31 December 2013

The Year That Was | 2013



Let’s see… where do I even begin?
There had been plenty of firsts this year.

First serious snow play (Korea) and first time skiing (for Josh)
Skiier-(1)

First time sledding for Zoe
Toboggan-(1)

First medal in a chess match
Josh-and-J

First Team Fear race, which they completed in 3 hours and 7 minutes
Team Fear Collage (1)

First big-girl hair cut in a salon
Big-smile-(1)

First 2-night (away) camp with classmates for Josh and
first time Josh and Zoe have been apart since Zoe was born…
Pop-up-light-sabres

First TV shoot (which also coincided with the first visit from the tooth fairy) for Zoe.
She has since lost a third tooth.
Studio-shoot-(1)

Tooth-Fairy-letter

Someone had his First Holy Communion…
FHC-banner-(1)

We also did more of  what we usually do… spending time with family, visiting with the cousins during the summer.  We all went to Cebu (Philippines) and then headed to Kuching (Malaysia) next.  It was a glorious, hot summer of food, water, and fun… and more food!

Jump-(3)

Girl-cousins-(2)

Falling-pants-(1)

Somersault-(1)

Yellow-ball-(1)

Silhouette-Hermit-crabs-(2)

Fruit-rolls-(1)

We were lucky enough to see the rafflesia on its first day of bloom – thanks to Chris’ cousin who checked FB statuses to see when the flower will be in bloom and who brought us all the way out to Gunung Gading National Park to see it.

Rafflesia-(1)

At the end of November. we managed to sneak in one more trip to Cebu (again).  A few days of sun and surf before braving the cold(er) winter here this year.

Family-pic-2014-(1)

Kiddies-with-Daddy-(1)

I am very thankful for all the blessings 2013 has showered upon us – time together, love, family, simple pleasures.  May 2014 be as filled with blessings for all of you.   Happy new year!

Silhouette-Z

18 December 2013

Not Long Now…



One more week to go before Christmas.
A couple more days of school for the kiddies.
Interim report cards from school will be out this week.
Just a few more days left to wrap all the gifts.
Tomorrow, my parents arrive for a 2-week visit.

Christmas-present-(1)

…and then it’s Christmas!

I am not sure if I will be able to get another blog post out before then, so I’m going to greet all of you a wonderful rest-of-the-year. I wish you love, happiness, peace, and blessings galore as you celebrate this holiday season. 

10 December 2013

I love this time of the year.  I get super busy and I almost always never plan well and end up forgetting this and that, but everything seems to fall into place in the end somehow.  The kids get all excited.  The tree is up.  We’re playing Christmas carols.  I have a stash of Christmas presents all hidden away.

Reindeer-ornament

Er, I have not strung the lights on the tree yet.  I want to get new lights.  I want plain white lights this year and not the ‘running’ multi-color lights we have had the past few years.

Lights-(1)

The Advent calendar is up.  The kids have been getting their daily dose of “goodness advice” and their daily little gifts.  Every day when they come home from school, they rush to see what’s in the little pocket and look forward to checking out their “surprise.”

Advent-calendar-(1)

I had managed to get them little Lego figurines (Friends for Zoe; Star Wars for Josh) and they have both been on the floor making up stories and worlds for their little people.  Each day, they’d get one or two. Some days, they’d get books or little arts and crafts stuff.   It’s like a little taste of Christmas every day.  A little bit.

Fun-on-the-floor-(1)

Please head on over to Sharon and check out her Holiday photos and follow on to check out the others in our circle celebrate their holidays.   We’d love to see your holiday pictures, too; please share them with us over at our Facebook page!

04 December 2013

We had a little sunny getaway last week… to Cebu (again and again!).  Chris had been there for over a week for a conference and it’s the longest time he had been away from us.  We decided that I would fly down with the children and meet him after his conference was over and spend the weekend there.  That kind of helped the kids not miss Daddy as much.  It helped that they had Cebu to look forward to… and all the fun they would have there and the promise of dining at one of their favorite restaurants in the resort (where there’s a chocolate fountain!).

Zoe-(1)
It was nice to have a taste of summer weather again.  The kids did what they always do whenever we’re there:  swim in the pools, go up and down the slides, play at Adventure Zone, do arts and crafts, have fun at the beach.  Josh went snorkelling again, while Zoe stayed closer to shore and busied herself burying treasures for us to find.  They built sandcastles.  Josh got his fill of bacon and omelettes (with lots of cheese). Zoe got her fill of sushi.  Both had their fill of any type of dessert they fancied.  They were both begging to stay longer.

I am sure we’ll be back.  Soon.


28 November 2013

The Interview… Then and Now



I did this interview with Josh when he was 4yo and I came across it the other day and decided to ask him exactly the same questions now (8yo).  Zoë wanted me to ask her, too; so I did (separately). 

Fresh-bouquet-(!)

1.What is something Mommy always says to you?
JOSH at 4: Stop and I love you.
Josh at 8: I love you.
Zoe at 6: That she loves us.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
JOSH at 4: When I kiss and hug Zoë.
Josh at 8: Me and Zoe
Zoe at 6: Photographs and her children. She loves her children.

3. What makes Mommy sad?
JOSH at 4: When I fight.
Josh at 8: Me and Zoe asking to play on the computer.
Zoe at 6: When we don’t listen to her.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
JOSH at 4: By tickling me!
Josh at 8: Tickling!
Zoe at 6: Doing something silly.

5. If Mommy is an animal what is she like?
JOSH at 4: A bird… because a bird is an animal.
Josh at 8: A cat…I don’t know. I like cats.
Zoe at 6: A horse, because a horse’s hooves are like high heels and Mommy likes high heels.

6. What do you like about Mommy?
JOSH at 4: That your hair is so beautiful.
Josh at 8: Well, she’s really nice, like she buys me stuff when I don’t ask for them.
Zoe at 6: That she loves her family.

7. What don't you like about Mommy?
JOSH at 4: Uhm… I like everything about you, Mom.
Josh at 8: Well, she doesn’t let us play on the computer all the time.
Zoe at 6: That she yells.

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?
JOSH at 4: Work!
Josh at 8: Photography.
Zoe at 6: Taking photographs.

9. What does Mommy do when you're not around?
JOSH at 4: Look for me.
Josh at 8: Blogging, on her computer or do Baby Signs® workshops or go shopping.
Zoe at 6: Maybe in bed or reading or doing some Baby Signs® work.

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
JOSH at 4: A soup *Giggle, giggle* (He was drinking soup at the moment.)
Josh at 8: Photography.
Zoe at 6: Photographs

11. What is Mommy good at?
JOSH at 4: Games, like Mario.
Josh at 8: Photography, being a mom.
Zoe at 6: Photographs.

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
JOSH at 4: Leaf Cup (at Mario Wii). Tell me another question.
Josh at 8: Chess.
Zoe at 6: I don’t know.



13. What does Mommy do for her job?
JOSH at 4: Work!
Josh at 8: Photography and Baby Signs® workshops
Zoe at 6: Baby Signs®.

14. What is Mommy's favorite food?
JOSH at 4: Vegetables.
Josh at 8:Sushi and garlic peas.
Zoe at 6: Maybe sushi.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
JOSH at 4: When you do funny stuff.
Josh at 8: Doing quite well on the stuff she does, like photography.
Zoe at 6: That she loves us very much.

16. If Mommy’s a cartoon character, who would she be?
JOSH at 4: Jeff, from The Wiggles.
ZOË at 2: Cup. Funny, Mommy. *Cute grin* (Huh? I didn't even know she was listening in.)
Josh at 8: I don’t know about that one.
Zoe at 6: I don’t know.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
JOSH at 4: Play Mario.
Josh at 8: Nearly everything, go to chess tournaments.
Zoe at 6: Cuddle.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
JOSH at 4: I have light skin and you have light skin. I have stripe T-shirt and you have stripe T-shirt.
Josh at 8: We have the same taste in food.
Zoe at 6: We are girls.

19. How are you and Mommy different?
JOSH at 4: That we don’t have the same hair.
Josh at 8: You’re older than me, for a start.
Zoe at 6: You don’t have to go to school.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
JOSH at 4: I know everything. (Another typical Josh answer.)
Josh at 8: I just know you do.
Zoe at 6: Because she gives us many cuddles and she cares for us.

21. Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?
JOSH at 4: To work.
Josh at 8: To her bed.
Zoe at 6: Home, because she could spend time with her family.

22. What do you want to do for Mommy when you grow up?
JOSH at 4: Cook, I guess, and draw a beautiful picture.
Josh at 8: When I grow up, I want to give you a lot of money so you can spend it.
Zoe at 6: Take care of her when she’s old.

23. What do you want Mommy to continue doing?
JOSH at 4: Play Zingo!
Josh at 8: Continue loving me and Zoe.
Zoe at 6: More photographs of me!

24. What do you want Mommy to stop doing?
JOSH at 4: Shouting at me.
Josh at 8: Stop yelling at me and interrupting me.
Zoe at 6: Yelling.
(Yeah, not proud of this.  At all.)

25. What do you want to say to Mommy?
JOSH at 4: I love you.
Josh at 8: I love you.
Zoe at 6: That I love Mommy.

---o---

After the interview, I let Josh read his own answers from when he was 4 and he was rolling in fits of laughter over some of what he said then.  Do try it with your children –the younger, the better.  Their answers are so cute, so honest, and just so…. pure.


26 November 2013

What a day.  I sit here now trying to find the right words to describe how the day went, how we felt –the excitement, the nervousness, the feeling that you’re part of something character-building, the exhilaration, the pride, that thank-God-it’s-over-but-we-can’t-wait-to-do-it-again-next-year kind of relief.

Team Fear Collage (1)
First row: Before the start of the race; ..and they’re off!; coast-steering.
Second row: Swimming to shore after the jetty jump, rock-scrambling/at the gorge, biking
Third row: The hike/run up the hill; race to the finish line; They did it!

Josh and his team did well and we couldn’t be prouder of them.  I don’t have their official finish time yet, but I reckon they completed the race in about three hours.  I was one of the marshals, so I’d missed their start and their finish and the only part where I saw them was when they rode past my station on their bikes. (A huge thank you to the parents of Josh’s teammates for the photos above, as I didn’t get a chance to take pictures!)

You’ll see in the pictures above pretty much what they had to do throughout the race, with the exception of the jetty jump.  I don’t have pictures of that, only a video.  They had to jump off a 3- to 4-metre wall into the water.  Josh said that was the most fun part of the race for him.  Before jumping, he’d asked if there were rocks below and when assured that the water was deep enough for him to jump without hitting any rocks, he just took off – no hesitation.  I must have watched the video at least 50 times and each time, I’m just in awe of how brave he was.

When I finally saw Josh after everyone had finished the race, he already had his medal hanging on his neck.  I don’t know who was prouder of his achievement –me or him.  He was all grimy and sweaty, but I gave him a hug anyway. 

Josh says that he definitely wants to do the race again next year.  I’m very grateful to the Team Fear organizers for putting this race together year after year (12 years running now).  I think the race gives the children a sense of great accomplishment and a sense of what it means to be part of a team. 

Now, off to round up sponsors for Josh for completing the race. The money raised will be collected by the organizing committee and “will be donated to local charities for under-privileged children and the needy in Hong Kong, in particular the Youth Outreach.”  (Please email me at buckeroomama@gmail.com if you want to be one of Josh’s sponsors.)


21 November 2013

For the Birds



While the birds and the cages at the Bird Market were a pretty sight, I couldn’t help but also feel sad seeing the birds all caged up.

 

 

Bird-cage-(3)

 

Birdie-(2)

 

(Psst, have you joined my Camera Bag Giveaway yet?  Only 2 more days to go!)

Linking up

Little Things Thursdays

Photo Story Friday

Favorite Photo Friday

Friday Photo Journal

19 November 2013

It’s always interesting to visit the Bird Market.  All the pretty birds, the cages, the old men chatting, the tourists, the chatter…

Brids-(1)

Bird-cage-(1)

Cages-on-the-ground-(1)

Bird-cages-(2)
 
Birdie-(1)
(Texture by Kim Klassen / Texture Tuesday


(Psst, have you joined my camera bag giveaway yet?)


 

17 November 2013

Lowepro Camera Bag Giveaway



I have found a camera bag that I can use as my day bag –one that is lightweight, has plenty of zips, AND one that allows me to lug along my water bottle as well.  You are looking at the bag that I’d been carrying around with me wherever I go for the past few months – Lowepro’s 12L Photo Sport Shoulder Bag.

The Photo Sport Shoulder 18L

Some days, my D90 will be in it; most days, not.  I love that I don’t have to keep switching bags around when I want to bring out my DSLR. 


It has a little padded insert/bag that houses the camera for when you want it along.  The padded bag is attached to the bottom of the main bag with velcro, so that it doesn’t move around and because the velcro runs along the entire bottom, the insert can be placed on either side of the bag or in the middle for better distribution of weight. 


For days when I don’t carry my DSLR, I simply take out the insert and use the bag as I would any other bag.  For a better idea of what I mean, please check out the pictures here.

One thing that makes this my bag of choice, even for days when I don’t have my DSLR along is that it has a side pocket for my water bottle.  I carry a 0.6L water bottle on me whenever I go out and the bottle fits perfectly in the outside pocket of the bag.

I love the two zippered exterior pockets. This is where I usually keep my transport cards, packets of wet wipes, lipstick, mints, my phone and my keys.  It saves me from having to open up the main bag and scrounge around for these things.  In the main compartment, I have managed to fit a (thick) hardcover novel, my wallet, my scarf, a small towel, an extra lens (50mm) –together with the DSLR.  Without the hood on, my DSLR fits just perfectly inside the padded insert.  It’s a bit snug with the hood on, but it still fits.

One time, I’ve had the bag sitting in a pool of water (that I didn’t realize had spilled from my water bottle) and though the outside of the bag was wet, the inside was perfectly dry.  I’ve been out in light rain with the bag a couple of times and both times, the inside was absolutely dry, as the bag is made with lightweight, weather-resistant fabric.

Bottom line:  I love this bag and how versatile it is.  I love that I can use it as my every day bag even when I don’t carry around my DSLR with me.  I love how lightweight it is and I love the many pockets it has.  The fact that it also has a pocket especially for my water bottle makes it a winner in my book.

The fine folks at Lowepro has generously provided me another bag for a giveaway.  Enter via Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway open to everyone (I will ship to wherever you are).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


For more information about the Lowepro 12L Photo Sport Shoulder Bag, please click here.

12 November 2013

Fearless



Those who do not know are fearless.  Did somebody famous say that?  If not, then I lay claim to the quote.

2013-11-09 13.12.30-1

We had signed Josh up for Team Fear.  He is racing as a team with two of his schoolmates.  According to the organizers, they will be doing “coast steering, rock scrambling, biking, running and water jumping, and this year the total distance will be about 11 km.” Something like a kid version of a triathlon.

Last Saturday, because Chris was out of town, I’d accompanied Josh and his team (and their dads) on a practice run.  We did the rock scrambling part and a bit of a hike up a hill.   The rock scrambling part was by (up?) the gorge.  It was more challenging than I’d expected.  It was like rock-climbing without a harness.  Certain parts were slippery and therefore treacherous, but the children held up very well.  I actually had fun, despite my now screaming muscles.  It made me want to take up rock-climbing again.

When we finally made it out of the gorge, I’d thought to myself, “That wasn’t bad at all. I survived and more importantly, I didn’t embarrass Josh.”  I’d thought that we were done.  Not so.  We were to still hike up a hill that seemed to me like it would take months before we would reach the summit.  Still I gamely trudged on, holding up the rear.  We’d reached a point almost to the top when I spotted a flat rock, with a bit of shade.  I claimed my throne and waved them on, telling them that I would meet up with them on their way down (the same path), and caught my breath and hydrated myself.

It took us all of two hours to complete what we did, but apparently, that was only about half of the course that the kids will do on race day.  I asked Josh if he was game enough to jump off the jetty (about 2- to 2.5 meters high) and he said yes.  He’s pretty excited about the race, as are his friends.  It’s their first time participating.  All I pray is that the weather on race day will be beautiful and that all will finish with no injury.


11 November 2013

This month’s theme is Faceless Portraits.  I found it both easy and hard to get faceless pictures.  Easy in the sense that when I’m out shooting in the streets, people are camera-shy and would, more often than not, avert their faces or turn away when they think that my lenses are pointed at them.  Hard, because at any one time, there are SO many people out in the streets of Hong Kong that you are bound to get at least one face in the photo… which makes this theme quite challenging and fun.

 

Grumpy-old-lady-in-Tai-O-(1)

 

Monks-in-Tai-O-(1)

 

Old-man-(1)

 

Gas-delivery-(1)

 

Old-ladies-(1)

 

Metal-worker-(1)

 

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Please head on over to Dan and check out his faceless portraits  and follow on to check out the faceless portraits of the others in our circle.   We’d love to see your faceless portraits, too; please share them with us over at our Facebook page!

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