Could you save a life?

There are many ways to save lives. Some involve acts of great courage and heroism. Other ways require less in the way of personal safety but involve a different sort of sacrifice; a fortune, perhaps, or effort, a lifetime of dedication. And then there are some ways that really are simple and safe, yet really do make a difference in saving lives. A mosquito net. A vaccine. How about a saliva swab?

My compassionate and motivated friend Jill, co-founder of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, is saving lives. She is sponsoring a bone marrow drive:

Silicon Valley Moms Blog Bone Marrow Drive
Date: Saturday, April 19, 2008
Location: 95 Crescent Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (right near highway 101)
Time: 9:00am to 3:30pm

What a great way to increase the quantity and diversity of the marrow donor pool; if more people, particularly people of different races and ethnicities, committed to this effort, we could helf increase likelihood of finding matches for people who need it. So if you live in the area and are between the ages of 18 to 60, please consider giving a saliva sample to the National Marrow Donor Program and committing to donating bone marrow if a match is found. Maybe you could save a life too.

High

It wasn't difficult to find photos for this week's hunt: last week's trip to Yosemite National Park provided plenty of material. Below is Yosemite Falls at its best, its cascades swelling with the melting snow:


And here is a photo taken on Highway 140, just before descending into Yosemite Valley, at the famous Tunnel View:



You can see Bridalveil Falls on your right and Half Dome in the center, in the distance. Yosemite is my absolute favorite place in the world; even now, 1 week later, I'm still on a high from being there.

For more highs, click here.

A little Quid Pro Bro



Sharing is not something that comes easily to children, least of all my twins. You'd think they've had enough practice by now; they've had to share practically everything since birth. I guess the desire to have something to call your own is intensified when people have a hard time thinking of you as a separate entity.

But one sunny morning they found themselves with an vanilla ice-cream sandwich and a strawberry ice-cream bar. And, unprompted, they began saying to each other, "Do you want a bite of my ice-cream"?

I wish I could take credit for this delightful exchange. I may have to put it down to love of ice cream.... and dare I hope, possibly love for each other?


For more expressions of love, click here.

ENOUGH


Today I join hundreds of people at Blogswarm, thousands throughout the blogosphere, and millions around the world, in mourning the day that George Bush used the US Army to invade Iraq and throw the world into turmoil.

Five years. Five. Fucking. Years. I never ever swear on my blog but today I am angry.

I went through my photo archives to five years ago and found these photos of The Pea at her first rally. We attended an anti-war protest at the Civic Center in San Francisco, where we marched and chanted and voiced our objections to a war that, even then, we knew had no justification.




I look at the Pea, so young and small, dancing happily in the circle, and I think about the difference five years has made in our lives. The Pea is now in first grade. We have two more children. The economy has not been kind to us. We have gone through 3 job layoffs and live much more frugally than we did before. We certainly feel no safer than we did five years ago; quite the opposite, we encounter anti-American sentiment wherever we go.

I look at the people in these photos, and I wonder, how many of them have lost their jobs? Their homes? How many of them have family members that have ended up in Iraq? How many have lost lives due to this war?

And I wonder about the people who are not in these photos, the people who have suffered the most because of this war, the Iraqis. How many have had their lives torn apart since the war began? How many had children the same age as The Pea, but don't have those children with them anymore?

I am angry. George Bush and friends, you have a lot to answer for.

BlogSwarm on March 19th



March 19 marks the 5th anniversary of the start of Bush's invasion of Iraq. I'll be joining hundreds of bloggers throughout the world on Blogswarm, writing about our sentiments regarding the Iraq war. If you feel the same way, I encourage you to head on over to their site and sign up.

I Spy....

Alfie had fun last week trying out his awesome new telephoto zoom lens. It really came in handy on our excursion to Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Take, for example, this photo taken just before the start of the Calico Hills Trail.

Can you spy with your little eye....... the hikers on the cliff? I've tried to help you out by encircling them in red. (You can also click here to view the full-size version)


Now see what they look like using the highest magnification from Alfie's lens, and see what they are looking at:


As I said.... awesome... both the lens and the scenery!

For more I Spy games, click here. Or click here to join my Ultimate Blog Party -- I'm hosting a blog giveaway and you could win a subscription to Bon Appetit or Budget Travel!

Let's Party! (And come enter my blog giveaway!)


Like most Filipinos, I arrive late to parties, and this one is no exception -- but better late than never! 5 Minutes for Mom is hosting The Ultimate Blog Party, with over 1,000 blogs participating and over 150 prizes to win. Check out their awesome prize list; here are my faves (I sure hope I win them!!):


* I could sure use some pampering from Lush (#114), courtesy of After a Cup of Coffee.


* The Pea would looove the $50 gift certificate at Emily Rose (prize #63), so she can get her American Girl doll lots of cool stuff. She'd also love a Pink Brick Box Play Set (prize #103) from Lego;


* Alfie would definitely drool over the chocolate package (#70) from The Chocolistas, and if he doesn't get it, I'm sure he could be consoled with a $20 Amazon gift certificate (#140, #60) from the MommyDaddy blog or Judy.


* Who would turn down some cold, hard cash (#55, #59)? Yeah, baby, Kristin and Lori sure know what people want!



But Wait! 'Tis more blessed to give than to receive, so in the spirit of celebrating and spreading the love around, I'm hosting a little drawing of my own! Just leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win a year's subscription to either Bon Appetit (12 issues) or Budget Travel (10 issues), your choice. I'll pick the winner randomly on Monday, March 17 (sorry, this is for US residents only), so be sure to leave your blog URL or email address so I can contact you.

Fridays Feast #183

Appetizer: On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 as highest), how much do you like your own handwriting?
I like it a lot, so I'd say a 9. I think it's neat and even and easily understood.

Soup: Do you prefer baths or showers?
Showers -- I hate the idea of sitting in dirty water.

Salad: What was the last bad movie you watched?
The Golden Compass. It was so disappointing!

Main Course: Name something you are addicted to and describe how it affects your life.
I'm addicted to the internet, need I say more?

Dessert: Which instrument is your favorite to listen to?
I love the acoustic guitar.

For more feasts, click here. Or click here to join my Ultimate Blog Party -- I'm hosting a blog giveaway and you could win a subscription to Bon Appetit or Budget Travel!

Love blooms in the desert


Love can be found in the most unexpected places... like in the middle of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Less than 20 miles from the glitz and the glamor of the Las Vegas strip, it's like stepping into a different world. Away from the smoke and the noise, it was literally like a breath of fresh air for us. The kids ran around exploring, the grownups relaxed, and Alfie and I found some amazing things to photograph. The last thing I expected to find there was a cactus shaped like a heart!


Happy Love Thursday
, everyone, and may you find love everywhere you look! (PS: I'm hosting a blog giveaway this week; if you want to join, click here to go to my Ultimate Blog Party post!)

I'm a Bored Member

I do enjoy being on the board of my sons' preschool, really I do. I get some perks (small tuition and work requirement credits), I get to meet and talk to lots of parents, I get to see what goes on "behind the scenes", I get to deal with outside people and businesses as part of my board position. It really is a lot of fun.

Well, most of the time. Board members are required to attend a 90-minute board meeting every month. Not that that's a bad thing. First of all, I get to avoid the usual dinnertime-bath-bedtime scramble. And I enjoy listening to other board members' status reports and finding out what is happening. But inevitably, at some point in the evening, the discussion gets bogged down in minutiae such as the merits of one janitorial contract over another, things best taken offline. Last night, for instance, we spent 30 minutes debating the requirements for next month's bake sale (Should parents be required to actually bake? Can they buy pies from Safeway? Do bagels count?) . Aaaaargh.

Fortunately, the board meetings do have one consistently enjoyable item on the agenda, which they save for last (probably to make sure that everyone stays the whole time): the teachers take turns recounting funny things that have happened to the kids during the month. Some of them, such as these two gems from last night, could go on Art Linkletter's Kids Say the Darndest Things:

Scene 1: Teacher 1 is trying to get Boy 1 to join in some imaginative play.
Teacher 1: Why don't you come here and join us? We are playing "Weddings" and we need a groom.
Boy: Oh, no no no no no.... I don't want to be the groom. I'll just be the bartender.

Scene 2: Teacher 2 observes Boy 2 walking around with a watering can, occasionally stopping to pour some water on the ground.
Teacher 2: What are you doing?
Boy 2: I'm adding vodka.

It's stories like these that make the first hour worth sitting through.

One of these things is not like the other...



They look alike, but one of these 3 boys is actually different. Can you guess which one (and why)? To the first 5 (US-based) people who guess correctly, I'll mail you 2 coupons for free Boca Burgers! My first blog giveaway has not had any takers so far :( .... so if you guess correctly, you can have 2 coupons if you want them.

For more different things, click here. BTW, I've posted this week's Photo Hunt entry extra-early because we're spending the weekend in Vegas... it's Alfie's birthday and we're going to party!



Fridays Feast

Appetizer: If you could be any current celebrity for one whole week, who would you want to be?
I would be Oprah, so I can use my celebrity status to do good and help people out.

Soup: On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you enjoy talking on the phone?
I actually dislike talking on the phone, so I would say 0 or 1. Even as a teenager, I never spent hours on the phone the way everyone else did. I much prefer email or speaking to someone directly.

Salad: Name a charitable organization to which you have donated (or would like to).
We donate to the Arthritis Foundation and Goodwill every year.

Main Course: What is a food you like so much you could eat it every single day for a month?
Soup!

Dessert: Have you or anyone in your family had the flu this year?
We have all had it -- twice! -- except Alfie. The flu shot really saved him this year!

Happy Friday everyone! For more feasts, click here.

I heart our new camera



I think I'm beginning a love affair with my camera. I've been playing around with some of the settings and taking photos here and there, and I'm having lots of fun. Even though I'm not sure I know what I'm doing, I feel like I'm seeing the world with new eyes. These heart-shaped ivy leaves, for instance, have never looked so good.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone -- hope you're all doing something you love right now!

The latest Hollywood campaign

Obama's got Oprah, DeNiro, Clooney, Will.i.am, Scarlett Johanssen. Clinton's got Spielberg, Streisand, Bon Jovi, Quincy Jones..... Nicholson....




... and here's one YouTube filmmaker's answer to that:



Ya gotta love it when Hollywood gets involved in politics!

Where's the Beef?




It's the beginning of March and it's 70 degrees outside... don't you just love California?! Time to drag the grill out and barbecue me some beef ..... or not.


I was never really into red meat until I became pregnant with 3Po and CleanBoy (is it just folklore, or did that double does of testosterone in my body start the meat craving?). I spent my pregnancy scarfing down burgers and steak fajitas. To Alfie's dismay, my carnivorous urges have stayed with me. He's doesn't like red meat at all, while the thought of hamburgers and steak still make my mouth water. Fortunately for his tastebuds and my cholesterol levels, I happen to love the taste of meatless burgers like Boca Burger, and am perfectly happy grilling those up instead.


So to celebrate the beginning of outdoor barbecuing season, I'm giving away coupons for 2 free packages of Boca Burgers to five readers! Here's how it works: Between now and next Monday, March 10...


* Leave a comment here telling the world why you like Boca Burgers. Leave your blog URL (or email, if you don't have a blog) so I'll know where to find you.


* If you write a post on your blog telling your readers about this giveaway (and linking back to this entry), you are eligible for a coupon for a 3rd free package of Boca Burgers!


* If more than 5 people enter before midnight (PST) on March 10, I'll pick 5 winners at random.


* I'll post the winners' names on Tuesday, March 11 (Sorry, this giveaway is only open to US residents.)



Good luck, and start firing up those grills!

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Mothing Sunday is one of those UK holidays that pass under our radar, just like Labour Day (not to be confused with the American Labor Day in September) or Shrove Tuesday or Easter Monday or Boxing Day. Unfortunately for Alfie's mother, Mothering Sunday is celebrated on a different date than the American Mother's Day, so he never remembers it -- and more importantly, I never remember it, so I can't remind him -- so Alfie's dad always ends up sending him a gentle reminder via email on the day itself.

Fortunately, Mothering Sunday isn't over yet in this part of the world, so I can still get a quick but heartfelt greeting in: Happy Mothering Sunday to Alfie's mum and all the wonderful mums out there!

Let's Party!



The last party we held was to celebrate 3Po and CleanBoy's 4th birthday. The game the kids are playing is pabitin, a popular Filipino party game. Basically, toys and candies are tied to a wooden frame, which is suspended from up high (note: our pabitin is a bit sparse; it really ought to look like this...).

The frame is raised and lowered so that kids have to JUMP to get their prizes. Usually the grownup holding the rope pulls it up and down, juuust out of their range, just to tease the kids a little bit -- until one of the kids manages to get a hold of the frame, then everyone DRAGS the whole thing down and the frenzy ensues. I think it's a great idea for any kids' party, Filipino or not.

This week's Photo Hunters theme is party. For more parties, click here.