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My goodness, these past couple of months have been a complete blur. I started writing my blog post about my beloved childhood books, but I got sidetracked by so many family events & activities, that I had to put my entire blog on hold. I had just begun writing my next blog post, & then…family happened.

One after another, my extended relatives came to visit & stay at our house, & of course since my mom still hasn’t fully recovered from her sciatica (which has evolved into full-on spinal stenosis), I was assigned the task of playing chauffeur/tour guide for  everyone. Plus, I’ve been kind of put in the role of round-the-clock personal assistant/sherpa for my mom, which has been a good way for me to really get to know my mom better in a deeper way. We have been able to talk more, & she has really opened up to me about stuff that I never knew before regarding my family.

So, we’ve been hosting a revolving door of guests at our house, & then we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to pay a visit to my 96-year old grand-aunt in Austin, Texas. This aunt, which I consider to be my second grandmother, had recently recovered from a broken wrist, & got her cast taken off. Her health hasn’t been the best in recent years (she’s lost a lot of weight, & her hearing loss has gotten worse), so my immediate family & I have been making a better effort to go & see her more often, you know, because we don’t know how much time we have left with her. We all love her so very much & are doing our best to keep her company & to make her feel as comfortable/happy as possible.

This quick trip to Austin was so much fun. My mom, Jian, & I got to spend some quality time with my grand aunt (which I refer to as 姨姥姥), & my mom’s two sibling cousins (one male, one female) who live with their mother, my grand aunt. We also got to explore the downtown Austin area, which Jian was more than happy to play tour guide for us. Jian has spent his fair share of time in Austin on business trips, & he’s also really great at memorizing directions, maps, & general city layouts. He was the perfect guide to show us all the cool shopping spots & hip eateries all around town.

Shortly after we came back from Austin, my mom had to get ready for her tour trip to Spain. I usually travel with my mom, especially when she goes overseas, to be her companion, & to help her when she doesn’t understand something, but also to take care of her & make sure she’s not aggrivating her sciatica. This time I wouldn’t be traveling with her, & that made my mom anxious for her trip. This would be one of the first trips she’d be taking without me constantly by her side, holding her hand when she needs walking assistance, or helping her carry heavy bags. So naturally, she was worried about me not being there to help her, but I was also worried that my mom would have to take care of herself in a country she hasn’t visited in over thirty plus years.

As I am writing this post, my mom has already returned from her trip to Spain, & she had a lovely time. She traveled with all but one of her siblings & their respective spouses. My youngest uncle also invited his daughter to go with them. Aside from experiencing a few (a few, meaning only two) mishaps during their tour, everyone had a fabulous time eating & walking their way through several cities throughout North-East Spain. My mom brought a walking cane with her on this trip, but her sciatica still flared up, & now she’s back at home recouperating from a long trip away.

I, on the other hand, jetted off to Vancouver, British Columbia again with Jian. Jian had a business trip in Vancouver to visit a few of his major customers that he just was not able to put off. Intially, when he first invited me to tag along, I felt unsure about going. Jian’s work trip was going to coincide with my mom’s trip to Spain, & being the superstitious worry-worts that we are, we as a family generally do not like the house to sit empty & unoccupied. I didn’t really want to let the house stay empty (even though my dad’s urn full of ashes & his spirit are always watching over our property), but I also really wanted to go back to Vancouver.

Jian barely had to twist my arm (as in, he didn’t twist my arm at all) to convince me to go with him. This was only going to be a quick 4-day work trip for Jian, & I would be by myself for a majority of the day. We chose to stay at the same hotel as the last time, the DOUGLAS (Autograph Collection) Hotel, & our room was pretty much the same as the one we had before in terms of décor & overall layout, except there was one king-sized bed instead of two full-sized beds, & the bench sofa was now against the window wall instead of incorporated into the desk/tv wall.

Here’s an example of our hotel room if you didn’t read my last Vancouver blog.

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I was so incredibly excited to be able to explore the city all by myself. The other time we traveled to Vancouver for Jian’s work trip, my mom tagged along with us, & due to her sciatica, she wasn’t able to spend a lot of time outside. While I wanted to explore the many fascinating neighborhoods outside of our hotel’s neighborhood, my mom always had the two of us end the day early so she could go back to the hotel & rest. I didn’t have any complaints about that during our three-person trip back then, but I’ve never felt the kind of freedom I had when I was able to explore the city all by myself, completely alone. During this past trip to Vancouver, I amazed myself with the amount of pure walking I did, even in the pouring rain.

Oh, I almost forgot that it had been raining almost the entire time we stayed in Vancouver. It rained the hardest on Jian’s first full workday, but I still trekked outside, braved the rain with the trusty umbrella I packed, & went to get myself a luxurious manicure. Everyday I walked between five-and-a-half miles to nine miles all over town. I even learned how to navigate the SkyTrain transit system all by myself. Considering how unreliable I am at navigating through public transportation, I had to give myself a pat on the back for being able to take the subway without any mishaps.

The only mishap I’d say happened throughout this entire trip was the fact that I brought two pairs of water-resistant boots to protect my feet from the rain, while I should’ve brought an extra pair of walking shoes instead. My two pairs of boots, even though they could withstand light rain, still got soaked through & made my socks soggy. But even though my feet were wet, I still stayed out & did a little shopping before ultimately giving up & heading back to the hotel to put on some dry socks. Both pairs of boots, although they may be comfortable & somewhat stylish, are not very suitable for long walking excursions. My feet & my thighs were super sore by the end of our trip, but it was totally worth it! I love traveling to Vancouver so much, & wish I could visit more often. I’d love to try more restaurants, & explore more neighborhoods way outside of our usual hot spots.

I love traveling. I really do. However, I am kind of glad that I don’t have any other major travel plans for the rest of the year. I still think I will be going to Los Angeles for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I don’t think my family will be doing any Thanksgiving destination weekend trips like we used to do. This year, my ex-brother-in-law will have full custody of the kids for the entire Thanksgiving holiday, & those kids are the reason why we take annual Thanksgiving trips to Disneyland & San Diego, but since they won’t be spending that holiday with us, we won’t need to travel much. I’m so glad I get to finally settle down & get back to writing again. I’m in the process of putting together a few new graphics for my next blog post. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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graphic art courtesy of: http://www.ryderdoty.com

Continuing on my year of lists, my “99 Things That Bring Me Joy” journal brings us to the list of my most treasured childhood books. I remember when I was younger, my dad used to be a hardcore member of the Book-of-The-Month club. He really wanted me to get into the habit of reading, more than watching TV like my older siblings (& cousins), so he signed me up for the Childrens-Book-of-The-Month club. We’d get a catalog in the post, & we would select up to three books each month. I was a slow reader (reading was so boring for me back then), but my dad could read at least two books every month.

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I distinctly remember reading Harriet The Spy as one of my most treasured childhood memories. This book really shaped my life as an observer of the world, & as a writer. This book was also one of the first Young Adult genre books I ever read in full. I never really had the motivation (or attention span) to read books longer than 50 pages when I was a kid, but this was the first fairly lengthy book I remember reading when I was a kid & really getting swept away by the story.

When I was a young tweenager, I was obsessed with the title character Harriet M. Welsch from the book. (I was not a fan of the 1996 movie at all.) First off, I was so jealous that she lived in such a vibrant city, & her parents let her roam around town unsupervised. I had a couple of close friends that lived on the same street as I did growing up, & my parents wouldn’t let me even walk to their house without asking them. I could not believe this little girl named Harriet was able to galavant around the city all by herself & never got in trouble for it.

I loved Harriet’s curiosity towards everything in life & was always asking questions. My favorite part about this title character was her passion for writing. I feel like her passion for writing inspired my own passion for writing. For a short period of time (let’s just call it a phase in my life, for lack of a better word), I tried to copy &/or imitate this book character. I wore baggy sweatshirts with jeans. I tried to carry a flashlight in my school backpack (but it was a total waste of much needed space). Most importantly, I tried to follow what Harriet had been diligently doing for as long as she could remember: Write. Down. Everything. I tried writing the observations of the environment around me, but things got too frantic, & I couldn’t focus on what to write about. So, I stopped writing observations & transitioned into writing journal entries. I had a couple of Sanrio-themed childrens diaries lying around with pages begging to be filled with my pre-teenage nonsense.

There was one line however I would not cross, one trait that I would not imitate. Under no circumstances would I ever, in my life, eat a ripe tomato & mayonaise sandwich. At that age, I absolutely despised tomatoes. More recently, I have grown to accept eating tomatoes. If they’re in a salad, a hamburger, or in a sauce, I am willing to eat it, but tomoatoes are still not my favorite fruit. That’s where the character Harriet M. Welsch will always differ. There is no way I will ever eat a ripe tomato & mayonaise sandwich, ever.


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I don’t know where I got these books, if I chose them from the monthly book subscription, or if someone gifted them to me. All I can remember about reading this series of books as a child was how much of a sense of wonder & imagination these stories brought to life. I would often study the illustrations in the books in great detail, trying to examine every nook & cranny of all the animals’ houses. There was just such vibrant detail in the visual depictions of all the scenes. Oh, & the food illustrations made my mouth water!

I’m not a big fan of mice, but the mice in Jill Barklem’s books are just too adorable to resist. When I was a child reading these books, I would get so immersed in my own wild imagination. I would daydream that I was living in a treehouse just like the ones depicted in all of the books. The stories were so much fun to read, & I would become so engrossed in them that I could also imagine that I was in the story along with all of the woodland animals.

I was sad to learn that, one day, when my parents were cleaning out the storage closet, they found this set of books, but one of the seasons was missing. No matter how hard we searched, we could not find the last book to complete the set. Also, the pages had been severely yellowed & water damaged, so I was not able to salvage this set of books that I cherished so much as a child.


I grouped these two books together even though I hadn’t read them at the same time. These two books are a few of my most memorable & favorite books. They’re not pop-up books, but they are highly interactive. Even as a young child, when I read these books, I was extremely careful when turning the pages & playing with the interactive sections of the books.

I absolutely love the Jolly Postman & his heartwarming story about delivering fun mail all over town, riding his trusty red bicycle. It’s also fun to read about the classic children’s story book characters every child grew up reading at bedtime, recognizing each of the characters as you turn the pages. My most favorite part of these interactive books were the envelopes inside each page. You can open the pocket of each envelope & find a wonderful interactive surprise inside like: a Humpty Dumpty jigsaw puzzle, a letter from Goldilocks to the Three Bears, or a Red Riding Hood board game.

Even though I’ve grown considerably older since I first acquired these lovely books, I still take them out of the closet every now & again, & browse through the pages. These books will never go out of style, & they are still fun to read no matter what age you are. At one point during Christmastime, I was tempted to gift these books to my young nephew & niece, but they are quite rough & careless with their belongings (especially children’s books), so I decided to squirrel them away & keep them for myself. I am so happy that I’ve kept these books for all these years because they bring me such joy.


Well, this is the end of it, my list of favorite childhood books. It took me nearly “forever & a day” (metaphorically speaking) to finish this blog post. So much has gone on in my personal life since I first began writing this post that I had to put this entire blog on the backburner for quite some time. Now I’m back & ready to resume my writing. Until the next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

I recently went to Amazing Comic Con in Las Vegas, & I wasn’t really expecting to buy any goods. I’m not big into collecting action figures or classic comic books. I was nearly ready to leave the convention center when something incredible caught my attention. Actually, Jian pointed it out to me first. What stopped me dead in my tracks was a little booth called Gimme Flair, a booth selling iron-on patches, handmade decals, & enamel pins galore. I fell into sheer heaven.

I think I spent upwards of 45 minutes or so ransacking this booth. I left no pin unexamined, no stone unturned. Of course Jian left me to my vices & walked around he Con floor by himself instead of hovering over me, watching me flip out over pins & patches. I ended up with a little haul, & even though I keep promising myself that I won’t add more junk to my already massive pile of tchotchke clutter, when I see stickers/decals, or iron-on patches, or pins/buttons, I kind of throw some duct tape on the mouth of my inner conscience & just go ham.

So without further ado, say hello to my little haul…

It was so hard to keep myself from going really overboard & spending all of my vacation cash on these makes-a-hole-in-your-clothes little guys. I probably spent a good chunk of my time at this booth deciding which ones I was ultimately going to get. I’m sure the shopkeepers were ecstatic to see such a willing customer like me. I was satisfied with my little haul, & Jian wasn’t upset that I spent too much time at this booth since I didn’t go over my spending limit. I believe this haul came close to $35 bucks or so (give or take). Enamel pins can get really pricey sometimes, so I have to choose wisely, & that’s pretty much the end of it. I’m off to do a bit of grocery shopping. Until next time, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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