A Woman’s Best Friend

Immigrating to another country means that I leave all my loved ones behind. It was a battle, and continue to be. There will always be a part of me that I left back home in the Philippines. One day, in the midst of my depression, my husband left me with his senior dog, a female black Labrador named ‘Jinx.’

I was never a dog person growing up. Once, when I was about 10 years old, my dad got us a small mini pinscher. She was the cutest thing. We named her ‘Lala’. After a week, I got bored. My sister ended up taking care of her. Back then, I didn’t understand animals. I thought zoos were great, not understanding that these animals were not in their proper habitat.

So, when my husband told me to hang out with his dog, I was surprised. This dog and I just ended up staring at each other. A little nudge here, a little slobber there. She was trying to tell me she wanted her butt massaged, probably thinking how stupid I am not to realize – after all, she has wiggled her butt into a blur. Over the years, I have fallen in love with this dog. I’ve learned that she is great company.

And so, fast forward to now, we are a family of 2 humans and 3 dogs. I have spent my days off speaking with my dogs, telling them stories and asking them questions. I usually end up spending more time with them than I do with humans. Call me the ‘crazy dog lady’ but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

These dogs have taught me how to be compassionate, sensitive, understanding and patient. (A lot of patience) They have made me laugh, cry, scream out in frustration. They have embarrassed me in public. They have made me proud, LOL, nauseated and happy. They have kept me warm on cold nights and have kicked me hard in the stomach when it’s too hot. They’re not very subtle.

 

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Olive stole all our blankets in the middle of a cold night.

Now, I can’t imagine my life without any of them. Hey, it’s messy, there’s dog hair everywhere, (It has followed me all the way to work in my lunch box), they eat disgusting stuff, they step on their own poop – it ain’t a pretty picture. However, it has also given me a purpose in life. Here is a living breathing living thing who relies on me to eat, breathe, sleep and survive. In exchange, they give me all the love and trust in the world. They have helped me cope with sadness, depression and anxiety. They have also been there through all the successes, happiness and celebrations.

I got your back, girls. Through thick and thin. Thanks for all the love.

A Homeowner’s heaven and hell

Owning a home has always been on top of my bucket list/priority list. (More in the priority list because it needs to get done ASAP.)

After working my ass off in order to save for a down payment, going through all the paper signing and technicalities that, to be honest, I barely understood, we finally got keys to our first ever home. This was 3 years ago.

Since then, it’s been both heaven and hell. Heaven because:

  1. I’m finally away from my in laws.
  2. I get my own room (I know I share it with my husband, but you get my point.) My dream of owning my own bathroom is on hold as the house only has 1 full bath.
  3. I have a sense of accomplishment. Who has bought their first home at the age of 24? (Bought in a sense that I own the bank a shit ton of money)
  4. Another list off my bucket list.
  5. I feel like an adult. (Because I don’t act like one.)
  6. I get my own space.

Hell because:

  1. After working to save for a down payment, I am now working to pay off my mortgage.
  2. Which means I can’t stop working. I was hoping to retire at age 30. (I wish!)
  3. Our water tank broke and that was $1,200 of unexpected expenses. I hate unexpected expenses.
  4. Property tax. So dumb.
  5. Water bill, electricity bill, gas bill – all kinds of bills.
  6. Insurance that I don’t use.
  7. Groceries, having to cook my own food. No one’s got time for that!

I exaggerate for the sake of the blog. Responsibilities are a part of life. I wouldn’t want it any other way anyway. Having a home is a lot of work, yet it gives me so much happiness pulling into the driveway and knowing that I have a roof over my head. It shows me that maybe I made a right decision somewhere along the way, that all the long days and nights were all worth it.

Now, if only the dogs would stop digging into my backyard.

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The American Southwest

If you would like to see the complete itinerary, pls. scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Work is Stressful with a capital S. A much needed reprieve was the only solution.

Since I live in Southern California, the easiest thing for me to plan is a trip in the beautiful US Southwest. Drivable, beautiful and most importantly – it takes me away from crazy California.

My husband is only too happy for me to plan this trip. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Albeit only a 5 day trip, it gave me the energy to go back to real life, until the next time I’m burned out again.

Arizona was beautiful. I personally would want to move to  this state. I think California is overrated and expensive.

My favorite part of this trip is Monument Valley. Straddling the Utah-Arizona border, it is a sacred piece of land owned by the Navajo tribe. To some, it might be any other kind of rock formation seen all over the American Southwest. However, once you step into this place, you will notice a stark difference – you can feel that this place is sacred, well taken cared of by the native tribe. The rock formations were beautiful, the native people even more so. The place is ran by the natives which gives them a source of income. They only ask one thing from the tourists – respect their land. This place is beautiful. I will be back to hike one of their trails.

Monument Valley

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Grand Canyon was beautiful but I enjoyed Bryce Canyon National Park better. The Grand Canyon is a masterful work of God and nature – but it was so… grand. Maybe because it was so vast, I couldn’t seem to see enough. Bryce Canyon felt more personal and I felt much more up close with nature. Their rock formations looked like crystal ice castles, depending on what time of the day you are there and how the sun is hitting the rocks. Either way, both places are must see destinations.

Bryce Canyon National Park

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Our final stop was Las Vegas, Nevada. Bright, fun, loud and outrageous. Don’t laugh, this is the first time I’ve been to this place. We watched Cirque De Soleil – Mystere which was a fun circus like show. Walked around and just decided to breathe in the sights and sounds. Outside of the strip, there were a lot of homeless people and it was quite dirty. This is not a knock on the city, just an observation. Los Angeles is not as glitzy as well, even though movies try to tell you otherwise.

If you have the time and finances, pls. take a drive around the American Southwest. You won’t regret seeing this beauty.

Day 1 South rim of the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, 2 hours away from each other. We wanted to see the Antelope Valley as well, but we didn’t know that you have to go through a tour group for that. Every National Park has a $30 entrance. 

Day 2Monument Valley – magnificent. $20 entrance.

Day 3Bryce Canyon National Park – beautiful. Another $30. Wanted to go to Zion but we didn’t have enough time. Will be back again.

Day 4Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Day 5 Drive back home to sunny Southern California.

The 3 Homewreckers

Literally.

I would like to introduce to you 3 of my bestest friends in the whole world! (Aside from my husband. Had to insert that here in case he reads my blog.)

1. Jinx, the BlackLab – The oldest of the 3. Sweetest, most loving. My husbands dog with his ex many years ago that ended up with him when they broke up. But be careful, she has a lot of saliva. I’ve now come to realize that that’s just how she shows her love.

Jinx , my best buddy

Jinx , my best buddy

2. Lucy, the Bichon-Poodle mix aka Poochon or Bichon-poo, whichever floats your boat. – This girl…. has the middle child syndrome. I don’t know what else to say – history says she’s supposed to be a circus dog. She’s very cute.

Lucy

Lucy

3. Olive, the ChocolateLab-Poodle mix – The youngest at 7 months old, busy terrorizing our lives, testing my patience, yet sleeps with us in our bed. Go figure.

Olive

Olive

So, there you go readers! My best friends who I talk to on my days off. Call me the crazy dog lady, but dogs are really man’s best friend, or in this case, woman’s best friend.🙂

How about you? Do you have any pets that fills your heart with joy?

Sincerely,

ImigrantengFilipina

The Long Awaited Church Wedding II

The barely breathing Mini-cooper.

The barely breathing Mini-cooper.

I woke up early on the 26th of July 2014, confused at first. A lot of thoughts running through my mind – Why does this bed feel so good? Why does it feel so cold? Why am I up so early when I’m on a vacation? Wait, is it today? It is today. And the most important thought – All that money spent for today.. Damn, it better be good.

Sorry, I’m on the bad side of frugal kind of girl. This is the most money I’ve spent on anything, aside from my mortgage.

Of course, these thoughts come as I realize that it was my wedding day. And my heart just starts to beat a little bit faster.

Even though I sound dramatic, I was excited. My family was complete. I was home again, and I was going to get married the second time to the man of my life.

The day started early and immediately. The people started coming in. Make-up artist, photographers, wedding coordinators/assistants and the unavoidable part, the relatives that your mom insisted to be invited, much to my dismay. All this while I’m trying to hold my stomach in so I don’t look so bloated in all my candid pictures. Girl problems, I know.

The ceremony is at 3 pm. By noon, I was famished and dizzy. Too much action, too much going on and too much attention on a proud loner.

There were some bumps on the road though. By 1pm, we found out that my bridal car had an engine problem. In my mind, I wondered what  my husband would think if I was late on our wedding day. I thought it would be funny. Everything eventually was fine though, as they were able to fix the car.

And as I ride in that sputtering car wondering if I’m ever going to get to church, I realize how much I’ve accomplished in my short life. I realized I was proud of myself. This coming from a self depreciating person. I was proud of braving through my fears, trusting God and inner confidence. So as I see the facade of the church through the mini-cooper’s windows, as I step out, and as the door of the church opened and I can hear the opening strings of Here, There, Everywhere, all I can think of was… I am happy.

The Long Awaited Church Wedding I

San Antonio De Padua

San Antonio De Padua

I’ve been talking about it for a while. It felt like it was never going to happen. But, it did.

To everyone who is reading my blog, I would always mention how busy I was with planning my church wedding back in the Philippines. It finally happened. Yahoo! To be honest, I thought I would never see the end of it. I was never a planner, I hated big parties. Towards the end of the planning, my thoughts about a church wedding was just a necessity. I don’t think it takes away from the solemnity of the occasion. I was just tired juggling 2 jobs and planning a wedding halfway across the world.

I had my wedding in San Antonio De Padua in Tagaytay. It is a beautiful church right smack in the middle of nowhere. I have read that this church is gaining some popularity and I don’t see why not. It has a beautiful ambiance and facade.

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The bell tower

The bell tower

My reception was held in Balai Taal. Man, we splurged on this location. It was somewhat pricey. No.. not just somewhat. It WAS pricey. For someone who had to work hard to pay for her wedding and not get any handouts.. yeah, the price is a little bit steep.

Before you tell me that I shouldn’t spend so much money on my wedding (which I probably shouldn’t have), this was a beautiful place. It also allowed me to accommodate my in-laws who had to come in from the US.

The view from Balai Taal

The view from Balai Taal

Like I said earlier, I hated big parties. What I hate even more was being the center of attention. And like they said, a wedding is for the bride. What can I say? I was born an introvert. I am at my happiest when I’m doing things by myself. That was just my nature. That is why I thank God so much with gifting me with an awesome family, who by the way, likes to party. Can I hear another “yahoo”?

My sister and mom helped me a lot with planning my wedding. It doesn’t hurt that my sister works in the wedding industry as well which helped me get discounts and favors from some vendors. (shameless promotion: check out http://www.thewrite-impression.com/ for your invitation needs) All in all, it was a fun experience, but something I wouldn’t want to do again. I have a new found respect for wedding planners. It ain’t an easy job.

Coming up next – wedding photos! The fun part.

Yours truly,

Imigranteng Filipina

Life Updates / Immigration Questions

How is everyone?

Things have been hectic for me. Over the past 2 years, there have been so many milestones that I have met in my life that I could only have dreamed of. The American Dream is still alive… at least for me. From getting our own house, to buying a car (albeit a second hand 80’s car that I have always wanted ever since I was a kid), working 2 jobs (1 in a respectable and known company), being able to pay the bills and support myself – working hard has reaped so many benefits for me personally, that I can’t think of anything else except to work extra harder.

To all my friends that had the same journey as I did, how are you doing now? I hope you are having a satisfying life, even though at times it seems that it could be better. Please post below and tell me something about your life here in the US, life updates.🙂

I can’t complain. If I did complain, the only complaint that I have would be being so far away from my family. But even in my point of view, I think it’s a very valid complaint, but something that I try not to dwell upon too much as I try to visit every year.

So, right now, it’s the 25th of June. Exactly a month and 1 day from now, on July 26, I will be having my church wedding in Tagaytay, Philippines, which I am very excited/stressed about. (cue the wedding music!) Working all the double shifts and overtimes just to pay for the wedding.. but it will be all worth it. I will be posting pictures here as it happens next month. My husband and I are very excited. We are only worried about our 2 dogs and who they are going to stay with for 3 weeks. We are still trying to find an answer for that.

I know a lot of people have left comments on my immigration posts asking for help with their own process. I hope the process went as smoothly for you as it did for us. To some people who have posted questions asking for help, there are some things that I have forgotten already. Like I have said before, I am not a professional, I am not a lawyer of the immigration process nor am I paid for anything that I post. I only post guides to help other people who are going through the same process as I am. So, if I haven’t replied to any of your questions, it may mean that I honestly don’t know the answer or have forgotten. If I did give advice that may have mislead you, I’m sorry. Like I said, I am not an expert. My guides are as thorough as I can write them, and hopefully it can help you.

Much love,

Imigranteng Filipina