31 August 2010

Weekend Getaway | The Venetian



 

Not Vegas.  Not Disneyland.  Not Italy.

Where we went was only an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong.

We went to Macau.  Former Portuguese colony, the first and the last European colony in China.

 

image

 

And we stayed at The Venetian.

 

image(Photo credit:  Global Construction Watch) 

~~—~~

As soon as Josh got home from school, we headed for Macau.  I’d made sure to get motion sickness pills beforehand, but the ferry ride was still a bit rough for me.  The kids, though, had no problem.  Zoë was so excited, she could hardly sit still!

 

Here she is taking a picture of Josh with the phone

zoe-shutterbug

Upon arrival in Macau, we got on The Venetian’s big blue shuttle bus, which dropped us off at the West Lobby.  I wonder if the shuttle buses ever drop off guests at the Main Lobby.  Do they do that for more efficient check-in of the guests –i.e., that they split the drop-off between different lobbies?

 

 

Entering the hotel, one immediately got a sense of grandiose over-the-top-ness.

 

zaia

hallway

 

Our suite had two queen-size canopy-draped beds and a sunken living room with a sofa bed.

 

suite_filtered

 

Josh and Zoë immediately climbed onto one of the beds and pretended that it was a stage.  They then proceeded to take turns “performing.”

 

stage  

Because we got in quite late, we didn’t really get to do much after dinner beyond going for a short walk around before putting the kids to bed. 

 

walk_filtered

canal

 

We’d initially planned to check out the casino after Josh and Zoë were asleep, but Chris and I were just too tired and we fell asleep ourselves!

 

The following morning, we took the children to the pool after breakfast, while Chris went off for his meeting.  Both Josh and Zoë loved going down this slide.

 

pool-castle

zoe-pool1

 

Good thing I wasn’t really expecting a relaxing weekend, because relaxing it was not.  While it was definitely fun, by the end of the trip, I was so tuckered out.  More about Macau in the next few days…

 

Study 1 - black border (resized 150)

30 August 2010

Where in the World…



 

…did we hie off to this weekend? 

You might get a clue from these photos.  Or not.

with-gondolier-(bw)

 

Where we stayed.suite_filtered

 

Come back tomorrow and get the scoop!

This week’s theme at I Heart Faces is “Photojournalism.”  I had really wanted to submit another entry, but I had already used that photo for a couple of other challenges (see here), including my very first entry ever to I Heart Faces’ photo challenges.  So, I’m using this photo instead… The same subject, but in an altogether different capture.  This is from a series of photos I’d taken during my trip to Burma way back in 2001. For more faces of Burma, please click here.

 

old person-1

 

I love the almost leathery look of her skin, the lines on her face, her simple clothes, the almost self-conscious hand touching her stubbly hair, her eyes, and most of all, I love that big stogey she’s holding.

 

I saw her sitting on the temple grounds and I was immediately drawn to her.  There’s something about this old lady that makes you want to sit down next to her and coax her into telling you her story.  Why was she there that day?  What has her journey been like?

 

For more “photojournalistic” photos, please head on to iheartfaces.

27 August 2010

Macro Friday | Sunflower




macro-sunflower

I love happy unpretentious flowers.  Like Gerber daisies and sunflowers.

My friend came over the other day and brought me a whole bunch of sunflowers from their garden.  I hadn’t realized that there are different kinds of sunflowers.  To me, sunflowers look like this --

sunflower

and then I noticed that in the bunch there were others that look like this --

 
Doesn’t that look like it could be the pretty daughter of a sunflower and a Gerber daisy?
Imagine that –two happy flowers in one!
How awesome is that?

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Landscape Edit



 

Through Ashley of Ramblings and Photos, I learned of another fun editing challenge…  Brent Riggs’ (of the McLinky fame).

  1. Download this original landscape photo Brent Riggs took by clicking here…
  2. Do your own version of improving, enhancing and otherwise putting “wow” into this image
  3. Put up a post on your blog displaying your enhanced photo, and explaining what you did
  4. Come back to this post, and enter your photo and blog post on the Thumbnail Linky
  5. Then, Brent will do a private online demonstration of what he does to get his outdoor photography to come alive, and send a link to every person who participated by following these instructions and entered the Thumbnail Linky list. '

The photo we are to work on:landscapeenhance1

My edit:landscapeenhance2

Here’s what I did:

  • Adjusted levels and curves; sharpened.
  • Adjusted curves again, but selected only the sky and adjusted the Red, Green, and Blue individually.
  • Cloned out the small peak that was peeking out from behind the mountain on the left.  Okay, that was tampering with nature, but it was just bothering me a tad much.
  • Ran Coffeeshop’s Sun-Kissed action, but adjusted the opacity down.
  • Ran AMP’s Tints/Hazes – selected Butter, Vanilla, Bitter Chocolate… adjusted the opacity and masked out certain areas.
  • Ran PW’s Boost, but dialled down opacity to 22%
  • Ran Coffeeshop’s Color Pop action, but adjusted opacity and masked out certain areas.
  • Apply AMP’s Tints/Hazes again to tone down the colors (La Leche Overlay, Beige).
  • Selected a section of the mountain on the left that seemed a bit purplish to me and then desaturated.
  • Selected just the mountains and adjusted curves again.
  • Selected just the field and adjusted curves… again.
  • Applied AMP’s La Leche Overlay (3%).
  • Decided to call it a day and went to bed.

Sometimes I get caught up in editing until I start seeing double or until my eyes water.  Not good.  But it’s so much fun.  Oops, I think I just sounded like Josh when I tell him not to do something.

26 August 2010

You Capture | Outside



 

{Glimpses of Hong Kong}

In the City

1. Elgin Street, SoHo – Lots of small restaurants and bars.  It might look quiet here, but then this was taken around noon.  It only becomes a happening place at night, after work.Elgin-Street (Edit:  These zigzag lines are usually found on either side of a pedestrian crossing and prohibit cars from parking there at any time –to ensure that pedestrians have a clear view of oncoming traffic.  These ‘lines’ apparently are found mainly in current or former Commonwealth countries. <Hong Kong is a former Commonwealth colony.>)

 

2.  Des Voeux Road Central – Busy street in the central business district.  The road is shared by buses, taxis, private cars, and the trams.  Sections of this street are closed off on Sundays for pedestrian-only traffic and you might see groups of domestic helpers sitting on the streets, playing cards, singing, giving each other mani/pedi’s…Central 

~~--~~

In the Country

1.  Directional signs along a hiking trail on Lamma Island, the third largest island in Hong Kong. Hiking-signs

 

2.  I saw this sign during our hike on Lamma Island, but didn’t get the chance to go in and take a look.Herboland

 

3.  A roadside altar.Altar

~~—~~

Photobucket

Do head on over to You Capture and join in the fun –link up or just browse through the different entries.

25 August 2010

Incognito




Sometimes she wants to avoid the mamarazzi.
Superstar
So she puts on an old kung fu tee.
Puts on her pink shades.
Slips on her purple Dora flip-flops.
Grabs her Little Miss travel case.
And tries to sneak out.
superstart-(bw)
But her mama caught her anyway.
And Miss Chloe (her other name, according to her!) is not too pleased.
Hence the weary go-shoot-and-get-it-over-with look.
She has way more important things to do.

24 August 2010

Trees & Shadows



 

Technically, these are/were trees.

Totem-poles(Totem poles at Burnaby Mountain, B.C.)

~~—~~

 

Nothing melts my heart more than seeing Josh and Zoë love on each other.  They can be so sweet with each other, yet at times, they fight and bicker like there’s no tomorrow.

~~--~~

Edit 1

Levels adjusted

Gaussian blur (12); certain areas masked out

Actions run: 

CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait (adjusted opacity of certain features)

MCP’s Take Action on Cancer Awareness (Peach 19%, Gold 24%, Gray 10%, Pink 29%) Sweet-love-(BW)

 

The yucky SOOC shotDSC08471

Edit 2 (Color)

Levels and curves adjusted; sharpened;

Ran AMP’s Tints|Hazes|Overlays Set 1 (Plum Tint 20%, La Leche Overlay 18%, Vanilla Overlay 18%)

Saturation (-12)

Ran PW’s actions:  Seventies action (18%), Boost (60%)

I’m still not 100% happy with my edits.  The B/W one is a bit too heavy… and I want to improve on the kids’ coloring in the color one.  Any suggestions?  I’d be super happy for you to do an edit on this photo and let me know how you went about doing it.

~~—~~

Do visit The Bonnie 5 and link up or you can just browse through the different edits and maybe pick up a few tips here and there.

Views | Moods



 

Remember this?  This was taken on Aug 12th.SunnyBright and beautiful… like a fresh grad with the world at her feet.

 

This was our view on Aug 16th.StormStormy and broody… like an angst-filled teen.

 

And this was on Aug 17th.Rainy A tiny meltdown… a tantrum.  As quickly as it comes, it passes. Much like Zoë’s.

~~—~~

Which one are you today?

Study 1 - black border (resized 150)

Join in and link up with Communal Global and share with us what your ‘Today’ is like over in your part of the world.

23 August 2010

 

Zoe-full1

When kids play, they remember.

They may not be aware they are learning,

but they sure are aware they are having fun.

When you have a good belly laugh with your siblings or parents or friends,

that stays with you.

And the great thing is that is comes so naturally

if we only let it.  

 

~Rebecca Krook, play facilitator for kids with disabilities

~~--~~

For more “Beach Fun” pictures, please head on to iheartfaces.

21 August 2010

Paper Mama Challenge : Flower



 

FlowerGirl-(BW)

If I were to liken Zoë to a flower, it would be to a Gerber daisy: 

Happy, cheerful, and brightens up even the gloomiest of days.

~~—~~

The Paper Mama

Do head on over and check out the other “Flower” entries!

20 August 2010

First Day, First-Grader



Oh my Josh!  He’s a first-grader!

First-day-1

Josh has been pretty stoked about going to first grade. He went to bed early last night, with absolutely no fuss.  Woke up this morning, brushed his teeth, had his breakfast, and got dressed –all in under 40 minutes.  That might seem long to some of you, but if you only know how he tends to dawdle sometimes and how many times I would have to tell him to do just one thing, then you’ll appreciate how happy I was this morning.  We actually made it out of the house earlier than I’d planned!

On the way to the car park.  Poor thing, his backpack is huge!

To-the-car

Because we’d left the house early, we actually beat the traffic and managed to be the first of the first-graders to get to school!  Eager Beaver, Keener… yeah, whatever.  We were directed to the gym, where all the first-graders were to congregate and where the teachers would come to take them to their respective classrooms.


Waiting-at-the-gym

While waiting for the others to arrive, Josh walked around and started reading the posters on the wall.

Reading-the-notices

Before long, the gym filled up.  Josh met some of his classmates and found out that he knows a few of them (one from his kindergarten, a couple from his soccer class, some of our neighbors’ kids with whom he plays).

Listening

He was quite at home there sitting on the bench and listening to the short talk that the vice-principal gave.  After the talk, he walked over and gave me a hug and then followed his teacher to his class.

No tears from him (I wasn’t expecting any), but Zoë bawled as soon as Josh disappeared around the bend.  She was inconsolable and kept saying, “I miss my KoKo!”  When we were having lunch today, she told us, “When the bell rings, KoKo will finish school and we can pick him up.” Isn’t she the sweetest little thing?  Yet when they’re together, sometimes they bicker and fight.

Pick-up time for the first day was anywhere between 1:30-2:30pm.  By the time I got to the school, it was 2:08pm.  I made my way up to his classroom and there he was in the reading corner, with his nose deep in a book.  He was the only child left in his class!  (First to arrive and last to leave, how about that?  Heh.) 

His teacher came over and told me he did very well today, that he was quite happy reading Geronimo Stilton, while waiting to be picked up.  Josh waved bye-bye to his teacher and when we made our way down the stairs, I’d offered to carry his backpack for him, but he told me firmly, “My teacher said that I should carry my own bag.  Because it is mine.”

After-school

We joined up with Zoë downstairs and Josh said he wanted to show her the Japanese Garden, where they went during play time today.

Josh-showing-Zoe-the-Japanese-Garden

Zoë sees a frog!A-frog!


And then they both had a game of hopscotch,Hopscotch
Zoe-Hopscotch

before I herded them back to the car.  We had to get out of there before the other classes let out and we get caught in the mad traffic on the way out.

All in all, I’d say that Josh had a pretty good first day of school.  He’s happy, he made new friends, and he’s proud to be going to big-boy school. Me?  I am just happy.  Happy for all that he’s happy about.  Oh, and most definitely thankful, too.  Thankful that Josh is who he is. 

I couldn’t help having feelings of ambivalence, however.  I am sure all you mommas out there know what I mean.  Josh has taken quite a number of steps today… away from the little Josh towards a big boy Josh.  Steps towards a journey of increasing independence, steps towards something which we do our best to prepare him for.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up, okay, Josh?

How did the first day of school go for you this year?

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