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May 2, 2014

Chat chat chittery-chat!

Yup! I've gotten a chatbox for y'all, and you just-passing-by-ers. ;) [It's also on the right sidebar.]

April 29, 2014

A Cup of Tea, Sir/Ma'am?

Have a cup of tea, sir/ma'am?


As that saying as my lame introduction, that's a little update on life...


Just kidding.


Will be posting more entries soon....I hope. ;)


 

April 5, 2014

Gothard Sisters & Irish Dancing

So, this morning, when I was just browsing around the web, I stumbled across the Gothard Sisters. [their YouTube channel] In a few words, they are AMAZING! Each one of them knows how to play 5+ instruments, not to mention being professional musicians, vocals, and Irish dancers! And best of all, they're Christians! ^^ It's amazing to see what family and siblings can do/accomplish, with a little hard work and lots of love! So nice to see this kind of bond in today's world. [their bios]

Here are just a few of their awesome music video that shows their musical and dancing talent!




[^ The "major" dancing starts at 1:58]




[^ Their music videos are so professionally compiled!]


They, in turn, led me to all sorts of Irish dance videos (no surprise there), such as this one below:


And yes, that was Queen Elizabeth II at the end! This one below might be clearer, if not more impressive:




And then again, there's this:


 [^ Look especially at 3:30]



Such talent and speed--hmm, makes me want to try it out myself... *dangerous grin*

[Brother: "Oh, no. Here she goes again..."]



Just a "quick" post, this,

March 31, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo! *squeals*

*jumps and flails around shamelessly* Come join me at Camp NaNoWriMo!


Oh, wait, you don't know what it is, do you? *calms down* Okay, first, though, just what is NaNoWriMo?


Well, to quote from their About page:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. Participants work toward the goal of writing a 50,000-word draft during the month of November. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a more open-ended version of our original November event. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 10,000 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers may attempt non-novel projects. Camp is a creative retreat for whatever you’re working on!


So that, in a nutshell, is the even why I'm so excited about.


More info and thoughts coming in later.
Just had to post this right now, because it starts TOMORROW! (Oh, and to let you know that I'm being serious here, the day before April Fools--haha!)

March 15, 2014

The Book Thief - a [short] book report

I finished reading "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak a few days ago, and decided to write a quick book report on it, just to satisfy my queer fancy. This narrative, told by Death's point of view, is, in my opinion, an unforgettable story of how books and words can feed the soul and leave it musing quietly at the end. Liesel Meminger is a young foster girl living during the time of Nazi Germany, who discovers how books and words can change her life, and the lives of others around her.


Now, you may be wondering, since I don't usually read books in this genre, how did I stumble across this book? The first reason is obvious: the title. Being an avid book freak, the title itself was enough to propel me into picking it up and skimming through the first few pages. The other reason why I chose this particular book is because I heard some of my friends discussing about it, and naturally, felt compelled to read it for myself. Besides, an "older" novel (published in 2005) that had been on The New York Times' Best Seller list for over 230 weeks deserves some attention, yes?


The main character of "The Book Thief" is Liesel Meminger, the protagonist of the story. Adopted by the Hubermanns, due to her father "abandoning" the family and her mother forced to give her up, Liesel learns to cope with the hardships of life during the time of Nazi Germany, including the death of her younger brother Werner, whose spirit presence seems to both haunt and lead her along. She developed a close relationship with her foster father, Hans Hubermann, while maintaining a coarse but cordial affection with her foster mother Rosa. While growing up in the typical German school, she made friends with the other children on Himmel Street. Among those includes Rudy Steiner, who becomes her best friend, and who was constantly asking her for a personal--if not sweetly childish--favor [which I would leave you dear reader tearing out your hair in impatient frustration until you read the book for yourself; yes, I'm mean like that].


During this time of turmoil and unrest in the country, Liesel was also secretly assisting in the hiding of Max Vandenburg, a Jew, whom she befriended and nurtured a special bond. The mayor's wife also plays a role in her life, giving her the chance to borrow, to read--even to "steal"--books from her home library. But, as the narrator himself stated at the beginning, this is "just a small story really, about, among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery."


I'll leave the rest of the story for you to discover, although I'll take the liberty to spoil the ending for you. Yes, right now. So, after everybody she knows dies and the war ends, Liesel eventually marries, moves to Australia, and starts a family. She dies in Sydney, having always shown a true love for books--but not before she read the book she had left behind in bomb-hit Himmel Street. The book's name? "The Book Thief".


There, that wasn't so bad now, was it?


What really captured me the most is how the author had so masterfully crafted the novel into an engaging, propelling narrative of pure facts with pure truth...one won't find any sugar-coated pills here. I also love how the tale is formatted--that, again, is just my personal preference. I read the whole work in two sittings, only forced to lay it aside once to eat dinner. The only tiny thing I have to complain about are the slang German words, although that certainly contributes to the drama involved.


My final thoughts on "The Book Thief" is this: do not start reading this book unless you're prepared to be mesmerized, and unless you've adequately allotted ample time beforehand to finish the whole thing. I've learned, from this reading, that words are powerful. And yes, I'd recommend the book to others, provided that they won't mind picking up a few offensive German words.


And that, my lovelies, is my "short" excuse of a book report. (Who am I to complain about 685 words?)


Now, off I shall trot to my unfinished manuscript of a (childish) concept of a "real" novel...

March 8, 2014

YES!!

Pardon my excitement here, but I just had to post this while I'm high. (In glee, not caffeine or *horror* alcohol. You really think I would...?!)


First off, I want to say a great big "THANK YOU!" to all who prayed for me--I passed my piano audition/test/competition! My theory test score haven't come out yet, but it should be a lot better than last year's score.


Second, I again want to say a great big "THANK YOU!" too all who prayed for me--I finished my SAT! *whoop* Now, all the results are in God's hands. I've done my part. I'm finished here. The rest is God's responsibility. Seriously, I believe that. (*shifty eyes* Do you?)


Coming back to the subject at hand, I can finally relax now! No more worry or stress! And here I shall spill a dirty little secret with you, dear reader: I actually enjoyed myself at my SAT. Yes, you read that right! I had fun. You've got a problem with that?


Now, the only thing I have to decide now is whether I should take some AP courses/classes/tests...and the gigantic problem of choosing a college. (But then again, I also have the option of not going at all--or going when I'm older and sure what I want to learn/be).



Anyways, just a short lil blurb for y'all, so you guys know I'm still alive over here.



I'm happy and I (and you, duh) know it!

February 22, 2014

Music Demands

"Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you listen for God. Music lets you do both."


I don't know who said that, but I do know that there is some truth in that saying.


[Side note: Yes, that --> is a picture of my flute. Photo taken with a friend partner during a photography class. ^^]



It had been a particularly stressful day, due to my Panel Audition for the piano. This is the top advanced category of MTAC's Certificate of Merit (CM), compared to the "regular" 10 levels.


Last year I miraculously passed for the first level, and this year, I aimed to pass the second "grade" (obviously). In all, I think there are four levels total, with the ever-shrinking number of students allowed to pass. In short, the possibility of passing is pretty slim.


However, God, in His great mercy, granted me favor from the judges, who gave me the thumbs up to proceed to the next level. This year, I was again faced with that same anxiety, needless to say, since the competition only gets harder as you get higher. Thank God again for giving me the favor of getting fairly "nice/friendly" judges, which really helps qualm my jittery nerves. I'm not sure if I passed or not, since the results won't come out until after a week or so...but the suspense!



On another note, I've given up the results up to God. If He sees fit that I pass, then He'll make a way. But until then, I shall be diligently studying for my piano theory (written test) on Thursday. *sigh* This is my third time taking it. And no, I didn't fail on any one of the two. I'm much too Asian for that. xD I passed on both, but my piano teacher wants me to get a higher score, so I can be exempt from the test altogether. If I pass (that's a big IF right there), then I won't have to take the theory ever again!


We shall see.


The studious Asian musician who should be studying instead of writing this post,


A Trip Back to the Earth

Yesterday, I had the joy of seeing my homeschooling group's friends again after who-knows-how-long. One of the moms, whom my mom had the privilege of leading into homeschooling, had used her connections with the Arboretum 's staff to gain us free admission to the beautiful grounds. *cheeky grin*


The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden is famous for its lake, which was the sole reason why Indians in the early days settled around the area. This lake had been the scene of many famous movies, one of which includes "Tarzan".


Our tour guide had been most helpful in regards to the history of the Indians who used to live in the Arcadia area. She's an expert on the subject. In fact, her daughter-in-law is part-Indian! Amazing...


Actually, I'd be writing a full report on this later, so I'll keep this brief and short. Hint hint: I also have quite a few pictures in store, so be sure to stay tuned! xD





Exhausted but incredibly empowered with the new information learned today,

February 16, 2014

A Coming-of-Age Ceremony



I attended the Bat Mitzvah of a good friend yesterday--a very close friend. How close? As close as our names can be! In other words, we have the same name. That sure gives me an inkling of kindred comrade. I'll call her as "Star" here.



For those who don't know what a Bat Mitzvah is, let me describe it for you.




Bat Mitzvah literally means "daughter of commandment". The word "bat" means "daughter" in Aramaic, which was the commonly spoken language of the Jewish people (and much of the Middle East) from about 500 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. The word "mitzvah" is Hebrew for "commandment".


The term "Bat Mitzvah" refers to two things: When a girl reaches twelve-years-old, she becomes a "bat mitzvah" and is recognized by Jewish tradition as having the same rights as an adult. She is now morally and ethically responsible for her decisions and actions. The term "Bat Mitzvah" also refers to a religious ceremony that accompanies a girl becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Often, a celebratory party will follow the ceremony. That party is also called a bat mitzvah.

[For boys, they would have a Bar Mitvah at the age of thirteen.]


If you want to know the history of the Bat Mitzvah, read more about it here. The quote above was also taken from that site.


The ceremony was beautifully orchestrated--I wasn't the only one moved. And for those who know me in real life, I'm not the kind of person who easily shows deep emotions. Star showed her achievement of her parents' challenge--to memorize the entire chapters of Matthew 5, 6, and 7! I wasn't the only one impressed, I can tell you that.


It was an outdoor ceremony. In their backyard, to be specific. They put up a canopy, and set dozens of portable chairs on the lawn. They even got a jumper for the younger attendees! The theme: Disney's "Frozen". Quaint, but cute.


Star's parents each told on how my friend had been such a positive influence and blessing in their lives. Her older sister sang a Chinese song, dedicated for her. Her younger sister did an adorable version of Frozen's "Let It Go". Tears were freely shown, I might add. [Hey, we have the right to be more relaxed among our friends!] The purity necklace that she got was beautiful (as well as economical, she later told me). It was a gold-plated circle with a heart in the middle. As her mom said, "exactly what she thought a purity necklace should look like."


The fathers, representing their families, laid hands on Star and prayed their individual blessing on her. All of us (her friends), read our blessing cards to her. We laughed and cried together, especially at the end, when my same-name friend read her thank-you speech. I'm not ashamed to admit that I broke down (inwardly) when she did (outwardly).


The food that followed was just as amazing as the ceremony itself.
I was told that her mom got up at four in the morning to prepare all that food! The rest of the day was spent in sweet fellowship (the formal word for 'socializing'). xD



All in all, I am again reminded just how much we have to be thankful for. Life may hold dread for some, but for the rest of us, we can rest assured that our Heavenly Father has planned out amazing things to happen in each of our lives.



The Lord is good!

February 12, 2014

Homemade is Always the Best

I love homemade things, especially regarding food. You know what goes in it, and can rest assured that the calories combined are much lower than any restaurant can boast.

Just the other day I was helping my mom make more dumplings (for ourselves--what else?!). I was so proud of our speed, efficiency, and professional-like looks that I was crazy enough to take a picture of it... Don't laugh! *shifty stare*




Don't they look simply adorable and perfect? Ahem. *cough cough*

ANYWAYS! The important thing is, they tasted good. Correction, no, they tasted...heavenly. It's not like me to say that to dumplings, especially those of my creation, but hey, there's always a first, right?

What homemade things do you guys like best?



"You are what you feed yourself."

February 8, 2014

The Piano Guys - mass video collection

I have just "rediscovered" this great group called The Piano Guys. xD
If you haven't watched their music videos yet, you haven't known YouTube long enough. Here we go!

This is the original one the group made:



And this one is made by their fans: (ain't they cute?!)



And these below are my all-time favorites:











And my top, top, top recent favorite! :)



Obviously, I might as well tell you to subscribe to their channel. Seriously, you should! Now, as Yoda would have said, "You shall subscribe to The Piano Guys...NOW."



Now, this blogger girl is off to find more new favorites (as if these weren't enough)...

February 5, 2014

School, SAT, and Stress

I've been so busy recently with much school-related studying, especially with my SAT coming up. Yes, it's my first time taking it, and no, I didn't take the PSAT--which makes me really nervous, obviously.I'd need a lot of prayer for that, especially since I also have music commitments.

I have my annual piano competition/test a week before my SAT testing date, and after that, a flute recital. Yes, those three events are causing me a lot of stress and worry. If I survive the next few months, it'll be a miracle in itself! However, I have to remember that "with God, nothing is impossible". Nonetheless, I shall do my best. But until then, I'd really appreciate your support and prayer. Thank you! <3

[See Post a Prayer Request, my other blog.]




Student in progress...


January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year!

Today marks the start of the Chinese Lunar Year, the Year of the Horse (my favorite animal!). One of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, the horse signifies kindness, strength, and gregariousness. In the larger Chinese astrological cycle, this year is also associated with the element of wood, which makes 2014 the Year of the Wooden Horse. The combination is supposed to signify twelve months of patience and cooperation ahead. People around the world usher in the new year with firework displays, family get-togethers, temple visits, and street festivals. 

My whole family went to celebrate the new year with my uncle last night, since both sets of my grandparents are either in Canada or in Taiwan this year. And yes, I saw my new cousin! He's so adorable, and his face is so pretty--literally! I mean, most babies have scrunched-out faces, but not this one! His skin is so soft, and everything is all miniature--kawaii!  <3


But anyways, we had an awesome dinner of home-made hot pot. My uncle, who has good taste in food quality (and, I might add, a bit picky with his food sometimes), specially bought a pack of "premium" meat, which we rapidly consumed--despite the fact that we've already finished two other packs of "regular" lamb and beef. xD

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a headache...not the best way on how to wake up in the morning of a new year, but eh, it's all right. ^^

To conclude this rough draft of an entry, here are some links to The Chinese Zodiac Story, Lunar Calendar, A Chinese New Year Story, and the ever-important Traditions.


Happy Chinese New Year! *lights fireworks*



January 30, 2014

Cranky Old Man


When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in magazines for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.




Cranky Old Man


What do you see, nurses? .................. What do you see?
What are you thinking ....... when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man ..................................... not very wise,
Uncertain of habit ............................ with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .................... and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice ....... "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice ............ the things that you do.
And forever is losing .............................. a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not .................. lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ................ the long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? ........ Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .... you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am ........................ as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding .................... as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten .......... with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .................... who love one another
A young boy of sixteen ................ with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now .................... a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at twenty ................ my heart gives a leap.
Remembering the vows ............ that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five, now .................. I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide ........... and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty ....................... my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other ................ with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons .......... have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me ........... to see I don't mourn.
At fifty, once more ............... babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children ............... my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me .................. my wife is now dead.
I look at the future ....................... I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing ............ young of their own.
And I think of the years ..... and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man .......................... and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age .......................... look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles ............. grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone ............... where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass ....... a young man still dwells,
And now and again .................. my battered heart swells
I remember the joys ...................... I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living ........................ life over again.
I think of the years, all too few .................. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact ............... that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people ......................... open and see.
Not a cranky old man ................................... look closer.
See ........................................................................... ME!!



Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

Please share and pass this on if you've been touched, just like how I have.


January 29, 2014

Miracles - True or Not?

Don't believe in miracles? Well, let's see what the famous people have to say about it!



  •     "There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." ~ Albert Einstein
  •     "Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see." ~ C.S. Lewis
  •     "Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you'll see them all around you." ~ Jon Bon Jovi
  •     "A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles." ~ William Hazlitt
  •     "God continues to work miracles in my life." ~ Willie Aames
  •     "How quickly we forget God's great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles He performed in our past." ~ David Wilkerson
  •     "When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another." ~ Helen Keller
  •     "To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle." ~ Walt Whitman


So, what do you think? Are they scientific or not? Are they fantasy, or could they be explained? 


Again, civility is appreciated, but rudeness is not. ^^



January 25, 2014

Life is a Miracle


On this Saturday morning, I was rudely woken up by the phone. I groaned. My brother had just changed the ring tone the day before, and it was not a pleasant sound to wake up to. Stumbling out my warm, comfy bed, I ambled down the stairs, just in time to pick up the phone before the ringing stopped.

I glanced at the caller ID. Oh, it's Dad. I knew that my dad was going to drive my mom over to her weekend writing retreat early in the morning, and was calling to make sure I was awake. "Hello, Dad?" I rubbed my eyes, still groggy.

"You up yet, hon?"

"Just did." I yawned.

"How about the boys?"

"No. I'm the only one awake right now." I looked at the clock and groaned. 8:45.

"Well, I'm around twenty minutes away from home."

"Okay."

"Oh, and Auntie S. gave birth today."

Now I was wide awake. "Really?! That's great!" I peppered him with questions. "Is it a boy or girl? When was the birth? How much did it weight? Is Auntie S. all right?"

He laughed at my excitement. "Yes, she's all right! It's a boy, and from what Mom said, he weights around 5 pounds, 12 ounces. I don't know any other details."

"So Uncle M. and Auntie S. hasn't chosen a name for him yet?"

"Not that I know of. I'll be home soon, and Isaac and Titus might be coming over, so make sure the house is ready." [Isaac and Titus are our young cousins, Uncle M. and Auntie S.'s sons.]

"Okay, Dad. Drive safely!"

So that was basically how the conversation went, to the best of my memory. I trotted upstairs to jot the big news down while it was still fresh in my mind.

It was later on, when my uncle dropped Isaac and Titus off at noon, did I get all the details I wanted. Apparently, they were planning to name the baby boy Calvin; which, otherwise, if it had been a girl, would've been an Eleanor. 

So here I am, sitting next to my sleeping toddler cousin and writing this little story.
As Albert Einstein once said: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." And I agree with George Bernard Shaw when he said: "Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles."

Once again, I am struck by just how great our God is. Truly, He is the sole Giver of life, and nothing else can do what He does: ex nihilo. [Latin: from nothing] 

Soli Deo gloria! [Latin: to God alone be the glory!]

January 24, 2014

How This Came To Be - poem

One more poem written around September 5, 2012.  And yes, I'm on a rampage on posting all my beloved poems of old... <3

This was a real experience by me; it all truly happened just a couple nights ago (when I first wrote it). Don't you think the whole thing is somewhat ironic? xD

Can you "see" the picture/scene I'm trying to portray here through the usage of few words? I've always known that little words, when used correctly and fittingly, is powerful, but now have I only known just how powerful. Hence my trying my hand at it. How well it came out, I don't know.

Please comment on what you think about this free verse, and how I can improve on my writing! (I promise I won't bite!)




How This Came To Be

End of day
Morales low
Tensions high
Tired
Stressed
Stomachache
Pain
Inquiries
Scolded
Rebuked
Guilty
Misty eyes
Blurred vision
Breaks down
Eyes up
Quiet weeping
Pauses
Runs upstairs
Collapses on bed
Sobbing
Wailing
Brokenness
Not comforted
None understands
Forgotten bedtime hug
Sorrowful
Depressed
Self-pity
Trickling wetness
Damp pillow
Once more
Awake
Thinking
Midnight
Slow motions
Bed creaking
Flipped switch
Blinding light
Still
Blinking
Adjusting
Rummaging
Paper
Pen
Starts
Writing

THIS





Again, criticism is appreciated, but rudeness is not. ^^


Two More Short Poems

Again, more poetry for y'all from yours truly! These two were written when I was waiting for BSF to start, back in September 13, 2012--and tonight is Tuesday night, BSF night (again), haha! :D


Wish It's Forever

Twilight
Summer midnight
Gently falling blossoms
Whispers flitting through the endless
Time hushed



Heartbreaker

Wretched peer
Anxious longing
Clenching, unclenching grip
Oh, what are you trying to find
In me?





Ciao! ;)