Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The test

steps leading out of the Cathedral chapel at the USAFAcademy Chapel

Less than a week from my last post, our world turned upside down.  I always said that my life could be a soap opera.  What I would give for a normal life.  

Dec. 4th.  My sister called my husband in hysterics-- her husband, J,  suffered a gun shot wound.  Chris had no idea where she was calling from and what condition J was in.  I called her back, hoping she would answer the phone.  She was home.  

When I got to her apartment, the cops were blocking her doorway, and my sister sat slumped in front of her car, wearing someone else's clothes.  Her own clothes were too bloody.  No one would give her answers.  J was already taken to the trauma center.  We drove there and were met by one of their close friends who just happens to be a physician.  He pulled us aside, tried to calm my sister, and asked if she wanted to see him.  "He only has a little time left," he said.  My sister collapsed  to the ground and screamed J's name.  We were able to get her a wheelchair to the trauma room where he lay. 

I always thought that when an emergency arose, my nursing instinct would kick in and I would be calm, clinical.  Boy was I wrong.  Seeing him laying on that gurney with blood dripping down to the floor... hearing the breath get knocked out of my sister... I couldn't help but sob.  I had only enough sense to grab a chair for my sister and hold her up as she cried out his name and grabbed his hand.  Their pastor, who followed us to the hospital, sat by J's ear and read scripture.  J's mother, also a nurse, stood on the other side, humming a lullaby.  The respirator breathed for him, monitors above him showed his vital signs. 


He was 29.  I've known him since he was 15 and lived in the house across from ours.  He was just the punk kid dating my sister.  A few years later he became one of our closest friends and even moved into my home and lived there for almost a year.  He was a groomsman in our wedding.  He videotaped my daughter's birth.  I never referred to him as my brother-in-law, always he was my brother.  


He died at about 2:23PM.  The last thing I remembered doing was wiping a trickle of blood from his ear.  


We were going to put our tree up early this year.  We were going to do it that weekend, in fact.  Instead I spent the next few nights with my sister, staying up on watch, making sure she was eating, drinking, even taking a shower. Christmas shopping be damned.  Luckily, we had a few things ordered early for a few people.  The kids should at least have their presents.

I said I wouldn't let fear or discomfort get in my way again.  But did I really need to be tested so soon?  For two weeks I was surrounded by prayer.  I watched as their pastor spent hours on end consoling my sister and J's family.  I stood there as people prayed all around me.  I even attended their church for a sermon dedicated to J.  Ironically, I missed my friend's burial that day. I knew she would forgive me, knowing that I had to stand with my sister on her first day to church without J.

I used to tease my sister that she joined a cult.  I have never been happier that she found religion.  It was the one thing that truly held her up during this ordeal.  


The day before the burial, I was at the cemetery for J's private viewing.  I knew R was buried there and asked for directions to her grave.  When I looked at the piece of paper they gave me, I thought that maybe I was remembering some things incorrectly.  We drove up to her grave.  Sure enough, it was in the same area that J was to be buried the next day.  As I got closer, tears began to well up.  Could it be?  The freshest grave was kitty corner to J's.  As I reached J's grave, I walked a few steps and looked at the flowers on the nearby grave.  There was the wreath my co-workers and I ordered for R.  There was her name plate.  R.G.  37 years old.  What are the chances?  Yes, it was one of the newer areas of the cemetery.  But for the corners to be touching?  

J's father came by.  They wanted to see where J was going to be buried the next day.  Their family was confused.  Why was I crying on this other grave?  When I told them about my friend, he said, "There is no such thing as coincidence."  

Perhaps not.  

We put our tree up on the 21st.  Audrey was excited to find that Santa got the presents she "always wanted!"  There were tears on Christmas day.  But there was also a lot of laughter.  We'll miss you, J.  We'll move on, but you'll always be in our hearts.  


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lesson learned

looking up from inside the Air Force Academy Chapel

Ever been too busy to mourn?  Apparently, I have.  But my subconscious would only let me get away with it for so long.

A friend died almost two weeks ago.  She had been fighting cancer for a while now, travelling out of the state for an experimental drug and trying out radiation.  She was young.  Only a couple of years older than me.  She was the most doting sister and aunt.  A wife still as madly in love with her husband as when she first fell for him.  

She had been doing well before the last hospitalization.  We were supposed to get together.  I didn't make it. 

I'm sorry, R.  I was weak.  I stayed away because I was uncomfortable.  Not with your illness.  That I could deal with.  My faith failed me.  Or more accurately, my lack of faith failed me.  Failed you.  Though talking about God and speaking in scriptures helped you deal with everything that was going on, I was uncomfortable with it.  But I should never have let that get in my way.  I was weak.  And I'm sorry.  I know in my heart that you have already forgiven me this.  It's just the kind of thing you would do.  Now I know.  I'll never let something like fear and discomfort get in my way again.  Life is short.  I only wish I hadn't learned the lesson this way. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Are you fonder yet?

Nursing theme cake by my sister

I'm back!  Actually, I've been back from Maui since late Monday afternoon.  Unfortunately, I had to spend the rest of the week at work to make up the hours I wasn't there.  It must be the full moon because we were popping out babies like no one's business =)  Now I just have to catch up on all the blogs I've been missing, upload the photos I took on our trip and actually get back into Finding Water  and the True Stories prompts.  The trip kind of derailed some of the projects.  Yet despite all the incomplete projects, I am absolutely itching to take up Shimelle's discount offer for another class.  Am I nuts?  I don't even scrapbook!  Yet.  =)  Help!  I think I may need an intervention.  As for NaBloPoMo, I think it's safe to say that this year is a FAIL.  *shrug*  It was well worth it.  I'll just try it another time.  

Now for an explanation for the picture above.  I thought it fit because my job's kept me busy since my trip.  It's a photo of a carrot cake with cream cheese filling that my sister created for me and my co-workers.  Can you believe she just started playing with fondant two months ago?  Yep, the kid's got talent.  It makes me want to play around with the darn thing.  Another project to try?  Ack!  I swear I have ADD sometimes.  Oooh!  Shiny!    

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just in case you were wondering why I haven't been around...

Maui photos 012

I'm on Maui with my sister and Mom =)  I've missed NaBloPoMo and True Stories, but I'm enjoying it out here.  I'll update when I get back. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just look and see


It's not what you look at that matters.  It's what you see.
--Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yep, that's me!

the closest I'll get to posting a photo of myself

Feeling rather fuzzy at the moment.  Much like me in the photo above.  Spent a long time on my feet and bent over patients.  At least I got off work knowing I left two more brand new moms feeling more comfortable breastfeeding their babies.  All I want to do for now is just get my own daughter in bed and probably my own head on the pillow.  
I'm starting to think the only way I'll make it through NaBloPoMo is to post photos on the days I work.  We'll see.  Tomorrow's post should be a bit more substantial and hopefully more interesting. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010


 Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow them. 
- Louisa May Alcott

Friday, November 5, 2010

An open letter

Dear Mom,

I've been a good boy, haven't I?  For the last 8 1/2 years I've given you unconditional love.  When you go out or go to work, all I can think of is that I can't wait until you get home.  

I let you pet my head and rub my belly when you're feeling down.  I let you scratch my butt when your hands need a break from the keyboard or pen.  I've even let you sleep in my bed at night.  You never heard me complain when you decided to bring home the hairless pet, even though her screaming and hogging of the stuffed animals was upsetting.  I even went as far as sharing Grandma's lap with her 

 sleeping babies

sharing my snacks with her,


and finding ways to entertain her.


So why do you insist on humiliating me?

too drunk to remember what he did last night

I was tired and had no energy to fight.  A tutu?  Really?  And the reindeer antlers last Christmas...

The "other" reindeer

You know I like the jingle bells better.  

So why do you do it?  Is it the gas?  Because I really can't control that.  You give me the food, after all.  Is it the throw pillows?  You have so many of them.  Surely you could spare a few for me to suck on. 

If I promise not to hog all the covers at night, not to take over any (additional) pillows, and tell the neighbor's dog to use the gate to visit me next time, 

do you think you could at least consult with me before putting me into the next silly get-up?  I mean, could you at least make sure I'm not gonna be too tired to resist?  At the very least, do you think you could not take so many pictures and post them online?  It's really hurting my reputation.  How am I ever gonna be the stud you want when all the ladies see me in these dresses?  Just think about it, alright?  

Pretty please?

Your furry baby, 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
                     -- Iris Murdoch

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Day 12
a photo I took earlier this year of the top of a lauhala box (the wooden piece in the foreground is a turtle, btw)

As my response to the True Stories prompt #3 and also as a way to let my new readers learn a little about me, here's a few of my memories... 

I remember a time when I would wear multiple pairs of socks to match every color of my outfit. 
I remember sitting on top of the dog house at night singing Frank Sinatra songs with my cousin at the ripe old age of 10.
I remember the sweatshirt I was wearing when I had my first kiss.  It had Garfield jumping onto an ice cream sundae with the words "Go for it!" across the top. (subliminal message? hmmm....)
I remember daydreaming that my family members and I were the real heroes of Voltes V.
I remember getting whiplash after headbanging to Skid Row's Piece of Me.
I remember the good old days when I could sit and finish a novel in a day. 
I remember the a-ha! moment when I finally realized how the sperm got to the egg, thanks to accidentally seeing a scene from The Howling IV.  
I remember teaching my husband (then boyfriend) how to use MS-DOS.  (Did I mention he now works with computers?)
I remember when I couldn't leave the house without my can of Aqua Net.
I remember the surprise/amusement in Chris's voice when I was able to sing along with the Cure, then the Eagles, then Shai all in one sitting.  
I remember spending my days just walking through art museums in Chicago.
I remember the longest trip of my life -- drive from Baguio City to Manila, flight from Manila to Japan, transfer to L.A., then to Chicago, then to Charlotte, NC, to finally end in Charleston SC.  
I remember thinking I should never have kids.
I remember giggling all the way to the hospital when my water broke. (Those doggie training pads were handy!)
I remember the white knuckles of the man running my driving test as I parked the car at the DMV.  (I didn't get the nickname Mario for nothing! -- as in Andretti) 
I remember smiling like a fool and waving at customers while wearing The Hamburgler costume, forgetting that people couldn't actually see my face. 
I remember when I didn't know what a blog was.  

If only this extra post could count for another day in NaBloPoMo.

I can't believe I forgot to take a picture

the materials

I fell asleep.  I was going to stay up and finish the banner, but instead I fell asleep.  So much for the extra time to work on the project.  I just spent the morning gluing things on the burlap so that I could turn it in this morning.  I got so tied up with it, I forgot to take a picture!

The theme: "Scenes of Autumn"
The challenge: make a banner using the items provided and only the items provided.  We can use as much of the items or as few. 
Categories: Best Overall, Most Creative Use of Materials, Funniest, Best Representation of Autumn.

The items:
Autumn leaves  (plastic)                                                     
Yarn (red orange)
Straws  (yellow, green, orange)                                        
Tacky glue
Pipe Cleaners  (green, yellow)                                          
Paper Cups (aquarium design)
Colored Papers  (brown, orange, yellow, green)
Fabric (in photo above)             
Toilet Paper                                                                         
Foam Peanuts
Paper Plates (green, yellow, orange)                              
Plastic Forks (black, orange)                                            
Plastic Kinves (black, orange)
Burlap Banner Base
Strands of Beads (black, orange)                                    
Coffee Filter 
Dowel and jute for hanging

There were two of us in what should have been a team of four.  We knew most of the teams were going for actual autumn scenes-- pretty fall colors of leaves on trees, Thanksgiving related things like cornucopias.  We took a look at our bag and thought, WTF?  Pretty wasn't going to happen.  So...

Large paper plate + drinking straws+ pipe cleaners= scarecrow head
Paper plate + fabric = scarecrow hat
Fabric stuffed with toilet paper + straws sticking out= scarecrow body 
     (because scarecrows are made of straw, right?)
Paper cups + brown colored paper + plastic leaves on plastic stems= tree
Toilet paper= used to "T.P" the tree
Toilet paper + cups + black beads = mummy half unraveled
Foam peanuts= thought bubble around the tree tp'd with the mummy
Colored paper= lettering "Why Scarecrow had to trick-or-treat with 'Duddy' this year."

Get it?  "It's a joke, Son!" 

Until I get back to take a picture of it, I'll let your imagination run wild.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The good news is...

one of the more creative pumpkins we saw while trick or treating

Despite a crazy day at work, I don't quite feel like the pic above. =)  Still, it's been exhausting and I wish I could just go straight to bed.  However, there's still a little work project to complete.  Luckily, it's supposed to be for fun and it has been a source of entertainment for the two of us who are working on it.  I only wish we had a little more time to flesh it out.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

my True Stories notebook

I typically don't like to scratch anything out when I'm writing in notebooks.  But since Shimelle's class has given me "permission" to do so, I've found it quite liberating.  I can't do anything with the cover though.  I love it just the way it is.  And since I'm too tired from work today and didn't want to fail NaBloPoMo on the first day, I thought I'd share a photo of my notebook. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The ABC's of Winston Love

Always you greet me with a tail wag, even when you can't be Bothered to actually get up off the Couch.  And though Drooling is a big English bulldog trait, you only get slobbery when Filling up with water.  Who would have thought that the Greatest dog in your litter would be the one they initially named Homer?

  I can see clearly now 
On days that I feel down, you Just have to put your head on my Knee and my burdens are Lifted.  Your Mug, especially your Nose that Only a mother could love (or so the ignorant People say) are Quite lovable to me and are only two of the things that made me fall in love.  My heart swells when I think about how you can only Roll over in one direction, when I think of your goofy Smile and of your Teeth that always stick out at the bottom.
Rough night 
I love the way you look Up at me with a Very innocent look when you know you've just done something wrong, and cherish your Wrinkles that no amount of botoX could erase.  You will always be my first baby.  Irreplaceable for over a Zillion years.    
Winston puppy

Friday, October 29, 2010

Slow but steady

Slow and Steady
a snail in our front yard

As I've mentioned in my previous post, I've signed up for my first e-class.  But due to a rather stressful week, I haven't really had a chance to do much with the daily prompts.  That is, until now.  Our dear Bubba is doing much better today, which has given me a chance to scribble a few notes while listening to him take a much needed nap.

I've picked up a new notebook (one of three I'm currently writing in regularly) and I've finally had a chance to read through the prompts.  I already have a lot of ideas scribbled in my notebook, but yet have to flesh them out.  I'm starting out a bit late, but my hope is that, just like the snail above, I'll eventually get where I need to go.  The first prompt: questions and answers.  I really liked the idea of creating my own FAQ on this blog, something quite handy for any new visitors out there.  I'm planning on playing around with it for a bit and then maybe adding it as one of my pages here.  For now though, a few answers to a couple of the more common questions I do get.  

What are you? (ethnicity) / You're not local, are you? 
The scene: I walk into a patient's room, they look at me, assume I'm one ethnicity.  They see my name (Russian), hear me speak (no local accent), and then the question comes.  "What are you?" or "You're not local."  I've been correctly identified as Filipino and mistaken for Guamanian, Japanese (huh?), and Thai among others.  Back when my maiden name (Indian) was on my badge, it added even more to the confusion. 

The easy answer: I'm Filipino and I am local.  No, I was not born in Hawaii, but I've been living here since 1992 and I can't see myself living anywhere else.  I was a military brat who moved here after my father was transferred to Pearl Harbor.  Before that, I lived in Great Lakes, IL, Charleston, SC, and Baguio City, Philippines.  I occasionally have a southern drawl when I speak to Southern folks, and I still use "y'all" and "Ma'am" frequently.  I (apparently) have a Filipino accent when I'm talking to my mother on the phone.  Otherwise, I have no accent (maybe American?)   

What kind of nurse are you?
 I'm a registered nurse board certified in maternal-newborn nursing and I work on an ob/gyn floor that is also the hospital's catch-all.  I started out with the perinatal special care unit where I took care of the women with high risk pregnancies: pregnancy induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre-term labor, etc.  I also work/worked with pregnancy and infant loss.  From there, the unit took on medical/surgical gyn patients:  hysterectomies, mastectomies, metorrhagia.  Then came the gyn oncology such as cervical and ovarian cancer.  And when the ER picks up a patient who is too unstable to transfer to another hospital, we take patients with pneumonia, asthma, or cellulitis, among other things.  Now we take care of brand new moms and their babies.  I suppose you could say I'm a Jill of all trades and a master of none.  But don't call me about your diverticulitis or your son's runny nose.  Just call your doctor. 

How many notebooks do you have, and what do you write about?
I'm currently writing in three notebooks regularly but I have several that I write in intermittently.  I write about anything and nothing.  I have a notebook for my morning pages (three pages of long-hand stream of consciousness in the morning), a gratitude journal, a notebook I keep memorable quotes and poems, a notebook on books I'm reading, and now a notebook for True Stories.  And those aren't even all of them. ;-) 

Any questions?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My first baby

Soccer boy
Our first baby, Winston "Bubba" Thompson

I've been wanting to write for a while now, especially since I've recently signed up for my  very first e-course.  However, things have been a little stressful at home and I haven't really had much of a chance to sit and type nor have I really felt like it.  My dear sweet "Bubba" is ill and is needing much attention.  What I had hoped was just an irritating cough is now being treated as acute congestive heart failure.  The vet says we caught it quite early and we're hoping the medications he started will help him get back to his usual playful and energetic self.  We're to follow up with the vet on Monday.  Hopefully then he'll tell us that we can let Winston go back on walks again.  Meanwhile, it's lots of petting and cuddles for him.  And when the pup's face is this cute, wouldn't you be doing it too?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking up

Photo 63
monkey bars at the playground

  The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes -- Marcel Proust

After the whirlwind tour of Colorado and the hundreds of pictures I took, I admit I came crashing down after returning to Honolulu.  How does one recover from seeing one gorgeous view after another, to going back to the same house and doing the same chores day after day?  Perhaps had I taken a little more time to rest, I wouldn't have burned out quite so badly.  It's no surprise that I took all of 20(?) pictures in September and then promptly fell ill.  

Starting Finding Water has been a definite boost for me.  I was afraid that after having gone without writing for months, returning to writing three pages daily would be a struggle.  It was a pleasant surprise to find my pen gliding easily through my notebook.  These pages, along with the exercises in the book have given me fresh insight to my fear of completing projects as well as help me find my motivation in dabbling with different art forms.  I've rediscovered my interest in drawing after watching my daughter play with my unused art supplies.  I've formed a new interest in playing with paint after watching her decorate our front hall with her masterpieces.  I've gotten an itch to play around in the kitchen after seeing my sister's beautiful cake creations (to the point that I've been perusing cook books and browsing through kitchen supplies in different stores -- I just LOVE Compleat Kitchen!) I've rediscovered my love for dance and old movies after sitting down with my hubby to watch Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Bandwagon.  I've even reconnected with a good friend who I haven't seen in a couple of months-- a big deal since she is one of my biggest supporters outside of my dear hubby.  And finally, I've begun to carry my camera around again, even when I'm "just" going to the playground with the family.  How could it take me so long to remember that I don't need new scenery every day to take photos, I just needed to take another look at where I already am?   

Week one (which took two weeks to complete) was supposed to be about "uncovering a sense of optimism."  I think I can finally move on to week 2.   

Here's a scene from The Bandwagon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Will you light a candle?

In Memoriam
memorial candle at the Air Force Academy Chapel

In 1988, former president Ronald Reagan proclaimed the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. On October 15th, candle lighting ceremonies will be held throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan in memory of the babies lost. If you light a candle from 7pm to 8pm, you will be a part of this continuous wave of light. For the folks out here in Oahu, the ceremony will be held on the grounds of the State Capitol and we will be gathering there at 6:30pm. For a complete list of event sites and for more information about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, visit Remembering Our Babies, the official October 15th site.

Although I have not personally gone through such a loss, I have spent countless hours with those who have. Though some people are lucky enough to have a great support system in their families and friends, I have seen many who suffer alone and are at a complete loss when this occurs. October 15th is a day not only for these families to provide support for each other, but for the community to acknowledge their loss and let them know that though their babies lives were brief, they were still very meaningful.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For Chris

A good day to smile

Happy Birthday to my dear Boo. It may be your birthday, but I'm the one with the gift-- another year with you. I'm not the artist with words that you are, so I'll just say it simply.
I love you.

Always and forever,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

a photo I took on our '07 trip to PA. And just like this trip, I don't know where the road leads.

Autumn. My favorite season. Funny that I'd end up living somewhere that doesn't have fall. Some people may find the season depressing: summer's gone, time to go huddle indoors. But I always loved the colors of the leaves. I loved the sound of the leaves crunching underneath my shoes. I loved how the softly knit sweaters felt against my skin. I loved the smell and taste of hot chocolate as I tried to get warm. I miss fall. But you won't find me moving away from Hawaii anytime soon. =)

Fall actually fits my mood as of late, though I didn't realize it until today. People usually associate cleaning things up with spring, but not me. Just as the trees shed their leaves, I've been feeling the need to shake things up a bit and get rid of a few things. Not just physical clutter, which we also have way too much of, but the mental confusion as well. The home de-cluttering was actually off to a good start. Unfortunately it had to be put on hold due to a family bout with the flu. Clearing the mental clutter will be the more challenging one for me. As usual, I've got so many things I'm interested in right now.

Along with starting a new blog, I began reading Julia Cameron's Finding Water this week. The first topic for Week 1: Beginners. Apparently, starting a project or a class is difficult for some people, scary even. Not for me. As I mentioned on my very first post, I'm a chronic beginner. It's finishing that I seem to fear, as my multiple projects/classes will attest to. Having said that, my goal for the rest of the year is to actually finish something that I've started. It doesn't have to be anything big, in fact the smaller, the better. It doesn't even have to be done perfectly (my biggest challenge because it would mean that I can't obsess over every little thing I haven't done or done "properly"). Completing a project would be so satisfying. Even if I decide not to do it again, it would still mean I'll no longer berate myself for either never trying it or never finishing it (and I can finally get rid of some supplies in my closet). So I guess the question now is: which project do I work on?

Was it me, or was I starting to ramble there? See? Clutter! ;-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Welcome to my new home =)


In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin mentions how her research "revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness." Perhaps that is why I'm a chronic beginner. I particularly enjoy novelty. Anyone following me from my old blog would know that I'm here to start anew. It may seem like this is "just another one" of the multiple things I like to start, but as long as I don't suffer through too many problems with Blogger, I hope to make this my new home. And hopefully, in this new home, I'll finally begin to truly understand.

Writing about ourselves doesn't mean we're self-involved. We have to start with ourselves before we can reach beyond ourselves. And whatever our intention, the way we see and write about the world always reveals who we are. - Susan G. Woolbridge