Thoughts on Kids’ Soccer, Competition, and Sports

It was a really hot Saturday noon with the sun almost directly overhead. I held a big umbrella to provide shade to 2 members of our son’s soccer team sitting on the bench. First game of the Nashville Youth Soccer Association (NYSA) Fall season and the kids had 3 minutes left in the game.

Those two kids didn’t want to play. J, the son of my son’s coach, cried when the opposing team took the ball from him. It just went downhill from there. The other kid, U, refused to play after the first quarter. It is their first season playing kids’ soccer.

Our son did a little better on his first season, too. He played in the Spring 2017 season of the NYSA from February to May. He loved practice time but during the actual games, he just wanted to sit on the bench and cheer his teammates on.

If he ever played, he would kick the ball once then stand around watching everyone else play. But on the last quarter of the last game of the season, he blocked the other team’s attempt to score a goal, then dribbled the ball across the field, and then scored! I was so proud! We waited a whole season for that winning moment!

Continue reading

Korea House Restaurant in West Nashville: Review (sort of…)

Just a big disclaimer. I am not a foodie. I like eating, especially the food that my wife prepares. I’m also the guy who could eat just about anything! Obviously, I am not Anthony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsay. I’m a guy with simple tastes. Every now and then, I post reviews of restaurants that we visit. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I took a day off on my son’s first day of school. I helped prepare his things, and then my wife and I took him to school.

Ever since we had a child, we have not had a lot of opportunities to go on dates just by ourselves. Almost always, our couple dates have become family dates. Because it was our son’s first day of school, we took advantage of our chance to go on a lunch date.

We looked for a nice Korean restaurant and decided to try Korea House. It had an overall rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. I also search best korean restaurants in nashville and Korea House was listed by Nashville Eater first in a list of 5 Should Not Miss Korean Restaurants. We’ve been to Hai Woon Dai, also recommended by Nashville Eater (located in Antioch), so we decided to give it a try.

Korea House is also rated by Nashville Scene Magazine as the Best Korean Restaurant 11 years in a row! We saw that on the menu and on display inside the restaurant.

Continue reading

How to Renew Your Philippine Passport in the USA

If your Philippine passport expires and you need a new one, here’s how to renew your Philippine passport in the USA.

Philippine passports are good for a maximum of 5 years. There is a bill at the Philippine House of Representatives that seeks to extend passport validity for up to 10 years. But we don’t know yet if that bill will make it as law and when that would happen.

Continue reading

The Art of Packing and Letting Go of Books, Appliances, & Things That Won’t Fit into Your Luggage

Packing is a challenge. If you’re moving out of the country, you need to bring only the essentials and let go of anything you won’t need.

But as you start packing your things, you’ll start wondering where all those things came from. And then, you’d start thinking about which ones to bring, which ones to store in your parents’ house (if they let you), and which ones to let go.

It is tough!

There are a lot of things that are really tough to let go–the small clothes of your child, photo frames, books you love, appliances you’ve worked hard to pay for, and a million other things.

It’s not the price tag of these things that make it difficult to let go, but rather the emotional and historical value they represent in our lives.

Our things tell the story of our lives–they are the key to triggering our memories.

If you could only bring everything with you to the United States, why not? But it will be very expensive just to ship all those things from the Philippines.

So here are some tips that will help you pack or let go of your stuff.

Continue reading

How to Look for an Apartment in the USA

A Guide for Non-resident Aliens moving to the USA

You’ve accepted a job offer to work in the USA; and you got your visa approved. It feels more real now… you are really going to the United States to work! The next step is to plan for your move and search for a place to stay in the USA.

How to look for an apartment in the USA

Should you take a house-hunting trip?

Here’s a tip that you should be aware of: your employer might offer a house-hunting trip for you before you move, and that might be part of your compensation and relocation package. You don’t need to take that. That house-hunting trip will be considered as taxable income, which you will need to pay for.

Here’s the good news: you can look for an apartment near the area of your office in the USA by using tools that are available online for free!

Continue reading

How to Apply for a US Visa to Work in the USA

Tips for a Smooth US Visa Application & Interview

Here’s a few tips on how to apply for a US Visa to work in the USA. This process is a bit different compared to applying for a tourist visa. After you accept the job offer and signed the contract, your employer will then file a petition for you to work be given permission to work in the United States. They will send this petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Depending on your agreement with your employer, they may petition you for Permanent Residency or for you to receive a temporary work visa.

* * * * *

If you have questions and additional tips related to process of applying for a US Visa, feel free to leave a comment on this article or send us a message at

* * * * *

Continue reading

Summer Fun at Cook Public Use Area in Nashville TN

Summer time means sun and swimming and fun! I love the many recreation areas around Percy Priest Lake in Nashville! There are beaches along the lake that are just 15-30 minutes away from us.

One of our favorite spots is the Cook Public Use Area in Nashville. Sure, its name doesn’t sound interesting. But it is an awesome place with a wide beach area for swimming, a number of picnic tables, and grills! So we took our inflatable boat, packed some food, and off we went!


If you are looking for a place to spend the summer, have a picnic, and swim, Cook Public Use Area is a great place to go.

Here are several tips so you can enjoy your time at Cook Recreation Area. 

Location and Open Times.

Look at the map below to check its location. It’s very accessible and easy to find. Prepare $5 cash before you enter the park. You need to pay it at the guard house before you can enter it. They do not accept credit card payments, so make sure you have cash. For more details, please check out the webpage of this park.

There’s plenty of space for parking and this park is not very busy at all!

On weekdays, the park is open only until 5:00 pm. During weekends, it closes at 7:00 pm. I wish it were later than that, but that’s the rule. Right before closing time, the park ranger will roam in his golf cart and remind people that the park will close in 30, and then in 15 minutes.

Swimming Area

This park has a large swimming area. We’ve been to two other lake swimming areas–the Bryant Grove at Long Hunter State Park, and at the Cedar Creek Swimming area. But the Cook Day Use area is the best by far.

summer fun

It has a wide beach for swimming, the water is cool and clean, although it may look murky because of the sand disturbed by swimmers. Children (and adults) can play in the sand.

playing on the beach

Be careful about leaving kids’ toys and your stuff, though. When we went there, some of the kids in our group left their paddle board and toys somewhere in the sand, and somebody took everything! I couldn’t imagine anybody taking those things, but it happened!

Lots of picnic tables and grills!

You can choose a picnic table and there are plenty of those! Most of them, however, are a bit far from the swimming area. But it’s not a problem at all because trees provide shade along the walking areas.

picnic table by the water



Fun for Kids

There is a playground for kids. It has a slide, monkey bars, swing, and a couple of climbing areas. It can be hot in there, though, so it’s best to let your kids play there in the afternoon. The playground area also has mulch to help cushion the impact if kids fall.


If you forgot to bring floaties or life jackets for your kids, there are loaner life jackets available. It came in handy when we inflated our boat and the kids rode with me.

life vests

The Cook Public Use Area also has a boat ramp for people who own boats. People can fish or just enjoy a cruise through the Percy Priest Lake. We had an inflatable boat. So we filled it up with air, I hopped on board with 3 kids (not mine, but my friend’s), and we enjoyed a short paddle on the lake.

We still have a couple of weeks before summer ends and we’d probably go there again another weekend soon!


How to Convince Your Spouse to Move to the USA

If you are married and have kids, should you bring them to the United States with you? Are you willing to be separated from them across time and space so you could save more money?

These are not easy questions. And if you decide to bring them with you to the US or leave them behind in the Philippines, you would still need to convince your spouse either way.

So how did I convince my wife to move halfway across the world with me?

The short answer is I did not. Let me explain.

Even before we got married, my wife and I talked about the possibility of either of us going abroad. You see, for young people in the Philippines, going abroad to work is not a remote possibility. In fact, it is a very real possibility for us, although I did not really consider working abroad up until 2015.

So before getting married, Cha and I agreed that if one of us wanted to work abroad, it would be better for us to stay together in our destination country. It wasn’t a lengthy talk. We didn’t even argue about it.

When we had that talk, she was working with a large TV network in the Philippines and I was employed by a church organization.

We also agreed that as long as we’re doing okay financially in the Philippines, we were not going to work abroad. Cha enjoys a close relationships with her family and while I’m pretty close to my family, I am used to being away from them for long periods.

There were times that Cha asked me some “what if” questions: “what if you got presented with an opportunity to work in the US?”

I used to brush off her question and reply with a shrug: “that probably won’t happen…” Until one day it did.

And when it did, Cha and I talked once again about our plans. We remembered our agreement to stay together wherever we go for work.

I don’t know your situation. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to convince your significant other to move to the USA.

1. Long-Distance Relationship is tough on you and on those you leave behind.

There are countless stories of marriages that feel apart because of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon. You know that you love your spouse, and your spouse loves you, too. But being away for a long time will place strain on your relationship. In a sense, you’re putting this important relationship at risk if you decide to leave your family behind in the Philippines.

And if you have young kids, you will miss a lot of their development milestones; and you may become more of an occasional Skype presence and Santa Clause instead of a loving, present parent.

But if this is a risk that you and your family is willing to take, you will need to find ways to preserve your relationship and be creative in addressing each other’s emotional needs.

2. Plan together for the long-term.

I hope that when you applied for the job opening in the USA, you consulted your significant other. If you did, that would make the convincing way easier. If you did not, then you’ll need to work harder at convincing your spouse. Plan together: it helps to look at the next 5-10 years. Those plans may not all come to fruition, but at least there is a blueprint that both of you are going to follow.

Some immediate questions you need to address are:

  • How long will work and live in the USA?
  • When will you go back to the Philippines
  • Do you intend to become citizens in the long run?
  • What are your financial goals?
  • How about your kids? If you don’t have kids yet, will you have one or two when you are in the USA?
  • What will daily life look like for you and your family?

Research online about the kind of life that you and your family will face once you get to the USA. Most of the time, spouses of work visa holders are considered dependents and are not allowed to work. If your spouse is used to having a regular job in the Philippines, there will be some struggle. Be realistic and set expectations. But before long you will be able to apply for Permanent Residency. After that, your spouse will be able to work.

3. Seek the counsel of people you both trust and respect.

This is actually one of the responsibilities of your Ninongs and Ninangs. They promised to help you as a couple by standing as your second parents. Seek their counsel. Ask for their thoughts and what options they can give you.

Ask the experiences of couples you know who have stayed together in a foreign country and those who have decided to be separated from each other because of working abroad. Ask them for practical tips how they made it work and ask them to name the challenges they faced. This will help you understand the difficulties that either option entails.

When we started planning for our move, it was always for the three of us. By the time I’m writing this post, it had been a year since we moved together to Nashville. It is more expensive since there are three of us. But it’s been worth it.

First Day of Pre-K and Soccer Practice

Our son woke up really early today. My wife was cooking breakfast and I was drinking coffee this morning at 7:30 am. Then our son stepped out of the room and we heard a loud “good morning!” followed by a hug. (Yes, that is really very early for him.)

He was excited for the first day of his Pre-K! I can’t believe how time flies. Summer is over for him and he goes to his class now.

That lunch box is deep.

Before eating breakfast, my wife had another practice session with Coco about opening, unpacking, and repacking his lunch box. The new lunch box case, carrier, or whatever you call it, can carry more, but is also a bit heavier. It’s also more difficult to open. Hence, the need for the practice session.

After breakfast, we helped him prepare, and after an hour, we were ready to go! At least my wife and I were ready to go. In between toothbrushing and putting on his shoes, he found the remote, turned the TV on and found YouTube! Then we had to convince him to turn it off, otherwise, he might miss class.

Coco loves that Lightning McQueen bag.

Thankfully, he turned it off, and off we went.

Shy Guy…

During the summer, he went through what I call a “SHY phase.” He’s not as sociable as he used to be and he would just be shy around people. He probably missed the socialization with classmates, friends, and teachers in the school. So he’s really looking forward to school again.

When he met his teacher, he had that shy look again in his face. Hopefully, as the school year moves along, he’ll adjust well and be sociable again. It also helps that one of his former classmates last year will be in his class.

First Day of Soccer Practice, too!

Today was the first day of soccer practice, too. We went to the Heartland Park, where the Nashville Youth Soccer Association has practices and games. We met his Coach and his teammates. He also got to show off some of the skills he got from last Spring’s games.

Last Spring, when he enrolled him for soccer, he just loved the practice sessions. But every game day, he would just kick the ball once and refuse to follow and kick it to the goal. Only in the last quarter of his last game did he really show up, block another kid’s attempt to score, then kicked it and dribbled all the way to score a goal!!!

That was only his second goal during the whole season! But it was totally worth it! Just to see the pride in his eyes and his running form. It was awesome!

We’ll see how it goes this season.

As parents it is very difficult to resist the urge to be competitive and urge our son to be a good, competitive player. But we reminded him to enjoy the game and have fun. We could use that advice, too!

We’re just glad that he has several opportunities to grow his physical and mental abilities, and make friends in the process.