"oh say, can you see?"

my grandfather was discharged from the hospital on the 13th--my grandmother's birthday. we were more busy getting his things packed and ready for his temporary place of recuperation: my aunt's house. that night, though, we managed to get my grandmother a nice, boston cream cake for candle-blowing and posterity's sake.

it has been a tiring nine days taking turns with my mother to watch my grandfather at the hospital. you don't really get a comfortable, good night's sleep at their reclining couch there, as nurses would come in the room every hour or so to check his vital signs. but it's a great relief that the crucial days of his post-surgery are now over, and his rehabilitation at home now begins. he comes back to the surgeon's office on monday to have his staples removed from his incision site. from then on, physical therapy will be his next ordeal.

meanwhile, my father and sister became american citizens this month just a week apart from each other. they took their oath of allegiance in newark. my father was then accompanied by my mom who barely had enough sleep straight out of the hospital after watching my bed-ridden grandfather. they did not have a camera. luckily for them, a kind irish couple had lent them a huge uncle sam hat for my father to wear for picture-taking purposes. the nice irish woman (whose husband became naturalized that day) took my father's picture and emailed it to my mom. that surely saved the day from being completely bereft of a photo souvenir.

i got my father an apple pie (what dessert can be more american than that?) with candles reading "congrats" for him to pose with at home for pictures. as for my sister, she had her boyfriend with her on her interview/oath-taking ceremony. i got her a little something to wear that's red, white and blue...and something that's shimmering silver.

as for me, i've gotten an e-ticket for my trip to the philippines in february. yes, it's really happening. i'll be flying northwest airlines and will be celebrating a friend's wedding, valentine's day, a sorority's anniversary, and an aunt's birthday within a month's stay.

"Manila, Manila
I keep coming back to Manila
Simply no place like Manila
Manila, I'm coming home..."

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