A Message from Elizabeth Edwards

For a thorough recap of the Elizabeth Edwards event I attended yesterday, head on over to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog -- the awesome women of the Silicon Valley Moms blog were able to liveblog the event here and here. I also posted my own thoughts and impressions here and here.

So why clog the blogosphere with yet another post about her? Because she asked me to. The last question that Jill (SV Moms Blog co-founder) asked what sort of message she would like us bloggers to get out and help spread. Here is what she wants to say:

We cannot get the change that we want unless we are willing to work for it. Writing checks is alright and always welcome, but some people write a check and think they've done enough. We need people to really engage. Look for a candidate with a real commitment to change! See how they run their campaigns. Is it truly a different campaign? Now is your chance to affect the choices you will have.

And that's why I've turned the TV on and planted the kids in front of it while I bang away at the computer to write this. Because I like Elizabeth Edwards. And I like what she has to say. She's campaigning for her husband, yes, but she's also campaigning for change, whoever wins.

I said it once and I'll say it again: the woman ought to be running herself. But as she said yesterday, she ran (and won) Junior Class President, and that was enough. Then again, I haven't met her husband. I'd probably be falling all over him, too, and not because of his $400 haircut - he seems as intelligent, passionate and articulate as she is. In EE's words: It's about ideas and vision, not about personality. He's not the flashiest candidate, but he's dedicated to change.

So, in the words of my blogger friends, the MOMocrats, Vote for John Edwards -- or you're grounded!

Power and Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards is a powerful woman. To begin with, she's incredibly intelligent, articulate, confident and charming. That's power in and of itself. In addition, she's got the power that wealth and success and name recognition brings. Even now, she has the power to make her voice heard, to influence people.

If her husband makes it into the White House, she's going to be the biggest influence on the most powerful man on earth. Which would make her just about the most powerful person on earth.

And you know what? That's fine with me. I think she is a person who would use that power wisely. She has experienced enough trials and tribulations in her life to know that there are some things that all the power in the world cannot help you with. Both times I have met her, I have found her to be a genuinely warm, compassionate and likeable person. She is passionate about making a change and making a difference, and I do hope America gives her a chance to do so.

Good luck with the campaign, Elizabeth -- and more power to you.

For more thoughts on power, click here.


A couple of years ago I was really into beading, and I designed and made bracelets for all of my female relatives as Christmas presents. This year I'm racking my brains to think of this year's present "theme", and I'm coming up short. I'm almost ready to do the bracelet thing again -- hey, you can never have too much of a good thing, right? On the other hand, that would be sooo un-original. Maybe I'll make necklaces this time around so I don't duplicate! I'm tempted to just give boxes of chocolate (now there's an original thought).

For more originals, click here.

Fridays Feast #162

Appetizer: How are you today?
Still recovering from that nasty virus; poor Alfie hasn't been getting too much sleep lately with my hacking cough keeping both of us awake at night.

Soup: Name 3 television shows you watch on a regular basis.
House -- because Gregory House, the character, and Hugh Laurie, the actor who plays him, both remind me so much of Alfie's that I might as well be watching him;
Grey's Anatomy -- because I like to look at beautiful people;
Nip/Tuck -- because everyone needs the mindless escape of an absurd soap opera, and I've always been revolted/fascinated by their graphic tv depictions of surgeries and deformities.

Salad: What’s the scariest weather situation you’ve experienced?
Two of the scariest weather situations I've been in have involved highway driving: the first, with fog so thick that I could barely see ten feet ahead of me, and the second, in a snowstorm. It's nerve-wracking knowing there are other cars but the fog/snow is so dense that you can't even see them!

Main Course: If you could wake up tomorrow morning in another country, where would you want to be?
Either England or the Philippines, so that I could wake up knowing that there are people who are taking care of my kids so that I can go back to sleep.

Dessert: What do you usually wear to sleep?
Mismatched pajamas. Sorry, nothing risque here, I'd get too cold!

For more feasts, click here.

Time to put on my Politics Hat

You know the upcoming presidential race is really heating up when a stay-at-home mom who isn't even a US citizen finds herself scheduled to attend two political events in a single weekend. And finds herself quite excited about it.

This Saturday, I'll be meeting Elizabeth Edwards along with other contributing writers from the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. OK, she's not a presidential candidate but she's certainly the most influential spouse of a presidential candidate (or runs a close second to Bill Clinton). The last time I met Elizabeth Edwards, I was tongue-tied; this time I'll be prepared. And by the way, if anyone has any questions they'd like to ask her -- about campaign issues, parenting, her health problems, whatever -- leave a comment here and I will try and ask it for you.

Then on Sunday, Alfie and I will be headed up to Oakland for a Hillary Clinton speaking event. They're billing it as a "block party".... Bring the kiddos! Music! Fun! Entertainment! And for our main attraction.... Hillary Clinton! Given the size of the event, I don't think I'll get the opportunity to ask her anything, but it will be interesting to listen to her speak.

So other than getting her picture taken with two important women, why does this resident alien care? True, I can't vote, but as a tax-paying greencard holder, the outcome of this presidential race affects me as much as anyone else living here. I'm certainly as concerned as the next concerned citizen. One of these days I'll be eligible to apply for citizenship, but until then I intend to stay informed. And maybe try to influence Alfie's vote!

I'm unavailable on Tuesday nights, thank you

Ahhhhh..... House (aka my husband's alter ego) is back! I've missed vegging out on the couch on Tuedsday nights. It promises to be an interesting season, as House seems to be without a team to bounce his ideas off. However, since the actors who play Foreman, Chase and Cameron are still on the show credits, I figure he's going to come to his senses and beg them to come back.... NOT!!

What do George Bush and I have in common?

GWB flew his famous "Mission Accomplished" banner in 2003 to declare victory in Iraq. Last Thursday I hung my own War Is Over banner (against the Big Bad Virus) on my blog.

But as of today, those pesky little buggers still refuse to stop fighting me. I think GWB feels the same about the Iraqi insurgents.

And that's where the similarity ends.

Halloween Is Here (almost)!

Thanks to our friendly virus, Halloween has come early to this household. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of our big winner, post-viral, recovery activities was face painting. The kids got all excited when I asked them what they wanted to be for Halloween this year and offered to paint their faces up in practice for the Big Day. Who knows if these are the characters they will actually end up as, but here they are.

First up, CleanBoy. No explanation necessary:

She's in her jammies, not in costume, but from her facepaint you can pretty much get a general idea of what The Pea wants to be:

But I wasn't sure if anyone other than 3Po would recognize the character he requested, so I've provided a little hint:

Who can guess all three?

The War is Over

Aaaand the final score is .... Virus: 4, Churchleys: 1. One by one, we all fell like flies. Only Alfie escaped its worst effects. It has been a tough three days at home, with me barely able to crawl out of bed to take care of the sick kids, reduced to begging CleanBoy for help ("do you think you could go downstairs and grab the box of CornPops for your brother's lunch?") before he succumbed to the fever as well.

Finally, all the kids are well enough to go to school, and I'm well enough to take them. This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without my dear husband Alfie and a few indispensable aids:

Breakfast cereal, bottled water and canned soup -- We have been living on these staples for three days. Nutritional value questionable, but all easy to prepare and easy on the tummy.

Ibuprofen and Cough Syrup. Don't know if they actually work or if we would have gotten better without them. But they certainly seem to help, and that's good enough for me.

TV and Sirius Kids Radio -- For when everyone is too sick to do anything but lie down and stare.

Lego Duplo and stickers -- For when the kids are feeling better but mommy isn't. Kids can play on the floor for hours on end while mommy lies in bed delirious with fever.

Books and Face Paints -- For when mommy is feeling better and the kids are going crazy, these are activities allow mommy to lie down (or at least slouch way, way low) while the kids sit still for loooong periods of time.

Now that you're done reading this, get off my blog. I still have a bad cough and you might catch whatever it is I've got.

Fevers, freakouts and feelings

Every so often, just when you think you are getting the hang of this parenting thing, after you think you can start to cruise a little bit, something comes along and knocks you off your pedestal, reminding you of how little you know.

Yesterday The Pea came down with a high fever. Due to some combination of genes, nutrition, sanitation, breastfeeding and luck, our Pea hardly ever gets sick, just a couple of colds per year, maybe one ear infection. So when she started complaining of a headache, bad tummy, stiff neck and aching hips, a little warning bell started ringing in the back of my head, Meningitis! Meningitis! Meningitis! I freaked out. We took her directly to urgent care to have her checked out. Well, it wasn't meningitis, just some viral fever, maybe flu. She's still quite sick, so she'll be out for a couple of days, but she won't be going into the hospital like I feared.

I felt a bit stupid, like a first-time parent who rushes her newborn in for any little sniffle. But I stand by my decision. I thought about how I would feel if I ignored those symptoms and they really did turn out to be serious. At times like these, I don't feel like a parent, or even a grownup, at all. I wish I had someone to tell me what to do. Boy, did I feel helpless.

Helpless to see her face flushed red-hot with fever, her eyes staring at me, so dull and listless and red;

Helpless to feel her skin burning so hot I can barely touch her;

Helpless to see the girl who cannot keep still, lying meekly on her bed, her body directing its energy toward the war that raged within;

Helpless to hear her racking coughs and sobs as mere drops of water made her skin tingle and ache;

And helpless to do anything about it.

Was I right to panic like that? Maybe my judgment is a bit off. See, I'm sick too. I seem to have the same thing that she has. But it's just a minor irritation, an annoyance that's getting in the way of caring for my daughter and making her more comfortable until she gets better.

This post is also published at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

Photo Hunters: Plastic

Twice a year I do a major sweep of the kids' toys, weed out those that have been outgrown, and sell them on Craigslist or our local parents' and twins' club email lists. Here is part of last year's crop. Good toys, like the Fisher Price Chatter Phone and and Little People playsets, all of them full of sweet memories of my babies growing and developing. I look at this photo now and the wistful, sentimental (pack-rat) part of me wishes we had enough space to keep them for my grandkids!

For more plastic, click here.

Ready? (no) Set? (no) Well, go anyway!

This Nike Women's Marathon in October is shaping up to be one sweet run. No ordinary water cups, bananas and energy bars every couple of miles for this race, oh no. We're getting an Oxygen Bar! Chocolate station! Jamba Juice station! Pedicare Station! Finisher's Necklace from Tiffany's! No wonder the race sold out so quickly.

There's just one problem: I'm not ready. Working my way up to a ten-mile run -- a 6-mile run plus one mile walk plus three-mile run, actually -- was so painful, I lost one of my toenails (and another is barely hanging on by a toenail, pun definitely intended). New running shoes seems to have helped, but now I'm back to six or seven miles again. With five weeks to go.

I should probably be running the 13.1 miles in my sleep by now. What the heck. Wish me luck. I've got a lot of running to do in order to deserve that Tiffany's necklace and pedicure.

Coupon for Cord Blood Banking

If anyone is expecting a baby and considering banking their baby's cord blood, here's a little financial incentive: I recently received some coupons in the mail for $150 savings off Cord Blood Registry's enrollment fee. Alfie and I decided to bank our babies' cord blood because we figured that should they ever, God forbid, develop a condition that could be treated or cured with stem cells, their cord blood would provide the best source. Our kids are biracial, so finding a good bone marrow match would be next to impossible, and adult stem cells currently only have limited uses. And we're not holding our hopes on embryonic stem cells, given the US government's current stance. Cord blood banking, for us, is sort of like life insurance for a horrible event, but with a happier ending: our child gets to live.

Since this baby factory is now closed, I'm posting the coupon code here for anyone who's expecting a baby and considering cord blood banking:

Call 1-888-227-2460
Or visit www.cordblood.com
Mention this code to receive your discount: CCF2-C00024611

So there it is. Now go and make some babies.

(Note: I'm not being paid to post this. I'm just a customer to whom CBR has given some peace of mind. Full disclosure, though: I do get one free year of storage if anyone does decide to bank with CBR and uses the coupon code above. Hey, I figure it's a win-win situation, right?)

Fridays Feast #160

Do you have a Mega-Tearjerker movie? You know, a movie that you can watch again and again and still be sobbing into your hankie at the end of it? Mine is Steel Magnolias. Sally Field's performance is amazing, and now that I have children of my own the tears flow twice as quickly.

I've just finished watching it ten minutes ago, and I'm still not under control. Thank goodness I have Fridays Feast to take my mind off the thought of having to bury your only daughter. As Sally Field says in the movie, "Shelby would have wanted us to move on". And with that, we now bring you some lightheared entertainment...

Appetizer: When was the last time you visited a hospital?
January 2004, when my newborn twins had to return to the hospital for jaundice. They were put under ultraviolet light to lower their bilirubin levels; CleanBoy stayed 1 extra day and 3Po stayed 2. I don't really want to think about that, actually, it's starting to bring back the Steel Magnolia tears....

Soup: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?
Depends on what. My ambition for fame? 1. For fortune? 7. For my children's success? 10.

Salad: Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My other ukelele tings healthily.)
Eye: Everybody, yell Ewwwwww!!

Main Course: If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be, and what would you name it?
A blogging club, called Bongga Blogers :)

Dessert: What color is the carpet/flooring in your home?
We have hardwood everywhere except the kids' room, which is carpeted in a subtle blue/yellow/beige pinstripe pattern.

for more feasts, click here.

Get thee to a Gymboree

Hey, the coupon does say to forward it to friends and family.......

It's so hard to justify buying Gymboree clothes at full price when they put stuff on sale so often, and when they generously hand out coupons like the one above. Some of their current crop of dresses are a lot simpler in cut and color than usual, which suits The Pea perfectly (as well as her mother). I can't wait for cooler weather so she can wear them with tights and her new purple Lands End boots.

9/11 through the years

It's 9/11 again.

In 2001, I was scared. How could anyone do such a horrible thing?

In 2002, I was hopeful. Afghanistan invaded; maybe they'll catch those who did it.

In 2003, I was incredulous. Invade Iraq? What does Iraq have to do with Al Quaeda?

In 2004, I was astonished. Bush reelected? Despite the mess in Iraq? Even though we've found out there were no WMD's after all?

In 2005, I was angry. First Madrid, now London has been bombed; the world isn't getting any safer!

In 2006, I was frustrated. Despite opposition to the Iraq war at an all-time high, Bush STILL won't withdraw US troops.

I'ts 2007, and I'm disgusted. Progress in the Iraq situation? Stay the Course? That's debatable in itself, but what progress has been made with preventing terrorism? There's no end in sight.

Through it all, I've been sad. Sad for all the lost lives -- US, Afghani, Iraqi, British, Indonesian, everywhere. Sad for all the families torn apart by this war. Sad for the deteriorating reputation of the US around the world. Please, please, please, let's bring US troops back home. They've suffered enough. Military force cannot address the root causes of terrorism. Let's not use 9/11 as an excuse to destroy even more lives.

Our Chocolate Orgy

photo courtesy of Ghirardelli's

For those of you who think that San Francisco is a cold, foggy city with too many weird people and too few parking spaces, I have three words for you: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival.

Today we headed up to Ghirardelli Square , home of the famous Ghirardelli Chocolates, for their 12th annual salute to that most sinful and decadent of treats: chocolate. Twenty vendors showed off their most luscious chocolate treats, and the hungry public got to sample them. The five of us shared a 15-sampler pass for $20 which left us stuffed to the gills with several extra squares of chocolate to take home. Our favorites:
So was it worth the trip? Alfie, lover of chocolate that he his, wished it had been more of a connoisseur event, with more artisanal chocolates, truffles and other exotic chocolate treats (with vendors such as Scharffen Berger or our favorite, Annette's of Napa Valley). He has a point; it should have been called Chocolate Baked Goods Festival since the majority of offerings being cookies, brownies and such. And for me, tightwad that I am, I think most of the vendors were quite stingy with their servings (a 1/2-inch cube brownie sample which costs about $1.25? Cmon!). I had to keep reminding myself that proceeds from the event were benefitting Project Open Hand.

The kids, of course, enjoyed eating more chocolate than they would ever get in a month. CleanBoy, however, declared himself to be as disappointed as his dad. He declared, "The chocolate festival was boring". Later we found out he thought he would be visiting a Willy Wonka-type Chocolate World: his idea of a chocolate festival involved chocolate people and chocolate buildings and chocolate trees. With those expectations, we'd be disappointed too.

Music to my ears

What is music? Does it need melody, rhythm or harmony? According to dictionary.com, music can also be "any sweet, any sweet, pleasing, or harmonious sounds or sound, i.e. the music of the waves". With that in mind, here are some of my favorite pieces of music:

My kids singing and jamming along to the band at our local summer concert;

The Flower Duet from Lakme (in my mind, the most exquisite opera duet ever);

The wind rustling through the leaves of a coconut tree on the tropical beach we plan to go to this December;

CleanBoy saying "You can leave now, mama" on the first day at his new preschool;

The Pea declaring, "I love school! And Mrs. M. is the best teacher ever!";

The sizzle of burgers and onions and mushrooms on the grill when we haven't had anything to eat all afternoon;

My sister's voice over the phone, telling me that her family is moving from Boise (3 hr. plane ride) to Pleasanton (40 minute drive);

Overhearing parents at school rave about the new school logo shirts (which I designed) and the new online storefront (which I created);

A slideshow of photos of my grandmother through the years, set to the music of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" (I'm going to show it at her 87th birthday party this December);

Alfie checking me out in my new blouse, with a glint in his eye and a smile on his face, saying in his roguish English accent, "You look nice..."

For more music, click here.

Fridays Feast #159

Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?

What is your favorite part about the season of Autumn?
Halloween! It's my favorite holiday. I absolutely love dressing the kids (and myself!) up, I love the decor, the activities, the food. I love how everyone in our community gets into the spirit of things.

Have you ever had any bad experiences online?
I once received a very nasty comment to one of my blog posts. After writing about how I was looking forward to a no-kids, all-girls' weekend at Napa Valley with my sisters, the commenter accused me of treating my kids like last years' accessories and wondered why I even had kids.

Main Course
Name three things that make you happy daily.
My three children.

What one household cleansing or organizing item would you not want to be without?
My Yahoo! Calendar! It has all my family's appointments, all the birthdays and anniversaries, it even emails me when bills are due. I would be lost without it.

A blast from the past

Today I met someone from a previous life. I was staring at one of the moms at the twins' preschool and got that niggling feeling that I knew her from somewhere. I realized that she was the wife of my former work colleague, and she used to play soccer with my ex-boyfriend.

What a difference ten years makes. Not that she's unrecognizable. But I still remember her from a decade ago as this lithe, athletic soccer player, and I found it weird to look at her and see her as a mother to a 3-year-old and a 9-week-old. It makes me wonder... was she thinking the same thing about me?

School for the twins, vacation for bonggamom

3Po and Jammy (oops, I ought to be calling him CleanBoy now) started at their new preschool today. Although 3Po was a bit nervous on the way there, once the classroom door opened and they saw what was inside, they took off like a shot and didn't look back. They even left their blankets behind in the van because they said they didn't want the other kids to see them.

Yup, they were definitely ready -- and so was I. Even though this new preschool is a coop (with all the workdays and fundraising that entails), the afternoon program is not required to assist in the classroom, so I'll have some free time to myself -- five hours per week! There's already a backlog of things that I ought to be doing during that time -- laundry, errands, paperwork. But today I just walked around the Stanford Shopping Center, reveling in my newfound freedom.

Jammy's new name

Jammy has come up with a new name for himself: CleanBoy. Just like 3Po, he suddenly came up with the name out of nowhere, and now he insists that we address him as such. There is a catch, though: usually it's Jammy for most of the day, then after he has his evening bath he transforms into CleanBoy. Today he has been CleanBoy for most of the day.

Who am I to argue? CleanBoy it is. Even though his shirt is stained with oatmeal and his mouth has KoolAid juice stains that no amount of scrubbing seems to remove.

Parenting and Politics

The Silicon Valley Moms Blog has been getting a lot of coverage lately, both around the blogosphere and traditional press, due to one of our more opinionated writer's posts criticizing Elizabeth Edwards' decision to take their two young children on the campaign trail with her and her husband, presidential candidate John Edwards.

I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Edwards, so I could not help adding my two cents to the debate and posting some comments myself. I don't really want to revisit everything has already been said, but it's an interesting, passionate debate and I invite everyone to go over and follow it.

Speaking of debates, another mommyblogging site -- the Chicago Moms Blog , an affiliate of the SV Moms Blog -- has issued an invitation to Barak and Michelle Obama to meet for a mommyblogging roundtable. The purpose of the event is to discuss issues relevant to parents, not to debate the Obamas' parenting style or parenting choices, but given the publicity/notoriety/controversy that has surrounded the topic recently, I wouldn't be surprised if someone brought it up anyway. Whether they end up talking about it or not, I do hope he responds!

Why we love to grill

This summer has been our family's Summer of the Grill; we've gotten it out for lunches and dinners more times this summer than all our other summers combined. Usually it sits in a corner of our garage, gathering dust; this year, Alfie's planning to pave over a corner of our garden to make a permanent outdoor place for the grill. I don't know what took us so long to get into it, but I have a feeling this grilling thing is going to become a habit. Here's why:

1) The heat of the stove doesn't make the house feel like an oven.

2) The house doesn't smell like food.

3) For once, Alfie gets to cook dinner for me.

4) Fat drips off the grilled food, so it's healthier.

5) All the food we grill is fresh -- no high-fat-high-sodium canned/prepared/frozen food -- so again, it's healthier.

6) The fat dripping into the grill makes neat flames shoot up, so Alfie can pretend he's cooking in a teppanyaki restaurant.

7) Everything, even hotdogs, taste better when they're grilled.

8) So the kids eat everything that we eat.

9) Even all the vegetables.

10) And somehow, eating dinner outside all together feels like a special event.

Photo Hunters: Dirty

Jammy loves to paint an draw on himself. Yesterday he saw The Pea decorating her Doodle Bear, so he promptly picked up her marker, scribbled all over his face, and proclaimed, "I'm a Doodle Bear!". It's a real pain to scrub off, especially when he does it with markers or ballpoint pens. Some people call it dirt, I call it art. Maybe he'll be a tattoo artist when he grows up!

Note: after viewing Gattina's Photohunter post this week, I was inspired to add my own photo of the lengths I need to go to in order to get Jammy clean sometimes :) (this was actually taken when he was 11 months and crawled into the dryer on his own) Thanks Gattina for the idea!

For more dirty photos, click here.