Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sick of Facebook Much?

We got back from the 15 cumulative hours of travel from Ukraine to the Midwest Sunday evening and now I'm inundated with things to blog about. It's almost intimidating to even open up the files of more than 1,500 pictures to choose the best ones to post on here. But I cant wait to find time to organize the photos.


Besides the travel and the sweet vacation, I am almost sick of facebook as I am sick with the Midwest. There's a strong sense of community in Europe, a sense of community that I haven't felt since growing up in the Philippines (1980-1989). It felt really good. I will blog about the UA culture sometime this week or next.

Nonetheless there are many people I want to delete in FB yet contemplating just boycotting it for a couple of months. Realistically, less than a third of my friends on facebook are active, while the rest are dormant. As much as I once loved the site, I'm thinking of laying off in a significant way. Hopefully I'll change my mind.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

#22 - Meeting the In-Laws

Challenge 22: Meeting the In-Laws
Date Met: 09.16.2010

Meeting my in-laws seemed surreal. After an exhausting flight and feeling as though intoxication took over my body, there they were greeting us with open arms amidst the heat and the crowd. They're so warm, loving, and friendly that for some reason, there was this indescribable feeling of familiarity though we've never physically met.

 { My father-in-law : Vladimir }

{ My mother-in-law : Ludmila }

Dre's dad always has a smile on his face, cracking jokes, and trying his best to speak English. It's cute. His mother has this warm, motherly feel of kindness. I just feel like hugging her all the time. Dre looks more like his mom and it's so sweet. It just puts a smile on my face to at last meet them. It's also amazing to see and to finally understand Dre's little quirks because I see them in his parents. It really makes me happy.

From the Odessa International Airport, we traveled two hours by transportation to the city of Nikolaev. There was so much I wished to say and to ask his parents but there's the language barrier. Poor Dre is trying his best to translate but it's just not the same as speaking truly speaking to them. If only... if only... (Definitely next time I will come back speaking Russian fluently).

When we got to our rented flat, Alex and Marina met up with us for dinner:

{ Marina & Alex }

My mother-in-law prepared a delicious middle eastern dinner, which I really appreciated because I so crave exotic, home cooked food:

I think I'm finnally getting used to this time zone. Pretty soon jet lag will be a thing of the past.

Stay tuned... more to come...
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Friday, September 17, 2010

#21 - Hello Ukraine

Challenge 21: Travel to Ukraine
Travel Date: 09.15.2010
Arrival Date: 09.16.2010

{ Lot Polish Airlines}

Challenge 21: Travel to Ukraine
We're finally in Ukraine and we have INTERNET!!!! :-) But first, the insane flight. The flight itself was smooth sailing, however the process and the events that occurred inside the cabin was dreadful.

We decided to fly out of Chicago, which meant a 4 hour drive from Iowa. Once there, it was hard to find a  decent long-term parking at an unbeatable price (stressful), then followed by waiting in line at check-in, and then the all so appalling terminal entrance made up of an intricate web of tethered human traffic. The international lanes to get into the terminal and gates were at a stand still for what seemed like the 9 Day Traffic Jam in China.

{ At the international check-in terminal at O'Hare Airport }

First, before boarding our plane, airport security frisked Dre for 10 minutes to make sure that he doesn't smuggle over $10k to Ukraine. We didn't even bring a fourth of that. The officer finally talked with me and asked how much money I had. Crazy, crazy. Fast forward to being settled in our seats (at 6pm CST) for a 9.5 hour long flight. It was outrageous in the most uncomfortable possible way. My chair was broken so it reclined automatically, which meant that the sound for the movie (Letters to Juliet) did not work as well. After 20 minutes of sleeping, my neck stiffed up and ached for the whole entire time. Needless to say, I did not sleep after that. On top of it all,  Dre got motion sickness, stomach cramps, and flu like symptoms. He must have gone to the bathroom at least 7-10 times to vomit. When we reached Poland (3am CST), there was another security check to get into our gates. Another delay. On our last flight before arriving to Ukraine, Dre vomited in the vomit bag. It was one of my most interesting flights. Just completely, unpleasant.

{ Google Image : Odessa International Airport } 

{ Izzy's Photo : Picture of the Airport from the airplane view }

  { Izzy's Photo : Odessa International Airport }

Upon arrival at the Odessa International Airport, we were surprised that we didn't have to fill out declaration forms - however the lines to stamp the passport were long, lengthy, time consuming, and crowded. The temperature was scorching and sweat was dripping off my face and back. All I could think of was to lay on a nice bed with the air conditioner blasting. Nonetheless, all our suitcases were there. Thank God!

Meeting my in-laws will be on the next blog. In the mean while, enjoy the pictures of airplane food that my brother, Izzy, took. Unfortunately I was an idiot who followed Dre's advise not to bring my Nikon because he brought the Canon for me to use. But that didn't happen - he ended up using it. The batteries on Canons die fast as well. I was not thrilled with that. I regret not following my own instinct, yet at the same time, there is no point to becoming a diva for something I can not help, even though I really want to. Never again will I take someone's advise over mine. I am so tempted to buy a point and shoot just for the sake of taking my own pictures.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday Night Rendezvous

Last Saturday evening, I had a love affair with a Tuxedo Truffle Cake. Every one of the 5 bites I had was like tasting it for the first time. It was so creamy, chocolaty, and divine. It just melted perfectly in my mouth as my taste buds basked in all the absolute glory of sheer joy and happiness. Apparently, 5 small bites was all I needed, until NOW!! However, Dre ate all the cake before I could have any more.

I'm not usually a sweet tooth kind of person. I prefer the salty, crunchy, and the greasy (which accounts for my increased waist line). But even I haven't indulged in my salt addiction for a while. Lately, it's been the limited sweet stuff.

The bakery has a number of varieties of these dessert items. There's one with lemon and strawberry, and one with cream raspberry. Not sure if I'm going to spoil myself with those since 1/4 of a cake costs about $15.00. Nonetheless, I am really looking forward to genuine European desserts. I shall take pictures to post here soon.

Great news, my sister-in-law (Marina) and brother-in-law (Alex) arrived in Ukraine safely today. As for previews of where we're going to be, it's the city of Nikolaev in East Ukraine. Here is a picture of a building in Nokolaev from one of Marina's photo albums in facebook:

Lots of photo opportunities of architecture, landscapes, market place, and people. I can hardly wait.
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Top 10 Fortune 500 Companies

{ From }

It's kind of fun to check on the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. I must give props to the past and current CEOs of Wal-Mart who have done a phenomenal job at reengineering and making difficult decisions to be where they are now. I'm not a big Wal-Mart fan, I'm a Target girl, but I can appreciate the efforts of others/competitors.

Speaking of the big dogs, I just imagined myself as either a CEO, CFO, or the Director of Accounting of a Fortune 500 company - and I shivered due to high volumes of intimidation. It is scary to the point of fearing public scrutiny.

Although, I always dreamed of working for a Fortune-500 company as part of the internal audit team. As bad as it is, I almost wish for another big corporate accounting scandal just for the thrill of it. Not the company I'll work for of course. But anyway, this is just crazy talk. I'm just being bad.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From Summer in Iowa to the Autumn in Ukraine

There's that change in weather that seems to have put a spell on me. As soon as September hit, the weather changed from summer to fall almost instantaneously. Last Friday, we went to Chicago for a business meeting -  meaning that we had to leave here at 4:30 AM to arrive just in time for an 8AM meeting. Nonetheless, I wore a black animal print skirt, and a light weight, short sleeve black blouse. At 4:30AM, the temperature was in the low 50's and the chill hit me like a shock wave that ran up and down my spine. It was insane and silly me didn't go back to grab a cardigan. This abrupt change of weather temperature shook up my equilibrium during the long Labor Day weekend; and for some reason it's hitting me again today since I can hardly keep my eyes open, my body is sore, and I feel warm and weak inside. I've already drank endless cups of tea and took soms DayQuil with Vitamin C, yet I feel so weak and fatigued. The lack of sleep doesn't seem to help either. I finally had to quit working at noon today to get a little more rest. Must get well... must get well... Europe trip coming soon... must get well.

Speaking of traveling in style, yesterday I got a fuscia croco patent 29" Upright Luggage (not Prada, but Ellen Tracy) with a 360 degree twister wheels for a lot cheaper than the retail price. Gotta love TJMAxx.

I haven't started packing yet, just an ongoing mental list in mind of what to bring. Still very excited to meet my in-laws and the reunion of Dre's immediate family composed of his mom and dad, and his sister, Marina. The family haven't been together since Dre left the Ukraine 15 years ago. This is also the first time Alex (Marina's husband) gets to meets his in-laws. It's going to be great, the only thing is that my brother and I will be the only ones who can not speak Russian, but it should still be exciting. :-) Also looking forward to the planned itinerary of places to go, sights to see, new food to taste, and exotic things to take home.

Must get well... cant get anymore sick...
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

#68 - Australia, Thailand, Taiwan

Challenge 68: Send/Receive 101 postcards via
Received: 10/101
Sent: 10/101


It's been a while since I blogged and I absolutely miss it. I also miss going out for photo shoots but some things need to be prioritized. Nonetheless, I've received three post cards from last week alone from: Australia, Thailand, and Taiwan. So gorgeous and exotic. Dre and I always wanted to move to Australia, and of recent, I've wanted to visit the orient. We're also going to Europe soon, specifically Ukraine. I finally get to meet my in-laws and am extremely excited. I remember crying my eyes out for days when the USA denied their visas to come to our wedding - but I finally get to meet them. :-) As far as I know, we're going to have internet connection - so I can blog before bed. Very happy about that. Stay tuned...
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