30 September 2010

These Days…



 

These days, Josh’s cheeks are not as plump.

Although they are still rosy.

Especially when he’s hot or when he’s been running around.

josh-sleep

These days, he hardly sleeps with both arms above his head anymore.

He mostly sleeps with his arms and legs hugging a bolster pillow.

But he still kicks off his blankets.

These days, he doesn’t look as babyish anymore.

He’s a first grader already.

But forever and always, my baby he will be.

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For more cute “snoozing” photos, please head on to A Sorta Fairytale.

29 September 2010

Beach Babe



 

We hit St. Stephen’s Beach again (remember how we dug for clams and brought them home and made clam soup?).  We’re trying to get a few more visits in before the weather completely gets too cold for going to the beach.

Head-Zoe1

 

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The water was beautiful that day –so clean and clear.

zoe-waterBW

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the long road

For more Black and White Wednesday pictures, please head on over to The Long Road to China.

  Live and Love…Out Loud Mom BlogsLovely Photo - Wordless or Not-So-Wordless Wednesday at Aspire

For more WW fun, please visit A Beautiful Mess, Parenting by Dummies, Live and Love Out Loud, 5 Minutes for Mom, and Aspire.

28 September 2010

A Little MJ…



 

As in mahjong.

 

mahjong1(Don’t they look like rows of big, big teeth to you?)

 

My parents were over for a visit last week.  And so was my 83-year old aunt.  My 83-year old aunt who LOVES to play mahjong.

 

Chris and I bought a mahjong table and a mahjong set when my in-laws first came for a visit.  My FIL loved to play mahjong.  There was plenty of ribbing and trash-talking going on –or rather, what amounted to trash-talking from my FIL, the gentle and proper soul that he was.  It was quite cute to hear the glee in his voice and to see how carefree he would get whenever he played.

 

Since my in-laws’ visit a few years ago, we hadn’t really brought out the mahjong table to play. See, you need four players to play;  plus the fact that the only time we’d have to play would be after the kids had gone to bed.  So last week, during my parents’ and my aunt’s visit, I asked if they wanted to play MJ.  My aunt gave a resounding YES!  So, after the kids were in bed, we set up the table and got out the mahjong set.  My aunt, my dad, Chris, and I took up our places.  (My mom doesn’t know how to play.)

 

Chris and I haven’t played in a while and we didn’t remember the rules too well –and there are many different rules, depending on what “style” of mahjong one plays.  My aunt made it simple for us:  Whoever completes a hand first wins.  A hand would consist of four sets of threes –either running numbers or three-of-a-kind, --and a pair.  No complicated scoring and pre-conditions.  And so we played. 

 

We shuffled. It was NOT quiet.  Thankfully, the kids slept on.

 

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We built.  We took turns getting blocks of tiles.  We arranged our tiles.

 

mahjong-arrange

We picked new tiles and discarded ones we didn’t need.

 

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We laid out to the side the ‘flower’ tiles drawn.  In this particular style of mahjong that we played with my aunt, the flower tiles didn’t count for anything, unlike when we played with my in-laws.

 

mahjong-arrange1

After a few rounds of drawing and discarding tiles to build our hands, somebody would gleefully announce victory and the rest of us would pay up (with chips;  We never play for money.)  And then all tiles would be shuffled once again and another round started.  We played quite a number of rounds –until we completed the entire “cycle” dictated by the four “winds” (East, South, West, North).

 

Who won?  My 83-year old aunt did!  And she was giddy with glee!  Like a little child.  So cute!  I think my dad was up a little, too, but Chris and I were both down in our chips from what we started off with.

 

mahjong-discard 

Do you know how to play mahjong –the real mahjong, not the solitaire version on the computer?

 

Please share with us what your “Today” is like in your part of the world and link up with Communal Global!

 

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27 September 2010

iheartfaces – Week # 39 | Chalk



 

The only times my kids are able to play with sidewalk chalk are when we visit my in-laws in Canada.  I chuckle to think what might happen if I give Josh and Zoë some chalk here and let them draw away on the outdoor common area downstairs where they play every day.  Within five seconds, a security guard would most likely come over and tell them off.  I’d probably get disapproving looks from the other parents and grandparents who would be there minding their children.  Not so much for letting my kids have fun, but more for “defacing” public property.  Unfortunately, there are rules and rules are sometimes –in the Josh’s words, –NOT FUN.

Chalk

Oh, to have a backyard of our own!  Look at Zoë here (2yo in this photo)… Look at her jacket all covered with chalk dust.  Look at her holding a piece of chalk in one hand and a water gun in the other.  She couldn’t make up her mind whether she wants to play with chalk or the water gun. Ah, the hard decisions a child has to make…

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For more Chalk photos, please head on to iheartfaces.

26 September 2010

 

josh-hint-of-color1

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The Paper Mama

Head on to Paper Mama to see wonderful photos with just “a hint of color.”

24 September 2010

My Little Chinese Gurrrrl




I don’t know if I can love this little girl any more than I already do.

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And yet with each day I find that I do.

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Love her a bit more than I did the day before.

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How can I not?

z-Chinese-costume2 
Zoë’s wearing a Chinese outfit because they had a Lantern Parade at her school to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.  And for the record, all the poses she struck were totally hers.  No direction from anybody.

Macro Friday | Red Lantern



 

red-lantern A lantern with the Chinese character for “Luck” on it.

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Do head on over to Blogging from Bolivia to check out other macro entries

 

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Fix-It # 1Fix-It-#2

Fix-It # 2Fix-It-#3

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Please head on over to iheartfaces to check out other edits of this photo.

23 September 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival | Mooncakes



 

Yesterday was the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節).  It was the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar.  On this day, the moon is supposedly at its roundest and brightest.  But we had been having some rain and we didn’t see the moon last night.

Traditionally, people buy, eat, and gift each other with mooncakes in celebration of the festival.  One usually buys them from bakeries… and they come in square tins of four.

Neither Chris nor I are fond of mooncakes, but surprisingly both Josh and Zoë love mooncakes.  They first got a taste of the delicacy as a snack in their school.  This year, HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) gave away boxes of mooncakes and even got the bakery to put the HSBC name on the mooncake itself (see picture below).  Talk about opportunistic marketing.  I thought that was pretty cool, even though I don’t eat mooncakes.

Mooncake1

Traditionally, the mooncake filling is made with lotus seed paste, “considered by some to be the original and most luxurious mooncake filling.” According to the Wiki article about mooncakes.

Here is a cross-section of a double-yolk mooncake, one of the premium mooncakes.  The yolk symbolizes the moon.

Mooncake---Yolk

Are mooncakes yummy?  I guess they are.  I know quite a number of my friends who LOVE mooncakes and one of them could even consume an entire tin of four mooncakes all by herself!

Here’s an interesting folk tale (from same Wiki article) about the significance of mooncakes… at least during the Ming Revolution:

Mooncakes were used as a medium by the Ming revolutionaries in their espionage effort to secretly distribute letters in order to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty. The idea is said to be conceived by Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) and his advisor Liu Bowen (劉伯溫), who circulated a rumor that a deadly plague was spreading and the only way to prevent it was to eat special mooncakes. This prompted the quick distribution of mooncakes, which were used to hide a secret message coordinating the Han Chinese revolt on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.

Another method of hiding the message was printed in the surface of mooncakes as a simple puzzle or mosaic. In order to read the encrypted message, each of the four mooncakes packaged together must be cut into four parts each. The 16 pieces of mooncake, must then be pieced together in such a fashion that the secret messages can be read. The pieces of mooncake are then eaten to destroy the message.

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Have you tried mooncakes before?  Would you try them if you were served or offered some?

22 September 2010

At the Library



Zoë had an unexpected day-off from school today on account of a typhoon.  Kindergarten classes are suspended when the Typhoon 3 signal is hoisted.  So we headed to the library.  She immediately ran to the children’s section and sat down at one of the little tables.  There were chairs of different colors and she first sat on a red chair.  Then she promptly got up and moved to a green chair, because “I’m wearing green and it matches the green chair.”

Zoe2-library 
She had pulled out Madeline in London and asked me to read to her.  We have Madeline in Paris at home, so the book has familiar characters.  She sat through the entire reading and then she decided that she wanted to play on the computer.

zoe1-BW

Before we left, we borrowed a few Mr. Men books for Josh, who finds the series quite funny and would giggle and laugh out loud whenever he reads the books.

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“We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.” ~ B.F. Skinner


21 September 2010

 

My parents visited China and brought these back for their friend.

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These are decorative snuff bottles hand-painted from the inside.

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From Wikipedia, “These are glass bottles which have pictures and often calligraphy painted on the inside surface of the glass.  These delightful scenes are only an inch or two high and are painted while manipulating the brush through the neck of the bottle maybe only a quarter inch across, and also painted in reverse. Ursula Bourne, in her treatise on snuff, suggests that artisans painted on their backs to make it easier to work through the narrow opening. It has been said that a skilled artist may complete a simple bottle in a week while something special may take a month or more and that the best craftsmen will produce only a few bottles in a year.

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…and they came in this very pretty red box.Box1

If you get one of these bottles, what do you think you’ll use it for?

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Please share with us and link up with Communal Global’s “Today”!

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20 September 2010

iheartfaces – Week # 38 | Smirk



 

I saw the theme this week and I thought, “Oh, perfect!”  I have plenty of “smirk” photos of Josh.  But wouldn’t you know it, when I looked through to find one, I actually had to look through several folders before I found one I liked! 

We were at the hardware store and the kids were goofing around trying on the hard hats, while Chris was trying to find what he needed.  Josh had face paint on, because I had to “entertain” the kids that morning.

The slightest hint of a smirk, but a smirk nonetheless… “What, another picture?”

Smirk

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For more smirky faces, please head on to iheartfaces.

19 September 2010

Paper Mama Challenge | Baby Hands



 

My ‘babies’ are not exactly babies anymore.  I miss their chubby hands and dimply knuckles.  But you know what?  My fascination with their hands have moved on to a different level… See what not-quite-baby hands can do now?

peas1

 

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The Paper Mama

Head on to Paper Mama to see pretty, cute, chubby, dimply baby hands and fingers.

17 September 2010

Macro Friday | Dandelion



 

Dandelion

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Do head on over to Blogging from Bolivia to check out other macro entries.

Spontaneous Virtual Baby Shower…




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The amazing, funny, quirky Dawn from Spontaneous Clapping is having her first baby soon and the sweet ladies over at Sugar, Spice, & a Slice of Life (Jana) and Lemonade Makin’ Mama have organized a virtual baby shower for her.  How super cool is that?!

All of us who read Dawn’s blog have read about her love of food, her love of B, B’s love of bicycles, her fight with the Big C (and how she kicked its *ss), her wonderful winter wedding, and now her journey into motherhood.  (Do visit her blog and smile and laugh through her posts.  I promise you, you will come to love her as much as we do!).

I was at a loss what to give to Dawn and B…  I want to be crafty and be able to make something wonderful and pretty for their Peanut, but I am not crafty.  So I thought back to my own new days as a parent and tried to recall what ‘gifts’ meant the most of both me and Chris.  What’s the one thing that has made such a difference to our lives as new parents? 
Signing with Josh (and then with Zoë).  That, for us, was one of the best things we did with them when they were babies.  Long before they could talk, Josh and Zoë were communicating with us through the use of sign language and it was just the most amazing thing.  It opened up a window into their world that we otherwise would not have experienced.  (Read more about our signing journey here.)

So, Dawn & B, here’s a Baby Signs® Complete Starter Kit for you (you should be getting it in the coming week, if it hasn’t arrived yet!).  Dawn, I know you are interested in signing with Peanut, so hopefully this kit will provide you and B (and your parents, too!) most of everything you’ll need to start signing!   And anytime you have questions, feel free to ask me; I’d be more than happy to be your “godmother” in your signing adventure.  I wish you and B as amazing a signing journey with Peanut (that we had with both Josh and Zoë)!

I know you and B will make awesome parents.  Don’t ask me how I know.  I just do, okay?  If Peanut will just have an ounce of your sense of humor and your zest for life, he will be more than A-okay!

Complete Starter Kit
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A Baby Changes Things
A baby changes things;
They’ll never be the same;
Your life is filled with wonder,
Since your little miracle came.
There’s lots of things to do now,
But with the new tasks you face,
Your family gains more love,
And bonds time will never erase.
~By Karl and Joanna Fuchs

iheartfaces – Fix-It Friday # 71



 

I love this week’s photo!  There does not seem much that needs to be fixed with this photo, so I just went ahead and had fun with it!

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Fix-It # 1 – Just adjusted levels and curves, sharpened.  Brushed in (very low opacity) a tinge of blue to the sky.#5 

 

Fix-It # 2 – Applied PW’s Seventies action, but dialled down opacity #3

 

Fix-It # 3 – Simply could not resist a B/W treatment!  I think I love this one most of all.#7 

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Please head on over to iheartfaces to check out other edits of this photo.

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