My First Year as a Mom: a letter to Avery

Dear Avery, my little love,

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Everyone says how quickly the first year flies by and, boy, are they right. And, Avery, I think we made it through with flying colors.

When you came into this world at 5:43 PM on Saturday, April 1st 2017, I was so excited to meet you. Nine months is a long time, so when I went in for my weekly OB appointment at 38 weeks on Friday morning, they told me that I had really high blood pressure and that it was time! Eeek! To be honest, I was terrified! I felt unprepared and was definitely not looking forward to the pain that labor and deliver brings, but I was finally going to meet you!

Meeting you for the first time was incredible. I loved you immediately. And the love was so much stronger than I ever expected it to be. Truthfully, I never thought I could love someone as much as I love your Dad, but the love I felt for you blew that out of the water. It was so intense at times, it felt like my heart was going to explode. It was the deepest, most powerful love I have ever felt, and it only gets stronger and stronger everyday.

But, I won’t lie. The first three months were so challenging at times. The days were long, exhausting, overwhelming, and sometimes I didn’t think I could make it another day. Thank goodness Nana was around (who loves to call you ‘Baby Duck-Duck’) and Dad was home for the summer to help us through those first few months. Even though neither of us knew what we were doing, we did the best we could and made it through those crazy first months in one piece. We even managed to go on a camping trip – even if it was just for one night! No, I don’t think that was the craziest thing we did during those first few month – we planted a travel bug in you early on and took you on your first airplane trip to Boston! Dad had some work to do and since I was still on maternity leave, I figure why not! You were so well-behaved on the plane – you didn’t make a peep! I hope you are always well-behaved on future airplane adventures!

Breastfeeding started out rocky, you were always hungry and I always felt like I wasn’t feeding you enough. Watching you while you breastfeed was beautiful, but the pain I felt afterwards was excruciating. There were times I would disrupt you’re feedings cause I was in so much pain and you’d cry cause you were still hungry and I would cringe when it came time for the next feed. Eventually we figure out a system that worked for the both of us which involve a lot of pumping and midnight nursing that I’m PROUD to say that you had mama’s milk for a WHOLE YEAR! Woohoo!

When you turned 6 months old, everything changed for the better. You were a little older and your Dad and I were a little wiser, so our days together started to become a wonderful adventure. You were baptized, you started sitting up all by yourself, you started to eat solids and loved it and you laughed a whole lot. (Oh, how I love your laugh. It is music to my ears.) Things started to get much easier and our family really started to get into a groove. The best part of all is that Grammy stayed with us to help care for you while I went back to work! I don’t know how we could have done it without the help of Grammy – she made our life so much more manageable! The bond you guys have is just the cutest thing – you both enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune together, the mini arguments you guys have over the missing remote control, how you always stay so still when it comes time for Grammy to cut your nails! Oh, and let’s not forget about you’re biggest adventure and that was taking you’re first international trip to London & Paris! Again, you were so well behaved on the plane and you enjoyed all the different types of baby foods you were eating!

At 10 months, I wanted to freeze time. What a fun age! Even though, I say this at every stage of your life now, 10 months was another turning point for me. We really started to see your personality develop. You were (and still are) Mr. Serious when you meet new people or experience new places, but as soon as you’re comfortable, you turn into your silly, smart, and inquisitive self. At 10 months, you were also crawling like a maniac, pulling yourself up on everything, and “talking” & “screaming” our ears off. (I think you’re a lot like me in this way since I get excited when I talk) What’s even more impressive is that you managed to master the ‘WALK’ at 11 months! You’re going to walk like a boss to your first birthday party this weekend! You’re growing up so fast, and it’s such an exciting time for all of us and a bit sad for me!

And just one more thing to tell you, even though it will probably sound a little cheesy: Sometimes when I’m rocking you or watching you sleep, I feel the urge to cry because you mean so much to me. You have brought so much happiness and love into our lives this past year, and there isn’t a single day that I haven’t appreciated how lucky we are to have you as our son.

Happy 1st birthday, Avery. You’re the love of my life, and I’m so proud to be your mom. Dad and I love you so much.



Happy Baptism Avery!

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3

The christening was held at St. John Vianny. Father Vu Tran and his congregation were so accommodating and welcomed us with open arms.

Avery did very well throughout the ceremony, he didn’t even make a peep when Father Vu poured water on his head. What a little trooper!

With his Ninong Jeffrey & Reyvillyne who was a proxy for his Ninang Diane

This is the part where Avery started getting very sleepy.

It takes a collective effort to pull off such a big day, and I’m so thankful to everyone that helped to make Avery’s christening such a memorable one!

Thank you Reyvillyne for helping put this together! We love you!


I went in for my weekly OB appointment on March 31st and when they checked my blood pressure – it was high! So high that it was best that I head on over to Labor and Deliver! They were going to induce me since technically I was already full term.

I was not ready for this – but no one ever is…right?!?! I mean, I haven’t even packed my hospital bag yet!!! Luckily our car seat arrived the day before!

So we checked into University of Washington Medical Center at noon and on April 1st we welcomed baby Avery Grayson Reyes at 5:43 p.m.

My dearest Avery,

From the moment they placed you in my arms, you snuggled right into my heart.



I am so thrilled to be able to share photos from the most beautiful baby shower I have ever been to and even more excited because it was MINE! Ha, I still can’t believe it!!! I have to say, I’ve never had a party planned in my honor where I didn’t plan it myself or contribute. I have always been the planner and the crafter and the doer, but with this one my friends kept me completely in the dark, all I had to do was show up and pick my jaw up off the floor after I took in all the sweet details of the day.

So many of my dear talented friends hosted the shower and each brought their own expertise to make this a picture perfect event!

Special thanks to Mel, Stephy, Mur, Jaimz, Nancy, & Mich for all the work into organizing and putting together this memorable event. A big thank you to Stephy, Len, Chel, and Che for flying in to celebrate this joyous occasion with me. Erika for lending out her guest room. My sister Diane for the delicious cake made from Flour, Sugar, and More Bakery. Andy Shepard for taking amazing photos. And Gian Cruz for catering a delicious brunch!


Today I turn thirty-three. I can still recall the moment when I turned thirty and I thought that the end of the world has arrived. It did in a way…I got cancer. Thirty was definitely the most difficult year in my life. A real game-changer. But you know what, life goes on and I survived!

I don’t get sad anymore about turning old. I’ve learned to embrace it. One thing I’ve been focusing on lately, is living with gratitude. I have made an effort to once a day say to myself very consciously, “I am grateful for this moment.” Sometimes it’s when I’m facetiming/skype session with my family, sometimes it was in the midst of a warm hug with a close friend, sometimes in was in an airplane heading to a beautiful location!

And so, to start a new year in style, a list of thirty-three things that I’m grateful for today.

1. I am grateful for a family that always calls me home. For a mother who never forgets my appointments and would call me the day before just to wish me luck, a father who has taught me to be both strong and generous, a brother who never lets me drink alone, and for sisters who make me laugh and who hold out a hand when needed. For aunts, uncles, cousins, and nephews/nieces who make up the rich fabric of family. I am ever so grateful that we all remain a family. There is no one or no thing I care about more.

2. I am grateful for the privilege to see with my own eyes seven countries and ten states – and counting. For the memories I’ve made, lessons I’ve learned, and people I’ve met in each of them.

3. I am grateful for a passport from a country that gives me the green light to travel almost anywhere in the world.

4. I am grateful for those rare books, movies, and songs that leave me lost in thought.

5. I am grateful for happy hours.

6. I am grateful for nature. And trees. The after-rain smell, the springtime smell. Mountains and trials and the fact that I have feet and legs to walk them.

7. I am grateful for an ice cold IPA on a warm summer day, and a warm cup of mocha from Moore Coffee.

8. I am grateful for lovely clean clothes, that I have more than one outfit, and that I have a wardrobe to hang them in.

9. I am grateful for straight up just “getting away with it”.

10. I am grateful for Second chances. Third chances. Forgiveness. The ability to say: thank you for that experience, and mean it.

11. I am grateful for my job. The fact that I get to work with amazing people.

12. I am grateful for the smell of someone you’re falling in love with, right when you’re falling in love with them.

13. I am grateful for the small and free pleasures of life. A sunrise. A relaxing walk in the woods. A crisp Fall day when the trees are filled with leaves of vibrant and spectacular colors. The sun warming my face after many days of the sky being filled with dreary, gray clouds.

14. I am grateful for croissants. What a glorious celebration of butter.

15. I am grateful for my blue 2007 Honda Civic that gets me wherever I need to be.

16. I am grateful for what I’m convinced is the most amazing group of friends in the world. I am grateful for the ability to accept them for who they are and what they are willing to give to our friendship, and for their patience and understanding of my endless wandering. I feel a deep connection with them even when I am physically very far away. It makes it feel like I’ve done something right in my life to deserve these friends I have.

17. I am grateful for rush shipping.

18. I am grateful for the fact that life has put a string of funny, interesting, big-hearted guys in my path. I’ve been seeing one for a while now.

19. I am grateful for phone chargers that reaches the bed.

20. I am grateful for campfires, s’mores, and hearty laughter.

21. I am grateful for the pain I’ve felt and the times life has truly tested me — they have shown me who I am and how strong I can be, taught me to appreciate periods of peace and joy, and prepared me for whatever comes next.

22. I am grateful for warm, comfy beds.

23. I am grateful to live in a place and within a system where we have access to the best doctors in the world, and also among the best overall cancer care in the world. For the doctors who care about what they are doing. Dr. Shao-Ti Meredith who found the bad stuff, Dr. Edward Kim who help shrink the bad stuff, and Dr. Venu Pillarisetty who removed the bad stuff from my body.

24. I am grateful for instant noodles that satisfy my hunger when I need something quick to eat.

25. I am grateful for flash drives/thumb drives/portable hard drives. My blog, photos and much of my documentable life is stored on one of those things!

26. I am grateful for hopping on the treadmill when every cell said “not today.”

27. I am grateful for the kindness from complete strangers. When people let me skip ahead of them in the checkout line in the store when I only have a few items. When they stay for a few second and hold up the door for me. Or let me into their lane when I drive.

28. I am grateful for coupon codes.

29. I am grateful for a bra that supports me when no one else does.

30. I am grateful for my health. I do not have the indestructible body of Superman. But if I treat it well and get plenty of sleep, work out and eat healthy then it works wonderfully well (most of the time). Sure, I may get sick sometimes. But overall I have much to be thankful for that I often take for granted my body and how it helps me do everything – see, listen, walk, write, hug, kiss, think and experience my world – every day.

31. I am grateful for cars with seat warmers and drive thru car washes.

32. I am grateful for my sense of taste, which lets me savor ripe mangos, delicious avocados, and scrumptious fried chicken.

33. I am grateful for YOU. Readers who visit my blog and read what I have to say. For all the FB, IG, texts, and phone calls made to make this special day a memorable one.

Love you guys!!!


We’re all blessed with milestones- occasions that come around each year that you either dread or celebrate, or perhaps both. The most common — birthdays — are universal and completely out of our control, but you never forget your birthday (even if everyone else does). Anniversaries, in the most common form, are the day you celebrate a partnership. Or perhaps you note each year the anniversary of someone’s passing. As we get older, these last type of anniversaries tend to accumulate.

When you are a cancer survivor, you have an additional date that is etched in your memory like your social security number. Your cancerversary. For many of us, we use the date we were diagnosed – but for others like myself, I like to use the date that I had my last(fingers cross) surgery…when the tumor was removed.

For me that date is August 4, and I’m now a 1-year cancer survivor.

For the last several weeks, I thought about my upcoming cancerversary with a combination of pride, dread, sadness, happiness, and relief. Sound schizophrenic? Welcome to life as a cancer survivor. I’m still ways away from the seemingly magical 5-year mark, where I get to let out a huge, audible sigh of relief and consider myself “out of the woods.” After all that 5-year mark is universally known as the “all clear” mark, and there’s no question that people equate it as close to a cure as you can get.

You’re probably wondering what does one do to celebrate a cancerversary? Go out to dinner? Pop open a bottle of Dom Perignon? Buy yourself something pretty?

For me….I threw a LUAU!!!
I wanted to celebrate by being with friends and families, many of whom were there for me this past year and the previous year before. I still can’t thank everyone enough for being there for me and my family. I will be forever grateful.

In many ways I feel like I have lived a lifetime since July 2013 – when I first found out about my cancer. In that time I have gone through so much. This year has already started out better than the one before. And the next one will be even better. I look forward to many more cancerversaries and celebrations to come!

I wanted to end this post with a song that summed up what my life has been like. How I have been able to get through it all with my head up. With words I had to remind myself of every single day. When I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.

And I found it. Thank you, Rachel Plateen. I will always continue to FIGHT!

Thank you guys for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers!

Special thanks to Chris for letting me turn your home into my Hawaiian oasis!! Joleen for my amazing flyer design! Tyler for the great beats! Jael for the delicious “F%$# CANCER” cake! Uncle Ranola for the well-built & fun tiki bar. Mel, Jaimz, Vi, Mich, Nancy, Gary, & Patti for helping with food & décor! Last but not least, thank you Ry for everything…for putting up with me!!!

For this year Mother’s Day, I decided to gift my mom a vacation album from out recent trip to the Philippines!!!
I have always enjoyed scrapbooking; but with all the stickers, papers, adhesives, scissors, and photos…it sorta became a bit overwhelming! Not to mentions time-consuming!!! Eventually, I ended up moving all my scrapbooking online and it was the BEST decision I ever made! I use and I love it!!! It literally made my life so much easier to stay organized with the hundreds (that might be a bit of an exaggeration) of photos that I take each month. The best part is that the books come out AHHHmazing!!!

I love you Mom!


We love to hate them but still can’t imagine life without them. They annoy us, basically know all our strengths and weaknesses and are usually our first best friends.

In honor of National Sibling Day, I just want to give a shoutout to my amazing siblings!

DIANE – Thank you for being by my side during the hardest time of my life. You’re my angel in disguise!
CARLO – Thank you for always protecting and watching over me! You’re my hero!
KATHY – Thank you for being hopeful and supportive! You’re my #1 cheerleader!

Even though we’re miles apart, not a day goes by where I’m not missing you guys! Love you!


Wow…I can’t believe I’m another year older! Time is just cruising by these days! I’m still pretty jetlagged from my trip and all I want to do is SLEEP!!! But I can’t seem to find it when I need it the most…I’m literally wide awake at midnight till about 5 in the morning!!!

So with that being said, I keep myself busy by doing laundry (I think I only did laundry once during my 3 week trip…well my mom did), taking down the Christmas tree (remind you I just got back on the 7th), and most importantly – sorting through the 2000 pictures taken of my amazing trip so I can share with you all the cool things I did!

But first I want to thank everyone for the FB, IG, texts, and phone calls made to make this special day a memorable one!!! Love you all – to infinity and beyond!

I have my next scan coming up at the end of this month. Wish me luck!

Thank you and I’m truly grateful for all the love and support from family and friends near and far.


Looking back to when I didn’t have any family in Seattle, my close friends and I would get together and have a “Friendsgiving” event. Fast forward 10 years later and we managed to continue our “Friendsgiving” tradition to include more friends as well as our loved ones. This is great because there is so much more food than you can imagine!

Friendsgiving is definitely an event that I look forward to every year, but what makes this year even better is that the Seattle Seahawks are playing their biggest rival the San Francisco 49ers! Go Hawks!!!

I also want to take this moment and just thank everyone for their continued support. Without your unconditional love, continued prayers, and the amazing Dr. Pillarisetty & medical staff @ SCCA., I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, so a big THANK YOU!

Have a great Thanksgiving Day and if you plan on doing some Black Fridayshopping, just be safe out there!