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Robots uncover hidden Malta

A Blessing in Disguise: Clutch Failure

Looking back,We see with great clarity,
What once appeared as difficulties
Now reveal themselves as blessings.
~Dan Milman~

Last night at midnight I got a call from my son, Immanuel. As a mom, getting a call from my son at midnight makes my heart jump out and I'm suddenly awake and alert in an instant.

Immanuel: "Mom I'm stuck in the freeway"

mom: "What happened!?"

Immanuel: "My clutch gave out...what should I do...can you call AAA?...hold on, my friend is calling"

I'm thinking to myself, did I renew our membership with AAA? Well, to add to my already anxious state, I realized I didn't renew the membership (must have been an area of cut back).

I was in panic mode at this time. Fortunately, hubby dear was almost in that area from his usual 3hr drive back to the Bay Area that night and ready to come to our son's rescue. But how do I tell him I had not renewed the membership? Luckily, grandpa Dennis has membership, and together with grandma, they too were willing and able to come to Immanuel's rescue .

Now why is all that a blessing in disguise you wonder?

Well, the story behind this "predicament" is that some "dudes" were trying to provoke a race. In an effort to get away, Immanuel forced the already weak clutch (his car is scheduled for clutch work ever since his "deer avoidance" accident about a month ago)...hence, the "clutch fail". Who knows what would have happened had the clutch not failed. I, myself, used to have a tendency to react to provoking driving conditions. I firmly believe that this dilemma was a blessing in disguise.

Not to mention the other added blessings that came out of it. You see, Immanuel and grandma have been having "relational issues" driving some sort of "wedge" in their precious grandma-grandson relationship. Well, this dilemma served as a great testimony and assurance to my son that his family will always be there for him no matter what. And what about the blessing of joy this gives to a mom's heart...knowing that my son knows he can count on his family...Priceless! (I will have to think about this when the bill from the clutch doctor comes in:)

I have so many tales to tell of "Blessings in Disguise". I'm thinking maybe I should start a series on this subject. God indeed works in mysterious ways, and always for our good. I am truly grateful.

My last weekend in March

My DH, Russ, took Isabella to her scheduled reading time for this year's 22nd annual KIWANIS-VAN NORMAN SIGHT READ ALOUD CONTEST as I had to work at the dance studio. I was able to join them for the awards ceremony attended by around 300 competitors. Isabella was awarded a third place medal in the 4th grade division.

Then we were off to The Dance City in Santa Maria to get new jazz shoes for Isabella's growing dancer feet; but not before stopping at Lightning Joe's Guitar Heaven to price out a guitar for daddy's little girl as he is excited to give "baby girl" guitar lessons...I think it would be a fabulous daddy-daughter bonding time don't you think? She found the perfect purple guitar...I'll be sure to post a photo of their first jamming session. Sunday of course is reserved for one of my spiritual disciplines. I was thrilled to have my hubby and baby girl with me during Sunday service. Well, I think that sums it up for my fabulous weekend.

Our 16yr old Ian took the bus to the Bay Area Friday afternoon to spend time with bro, Immanuel. They worked on his Supra the whole of Saturday then he had to board the bus again back to SLO at midnight (no availability for students coming back after spring break). Daddy picked him up at the bus station at 4am. Funny thing, our fire alarm went off VERY LOUDLY (I think it's a signal to check batteries or something) at around 3:30am sending Russ out the door after having been "alarmed" from a deep doze:) And he believed me when I said I set the alarm to go off (lol).


“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo Da Vinci

Meditation Spot

Reposting as inspired by It's a Beautiful Life Friday at The Inspired Room

Most of you know that solitude is a "must" in my daily rituals. I normally stop by the beach after school drop offs. With my husband now working in the area, he is able and very glad taking Isabella to school in the morning. So in replacement of my then usual meditation stop by the beach, this relaxing space is my current alternate meditation spot in the morning. After good-bye kisses, and before my household rituals, I am off to our inviting backyard with my cup of coffee, journal and beloved inspirational books. It's my "alone" time (well, alone with HIM) anticipated daily ritual of solitude.

If it is cold outside, this is my indoor meditation spot that overlooks the outdoor spot.

Related Posts:

Simple Things that give Ambiance...Ambiance!

Once Upon A Solitude

Inspiration Wall...Living a Grateful Life

Meditation Spot by the beach...Miracle in a Normal Day

Beauty of Nature

The beauty that abound
beckons my spirits
and whispers to my soul...

Slow down
don't let the beauty of nature slip by unnoticed

Take time
pay attention to the handiwork of the Creator

Take pleasure
revel in the grandeur of His creation

feel the nearness of God and experience His closeness

let the magnificence of His creation nourish your soul

I feel so fortunate living in a place where the beauty of nature abound, where I can find sweet escape and be on vacation every single day...truly a blessing I am so very grateful for. I pray for my heart to be guarded against apathy and callousness. Heaven forbid that I might grow accustomed to such magnificence and take it for granted.

Related Post: Meditation Spot: Miracle in a Normal Day

Phil in Malta!

The ICEX Team arrived in Malta! Follow their exciting undertaking in here.

Organizing Cleaning Tools: To Conceal or To Reveal?

It's time for a post on living A Beautiful Life: 12 months of Goals as inspired by The Inspired Room. This month's goal is organizing.

As a full time stay-at-home mom, I spend the largest portion of my life at home. With that said, I make it a point to pay special attention to the details of the lives we live in the sanctuary of our home. Decorating, organizing, and cleaning is a big part of my daily homemaking ritual.

I used to get frustrated stuffing my broom and dustpan in the little space in between the washer and dryer. Not only does the sight look unappealing and disorganized, it also deforms the 'walis' (special broom) I use. As a way to make cleaning more fun and efficient for me, I organized my usual cleaning tools within easy access. I revamped the laundry room area by changing the mirror on the wall to one with hooks where I can hang my cleaning tools. It may not look as pretty as the former mirror but it certainly is more functional. This simple change allowed for efficiency and elevated my daily homemaking ritual into something more pleasant.

the photo below shows a peek of the laundry room from the kitchen leading to the garage

this is the wall with the pretty mirror given by a dear friend of mine (which by the way I moved to a more prominent place in dining room)

This is the new mirror with hooks for my cleaning tools. On the other wall I have a matching wall memo board with smaller hooks for car keys. It is a very helpful and functional piece of wall decor that serve dual purposes. Not only is it a perfect place to hang keys as we come in from the garage, it's also the perfect place to jot down reminders as we head out. The memo board is a great reminder serving as a quick checklist for things I often forget (i.e. sunglasses, hat, water bottle, and any other relevant info.).

I debated whether to conceal or reveal my cleaning tools. The determining factor in my decision to reveal is the fact that these cleaning tools are used quite often throughout the day. I needed for them to be organized within easy access. I don't know why it took some deliberation on my part when there is a door to the laundry room that I can shut whenever I need them concealed for whatever reason...goes to show how I tend to overthink and complicate things...hence the quest for simplicity:)

King of New York

A debut performance for a new dance number, "King of New York", directed and choreographed by Ms. Tara Behnke. Performed by Coastal Dance and Music Academy's "Ain't Misbehavin'" Performance Troupe. This dance is not yet finished. The group is still learning the rest of the dane. This is a shortened version for this show (Isabella is 2nd from left)

Update on Phil Continued

Phil came home very happy last night after a successful Robotics class competition. He has an undefeated personal record for his robot projects. His robot last quarter won first place. This quarter's robot won first place again with perfect score. He said everyone were wondering and asking how his team made their robot run smoothly without problems. "Ask Phil" is his other teammate's reply. He is truly enjoying his Robotics projects...I think he found his "calling".

As for the ICEX Malta project, another article was written about it by Zahra Latif for the Malta online newspaper

Click here to view the article: "Robots uncover hidden Malta".

Update on Phil

I am getting excited for our first-born son, Phil, for his upcoming 10-day trip to Malta during Spring Break beginning on March 20th (the day after his 22nd birthday). Upon his return from Malta, he will be in his final quarter at Cal Poly, at which time he will be working as a paid intern for Oracle. I can't believe he will be graduating already this coming June and with very high honors if I may add. Please excuse me if I seem to be "bragging", I am just really proud of his well-deserved achievements. This is one of the great priviledges of blogging...I get to "sing my children's praises. He has 3 strong prospective employers at the moment (soon to be 4) with a solid offer from The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD), an organization within the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

This upcoming trip to Malta is another great endeavor to add to his list of accomplishments.

The Mustang Daily, Cal Poly’s student-run daily newspaper, features Cal Poly ICEX 2009 in today's front page article:

Engineers specialize robots
by: Chris Jagger
For a group of computer engineers at Cal Poly, spring break will be a productive experience rather than a week of rampant partying and relaxation.Through the International Computer Engineering Exchange (ICEX), a collaboration between Cal Poly's computer engineering department and various international partners, several students will be traveling to the small island of Malta to work on a robotic exploration project. "Since there aren't many opportunities for computer engineering students to study abroad, we've found international projects that people need computer engineers to do like robotics, exploration, archeology and stuff like that," said computer science graduate student Matthew Schlachtman.The team of experienced computer engineering students consists of Schlachtman, Michael Boardman, Justin Kuenm, Cory White, Daniel Hiranandani, Phil Phillips and faculty advisor Chris Clark. Malta has historically been under constant attack, so an underground system of caverns and wells was built to store a reserve supply for soldiers held up in fortresses for long periods of time. Because the cisterns have not been seen or touched for more than 2,000 years, the ICEX team will use two remotely controlled robots to explore them. The small, lightweight robots will fit into holes that people cannot access and essentially swim through the caverns, using sonar software to map them out. The company Video Ray provided all robotic hardware and the ICEX team specialized these robots to perform well under water."We've been working on our particular part of the project for the last three months," electrical engineering graduate student Boardman said. "That part has been updating the user interface, changing thruster controls, working on mapping algorithms and changing around the mapping interface so that it would be a little bit better than it was before for our trip."
The ICEX team is working in conjunction with an archaeologist who will help them find sites for the exploration. According to Boardman, archaeologists are want to see how well these cisterns are connected together and hope the Video Ray robots will provide reliable maps. To make sure the robots function correctly and all the software is to speed, the ICEX team received permission to test them in the Poly Canyon Village pool last Tuesday. They wanted the robots to map the pool as if it were one of the cisterns. "We just wanted to test everything out, make sure it all works and see how our maps come out of the pool," Boardman said.By the end of this session, they were able to deploy both Video Ray robots, read sonar data off of a laptop, control them with a joystick and gauge the overall functioning of the software. They also discovered a few minor problems. One robot was too buoyant and needed more weight to help it submerge under the water. They realized that the joystick controls needed minor adjustments.The ICEX team members said they are confident that the robots will be fully functional by spring break as they anxiously await their trip to Malta."It's been a tremendous experience just learning about robotics in a practical way,"Boardman said.

Go online to to see an audio slideshow.

She Paints Flowers

Isabella as Georgia O'Keefe in her school play, The Greatest Americans of The 20th Century.

My First Pansit Creation

My very first 'pansit bihon' (a filipino noodle dish) creation. Pansit is part of a filipino's celebration. Those of you who really know me, know that I am not particularly fond of cooking. But you also know that I am a very devoted mom. Well, my son Phil attended a potluck get-together a couple of weeks ago for the ICEX Malta '09 team dinner. As most of you already know, he was selected among 6 Computer Engineering students to be part of Cal Poly's International Computer Engineering Experience (ICEX) program. The team had a potluck dinner to have a chance to 'bond' outside of technical training as they start to feel the excitement of their upcoming trip to Malta (they will be leaving on March 20th-the day after our son turns 22). Hench, my first 'pansit' creation:)...after all, it is truly a cause for celebration.

Babes in Toyland

A video clip from Babes in Toyland last December. Isabella played The French Doll in Act I ...she pops out from the big gift box.

Finally I have some photos of Babes in Toyland from last December. The photographer hesitated for a long while as to whether or not to make the photos available. The photos came out dark because of lighting issues at the Pismo Vet's Hall. I am so glad the photographer finally decided to share them despite the quality issues.

Here she is coming out of a big gift box

in her solo French Doll dance

joined by her close friend, Sonja, as the Toymaker's Assistant

here she is descending from a lifted grand jete over the Floppy Dolls

final pose at the end of the French Doll dance

and I also got 4 photos from Act II with Isabella as a Sheep (coming soon after I finish scanning:)

'Beauty Tips'

From the beautiful, Ms. Audrey Hepburn

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Shared by ate Cecile, a beautiful angel friend...Thank you.

When I say 'I am a Christian'

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I'm not shouting 'I'm clean living''
I'm whispering 'I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven.'

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
and need His strength to carry on.

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
and need God to clean my mess.

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible but,
God believes I am worth it.

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I still feel the sting of pain...
I have my share of heartaches,
so I call upon His name.

When I say... 'I am a Christian'
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
who received God's good grace, somehow!

shared by my sister in Christ, my GFF Tessie...Thanks