Happy Veteran's Day

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Happy Veteran's Day!

I'm so proud to have two veterans in my family. My grandfather (above) fought in World War II in the US Army, and my father (below) fought in the Vietnam War, also with the army. As an Asian-American it means so much to have these two men in my family history and be able to say our family was a part of American history.

Whatever you think politically or about war, we should all be thanking the veterans for their sacrifice.  They give up time with their families and most importantly, put their lives in danger, all for the sake of protecting the rest of us.  On this day, remember both the living and passed soldiers and give them the honor and respect they all deserve. 

Fun fact: Veteran's don't always get Veteran's Day off, ironically, but they do get free meals! Last year, my dad and I spent the day taking advantage of all the different restaurants and establishments that honored veterans! So below are pictures of my dad from our breakfast at Denny's (that we woke up at 5am for) and our dinner with my sisters at Olive Garden! We had so much fun. Yum!



on driving

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Turning 30 was a big year for me.  Not only did I celebrate 30 in Ireland and get married, but I also got my driver's license.  Yes, you heard me right, I got my driver's license at the ripe age of 30.  I never had one up until then because frankly, I was terrified of driving. Not so much the aspect of dying but the aspect of getting in an accident and hurting someone.  I was terrified of the idea of having so much responsibility for someone else's life.  You could say that driving was my biggest fear. (It still kind of is.)

When I was dating Lance, he encouraged me to get my driving permit, but it took me almost a year to actually start learning how to drive.  The week my permit was expiring (two weeks before my wedding and three weeks before moving to Alabama), I scheduled my DMV driving test for that Friday. Then I scheduled two driving lessons the Wednesday and Thursday before my test.  The two lessons were in the evening and in the rain, and I think I actually did alright... considering I really hadn't driven much at all before then.

Long story short, I went in for my test, and it started raining, but I passed with flying colors! Thankfully I had a lot of good, practical instruction for my driving teacher and lots of advice from my dad. 

That was December 2015.  Flash forward to spring of this year.  I was still nervous about driving, so Lance had been driving me everywhere.  But my cousin was coming to visit and so I drove for the first time since getting my license.  She was such a good sport and didn't express her fear too much.  (Hugs) But having her visit got me in to the swing of driving.  I was finally getting used to driving when our poor car broke down!

I was so bummed. Thankfully after a month or so we bought a car and I got back to driving. I'm still not completely comfortable driving people, but I'm driving a lot by myself and love it!  I even have an Alabama driver's license now! Oh how I've grown!

P.S. The funny thing you realize when you get your driver's license at 30 is that a lot of people don't remember what the actual laws for driving are and/or don't follow them.  And that, of course, is pretty scary when you're already terrified of driving. 


Birmingham, AL. 2015 | iPhone 6

Red Mountain Park

We had had a long week, but I had my heart set on going on a hike that Saturday. This is the first year I lived anywhere where it's truly fall.  Around now it's usually still warm and still green in California.  With all the beautiful fall colors and leaves everywhere in Birmingham, I didn't want to miss my chance to hike through fall-colored forests.  I wasn't sure when it'd end, but I knew it was going to.  So I urgently asked Lance if we could go hiking.  Even though Lance was exhausted, he graciously agreed to go. 

When we started our hike at Red Mountain Park, I wondered if we had made a mistake.  It started to drizzle a bit, but for anyone of you who've lived in Birmingham for any length of time, you know it could start and stop raining at any time despite what the forecast claimed.  But we decided to power through, and thankfully the sprinkling stopped.  We'd hiking through most of the west side of the park, so this time we embarked on the east side to Grace's Gap Overlook stopping at Riley's Roost and Rushing Rendezvous Treehouses .

The hike was really everything I dreamed of.  Fallen leaves littering our paths, hazy sounds as wind bristled through trees, and a lovely crispness in the air. Red Mountain Park is generally flat so it was a very easy hike. It has a lot of historical spots throughout the park, so it's also good for anyone like us who loves history.  

What I love about Red Mountain Park is its beautiful views of Birmingham.  Throughout the park are treehouses, and who doesn't love a good treehouse? My favorite spot on this particular hike was Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse.  It's just so fun and beautiful; I feel like a kid exploring it.  There's a shaky, but strong suspension rope bridge that takes you to the Treehouse.  And the view was breathtaking!


Red Mountain Park, Alabama. October 31, 2015 | Fuji x100s

thankful thursday 22

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but "thankful thursdays" are one of my favorite posts to write.  A long time ago a friend told me in order to stay positive that he'd list all the things he was thankful for.  Ever since then it stuck with me.  I've found it so valuable to take time to reflect on all the blessings in my life and maybe even the upsides to the bad things.  So here are the things I'm thankful for this week.

Carmax. Lance and I bought our car from Carmax about a month ago. I took it in recently to get the bluetooth fixed and the brakes checked.  Turns out there was something loose on the brakes and that we didn't actually have bluetooth in our car.  But... Carmax was awesome.  They fixed and replaced our brakes and installed bluetooth for free.  They've had our car since Tuesday, but in the meantime they've loaned us a car. (And I just happen to love this big SUV loaner.) I'm so thankful for their excellent service.

Apple. Another snafu this week was my computer. My poor desktop computer.  Between Lance and me we have five computers.  Unfortunately for me there's really only one I can work and edit on, and of course that's the one that broke down.  I'm going to have to get a part replaced, but I'm so thankful an Apple store exists near us.  They were so kind at the Genius Bar, and I hope I get my computer back soon.  I don't know what to do with my time if I can't work!

Hiking. This is that perfect time of year here.  It's a bit warm and a bit chilly.  Birmingham is even more beautiful this time of year, colored in fall oranges, yellows and reds.  I love that Lance and I have access to really good hiking trails.  Before we got married we didn't do much hiking but ever since our honeymoon, where it seemed all we did was hike, we've been on a hiking kick.  I love it.  I love the challenge of the hike and that it's an enjoyable way to exercise.  Lance and I talk a lot on our hikes so we have a lot of good conversations.  Not to mention, there's always a lot of things for me to photograph. 

Reading.  In the past two months I was in a really awful reading funk.  I read good books, but I couldn't finish any.  I recently picked up Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid and loved it.  I finished it in a couple of days it was so good.  Reading just makes me so happy.  I can't describe it really. 

Coffee Shops. Birmingham has some really amazing coffee shops, and one of my favorites is just down the road from where we live.  I'll come here to write emails and blog posts or just read.  It's the perfect place to hunker down.  I love it here. 

Music. I play a lot of music while I drive nowadays.  And I've got some good music! Music really does it for me.  It makes me happy and calm while I drive.  It helps me focus while I work.  It even helps me clean our apartment!

Thanksgiving & Christmas.  It seems neither holiday could come sooner.  It's a little bittersweet for me, as this Thanksgiving will be the first time I've been away from my family for the holidays.  With all the traveling I did over the years and going away to college, I always managed to make it back home for Christmas and Thanksgiving.  My family always had turkey, stuffing, yams and my grandmother's fried rice! Yum! I love Thanksgiving foods. But, alas, even though I don't get to spend Thanksgiving with my family (wahhhhhh) I get to spend it with my other family, Lance's family!  I'm excited. I'm looking forward to seeing what their Thanksgiving is like.

Samford.  I have to admit sometimes living on a college campus isn't always the most ideal for 31 year old newlywed.  Sometimes it's a little odd to be so old and surrounded by people more than ten years younger than me.  But, all in all, for the most part I love living at Samford.  I love that there's always people around, and we get to live near friends.  I love that we have access to a beautiful campus.  I love that Samford is constantly having events. (They just hosted Bob Goff!!!!) And that people here are generally so wonderful.  I'm so thankful to be a part of this campus culture, even being the oldie that I am.

Friends & Family.  Of course I am thankful for my friends and family.  Being married and living far away is a constant reminder of how important they are in my life.  Even when I can't keep in touch with them, I'm thinking of and praying for them.  I really would not be where I am in my life without their support.  I've really been blessed with a great, amazing family. I love them beyond words. 

Lance. And last but certainly not least it is Lance.  I am so thankful God put him in my life.  He is my support and my rock and my encourager and the source of almost all my laughter.  He's a good man and a great husband.  I just can't imagine living this life with anyone but him.  He is the best man I know, and I love him more every day.

All in all I have so much to be thankful for. God is soooo good. And I'm thankful for every day He's given me. 


Red Mountain Park, Alabama. October 31, 2015 | Fuji x100s


May was a bulky reading month.  By May I accumulated too many books from the library and was fighting due dates and holds to finish my books.  But all in all I read a lot of great books.  This month probably had the most random genre of books.  I read romantic, young adult, thrilling, serious, drama, and hilarious types of books.  I loved reading many of these books.  I couldn't put most of them down.

The Books of April

The Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes
I think I've read about five or six of JoJo's books by now.  Ship of Brides is definitely one of my favorites of her.  I had no idea what a ship of brides was until I read the book and did a little research.  Evidently, Britain shipped Australian wives to England to be with their British husbands. This book chronicles the lives of four women on one of these ships.  I loved how much history is infused in this story.  JoJo's own grandmother was one of these brides, and she includes excerpts from historical documents, newspapers and books about what was going on during that time period.

Like all her books, The Ship of Brides is filled with the kind of romance a girl like me gushes over.  I loved this book.  I'd love to see it as a movie.

I'd recommend this to anyone who loves the history of World War II and gets weak in the knees for romance or secretly loves that show Army Wives (which I've actually never seen, but I'm sure that kind of person would love this book!)

In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhach
Of course the cover is what drew me to this book.  I'd seen it Barnes & Nobles and promptly added it to my hold list at the library.  When I started reading I was surprised by some of the content until I realized it was actually adult fiction. (The cover was betraying in it's pretty watercolors and teenish looking people.)  It was a little slow starting but I really, really LOVED this book.  It follows four major characters over the course of a decade as they live parallel lives and somehow intersect each other.  I really enjoyed this book.  I liked how the story didn't fit into a perfect plot where two people fall in love and live happily together.  There was a lot of crying for me as I read this book, as Goldhach conveys the different dark sides of life we all endure and either overcome or drown in.

I'd recommend this to anyone. I really did love it that much. 

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
I was pretty entertained by this book. Leila is on an epic road trip to Alaska, and along the way she meets and helps people.  It was a pretty simple storyline.  The book is divided into parts focused on different characters.  While the supporting character's stories are somewhat developed, Leila's actual story was pretty flat and lacked depth.  Her story seemed a little rushed and not actually worked out.  If I hadn't read her part, I would have been much happier with the book.

I'd recommend this to anyone who's ever considered an epic, solo road trip.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
My inner awkward-teen loved this book. Lara Jean, the middle sister of the Song Girls, is navigating life for the first time without the help of her responsible older sister, Margot, who's gone away to college.  After her love letters get mysterious mail to her former loves, Lara Jean finds herself in a pickle big time.  She's not used to figuring things out on her own, and this books follows how she clumsily (and endearingly) tries to fix her predicament.

What I really loved about this book was that Lara Jean is Asian.  But she's not a stereotype and she's "white-washed".  She's a typical American teenager with Asian heritage.  She's not a caricature of what people think Asians should be like.  I just kind of fell in love with her sweet, awkward character.  And strangely enough, like many books I've been reading, her mother has died, and that I can completely relate to.

I'd recommend this to any young Asian American girl so that she can see that she can be both Asian and American and not have to differentiate between her two backgrounds.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Wow. This was nothing I expected it to be.  This book was thrilling.  It dug deep into the struggles of being Asian in America, as well as dealing with the expectations of parents.  Everything I Never Told You was an interesting contrast to To All the Boys I've Loved Before which I read right before.  It showcases the struggles and desires minorities might experience in America.  This book was a great commentary on social expectations and the ways in which different personalities respond to the weight of their expectations.  Some people buckle under the pressure and lash out while others give in and push aside their own identity to conform.

I'd recommend this to anyone who's Asian or has a friend who's Asian or anyone who's family has a strict set of unwritten rules.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
I waited forever for this book.  Something like 115 holds for 70 copies of this book floated around the library networks.  More than a month of waiting passed before I discovered a wonderful little section at my library.  My library loans out new, high-demand books for a limited length of time with no renewal.  Luckily The Girl On the Train was just sitting there waiting for me!

I had absolutely no idea what this book was about (besides it being about a girl on a train) when I checked it out.  I like to know as little as possible about the plots of books before reading them.  I was happily surprised to find this was much different that any kind of book I normally read.  Spoiler alert: the girl on the train is Rachel and she's crazy. haha. Okay. Okay. So that's not much of a spoiler, but there are some twists and turns throughout the book that kept me turning page after page.

I'm not sure if this is new thing or if I just totally am oblivious, but this book was written from the perspective of different characters.  (Is it a thing now?) So I loved reading how different characters assessed the same scenarios.  This book will keep you reading.  It's sooooo good.  I can't say more without giving away the story.  But I do love Rachel is a little crazy.  She's still not over her ex-husband who's moved on and has a new family, and she does some certifiably crazy things to stay in touch with him.  Crazy.  I can totally relate to her anguish over a failed relationship that leaves you wondering how things fell apart and why you have no say in its end.  But for the record, I'm not crazy, and thankfully I'm married to the best man for me.

I'd recommend this to anyone. It was that good!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I don't know if I've ever read something this long. It's over 500 pages of goodness. (I thought 400 pages was a lot.)  But I couldn't put it down.  I read it in three big chunks of time.  This takes place during World War II and is narrated from the perspective of a French girl and a German boy.  Because the book is not written chronologically you're given little glimpses of things to come in the story.  I loved Doerr's style of writing and was really glad I picked this up.

This was another book I had no idea what the plot was about but had to wait forever for a copy to be available for me at the library. But it was totally worth it.

I'd recommend this to anyone who loves beautiful writing and a beautiful story.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This was another one of those books that had so much hype I was afraid to read it.  But, it had a great cover, so I couldn't resist the read.  I immediately fell in love with the character of Bernadette.  She's quirky and odd and a little off her rocker.  How could I not love her?  She just does whatever she wants without worrying what other people think of her.  The book is about Bernadette, her daughter, Bee, and her husband, Elgie. They've planned a family trip to Antarctica but their plans slowly fall apart as Bernadette comes to terms with her erratic behavior.

This is a sweet story about Bernadette and Bee's deep bond, and how eventually it brings everything back together in harmony. I'd read this book over and over if I owned a copy.

I'd recommend this to anyone who's felt a little anxious about life and loves a little crazy in their life.


Read my other book reports and check out all the books I've read over the years here.