Where Have You Been?

I realized that the last time I wrote something on this blog was literally last year! Where did the year go and why have I not written lately?

Well, last May, my aunt died. My Auntie Llena was my dad’s sister and I really loved her. She was always asking for us to come visit her in the Philippines because the last time we were there was when I was 10 weeks pregnant. Although she had seen countless photos, my aunt wanted to meet Jax in person. “Yes, Auntie! We will plan something soon,” I always reassured her.

Well, sadly, it was not soon enough because even though she managed to make a trip to the US and California and to visit me in the later stage of my pregnancy (photo above), we never did make it back to the Philippines before she could meet her grand-nephew.

Ugh. Why did I wait so long?

Her death, of course, immediately prompted me to plan a trip to the Philippines with Jax and my sister Pearl. And we did go – including a side-trip to Bangkok, Thailand – last August. I will have to write another blog post about that entire trip sometime. Many of you have already seen the incredibly beautiful photos I’ve posted on social media but once again, I ask myself why I waited so long to return to the Philippines especially since I really love hanging with my family there.

Big Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Anyway, soon after returning from that trip, my sister went and had her mammogram. I wish I could say that it was a regular routine check-up and results were fine but it was not. Unfortunately, Pearl was diagnosed with Stage 1B breast cancer. What? My strong, beautiful, healthy sister received an unexpected diagnosis. She had to undergo 6 rounds of chemotherapy (about 6 months) and it was NOT a walk in the park. Having witnessed this first hand, I realize that you really need to be both physically and mentally strong to undergo chemo as it will really upend you. Pearl experienced neuropathy, weight loss, lost her hearing, and shed her hair, among other annoying symptoms. But, she was mentally and physically strong, plus she had the love and support of her family and friends. Although she’s technically not done with the treatment, she beat that cancer. (Thank you, God!) That’s why we were in the US a lot more than usual this past year.

When we returned to the US during Easter, Pearl had finished chemo and surgery and had received the official OK that she was in remission so it was a full-on celebration, especially because we lucked out and received tickets to this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll! Slowly and surely, she is gaining back her strength and her hair. The hearing loss is still there but I am hopeful that one day it will return.

Last but not least, one day last month when I was returning home from Portuguese class, I logged onto my Instagram and saw that Ry had posted an IG story. He hardly ever posts so I was so confused when I saw a video of two little ginger kittens playing in our bedroom. Huh? Well, lo and behold, after Ry dropped me off at class and Jax at the school bus stop, he returned home to see two little kittens (about 5 weeks old) in our parking lot so Ry rescued them and brought them home.

Well, the very next morning, as Jax and I were headed to his school bus stop, we noticed two more little kittens (another ginger and a gray/black one but clearly from the same litter) under our car! So, I had Ry rescue them that evening. My friend Adina wanted a ginger kitten for her daughter so we gave one of the ginger kittens to her but we still have the remaining other three from the litter. Of course, anyone in their right mind would give those kittens away, but we love them all so much and they’ve brought so much joy in our home that we’ve now decided that they need to stay in our family. Even Cleo (our original cat) has welcomed those 3 little gatinhos! We are going to give one of them to Pearl the next time we’re in the US and that way, we manage 3 cats instead of 4 and yet all kittens will be part of our family. Win win! (Many of you may know that Pearl’s dog Quincy just passed away so we are hoping a new fur life will bring my Sis and Mom much joy).

We will miss you so much, Quincy!

Also, I am very much a believer in the saying that if a stray cat comes to your home that luck is on your side! (And in our case, that means that we have luck *times four*!) I liked this explanation I read below so I am posting it here. I’m also posting this table I found on spiritualdesk.com.

It is very well known that the Egyptians held cats in very high regard because they believed these animals bring good luck. This symbolism has persisted in many places, so the arrival of a street cat in someone’s home is sometimes seen as a sign of good times ahead. If something like this happens to you, you can expect to achieve all your goals, no matter how difficult or unattainable they may seem. You will invest the same amount of energy in getting there as before, but your effort will bring much better results this time. It’s not only you. You have the good luck that the stray cat brought on your side. Don’t forget this because it’s important to become aware of luck’s role in life.

So, even though I once was a dog person, I’m definitely now also a cat person! I’m both!

That’s a quick recap from this past year. Other than that, this seems to be the year that everyone is coming to Portugal! Yay – I’ve had so much fun seeing so many of you – and this summer will be off the hook with lots of you in town. You know I am always so thrilled to catch up live so let me know if you will be here in the near future.

Lots of love always xo

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