Photo Hunters: Water

This week's Photo Hunters Theme is water.

My kids love to drink water, look at it (in the form of fountains, waterfalls, the sea, etc..), play with it, play in it. But they have never found water so fascinating as when we did the experiment above.

Just fill a pitcher with ice-cold water, and fill a small narrow-necked bottle with hot water that has been tinted with food coloring. Tie a string around the small bottle's neck so you can lower it into the pitcher. Lower it carefully and watch the warmer water rise to the top.

They really enjoyed watching their underwater "volcano" erupt!

Love Thursday: Ballet

My daughter has been obsessed with ballet recently. It's her newest love. She never could sit still; now, instead of wiggling and squirming, she's always dancing and twirling. Here she is doing a plie (plee-YAY). Well, it looks more like a squat, but she loves doing it anyway (sorry honey, you're just a beginner, I promise it'll look more like a plie soon).

What big sister loves, so do the boys. Here they are trying out their own plies. They decided to wear their superhero costumes because they know from Ballerino Nate, their new favorite book, that boy dancers don't have to wear tutus.

They've been begging me to let them take ballet lessons too. I signed them up for pre-ballet despite some funny looks from my husband.
For more expressions of love, click here.

100 Things About Me

Wow, it's my 100th post! I am shamelessly borrowing this idea from Sognatrice over at Bleeding Espresso: celebrate this milestone by listing down 100 Things About Me.

I've said in the past that I couldn't even think of Five Things About Me that I wanted to share; uh, I guess I was wrong. This is a testament either to my dedication to writing or my extreme self-centeredness. So read on if you've got the patience :)

1) I go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays -- and I need every ounce of willpower to get there.
2) But stepping onto the treadmill really gets my endorphins going, and after 5 minutes (running or walking) I'm usually fantasizing about finishing marathons.
3) Or fantasizing about creating spectacular food dishes on the Food Network.
4) But since I'm doing the San Francisco Bay to Breakers run again this year, I've been thinking more about marathons than marshmallows.
5) In three weeks I've gone from being able to walk 3 miles to being able to run 5. It took me an hour to finish, but just being able to keep running for 1 hour is accomplishment enough for me.

6) It's still my dream to be able to do a proper chin-up.
7) Or be able to swing across the monkey bars in the playground.
8) Growing up in the Philippines, we never had any monkey bars to swing across. They just weren't very popular for some reason.
9) I've been able to make it to about 70% of my body weight, working on one of those hydraulic-assisted chin-up stations at the gym. But then for some reason I lose interest or get bored and change my exercise routine.
10) I may have to accept the fact that I will never be able to carry my own body weight.

11) When guests come to stay (usually my parents or in-laws), my exercise routine goes out the window.
12) Even though it's the perfect opportunity to leave the kids to bond with their grandparents, I just get lazy. And we like to go on hikes and do other things together anyway, so I figure I'm still getting some exercise.
13) Plus, my mother-in-law loves sweet snacks as much as I do, so we're a bad influence on each other.
14) This time, I'm determined not to let that happen.
15) (But I've already missed one day at the gym)

16) I think I would cook from scratch more often if I bought everything pre-chopped (especially chicken, which I hate touching) and pre-measured, but I'm so cheap I can't bring myself to buy things that way.
17) I hate using recipes to cook because I can't be bothered to measure out ingredients.
18) I prefer to throw things into a pot and see what comes out.
19) Sometimes this results in dishes that are too salty, too spicy, or practically inedible.
20) But sometimes I manage to produce a memorable, never-to-be-repeated dinner.

21) I used to have humongous moles under my left ribs and beside my right earlobe.
22) I had them cauterized away in my early twenties.
23) That was only the second "surgery" I've ever had in my life (knock on wood).
24) My first was to remove four impacted molars. Instead of the more common outpatient procedure, I went under general anesthesia and spend the night in the hospital.
25) No I did not deliver my twins via Caesarian surgery (most people are amazed by this). I was all prepped for surgery in case there were any complications that required it, but I was lucky, my boys were both born the old-fashioned way. Well, as old-fashioned as you can get considering the epidural and vacuum extractor and fetal monitors and team of about 6 people in the OR.

26) Now that it's spring cleaning time, I've turned into the Used Toy and Clothing Lady. I sell all of my kids old toys and clothes on Craigslist or through my local mother's club.
27) I never sell on Ebay because I'm nervous about having to ship items out to buyers.
28) I hate it when people commit to buying an item then try to bargain when they come to pick the item up.
29) My biggest pet-peeve bargaining tactic is when people tell me that they only brought just a little less petty cash than the item costs, like $7 to pay for a $10-item, but they do have a $100 bill, so unless I can make change, will I accept the $7 ?
30) I always price used items at very good prices and have multiple people interested, so I tell them (very nicely) I can always sell it to the next buyer. They have always managed to come up enough change in their car...

31) I also buy stuff off Craigslist and my parent's club email list.
32) I have bought exactly 10 things on Ebay, all of them odds-and-ends for my kids.
33) I hold my breath until the item arrives in the post.
34) See, I know someone who got scammed on Ebay and I'm praying it won't happen to me.
35) But so far, I've never bought anything from someone that I wasn't highly pleased with, so I think sellers in general are honest people.

36) If we won the lottery, the first thing we'd do is sign our names on the ticket and photocopy the ticket.
37) Then we'd book a family trip to The Kea Lani in Maui.
38) If there was enough money left over, we'd pay off our mortgage.
39) After that, we'd book another family trip, probably to the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
40) After that, I'd buy a 5-series BMW. My husband thinks that's weird, because I would still have to drive our van anyway. But he has spoiled me for nice cars and I like the idea of owning a brand-new Beamer again.

41) If we had enough money, I'd have my nails done more often.
42) I'd have facials and body scrubs at the swanky day spa just a couple of blocks away.
43) I'd buy fresh flowers every week. Tulips, I think. Yes, I love tulips.
44) I'd have someone come in to do my laundry. And ironing. I hate laundry and ironing.
45) I'd give the plastic surgeons free reign over my body: LASIK eye surgery, tummy tuck, breast lift, lipo. I wouldn't mind getting a little help.

46) I used to wake up at 6AM every day, which is late for people in the Philippines (everyone wants to be up and about while it's cool, before the sun gets too hot).
47) When I was single and working, I rarely got out of bed before 1oAM on weekends.
48) I was seriously sleep-deprived in the first year of my twins' life.
49) I used to struggle to get my daughter to preschool by 9:30AM.
50) But now I get her to kindergarten by 8:10 without much of a struggle. It's all about routine.

51) I am hopeless at mental math.
52) I cannot, for the life of me, type out numbers or symbols on the keyboard, even though I learned to touch-type and do pretty well with letters.
53) I have never learned to iron clothes properly.
54) I would rather buy a new pair of shoes than clean old scruffy ones with shoe polish and a brush.
55) And my husband thinks I'm too heavy on the accelerator when I drive.

56) But if there's a low airfare to somewhere we need to get to, I'll find it.
57) I get all my kids' clothes used or on clearance.
58) I have a nice singing voice (but I'm not delusional like some American Idol rejects).
59) I throw really nice childrens' birthday parties.
60) And I have a knack for directions (which I get from my mother) and I never let my husband forget it.

61) When I was a girl of 11 or 12, I wanted to be a doctor.
62) I wanted to get married at 26.
63) I wanted to have five children: four boys in succession, then a girl.
64) None of those children were twins because I never really thought I could have twins since they didn't run in our family.
65) I thought I'd live in the Philippines forever.

66) As I got older, I wanted to travel the world and live in another country or two, but return to the Philippines and live there forever.
67) I wanted to start dating the man I would marry at 26, so that we'd have enought time to get to know one another before marrying.
68) I thought I would never, ever go to bed angry (and not speaking to) my future husband, whoever he was, otherwise it spelled trouble for our relationship.
69) I thought having twins, especially boy twins, would be the worst possible way to begin life as a parent.
70) Boy, was I wrong on all those counts!

71) My mother always kept my hair short when I was a child.
72) I always thought I looked like a boy.
73) I was always the tallest one in my all-girls elementary school class, so I played the part of the prince/hero/boy in all of our school plays.
74) Every time I got a wish (blowing out my birthday cake, tossing a coin into a fountain, etc..), I wished for long hair.
75) As soon as I was allowed, I grew my hair long, and have kept it long to this day.

76) Speaking of hair, when I was a baby, my hair was curly.
77) After the first curls were cut off, it grew straight.
78) It started to get really wavy at around age 11. I hated it and was always trying to straighten it out.
79) Once I moved to California at age 22, the lack of humidity made my hair lie straight and flat. I always wish it would curl up more.
80) It gets wavy/frizzy when it rains and whenever I go back to Manila.

81) Yes, my husband and I have gone to bed not speaking to each other.
82) But we always make up the next day.
83) He is much better at letting go of grudges and making up than I am.
84) I told him long ago that I didn't really mind if he never bought me flowers.
85) But I've changed my mind.

86) We had an in-utero nickname for our oldest daughter, but our twins were just Baby A and Baby B.
87) We had pet nicknames for all our kids but don't use them anymore.
88) I'm a little bit worried (and my husband is more than a little bit worried) about using my kids' real names on this blog.
89) Even though our address is not on this blog, I'm pretty free about posting photos, so maybe I ought to be more concerned. The blog is primarily for family and friends but I know there are all kinds of sickos on the internet.
90) I'm seriously considering going back to all 100 of my blog posts and replacing their real names with their old nicknames.

91) My sister and her family drove 14 hours to be with us this past Christmas. I'm ashamed to say it, but I'm not so sure I'd be strong enough to return the favor. Maybe when the kids are older...
92) I hate chatting on the phone, so I'm not good at keeping touch.
93) I'm lucky to have a family that loves me enough to keep me close.
94) I wish we did live closer to our families so my kids could have closer relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
95) And I'm a little bit selfish too: I'd love to have a little bit of help and someone to drop the kids off with occasionally while I go out with my husband.

96) I question myself constantly about whether I'm a good parent.
97) I question myself constantly about whether I'm living up to my potential as a person, not just a mom.
98) I thrive on praise and get defensive when subjected to comments and criticism.
99) I do believe my children's behavior and habits are a reflection on our parenting skills.
100) But I'm not self-centered, I'm really not!

Un-American Girl

I had a little rant about American Girl dolls over at SVMomsblog the other day. Here is an excerpt:

My daughter's birthday is coming up, and at our prompting, she has come up with a list of gift suggestions that her parents and grandparents can choose from. They range from great idea (new bike/ a day at Disneyland) to okay (Littlest Pet Shop Little Lovin Playhouse/ Polly Pocket Tropicool Pool Playset) to honey, I know it's cute but where would we put it? (Littlest Pet Shop Biggest Little Petshopt). And then there's the American Girl doll. For me, for now, that falls into the category of "Uh, sorry, that's too much money".

Don't get me wrong. I love the concept of American Girl dolls. They're wholesome, spirited, value-oriented characters, not little prostitots like the Bratz dolls. They encourage reading and imaginative play.

But why oh why do they have to be so expensive?

......... Go to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog to read the whole post! For more great SV Mom posts, click here.

Spring cleaning

The annual purge has begun.... just look at how much we were able to throw out! I have a couple more boxes of stuff to donate and several more boxes to sell at Palo Alto's citywide garage sale in June. So we still have some clutter. But it feels soooo good to get rid of all this. It's sort of like a scab that has itched for some time, and now you get to peel it right off :)

Sunday Scribblings: A Better Kitchen

Today I succumbed to the latest trend in dining: meal preparation kitchens. I tried out Sous Kitchen in San Carlos and assembled two 4-to-6-serving meals: Crispy Mustard Chicken and Mojito Chicken. I had a coupon for $10, so both dishes (at $30 each) cost me $50 total. A bit of a splurge for us, but it's cheaper than takeout, and it isn't every day that my in-laws are here, so we want to spend more time talking and less time cooking. We had the Mustard Chicken tonight and it was wonderful! We can't wait to try the other dish I made and I can't wait to go back and try more dishes on their menu while my in-laws are here.

If I were a working parent who had to slave in the office all day and come home to hungry, tired kids and not a clue what to prepare for dinner, this would be a Godsend. Even as a stay-at-home parent, if I could afford it, I think I would use this service quite often. No dinners from a box or a jar or a microwave, no peanut butter sandwiches. Just fresh, real, tasty food that took me 10 minutes to assemble in their kitchen (versus an hour cooking at home plus more time cleaning up), ready and waiting in my freezer.

Their kitchen is a sight to behold -- immaculately clean, organized and spacious. Gleaming stainless steel appliances everywhere. Shiny modern measuring spoons and cups. Clean, bare counters. Pre-sliced, defrosted meat waiting in the fridge. Ingredients neatly lined up at each preparation station. Personnel standing by, ready to whisk aside all the used bowls and spoons as soon as you're done with them. It's like having my own sous chef, prep crew and cleanup brigade.

Compare that with my own kitchen -- crusty pans soaking in the sink, leftovers cooling on the (well-splattered) stove, tea stains on the countertops, papers everywhere, kids' artwork strung up with clothespins on the window, cereal crumbs under the table even at dinnertime, tacky white fridge cluttered with magnets and photos. And just one drudge-- me. Wow, now I wish I had a kitchen like theirs at home.

But really, well, actually I'm glad I don't. Rather, I'm glad that I get a chance to "have" a beautiful, immaculate kitchen 0ver there and my own messy, cluttered kitchen over here. Because for every ten minutes I spend preparing meals in their beautiful, immaculate kitchen, I gain thirty minutes in my own messy, cluttered kitchen interacting with my messy, cluttered family. Because after all, kitchens are not just for cooking, are they?

For more kitchens, click here.

The first Empty Nest

This week's Photo Hunter's theme is Empty.

My mother-in-law, who has not been to visit for 18 months, surveyed the kids' room upon arrival and noticed the twins' toddler beds. She exclaimed, "Last time we were here, they were in cots!" (she's English, she means cribs). Wow, that was so long ago for me that I hardly remember it. So I went digging into our photo archives. This is the last picture I took of Philip's crib, just before we dismantled and sold it. It looks so forlorn and empty. Looking at it gives me the beginnings of empty-nest syndrome. I hope the people who bought it have filled it with lots of blankets and toys and love.

Love Thursday: Welcome Nana and Dar!

When both sets of grandparents live on different continents from you, visits -- like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny -- come just once a year. So each arrival becomes a long-awaited event and every day becomes a collection of moments to be treasured.

Love is being so happy about your grandparents' arrival that you can't help smiling.

Love is snuggling under a blanket with the people you care about.

Love is three generations reading a bedtime story together.

For more images of love, click here.

The Mystery of the Missing Plant: Solved!

After detailed investigations and keen observation, we have solved the Mystery of the Missing Plant . The perpetrator is none other than our gardener, who concluded that the plant was dead, uprooted it and disposed of it. Lingering questions remain, such as How did he know the plant was dead? and How come we didn't see the stump in our yard waste bin and Was it under the leaves or did he grind them up?. However, even though the gardener was a suspect and ultimately the guilty one, he is also our expert witness, so we are taking his word for it and moving on.

We also found the missing tube of toothpaste underneath the twins' beds, at the very far corner with all the dust bunnies -- as well as three rubber bands, some bits of ribbon, several Lego bricks, some bingo pieces, and a miniature Christmas train ornament. We have concluded that the house thief discovered this clever hiding place, realized that the lady of the house doesn't bother with this area very often, and stashed his loot there.

Case closed!

Bra Sizes

When I receive joke emails, I rarely ever read them (after looking at the subject line, they go straight into my trash folder), much less pass them on. But this one I got from my aunt was so funny that I just had to post it up on this blog. Being an "Almost Boobs" (A) myself, I can certainly relate. Enjoy!

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used to define bra sizes? If you have wondered why, but couldn't figure out what the letters stood for, it is about time you became informed!

{A} Almost Boobs...
{B} Barely there
{C} Can't Complain!
{D} Dang!
{DD} Double dang!
{E} Enormous!
{F} Fake
{G} Get a Reduction
{H} Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up!

10 things I love about Miss B

My dear friend, the Divine Miss B, is gone. Her husband has finished his master's degree here at Stanford, so the whole family has moved back to Houston. It's hard to believe I first met her only two years ago, at our gym's childcare facility, where my son was biting her daughter on a regular basis. I thought she'd tell the bad-parent police to go get me, but she just laughed it off and said he'd outgrow it. It's little things like that which have made her such a great friend to everyone she meets. Here are some other reasons I'm grateful for her friendship:
  1. She taught me that all kids are different and no kid is perfect.
  2. She introduced me, a non-coffee drinker, to the only Starbucks hot coffee drink I really like (tall decaf nonfat latte with sugar-free hazelnut syrup).
  3. She reminded me that moms need playdates as much as their kids do.
  4. She has introduced me to a whole new group of girlfriends.
  5. She is a living example of the power of positive thinking and perseverance.
  6. She encouraged me to complete my first half-marathon.
  7. She showed me that yes, Republican conservatives can be nice people too.
  8. She taught me to be proud of my addiction to American Idol and celebrity gossip blogs.
  9. She has given me an infinite number of ideas for romantic presents for my husband.
  10. She made me feel like her best friend -- and I suspect made all her friends feel the same way.
Good luck in Houston, Miss B, and see you soon!


Things that inspire me:
My house. I love how it looks and how much we enjoy living in it, so it inspires this former slob to make the beds in the morning, to vacuum and scrub the floors, to pick up the mess and clutter. Now that we're featured in the Charming Cottages of Palo Alto tour (a benefit for Mills College), we're going to have to fix the house up even more. But it's worth it.

My weighing scale inspires me to eat well. When I really, really want to eat more of the muffins that are downstairs, I see the numbers on the scale and it reminds me that whatever passes through my lips ends up on my hips.

The Food Network shows, especially Ace of Cakes, Food Network Challenge, and Nigella Bites. They inspire me to create dishes that are beautiful and delicious instead of opening a can or the freezer.

Places that inspire me:
The view from our second-floor landing. Even though we live in the midst of suburbia, the house-free view of trees and flowers, sun and sky inspire me to take a deep breath and remember that life is good.

Yosemite National Park. The majestic views inspire me to look for ways to reuse, reduce and recyle, to help keep the rest of the planet looking just as beautiful.

Punta Bulata beach in the Philippines reminds me that without family, we are adrift and alone in this world, and it inspires me to stay close to my brothers, sisters and parents despite the distance.

People that inspire me:

My friend, The Serving Wench, is my work-family balance inspiration. She always shows up for mid-afternoon playdates and drives her son to his preschool, so I actually had no idea she had a full-time job.

My friends, The Divine Miss B and her inspiration, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, are my commitment inspirations. Both of these women overcame staggering odds to lose and maintain a significant amount of weight (we're talking over 100 lbs. each).

My family inspires me to get up in the morning and live my life as best as I can.

And The Writers of Sunday Scribblings inspire me to sit down and write about it!

For more inspiration, click here.

Photo Hunters: Drink

This week's Photo Hunters theme is Drink.

James looks like he could fall into his drink -- one of those Big Gulp-sized things that holds something like 2 liters of drink. Oh, in case you're concerned, I assure you, that isn't Coke he's drinking, just water.

For more Photo Hunters, click here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We were at the YMCA earlier today for a St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Philip: Why are we at swimming? (they take lessons at the Y)
Me: It's St. Patrick's Day. Do you know who St. Patrick is?
Philip: He's Sponge Bob's friend!

Love, the best medicine

After a spaghetti dinner the other night, Philip was in tears over a cut in his pinkie that was really smarting (tomato sauce on a cut -- ouch!). Note the quivering lower lip and real tears shining in his eyes. Graham took over, inspected the finger quite seriously, and made a big fuss about it.

Fast-forward to five minutes later, and here he is again, in a clean shirt, his mouth washed, with his boo-boo all wrapped up in a band-aid, smiling and clowning around in my glasses. He claims the band-aid made it stop hurting, but I attribute it to the healing power of a daddy's love and attention.

For more Love Thursday posts, click

The Mystery of the Missing Plant

Our potted plant is missing. Not the pot, just the plant. The pot is on our front lawn where we have always left it, but now it's just a pot half-full of dug-up soil. Sunday night it was there, Monday night it was gone. Isn't that weird? Who would take it? We don't know what kind of plant it is. It isn't like it's some award-winning plant. In fact, this time of the year it is practically just a single twig. But in the summer it blooms a single, orange flower that Graham loves.

As most CSI and Law and Order viewers are well aware, in their search for suspects, detectives look first of all for "means, motive and opportunity." So with that, here is my list of suspects:

The gardener
Means: D-uh, he's a gardener! So he has all the gardening tools he needs to take the plant.
Motive: Spring cleaning. Perhaps he thought the plant was dead and needed to uproot it.
Opportunity: He was at our house on Monday morning, while I was away.
Conclusion: The yard rubbish bin was empty, so if he did it, it wasn't part of his regular job.

The cleaners
Means: They've got mops and garbage bags, they can improvise. Plus, they'd be really good at cleaning up the evidence.
Motive: Professional: they are plant-criminals.
Opportunity: They were at our house on Monday morning, while I was away.
Conclusion: I've left money and stuff lying around the house, and it's always there after I clean. Besides, why would they want a dead-looking plant?

The next-door neighbor
Means: They have lots of plants so they probably have the necessary tools.
Motive: They want to add our plant to their collection.
Opportunity: They live right next to us, and are always at home, so they could have done it anytime.
Conclusion: Their plants are much nicer than ours, so why would they want it?

One of us (i.e., an inside job)
Means: We've got tools in the garage, I'm sure I could figure out which one I'd need. And sure, the plant is heavy, but the kids could have conspired to do it together.
Motive: Graham and Ana have no obvious motive (but I wouldn't tell if I had one!). The kids might have wanted the plant because they thought it would make a great gigantic stick toy.
Opportunity: Any of us could have done it while everyone else was asleep.
Conclusion: Guilty only if this were Agatha-Christie-Land.

The neighbors from hell
Means: They too have lots of plants so they probably have the necessary tools.
Motive: They're mad at us for building a second story (note: their house also has 2 floors).
Opportunity: They could have done it while we were away during the day, or late at night.
Conclusion: They are the neighbors from hell, so they must be guilty.

Oh, and the kids' toothpaste is also missing from our downstairs bathroom. Maybe the person who took the plant needed to clean his teeth? OK, maybe the kids just stuffed it under the sofa. But mark my words, we have not heard the last of this case.....

Is Disneyland REALLY the Happiest Place on Earth?

There are dream journeys, and then there are Dream Journeys. My top-of-the-line Dream Journey would involve a white-sand-beach, preferably isolated, or a trip to an old-world city, rich in culture and sophisticated chic. My kids would all be perfectly behaved, or cared for by nannies, or older, or not included. We would travel in the lap of luxury and be there for at least two weeks.

My short-term dream journey is a bit simpler and perhaps more attainable. I just want to take my children to Disneyland. I first visited Disneyland when I was seven, and it was truly magical. I have been there three times since, as well as Disneyworld once, and each time have left wanting to go back. Now that I have children, I want to go even more. I want to see the joy and wonder in their faces as their favorite storybook characters come alive. Graham wonders at the intensity of my desire; he has never been to Disneyland, so I cannot really explain to him how different it is from the parks he has been to: Great America, Marine World or even Legoland.

More photos of Graham's cake

This week's Photo Hunters theme is Architecture.

A somewhat different take on "architecture".... here's a photo showing the underlying structure of Graham's birthday cake. Because it's a rather dense cake, the wise lady our local cake supply store suggested I might need to reinforce the first layer a bit so it could support the second.

She thought that wooden dowels would be a bit of overkill, but plastic straws would do the trick. Pretty neat, huh? She was right; the cake didn't collapse. Here once again is the final product:

And here is the birthday boy enjoying his surprise party and cake:

For more Photo Hunters, click here.

Happy Birthday Graham!

Update: Below is the final version of the cake, just before it was devoured by five hungry people. I decided it looked too plain, so Natalie and I added strawberries around the edge for a cute floral look. Then Natalie lent the cake some of her little plastic fairies. It does look more like a cake for a 6-year-old girl than a middle-aged man, but then again Graham has never been afraid to stay in touch with his feminine side :) Anyway, we did all LOVE it.

Happy Birthday Graham!! For my chocoholic husband's Nth birthday, we woke him up with a box of chocolate truffles from Joseph Schmidt. It was a real treat for the kids to each have a luscious truffle each BEFORE breakfast. Later we will surprise him with this chocolate cake, made and iced with love by yours truly.

In the past, we've pieced together cakes as a kids' project and disguised all the flaws with mounds of candy decorations (making the dessert far to sweet for grownups' taste). This year I've actually put in the effort to make a two-layer cake from scratch (ok, the cake was actually a cake mix but I doctored it up, and the icing was 100% homemade, I swear!). It looks like something the resident dog at the Ace of Cakes might have made, but I'm proud of it as my first stab at a real cake. Oh and both icing and cake taste delicious (I snuck a taste), so regardless of how it looks, I know my husband will love it!

For more expressions of love, click here.

Opposite logic

In the car this morning, we were talking about opposites. James was very quiet until the end...

Me: What is the opposite of fast?
Philip: Slow!
Me: What is the opposite of hot?
Philip: Cold!
Me: What is the opposite of sad? Jamie, do you know?
Philip: Hot!
(several more opposites went this way, with Philip answering all of them)
Me: What is the opposite of hard?
James: NOT HARD!

Then James had one for me. I was stumped, but Philip came to my rescue:
James: What is the opposite of car?
Philip: Drive!

And they say boys are falling behind academically? Not on your life.

Superstition or Science: Answers

OK, here are answers to my little pop quiz.

#1, 4 and 6 are Filipino superstitions.
#2, 3, and 5 are English superstitions or old wives tales.
#7 is actually true, in a way. Opium is derived from poppy seeds, and you can fail a drug test after ingesting too many poppy seeds (as in a poppy seed bagel, like Elaine on Seinfeld did!) This website found a record of a young man actually dying from consuming poppy seed tea. Urban legend? I don't know.

What else is true? Graham INSISTS #2 is true and his parents INSIST #3 is true but I have actually read food articles by nutritionists/pediatricians stating that OJ, crackers and cheese are a good bedtime snack for kids. I myself have eaten all 3 foods near bedtime with no adverse effects. So go figure.

Superstition or Science?

Yesterday we went for a picnic and a bike ride with some family friends. After stuffing ourselves with chips and sandwiches, the conversation turned round to full stomachs, and I found myself reminiscing when my nanny would always scold us not to take a shower immediately after eating because it would make us sick. Something about the blood rushing to the stomach but needing the blood to go to the skin when taking a bath. To my surprise, Graham said his parents believe the same thing. Two very different cultures, same superstition. So is it just an old wives' tale or is there any truth to this?

While you're figuring out the answer to that one, see if you can tell whether the superstitions below are English or Filipino (or whether they are superstitions at all!):

  1. Sleeping with your hair wet will get you blind
  2. Eating cheese will give you nightmares
  3. Orange juice makes you hyperactive
  4. Eat 12 grapes and jump up and down 12 times at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve for good luck.
  5. A cricket in the house brings good luck
  6. Black ants in the house bring lots of money
  7. You can hallucinate or die from eating poppy seeds
I'll post the answers tomorrow!

For more superstitions, click here.

Photo Hunters: Salty

Saturday evening.... just got back from a bike ride in the hills and the last thing on my mind is cooking dinner. My thoughts stray to fast food..... but after watching Super-Size Me, we don't do McDonalds for dinner anymore. But an English beans and chips dinner is just as easy, and we don't even have to leave the house. Just oven fries and Heinz Baked Beans. Eggs, tomatoes and sausages (all fried) are an optional but delicious addition. I'll just overlook the fat and salt tonight.

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Love Thursday

Philip and James have been very trying lately. People say that it gets better as twins get older, but this week I think we've taken two steps back. Lots of whining, lots of crying, LOTS of fighting. It's so nice to see them exchanging kisses instead of blows for once. Despite the bickering, they really are best friends, and there is nothing that makes my heart melt more than seeing them chattering together in their own funny language. Happy Love Thursday everyone, and may you all have photos like these to remind you of the good stuff when things get crazy!
For more Love Thursday posts, click here.