Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mumford & Sons- An epic band

Ever have a friend introduce you to a new band and then you can't stop listening to them? Where you suddenly find yourself on an epic song-listening frenzy for a few hours as you keep replaying and replaying your favorite songs before you find another one that you absolutely love? Yup, I had the pleasure of experiencing that only yesterday. It was after Youth Group in the evening, and a close friend of mine suggested I look up the band Mumford & Sons. He and some other friends had been talking about a particular new song so I decided to look them up right when I got home. I wasn't disappointed at all.

I usually don't do double posts when I share music, but these guys are just too good to pass up- all their songs are good and I couldn't decide between my two favorites (which happened to be the two that my friend suggested I look up first =P) Mumford & Sons was refreshing and inspiring to listen to, they're categorized as a folk rock band. There's something about having a banjo or mandolin that makes their music that much more epic. I'm not that familiar with folk style music and crazy banjo solos, but I liked what I heard.

Their performances are energizing and full of emotion. What I liked best was the harmony of the instrumentation- from what I've read about them, they often switch up the instruments and exchange parts to play. Besides the distinct voice of the banjo, the syncing of piano chords and cello pizzicato produced a wonderful new timbre. The vocals of Mumford & Sons are great, but I would still be amazed by listening to just their instrumentation.

I apologizing for putting this much text between you and their music. I'll stop raving and let you listen for yourself. And if I get you hooked and you find yourself reveling in their music three hours from now, you're welcome.

The Cave:

White Blank Page:
The beat change at 3:35.... gets me every time.

VERSE- Material Possessions

Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 6:19-21 is a hard verse to understand. It comes as no surprise seeing as how basically goes against human nature. We all want to be "successful," right? Earn decent wages, raise a family, eventually retire and pursue your hobbies.... even for those of us who don't aspire to be rich or famous, a good life is defined in our lives as having enough money to get by and to enjoy our time on Earth. And that's fine, isn't it? We're okay as long as we don't desire to be insanely rich?

The problem is that the verse says "treasures on earth," which does not necessarily mean "great wealth." It took me a while to realize this, but it doesn't even mean money. We have all kinds of desires in daily life, ranging from wanting clothes to buying new shoes to getting something expensive like a car. We wish to be accepted and liked by others, or to have a lot of attention. We want the best grades and the chance to go the best colleges. But none of that lasts. Education, careers, jobs, money, reputations, friends.... you can't even guarantee those things during your life, how can you expect to have those after your life? Even if you haven't accepted Christ as your Savior yet or don't believe in an afterlife, think about this: earthly possessions are not forever. They are never secure. They can never make you truly happy. At any moment a hurricane or natural disaster could rip apart your home, destroying everything you own. All that you'd have left is your body, which you can't guarantee either to be protected from injuries, illness, or disease. You could get fired from your job any morning. Reputations can fall apart overnight. Friendships can be torn.

The only friendship that can't be suddenly torn is the friendship you have with Jesus, who is loyal and forever. You don't need life insurance or second precautions or backups when it comes to having a relationship with Him. That's what it means to store up treasures in heaven, to love everyone and to submit yourself to God. He'll reward you for trusting him and having faith. Only then will you have something that can never be taken away.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reasons to buy shoes

I got these new shoes recently (with big thanks to my cousin and aunt) and it got me thinking about material possessions and how we feel about acquiring "stuff." We've all had that feeling before, the excitement of buying new clothes or accessories (girls) or getting a fresh pair of kicks (guys) and then thinking about that item for the rest of the day. But where does the source of the excitement come from?

Some of it comes from the fact that we like to impress others and look good. That's the obvious reason.Outward appearances are easier to change. They reflect your own personality. Sometimes they get you noticed and complimented, boosting your self image.

Which leads to a second possibility, which is self confidence. I know I'd act a lot different if I were wearing pajamas versus khaki pants and a nice polo. One makes me self-conscious and embarrassed, the other makes me outgoing and energetic. And I find that happens even when I'm home alone and no one is there to judge my clothing. If I wear pajamas the whole day I feel lazy and lounge around like a slob, as opposed to changing into jeans and nice shirt (clothes I'd wear to school) and feeling like I can actually sit down and accomplish something.

There could be various other reasons. The bargain-compulsive buyer, for example, loves to buy "good deals" and feel like they're getting the most out of their money, even if they don't need that particular item. They simply like the feeling of getting a "good buy." I suppose (and I'm not 100% sure on this just yet) that's why girls think shopping is a lot of fun, though I'm pretty sure it's a combination of all the above.

So yeah, now I have new shoes. I bought them for all the reasons above, plus the fact that I just needed a new pair. Am I over-thinking all this? Absolutely. But maybe if you're the type who overspends on buying clothing, you'll really think about why you're buying something next time. And oh, I just thought of another reason someone could be buying a pair of shoes. My cousin recently told me about a brand called TOMS, which promises to send one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that you buy. Now that's just an awesome reason to buy shoes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Contributing a verse to the hymn of God's chorus

It's not often that you hear or experience something so profound and revealing that you feel the need to record it somewhere in your life, to make sure you don't lose your grasp on it and so that you'll always be able to come back to it later. This quiet Sunday morning was one of them. It was rainy and windy and gray outside, but in spite of the moody weather I was able to experience one of the most inspiring church services I've attended in a while. And the most interesting part was, there wasn't even a sermon.

Instead, our senior pastor introduced our Corporate Worship Leader Chris Ames onstage, who then lead the service, giving us a simple message about sharing stories. He did it in a way that really grabbed our hearts, sharing his own story and pulling the people of our church together as we listened to his performance. Chris is a songwriter who had traveled extensively for more than 20 years before arriving here at Eastern Hills Bible Church, singing songs and telling stories about God's impact on his life. He's done this at places from churches, to colleges, to street corners, basements, military bases, camps, and any other place he can bring a guitar. And he's good. There's something about the way he speaks and moves, the way he leans forward, tilts his head slightly, and looks you right in the eye when he's telling you a story. I could describe him with many words- charismatic, funny, likable, talented, passionate, quirky, entertaining, spiritual- but it still wouldn't do him justice until you actually listen to him perform. And there was something else I realized as I was sitting there during the service, watching him onstage: the fact that he did all of this to spread the message of Jesus' love. It's something that is hard to describe fully, but for Chris today it felt like a source of energy and sentiment that was clearly tangible. I felt incredibly fortunate and lucky to be sitting in that seat- here was this incredible songwriter and performer that has been to a million places, and he's performing right in front of me on the stage of my own church. Our own church- after all, he's the one leading us in worship every Sunday morning.

And now he's telling us stories about his life, his wife and two kids, sharing real moments he's experienced with his family and the songs he wrote about them. It's a powerful experience, combining music and the human voice: two of the most beautiful things on this Earth. And to think that God blessed Chris with both of them to share with us today! In the services before, Chris would always be encouraging us all to worship and sing, even to those who "can't" sing or don't consider themselves to be singers... Psalm 98:4 captures the importance of joyful worship beautifully.

The fact that he was performing live made it a lot more personal as well. The writer within me clicked with his stories and explanations of his songs. I never really considered song lyrics to be "writing" like I considered my essays or novels to be "writing." But when I heard Chris' lyrics and how honest and true they were, I had newfound respect for songwriters everywhere. Lyrics to a song aren't that much different from a poem or short story, I realized. They are all born to capture a specific moment in life or a particular emotion. I know that's what I do with my short stories- they always seem to be connected with something within my own life. And I could tell that's what Chris does as well, using songs to tell and record his life story. The performances he puts on and the messages he shares... he explains that it's like contributing his own verse to the hymn of God's chorus.

Contributing a verse to the hymn of God's chorus... I'm no songwriter, but I couldn't help but feel inspired by that phrase. Because after all, we all have different talents and skills. Contributing a verse may be as simple as smiling at a stranger, being friendly to your neighbor, or being easy to talk to for someone who needs company. It could involve artwork, instrumental music, athletics, volunteer work, or simply interacting with other people. I'm still in awe at Chris' talent. One of his stories that he shared was about adventure and war, the story of David and Goliath and the spirit of battle... and that just got my imagination firing off. If Christians (and God) are in a huge epic spiritual battle against those who persecute Christians (such as Satan), then us Christians should consider each other as teammates and fellow soldiers. And that brings a certain degree of pride to me every time I learn that someone famous or well-known is also Christian. It's almost scary how talented and likable a performer like Chris is- but I'm sure glad he's with us and able to represent all those who entrust their lives to God.

He sets a great example by using his gifts to tell stories about God's grace in his life. But more importantly, he inspires other people, like me, to do the same. I can't sing or play the guitar, but I can write. And I can share my own stories as well. It's amazing what Chris can do in other people's lives with nothing but his voice, his guitar, and an hour of time onstage. I just hope that trough this post I can do a little bit of the same.

(Check out the recording of Chris performance here- skip to 0:29:57)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Senior schedule

A little half-sheet of paper in an innocuous, plain looking envelope arrived in the mail today. It's finally here... my senior schedule. My first reaction: "Oh cool, I get to know what classes and teachers I'll have this year. My second reaction: *checks calender* "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH."

It's kind of a slap in the face, finally receiving the memo that signals the end of summer. It's hard to believe, as it probably is for other people who are still in summer mode. Wait, we're seniors now? Only a few weeks ago we were still juniors, suffering under loads of homework and extracurriculars, worrying about Junior Prom, shaking our fists at collegeboard and the plagues of APs and SAT tests alike. This summer was the first breath of reprieve that we've gotten in awhile. And now we have to deal with college applications?

Oh man. It's kind of hard to describe how I feel right now. I always knew this day was coming, the day when I would have to start thinking about colleges seriously. It reminds me of the summer before my sophomore year, when I took my first two AP classes. It had come too suddenly, and though I had known about it, it hadn't really registered in my mind. It was overwhelming to wrap my mind around the fact that I would be taking college-level courses already, daunting to think all that could go wrong. And now it's kind of like that for college applications... I was always aware of the work that I had to do, but now the fact that I actually have to starting doing it is enough to induce headaches. So yeah, I've taken a look at the Common Application and started drafting some of my essays, but as summer draws nearer to a close I feel like a giant iron gate is slowly closing in front of me, shutting out my carefree world- the glorified sunny field of Hakuna Matata and all things stress-free that I've been frolicking in so contentedly this summer.

To be honest, I'm still pretty excited. First day of school, I get to see all of my friends again, the soccer season is starting, I get to meet new teachers.... but much as I like that feeling of freshness and back to school-ness, I know that'll get old pretty quickly. Once the homework starts piling up and the sleep debt grows higher I know I won't enjoy it at all. My classes are okay in terms of workload this year, I purposefully dropped an AP or two because come on, who wants to slave away during senior year? I already had junioritis LAST year 2nd semester, there's no way I'd be able to keep my focus this year after my college applications are all sent out.

It's annoying to have that cloud-o-doom constantly hanging over your head, though. School was bad enough, but having to do extra work preparing essays and filling forms is simply I don't handle very well. Procrastination becomes my best friend, and I've used that approach pretty much this whole summer. And by this point, any conversation you have with an adult lasting longer than 5 minutes will probably gravitate towards the subject of college applications. "Where are you thinking of applying?" "Are you excited for your last year of high school?" "What are you thinking of majoring in?" (Like we haven't all heard that one before).

Bottom line for me: I'm excited for senior year, but as for life before I finish college applications.... not so much.

Friday, August 26, 2011


My family has been talking a lot about the hurricane that's about to hit the East Coast. Who knows, after that earthquake in Virginia and now this upcoming hurricane, what's next for us northeastern states?

-What's the name of the hurricane? If you think you know, comment or email me the answer, along with a topic or subject (anything, really!) of choice. I'll make my next blog post about it, promise!
-No time limit, I'll gladly accept answers as long as I'm still blogging and readers are reading about my blogging xD
-Email me at, or just comment below (don't forget a blog topic if you want me to post about it!)

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (A capella)- Straight No Chaser

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pop songs and relationships

Turn on the radio to a station you like. What do you hear? I don't even know what your music tastes are, but I bet the first song that you hear is a song about love or relationships. Nowadays that's just what most songs seem to be about- just about every aspect you can think of that deals with a relationship. I guess it makes sense, love is certainly something that everyone can relate to. And who doesn't like to listen to a song and pretend the girl (or guy) of their dreams is singing it to them, or imagine the lyrics were written specifically for their life? (And come on, don't tell me you've never looked up the lyrics to a song your crush referenced in his or her Facebook status before...)

(Que above song, Sparks Fly- Taylor Swift. Nice song review here.) The songs are catchy. Sometimes it makes me wish I was in a relationship, or imagine what it would be like my life was exactly as the songs described. Other times I'm just annoyed that there aren't many songs about other aspects of life that are just as important- friendship, family, struggle, independence, spirituality, etc. There ARE still good songs out there about those, just not as many. All in all, I have a forgiving taste in music- if a new song has fresh lyrics and nice chorus, I wouldn't care if it was the billionth song about love it the world. Granted, the one I like right now is old and recognizable, it's just I never remembered the song name and artist- Fall for You. When it comes to pop songs and relationships, what's your current favorite?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Be Confident

It was the week of try outs that were held for JV soccer at our school. I was an upcoming freshman, good but not a star on the field, and to be honest, I was a little bit nervous. Our JV consists of both 9th and 10th graders, and though I was friendly with most of the sophomores, I knew most of them were still stronger and faster than me. Try outs went pretty smoothly- passing, foundations, keep away, I held my own and was even looking pretty good. But I wanted to impress the coach during the scrimmage. We moved the goals in and divided into three teams that rotated in and out. My team went in first. I played pretty well, especially in front of the other team and our coach that was watching, but then came the defining moment. All I remember was that I beat a defender, cut to the right, was within shooting range of the goal... and then passed it to a teammate.

Whistle. Play stopped and everyone froze. (You ever get that moment of plummeting dread because you know you're in trouble? Yup, that was it right there.)

"Mr. Lee, why didn't you shoot the ball?" I was trying to think of an answer while everyone was looking on. I said something about my teammate having a better chance of scoring than I did.

"I asked you why you didn't shoot the ball." I said I didn't know.

 "You do want to score?" Yes, I mumbled.

 "So why didn't you shoot?" I was probably turning bright red but I tried to remain stone-faced- I thought of the most reasonable and honest answer I could. I told him I didn't shoot because I wasn't confident enough.

"You weren't confident enough," my coach repeated. "Then get off the field," he promptly said. I walked to the sideline and sat out for the rest of the scrimmage.

That's still the story I remember to this day. A lot of things in life take confidence- taking a standardized test under time pressure, competing in any sort of sport, playing music at a concert, performing a solo, going to an interview... the list goes on and on. It's another "skill" that has to be trained because most people, like me, aren't born with it. Being a striker with a lot of skill but no confidence doesn't lead to goals. Likewise, a striker with confidence but no skill to back it up just comes across as arrogant. My JV coach made me a better player- harsh on me during try outs, but teaching me a lot throughout the season. He taught me how to be aggressive but not nasty. Confident on the ball but not cocky. And as a striker, I learned, it was okay to take chances. Be risky and mess up a few times. I started to shoot more, from farther away, and at every chance that I got. Some were terrible, going way over the crossbar or driveling on the ground for an easy save. But some were good- I scored goals. "The shot that you never take has a 0% chance of going in," my coach told me. "So have confidence and shoot the ball."

I'm remembering all this because soccer season officially starts tomorrow for me. Sure, I'm still a bit nervous about going through tryouts (even though it's my returning year for Varsity), but being able to hang out with my teammates again makes it a lot better. For anyone else out there who's starting a Fall sport, or even if you're daunted by another year of school, just remember to have confidence. In soccer, it's the one thing I have to work most on. It's something to remember on- and off- the field.

Pick me uppers

It happens all the time to me. Maybe it's the stress of school and college applications, maybe it's the lack of adequate sleep, or maybe it's just a part of life- there are times when I wake up and I just feel terrible. There's no energy, no emotion, no motivation... and I can't really explain why. It's a drowning feeling really, except when I look up I can't see the surface of the water, and below me is just a bottomless depth of fluid black.

It's tough to work through those moments that can last either a few minutes or can last up to a whole day. Sleep is sometimes a great remedy, but other times I wake up feeling groggy or worse than before. So what else is there? Music and writing, of course. And I recently stumbled upon another teenage blog, the quiet voice, that focuses on just that- good books, good music, and life. It made me really happy to read someone else blogging about music and books that I've either read or may read in the future. So I guess that's another one of my pick me uppers, finding other teens to connect with and reading their blogs.

Jump on inspiration

Ever had a really good idea? Like, a really, really good one? Don't wait- make sure you jump on the opportunity right away. Write down the idea so you won't forget. Articulate it as clearly as you can, record your feelings and thoughts about it, jot down as many details as you can.

Because with each passing moment that you wait, you risk losing some of that revelation that you had, the connection that two precious neurons in your mind suddenly and inexorably made. You lose a bit of that invigorating energy that's driving you, the excitement behind the idea and your will to make it happen. Writers know the feeling- when inspiration strikes, they drop everything, and I mean everything, and scramble to grab whatever writable materials there are around them- napkins, flyers, business cards, newspapers, whatever. I know I'm a forgetful person, so writing down ideas right when I think of them like that is especially important, even if it's just a matter of 5 minutes. It makes all the difference to me.

A great idea strikes. Don't wait. Flesh it out on paper. Then hurry to make it a reality.

Fall for You- Secondhand Serenade

Friday, August 19, 2011

Small Luxuries

For the past like 6 months, the passenger side door on one of our family cars always used to get stuck halfway through being opened. The plastic below was dented and so every time you got in, you had to only open the door half way and try to squeeze in, or tug the door until the plastic sort of snapped past the dent, which was a real pain. Well, the dent just got fixed today, and now every time I open the passenger side door I'm pleasantly surprised at how smooth it opens. It's funny, I never would have thought that having a working door on a car could be considered a luxury, but after 6 months of the dent it's awesome to go for a ride and not have to deal with the hassle of the door. 

I guess it's like a lot of other things, you get used to a minor annoyance in your life, but when it gets fixed or removed it comes as a gift rather than a "repair." That's what the fixed door feels like now to us. Small things like this that we never notice until it gets broken or in our way. A sticky door, a handle that doesn't turn, the light bulb that always flickers, the key on the keyboard that isn't sensitive enough, pop-up ads on your computer, a chair that wobbles... it makes you realize that we actually have a lot of small "luxuries" that we have in our daily life. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Amusement Parks, State Fairs....... and BIG Stuffed Animals

I just realized that the New York State Fair is starting a week from today. August 25th-September 5th. I still remember going to it last year with friends, taking the bus up to the fair grounds, walking past the overpriced vendors, looking at the butter sculptures, drinking chocolate milk and eating corn on the cob and then some cheese fries. It was a fun time. I can't believe my friend got the deep fried Milky Way though. Just looking at it and wondering how many calories was in that thing made me gag. He claimed it was delicious. 

And how could I forget all the different booths? I don't remember buying anything last year, but what I do remember is walking by one of those game booths and having a "IT'S SO FLUFFYYY" moment when I saw how big the stuffed animal prizes were. Seriously, those things were ginormous! I wanted so badly to win a life-sized minion from Despicable Me and take it home with me. There's just this appeal to having a giant stuffed animal so you can show it off and brag about winning it. Or just cuddle up with in bed, nothing wrong with that right? Actually I vaguely remember a time in my childhood where we went to a relatives house and they owned a stuffed Pikachu as big as I was. Too awesome. 

Anyways, one of these days, I'm going to an amusement park or fair and not leaving until I win one of those. I might spend a hundred or so dollars, but that's how much they would cost in stores, right? Only until I win a giant Domo and put it on the shelf in my bedroom will my life be complete. 

Here's the Domo I saw at Great American on my trip to California... we got soo close to winning it. But oh well it wouldn't have fit in my luggage anyways so my destiny still awaits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Ayooooo, weekly challenge #5 here. If you like this blog, you should participate in this. =]
Basically for weekly challenges, this is how it goes down.

1. I ask a question.
2. Readers (meaning YOU) will think of the answer
3. Readers will email me their answer, AND a blog topic they want me to post about
4. I'll be happy, reader who submitted will be happy, everyone will be happy and we'll be one step closer to achieving world peace

-In reference to my last post, what movie/character am I referencing with the "opportune moment?" (hint: I would say the character's name starts with a "J" but it really starts with a "C" because it's Captain ___ _____ =D)
-Email me at:
**I'm changing the rules again, these weekly challenges will now be open indefinitely until I say so. Meaning if you are reading this a month after I post it, you can still email me the answer! This includes previous weekly challenges as well.

Eating foods at the "opportune" moment

So I'm being hopelessly Asian, but can I just say that I like my rice steaming hot, right from the cooker? For any of you readers out there who eat rice regularly, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say rice tastes so much better when it's fresh and just steamed. For any of you readers out there who don't eat rice regularly, or maybe have cooked rice in a pan or used instant rice packets, this is what a rice steamer looks like:

This actually looks exactly like the one I have in my kitchen right now...
There is an in-between layer between the pot that holds the rice and the larger cooker itself- this is where you put the water that evaporates into steam to cook the rice
See? You learn something new everyday.

But anyways, rice isn't the only food that tastes better steaming hot. Baked potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, lasagna, pizza (debatable, cold pizza is pretty dang good too....), and most of all: chocolate chip cookies. It's a totally different cookie when it's fresh out of the oven, the chocolate chips are still half melted and gooey, the cookie not quite firm but it's so soft and moist it tastes like heaven when you bite into it....

So there you have it. There's probably tons more food that I missed that only taste their best at a certain state. Let me know in the comments below so I can add it to my own personal list of "foods to eat only at the opportune moment."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Youtube has everything

(Rainy mood cont.)
Thanks to a comment on my last post, I can know re-create that peaceful rain patter on the windows anytime I want to... even if it's bright and sunny out like it is right now. AWESOME. I wish I had a computer in my room so I could fall asleep to this every night. It's so peaceful, too, that I think I'll auto-replay it and listen to it if the house is getting loud and I need to focus or just think. (So thanks "anonymous" =] I love when I get interesting comments like this.)

So here's the link so the rest of you can enjoy it too:

This just made me marvel at the variety of things that Youtube has to offer. I mean, I'm a frequent visitor, but I'm still amazed at stuff like this that I can get for free. And there's probably tutorials for just about anything you can imagine. Someone should make a blog and try to post a new (but different style of video) everyday. Now that'd be interesting to browse through.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rainy mood

Does anyone else feel that the weather has a direct influence on your mood? I mean, I was expecting to go outside to play some soccer today, or at least go for a run. Now it's raining out and I don't feel like doing anything, let alone get up to do any sort of physical activity. I've been sitting at this stupid computer for the last few hours, feeling so lethargic and just all-around lazy that I felt compelled to at least do something useful and make a blog post. So here it is, you're welcome. Especially if you live in Syracuse too and you've been waiting for something awesome to come out of this gloomy day.

I don't know, I just feel better when it's sunny out. Probably something to do with human nature and the way our skin reacts to sunlight, but I don't want to go all science-y on you and go there. Plain and simple, sunlight=good, rain=bad. Unless you're a plant. But I'm not, so I don't like these rainy days xD. Now, if there were thunder and lightning outside, that'd be a different story.

I love watching the flashes of lightning illuminate the towering storm clouds, counting the time lapse between the lightning and thunder, and then evaluating how loud the boom was (the ones that rumble around as if the sky were clearing its throat don't count). But what was it, the storm is one mile away for every 5 seconds that you can count? At least it gives you something exciting to do. When it's just raining, all you can do is watch the stream of water go by at the end of your driveway and imagine what it would be like if you were an ant and were caught in a flooding river like that. Or is that just me?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Haven't you always wanted to try the message in a bottle thing? Take a glass bottle, put a keepsake or message in it, cork it, and let the ocean randomly deliver it to someone who might live far away and might pick it up far into the future. This is a pretty awesome stop-motion vid. I'm definitely gonna keep this and watch it again in the future. I love the comment on the video about them always being together and as one though. =D


I like board games and card games a lot. When you play them with the right people, they can be exciting, gripping, interesting, relaxing, engaging.... sometimes a lot more so than playing Mario Kart on the Wii or some other form of video game.

And there are a lot of types of board and card games, ranging from the very strategic to the ones that rely on dumb luck (which can still be very fun!). It's interesting to think about each board or card game as having different characteristics. They offer different experiences when you play them. Sorry! is the game of revenge, Risk is the game of world domination, Life is the game of, well, life, and Monopoly is just the game that never ends. And Scrabble? That's a game I feel that people either really like or really dislike. I last played it about two weeks ago if I remember correctly, with my cousins, and it was an interesting time.

It's weird because you're competing for points, but you also have to somewhat work together to keep the board alive. By keeping the board alive I mean building off free spots with longer words, not using 3 letter words that turn them into dead ends. (If you've played Scrabble before you should know what I'm talking about.) And from my personal experiences, I think Scrabble should be named the game of anticipation. Because it's turn based, you have a lot of free time to plan and plot, trying to turn that jumble of letters on your rack into a brilliant word. Sometimes you have to react to others who take the spot on the board you were about to use.

But there's nothing quite like that feeling of finally discovering the perfect place to land all your letters, the move that will score 30 points or more. And just hoping, praying that no one takes that Triple Letter square you're eyeing or the Double Word square on the side. You have your move set, and you casually glance over at the person whose turn it is to see where on the board they're looking. Your heart pumps as they reach for their tiles, breathing a sigh of relief when they play somewhere else on the board to scrounge 12 points. And all the while, you're just anticipating that awesome move, waiting to see the look on the other players' faces when you cash in 48 points. But you have to wait. And just hope no one takes your move.

What are some of your favorite board games?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Learning to Say No

There are a lot of little things in our daily lives that we could easily do without. Sometimes it's just a matter of learning how to say no. If you're anything like me, I try to please everyone around me. So much so that sometimes I forget to think about myself and my own responsibilities. If someone asks me a favor, I would likely drop whatever I'm doing to help them (or at least finish what I'm doing and then help them as soon as possible). If someone chats me on Facebook, I don't have the heart to tell them I was just about to log off, and so I keep up the conversation, using the same amount of energy to keep up the conversation as if they had chatted me when I had an hour of free time. "Hey, what's up? Good to see you too! I know, lol... *insert comments about random things that come to mind to keep the conversation flowing*"

So yeah. Learning to say no to certain things can be really helpful. And I'm not talking about saying no to drugs or the thing we learned in D.A.R.E. to say no to peer pressure (though seriously, say NO to drugs!! =].) It's smaller than that, and I find it's mostly self-pressure. For me, it's the pressure that if I say no, someone will be hurt or think less of me. But in actuality, that's not true at all. "Hey, do you want to go see a movie at noon today?" If I were faced with that from a friend and I ended up saying no, that friend might be a little bit disappointed, but they would probably still end up having a great time with some other friends. Same thing with the friend chatting with me on Facebook. If only I could say something like "Oops, I'm really sorry *name*, but I was about to log off. Catch you some other time?" then it would all be fine. I could get to doing what's important to me, and the friend will soon forget that tiny bit of rudeness.

I guess it's hardest to say no to your friends. (I was about to say that it is actually hardest to say no to yourself. But then I realized that's just self-control, which is a whole other topic =P) While sometimes saying no to your siblings lead to squabbles and conflicts, chances are they've lived around you enough to understand the reasons behind you saying no. With friends, they are mostly left guessing whether you said no because you don't want to talk to them, or if you really have something more urgent to do. So be a good friend and learn to say no, but explain why- are you really short on time? Money? Or you do you just need a break to be alone for a bit? I find the really good friends will respect that and like you more for it.

Must Be Dreamin- Kevin Rudolf

Haven't shared some music in a while... I've been listening to a lot of K-Love lately, a station for contemporary christian music that I absolutely love. I'll eventually get to posting all my favorite music though, don't worry!

Teach me

There are just some things in life that need a teacher in order to be taught. Learning on your own through trial and error, looking up Youtube and other instructional videos, following recipes, reading books... for some tasks, these resources can only take you so far. I find that I learn a task the best when it is taught personally to me- I find it harder to forget afterwards and there's always an imprint of the process through which I learned. 

A teacher provides experience and guidance, something that can't always be achieved through text or even video on the internet. Having that person by you to correct your mistakes and to offer encouragement and advice boosts the rate of learning tremendously. I remember all the paper airplane designs my brother taught me when we were both young, even now...they have much deeper significance than the designs I learned through an hour of toiling and scratching my head over a page in a book.

It also helps if that teacher is someone you trust or can relate to. And you can relate to someone even if they are 20 years older than you, the thing is to share understanding. A good teacher will know what it feels like to be the student, to be in the situation where they are struggling and need pointers. They will know where all the pitfalls and shortcuts are, and can offer personal advice. But a good teacher doesn't need to be a hired tutor, or private coach, or have any sort of "qualifications"- often the best teachers are your peers and the people around you that you see every day. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thank goodness for friends

I don't think I would have made it this far in my life without my friends, let alone be alive... but seriously, I'm lucky to have so many good, loving people by my side. Have you ever been so down that nothing you did or tried would cheer yourself up? Your parents would ask you what's wrong, your siblings may have made a half-hearted attempt to say something, your favorite song doesn't re-energize you.... so what do you do? You pick up your phone, of course. Or go onto Skype or Facebook. Chances are you'll have that one friend who knows exactly how to pick you back up. And sometimes they do it without even realizing it. Just their inherent characteristics or speech patterns or corny repetitive jokes are enough to make you smile again.

I'm lucky to live three houses away from one of my friends. And I don't know what it was about today, but I was dead tired. Feeling lazy. So down in the dumps it couldn't have been smellier (okay, that was a weird sentence but I'll let it slide). I called my friend up to go on a run because if you're like me, you have zero chance of being motivated to run on your own. I once tried that... I brought out a soccer ball to juggle, thinking I'd go on a run after 5 minutes of warm-up. I never made it out of my driveway. Anyways, I almost cancelled it this time. I was in bed, half asleep, feeling horrible, but I made myself get up because my friend was expecting me.

I literally was still trying to open my eyes when I walked up to his house. But then he came out of his garage, with his short red-brown hair longer and lying flatter than usual. I haven't seen him in 3 weeks but it was great seeing him. Oh how those gingers can cheer one up xD We went on our run and I wanted to turn back during the first hundred steps, but after that I started to feel better, forgetting my lack of fitness while we chatted.

I finished the run with so much more energy than I started. My legs were a bit sore, but I was wide awake. A good friend can do that to do. Just being with them makes you feel better and more alive. Now, if only I could call a friend over every time I didn't feel like doing my homework...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Thinking up my own blog topics is booorringg. Here's a chance for you to pick a blog topic for me! Just email me the answer to the question below and include a topic of your choice, if your answer is correct I promise I'll make a post about the topic. (You have until I post my next Weekly Challenge to respond)

-What's the name of the 7-year-old that Real Madrid just signed a one-year contract with?

Email answer and blog topic to:

My New Favorite Haiku

The picture just makes it that much better.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Movies with the family

A lot of times, it's the people you see a movie with that makes it so memorable. Good company can make a movie infinitely better, no matter how dull or lame the movie was to begin with.

This past vacation I was on with my relatives in California has given me so many good memories. I watched 5 movies- Despicable Me, UP, Winnie the Pooh, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Notebook. All of them were good. All of them were with family, which made it even better. (And for the record, Winnie the Pooh was surprisingly good. I was cracking up at some points during the movie and I had forgotten how warming childhood stories can still be. I recommend going, even if you are without a younger child or sibling to use as an "excuse" to go).

But anyways, out of the 5 movies, How to Train Your Dragon was the best. I mean, I had already loved it before, but this time we were watching it with the entire family. My younger cousins were sitting on the couch or laying on the floor. The cousins around my age were sitting in the seats by the side. Even my uncle was stretched out on a side couch and my aunt was watching from the back. At the times I was finally able to tear my eyes away from the screen, I would glance around the room and just feel totally at peace, relaxed and so happy to be able to share a movie with everyone. Laughing together, making funny remarks together, tearing at the eys together.... okay maybe that was just me. But still, it was an awesome experience. Even my six-and-a-half-year-old cousin was watching with wide eyes and laughing at the good parts.

I'm going to miss all of them so much. A good family movie is just that much more memorable than anything else.

Importance of keeping with a habit daily

Yup, I'm back. (Just a quick apology to those who checked my blog expecting new posts but didn't find anything. I was on vacation with awesome awesome cousins and now I'm finally back home.)

Chances are, if you've ever promised yourself you'd change a habit or start a new one before in life, you started to flounder a bit after a month or two. You'd hit up the gym, feel great about doing workouts for a month, and then suddenly find yourself going every other day, twice a week, only on the weekends, and then not at all. Or maybe you promised yourself you would write every day or scrapbook or practice scales or do devotions, only to drop it after a week or so of continued effort. It's weird how unpredictable life can be, huh? There always seems to be "something" that happens to mess up your plans. And after that one day of missing your habit, it stretches into another longer gap, which eventually snowballs into destroying your self discipline. 

The thing to do is not to give yourself any excuses. You're just so tired and sore from a week of work and you think you can't possibly go to the gym. So, do a few push-ups and crunches at home. You'll be out of town for the weekend. Bring your notebook or scrap booking stuff and force yourself to cut out a block of time to do it on your trip. It takes more effort to start up a habit after a brief hiatus than to just do the habit every day. Commit to something daily and eventually it will become routine. 

On vacation with my cousins, I suddenly found myself without the time to keep up with my blog. I would've felt much better just doing a short post everyday, rather than feeling like I "have to catch up" now that I'm back. But I'm not that worried- spending time with my cousins was definitely worth it. And now that I have the first post in a long while done, I can comfortably get back in my habit.