking I had to take off to meet Carleigh at the Long Beach airport!  She flew down for the day so that we could go to our high school reunion together.  It was lunch time so we rushed off to Open Sesame (yes, the same Open Sesame I went to on Monday) for some more amazing Mediterranean food.  Then we took a stroll around Colorado Lagoon with the Lola-meister.  It as such a beautiful day and I had never walked around the entire lagoon before!

Carleigh and Lola

We dropped Lola off and went to get our nails done for the event.  I’ve only gotten a pedicure a handful of times and I always forget how nice they are!  Then we went home to get dressed for our reunion!

Me and Carleigh all dolled up

The reunion was interesting but definitely not the highlight of my week in Southern California.  It was nice reconnecting with a couple of folks and I just hope that more people attend our 15 or 20 year reunion.  🙂

Sunday, June 26th

Carleigh, Lola and I packed ourselves into the car and after a quick breakfast at Grounds we were on the road!  7 hours later we pulled into San Francisco to unpack and ready ourselves for another week in the city.

Five years of marriage

Today is our five year wedding anniversary.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since it feels like it’s gone by so fast but we’ve also done so much and have both grown so much it also is hard to believe that it’s <em>only</em> been five years.

I’m working on a post with a few lists of my five favorite things about our marriage that I had hoped to put up today but with the move across the Bay, living out of boxes and not having internet connection at home it hasn’t been easy so it’ll have to wait a bit (mainly because I want to read it to him before posting it for the world to see 🙂 ).

Here are some photos from that hot summer day in San Pedro five years ago…

The wedding party–Kevin’s sister, my best friend Erin, my sister the maid-of-honor, me, Kev, Kevin’s brother the best man, Kevin’s best friend, my brother, our nephew the ring bearer, our niece the flower girl

Our ceremony was short and sweet (just the way we like ’em!).  We were on a balcony overlooking our guests who were enjoying the beautiful garden below and we were married by one of my dear family friends

We did it!


The newlyweds!

Me and my brother, mom and sister

With my new set of parents

With Kevin’s grandma Margie (one of my all-time favorite photos)

Me and my beautiful niece Katelyn

Our first dance

We danced to Chicago’s “Colour my world” and every time I hear it I am taken back to our wedding day.  The lyrics are beautiful:

“As time goes on
I realize
Just what you mean
To me
And now
Now that you’re near
Promise your love
That I’ve waited to share
And dreams
Of our moments together
Colour my world
With hope
Of loving you”

Here’s a link to the song if you’ve never heard it (it’s short and beautiful!)

I also surprised Kevin with the Hawaiian wedding dance

Nothin’ sweeter than wedding cake!