Saturday, August 22, 2015

Moving out of our sweet spot

We live in a 3K square foot home. When we first moved to Atlanta, we were very fortunate. My mom's sister, her husband, their only son, and our grandparents graciously adopted us in 2008. In Filipino culture, having extended relatives living in one roof is crazy typical.

Tons of beautiful memories bloomed out of this house. My favorites were those of our grandparents and our Saturday brunches. The only time we could enjoy breakfast all together in a week. My sisters and I would wake up early to cook a hearty breakfast. Fried rice, eggs, spam, tuyo, corned beef, kielbasa, longganisa, tocino, and our fave, mala-chicharong crispy fried bacon in flour. Then we would wait for our lola and lolo, our mom and our aunt to come home from their adoration and 9 am mass. In some glorious days, we would take it up a notch and have a little picnic on the deck and reminisce about the good old days for hours. 

There were immeasurable life lessons learned from this house and with a grateful heart, all of those lessons would be carried over to the next chapter of our lives.

Next chapter? Yes! This young wife has some big news to share! Now that Alan and I are together, it just seemed right to move out, move forward and start a new beginning. We knew this day was going to come anyway and we reached that point when we knew we must already begin to stand on our own.

It's always challenging and daunting to move out of our comfort zones, isn't it? However, our hearts are filled with hope and trust that God will always provide. He is with us. He loves us. Even if we can’t see the whole plan, He can. That's more than enough and that's all we really need to know. 

As we begin a new chapter in our lives, we are beginning to see our dreams slowly being made into reality. Wherever God takes us, as long as Alan and I are together, it will always be sweet, it will always be home.

Lake View at Night
Gorgeous lake promising us of many happy days ahead :)

Monday, August 17, 2015


Last week, our eldest sister who lives on the other side of the world came to visit once again. It wasn’t long as we’d hoped for but it was sweet nevertheless.  Because time was so fluid, I took a day off and took the family for a long weekend bonding and family time.
Aside from Georgia, I loved for my sister to see other parts of the US so we decided to take her to Tennessee. From north of Atlanta, it took us 3 hours to get up to the smoky mountains of Pigeon Forge. The view going up was breathtaking. The sky was so immaculately blue and the clouds were as white as cotton balls. The mountains were just full of lush green trees. The air was so fresh, so inviting. We saw animals that we’ve never seen before. We were just left in wonder of how God majestically made all these beautiful things.


While on the road, we talked about life, love, and dreams. We talked about exciting things coming our way. Of course, our road trip won’t be complete without Ate Joyce filming lip sync music videos. She loves productions, always. I remember the days when we would all sing along to the entrance songs of the cartoons we used to watch. And then we would put actions on it and choreographed dances. It was like having our own little Broadway show at the comfort of our home. How fun it is to be surrounded with girly girls.

When we arrived, the first thing we did was go to an outlet mall. Yes, I drove for 3 hours to go shopping because it was my sister’s request. According to her, she held herself shopping for the whole year cos she planned on buying an entire new wardrobe when she got here. Luckily, that weekend was tax free weekend for TN! We spent half of our day there.  Going back to when we were little, our mom would only buy us clothes during Christmas and whenever school starts (school uniforms). The rest of our clothes were hand-me-downs, gifts from our thoughtful families in the states or handmade dresses by our nanay (papa’s mom). We only had a few but enough to get by. As long as they were clean without any holes, we were fine. (Thank God for uniforms).

God has really blessed our family in so many ways. Now that we make our own money, we can make up for things we were lacking before. But still always mindful and grounded by the teaching that we are only mere stewards of God's resources.

Back to our trip, Alan quickly followed right after work. He arrived right in time for dinner and completed my day! 

We made sure that this trip will make us strongly bonded, we booked ourselves, all 6 of us in one room! 2 queen beds and 1 sofa bed. Mom and Ate, me and Alan on the queen and the younger sisters on the sofa bed. We shared one bathroom too! Hair dryer, make-up, toiletries, hair brushes all happily lying above the bathroom counter. I’m glad Alan is always a trooper. He didn’t care. He was used to being surrounded by a lot of hormones. He grew up with 2 sisters and he loved the energy of her 7 lovely Ochoa aunts (his mom’s sisters).  

The next day off we went to Dollywood! I wasn’t aware that there was such a place until my manager recommended it to me. It’s a theme park owned by the famous country singer who was born in TN, Dolly Parton. The park reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Anyway, because music is in our blood, we enjoyed the musicals and the shows more than the rides. Did you know that “I Will Always Love You” most popularly sang by Whitney Houston was composed and originally recorded by Dolly? The most thing I was fascinated by Dolly was that she grew up dirt poor. It was just inspiring to learn how she achieved her dreams and still remained close to her roots and to her family. 

Half of the day was spent in that theme park and it was more than enough for us. After eating mostly southern food for the entire trip, we couldn’t wait to eat our favorite meal! So as soon as we hit home, we headed for some Korean BBQ, tofu soup and steamed white RICE. Ahhhhh!

The following day was our last day with Ate. We took her to the airport without saying GOODBYE but till we meet again! 



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

10 Things I'm thankful for my Mother-in-law

1. One bright sunny day, my M.I.L and I visited a tailor who did our dresses for my sister in law's wedding last year. Mommy happily introduced me to the tailor and said, "this is my daughter in law and  I’m blessed to have her". My heart gladly jumped with joy and I said in response, I am blessed the same. I thanked the Lord for that special moment we had.

2. Although she is not my biological mother, I thank her for loving me as her own!  
3. She currently works as a professor in Ateneo.  She teaches English and has a master’s degree! Can you imagine her reading my blog posts and the pressure that I have to make sure my grammar is correct and that I have all the right punctuation marks set in the right place? And yet I’ve never heard a single criticism from Mommy. In fact, she’s always the first one to like my posts. Thanks Mommy and sorry if I’ve ever made you scratch your head. 

4. I thank her for the unwavering support she always has for us. She’s certainly always been supportive and understanding of all of our decisions. She’s made my role as a wife so much more easier. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Lord for giving us a good relationship. 
5. Like my own mom, I’ve always admired Mommy’s simplicity. She would rather present herself comfortably than fashionably. I thank her for inspiring me on how to be practical. 

6. Like me, she loves food and parties. She makes every reason to celebrate so we can all gather as a family and eat some delicious food! Hahaha.

7. I thank her for her daily inspirational posts on Facebook. Because we are miles away from each other, FB has become our channel of communication. Thanks also for tagging us on every family picture. We miss you guys so much!

8. I thank her for the sacrifices she took upon as a wife and as a mom when she decided to move to Japan with Daddy. I’m pretty sure it must have been challenging for her to put her career on the side and chose to be a housewife and take care of everyone. For the invaluable life lessons that shaped your children’s lives, especially Alan’s. Thank you! 
9. Thankful for the inspiration she gives us on being a good Ate to her 7 younger sisters. I admire how solid your love and affection is towards each other. 

10. Most of all, I thank her for bringing Alan to this world and I thank the Lord for choosing her to be his mother. I thank her for countenancing me with what was difficult for one mother to do, to entrust the only son she loves to another woman to love. 
Happy 60th birthday Mommy. We praise and thank God for you!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't bug him

My husband is ill and is on respite for 3 consecutive days. My poor guy caught a bug floating around somewhere. Nothing major really compared to the near-death-dengue virus he had last year. But still I couldn't help but be frantic.

I think from all that have been given to him, the acetaminophen, vitamin C, loads of rest, soup, care, love, and prayer, he should get better soon. I have a big hope in my heart that this too shall pass. And a big God that is good. 

Indeed, God is so good! Because the good news is Alan got a job! After a few amount of interviews here and there, a job offer finally came at hand. He's so happy to join the work force again. He just had enough time to finish all the TV series he brushed off on the side. Enough time to take care of my yummy breakfast. Enough time to train on household chores. And lots of time for prayer. His little daily routine goes something like this: breakfast, prayer time, job hunt, lunch, check emails, TV series, dinner, chores, prayer time. Before an onset of his career, the heavens gave him a break to focus and delight in the things that really matter- time for himself, for me, and for the Lord.

He starts next week and praying he'll get better before he goes off to work.

Hoping he recovers fully before our mini getaway to Savannah this weekend! I feel like it has been quite a while since our last wanderlust although this is not quite as long as I hoped for. This quick one will just have to do. It could just help me recover from the busyness of June and gear me up for what July has to offer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Selfless Soul

I woke up in the crack of dawn to get ready for work. I arose from my bed earlier than usual. My younger sister asked a favor from me to drive her to her internship as her "carpool buddy" is on vacation. With a cheerful heart, I agreed cos that's what families do. They lovingly help each other :) Her office is further than mine so we had to leave an hour earlier than my usual time. I informed my husband about this the night before and to my delight, he responded, "I'll drive you both to work." :)

Lunch time came and my husband asked me to go out to eat. On weekdays, I really don't go out for lunch and I always bring my baon (packed lunch)with me to work to save money and unwelcomed calories. So going out to eat in the middle of work is such a lovely treat. Off we went to this cute tiny place across the street, called Tuscany Cafe. This little cafe is delightfully charming with a European ambiance. Relatively the prices were not so cheap so Alan and I decided to order one meal and split it because 1. we're conscious of our spending 2. the portions were huge 3. I didn't want to go back to work sleepy after eating a big meal. I was craving for pasta and a steak and fries for him. Both of us wanted two different orders. I know how my husband loves his steak and thought it would be a nice treat for him for waking up so early in the morning so I told him he can get the steak and I'll just have some soup.  So this gracious waiter came up and Alan told him, "can we get the Fettuccini Bernadette and Mushroom soup please". I was touched that he gave up his steak and went for what I wanted. 

I know Alan has always been shy when I post things about him but this is my blog. Sorry my love but MY RULES. hahaha. I never let a single small act of selfless love unappreciated and most especially, the big ones. My husband proves to me many times over and over that he's more than willing to give up everything for my sake. Apart from Christ, I've never met a man so selfless who will treat me highly before himself. A guy who will give up his work in a reputable international bank back home and take his chances in the US and be with me. A guy who will spend half of his fortune to marry me. A guy who will give up his favorite thing to pave the way for what I want. He just fascinates me every single day. I'm greatly blessed for his selfless heart beats for me. I couldn't be any luckier. I'm just infinitely grateful and in awe of how God molds this fella everyday in His image and likeness.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Three Things about Tony (aka Daddy): A birthday honoring

Today, it is a very special day for Alan's daddy, and luckily, mine too :) I think it is an opportunity for me to give honor to a man so dear to us on his birthday. Let me share with you 3 things about what I'm most grateful for with daddy. 

1. He embodies grace under pressure

It was around Christmas couple of years back in the Fernandezes' lovely abode. They were prepping for a lunch reunion of their old friends from Japan. I went down to the kitchen to peak and see if they can use a hand. I saw Daddy with his hands full and yet he seemed very calm and chill. So I asked him what can I do to help and he gently asked me if I can fix the salad. He added that the guests would be coming in a few minutes and he felt stressed out because the table wasn't ready yet. In my head, he looked otherwise. Nothing about him looked frazzled or alarmed. To try to lighten up the mood, I uttered, "Stressed na po kayo niyan? You don't look like it po" hehe.  To me, I will be always reminded of his gracefulness. I believe Alan got his soft spoken quality and gentleness from Daddy which I am pleased. 

2. He is thoughtful.

I appreciate so much the times when Daddy would text me to check where I was and if I would be eating dinner at home while on my vacation in the Philippines. I grew up without a father and so to be cared for by Daddy was a great deal to me. Daddy showed me how it was like to have a genuine father on earth. I am blessed and honored to be his daughter-in-law. 

3. He is hardworking.

Daddy worked for the UN in Japan and concentrated on waste management. I've never seen someone very mindful of his trash and the environment as daddy. I believe he also worked as a consultant for earthquakes and disaster prevention. It's his joy to inform everyone how to be prepared when natural calamities come and he takes it very seriously. When I was in high school, I happened to be hanging out with Nina, Alan's sister at their house and Daddy suddenly gathered everyone and showed us a documentary DVD on earthquake preparedness plan. Now at 61,  he devotes most his time on his new baby, Zaan Japanese Tea House. I witnessed how much work he put in while they were starting up the restaurant and I'm just so proud. Please check them out at Mother Ignacia Ave corner Roces Ave. (Please click on the link. Quick ad right there haha) 

To close, I want to honor a man who gave Alan and me insights to many things. I thank him for teaching Alan how to be a gentleman, and to be rooted in God's presence. I especially learned from him how to live simply and to invest in travel because it is the best channel of learning. It makes my heart leap remembering what Daddy shared with me one day about one of his greatest dreams. For all of us to travel to Italy together as a family. That's one of the sweetest dreams I've heard, ever! Just the fact that he dreams intentionally for the family is enough for me. 

Happy birthday Daddy! Thank you for everything! We love you!

Joselle and Alan



Monday, June 8, 2015


You know how one event can bring you back in time? Here's mine.

I grew up in a tropical country which is hot with abundant sunshine and humidity. I love taking cold showers everyday especially at the end of each warm, toasty day after playing Chinese Garter, Ten Twenty and Patintero with my friends. However, in early dawn mornings before going to school, cold baths were dreadful. From most of the houses we lived in (we used to move a looooooot) there were no showers built in.  At one house, I remember being excited at the thought of having a shower even without a heater installed. As a little kid, it felt like showering in the rain which I playfully enjoyed doing. A water heater was not one of our major concerns back in the day until we moved here in the US. Try taking a cold shower in winter time and you'll know what I mean. 

Shower in my dreams

Saturday night, we found out that our carpet floor in the basement by our closet area was drenched in water. I thought water from upstairs leaked. I hurriedly took our clothes away and reached for the wall. It was dry. We then came to find out that it was the water tank situated in the basement next to our room that had major issues. I was just glad that it was not water from the toilet (ewwww). So we had to shut it off. We were advised that the heated showers won't be functional for a few days while waiting for the replacement tank but the toilet and sinks were usable. Thank goodness! :)

In times like these, good thing we have tabo (dipper) and palanggana (bucket) at home! I bet you will find tabo in every Filipino houses. Haha. This morning, I filled up 2 palangganas with cold water, heated water from an electric kettle and poured it right into the cold water which resulted in a lukewarm-ready-for-bath-water. I felt like I was home. I felt like the child that I was growing up in Manila. I am happy to realize that I am still the same person, only a few pounds heavier and with more responsibilities. Cheers to the familiar feeling of it all.

Image result for tabo