The Thank You Project: #186 (Thanksgiving meals)

ThankYouIcon_186I know this thank you is a bit late but I want to give thanks for Thanksgiving meals. It is one of the only meals all year long where it is completely appropriate to go back for thirds or fourths and not be judged… harshly. It is a time where family gets together and plays games all day and really gets the chance to bond. It is a time where the chefs in the family can come together to make culinary masterpieces.

This year we had a chance to have almost all of the immediate family with us. Tito Jun and Tita Rose were of course already here visiting us. Manong Rob and Manong RJ and Manang Rachel also had the chance to fly in. It was great to have everyone together again because there are rare times that we all get that opportunity. All of us contributing to the cooking and we were able to play videogames such as Mario Party 9 and Call of Duty all day long.

We had a few mishaps during the preparation of the meal. Most memorably was a crockpot completely falling apart (sorry Tita Rose, it must have gotten damaged in the move!) and a pie glass exploding in my apartment setting off the fire alarm and causing a bit of a panic. But even with these mishaps we had perhaps one of the best Thanksgivings that I could remember. It was because it was family that was present (including Mike and Gaby who are like are little bro and sis). That’s what makes Thanksgiving so great. Family, friends, faith, food. How’s that for alliteration?

So thank you for everyone who contributed for Thanksgiving especially KristaRose who worked her butt off to create great food items for us. It tasted great and I gained at least 5 pounds from the good eats!

The Thank You Project: #185 (Spotify, Napster, Kazaa, Pandora, and any other musical site I’ve ever used)

ThankYouIcon_185The original file sharing program, Napster was the first exposure I had in getting exposed to mainstream music. Sure there was the radio and CD’s but I had grown up not owning a huge collection of music. I remember still using cassette players growing up and then slowly migrating to a sony CD player. Napster was the first time that music was available and was *free*. Back then I didn’t understand the concept of how bad it really was to just share music like that. I was in middle school and it just really blew up on the school’s computers where we were downloading music to every computer we were exposed to.

Other programs like Kazaa popped up after Napster especially when it was determined what they were doing was not morally right. I did have my own period where I downloaded some music in this way but I think almost everyone around my age did. What these programs did was transform the way music is transmitted. It ushered in a new digital age where music now became even easier to get a hold of. Ipods became popular and people could download certain songs and not necessarily a whole album.

Now the most popular programs include Pandora and Spotify. Pandora allows you to stream Internet radio with restrictions of how many songs you can skip in an hour and not allowing you to pick exactly what song you want. It will however find songs that are similar to the genre or artist you selected which is a nice feature. Spotify is a bit different in that it allows you to make a playlist and then play off of that. Both sites offer premium packages to get rid of ads (that’s the main source of income for them to pay the artists for rights to play their music). However, hearing an ad now and then is not a bad deal to me if I can listen to a lot of music for free.

These programs have really helped me explore what are popular songs that I would enjoy and find new artists based on those likes. Music is a big part of life in that I use it to help me focus or to tune out other background noise from time to time. I think without these programs I would not have had the chance to really grow up with such a diverse background of music genres and for that I am thankful because I have an appreciation for just about every genre (the exception is Country though :D).

The Thank You Project: #184 (My Dad, the 4th anniversary)

ThankYouIcon_184A reoccurring theme you will probably see in my posts on the blog is around my dad. He was an integral part of my life so when a major date comes up that involves my dad, I tend to get very reminiscent and reflect upon him. Today is the 4th anniversary of his death on 12/4/08. I’ll keep this thank you short because I’ve written many things to honor my father in the past. I want to thank him for all of the hard work and sacrifices he made to make me who I am today. I know I say this a lot but everything he did, he did for me. For example, the last car that he bought was an electric blue Toyota Corolla which I was pretty sure was for me because it was a departure from his usual car purchases. I never did get to know if it truly was since he passed away but I can only think this is an example of how he gave up and sacrificed things in order for me to have something nice.

I only wish that I can be more like my father. One of the things that he always had was a positive attitude and a big smile on his face. The way that he would call me his #1 son is something that I will never forget. I want to be more like that. It’s hard sometimes in this life to keep that positive attitude. It seems everywhere we look there’s something negative or bad happening in our lives. Whether it’s sickness, a job that’s not quite right or just in being in a funk in general, there are so many things that can drag us down. Lately I feel I’ve kind of fallen into this trap and I can only hope through writing and reflecting and praying that I can be even half as great as he was to my mom and me.

So this is for my father who I will always be proud of. Thank you for all you have done and I hope I continue to make you proud as you continue to watch us from above.

The Thank You Project: #183 (Tita Rose and Tito Jun Part II)

ThankYouIcon_183Back when I first started this project (and when I wrote more consistently), I thanked Tita Rose and Tito Jun for all of the support they had given KristaRose and I. I wanted to take this opportunity to give another shout out to the two of them for their unwavering support. Since both of them are retired, they had the chance to come and visit for an extended amount of time in South Bend. During this time, they have been able to really take a lot of burden off of KristaRose’s and my shoulders. This includes helping prepare meals, taking Twix out, helping us organize and clean the apartments and helping nail down deals for the wedding. It has been a tremendous amount of help and I think I can speak for KristaRose as well that we really appreciate what they have done.

I think what the trip has also done is help them realize more about how things have been going with KristaRose. It’s very concerning for all of us and being across country must be very hard for both Tita Rose and Tito Jun to deal with as their daughter is so far away and there wasn’t much they can do. This trip has allowed them to see how KristaRose is doing and what they can do to better help her out. They continue to give us as much support as possible by going to doctor’s visits and spending hours on calls to figure out where prescriptions that weren’t filled have gone.

So today’s post is honoring them for their continual love and support. Without them things would be that much harder than they already are. I am lucky to be inheriting a great set of caring and loving parents!

The Thank You Project: #182 (The Grotto at the University of Notre Dame)

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If there was anything that I needed most as a college student, it was some peaceful time to just reflect and calm my racing mind down. There was everything from classes to extracurricular activities to  worrying about mom and dad back home. Back then in my college days, it seems like days blended together, probably because of all the late nights I pulled. One thing I was extremely thankful for was the Grotto at Notre Dame. It is a place that is modeled after the original grotto in Lourdes, France. It is a fantastic place to take some quiet time and reflect about life and to pray quietly. Visitors of the grotto are allowed to light candles in order to remember someone dear in their life or for someone that needs extra special prayers. This place became the perfect place for me to reflect during my four years at Notre Dame.

One of the most memorable set of memories came through the Asian American Association and their grotto trips every Wednesday. There would be a core group of us from the club that would take the trip from Bond Hall down to the Grotto. We would all pray individually and light candles and then come together and pray an Our Father and state any intentions that were on our minds.

There was one specific time that I was not at Grotto Wednesday because I had flown back home to be with my mom after my dad passed away. From what I heard from people who went that Wednesday, there was a record crowd who all came together to pray for me and my family. The same thing happened before when tragedy struck for other members. I specifically remember the group being together when Steph’s grandmother passed away. The group always comes together and acts as a huge support system.

These nights together really symbolized the Notre Dame family to me. To think that the group of us would come together every Wednesday no matter what the weather: rain, clear skies, snow, blizzards, it just brings a smile to my face. Since I moved back to the South Bend area I am blessed to have the chance to continue going to the Grotto from time to time. I get to relive the feelings of unity I got whenever I visit. I still think it’s one of my favorite traditions during college as it really gave me the chance to bond with my Notre Dame family which helped me so much during those four years.

The Thank You Project: #181 (Cold Nights)

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I’m from Texas and was originally born in the Philippines. Based on this you are probably wondering why in the heck I would ever be thankful for cold nights. For me, there’s something about cold nights that gives you a sense of calm. Whenever I step out the door and just stare up into the sky when it is a clear and cold night I just have the feeling of being part of the greater picture. I get this feeling that I’m meant to do something in the world. I get the feeling that the stars are shining so that I can appreciate how bright they seem. I can see my own breath so that I can see the beauty of how we have to adapt ourselves to the world around us. You can feel the coldness set in your body and how your body works hard to keep warm.

These all might be strange feelings for you to understand but for me, I absolutely love it. I love seeing my own breath. I love stepping outside and being able to see snow. I love just getting that raw feeling of being outside and embracing the world around me in a way that only cold weather can do for you.

For these reasons, I am thankful for cold nights today. We have a cold night right now in fact and it was great to just stand outside and soak it all in. That’s what cold nights are all about!=

The Thank You Project: #180 (The Right to Vote)

ThankYouIcon_180Last week, everyone in the United States got a chance to express their opinions and vote. It didn’t matter what was the number one topic on your mind, all that mattered was that you got the chance to vote. I think as a society, we sometimes take it for granted that we have this great chance to discern between candidates and make an informed decision. There are many countries where you just kind of have to live with whoever is in power and hope for the best. However, in the US, we are able to determine who the president of the country will be. We have the power to determine the local and state officials that will represent us in Congress. We are able to even vote for different propositions that could potentially change the landscape of the world around you.

No matter what your opinions are for elections, be sure that you exercise your right to vote. There are many people that fought for your freedom to vote. Be informed, know what the candidates represent and then voice your concerns. I sure did last week and I am thankful for the right to vote and determine the country’s direction.

The Thank You Project: #179 (Concession Stands)

ThankYouIcon_179One of the best things about Saturdays on a college campus during the fall is the football atmosphere that is present. The band blasting out music, the huge crowds of people, little children tossing footballs at each other and tackling each other on the quad. It’s all about the excitement and cheering your team on. At Notre Dame, I was always excited for all of those elements but I also loved the concession stands around the campus. Anything you can imagine from elephant ears to hot dogs to brats, it’s all available in various stands around campus. I think one of the unique things about Notre Dame (maybe it applies to other colleges as well), is that the profits from these concession stands go to various clubs on campus. This is really the main fundraiser that these clubs have and so they do their best in trying to get people to purchase from their stand.

I guess why I have such a positive attitude towards concession stands is because I helped run some during my college years. There was nothing like getting up in the morning and firing up the grill and smelling the smoke and cooked meats rising in the air. Couple that with some very enthusiastic club members yelling out cheers and you had a recipe for a fun day outdoors with people from your club.

For these reasons and the simple fact that concession stands give you tasty food in general, I am thankful for concession stands, especially those that are run by students!

The Thank You Project: #178 (Hangars)

ThankYouIcon_178When I used to move from place to place, I put my clothes in random boxes and kind of just stuffed them in there. I used suitcases to the same effect as well and what ended up happening was that those suitcases and boxes just laid there unpacked for quite awhile. This time when KristaRose and I moved we used these wardrobe boxes that are pretty cool and you can just put clothes in that are still on their hangars (if I sound lame for not even knowing these things existed, I’m guilty as charged!). What I realized from utilizing those boxes is how useful a simple hangar really is. For today, I’m giving a simple thank you to the person who invented hangars.

If you think about a hangar, its one function is to keep your clothes organized and hung. They come in many different colors and shapes. There are pants hangars, clothes hangars, tie hangars, basically for every piece of clothing or accessory you can probably find a hangar for it. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I didn’t have hangars. I can just imagine big piles of clothes just being strewn about. You would lose track of what it is clean and what isn’t. Nothing would actually stay nice and straight, everything would be wrinkled. It might be funny to think about and maybe a bit extreme but it’s just the picture that I have in my mind for it.

So for me, I’m thankful we have these nifty little inventions in order to make our lives easier. It’s better than rummaging through piles to find what to wear!