Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Dandelion Wishes


Blowing dandelion wishes into the air is one of my granddaughter's favorite things to do. Being an equal opportunity three-year-old she asked that I join her. As I closed my eyes and blew I willed the fluffy propeller seeds to make my wish come true as they became airborne. Easter is the only holiday that holds a significant place in my heart and every year my only wish is to have my grown kids together with me. Apparently, an errant seed failed in its mission because one kid was missing in action during Easter service but I let it slide since she graced us with her presence afterwards.

This year Rylee was old enough to delight in the tradition of dyeing eggs and her excitement was contagious. When her mom arranged the Easter swag on the table Rylee's eyes widened into large shiny orbs of glee and emulated a Mexican jumping bean. I marvel at the ease with which my daughter, Chloe, falls into her role as a mother because I was always a stressful mess during holidays. Granted, I had 3 kids (2 of them ten months apart) and I was incredibly immature but in hindsight there was no need for me to be THAT stressed. But if you would have seen me boiling 2 dozen eggs for 3 kids to baptize in multi-colored dye you would have thought I just ran a full marathon in under an hour. I wasn't bred from the gene pool where the very talented, inherently handy-dandy-artsy-craftsy moms emerged so using store-bought PAAS egg dye was akin to completing a one million piece puzzle. I was secretly relieved when my youngest thought dyeing eggs was for babies. Now, Gramma Nette has the privilege of sitting back, revelling in these tangible moments of watching Chloe and Rylee create their own ineffaceable memories of Easter.
(Apparently, naked Easter eggs are not appealing to her.)

Our resident Easter bunny plucking red seeds from the bushes and throwing them in a wide arc across the grass. She spreads her arms wide and exclaims, "Seeds for my beeeyoooteeeful garden!"


Hunting fun! She had no competition in this year's egg hunt and scored each one.  

The last hidden egg that almost couldn't be found because Mr. Ray, the egg hider, thought he was being funny.

To view Rylee's recent "photo shoot" with Gramma Nette please click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Long Beach Grand Prix

Ray has a unique gift I jokingly call "the gift of receiving". People seem to bestow him with things or favors unattached with ulterior motives. Granted, being a DJ has allowed him to be sponsored by many companies but this is entirely different. Either his friends are extremely generous or he's a magnet for benevolence. A few weeks ago his Facebook status alerted his friends that he was trying to procure tickets to the Long Beach Grand Prix and within days they were in his hands. Just like that. 

It's been exactly ten years since I attended the LB Grand Prix and last time I barely enjoyed it in my altered state. This year I was completely sober and relished every single moment of it. The best thing about our relationship is that we are both anal retentive when it comes to time. (My Filipino family would beg to differ but I am intentionally late for family shindigs...actually, I'm late for work many times so let's just say I'm "selectively" anal retentive with time.) When Ray says we are leaving no later than 8:30 a.m. you can bet that we are in the car promptly at the appointed time. The mixture of giddiness and excitement was like Red Bull tainting our veins, propelling us forward as we practically skipped, then ran, through the gates of the Grand Prix. It was 9 a.m. and we made it right on time for the drifting practice. Despite the 70+ degree heat, chills and goosebumps marred our skin whenever the cars slid by. We looked and sounded like a pair of giggling idiots. He asked if I wanted to sit in the grandstands and I yelled, "Hellllllllllllllllll to the noooooooo!" I wanted to be as close to the track as possible experiencing the visceral vibrations and the tickling of my ear drums from the massive horsepower roaring by. Of course Ray, the show-off, had to remind me that it's nothing compared to sitting inside the car. He DJ'd for a drifting competition in China a few years ago and got to race in the passenger seat of a drift car. (Yes, I'm secretly rabid with jealousy.) 

Although I felt rejuvenated from the thrill of being there I still wasn't feeling well enough to lug my huge camera around in the heat. So with my handy-dandy iPhone I took pictures of the cars that got my juices flowin'. Ray and I have an ongoing debate (one of many) about modern cars vs. muscle cars. He would take a Porsche or Audi r8 any day whereas I would rather peal out in a souped-up 1965 Pontiac GTO. Recently, my 3-year-old Toyota Solara needed a brand-new transmission and to this day Ray suspects that it blew from my driving it like a race car. I haven't heard the end of it! "I'll tell you what, why don't you  just get a race car next time!" Forget the BMWs, Benz, Porsches, and Audis, these two beauties would make my hourlong commute to work totally worth it!

And Ray wished he won the lotto to make these his. 

I only like this because it's red!

 Number 1 on my Christmas wish list this year: his and hers bikes!

And his/hers race cars!

The insanely priced beer at the Grand Prix made it elusive.

People-watching in the LBC

Video compilation courtesy of Ray Belling. The finale is my favorite!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax day & Mini Escape

Spilling coffee all over my work desk twice in less than a week meant I needed to "wake up and smell the coffee". (Yes, my coffee mug resembles a real camera lens. How apropos, no?) It had to take spilt coffee to wake me from my workaholic stupor and remind me to stand up, stretch, leave the office, get some Vitamin D, and inhale the sea breeze less than 2 miles away. When I started this new job in Newport Beach nine months ago I had solid intentions to enjoy the fact that I am situated less than 2 miles from the beach. I made promises to myself to take walk breaks and enjoy my surroundings, bask in the sun, lift my face to the wind, etc. Simple actions for a simple life, right? Yet, here I sit like an automaton programmed only to work the injectable queue approving/denying authorization requests 8 straight hours a day, 5 days a week. And I am always sick and stressed or stressed and sick about my work queue or my current financial situation or my family's health or my grandchild's or kids' well-being. See? And the list can go on longer than Charlie Sheen's rants. I ain't no spring chicken but doctors' visits should only be once a year, NOT 4 times in a month. I truly am my own worst enemy and have no one to blame for my weak immune system. No one. Who needs enemies when I've got the meanest and fiercest one of all? 

Today my taxes are due and this year I am one of the poor who owes the IRS. I will be the IRS's b*tch for the next couple of years. My neurotic worrywart self could add that to my always-growing, never-dwindling pile of stress that precariously balances over my angular shoulders but I decided to stop punishing myself, my mind, and my body. After I mailed my taxes off at the post office I made a slight detour to C'est Si Bon bakery in Newport Beach for a mini-escape of tuna on french baguette, chocolate croissant, and iced green tea. If you're cruising down PCH near Newport Beach may I recommend this bakery with to-die-for chocolate croissants. I swoon even as I write this because they are my biggest indulgence. I forced myself to stop thinking of my financial woes, my work queue, my family's health and well-being, and sat there ensconced in the corner of C'est Si Bon simply enjoying my food and solitude. I need to break the habit of eating lunch in the office and cultivate a healthy daily habit of enjoying my lunch outside, away from the 4 walls that suffocate me.

Let's see what tomorrow brings...
Tuna on french baguette, to-die-for chocolate croissant, and iced green tea from C'est Si Bon bakery at Newport Beach, CA

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Unbirthday

Last month was my 43rd birthday. Yup, I said it. My 43rd. I'm not one of those females who hide my age or lie about it. It has been quite a journey to get here and faking the funk would diminish the adventure. The road to 43 hasn't been easy and I never chose the conventional one. It was fraught with mind numbing obstacles, hair-raising surprises, and unwise decisions. Yet, along the way I encountered love, faith, and hope. It sounds completely trite but I tend to wax poetic and I'm trying to keep this blog post short so trite it will be. 

Much to my family's and boyfriend's dismay I tend to retreat on my birthday-physically, emotionally, and mentally. I refuse to partake in a huge celebration, won't agree to any parties, and end up spoiling plans to surprise me. This year was no different, in fact, I think it was even worse. The reason for my despondency comprised many things but I couldn't fathom celebrating my birthday when I just watched the devastation in Japan a week prior. And how could I foist MY beliefs onto my boyfriend, sister, kids, and grandkid when their only desire is to celebrate me because they love me? I'm humbly grateful after this past birthday fiasco I still have a boyfriend, sister, kids, and grandkid. I think if you looked up the meaning of "unconditional love" in the dictionary you'd see a group picture of the people God has blessed me with. A huge fist pump to my daughter Chloe who really tried her best to rally everyone together to surprise me. 

On my 43rd year, I vow to embrace every gray hair that suddenly says "hello!", welcome every wrinkle with a gentle dab of my heavy-duty anti-aging cream, accept every ache, creak, tweak, twinge, and spasm of my bones and/or muscles, flow through the changes that transforms my body daily, fill my brain space with an abundance of positive thoughts, cultivate my inner peace with deep breaths, and seek God faithfully and deeply. 

Ray whipped up the video below as a birthday surprise. It's been 2 and 1/2 years of nonstop craziness and madness with a whole lotta lovin' me through my mess.

Music by Au Revoir Simone "Sad Song" 
Play me a sad song because 
That's what I want to hear. 
I want you to make me cry. 
I want to remember the places that we left, 
Lost to the mists of time.

I know that you'll go soon. 
You'll find out so take me with you always.

On buses that move through the night
We sleep on and on. 
We got off at Memphis, black-top heat will make us thirsty. 
We'll never get sick anymore.