Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays!

It's that time of year when getting out of bed in the morning is pure struggle accompanied by the ugly protesting groans of not wanting to get up. The warm blanket has a stronger appeal than showing up at work. For two weeks now, my new winter morning ritual have been comprised of hitting the snooze button up to three times, followed by a discombobulated run to shower and hastily put on whatever I could grab from the closet (which resulted to mismatch socks and mistakenly wearing my old, shapeless/stretched out sweatshirt to work). I actually wore that sweatshirt while having chemo four years ago. Thus, showing up late to the office has been my norm this time of year. Heck, I was even late to our company Christmas party. So thank goodness I'm officially on holiday today!

Merry Christmas
and a wonderful 2018 to all!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

And Then I Don't Feel So Sad

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad 
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

I hate Sunday evenings! Every Sunday evening, I get the case of Monday Blues, and it's quite unpleasant. I was just telling Kepi how I wish we could do over Thanksgiving and have another four-day weekend. Alas, I can't stop the hours from ticking. It's also not helping that one of my colleagues will be on vacation this week and I am taking over her responsibilities in addition to mine. I guess I simply have to remember my favorite things to fight off the stress and these Monday Blues.

Our Thanksgiving went great. Kepi and I made reservations for a Thanksgiving lunch buffet at Pienza. I think this is our third time going there for Thanksgiving and there may not be a fourth one as we felt the menu this year was limited.

 Great offering of pastries and bread

 Turkey carving station

 All types of petite desserts

 My favorite are the Pumpkin Cheesecake and the Pecan Pie.

This was the first time I've been served with this much cream for my coffee.

After gorging ourselves at the buffet at lunch, we had dinner at my aunt's place who served Turkey and two Lechon Bellies. We had a feast!

With Thanksgiving over, the Christmas season officially begins. 2017 Christmas Card Project is well underway. The first batch of Christmas cards have been mailed and are on their way to the Philippines. Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao look for them! The cards en route to the Philippines are mailed first because in my experience they take the longest to be delivered or they never make it to their destinations. I am hoping all recipients will receive their cards this year.

 It's also time to deck the house with Christmas decorations. Here's Daisy and Dizzy doing their own thing while Kepi and I were setting up the tree.

 Dizzy wondering why the door is dress up as a gift.

Our 2017 Christmas Tree

Lately, I have been feeling down and anxious because I have another surgery coming. My mind have been somewhere else and once again, I am having a hard time finding the Christmas Spirit and even the energy to decorate the tree. But on Sunday evening, I finally got the drive to finish it. We decided to go with a red and silver color theme along with the ornaments from our wedding, our first anniversary, our travels, the Santa ornament I bought after my chemo, Jeff's childhood ornaments and others that tell stories of our challenges, gratitude, hope and strength. You see, we want our tree to tell a story and to represent the essence of our lives. It is from these experiences that we find gratitude and meaning even in the darkest moments of our lives. I believe that no matter how hard life is with all its qualms and challenges, it is still a beautiful life.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Autumn Is Late And The Christmas Card Project

I think I said "autumn" too soon. It's been an uncharacteristically warm October. I'm still walking around wearing shirts and blouses. It's strange because even the trees are looking lackluster compared to the fall foliage we've had the past couple of years.  It's also been a dry season as we haven't had one of those soaking, cold autumn rain that makes you want to crawl back to bed even in the middle of the day. This dryness is fostering my annoying rag weed allergies.

Our little autumn corner.

A week ago, we saw Ann Patchett's interview conversation with the witty and funny Tom Hanks. Our tickets included a free copy of his book, "Uncommon Type." (I still have to read it.) The interview was witty and the views expressed were profound. He is a well read person. I was quite surprised to learn that Mr. Hanks collects vintage typewriters and has about 200 of them.

My favorite quote from the interview is, "If you're so disgusted about the present, go read something about the past. Because people in the past were so disgusted with their present." This quote speaks especially about my sentiments of the current affairs of US politics and the danger it is posing around the world. Enough said about that.

With October coming to a close and the fall festivities arriving soon and fast, I am starting my Annual Christmas Card Project. I am so excited! Every year,  I send over a hundred cards through snail mail. Even if it's easier to send greetings electronically or through Facebook, nothing beats the beauty of a handwritten letter or card with a good old stamp on it. This is my small way of spreading Christmas cheer. If you'd like to receive a Christmas card from me, send me a note and your address at misskayni at gmail dot com or leave me a message at Facebook.

These Christmas cards will soon be traveling to different parts of the world.

However, before anything else, Halloween is just two nights away. The cobwebs and spider are up, the ghosts are floating underneath the Cherry Blossom tree, the screaming mat is plugged ready to scare kids, and the candy bowl is overflowing with sweets.

Daisy supervising how to put the Halloween decorations.

A peaceful and blessed Undas, Philippines.  Happy Halloween, US.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

26 Staples Later

The boy and his dog. A month after Kepi's brain surgery. Daisy got a free bath that day.

Perhaps it's time to pack the summer clothes away and air out the sweaters and stockings again. The first couple of days of September ushered in rain and the chilly autumn air. I've heard a few people complaining that they'll miss the warmth of summer, but I can't complain. I am grateful we survived the trials of August. Most of all, I am grateful for the support of family and prayers from friends all over the world. Kepi's surgery went smoothly and he is well on the road to recovery. Amazingly, he went back to work in less than two weeks. Although he still can't hear through his right ear (the surgery site), gets occasional headaches and complains of a metallic taste in his mouth, he is managing quite well. His medical team at the hospital was absolutely wonderful! I can't thank them enough.

After a long day at work, I love it when Daisy rests her face on my lap. I guess it's our special time together.

Although I'm still in the adjusting period, my new job is going well. It's "always" tough to be the newbie. I think we've all been there at some point of our careers. What's specially challenging is that my former position dealt with energy issues and now I'm dealing with banking issues. The learning curve is quite steep in addition to working with a younger more aggressive crowd. I survived my first month, so let's see where this new position takes me.

So here we are, 26 staples later (the number of staples required to close Kepi's wound). And we are going to pick up where we left off, continue to heal and fight, and look forward to what the future brings.

I hope you're all doing well. I'm still here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

To A New Adventure

I am baking a new recipe of Banana Chocolate Bread today. I'm hoping it will come out good. I think this is the first time in a couple of months I'm baking again. I miss it.

I've been away again. I just couldn't get the motivation to write for some reason. I think part of it is that Kepi and I are looking at another health issue - his brain tumors. I've always been the patient and Kepi my caregiver. Now, this role will be reversed. I never knew that it is harder and tougher to be the caregiver most specially when you see your spouse suffering.

Kepi's second MRI imaging was done a week ago. This week, we're going to see his doctor again and schedule his surgery. Please keep him in your prayers.

My vegetable garden is doing quite well even with the abnormally late arrival of summer weather. I managed to plant some Tomatoes, Bitter Melons, Bokchoy, Chives and Dill. I still have a few Peppers to transplant, so I'm hoping to get to it this coming weekend. Quite a delight to also see my potted Moringas surviving. The leaves would be delicious for Chicken Tinola soon.

Flowers from my garden.
Next week I will be starting a new job. I was sort of surprised because I applied to this company last year. It felt timely that they called after our Hawaii trip in May giving me time to meet their regulatory team and also have a short meeting with the CEO. I accepted their offer last month, so here I am embarking on a new adventure.

The living room is now filled with the warm heavenly aroma of chocolate. I am excited to taste this bread and I'm hoping Kepi will like it too.

Fresh from the oven - Banana Chocolate Bread.
It's tea time and you're all invited.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I Love Hilo!

I have to write a blog entry while I'm here in Hilo.

Our experience here has been nothing but wonderful - from our cozy apartment that has everything we needed, waking up to the sound of waves crashing to shore, the birds and coquis lulling us to sleep at night, to the aloof tabby cat that visits us in the mornings and evenings.

For some time I've been yearning to find a reason to smile again, and it was here that I felt that deep, pure state of joy. I'm referring to that type of happiness that exudes when: you're with someone you love, you fall sleep to the relaxing sound of birds and frogs, and you wake up to the tapping of rain on the windows and rooftop.  Our experience on this island taught us that it is the immaterial, simple, beautiful, natural things that radiate true bliss.

I told Kepi I'd love to visit again even if this is my fourth time visiting the Big Island.

Here's cute Mr. Kitty Aloof.

IMG_2029We certainly had our fill of Malasadas and other pastries at the Punalu'u Bake Shop.

We saw exotic flowers just like this Red Torch Ginger.

Tomorrow we will be flying to the island of Molokai. Our stay in Hilo has certainly made us temporarily forget what we will be dealing with in the next few months.

Tonight, we sleep while the coquis sing their heart out.

Linking this post with Our World Tuesday and Wordless Wednesdays.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Our Fourth Wedding Anniversary

Thank you for the beautiful yellow daisies and card.
Happy fourth wedding anniversary, my dear Kepi!

We've been through a lot - from my diagnosis, clinical trial appointments, transfusions, hospital stays, the search for my bone-marrow donor, my most awaited transplant to recovery - but you never left my side.

We are facing another test, but I know we will get through it TOGETHER. As you always say, "We're gonna be alright."

Love you always,

Every year during our wedding anniversary week, it's been our tradition to visit where we got married, the Hershey Gardens, and visit the blooming tulips as well.  You see, we timed our wedding date during the peak bloom of the tulips. This year, we missed the peak bloom but we still saw a lot of flowers.

My heart always skips a beat when we're here. This is exactly the location of our wedding venue. We had a small, simple and beautiful wedding. Surrounded by a few family, friends and crowded by all the tulips in full bloom.
These are the late blooming double petaled tulips.
A twofie with the red tulips.
Love these orange beauties too.
These yellows look like crowns.
These tulips are my favorite - beautiful purples.
Another twofie with the azaleas.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Life Always Has Other Plans

Sleep has eluded me lately. I used to get a good six to seven hours of sleep, but lately my nights are spent tossing, turning, staring at the ceiling, and when I'm lucky enough to get some shut eye, I'd wake up every hour.

This is the fourth time I've tried to write this post. Simply because I'm having a hard time finding my words and putting my emotions where they should be. I feel disconnected from my current world because part of me wishes to run away from it. It's spring and it's supposed to be the season of beauty. However, I feel devoid of the euphoric feeling that usually accompanies this season of rebirth and rejuvenation.

Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms in the neighborhood.

It was around mid-December when Kepi started noticing that his right ear's hearing was muffled and that the ringing was getting louder. We thought it was just a simple ear infection so Kepi got referred to see an ENT Specialist. The ENT did some tests but he couldn't find anything wrong. On the first week of April, he finally ordered a brain MRI, and a week after, we found out that Kepi has brain tumor.

I cried. I can't imagine how Kepi felt, but I felt like my world's falling apart - again. That same feeling of fear and uncertainty when I was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia is back.

Team Kepi

After the MRI results, Kepi was referred to a neurosurgeon. We met him on the 17th and he told us that there's a 5 cm tumor located above Kepi's right ear and that there are two more small brain tumors in the middle and somewhere on the left. The surgeon recommended that the bigger tumor should be removed surgically as it's been causing some swelling/pressure on Kepi's brain. The surgeon thinks that the tumor is non-cancerous (it's also growing outside the membrane protecting the brain) but the only way to find out is to do a biopsy once the tumor is taken out. So in the next couple of months, Kepi will be getting another brain MRI in preparation for his surgery. His surgeon said the surgery will take six to eight hours and he will probably need a month to recuperate.

At the moment, we are proceeding as we should and taking each day as it comes. There are times worry and fear overwhelm my every thought, but I'm fighting to be happy. Pain is here but I can't simply stop chasing after happiness. Life has always other plans, so we just have to roll with it and keep up with the good fight.

No matter what happens and as long as Kepi and I have each other, then we have everything.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Underneath The Cherry Blossoms

It's been really quiet here.

In fact, 2016 was a year I didn't blog that much. Probably because life pulled me in a different direction. Let's just say I'm traversing a road less traveled these days.

It's not easy to pick up where I left off (blogging wise) but I can start where I am at the moment.

Well, 2017 spring has arrived and the warmth of this season seems to awaken me from my blogging slumber. After the long (it feels like it) winter hibernation, everything seem to awaken and bloom with the call of spring including me.

 Taken a week ago, the Tidal Basin was in full bloom.

 A sudden drop in temperature a few weeks ago damaged some of the buds, but the surviving blooms were still beautiful and spectacular.

Apart from the Cherry Blossoms, spring also brought the beauty of friendship. I finally met Jo and her daughter Jody. Jo is my Iggy Sister and blogger friend based in the U.A.E. I was so comfortable with her and it felt like we've known each other for so long. Jo, thank you so much for taking the time to come see me. I am so honored to meet you and Jody, and I hope we'll see each other again soon.

This spring, there's a few exciting projects/plans brewing:
  • preparing the vegetable garden and planning what vegetables to grow this year
  • volunteering for a couple of out-of-state events for AAMDS
  • driving to a short beach break in Delaware next week and planning an island vacation next month
  • my best friend visiting in June and meeting my penfriend from Germany in July
  • and of course, enjoying the sun, meals and coffee on the deck and playtime with the fur babies.