- We flew to and drive through California to visit my teens' relatives from both sides. We met at like the In N' Out burger with its fresh burger and fries. It is a joint we don't have in Colorado and one that my young nephews and niece like. I also saw my cousin who just arrived from the Philippines with her new husband.
- For my hyperactive son, we went to John's arcade with all-you-can-eat pizza, salad, and dessert. He spent a good two hours playing football and basketball there. He had a great upper body workout for two hours. My sister and I hit the food bar of course. I also went for a virtual ride with my daughter a couple of times with its moving seat and fan going and played bowling with one of my nephews.
- I get to pick calamansi fruits in my sister's backyard in Bakersfield. It is a citrus fruit sweeter than lemon that is common in the Philippines. I also enjoyed the early morning walk with her in their quiet neighborhood. There was nobody walking outside but us.
- I posed with my former roommate in her restaurant. She is wearing the orange top. She has a Filipino restaurant and gave us a big treat with her very good food just as we ordered. She never lets me pay though.
- As if the Filipino lunch was not enough that day, we had dinner in another Filipino restaurant to meet more relatives. My teens spend time with their older step twin-sisters. It has been three years since their last meeting. My son ordered the same thing in this restaurant--Kare-kare (peanut based beef stew). I guess he did it to compare. He liked them both.
- While in Northern Cali, we stayed in an inn half a block from the beach. It was cold but it still makes a nice view from our room window. I liked the sea breeze smell.
- We also met up with their cousins, grandmother, and father. We ate together and the boys bonded while playing basketball in the rec center. Of course, we had Filipino food--Dinuguan (chocolate meat) with steamed rice. Their grandma brought it to share. She does not drive and took the bus herself to meet up at a relative's house. She got there before we did. She is so sweet.
- I am so thankful that their dad showed up sober, unlike the last time. I am very happy for my kids that they get to see their dad like this.
- I get to spend time with my aunt who has chronic renal failure. Although I did not like to see her so thin I am glad to see her and get to talk to her.\
- My son did not wander this trip unlike three years ago. Never did I spend time calling him or tracking him with his phone wondering where he was. I like him better 18 than 15! Look at him even stopping to eat so I could take a picture. The bowl in front of him is his favorite Kare-kare, of course.
I felt bad my kids did not see their one aunt and two cousins. They were not available 3 years ago as well because of her work. It has been 10 years since my kids saw them.
I am still thankful we saw the rest of the relatives we expected to see.
I thought a month notice was good enough and being told (us) that they could not make it the day before we meet because of a week-long viewing does not make a 100% sense to me.
Anyway, I use this moment to reflect on myself and teach my teens that it is a great importance to spend time with our loved ones while we are alive. Time is precious. And no matter what, we should try to make the most of what we have and show our love.
To the friends and family who made time to see us, I truly appreciate them.