Week 40 of 2018

Week 40 Collage

Lots of baby cuddles this week! I missed my kitties, but had so much fun holding Nathan and playing with him. He doesn’t do a whole lot since he’s little, but he really liked me holding him, so we had some nice times doing things around the house together (I have been practicing with Jado – he wants to be held a lot, so I’m good doing things one handed, ha!). I was able to cook a lot, which was fun and nice to have a large, clean, GF kitchen that I could try out a few new recipes. Kati is vegetarian (mostly) and so I had to be creative to make a lot of vegetables! I don’t do much starch (corn/potatoes/grains/beans), so it made it a little harder, and ended up doing things more with those items. Kind of hard to cut out so many food groups amongst all of us!

We mainly had a low-key week, while Brian was at home holding down the fort with the cats. I worked for about 12 hours while in Birmingham, so it was a little hard doing things and working, but I was able to get in the hours that I needed for the week (plus taking some vacation time). I got my hair cut and colored, as I pretty regularly do when I’m on vacation visiting someone. It’s when I normally have time, and it’s generally a lot cheaper than in the Bay Area.

Kati and I took took a nice walk in the Oak Mountain State Park. I just can’t get over how green things are outside of CA and how many trees there are! We went to a Greek Festival in downtown (it was not very good; no GF food really, and there wasn’t anything besides a few tables for items they were selling), went to a fancy ice cream place which was fun, and then also went to a concert of Kati & Aaron’s friend. She was an opera singer, and although that’s not my favorite, she was really good and it was enjoyable.

I also went around with a Realtor to see if it would be a place that we’d like to live in the future. The homes were great (and so cheap — we could get a 8 bedroom house for the price of a 2 bedroom one here!) and I really liked the Birmingham area and people that I met. There wasn’t one that was perfect, so time will tell if we end up moving that way in the longer term. We really like SF for now, so here it is until God has us elsewhere!

My parents, and grandpa, and Emily and David came down to Kati’s house on the weekend. It was so nice to be all together, even though it was just a short time.

Finally, I flew home to join Brian! We did some gardening at the Livermore house (it’s almost getting to a really nice point!) and then went to dinner with my B&T (Business & Technology) club friends. Jamaican food, yum. Fun to hang out, chat about business and economics, and be with people who get my work world!

The Little C’s:

We have two athletes over here. Jado loves balls, and Clemmy loves scaling walls and climbing! We know when Clemmy is gone, because Jado talks a lot more then, and then all of a sudden you hear the fence bouncing, because Clemmy has jumped back over to come play with everyone!


Week 39 of 2018

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A few hangouts with friends, dinner in the city (great food, great person, just not good traffic!), lots of work, doctors’ visits, and 50th Anniversary Worship night at Church.

Good news, my heavy metal levels are going down. Only hopefully one more round of IVs to get the toxic levels down enough to a reasonable level. Hopefully after that point, my body will start to heal a lot faster in the future.

The beginning part of the week wasn’t that interesting, besides some good meals with friends, but Brian came back from San Diego on Thursday evening, so we just had a short time together before I headed off to Birmingham, AL to visit my new nephew, Nathan! Brian and I had a lunch date which was fun (yay for GF sandwiches at the Press in Pleasanton!), he got to come with me to my doctors’ appointments, and we went to church on Friday night to celebrate our church’s 50th anniversary weekend. It was really nice to spend the day together. The evening event was packed! They had invited the original church members, and founding people to join. It was quite special, and the music was a mix of choir and band, with so many people singing. Really neat to see the legacy of the church.

While Brian was in San Diego, he got some blackout curtains. Our room has a lot of windows and it’s very nice, but bright in the morning. They are great! Good find. Looking forward to having good sleep again.

The highlight of the week (besides Brian coming back!) was getting to meet Nathan. He is six weeks old now, so he can open his eyes some and wiggle his arms. I enjoyed going around with Kati seeing some open houses in Birmingham as well on Sunday afternoon to get a feel of the area and what things look like there. There are some great big houses for $350k. And then as you move into the areas closer to the city with the really good schools, they’re 3-4 bedroom homes (but also with basements!) for about $650k. Crazy cheap compared to Palo Alto. Had some fun in Walmart (we only have a few in the Bay Area, and not one close by where we live or work), and got a pretty good laugh at the whole SECTION of tea. Sweet Tea, anyone? Welcome to the South.

He is a pretty happy little guy. He really liked me. Good thing, for Aunt Amanda! Kati and Aaron are going really well and seem to be adjusting to having a newborn. I was able to help out cooking and cleaning and holding baby. So nice to see everyone and spend time together.


The Little C’s:

I realized how much of an athlete Jado is. He is also just like a dog – he loves to play fetch! I only caught about half of his catching and bringing it back, by the time I put the video on. He kept bringing it back to me. He wanted to come to Birmingham with me, so he tried to get in my suitcase. The second time in a few weeks. Poor guy. Doesn’t like to have mommy go away.

Week 38 of 2018

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More dinners with Brian’s parents and getting to enjoy our time together. It’s been nice to be back in a place where we can see family. We enjoyed GTMO, and thankfully a good amount of our families were able to come visit, but it’s nice to be seeing them more regularly.
Brian is going to be working for two weeks of the month in San Diego for RQ, and then the other 2 weeks up in SF for the project they are working on here. They don’t have an office set up yet in Silicon Valley, since the project hasn’t started yet, so he is working from home until they start. It so far has been good for him to be in the office in SD to be able to help the team there understand what has been going on in GTMO, and he was able to provide a lot of good information about the updated systems and logistics projects he has worked on. It’s also nice having him working at home, since I am home 3 days (2 working, 1 generally going to doctors’ visits) as well.

Besides being in San Diego for a few more days, the most exciting thing of the week for me was attending a Geek Girl X dinner, hosted by Volvo. I signed up for these newsletters a few months after I started at Apple (so, 4 years ago?), but haven’t ever attended one, because of inconvenient timing or location. One of the great things of living close by to work has been the ability to go to social/networking functions after in the evening. Instead of sitting on a bus for 2 hours, I have the ability to go meet more engineers and people in the industry.
This Geek Girl X meet up isn’t just for women (men are allowed to come), but it is generally women who attend. The goal is to gather women in tech and connect them. It was SO cool! I LOVED it. Many events that I attend that have many women are still not women who are engineers – they are recruiters, marketers, or PMs. It was just nice to meet people who are doing the same type of work as I am, and connect with them about their projects.
Plus, it was Volvo. I have always liked cars and been interested in them, although I really don’t know that much about them. But I like tech and how it interacts with everyday life, so whether that’s tech in the kitchen, in the organizational sphere, in cars, or in relationships by enabling items like FaceTime, I like this intersection. It was so exciting to hear the female engineers talk about how Volvo is impacting car technology. The office was really small, because they have only been there a few years. The reason they came was because they knew that they needed to be in Silicon Valley in order to build up their autonomous driving and great capabilities for their cars. Sounds like a really neat company to work for, as they are concerned about “doing good” with their products and helping people reclaim time (did you know that if you own a volvo, you can have them come gas up your car while you’re at work, or you can have Amazon deliver packages to the safety of your car while you’re at work/anywhere?). They also seem to have a pretty good concern for working women (since it’s a Swedish company).

The other really awesome event I attended was with International Justice Mission CEO Gary Haugen. It was held at Apple, by Apple Christian Fellowship, in conjunction with our supplier responsibility group — what an awesome way for ACF to partner! I was super happy to see this event occur, as Kyla and I had talked about this a few years ago while I was the co-chair. Was very cool to see it actually happen and to help bring awareness to the issue. Gary talked about how modern day slavery still exists and it’s up to us to help end it, as it’s an issue that we can actually remove over the next few decades. The IJM team has made major progress by partnering with lawyers and law enforcement agencies around the world. Whether it is forced labor, sex trade slavery, or some other type of forced service, these types of slavery in our world need to stop. It was very sad to hear about how prevalent this is in the world. It was a good event, but afterward, we had a reception with food allowing people to chat, and many of us were unsure how to help, besides giving money. We are engineers at Apple. What can we do in this fight? Lots of interesting thoughts this week to ponder.
Ended off the week with a church business meeting. Really neat to see how many people were there, interested in how the church is doing and what its plans are to keep moving forward with our mission. I really have enjoyed being back at Valley Community Church, and being welcomed back into the community!

Little C’s:

Two videos this week:


They were SO happy for me to come home. Since Brian and I were both down in San Diego for a few days, they were all alone in the room. I came home to find Jado’s collar on the bed, which means 1. He made it up on the bed, and 2. They were playing really hard on the bed, and having a good fight, with Clemmy pulling it off him! They got spoiled with Brian, so I told them they were going on a “schedule” and would be eating at 6pm, going to bed at 10pm, and I would come get them out of the other bathroom in the morning at 8am so I could sleep long enough. They did very well getting on the schedule.
I was planning to get rid of this old torn up box that the cats liked, since they hadn’t been playing with it much. But all of a sudden as I moved it, they jumped in and were being so funny! I put the little monkey toy in the box, an Clemmy kept popping up like a jack-in-the-box! It was so funny!

Week 37 of 2018

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Not a whole lot this week, until the weekend! I flew down to San Diego on Wednesday in preparation for our High school friends’ combined 30th birthday party! I have known some of these ladies for over 25 years, and probably the shortest amount of time is about 17. Crazy to think about having great friends for that much of my life.
I flew down early as I found a great deal ($37/each way?!), and I wanted to spend some time with Brian’s parents and other friends down there as well.

This time, San Diego was gorgeous (the past few times I’ve been there, it was cold and gloomy — May gray, June gloom)! It was like 70-95. Perfect temps for me. I love it hot. I got to wear shorts most of the time. I was working (a lot!) on Thursday and Friday, but got to take some breaks for longer lunches with friends. Also got to enjoy time with Brian’s parents for dinner. His dad knows that I like the smoked salmon he makes, so he smoked some salmon, monk fish, and sausages. Yum!

Got to spend some time with my friend Jesus, and he graciously took me to the mall when I was without a car for the day to get a power charger, as I had left mine at work (and despite all of Brian’s valiant efforts to get it to me – gathering it from a co-worker at my office (offices are baged-only), taking it to FedEx for overnight shipping, $65 for shipping wasn’t worth it). Thankfully, (I learned!) Apple stores take purchases back within 14 days if you still have the box, so I will be able to return it once I have mine back.

Then it was off to the party! I had thankfully slept well at the Cooxes’ (we weren’t sleeping well in Palo Alto, because the cats had been sleeping in our room, and would get up at least once a night, running around chasing each other), so I was ready to expend my energy. However, I forgot how much energy I have been working on conserving by not doing much, and even though I have been feeling really well the past few weeks, I started to get tired around 6pm, after having talked for so long (Remember, I’m an engineer — we chat through our keyboards with people). After 5 hours of talking, I was worn out, and unfortunately, the restaurant we went to was really noisy (Punchbowl) in San Diego, so it was hard for me to pay attention. We had all brought so many snacks too, that I wasn’t even hungry for dinner. Oh well, made for a cheaper dinner!

So these friends were the cheerleader group at school (I was home schooled, so I didn’t go to the same school, but I went to all their homecomings/proms, lots of their games). They’re all the smart, gorgeous, friendly, sweet people that you’d be happy to be seen with. I love them dearly. We had a great time hanging out, spending time sharing life, and updating each other. It’s amazing that we’re all back in CA now, as many people were in different places 5 years ago, and half of them have kids. With the exception of 1, we all have spouses, a couple of us have homes, and many have great jobs. I’m so proud of these ladies and the way that they have used their talents. Out of the 8 of us, 4 have Masters’ degrees; we have a Nurse Practitioner/doctor, an almost-finished Physicians Assistant, a person assistant, a yoga teacher, High School math teacher, an actress, a Social Worker, and me, the IT nerd. We all have busy lives, so generally only see each other at Christmas (well, some get together more regularly), but we hope that we can start doing a summer time get together!

We rented a condo in downtown San Diego. We had a great view of the Coronado bridge. We went to dinner, and then just hung out chatting. Around 11pm, some people wanted to go out, so a majority of them got dressed up and headed out to a country dancing place. I’ve never been much of a dancer, and definitely not much of a late night person. I was tired, and for me not sleeping at this point in time, means not just a rough next day, but a rough week or two. So I decided to stay and go to sleep. Good choice, as they were out until 1:30am. Yeah… I need my sleep. We had some breakfast/snacks in the morning at the condo, and then packed up and headed out. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a longer time together. I learned so much from them all, just in their different areas of expertise, and it was fun to be able to catch up on life. Hopefully we get to see each other again soon.

Brian is going to be working two weeks in san diego each month, until his project at Moffett Field starts. So he flew down on Sunday and I picked him up. We hadn’t seen much of each other (he had only been home for 1.5 weeks before I left, and then he’s going to be in SD for two weeks 😞 ), so we went to Torrey Pines beach. It was a perfect day at the beach. Unfortunately, it’s much more crowded than GTMO! ha! We enjoyed chatting, and sharing our journeys of the week, and then headed up to meet his parents for dinner at our favorite Escondido Mediterranean restaurant, Ali Baba. We are always spoiled when we stay with Brian’s parents, and they have learned the ways of being gluten-free and always ask for a GF menu/bread/chips whenever we go somewhere now. So sweet.

By the way, the reason why there’s a pack of meat in the collage is because we started doing a service called mOink, that ships the grass-fed meat to your house! I love having things delivered to my house, and my organic vegetables have been a great success, so I figured we’d try this out. This is month 1. It’s more expensive than cheap meat at Lucky’s, but it’s grass-fed, direct from farmer, and I like to support them and eat healthy food, so we’ll see how it goes!

Another highlight of the week was getting to meet my colleague at Apple Park and get gelato. Always nice to continue building those relationships, and sit in the beautiful park!

I’ve been back at reading/listening to a lot of audiobooks again. Gotta keep learning somehow. I read a great book called Girl, Wash your face, and did a little poking around on her blog. She tried to do international adoption, and foster-to-adopt, and it didn’t work. They went through such a hard process in the midst of trying to adopt. They finally ended up doing a private adoption, but I thought her note about trying to do adoption was very telling, and a similar mentality that I want to have:
“We would rather help people, even if it’s hard.”

Helping, and making a difference is important to me. No matter where we live, or what we do, this is what Brian and I want to be key in our lives. It’s not about our comfort, but about serving.

The Little C’s:
Jado was very upset that I was leaving for a week, and wanted to come. Clemmy has been practicing jumping over the fence and escaped. He stayed out all night, we couldn’t find him. It was very traumatic. Finally in the morning, we knocked on the neighbor’s door and asked to look in his back yard. He had a very full garage, so I called in there “Clemmy!” and I heard a little squeak. Thank God he was in there. Brian was very concerned. And I had thought, you can’t die yet! It’s only been 2 weeks, and we spent so much money to get you here!

Week 36 of 2018

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A little behind again. I’ve been enjoying time with my family being back! Brian’s parents were in town just over the previous weekend and we enjoyed trying out Palo Alto’s great restaurants, as well as some liquid-nitrogen-made ice cream. My mom stayed here until Tuesday, and that was great, since I had Labor day off. Since my mom likes houses, we drove around the Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton areas. We found $20M houses. Yep, $100,000 MONTHLY mortgage. How can you ever get that much money? What kind of jobs do these people have? I mean, yes, a typical house here costs $1.5-3M dollars, but $20M? They were huge and had large hedges, kind of like in Beverley Hills. But it’s the Bay Area, so it’s even more expensive up here.

I also got to show my mom around Apple and she got to see Apple Park. I love bringing people to come see it, as it’s such an architectural wonder, and I love working at Apple, so love to show it off. My mom was even impressed by the shuttle busses. “Wow, everything is so nice”. Yes, I guess we do live in a bubble. We went into a Jack in the box to get something, right before going over, and I realized how “spoiled” I had become — nothing wrong with Jack In The Box, I loved them as a high schooler; I haven’t been in one though in a few years, due to fast food generally not being good at GF food, and walking in I had this very entitled thought of “oh, it’s kind of dirty in here”. I definitely caught my thoughts and realized, wow, I live in such a nice area, work in a fantastic office, and can eat in the Apple caffe and have salmon for $10 at lunch, so much so that I’ve subtly in the back of my mind started to become entitled (Okay, and just so you don’t get the wrong idea, we rent a ROOM, and I make my lunch almost every day, but sometimes I splurge and get salmon at the caffe :)). Sure, I lived on an island for a year, without much, used to living out of a 4x4ft box of stuff that we brought with us, but it’s pretty easy to become used to the convenience and niceties of Silicon Valley. It’s nice being back in the “Land of things” as we called it in Cuba.

Anyways, I really do love being in the Bay area – there’s so much gluten-free food, things are (trying to be) environmentally friendly, and there’s pretty nice mild weather. I miss the heat and beach in Cuba, but it’s nice as long as I’m wearing pants here. Brian and I went to the Farmer’s Market, and got a gluten-free burrito! Yum! It had been a long time.

I also love the “we can change the world” attitude here. And it’s because people in their jobs really ARE shipping their products to the ends of the world. iPhones in India, China, and Brazil? Yep. Network built in Australia for iTunes and Apple movie downloads? Yep, I did that. So when you live in a place where you’re expected to do all these amazing things, it can either be depressing (because you compare yourselves with others doing it), or invigorating (the view I tend to take). Anyone you meet has a neat idea of what they want to do. They’re involved, they’re taking ownership of their world. I like that.

We went to see Tim Keller, pastor and author, and there was a HUGE line out the door. I was so encouraged to see the Christians doing something and taking this stance about changing the world, in the same way that we do with our products here in Silicon Valley. Living in Palo Alto now, we’re living in the heart of startup world. The heart of Silicon Valley. So to see these hundreds (thousands?) of people ready to hear about how to better share the gospel with their world around them was super encouraging. Even though less than 4% of people here in the Valley go to church, “the church as an unstoppable force” can do something when people show up with lines out the door, working together. After the talk, we went to see if we could find a few of our friends we knew who were there. A huge blessing for me was KNOWING so many people that were there. It means that I have built relationships over the past 3 years that I’ve lived here, and that the people I have met are standing in solidarity over the same purposes of encouraging and giving faith. The Christian fellowship leaders of Google, Facebook, and Apple were there, as well as Survey Monkey, and a few others (Survey Monkey guy was a friend of Brian’s from Berkeley whom he hadn’t seen for awhile, but knew my other friends!). We spent time after the event praying for our companies, for our people in our Christian groups at the companies. Our pastor and our friends and small group leaders K&V were there as well, and it was an honor for me to have my two worlds collide and to introduce them to my ACF friends whom K&V had been praying for our Apple Christian Fellowship group for the past few years! The power and network of Christians in community!

A focus for me within this Christian community has been to include those who sometimes get pushed to the outskirts in our churches – older people. They are seen as out of touch, or irrelevant, but for me, they’ve been a huge blessing in my journey of faith, and just in every day life by supporting me. On Sunday, we got to have a luncheon with the BLT Sunday School class at church, and enjoy getting to talk with them and be a part of that community as well. Unfortunately, older friends don’t get the whole GF food thing, and casseroles are more of their style (there weren’t any salads except for pasta salads!), so Brian and I tried out the New Thai Bistro in Pleasanton. Yum. We love Thai food. Curry was great, Pad Thai was a little strange, so we will just get curry there again. Then, it was off to the Livermore house to pull some things from our box in the garage. It will probably be the case that we’ll go back and forth every week, bringing some things to our place now, and then taking some things back to the garage, as we sort through what we need for our small room right now.

We are back to little videos of Clemmy and Jado! They love CA, and their nice small backyard that they can run around in. Clemmy already figured out how to get on top of the fence and loves walking along it and jumping over to the other side. Thankfully, he stays close.

We had to get them a scratching post/box, and found this one with the toy on top of it. They love it! Now to get them scratching it, instead of just playing with it…

Week 35 of 2018

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This week continued the enjoyment of living in a quiet home! I stayed at the Bennetts the whole week, while waiting for Brian to come and for us to move into our new place in Palo Alto. Unfortunately though, staying up in Pleasanton meant riding the bus down to the office. Normally Monday mornings aren’t that bad, but I guess due to the start of school it was awful. It took over 1.5 hours to get to the office. Glad I only had to do it twice that week, but still, that felt like a lot! Thankfully, since I’m still not working a full schedule yet, I was able to just rest on the bus, as I’ve found it’s just really bad ergonomically for my body to be working crunched up (even though there are tables). I was worried about getting “car sick” since I hadn’t been in awhile, but thankfully did okay since I wasn’t reading or doing much work on the bus.

Had some interesting ups and downs throughout the week with work, and got to meet some new cat friends with my cat sitting job (and Mom got to go with me too and the cats loved her). It’s been fun to visit other people’s houses, and has also given me a good place to work remotely while not having an official home for the week. The Bennetts returned from their trip, so I got to spend some time with them, which was great. Brian and I had talked about how we want to be hospitable and generous, like the ways we saw people building community in GTMO, and staying with the Bennetts again reminded me of the amazing ways that Christians bring friends who may be different from them in to their lives and care for them in a deep familial way.

Our crate was delivered this week! Feels like all of the pieces are starting to come back together. Brian packed up on his side in Cuba, and said goodbye to the beach 😢 So sad. We really enjoyed our time in Cuba.

Brian arrived on Saturday, after a 2 day journey from Cuba.  It’s great to have my family all back in the same place! We had lots of fun with my mom and Brian’s parents visiting the same weekend that Brian and the cats came back, and it was fun to be all together. We moved, so it was helpful to have people here to help bring a few boxes into the room that we’re renting in Palo Alto. It’s a great house and area; feeling so blessed, even though we don’t have the whole space to ourselves. Our cats love the backyard, and although we are trying to figure out how to sleep without them jumping on the bed and all over in the middle of the night (they always have slept in a separate room), I am so happy that they are back.

Brian had a little bit of an adventure getting the cats back from Cuba, but thankfully my mom met him in Jacksonville and they brought them back together, without any eventful happenings. The cats did very well traveling, but were happy to come out and stretch their legs at the hotel (as you can see in the picture of Jado laying with his arms straight out!)

We wanted to share some of Brian’s thoughts in planning to leave Guantanamo Bay, and the reflection of the experiences he’s had while being there:

It’s nice to have space, be in a small town where you can run into people you know everywhere, not have to waste time commuting or driving places. Life is simple. Either the Nex has it, or it doesn’t. No need to try to find the best price or look through different stores. If they don’t have what you need, you make do. It makes things so much more simple.

At the same time, I know I must leave. Life goes on, and my time here is done. There are new places and new adventures to explore, new skills to learn and experiences to cherish. Without closing this door, there are countless others that would never open. For everything there is a season, and I’m glad to be leaving this season while it’s still something I cherish. When I look back on this time, I know I will recognize it as the season that changed my life.I grew into my own professionally while here. It gave Amanda and me time to work on our marriage with so many fewer distractions. We got our cats and learned the military culture.

I think it also taught a lot about community. The 1100 service was pretty unique. It brought together a lot of different people who may not normally all attend the same service. Since it was the only protestant service on base, though, we all became the same congregation. The Chaplain was a great chaplain that helped foster that community. Amanda put a lot of work into building the community too, and you could really feel the difference from everyone uniting together. We met a lot of good people here that I’m going to miss.

This place really does feel like we are all in it together. The community comes together to solve problems for each other, with little asked in return. Everyone needs something at some point during their time here, so everyone is willing to share what they have and help out when they can, because next time it will be them asking.

I feel sad and a sense of many emotions. It’s partially knowing that I will never come back here, and it’s a beautiful place. I think nearly all of it is because I’ll have to say goodbye to so many good people – and I likely will never see any of them again. Rationally I know that is a part of life. I’ve had a lot of good memories here. I’ll cherish the time I’ve had working with my team and growing together in our skills. I’ll cherish the time playing with the worship team and enjoying those weekends together. I’ll cherish learning from the wisdom of those who have come before me. And I’ll cherish the time of just being a friend and hanging out with so many people.

To a lesser extent, I’ll miss the solitude and beauty of this place. I’ll miss having a private beach where there’s nothing to hear but the sound of the waves. The plentiful time to reflect and think on life while enjoying the beauty of creation and without distraction. I also just don’t like change. I get comfortable in what I know, and I learn how to enjoy the places I’m at. Change will cause me to reestablish equilibrium and learn new routine and find the new ways to enjoy my life. I know that I’ll be okay once I get there, but the journey is rough at times.

It was helpful to have the trip back there last month and to Idaho. It was a helpful reminder that life can be wonderful anywhere we go. Every place has it’s beauty to it if you just look. There are good people all over the world if you try to find them. Moving on simply means I get to meet more good people, experience more beauty of creation, and enjoy life in more abundant ways. Now I have more memories to cherish and a more expansive network of friends all over the country (and even the world!).

Note: One photo in the collage is of an iguana in the grocery store (in the outside section). We will miss those little guys. They’re the squirrels of GTMO.

Although there’s not a video of the cats from this week, I enjoyed being back at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton and hearing all of the voices singing so loudly! I feel like at most churches you normally just hear the band, but this week everyone was singing so loud, it was great. Such a perfect message too, about changing the world by loving those who are closest around us in our lives to show them the love of Christ.

Week 34 of 2018

Week 34 collage

The biggest excitement of this week is that I became an Aunt! Kati and Aaron’s son, Nathan Cruz Phillippe, was born on Thursday, Aug 23, a little before noon. He was born 3 weeks early, but was already 6 pounds, and has very long legs! Very exciting, and I can’t wait to meet him when I go to visit in the end of September. (Gingersnap (Kati’s cat) is excited to have someone to keep watch over. Bruce, the other kitty, is very unhappy and hasn’t been seen the past day…Let’s just say, the love for our cats runs in the family (amongst the sisters and brother-in-laws, our parents are dog people)

This week I had fun with a cat named Babou! He is a Bengal, which (apparently I’m a bad cat lover!) is a type of very friendly cat who looks like a leopard, but acts almost like a dog. We had so much fun playing with his toys and when I walked in, he came over and rolled over so I could rub him. So cute!

Brian had quite the exciting week, as he became Scuba certified! It was something that we had wanted to do together, but my doctor wasn’t super keen on me doing it at the time I was in Cuba. So I did the on-paper training, but didn’t get to do the in-water training. Brian also got to go to Surf and Turf this week, and it was his last week leading worship. He will miss the team there a lot. It’s been a great opportunity for him to get back into music, and lead.

This week I also got to visit the three biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley — had lunch with a new Christian fellowship friend at Facebook, showed Biola students around the Apple Visitor center and took pictures in front of Apple Park, and got dinner at Google. All thanks to connections with our Christian fellowship partners around the Bay.
There were 3 Biola students that came to visit for a trek around the Bay to learn about Data Analytics. It was fun to see Dr. Bourgoeis who used to be the professor for the Management Information Systems (MIS) concentration which I did. That concentration no longer exists in the Crowell School of Business, as it’s a part of the Computer Science Department, but he’s now leading Data Analytics, which I think is pretty neat. So fun to meet these students. I graduated Biola 10 years ago, which is crazy to think that I’m that much older than these students who are just starting out their careers.
I had never been to Facebook, except to drop someone off at the door, so it was really neat to see their “Main street” area that is like Disneyland and get lunch and frozen yogurt . So neat that people get to work in a place like that. It’s very interesting to see the differences between the tech companies. Google also had frozen yogurt. I wonder why we don’t at Apple! haha.

Good conversations with good friends, fun playing with cats, and good professional growth, as well as giving back. Not as much frantic work this week, which was good and needed after the last two weeks of crazy.

On Friday, I moved out of my room where I had been staying, and felt like a college student, piling all of my bedding and clothes and a few kitchen items into my car (and it all fit!). Good thing I have the Hyundai now, as it is has more room than the Miata which can only fit 2 suitcases. It has been a much quieter few days. I have been house sitting for the Bennetts, and it’s been fantastic! I have the whole house to myself, I have a few things to do to help them out, like playing with the dog, collecting the mail, and watering and picking the vegetables in the garden. So fun! It’s been my little retreat place as it’s quiet, I was able to use the whole kitchen (and it was so nice and clean!) and I didn’t feel like my food would be contaminated with gluten every where I put it. Got to sit by the pool and read some more (Love Does, by Bob Goff; A Uterus is a Feature, not a Bug, by Sarah Lacy; and Rethinking Incarceration, by Dominique DuBois Gilliard). Very nice to relax.


The Little C’s:

Clemmy again this week has been happy. Jado wanted Brian’s water bottle, and has been running around like a nut, as he can’t wait to move to California next week to see mom! He has been trying out his carrying case, hopping in and out of it.

Week 33 of 2018

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Been reading a lot lately. I found out that the Cupertino Library is a really nice building, only a mile or so from me, and has a ton of good books. Last year, my goal was to read 100 books. That was a lot, and I ended up reading 119, which seemed crazy to me (I’ve always been a big reader, but normally 20 a year seemed like a lot. In 2017, I read about 40, because I started doing audiobooks too, so about half were audio). For my challenge last year, my goal was that at least half had to be physical/ebook read, and the remaining could be listened to on audiobooks. Because I drive a lot or am cleaning the house/cooking, I valued gaining that time back to “read” through listening. (You can follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8811124-amanda)

So this year, my goal was to step it down a little, because I knew I wouldn’t be on an island with few responsibilities, and I’d be back at work. I chose 75 books, which was a pretty big stretch, as I’ve had to deal with moving, getting back up to speed at work, moving again, moving ANOTHER time, and oh yeah, one more time. Life in the US is much more complicated than it was in Cuba, and I still feel “culture shock” to acclimating back to Silicon Valley, and the way things are here (things are far, everything is expensive, I wear pants every day, not shorts, and there’s no beach).

Highlights this week:

  • Lunch with my mentor friend from church at a sandwich place in Pleasanton. THEY HAD GLUTEN FREE SANDWICHES. I like that part of the culture shock. It was amazing. Toasted panini. Yeah, haven’t had that in 10 years.
  • IT Picnic: So fun! They always theme it, and this year was Pirates of the Caribbean. I told them it didn’t look very Caribbean without the beach, but it was pretty warm that day, so that was a plus. My coworkers and I enjoyed lunch and then played games. There was a obstacle course where you had to climb up a big thick rope, and it reminded me of my gymnast days. Oh how I liked those days when I was strong and super fit. Got a rug burn on my foot, and broke my sandals running, and my foot is still trying to heal, almost a week later (so much for living in a bubble when you have a compromised immune system; seems like every week something is happening where my body has to heal itself and push energy to that area, instead of the healing of the Lyme Disease stuff that we’re working so hard on!). In the collage, there are pictures of the “IT Pirates” interspersed with real pictures of the Caribbean sunsets (from Brian)
  • Women Impacting the Marketplace: My work friend (and mentor) Kyla was one of the hosts for this program, and she was also on the panel with 3 other women sharing about their experiences as Christian women in the Marketplace. It was so neat to hear their stories. I feel like I hear stories of women at Apple, but most are not Christians, so this was really neat to see these ladies’ perspectives on how God has guided their careers.
  • Started doing cat sitting through Rover! At first, I thought it might not be good because it’s “doing more” however, it’s been very restful as it gives me something to do, but is relaxing as I get to just play with a cat and I can sit there and work if I need to or read! Also, my living situation hasn’t been great, so it was nice to be able to sit in a clean, quiet, air conditioned house by myself without anyone bothering me or stomping around the house. This week, the cat I had was VERY anti-social and angry. She had just moved so I think she was afraid of the new surroundings as well, but she swiped at me and lunged at me! So I stayed away, even though I sat at their apartment and worked for a few hours each day there, trying to let her become more comfortable with me. She never really warmed up. When I first met her with the owners, she was pretty friendly, so I thought she would be fine. I guess I’ll have to see how other cats are, as I have a few more clients next week!
  • Fun new app called Bible Lens, made by the makers of the YouVersion Bible app. It uses some type of machine learning to look at the picture you upload and find a verse that fits with it. So neat.

Brian has been enjoying the beach and the gorgeous sunsets for his last few weeks in the Caribbean, and wrapping up his role there on island.

The Little C’s:

They had lots of photo shoots with Brian this week. So many cute pictures of them. Clemmy wanted to hold Brian’s foot (for multiple minutes he sat there holding Brian’s foot — Clemmy loves Brian). There were lots of happy times from Clemmy, and many kneading sessions like you see below.

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Week 32 of 2018

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Winter is coming. Oh no.
One of my co-workers and I went to check on some servers and as we were walking out of the server room, he said, “do you want to walk outside or inside? Eh, we should walk outside, because winter is coming soon, and we won’t want to walk outside then”. Oh no! What is winter!?! I haven’t seen winter in a year and a half. I missed last winter, and was perfectly happy to do so. Someone said, well California doesn’t have winter anyways, but I say yes, it totally does! Below 60 degrees in CA is definitely winter. When you can’t wear shorts anymore, it’s winter. Boo, winter. (I am not the “Ooh, but then you miss the 4 seasons, living in CA” person…I definitely see 4 seasons here, and I liked being in Cuba with 1 season only!).

So much work this week! Ahh! I worked my 24 hours in the first 3 days of the week, and then wasn’t supposed to do any more until the next week. Really hard when there are time sensitive items that need to get done (and when I wasted 2 hours waiting for security to come open the jammed data center door for me…). Got to know a few coworkers better with additional time chatting, and also got to watch my intern buddies do their practice presentations. I love to see them, as they’re so creative and Apple-y, with little text on them, but great visuals and stories.

I have started doing Rover.com, which is a pet sitting service. I was missing my cats, and decided I could find a way to play with other people’s cat’s AND get money! So met up with two new clients this week and I’m going to get to play with their beautiful cats. Woohoo!

Confirmed our rent situation for the next few months. Going to be living in Palo Alto about a mile from downtown. I have always loved Palo Alto and never thought we’d be able to live there. Found a good deal with another Apple guy who owns the house (has a college aged daughter). So it will just be the three of us, and then his dog and our cats. Hopefully that will work out well…

One of the highlights of the week was a Work & Faith talk that was given by Al Erisman. I was invited to join some of the other Workplace Ministry leaders for dinner beforehand with Dr. Erisman. What a neat experience to have Google, Facebook, and Apple Christians in the same place, enjoying fellowship together, and discussing what it looks like for the city to bless the righteous, and what “blessed” actually means. Al shared with us about how we can incorporate the Beatitudes, found in the Bible, into our work practices.

Other fun things:
A little tiny bit of gardening at the Livermore house to keep it nice and the weeds down. My tenants have planted zucchini and corn, and they gave me one of the zucchini’s that they got from it!

BBQ with some friends (originally, friends of Brian from Cal, but my friends now too!) in their nicely done new backyard. So nice to take it easy and relax, and catch up with people.

Tepper B&T (Business and Technology) board reunion: For the past few years, we have done a board reunion starting with my class of 2014, as the oldest, and all the years in between that are in SF area. This year’s graduating class of 2019 board members were the hosts. So fun to be able to connect with these MBA friends, new and old, and enjoy brunch at La Boheme in Palo Alto. Two of the guys live in Palo Alto as well. I’m excited to live in this area, as it’s kind of where all the tech action is. I love Livermore, but it’s so far away, and doing brunches/dinners/events like this is really hard when you live an hour away from people you work with/work in your industry.

I saw there was a house for sale in the neighborhood where we’ll be moving in Palo Alto. It looked nice, and I saw there was an open house there. Since I was going to be up there for brunch over the weekend, I figured I’d go take a look at it. $7.9M house. Holy smokes. Yes, it’s a 5 bedroom, 5,000 sqft, but STILL! How can a house cost that much!? In the neighborhood where I’m going to be living! Grow faster Apple stock, or we’re never going to be able to afford to live anywhere! It was very nice. It had a wine cellar, and a basement area, which we don’t see much of in CA. Love looking at the designs and floor plans.
Random: Had fun playing with the new Bible Lens app — it takes pictures that are on your phone, and uses machine learning to match verses that fit with the image you have taken. So cool!

My friend Rachel gave me a gardenia and some roses when I went to visit them this week. It smells so good! I’ve been rooting basil (it’s totally working!) and I put the flowers in there as well. Nice to have some plants!

Brian’s been busy getting things sold in Cuba, planning out his trip to get out here, and packing things up. Only three more weeks!

The Little C’s:
Clemmy has been very happy lately. He’s purring and kneading the couch a lot. He likes playing with Brian. Jado is ready for his trip to come see mommy! They’re both getting a little unruly, but Brian is getting lots of cuddles!

Week 31 of 2018

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And my dear friends, history was made this week, and I was a part of making it happen. Apple stock crossed the magic $203.45 a share price and made history by becoming the first and only company to be valued at $1 trillion dollars.

So you’re wondering about the car. I mean, with that stock price, I was still trying to convince Brian that we should sell all the stock and buy the Tesla, but as most people know, I’m all for a good deal, and this 2017 Hyundai Sonata was just too good of a deal to pass up! It’s basically a brand new car — there were even some plastic stickers on a few buttons inside, so it definitely wasn’t driven much at all. I took it to the dealer to ensure that it was good to go, and there weren’t any issues with it when it was stolen before insurance auctioned it off. They said everything was great, so I figured I’d better buy it as soon as possible! Thankfully, my cousin Melinda was coming into town, so she was able to help me pick up the other car (can’t drive a new car, and the old car with just one person!)

Melinda came Thursday – Saturday. We had so much fun together. I hadn’t seen her possibly in 2 years, and this was probably one of the few times when just she and I have hung out for a few days together by ourselves. We were busier than I probably should have been, but thankfully I got to rest a lot on Sunday and some on Monday.
We went to see an outdoor movie in Redwood City and got real street tacos (well, hole in the wall mexican restaurant called Tacos Los Gremelos) and took them to eat on the city hall steps to watch The Greatest Showman. Such a great movie! I loved the music, and the storyline was good too. She came to work with me and I took her to Apple Park and showed her around. So glad she got to see where I work and the “insider” scoop of my life here. Since I had a few meetings here and there throughout the day, we tried to stay in San Jose until Saturday, so we weren’t driving all over in between meetings. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton to do down here, and we attempted to go to a swap meet in San Jose, but it had closed by the time we got there (at 5pm, even though it said it stayed open until dusk (8pm-ish here?)). We ended up going to the Santa Clara County Fair instead. After growing up in San Diego and going to the Del Mar/San Diego County Fair, it’s really hard to beat that! This fair was okay, and we had a fun time, but I probably wouldn’t go back again. We enjoyed walking around and hanging out, but I was SO tired that I thought I was going to just fall over and go to sleep right there. It was a lot for someone who has not been doing much besides going to work and home, and lots of walking around too. Took her to Santana Row for lunch at the Counter (mmm, Sweet Potato fries and shoe string fries), and then we planned to go into San Francisco on Saturday.
We were going to take the train, since we had driven around a lot, and it’s easier and cheaper than finding parking a lot of the times. However, I underestimated how long it took to get from my house to Sunnyvale Caltrain, and we only had a few minutes before the train was coming. I didn’t know that you had to pay for parking and I knew we wouldn’t have enough time to get the parking voucher (the line was long!), so we drove around the block and tried to find an open spot, but they all were only 2 -4 hour spaces! Agh! So we decided we could get to Mountain View probably in just a few minutes shorter before the train would come, so raced up there, and realized they had paid parking too (the Bart trains don’t charge for parking on the weekends — I wasn’t expecting CalTrain to have them!). So we raced to get the parking ticket, and we heard the train horn blowing. We knew we were just going to make it, but unfortunately had to get to the other side of the track. We thought that once the train pulled into the station, it would be up far enough that we could go at the back of the train to cross over. Nope, those gates were closed and down, and both being rule followers, we didn’t want to go around (there’s good reason they put the rails down, people!). So we RAN to the front of the train, as we realized people who were exiting the train were able to go in front of the train and cross to our side, where the cars were parked. I dropped my sweater so I SPRINTED as fast as possible to grab it, but we still wouldn’t have made it (we didn’t realize people were crossing in front), until it was just about too late. By the time we got right past the front of the train to the other side, the doors closed and the train started pulling out of the station. I think we almost got hit by the train! I can’t believe it left the station so quickly after we crossed right in front of it (I don’t get why you can’t cross behind the train, but you can in front, where it could really run you over…). I thought I was actually going to pass out, because 1) I haven’t run (or really exercised at all besides slow walking) in quite a long time, and 2) my lungs could just not get the air back in my body and my heart was beating so fast. So much adrenaline, so much running. Omg, I thought I was going to die right there. Definitely not a good situation, when you’re sick, trying to take life easy and slow, and you’ve already had a busy week, and then you SPRINT in front of the train. So that was quite the eventful start to our day. Unfortunately, the next train didn’t get into the city until an hour later, and the train coming back would have taken two hours from where our ending point on our tour of things to see would take us. So we decided to drive (thankfully, we didn’t’ have the new car, and still had the little Miata so we could fit in all the tiny parking spots in the city!).
It ended up being a blessing, because I was really tired already (even before the running episode), and I didn’t want to walk much, and we would have had a much more arduous journey and more walking if we ended up on the train. So, praise God that he had a different plan for us (wish he could have let me know before I had to run for my life!). We went to the Farmer’s market at Ferry Building (I first wrote Ferry Landing…that’s GTMO, not SF, ha!). I always love going over there. It’s super busy, so you’re fighting crowds, but I like seeing all of the foods, and produce that people are selling, AND Mariposa’s, my favorite gluten free bakery, resides inside the Ferry Building. Yum! I got a cheese horn tart, and a piece of Mocha chocolate cake. So tasty, but so sweet!
We visited the Hidden Garden Steps (I climbed one of the sets, and then Melinda climbed up all the rest of them!), and that was something fun. We both had seen it on Pinterest, but had never been (she’s visited the city a few times, since her sister lived her for quite a few years), so decided to check it out. Great views from there, and we had gorgeous weather (of course, I brought the sun with me!).

We ended our day going to Land’s End and watching the sun over the ocean. Nice to sit and relax, in the beautiful area (it definitely was crowded — nice day on the weekend in SF).

On Sunday, I got to meet two young women interns at church (I went to the church down the street, instead of driving up to Pleasanton, as I was just so tired, and tired of driving). It seems like they have a good young marrieds group (I’m not sure if we’re considered “young” married anymore, but we don’t have kids, so I guess they lump you in all together no matter how old you are), and I really liked the church, Peninsula Bible Church in Cupertino. It’s nice that I can walk. The two ladies were at Intel, and this was their first internship. They were going into their junior year. They were so excited to meet me, another Christian woman who was in business and tech. It was pretty cool that I got to interact with them there! Those are the people that I definitely am interested in getting to know and helping out.

The Little C’s:
Brian booked their flight back! My mom is going to be meeting him in Jacksonville to fly the cats out here (kind of ridiculous as you can’t buy an extra seat for a pet, or take more than 1 per person, even if you buy two seats). We’re trying to minimize the traveling that I’m doing at this point, and RQ changed the dates for when Brian was leaving the island, so it didn’t correspond when I was planning to be out there for Kati’s baby. Hence, we’re getting my mom to fly with Brian and come visit for a few days out here to bring the little guys out.