Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Goodbye 2014...Hello 2015!

Counting down one day before we bid goodbye to 2014 and it's time to do a quick recap of the past year. I didn't really like FB's Year In Review feature (no offense but I feel it's for lazy people) and I still prefer to stick to my 'style' of doing a recap of the past year on my blog, something that I've been doing since 2007. OMG...can't believe I've been doing this for 8 years!! 

Anyway, 2014 has been quite an eventful year with a mix of good and not-so-good times. Not-so-good mainly because we had too many hospital runs this year, from Royal Melbourne, to LGL, to Pantai, to GH, then LWE. It has definitely been a challenging year for our family but I'm optimistic that things will turn better in 2015. I choose to keep only the good memories and leave the not-so-good ones behind so here's a quick recap of some of the good moments in the past year.

Jan-Feb: Hubby and his family returned to the States shortly after the wedding while I returned to work after taking a whole month off. Work was busy as usual but I can't complain coz I had good bosses and team mates who filled in for me while I was away.  

March: Bridesmaid for my best friend's wedding and had the opportunity to catch up with college buddies in Penang.

April: Traveled to Sydney and Melbourne for 10 days with the family. Overall, it was quite a good trip despite mom's accident causing her to extend her stay in Australia.

May: 2nd trip of the year...2-weeks honeymoon trip with hubby to Norway and Sweden. This trip was a mentally relaxing, physically challenging one but it was probably one of the best road trip that we've ever been on and definitely a very memorable honeymoon. Norway's natural beauty took our breath away. 

September: 3rd trip of the year...8-days cycling trip to Jeju & Busan with bro and his gf. This cycling trip was filled with challenges along our way but I'm proud of what we've accomplished and this trip was definitely a memorable and awesome adventure.

October: Was busy finishing up my work before my last work day while dealing with all the paperwork for my resignation and relocation. 3 years & 11 months...and I count my blessings for this great chapter. 

November: Time to say goodbye to my family and start a new chapter with hubby.

December: Started work at my new workplace...still the same company but in a new country, new office. It's another learning curve but hopefully not a steep one. Good luck to myself and all the best in 2015!! Looking forward to a better year ahead!! =)

Christmas 2014

It's half way through my 1.5 week break and I've been enjoying it so far (no more holidays for the next 6 months so I've gotta enjoy this to the max). I've got quite a few things on my to-do list during this break but I've been slacking too much, and I'm blaming it on 2 dramas. :P The first half of this break has been filled with family visits, food, and presents coz it's Christmas!! The last time I celebrated Christmas in the States was 6 years ago so this wasn't all new for me. :P As I mentioned before, I got here just in time for the 2 biggest holiday season - Thanksgiving & Christmas so it worked out perfect. =)

Hubby and MIL has been spending Christmas in Malaysia for the past 2 years (2012 proposal trip & 2013 wedding trip) so MIL organized a party at their house this year to celebrate with the family and friends here. :) 

21 December 2014 (Sun): Christmas party at the parent's house. There were almost 20 people at the party and apart from eating & chatting, we also played the 'right/left' game to exchange gifts. =)

Pot luck means lotsa food!! It was like 2nd round of Thanksgiving...hehe!!

Lotsa Christmas decos at almost every corner of the parent's house...very festive indeed! We helped to put up and decorate the Christmas tree but that's pretty much all we helped...whoops!

After many gloomy and rainy days, it was finally sunny on Christmas day! Can't get enough of the beautiful skies!!

Even though I mentioned in my previous post that I've had to go through a lot of troublesome procedures for this relocation (eg. taking a driving test) but I've been really lucky that hubby and his family helped out a lot to ease my transition here. The parents was very thoughtful and generous to give us SIL's Mazda so we didn't have to worry about getting me a new car. I love used car (if you know me well enough you'll know what I mean)...hehe! I'm also lucky that I didn't have to worry about getting expensive auto insurance for not having any driving history here coz hubby took care of that. :P

25 Dec 2014 (Thurs): Christmas day with the family. =)

Our presents!!! Thanks MIL, FIL & SIL for the awesome and practical presents!! =)

26 Dec 2014 (Fri): Christmas at Grandma Lucille's...more good food and presents! =)

27 Dec 2014 (Sat): Christmas at Paw Paw's..one last round of good food and presents! =)

Wrapping up this post with some cute Christmas decos.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One Month

It's Christmas Eve today and exactly a month since I arrived. As mentioned in my previous post, I've slowly settled into my new life here and also slowly picking up my work momentum (coz it's the holiday season)...will be shifting to full gear right after the New Year. Nothing much has been going on over the past week (finished watching a good drama 16个夏天) but I'm gonna try to blog at least once a week to update my family back home about my life here and also as a reminder for myself to keep life interesting. :P

Last week's dinner (prepared on Sunday) was roasted chicken + stir fried veggies + rice. =) 

Dec 13 (Sat): Drove down to Birmingham for company's holiday party at Avon Theater. We were all dressed up looking 'professional' for the party (gotta follow the dress code). :P So far I've only been in the office for one day and hardly knew anyone else in the office but at least had the opportunity to chat and catch up with some people whom I'll be working together for the next 2 months. Hubby couldn't enjoy the 'drinks' coz we had to drive 1.5 hour back to Huntsville right after the party. 

After being here for almost 4 weeks, I've finally ticked off the last big thing on my to-do list for this relocation...passed my road test (in 1 attempt) and got my driver's license!! This relocation has really been like pressing a restart button coz I had to redo things that I've done before 10 years ago all over again. I've been driving for 10 years and having to take a written test & road test again wasn't fun. I was kinda nervous during my road test and was driving very slowly and carefully coz I heard it's easy to fail. So now I can officially drive on both sides of the road...lol!! Kinda weird (and waste of resources) that they issued me 2 driver licenses...one after passing the written test and another one after passing the road test. :P Also received a cute card from my UAH bestie, Uyanga this week. =)


Dec 20 (Sat): Date night with hubby at this Asian restaurant near our place. Found out that the owner is from Hong Kong and I guess I made the right choice ordering the Beef Fried Hor Fun since it's a Cantonese dish. :P Hubby ordered his 'usual' Kung Pao Chicken dinner set that came with a spring roll, wonton soup, and fried rice. Food was pretty good and I'm sure we will come back again since it's so close to our place. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Settling Into a New Routine

Settling into new life and new job had been so far so good. My SS card finally arrived on Tuesday (exactly 2 weeks after I submitted my application) and I've managed to get a bank account opened, got my reimbursement & direct deposit set up, took my written test for driver's license, and got my name onto the car insurance...all done within this week. It seems like the only big thing left to do is to take the road test. Work has also been great so far coz I've been assigned to a job in Huntsville which I started since last Friday and will be based here at least until the end of February. Definitely turned out way better than I expected coz I thought I would have to travel back and forth for the first few weeks. So yeah, 3rd week since I got here and finally managed to settle down and get into a routine.

Right after returning from Atlanta, I drove to Birmingham coz I had to go to the office on Thursday while hubby went back to Huntsville. It was nice of Erin to let me crash at their house for one night. Drove myself to work next morning (totally relied on GPS of course) and was given an office tour. They just moved into this new office few months ago so everything was nice and new!! 

My first day in the office started off pretty rough with some issues with my laptop so I ended up spending more than half a day standing in front of the help desk while the tech guy helped to fix the problem. It's just weird coz for the past 4 years I've never had any issues with my work laptop...tough luck! But fortunately, the tech guy was very helpful and made sure that my laptop was fixed by the end of the day coz I was supposed to be working in Huntsville the next day. Met the HR and my managers, and went for lunch with some new colleagues...everybody was nice. =) After a relatively unproductive first day of work, I drove 1.5 hours back to Huntsville...kinda paranoid driving alone at places that I wasn't familiar with but glad I made it home safe and sound...lol!!

My work place in Huntsville...pretty good view huh!! Let me reiterate, Alabama has so much land!! :P For the past week, I've been carpooling with hubby to work coz I still couldn't drive without a license and his workplace is right by mine's. It's great that our workplace are near to each other's but I've been getting to work at 7am all week coz he loves being an early bird. =.= 

After being constantly on the go for the past 2 weeks, it's good to finally have some time to go grocery shopping 'spree' and start cooking. Managed to buy some Asian food (e.g. roasted seaweed, oyster sauce, sesame oil, instant coffee) when we were in Atlanta. Now I regret not stocking up more Asian food when we were there. =.= Btw, you won't believe how much we got all those Pringles for. Nope not $5 for 5, but $5.75 for all!! Best of all, they won't expire until 2016 so I might as well buy more now. I know it's unhealthy but I love Pringles...lol!!

Now that I have to start making my own meals (and cooking is really time consuming), I've fixed a cooking schedule. I spent few hours of my Sunday prepping and making food for the week's lunch and dinner. Last week's dinner menu was 'Chickuteh' + steamed veggies + rice + chinese tea. And since eating out if kinda pricey here, I've been bringing lunch (potato salad + ham sandwich or rice rolls) to work. =P

For those who know me well enough, I only cooked (simple food) when I was studying in KL and UK. For the past few years, I've been very lucky to have grandma and grandaunt fixing my meals. So I'm pretty proud of myself to be able to make these decent (and pretty healthy) meals without burning down the kitchen...hahaha!! I've just finished fixing lunch and dinner for the coming week and my goodness, I just spent my whole Sunday afternoon in the kitchen!! =.= Fortunately, hubby helps with the cleaning. :P

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Start of Another Chapter

1-3 Dec 2014: Experienced New Hires Orientation in Atlanta
My first day of work was 1 December 2014 and my first 'assignment' was to travel to Atlanta for a 3-day orientation for experienced new hires from all over US. Pretty exciting!! The company definitely made me feel very welcome even before I arrived. =)

Majority of the people flew to Atlanta and I guess I was the only one who had to drive to ATL coz it's too near to fly from Alabama. :P The company got me a rental car for a week to drive to Atlanta for this orientation. Worked out perfect for us coz I needed to practice driving on the other side of the road but I still couldn't drive our own car coz I haven't got an Alabama driver's license. Picked up this Chevrolet Impala from the car rental company at Huntsville airport on Sunday and drove around a bit to familiarize myself with the roads here. And of course, I made a few turns into the wrong side of the road...hahaha!! 

We started our journey super early at 5.30am the next morning coz we were told to arrive by 11am. The journey to Atlanta took 4 hours (almost like the distance between Penang and KL) but the sucky thing is we lost 1 hour driving from Central time to Eastern time. The drive wasn't bad at all coz I was driving on the highway for most of our journey and was able to use autocruise, just gotta make sure that I overtake on the left side instead. :P

The orientation was held at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel, which was 'strategically' located right by the world's busiest airport. Too bad my room didn't have a view of the airport. :P

All the activities throughout the 3 days were in the hotel, most of them in this ballroom.

Received my work laptop, iphone and freebies!! I'm lovin' it!! =D

Friday, December 12, 2014

A New Beginning

After 6 years since I first arrived; 2.5 years since my last visit; 11 months since we got married; 38 hours of traveling, I'm finally back in Huntsville once again...for good. Ain't easy getting out of my comfort zone and leaving what I've accomplished over the past few years to move to a brand new place and start a brand new life. But on the bright side, it's not all new coz I've lived here before, I have another half of my family here, and I'll still be working for the same company. 

24 Nov 2014 (Mon): Hubby was already waiting at the airport when I landed at Huntsville around 4pm. It's late autumn and getting cold here but fortunately the temperature wasn't too crazily cold on my first week here.

First thing first was to unpack my 4 luggages (made a mess in the house) and ironed all my work clothes. =P Glad that I got here one week earlier before I start work, giving me some time to get over jet lag and settle in.

25 Nov 2014 (Tues): MIL brought me to the SS office to get my SS done coz you can't do anything without a SS over here. Spent a good 2 hours waiting for my turn, well I guess government offices are the same everywhere...slow and crowded....lol!!

26 Nov 2014 (Wed): Arrived here just in time for Thanksgiving holiday. Great time to hang out with the families and enjoy all the good food. =) Visited Grandma Lucille and FIL (for the first time) and was given a treat to a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner.

27 Nov 2014 (Thurs): Thanksgiving food marathon continued at the parent's house. Notice the batik table cloth, place mats and chinese tea set from M'sia. :P

28 Nov 2014 (Fri): What's the day after Thanksgiving? Black Friday Shopping!!! Initially I didn't plan to squeeze with the crowd but since I needed some new clothes and winter outfit, hubby agreed to accompany me to a departmental store on Friday morning to shop for some jeans, boots, and trench coat. Surprisingly it wasn't crowded when we were there. And I didn't go too crazy with my shopping. :P

Met up with FIL and Anna to watch Interstellar on Black Friday and got movie+lunch treat at Five Guys.

Went over to the parent's place on Saturday to watch the Iron Bowl and put up the Christmas tree. I know football is a big thing here but I couldn't help dozing off in the middle of the game...I'm blaming it on jetlag...haha!!

So yeah, I was constantly on the go for my first week here and still had a lot of 'admin' matters (open a bank account, take tests for driver license, get insurance, etc.) to take care of after the holidays. Didn't get much rest but managed to spend some quality time with the families before I travel to Atlanta for my orientation on Monday.