Thursday, August 27, 2015

To our long time host family

Dear Ninang Ida and Ninong Butch,

No words could ever express how grateful we are to you both in opening up your home to us for the past 7 years. We have never felt more blessed to have such a generous and thoughtful family like you. Without your help and guidance, we would not have made it this far. I don’t think we’ll ever forget every good thing you have done for us. 

Ninang Ida- thank you for:
  • Teaching us how to be clean and organized. 
  • The good meals you have cooked for us.
  •  Inspiring us to be responsible and dependable sisters and daughters.
Ninong Butch- thank you for:
  • Preparing our tax returns.
  • Helping us fix our cars and other broken things in the house. 
  • Teaching us how to save money and live better (Walmart?) lol

There are tons of things we are grateful for but most of all, we are greatly thankful for leading us to the community, CFC and inspiring us on how to be good servants and followers of God. 

Inevitably, we do have our shares of misunderstandings and disappointments as well. That's why we would like to take this chance to apologize if there were times we have caused you problems unintentionally. Not all families are designed perfectly but we are perfectly designed by God to relentlessly love and forgive one another. The great thing is we love and serve one God who unites us all and helps us overlook our imperfections. I guess that's the key in keeping a peaceful, gracious, loving and tight family bond.

Also, we wish you well on selling the house and finding a new home. 

As you know, we are just a few minutes away. Please drop in whenever you like, our door is always open. 

Thank you both so much! We love you!

Joselle and family

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Moving out of our sweet spot

We live in a 3K square foot home. When we first moved to Atlanta, we were very fortunate. My mom's sister, her husband, their only son, and our grandparents graciously adopted us in 2008. In Filipino culture, having extended relatives living in one roof is crazy typical.

Tons of beautiful memories bloomed out of this house. My favorites were those of our grandparents and our Saturday brunches. The only time we could enjoy breakfast all together in a week. My sisters and I would wake up early to cook a hearty breakfast. Fried rice, eggs, spam, tuyo, corned beef, kielbasa, longganisa, tocino, and our fave, mala-chicharong crispy fried bacon in flour. Then we would wait for our lola and lolo, our mom and our aunt to come home from their adoration and 9 am mass. In some glorious days, we would take it up a notch and have a little picnic on the deck and reminisce about the good old days for hours. 

There were immeasurable life lessons learned from this house and with a grateful heart, all of those lessons would be carried over to the next chapter of our lives.

Next chapter? Yes! This young wife has some big news to share! Now that Alan and I are together, it just seemed right to move out, move forward and start a new beginning. We knew this day was going to come anyway and we reached that point when we knew we must already begin to stand on our own.

It's always challenging and daunting to move out of our comfort zones, isn't it? However, our hearts are filled with hope and trust that God will always provide. He is with us. He loves us. Even if we can’t see the whole plan, He can. That's more than enough and that's all we really need to know. 

As we begin a new chapter in our lives, we are beginning to see our dreams slowly being made into reality. Wherever God takes us, as long as Alan and I are together, it will always be sweet, it will always be home.

Lake View at Night
Gorgeous lake promising us of many happy days ahead :)

Monday, August 17, 2015


Last week, our eldest sister who lives on the other side of the world came to visit once again. It wasn’t long as we’d hoped for but it was sweet nevertheless.  Because time was so fluid, I took a day off and took the family for a long weekend bonding and family time.
Aside from Georgia, I loved for my sister to see other parts of the US so we decided to take her to Tennessee. From north of Atlanta, it took us 3 hours to get up to the smoky mountains of Pigeon Forge. The view going up was breathtaking. The sky was so immaculately blue and the clouds were as white as cotton balls. The mountains were just full of lush green trees. The air was so fresh, so inviting. We saw animals that we’ve never seen before. We were just left in wonder of how God majestically made all these beautiful things.


While on the road, we talked about life, love, and dreams. We talked about exciting things coming our way. Of course, our road trip won’t be complete without Ate Joyce filming lip sync music videos. She loves productions, always. I remember the days when we would all sing along to the entrance songs of the cartoons we used to watch. And then we would put actions on it and choreographed dances. It was like having our own little Broadway show at the comfort of our home. How fun it is to be surrounded with girly girls.

When we arrived, the first thing we did was go to an outlet mall. Yes, I drove for 3 hours to go shopping because it was my sister’s request. According to her, she held herself shopping for the whole year cos she planned on buying an entire new wardrobe when she got here. Luckily, that weekend was tax free weekend for TN! We spent half of our day there.  Going back to when we were little, our mom would only buy us clothes during Christmas and whenever school starts (school uniforms). The rest of our clothes were hand-me-downs, gifts from our thoughtful families in the states or handmade dresses by our nanay (papa’s mom). We only had a few but enough to get by. As long as they were clean without any holes, we were fine. (Thank God for uniforms).

God has really blessed our family in so many ways. Now that we make our own money, we can make up for things we were lacking before. But still always mindful and grounded by the teaching that we are only mere stewards of God's resources.

Back to our trip, Alan quickly followed right after work. He arrived right in time for dinner and completed my day! 

We made sure that this trip will make us strongly bonded, we booked ourselves, all 6 of us in one room! 2 queen beds and 1 sofa bed. Mom and Ate, me and Alan on the queen and the younger sisters on the sofa bed. We shared one bathroom too! Hair dryer, make-up, toiletries, hair brushes all happily lying above the bathroom counter. I’m glad Alan is always a trooper. He didn’t care. He was used to being surrounded by a lot of hormones. He grew up with 2 sisters and he loved the energy of her 7 lovely Ochoa aunts (his mom’s sisters).  

The next day off we went to Dollywood! I wasn’t aware that there was such a place until my manager recommended it to me. It’s a theme park owned by the famous country singer who was born in TN, Dolly Parton. The park reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Anyway, because music is in our blood, we enjoyed the musicals and the shows more than the rides. Did you know that “I Will Always Love You” most popularly sang by Whitney Houston was composed and originally recorded by Dolly? The most thing I was fascinated by Dolly was that she grew up dirt poor. It was just inspiring to learn how she achieved her dreams and still remained close to her roots and to her family. 

Half of the day was spent in that theme park and it was more than enough for us. After eating mostly southern food for the entire trip, we couldn’t wait to eat our favorite meal! So as soon as we hit home, we headed for some Korean BBQ, tofu soup and steamed white RICE. Ahhhhh!

The following day was our last day with Ate. We took her to the airport without saying GOODBYE but till we meet again! 



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

10 Things I'm thankful for my Mother-in-law

1. One bright sunny day, my M.I.L and I visited a tailor who did our dresses for my sister in law's wedding last year. Mommy happily introduced me to the tailor and said, "this is my daughter in law and  I’m blessed to have her". My heart gladly jumped with joy and I said in response, I am blessed the same. I thanked the Lord for that special moment we had.

2. Although she is not my biological mother, I thank her for loving me as her own!  
3. She currently works as a professor in Ateneo.  She teaches English and has a master’s degree! Can you imagine her reading my blog posts and the pressure that I have to make sure my grammar is correct and that I have all the right punctuation marks set in the right place? And yet I’ve never heard a single criticism from Mommy. In fact, she’s always the first one to like my posts. Thanks Mommy and sorry if I’ve ever made you scratch your head. 

4. I thank her for the unwavering support she always has for us. She’s certainly always been supportive and understanding of all of our decisions. She’s made my role as a wife so much more easier. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Lord for giving us a good relationship. 
5. Like my own mom, I’ve always admired Mommy’s simplicity. She would rather present herself comfortably than fashionably. I thank her for inspiring me on how to be practical. 

6. Like me, she loves food and parties. She makes every reason to celebrate so we can all gather as a family and eat some delicious food! Hahaha.

7. I thank her for her daily inspirational posts on Facebook. Because we are miles away from each other, FB has become our channel of communication. Thanks also for tagging us on every family picture. We miss you guys so much!

8. I thank her for the sacrifices she took upon as a wife and as a mom when she decided to move to Japan with Daddy. I’m pretty sure it must have been challenging for her to put her career on the side and chose to be a housewife and take care of everyone. For the invaluable life lessons that shaped your children’s lives, especially Alan’s. Thank you! 
9. Thankful for the inspiration she gives us on being a good Ate to her 7 younger sisters. I admire how solid your love and affection is towards each other. 

10. Most of all, I thank her for bringing Alan to this world and I thank the Lord for choosing her to be his mother. I thank her for countenancing me with what was difficult for one mother to do, to entrust the only son she loves to another woman to love. 
Happy 60th birthday Mommy. We praise and thank God for you!