29 January 2010

Farm Fun



A farm in the city, less than half an hour away from us. If someone had told me that, I probably would not have believed it. But Josh and Zoë had a play date at a farm/nursery yesterday and it was heaps of fun for all of us –yep, me included! It was such a treat, I tell you.


Josh and Zoë got to pull out carrots…

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My friend teaching Zoë how to properly pull out the carrots.

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Yay, she got one!

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Superheroes eat broccoli.

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Rows of marigolds and snapdragons.

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Isn’t this camellia lovely? The petals are the softest, purest white… (Yes, it’s from the farm, too.)

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There were fish ponds, love birds, three peacocks, pheasants, dogs, guinea fowls…

Feathers from guinea fowls

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And there were bunnies, too. The kids got to feed the carrot tops to the bunnies.

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It was such a wonderful afternoon. The weather was great and we were outdoors. The kids got to do and see things they don’t get to see or do every day. We also came home with heads of cauliflower, broccoli, the carrots that the kids pulled out, some potatoes, lettuce, a big bunch of marigolds and snapdragons, not to mention wonderful memories of a great time with D and his family.

28 January 2010

Josh attended a birthday party at Ma Wan Park last Saturday. If it wasn’t for the birthday party, we wouldn’t even have known that Ma Wan Park existed. I always lament the lack of good parks in Hong Kong. Now I’m thinking that maybe I just haven’t gone out of my way to really explore!

Scattered all over the park, nestled among its many attractions are big painted stones. They are usually found in pairs: One with just a drawing and the other with a quote –about love.


Here is one with a quote from John Lennon.DSC05616
This pair of stones features a quote from Jean de la Fontaine, the famous French fabulist.
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The love we give away is the only love we keep. ~ Elbert Hubbard
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Here are more..
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27 January 2010

She Spins



At Josh’s birthday party, Zoë got her chance to try plate-spinning.

Steady… ZoeSpins3
Here’s another one…
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She did it!
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Thanks to Pam for capturing this for me, when dumb ol’ moi FORGOT --Yes, friends, Romans, and countrymen, I forgot! --my cam.er.a!

26 January 2010

How Much He Loves Me



Josh always asks me how much I love him –“What number?” Sometimes I get lazy and I tell him that I love him so much, but that my love is so great that the number for how much I love him has not even been “invented” yet. Sometimes I’d play along and would recite a long, long, long litany of numbers, using indefinite and fictitious number words like gazillion, jillion, etc. He would then try to out-recite me...and on and on.

He saw the blog post that I did on his birthday and he saw the number that I wrote down on the last line saying how much I love him. He then found a piece of paper (which happened to be a sketch that my mom did of the two baby pumpkins we still have from Halloween!) and wrote numbers all over the page. He handed it to me and said, “There, Mommy. That’s how much I love you.”

I love how he even used a couple of hearts in place of zeroes in one of the numbers. Ah, my sweet, sweet boy!


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25 January 2010

Storyteller



Josh got a wonderful set of Superheroes Phonic Readers from one of his classmates and he’s been happily going through each one of them. Lately, when everything is eerily quiet, we could find him reading in either his room or on the couch by the window.

Zoë, of course, never to be outdone or left out, had to ‘read’ as well. She totally made up the story that you’re about to hear her read, injecting bits and pieces from other books she’s heard Josh read, sometimes using the pictures on the book, and other times simply spinning something out of nothing, absolutely nothing at all.

Sorry if the clip ended rather abruptly; I ran out of memory space!

This photo immediately jumped to mind when I read that this week’s challenge is “Texture.” This was taken last summer when we were in Canada, at Burnaby Mountain.

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Please visit iheartfaces for more wonderful photos with ‘texture.’


22 January 2010

Freedom to Be




(Apologies for the long post. But I was feeling introspective…)


Some children decide to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Some children are made to follow their parents’ footsteps. Doctor mother, doctor son. Professor dad, professor daughter. There are also those who make a conscious decision not to be anything like their parents, to chart their own course.


How much of what we are today is ‘natural’ and how much of that was ‘steered’?


I look back to when I was younger and I don’t recall ever being told by either parents what I should be when I grow up. Both my parents are learned folks. My father is a retired math professor. He is a well-known watercolorist (is that even a word?). He is a Chinese scholar. 
My mother has a degree in Architecture and could produce paintings just as beautiful as my dad’s. She is a soprano and has performed locally and abroad with a choral group. She is, in Josh’s words, a “fixer”; she could fix just about anything --beautifully. She adjusts hems, binds books broken apart by overeager little hands, attends to faulty plumbing, etc.


And moi? While I appreciate art, I never felt inclined to pick up a brush and create. I’m not particularly proficient in mathematics (except for that one A in actuarial math –!- don’t ask). I sing, good enough for within the our walls of our house. I ended up with a career in advertising, a field where no one in our family (immediate and extended) of passive overachievers has ever ventured.


Growing up, I never felt any pressure from either one of them to excel in fields where they excel. Beyond instilling early on the love for learning and a certain discipline, they pretty much let me be. By design or simply luck, I was exposed to a wide array of experiences that opened my eyes to the many choices I could make about what I want to be. At some point in my younger life, I had wanted to be a nurse, a nun, a waitress (my grandfather’s printing business had a job order for ordering slips for a restaurant), a cheerleader, a cashier, a teacher, a diplomat, a psychiatrist, a news anchor. I was never discouraged from being any one of those, except maybe for a remark about having to wipe bums that turned me off about being the next Florence Nightingale. I was never given speeches or feel-good spiels about pursuing my dreams either. I don’t recall it being verbalized, but the understanding was there that I could be anything I choose to be.


The one message from my mom, though, that I distinctly remember is something along the lines of “You reap what you sow. We’ve given you as best a start as we could and the rest is up to you.” Even that being the case, there was plenty of encouragement along the way. Opportunities were laid before me, but the choices were always mine to make.


Were my parents just more confident of their parenting skills that I had so much room to 'be’? Perhaps they were just more accepting that there is a limit to what one could do for one’s child, that they needed to just trust that what they could provide was good enough?


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Could Chris and I be just as wise? Chris and I are not my parents and our children are not me. What worked for my parents with me might not necessarily work for us with our children. Different circumstances and different dispositions (of both parents and children) need to be carefully calibrated and taken into consideration. No doubt Chris and I will have to navigate our own way through this ever tricky maze of parenthood. I just pray that in the process of wanting the best for Josh and Zoë, we remember not foist our idea of ‘best’ on them, to let them make their own decisions, in time, about what they think would be best for themselves. And that when the day comes, we can, too, sit back and know and accept that we have done the best we could.

21 January 2010

Zoë Tales # 8



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Zoë was in her room, really engrossed in the book (My Many-Colored Days) that she was “reading.”
PoPo: Where’s Josh?
Zoë, barely looking up from her book: Nowhere. Him lost.
PoPo dismissed.

~~—~~

Zoë uses “him” for he, his, and her.
I like him flower.
Him made me fall down!
I once tried to teach her to use “his” and this was how our mini-lesson went:
Zoë: KoKo (Josh) not wearing him shoes.
Me: KoKo’s not wearing his shoes?
Zoë: Yup, KoKo’s not wearing him shoes.
Me: Zoë, can you say his?
Zoë: Him.
Me: His. Heeee-sssssss.
Zoë: Him-ssssssss.
~~—~~


A little girl can be sweeter (and badder) oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves, yet just when you open your mouth she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes. A girl is Innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.   - Alan Beck

20 January 2010

Blogoversary Giveaway Winner



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Congratulations to Keyona!

A big thank you to all that entered in the giveaway. It was a lot of fun hosting the giveaway and I hope to have another one for all of you soon!


Bengal Tiger



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We tagged along on one of Chris’ business trips to Singapore when Josh was 14 months old. Of course, when one is in Singapore with a little child, the Singapore Zoo is a must-visit.

This Bengal tiger is one of its many attractions. I’d always found tigers to be magnificent creatures, but this white tiger just took my breath away.

From the Singapore Zoo website: “White tigers, also known as Bengal tigers, are rare animals that possess an amazing combination of awesome beauty and impressive power. They have blue eyes, a pink nose, and creamy white fur covered with brown stripes.”

(I just realized that my post for last week’s Wordless (or not-so-wordless) Wednesday was Zebras and Leopards. It’s totally just a coincidence that I’m doing my WW post about the white tiger this week.)

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For more WW fun, please visit 7 Clown Circus and 5 Minutes for Mom.


19 January 2010

Five



Five candles this year on his birthday cake --a sorry-looking carrot cake with pumpkin frosting and red decorating icing. Very Chinese colors: Red and gold. Not planned; just came out that way. Oh, and the star? Josh asked me to add it. Though not much to look to at, the cake was yummy (even if I do say so myself).

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Five years of being a mother. Five years of fumbling with parenthood. Five years of humbling lessons and proud moments. Five years of incomparable joy and contentment.
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Five years of re-discovering the wonder of childhood, through Josh’s eyes.
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Five years of silly moments and learning, learning to pick my battles.
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Five years filled with wonder. Wonder that this amazing little boy is entrusted to our care.
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Five years of working at being a better me… for this little guy. Sometimes failing, yet always forgiven by the big heart that beats inside this wonderful little person.
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Our little man, chatterbox extraordinaire. Sweet big brother. Aspiring artist. Budding reader. Happy birthday, Josh. I love you 889,321,076,895,233,194,355 times, sweet boy!

18 January 2010

A Fine Balance



We had the plate-spinning Jan as our party entertainer at Josh’s party today. Although his act was pretty much the same, Jan was as funny and as entertaining as he was at the party where we first met him. He did have some new tricks, though. He pulled out a ping pong ball and asked Josh to lean his head back and to try to balance it between his eyes.

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Jan asked Josh to slowly turn around while balancing the ping pong ball. We were all oohing and ahhing when Josh successfully did a full turn without causing the ball to fall. Jan then asked us to clap for Josh.

The ping pong ball? Stayed stuck to Josh. Even when he took a bow. The magic of double-sided tape.

Thanks to all of you who offered suggestions on what to include in the party bags! I ended up including these: Jigsaw photo frames, a tube of color pencils, a tube of watercolor markers, two rolls of ‘cutie’ tape, and tubes of mini Mentos chews*. I figured those would go down well with both boys and girls, regardless of age. For the 1-year olds, one got a Baby BeeBo™ plush toy and the other one got a felt hat in leopard print.

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*Only after Chris teased me about how kids would not want to come to any of Josh’s party in the future if we do not at least add some sweets to the party bag!

15 January 2010

Sports Day



Josh has come a long way from a little boy whose legs were barely long enough reach the toddler bike pedals to push them all the way around, to this competent and confident little man who easily scores goals…
successfully tackles the obstacle course…
and flies through the hurdles.

14 January 2010

Holmesy and Teppanyaki



Is the Sherlock Holmes movie really that good or is this just me talking after my first movie in a cinema in over five years?
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It was Chris’ birthday and we decided that instead of our usual dinner out, we’d make a date of it and take in a movie as well. We left Josh and Zoë home with PoPo (who’s visiting again, yay!) and our helper last night. It was the very first time that neither one of us was around to tuck them in at bedtime, except for when Chris is away on business trips. But you know what? Josh and Zoë survived and so did we. We have to do this more often! I’d forgotten how much more exhilarating it was to watch a movie on the big screen.

After the movie, we decided to try out this place called Teppanyaki Xpress. Neither of us was hungry after the tub of popcorn we had, but we managed quite well. We wanted to sample everything, so we ordered two different sets.

Here is our man-boy cooking up the veggies.
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These were the first to be presented. Some Chinese lettuce and bean sprouts. They just set them down on foil strips on the grill in front of us.
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Then came the sirloin cubes.
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Then came the squid and bits of shrimp.
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The fish, scallops, and tiger prawns came last.
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The set came with a bowl of rice and a bowl of soup. The black bits you see are roasted sesame seeds that they have sprinkled over the rice.
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Verdict: The food was a tad salty, but not bad overall. Presentation could have been better.

Happy birthday, my “strappin’ young buck.” Chris’ own words. Heh.

Image credit: Sherlock Holmes (sherlock-holmes.com)
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