From Singapore, I arrived back into Houston Monday night. Seeing that I was leaving again in four days, I had no time to spare or to relax. Earlier in the year, I had a weekend planned in Michigan for my brother's wedding. My family was going up there to finally see my brother walk the stage! He has been studying for nine years! Seeing how my brother was during his "rebellious stage" before and how badly he did academically, for him to now become a doctorate in Physical Therapy is a huge accomplishment and has been a long journey not only for him, but for our whole family. My dad told me that no matter where I was in the world, I had to be there for my brother's graduation. All of this was planned before I knew I was going to Malaysia and also before I knew that I was needed in Brazil right after my brother's graduation weekend for work. Seeing that I only had about 3.5 days to get all my preparations done, as always, I quickly jotted down my To Do List and started on it as soon as I could. When I got back to Houston, I literally dumped my bags into the laundry, got my kimchee and pho fix, got work in the office done, pack bags, and off I go again!
The trip after the graduation for work was going to be an extended trip since I was visiting three countries for work and taking a couple of days weeks afterwards to travel a bit while I was in Europe. My next 1.5 month's itinerary: Michigan for brother's graduation, Brazil for work, flying straight to The Netherlands for work training, fly to Norway for a critical well review, then some days off visiting my friends in Brighton UK, and off on a road trip to Le Mont Saint Michel with Berty in the North of France!... Whew! What a mouthful. An extremely packed, busy, yet exciting trip from the beginning of August until mid September. BRING IT!
Flying to Berrien Springs, MI (where my brother's school is located) was a bit difficult and stressful. First a flight from IAH to DFW to ORD Chicago. Then my brother's friend Jon picked me and my grandma up at ORD Chicago to drive 2-3 hours to Berrien Springs, MI or what I originally thought as Bare-n-nothing Springs, Michigan, literally in the country side boonies. But with the 2.5 days I spent in this middle of nowhere city in Michigan, I was pleasantly surprised.
During my first day, I spent a great morning with my family at church and then a spent the rest of this beautiful sabbath at the beach (Yes, I said BEACH). Lake Michigan is only about a 30 minute drive away from Berrien Springs, but who knew such great beaches existed along the lake? Our family decided to set up fort in the soft white sand beach of Waco Beach. My brother body boarding, me and Crystal soaking in the sun, my grandma's chatting, my parents going on a romantic walk along the beach... With beautiful weather, the sun shinning, good laughs with the family (my brother lost his glasses in water... said he didn't realize had them on and dove straight into the water head first. LOL)... it was really a relaxing and happy time for me. I rarely saw my family the past 8 months, so being able to spend Sabbath with my parents, my brother, and both my grandmas was a blessing.
The next day was my brother's graduation at the chapel. Another beautiful blue, not a single cloud in the sky, sunny, crisp morning. It was really heartwarming to see how many lives my brother has touched not only through treating his patients, but through all his fellow classmates and instructors. It was obvious that many admired him and loved him. People sure do love my brother, but it is well understandable. I was an extremely proud and happy sister. I knew my brother could do it and him stealing my crayons as a child and paying me back in my stolen crayons to do his math homework was all for bettering my math skills... or... not? haha But really, I was genuinely proud for my brothers accomplishments and ecstatic to see where his journey will go from here. It's so great to see my brother so passionate about physical therapy and bettering other's mental and physical state using positivity. And... he can finally come travel with me...without me paying for everything... -___-... I was so excited about my brother graduating that even though the school said not to make loud noises and cheers in respect for the church, I still did it.. Xenon Warrior princess style with a "CONGRATS BRAHHHHHH" really fucking loud. Yup, I did... Sorry that I'm not sorry!
With another beautiful day ahead of us, my family and I decided to go pick fruits at the plentiful fruit farms they call "U-Pick"... you eat what you pick and pay for what you take home! There are all different kinds of fruit farms from apples to peaches to tomatoes to berries to cherries but this time of year, blue berries were in season and let me tell you... I LORRRRVE BLUEBERRIES NOM NOM OMM NOMMMM *insert maniacal insane cookie monster face here*.
I ate and picked so many damn blueberries that my shorts did not fit and I could not breathe afterwards. But even then... I'd still pick some off the tree and pop a handful of those delicious blueberries in my mouth. The fruits at the U-pick are truly some of the freshest and tastiest fruits I have ever tasted! I mean seriously, its literally right off the tree! My dad's bucket was completely empty.. He just ate and did no work whatsoever. He said it would be cheaper this way... typical Asian parent... haha fifty pounds (5 x 10 lb boxes) of blueberries were picked and only cost us about 30$! What a steal!
Alongside the never ending fields of fruits are also fields of grapes for wine! I was really surprised by how many small wineries that were around Bare-and-nothing Springs, Michigan. I needed some quality time away from the parentals and grandma's and spend some quality time with my bro and his girlfriend Crystal, so what better way of celebrating and bonding than over a glass a wine?
We went to the locally famous winery called Tabor Hills. Located on top of the hill, there is a great view of all the rows of grapes with the sunset in the background. With such a beautiful day, Crystal and I had a little photo shoot getting lost between the grape vines and frolicking along the grape fields while enjoying a glass of their delicious, sweet, dry Pinot Grigio. Great bonding time with Crystal!
My brother, Crystal, and I enjoyed the rest of the evening at a local restaurant with drinks and then a midnight trip to Silver Beach. It is freezing at night by the way. So make sure to bring some warm clothes and a jacket if you're visiting the beach at night. There's a pretty neat walkway up to a light house where you can dangle your feet off the top floor of the light house and chill out hearing the waves crashing in the middle of Michigan Lake.
It was so nice to finally be able to spend some precious time with my family. My life has been so hectic running from place to place, plane to plane, learning new things, meeting new people, but this weekend was so pleasant to just finally sit down and enjoy the company of my biggest supporters, my foundation and rock, my family. Being in different timezones, countries, states, cities, I get so caught up in my own life that I become forgetful of the loved ones back home. This weekend made me realize that I need to dedicate more time for my family. Time is so precious! They are truly the world to me and I honestly have no idea what I would do without them. God has truly blessed me for this weekend and for my amazing family!
After a quick breakfast with my brother and Crystal on my last morning in Michigan was a long journey waiting ahead of me. From South Bend Airport to ORD Chicago to IAH Houston to GIG Rio de Janeiro as my first leg to the 1.5 months of travel I had ahead of me. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
BTW, if you ever to decide to visit the Southern Michigan region, bring dry shampoo. The tap water there has a lot of different minerals making my hair super oily even after shampooing 2-3 times.... Why my hair gotta look like shiet in my family photos?! If you don't want that problem, get yoself some dry shampoo and use religiously!