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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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It’s like LL Cool J said back in the 80’s: “I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver…”. Or like what Notorious B.I.G. said back in the 90’s: “I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali Vancouver Vancouver…”. Yes, folks. I’ll be traveling yet again. It almost feels like I’m never settled down in one place lately. If I’m not traveling, then I’m always hosting visiting family members at home. There is never a dull moment in my life, & I’m so extremely appreciative/grateful/thankful of every aspect, every facet, everything.

Truth be told, Jian is heading to Vancouver for a week-long business trip, & he invited me to tag along. I accepted his invitation, of course, but also suggested that we invite my mom to tag along with us. Jian agreed with my suggestion wholeheartedly. As a matter of fact, Jian enjoys traveling with my mom every now & again. We once tagged along with my mom on a trip to Washington D.C. where she was invited to a family friend’s wedding, & the three of us had the time of our lives despite the wet weather. My mom & I are super excited to be visiting Vancouver once again. Jian, not as much…because of his work obligations. [Insert laugh track here.] My mom hasn’t visited the lovely country of Canada in several years. The last time she traveled there was to attend one of my dad’s high school reunions of all of his foreign-born-Japan-schooled classmates. The last time I visited the North, was almost 25 years ago. I was barely a teenager when I visited Vancouver with my parents & younger cousin for the first time.

I’m really, genuinely excited to be traveling to Vancouver once again, but one thing worries me: the shopping! I don’t want to go all the way to Vancouver & come back with another giant haul of stationery & office supply goods. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this out loud, but I’m getting a little weary of my ever-growing mountain of stationery goods. It’s kind of becoming overwhelming, & I barely have time to use everything. I’ve got quite a few items, in their original packaging, that have not even had the seal broken or even seen the light of day. The KonMari guru Marie Kondo would not be happy with me right now. I’m actually quite embarrassed myself, but I’ll live with it.

Jian has already been on a few business trips to Vancouver, & sometimes he says the food there is positively delicious. Other times he says the food sceen is mediocre (like how he described the food in London). I plan on proving Jian wrong, just like I did about the food we ate in London, which was incredible by the way. I’m planning on stuffing myself silly with good food, scrumptious cocktails, & piping hot drip coffee. (OK, I’m officially making myself hungry as I type this paragraph.)

Spending quality time with my mom is also a bonus. We are definitely going to have a blast together (mom’s Sciatica be damned!). But until our trip, Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

December is one of the months in the calendar that brings up mixed feelings for me. I love the winter season. I love decorating the house for Christmas. I love the festive holiday cheer. However, I don’t like that it’s already the end of the year, & you’re left wondering where all that time has gone. The year has passed too quickly. I don’t want to say that I can feel my life flashing before my own eyes, but I do feel it. It’s all going by in a tidal wave of a rush.

Right now I don’t want to think about all of that. I want to focus on the awesomeness that is this winter holiday season. I am so proud of myself that yet again, I was able to assemble our faux Christmas tree all by myself. We’ve had our fake tree for nearly 20 years, & I must say that it has been money well spent, & our family has definitely put this tree to good use. My dad & I have always been allergic to the pine needles, pollen, & sap from real trees, so my dad decided to invest in a high-quality (& expensive) faux Christmas tree. Plus, my dad always hated trudging to the tree lot to find some scrawny tree with half the needles already shedding, then trying haphazardly to secure the tree to the roof of our family car. The one part that my dad hated the most was having to affix the tree stand to the trunk of the tree & trying to get it to look somewhat straight (or at least close enough to my mom’s standards). Then, having to remember to water the tree daily & sweeping the constantly shedding needles. It was super annoying & a major hassle…not to mention that my severe allergies would kick in the moment my dad hauled the tree inside the house. It was just easier (& better for the environment) for my dad to invest in a faux tree.

I love our fake Christmas tree. It’s sometimes tedious to assemble due to all of the components, but to me it’s well worth it when you see the finished results with all of the lights strung up & ornaments hung with care. I absolutely enjoy putting our ever- growing collection of ornaments on our tree, but the one part I dislike the most & often try to avoid is stringing the lights on the tree. I just don’t know how to string the lights on the tree evenly, & I’m constantly getting the direction of the strings mixed up, so the “male” & “female” plugs don’t match up. It’s so frustrating to me, so I usually get my mom’s help (& rely on her skilled artistic direction) to string up the tree lights. Then, I’m all set to hang up the ornaments.

Every year, per my dad’s annual tradition, I try to get at least one or two (sometimes 6 or more) new ornaments to add to our already over-crowded tree. I so very much enjoy shopping for new Christmas ornaments. It’s become such a major part of our family’s Christmas traditions that I’ve even managed to rope Jian in on all the fun. He enjoys helping me shop for new decorations to add to our tree. This year, I didn’t really see any special ornaments that caught my eye, but Jian was able to find a set of minimalist ornaments at Target that match our tree. He helped me hang the ornaments on the tree, & we were successfully able to get the tree fully decorated within a few short hours. I turned on my Punk/Ska/Alt-Rock Christmas playlist for Spotify, & we found our groove & had the tree decorated in less time than I had anticipated. I am quite pleased with the results this year.

We don’t really stick to one theme or color scheme on our tree other than”the more colors, the merrier”. I am always on the hunt for fun, unique, & yet practical ornaments that display a special reference/meaning to a family member. For example, I got 3 different Buddha ornaments to represent my mom’s belief in Buddhism. I picked out a beer glass for Jian because at one phase in his life he was super into discovering various craft beers. Also just for fun, we got an ornament shaped like a tin of caviar in honor of my sister (for her love of fish egg condiments, & her tendency of being extra & bougie). My mom picked out a strawberry because my nephew & youngest niece love eating strawberries & could probably inhale one pound of strawberries in one sitting (if their mom let them). I also snuck in one rabbit ornament & one fox ornament because I just had to incorporate some sort of vague reference to this blog, but also because those are two of my favorite woodland animals. Those are just a few examples of the ornaments on our Christmas tree.

I can’t wait to see the looks on the faces of our friends & family when they see our tree this year. It’s going to be so festive & fun. Until then, cheers everyone!

Today’s song of the day:

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Instagram Feed

I found a heart-shaped grape.🍇 . . . . . . . . . . #grape #TheHolidays #grapes #muscat #heart #hearts #WhiteGrape #TableGrape #green #SoSweet #SoYummy #fruit #fruits #organic #HealthyEating #CityLiving #CityLife #delicious #SoCute #CoolFind #FoodieApp #FruitsOfInstagram @foodieapp.official
Let the neon light the way.💡 . . . . . . . . . . #NeonSign #TheHolidays #neon #lights #sign #HolidaySpirit #LightTheWay #colors #colorful #NeonLights #signs #NeonArt #StreetArt #art #CityLiving #CityLife #SF #DTSF #LineCamera #FoodieApp #LightsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official
Always meeting new friends.🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #IceCream #TheHolidays #LickThat #NewFriend #BeardedSanta #HolidaySpirit #HaagenDazs #coffee #classic #SingleScoop #InACone #SugarCone #delicious #SweetTreat #CityLiving #CityLife #SM #Hillsdale #LineCamera #FoodieApp #IceCreamOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram #SweetsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @haagendazs_us @haagendazs_jp
Making more new friends.🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #IceCream #ManicMonday #TheHolidays #LickThat #sailor #HelloSailor #NewFriend #BenAndJerrys #vanilla #FlavorAlert#VanillaIsNotBoring #delicious #SweetTreat #CityLiving #CityLife #SF #UnionSquare #Macys #LineCamera #FoodieApp #IceCreamOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram #SweetsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @benandjerrys
Anesthesia at the dentist office. Tongue & mouth is numb. Feeling jittery, like I had too many espresso shots. But I’m still dreaming of this super delicious ラーメン. (🦷 + 👅 + 💉 = 🤪) (💭of 🍜) . . . . . . . . . . #ramen #WeekendMode #TheHolidays #noodles #SpicyMiso #TokyoStyle #RakkanRamen #TastyTuesday #楽観 #味噌 #ラーメン #delicious #LittleTokyo #CityLiving #CityLife #Japantown #DTLA #LA #SoCal #LineCamera #FoodieApp #NoodlesOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official
I made a new friend. ☕️+🥃=🍦 . . . . . . . . . . #IceCream #WeekendMode #TheHolidays #LickThat #NewFriend #SaltAndStraw #TryNewFlavors #JamesCoffeeAndBourbon #FlavorAlert #delicious #SweetTreat #CityLiving #CityLife #ArtsDistrict #DTLA #LA #SoCal #LineCamera #FoodieApp #IceCreamOfInstagram #FoodsOfInstagram #SweetsOfInstagram @linecamera_official @foodieapp.official @saltandstraw

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