Name something you think is “the best.”
Annette's winter cabernet truffle is the best chocolate I have ever had.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 highest), how stressed are you today?
Tomorrow is Friday, the kids are fast asleep, I have So You Think You Can Dance taping on TiVo, so my stress levels have been steadily decreasing -- I'd say a 3 or 4 -- from their daily peak (of 20) at 7:45, just before the kids' bedtime.
What kind of cleanser do you use to wash your face?
Neutrogena's Pore Refining Cleanser. I love the grainy feel of it, makes me feel like some serious scrubbing is going on. I'm not sure if it's working though -- some of my pores are still bigger than the first apartment I ever rented.
Tonight is a blue moon! What is something that you believe only happens “once in a blue moon.”
All three of my kids, fast asleep -- not rushing to put put their jammies on, not pleading "just one more story!", not pretending their beds are trampolines -- by 8:30PM.
(Here's another one: My Fridays Feast post is the 5th one up -- definitely will only happen once in a blue moon!)
When was the last time it rained where you live?
I can't remember, probably a month ago. I never pay attention to the weather -- probably because I grew up in the Philippines, where there's really only 1 forecast -- Hot.
Hungry for more? Click here.
Well, it happened. I forgot to pick up The Pea from school yesterday. Read all about it on Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Today, I almost forgot to pick her up again -- because of Memorial Day, I got my weekdays messed up, and thought today was Tuesday (1:45PM dismissal time) instead of Wednesday (1:15PM dismissal time). Fortunately I had decided to get to school at 1PM and let the boys loose on the school playground for 45 minutes, so everything turned out fine. I'll be so happy when school ends and I can give my brain a rest. Hang on, there's summer camp and swim lessons and new pickup times to remember. I think my brain needs a reboot.
Yesterday (Monday) was spring bank holiday in England, and time once again for the annual Cheese Rolling event at Cooper's Hill, Gloucester. When my in-laws told me about this, my first thought was, oh, a cheese-rolling race. Ummmm that's nice.....
And I thought Bay to Breakers was a crazy race.
I attended a baby shower this afternoon. When I came home, 3Po greeted me with : Mama, did you enjoy the baby bath?
Then at bedtime tonight, we read a book about babies. Jammy looked at the illustration of the baby strapped in his carseat and told me, very seriously, "Mama, babies knock on the door of houses and tell the people inside, Hello, I'm here!, and that's where babies come from". Upon hearing this, 3Po and The Pea started giggling. 3Po corrected him with, "I came from Mama's tummy because Mama swallowed me when I was very little".
One thing I love about The Pea's kindergarten class -- and her whole school, actually -- is the diversity. This melting-pot of backgrounds and cultures and ideas is one of the things we love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In Pea's kindergarten class of twenty children, ten are of Caucasian descent, three of Indian descent, two of Asian, and one of Hispanic descent. The other four are mixed-race children. Out of these twenty, eleven kids have one or both parents who grew up in another country. Eight of them speak a language other than English at home.
Here they are at this week's Spring Concert, looking like a bunch of spring flowers themselves (see if you can spot The Pea). I look at them and see this rainbow of children. And it makes me happy that my kids are growing up in such a colorful community.
Appetizer: Name a sound you like to hear.
My son's footsteps when he comes running into our room at 6AM to snuggle and go back to sleep in our bed.
Soup: What is your favorite kind of cheese?
Any kind of goats' milk cheese, preferrably made with raw milk.
Salad: Do you sleep late on Saturday mornings? Why or why not?
On weekdays I'm the first one up at 7AM but on weekends I stay in bed until the kids wake up and start messing around. I only get up to referree one of their fights or when it approaches 8:30 or 9AM.
Main Course: When was the last time you forgot something? What was it, and how long did it take you to remember it?
I put a load of laundry in the dryer at 8PM; I've just gone back upstairs at 11:30PM and remembered that I haven't taken it out yet. Dang -- that means my shirts are all wrinkly again!
Dessert: Fill in the blank:I notice___________ when___________.
I notice my kids are happy when they see their parents are happy too.
For more feasts, click here.
Thank you, Irene and Karen, for reminding us to celebrate the love in our lives everyday. As you always say, Love is All Around, you just have to look for it.
The Bay to Breakers photos have come out, courtesy of SportPhoto. I must say, mine are hilarious (and I'm not talking about the strategically covered naked man in the photo above). Below is Bonggamom's dramatic race-time inner monologue, as told in pictures:
3Po is talking to me while we are riding in the car, and Jammy is trying, unsuccessfully, to get a word in edgewise.
Jammy: 3Po, STOP talking to mama!
3Po: It's my body, I can talk if I want to.
Jammy: No, it's MY body, so you can't talk!
Me: No Jammy, it's 3Po's body and he controls his mouth, so he can talk. You can wait your turn.
Jammy: No, I control his body!
3Po: Stop remote-controlling my body!
(Jammy, I know experts say infant twins have trouble distinguishing themselves from their twins, but this is probably carrying the concept a bit too far)
Me: Jams, you can't control other boys' bodies.
3Po: That's true, for example I don't control other boys' bodies. I only control girls.
(That attitude is going to get you a slap in the face in about 15 years, my boy!)
May 22 is quite a special day -- it's Buy-A-Musical Instrument Day, National Maritime Day, International Day for Biological Diversity. It also happens to be my birthday, and I must say it's shaping up to be a fine day:
1) The sun is shining and the temperature is almost perfect.
2) I woke up to my son snuggling in bed beside me.
3) I received three lovely birthday cards from my family.
4) The Pea saved one of her precious shark gummy candies to give to me as a present.
5) Jammy gave me a kiss and told me (unprompted) that he was going to make me a birthday card.
6) There's a mint-chocolate chip ice cream cake in the freezer, waiting to be eaten tonight.
7) I don't feel too guilty about eating it, because we went sailing on Saturday and I ran the Bay to Breakers on Sunday (and had a much better finish time than I thought!)
8) On TV tonight, we've got the Louis Vuitton Cup yacht racing,
9) the season ender of House,
10) and the finals of American idol (ok, if those are 3 of the highlights of our day, then we watch too much tv, but hey we're parents and all we want to do at night is veg out).
I could probably list, uh, 35 reasons why I'm so blessed on my birthday, but you get the picture. Can life get any sweeter?
Since I've been talking about sun safety all week, I decided to post another photo of my fair-skinned daughter's recent sunburn. Bad judgement combined with forgetfulness on my part, and now her face and neck area are cooked. She's smiling, so hopefully it's not too painful.
The Pea's kindergarten teacher tells her pupils they should try new foods at least once a year. Today I'm going to try something new too, namely Friday's Feast.
List 3 emotions you experienced this week.
Stress (trying to arrive at my daughter's class picnic on time), happiness (when I saw that the kids and parents loved the dessert I baked ), and embarrassment (when I realized my son had left berry stains on my skirt and peanut butter stains on my hair).
Name a car you’d love to have.
I covet the BMW 550i because it's the ultimate driving machine. But since I'm a mom of 3, the practical choice would be the Toyota Sienna Hybrid -- but unfortunately they don't sell them here yet in the US.
Describe your typical morning routine.
6:30 - 3Po comes running into our bed to snuggle and wakes us up.
7:10 - I drag myself out of bed
7:15 - I drag The Pea out of bed, help her dress up and make her bed
7:25 - The Pea and I go downstairs for breakfast. While she eats, I make up lunchboxes for everyone.
7:45 - I gently remind The Pea that it's time to brush her teeth. While she brushes her teeth, I get breakfast for 3Po and Jammy.
8:00 - I hurry The Pea out the door to walk to school.
8:25 - I arrive back home and catch my breath.
Have you ever emailed someone famous? If so, who, and what did you say to them? Did they reply?
I wrote an open letter to Elizabeth Edwards at SV Moms Blog. To read what I said, and her gracious response, click here.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?
Never. Am I dating myself by admitting that I'm not even sure how to get a podcast?
One of the kids' favorite pretend plays these days is pirates. I love how they try so hard to be mean ol' pirates, snarling and growling....
.... saying the usual pirate phrases like "Arrrr, matey!" and "I be a scurrrvy pirate!" and "Ahoy there!" and "Walk the plank!"
Love is trying to keep a straight face and hide your smile so your child doesn't realize that he looks adorable, not scary. Love is doing your best to pretend that he's a really fearsome pirate, even though you just want to pinch his cheek and say "You're cuuuute!" (because the pirate would be offended).
For more images of love, click here.
OK, sometimes I'll admit I'm spaced out. I've microwaved popcorn until the whole bag burned to a crisp. I've microwaved metal. But I've never microwaved a baby.
I couldn't believe it when Alfie told me that a 19-year old has been charged with burning his 2-month old daughter in a motel room microwave oven in Galveston, TX. No word yet on why he did it. Maybe he needs serious help (he did tell authorities that God ordered him to go to Galveston). Or maybe he was just stoned and wanted to see what would happen if he punched in 20 seconds in High.
This is why people need to pass some kind of test or earn some kind of license to become parents.
More than anything, her sunburn was a wake-up call, reminding me that it's summer again and we need to be extra-vigilant about sun safety. So once again, I'm listing some of the precautions we take to keep our family safe in the sun (see a previous version of this post at SV Moms Blog).
1) Seek Shade. For this summer, I've bought more umbrella stands so we can use our two beach umbrellas in the back yard along with our patio umbrella. It looks really festive, and the kids can play outside even at mid-day when the sun is strongest.
2) Use sunscreen. I know, it's icky and sticky. But I have three words for you: spray-on sunscreen.
3) Wear a hat.
4) Cover Up. It's time for me to check out the SPF-rated clothing at stores like Sunday Afternoons, Lands End and Old Navy, and wash all our other clothes with Rit SunGuard.
5) Watch the UV index the same way you'd watch the weather report -- to see what protections you need to take.
Oh, and stay away from those tanning beds!
OK, I know this list is longer than 7 items, but hey, she's my mother, so why stop at 7?
I love my mother because....
1) She will happily discuss her faults and flaws with her children because she says she wants us to learn from them.
2) Even when I haven't called her for five weeks in a row, she doesn't complain; all she says is how happy she is to hear from me.
3) No matter what the occasion, she is always there with her camera, urging everyone to get together for a group photo. So thanks to her, our moments together are always captured and preserved forever.
4) When I was a little girl, she sat and read story after story to us, complete with different voices for different characters, long after I could read on my own.
5) She does the same thing now with my kids.
6) She has an awesome sense of direction. She never gets lost, and is constantly figuring out new traffic-free routes from point A to B. I'm lucky to have inherited that sense of direction from her.
7) I also inherited her nice ankles.
8) She has a deep, abiding, unswerving faith in God. Her serenity and trust in His Will, even in times of adversity, astounds me.
9) We make great shopping partners; she cannot resist a good bargain, just like me.
10) She is honest; if something I try on doesn't flatter me, she will say so -- gently but honestly.
11) But when she thinks I look good in something, she'll urge me to buy one in every color.
12) And she will probably buy the first three colors for me.
13) All my life she has insisted that she prefers her cookies burnt and her toast blackened.
14) She always encouraged her children to pursue every opportunity, no matter how far, even though she knew it meant she would see us only once or twice a year.
15) Family comes first to her, no matter what.
She is a loving wife, a caring mother, a devoted daughter, a selfless person and a true lady. For all that and more, I will always love her. Happy Mothers Day, to my Mommy and to all the mothers out there!
I believe in giving people a second chance. But for repeat offenders, when do you say Enough is Enough?
Take this Paris Hilton, sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case. Her flimsy excuses aren't holding, yet she has the nerve to appeal. What a great role model for my daughter's generation. Even if she does go to jail, she'll probably spend far less than 45 days in the slammer anyway. And sick as it may seem, this will probably increase her appeal.
Speaking of appeals, what's this petition going around asking fellow celebrity Ahnuld to look the other way? "This petition is to ask Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon Paris Hilton for her mistake. Please allow her to her return to her career and life. Everyone makes mistakes. She didn't hurt or kill anyone, and she has learned her lesson. She is sincere, apologetic, and full of regret for her actions as she explained tearfully to the Judge handling her case in court yesterday. She is distraught and understandably afraid," the petition says.
Sorry, but I say Thumbs Down. No second chance for you, Paris (actually it's more like a third or fourth chance, isn't it?). Do you think any other 26-year-old would be pardoned? I think you and your parents and your publicist and your lawyers should all get 45 days in jail. Your parents, for bringing you up to believe you can get away with anything. Your publicist, for agreeing to take the blame. And your lawyers, for even taking the case.
So, do you think Paris Hilton deserves a second chance?
For more second chances, click here.
(This is the very first photo we have of us as a complete family, all five members. I know I look horrible, but I had just pushed about 14 lbs. of baby out of me a couple of hours before.)
Five is a great number. It's the number of vowels in the alphabet. The number of senses. The number of oceans in the world. Best of all, Five is the number of people I have in my family.
Five can be an awkward number for a family. Vacation packages are always quoted in terms of a family of four. Kids-eat-free specials at restaurants are always "One child free with paid adult". Five means that mom and dad are outnumbered. Five means that one kid sometimes feels left out.
But we are like the five fingers on a hand --add or subtract one and we'd find it weird. Like fingers, each can move on its own, but is part of a team that does great things together. So even though we haven't quite figured out the best seating configuration on an airplane, we love being a Family of Five.
I've just finished a Seven Random things about Me meme. My mind is still in list-mode, so I thought it would be fun to do one about my mother. Here are 7 Random Things About My Mother:
1) My mother is very slim even after 5 children (since she is a true lady I will not reveal her weight). I was her biggest baby at 6lbs., and her smallest baby, my eldest sister, was only 5lbs. I'm still her biggest baby at 5'8" and my eldest sister is still the smallest at 5'2" (My sister and I are not as ladylike as my mother but for fear of embarrassment, I will also not reveal our weights).
2) She only wears trousers or jeans when she travels out of the Philippines. Otherwise she wears a dress or skirt.
3) I have never ever ever seen her cross her legs at the knees. Either she crosses her legs at the ankles or sits with ankles and knees together.
4) She is one-quarter Spanish. I think she must have passed the gene for green eyes down through me and that's how The Pea has green eyes even though mine are brown.
5) She is a workaholic who frequently works 12-hour days and Saturdays to boot.
6) She manages an office building in the Philippines, dealing with tenants, overseeing maintenance and other . Every time she visits me in the US, she goes back with various hardware for her office -- faucets, wrench sets and an occasional elevator part or two.
7) She is allergic to practically everything except rice, chicken, vegetables and Kellogg's Corn Pops.
And on Mother's Day, I think I'll continue with the "7 Things" theme and list down 7 things I love about her!
For more expressions of love, click here.
I've been tagged by Sognatrice for a "7 things about me" meme. I've already done several memes about myself, so doing yet another one might seem self-centered. But I can't resist, because of the delicious spin that Sognatrice put on the meme -- she based her list on the Seven Deadly Sins!
Below is my list of sins. Some of them aren't really sins (at least I think they aren't), but a couple of them are true confessions from my dark side, and I'm not proud of them. So get ready, blogosphere, for I present to you my steamiest confessions ever!
1) Lust -- I think women are hot. They don't actually turn me on sexually, but aesthetically I prefer the female form to the male form. C'mon, think about it -- consider the nude female form, all smooth skin and beautiful curves. Then picture a hairy naked man with all his bits hanging out and jiggling around. Makes me cover my mouth to hide my smile.
2) Gluttony -- I eat my kids' leftover candy - Halloween, birthday party, Easter and Christmas, whatever. And I dare any other mother to say she doesn't. I tell myself it's so they don't rot their teeth. But I could just throw the candy away, couldn't I?
3) Greed -- I take away the hotel soap and shampoo and Kleenex box. And I'd take the bathrobe too, except some hotel guy caught on to that trick and they now charge you for it. I miiiight be guilty of taking more than my fair share of freebies. My husband says, what if everyone at this convention took two pens, where would the exhibitor be? I say, I'm just taking the pen that the guy in front of me didn't take.
4) Sloth -- I have left my kids in the car unattended. I know, I know, it's stupid, reckless and illegal. I chalk it up to bad decision-making by an exhausted mother of newborn twins. I told myself I didn't want to haul their carseats out of the car, snap their carseats into the double stroller, struggle into my daughter's preschool to pick her up, then do the same thing again, when I could jump out and get my daughter in five minutes, with the boys napping peacefully in the car right in front of the door, just ten feet away and out of my sight for only a minute. Don't worry -- I had my revelation when they were about 10 months old, and never did it again, no matter how inconvenient. Nowadays, they'd probably unbuckle themselves and run out after me if I tried to leave them anyway. By the way, can you tell by the length of this paragraph that this is the one I need to "rationalize" the most, i.e. the one I feel most guilty about?
5) Wrath -- I have spanked The Pea. Once. I ended up crying harder than she did. And there have been other times when the kids have aggravated me so much that I have visualized spanking them. At times like that, I take a deep breath, leave the kids with hubby and escape to Target.
6) Envy -- I wish we had more money. I know we're incredibly lucky to live in a great house in this part of the world, to be able to give our kids so many opportunities, to have many of the comforts in life. But I look at people with fancier cars and bigger houses and swankier vacations, and I wish we had more money. Lots more.
7) Pride -- I think my kids are the best ever. The Pea is the prettiest and smartest and most well-behaved girl in her class. 3Po and Jammy are handsome devils whose soccer skills rival that of 5-year-olds. Jammy is the only kid in music class who can keep to the beat of the music. 3Po, at 3 yrs old, can write his name. And it's all because of our superior parenting skills. I'd brag about them a lot more but then the other mommies & daddies might feel bad, so I keep my mouth shut. ;)
OK, that's it. I know, I'm going to rot in hell. But before I do, I have to tag seven other bloggers for this meme. You can do the regular "7 things about me" or Sognatrice's
Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog!
And here are my 7 people. If you decide to play, please leave a comment here with a link to your meme post.
My breakfast went into the ocean
My dinner went into the sea
My supper is all in commotion
Oh, bring back my dinner to me
-- From The Scout Jamboree Book (1929)
These days, when I think of oceans, I think of sailing. The America's Cup, the sailing world's most prestigious regatta, commences next month. Its prelude, the Louis Vuitton Cup, has already begun.
How do I know this? Because mine Alfie loves sailing, and he's all caught up in it again. He's renewed his subscription to Sailing World. He's watching the kids' progress at swimming lessons with a keen eye, no doubt dreaming of the day he teaches them to sail. I think he's rooting for Larry Ellison's BMW ORACLE Racing team to win because the winner gets to host the next event. The prospect of having the next America's Cup held at the Golden Gate Yacht Club here in San Francisco is enough to make him pee in his pants.
How unfortunate for Alfie that I am not a sailor. I don't know starboard from port and I can only tie one kind of knot. I frequently refer to boats as ships, and vice versa. But worst of all, I get seasick. I cannot stay on a boat for longer than ten minutes without feeling queasy. The boat doesn't even have to be at sea. Recently we were at a boat show, touring the inside of a medium-sized powerboat. Just being below deck, feeling the boat sway with the motion of people going in and out of the boat, made me nauseous. I love the ocean, yes. But only when I'm standing on the beach.
Alfie has always had a sneaking suspicion that my seasickness is a bit like hypochondria; it's all in my mind. I expect it to happen, therefore it does. But I swear it's not. It has something to do with the inner ear, not my mind. Believe me, I've tried. I've gone out on sailboats, speedboats and powerboats. I've travelled by ferry several times, once overnight. All with the same result.
His retort: so why don't you puke when you go on love roller coasters that twist and turn? You know, I honestly don't have an answer to that. Rides that go round and round, like carousels or the caterpillar, make me nauseous, but I'm fine on roller coasters.
If anyone has an explanation, I'd love to find out. Because I really would love to be able to sail. I'd love to understand the longing he feels when he looks at a photo of a sailboat out on the ocean, in the middle of all those waves. I'd love to be able to feel the swell of the waves beneath my feet and taste the ocean spray on my face without feeling like I'm going to be tossing my cookies at the next swell.
For more thoughts on the Ocean, click here.
Everyone says The Pea looks just like me, but with Alfie's coloring. So just for fun, I thought I'd put up two childhood photos, side by side. The one on the left is The Pea, and the one on the right is Alfie (yes, baby boys did wear clothes like that, way back when!). The Pea obviously gets the shape of her eyes from me. But look closely, and you'll notice the shapes of their ears and faces are the same. Also, the Pea has inherited Alfie's fair skin and light eyes, but I like to think of her hair coloring as a sort of mixture of her parents' coloring: Combine Alfie's white-blonde genes and my dark brown genes, and you get Pea's golden honey-blonde hair.
I wish I had a scanned baby photo of myself as well, so that I could post a mom+dad=baby collage!
Hey everyone! Did you know that May is Get Caught Reading month?! I can't think of anything more fitting to dedicate the first Love Thursday of May to than my love of reading. I'm the sort of person who literally cannot put down a good book. I will stay up till the wee hours of the morning just to finish a book. I will even take a book into the shower with me and hold it at arm's length while scrubbing away with my free hand.
In fact, they probably look guilty in the picture because they know they've been caught reading waaaay past their bedtime.
For more expressions of love, click here.
And click here to see numerous Important People such as Laura Bush, Rosie O'Donnell, John Lithgow, various members of Congress, Yoda and Santa Claus -- all "caught reading"!
Ahhh..... now for a little Me Time. The Pea is at school and the boys are busy with their toy trains. It's drizzling outside, the kind of cool, misty day that everyone prayed for back when I lived in the Philippines. I'm sitting at the computer right now, enjoying a breakfast of scrambled eggs and salsa (oops, don't tell my husband, we're not supposed to eat upstairs!).
Ahhhh.... a hot cooked breakfast. What a treat. There just isn't time in the mornings to cook. Microwaving oatmeal for two minutes is the longest I'm willing to spend; it's usually cold cereal and milk. Well, there goes the mommy guilt again. Alfie and I grew up with hot breakfasts in abundance. In the Philippines, we had eggs and longganiza (our Filipino breakfast sausage) or Spam (yes, Spam!) with hot garlic fried rice. Hot chocolate and sweet rolls. Alfie's English breakfast consisted of rashers of bacon, fried eggs and mushrooms and tomatoes. But then again, there was always someone else cooking them for us.
Fortunately, the kids are fine with cereal and fruit on the weekdays, and most weekends. Sometimes I "treat" them to freezer waffles and syrup, or toast a muffin and slather it with butter and jam. On some weekends I even fire up the waffle iron or whip up a nice omelet for the whole family to enjoy. At least I'm not setting them up for obesity and heart disease, right?
I'm pushing the mommy guilt aside. For now, I'm savoring my scrambled egg and salsa and thinking of hot cooked breakfasts.
I've been increasingly uncomfortable with using my family's real names on this blog. Writing "My husband/son/daughter" is tedious, and using their initials is boring. So I've decided to give them "online nicknames" instead.
Then without further ado, let me introduce my Online Family:
My husband, Alfie Noakes. He's named after one memorable character in Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's Derek & Clive sketch. Before I met my husband, I had no idea that Dudley Moore had such a raunchy side. The first two times I listened, I was apalled (but we had just started dating, so I tried to laugh politely). The third time I listened, I "got it" -- and laughed so hard that rice came out of my nose. "Alfie" isn't your usual term of endearment, like "honey" or "sweetie" or "mother" (WTF??), but it works for us.
My daughter, The Pea, because she's our little sweet pea. We actually did call her Pea for a while (i.e. "Guess what, The Pea sat up all by herself today!" or "It's your turn to bathe Pea tonight"). We gradually stopped using the name, but I'm glad Pea gets to live on in this blog.
My son, 3Po. Actually, it might be ThreePoe or FreePo, I'm not really sure. He made this name up himself. One day, he declared, "Daddy, my name is 3Po". Every so often he slips into this alternate identity and insists we call him 3Po when talking to/about him.
My son, 3Po's twin brother, Jammy. It's my little pet nickname for him. I initially thought of Misery or Grump-pot because he is a real grouch for the first ten minutes after he wakes up, but I'm sure the Parenting Cops -- and Jammy as well -- would object if I were to label him so negatively. His choice would be "McKellan the Baseball Player", because that's his alter ego (what one twin does, the other has to do as well). But I'm too lazy to type such a long name, so Jammy it is.