Year of the Dog



Happy Chinese New Year!
Today starts the year of the Dog:

Represented by the following chinese character:

Dog in Mandarin is pronounced "go" with a downward inflection in your voice.

2005 was the year of the Rooster:

Rooster is pronounced "gee", in a sing-song like high tone (not like "gee -wiz, Batman").

There are 12 animals in the Chinese "zodiac", each representing a calendar year: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog , Pig.
The order of the animals is always the same.

I am a Sheep, having been born in 1967.
My husband is also a Sheep and our kids are and Ox and a Hare (Rabbit). In my family, my father is an Ox, sisters are Monkey and Ox and my mother is a Snake. Looks like there are many Oxen in my family, which might account for our stubborness!

To find out what animal you are, go to this web site to find out. But for those born in January / early February, be aware that you might have to enter in the previous year, as the New Year doesn't start until late Jan / early Feb in the Western calendar.

We will eat Dumplings and Noodles today to celebrate. I normally make the dumplings from scratch, but will hold out until next week's Super Bowl Party.

Jin Nan Kwai Le!

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Illini 76, Purdue 58

We went to the Illinois men's basketball game today at Assembly Hall. They wouldn't let me take my D70 into the game, but my Coolpix was OK. Don't get me started on the restrictions.... at least they let in the P&S's.....

It is basically impossible to buy tickets to the men's games, due to their sucess these past seasons. Fortunately, the company Scott and I work for have 8 sets of season's tickets, which go out to the employees. And the seats are good - in A section, where you have great views of the court. So we get to go once or twice a season. This year, they gave us 4 tickets (in the past it has just been two at a time) so our entire family could attend.


Brian and Daddy at the start of the game


Erica shows off her Illini Bears

Well, the start of the game had us on edge. Even though the Illini were heavily favored, Purdue scored first and were up 9 - 0 before the Illini even scored. The tempo of the game was extremely fast - everyone hustled. But the Illini executed a 14-0 run over the Boilermakers and had things wrapped up, much to our enjoyment.

Augustine (40) poised for the rebound

It's always fun when the Home team wins - they now have extended their home court winning streak to 33 games!

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Introducing our Camo Belt!

Yes, it is official - Brian is now a Camo belt. He went through his Tae Kwon Do testing last week and graduated from Yellow to Camo belt during the belt ceremony last night.

During the ceremony, he demonstrated his "one step" and "two step", with his Karate for Kids class:


Since he is part of the Black Belt Club, he then demonstrated his form and weapons techniques.


Finally, he was presented with his new belt! He proudly displayed his new belt at home with his single stick.


Congrats Brian! We are very proud of you!

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I am wood

I came across this in Melissa's blog and thought it was interesting, so I took the test as well:

Your Element is Wood

Your power colors: green and brown

Your energy: generative

Your season: spring

Like a tree, you are always growing and changing.
And while your life is dynamic, you are firmly grounded.
You have high morals and great confidence in yourself and others.
You have a wide set of interests, and you make for intersting company.


Interesting analysis..... I would say that most of it is true.....my favorite color is green and I do like brown, I have too many interests which grow more and more with the years!

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Photography Contest

The local newspaper is sponsoring a photography contest for amateurs. I wanted to enter last year, but found out about it too late to get my stuff together properly. This year, the paper ran a feature about it in January, so that has given me ample time to learn about what is required.

First off, the pictures must be at least 8x10 and no larger than 11x14. I thought - hey, no problem, I have nice pictures uploaded at Kodak Gallery, so I just decided to get a couple of 8x10 enlargements. Easy, right? HA! Being inexperienced at the aspect ratio thing, I didn't realize that quite a bit of cropping occurs when you go from "true digital" to 8x10. Good thing I ordered my prints early - I didn't like the composition of the cropped pics when I received them. Plus, they didn't seem to "pop".

OK, I learned about the 8x10 cropping and did it in PSE4 to ensure I got the correct composition. This also eliminated one of the pics I was going to use, so I had to search for a new picture. Done. I have four pictures picked out:

Taken at Navy Pier in Chicago, July 2005


A picture of my nephew, Matthew, taken in March of 2005.



Taken at Green Lakes Park in Upstate NY. Yes, that is the real color of the water.


This was cropped from the following original photo:

This picture was taken from my parents' backyard in Massachusetts, in March 2005 (after a blizzard!).

I also decided to use mpix.com, based on the rave reviews from folks at twoPeas and on ScrapShare. I received my order today and WOW, they are great. Now I have to pick three of the photographs, and I am pretty sure that I will go with the first three and leave the snow capped pine tree at home.

Next - I need to figure out how to mount the photos on "foam core backing". I found the foam board, but need to cut it to 11x14. That will be this weekend's project.

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Additions to my Scrapping Space

So, in my last post, I relished in the fact that I didn't have any commitments today - I could laze around all day long, if I wanted to. But instead, I found myself completing some long overdue projects!

Basically, I framed and hung a couple of prints which have been "staged" on the Dining Room table for the past year! Even more pathetic is how long I have owned these prints - one is 14 years old, the other is 13 years old....

What prompted this flurry of activity was the kids, of course - they went to ToysRUs to spend the rest of their Christmas gift cards and purchased several movie posters - Star Wars and King Kong. Scott purchased a King Kong poster as well and in his search for an appropriate frame, he ran across my "staged" prints, and another framed print, no longer in use. The old framed print was too small for his poster, but was usable for my 13 year old print. He then measured my 14 year old print and went to Wal-Mart to purchase a couple of Poster frames.

Long story short, I spent the rest of the afternoon disassembling a metal frame, mounting my print and putting the whole thing back together again. Repeat for print number 2 and then hang both on the wall. I hung them in my scrap area.

Print number 1 is by Van Gogh, one of my favorite artists:


The painting is his Vase of Roses, Oil on canvas, painted in 1890. I purchased this from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Washington, DC in October of 1991. Then it sat in a picture tube until last year.

Print number 2 is a copy of a lithograph, purchased in Hawaii, on our honeymoon:

It is a collection of Plumeria images, a beautiful native flower. It shared the same picture tube with print 1 for all of those years! Well, I guess what counts is that they are now out in the open and being appreciated - brightening up my scrapbooking area:


I am quite proud of my accomplishment for the day and will finish it off by getting some additional scrapbooking done!

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Lazy Saturday

Ah, the joys of a Saturday where there are no outside commitments..... no work, no chauffeuring kids around to activities, just hanging out at home and doing whatever pleases you.

The only "commitments" are the weekly grocery shopping and requisite exercising routine. Running this morning WAS a bear. Outside looks inviting enough - bright sunshine once again - but instead of balmy 50 degF outside, it is a rather wicked 30DegF. Of yeah - and bright sunshine means it's windy out. Add in that prairie wind chill and it feels like 19! I wish I had checked the weather channel before heading out. Oh well - it is done, and although I didn't run my normal amount, I am sure that it was good enough.

Last night, several of us gals got together at my house to scrap - it was really nice - four of us in the basement. We do this every January, as our normal meeting place is not reserved for January. I kind of wish we could meet at my house more often - it forces me to clean up my workspace and I don't have to lug everything to church (our normal meeting place). I may need to mention that to Susi for future dates where the participation is less than 5 people.

What did I get done last night? I put together the DPS of Nibly, our since deceased pigmy hamster. I had to tell the girls last night about her story..... so sad. I guess that is story for later.

Time to go!

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ABC's of Me.....

I am a conformist, and a couple of friends had this on their blogs, with instructions that if you read it, you had to add it to your blog - so here I am......Thanks Melissa, Heidi and Veronica!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is being passed around... another way to get to know me... If you find this TAG you're it!
[A is for age:] - 38
[B is for booze of choice:] - Gin and Tonic - preferably Tanqueray (did you know that this drink glows under black light?)
[C is for career:] - IT Manager in chemical manufacturing
[D is for your dad's name:] - Tien Jen - means “from the heavens” in Chinese
[E is for essential items to bring to a party:] - Spinach dip or Black bean Salsa
[F is for favorite song at the moment:] - Anything from Michelle Branch
[G is for favorite game:] - Hanging out on the Internet count??
[H is for hometown:] - Central Massachusetts
[I is for instruments you play:] - Piano and violin
[J is for jam or jelly you like:] - Raspberry
[K is for kids?] - Erica, 8 and Brian, 6
[L is for living arrangements:] - With Hubby Scott, Kids and Fluffy cat Rascal
[M is for mom's name:] - Charlotte
[N is for name of your crush ] - Michael Vartan - bring him back to ALIAS!
[O is for overnight hospital stays] - Twice for abdominal pain (never amounted to anything - DH claims I was faking it!), Twice for the births of my kids (although with my son, I probably could have gone home after I had him, LOL)
[P is for phobias:] - Large Spiders
[R is for relationship that lasted the longest] - 16 years, dated DH for a year, we were engaged for a year and we've been married for 14 (wow, that’s a long time)
[S is for sexual preference:] - Men
[T is for time you wake up:] - 6:00 am for work, 5:00am if I am going to workout that morning (twice a week)
[U is for underwear:] - Yes, I do wear it. That’s all I want to say......
[V is for vegetable you love:] - Broccoli
[W is for weekend plans:] - Scrapbook with friends on Friday night, Relax on Saturday, and there is plenty of football on as well.
[X is for x-rays you've had:] - Lots - how about the most unusual - I had a Upper GI scan
[Y is for yummy food you make:] - Chinese Dumplings
[Z is for zodiac sign:] - Gemini

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January Sun


One thing which has been fairly scarce these past weeks has been the sun. Each morning, the grey skies would paint a bleak picture for the coming day. It has been pretty dark in the morning as well - dark enough to require "lights on" during our commute to school and work. Add in the fact that my office is devoid of any natural light and it is a formula for Seasonal Depression. Fortunately, I get to leave work when it is still daylight outside, or I would feel as if I was hibernating, without the benefit of the added sleep.

Such was the landscape this morning - thick clouds hanging low on the prairie, after yesterday's drizzle. What a pleasant surprise when I saw sunlight at lunchtime. The temperature was a tolerable 45DegF, add in the sun and it was quite pleasant. The kids were able to play outside after we got home, and that is when I took these pictures.


The Scrapbooking message board I frequent recently posted a Photography challenge on "shadows". When I picked the kids up from school, I had the perfect composition picked out, but no camera. By the time we got home, the shadows had become too long to get decent picture. No big - the kids were more than willing to give me several big smiles.



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Nikon Photography Gear

I thought I would post my current photography gear (and later, my wishlist!)
This obession all started when I "went Digital" in May of 2003 (wow, almost 3 years ago). I purchased a Nikon Coolpix 3100, based on the Best Buy's comparison of pictures taken with various cameras. Plus, the sales person claimed that most people bought Nikons and that this one was a best seller. Hmm.... now knowing a little better, it seems as if more people buy Canons, but that really is besides the point.
They had several 8x10 pics and what struck me was that Nikon had an older Coolpix model, at 2MP, which looked as good as the 3 and 4 MP pictures. Thus, I was sold on the Nikon.

Now, I do like my little Nikon P&S camera, but like all Point and Shoot cameras, it suffers from the dreaded lag time and really stinks at action shots - they are all blurry! So, in early 2004, I started to research SLR's, and just HAD to have a Digital Camera. Nikon was just about to release its first "prosumer" Digital SLR - the D70. And that is what I have.....

DH likes to call it the Nikon 5K, in other words, I paid $5000 for it..... HA! Not quite, but if he REALLY wanted me to spend that much, I am sure that I could!
OK, I bought it with the Kit lens, a 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G. Last year, I added a higher zoom lens: 70-300mm f/4-5.6D -



That's my current gear. I'll post later about my Wishlist!

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2 cents

About me:
2 Names you go by:
Shirley
Mommy
2 parts of your heritage:
Chinese
Assimilated into American Culture
2 Things that scare you:
Heights
Bugs
2 of your everyday essentials:
Sleep
Food!
2 Things that you are wearing right now:
Khakis
Cashmere twinset
2 of your favorite bands or musical artists:
Michelle Branch
Bruce Hornsby
2 Things you want in a relationship (other than true love):
Autonomy
Fun
2 Truths about me:
I like nice things which could label me as a snob
I am musically talented
2 Physical Things that appeal to you (in the opposite sex):
Nice, unusual eyes
Broad shoulders
2 of your Favorite Hobbies:
Scrap booking
Photography
2 Material Things you want really badly:
The Nikon 70-200mm/F2.4 AF-S VR lens
A Dyson vacuum
2 Material Things you NEED really badly:
Socks!
A replacement 2 Quart batter bowl - my Pampered Chef one broke at Thanksgiving
2 places you want to go on vacation:
Arizona
China
2 Stores you Shop at:
Target
Wal-Mart (although I don’t enjoy it!)
2 Stores you like to Shop at when traveling to the big city:
American Girl Place
Any big book store

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Sledding!



OK, this is a little bit dated, but that's what happens when you are behind......
We had snow in December and subsequently went sledding at the park. This year, Scott purchased another long sled, made by H2O. This one is purple to distinguish it from the red one. This was needed because we had two sleds - the long red one and a shorter yellow one. The yellow one wasn't as stable as the red one and always resulted in wipe outs, so there was always bickering about "who got to use the Red Sled". Problem Solved!

And with two stable (and fast) sleds, our adventure to the sledding hill was quite successful. Erica and Brian rode down with either Mommy or Daddy (alternating, of course) and at the end, they went down together. Oh - even though it looks like they are sledding on dirt and grass, there was enough snow towards the bottom part of the hill to go pretty fast.



All was fine until another kid, oblivious to his surroundings, walked right in front of their path and a mighty collision ensued. As MANY times as you remind your children to "watch for others - look where you are going", it doesn't seem to compute upstairs. Well, that was the end of sledding for the day. Now we are seriously entertaining a trip out West for skiing and snowboarding - that will have to be in the plan for 2007!

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All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2014). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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