Wilmington Children’s Book Festival, Booth #35, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Banning Residence Museum, Wilmington, CA

I had a wonderful time at the event.  Lots of enthusiastic children sharing their love for books.

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This was my second year participating in this fun event. Thank you very much United Way, Tesoro, Valero, and other generous sponsors for making this event possible.

Click here for more information about this fun event

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A Soldier’s Gift

(I used Grammarly for this post, because editing gives me a headache. Bye, bye Aspirin!)

In light of an impending war, and the anniversary month of 9/11, I wanted to write about something positive — about a precious gift we received and still cherish.  No, it is not an expensive gift like jewelry or an electronic toy, but it is a priceless gift that money cannot buy.  The idea for this blog came from my twelve year old son who decided to write an essay for his homework about two special souvenirs he received three years ago.  Until now, I did not realize the impact this gift has made on my children.

My family and I love to travel as much as we can.  We love to see new things, eat the local food, and collect souvenirs.  My two children have collected many souvenirs from every place they visited – Philippines, Italy, Singapore, Hawaii, Mexico, Hong Kong.  Some of the souvenirs are cheap tchotchkes that broke after we got home, disappeared somewhere in our house, or is now gathering dust in a corner shelf in their bedrooms.  The mean mom that I am would get rid of some of the junk, and surprisingly they did not miss or ask for them.  For the most part,  my children remember where they got each surviving souvenir, but the rest, unfortunately, remain insignificant.  As a mother who abhors clutter, I rather put them all in a box instead of giving my housekeeper another tchotchkes to dust.  However, there are two unlikely souvenirs my family and I treasure with all our hearts.  They are a small can of 7-up and a cheap plastic pen.

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How could a can of 7-up and a cheap plastic pen be so important to a family? Pretty laughable, right?  These two items are kept in a safe place.  The soda will never be opened and drank, nor the pen will ever be used to write something down.  One time my husband accidentally put the soda in the fridge, and my kids threw a fit.  Yes, that is how valuable they are.  We received these items three years ago as a gift and to this day my children still remember how we got them.  They tell the story to their friends just like it happened on a recent trip.  That is how much we treasure them.  Even my husband who is not a sentimental person, he too now respects our treasure.

It happened three years ago when we decided to spend spring break in Oahu, Hawaii.  We noticed many soldiers on our flight from LAX and happen to sit across of one of them.  They were all young.  Young, exhausted, and battle weary.  Many of them slept for most of the flight.  Some just stared off into space, deep in their own thoughts, maybe relishing the peacefulness of their surroundings.  My husband told me that they probably have been traveling for over 24 hours from Iraq or Afghanistan. As I tried to get comfortable in our narrow seats, he also added that the uncomfortable economy seats are probably the softest bed they slept on in months.  I could not imagine what these boys went through, and my heart went out to every one of them.  My nine year old son who is a military buff was in awe to see real soldiers up close.

Airlines nowadays no longer serve free food on flights from Los Angeles to Oahu but have boxed lunches available for purchase.  With two picky eaters, I packed lots of snacks such as string cheese, cookies, candy, and for lunch, several slices of cold pizza.  As the flight attendant began drink service and selling their boxed lunches, passengers began taking out their wallets and purses to buy their food.  The soldier next to us was awake and looked as if he wasn’t going to buy any lunch.  It was a five hour flight, and I was sure he was hungry.  My husband and kids were starving by that time, so he probably was too.  I nudged my husband and motioned him to buy the soldier some lunch.  He understood and gave the menu to the soldier and told him to order whatever he wanted to eat and beer if he wanted that too.  The young soldier gratefully accepted the lunch but politely declined the beer.  I saw that he was ravenous.  He ate everything, savoring every bite.  When was the last time this soldier ate?  Airport food is not cheap, and I don’t blame the kid for not spending a fortune on crappy airport food.  I took out our pizza and doled them out to my husband and two children, I wondered how long since this soldier had pizza, so I gave him a slice too.  Yes, I didn’t offer it, I just put it on a sheet of the paper towel I brought and placed it on his tray.  He gave me a big smile.  I think he hasn’t had American pizza in a long time because he seemed to savor it too.  I normally don’t give food to strangers in an airplane it was just that my mama bear instinct kicked in.  This young man is not only a son of a mother I don’t even know, but he is also our country’s son.  He is giving his life to his country, fighting for us while we sleep peacefully in our warm and comfortable beds.  As a mother, I know what it is like to worry about my children if they are eating properly, or taking care of themselves.  Albeit they are still young, I cannot imagine being far away from my child let alone know that he is constantly in danger fighting for our country.

After lunch, the soldier took a nap and so did my children and husband.  After an hour or so, my children woke up and were hungry again.  What is it with flying that makes my children constantly hungry?  I dug into my snack bag and took out string cheese, Goldfish crackers, Oreos, and apple slices.  Then I divided them into three – my two kids and the soldier across from us. When I placed the snacks on the soldier’s tray, he  protested that he couldn’t take the kids’ snack away from them, but my kids assured him the snacks were good.  My kids probably thought he didn’t like them.  I told him to save the snacks for later in case he gets hungry.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him munching happily just like my kids.  It made very happy to see him enjoying himself.

The soldier slept during the remainder of our flight, and once we landed, he profusely thanked us for feeding him throughout the flight.  We thanked him for fighting for our country, which, was far more important than our mere offering of pizza and snacks.

After we picked up our bags, my husband had to take a shuttle to get our rental car.  While waiting for him, the soldier ran up to us and asked us to wait until he got his bag because he wanted to give us something.  The soldier had to wait a long time to get his bag, and he frequently glanced at us as if he was afraid that we were going to leave.  I texted my husband to take his time so that it gave the soldier some time to get his things.  The bag finally came out of the conveyor belt, and he walked over to us and rummaged through his bag and took out a can of 7-up and a pen.

“I really appreciate your kindness in feeding me, and I just want to give you these humble tokens of appreciation.  I was in Iraq, and this can of 7-up is written in Farsi, and this pen printed with a hotline is what we distribute to the locals during our patrols so they can call us with leads.  They are just little souvenirs for the kids,” he said. The kids and I were surprised to receive a present.

I never expected anything from this young soldier.  I did what every mother would do without a second thought.  We chatted while I waited for my husband to return with the rental car.  We found out he is a Sergeant on a two week leave from Iraq.  His wife gave birth to a baby girl three months ago, and he was going to surprise his wife and see his daughter for the first time.  My son Sean asked him some questions about Iraq and what he did over there.  Sean loves anything that has to do with the military – past or present.  To be able to talk to the soldier was one of the biggest highlights of his trip. By then my husband texted me to tell me he was out front.  I offered to take him to where he needed to go, but he declined and was going to rent a car.  He offered his hand, but I gave him a hug instead and told him to enjoy his time with his family and to stay safe for the sake of his wife and daughter.

During our week long trip, my children talked about the soldier and how cool it was that he gave them presents.  They told the story to the relatives we visited during our vacation.  They even brought it to school for show and tell after we got back from vacation.  Throughout the years, my kids would still proudly show the 7-up can and pen and tell the story to their friends.  This is one story that will never get old. I don’t think the soldier knew how much his simple gifts had an impact on my family.  We live in a very material world where everybody clamors to get the latest and greatest toy or gadget.  Today’s gadget and toys are obsolete a few months later, discarded by their owners like Woody in Toy Story.

I am proud to say that my children still treasure the 7-up can and pen which is safely kept in a place where we could see it.   To my family, the 7-up can and pen is a symbol of the men and women sacrificing their lives to fight for our country and to remind us to be grateful for being able to sleep in our soft, warm beds every night and not be afraid of bombs, IED’s, and bullets when we walk out of the safety of our homes.  Every time I see these objects, I remember to say a prayer for the safe return of the soldier who gave them to us, along with all the soldiers fighting for our country.  Last Friday, my son finished his essay and returned the 7-up can and pen in its rightful place.  He informed me the can of 7-up has expired.  I told him it didn’t matter if it expired because we were never going to drink it anyway.  He agreed.  I then asked him why he wrote an essay about a gift he received three years ago.  This is what he said.

“Mom, he gave us the coolest gift.  He is fighting for our country, yet he gave us gifts.  That soldier is a cool cat.”

Yeah, I agreed the soldier is a cool cat.  Funny thing is we remember what he looked like, and every detail of the story, but we never got his name.  Keep safe soldier, wherever you may be.

 

 

Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s Tent) — 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 7, 2013, Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, CA

Come join me for a day of Filipino arts and culture.  I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” at the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  See you there!

Pt. Fermin Park

807 West Paseo Del Mar

San Pedro (Los Angeles), CA

Click Here For More Information

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A Plush for Plushkies!

My daughter had the pleasure of receiving Fabio – the Italian Plushkie as a gift.  Our family went to Italy for a family event and the kids learned as much as they could about Italy beforehand.  So when Linley saw Fabio, she knew instantly that he was from Italy because of his boot shape.  She also told us that Fabio wears the colors of the Italian flag.  What a smart concept for a cuddly toy!

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I went to the Plushkies website and loved their concept of early multicultural education.  Teachers and Parents can use the Plushkies  to teach young children about other countries including the USA.  All Plushkies are shaped like their countries so that the children will recognize them on the map.  To finish it off, each country wears the colors of their respective flags.  I wish Ricardo and his team would make more Plushkies.   The ones available are China, USA, Mexico, and Italy.  My kids want Filipino and Irish Plushkies.  Especially if the Irish Plushkie is named Sean.

This is a great educational toy for young children.  Parents and teachers, if you are looking for toys to help shape your global children, then start collecting Plushkies!  The company’s website also has supplemental materials to go with their Plushkies.  Educational comments aside, the Plushkies are well made of soft materials that the kids would want to cuddle with them at night.  My daughter has had Fabio in bed next to her every night ever since she got him.  Now that’s a good sign.

I connected with Plushkie’s CEO Ricardo Jimenez and we shared our passion for raising global children.  Ricardo loved the concept of my book “I am Flippish!” and interviewed me for his blog.
Plushkie Interview: Raising Flippish Children
 

Author Visit, Target Free Family Saturday: Share Your Story! – Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA

 

 

 

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I was invited by Heidi Durrow, New York Times Best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky to be a featured author for the Target Free Family Saturday Event at the Japanese American National Museum.

After the reading “I am Flippish!” I gave a Keynote presentation on the stories behind my book, my illustrator, and other fun facts.  My audience also got to pin on my map (pictured) their countries of ancestry.  I will never take any of the pins off.  I will be counting how many pins I get by the end of the year.

Thank you Heidi Durrow and JANM for inviting me to share my book to the families.

 

Japanese American National Museum: Click Here For Details

Here are more details:

Celebrate the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History and share your story with your family and friends! You won’t want to miss out on this fun Target Free Family Saturday.

ALL DAY ACTIVITIES:
• Create a memory book to jot down stories about you and your family.
• Make a family portrait collage.
• Ruthie’s Origami Corner: Fold a fun origami camera.

SCHEDULE:
11AM: Doors open.

11AM-2PM: Make a salad and salad dressing that will soon become a family favorite with Kidding Around the Kitchen.

12PM & 2PM: Bring your memories and prepare to write! Instructor Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo will help you write your own family stories.

1PM: Take a tour of our exhibit Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History with curator Dr. Duncan Williams.

1:30PM: Join us for a ‘mixed’ reading with! Leslie Ryan will read her book I Am Flippish and Heidi Cole will read her book Am I A Color?

2PM: Join us for a screening of the documentary Searchlight SerenadeSearchlight Serenadeexplores the big bands that were formed by Japanese Americans while incarcerated during World War II.

2:30PM: We Tell Stories will perform multicultural tales in Proud To Be Me!

3PM: Allen Say will read his new book The Favorite Daughter. This tale, dedicated with love to Say’s daughter, is one for all parents who want their children to feel pride in their heritage, and to know their own greatest sources of strength and inspiration.

4PM: Doors close.

Generously sponsored by Target, these special Saturdays are filled with fun activities giving families unique ways to learn, play, and grow together.

In conjunction with the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History

An Open Letter to Nielsen Company

Dear Nielsen,

On behalf of our nation’s multicultural families, I would like for you to start evolving into the twenty-first century.

A while ago you called our home and asked to speak to my children about the types of movies they like to watch.  I was kind enough to let you speak to them instead of telling you to take us off your list.  The survey was going very well until the end when your surveyor asked my children what ethnic demographics they fall in.  Are they Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Black, Pacific Islander?  They both answered that they are Flippish.  Long pause.  The surveyor asked what Flippish meant and I told her they are half Filipino and half Irish.  Another long pause.  I repeated that they are fifty percent Filipino and fifty percent Caucasian.  I thought that a well regarded survey company such as Nielsen would have thought of the growing number of multiracial families all over America and changed their survey.  I never expected the answer we got.

“Ma’am, you can only choose one ethnicity,” replied the surveyor.

Really, Nielsen?  My children had to choose one ethnicity.  So if they are an even 50/50 why do they have to make a choice?  I told her again, that they are half, biracial, and it is unfair to make them choose an ethnicity.

“Ma’am, I don’t make the rules. Your children have to choose one ethnicity,” replied the exasperated surveyor.

During this time my children were looking at me, amused at what was taking place.  I don’t think they understood the significance of this situation.  However, they didn’t look upset as I was.

I could have done one of two things: I could have delivered some expletives to the poor surveyor who was only doing her job or hang up.  I chose neither. I let my children answer the surveyor.

Both of my children answered at the same time, “Filipino!”

The surveyor was satisfied, and put them down as Asian.  After we hung up the phone, my eleven year old son mischievously told me that the next time Nielsen calls, he will say he is Caucasian just to be fair with the Irish side of the family.

I explained to the kids that by calling themselves Caucasian the next time you guys call us, it will screw up your statistic.  Then my son told me that it is their fault and they should have let him put down he was both Caucasian and Asian.  My eight year old daughter asked me why did they have to choose?  They are Flippish!

So Nielsen, why did you make my children choose one ethnic background when you were told they have two?  Is this what you do when you call up multicultural families and make them choose one category?  Your website states “Nielsen Knows People” — do you really?  Don’t you know that there are millions of multicultural families in the US?  A company like Nielsen should be aware of this and change with the times.  Before you call my home again to ask to speak to my children, make sure you change the way your survey is set up and allow your surveyors to check all that applies.  Please get with the program or don’t ever call us again.

Sincerely,

Leslie V. Ryan

Philippines Kalayaan 2013 Independence Day Celebration – Saturday, June 8th, 2013, Los Angeles, CA

Update:

It was a great fun filled event and cultural pride.

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With my fellow authors Giovanni Ortega and Lorenzo Paran, author and publisher of Salamin Magazine.

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With Gladys

Amazing dancers

Amazing dancers

The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) and the PHILIPPINE CONSULATE GENERAL OF LOS ANGELES PRESENTS:

The First ( 115th ) Philippine Independence Day Grand Parade in Historic Filipinotown Los ANGELES

I am very excited to participate in the Philippines Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, June 8th 2013.   Come and support the First Grand PH Independence Parade in Historic Filipinotown.  Philippine Expressions Book Shop is participating in the exhibit and kindly invited Filipino American authors to showcase their books.   I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” with other Fil Am authors: Myrna de la Paz, Sumi Haru, Marvin Gapultos, Albert Mortiz, Giovanni Ortega, Ludy Ongkeko, Lorenzo Paran, and Jay Wertz.

When:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Where: 

Silverlake Medical Center 
1711 W. Temple St., Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles
Times:
Parade  9:00 a.m.
Program  11:00 a.m.
I will be signing books under the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
I hope to see you there.  Please help support our Fil-Am authors and make sure you check out their books when you visit the Philippine Expressions Booth.
2ND GEN Kalayaan flyer

 

Family Fair at the OC Mix, Saturday, May 18th, 2013 – Costa Mesa, CA

 

It was a fun filled event at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa with my fellow authors Dennis Yang, Alva Sachs, MaDonna Waszak, Ryan Afromsky, and Cori Paul.  The weather was sunny and beautiful and being in the company of these wonderful children’s book authors made the day even better.
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Author Visit at Nelson Elementary School – Friday, May 17, 2013 – Tustin CA

I spent a fun-filled event reading and speaking to the staff and students of Nelson Elementary.  We divided our day into three presentations.  Kindergarten and First, Second and Third, then Fourth and Fifth grades.  They were all well behaved and participated enthusiastically.

I spoke to the K-1st graders about the process of writing.  I even had a few budding authors in the audience – I was very impressed.

The 2nd and 3rd graders received a double treat of a presentation about the process of writing stories and a brief look into immigration and ancestry.  They learned a lot that day.

The 4th and 5th graders received an even special treat from me.  They got to listen to a few chapters of my new YA novel “Dream Quest: Sanctuary.” They wanted to hear more but the bell rang for lunch so I promised their teacher that I was going to send them more chapters and they can tell me what they thought of it.

Overall, it was a great day.

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Santa Ana Public Library 5th Annual Children’s Day/Book Day, Saturday, April 27th, 2013, Santa Ana, CA

UPDATE:

It was a great event of multiculturalism and books.  I had a great time with my fellow author Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri.

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Please join me for this fun event celebrating children of the world through books, exhibits, and other fun activities.

The Santa Ana Public Library is preparing to celebrate its 5thAnnual Children’s Day/Book Day event on Saturday, April 27, 2013.  Children’s Day/Book Day continues to be a special library event honoring and celebrating children from all cultures, books, families, and libraries.  April 30th is a special day in the lives of many children and has now been adopted in the United States as a holiday to celebrate children of all cultures Children’s Day/Book Day, is widely supported by the American Library Association (ALA), REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, and by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) around the nation. We celebrate the joys and wonders of childhood and the importance of books in our lives.  The event will include various multicultural exhibits, a resource fair, storytimes, multicultural performances, free book give-away, and other fun activities such as train rides, face painting and free balloons.

Santa Ana Book Day Festival copy