Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The River of My Life Part 2

High school was fun for me.  I think it was the first time I got to have any fun.  Sure I had two kids to drag along with me but we didn't miss out on much particularly my Sr. year of high school (the time when everyone BUT me gets their driver's license or at least gets a car to drive around). My freshman year, I actually got to play an after school sport. I played basketball. I wasn't any good and I'm super short but at the time, I really loved the game. I didn't get much playtime.  Maybe had I stuck with it, I would've gotten better but one year was enough for me. My sophomore year was all right but my Jr. and Sr. year were the best.  My best friends had cars so we went all over the place (with two kids thrown in the back). *Notice I didn't say whether or not they had their licenses!* One of my best friends always had a different car because her dad was a mechanic and had his own auto shop so we rode in a Lincoln Continental, a T-Bird, and a big truck for a while (with the two bikini girls plastered on the back windows!), etc.
My Sr. year is when I got my first actual boyfriend(!). What a drip. lol. Thank goodness I didn't end up marrying that one. Though I did spend waste about 9 years with that loser (**major child bearing years lost; but I digress).  Oh, I won the first Magdalena B. Albano Scholarship at my high school.  Here I am pictured with the daughter of the scholarship's namesake. 
At the end of my Sr. year of high school, I got to go to Japan as an exchange student for one month.
 Granted, I had to earn most of the money on my own to get there. It was a total blast. I would love to one day go back. I've since lost touch with my host families (unfortunately). Here I am with my two host sisters (different families) and their boyfriends at the time.
During the course of my Sr. year of high school (where I pretty much coasted), I applied to a bunch of different universities.  Pepperdine was one, (waitlisted), Duke University (dream school at the time!), not accepted, Cal Lutheran (accepted), and USF (accepted). I can't remember where else I applied but for sure nowhere in SoCal and only one out of state. I was all set to go to USF until my parents learned how much it was going to cost. Had I known this before applying, I would've applied for financial aid without their help and gone to USF like I had wanted on my own dime. They KNEW I was applying to a bunch of different schools. I didn't apply to any state or UC schools because I wanted to go private. So I was stuck with community college for two years. And when I finished, I was only ALLOWED (yes, I was already an adult) to apply to ONE FRICKIN' SCHOOL. What if I didn't get in ran through my mind and came out of my mouth. Obviously by this point, you all know that the people whose genes I unfortunately inherited have no sense at all. Oh and since I was staying in town for community college, I got to have a car. Joy. I would've much rather have had the education I wanted than that stupid car. To this day, I am not a fan of nissan sentras.
The ONE FRICKIN' SCHOOL I applied to was San Francisco State. I did two and a half years there. I didn't really want to go to SF State but I went through the motions there, got to enjoy life in SF and spend lots of time in Berkeley (drip of a bf was there..9 years, remember??!).
I decided to stay in the bay area after I graduated from SF State.  It was so nice to be away from home though I being the model daughter visited at least once a month (out of obligation of course).  I took a job as a preschool teacher and did that for two years.
 Here's me as a boxer for Halloween one year!
During that time, I figured if I could handle preschool, I could probably do Kindergarten so I started looking at grad school programs.  There were two routes that I was possibly going to take. I was either going to take the School Psychology route or the Teacher route.  I decided to stay in the bay area and take the Teacher route.  I still wonder about that School Psychology route, but I loved grad school.  The school I selected has a gorgeous campus and provided me with the university experience I so longed for. While attending grad school, there were weddings, a trip to Seattle, and there were fancy dances.
  The end of an era was coming. The drip and I split up 3 months before I was to complete my grad program. I mourned for a day and was fine.  Who has time to deal with a break up while working on a Master's Project, student teaching, AND still attending grad school classes? I surely didn't. All my future plans were now thrown up in the air. I had NO clue what I wanted to do but part of me wanted to take off to LA.
I ended up just moving back home (yes, to that place with THOSE people!). I was burnt out.  I didn't even want to teach! So for about 6 months, I wallowed and hit rock bottom.  And once I bottomed out, my path cleared and I knew what I wanted.  I had to dig deep, way deep to remember what it was that made me love working with children so much and that was discovered working with preschoolers. So step 1 was to find a preschool job. That was done as soon as I decided that's what I wanted.
Then I had to figure out what my next steps were. I knew I did not want to stay where I was. I didn't even want to go back to the bay area. I started looking at jobs on the East Coast. I have always wanted to visit/live in Boston so I applied to a few jobs over there, never hearing back from them. Then I figured if I couldn't go to the East Coast, I could go to LA. I had decided I was going to move to LA if I had a job or not.
After 6 months at the preschool, I did summer school at a local elementary school, and by August of 2003, I went on ONE job interview in LA and came back with a job. I was headed for LA!
LA was definitely where I needed to be. It was a place where nobody knew me and I could be anybody I wanted to be. No one had any expectations/pre-conceived notions about me. I could be whoever I wanted and no one would know the difference. I spent the first three years working for a less than stellar charter school.
I met some great people there. In fact, the one pictured here with me is getting married next month! :) During the beginning of my third year with the aforementioned charter school (this was also the same year I got my sister to move down to LA to live with me!), is when I met the hubs. It was near the end of that school year that I thought maybe it was time to leave LA. We didn't make the effort to really leave but I did give my notice and didn't intend on returning to that school even if we weren't leaving LA!  So I found myself unemployed for 5 months.  I ended up subbing two times at my future school and then I ended up landing a tutoring position to last til the beginning of the following school year.
My fifth year in LA found me working at a private school. I had the best drive to work. Driving home wasn't as wonderful due to the bit of traffic I had to endure but boy did I love driving by the beach every morning! My stint there lasted two years and this time, we were serious about leaving LA. I interviewed with at LEAST 11 schools but got nothing.
We got married, were still unemployed, but were still determined to get OUT of LA. Those people who gave me their genes. Oh, correction, the one that is typically regarded as the father in a family, told me that the hubs and I could stay at his house. His wife didn't ask us to stay. That was the last thing she wanted (and she will tell you this over and over again I'm sure). So there we suffered, literally.
The health of my in-laws was worsening. My mother-in-law had been placed in the hospital due to brain seizure the month we were set to move.  My father-in-law was in the hospital for other health issues.  We left LA with all of this weighing on us anyway. I knew if we didn't leave when we did, we'd still be there and I honestly don't know how we would've made it without any work. I don't know if I could've gotten my job back or at least one like it. I didn't want to take any chances.
Things just kept getting worse. We ended up back in SoCal due to my mother-in-law's deteriorating health which ultimately ended with her passing away that year, right before Thanksgiving.  Then about a month later, it was my hubs' turn to deal with health issues. These health issues are ongoing and though I haven't out rightly said on here what exactly he is dealing with, it is taxing on his body.  There were times in the last couple of years when I'd look over while we were in bed just to make sure he was still breathing. Who am I kidding, I still do that from time to time.
Well and that brings us to the present since most of you have been around for all the moving. I've got a good job that I like. The hubs is in school, and we now live in an apt that we love. Sure we have lots of debt and very little food but we're grateful for what we do have.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The absolute BEST zucchini bread recipe in the world (really!)

Well, Robyn posted this recipe in her weekly link love post. I've gotta tell you, this zucchini bread rocks.
I have already finished one loaf. :o Granted, the hubs cuts huge slices for me. I have tried other zucchini bread recipes and all have not cooked all the way through and were just okay. This one cooked all the way through and the crust is just delicious.
We had extra shredded zucchini so we made zucchini pancakes. YUM! They were eaten too quickly (by me!) to get photographed. Sorry.
Part 2 of the River of My Life is forthcoming. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The River of My Life Part 1

Back when school first began, we had an awesome training. We were all asked to think about what three things make us who we are.  These three things were supposed to be part of our river of life.  I followed directions and selected the three things that shaped the person that I am today. Others chose to share their river of life which to me, was more profound that just selecting three things that stand out. That was more difficult if you ask me. So here goes.

I was born to parents that had immigrated to California from the Philippines. My father came over first in 1973 (if not 1971).  He came over to work. He had an uncle that was already in California so that is who he lived with and that (I believe) is who gave him his first job here. He saved up money in order to bring my mother over.  They had met while my uncle (the second oldest boy in my mom's family) was at college.  He was one of my uncle's flatmates and my mom was visiting when they met.  They began to exchange letters.  She was at nursing school.  I have read and seen some of the old letters/photos they exchanged with one another. They really seemed to be in love.  When they married, it was a civil ceremony.  No big white dress and no fancy party. The pictures I had seen were just of  the two of them signing papers on a folding table and raising their right hands in front of the official.
Soon my mother came over from the Philippines in 1974.  I was born in 1975.
 They were renting a room from a woman who had a son. She came to be known as my "Lola Lita".  Her son was like a big brother to me.  We played together and we would go places together like one big happy family.
Here we are at the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.  We lived with them until 1978.
In 1978, my parents bought their first and only home.  Yes, they still live there today. It still has the same rug (I think), some of the same windows (!), definitely the same drapes, and definitely the same insulation!  I guess both of my parents worked at the time.  I can't remember where my dad was working at the time, possibly at the winery.  My mom has only worked at one place ever, a small electronics company in town.
I started elementary school in 1980. I didn't attend my local elementary school (which was a block away from my house).  I went to the elementary school that the children of my babysitter went to.  And on my first day of school? My babysitter took me. I don't remember if I cried or anything but I do remember my teacher trying to make me write with my right hand. I emphatically told the woman that I was quite capable of writing my name with my other hand and I showed her.  I had been writing for a while.  I remember coming across some lists I had made when I first began to write.  No wonder I still love lists and writing. :)
I stayed at that school through 2nd grade.  For 3rd grade, I was sent to my local elementary school.  The student population was very different compared to my first school.  This new school was predominantly Mexican and to top it all off, my parents had put me in bilingual education! They wanted me to learn Spanish yet they never taught me Tagalog. I had been to the Philippines once over winter break when I was in Kindergarten.  I can't find any pictures from when I was in the Philippines so I guess those photos got left at the house. Oh well.  I am the only one out of the three children who got to meet both of our maternal grandparents. Our paternal grandparents had passed away when my dad was still a kid. 
Elementary school was rather uneventful. School came easy to me.  Unlike most children, I didn't go outside to play much.  I spent my afternoons in front of the tv or reading.  Books were an escape for me. They still are.  I had friends in the neighborhood but my parents weren't big on me playing with other kids. Go figure.  I got straight A's and my parents NEVER attended an Open House or any parent conference in ANY of my years of schooling.  It bothered me that they never attended.  I remember putting in all this effort the day of the Open Houses to create a nice project and then to have no one from my immediate family see it.  I remember telling my mom that it was Open House and how I wanted to go but she didn't.  She was always too tired from work. 
My sister was born in 1983 making me an only child no more.  I can't remember how I felt about having a little sister. I can tell you that I had to help take care of her though.  Three years later, our brother was born and so the torture began.  My sister has fond memories of torturing our brother. Feeding him ants, having him dress up in our mom's clothes when she had to work overtime, cleaning the kitchen floor with his back, etc. Sigh.
I began jr. high in 1987.  Jr. high is a total and complete blur. I remember my parents expecting me to walk to school. It was a 3 mile walk (round trip!). Fortunately, I had a friend who lived on the corner whose brother would drop us off and pick us up. Thank goodness. I had to walk a couple times and it wasn't fun at all. I joined Leadership in 8th grade.  I remember getting into heavy metal then.  Guns n' Roses and Def Leppard were my bands of choice.  I wore concert tees that I ordered through the mail and I wore tore up, bleached jeans too! No pictures from that time period (unfortunately). That would have been nice to see. :)  One thing I did remember about jr. high, is this was when I began pen palling.  I don't still write to anyone that I wrote to in middle school but I do still keep in touch with some pals I wrote to during high school.
I can't remember if it was when I began jr. high or near the end of elementary school that I became a latch-key kid and had to take care of my brother and sister after school.  I remember stopping by the baby sitter's house to take them home.  We of course spent the afternoons indoors. Sure we had a backyard but it was a dirt backyard that just had fruit trees.  And I had homework to do.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I think maybe it was jr. high when I first began to pick them up at the babysitter.  My sister had already started elementary school in 1988 and our brother was nearing 2. 
The babysitting continued when I went onto high school. Fortunately, the high school was a shorter walk.
I had been wanting to be more active since elementary school. I could never do any afterschool activities because I always had to go home and take care of my brother and sister. Yes I would complain that I didn't have them so why should I have to take care of them.  Apparently it was my obligation as the older sibling.  There are many things I missed out on while growing up because I had to take care kids.  There were things that we did without our parents knowing because I had to take care of kids.
Remember how I said my parents NEVER attended an Open House or a parent conference when I was going to school? Well, all of a sudden, they were interested in attending Open Houses for my siblings.  They were still working the same amount but for some reason my mom wasn't as tired.  She would even attend Open House when they were in high school.  What changed? Who knows.  All I can tell you is that my upbringing was very different from my siblings.
I basically raised myself.  I excelled in school and if anyone cared, no one showed it.  I did it all on my own.  I missed out on many things because of the parents I was stuck with.  One year I was asked to attend a science camp over the summer but my parents would have to pay a certain amount.  If I had to get them involved in anything, I knew it wasn't going to happen.  I remember my teacher even coming to my house to ask them to let me go and what a great opportunity it would be, etc.  What kind of parent deprives their children from great opportunities? I know. The kind that I got did.  Nothing I ever did was good enough.  I won first place in the spelling bee when I was in the 5th grade.  The following year, I only got second place and was asked, 'Why didn't you win?'   They were lucky to have a kid who didn't get into trouble and was responsible. I had to be. I didn't have a choice.
Looking back, I didn't have many choices.  It was their way or no way at all.  That's how I lived.  I could forget about anything fun.  No sleepovers at my house much less at friend's houses.  I couldn't even go over to friend's houses to play for a little bit.  I had to go straight home.
Maybe that's why I'm a Kindergarten teacher. I get to play for most of the day with other kids and there's no one to tell me that playtime is over.
Stay tuned for part 2:  The adult years. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

day 8 without a kitchen sink

Yes, you read correctly. We were told we'd have a sink by the 2nd of this month. It's now the 8th. Shoot. I forgot to get a shot of my sink. Okay done! But first, here are the final shots from our last apt during our last days there.
And here's the state of our kitchen sink.
It's on its side in the hallway right in front of our front door!!
Here's where it should eventually go.
And this is where we've had to do our dishes. See that utility sink??
Here's our floor. :) Living room to kitchen has laminate flooring but I have to say it's getting scratched up from all the work that has been done in the last few days. The electrician was here working on the phone line (the correct way) and he commented on how they were taking over the apt and I said, "I know and this only an apt. Imagine if it were an entire house!" Sigh. 
Supposedly the sink will be put in tomorrow. I've heard that one before!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm here..

Well, we are finally out of our old apt and in our new one. There are a few kinks that still need working out. No kitchen, and the bathroom sink clogs something fierce. Not to mention there is no inside wiring so we have no phone service and no internet!!! Last night was the first time we slept there and guess what? It was freezing in the morning!! Know why? (aside from there being ZERO window treatments in our apt) heat doesn't come into the bedroom! There's a heater in the living room and the only vent I saw is in the kitchen. Sigh..but the floors look good! Our landlord decided to do laminate flooring in the living room and in the kitchen. The cabinets are on the way and our kitchen should be up and ready as of tomorrow. I think today we will have a stove and possibly a fridge! It's the little things isn't it? It will be another week before we get an inside wire done in our apt and then we can have internet again! Sure there's Starbucks and there's school but I miss being able to go online at night or in my pjs. I'll be back soon. Hopefully with pics of the new place. It's coming together very extremely slowly. We were only able to move stuff into the living room over the weekend so everything is still downstairs in the empty apartment. Sigh..