Emotional Caffeine



When I left California almost two years ago, I didn’t think I’d find myself back to the Golden State so soon. Unfortunately, a medical emergency had me and my family flying back west three Saturdays ago. We were actually supposed to don our hosting hats and have our family from Cali over that Saturday for a week. Their plane tickets, and hotels and attractions in New York have been booked and confirmed since April. We had a full New York/New Jersey itinerary scheduled, but they all had to be cancelled. So then, we thought, Since Ken already has his leave filed for the week, why not we go over there instead?

Although the main reason for the California trip is to show support and help out in any way, Ken and I decided we should allow C and R to have some fun. The kids had been counting down the days for that week our family was to visit, and had been anticipating all the fun they were going to have with them. After all, hospitals can’t have kids wandering around all day for an entire week, right?

Like any impromptu trip, we didn’t have anything planned. Thankfully, I have cousins, Patricia and Samantha, who had plenty of ideas on where to go and what to do while we’re there. Many of the places we went, I’ve been before. Some, during the summers I spent in California when I was a kid myself; some, not so long ago. But I didn’t mind seeing them again and sharing the experience with Ken, C and R.

Golden Gate Park


I don’t really know how many times I’ve been to Golden Gate Park. Like Central Park, though, I haven’t had the chance to explore every corner of it. I have little recollection of actually being there as a kid. My only concrete memory of it is that time when I took C and R to the park four years ago, when I traveled to the US from the Philippines with two kids in tow.

We had originally planned to go to the California Academy of Sciences then. As soon as we learned how costly it was, though, we aborted our plan (I promised myself I'll take the kids here, though, when they're both a little older). We walked around de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden and decided to hang out and listen to the band that was performing at the Music Concourse.


Golden Gate Park, October 2009


Sausalito is one of the small cities situated in the outskirts of San Francisco. Like everything else in the Bay Area, it possesses the beauty that makes everyone fall in love with the vicinity: the water, the mountains, a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Downtown San Francisco, and boats – lots and lots of boats. In September 2005, we celebrated my sister, Biang's, birthday for an entire weekend, and we spent that Saturday in Sausalito. I instantly fell in love with it!


Sausalito, September 2005

Cable Car

On our last morning in California, we thought we'd share one last meal with Patricia, Samantha and their mom in Cable Car. It had been my grandparents' favorite joint when they lived with my aunt's family in one of the apartments on Grand Ave. That apartment had been our home during our California visits when I was a kid; I used to tag along with my grandfather, the way I tagged along with him on his long walks in his native Santa, Ilocos Sur, whenever he ran errands, went shopping for fresh produce and so all. I'm not sure how long Cable Car had been in operation and if my grandparents ever took me to Cable Car when I was little. I only remember having had breakfast at the place in May 2011, the day after Samantha's high school graduation dinner, and shortly before we moved to the east coast.

Cable Car Breakfast, May 2011

Cable Car Breakfast, May 2011

Cable Car's menu didn't change. You'll find these delicious and protein-rich breakfast and more today.


R, who already has some bias for California to begin with because she was born there, started listing stronger reasons in trying to convince us to move back: (1) it definitely looks cleaner, brighter and more organized than NJ/NY; (2) the roads are so much better than our roads here; (3) people are definitely warmer than the people we encounter here.

Oh, California, if you had jobs that could provide a decent living for a family of four right now, we wouldn't even hesitate. It's kinda sad that where we live is dependent on economic factors and not on things that contribute to our happiness.

Although, of course, happiness is something you bring wherever you are.


Basketball Tuesday

June 4, 2013

Whatever you are feeling, get up, dress up and show up. - Anonymous

C played with a massive headache that Tuesday night and finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist (gotta work on this!!!) and 2 steals.


Cherry blossoms and the art of timing

Let me just say something about that DC trip we took a couple of months ago --- it was almost two years in the making. Since we moved to the east coast in 2011, Lawrence has invited us countless times to his house in Maryland. It being just 30 minutes away from the nation's capital, he thought - and we agreed - that the three-and-a-half drive to his abode would be worthwhile. Plans were made and cancelled. One was even cancelled on the day itself. A brief exchange with Lawrence on Facebook about how sick we were of last winter's chills reignited talks of going to DC. I thought about the kids' then-forthcoming spring break and how it coincided with the first week of this year's National Cherry Blossoms Festival. The event ran from March 20 through April 14. I thought that the dates guaranteed cherry-blossoms-in-bloom sighting for us. In fact, that was our deciding factor on whether or not we should finally push through this DC trip. I was wrong, and how sorely heartbroken I was. Spring started late for most of the country. We were there too early. I consoled myself with the fact that there were plenty of other things to be awed about in Washington, DC. I got over my heartbreak almost instantly.

April came. I saw an increasing number of photos of cherry blossoms in full bloom across social media channels. Unfortunately, April was an inconceivably busy month for us. We had commitments every weekend, so I thought I just had to come to terms with waiting another year to witness the beauty of these cherry blossoms. A week before Mother's Day, though, one of the people I am following on Instagram posted this taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Cherry Blossoms at the Cherry Esplanade
Photo by Celine, The Happily Ever After Project

A glimmer of hope! I was overwhelmed with excitement, so quickly planned a family day trip to Brooklyn for Mother's Day. Little did I know, my heart would be crushed again as soon as we step out of the Visitor Center. The Cherry Walk was already covered with cherry blossoms. The wind, although pleasantly mild, only hastening the shedding of the few remaining petals. We missed it.

Cherry Blossoms1

Timing, once again, is laughing its conniving ass off at how I suck at this art. Thirty years in this world, timing and I are still asynchronous.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

National Cherry Blossoms Festival
Visitor information questions
877.44.BLOOM (877-442-5666)



Spring Break 2013

Well, it’s the kids’ second day back to school today, but it seems like spring break’s long gone. It feels so surreal to be left alone at home after spending almost 10 straight days with the whole family and then some.

Ten days may seem like just a blink to busy parents like me and Ken, but we made sure we made the most out of every day. As a matter of fact, it was such an eventful vacation that we only had one lull day, which was, in fact, a much needed day for lulling so that we don’t all push ourselves to fatigue.

March 22-25

C & R’s spring break kicked off with a shortened school period on Friday, March 22nd. As soon as Ken arrived from work that evening, we drove off to Lawrence’s, Ken’s long-time friend, Maryland home. He had graciously offered his place as our home base as we explore Washington, DC.


After two days of walking around the nation’s capital, we confirmed what we have suspected prior to our trip: that, as is the case for any major city with so much history and culture to discover, one weekend is waaaay too short. Obviously, there were a lot of things we had to skip, although we did try to squeeze in as many sights as we can. Thankfully, Ken was able to take Monday off. We didn’t have to sacrifice our pasyal time for Sunday and just opted to drive back to New Jersey that Monday.


March 26 – 27

My good friend, Martin, is visiting from the Philippines. He seems to be on some sort of American tour. He arrived in California a month or so ago and is now cavorting all around the east coast. We had originally planned on meeting in the West Village, but we decided he came over to see this side of New Jersey instead. After picking him up from the train station Tuesday afternoon, I took him to Princeton, which, I think, is a great place to bring a person who loves photography. He went shutter-happy on Princeton University, Princeton Library, Princeton Cemetery and so on. We had him over Tuesday night, watched a couple of NBA games on TV with some lager, chicaron and lots of laughs. I thought of taking him and the kids to Grounds for Sculpture on Wednesday, but we didn’t have enough time to appreciate acres and acres of landscaped grounds since Martin had to be in Manhattan by 5 p.m. Instead, the kids and I just took him to the county park where he and C had a pick-up basketball game with a couple of ballers, and squeezed in a photo op by the marina, before concluding his stay with a super late lunch at our neighborhood fave, Molto Bene.


March 29

We took a break from all the activities on Thursday. I thought the kids and I needed it to rejuvenate our minds and bodies. We resumed our spring break shenanigans on Good Friday since Ken was given the day off in consideration of his religious obligations. The Good Friday liturgy wasn’t until the evening, so we decided to push through with Wednesday’s plan of going to Grounds for Sculpture. Not only were we thrilled to have an interesting place to go to that is near our place to burn off the calories we had indulged ourselves with at breakfast, but we were also so amazed by the exhibits currently on display on the grounds and the indoor mini-museums.


March 30 – 31

We wound up the spring break with lots and lots of family quality time. From basketball at the county park to home improvement projects, we made sure every minute of the last two days of the kids’ vacation were well spent.


A Knicks win over the Boston Celtics was the perfect spring break-ender!


We’re Back!

Well, hello!

*Shakes off virtual dusts.*

It seems like we have completely abandoned this blog, eh? It’s been quite an eventful 2012 for us, and juggling things here and there in order to tend to everything compelled us to sacrifice the time we usually spend for less important things. Unfortunately, this little Emotional Caffeine project happened to be one of those things that got pushed down the priority list.

Hopefully, we’ve acquired better time management skills over the last several months and we’ll be able to update our blog more often. We certainly have so many things to share, but before that, we feel that a number of changes are to be made to start anew and get us our blogging grind back.

I’ve installed a new theme and, as you can see, it doesn’t mesh well with our logo’s color scheme as well as the widgets that we previously added. There’s a lot of tweaking to be done, which, given our parenting duties, may take a couple of days to get the look that we are aiming for. Please bear with us as we update this site.


I’ve personally been egging to share so many things; like I said, 2012 was such an eventful year. This year is promising just as exciting. I can only hope that I get to chronicle them all here.

For now, I want to share with you a short video our now 8-year-old daughter, R, and I created with the new app, Vine. We’re so fascinated with this app – expect to see a lot of videos created with it by our family on this blog!

Doing something creative is second nature to both R and our son, C. With such wild imagination as theirs, they’re always eager to create something new with the new skills and techniques that they learn as they grow. In this video, you’ll see R incorporating a new skill she had just learned in her art class at school last week. I very much enjoyed watching her cut, fold, color and successfully produce her own Perry the Platypus, from Phineas and Ferb.

It’s a fun and easy activity even the most artistically-challenged parent can do with his or her child. Try doing it with your kids some time!



Carol Signature


April Daily Photo

Looks like life got in the way of blogging again, eh? It feels like it’s been ages since I last blogged, but it’s really just been a month. With so many things that have happened to us, you’d expect I’d have plenty of things to write about. I do. Not today, though.

What I really want to share today is this:

There are a lot of photo-a-day memes on Instagram right now, and Biang and I thought we’d come up with a daily photo list of our own for the month of April. I think, if time permits, I’ll also be blogging about the photos that I’ll be posting – that will get me to write more often.

Join us, ya? Don't forget to tag your photos with #AprilDailyPhoto.

And follow us, too! @fcbsantiago @biangbv


The Face of Marriage

I wouldn't mind waking up to this every morning for the rest of my life.

I haven't blogged in a long time that I had to pause to remember what the current password for our dashboard is.


Thank You, Steve Jobs!


There comes a point when you know in your heart who never really mattered and who always will. 

The most awesome friends in the universe: Colby, Albert, Dom and Oliver, with their significant others, Marah & Paul.

Real friends - the truest ones - know no boundaries. They drive to your house in the wee hours of the night, ask the most embarrassing and intrusive personal questions, raid your wardrobe and your fridge, tell you that you look hideous in that dress, call you out and tell you off, and all that jazz. Last Saturday, the only day of the week that I get to sleep in, my friends back in the Philippines called me up early in the morning during their [super late] post-Christmas dinner to FaceTime. I was as sleep deprived as the next wife and mother, but when you're shown how much you're loved and missed like this, catching up on sleep can wait another week.

When the curtains closed for the genius that was Steve Jobs in October 2011, millions of people mourned in their own way. There were those that paid their respects by visiting Apple flagships all over the world, left notes of admiration and appreciation, and even bitten apples.

Apple New York Flagship on 5th Avenue

Others turned to social media and expressed their grief, offered prayers and condolences to his family, and shared how much he changed their lives - using their Apple products, of course.

"Steve Jobs is the Thomas Edison of our time."

Those that know me, my family and the whole long distance marriage/parenting we went through would perhaps be able to imagine how having an iPhone dramatically helped us cope with the day-to-day challenges we had to endure. However, I felt that having just one Apple product (two, if you count my old first generation iPod Nano) would make me sound like a pretentious Apple owner if I followed suit with the Mac geeks and wrote about it as a tribute to Mr. Jobs.

That is, until recently.

After installing Viber (yes, yes... I should have done so months ago!), my best friend, Kitkat, immediately sent me a message, which was followed by a 40-minute conversation.


That Friday night turned out to be a mellow one for catching up with friends. After adding all my family and friends on Viber, Dom called to FaceTime.



Being an immigrant in the US and having just moved to yet another new place, building real relationships can be quite a challenge. And even if you do get lucky and manage to earn yourself a friend in this foreign land, the ones you left behind can NEVER be replaced. Thankfully, the digital age offers a slew of gadgets and gizmos to stay connected with those tried-and-tested ones; those that stood by you through mood swings, incessant whining about your ex, your obnoxious teenager phase, the rockiest situations with the love of your life, post partum idiosyncrasies, and many, many more. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude to have these people. I cannot imagine my life - hell, my children's lives - without them. I only wish that every person in this world is as blessed as I am to have a friend or group of friends to share all these crazy roller coaster rides with.

I'm not a techie person. It actually took me weeks and a number of bouts of migraine to learn all the functions of the iPhone. But here's my salute to you, Steve Jobs, for reducing thousands of miles to microscopic proportions and allowing me to continue sharing all the adventures this life has to offer with the bestest friends in the world any girl could ask for.


Princeton Sunday


When my parents came to visit in November, we only had one concrete plan in mind: to spend the Thanksgiving weekend in New York. Not that they weren't interested in doing anything else. It's just that they were only here for a week, and it had to be the same week when this part of New Jersey had to endure a lot of rains.

They arrived on a Saturday night, which is one day less of a weekend for a road trip. So, Ken and I just decided to take them to Princeton after church.

Strolling on Nassau Street, looking for a place to eat.

We made a mistake in settling for one of the restaurants that were obviously a go-to for them college kids. Had we walked farther down towards Witherspoon Street, we would have discovered a plethora of dining (and shopping) options. Nonetheless, we very much enjoyed our lunch at the Thai Village. R particularly loved their veggie spring rolls, and Ken is still trying to copy their very flavorful Thai fried rice.

The original plan was to go Albert Einstein's house on Mercer Street and check out the Historical Society of Princeton's exhibition of his life and work at the Bainbridge House, as Ken and I had hoped to do back in October. When we got to the entrance to Princeton University, though, we ended up taking an impromptu tour of the campus.


Nassau Hall

As expected, my parents' energy waned after exploring a couple of buildings, sculptures and libraries. It was still pretty early and I really wanted to make the most of my parents' visit, so I suggested that we check out the Einstein exhibit since we were already there.

Ken, the kids and I would have wanted to do more exploring, but I guess the folks just had had enough of the walking. We had a lot of fun, though, and I sure hope they did, too!


Happy Birthday, Little Darling!

Seven years ago yesterday, I laid eyes on the most beautiful girl I have every seen.

I could not help but cry on the eve of her birthday as I told Ken that the kids are growing up so fast and that years are coming by so swiftly. Before we know it, they are full grown adults and will soon be our house to start their own lives. I miss them already.

We decided to have a mellow celebration for her 7th birthday just like we did for C almost three years ago. Since it was a holiday for Ken (the kids were back to school on Monday), we decided to just decorate the house (as she had requested months ago) and prepare some spaghetti and lumpia.

We had a custom-made cake pre-ordered since I do not have the talent to whip up a homemade one, which she chose the design, flavor, fillings and writings for.

We originally planned to have simple family dinner with just the four of us, and invite C and R's young aunts for an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese on Saturday, but we ended up asking them to come over for dinner. After all, the more the merrier, right?

It was, indeed, a simple celebration with family, but she kept telling me how much it made her happy. I guess parties really do not need to be over-the-top to be appreciated.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...