My decade

Year two thousand nine has ended but it’s not only a year that bade farewell – I sighed and thought to myself,  the first decade after year 2000 just ended. A decade! These past ten years had been memorable, with so many significant events happening in my life.

  • 2000 – I “met” someone who would later become my husband in the same university I went to in Japan. We were in the same class since 1997 but only became close three years later while working on a school project. We were friends first and I’ll admit, I never thought of being married to him. My thoughts aren’t always right.


  • 2001 – M and I graduated from the university and I went on to have my very first job and my first apartment, 300 kilometers away from where I lived for 4.5 years in Japan. I was alone then because M continued his masteral studies in the same school. We would only see each other once/twice a month. My first job as a computer programmer was something I know I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life. This I wanted to do for the rest of my life:

Karuizawa with M

~ See how young and stress-free we looked almost 10 years ago! ~

  • 2002 – I was still working at Epson, M was still in school far, far away. I liked living alone in my apartment as I could do anything I wanted  like watching reruns of Ally McBeal on DVD. LOL. M bought me a microwave oven and I was able to bake, something I really wanted to do but couldn’t while living in the school dormitory. I bought a mountain bike I use when I go out on weekends to destress. After one year of working as a “programmer” (I cringe at the sound of that word), I am still miserable and probably have lost so much self-confidence. The people around me were just too skillful or I just felt that because of I lacked.

** I can’t believe I was still using a film camera up to this year! I have printed photos in albums and none in files! **

  • 2003 – M finished graduate school and we decide to get married. Then we did…and we got Pristine at the end of the year. It was overwhelming. We only lived together for a few months before the baby came. We do not know how an empty house feels (and not intending to know!).

~ 32 weeks pregnant in 2003 ~

Pristine at 6 months

  • 2004 – I struggled with post partum depression because I didn’t know raising a baby of my own would be so different from babysitting my younger siblings. I thought I knew it all, that I was made and so ready to be a mom. My maternal instincts existed before I became a teenager but I was so wrong!

Pristine had severe food allergy (milk and eggs & ALL the by-products) passed through breastmilk. She had severe colic and would cry for hours all throughout the day. The worst part? I did NOT know she was uncomfortable and possibly in pain because of the allergies. I just thought I wasn’t doing my best or that babies were born to cry, sort of like, to exercise their lungs?

She was diagnosed ONLY after 5 months when she started eating soft solid foods and had rashes at the touch of cream cheese in her lips. I rushed to the hospital in my pajamas. The doctor banned me from all the foods with allergens. I lived without eating everything that has eggs and milk and unbelievable but yeah, chocolates, too (for three years).

This year also, I lost that horrible programmer job. I did not enjoy it so it didn’t matter but I had to go back to school when Pristine was 6 months old – had to learn something other than programming so I can take up another job. I was accepted at a local community college on a scholarship  program and took up Accounting, Bookkeeping and office administration. Also took certifications for MS Excel and Word. I would do my assignments while breastfeeding/pumping milk at night. My computer keyboard terribly reeked of breast milk.

  • 2005 – Pristine entered the daycare center at 16 months. Seeing her cry and feeling her small hands clinging to my shirt as I leave her to the caretakers there was the most painful experience ever. She would cry, I would cry. I could see the look in her eyes, “why are you leaving me here, mama?”. My heart bled so much that it was almost difficult to drive to work, my eyes fogged with tears. No mom should ever feel that way.

Mid-2005, we bought a house. I mean got a loan to buy a house, specifically speaking. I started another job but quit after 5 months because Pristine was constantly sick, I guess from being so young and vulnerable to simple colds and cough at the daycare center. I stayed at home for 2 months and enjoyed just being a normal mom and wife. It was one of the best times of my life but I needed to go back to work (financial reason) or else I would fill the house with my crossstitch projects…I wasn’t blogging yet that time! I got a new job on September 2005 and I loved it. Pristine got used to being in daycare and enjoyed her time there with her friends. When I come in the afternoon to pick her up, she would cry but for a different reason – she doesn’t want to go home!

in daycare center Japan

~ at the daycare center in Japan, see how she’s squirming to get off me and join her friends ~

  • 2006 –  While living peacefully in the new house, well adjusted to my new job and Pristine happy at the daycare center, I received a call while driving home from work one rainy summer day. Someone from Dubai was inviting me to work in their company! “Dubai!? Where the hell is that?”, was my initial reaction. I parked the car and listened to the voice on the other end of the line, coming halfway across the globe.


  • 2007 – We sold most of our stuffs and packed up to relocate to Dubai. My in-laws were supportive but I can tell they weren’t that happy. It’s either they did not like the idea of me taking their son and only grandchild to Aladdin’s place (wherever that is, for them) or that they have helped us buy the house and then we’re leaving only after 1.5 years.

Our first year in Dubai starts. We were like the three blind mice. We didn’t have a house (we lived in a company guest room provided), we didn’t know anyone, no car, no access to internet. We didn’t even have our own pillows. We only carried the maximum allowed baggage with us on the plane with the weight mostly coming from the stupid NEC desktop unibody PC we simply couldn’t part with, clothes, shoes, medicines, emergency food and Pristine’s diapers.

streets of Dubai 2003

~ roaming in the streets of Dubai on foot (no car), on our way looking for a pre-school since she was bored at home ~

M stayed home taking care of Pristine while I work. It was such a precious time for the two of them to reconnect and bond with each other. M was always out of the picture when we were living in Japan because of the long hours of work he has to do (just normal Japanese working style!).

My mom came to our rescue in May 2005 and M was able to finally go out and seek employment. He got his first job but quit after just 4 months. He got another one immediately that got him so busy…

By the way, I did not have a PC at work for the entire month! I was sitting idly, reading brochures and boring myself to death. I bought a notebook (paper not PC) and wrote and wrote and wrote. When I finally got a PC, I started a blog…

  • 2008 – No significant change in my life, family or work but M just became busier and busier. To my surprise, he was busier than when we were in Japan. I was granted my first vacation! We were excited to finally board the plane to Japan! What made me really really ecstatic was finally going to the salon after 20 months.


  • 2009 – Pristine is in the 1st grade now. It’s so amazing because we came here when she spoke zero English. Now, she speaks the language so fluently even in her sleep. No change in my life – I still blog at work.


  • 2010 – We’re still in Dubai and I’m still working for the same company. By January 13th, it will be three years since I’ve uprooted my family and transplanted them here in Dubai. It had been a long journey and I look back at how far we’ve come. We like it here and we’ll be staying for a while.

I’m looking forward to the next decade and if there’s one thing I learn that applies to life, generally, it is the fact that “no matter how hard it is, it will get better.”

How was your decade?


  1. That was so nice to read…thank you for sharing…I didn’t know that you are a cross stitcher…I think you can restart stitching again…Happy New Year …Have a wonderful 2010



  2. Wow-You know, now that you put it in years, it’s unbelievable how fast it has gone by! Not only the year 2009, but the whole decade…
    And it looks like you have been busy this whole 10 years-WOWY!! I guess If I really focus back, I probably would look busy too-Oh, I just realized that a major event this past decade was getting sick.
    That’s very weird to realize because it seems like 50 years as opposed to just 6.

    Hopefully 2010 and the start of a new decade will be good for all of us 🙂
    .-= Kayla´s last blog ..Small Talk Six(1/2)-New Year, New You! =-.



  3. I love the photographs of you and M… you don’t post many of him, so it is nice to see him. He has a beautiful smile. And of course, I adore photos of Pristine at any age!!
    It has certainly been an incredible decade for you, in big ways and small. I think we all have trouble with our first baby and make mistakes. You’ll do better with the next one. 🙂
    .-= Lorie Shewbridge´s last blog ..Saturday 9: You Shook Me =-.



  4. Thanks for sharing this Grace, it was good to know how you came to work in Dubai i am sure it must have been hard but you got through it and i am so, so proud of you!

    I really enjoyed reading this as i got to know more about you. I dont remember you telling me that you cross stitched you should start it again and join the crafty mamas 🙂

    .-= Mayya @ Sew Chic and Unique´s last blog ..My diary got a makeover! =-.



    1. I did crosstitching before and it terribly degraded my eyesight. I still love the thought of crossstitching again but maybe I’ll teach Pristine – can’t do that with my sked now..



  5. I love to cross stitch too, but haven’t touched it in over a year. 😦 Too much time on the computer, but part of that is with photos so I can’t complain! 🙂
    And I don’t have any digital photos until 2005! I still plan to put many digital photos in albums eventually, when I get caught up on my scrapbooking, I’m working on 2002 right now!



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