Filipinos and Food: No Reservations

I finally got around to watching the Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations: Philippines episode that has been lying in my DVR for weeks. I knew it was going to be a good show when I saw Anthony Bourdain and Ivan Dy dipping fishballs from a Chinatown street vender into a jar of chili sauce. And when he dug his spoon into a goat stew at a roadside "kambingan" ("place that serves goat"), I was so envious. The soupbowl still had the entire goat's head in it, complete with skullbones, tongue, brains, eyeballs. I wished I were the one sucking the eyeball, not Anthony. I know it sounds disgusting but it's not -- trust me, you haven't lived until you've tasted that rich, meaty flavor!

Okay, that was a lame attempt at an April Fool's Day joke. You know I'm right of center when it comes to food. It sounds disgusting and it is (at least I think so). That goat stuff belonged on the other show I watched featuring Filipino cuisine (Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods); this one featured mostly mainstream dishes. I actually did watch most of the show wishing I had a plate of whatever they were eating in front of me. Alfie and I were literally salivating over the sizzling sisig (chopped pig's ear -- it tastes waaay better than it sounds) and lechon (roast suckling pig, which Bourdain proclaimed the Best Pig Ever).

My final thoughts at the end of the show: I want sisig.
Alfie's final thoughts: I think I get it now. Food is to Filipinos what Tea is to the English!

Read more of my thoughts on the episode on my Filipina Moms post.

Tweet that Earthquake, baby!

A 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit San Jose just ten minutes ago. I was editing some photos when I felt the trembling. It didn't feel like much in Palo Alto; just as I realized what it was, it was over (3Po and Jammy didn't even notice it; they insisted the shaking was because they were jumping around ,playing one of their Webkinz ninja fighting games). Over where Alfie works, it felt a lot stronger; Alfie told me his building was swaying!)

So, all in all not a real huge biggie, especially in California -- but my reaction was striking. The first thing I did to confirm my suspicions was search twitter for the keyword earthquake. And sure enough, everyone was tweeting about it. There were about 5000 tweets in the first 20 seconds of the earthquake alone! And there have been thousands more since I started this post. Now you know where to get all the breaking news....

Monday Mornings: Yoga

Lately 3Po and Jammy have been joining me in front of the television whenever I pop in an exercise DVD. They are so serious about following the instructor and "getting my body healthy" that it's difficult not to smile. One weekend morning Alfie captured our mommy-and-me yoga session. I tell you, there is no better way to start the day than watching your five-year-old attempt to stay in Vrikshasana without toppling over doing some yoga.

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.

Where's Jammy's Hand?

I couldn't resist featuring yet another shot of Jammy snowboarding at Soda Springs. In case you're wondering, his left hand did not fall off due to frostbite. Maybe he put it in his pocket to keep it warm!

For more hands, click here.

Wordless Wednesday

My sister just sent me a cd with a whole bunch of childhood photos that she scanned into digital format. While it's been fun looking at the photos, I have to admit that after I had finished looking at all of them, one of my first thoughts was: I'm not as cute as I thought I was! I was comparing my reaction to Baby Bonggamom to our photos of Pea, 3Po and Jammy, and I was definitely coming up short on the cuteness factor. Which makes my reaction perfectly natural, I guess, since most parents think their kids are the cutest in the world. I wonder what my parents thought of me -- did they think I was the cutest thing ever? -- and how their children compare with their grandchildren? What will I think of my grandchildren?

Oops, this was supposed to be Wordless Wednesday. Oh well; I'm sure these people are better at Wordless Wednesday than I am.

Monday Mornings: Let's Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

It's Monday again, and there's a spring in my step because it's that time of year, not just spring, it's 5 Minutes for Mom's mom blogging event of the year, the Ultimate Blog Party 2009! It runs all week, from March 20-27 all over: the blogosphere, Facebook, Twitter (use hashtag #ubp09), and three Real Live Parties in NY, LA and Nashville.

So let's get this party started! Have a wine truffle...

Or some decadent Food For the Gods....

... and let's make some small talk! If you haven't been here before, let me introduce myself: I'm Bonggamom, a Filipino transplant living in Palo Alto, CA with my English husband, Alfie, and my 3 kids: 7-year old Pea, and 5-year old twins Jammy and 3Po. This is my personal blog, where I brag about my kids, rant and rave, pretend to take nice photos, salivate over food, occasionally reveal deep dark secrets and laugh at the craziness of life. I started blogging in April 2006 and grew to enjoy blogging so much that I now blog for 5 sites in total! There's this site, my review and giveaway site Bonggamom Finds, and 3 other sites: Silicon Valley Moms, Filipina Moms, and Being Savvy Silicon Valley.

So why am I joining the Ultimate Blog Party, and why should you? Here are three great reasons:

1) Last year there were over 1,500 blogs linked up to the Ultimate Blog Party, so it's a great way to discover some great blogs. That's what the party is all about! Make it a goal to visit 1, 2, 3 new blogs every day this week, read some of their posts and leave a comment to let them know you've dropped by.

2) With so many blogs listed, it's also a great way to get your own blog noticed. I got lots of new visitors to my little corner of the blogosphere when I joined last year's Ultimate Blog Party . Of course the giveaway I hosted may have had something to do with it. Don't worry, I've got something to give away this year as well -- Catfeats, a fun family game that you can play with your cat! I'm hosting my Ultimate Blog Party giveaway over at Bonggamom Finds, just comment to enter!

3) Did I mention prizes? Yes, there are more prizes to be won -- and all you have to do to enter is post about the party and the prizes you want to win on your own blog. I listed down the prizes I really want to win over on Bonggamom Finds; with over 275 prizes, you'll have no problem making a long list of your own. Many of the participating blogs are also hosting giveaways on their own sites, Yours Truly included! Just click here to go to Bonggamom Finds and enter to win Catfeats, a fun family game you play with your cat!.

So there you have it. Have a Happy Monday, all. Now go put on your own sexy stilettos and join the party -- start with my giveaway party post over at Bonggamom Finds. And don't forget to leave a link to your own Monday Morning or Ultimate Blog Party post so I can visit!

Exposing the Lepre-CON

Jammy's leprechaun trap

Overheard last week, while the kids were sorting through their St. Patrick's Day trinkets:

Pea: These coins aren't real gold. They didn't come from leprechauns.
Jammy: Yes they are! We made leprechaun traps at school and we found these coins in the sandbox, so that means the leprechauns left them.
Pea: No they didn't, these coins are fake. They're made of plastic!
Jammy: So what?
Pea: So, it says right here on the coin, "Made in China"! So there, see?
Jammy (hotly): So what? Maybe the leprechauns come from China!

Photo Hunt: Yellow

For this week's Photo Hunt, I decided to keep it simple and feature random yellow things in some recent photos we've taken of the kids.

This is one of 3Po's favorite shirts, a sunny yellow SunLife shirt by Lands End. I love that it has 50+ UPF factor built right into the shirt. It also looks so cheerful next to the yellow tulips and the yellow M&M's on his caramel apple. There was literally a whole bagful of M&M's stuck on that apple, but fortunately for his parents, he could only manage to eat a couple of bites.

Over the years, The Pea's hair has gradually turned a dark blonde, but ask her what color her hair is, and she'll always say, "Yellow".

And here's Jammy, carving up the mountain on his bright yellow snowboard. I have no idea if what he's doing is correct, but he didn't fall, and he looked really cool.

For more yellow things, click here.

In which I freak out about Natasha Richardson's death and kill my kids' ski dreams

Look ma, no helmet!

Everyone's talking about Natasha Richardson's death. What a tragic accident! When you think of skiing accidents, you think of black diamond skiers who run into trees, or fall off cliffs. Who would have thought that a beginner taking a lesson on a beginner's slope could fall hard enough to sustain a fatal injury? Wham! You fall, and Wham! You're dead. Poor Liam Neeson. I feel so awful for him and all her family.

Freaky, that's what it is. And for someone like me, it's especially freaky. And by someone like me, I mean someone who's always wanted to take up skiing but has always been a bit nervous, and someone whose kids enjoyed it on their first try and really really want to do more of it.

Read more of my fears about taking up snow sports here, on my Silicon Valley Moms Blog post -- and please, share your advice!!

Dora, don't grow up!

By now, most parents know that Dora the Explorer is getting a makeover . I just got a sneak peek of Dora's new look from MomLogic. Apparently Dora is moving to a different jungle -- the urban jungle -- and attends middle school with some fancy new friends and fancy new outfits. Check out her transformation....

From this.....

..... to this!

Yep, she definitely wouldn't be able to swing from vines in that outfit. And no way she's going to play with Boots the monkey now, he might splatter mud or bananas all over that pretty pink tunic.

So, what do you think about all the uproar? After all, Dora isn't the first character to undergo a makeover. Look at Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck: they look radically different now from when they were first created by Walt Disney in the 1950's. Even boys' cartoons like The Transformers have undergone, uh, transformations. But for some reason, marketers seem to think that girls need to grow up sooner and sooner. Check out these girls' cartoon characters:

Here's the 1980's cartoon icon, Strawberry Shortcake, looking all cute and vintage-y, just like I remember her from when I was growing up...

She was given a makeover several years ago to give her a more modern look, but she still looks like a spunky little girl.

And here's her latest look, circa 2008. Now she spends more time with her cellphone than her pet cat, Custard.

How about this one from the 70's.... Holly Hobbie? This must have come out in the Philippines at the height of the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series, and I remember how everyone just had to have Holly Hobbie pencil cases and stationery!

Here's the Holly Hobbie of the 21st century... no longer a little prairie girl.

Last one...check out the new Care Bears!

What's up with that? Interesting how all these characters now have sultry, long hair, sexy clothes and a hint of lipstick. Oh, and it looks like they've lost all their baby fat, too.

Personally, I think tweenie Dora looks a lot better than preschool Dora -- I always thought Dora's head and hair looked weird -- but I'm not a 3-year old. Why not let little kids look like litte kids? Hey, not every character has to look like Barbie! I understand that they're trying to grow Dora along with their audience, but there will always be preschoolers to take the place of the ones who turn 5 and 6 and 7. Can you imagine the 7, 8 or 9-year olds abandoning High School Musical and Hannah Montana to go back to Dora, just because she has earrings and a hip outfit? Nuh-uh. Are they going to keep preschool Dora and tweenie Dora? Confuuusing!

Monday Mornings: Weekend Hangover

It's always difficult to go back to Life As Usual after a weekend away. Especially when you got to see your son snowboard for the first time. 3Po and Jammy fell in love with snowboarding, and The Pea was all set to take the chairlift and ski down the beginner slopes. Seeing them enjoy themselves was the highlight of my weekend, and I wish we could have stayed longer so they could keep going! I don't snowboard and I've only been skiing 5 or 6 times in my life (and the last time was over 10 years ago), so I think I'm living vicariously through my kids. I'd love for them to do stuff that I was never able to do. Then again, now that the kids seem to enjoy snow sports, maybe it's not too late for an old dog to learn new tricks?

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.

Parenting Tips and Tweets

When it comes to technology and the internet, I'm kind of like the tortoise; I'm slow, but I eventually get there. Take social networking trends like Twitter, for instance. I started using Twitter a couple of months ago, and I've only just figured out what hashtags (#) are for and what a Twitter party is.

So what is a Twitter party? Don't quote me, but if you put a gun to my head I'd describe it as people on Twitter all chiming in on a certain topic and using hashtagged words so they can keep track of who's joining the discussion. It can be a lot of fun, as I found out at the #todaysmoms Twitter party, which was set up by the producers of The Today Show to celebrate the release of their new book, "Today's Moms". They invited parents from all over Twittersville to share their favorite parenting tips and raffled off a copy of their book as an incentive, so I tweeted out one little piece of advice -- and went on to join the party for several hours. I never realized how much fun it can be to tell other parents what to do! Here are some that I came up with:

1) Play board games with your child -- but don't let him win every single time.

2) To track time spent on computer / tv / video games, use an egg timer with a very loud ring.

3) It's ok to let your son play with dolls... really!

4) The 2 cleaning items moms cannot live without: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser & baby wipes.

5) I always have several pens and a pad of paper in my purse -- that way, when we have to wait in line, my sons are never bored.

6) When using public toilets, I ask my kids to stand w/ hands behind their backs so they don't touch any germy surfaces

7) Too many young kids, not enough space in the toilet stall? Have oldest kid stand outside your stall & sing out loud while u go.

8) More "kids and public toilets" tips... I always carry disinfectant gel in my purse!

9) It's ok to miss a day or 2 or 3 of school for a family reunion or trip. There's other kinds of learning than book learning.

10) Never offer parenting tips for parents with children older than yours - wait till you walk in their shoes.

Think that was great? Of course you do, but check out some of the other things the #todaysmom Twitter partygoers had to say. Some were so good that I just had to blog about it here, so everyone who's not on Twitter and read and say, "Ooooh.... good one!". Here is a small sample of what I read at the #todaysmom Twitter party:

1) From tadahmom: My 16 yo son's parenting tip: Don't be over controlling - we need to make our own mistakes.

2) From tadahmom: When the children are getting louder - start whispering to them.

3) From StyleAve: Let your children dress you on Saturdays. Wear their macaroni necklaces out w/ pride!

4) From technomomdesign: read poetry to kids, even dr sues! little ones love the reppetition and rhyme.

5) From StyleAve: Women! Take your flab and dance around the house telling your daughters u love ur body!

6) From toohottotbling: Make sure you show your child you really love them even when they do something terrible.

7) From multitaskingme: Be willing to apologize to your kids when you've messed parent is perfect.

8) From StyleAve: Even if you are not religious, teach your kids about the spiritual side of life (love, karma, etc.) so they are not so afraid.

9) TheMomCave: Hug!! Hug a LOT. Hug when they are sad, Hug when they are awesome. Hug when they are bad, Hug just because!!!

10) From typeamom: parenting tip? Say I love you to your kids every single night, no matter what. And other times of day, too

What a great goody bag to be taking home from a party, huh? Such wonderful pearls of parenting wisdom!

Four, missing one more

"Four" is not an number that comes easily to mind when I think of my family. We have three kids and five people in the family, so the only time "four" makes sense is when one of us is missing. Like last weekend, when I took the kids to watch Thomas & Friends Live! The Circus Comes to Town, a musical show featuring Thomas the Tank Engine. I received a complimentary pack of four tickets -- not unusual, since most things of this nature, from hotel rooms to vacation packages to Space Mountain at Disneyland, are geared towards a family of four. Alfie didn't particularly want to watch the show, so we decided to forgo buying an extra ticket for him and save the money.

The four of us went without him and Alfie enjoyed a couple of hours to himself. But when Alfie saw the photos and the little video clips that I took -- especially the ones of the four engines moving around onstage with their moving mouths, eyes and eyebrows -- his face got all wistful, and I think a tiny part of him regretted not going. Sure, it was just a children's musical, but the trains were pretty neat (Alfie loves trains), and it was fun just watching the kids' faces as they enjoyed the show.

For more foursomes, click here.

The Tooth that Fell Out Too Soon

Jammy has lost his first tooth. He's loving his new look, and the extra cash that came with it. I still can't quite believe it. He's barely five years old, it's much Too Soon.

It first started wiggling on Christmas Day; when I saw it moving and saw blood, I thought he had knocked another tooth loose, and scared poor Jammy with my panic attack. Even when the blood stopped and everything seemed fine, I thought, Too Soon!

For the next several months we coddled that tooth, taught him to bite food off to one side, cut all his apples up. That tooth hung on tenaciously. January turned into February and into March. We couldn't believe the tooth still hadn't fallen, but it certainly strengthened my opinion that the tooth had gotten loose much Too Soon.

In the end, Jammy woke us up last Sunday, on Alfie's birthday, with the news that his tooth had fallen out because he had yanked it off himself. Whaaat! You're not supposed to do that! You've made it fall out Too Soon!

Obviously, the problem is not the tooth nor the timing, it's me. He's just a little boy, my baby, he can't be having loose teeth because that would mean he's not my baby anymore. Sweet Jammy with the gap in your smile, I love you. I love the baby you used to be, the boy you are, and the man you'll become. I just wish I could keep the baby just a wee bit longer. You're growing up, and that's what's really happening Too Soon.

I know, it's not your typical Love Thursday photo or post, but in my mind, this is as much a love story as any out there. For more love stories, go and visit Love Thursday.

Monday Mornings: Sleeping In

Sometimes the call of a warm bed is too irresistible to ignore. Especially when your brother kept you up half the night with his coughing. The fact that the coughing one woke up bright and refreshed, while the innocent roommate was absolutely wasted, shows that there is no justice in this world.

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.

Twins in Space

From the party clothes of yesteryear to the party clothes of today.... here are 3Po and Jammy a couple of years back, all dressed up to party as Stitch the Space Alien. Never mind that the costumes are sized for a six-year old; they loved putting the costumes on and parading around anyway.

Here they are again in their Stitch costumes, trick-or-treating last October. See how the padded kneecaps are now right where they're supposed to be? That's two years, people, two years of zooming around, fighting other aliens and scaring earthlings. Not a bad investment!

For more photos of space objects, click here.

Don't you wish kids still dressed like this?

Today I thought I'd feature a photo from Alfie's childhood. Don't you just love the retro tricycle that he's riding on, and the cars in the background? And doesn't his outfit (coat, hat and boots) look smart? You don't see many kids wearing berets these days. Apparently Alfie loved that beret and refused to take it off, even at night.

We were watching the Angelina Jolie movie, Changeling, the other day, and Alfie commented on how cute the little boys looked, going to school in their berets and ties. I do wish kids were as smartly dressed now as they were back then? (BTW Changeling is set in the 1920's so I'm not implying that Alfie's photo above is also from that era!).

I used to dress The Pea in embroidered, smocked dresses every time she would go to birthday parties until I realized that everyone else was in regular play clothes, and she was better dressed than the birthday child. But in a time when those kinds of dresses go for $40 or more (we get ours from the Philippines, where they're much much cheaper) I don't blame anyone for choosing the $10 knit cotton dress from Walmart. But I do mourn the loss of well-tailored children's clothing.

For more things people love, click here.

Yes, Moms Matter

Mornings are the hardest. Because mornings are the times when everyone has somewhere to go. Alfie is rushing through his breakfast because he has to get to work. The Pea is rushing to get to school. 3Po and Jammy, well, preschool starts at noon but they're rushing anyway because they want to be done with breakfast and get on with whatever game they're playing that day.

Me? I'm rushing too. I'm rushing to make lunches, sign permission slips and clear up the breakfast table. Sometimes I find myself kneeling underneath the table, scrubbing away at a lump of something that was spilled from dinner the night before, hurrying to get rid of the lump before someone steps on it and squashes it and trails the lumpy stuff all over the house.

What am I doing here? Groveling on the floor like a dog, cleaning up everyone's mess while they're sitting above me, having their breakfast? I have two graduate degrees, for God's sake! I used to go places too, you know. I racked up the frequent flyer miles in my time; I was the one the airlines used to upgrade to better seats!

Yes, mornings are the hardest. Alfie, bless his heart, tells me all the time how he appreciates what I do, how there's no one else on earth he wants raising our kids. And that helps. For those under-the-table moments, when I'm feeling low and more than a little sorry for myself, I need all the reminders I can get, that I Matter. To Alfie, my kids, my relatives, my friends, to society in general.

I think all moms, whether they're under a table or behind a desk, need these pick-me-ups from time to time. They need affirmation that all this scrubbing and sacrifice Matters. That Moms Matter.

Which is why I'm happy to have found some people who actually Get It -- the founders of the Why Moms Matter Project . The bloggers behind MomFaves (Josh and Rebecca) and ExtraordinaryMommy (Danielle) are going to feature an inspirational mother every week on their new Blog Talk Radio show, Why Moms Matter -- to remind every mother that they do matter, and why. The show starts on March 6 and runs every Friday at 12:30 PST. If you know a mother or grandmother who Matters, you can go over and nominate her over at

Monday Mornings: My cuppa joe

Ha! Fooled ya -- I don't even drink coffee. This is just as addicting, though. What do you reach for every morning to wake you up?

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.