Thursday, July 9, 2020

Hamilton - A Powerful Musical!

Hamilton tickets | Broadway | reviews, cast and info | TheaterMania

At first, I wasn't really excited to see "Hamilton" despite all of the hype surrounding it. There was controversy too about whether this musical glamorized historical figures who didn't really deserve the attention. I anticipated seeing a story about one of our founding fathers told in a hip-hop trendy fashion. It was that...and SO much more!

Strictly speaking about the music, Lin and the creative team are truly musical geniuses. Some of the songs are fast, especially the raps, so thank goodness my TV was already set for captions. I would encourage those watching on Disney+ to also put the subtitles on. The lyrics are stimulating, intellectual and witty. The rewind scene itself is a masterpiece. I see now why this musical has won so many awards! Layers and rounds of choruses that are mashed up and revisited over and over throughout, emphasize multiple meanings depending on character, circumstance and situation. "My Shot", "To the Union", and "Helpless" are all examples.
Also repeated by different characters are the lyrics "Aren't we lucky to be alive?" juxtaposed with "You'll never be satisfied." These combined with the endearment "son" from George Washington, trigger glimpses into Hamilton's internal struggles.
At the very tip, "Hamilton" is entertaining but underneath is a complex foundation of educational and critical content that still resonate in today's political and societal issues. With more to unpack, and like a good original mixtape, "Hamilton" is a powerful musical that leaves one wanting to press play again. What was your "Hamilton" experience? Please leave a comment below!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Celebrating San Diego County's Inaugural Counselor of the Year, Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia!

2020 SD Counselor of the Year Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia
My blog turns five years old this year and I wanted to celebrate by highlighting the person that got me started on this blogging journey and that person is Ms. Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia! 
Please let me tell you why there is something special to write about Ms. Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia.  She is a dear friend that I have known for a long time  and she is the San Diego County's FIRST EVER recognized Counselor of the Year in the high school category and on top of that, she is PINAY! Woo hoo! Way to represent the Sweetwater Union High School District, the South Bay and the Fil-Am community! 

Lysabeth is the head counselor at her alma mater, Sweetwater High School.  Before becoming a counselor she was a middle school and high school English teacher for several years. Counseling is in itself an all-encompassing job, but out of 900 school counselors who were up for the title,  “what stood out about Lysabeth ...was her...passion, leadership, and the above and beyond work [she does] to positively impact their schools,” said Tanya Bulette, counseling coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education.  

I asked her some questions about being selected for this honor:

1. What/who inspired you to become a school counselor?

When I was in college, I was an avid tutor at Granger Junior High School and National City Middle School. I really enjoyed working with young people so I decided to pursue a career in education. My plan was to teach for a few years and then maybe pursue career advancement as a school administrator. But as a teacher, I realized being an administrator wasn't a good fit for me. I did have fond memories of my high school counselors. The school counselors at my high school are some of my greatest mentors. Thus, I decided to pursue my master's degree in educational counseling.

2. What brings you joy in your job?
I love being able to work with students one-on-one to plan for their future goals. Many students have dreams and goals that they feel are unattainable. I am able to give them to tools to help them achieve those dreams and goals. 

3. What is the biggest challenge in being a school counselor? 

My biggest challenge is not being able to address the needs of all my students. As a school counselor, I have a caseload of 360 students. Because of such a big case load, it is hard to find the time to have one-on-one, meaningful interactions with all my students. 

4. How do you spend your time outside of work?

I have a blog where I document the fun things I do with my family. You can check it out at www.GarciaMemories.com. I've also started a small business venture which was inspired by the wellness initiatives I've done at Sweetwater High School. Visit us at on Instagram @InhaleBeWell. Other than that, I love just spending time with my family and friends.

5. A year from now how do you think you will describe being the first ever SD County Counselor of the Year?

It was a great surprise, and a huge honor! The best memory is walking into the principal's office with so many of my colleagues and students there to greet me and congratulate me. If you've seen the pictures and videos, I think I facial expression explains it all! Haha! 
Seriously though, it was such a validating moment knowing all of these people who I work with value the work that I do. In addition to that moment, I was able to address over 400 school counselors at our annual school counselor leadership conference for San Diego and I was featured on a morning segment for KUSI news as well.  I feel like the "Miss America" of the school counseling world. I was scheduled to tour around the county and advocate for school counseling before the COVID19 protocols were put into place.  We were told that there would be other events in the future to attend to speak on behalf of school counseling. ("We" refers to Lysabeth and another counselor, Edward Gigliotti, who was selected as the K - 8 representative.) It's a great platform to be able to advocate for the great work school counselors do.

What else can I tell you about Lysabeth and the work that she does? Lysabeth and I have been members of the same committees, namely the Sweetwater District Magkaisa Filipino-American Student and Parent Conference committee and the Sweetwater Filipino Educator Karangalan Scholarship committee for many years.  The Sweetwater District has around four thousand Filipino-American students enrolled, making our students the second largest ethnicity. The first Magkaisa conference was held in 2001. It came about as a response to the growing concern towards our Filipino-American students having mental health issues and stress associated with generational parenting styles and expectations. 

At that time, many of our students were experiencing suicidal ideation. Sadly, they still do today. The Magkaisa conference is something unique to the Sweetwater District and students from neighboring districts are also invited to attend.  This conference is generally held on a Saturday and attendance has been upwards of two thousand students and parents. Along with parenting workshops, parents and students are also exposed to career and college presentations from local universities and community members.  Lysabeth has been the chairperson of the conference and a mainstay member of committee since its inception.  Being the organizer of such a large-scale event is no easy feat, especially when many of the supplies needed rely solely on donations and recruiting speakers for the presentations depend mostly on the community connections and relationships built over the years. The conference has been an excellent activity for our students and parents because of Lysabeth's involvement.

In addition, Lysabeth has been the chairperson and a committee member of the Filipino Educator Karangalan Scholarship Committee for just as many years. Recognizing that although Filipino-American students may be able to get into college, funding tuition may be difficult for the families. The purpose of the scholarship is to help aid families with the further goal of raising the retention rate of Filipino-American students graduating from college. As the Karangalan chairperson, she has had the responsibility of facilitating the process of soliciting donations, publicizing the scholarship to qualified applicants, reading the applications, selecting winners throughout the district and presenting scholarships.  This is another example of how Lysabeth gives back to students and their families.  Furthermore, much credit goes to her technology savviness as she has been the webmaster and social media manager for both the Magkaisa Conference and the Karangalan Scholarship.  

Yes, technically she is an academic school counselor but her specific work in recognizing the social-emotional needs of students is especially deserving of acknowledgement. Lysabeth is kind, caring and compassionate and genuine in her interactions with her students and families. That Sweetwater High School students see someone at their school who lived in the area, attended the same high school, went on to higher education, and has been able to achieve success in so many areas is so inspiring! It is a bonus that our Filipino students see someone who looks like them. 

Along with her work responsibilities, Lysabeth is a devoted daughter to her aging parents, a loving and caring spouse and mother of two boys.  She is one of the most giving, selfless, and tireless people I know. I admire her humility and her tremendous effort to give credit to others. She is not only a Super Counselor but indeed a Super Human. I am proud to call Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia my professional peer, my colleague, and my friend.  My life has been enriched with her in it.   I get to spend time with her at work-related events and also at social events through the world of blogging!  Our families even met up for dinner in Manila, Philippines at Christmas time a couple of years ago! I know she is going to be a great ambassador for high school counselors this year! Many Many Congratulations to Lysabeth!

Find Lysabeth on these pages and in videos that she is featured in:


The Filipino American Blogger Network

The Filipino American Woman - Lysabeth Luansing


Total Mom Makeover - Lysabeth Luansing

Connect with her on:
Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and gmail: @lovelylysa
Facebook at GarciaMemoriesSD!
Thank you Lysabeth for all you do!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Shake and Muddle is a welcome mix to Downtown Chula Vista!



Shake and Muddle is a self-described cocktail fusion mixology bar with homestyle eats! It has been open for a little over a month and is certainly shaking things up in Chula Vista! We were looking for a place not too far from home and noticed that this place was new and received all five star reviews.

I'm also giving it 5 stars! Here's why!

Ambience and Parking - I hate wasting time looking for parking. I remove stars for this very factor. Fortunately this place is located in a building with a covered parking garage. And it is free parking! Score! Upon entering I was already impressed by the variety of seating. Open air outdoor tables available as well as outside seats at the bar.  Then ample large group seating around the square tables with the fire features in the middle in the patio area.  Third, lots of group and intimate seating inside as well.  The decor is what you would find in Banker's Hill or North Park, trendy yet sophisticated. Light fixtures, wall textures, the outside design, all made a great impression. Our seats were nice and cushioned.  I would love to eat in the booth area next time. TVs had the football game on and there was also music playing. Our party could still have a conversation with all of that going on. Check out their gallery of pictures to see what I mean.

Service - We were greeted and seated immediately.  Since it was a new place, we called ahead and the gal put our name down for a reservation. Our server easily told us her favorite dishes on the menu which included the ceviche, fried chicken and other dishes.  I let her know that I liked sweet cocktails and she recommended the Cortez Way made with coconut juice.  It was very yummy, perfect for my palate!   She checked on us often and I really appreciated that she asked if we wanted our food as it was ready or served all at once.  Since we were going to sample everyone's order, we went with "bring it out when each dish is ready".   Water was always refilled and even the general manager made his rounds to ask us about our experience so far.

Prices - Very reasonable for what you get! They have Happy Hour from 4  to 7 pm everyday except for Saturday. For now it is only a drink menu but our server said they are working on a HH food menu too.

Food - This is the most important category, right? EVERYTHING we ordered was delicious, there was nothing left to take home! I wanted to meet the chef that's how good the food was!  Here's what we had:
The Wedge with a jalapeno bleu cheese dressing! Pretty much the whole lettuce head!
Lamb chops! I didn't eat any, but my foodie friends say they were great!
New York Strip! Very tasty!
Ceviche! In a town where Mexican fare can be found on every corner,this was fantastic!
Octopus! Omg, so tender and ate like meat! 
Short rib "nachos" on thin potato slices, aka elevated Carne Asada Fries! Was very filling and not greasy!
We were so full, we didn't have any desserts, but now we have a reason to go back. All I can say is get over there soon before the word gets out and lines get long!
Follow Shake and Muddle on FB and Instagram for the latest updates!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Top Seven Ways to Enjoy Aulani, A Dream Disney Vacation Club Resort!




We recently spent a few days at Aulani in Ko Olina, Hawaii! It was amazing! I can't wait to go back! Here are seven ways to enjoy the resort!

1. Enjoy the room!
We are Disney Vacation Club members, so we booked a one-bedroom villa that sleeps five! You can also buy points to rent villas, but I am not too familiar with the process. The room is amazing, however the only downside was all of us sharing one bathroom.  That made it tricky getting back from pool time and getting ready to go back out.  Here are some pictures of the villa.
Living area with sofa bed and murphy bed under the TV
I love that the villas have a kitchen!
It was awesome that the kitchen had a rice cooker! I had my rice ready! I'm looking for an Instant Pot to show up next!
Not shown is the jet bathtub. We took turns in it!  Very lovely way to end a day!

2. Listen to live music!
Where we were located was near the nightly luau. So all we had to do is open our balcony sliding door to hear lovely Hawaiian tunes each night.  Lulled me to sleep!  They have live entertainment happening nightly throughout the resort and even ukelele lessons to get you started!

3. Go in the water!
The pools, lazy river, and the beach are first class.  We went into the water every day of our stay.  Here's my son paddleboarding on the beach.


4. Take a tour of the resort!


It was cool to hear the history of the construction of Aulani and how things were developed.  Uncle gave us a very educational and informational tour.

Uncle talked to us about the importance of the coconut tree to Hawaiians due to its many uses in Hawaiian life, to build shelter, for food, how the kukui is used for the oil, especially for torches like this!

He also told us about how water is life and the systems that were in place with the water flowing from the mountains into irrigation design when plantation life was abundant. Today, Hawaiians are fighting for the rights for water!


Uncle told us about this piko stone, the most important part of the resort. Local elders chose this specific location to be the "bellybutton" of the resort, where the connection is to Mother Nature, the center.  It is made of coral.


5. Special activities!
Aulani has a daily schedule of activities, some are included and some have a nominal fee.  We only took advantage of a couple, because of our limited stay. I would recommend at least a week!

DVDs to rent if you want to chill in the room
Materials to make customized Mickey Ears!

6. Character dining!

What would a stay at a Disney resort be without meeting some characters!  There are characters for scheduled Meet and Greets, but you can also have some interaction with characters if you book a Character Dining event at Mahaliki.

With Dale!

Don't forget the shave ice!


7. Aulani has so many beautiful spots, one way to capture your dream vacation is by having a photo session. The pictures will be worth every penny.


Like I said, we can't wait to be able to go back to Ko Olina and visit Aulani again!

Thanks for reading! Have a tip to share? Please leave a comment below.  










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