Who Am I?

Today I…officially go back to work.

Yes, it was quite the realization when my husband and I decided that (right now) I will not be able to stay home with my daughter so we can save some $ to buy our own place. Yesterday, actually, my daughter spent her first day at daycare!T’was a success! What a wreck I was in the morning when I dropped her off though! Nevertheless, I survived..like all moms do.

3 weeks of professional development starts now…then the first day of school on August 5th! Where did my summer go???

I’m thankful I was able to fit in good vacation/family time during the 3 weeks I was off. And, even though I tend to complain, I am thankful I even have a job in this economy.

Anyhow, we were given our first assignment for professional development. I thought it would be interesting to share it with you all… as a fun activity/ice breaker. Basically, we are to choose 6 objects/items that represent our cultural identity and present them in our “Culture Bag.” I feel like I’m in college again..although I’m enjoying the challenge of coming up with these 6 items.  The following questions must be answered during our presentation:

1. What is the significance of the items in your culture bag?

2. From whom or where did you get the items?

3. How do these items define your cultural identity?

Please bare with me as I share them all with you:

1. FAMILY PHOTODSC_0514The value of family has been ingrained in me since I was a child. My parents sacrificed for me and I, intend, to do the same with my own family. My family is my driving force. They are what pushes me to get out of bed in the morning, to get out of my comfort zone, and what encourages me to embrace any obstacles that might get in the way. I take my role as a wife and mother very seriously because, in my mind, there is no other option.


I am an Asian American. I realize that slippers is kind of a lame symbol to choose to represent my Asian culture. But, it’s hard not to be reminded of it every time I enter my parents house. It’s customary to remove your shoes when entering an Asian household because it is believed to be a good “health” practice (leaving any dirt/negativity at the door) and, because of the many pressure points in one’s foot, it is believed to be more “free” as your feet are not confined to a shoe. Whether my family truly believes this or not, I think it’s interesting that we’ve adapted to this practice and it has become a norm.

*Weird side note: I really love being barefoot!

3. Tiki Tiki Tembo

A very old version of this book was given to me by my grandfather on my Dad’s side. He’s Vietnamese and speaks very little English. I remember the day he gave this to me. He said, “Melinda, good book. Read.” And, that’s all he had to say and I did it. I have this fond of appreciation of tradition and keeping my culture alive as much as possible. Although I can’t speak the language, I hope to instill the same values my grandparents passed on to my parents and onto me..and so forth.


Food is a central part of my family’s life. If you don’t know me, I love to EAT! And..not gonna lie, I can EAT. We find excuses to throw parties not because of the event, but because of the food to serve people. Eating is also very reflective of my mood. I’ve learned that if I haven’t eaten, I get super grumpy! My friends know this about me too.

5. Miraculous Medal

Faith has always been a very important part of my life. I was born and raised Catholic and with every decision I make I try to make them reflective of the morals and guidelines my faith has been founded on. I know I don’t always succeed in this, as I’m very imperfect, but my goal is to continue to grow in this area as well as pass this on to my children.  My passion for teaching also sprouted through my personal mission to make a difference in people’s lives.

6. Dance

The first is an old video of a Filipino cultural dance called Singkil that I performed when I was in high school. I can’t believe I found this on YouTube! Dance pretty much took up the majority of my time in high school. I lived for it. It was my escape. It was also my most enjoyable form of exercise. Ha!

The second video is a performance I did with my Tahitian dance troupe back in 2008. Those were the days when I was in good shape! Ha!

Dance is definitely one of my passion in life that I cannot live without. I would say, it is definitely something that defines who I am because it’s an activity that I have been doing almost my entire life.

Well, there goes what’s in my cultural bag. Pray that I don’t mess up my presentation today in front of my fellow staff members!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post,



TodayI…Reflected on My Past

As a continuation of my Monday post, I had to share this reflection.

Here are some of my thoughts as I reflected this week. I started thinking about the house that I grew up in and the events that happened…and how every experience shapes us into who we inevitably become. Since I love lists, here’s one that kept me going for awhile:

Things that shaped me into the person I am today…

1. My love for food.

As children, my parents fed us all the time…and I mean, ALL THE TIME. I was a little “chubster” who ate hot Cheetos all the time.  They made sure we were NEVER hungry. Whether it was Top Ramen, Filipino food, Vienna sausages, Chinese take out, Church’s chicken, or Taco Bell Mexican pizzas…it was always the highlight of my days! This explains why I eat so darn much.

2. I’m a bit spoiled. Others might consider me..a lot a bit spoiled.

My parents always provided us with a plethora of toys and new gadgets. We went from the original Nintendo, to Super Nintendo, to Game Gear, and now to iPods, etc. This seemed to continue until..last yr when I moved out! But… instead of power ranger toys and Barbies…they gave me $ for food, a laptop, etc. This explains why I love that feeling of having something “new” more frequently than I should. Mom and Dad, I am forever in debt to you and am ever so grateful for EVERYTHING you’ve done for me!

3. My first phone call with a boy.

Even though I had to sneak most of these calls, the butterflies and excitement was definitely there! Although I never shared it with my mom (b/c that was embarrassing) nor with my sister (b/c she was still too young then), I kind of tried to figure it out on my own…BAD MISTAKE. This might explain why I was so messed up in dealing with relationships in high school when the hormones were really kicking!

4. I have an addictive Personality.

I have always become easily addicted to things (i.e. playing video games (Donkey Kong was my fave) and watching Power Rangers (Kimberly and Trini were my faves) re-runs over and over and over and…)

-In elementary school, I became addicted to my Sanrio sticker book that I thought was the coolest thing ever (Do you remember those?)…also anything Keroppi and Pochacco.

-In junior high, I became addicted to the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

-In high school, I became addicted to dancing, exercising, and anything active.

-In college, I was really into church things. Going to church, volunteering, ministry, you name it. I even worked there!

-After college, I got into dancing again. Then, surfing. Then, rock climbing.

-When I got married last August and we first moved into our apartment, I couldn’t stop cleaning our hardwood floors. I also became addicted to watching various series like Dexter, Spartacus, Community, No Ordinary Family, etc.

-Now, I can’t stop blogging, buying things at thrift stores, and getting my butt off this darn couch. Ugh.

5. Developed the mentality that parents are the solver of all problems…and my Dad can fix anything.

Now-a-days, whenever I have a fix-it problem, I ONLY know to call my Dad first. Recipe questions..laundry questions..call Mom. What happens when I get into a car accident? I don’t know, but I’ll call Dad. Forget the police. Dad can fix anything and kiss and make it all better. Identity theft? I don’t know, but Dad will know BETTER than my bank b/c well..he’s my Dad. Obviously, this mentality is very naive and has gotten me into some heated arguments with my husband. I need to be more self-reliant.

6. How to control my anger.

One day while we were excitingly eating crabs that my Dad brought home from 99Ranch Market, I got into an argument with my brother. Who knows what it was about…he probably took a piece of crab that I spent carefully prying out of its shell or something stupid like that, and not knowing any other way to express myself, I hit him in the face with the crab mallet. I was taken upstairs immediately and spanked hard on my hand. My Dad was so upset at me that he even threatened me with a belt! It was then that I told myself…out of utter fear…that I will NEVER lose my temper again.

7. I’m not a good pet-owner and probably never will be.

I tend to see pets more as entertainment and simply cute to look at than “part” of my family. To me, they were always just another form of a “toy” our parents got us b/c we probably begged. I cannot even tell you how many dogs we went through as kids, but you probably need 2 hands to count. My parents did not know how to train dogs…they don’t have these awesome classes that they have now-a-days. So, when we got bored of the dogs or the dogs bit/nibbled us (which ultimately meant they were dangerous)…we would put them back in the pound. Animal activists would have probably reported us had they known our lack of pet-owning abilities.

8. My first real dramatic experience of an earthquake.

It was the Northridge Earthquake of 1994.

9. My first sight of a real mouse.

10. My first tree house.

My Dad built us this awesome tree house. You can read more about it here.

11. My first funeral.

Rest in peace Grandma Nena. I wish I got to know you better.

12. My first “hard” decision.

What I thought was a hard decision back then was one I had to make in junior high. It was whether to stay on the basketball team or take a break…I literally cried for hours for the first time ever. I can be an emotional wreck over highly insignificant things.

13. I can call my faith my own.

In the beginning, we always went to church for my mom’s sake. She made us get baptized and our First Communion here. I always believed that “Mom always knows best” so it couldn’t have been a bad thing. We went to Sunday mass b/c my mom knew we should. We weren’t regulars though. We went to a Christian school, which caused me to ask a LOT of questions. Why do we believe this? Why don’t we believe this? At first, it was very frustrating b/c I didn’t know then…what I know now. Little did I know that asking those questions were inevitably a good thing. After taking Confirmation classes, ultimately making my own decision in my faith (which was becoming not so foreign anymore), and later being part of this and this ministry…I can proudly call my faith my own. Thanks Mom.

14. How to be open-minded.

15. Being a hard worker.

Ever since I was in elementary school and took home my first class project, my Dad would always recite these helpful phrases…

-“It’s okay if you make a mistake…as long as you tried your best.”

-“Do it right the first time, so you don’t waste your time.”

-“Always put in your 100% effort in everything you do.”

-“Life is not fair.”

These phrases still live on in me to this day. I can honestly say it’s helped me get through the ups and downs in life. Thanks Dad.

Sorry for the ridiculously long post…I just kept going with this one. Had to get it off my mind. Thanks for reading!

TodayI…Reflected on My Birthday List.

So to keep up with my post calendar that I started, I decided to reflect on my life in these past few months. I think it is very important to just stop…take a moment…and just breathe!

On my last birthday, I made a list. It consisted of 25 things I hope to do before I turn 26. I haven’t been very good at accomplishing my goals thus far, which is really making me upset at myself. I really need to be more diligent and focused. I’m pretty sure there’s been a lot on my mind because I’m constantly thinking of what I need to do, what plans I need to make, what new goals I should have, etc. Usually I’m better at crossing things off lists. For example, whenever I go grocery shopping, I write everything down and cross things off as I find them in the store. At work, I write myself “To Do” lists and cross them off as assignments are completed. But, for some reason, I haven’t been able to accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped. I guess I have about 7 more months to keep trying…wish me luck!

Here’s my list:

25 Before 26:

1. Learn to bake at least 10 new things. (totally failing at this one)

2. Read at least 5 new books. (1 out of 5 so far)

3. Finally change my name on all my debit cards.

4. If no baby, get a full-time job!

5. Learn Photoshop. (I can get away with the basics)

6. Take a class with Eddie at local college.

7. Clean out boxes in parents’ house. (not even close)

8. Make an Advent calendar for the future.

9. Start a Blog.

10. Volunteer more.

11. Go to confession more.

12. Take a trip to San Francisco.

13. Visit Grandparents in Las Vegas.

14. Do something I’ve never done before.

15. Learn how to edit a short video clip.

16. Become a pescatarian. (I’m starting to think this will not happen this year. I like steak too much!)

17. Take a train somewhere.

18. Start dancing again (if no baby).

19. Paint something. (Do my nails count?)

20. Review Spanish and try to learn more.

21. Whine less. Complain less. Worry less. Appreciate more.

22. Send letters to everyone in convent or discerning.

23. Drink more water.

24. Be healthy. Eat healthy. Live healthy. (sometimes)

25. Be a good sister, daughter, & wife. (Still working on this)

Do you guys make lists? If so, what do you make them for?

I’d like to leave you with this quote that hits home for me today: