Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Before March Ends...

I have been away from this blog for more than 3 months now. More than 90 days... What I've been doing all those time, I will reserve for future posts. While it is still March, I want to use this space for my only little sister's birthday greetings!

Today is NOT her birthday. It was some other day in March. Am not going to tell which date since that will give away how late my greeting is. (I did greet her on the phone the day before her birthday. Shhhh though... I just sent her a greeting card today too :) ). That's how late I am!

Anyhow, how else would I do this but my usual digging up the photos and looking for the "appropriate" picture to add to the post.

This is Ria now (or at least a year ago :)

Can you guess which one she is more than 3 decades ago...

This is one?

Or this one?

Make a guess!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our 2008 Letter - Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from the warm south!

Al and I are now Austin, TX residents for just more than a year now. The four seasons were great ... oh-so beautiful spring and fall, tolerably hot and humid summer and very, very mild winter. We finally had our first taste of snow in Texas a few days ago. (It was just actually a flurry or wet snow that fell during the night and that melted away way before noon time.) But we, like most of the Austinites, went crazy snapping photos. Mababaw ang kaligayahan :)

So as mentioned in our letter last year, we did move in to our new house right before Christmas last year as planned. Although it was stressful and tiring to move "on our own" without the help of Baranggay Boise, it was still exciting! Also, moving from our temporary apartment to settling in a house gave us a relaxed feeling of permanency. I know, I know… it's just a house. Nevertheless though, it did feel better than being the nomads that we were in the apartment.

A year later, too, Al has settled in his new job at AMD already. Of course, at first, he felt that he is not able to contribute much because the technology is entirely new to him - specially because his job required him to drive technical solutions! He eventually got the hang of it and has become effective that he got a "spotlight award" and a little bonus for saving the company million$$$. :) We just praise God that He has enabled Al to contribute to AMD and that he still has the job despite a couple of lay-offs already. (Continue to pray for us though as rumors continue to abound that AMD is laying off another batch next year.)

As for Rela, she stayed at home the whole year doing this and that. Like housewifey stuff of learning more recipes (think turkey!), painting the house walls, managing the household purse and researching family-building options and jumping through hoops as we take it one day at a time. She’s been occupied maintaining and building relationships with family, friends, new neighbors and church family. She’s also practicing her hosting skills (ahem…) with many get-togethers and out-of-town visitors. She’s honing her “travel agent” skills with the multiple trips we’ve been in the year. And of course, learning how to blog, visiting/reading blogs and actually blogging … A LOT! Phew!!! The list goes on… the work of a wife is never done…

Meanwhile, we are having fun discovering Texas - historic buildings, parks, restaurants, etc. In Austin, two of the more known spots are the State Capitol (being the Texas' capital city) and the Bullock Museum. San Antonio was a frequent place to visit as well - our favorite spots being SeaWorld, Riverwalk, Alamo and the King Williams District. Plenty of nice places here, so come, make your way to Texas and visit!

Last but definitely not the least, we have serendipitously found a church family in Gateway Hill Country Church (GHCC). We saw an ad for a bible study in the nearby neighborhood's newsletter and we contacted them. Pastor Jeff and his son, Peter , the worship leader and youth pastor visited us and shared us their vision as church planters and we have since then been plugged in. Just like the churches that we attended in the past, the bible is preached, the music is upbeat (very!) and the people are folksy-friendly. We were soooo glad to find a local church family who we could share life's ups and downs.

The Experiencing God study that a lot of us, new members of GHCC, went through was awesome. (We have since then started another session with the rest of the Manigsacas and a new couple friend here.) It puts into perspective how God is always working around us and inviting us to a real relationship with him so that He can work through us.
So here we are… another year older, welcoming new lives, saying goodbye to some and another year of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord... So, what is our gift to the birthday celebrant?

We heard that the only thing he wants from us is our lives - and we wondered if our lives were "good enough". Well… we got this inspiring piece from a fellow blogger Gramma 2 Many (who in turn got it from Mountain Wings publication. I also did some minor edits.) and wanted to share it with you all. (See post below.)

Once more, Merry Christmas … beyond the annual letter/card-sending, mutual gift-giving, carol-singing,, tree-decorating , wreath-hanging and star-lighting kind! And on the coming New Year, may you ponder about and give the only birthday gift that the birthday celebrant wants - YOU!!!


If You Think You Aren’t Good Enough

The next time you feel like GOD can't work through you, just remember...

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt

John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer...
AND Lazarus was dead!

What do you have that’s worse than that?
So no more excuses!

God can use you to your full potential.
Besides, you aren't the message,
You are just the messenger.

I got this inspiring piece from a fellow blogger Gramma 2 Many (who in turn got it from Mountain Wings publication. I also did some minor edits.) and wanted to share it with you all



Monday, December 22, 2008

It's The (Most Wonderful) Time of the Year Again…

when I sit down and write our annual letter. I actually got the idea from Auntie Pesing when she sent me their 2003 letter then. I thought it was a good idea to recall and summarize the key highlights of the past year - if not for our friends and family, then for us.

(Somehow, it does remind me of my past corporate life where we had year-in-review for the company, groups and individuals. Those were not necessarily easy or enjoyable times specially if goals were not met for the period. )

As for "our life" newsletter, I really enjoy the writing and adding the personal note, even if sometimes the news is not necessarily all good news. I can't really say the same for the rest of the process (formatting into the stationary, printing, stuffing, labelling, stamping, etc.) It just takes up a lot of time! There must be a simpler way to do it!  

So I've been doing this since 2003 - so that's 5 years now and here's some of my thoughts:

  • Today with this blog, the annual newsletter-writing is even easier because the details of what has happened to us within the year has already been written as it happened (or at least within week or 2, give and take). No need to rely on memory to recall what happened.
  • The envelope preparation has evolved from handwriting all addresses (both return and recipient address) to attaching ready-made return address labels and pre-printed recipient labels. I think the next level is printing both return and recipient addresses on the envelopes themselves.
  • Buying stationaries after Christmas makes the cost of the best-looking paper 75% less! That is for next year, of course.
  • I analysed our distribution list and less than 25% do NOT have emails. Makes me wonder if they should be the only ones I send the snail mail newsletter next year… and the rest sent through email. I hope not to do bulk email though as I would lose the opportunity to add the "personal" note.
So for those of you who do receive our snail mail newsletter, do you prefer to receive it in email?


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Christmas Story - For Nothing is Impossible with God

No, this is not a rehash of the gospels' first chapters...

Went to Dallas area two Sundays ago and attended the Stonebriar Church in Frisco. Chuck Swindoll preached about the Christmas Story. He emphasized Gabriel as the messenger of God's message and Mary as the recipient of God's message. Yes, Mary was going to conceive a baby even without knowing a man. For as Gabriel said, "for nothing is impossible with God."

And for all practical purposes, we are either the recipient or the messenger of God's messages, too. As messengers, are we bringing the message? As receivers, are we receptive to the message? Regardless, what encourages me most is that "with God, all things are possible"!

Meanwhile, the church has moved to the its new building which is adjacent to the old one. It's already decorated with the Christmas theme, so we took the photo opportunity. Wouldn't miss that, of course! (The Manigsaca's chatted and took a picture with CS, too...)

After church, we visited Jeff, Leanne and the kids. As usual Leanne whipped up a special meal for the 8 members of the Baranggay Manigsaca - Shrimp in Thai Red Curry and Sinigang na Bangus. And then they researched the directions to the X mark - where JFK was assassinated - but we ended up not going there since our chauffer was feeling sleepy and tired already.

Thanks again, Li! And just drive down south anytime... like when you feel like watching at Rockbox :)

PS. The photos at your house was with Joey/Shiela's camera - I will post it once I get copies from them.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Wish List

And another break … this time, from one of our sponsors. :)

Have not decided what to get yourself for Christmas? Not me! I have actually been "using" Amazon's Wish List for some time now to collect my wanna-haves. With online shopping becoming more prevalent these days, Amazon has continuously made it easier.

Anyway, back to My Wish ListI actually have posted this earlier (since last Tuesday) at the lower left corner of this blog. (I didn't place it in a more prominent spot because I am still a little bit shy of telling people what I want to get from Christmas. Hello!!! Now, that IS a great idea!

So, Amazon has this Wish List capability so that:

  • You can have multiple lists.
  • You can make each list private (only you can see those you'd like to remain secret) or public (so you can show others what you wish for).
  • You can avoid spoiled surprises (like knowing that someone got you an item from your wish list) .
  • You can send the wish list by email (or if you have a website/blog like moi, you can add them as a widget too!).
  • You can add items from ANY website (not just Amazon)!!! This way, you can keep track of all you wanna-haves in just ONE PLACE. How cool is that???

Well, after checking My Wish List, go build your own Wish List in Amazon and post back the link here so that we'll know what what you want! :)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Singing Christmas Tree

Here's an idea for next year's Christmas events… Join a production of your local singing Christmas Tree (like the Francis family!) or go watch one (our family!)

Here are 2 videos of the actual show of the 2008 Bannockburn Singing Christmas Tree. This year's presentation was even better than last year's! Enjoy!

Apparently, this Singing Christmas tree is a well-know tradition here in the U.S. So here are some other videos which clearly show that the choir is ON the tree! And how to construct a singing Christmas Tree for those of you, aspiring producers of next year's Christmas shows!

Do you have a video of your favorite singing Christmas tree? Or perhaps any Christmas shows? If so, feel free to drop the link in the comments below.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bye, Sally!

We interrupt the "Christmas spirit" of this blog to say good-bye to Jaime and Sally Padilla. Jaime, ex-Intel Philippines, now works for AMD Singapore and has been on a business assignment here in Austin, TX. Their assignment has ended and are going home today. Bon voyage, Jaime, Sally, CJ and Chloe!

Thanks for showing us how to knock-out opponents on Wii boxing. One doesn't need to be as highly skilled as the PacMan, Manny Pacquiao - and not as highly compensated, too. :) I guess we do not need these boxing gloves.

Thanks for bringing out the precious Scrabble, Diamond Anniversary Edition that rotates to face whose turn it is! It makes looking for openings easier… even if Charmaine always wins :)

Thanks for putting up with us in your apartment for our get-togethers. We will miss your great view.

And we will definitely miss all of you. Maybe one of these days, we will stop-over and visit you in Singapore. That is, if you are not back to the U.S. by then! (wink! wink!)


A Few of My Favorite Songs

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