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Archive for "Life"

Looking Back at Almost 2 Decades of This Blog

Posted on January 12, 2020 by under Life.    

As you know, I write a blog post each year around this time reflecting on the things that happened the year before. The good, the bad, and the ugly… but mostly good because I have a real knack from blocking out all the bad stuff that happens.

Before we look at last year (the year 2019), let’s look at all the years that this blog has been in existence…

2002: Everyone knows I’ve been online since before blogging was actually a “thing” but it wasn’t until after Brian and I got married that this blog officially started. It was actually about two months after our wedding.

2003: The first year of marriage is what they often call the “honeymoon” phase. We were young and naive and so cute back then. We would have these movie nights where we would bring the feather bed to the family room and watch movies all night long. We bought a few worthless things this year (like the Bowflex) and I discovered online poker but the biggest thing that happened was me going back to school after having dropped out in 2000 after my four-year scholarship ended.

Ching at Fingers

2004: Lots of drama happened this year but, besides that, this was the year that I discovered bar poker (because I got bored with playing online and wanted to play with people in real life). We also played some racquetball and did some sword-fighting. We added a live-streaming webcam (actually two of them) to the site. Lastly, I officially became a naturalized US citizen.

Our Sugarglider, Ginger

2005: We had a menagerie back then and, at one point, had seven sugargliders. We started hosting some home games and became good friends with Jay and Becca. I think this was the year the Ponderosa Poker Party started.

poker buddies at IHOP

Invisible Poker Players

Can you tell who was sitting at which seat by their drink of choice? Maybe. But everyone’s tastes have changed since then. I can tell which one was my seat though.

Robin, Justin, Ching, Jen and Dawn

2006: I completed my Business degree at Wichita State. My major was Management Information Systems (MIS) and I minored in Management and Accounting. I was going for a Computer Science minor as well but just couldn’t quite get it done. We got a couple of new family members: Molly, our Yorkipoo, and Bebot, my Toyota Corolla which is the first and only brand new car I’ve ever bought.

Molly as a Puppy

2007: I didn’t really take a break after completing my undergrad so I went straight into grad school in fall 2006. This year was pretty crazy. Grad school was so much more challenging. We also had some fun. I got my first American passport and we went on our first all-inclusive resort vacation. And, we got to experience the whole au naturel thing. Oh, and we taught our nephew how to play poker.

Logan

The photo below was taken at Couples Resort in Jamaica (now Couples Tower Isle). We celebrated our five year wedding anniversary a month early because I was in grad school.

Brian and Ching

2008: We had some big changes in 2008. Brian started working for Viega and I completed my MBA at Wichita State. But, perhaps the most memorable thing that happened that year was the Halloween poker cruise. We had the opportunity to deal cards on a cruise ship.

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2009: We had some firsts this year such as our first Zoobilee, Brian’s first trip to Germany, and our first and only trip to the Philippines together. We haven’t been back since. This is also the year we really got into racquetball and even introduced our friend Jay to the sport. On the work front, up until this year I’d been going to school full time, so this is the first year that I had time to participate in leadership/professional development opportunities at work. I took the opportunity to complete Leadership Westar and Diversity Champions.

Cable Car Group Photo

2010: We spent a lot of time with the Dills this year, starting with the first day of the year because we were with them in Kansas City for New Year’s Eve. Other trips this year include San Francisco and New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas where Brian got to meet my biological father for the first time. This is also the year we moved out of our house and into a townhouse at Quarters at Cambridge.

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2011: We started the year by getting stranded in Vegas (we were supposed to be back in Wichita on New Year’s Day) and did a lot of traveling the rest of the year. We traveled to the East Coast with the Dills, got to see the Orbases when we visited cousin Tracy in Texas, and I got to visit Nashville for the first time (on a work trip). We joined Genesis Health Clubs and got on a health and fitness kick. I was very much into Zumba and just working out in general. We pretty much lived at the gym. This was also the year that we spent our wedding anniversary at the ER.

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2012: We attended a few weddings, most notably cousin Tracy and Jeff’s destination wedding at Coral Cove in Jamaica. I completed my Zumba Basic 1 training and started teaching Zumba for the City of Wichita (Parks & Rec), took Brian to Nashville for his birthday, bought a house (we actually closed on our 10th wedding anniversary), and ended the year with a thyroidectomy.

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2013: I completed Leadership Elite at Wichita State, started teaching Zumba for YMCA, attended my first Zumba Instructor Convention (ZINCON for short), and made a few appearances on Splurge! magazine. In addition to traveling to Orlando for ZINCON, I also got to do some traveling for work (visited Minneapolis and Davenport). Besides all that, we also got each other his and hers handguns, and threw Brian’s parents a 40th wedding anniversary party.

2014: Brian bought his first tux this year. It was a big Zumba year for me. I attended both the Zumba Instructor Conference in LA and the Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando. I started my short-lived Stella & Dot business. I joined the Adventurous Babes Society. We switched from Android to iPhone. Alex, my hard-top convertible, joined our family. But the biggest thing to happen this year is my completion of Leadership Wichita.

2015: Rex, Brian’s Lexus SUV, and Saki, our Shiba Inu that we won in the Heartspring live auction, both joined our family. Travels included trips to St. George (Utah), Washington DC, Charlotte (North Carolina) New Jersey, and New York. Brian and I both completed Citizen Police Academy.

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2016: Brian and I went on the first ever Zumba cruise where I met J. Perry (he sings many of my favorite Zumba songs) in person for the first time. I also got to meet Max Pizzolante at ZINCON. I got a tour of Zumba home office and finally made the Wichita Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.

2017: Brian and I kicked off the year with a Plank Challenge. I hosted a Zumbathon to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I committed part of my 401K to Wichita State through planned giving and we were inducted into the Society of 1895. We attended several amazing events. We visited Alaska and Great Exuma (Bahamas). And I became a Zumba Wear 3-Star Insider.

2018: We attended a ton of great parties like always. I started teaching Zumba at VASA Fitness. We went on another Zumba cruise and also went to ZINCON. We started “Coffee Chats” on FLIP + CHING. I discovered pickleball and we quit our bowling league (because pickleball was on the same night). I’ve since found other places to play but, at the time, it was my only option.

That pretty much catches us up. Next post will be all about the memorable things that happened in 2019. I didn’t really have great expectations for the past year but it turned out amazing. It’s been the best year we’ve lived yet. But I have a feeling 2020 is going to be pretty awesome too. Anyway, come back next time for the full 2019 recap. Until then, GNG.

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Hanging Out at Casa Fuego

Posted on December 26, 2019 by under Food and Drink, Life, Travel.    

Our adults-only building at Hotel Xcaret is pretty self sufficient. It has two pools — one on the roof and our swim-up on the ground level. We have our own restaurant in the building. We have our own bars — the one inside Fuego Restaurant, at the rooftop pool, and the “secret” bar in the walking path.

All of the amenities in our building are private and for Casa Fuego guests only. It’s easy to sneak in because, even though you have to scan your bracelet to open the glass gates, you could always go around them and sometimes they’re left open. However, the resort is so vast and there’s something for everyone. Other guests staying at other buildings have access to so much, I doubt they even know or care what we have in Fuego. Brian and I had access to everything, plus all of the exclusive stuff in our building. Anyway, it’s very nice if you like to have peace and quiet and privacy.

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Here are a couple of pictures of us having breakfast at Fuego Restaurant, which was conveniently just a couple of doors down from our room.

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They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner so it’s perfect for when we are in a rush or when we don’t want to deal with all the other guests or if we get back to the hotel late and don’t really want to venture out.

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Here’s a picture of Brian looking over the menu.

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Here’s a picture of the fancy menu.

Fuego Restaurant was the perfect place to do our short live update on location. We just did a short video before digging in to breakfast. Some food pictures follow.

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Instead of having a Panero come by, because the restaurant is exclusive to Casa Fuego guests and not many people are usually dining there, they just give you a tray with various pastries. You also get a tray with four different spreads.

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Here’s a closer look at the breads.

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Everything is fancy at Fuego.

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After breakfast, we went back to our room to lay in the hammocks out on the patio.

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We had a great view of the ocean and access to the pool. It was quite nice and relaxing. Then we decided to go up to the rooftop pool.

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The rooftop pool has amazing 360 views of the resort and the ocean.

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Here are some more pictures I took while up there.

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Some pictures of the pool.

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Here are some pictures of the scenery down below.

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We went back to Fuego Restaurant for dinner on a separate occasion. Here are some pictures of that night’s dinner menu.

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Here’s a picture of the restaurant’s signature drink. Of all the delicious drinks I tried there, this was my most favorite.

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Brian even liked it.

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Video of Brian trying to explain the drink.

Here’s the server explaining it. This explanation was more simplified than the first one. We originally thought it was the drink of the day but they let me keep ordering it in the days that followed. I kept going back to the restaurant just to get that drink because I liked it that much.

Picture of our toasted bread in a bread envelope.

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Fancy appetizer on a piece of rock. I could have eaten six of these.

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Everything on the menu was too fancy for Brian so he just wanted tomato soup and fries. The service at the restaurant is top notch. They actually offered to make him a burger, even though it wasn’t listed on the menu. They seriously do everything within their power to please you.

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Here’s a picture of my delicious lobster risotto.

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I can’t remember what this was called but it was also amazing!

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Here’s another picture of my favorite drink on a different visit. I think we were headed somewhere else — maybe lunch with the rest of the crew and I just had to swing by and get one of these to go.

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Brian and I liked the restaurant so much that we decided to go back there for breakfast on departure day.

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We got to eat outside this time.

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The weather we had that day was the best we’d had all week.

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We took advantage of the opportunity to eat outside.

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Here are the amazing views from the restaurant patio.

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Fancy toast and side of bacon.

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The most beautiful French toast I’d ever laid eyes on.

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Here’s a close up photo. It was as delicious as it was beautiful.

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Brian explaining the different jams.

We really enjoyed our week at Hotel Xcaret and loved staying in the Casa Fuego building. Every detail of our stay was amazing. We will definitely go back!

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Labor Day Photo Shoot

Posted on September 18, 2019 by under Life.    

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Brian and I had a photo shoot with Hannah Nighswonger on Labor Day with our babies. Here are some highlights.

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Thank you so much to Hannah. She did such an amazing job with these photos! We cannot wait to work with her again. If you’d like to book her for services, you can contact her here.

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Dinner Date with the Hubs

Posted on September 6, 2019 by under Life.    

We finally got around to checking out Lola’s Bistro, our friend Michael Abay’s restaurant. It’s been open for a couple of years but, since we don’t live on the Northeast side of town anymore, it wasn’t as convenient to go. After trying their food, I regret having waited so long to find time to check it out.

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For those who don’t know, lola is a Tagalog word that means grandmother so the restaurant’s name basically means “Grandmother’s Bistro.”

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When we went last Friday, we got there early enough that they weren’t busy. It could have been the holiday weekend also. Perhaps people were doing end of summer cookouts so the restaurant was unusually slow. Either way, we appreciated not being around a mob of people.

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The restaurant isn’t very big. The interior is nicely decorated and, though they have enough room to accommodate larger groups, it still feels somewhat intimate.

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My delicious drink…

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We didn’t put the bartender to the test (I ordered their rosie peach sangria) but the bar seemed to be well-stocked.

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Here’s the specialty cocktail menu.

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Here’s a glimpse of the food menu.

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Lola’s does nice touches like complimentary breaded artichoke hearts (below) at the beginning of your dining experience and little shortbread cookies at the end.

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Brian didn’t care for these fried artichoke hearts but I thought they were great.

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For our starters, we got lumpia, chicken skewers, and pork belly boa buns.

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All three appetizers were great but the pork belly bao buns (pictured above) were definitely our favorite. The best way for me to describe this is if the Filipino siopao (steamed dumpling which consists of a sweet white bun filled with meat) and Vietnamese banh mi (baguette sandwich with pickled vegetables) had a baby. It was so good, I would go just for it.

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You’d think three starter dishes would be sufficient, and it was, but we really wanted to try one of the amazing entrees. Everything sounded delicious but we had to go for the chicken adobo. It’s a Filipino dish that Brian and I both enjoy.

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Lola’s beautiful rendition of the adobo tasted as good as it looks. I have never had chicken adobo presented as magnificently. But the dish was definitely not all looks with no substance.

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All of the unmistakable, delicious adobo flavor was well represented. We are far from food experts, but Brian and I were both very impressed.

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We shared a slice of their delicious cheesecake for dessert. As with everything else we tried that night, the presentation was impeccable. We enjoyed every last bite.

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Of course, we took a couple of obligatory selfies.

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Here’s a pic of the little shortbread cookies (which remind me of my favorite cookies from the Ambassador Hotel in Kansas City that I used to stay at) that I mentioned earlier. They’re the perfect meal finishers.

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Before we left we took a pic with the owner, Michael Abay.

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This was one of our most memorable dining experiences from start to finish — great service, amazing food, and lovely ambiance. We will definitely return!

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Getting Ready for ZINCON

Posted on August 6, 2019 by under Life.    

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This is us at Nails & Beyond, getting ready for ZINCON. I did silver toenails this time. We did two different shades of silver. One was opaque and the other a glittery overlay for extra sparkle.

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I also had a waxing right before ZINCON, which also happened to be the same day as a big sale at Beau Monde so I bought myself a blingy hat.

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