Feeling Lucky

I would have made it to work by 9 AM this morning after my annual exam. I ended up just a few minutes late because of sudden car trouble. Minor trouble, but it freaked me out nonetheless. And, today was the worst day for it because it was freezing outside. I forgot my earmuffs and didn’t have a hat or scarf on. I felt like my ears were going to fall off.

When I left the doctor’s office, I headed North on Webb Road to catch K96. I could tell there was something wrong with my car immediately. The steering wheel felt shaky and there was this exclamation point alert that I hadn’t seen before displayed on the dash. I called Brian to ask him, but he wasn’t sure either. I ended up finding a first parking lot I could find, which was on the corner of 29th and Webb. I took a picture of my dash and sent it to Brian. He said it was just the tire pressure. Brian said that taking the car on the highway might warm up the tires and help normalize the pressure but the steering wheel felt really shaky and I wasn’t comfortable driving on the highway. I remembered that the car dealership is just one block over so I had the brilliant idea to drive there and ask them to help me. It was the best idea ever.

The car dealership figured out which tires needed more air and they took care of it for me. It took a few minutes so I took advantage of a chocolate croissant while I waited inside. I was on my way back to work in no time.

I’m so glad that I thought to take the car to the dealership. First of all, I didn’t have a tire pressure gauge on me so I would have had to borrow one from someone. Secondly, I would have had to find a gas station and then would have had to air up the tires myself in the freezing cold. It would have taken me at least twice as long.

Munching on a chocolate croissant while my tires were checked and filled was a far more pleasant option. Thank you to the wonderful people at the Wichita Luxury Collection for saving my behind today.

2014 End of Year Recap

Time to catch you guys up before our annual end of year recap…

Here are the highlights of 2014…

I’m grateful for all of the wonderful experiences of 2014 and for lessons learned. Looking forward to a happy, healthy 2015!

Donate to the YMCA

Please help us to raise money to support the YMCA.

Thank you.

Brian Saves Christmas

I thought I was completely ready for Christmas. Things were going so well. All of the presents that we’d sent to friends and family around the world made it to their destinations on time. Christmas cards were mailed. We were just relaxing while waiting for the day itself to finally arrive. And then I got sick the weekend before Christmas. I had no idea how much still needed to be done. When I was no longer feverish and returned to consciousness I started to panic. I didn’t feel ready. Brian had everything under control though. I calmed down once I reminded myself that I completely trust Brian and that’s if he says that everything is under control then it is. It just sucks to be completely sidelined during crunch time.

I was still feeling alright last Thursday. I had felt a little achy the preceding days but I’d just attributed that to probably sleeping crooked or something like that. Anyway, no major issues on Thursday. Brian’s parents were in town so we used the evening for them to drop off their presents for us in Wichita and to give them their presents from the two of us. Thursday nights are also usually the nights I hang out with my little sister Nickira.

I had taken her to make a craft project for her mom at Color Me Mine a few weeks prior. She wanted to make something for her Aunt also but after she realized how much each piece cost, she suggested that we go to the dollar store instead. We were starting to run out of days before Christmas so we decided to do that on Thursday on the way home to have dinner and do homework.

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My in-laws were still at the house when we arrived so Nickira got to meet them. They also had a present for her, which she got to open right then.

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She also got to open a present from me.

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She got to wear the necklace and earrings that day.

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We were in presents-opening mode so while we were waiting for dinner to be ready, Kira helped us open the present from the Orbases that arrived in the mail that day.

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They got us an awesome chess set where the pieces consist of Chinese soldiers.

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Here’s a video Kira reading the Christmas card that came with it.

After dinner Brian left to take grandma to see Christmas lights. It was one of her requests this year. Kira and I stayed home to do homework, wrap her presents, and write messages for the recipients.

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It was then that I remembered that Kira’s mom wanted me to help her with her penmanship. So I ordered a couple of learn to write tablets. They should be coming in a few days so we can start on this project at the beginning of the year. I also need to help her with her spelling. She keeps spelling aunt as ant. LOL.

After we completed our tasks, Kira got to play with Molly for a while before I had to take her back home. Nickira and I didn’t go to see Christmas lights with Brian and grandma that night because my original plan was to take her to Illuminations at Botanica on Sunday. It was Westar night and I could get four people in free with my work badge.

Sadly it was not to be. I came down with the flu on Friday. I was hoping to be well enough by Sunday but I still had a fever. There was no way I could go. I missed so much that weekend. I missed dinner with friends on Friday night, missed my Zumba classes (I was so glad Hideki and Alexa were able to teach in my place so the classes didn’t have to be canceled), missed my waxing appointment, missed a friend’s birthday party, and on and on. I spent all weekend in bed, feeling completely helpless and out of it.

In the meantime, Brian did laundry (my job every weekend) and everything else. In my delirium I was like, “What are we going to do about Christmas Day? What are we going to make for grandma?” Brian came up with a plan and went to the grocery store on Sunday. All this happened while I was out.

Went back to work on Monday but took a few hours of vacation in the afternoon before my Monday night Zumba class. My fever was gone, but breathing was still kind of a problem. I tried to convince myself I was well enough though. Tuesday I worked the full day and taught two Zumba classes afterward. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone back to work so soon and I definitely should not have taught those Zumba classes. While I don’t have a fever, I’m still miserable and now I feel like I ought to go see the doctor before I kill myself completely.

It seemed like I was better on Christmas Eve but I was probably just happy that Brian didn’t have to work that day. In my elation I completely forgot that I was supposed to teach Zumba that morning in Alexa’s place (she’s celebrating the holidays with family out of town). The ironic part is that I had just received my review the night before and had gotten excellent ratings for being willing to sub other classes and for being dependable. So much for that record.

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I may have missed my grooming but Molly didn’t miss hers. She looked so adorable in her Christmas sweater, with her fresh haircut. I was so glad that mom and dad let us bring her with us so she would have to be at home alone on Christmas Eve.

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Kevin, Kasey, Andy, and Kyndra celebrated Christmas Eve with us. It worked out well because we were able to exchange gifts at mom and dad’s that night.

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The kids just wanted gift cards. GameStop for Andy and Gordmans for Kyndra.

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Kevin and Kasey wanted their own Cards Against Humanity set so we got them that and the first two expansions. We also got them X-Men: Days of Future Past and Wolverine Collection, which they didn’t ask for but we knew they would like.

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The movie collection comes with X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand (Widescreen Edition), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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Grandma received a pullover from Kevin and Kasey but was most thrilled to see her great grandchildren. I think that was the greatest present of all.

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Jen and Armando also joined us this year. It’s their first time meeting grandma.

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Grandma also got to meet the Cannadys and our other nephews on that side.

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We had wonderful food and wonderful company. We were out later than we wanted but it worked out great because grandma didn’t seem to mind and she had the opportunity to meet the Cannadys.

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The next morning grandma got to explore the contents of her Christmas stocking at breakfast: a new wallet, jumbo print playing cards, and Lindor truffles.

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Brian and I don’t really buy each other presents to open on Christmas Day. We mostly just buy the things we want, say that we got them for Christmas, but immediately start enjoying them (much like our new Xorbee). The wrapped presents you see under our tree are all the presents that that we’ve bought to give to others.

We have so many generous people in our lives, though that there’s usually not a shortage of presents to open on Christmas Day. This year we got to watch grandma open the presents that we got for her and the presents that she got from David and Donna.

We also got several presents from Brian’s mom and dad, a Kurt Adler Christmas ornament from Aunt Sandy, cutting boards from Cousin Tracy and Jeff, and a personalized Christmas ornament from our neighbors Jim and Karen who were nice enough to stop by on Christmas Day. Grandma finally got to meet our awesome neighbors we’d been telling her about. And they got to meet her.

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Molly got presents too — from me and Brian (new beds and toys) and also from Karen and Jim (outfit and treats). Karen and Jim got her a cute little Wichita State shockers dress that she wore all day. She looked like a little cheerleader!

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After lunch we got to video chat with Brian’s parents and thank them for all the wonderful presents they gave us. It was a wonderful Christmas despite my not feeling 100%. Brian really saved Christmas from becoming a complete and total disaster this year. After he took grandma home we both took a very long nap. It had been a busy two days and we were completely and utterly exhausted.

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Hope your Christmas was filled with just as much joy and happiness!

Things Were Going So Well

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Things were going so well… until I got sick. Here’s what I missed documenting because we got super busy with stuff.

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Brian and I got to watch a Shocker game. Thanks to our awesome neighbors for passing their tickets our way while they were out of town. Men’s basketball tickets are in high demand and difficult to come by because most of the games are sold out and people with season tickets do not give them up.

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My friend Hideki who can always be counted on covered for me in my 11 AM Zumba class so Brian and I were able to enjoy a nice leisurely lunch at Granite City before the game.

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It was a wonderful afternoon, punctuated by more fun and games in the evening at Becca’s birthday party/luau.

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Mama Dill did an awesome job organizing games. Jay provided fantastic food.

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Oh, and Jay and Becca have some awesome neighbors as well. We know this because we went to the wrong house at first and they actually let us in. We think they were after the pies, though. Jokes aside, Brian and I were really grateful that they allowed us to realize our mistake on our own rather than slamming their door on our faces. Granted, I wouldn’t have slammed the door on anyone but I wouldn’t have let complete strangers into my house. Then again, this was Thanksgiving weekend so maybe people are just super nice and exceedingly trusting around this time of year. Good thing we aren’t a couple of serial killers like Juliette Lewis and Brad Pitt in Kalifornia.

The following weekend was the white elephant gift exchange at our house. I know it seemed really early in the season but we always get so busy as Christmas approaches and it becomes even more challenging to get everyone together. I was worried no one would play, but we had a pretty good turn out.

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Brian and I also attended my department holiday celebration at Emporia Country Club. It was a long drive but worth it. It’s always nice to spend time with coworkers outside of work. Since I don’t really take breaks (except to have lunch with Brian or go home and let the dog out) I don’t really get much opportunity to visit with coworkers about non-work stuff. I’m grateful for opportunities to mingle and visit on a personal level.

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Of course, immediately after I say this I show you pictures of Faith, Nickira, and Noel at a basketball game. Faith is more than just a coworker to me. Our friendship really developed this year. When I found that I could get extra tickets to the WSU women’s basketball game against K-State (thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters), I immediately thought of Faith and her daughter because I knew they would enjoy it.

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I was able to get quite a few tickets so in addition to saving a couple for Faith and Noel, I gave some to my team members also. That’s why you see Shanda and Nykole in the background in the photo above.

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It was my first time watching the WSU women’s basketball team play. Their games are not as popular as the men’s (which was good for us because we got to sit just a couple of feet from the floor and watch the game unfold up close, rather than having to watch from the nosebleed section) but they are amazing in their own right. K-State was in the lead at first and then WSU took the lead. By half time it looked like it was going to be a blowout until the last 4-5 minutes when K-State mounted a comeback. It came down to the last few seconds because it was anyones game at that point.

What also heightened the excitement was that Faith had some friends from her church sitting right behind us and they were cheering for the opposing team. It’s always fun when you have people to tease and rile up during the game.

Just one more video clip from that exciting basketball game…

In other exciting news, team Alobaker finally made #1 on our Sunday night bowling league. This is huge because we were one of the bottom teams during the first month of Fall league season. We started to mount our offensive while mom and dad were on vacation in the Philippines. I recruited a couple of ringers to sub for us. LOL.

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We joked that we were booting mom and dad out of the team because we were starting to do really well. When mom and dad returned our luck (awesome bowling performance?) continued and we continued our slow and steady climb to first place. We still have several weeks to go so I hope we can keep it up.

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Oh, and since I really enjoy making you all jealous, I’m posting pictures of my two newest keychains. I worked hard for these! ;-)

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You don’t care about the keychains? Fine.

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What about this? We finally got an Xorbee Xotic!

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Here’s what it looks like immediately out of the box, before expanding.

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We been eyeing one of these for almost two years. Ever since I got my giant floor pillow from them. We had to save some money first, though. We are now enjoying the heck out of it. Well, Brian more so than me. He uses it as a gaming chair/bed.

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I have a few more things to catch you guys up on but that’s pretty much everything that happened until I caught the crud that is going around. I hate getting sick because everyday there is something exciting happening and when I’m sick I can’t participate. Everyone knows how much I like to be involved. I prefer living life rather than just watch it go by and often wish I could multiply because it seems like several things are going on at the same time and I want to do it all.

The first night that the flu finally hit me, we had originally made plans to have dinner with Jay and Becca at Red Rock. That same night my friend Cari had a cookie swap. I really hated that I could do neither. It all worked out for the best though, because we’re going to do a rain check on dinner. Brian had to work that night anyway and wasn’t going to be able to join us. I know there will be another cookie swap because they have these fairly regularly.

I guess this is all I have time to document for now. Come back in a couple of days for more updates on this well-documented life. Happy Holidays!

XOXO,
Ching

Ted’s Cafe Escondido

We had the opportunity to try a new restaurant a few weeks ago when we were in Oklahoma to deliver Brian’s old truck to his dad. We’d been looking to buy a new vehicle for a few years now and just hadn’t found the right one. Plus, we were saving money because we didn’t want to finance it. We paid for Crichton in cash in 2007 and we finished paying off Bebot in 2008. We didn’t want another car payment. However, we promised that we would give the truck to Brian’s dad once we got a new vehicle.

Goodbye, Crichton.

We finally found the exact car that we wanted to add to our family in October. We would have delivered the truck to Oklahoma sooner but we promised Jenni that Brian would help her move in early November so we couldn’t get rid of the truck just yet. Our opportunity came Thanksgiving weekend because neither of us had to work.

It was fitting too. Rather than participating in the consumerist juggernaut that is Black Friday, we used the day to drive to Brian’s parents’ home in Oklahoma and deliver the truck to them. We gave it to them for several reasons. Brian’s dad likes to do projects at home and in his workshop and had been looking for a truck to haul stuff to and from the store. They have a couple of four-door sedans that aren’t really conducive to hauling big, bulky items. We figured that he would get more use out of the truck than we would. We also wanted to get rid of the truck because Brian doesn’t really enjoy helping people move and he got tired of me volunteering him and his truck long ago.

It didn’t make sense to sell the truck or trade it in because we wouldn’t get what it was worth. Plus, Brian’s dad was looking for a truck and it didn’t make sense for him to buy one when we had a truck that we no longer needed. Giving them the truck was a great way to say thank you for everything they’d done for us over the years. And, how appropriate that it happened on Thanksgiving weekend.

Ted's Cafe Escondido on Urbanspoon

But I digress… I really wanted to tell you about this restaurant that Brian’s parents took us to that day. The place is called Ted’s Cafe Escondido. We don’t have one here in Wichita, but it’s very similar to Abuelo’s. They have the same kind of tortilla chips that I like and the menu options are similar. Prices are comparable also. I guess the restaurant is more like Abuelo’s and Felipe’s together. You’ll see what I mean when you see the food pictures.

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Brian had a bean and cheese burrito smothered in queso. This is what my unadventurous husband gets everywhere. Unless we’re splitting something. Then he is forced to eat what I’m having. LOL.

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I had the pork chile verde and Brian wanted nothing to do with it.

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Donna had the handmade tamales.

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I can’t remember what kind of burrito David had because so much time has passed. I really should have blogged this weeks ago but we’ve been super busy.

The restaurant gives you a free sapodilla on request. It’s good but not as good as the mini, bite-sized sapodillas at Felipe’s Jr. You have to pay for those, though. One could argue that free is better. LOL.

Of the places we’ve tried in the area, which is not many because we’ve only been down there a couple of times since they moved, this one is my favorite. That doesn’t say much, I suppose. Check back in a few months.

Homework Night with My Little Sister

I know my little sister loves it when we go on outings to the zoo, amusement park, museum, skating, painting, etc. but my favorite activity with her by far is homework night. I enjoy taking her on fun outings, but I really enjoying helping her with homework.

She was a little impatient on Wednesday night because there was more homework than usual and the assigned work, specially the math portion, was more challenging. She wanted to stop before we were finished, but I managed to get her to complete all of it.

I think next time I may need to add a short break in there to make up for Kira’s shorter attention span. I’m learning so much from this process.

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I snapped these photos on Wednesday night. I couldn’t resist. The sight was very Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post.

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Homework nights are nights that I look forward to with eager anticipation.

What Happened Last Week

View from the Nest at the Oread…

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I love training held at the Oread because we got to enjoy views like these. The only down side is that I have to be away from home. Of course, I get to look forward to coming home to my two babies.

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Except, I don’t think they missed me. This is what I came home to on Wednesday. =P

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Our Customer Experience meeting at the Holiday Inn ended at four o’clock on Thursday so I had time help grandma with her computer, which worked out great since Brian has to work until five now. He also had to stop by the car repair shop to pick up Bebot.

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After grandma’s computer was fixed, she showed me her word search game.

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I didn’t have Kira on Thursday night so we were able to partake of $12 sangria pitchers at Taste & See. Misty joined us for dinner. Here are some pictures of our food…

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Taste & See 2 on Urbanspoon

I didn’t get a picture of the queso fondue which is our favorite starter at the restaurant. Misty hadn’t tried it before. I think we converted another.

Dinner was delicious and it was nice to be able to catch up with Misty. It’s been a while.

I had my Leadership Wichita session on Friday, which is worthy of its very own blog post. After our session Brian had a meeting at Wichita State for the fitness device study that he’s part of. He’s testing his third fitness device: Basis.

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It’s the one he thought he wanted, but he actually doesn’t like as much now that he’s tried a couple of other fitness devices. I’m glad he’s part of the test group, otherwise we would have bought him something that he would quickly tire of and then eventually not use. After this one, he has three more fitness devices to test.

It’s past my bed time so I’ll hold off posting about the weekend until tomorrow. And, I still need to post a Leadership Wichita update. So stay tuned!

Until next time,
Ching

What is AVID?

I had the opportunity to learn about AVID at Adams Elementary this past Thursday. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It’s actually a really cool program. Their mission is close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. The idea is to prepare all students for college and not just some students.

AVID trains teachers to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. It was really cool learning about the students’ planners, three-ring binder notebooks, dividers, pencil pouch. There’s a reason why the school requires all of these things.

The pencil pouch is important because it keeps all of your pencils, pens, erasers, and sticky notes all in one place and always with your notebook. I asked Kira why she didn’t have a pencil pouch in her notebook and she told me the zipper of her pencil pouch broke. We stopped by Walmart on the way home so she could get another one.

I think it’s really cool how they’re teaching students to be organized by using subject dividers, two and three column note taking techniques, and other things. I looked back at my own upbringing and marveled at how I managed when no one taught me these things. I guess I just picked up good habits from other people. When I saw classmates doing something that seemed to work, I would adopt those methods.

Some students may not have the initiative or interest to learn these techniques on their own. Specially if they have challenges at home. They may not have the time or energy to think about these things so it makes sense to teach them best practices. I think it’s great that the schools are taking an active part at teaching students good study habits at a young age so they can be successful in high school, college, and later in life.

I’m glad that my little sister’s school is part of the AVID program. I wish every school would be part of AVID. Click here to learn more or watch this video (or do both).

What Happened This Week

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I got three strikes on the 10th frame on Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. With the exception of the open frames, which kept me from bowling a 200-game, I actually did pretty well. I still haven’t bowled a 500 series. That is my main goal at bowling this year.

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Apothic Red went on sale for $7.99 a bottle at Groves so Brian got a case. No, we’re not a couple of winos. Only Brian is. LOL.

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Our alcohol budget far exceeds our food budget and it’s all because he gets a case at a time. There may not be food in the house but there’s always wine.

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I had the opportunity to attend the memorial mass for Tita Sol at Saint Francis. I wasn’t going to attend at first because I had a meeting. However, my meeting got pushed to Thursday afternoon so I was able to attend after all.

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There was a luncheon after the mass and I ran into Gina Ann who reminded me about the Party in Pink Zumbathon at Genesis East Central next week. I hadn’t bought my ticket yet because I really wasn’t sure if I could make it. My schedule has been pretty crazy lately and I’ve been super duper busy.

After some thought, I realized that I could squeeze in the Zumbathon before bowling. She was like, you can get your ticket before you go back to work. The church is next to Genesis West Central so it was really convenient. The universe has a way of making sure I’m right where I’m supposed to be sometimes.

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On Thursday night I went to Kira’s school and learned about AVID. It’s a great program so I’m going to devote a whole blog entry on that later.

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On Friday we had an outing (team building activity) at Color Me Mine. Since we were on that side of town, we had lunch at Bella Luna. I’d never been to the West side location before. Now I’ve eaten at all of them.

We had dinner at Sumo last night in honor of April’s birthday. There are at least a couple of videos on Facebook of Jay eating a huge dollop of wasabi. Dude is insane.

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Oh, and Brian took a day of vacation from work to wait for my iPhone delivery. Apparently, they’ve been getting stolen so we had to make sure someone was home. Yes. I know. I sold out. I didn’t want to spend $300 on a new phone before so I spent $800. But, hey. It’s my birthday present. It just happened to arrive early.

Apple quoted us mid-October for the anticipated delivery date, but it actually came two weeks early. I’m not complaining. I’m glad because I’ve had the case for a couple of weeks. It shipped right away and arrived within a couple of days. I got the (RED) leather case because the proceeds benefit the global fund to fight AIDS.

Alright. It’s time for us to go to the Joyful Noise Twilight Concert at Camp Wood.

Until next time,
Ching

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