Welcoming Baby Z!

I'm not a big fan of showers {the party variety, not the personal hygiene thing}. I know this sounds contradictory since I went to quite a few of them last year. Maybe I should be more specific, I am not fond of baby showers. I understand and appreciate the concept. People get together to give new parents or parent much needed baby gifts. Let's face it, having a child is not a cheap endeavor these days and new parents need all the help they can get.

Why don't I like baby showers? I am just not a fan of the girly-ness. The games, the giggling, the gift-opening. It's just not something I feel comfortable with. Typically, when invited to one of these shindigs, I politely decline the invitation and send a nice gift. Every once in a while, I will accept an invitation. Last year it was Ivy's Baby Shower. This year, it's Wendy's Baby Shower. Wendy is the kind of friend that I seem to always make exceptions for.

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Janice and Wendy

Today was the day for Wendy's Shower. It was hosted by Janice at her lovely home in Glendale. Here is the day told in pictures.

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Wendy in her signature pose. {Big Open-mouth Smile}

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Party and future nursery decor

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The party spread {I arrived late. So this doesn't do it justice}

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Big Cupcake Cake made by Ali

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Game Prizes - Light up Rubber Duck & Boutique Soap

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Jennifer, Carrie, and another guest {I failed to get her name}

Collage Game
- We were all divided into groups of 3. Each group had to cut out magazine photos to create a collage image of what we thought Wendy's baby would look like.

Keren and Ali working on their collage

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Jordana, Paola, and Natalie working on their collage

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Paola presents her team's collage

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Wendy closely examines one of the collages

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Ali presents her team's collage

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Susan presents our team's collage

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A peek at my team's collage

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Wendy tries to pick a winner. Jordana, Paola, and Natalie win.

Gift Opening
- As it is customary, Wendy opened her gifts. Some of the gifts made me wonder about who names these products before they go to market.
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Wendy receives "My Brest Friend". Guess what it's used for.

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There were some fun gifts like - a Friends DVD

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Baby Z will certainly not be nekkid. He has a wardrobe to rival his father, Lior's.

Last game - Guess the size of Wendy's Belly. This differing guesses were hilarious. Some people were WAY off the mark. The winner of the game was unbelievably accurate.
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Wendy gets her belly measured.

It was good to see everyone and help welcome Baby Z. Thanks to Janice for inviting me.

21 Random Things About Me

I was tagged by my friend Melody on facebook, but I thought that it be more fun to post this tag here:

1. My full name is Marianne. Those that grew up with me or have known me for a long time already know this. What most people don't know is that is supposed to be pronounced (mah-ree-AHN), which is the French pronunciation. French names were popular in the Philippines around the time I was born. I grew up in Virginia where people pronounced it (mair-ree-AN). It used to grate on my nerves. I reinvented myself at Art College and had everyone call me Anne.

2. I was born on a Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan. Because I was born on U.S. soil, I am a U.S. citizen. For the first two years of my life, I bounced back and forth between Japan and the Philippines, where my grandma lived.

3. I started college as a pre-physical therapy/pre-med student. I was so convinced that I was going to work in the medical field that I took a human anatomy course at the local medical school...while I was still in high school. At 17, I got to cut on human cadavers.

4. I've been obsessed with taking pictures since I was 9. My first camera was a kodak 110 camera. My second camera was a Polaroid SX-70. I have a collection of 30 cameras old and new. I am rarely ever without a camera.

5. I took hula lessons when I was in junior high. Not ballet, not jazz dancing. HULA. I had the grass skirt and coconut bra, but the body of an 8 year old. It was humiliating. I'm not sure why my parents thought that would be a good idea, but at least now I can move my hips.

6. I had my first dog when I was 4. I had a Chihuahua named Tina. Tina and I did everything together. Tina died from a heart murmur when I was 6. My mom said I wouldn't eat or sleep for two weeks. We weren't allowed to get a dog again after that. I didn't have another dog in my life until my BFF moved into my apartment with her dog Willie.
7. I still collect Kawaii. Sanrio. San-X. Tokidoki. If it's some sort of cute Japanese character, I like it. I have curbed this obsession by only collecting a select few items. More often than not, I'll buy a t-shirt.

8. In college, I applied to be a paid intern at a design firm in Bilbao, Spain. I was accepted, but thought that I couldn't afford to go. I declined the offer. Years later, I found out I could have gotten a student loan to cover my expenses. It broke my heart.

9. I love to drive and would love to learn how to race. If I could afford it, I was fix up an old Datsun 510 and race in amateur touring car racing leagues.

10. I hate the taste of Rosemary. I feel like I'm eating grass. Rob tries to sneak it into food. He thinks I won't notice, but I'm like the Princess and the Pea. If there is the slightest amount in my food, I'll find it and I won't eat it.

11. If I hadn't moved to L.A., I would have moved to Atlanta. Atlanta was my first choice until my BFF told me she was moving to NC instead. I was terrified of moving to a place where I didn't know anyone. So, I moved to Southern California where my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins live.

12. I'm convinced I'll spend the rest of my life living in or around a major city. Suburban neighborhoods like the ones in Southern Orange County freak me out a bit. Row after row of identical houses make me feel like I'm trapped in a real life version of Sim City.

13. 13 is my lucky number. It's considered unlucky for some, but it's always been lucky for me.

14. I am not a fan of the color Pink. I won't say hate because that's a bit too harsh. When I was a kid, my mom used to dress my sister and me in matching outfits. The only difference is that my outfits were always pink. Hers were either yellow or red. To this day, I cringe at the thought of having to wear pink. I only wear pink once in a while to appease my mother.

15. I have always loved to read. In Elementary School, my parents used to punish me by taking away my books. In essence, I was grounded from reading.

16. I am allergic to Lobster. I didn't know I was allergic to lobster until just a few years ago. On our 3rd date, Rob treated me to a lobster dinner. As a reward, he got to see me break out into hives and puff up like Will Smith in "Hitch". It was very romantic;)

17. If I were fabulously wealthy, I'd move to Paris to study art history with either the Louvre or the Musee d'Orsay. I think I just want an excuse to live in Paris.

18. I fall asleep in moving vehicles. Car, plane, train, boat. If it moves, I'm asleep. We could barely be on the road for 20 minutes. If I know I'm in for a long ride, I'm asleep. This, of course, does not hold true if I'm driving.

19. I am accident-prone when on vacation. I am the official sacrificial offering to the accident gods. When in Hawaii with my family, I brushed up against some corral and wound up in the emergency room. Again another puffy hives situation. When we were in Jamaica, I took a nasty fall while hiking through some waterfalls. If there's adventure to be had, I'll be there and get hurt while trying it.

20. I took piano lessons for 12 years. For a very short time, I, my parents and my piano teacher entertained the idea of me going to a music conservatory. Reality set in and I realized that I had neither the discipline nor the inclination to study music on a collegiate level. I quit my lessons and haven't played a note since.

21. I would love to visit all 50 states in the United States. I have a long way to go. I seem to gravitate to the coasts. I like the idea of taking a train cross-country.

Snow Frolic

January 2, 2009

photo by Rob

Last year, Rob, Kevin and the dogs went to play in the snow. I missed out on all the fun because I trapped at work. This year, I was determined to frolic in the snow like the best of them. Although we were feeling very jetlagged, we decided to go up to Snow Crest near Mount Williamson in the Angeles National Forest. We (Kevin, Rob, and I) threw on some cold weather hiking gear, hopped into our friend's Xterra and were off.

Although we collectively took over 200 pictures, we were only actually in the snow for 1.5 hours. In that time, we only covered about 2 miles. The altitude and the snow really worked against us. The temperature was in the 30 degree range. However with some of the wind gusts, it felt a whole lot colder. It was a short jaunt, but it was a nice change of pace. Now, I'm jonesing to rent some snowshoes and go for a much longer adventure.

Here are some of our photos

Breaking in my Gore-tex Boots

The beginning of the trail

Me in Action - photo by Rob

Rob makes sure all his gloves are on tight

Kevin looks ahead

Dottie and Piper trailblaze ahead of us - photo by Rob

Snapping a photo - photo by Rob

A killer view

photo by Kevin

photo by Rob

photo by Kevin



photo by Rob

photo by Rob

After it was all said and done, Dottie was REALLY cold.

Here's a slideshow of more pictures

If you're really bored, here's a video of Rob and Dottie in action

Snow Adventure - January 2009 from Anne K. on Vimeo.

Snow Adventures 3 - January 2009 from Anne K. on Vimeo.


An Introduction: EAD Living

I just made my debut as a columnist for one of my favorite blogs. Click the logo below to check it out.

Thanks to Ami & Rebekah for this wonderful opportunity:)

Don't Believe the Hype

I don't normally write about the books I read. I read a lot and what I read really runs the gamut. I have been known to jump from Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series to Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples to the biography of Ingvar Kamprad the founder of Ikea to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. There really is no telling what I will read next.

Six months ago a good friend loaned me the first two books of the Twilight series. I was mildly intrigued but it fell to the bottom of my "Must Read" pile. After all, it was a series written for pre-teen/teenage girls. I figured that I would save it for a time that I was REALLY bored or in dire need of light entertainment.

In the subsequent months, many women I know fell prey to what I call "Twilight Mania". They would rave on and on about how they read the entire series in the span of a few days. They found it THAT engrossing. Crazier still, these women were admitting to crushes on the main character Edward Cullen. Some were buying T-shirts and other paraphanelia that said "I love Edward". Lunches were being arranged to discuss the books. Facebook profiles advertised their love of the books and/or the main character. Blog entries were written exclaiming how the books are the greatest ever read, etc., etc. There were others that anxiously awaited the the premiere of the movie based on the book. These are grown women, all over the age of 25. I couldn't help but feel as though I was missing out on some fantastic party.

Six months later, I have not finished the first book. Let me be more correct. I cannot finish the book. The writing is horrific. Try as I might, I cannot get past it. Take every gawd-awful cliche from a 1980s Harlequin romance novel, add the vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure of a teenage girl trying to sound adult and you have a Twilight novel. Don't believe me? Here's a random excerpt from Chapter 11.

"The hour seemed very long. I couldn't concentrate on the movie - I didn't even know what subject it was on. I tried unsuccessfully to relax, but the electric current that seemed to be originating from somewhere in his body never slackened. Occasionally I would permit myself a quick glance in his direction, but he never seemed to relax, either. The overpowering craving to touch him also refused to fade, and I crushed my fists safely against my ribs until my fingers were aching with the effort. "
Seriously? Hundreds of pages of this drivel. I just can't do it. Before you accuse me of being unromantic, I'll have you know that I bawled like a baby when I read The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. There are other romance books that have moved me to tears, but the point is that I am not devoid of emotion.

Aside from the horrific writing, the underlying theme bothers me. Girl meets boy, loses herself, gives up her life to be with Boy and once with Boy, Girl has meaning and purpose. Sara from Stinkerpants Design does a MUCH better job of articulating this on her blog. You can read her explanation here. I know this book is meant for teenage girls. This is another reason why I find the books that much more bothersome. Adults can think for themselves and appreciate fiction for what it is. How many teenage girls are going to come away with the idea that it's okay to lose yourself for love? The answer is too many.

For those that defend the books and liken them to the Harry Potter series, save your breath. They're not the same. J.K. Rowling can actually write. Author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez succinctly describes the difference between Twilight and Harry Potter in her blog. You can read that here.

Bottom line, skip the Twilight series if you're a feminist or bibliophile or any combination of the two. There are hundreds of other worthwhile books just clamoring to be read. If you need a recommendation, just ask me. I'll be the lone party-pooper sitting in the corner.

A day like no other

(Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press)

Whether you agreed with the politics or not, today is still a historical day. Over a million people were gathered in Washington, D.C. to see Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Millions around the world watched the ceremony on television and the internet.

Photo credit : (Jim Bourg / Pool)

If we had had enough forethought, Rob and I would have been among those millions to stand in the freezing cold. I have attended a Presidential Inauguration {President Bill Clinton's 1st Inauguration} and it is an amazing experience. Aside from being a witness to history, the energy of people around you is astounding. There is an unparalleled sense of hope. The positive energy is indescribable. Even as I sat on my couch this morning watching the inauguration, I felt that renewed sense of hope. It's my wish that that sense of hope will carry us through the rough times ahead. Once the party is over, the real work begins and we're all in for a rough ride. There are many realities and harsh facts to focus on, but for today I'll keep those at bay and bask in the impossible dream made reality.

Visualization of the Inaugural Address from the L.A. Times

Five? Really?

Meeting Ethan for the 1st Time

Aside from the more obvious reason {Presidential Inauguration}, today is a special day. It's my nephew Ethan's 5th Birthday. It's times like this that I hate being so far away. Rob and I called him to wish him a Happy Birthday, but like most guys he is not so chatty on the phone. So, I just wanted to publicly wish him a Happy Birthday. I know his mommy reads my blog. {Waves "hi" to Cat}.

Happy 5th Birthday, Ethan!

Your Auntie N'anne and Uncle Rob hope that you will never outgrow your creative spirit, wacky sense of humor, and independence.

Ethan - March 2004

Ethan - December 2008

New Year's Eve: A Recap

We had heard the above saying many times before. This is why we chose NOT to celebrate the New Year with the usual partying.

Instead, we chose to fly home on New Year's Eve on Virgin America. This is what the interior of the plane actually looks like.

We may not have been at a party, but the music and lighting made us feel as though we were on a flying lounge. It was unlike any other airline we had been on. Our seats in coach class were incredibly comfortable. The onboard entertainment was incredible for a domestic flight. We could play games, watch TV or movie, or create our own music playlists. Another bonus is that they didn't do beverage service like other airlines. There were no annoying carts going up and down the aisle. You just used the touch screen in front of you to order your drink. It was fabulous. You got a first class experience for a coach price. You really can't beat that.

The Dream Ride 2
photo by Flickr user satosphere

We jokingly had said that by flying we could celebrate the New Year each time we crossed over a different time zone. Because we had an exhaustive day museum-hopping, we passed out as soon as we had our seat belts buckled. We really aren't as exciting as we try to portray. I will say we did acknowledge New Year's in each time zone by a quick kiss and rolling back to sleep. I'm not complaining. I consider napping a type of celebration.

In theory, we were to arrive in L.A. well before Midnight. Our departure had been delayed. This meant that we spent Pacific Time Zone New Year's in the baggage concourse of LAX. Didn't I tell you? We're not nearly as fun as one might think.

That, my friends, is how we spent our New Year's. Let's just hope this means that we will have lots of travel in the coming year. {I wouldn't mind more travel on Virgin America.;)} My passport is sad and lonely. It needs some stamps in it.