Just call me Ana Hussein

It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative -- all this nasty, fear-mongering showing Barack Obama in Muslim garb and emphasizing his middle name (Hussein) is downright childish. So I agree with the MOMocrats -- Bill Cunningham, you're grounded! -- and to show my support, I'm joining their "Just Call Me Hussein" meme.

Boy does it suck when people twist your name around. When I entered first grade, there were 3 girls with the same first name -- Ana -- in my class. My music teacher sought to distinguish us by adding our second names. One would be called Anna Maria, the second would be Ana Cristina. As for me? My second name is Cecilia, so you'd think my teacher would have called me Ana Cecilia. Nope. She chose Ana Cel.

WTF?? Why did I get stuck with the dumb name? You can imagine the ribbing I got from my classmates. I put my foot down on that one, but my horrible teacher would not let people call me by my real name, Ana. Or Cecilia. For some reason, she ended up calling me "Cecile" (not "SEE-sl" with a long e, "SEH-sl" with a short e). I didn't like it either, but it was better than Ana Cel. I signed all my test papers with my real name, but I was called Cecile all throughout grade school and high school. I still don't like that name. My old classmates still call me Cecile when they see me and I say I don't mind, but actually I do. It never felt like it was mine.

But for now, feel free to call me by my adopted name. For today, Ana Cel will happily answer to Ana Hussein. People think that because it's part of Saddam Hussein's name, it's a name to be ashamed of. But because it's part of Barack Hussein Obama's name, it's one I wear today with pride.

To meet more Husseins, click here.

Welcome Back Love Thursday!

I'm so happy to discover (somewhat belatedly) that Love Thursday has found a new home on the Shutter Sisters website! I've missed sharing my expressions of love with the blogosphere and seeing all the ways that love enters other people's lives. Happy Love Thursday!

The kindness of strangers

My dad has a story that he likes to tell as proof that God exists. He was late for a flight and arrived at the gate just as his flight, the last one of the day from Chicago to LA, was just leaving. With my mother waiting to join him in LA so they could board their flight to Manila together, and with no way to reach her, he pleaded with the gate attendants to let him through, but apparently the airplane door was already closed and it was already beginning to pull away. Desperate, he turned and looked out the window at the airplane and waved his arms wildly. He swears that he caught the eye of the pilot -- and the pilot nodded at him and actually stopped the plane. They reopened the plane doors and let him in.

You can image that I have a hard time believing his story -- c'mon! But hey, this happened in the 60's, when planes were smaller and security was looser, so what do I know? And dads don't lie, right? Anyway, whether he embellished his story or not, I still enjoy hearing him tell it. Not only because it shows that God does work in mysterious ways, but because it reaffirms my belief in the basic goodness of mankind. In a world where thugs beat up old ladies, isn't it nice that stories like these exist?

Besides, it just so happens that I have a story like that of my own (and I swear, this one's true). Mine happened about a decade ago, when I was in Manhattan on a business trip and I left my wallet in a taxi. I cursed my carelessness and braced myself for the tiresome process of replacing my credit cards, bank cards, drivers license, etc.. Then, later in the evening, the hotel phone rang. It was my sister calling; had I by any chance, lost a wallet? The taxi driver had found my wallet wedged in the back seat and called the only phone number that he could find in my wallet - hers. He gave my sister his home phone number and told her to call him back if indeed I had lost a wallet. I couldn't belive it! I gave him my hotel address and the next day he came over and returned my wallet to me -- with all the cash in it. He was a middle-aged man who lived in New Jersey; he was an immigrant, he worked long hours and was probably struggling to make ends meet. He could easily have said he found the wallet empty. Yet he chose to do the right thing.

About a week ago, something very nice happened to me again. I had been looking for something for several weeks, and was finally forced to admit that it was lost. It's the Pea's favorite shirt, a powder-blue shirt from Gymboree, with a cute applique on it that proclaims her newly-found love of ice skating to the whole world. She hadn't worn it in several weeks, but since my laundry turnaround time is somewhere between 1 and 2 weeks, we figured it was somewhere in the laundry hamper. When it still hadn't turned up after a full wash cycle, we combed the house looking for it, to no success. She was so sad about it that I had already begun searching eBay for a replacement.

Then last night, the phone rang. It was a lady from The Pea's elementary school, calling about a shirt in the school lost-and-found. She was in charge of sorting out all the stuff kids leave at school and sending unclaimed items to charity. I nearly choked on my dinner when she asked if The Pea had lost a pretty blue shirt with an ice skate on it (I still have no idea how it ended up at school; after all, it's not likely that my 6-year-old secretly goes around school topless in February. But I'm not going to waste too many brain cycles on it). By some stroke of luck, I had written our last name on the shirt tag. But it wasn't luck that this lady took the time to look us up and contact us, it was just plain being nice. When I dropped by her house to pick the shirt up, I noticed several other packages on her porch. She had done the same for several other people.

MLB, thank you so much. The stakes may not have been as high in as my dad's story, and it may not be much in the way of monetary value, but your act of kindness means as much to my daughter as that taxi driver's did to me. Thank you for making my daughter's day and giving her her own story about the kindness of strangers.

Bonggamom is cross-posting this on both the Silicon Valley Moms Blog and Filipina Moms, in the hopes that MLB, the taxi driver, the pilot and others like them will somehow read this and know how much their gestures are appreciated.

Good, better, best

Here is a photo of our neighbor's cherry tree, taken with our old Canon PowerShot A510 in full automatic setting. The tree is about 40-50 feet away from me (I'm sitting upstairs and taking the photo from our little office). Pretty, but a bit overexposed.

Here is the same subject, taken with our new Canon Digital Rebel XTi. It's also on full automatic setting, yet the focus and exposure are already better.

And this is how close I can get with our 300mm lens. I used the macro setting so the blossoms really seem to pop out of the background.

I'm looking forward to playing with our new camera and learning to take some awesome pictures!

Welly Weather

The Pea is home with a cold and fever today. I blame it partly on the lousy weather, and partly on my lousy ability to dress the kids appropriately for the weather. They are all set with umbrellas and jackets and raincoats, but sadly lacking in footwear. All last week The Pea walked to school in the rain with her leather and satin Mary Janes. Yup -- squish, squelch. The boys are no better -- just because Crocs are rubber doesn't make them waterproof (there's that small issue of the holes.....).

I've procrastinated badly on buying them rainboots (read my full confession on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog). I know winter is half over, but I've renewed my determination to find a good pair for the kids. It's not for lack of choice; many popular childrenswear retailers have cute kids' rainboots available online and in stores. The problem is that at this stage, availability is limited -- and more important, I find that wellies available for sale in the US are a lot stiffer than wellies in the UK. I know there are wellies from Hunters or Burberry available for sale here -- but they are out of my budget.

I think I will probably ask my in-laws to get the kids some Ladybird wellies from Woolworths. Only 7 quid, and they are softer and comfier than any I've seen here. I haven't found them for sale anywhere in the US. For parents who aren't lucky enough to have English in-laws, here are some other choices:

The Crocs Georgie boots are probably the comfiest rainboots, if you like the funky look.

Company Kids carries a line of raingear, as well as Madonna's super-cute English Roses raingear line -- but I can't vouch for the quality because I've never seen or felt an actual pair.

Gap Kids does have rainboots that are pretty soft, but for some reason this season they only have them for girls.

Gymboree's line is also pretty soft and comfy. They had a line for both sexes early on in the season, but only seem to have boys' rainboots left -- and even that supply is dwindling quickly.

Lands End has rainboots online and in Sears stores, but I find them quite stiff.

Western Chief, Kidorable and Wippette are brands that I've seen online and in stores. Again, also stiff compared to English wellies.

If you can find Wellipets rainboots, I would definitely go for those. They're made in the UK and they're great. Remember little Prince William wearing his froggie Wellipets so long ago (am I dating myself) ?


I love wood. I remember as a child that I hated the wooden floors in our home and longed for a western-style, wall-to-wall-carpeted room -- and yet I spent half my time on the floor, playing, reading or just lying down. The cool, smooth feel of the floor against my cheek, so soothing in the tropical heat, would often lull me to sleep.

Wood plays a big part in making our house a home, beginning with the driveway gate...

..... the furniture...

.... and yes, the floors. My kids have no problem sleeping on the floor either.

It's beautiful and easy to clean. What wood we do without it?!

This week's Photo Hunters theme is Wooden. For more wooden things, click here.

American Girl coupon

Hey everyone, I've just found the Holy Grail of coupons.... free shipping at the American Girl website/catalog! With no minimum purchase!

coupon code: A382024
expiration date: March 16, 2008

Just in time for The Pea's birthday....

A Valentine for you

To celebrate this wonderful day, here are some thoughts on love, by two people I love most in the world (3Po refused to play):

What is love?
CleanBoy: It means someone wants to kiss you,
Pea: Something you have in your heart when you really like people.

How old do you have to be to get married?
CleanBoy: 25
Pea: At least twenty-something.

How do people decide whom to marry?
CleanBoy: You have to find someone; you have to look as hard as you possibly can and tell them that you want to marry them.
Pea: You go around looking at all the boys and you try each boy and then you pick the nicest one for you.

When is it OK to kiss someone?
CleanBoy: You can kiss anyone, but no smacking people after they kiss.
Pea: If you love each other or if you're married.

Is it better to be single or married?
CleanBoy: Married, because you get to be loved forever.
Pea: Married, because if you're single you won't have anyone to be with and you'll get bored.

Love is sweetest when it is as innocent and pure as a child. Their love is sweeter to me than any box of chocolates. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

Give a little love

So what are you doing for Valentine's Day tomorrow? How about joining a contest and winning something romantic? For today, I thought I would feature some nice people around the blogosphere who are spreading some love. Below are some Valentine's Day-themed blog contests that I found today. Join now, because most contests end tonight -- and good luck!

Mod*Mom is hosting a fabulous Valentine's Giveaway contest worth $3500.

The Lingerie Post is giving away over $2,000 worth of Lingerie in their Valentine's Day Contest.

TinyLove toys is sponsoring a Valentine's Day Blog photo contest: post your baby's photo before Feb. 21 to win some great prizes.

The Garden Goose is giving away a romantic victorian pillow and potpourri.

One World, One Heart is hosting a blogosphere-wide Valentine's Day giveaway; the site contains a list of participants holding Valentine's Day contests and giveaways on their blogs.

Show me the Magic

I have always loved Disneyland. I first went there on my first visit to the US, at age 7, and the magic has stayed with me. I have dreamed of taking my children there for a long time, but we haven't gone yet. My daughter is almost 7; sadly, this seems to be an age nowadays when kids are declaring themselves too cool to be seen with Minnie and Mickey, too grownup to dress up like Ariel, ready to move on to Hannah Montana and High School Musical. So I want that first visit to happen soon, very soon. What's stopping us?

Parents at the Polls

Good morning, America! Today is Voting Day over at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Posts all day will be devoted to how being parents affects our politics. With the primary elections heating up and the general elections looming in the distance, the stakes couldn't be higher. And go to the site to read my post about an interesting conversation I had with The Pea.....


What's the heaviest I've ever been? When I was pregnant with twins, of course. The photo on the left shows me pregnant with The Pea at almost full term. The photo on the right was taken at only 28 weeks with the twins, and yet I'm already as large as I was at 37 weeks, 2.5 years before. When I gave birth to them at 38 weeks, I was carrying almost 14 lbs. of babies. I can't divulge how much I weighed, but it was more than my husband's weight.

This week's Photo Hunter's theme is Heavy. For more heavy things, click here.

These dolls ain't so bad after all

It has been about 2months since I gave in and bought The Pea an American Girl doll for Christmas, and I must say that the whole experience has been better than I expected. First of all, the Pea absolutely loves her doll. She plays with her almost every day and takes good care of her. It doesn't look like she's going to tire of the doll anytime soon, especially since several of her friends also received AG dolls for Christmas.

Second, the "gateway purchase" -- namely, the doll -- hasn't turned into slippery slope of consumerism that I feared. I mean, once you have the doll, she needs clothes, right? Not to mention purses and shoes and a bed and a dresser and what about another doll so she has someone to play with. Yikes! $24 for a pair of doll pajamas? I don't even spend that much on clothes for my kids.

But The Pea continues to surprise me yet again. I have heard plenty of wistful sighing over the beautiful clothes and accessories and furniture in the American Girl catalog, but no sense of entitlement and no whining. She happily uses the box that her doll came in as a bed; we just covered it with a pink pillowcase and a little heart pillow. She's not brand-conscious at all -- she's just as excited about the doll clothes for sale at Target and Michael's as she is about the clothes in the AG catalog. Her resourcefulness and willingness to compromise leaves me pleasantly surprised and proud of my little girl.

Which brings me to another reason this American Girl thing is turning out to be a good thing. The Pea and I have been spending a lot of fun girly time together making all kinds of stuff for her doll -- bracelets, necklaces, and other accessories. We recently made the accessories set in the photo above -- I got a square of yellow felt, sewed the hat and bag together, cut out the scarf, and The Pea decorated it with fabric paint. She's so proud of it and all it took was the sewing skills of a 7-year-old.

I'm putting together a post with how-to directions for all 3 accessories. Watch out for it soon -- It's a fun, easy project for any girl.

A brief hematology lesson

(3Po has had a bad cold and cough for the past several days)

3Po: Mama, why am I sick?

Me: Because there are germs inside your body that are attacking your body, and they are making you sick.

3Po: But aren't the white blood cells supposed to fight the germs?

Me: Yes, but sometimes your body is not strong enough to fight the germs.

3Po: Why isn't my body strong enough?

Me: Well, maybe it's because you aren't eating enough healthy foods. Or maybe it's because you are staying too late and your body isn't getting enough rest. Or maybe it isn't your body's fault. Sometimes there are germs that are so strong that your body cannot fight them.

3Po: Yeah, there are germs like Amazo(note: Amazo is an all-powerful robot who frequently battles the Justice League, i.e. Superman, Batman and their superfriends). No-one can beat Amazo

Me: But the Justice League can beat Amazo, right?

3Po: Yeah, the Justice League can beat Amazo. The Justice League should get into my body to fight the germs there!

A brief anatomy lesson

Pea: I'm made of sugar and spice and everything nice! That's what little girls are made of. Do you know what you are made of? You're made of slugs and snails and puppy dogs' tails, 'cause that's what little boys are made of.

CleanBoy: No! I'm made of toothpaste and juice and rice and everything nice.

(check this out, here's what little boys are really made of!)