Don't be Seven

It's difficult to believe that seven years ago today I was lying in a hospital room with two tiny babies lying beside me. At the time, I was numb with pain and exhaustion, and paralyzed with fear at the prospect of taking care of two tiny boys (note: my use of the word tiny is relative, because the boys were 6 lbs. 10 oz. and 7 lbs. 4 oz., and after carrying over 14 pounds of baby, I was much happier to have them out than in). The Pea was 2 years, 9 months old, and as girly as a girl could be. I didn't feel capable of taking care of one boy, let alone two.

I won't lie to you: the second half of the pregnancy and the first year was difficult, both physically, mentally and emotionally. I often joke to people that I erased it from my memory, and the only thing that stood out was how quickly I wanted that first year to be over and done with.

Back on BlogHer

Being a review blogger is probably as close to my ideal job as I could get -- especially when I'm blogging as a BlogHer Reviewer. I get to try all kinds of new products, I get to host great giveaways, my blog gets great exposure, and I get compensated for my time. What more could I ask for? How about the chance to blog about topics near and dear to my heart? I was quite excited when BlogHer invited me to host a new review series, the Jimmy Dean D-Light "Better Breakfast, Better You" program, because it meant my post would live right on the program's landing page. And since there are 25 chances to win $100 at stake, you can be sure that thousands of people are going to be heading to the landing page and reading my post! Hopefully they'll remember the name Bonggamom -- and if they do, I'll have BlogHer to thank for it. Click here to read my post, and enter to win $100 with 25 other BlogHer reviewers.

Christmas is where the heart is

All my life I've been accustomed to Christmases overflowing with family, friends, food, presents, parties, and all the other holiday stuff. I've spent Christmas by myself just once in my lifetime: in my first year of graduate school, when I couldn't afford to fly myself home. I spent it with some classmates, and although we had a fun Christmas dinner, I still spent most of the day by myself, and I cried pretty much the whole time I was alone.

This year we're spending Christmas alone, but tears are nowhere in sight, because I'm no longer an I, I'm a We. Our family of five is spending our very first Christmas by ourselves, with no grandparents, cousins, aunts or uncles. It's the first time we've been by ourselves for the holidays since we became a family.

Blogging for Good

Have I ever mentioned how much I love being a blogger? It has given me an emotional and intellectual outlet, it has done wonders for my confidence and sense of purpose, and it has given me some incredible opportunities to try new products and meet new people.

One of the best things about being a blogger is that I've had the opportunity to help my local community in ways I would never be able to do on my own. We're not the richest of families, but we give what we can, and what we can't give financially I try to make up for by giving my time -- I volunteer at school, at local family shelters, and by spreading awareness for causes near and dear to my heart through my blog. But this year, through the course of my blogging, I've been able to team up with several amazing companies who have provided the resources to help me and my family spread some holiday cheer among families need it the most.

I'm Welch's Fruit Snacks Blogger of the Month

Welch's Fruit Snacks recently launched a Facebook page where they showcased selected Facebook fans and bloggers -- and I was surprised (and pleased) to see that I've been featured as their Blogger of the Month. I did a review of Welch's Fruit Snacks a couple of months ago and I guess they were flattered by how my kids fought over the samples that were sent to us. It's just a little thing -- it doesn't come with any prizes, job offers or telegrams from the queen -- but it's still nice to see your face pop up on someone else's Facebook fan page!

The North Pole Express has arrived!

What's the first item of Christmas decor to come out in your household? The tree? The stockings? The garlands? The lights? The nativity set?

At our house, it's a toy train.

The kids begin clamoring for The Train as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten; if a hurricane swept through our neighborhood and tore our decor up in shreds, you can be sure this is the first thing the kids would run to save -- assuming Alfie or I don't get to it first.

Paella made Easy, Paella made Special

I've always thought of paella as a Special Dish. When I was a kid, it was too special for me to even try; the only kind of paella my family (and the whole of the Philippines) ever prepares is full of shellfish: mussels, shrimp, clams, all things I'm allergic to. Even when I moved to the US and discovered Paella Valenciana (in Boston's best tapas restaurant ev-ahh), it was still a Big Deal: if you wanted it, you had to wait 40 minutes for it to cook. To add to its mystique, one of the key ingredients in paella is saffron, the world's most expensive spice by weight. To me, paella was kind of like that tall, dark, handsome, rich, exotic stranger that you can only have in your dreams. Trying to make it myself never even crossed my mind.

Spreading Holiday Cheer... and Zhu Zhu Pets

Random Act of Zhu 2010
Zhu Zhu Pets have invaded our playroom. One hundred and four of these mechanical hamsters arrived at our home a couple of weeks ago, and they've been blocking up the heating vents and hindering our cleaner's ability to do a good job ever since. What are they doing here, you ask? Did I mistakenly type in an extra zero when ordering holiday presents? Was this my compensation for being interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle about the Zhu Zhu Pets phenomenon? Have I decided to go into the toy store business? Or have I finally given in to my kids' desire to own a menagerie of Zhu Zhu Pets?

My husband has a mistress... and that's okay with me

Yes, it's true; Alfie is having an affair. He has a gleam in his eye and a spring in his step, and he can't wait to leave for work so he can be with her. Every night he comes home gushing about how much he loves her, and he can't wait for the weekends so they can spend more time together. Last weekend they went all the way to the Lick Observatory up on Mount Hamilton; there was snow on the top but Alfie said he didn't feel cold, thanks to her. She's hot stuff, all right. Men turn their heads when they see her and nod to Alfie in that Good for You, Man way. He loves feeling her vibrate between his legs (yes, he admitted as much to me, we have no secrets between us)! They even have similar temperaments -- Alfie says she loves all those twisty, turny roads as much as he does. I could never go there -- I'd get carsick and toss my cookies all the way up -- so that's something only the two of them will ever share.


One of the first things that people do before starting on their 60-mile walk at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure is dedicate their walk to friends and loved ones who have fought breast cancer, in the form of little handwritten notes.

Soccer, Don't Stop!

3Po's and Jammy's soccer league season ended last weekend, and there's more than a vacancy in our Monday, Wednesday and Saturday schedules -- there's a a hole in our heart. Okay, that's overdramatizing, but 3Po and Jammy are really are going to miss those practices and games. The soccer bug has bitten them hard, and they're really sad about not being part of a team any more. Getting a shiny trophy and a snazzy pin at the last game (which, to add insult to injury, was canceled due to the rain) was small consolation for the prospect of being deprived of soccer games throughout the winter.

The Signing of the Cards

Despite my addiction to email and Yahoo! Instant Messenger, I'm still a big fan of the handwritten note. There's a time and a place for instant communication to convey ideas and information, and there's a time and a place for the personal touch and the extra time and effort it takes to convey gratitude, delight and other emotions. Whenever my kids receive presents for their birthdays or the holidays, I ask them to write thank-you cards. Virtual thank-you cards or emails or even pre-printed cards with fill-in-the-blank spaces for the giver, gift and recipient won't cut it. Now that they can write, I expect my kids to write a brief note of thanks and appreciation.

The same applies to holiday cards.

Not your ordinary barbershop..

I took this photo somewhere in San Francisco; the reason I'm not exactly sure where is that I was delirious with pain, having walked about 50 miles over the past 3 days in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, with 10 miles still left to go.

But I digress. The fact is, this sign pierced the fog of pain and exhaustion that surrounded me and totally made my day (okay, finishing a 60-mile walk totally made my day, but this was icing on the cake). Any English person -- or anyone who has watched Austin Powers -- knows that one does not name an establishment "Shag Salon" and trumpet that name out to the whole neighborhood, and expect respectable people to patronize them. Or perhaps they did it deliberately, in the hopes that curious people would visit, hoping to find more than the usual haircut and blow dry? As they say, a man only needs 3 things to be happy: a shit, a shave and a shag.......

My apologies for the blurriness.... that says "... eggplant with Galic Sauce". Now, is that supposed to be a pronunciation guide? Maybe the owner is actually Bostonian and thinks everyone should say "Garlic" the way she does: "Gahhh-lic".


With berries this juicy and sweet, it's a wonder any of them make it into the berry-picking bucket!

This photo was inspired by the Photo Hunt theme of the week. Feel free to leave links to your own Photo Hunt entries below. And for more juiciness, click here.

Making a recipe your own: Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Two weeks ago -- on Halloween, to be precise -- we took the kids to the Oakland Zoo for their Boo at the Zoo event. Despite the crowds, we enjoyed all the zoo's special activities, like scavenger hunts, trick-or-treating, free train rides, costume parades, Zhu Zhu Pets, hairy-scary spiders.... and the best pumpkin soup we've ever tasted. I've slurped my way through many a bowl of pumpkin soup before, but this was the first one I've had that tastes like it belongs in an Indian restaurant. It had a hint of curry, turmeric and nutmeg, and it was delicious! It was just begging to be eaten with a chunk of hot nan bread. It was nothing at all like the typical things you'd find in a zoo cafe -- hotdogs, burgers and the like -- and it was delicious! We were bitterly disappointed to find out that the zoo only serves it for Halloween, and I was too shy to ask if I could have a copy of the recipe. We resigned ourselves to feasting on the memory of that lovely soup until we could come back next Halloween.

13.1 Reasons I enjoyed the Big Sur Half Marathon

About 30 minutes after I finished the Big Sur Half-Marathon yesterday, I received a tweet asking me if I had fun. Fun? I had a difficult final third -- my heel, knee and legs were hurting for the last 4 miles -- so Fun was the last thing on my mind at that moment. But after taking a deep breath and sipping a nice cup of hot soup at the post-race event, I was able to recall quite a few moments of pure enjoyment. The last time I ran a half-marathon I was able to look back and list 13.1 reasons I enjoyed the event. Three years later, I'm doing it again:

1 - I got to run beside the Pacific Ocean. There's nothing like seeing blue ocean and white waves crashing on the rocks to take your mind off how much farther you have to go.

2 - I got to run in absolutely perfect running conditions -- cool, sunny, not a trace of fog or headwind.

3 - Heck, I got to run! I haven't been running regularly for the past two years because of my plantar fascitis, so I figured I would have to walk most of the way (my "in your dreams" wish was to run half of it). But my heel didn't let me down, and the beautiful scenery, crowd energy, and my family being there to cheer me on just gave me the willpower to keep running. Of course, today I feel like I've been thrown from the Empire State Building, but that's another story.

4 - I feel good about participating in an event that donates all proceeds to a great cause: JUST RUN, a free program designed to assist schools and other youth organizations by providing vital youth fitness programs that promote fitness and healthy lifestyles. With 30% of this country's youth classified as obese, we need more programs that encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits.

5 - We got to discover the pleasures of downtown Monterey. The only places we ever go to in Monterey are the Aquarium, Cannery Row, and Fisherman's Wharf. Who knew there was a whole collection of streets with charming shops and cafes nearby? Thanks to this race, we do.

6 - My kids got to taste oysters for the first time (and one of them even liked it).

7 - Alfie has been searching for a stretch of road where I can film him riding his beloved Triumph Bonneville, before he sells it. I think I've found the perfect place.

8 - The course loops back on itself, so as I was heading to the halfway point, I got to see some of the fastest runners in the country sprinting away on their last 2 or 3 miles. Amazing!

I even got to take a photo with one of them:

9 - I got to run past Alfie and the kids (the course ran right in front of our hotel), give them high-fives and revel in their proud smiles and encouraging cheers (I also got to throw my jacket to Alfie so I wouldn't have to tie it around my waist and have it irritate me for the next 10 miles).

10 - I got to high-five them again as they cheered me from the sidelines, 3 seconds before crossing the finish line.

11 - After the race, I scarfed down an In-And-Out Cheeseburger, Animal Fries and chocolate milkshake -- and Alfie didn't bat an eyelash.

12 - I've finished 3 half-marathons and run two of them -- which makes me a half-marathon veteran. Sort of.

13 - My time -- 2:32:09 -- is only 10 minutes slower than my last half-marathon time 3 years ago. I said back then that I wasn't expecting to finish below 3 hours, but I really wasn't expecting to this time around. In fact, I was scared they'd have to put me in a van and drive me to the finish line!

0.1 - Did I mention that Tiffany necklace? Oh, drat, that was last time. Unlike my Nike Half-Marathon finisher's medal, I won't be wearing this one out on a date anytime soon. But I'm so grateful to have earned it, I don't care. I'm just happy it's mine.

When Typos Go Bad: What's on the Menu?

My apologies for the blurriness.... that says "... eggplant with Galic Sauce". Now, is that supposed to be a pronunciation guide? Maybe the owner is actually Bostonian and thinks everyone should say "Garlic" the way she does: "Gahhh-lic".

I'm sorry, but when businesses are this careless with their printed materials, they deserve to be made fun of. Even manually scratching out the offending typo and hand-writing the correct word would have been better; it shows that even though they may be cheap, they're not stupid.

3D? Not for me.

With the kids out of school today, I thought it would be nice for them to do something other than draw on the floor beside me while I blogged the day away. We've got season passes to Gilroy Gardens expiring at the end of the month, but I was too lazy to make the 2-hour round trip drive, so I took them to see Megamind instead. They really wanted to see the movie, so they forgave me for reneging on my promise to take them to Gilroy Gardens one last time, and we all had a good time. The movie was fun, our seats were great, the popcorn was buttery, the candy was free (taken from the kids' Halloween stash) -- what more could you ask for?

Looking Back on 31 Days of Pink

October has come and gone, and I'm proud to say that I really and truly turned my world pink for 31 days in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. On October 1, 2 and 3 I walked 60 miles as Energizer's Keep Going Blogger in the San Francisco Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I blogged about products and companies that support breast cancer research on my review blog. And I wore pink every day in October in an effort to raise awareness for this terrible disease. Here are a few of my pinkest moments from last week:

How Do You Like Them Apples?

When I told the kids I wanted to make caramel apples, they were indifferent. Disappointed, even.

"But mama, caramel apples aren't Halloween-y! I thought we're only doing Halloween-y things this October!?"

True, you can (and we do) enjoy caramel apples any time of the year. But there's something special about making them in the fall, with crisp apples so juicy they squirt you in the eye if you take too huge a bite. Quite a few people must agree with me, because this is the only time of the year the supermarkets stock up with huge bags of Kraft caramels, all printed with the recipe for caramel apples, popsicle sticks conveniently included in the bags.

Besides, all you have to do to make caramel apples Halloween-y is roll them in orange and green sprinkles. or drizzle them with lines of chocolate so they look like a pumpkin. And as long as there's an apple in the middle, you can fool yourself into believing it's a healthy treat!

31 Days of Pink: Still Hanging On....

Where did the time go? October has just flown by, and I find myself with just 8 days left in the month and only 2 Pink Posts on this blog! Not that I've given up; I'm proud to report that I've been wearing something pink each and every day, and you can see each item on my 31 Days of Pink photo album on Picasa. Okay, I have to admit, I forgot to take my photo on 4 of those days, but I pinkie swear, I wore pink on those days. Here's a sample of the photos I did take:

Day 9: Just a simple pink awareness ribbon, perfectly set off by the white shirt and denim jacket.

Day 16: I got these pink toe socks at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. It was on Day 1, at camp in the Presidio area of San Francisco. It was windy, foggy and chilly -- and I had to buy these or have my toes freeze off. They worked like a charm, so what else would I turn to when I took The Pea and her Girl Scout troop camping last weekend?

Day 22: This was the closest I came to completely forgetting to wear pink. I had intended to wear some pink accessory yesterday but I woke up late, rushed out to school... and you know what happened next. It slipped my mind. I forgot all about it until nighttime, when it was time to upload my Pink Photo for the day and I realized I didn't have one. Fortunately, one of my favorite pj pants has pink and red lips on them. Hey, evening wear counts!

I've got 8 more days to paint my world pink. It has been more difficult that I thought, being able to wear something pink every day without resorting to washing my pink shirts in the laundry every night (not that I'd seriously consider doing it anyway, since I hate doing laundry). But the good news is that people have noticed. Parents at school comment on my hot pink running shoes or the pink bling in my hair, and I tell them all about my 31 Days of Pink challenge. When I Google the phrase "31 Days of Pink", my Week 1 Update post comes up #14 out of 49,500,000. Okay, it's on the second page of results, which renders it almost non-existent, but I still got a kick out knowing that Google put me there. I even inspired a friend to blog about it. I know that wearing pink every day isn’t going to cure anyone, but if anyone out there reads any of these Pink Posts, either on this blog or on Bonggamom Finds, and remembers to schedule a mammogram, I'll be blushing pink with pleasure and pride.

Halloween Treats

One of the things I love best about Halloween is creating themed dishes for my Halloween parties and the kids' class parties. Even something as simple as a marshmallow ghost stuck on top of a pumpkin muffin can make a party seem more festive and special -- as long as it's also nestled in Halloween-themed cupcake liner, of course! Over the years I've made all kinds of Halloween-themed treats, from cupcakes to cookies to sandwiches to brie wheels. Here's a sample of them (hopefully you can get some inspiration for your own Halloween parties!):

Eyeball Cupcakes

A game To Die For

This afternoon after soccer practice we were talking about game injuries when the boys' thoughts turned morbid:

3Po: What would happen if someone died while he was out on the field?

Me: I don't know if that has ever happened, but if it did, I'd imagine they'd stop the game.

Jammy: Nah, they'd just sub him.

Maybe not that morbid after all.

Halloween is finally here!

For the past several years, I've had our house all ready for Halloween by the beginning of the month. Even Alfie's complaints about my Halloween obsession don't deter me from decorating the house, inside and out, with the silly and spooky decor I've amassed over the years. I do try to go easy on the spooky stuff for the first half of the month, using pumpkins and ears of corn instead of skeletons and spiders. Those come out of my Halloween closet around 2 weeks before Halloween night. I try to add a little bit of decor each day, so the kids can come home after school and have fun looking for all the new things on display, and by the time Halloween night rolls around, the house is in its glory.

Maybe I had too much time on my hands.

Because this year, I've been swamped with the kids' school schedules and afterclass schedules and my volunteering schedules and my workout schedule and my blogging schedule and my work schedule and our social schedule.... and my Halloween House has suffered. Horrors!

Enough is enough -- thirteen days into October, I've finally remedied that oversight. The Bongga Household is once again the House of Horrors, thanks to a few strategically placed tombstones, spiders and pumpkins. I'm still not up to my usual standards, and I probably won't be going all out this year. But I'm pretty happy with the way our new Haunted Graveyard turned out:

The kids are definitely happy about it; all year they brag to their friends about our decorations, and as far as they're concerned, it's about time. They've had their costumes picked out for ages and are ready to get into the Halloween spirit.

Speaking of costumes and Halloween spirits, pay close attention to the zombie skeleton peeking out from behind the second tombstone. That's not a decoration -- that's actually 3Po posing for our first Halloween photo.

If it weren't for the red shirt and blue shorts, you wouldn't even realize he isn't part of the decor! Just looking at this photo makes me feel tingly all over -- with anticipation, not horror. My favorite holiday has finally arrived!

31 Days of Pink: Week 1 Update

We're done with the first week of October, and I have to say that wearing something pink every day has been a piece of cake. Pink-frosted cake.

Blogging about it each and every day is another matter altogether. I've posting my daily photo to my 31 Days of Pink photo album, but I've been so busy that I've my daily Pink Post slide. To ease my guilt, I'm giving myself permission to bunch up several of my Pink Photos in one post:

Random Thoughts on my First Week at Work

It has been 7 years since I've been employed. Being a stay-at-home mom has been my job for so long I thought it might always be that way. Not that there's anything wrong with that, otherwise I would never have quit my job in the first place.

But there's no denying that choosing to stay at home to raise your kids, no matter how sensible and noble that decision is, no matter how well you multitask and manage schedules and carpools and find all sorts of fun crafts to do or places to go or classes to take -- it can still end up playing havoc with your self-esteem. Especially when you find yourself underneath the breakfast table, wiping up your husband's and kids' messes while they hurry up proceed with matters of importance. Especially when you think of your two graduate degrees from not-so-insignificant institutions, diplomas rotting somewhere in your attic (or did my parents take them and display them?). When people who know you have them make jokes about how your degrees are going to waste and you counter with all the anecdotes of how difficult being a mom is, and they agree with you (I don't know how you do it!) and you laugh with them, haha, but it kind of rankles. When you think of your daughter looking to you as a role model. When you want to tell her that you are an intelligent individual who is so much more than carpools and laundry.

So I blogged out my frustrations. Blogging about my thoughts and feelings and experiences might seem narcissistic, but it's darn therapeutic, and it made me feel good. Coming up with things to say was easy, but making them interesting to read was challenging. I was exercising my brain. I met a whole community of bloggers, and began connecting with adults who had something in common with me. I was doing something. A few people were even listening and enjoying what I had to say. I was happy.

Then, by some miracle, people started compensating me to blog; only a fraction of my blogging, and not for much. Just enough to buy a nice meal at a restaurant for the family now and them, or pay for a babysitter, or help cover the cost of my kids' afterschool classes. It hasn't been what I'd call a job (I've been telling people I do a bit of freelance work, or that I have a "wobby", i.e. work + hobby). But that little bit of extra money was great. Even better was the thought that I could contribute financially, even a little, and the self-confidence boost to remember Yes, I'm so much more than carpools and laundry. Best of all was the feeling of Oh My God, people are giving me money to do something I'd do for free!

And now one of those gigs has turned into a regular, part-time job. One with a salary and a set number of hours per week. I've had to fill in direct deposit forms, employer agreements and W-9 forms. I'm actually going to receive a W-2 at the end of the year. And even though my income is a fraction of Alfie's, the dollar figure beside my name is actually going to be higher than the cost of The Pea's dance lessons.

Today I filled in a survey, and for the first time ever, I felt comfortable skipping the "Stay at home parent" option and selection "Work part-time". But being a mom will always be part of my job description, so when someone asks me "What do you do?", I will say:

I'm a mom who works part-time.

How do I feel about it?

I'm happy, excited and fulfilled. A bit overwhelmed, but eager to keep going. And very, very grateful to Alfie for insisting I never do myself the disservice of settling for a job that I wouldn't love, just for the money.

But that's all the time I'm going to take for deep reflections, because I'm too busy.

31 Days of Pink

This weekend I walked 60 miles in 3 Days at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Energizer invited me to be their Keep Going Blogger for the San Francisco event, and I agreed because I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness through my blog. I walked to honor my aunt, who is a breast cancer survivor. I walked to honor my grandmother, who survived breast cancer before she passed away. I walked to honor my grandmother's sisters and their daughters, who have all had breast cancer. I walked in memory of a high school friend, who passed away from breast cancer when she was only in her twenties. And I walked in the hope that my daughter, The Pea, will never have to worry about getting breast cancer, ever.

After walking 60 miles, I walked away thinking it wasn't enough. I can donate money to the cause, and I have -- but I'm not rich, I can't donate thousands of dollars. My friends and family aren't rich either, so I can only ask them to donate so much. But I have time, I have a voice, and I have a blog, and I can use all of those to raise awareness of this killer disease. Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, now is a good time to start.

I'm not sharing my bra color, but I've added a pink ribbon to remind my Facebook friends that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I've done the same to my Twitter profile.

Think all this virtual pinkification is nothing but show? Think again -- for each person who updates their pink ribbon status on Shine, Yahoo! will donate $1 (up to $50,000) to National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) to provide free mammograms to uninsured women.

And while we're on the subject, I know that not everyone loves all this pink. Some say it's just a way for people to jump on the cause bandwagon. Some say it's too commercialized. I think the response of Susan G. Komen founder, Nancy Brinker, says it all:

When people say there is too much pink, I say there is not nearly enough pink. Without the red AIDS ribbon, we wouldn't have anti-retroviral treatments. We wouldn't have a cure for polio without the March of Dimes.

Please don't tell me we have too much pink, when every 69 seconds a woman is dying of breast cancer in the world. Pink doesn't just mean having a celebration; it shows the power of a grass-roots organization.

We have 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive today. There isn't nearly enough pink. Get ready for a whole lot more.

In that spirit, I've decided to wear something pink each and every day of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I've asked The Pea to do it with me, and she's eager to participate (since half of her shirts are pink, she'll have an easy time).

Pink for Day 1, 2 and 3 of October was easy, since I was walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I wore a pink shirt, socks, and shoes each day, but I was far from the pinkest person there. In fact, anyone who didn't wear pink was the odd man out!

I didn't take a photo of my pink (under)garment for Day 4, but it's probably not something you're interested in seeing anyway.

Here's my slice of Pink for Day 5. Okay, maybe I am sharing my bra color.

I may not get around to posting my Pink Photo every day on this blog, but I'll be uploading each day's photo to my 31 Days of Pink Photo Album on Picasa. I've since found out that some high-profile bloggers such as Mom Generations, Mommies with Style, Classy Mommy , Just Precious, and Lady and the Blog are also wearing something pink throughout October (great minds think alike, and all that), so stop by their blogs and give them some pink love. If you're doing anything on your blog to help raise awareness for breast cancer this month, leave a comment; I'd love to stop by your blog and leave a comment to cheer on your efforts.

Blogosphere, get ready to see the world through rose-colored glasses!

Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, Day 3 -- The End. Or is it The Beginning?

My leg muscles ache, even the ones I didn't know I had. My right knee is swollen. My toenails feel like they're all going to fall off. My feet feel like they've grown 2 sizes and my right heel is in shreds. But I'm still on an emotional high from finishing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, and walking every single one of those 60 miles. It's going to take some time for me to process all of my photos and experiences and feelings from the weekend, so I'll probably have to do a few more 3-Day posts.

For now, let me close my weekend of live blogging (well, semi-live; since we weren't allowed to use phones on the course, the best I could do was sneak a Tweet or Facebook posting at pit stops, or on street corners when the event staff weren't looking) with a few thoughts on my experiences over the 3 days:

Desires I had to suppress and control:
Day 1: The urge to break out into a run.
Day 2: The urge to hitch a ride on one of the sweep vans.
Day 3: The urge to lie down on the sidewalk and never get back up.

My porta-potty protocol:
Day 1: Expertly squatted over the toilet seat.
Day 2: Lined the toilet seat with paper and sat on the seat.
Day 3: Plopped my bottom on the unlined seat and leaned back, too tired to care.

The best pick-me-up food
Day 1: Frozen peanut-butter-and-graham-cracker sandwiches and chocolate eclairs
Day 2: The eggs and sausages we had for breakfast... and chocolate eclairs
Day 3: You guessed it... chocolate eclairs! (Safeway, you sneaky people, you knew that by feeding me chocolate eclairs during the walk you would turn me into a hopeless addict)

The best views
Day 1: The Pacific Ocean:
Day 2: The Golden Gate Bridge

Feelings I experienced:
Day 1: excitement, nervousness
Day 2: exhaustion
Day 3: Pride upon finishing, gratitude towards the 3-Day Crew, humility at the extreme courage of breast cancer survivors everywhere.... and determination to Keep Going, long after the walk has ended.

And before I collapse on my bed, I have a few last things to say:

To my fellow walkers: Congratulations, we did it!
To the San Francisco 3-Day crew: I couldn't have done it without you!
To the people who cheered: Ditto!
To the people who sent me words of encouragement and support via twitter, Facebook and this blog: Double ditto!
To walkers for the remaining 3-Day events in 2010: Good luck!
To would-be-walkers who are nervous or unsure about signing up: You can do it!
To Energizer: Thanks for your sponsorship!
To the Susan G. Komen Foundation: Keep Going and please find a cure!
To myself: I give you permission to drive, not walk, the kids to school tomorrow.

Check out my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Flickr Photo Set for more photos of Day 1, 2 and 3.

Energizer sponsored my participation fee and fundraising requirement for this event, but I would love to be able to raise more for breast cancer. Please help me reach my goal of $1000! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. You can click on the widget below to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen San Francisco Bay      Area 3-Day for the Cure!

Great Mammaries from Day 2 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

End of Day 2

Don't let the smile on my face fool you. I won't lie to you, Day 2 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in San Francisco was, um, how shall I put it?


The day started out cold and foggy, which is NOT what you want when you're walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. Still, looking down into the San Francisco Bay and seeing a dolphin weave its way in and out of the water kind of made up for it. So did walking through the charming town of Sausalito. I felt fine until mile 15, when my legs really started aching, and despite a great massage at the Energizer tent, they still haven't recovered from today's walk.

I'm still optimistic that a good night's rest (and more ibuprofen) will get me through Day 3, but I'm going to take it Very. Very. Slow. I will make sure I stretch and hydrate at each and every stop, and rest as long as I need to. I may even hitch a ride on one of the sweeper vans (not because I need to, oh no, only because I'm blogging the event and I have a journalistic interest in how the sweeper vans pick up walkers who can't go on, which doesn't include me.... does it??). Anyway, who cares if I'm the very last person to finish? I'm the Energizer Keep Going Blogger, and I need to keep going.

Instead of focusing on my aching calves and quads and hamstrings, I'd rather focus on the people who made the day more enjoyable -- the cheering squads and crew members along the route. It's amazing what an energy boost one gets from seeing so many people out there to support you!

This trio showed up at various locations throughout the day, no less than SIX times. By the end of it I felt like we were fast friends.

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These hotties had the funniest slogans on their posters. I know they were probably there to support their girlfriends but when you're delirious with exhaustion and pain it's easy to convince yourself that they're there for you.

Coast Guard
The Coast Guard showed up all dressed up in pink, just for me and my friend Robin (delirium can be a fun thing, you know).

Hookers for Hooters
The Hookers for Hooters are an absolute hoot! Their madam is a 2-time breast cancer survivor, and every year this group comes out on each of the 3 days to cheer people on.

See, I knew this event would be challenging. I knew it would be meaningful. I knew it would be fulfilling. But I had no idea it would be this HILARIOUS, or so much FUN! Just the thought of running (okay, walking) into people like these is enough to make me get up tomorrow and Keep Going for Day 3!

Check out my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Flickr Photo Set for more photos of Day 1 and 2! You can keep track of my progress tomorrow via Twitter and Facebook, and I'll be posting my Day 3 thoughts at the end of the day. Wish me a good night's rest, pain-free knees and a great Day 3, and I'll see you at the Finish Line!

Energizer is sponsoring my participation fee and fundraising requirement for this event, but I would love to be able to raise more for breast cancer. Please help me reach my goal of $1000! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. You can click on the widget below to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen San Francisco Bay      Area 3-Day for the Cure!

The Breast Day Ever -- Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, Day 1

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Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in San Francisco is over, and I'm feeling tired, achy, and more than a little proud of myself. I actually walked 20 miles today! I don't know if it was my training, or the adrenaline, or the music blaring from the boomboxes strapped on the bikes of the policemen who were patrolling the route, or the wonderful volunteers and crew members and families who were cheering us on, or the stories of the walkers I talked to, or the beautiful San Francisco scenery, but somehow I found the energy to keep going. Maybe it was a little of everything.

Physically, I'm still amazed I didn't have to flag a sweep van and ask them to drive me to camp. I certainly felt like doing it at one point, but fortunately I got my second (or was it third? or fourth?) wind when I saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. I was actually pleasantly surprised that I had no problem whatsoever on San Francisco's notorious hills; whereas others were huffing and puffing, I tackled those babies easily. It's a good thing the town where Alfie's parents live in (and where we stayed for 4 weeks in the summer) is so hilly!

Walking for Udders
Mentally, I felt even stronger. Since I'm not walking with a group, I thought I would be spending the whole day wrapped in my own thoughts, but there's something about this event that turns perfect strangers into best -- I mean breast -- friends. I'm not the most social person in the world, but I had no trouble at all approaching my fellow walkers and saying hello. I met and spoke with so many great people along the way, each with his or her own story. Here are some of them:

* A team walking in honor of a husband and wife who both lost a battle with breast cancer;
* A crew member who is helping out at 4 of the 15 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure events in 2010 (he's on his 22nd over a period of 10 years);
* A man who is walking each and every one of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure events in 2010;
* Two two-time breast cancer survivors;
* A woman who dyed her hair pink when she raised all her money;
* A man who lost his wife to breast cancer last November;

I even met several people who do not personally know anyone who is fighting or has fought breast cancer, and are walking simply because they are passionate about the cause! The Keep Going Spirit was strong throughout the walk; you could see it in the bunny ears the people were wearing, the boomboxes that people hung on their necks to give everyone some music, the fun outfits and accessories that people were wearing, the hilarious themed sweep vans that patrolled the walk, even the cars we passed that honked and tooted in support.

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Now that I've done Day 1, I feel a lot better about myself -- although I have no idea how I'll feel when I wake up tomorrow and do my second 20-mile leg. Let's hope I've soaked in enough of that Keep Going spirit to keep going!

Check out my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Flickr Photo Set for more photos of Day 1! You can keep track of my progress tomorrow via Twitter and Facebook, and I'll be posting my Day 2 thoughts at the end of the day. Wish me a good night's rest, pain-free knees and a great Day 2, and I'll see you at the Finish Line!

Energizer is sponsoring my participation fee and fundraising requirement for this event, but I would love to be able to raise more for breast cancer. Please help me reach my goal of $1000! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. You can click on the widget below to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen San Francisco Bay      Area 3-Day for the Cure!

Weekend Mornings

Right now I'm camping out somewhere in San Francisco with the other participants of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. It started this morning, and we've already walked 20 miles. Which sounds like a huge accomplishment, and it is, but we still have 40 miles to go, spread out over 2 days. My body is bone tired and I'm really looking forward to going to bed! I'm hoping we get a good breakfast tomorrow morning so I can find the energy to keep walking. I'm dreaming of yummy breakfast food....

.... sliced fresh strawberries swirled into vanilla yogurt, sprinkled with cinnamon and granola.....

..... banana oatmeal bread, smeared with butter and jam.......


Click here to see what else we like to eat on weekend mornings -- and enter to win a $100 Visa gift card!

Here We Go....

And so it has come down to this. Soon I'll be getting out of bed and going from 0 to 60 miles in 3 days. I've had fifteen weeks of training and countless miles (okay, I could probably count, or at least estimate them, but I'm afraid to do so because it will just make me think I haven't trained enough) walking around 8 cities in 4 countries. I've had blisters and sunburn and headache and heel pain and swollen knees and drawers dropped on my foot and just plain Boy Am I Tired. I feel like I've already been on a journey, but as Karen Carpenter sang, We've only just begun!

If' you're doing the event this weekend as well, stop by the Energizer tent -- they'll be providing charging stations and sponsoring massage stations along with the American Massage Therapy Association, so you'll get to recharge your cellphones, your aching muscles and your spirits. And as San Francisco's Keep Going® Blogger, I'll also be there with my plush Energizer Bunny, busy blogging and tweeting about everything that's going on. I'd love it if you drop by and say hi! We can compare stories and blisters, share hugs and band-aids.

If you're not walking but happen to be in the area, check out the San Francisco event page for a list of cheering stations along our route. For everyone else, keep reading my blog throughout the weekend for photos, videos and updates on my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure adventure! As always, any words of support you leave are welcome and cherished. Finally, I wanted to give a huge, loving, pink THANK YOU to everyone who donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation (wow, this is sounding more and more like an Oscar acceptance speech).

I'll see you at the finish line....

Energizer is sponsoring my participation fee and fundraising requirement for this event, but I would love to be able to raise more for breast cancer. Please help me reach my goal of $1000! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. You can click on the widget below to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen San Francisco Bay     Area 3-Day for the Cure!

Packing for the Cure, Part 2

Last week I mocked myself for packing so early for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, which starts tomorrow. Now I'm actually glad I started preparing so early, because there are so many little details which I completely forgot about, and with everything else going on -- relatives visiting, getting our car fixed, dentist visits and our regular, hectic life -- I needed a whole week to get everything together. I've been doing laundry every single day (which is like a world record for me) and consulting my checklist time and time again, because I'm terrified of forgetting something that will make the difference between a good experience and a painful/wet/sunburned/altogether wretched 3 days. But now I think I'm done, down to the pink Energizer Bunny cutouts that I plan to decorate my pink tent with.

Check out my waistpack, which I'll have with me on every step of those 60 miles. I've been walking with it almost fully-loaded for the past couple of weeks to make sure that I'd be comfortable. Here's what's in it (clockwise, from bottom center):

* Medication (ibuprofen, antacids, antihistamines) and band-aids.
* Hat -- check out the shiny princess crown on the front! I'm also taking pink fluffy bunny ears; hey, what else would the Energizer Keep Going blogger wear?
* Energizing jelly beans, to make sure my energy stays high all day. They've also got elecrolytes so I don't sweat all the salt in my body away.
* Sunscreen stick, blister stick, lip gloss stick.
* Extra pair of socks (with pink designs, naturally)
* Water bottle (again, pink).
* Wallet -- Mine is too thick and heavy so I borrowed Jammy's Spiderman wallet. I would have borrowed The Pea's pink Hello Kitty one, but it doesn't have a zippered coin section.
* Pink rubber bracelet -- because every gal needs to accessorize, even on a grueling 60-mile walk.

Have I forgotten anything??

Energizer is sponsoring my participation fee and fundraising requirement for this event, but I would love to be able to raise more for breast cancer. Please help me reach my goal of $1000! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. You can click on the widget below to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen San Francisco Bay      Area 3-Day for the Cure!

Recreating the White Peach & Berkeley Burrata from Marlowe SF

Two weeks ago I attended a party hosted by Sony Dash, featuring an amazing lunch by chef Jennifer Puccio, executive chef of Marlowe restaurant in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood. Everything was delicious, but the standout in my mind was her White Peach & Berkeley Burrata, a simple delicate dish featuring ingredients I know and love, as well as some exciting new finds. It was so easy to make, I knew I had to try it out. All I had to do was gather the ingredients!

Packing for the Cure

I can hardly believe that this time next week, I'll have begun the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in San Francisco. After all these weeks of walking and waiting, I'm going on a 60-mile walk! Don't mistake that exclamation point for pure excitement, though; I'm pretty nervous about the whole thing. In fact, I'm beginning to feel the stirrings of panic.

To quell my impending Freak Out, I've decided to focus on the relatively mundane aspects of the event like printing out my event credentials, writing out contact information for Alfie and starting to pack. Yes, it's a week away and I'm almost fully packed. I make fun of my dad for packing his suitcase a week before he travels, and here I am, doing the same thing.

But truth be told, I'm actually glad I've started so early. I usually pack for a trip one or two nights before. This trip, however, requires a little more forethought because participants are limited to a single bag that weighs 35 pounds (because event crew members and volunteers will be hauling our bags to and from campsites and we don't want anyone wrenching out their backs). Thirty-five pounds doesn't sound like much until you consider what we need to take with us:

Sleeping bag
Air mattress or pad
Plastic sheets or tarp (to keep tent and gear dry in case of rain)
Clothespins (to secure the plastic)
Flashlight and batteries
Towel and washcloth (although you can purchase towel service so you don't have to deal with damp, stinky towels)
Two pairs of shoes
Two pairs of socks per day (that's a total of 6)
Sweat pants / long pants
Warm fleece or sweater
Hat / visor
Shower shoes / flip-flops
Waterproof jacket
Underwear and sports bras, one pair per day
T-shirts and shorts for walking, one outfit per day
Something to change into after we're done with the day's walk
Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, moisturizer, soap, shampoo, etc..)

Are you kidding me? I consider myself a light packer, but this is going to be a challenge. BigFoot that I am, my 2 pairs of walking shoes will probably take up half of that 35-pound weight limit. And I definitely need space for the giant jar of painkillers I'm going to be taking at the end of each day.

And how am I going cram in that giant plush Energizer bunny?

I guess I'll probably leave those National Enquirer magazines behind. I'll probably fall asleep as soon as my head hits my pillow (or maybe I'll leave the pillow behind too -- I'll just prop my head on a plastic bag filled with my dirty clothes). And I'm going to have to ditch the after-dinner outfit and the two separate coats I was hoping to take. My color scheme for the weekend will be pink and black, and I might just sleep in grey sweatpants instead of my pink-and-white hot-lips pajama outfit, so I can change into my sleep clothes for dinner.

(See, I've successfully distracted myself from how woefully unprepared and inadequate I feel about walking the 60 miles! Nothing like a little outfit planning to cheer oneself up).

Check back soon to see which items made it into my 35-lb. bag!

Energizer is sponsoring my participation fee and fundraising requirement for this event, but I would love to be able to raise more for breast cancer. Please help me reach my goal of $1000! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. You can click on the widget below to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen San Francisco Bay    Area 3-Day for the Cure!