Oh, the Places We’ll Go! (And Been) | World Travel Map with Pins

When my husband Kevin and I were dating in college, he studied abroad in Costa Rica for five weeks so he could learn Spanish via language immersion. One day, I opened up my email and read, “When I’m finished with my classes, why don’t you fly down here so we can travel the country together?” How totally romantic!

Kevin in Diana hiking in Costa Rica

Kevin and I hike the rainforest in Costa Rica in 2003.

But so last minute. He was talking about a date two weeks away and I had an expired passport!

I made it happen – but barely – because my passport literally arrived in the mail the day before I left. My plane landed in San Jose where my very tanned Spanish-speaking boyfriend met me.

We traveled for nine days together staying in beach towns, zip lining through the rain forest, and eating fresh papaya and drinking mango juice for breakfast. Traveling with my personal translator, we avoided touristy areas so we could experience Costa Rica culture up close and personal.

Being half Filipino, I am often mistaken for being Hispanic so locals would sometimes just randomly start speaking Spanish to me. When they did, I would get this embarrassed I’m-sorry-I’m-your-typical-spoiled- American-who-only-speaks-English look on my face. Then I would politely say, “No hablo espanol” and then quickly point at Kevin – “El Gringo” (you know, Spanish for “The Gringo”).

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An Aloha Christmas | A Surprise Family Vacation

Our family tradition is to open presents on Christmas Eve. But in 1998, we opened gifts a few days earlier. We told our children there were family members going out of town, and they would not be here for Christmas. Luckily, they did not ask which family members because it was US!

For weeks, I had shopped for summer clothes in the winter. Not an easy feat trying to find bathing suits because Internet shopping wasn’t really a thing yet back then.

Hawaii Family Vacation Gift

My sons parasailing over the ocean.

I purchased brand new suitcases for my two boys and packed shorts, t-shirts, snorkel gear, beach towels and sunscreen. On top of that, I placed what I wanted my children to first see – brochures and airline tickets of where we were going to be on Christmas Day!

That evening at my in-laws, we did the usual holiday ritual of eating, visiting and opening gifts. We had our children open their gifts from us last. When they opened their presents and found suitcases containing clothes, they were puzzled. The look in their eyes said, “Uh, what’s this? Clothes? Really?”

We all know 17 and 13 year old boys hate getting clothes of any kind. For any occasion.

I couldn’t believe they missed the brochures of beaches and surfers!

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Let It Be Known That This is My First Blog Post Ever

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Queen Darlene (Darlene Drew) co-founder of Sunburst GiftsUnlike Diana, I do not have a favorite holiday. New Year’s, Valentine’s, the holidays you are off work, Easter, Birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and everything in between are all equally wonderful to me.

My family celebrated on every occasion because it was deemed important that family and friends get together to share stories, have fun, laugh, give gifts, take pictures, give hugs and kisses and genuinely show love for each other.

You see, for most of my life the only way my family could communicate was face to face. My grandparents on both sides were deaf, as well as my parents. There were no computers, video phones or cell phones to text. You could not call to wish someone a Happy Birthday or Thanksgiving. You physically had to be there in order to communicate through sign language.

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Thanksgiving | My Favorite Holiday

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Princess Diana (Diana Rogers Jaeger) co-founder of Sunburst GiftsSince college, my favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving. Why? Because people don’t give presents. I know that sounds silly coming from the co-author of a gift ideas blog but hear me out.

Instead of giving presents on Thanksgiving, people give their TIME to spend with their family. Nothing says “I love you” or “You are important to me” more than taking time to sit, talk and laugh together.

But the gift of time is abstract. You can’t see it or touch it. So that’s why there are many occasions where we want to SHOW someone we love them and care about them with an actual gift. Something they can physically unwrap.

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