Where the Public Good really *is* Good

When Alfie visited Salt Lake City in May, one of the things that impressed him the most about the city was the immaculate surroundings. They obviously make a huge effort to keep their public areas neat and clean. The roads are well maintained, not a pothole in sight (which to a motorcyclist like Alfie, is a major safety issue and Super Big Deal), and you don't see any litter lying around.

See those birds on the roof of the tram station? They're fake. I'll bet they put them there to scare real birds away, which minimizes bird poop from splattering all over the roof, floor and people.

They even have the latest in traffic management technology. Hey, California, why can't we have that? Heck, I'd settle for just the nice roads.

Check out their capitol building, complete with manicured lawn. The amazing thing is, Salt Lake City has a population of less than 200,000 -- which is just under one-fourth of the population of San Francisco, and about a fifth of the population of San Jose. Talk about taxpayers' money going to good use! We have so many more taxpayers in our area, yet our public facilities are shite.

The pristine condition of the buildings and public facilities, combined with the natural beauty of the surroundings, makes Salt Lake City a beautiful place to live.

And since this is a photo spread of Salt Lake City, how could I not include a photo of the Mormon (LDS) Temple. The architecture is absolutely stunning, and I don't think one blade of grass on that lawn would dare to grow the wrong way. The public is welcome to tour the grounds and select buildings in Temple Square, but the temple interior is not open to public tours.

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 public things, click here.

Aloha Friday - Summer Slide

About Aloha Friday: Aloha Friday is a fun, simple meme from Kailani at An Island Life. Every Friday she asks a simple question on her blog, invites participants to answer her question in the comments section, then invites participants to ask a question of their own on their own blogs. Every day feels like a summer Friday over in Hawaii, so I'm making Aloha Friday one of my summer blogging goals -- to join the meme every Friday until school starts!

I can't believe we have less than a month to go before school starts up again! Every time I see a Back to School deal on the web or a Back to School product roundup on a blog I start to panic and think, I'm not ready yet. And I'm guessing, neither are the kids. School is the last thing they want to think of, so I'm wondering ......

Today's Aloha Friday Question: Should kids be keeping up with lessons over the summer?

I do agree that young brains get burned out if they're constantly being fed academic facts -- but on the other hand, 12 weeks is a long time, and just because they're not at school doesn't mean they should stop learning! Learning should be fun, whether you're learning during the summer or during the schoolyear! The challenge is to keep their minds sharp while keeping it light and fun. I've been making sure 3Po and Jammy keep practicing their reading (The Pea is a voracious reader anyway) and we've joined our library's summer reading program, and we have some summer workbooks that they're completing to get a prize from me, but that's about it.

Are you doing anything with your kids to prevent that Summer Slide?

Walking Around Paris

Earlier this week Alfie and I took the kids to Paris, and just like on our previous trip to Amsterdam, we shunned taxis and buses in order to explore the city on foot. 3Po, Jammy and The Pea were real troopers: we were on our feet for two full days, nonstop. Oh, I'll admit we chickened out and ascended the Eiffel Tower via elevator, and hopped aboard the funiculaire (cable car) to get to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. But we climbed every one of the 206 steps it took to get to the top of the Pantheon:

And the views of Paris from the top made it all worthwhile.

We roamed the streets of Paris, searching for La Maison Berthillion, which sells the best ice cream in Paris:

We roamed the cemeteries, searching for Oscar Wilde's grave:

We wandered through the underground tunnels of the Paris Metro, connecting from train to train in order to get to various points around the city.

We even went around the Place de l'Etoile (where the Arc du Triomphe is located) and down the Champs Elysees, desperately searching for a toilet.

Unfortunately we couldn't find any -- apparently the police have closed down all the public toilets and there were no pay toilets nearby, so Alfie freaked out at a Metro employee and managed to get access to the Metro employees' toilets -- but at least this Energizer Keep Going Blogger got a good walk out of it. And since the San Francisco Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure® event is only 9 weeks away, I need all the walks I can get!

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!

BlogHer special offers

Just a reminder, I've got some great giveaways from BlogHer reviews that are ending soon! Click on the links below for more details and to enter:

My Ritz Crackerful $100 giveaway ends July 31.

My Crystal Light $1000 giveaway ends August 31.

My McDonald's Prize pack giveaway ends August 10.

Fooling around in the car

Here's the scenario: You're in the small town of Devizes, UK. You're walking down the street on a cold, rainy evening when you see a car parked nearby, with all the windows steamed up. The car is shaking ever so slightly, and as you pass beside it you can hear voices moaning with pleasure. What do you think is going on?

Why, it's just our family, sitting in the car and enjoying some fish and chips, steaming hot and straight out of the local chip shop's fryer, succulent and crispy enough to elicit mmmmm's and ahhhhh's from all five hungry family members, the perfect dinner after a long day of sightseeing and touring.

You dirty-minded thing, you.

Just Hanging Around

I love these lazy summer days! They're so relaxed and low key, and the kids are always playing outdoors. They love clambering up tree trunks, swinging from branches and launching themselves from any sort of height. These are the same sorts of shenanigans that landed Jammy with two broken bones in February, but that memory is long gone, and his fear has healed along with the bones.

Actually, my kids will climb anything, given half a chance.

My little monkeys just love hanging out in the summer!

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 hangings, click here.

Aloha Friday - Getting Wet

About Aloha Friday: Aloha Friday is a fun, simple meme from Kailani at An Island Life. Every Friday she asks a simple question on her blog, invites participants to answer her question in the comments section, then invites participants to ask a question of their own on their own blogs. Every day feels like a summer Friday over in Hawaii, so I'm making Aloha Friday one of my summer blogging goals -- to join the meme every Friday until school starts!

The Sony PSP Summer Family Fun program has ended, so I'm giving you all a break from my videogame-related questions and moving on to other kinds of summer fun. This week my thoughts are turning to water, lovely cool water.

Today's Aloha Friday Question: Beach or Pool?

Call me a city girl, but I've always preferred a chlorinated pool to a salty sea. I have never really enjoyed swimming in the ocean because my eyes hurt too much, and all that sand sticking to your bathing suit can be such a hassle. Of course, if you're comparing a deserted tropical beach with warm, bright turquoise shores to a crowded public pool with babies doing God-knows-what in the water then I'll take the beach any day, thank you very much!

How about you, are you a beach bunny or pool person?

Who Inspires You to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle?

My latest Crystal Light post is up on BlogHer -- it's about your inspiration(s) for leading a healthy lifestyle -- and I'm loving the comments I've read so far! Many readers are inspired by their children, like I am. Some are inspired by their parents, who are living energetic and healthy and happy lives. Some role models come from the celebrities whose youthful looks and bodies belie their age. One reader, who used to be stuck in a rut and has turned her life around for the better, uses the promise of better days ahead to inspire her to live longer. What inspiring answers!

Click here to read my Crystal Light post on BlogHer -- if you leave a comment on that post you will be entered to win $1000!

Preparing for The Walk -- Rainy Day Gear

10 weeks to go until the San Francisco's Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure®, and I'm starting to think about what I need to take on my 3-day journey. I've been walking around England for several weeks now, and around here there's always a big chance that you'll end up walking in the rain. October in San Francisco is usually cool and dry, so it's unlikely that we'll be seeing any rain during the walk, but having to walk in wet weather has certainly gotten me thinking about some things I might want to pack in my 3-Day for the Cure equipment bag:

* A baseball cap -- having that peak is important for me because I wear glasses. Even a small drizzle can get really annoying; without that peak, I'd need a mini-windshield wiper to keep my lenses raindrop free!

* An extra pair of shoes -- Of course I'll be packing one pair of socks for each of the 3 Days that I'll be walking, but I never really thought about throwing in a couple more pairs, and even an extra pair of walking shoes, just in case they get damp in a drizzle or drenched in a thunderstorm..

* A rain jacket -- A couple of days ago we went to a free event and I picked up a goody bag that contained a lightweight rain slicker. It will be the perfect thing to take to the 3-day walk! Having said that, a friend of mine who walks half-marathons all the time has a different solution -- she likes to take along a plastic garbage bag liner, cut out neck and arm holes and wear it like a potato sack. She says it keeps her from getting chilled in the early stages of the walk, before she warms up, and keeps her dry in case it rains. When she doesn't need it anymore, she simply tosses it into one of the garbage bins lining the route. I'm tempted to follow her example and swap the rain slicker for a garbage bag. However, next week we'll be traveling around Paris -- and seeing all the chic, well-dressed people walking around might just strike shame into my unfashionable self and cause me to change my mind.

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!

I haven't got a Cloo

Two weeks ago I blogged about the differences between American English and English English. Here's another example:

3Po: Mama, I know what "potty" is in English.

Me: What do you mean?

3Po: I know how you say "potty" in English.

Me (still not understanding): What, then?

3Po: Loo.

Me: What do you mean?

3Po: You know, mama. If you want to go to the potty in England, you say "I need to go to the loo".

The Cougar Strikes (Out)

Last week I took 3Po and Jammy to the local skate park to practice going down the slopes on their new skateboards. We tried to get there early because most of the local schools haven't yet begun their summer break, so the skate park would most likely be empty and our two beginners could have the whole place to practice on.

When we got there, we were a bit disappointed to see that a couple of older teenagers were already there -- whether they were cutting classes or had already left school, we weren't sure. Fortunately, they proved to be very nice, sharing the park with 3Po and Jammy, making sure they didn't crash into the boys or intimidate them.

A bit later on I tried to help Jammy go down one of the steeper slopes. Jammy went out of control and he jumped off his skateboard, unhurt, but I wasn't so lucky. Jammy's skateboard shot up the ramp and flew into the side of my knee. I sank to the ground, eyes closed, wincing in pain, absolutely certain I had broken something. I heard one of the skateboarders running to Jammy and me, saying, "Can I do anything to help?"

I have to admit, I was flattered. He was a nice-looking boy, about 17 or so, and he could have just ignored us and kept on skateboarding. Alfie and his mum were seated on a nearby park bench and had seen the whole thing. Neither of them got up to check on me, yet here was this polite young gentleman, offering to help. Would he be as nice to anyone else? Probably not. He must think I'm such a hip, cool mum, risking injury and enduring pain to helping my son learn to skateboard. I wonder if he's wondering how old I am?

I opened my eyes, smiled my most charming smile and simpered, "No, thanks so much, I'm fine. I'll just lie here for a while until the pain goes away". I was fully expecting him to ignore my protests and help me up.

His response? "Umm, actually, I was talking to your son".

The next time Jammy goes skateboarding, I'm sitting on the park bench with my own generation.

Taking a Break

Everyone needs a break in their busy day. Whether it's going out for a walk to get some fresh air, grabbing a snack, or even throwing some clothes into the washing machine, it's a good way to stretch your muscles and clear your head. And when you're at work, every minute counts -- so you don't want to spend too much time pfaffing with preparing a complicated snack. Prepared snacks are always easy.... but are they nutritious?? I recently reviewed Ritz Crackerfuls for BlogHer -- click here to read what I thought of the product, and enter to win $100.

Walking around Amsterdam

I've got 11 weeks till I walk San Francisco's Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure® on October 1-3. Sixty miles in three days is no joke, and as Energizer's Keep Going® Blogger for San Francisco, I want to make sure I actually finish the walk instead of wimping out and hitching a ride with the help wagons. But I'm on vacation with Alfie's family in the UK, and when you've got a full schedule of family activities, it's not easy to find time to take long walks. Despite my jet lag, I've been able to wake up early enough to take hourlong walks nearly every day -- I know, not exactly walkathon distance but as my aching leg and butt muscles keep reminding me, I'm not in the best shape of my life and it will have to do for a start.

This week Alfie and I left the kids with his parents and took a 4-day trip to Amsterdam. I was pretty worried that with all the canal cruises and bus tours and museum visits and lounging around cafes and restaurants, I'd fall off my newfound walking schedule and never get back. I needn't have worried.

We arrived in Amsterdam on the same day that all of Amsterdam (and probably everyone in the suburbs) showed up at the City Center to cheer the Netherlands national football team, who had just finished second in the World Cup. The whole city was a mass of orange, and all the trams had been cancelled, so we had to walk to our hotel. We spent the rest of the day walking around the city, trying to catch a glimpse of the team, who were parading around the city's canals. Our perseverance paid off -- we saw them just after the rally finished, as they were being driven away in big tour coaches.

On Day 2, we took a tour of the countryside, and spent 4 hours walking around quaint, picturesque villages like these.

On Days 3 and 4, we walked all around Amsterdam, looking at museums and buildings and monuments in squares. You don't really notice how much you've been walking when you're surrounded by beautiful buildings, cafes and canals like these.

Or these. The city center is so small and compact that it felt silly to take a tram, so we just walked everywhere. At the end of the trip Alfie and took stock of our adventures and figured out that we had actually walked about 4 hours each day!

If only I were rich enough to visit 11 different cities for each of the 11 weeks leading up to the walk, training would be no problem whatsoever.

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!

Count the Triangles

One, two, three, how many triangles do you see? I count 29, but there could be more. See if you can find them all and leave your guess in the comments section!

This charming building is located in the charming Danish town of Solvang.... in California! The town was founded by Danish settlers in 1911, and they took many of their customs and culture with them.

Even the public restrooms have that cute Scandinavian appeal!

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 triangles, click here.

Happy Fry-Day!

From fish and chips to egg and chips, from sausage and chips to fried bacon and mushrooms, from scotch eggs to a proper English fry-up, there's no doubt that lots of traditional English foods are goooooood... but not so good for you. So it was kind of funny to see this sign painted on the window of a local Birmingham chip shop:

Look after your heart: Eat at the Frying Pan

Maybe they deep-fry their stuff in canola oil instead of lard?

Bonggamom's Travel Tips with Kids

Yesterday I reposted an old SV Moms piece about traveling alone with the kids. I've flown alone with a 7-month old Pea, in a middle seat on the longest 6-hour flight in history. I've flown alone with an almost-3-year-old and 2-month-old twin infants on a trans-Pacific flight with a stopover. I've flown when the twins were in their Terrible Twos and when The Pea was 5. People always react in horror and admiration when they find this out: How do you do it? You're so brave! You super mom, you!

In truth, you just do what you have to do. In our case, our families live in the Philippines and the UK, so flying long distances is a must, and with all that jet lag, extended visits are only practical. Alfie could never stay as long as we wanted due to the #%&*# vacation policy that seems to be common in the US (compared to the 21 day standard in the UK and Europe), so it was up to me to go solo with the kids.

Back in those crazy days I had to plan each trip with the precision of a military campaign, but --at the risk of jinxing myself -- I have to say that now the kids are older, things are much easier. They can go to the bathroom by themselves, and they don't need me to cut up all the hotdogs and chicken pieces in their meals. They are content to sit quietly in their seats, taking turns playing on the PSP or drawing in their journals. When they do get too rambunctious and out-of-control, a sharp word (or the threat of some punishment) is all that's needed to get them back in line. I can actually read a magazine or sleep during the flight without worrying that they'll pour applesauce down some poor traveler's neck or throw up all over themselves. What bliss!

To all moms of preschoolers, toddlers and babies: if you're traveling alone with your kids and feel like you want to tear your eyeballs out with stress, trust me: This Too Shall Pass. In the meantime, here are some tips that have worked for me:

Preparing for your first plane ride with baby or toddler

* Take some new toys along on the plane ride so your baby/toddler has something new to play with.
* Play-Doh is a great toddler toy because it can stick to the the tray table. Do NOT take anything that can roll away and get lost in the seat cracks or under the seat because you will be contorting yourself to fetch it while your toddler wails and screams for his lost toy!
* Make sure baby is sucking on something during take-off and landing (i.e. pacifier, teething biscuit, nursing, etc..) to minimize discomfort in the ears
* Be prepared to take several walks up and down the aisle.
* Be nice to the flight attendant. She *may* offer to hold your child for a while. No one can resist a cute baby :)

Helping your kids deal with jet lag or wonky sleep schedules

* A couple of days before a trip that crosses multiple time zones, start moving your child's bedtime forward/backward to get closer to the local time zone. Even 30 minutes per day helps.
* Once you arrive at your destination, get out in the bright sunlight.
* Take it easy the first few days. In my experience, it will take approximately 1/2 - 1 day for kids to adjust for every hour difference between your home time zone and destination time zone (i.e. when we go to the UK, the time difference is 8 hrs so it takes at least 4 days, and as much as 8 days for my kids, to fully adjust).

Minimizing boredom during long car trips

* Play games like "I Spy" or "license plate bingo".
* Listen to books on cd.
* This is one time to let loose on the electronic entertainment! Videogames like the PSP (check out my PSP review on Bonggamom Finds) are great because you can preload content on the unit and you don't have to deal with packing lots of game cartridges that clutter up the car (the screen is also nice and big so they don't strain their eyes too much while the car is moving.)

Minimizing motion sickness during long car trips

* Have your child face straight ahead, not to the side and definitely not facing backwards
* Sometimes sucking on a boiled sweet can calm nauseous feelings.
* Open the window a bit so that fresh air can stream into the car.
* If all else fails, make sure your child has a bucket or plastic bag to throw up into.

Here's hoping that you and your family enjoy safe, entertaining, stress free -- and clean -- travels!

Siblings on a Plane

This post originally appeared on July 19, 2006 on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. I'm reposting it here in its original form.

"Snakes on a Plane", the Samuel L. Jackson film that has created so much buzz on the Internet, opens August 18th. If you happen to be flying to England on July 18th, you might catch a preview of this movie; only instead of snakes, it might just be 3 rambunctious children.

I'm flying to England with my three children all by myself. Most people who know about this tell me I'm crazy. But I've actually done it before. When the twins were 3 months old and my daughter was almost 3, I took them to spend 1 month at my parents' home in Manila. My husband did not come with us. I made the outward journey with my mother, and I flew back to the US with the 3 kids by myself. It was a 16-hour flight with 1 stopover, almost 24 hours door-to-door, and I survived. So I figure, I can do it again, right?

I have everything planned. At the airport, I will ask whether my husband can accompany me all the way to the boarding gate (apparently the policy on this varies by airline and airport). Failing that, I will ask for assistance through the security area. I will stack the carseats on the double stroller and wheel it to the gate while my children walk beside me. I will be using toddler leashes on my twins, and they will have a bracelet or sticker with my name and cellphone number in case they get lost. On the plane, I am hoping they will spend approx. 1 hour eating, 1 hour walking around, 2 hours watching movies, and 5 hours sleeping. They will each have a backpack with their loveys, a toy, a book, a snack and a sippy cup. My backpack will have extra surprise toys, diapers, snacks, wipes, and toiletries. My MP3 is loaded up with their favorite songs and books-on-tape. I will ask a stewardess for help if I need to go to the bathroom. Finally, I will pack a bottle of Benadryl in case one of them simply will not sleep and I get desperate.

I have a sinking feeling that nothing will go according to plan. The only flights we have taken since our trip to Manila have been less than 2 hours, short enough to keep them occupied for the duration of the flight, and we have always had a 1:1 ratio of kids to adults. So I really don't know how things will go this time, but I am expecting the worst. About 1 month ago, I took them on a 1-hr train ride, as sort of a test run. They loved it, but I didn't expect my son to freak out when the train went into the tunnels. I also didn't expect him to get bored after 15 minutes and say, "Mama, I want to get off". I can see it now, 6 hours into the flight, when all is dark, somewhere above the Atlantic -- "Mama, it's dark, I want to get off the plane". What do I do then?

I'm not really worried about my daughter; she has always been a great traveller. But my twins are a different story. When I flew from Manila to SF, they were just cute, inanimate bundles. They were taken out of their carseats only to be fed, changed or soothed. Kind stewardesses and fellow passengers were only too glad to help pick them up and hold them. Having identical twins added to the cuteness factor. Nowadays, my twins are cuter than ever. However, they are like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going and going. They are active 2.5 year old boys and it's just not in their nature to keep still. I have no idea how I am going to keep them in their seats for a 10-hour flight. I can only keep them strapped in their carseats for so long; at some point they will struggle, scream, or heaven forbid, start kicking the seat in front of them. Then I will have to release my little snakes to terrorize the entire plane. What do I do when one of them wants to head for the cockpit and the other one wants to head for the galley?

My faith in humankind tells me that there will still be kind people who will offer to help. Of course there will also be normal people who will silently (or not so silently) grit their teeth when the yelling starts. To everyone on the plane, I offer my sincere thanks and apologies in advance. I've heard stories of parents passing out chocolates and earplugs to their seatmates; maybe I should do that too.

We arrive at Heathrow on July 19 at 1PM. Hopefully my kids will have slept for at least 5 hours. Somehow, I will have to get my groggy self, 3 groggy kids, 3 carseats, 2 suitcases and 1 double stroller past customs and into the welcoming arms of my in-laws. Hopefully it will all have a Hollywood-type happy ending.

Aloha Friday -- The Comics of my Childhood

About Aloha Friday: Aloha Friday is a fun, simple meme from Kailani at An Island Life. Every Friday she asks a simple question on her blog, invites participants to answer her question in the comments section, then invites participants to ask a question of their own on their own blogs. Every day feels like a summer Friday over in Hawaii, so I'm making Aloha Friday one of my summer blogging goals -- to join the meme every Friday until school starts!

Today's Aloha Friday Question: Who is (are) your favorite comic book character(s)?

Comic books were difficult (and expensive) to find in the Philippines during the 70's, so my siblings and I never really got into comic books, but we borrowed some from friends and got some as presents and checked some out at the library, so we got a pretty good dose of comic book fun. Here are my favorites:

1) Tintin -- without a doubt, Tintin was my favorite. This was the only series that my sister and I obsessively sought every episode out. Fortunately, there aren't that many and over half were available at the library of the country club that my grandmother was a member of. I found all the Tintin comics at my kids' school library recently and I checked them all out, on the pretense that I wanted to introduce Tintin to my kids. They weren't interested, but I had a great time reading them all!

2) Archie and friends -- actually, now that I come to think about it, Archie might be my favorite. We actually saved up our allowances so we could buy these comics, and we put them on our Christmas and birthday lists. Archie comics were easier to find, so we also had a lot of friends who owned Archie comics and were able to borrow from each other. Archie and his gang just seemed like the perfect All-American kids and everyone wanted to be like them.

3) Asterix -- my sister and I discovered Asterix when we were in high school or so; one of our cousins received quite a few as a present, so we were able to borrow them and laugh over the antics of Asterix, Obelix and the gang. I think you have to be a bit older to really appreciate all the puns and the humor, but even young kids love it!

4) Spiderman -- kind of a weird choice for one of my favorites, but we really got into Spidey after one of my brothers received a bound set of Spiderman comics as a present. We were able to read about Spidey's story from the beginning, so I guess we just kept going.

Which comics would you walk a mile in a storm for?

60 miles? Piece of Cake. Pink-Frosted Cake.

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

Who walks 20 miles one day, goes to bed, then wakes up and does the very same thing the next day -- and the day after? A masochist? A lunatic? How about one who's fighting cancer? Or one who wants to honor a loved one who fought cancer? Or one who's raising money for the cure?

Starting October 3, add me to that list of crazy, motivated people. I've been selected by Energizer® as San Francisco's Keep Going® Blogger for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure® 3 day, 60-mile walk. It's an event where participants walk 60 miles over the course of 3 days and raise funds in support of breast cancer research. I will be walking in the San Francisco Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure which will take place on October 1 - October 3, 2010. I will be blogging throughout my training and during the actual event, and you can follow my progress here, on Bonggamom Finds, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

I was one of only 15 other bloggers in the nation chosen, so I'm honored, happy, excited, and a little nervous, all at the same time. I still can't imagine how I'm going to get through this -- but it can't be any harder than what my aunt and my grandmother went through. Both of them had breast cancer. My grandmother beat it in her 50's and went on to live a long and happy life until she passed away at age 80. Her daughter, my aunt beat it about a decade ago and she's still going strong. If they can fight breast cancer and win, I can walk 60 miles.

I've got the sponsorship of Energizer, the example of my aunt, and the memory of my grandmother to help me -- and I'm also hoping I'll have the companionship and camaraderie from all of you, my family and friends and blog readers. Whether it's a donation to the cause (you can donate via the widget above), or a tip on how to avoid blisters on such a long walk emailed to me, or just a "Way to Go" comment left on any of my future Keep Going® Blogger posts, I will cherish and appreciate any and every form of support!

Update: Energizer no longer has the list of Keep Going® Bloggers on their site, so I've listed the bloggers here:

Different Airplane, same Activity

A couple of Wordless Wednesdays ago I posted a photo of the kids on the airplane. Here we are again on our flight to the UK, and they're still at it. I know, it looks bad -- but honestly, they have not been on the PSP nonstop between airplane photos! That said, it was a 10-hour flight from San Francisco to Heathrow, and we were stuck inside a pressurized canister, hurtling through the skies with hundreds of people, all breathing in and farting out the same air. In circumstances like that, I let the kids play all the PSP they want if it keeps them from screaming with boredom, or worse, panic.

This is my Wordless Wednesday post. For more WW posts, click here.

Translating English to American

One of the nice things about vacationing in the UK is there's never any problem communicating, since there isn't any language barrier. Or Is There? Every language has its dialects, and American English and English English are so different that they have different setting on computers and phone and GPS systems. Everyone knows about tom-AIY-to versus tom-AH-to, and most people know about lifts versus elevators, petrol versus gas, diapers versus nappies, and so on. But there are so many more terms that differ across the pond. Here are a few I've already encountered after being here just 4 days:

1) Freeways are motorways. The road in this photo, while not quite a motorway, is actually a main road, with a speed limit of 60mph, same as Hwy101 in Silicon Valley!

2) Hatchback cars are called estates, and sedans are saloons.

3) Speaking of GPS systems, they're called SatNavs here. We bought a UK and Europe map for our GPS -- sorry, SatNav -- so we could use it here, and it has been a great decision because we can drive anywhere we want without having to stress over maps and directions. We've even switched the voice setting from an American accent to an English one.

4) Garage sales are car boot sales -- literally. Instead of selling their used goods from their driveway, families sell them out of the trunk (or as they say here, boot) of their cars. Rather than doing it individually, most people seem to pay for spots at organized sales and drive their cars to the location.

5) Popsicles are ice lollies, and soft-serve ice cream is Cornetto. To be more precise, the Brits use Cornetto in the same way I say Kleenex for tissues, Colgate for toothpaste or Xerox copies for photocopies. Another commonly used brand-name synonym used around here is Hoover and vacuum. In fact, they even use it like a verb, i.e. "I'm going to Hoover the sitting room now" (and that's another one: sitting room instead of living room -- see, I'm finding translations all the time).

6) Brits don't go on vacation, they go on holiday.

To sum up everything I've covered so far, here's a description of the photo below, written in English English:

Here's a view from Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower, showing the harbour in the foreground and the Isle of Wight in the background. We drove up there yesterday in our rented estate car. It was a smooth, stress-free drive on the motorway, with our SatNav guiding us the whole way. The kids had a blast; they amused themselves during the drive with some books they bought at a car boot sale, and ran up and down the harbor. They even got to have some ice lollies and Cornettos as a special treat. We're having a wonderful holiday so far!

Am I finally an early adopter?

One of the fun things about review blogging is the chance to try out some of the hottest new products before most people do (sometimes even before they hit the shelf). One such opportunity was the Zhu Zhu Pet Party we hosted last September; it was a huge success, and in fact Zhu Zhu Pets went on to become the hottest toy for 2009. A couple of months ago, MomSelect contacted me again and invited me to host another Zhu Zhu Pet party, and my kids and their friends all love them. I'm the person who's known for saying DVD's and scooters wouldn't catch on, so it's nice to finally be right in predicting a trend for once.

Click here to read all about the Kung Zhu Pet party we hosted!

Open Wide......

My kids all have healthy appetites. But sometimes I think their appetites are bigger than their stomachs, and their eyes are bigger than their mouths....

I think I need to teach them to slow down a bit. And close their mouths when they chew.

Do as I say, kids, not as I do!

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 open things, click here.