Pay It Forward

I found a wonderful swap/meme today, and I've decided to play along. It's called Pay It Forward.



Pay It Forward
Making handcrafted items is a dying art, but they are so fun to make and get! So, here's a little game to encourage the handcrafting to live and thrive. The first 5 people to leave a comment on this post will receive, at some point during the year, a super-duper handmade gift from me! What it will be and when it will arrive is a total surprise.

The catch is that you must participate as well :) So before you leave your comment here, write up (or copy and paste) a pay it forward post on your blog to keep the fun going. Then, come back, let me know you are going to play, and anticipate the arrival of your super-duper handmade gift! Remember that only the FIRST FIVE comments will receive a gift from me, so be quick!

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
1. I make no guarantee that you will like what I make. But, I will try my best to make sure that you do. :p
2. It will be done this year (hopefully sooner than later!)
3. You will have no clue what or when it will be. Please make sure to leave your e-mail address too so that I can get ahold of you.


I'm adding another restriction, if you don't mind: US mailing addresses only, please.

Monday Mornings: The View


This is the view from our bedroom window, taken while lying down on our bed. This is the view I get when I first open my eyes. We've got houses and lampposts and cars crammed onto our little street, so I'm so grateful that all I see is a gorgeous patch of green and blue.

How's your Monday going? Leave me a comment, and I'll go over and comment on your post!

Are you a Scamster, Shy, or Shameless?

For April, the Silicon Valley Moms Book club tackled Suzanne Guillette's Much to Your Chagrin, a memoir of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and many, many embarrassing moments. It got me thinking of what I would say to her if she asked me about my most embarrassing moments:

1) Putting my head through the bars of a teller's window cage... and getting stuck.

2) My skirt falling off while I was onstage performing in a pop concert as a backup dancer, in front of thousands of people.

3) My father-in-law inadvertently walking in on me as I was sitting on the toilet (or was I naked? I can't remember exactly).

4) Sending The Pea off to a playdate with her friend and receiving a call about 10 minutes later from the parent of another of her friends, asking me what time they should drop off their daughter off at our house for the playdate that I had scheduled.

5) Dragging Jammy, at age 1, through a nice restaurant with poop streaming down his legs.


Actually, these are the ONLY embarrassing moments that I can remember. In fact, it took me quite a while to think of them. According to Suzanne, "People who don't have embarrassing stories are untrustworthy. Or at the very least, they aren't telling the truth".

I wouldn't go so far as to call people untrustworthy just because they don't want to spill their most embarrassing moments to a stranger. It's true, some people are naturally shy and don't want to call attention to themselves, so they lie and say they don't have any stories. But I think most people would love to share an embarrassing story (as long as it's all in the past) because it shows that they're interesting, witty and humble. Also, I think many people just have an awful memory. And many don't get embarrassed that easily -- something that would cause others to cringe in shame wouldn't even count as an embarrassing story. Which kind am I? Well, I've been known to leave the house in wrinkled, stained clothing, spill water down the front of my jeans and not bat an eye, so I guess I must be the shameless one. I can't imagine any embarrassing situation that I could have gotten into that I wouldn't retell on this blog, or at a cocktail party -- so come to think of it, I must have a really bad memory.


So what kind of a person are you: untrustworthy, forgetful, shy or completely shameless? Leave a comment here and share some of your most embarrassing moments! I personally can't believe anything could be more embarrassing than my #5, so I invite anyone to prove me wrong. And if anyone knows of an embarrassing story about me that I've conveniently forgotten, tell it here and let the world know that Bonggamom isn't All That.

Protection





Opening up an umbrella on a clear, sunny day only makes sense when you realize that it's a form of protection from a mischievous older sister who likes to squirt and soak everything in her path.


For more protection, click here.

Getting serious about ice skating


Skating My daughter first stepped onto an ice rink at a birthday party 2 years ago; she couldn't stand for more than 5 seconds, but she enjoyed it so much that we signed her up for lessons not long after. Since then it has become clear that my daughter's interest in skating isn't limited to gliding around an ice rink with her friends. She has moved past struggling to stay upright, and onto spins, spirals and salchows. Now she's at the stage where rented ice skates don't cut it anymore. When many of her classmates drop out and the class size shrinks from twelve to three. And everyone seems to have a private coach. I've been talking with a few of the other moms with daughters in more advanced levels, and I've only found one girl who does not take private lessons. The consensus seems to be, if your daughter is serious, if she wants to enter competitions, even small ones, she'll need a coach.

I'm no dummy. I know that skating is an expensive sport -- private ice skating coaches charge $35 to $45 for a 30-minute lesson, not including ice time, and don't get me started on the expensive ice skates and costumes -- and it requires a lot of dedication from a very young age. I've read Little Girls in Pretty Boxes and I know it's a high-pressure sport. Even though I know skating is a serious sport that requires athleticism and grace, the competition aspect of skating, with the very young kids in glittery costumes and makeup, reminds me a bit too much of the beauty queen scene, of the Toddlers and Tiaras set with their pageant coaches and pushy parents. I knew all this when The Pea started -- I just didn't want to go that route, and I didn't think we'd ever have to.

Fortunately, The Pea is easygoing and so far only mildly affected by peer pressure, so she accepted our "Sorry, honey, we can't afford private lessons" with good grace. A couple of weeks ago she entered her first competition at the local rink with -- gasp! -- no coach and a recycled old ballet costume. None of the other skating people I spoke with had ever heard of such a notion, but luckily the rink director was fine with it. She walked us through all the rules and techincal details that parents usually leave to the coaches (which, I'll admit, is one good reason to hire a coach for competitions!). With my dance background and The Pea's skating knowledge, we pieced together a simple routine. I hired a coach for a one-off session to check the routine over and give her some tips. She performed beautifully at the competition, had fun, won second place, and everyone was happy.

Until the coach approached me after the competition with a can't-refuse offer: he wants to coach her regularly, and he's willing to halve his coaching fee. She's good, he said. She has the drive and dedication. And most important, she really, really loves skating. He doesn't do this solely for the money and he loves working with kids like her. How old is she? Eight? Ok, she's young enough... but she needs to start soon, before she gets too old....

Oh shit. Now what I do? Now that cost has become less of an issue, we really had a decision to make. I'll love him forever for his generous offer, we couldn't accept such a big discount and not get serious about skating. He wants weekly sessions in addition to group lessons, practice, and gymnastics lessons to improve her flexibility. There would be the unspoken agreement that she's in it to win it, or at least to see if she's good enough to enter serious competitions before she gets too old. Skating would no longer be something she can blow off because she's been invited to a birthday party. My husband cynically pointed out that he's probably just doing what he has to do to get additional clients in this recession, and privately I don't think she's thaaat good (am I a bad mother for saying that?), but maternal ego forced me to take his feedback at face value. Maybe The Pea does have talent -- but is it worth the financial and time commitment? My mind screams No, but it makes me miserable to think that we might be depriving her of the chance to realize her fullest potential.

In the end, I turned to The Pea and had a very honest conversation with her. I told her that an opportunity had opened up for her and she could have private coaching if she really wanted it, but the coach would expect her to work very hard and spend most of her time with skating. Something in her schedule would have to give. And The Pea made the decision herself. Yes, she really, really loves skating, but it's not her life. One competition a year is enough for her because she loves other things too. She wasn't willing to give up her jazz lessons or playdates. She even said she'd prefer to take karate lessons or one of the special-skills group skating lessons rather than spend the money on private lessons. Dear Lord, thank you for giving us such a sensible girl and making this so much easier.

So we told the coach, very nicely, Thanks, but no thanks. The Pea is sticking to group lessons, for now at least. I still feel traces of guilt when I think she might not be progressing as quickly as some of the other kids, or whether she has really learned all she can from group lessons. If it looks like she needs a coach in order to pass her tests and move on to higher levels, we can always reconsider. But now that I know she's just in it to have fun, there's no hurry to land a lutz or an axel before she hits puberty. Which means I may have killed my daughter's chances of ever winning an Olympic ice skating medal. But it also means she can still dream of winning a medal in the Math Olympics. And that she can still be a Girl Scout and try out karate if she wants to and do absolutely nothing on a hot summer afternoon. And I'm okay with that. And, I think, so is she.


Original SV Moms Post April 24, 2009. Bonggamom often finds herself skating on thin ice as she juggles her 3 kids' schedules and feeds her blogging addiction. Read all about her attempts to find her inner diva and win the gold medal for motherhood at Finding Bonggamom.

Wordless Wednesday


Happy Earth Day, everyone!

The Gay Queen - Beauty Queen Smackdown!

When I heard on the telly this morning that Miss California's views on gay marriage supposedly cost her the Miss USA title, I assumed that Miss California had strong pro-gay-marriage views and Middle America (as evidenced by the judges' scores) did not approve . I don't know why; maybe it's because everyone I know in Silicon Valley supports gay rights, and I thought Miss California would mirror California's liberal tendencies. I heard Perez Hilton's name mentioned and I thought he must be championing her, saying she was robbed of the crown because she supports gay marriage.

So when I heard the full story, I was surprised and saddened. Not because she stood her ground and stayed true to her religious beliefs, but because those religious beliefs are making life hell for gays who just want the same legal rights as everyone else. So many people cite the Bible and God's will as reason for their opposition to gay marriage, but that argument doesn't make sense because laws shouldn't reflect the views of any particular religious affiliation. They can ban gay marriage in their churches all they want, damn gays to hell in their speeches and whatnot -- that is their right according to the First Amendment (see, I still remember my US citizenship material!). But it's not fair to deny two people the same legal status and rights that are given freely to other people, simply because of their sexual preferences -- and because of other people's condemnation of said sexual preferences.

So yes, I was suprised. But then again, maybe I shouldn't be. After all, California did ban same-sex marriage last November. Living where we do, it's hard to remember that there are many more people like Carrie Prejean living in California. Despite all the boos she received for her answers, despite losing the crown, it's undeniable that Carrie Prejean reflects the views of a great many people in the US. But the fact remains that she did get boos. And she did lose the crown. So maybe things are changing.

The day the blogosphere went purple

On Tuesday, April 14, Heather and Mike Spohr buried their daughter Madeline. And the blogosphere mourned with them. Maddie's story has touched so many people, even people who have never met them. People are donating to the March of Dimes in Maddie's name, and participating in the March for Babies walks because of her. (check out all the locations below)The one good thing coming out of this is that more money is being raised for premature babies, babies like Maddie.



For her funeral they asked people to wear purple in her honor. Even people who did not attend responded. They turned their avatars and Twitter pages and blogs purple. The Pea and I wore purple on Tuesday too.



Read Heather's and Mike's touching tributes (don't forget your kleenex). And for more purple, click here.

Remembering Easter


I was so busy playing cook and hostess at yesterday's Easter brunch, I didn't get a chance to photograph any of the treats I made. I'm really wanted to capture the blueberry french toast casserole (I got the recipe from the bread wrapper, of all places) and the white sangria (great recipe from Gina Von Esmarch's Taste This! cookbook), but they went too quickly.

At least I was able to get these pretty babies (3Po wasn't feeling well yesterday and decided to save his for today, plus I hid the two extra treats in the freezer) . Inside the waffle cup is a layer of brownie mix, a layer of Neapolitan ice cream, and a layer of Cool Whip. Then I decorated the top with some edible Easter grass, chocolate eggs, and a marshmallow Peep.

Monday Mornings: The Not-So-Dreaded Commute

Alfie zooming off to work; taken through the panes of glass on our back door


Monday Morning commutes are a pain, but they don't bother Alfie because he takes his motorcycle to work. It turns a 45 minute travel time (60 if there's an accident on Hwy101) into a 20 minute one -- and Alfie loves riding his bike so much, he actually enjoys his commute. He probably wishes his office were at the top of a steep, winding mountain road, but he knows he can't have everything, so I think he'd settle for being able to weave past the traffic.


How is your morning going? If you leave a link to your Monday Morning post in the comments section, I'll go visit and leave a comment.

Maybe Andrew Zimmern ought to go into politics



I love Andrew Zimmern. Who else would say clotted tissue tastes like nuts? I heard that he's got new episodes of Andrew Zimmern: Bizarre Foods coming up on the Travel Channel this week, so I went and watched this teaser video. It's just two minutes long and already he's drinking fresh, WARM cow blood.....ulp. Be still, my stomach.

The guy will eat anything. Any part of any plant or animal, in any state. Anything. Even though I'm Filipino, and we do put a lot of things in our mouths that other cultures would throw in the trash, I am a culinary wuss. I don't like eating kidneys and liver and oxtongue (yes, I have tried these time and time again, I don't care for the texture) -- so I really admire his sense of adventure. I want to be like him and eat without regard for preconceptions and prejudice. Maybe it's not even possible. You know how Lance Armstrong is a superhuman freak when it comes to athletic abilities? Well, Andrew Zimmern might be one of those statistical outliers when it comes to digestive capabilities. Sometimes after he's eaten something particularly slimy and squiggly (live worms, anyone?) I expect to see some kind of gag reflex from him, but all he'll give is a thoughtful foodie analysis like "gamey" or "gelatinous".

But what I really love is how Zimmern respects other cultures and shows no hint of surprise or distaste or any hint of condescension towards the friendly people who are offering him a taste of their local cuisine. No wrinkling of the nose or involuntary shudder. No attitude of, "I'm an important American chef and I'm here to try your weird foods so I can show my viewers that I can eat anything". Just interest, and a desire to try new things.

Time and time again I hear people say "Do you know that people in China eat dogs? Ewwww!" or "Oh, I could never eat fish with the head still on it". Even, "Sushi, raw fish, yuck!" and "Rice for breakfast, how weird". I find comments like this a bit ignorant in this day and age, as though these people think that chicken and fish should only come in hygenic shrinkwrapped packages in the supermarket. Shows like Bizarre Foods are great because they show mainstream Americans how the rest of the world eats (albeit in a sensationalized way). You don't have to like everything people eat, but you have to make the shift from labeling things as "weird" (or "Bizarre", for that matter), to "different". Because different is okay.

It might seem like a big leap to go from food to politics, but this makes me think of Sarah Palin and the number of blank pages on her passport -- and more significantly, the number of people in this country who think it's no big deal for a potential vice president to have such a passport. I think that being open to new cuisines is a great first step towards becoming more open to new cultures and new ideas. In politics, like food, wouldn't it be great if we tried different things from different countries (Would you like to try some live worms? Or how about a nationalized health system?) Maybe we could learn a thing or two, and maybe get rid of some misconceptions and prejudices. And maybe even find something we could use back home. So all you potential politicians, take a page from Andrew Zimmern's book and go on your own journey of travel, discovery and learning!

How many triangles?


This is the latest fad in our household.... K'nex. The boys received a small set for their birthdays, and they quickly fell in love. I managed to find a teenager selling his huge boyhood Knex collection for a pittance (bless you, Craigslist!!), then Alfie realized Knex had motorized sets and got into it as well, and all of a sudden we've got quite a haul!

Since this weekend's Photo Hunt theme is Triangles, I asked one of the boys to build me a 3-D diamond. Can you tell me how many triangles you can find in the structure? I've lost count!

For more triangles, click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Maddie



There are truly no words when it comes to the loss of a beautiful child. Heather and Mike, we are all grieving for you. Sweet angel Maddie, you are already making such a big difference in this world because people from all over will be marching and working to help give babies like you a chance.

for more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Madeline

She's a fellow blogger. A fellow Silicon Valley Moms group blogger. A fellow mom. But I don't really know her. I don't know Heather. I don't know her husband Mike or her daughter Madeline. But I heard tonight, over Twitter, that Madeline passed away today. And even though I don't know Heather, I ache for her loss. It's every parent's worst nightmare, and it's so unfair that this kind of thing happens at all. Children get sick and die -- how fucked up is that?? As Alfie says, if I were God, I would have left that bit out.

I don't know her and I don't know what to say and I don't even know if it will help her in any way but I went to Heather's website and left her a little note. So did countless other people, many of whom probably don't know her either. But we can all feel a little of her pain, so we're all raging and grieving along with her.

Monday Mornings: Crappy morning, happy (birth) day


This was me, eight years ago on the morning of April 6th. I was NOT having a great morning, seeing as I had been up all night with labor pains. I've got the gory details on another blog post, so to cut a long story short, around 8AM, my contractions had slowed down; they were about to send me home again but after all the agony I had been through, I said NO F-ING WAY.... Break that bag of waters!


Fortunately, just before 9PM, I met The Pea for the very first time, and all the pain became worth it. Thus a crappy morning became a happy day, which is pretty much a good way to summarize these past 8 years with the Pea: sometimes crappy, but on the whole, very, very happy. Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea!!!

Wordless Wednesday: Snaggletooth

The second loose tooth has been slowly tilting and sinking into the empty spot that the first one left behind.


Jammy has lost his snaggletooth but 3Po's has managed to hang on.

See more Wordless Wednesday images here.