25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!


Wishing one and all a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

18 December 2012

End-of-Year Chess Meet

I know, I know.  Chess again.  This one is the last tournament of the year, thank goodness.  This was a long one on Sunday.  We were there from 9am to 6pm.   Chris was at a trade show, so it was just me and the two kids.  Zoë was quite the trooper for hanging out with us the whole time.  She colored, sketched, snacked, did some worksheets, read, snacked some more… and kept me company.

Each player had seven rounds.  Josh won five and lost two and came in 6th (out of 47 players).  He was very disappointed that he did not get a trophy.

I tried explaining to him that he actually did quite well, especially considering the fact that he started chess lessons only this summer and for him to come this far this soon is pretty good.  He’s been improving with each tournament he’s joined. 

On Sunday, the 1st place winner had seven wins; the 2nd place winner had six wins.  Between the 3rd place winner and the 8th place winner. all of them had five wins each.  It was just down to the tie breaks (Buchholz system), which were determined by adding the raw scores of each opponent you played and multiplying that by the your own raw score (your number of wins). 

Anyway… he countered that I was telling him all that only because I’m his mom.  That said, he told me to still sign him up for all upcoming chess tournaments.  He still wants to play.  He is determined to get a trophy or a medal.  He is getting competitive.

Well, my dad will be here for a couple of weeks and Josh will get plenty of playing time with him, so that should help and it will boost Josh’s confidence if he could win against my dad, who always plays to win.

16 December 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday | Sparkly

Oh, I missed not having joined Scavenger Hunt Sunday for the last two or three weeks. I really missed playing along.  Life has been busy.  A good kind of busy, so I’m not complaining. 

I did manage to go out and shoot some Christmas-y photos with my friend during our photo walk.  Because she was feeling under the weather and because we were a little pressed for time, we just went around the mall and played around with different white balance settings with our shots.  I am really glad that we do a photo walk together once a month and get to experiment and learn from each other.

Except for the shot of Zoë below (which was taken on Monday), the rest were all from our photo walk a couple of days ago.

1. Sparkly


2. Door – Wouldn’t this look nice as a door?


3. Decorate

4. Stripes


5. A Few of My Favorite Things


11 December 2012

Another Tournament

This is what Zoë did while hanging around,
waiting during Josh’s chess tournament on Saturday.

Josh came in 4th in his category this time.  It was a rather unique experience.  In the entire tournament, there were only six players in the 6-8yo category, only four players in the 9-12 category, and 13 adult players.  Out of the nine rounds, Josh never got to play with any of the other players in his category (6-8yo), but rather with two players in the 9-12 category and seven adult players.  Maybe because of the total number of players entered, the organizers had to play everyone against each other, regardless of category.  Josh was not very lucky with the draw, but it was a really good experience for him to be able to play against older and better players.
A whole day tournament coming up on Sunday.  The last one of the year.  I think this one should be more a ‘regular’ tournament.  There will be seven rounds in all, with each player getting 30 minutes per game.  Not sure if they will be required to write down their every move, though.  I’ll have to check on this, because Josh has never done this and will have to learn to do it properly if he’ll be required to do so. 

Just as Josh is learning with each tournament he joins, we find that we’re learning about the world of chess meets, too.  I’m learning to read ranking cross-tables, learning about Swiss style vs blitz, learning about rules and illegal moves.  Interesting. 
I wish I could take more of an interest in chess, so that I could play with Josh more.  I know how to play the game, but I’m not very patient and Josh now beats me whenever we play.  Josh has to play with Chris to get more of a challenge.  We’re looking to my parents’ visit over the Christmas holidays, so that Josh can play with my dad (who first introduced the game to Josh).  My mom tells me that my dad has been practicing; he doesn’t want to lose to a kid.  Hahaha!

10 December 2012

When I first got a renewed interest in photography, one of the things I’d noticed about the photos that I admire is that blurry background that most of them had, how the subject/s remained sharp, but the rest of the background was soft and blurry.  I didn’t even know that ‘it’ had a name:  bokeh.

For some reason, I find that I get bokeh more easily when I take pictures of plants.



I somehow need to work harder to get bokeh in my portraits…
and truth be told, sometimes it’s purely accidental.




The Christmas holidays would be a perfect time to get in more practice, though.  Below is my first attempt (tonight!) with Christmas lights bokeh.  Zoë, of course, is my willing model.   I’m going to try to do shaped Christmas lights bokeh before the holidays are over.  That would be a fun thing to try.  In the meantime, I’ll have to be content with this and work on improving. 


The Creativity Project is a monthly blog circle with a new theme each month.  This month’s theme is Bokeh.  Please head on over to visit Sharon (The Covert Lens) to see her bokeh photos (which will be gorgeous, I tell you!).  You will get a prompt from Sharon on whom to visit next.  Do hop along to all the ladies in the group and say hi.  We’d also love for you to share with us your bokeh shots on our Facebook page.

04 December 2012

Chess Month

December is turning out to be quite a busy month for us this year for a new reason.  Chess meets.  Josh has a total of three chess tournaments all happening within two weeks (!). 


He just finished the ‘nationals’ on Sunday –his second ever chess competition and first nationals ever, –and he came in 7th overall in his category. SO proud of our little man.  They played seven rounds, out of which Josh had 4 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw.  His losses were to the eventual 1st and 2nd place winners.  He did manage to beat the 3rd and 4th place winners, one of whom was the champion at the first chess meet that Josh joined.


Another chess meet this Saturday and another one next Sunday.  The one this Saturday is going to be a ‘new’ one for him, because he has never played blitz before.  There will be nine rounds and each player gets only 10 minutes per game.  He will have to be quick and decisive with his moves, but not too hasty that he becomes careless.  It’s going to be interesting to see how Josh will do.  No matter what the outcome, though, we are very proud of how far he’s come, especially considering that he started to really learn it only this summer. 

Go, Josh, go!


30 November 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness | Day 30

I am thankful for productive days.
Installed a doorbell, moi. (Who’d have thought?!).
Baked some sour cream choc chip muffins.
Worked with Josh to finish all the Chinese characters he needed to learn
for his dictation test next Monday.

I am also thankful for a good friend with whom to share the muffins.
I’m thankful for the chance to just chill and chat with my friend
while our kids played.

{Thankful, too, to learn about different essential oils.}


I made it! Well, sort of. I did journal at least one thing I’m thankful each for each day during the whole month of November. It’s just that I wasn’t able to do up a blog post every day and lumped some days together. Nonetheless… yay, me!

Happy weekend!

29 November 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness | Day 29

Last year when Josh first started having weekly Chinese dictation tests in school, it was agony.  For him and for me.  He could speak Putonghua (Mandarin) passably well, but he absolutely hates writing the characters.  He is overwhelmed by having to remember so many characters,  the number of strokes.  He didn’t like that I make him do the characters in the correct stroke order.  Why do I have to do the proper stroke order when the final outcome is the same?!


So far, this school year, he hasn’t had any dictation tests yet.  Well, the first one is next Monday.  Instead of the 10-15 characters per week that he used to get, this time around, he has more than double that.

We broke them down to about 12 characters a day that he has to master. He gets ‘tested’ on them every day. The next day, he will get tested on the new batch plus the batch that he has already learned… and so on.  He’s been doing quite well and he’s more than two thirds of the way through.

Because he is now more used to doing the basic strokes and he knows the radicals, new characters do not appear quite as daunting to him as they would have last year.  He is much quicker with learning the characters this time around.  Not to say that he doesn’t complain about having to write them, but it’s been easier for him… and for me, too.

I am thankful that we stuck with practicing the strokes and writing the characters.
Despite my own grumblings when I was learning Chinese, I am thankful that I persevered.
Not that I had any choice, really; but I am really glad, nonetheless.

There is something beautiful and poetic in each stroke and each character tells a story.
I am hoping that Josh will come to appreciate this, too, one day.  Soon.

28 November 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness | Day 28

Do you believe in Santa?

My kids still do.

Even Josh, who’s seven, almost eight.


Josh got a video message from Santa today and it was just magical to see how he was answering Santa’s questions and nodding his head to things that Santa was saying to him.




For all you mommies out there, check out Santa’s Portable North Pole (PNP).  The look on your children’s faces as Santa greets them by name, knows what grade they’re in, how old they are, where they live, etc. is absolutely priceless.


Today I am thankful for the magic of Santa.

27 November 2012

Continuing on with my font play…
(Otherwise known as she-didn’t-pick-up-the-camera-all-weekend!)

for teaching Josh things that are totally beyond me now.
(Font:  Janda Quirkygirl)

26 November 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness | Days 25–26

I love playing with different fonts.
I especially love handwriting fonts.

Day 25
(Cocktail Script)
I am thankful for their help.

Day 26
(Calvin & Hobbes)
AppsI am thankful that I can chat easily (and for free!) with friends overseas.

23 November 2012

Oh my, I am seriously playing catch-up, aren’t it?  It first started with me lumping two days together; now I’m up to three.  Yikes.

Day 22
(This is the path we take going to the library.)
I am thankful that the library is only one block away from us.
I am thankful for how efficient our library system is. 

Day 23
Josh:  You are the best mommy!
Me:  Hahaha!  You only have one mommy.
Josh:  Well, I know lots of other mommies and you are the best.
I am thankful for the best son.

Day 24
I am thankful for the patience that Josh has when teaching Zoë… tricks, lessons, whatever.  He has a way of breaking things down and explaining concepts to her in a way that she easily grasps.  Zoë comes away from these ‘lessons’ with Josh with a smile on her face, because she finally ‘gets’ the trick/s.  She is so blessed to have Josh for a big brother.the long road

21 November 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness | Day 21

Christmas will soon be here,  You know how I know that?  The kids remind me about it often.  We finally have our tree out.  Because the kids kept asking and asking.  This year, I take no credit at all for decorating the tree.  It was all Josh and Zoë.

They took it upon themselves to put together a Christmas wish list.  When they presented it to me, I could barely bite back outright laughter.  Here is their list…


As I was reading through the list, Zoë came over and added a few more items to her side of the list (additional items starting from the hula hoop...)  When I expressed disbelief at the long list, they were both quick to assure us that we don’t have to get them everything on their list.  Whew.

An iPhone?  An iPad?  Chris and I have neither.  A new computer… and apparently it has to be a real one, as opposed to the pink plastic Vtech laptop that she already has .  Seriously?  You can bet this list is going to saved and included in their “to-be-shared-when-you-are-a-parent-yourself” pile.

Today I am thankful for innocence.

20 November 2012

I am thankful for time.
Time to spend with the children.
Time to spend playing Scramble with Friends.
Time to sort out the huge pile of books.


We have too many things and once in a while we need to purge.
I am thankful for recycling.
I am thankful for purging.

What are you thankful for?

19 November 2012

There are many, many things in my life that I am grateful for, but none more than my family.   The pride from past achievements, the highs from thrilling adventures don’t compare to the sense of completeness I feel when I am around them.  Many of the other things that I am thankful for are ultimately linked back to my gratefulness for these three special people in my life.

(Day 18 of 30 Days of Thankfulness:  Chris is home!)




They make me laugh.  They give me little pockets of joy –every day.  Sometimes they make me want to tear my hair out in frustration.  They don’t let me take myself too seriously.  They ground me, yet they also lift me up.  They make me laugh.  (It bears mentioning again.)   They make my heart swell with love.

The Creativity Project is a monthly blog circle with a new theme each month.  This month’s theme is Gratitude.  Please do visit Sharon (The Covert Lens) to see what she is thankful for.  You will get a prompt from Sharon on whom to visit next.  Do hop along to all the ladies in the group and say hi.  We’d also love for you to share with us what you are thankful for on our Facebook page.

18 November 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday | Vision

1.  Vision – Yesterday, when we were out, we kept hearing sweet chirping, but we knew that it couldn’t have come from the little brown birds that we commonly see around.  I finally spotted the bird that was making those sweet sounds.  It took a few “Where, Mommy?  I don’t see it!” before the kids could finally make it out from amongst the tree branches and leaves.


2.  Strong – This was how strong the last typhoon (hurricane) was.  It uprooted some of the trees we have along the promenade.


3.  Button – This was a last-minute shot for the prompt.  I didn’t know what to shoot…


4.  Map – From one of the kids’ sticker books.


5.  Favorite Fruit – I haven’t gone to buy a watermelon yet, so this photo from the archives will just have to do.  I’m lucky that we pretty much have watermelons all year round.  It’s just that after summer, the prices go way up.


17 November 2012

I am thankful that homework got done Fri night.
The weekend is now homework-free.


I am thankful for the seaside promenade downstairs.
I love that the kids could run and play there.
I love that it’s not very busy.
I love that I can take pictures there.


15 November 2012

Mommy, maybe you shouldn’t be eating too much of these

(crunchy, garlicky salted green peas). You know… your voice?

Today I am thankful for these words of concern from my son.

My sweet boy.

I love him something fierce.



(Josh making a blueberry banana smoothie)


I’ve been under the weather this past week. I’m on the mend now, but haven’t quite recovered my voice. It still sounds a bit raspy and sexy. I’m not complaining.

the long road

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