San Antonio trip for my green card interview

I took a day off work today to have my interview for the green card. Derek,  my hand l husband drove and it only took us an hour to arrive.  We went to IHOP to grab brunch and to kill time because we were 2 hours early. Below is b the fruit crepe I had. Yummy!
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I hope the interview goes well. After all, we ARE married! Legally. So I don’t see anything that would prevent us from getting a green card for me. Anyway,  my H1b is still valid and if this doesn’t work out, I can still work on my H1B. Although I would still feel bad because we already spent around 3k dollars for all the processing. We paid for the processing of the applications,  medical exams,  English translation of my birth certificate, courier fees,  Uber, fuel, plus all the time I took off work to appear for the biometrics,  vaccinations/medical,  and now, the interview.

We’re praying all goes well.  Crossing our fingers.

Thinking about my progress

Work-life integration – My life has revolved around my job lately and I feel I haven’t been able to manage my time well these past few years. Ever since I got this job onshore, I have been working harder than ever. Sometimes looking for a new job crosses my mind. It’s just harder to look for a new job because I am still not confident with driving. Hopefully when I get my green card, it will open up more options for me.

Establishing a second income stream – My mother-in-law and I have been working on setting up our very tiny business of handicrafts (hair bows, fridge magnets, coasters, etc). Last December we ventured into making hair bows and we were able to make some really cute ones. I haven’t worked on it again this January because I’ve been very busy with work. Hopefully I can carve out some time and commit 1 weekend to working on our business. I really love the idea of having a second income stream and hopefully it grows slowly but surely until I would have an option to work on it full time when I retire when I’m in my 40s.

Work – I have lots of responsibilities at work. From managing the Offshore team, reviewing their technical document and code, analyzing defects, fixing defects myself, answering questions from other teams, submitting status reports, organizing team activities, etc. I feel that I still haven’t achieved my goals in terms of improving and expanding my current technical skills. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself but I think because most of my time is spent working with people, I have very little time left on learning new stuff. I hope this project will be successful and be on schedule so that I can move on to other projects where I won’t have to manage people Offshore – no more waking up at 5:30 am to review code at 6am or 7am! But this is my job, and it pays the bills, I am still very grateful for having it. Besides, I have learned a lot on managing virtual teams and my communication skills – both verbal and written have greatly improved as well.

Thinking about finances and investments

Having been raised in a medium-class family in the Philippines, my goal has always been to get out of the rat race and be financially free.

When I was single, I planned to pay off the condo in Manila as soon as possible (by the end of my first GCP or overseas assignment) so that when I go home,  I won’t have to pay for a very expensive rent in someone else’s condo.

Everything changed when I got married.  Aside from the weddings (two – one in Texas and one in the Philippines) and honeymoon expenses, I now have to think about the long term plans for staying in the US. And that means deciding to buy a house or continue to pay rent.

I am currently torn between paying off the condo this year or putting a bigger downpayment for a house here in the US. I am tempted to get a loan for the condo but it’s too much of a hassle to try to apply for a loan while I am here. I have tried to do it last year and even wasted a lot of my limited vacation time in the Philippines going to the bank and submitting all the required documents. The processing costs and interest rates for the loan are too high. I just think it’s not worth it. If I can pay it off and save myself some trouble,  I would opt for it.

Aside from the condo, I am also paying for my grandfather’s house in the Philippines that I bought from my mom’s siblings. My parents, brothers, and sister, together with their families are living there for now. Once I and my family move back to the Philippines,  we would start renovations on the house. So that’s another monthly expense.

Also, I haven’t been actively investing in the Philippine Stock Market because I am saving the money for the condo. So my stocks are pretty dormant. I try to sell whenever I gain some profit and use the money to buy other profitable stocks.

So, right now I’m still really trying to make wise use of my savings. The plan right now is still to pay off the condo,  look for a house here,  get a housing loan,  and pay it as soon as we can or resell it before we move back to the Phillipines. Also,  pay off my grandfather’s house within 5 years.

How to achieve all that, I still don’t know. But it sounds like a good plan. Hopefully with some divine providence and lots of hard work, these plans will materialize. Better work hard now than later. When we have a baby of our own,  I’m sure there will be changes to these plans.  But let’s save all of those worries for later.

Am I destined to be a momma?

As I sit here waiting for my OB gynecologist,  I think of writing a post on my blog on this experience.

You see, ever since I could remember,  I’ve always wanted to be a mother.  I played with my baby dolls and pretended I was nursing them when I was little. I could clearly remember chairs knocked down,  blankets hanging over them,  towels that served as curtains, flowers and leaves chopped as I, my best friend Honey, and my brothers played house or “balay balay” in my native dialect.

Almost three decades later,  I find myself in my doctor’s clinic, waiting to find out if I have a chance of living out my childhood dream.

Oops. The nurse told me my OB Gyn got a call because she has a delivery to perform. So she won’t be able to see me today after all. Bummer. I had my vaginal ultrasound today so that they will find out why I’m having irregular and painful menstruation. And ultimately, to find out if I still have a chance of having a baby.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Biological clock is ticking LOUD.

First Working Day of the Year!

I hesitantly opened my eyes and forced myself to wake up this morning. Yup, it’s the first working day of the calendar year and it’s such a challenge to get up at 6:30 in the morning.

As usual, I took MJ out to poop and pee before and after she ate her breakfast.  It’s been really chillly outside making it a very unpleasant chore.

I was hoping I could get more zzzs but I can’t because I knew people are all already waiting for me to be online. :(

I’ve been doing this for the project for more than a year now and I’m really hoping someone else could do it this year.

30 Questions I’m Asking Myself This New Year’s Eve

I love having quiet times for reflections. Especially on New Year’s Eve and birthdays. So here goes my Q&A with myself. Questions were taken from Buzzfeed.com.

1. What did you do this year that you’re proud of? Learning to drive, volunteering to speak for 30 mins in a training as a guest speaker

2. Who did you meet this year that inspired you? A team lead from another project who is a really good and effective leader. And Karen, the Test team’s senior manager. I like the way she handles her team.

3. What did you read that you think bettered you? Leadership Fundamentals

4. What are songs that you will always hear and think of this year even when you’re listening on some contraption that hasn’t even been invented yet? None that I can think of

5. What were some times that you laughed so hard you could hardly breathe?Goofing around with husband and him tickling me

6. What were your favorite movies? Not what was good, not what you had to see because of your friends or the media. What were your favorites?
Star Wars

7. What are some fears that you had at the beginning of the year that you overcame?Being the Offshore coordinator for the team

8. What were quotes that you loved this year? Fake it til you make it. LOL.

9. What are ways that you exercised self care? Exercised. Stood up for myself

10. What are things you want to see more of next year? Me driving

11. What are five things you did that you never thought you’d actually do? Drive, Speak in front of a large group in ADC,

12. What were your favorite things this year? Vacation in the Philippines

13. What are the most important things you learned this year? Smart work is better than hard work

14. What is your favorite photo from this year? Oh, there’s a lot. Pictures from the wedding in the Philippines, especially those with my family.

15. What are five things you want to say to people you love? I love you. Thank you. I’m sorry. I forgive you. I miss you.

16. What are some places where you feel true joy in your life? Mangagoy, Davao, home in Austin

17. Where do you feel most yourself? when I’m alone

18. What were your favorite meals? Ribs cooked by my husband, Salads prepared by my husband

19. How did you calm yourself in times of stress? I get my quiet, alone time

20. What are some compliments that you received that deeply affected you? Those from the leads of Test team

21. Who are people that you believe are bringing out the best in you? Derek, Karen,

22. What items of clothing did you buy that felt the most you? My simple and comfortable black boots

23. What are you excited about leaving behind in 2015? All the failures, mistakes, and frustrations

24. What are five things that you were hard on yourself about but would never have been hard on a friend if they were experiencing it? Making mistakes in driving, misses in code reviews, failures at work

25. What are the best pieces of advice you heard this year? Don’t rush work even if there’s a lot of pressure around. It’s better to do it slowly but surely.

26. What are the best pieces of advice you gave this year? If you want something, do something.

27. What things have you been putting off doing because you didn’t have time? Really learning how to drive, learning to cook, and exercising regularly.

28. What are some things you’d like to focus and work on in the next year? Greencard processing, P3 Go Live, getting a driver’s license, paying off condo, getting a house

29. What are the best parts of you that you feel really showed through this year? Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any… but maybe being able to take on responsibilities.

30. What are your biggest hopes for 2016? Successful P3 Go Live, being independent and can go anywhere, anytime I want, continue to have a loving, happy relationship with my husband, more time to talk and bond with my family, a better version of me – assertive, good communicator, strong and effective leader, create more lasting memories with my loved ones.

Time Management

Taken from
Jeremiah Dillon is head of product marketing at Google Apps for Work. Follow him on Twitter @jeremiahdillon.

Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low-demand tasks like setting goals, organizing, and planning.

Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.

Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.

Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building.

Always bias your Make Time toward the morning, before you hit a cycle of afternoon decision fatigue. Hold the late afternoon for more mechanical tasks.

How to parallel park

Drive forward. Straighten up the wheel. Put in reverse. Back up til you see the cone in front of the car. Put in drive. Go near the cone so that it is arm’s length from the car. Reverse until the pole is aligned to the back seat door lock. Turn the wheel all the way to the right. Reverse until the pole is aligned to the passenger seat’s door lock. Turn the wheel to the left 1 full turn. (Sign of the wheel should be up). Reverse until the pole is aligned with the door knob. Turn the wheel all the way to the left.. and watch out for the curb.

Driving Lesson Day 3

I’ve been driving on the highway,  freeway,  downtown area (including Congress), neighborhood,  university area,  hills (Mt Bonnel)!

It really helped that my 3rd instructor from driversed is really calm and nice. All of them were nice and I learned a lot of different techniques from them but Mr Marques is different because he made me believe in myself.  He was really right when he told me that he specializes in making his students conquer fear.

I am really happy that I am now more confident with driving. I still need lots of practice but at least I am at a point where I am able to trust myself to make good decisions, control the car, and relax.

I just need to practice on:
1. Learning when to step on the brakes
2. Maintaining speed
3. Knowing where to go on a complete stop,  because sometimes I go over the line or way too far from the line.
4. Keeping a safe distance from other cars.
5. Changing lanes safely
6. Checking my blindspots
7. Making a safe right turn

Overall I think enrolling in driversed is a good idea and investment in myself. It pays to learn from the experts and to have good and patient instructors.

I hope by December or January I will be able to take my actual driving exam.

i.am.mylene: Living & Loving Life!

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