Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 223 - Bottles

Thought of the day: Today was a rest day.  Lila fully cooperated by sleeping way past lunch time.  The weather cooperated too as it was wet and rainy pretty much all day.  Looking out of the windows, I caught glimpses of what I'd like to photograph in the next few days: people under colorful umbrellas, preschool kids walking home on their own, green hills dotted with cute little houses, windows adorned with geraniums...the list is already long.  And of course, the trains, the ubiquitous trains that are so important in many people's lives and that will also be indispensable during our travels as well.  In fact, the first thing we bought after we landed in Zurich was a Swiss Pass for the duration of our trip.  And we intend to make good use of it!

Photo of the day:

Bottles at the window against an incoming train.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 222 - Airport

Thought of the day: It had been a long, drawn out day.  The excitement of going on vacation helped overcome the feeling of weariness that inevitably came with spending a long day in the airports and on the flights.  Luckily, out of pure co-incidence, a friend and neighbor of ours was traveling on the same flights with her family.  We were able to meet up and chat for a few times which helped bring some resemblance of normalcy back into this hectic experience. One of the risks of traveling was that one, or maybe several, of us may get sick upon arrival. We tried to be careful but it was not always preventable.  Of course, comparing with traveling in the old days before air travel was popular or even imaginable, we had it really easy.  And the prospect of spending a few exciting weeks in Europe was certainly making the hassle of this trip, or any trip, seem insignificant.

Photo of the day:
A painted wall inside the Frankfurt Airport where we made our stopover. This was one of the many little surprises and oddities we discovered on the trip that kept us entertained.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 221 - Lufthansa

Thought of the day: It was finally packing time after Lila's birthday party.  We were used to packing at the last minute and we were getting ridiculously good at it, however, stress level predictably crept up as the departure time was ticking closer.  Music helped save the day.  The stress just melted away with the music in the air.  I couldn't help thinking that silence helped exacerbate unwanted feelings, while music helped create a gateway for them to be released. I can still recall vividly the music we played when we were packing to leave Tucson many years ago on a hot summer day. Since then, that particular music had been associated in my mind with the emotion of leaving Tucson.  In many situations in life, we need music to help us along.  I'm glad that I have a good selection of music at hand.  It may not have changed my life, but it certainly made my life easier on many occasions.

Photo of the day:
Checking in. I was so glad that we finally got everything ready and made it there on time!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 220 - Canvas

Thought of the day: Today we celebrated Lila's birthday with her friends in the neighborhood pool. It was only the second day that the pool was open.  We got lucky with the weather: no rain or thunderstorm in the morning when we had the party.  The air was still a bit chilly but the pool was heated and the kids had a great time playing in the water. I can't believe that Lila is now almost the same age as Jasmine when we just moved to Boulder. Time is flying and kids are growing up fast. Looking back, the past few years felt like a movie, and a short one at that, but it was a happy one.

Photo of the day:
Lila's godmother made her a special canvas with her footprints on every birthday since she was born.  Now it's time to make another one!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 219 - Musician

Thought of the day: Today Lila's preschool celebrated the end of the school year with a picnic in a park.  Yesterday Jasmine's class celebrated the last day of school with a pool party.  Yes, both girls are out of school, the summer is here, let the fun begin!

Photo of the day:

South Side Murphy's - we had dinner here tonight with friends - a good way to kick off the summer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 218 - Smile

Thought of the day: Today I bought a new lens from Mike's Camera, our local camera store.  I was looking for a telephoto lens and it came down to basically two choices: 70-200mm f/2.8 or 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6.  I tried out the first lens at Mike's Camera's Denver Zoo event a little while back and really liked it.  It's a fast lens, great for portraits or landscapes, indoors or outdoors.  Unfortunately it's large and super-heavy - not something that I can take with me everywhere.  The 70-300mm lens is slower but it has some extra reach (200-300mm).  And most importantly, it's relatively small and light weight.  That's a deciding factor for me because, if the past tells me anything, I won't use a lens unless I can carry it with me all the time.  So why waste money on a great lens that would just sit at home when I can get a good lens that will be used often?  I think I have made the right choice and I look forward to using my new lens often in the next few weeks.

Photo of the day:
This Mike's Camera employee kindly let me try out a lens on him (it's a prime lens - not the zoom lens I bought). The poor guy must be shot at many times a day!  The picture is a little soft.  I like this other prime lens much better - see this picture.  I think there's a good reason that 85mm f/1.4 is selling for so much more than 85mm f/1.8!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 217 - Swimming

Thought of the day: A friend was asking for book recommendations on Facebook the other day.  I followed up with her and ended up exchanging physical books with her today.  The experience demonstrated to me how easy and fun it could be to exchange book recommendations, and maybe even books, in a local community.  So tonight I set up a prototype "book swap club" for the neighborhood using a bunch of Google tools including spreadsheets, forms, and groups.  If this was a serious venture, it should probably have been a dedicated service or a specialized app.  Of course, the idea of book swap is nothing new and there are applications out there that help you do just that and plus some.  College book swap seems to be most popular because a textbook can be ridiculous expensive and its useful lifespan tends to be short.  However, I'm not seeing applications that promote book sharing within a local, non-college community.  To me, sharing with friends locally makes more sense than sharing with strangers globally - it saves the unnecessary overhead and hurdle of shipping, it takes advantage of common tastes and local interests and promotes a better sense of community.  If something is good for the self, the community, and the environment, it's certainly a good thing that is worth doing.

Photo of the day:
Finally a sunny day - Jasmine swam in the outdoor pool in the afternoon.  Jasmine is a book lover.  I am sure she would love to do book swap with her friends too.  A junior books sharing project?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 216 - Tree Climbing

Thought of the day: A switch must have been turned on in Lila's brain right after her birthday.  She had been more difficult in the past two days - had the dreaded "terrible three" arrived?  Just like Jasmine, Lila didn't show any classical signs of "terrible two" - albeit being a little stubborn at times, in general she was a really sweet and easygoing two year old.  Friends and babysitters alike had claimed that she was an angel.  Well, it had been different in the past two days.  Even her preschool teacher noticed that and gave me a few words of caution today, which had never happened before.  I remember a similar phase that Jasmine went through after she turned three.  Is the same thing happening again?  Well, I guess the good news is, we have been through this before so we know what to expect (well, sort of).  And we know that this too shall pass.

Photo of the day:

Girls on a tree.  Jasmine is into tree climbing these days.  I think this phase, too, shall pass!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 215 - Girls

Thought of the day: Today I met a woman who was going to spend some 2-3 years in China.  She was excited but also nervous at the same time.  It's more than a few people's dream to travel and live in a foreign culture for an extended period of time. However, when you are lucky and the dream is actually turning into the reality, it's not uncommon that you may be facing some daunting challenges and logistics and feeling some level of uncertainty and anxiety.  That's particularly true when there're children or babies involved. It takes a lot of courage to leave your comfort zone and plunge yourself into the unknown. However, if you just let yourself go and keep a keen and open mind, in return you may be rewarded with a special period of your life when you are most alert and alive, an enriching experience that will broaden your perspective, and a precious memory that will last a lifetime.  Yes, I must admit that I am a bit envious of her.  And I wish her a happy adventure.

Photo of the day:
Lila and her friend on Pearl St.  These girls are lucky to grow up in Boulder.  And I think they will be even luckier if they get a chance to experience life in a different culture at some point in the future.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 214 - Mossy Rock

Thought of the day: This afternoon, when I was cleaning up the aspen catkins in the backyard, suddenly I felt the familiar urge to travel.  Oh, the care-free traveling days, when you can just leave all your worries behind and enjoy new adventures every day as they come.  I am sure this over-romanticized view of traveling is somewhat faulty and there will be times when I will miss my home dearly, but at least I will no longer need to worry about those nasty catkins (aren't they pretty as they are?), dusty floors (isn't that part of the charm?) and dirty laundries (they can wait) every day.  Going to travel is like pushing a giant pause button on your real life and start a new life every day in a different place - a life that's ungrounded and without consequences as it's fleeting and temporary.  I will welcome the lightness of being for a while.  Yes, in just one more week, I'll be there.

Photo of the day:
Lila was a huge help in cleaning up the backyard today.  But of course, she mostly played.  Here she was trying to climb up a mossy rock near the play structure.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 213 - Lila

Thought of the day: Today was Lila's birthday.  We got lucky with the weather as it cleared up and it was green everywhere after all these rain.  We took a bus to downtown, met some friends there, and had lunch at the teahouse.  After some rest in the afternoon, we had cake and Lila opened her presents and they kept the girls busy for the rest of the day.  It was a nice, low-key celebration of Lila's special day.  The party will come next weekend and I am glad that we had today all to ourselves.

Photo of the day:
Lila outside of the Dushanbe Teahouse.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 212 - Self

Thought of the day: The wet weather had definitely outlived its charm, if there was any to begin with.  Not a single person I talked to liked the rainy days of the past few weeks.  It's about time for the warm and sunny weather to come visit Boulder.

Photo of the day:
What else to take a picture of today?  I am tired of those rainy day pictures.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 211 - Fireplace

Thought of the day: Recently, Jasmine's class sent a scrapbook to a Chinese class in Beijing.  In the scrapbook, every child wrote something about their lives, hobbies, pets or school and attached photos of themselves and also photos illustrating what they wrote about.  This week, they were very excited to receive a similar scrapbook back from China as the response.  As I translated the Chinese writings to English, I had the opportunity to go through the book in detail.  For me, it was very interesting to read what the Chinese kids had to say about their lives in their own words.  Their lives revolved around their families, pets, playgrounds, parks and their school.  Some of them listed hamburgers and ice creams as their favorite food.  They liked to raise pets and fly kites.  They played piano, soccer and ice hockey.  Really, their lives and hobbies didn't seem to be much different from Jasmine's classmates.  I did notice a few subtle things, though.  Many of these kids demonstrated remarkable self-confidence, which was probably a result of being raised as a single child, as most of them were, doted on by the parents and grandparents and cheered on by the teachers. Some of the kids had already travelled widely with their parents, but not a single kid mentioned hiking. When I grew up in China, "hiking" was considered a necessity that transported you from one scenic spot to another.  Now that the tour buses were readily available to take you anywhere, perhaps this mode of transportation was just forgotten. Nobody mentioned "skiing" either. Over time, I am sure that many of these "western" leisure activities like hiking, skiing, camping, backpacking, climbing, river rafting, etc, will be gaining and expanding their footholds in China.  Take an example: traveling.  When I was growing up in China, traveling was so cost and inconvenient that it was pretty uncommon.  Now people in China travel routinely - the rich frequently travel abroad and the "normal" people frequently travel domestically.  It's liberating and exhilarating to be able to travel so easily.  However, it does put a lot of stress on the culture and the environment.  Some ancient cities are completely transformed to accomodate tourism and lost much of its original charm in the process.  The effect of commercial tourism on many of the places I visited in the past years made me sad.  It's the same for introducing other leisure activities to the large population - a liberating lifestyle, a huge economic opportunity, and a risk to the nature and the environment.  No wonder today's China attracts the bold, curious, and ambitious - the opportunity and the challenge are abound.  It would be very interesting to see how China progresses in the future years as it will not only have a bearing on the Chinese economy and environment, it will have a global bearing as well.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine in front of the fireplace at Alfafa's. She was exhausted after a day of school and the after school activity - a strenuous hour of training in a swim team. I heard that the Chinese kids are often as busy as she is, if not more.  The academic pressure is building up in elementary school already in China - kids study hard so they can be accepted by a reputable middle school. Jasmine and her classmates are not under the same pressure. So it's not surprising that the Chinese kids are able to demonstrate excellent math in the scrapbook.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 210 - Misty Green

Thought of the day: Today I was trying to figure out whether I should get a new lens for the summer break.  I am getting a little tired of using only one lens, which happens to be the lens that came with the camera.  It has a good range and it does a decent job in a variety of situations but it doesn't do anything spectacularly well.  It's especially lacking in the handheld low light situation which I seem to run into a lot lately.  I would love to get a fast normal prime lens and a fast telephoto zoom lens.  But fast lens typically means big glass which typically means more money and more weight. So I have been hesitating before taking a plunge. When I was taking an inventory of what I already had at home today, I happily "uncovered" a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens.  I couldn't believe that I had pretty much forgotten all about it.  I will surely miss the unparalleled object isolation effect of the 85mm f/1.4 lens (see my previous blog post about it), but I think this smaller and cheaper lens will serve me well, at least for a while. One thing I learned from this experience is that before I search far and away for something ideal, I should first take stock of what I already have and the chance is that I will find in my possession something close enough.  It may not be perfect, but it may serve me just as well - and nothing will end up to be perfect anyway especially after you can claim it your own.  This can be so true for worldly possessions, and also for other more abstract things in life as well.

Photo of the day:
Misty mountains and greenery in a rainy spring day, taken with my "new" lens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 209 - Piano Recital

Thought of the day: My husband just moved his startup from our basement into an office building.  The company was taking a big step forward which was certainly a good thing for him and his partners.  However, this morning I was left with a house that's eerily quiet.  I liked the calmness of it but I missed his presence.  In the afternoon, I was also reminded of how helpful it was to have him around when I needed to go to Jasmine's piano performance while Lila napped at home.  Every transition takes some adjustments, even for a minor transition like this one.  Counting the blessings, embracing the changes, looking forward to the new and unknown will set me on the right course.

Photo of the day:
Jasmine and her friends in this afternoon's piano recital.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 208 - Lila

Thought of the day: May is statistically the wettest month here and the past few days really showed it.  By this morning, my friend and I were so ready to get out and take a break in the sun that we did it even though we both had a long list of things to do.  I think we made the right decision as the girls couldn't be happier.  Yes, a happy smile is worth much more than a checkmark on the todo list.  A list can be postponed but life can't.

Photo of the day:
Lila playing with her friend in downtown.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 207 - Dinner Table

Thought of the day: Jasmine made lunch today - a tasty rice noodle soup.  She was proud to make it and serve it to us.  She seemed to have grown up so much recently, which made me both proud and sad at the same time.  I was planning for Lila's 3rd birthday party this week, which reminded me of Jasmine's 3rd birthday party that we celebrated near a lake in the bay area.  It was a couple of years ago but I felt like it was just yesterday. Time unfolds in a strange way and it provokes emotional responses from us in unexpected ways.  Over the years, we will go through various stages of our kids' lives and we will keep missing the previous stages and keep looking forward to the new ones.  It's a continuous process with milestones that we both love and hate. It's the same thing for ourselves even though we often don't pay as much attention to it as it deserves.

Photo of the day:
Dinner table - we celebrated a friend's birthday in Laudisio's tonight.  Delicious food, good group of people, memorable evening.  Our lives are marked with milestones too and I am glad that we have the opportunity to celebrated one with her.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 206 - Happy Pair

Thought of the day: It was the first day of Boulder Spring Festival - there're many weekend festivals and fairs at this time of the year.  I took Lila out to downtown in the early morning so the rest of the family can take a break.  There were musicians, painters, photographers, craftsmen and vendors setting up booths along Pearl St.  A woman was transporting an orphanage girl's photo onto a canvas and she did an amazing job of capturing the poignant expression of sadness on her face.  Her almost-finished oil painting stood out in the merriness of the festival crowd and it served as a reminder that there were very different lives going on elsewhere when we were out celebrating spring.

Photo of the day:
Happy pair - a daughter and father in Pearl St's rock park.  It's one of the most popular places in downtown.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 205 - Hike

Thought of the day:  It was finally a sunny day and I took a little hike with Lila on a trail next to our house.  Lila was very excited about the hike - she packed her own snack bag, put it in her backpack together with her little water bottle, put on her sunglasses, hat, boots and kept herself busy on the trail with fascinating discoveries that were typical on a hiking trail: little stones, branches, dandelions, butterflies and such.  She even scaled a small rock all by herself and was very proud of it.  We had our snacks on top of the rock.  After holing up at home for two days, I was glad to spend a morning under the sun.

Photo of the day:
Lila running down the trail.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Day 204 - Chair Reflection

Thought of the day: My undergrad college in China just celebrated its 100 year anniversary.  It was a big event that was broadcasted on TV.  Some of my classmates participated and were kind enough to share their photos.  I haven't been back for many years and going through those photos tonight brought back a lot of memories.  Most of the dormitories, buildings and scenery looked oh-so-familiar.  Everybody looked a tad older but I could still recognize them.  Of course, there seemed to have been a lot of changes too.  There were a few ultramodern looking buildings that were not there before.  The cafeteria were posting calories, proteins, and other nutrient information for each dish instead of just a name and a price tag.  Students were studying in the classrooms with laptops instead of notebooks.  Going back there must make one feel a sense of history and a sense of progress, a sense of kinship and a sense of loss, all at the same time.  If I had attended the event, I would probably have been proud that I had spent a good five years there, and would probably also have been glad that I left when I did.  Looking back after all these years, I think I owe a lot to my college.  The relationship to one's college can be a complicated one, but I think there isn't a more apt description than the conventional alma mater - "nourishing mother".

Photo of the day:
Dining chairs.  It was another day of staying at home nursing my illness.  It offered a great opportunity to reflect on the past, and, to study the reflections of a few chairs on the floor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 203 - Wet

Thought of the day: I caught something over the weekend and it was getting worse, so today I took a day of bed rest.  I seem to be more prone to illness lately which made me wonder if the lack of sleep can make the immune system less effective.  So I probed around a bit and, unsurprisingly, every article that turned up linked sleep to the immune system.  So it's not just an old wife's tale, it's proven by research that good night sleeps promote immune response and when you're ill, the immune system makes you feel sleepier than usual so you will rest.  Our body works amazingly well when you give it the respect that it deserves.  It's really something, isn't it?  OK, time for bed!

Photo of the day:
It was wet and cold - a perfect day for resting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 202 - Playground

Thought of the day: I just finished reading a booked titled "How Doctors Think" by Jerome Groopman.  It was highly recommended to me recently by his niece.  I couldn't recall how or when I met her but the book was definitely worth the recommendations.  Dr. Groopman explored the unusual subject of how a doctor's thinking can adversely affect the diagnosis of a patient.  With 15% of the medical diagnosis being inaccurate, this subject is definitely an important one.  Doctors are only humans and their thought process can often be influenced by the past experiences, the emotional state, the affinity with a particular patient, the fear of litigation, the subtle and not-so-subtle financial incentives, and the pressure to think and act quickly under a time constraint often imposed by the insurance companies.  No matter how skillful or experienced they are, they can make mistakes in their thought process and make a wrong diagnosis which may severely affect the outcome of a patient.  I really admire the honesty and courage of Dr. Groopman for exploring this thorny subject, especially considering that he is a physician himself, as I am sure few physicians would admit or even realize that he is fallible due to his own weaknesses.  Many of the issues he raised in the book don't really have good solutions.  However, he did take away some of the mystique surrounding physicians, and he made a few suggestions for the patients to take more control of their own care and to steer the physicians away from some of the pitfalls in the thought process by asking pointed questions.  The book opened my eyes by offering a physician's angle of view on medical diagnosis and treatment, but hopefully I will not have to make use of any of his suggestions any time soon.

Photo of the day:

My girls playing in a Lafayette playground after Jasmine's music lesson.  I am so glad that they are healthy and capable of enjoying life in its full glamor.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 201 - Pearl St

Thought of the day: We spent the day on the Pearl St.  College graduation was finally over and many students already left town together with their families so the pedestrian mall was a far cry from how it was on Saturday.  It was a more relaxing experience but no less interesting.  The extra space allowed me to take a lot of photos with Lila and her friend, pedestrians, and street musicians.  It was a good day.

Photo of the day:

Lila and her friend walking on the pedestrian mall.  They got quite a few comments from passerbys on their bright dresses and sunhats.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 200 - Obstacle Course

Thought of the day: It's Mother's Day!  This morning I did a 9.9km race together with a friend of mine at the Boulder Reservoir, while rest of the our families played at the sand beach.  It was only my third run this year and I had a lot of trouble keeping a steady pace.  At the end of the run, I felt quite exhausted.  However, I am glad that I did it.  The view of the reservoir and mountains in the last kilometer or so was just stunning and that alone made the run worthwhile.  I can't imagine a better way of celebrating the Mother's Day for me.

Photo of the day:

Lila in the obstacle course at Boulder Reservoir.  It must be the favorite Mother's activity for the kids today, judging from the length of the waiting line at the entrance of the course.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 199 - Jasmine

Thought of the day: This afternoon, when Jasmine and I were having lunch at Zhou Mama's, I saw Zhou Mama outside of her restaurant.  She was sitting on a bench along the side walk and taking a break.  And then I saw a cleanly dressed man walked over to her, gave her a kiss and handed her a beautiful bouquet.  I could sense a gentle, loving connection between these two and it turned out that he was her son and the bouquet was for Mother's Day, which would be tomorrow.  Zhou Mama has always been very warm and welcoming to guests in her restaurant.  She often offers me special treats like freshly made Chinese sausage, Goji berry rice cake, scallion cake, etc.  She is always alert and attentive and it's hard to believe that she is actually quite a bit older than my own mother.  I have a lot of respect for her and feel a certain affinity with her.  After watching the touching gesture by her son, I decided to get her a Mother's Day gift too.  Jasmine and I found it in a fair trade store on Pearl - a metal watering can hand-painted by a Bangladesh rickshaw driver with a beautiful sunflower on a green background.  It's now sitting in her restaurant serving as a vase for her son's bouquet - I couldn't be happier with the arrangement.

Photo of the day:

Jasmine got a new hat today.  It's a perfect hat for the spring!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 198 - Lila and Tent

Thought of the day: This afternoon I walked home with Jasmine and a friend of hers from school for a play date.  It was a very leisurely walk as the girls climbed rocks, took detours and played games along the way while Lila napped in the stroller.  It took a while to get home but it was just the right pace for a fine spring afternoon.

Photo of the day:
Lila in Gunbarrel at an outdoor gear and apparel sales event this morning.  Not sure it was the best way for Lila to spend a fine spring day but she had a lot of fun checking out the tents and jumping on outdoor camping beds with her friend.  Good quality outdoor product sales are very hot in Boulder.  Even though this event was not as well publicized as some others, it was still packed with people. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 197 - Sunrise

Thought of the day: Today I did an early morning run with a few neighbors and friends.  It's certainly unusual for me to get up this early so I took this precious opportunity to snap a few photos.  Boulder faces a wide open eastern plain so we can count on a glorious sunrise pretty much every morning as rainy or overcast days are few and far between in Boulder.  It's great for early risers but, unfortunately, doesn't do much good for night owls like me.  I've considered and even attempted, at least for a few times since I moved here, to change my sleep routine so I can catch the first lights of the dawn and do something meditative before everybody wakes up.  Regrettable, my biological clock wasn't ready to cooperate yet so I inevitably gave up after trying for a few days.  Getting up early to run, on the other hand, is something different.  The outdoor air and movement wake me up and get me an extra bounce for the rest of the day.  Things that I have done and don't regret afterward are usually good things for me.  Running at the crack of dawn is one of those things - it's good for me, and I will keep doing it as long as my body can keep up.

Photo of the day:
View of sunrise from inside the house.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 196 - Ice Cream

Thought of the day: We are going to spend a couple of days in Greece next month and I am already looking forward to it.  There are tens of thousands of online photos of the village that we are visiting and I really like what I have seen so far.  Of course, having such a high expectation before a trip is probably not a good thing.  Last week we made a last minute plan and visited Stanley Hotel in Estes Park over the weekend.  I had not expected much but we all ended up having a marvelous time.  Come to think of it, the hotel and the locale were certainly important, but it was really the people who came along in the trip that made it so special.  For the Greek trip, I am reassured of the choice of location after seeing the photos and reading the reviews, now I just need to make sure that the other part works out well too:-)

Photo of the day:
Girls enjoying their Wednesday evening sweets.  They are the enviable creatures of the moment carrying very few memories from the past or plans for the future.  We, as adults, alone carry the burden of regrets and anxieties that are often unwarranted.  Wouldn't that be nice if we can unburden ourselves and treat life as a simple ice cream cone and just enjoy it one mouthful at a time?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 195 - Lila

Thought of the day: Lila had some pretty wild mood swings since I picked her up from preschool today.  The cause was pretty obvious: lack of sleep.  Her preschool set aside only half an hour for the kids to rest in the afternoon, which was way too short for Lila to take a proper nap.  As a result, she had been taking irregular naps since she started the preschool.  On some days she would skip it altogether, with disastrous effects on herself and the family.  And today was one of those days.  I have been routinely taking her out early so she could nap at home.  However, sometimes my schedule just wouldn't allow that.  The good news is that we're taking her to a different preschool in the fall, where she could get a proper rest.  Of course, by that time she may have already naturally outgrown her need for an afternoon nap, but even if she does, having some downtime to do quiet things is still way better than keeping going all day long without a real break.  I know it would be hard to convince a toddler that getting bored at times is better than getting overtired, but I wish her preschool had known better and had respected the kids' need to rest as much as they had respected the kids' need to play.

Photo of the day:

Lila in a residential neighborhood at Lafayette.  She was at a high point of her mood swings when I took this picture.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 194 - Lila

Thought of the day: We have out-of-town visitors staying with us for a couple of days.  Today was their last full day so we took them to Chautauqua as a trip to Boulder seems incomplete without at least a brief stop at Chautauqua.  Lila and I were both a little under the weather but we tagged along anyway (why waste a day inside when you can be out and about?).  We had a good time.  The part I particularly enjoyed was when Lila and I made our way slowly, I mean slowly, from the ranger cottage to the playground.  If you ever take pictures of kids, you may have noticed that coming down to their eye level is often the most important first step.  That's when you can establish rapport and see things the way they're seeing them.  It's exactly the same when you play with them.  You need to first bring yourself to their level and into their world.  In that world, a stick is not just a stick - it's a magic wand; a stone is not just a stone - it's a priceless jewel; a pine cone is not just a pine cone - it's a sea shell from far away; and of course, it's so silly to rush from one place to the other when you can have so much fun just exactly where you are.  Bringing yourself to their level is so important for developing your understanding, compassion and patience towards kids.  It's equally important for developing your relationship with adults who are different from you, which includes pretty much everybody in the world.  I love spending time with my kids.  In a way, they teach me more than I can ever hope to teach them just by being who they are.

Photo of the day:

Lila at Chautauqua - it was a little chilly today and even snowed a bit when we were there.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 193 - Stairway

Thought of the day: I ran into some photos of bento box lunches prepared by a Japanese woman for her son to bring to preschool day to day.  I was thoroughly impressed.  The lunches were meticulously and thoughtfully prepared.  They were aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and, judging from the statement that her son devoured every bite of them, they must be pleasing to the taste buds as well.  She demonstrated that with enough love and intention, a daily chore can be turned into a creation of art.  That's probably true for many other things as well.  Indeed, life itself can be an art if you decide to live it as one.

Photo of the day:

There's art to be seen pretty much anywhere in the Stanley Hotel.  Old historic hotels may give you a cozy living space with very little luxury in the room, but who cares if it's interesting wherever you set your eyes on.