Archive | January, 2014

From Taiwan and Back Part IV

30 Jan

*Throws confetti* We made it to the fourth and final part of this series, Bleaders! For those of you who have been following this in spite of me not ever going to Taiwan at any point, you’re awesome. If you’re just tuning in, you’re still awesome, but what you missed in Parts I, II, and III is me picking the winners in three categories from each of my mom’s writing classes at Ming Chuan University, and today is no exception. I read the essays from my mom’s Thursday class and chose the following three as its winners:

Most Informative

For this category, I chose Playing Volleyball and Swimming by May. I neither swim nor play volleyball, but I do appreciate the effort she put into this paper about these favorite pastimes of hers. May seemed to really address what made these activities so important to her, a large paragraph dedicated to each, so though there were some mistakes throughout her paper, she still shined here.

Most Appealing

I found Dante’s paper about her perfect day so appealing; it was such a nice read. I like how she implies that days don’t have to be extravagant to be amazing– just listen to this description of hers: “Without the city lights, the stars can finally shine their own beauty out, and the moon will let her kindness and tenderness light up the world where we live. The black night is as dark as the ebony and as smooth as the silk. The whole scene of the sky is like the world’s most fabulous gown adorned by tons of diamond fragments, and a big, changeable white pearl is sewed on the fabric.” See? Appealing.

Best Utilization of English and Grammar

Maya definitely best utilized the English language in her paper, Independent Tour and Group Tour. She wrote rather well and I didn’t encounter too many mistakes, at least regarding her language skills 😉 . My biggest grievance is that in her introduction she says that group tours are a good method, but her paragraph regarding it only mentions the negatives. If she could put the bias aside a bit, I think this could become a really good essay.

Like I said in entries past, all of my mom’s students are doing really well considering English isn’t their first language. May, Dante, and Maya may have won this time around, but all of these students deserve some recognition. I can only imagine how much better their revisions are going to be.

Note: I am NOT grading these essays and my input has no influence on the students’ grades from my mother. This has just been an opportunity for these English students to have their work read and critiqued by some sort of outside audience, and for me to get to be a bit of a judge. I may not want to read essays regularly, but I have liked this particular experience. Hope you liked reading about these papers that came from Taiwan and back!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

From Taiwan and Back Part III

25 Jan

In case you missed the first two parts, you can find Part I here and Part II here. These posts have been an opportunity for me to judge the work of my mom’s writing students who have been learning English as a second language, acknowledging the three I think were best from each class in certain categories. This particular post is regarding her class from Wednesdays.

Most Informative

I picked Enzo’s paper as the most informative. I am assuming that long before she ever showed up for English Composition I she has been thinking about going to Greece. It sounds as though she has known she’d go swimming, that she’d look at the architecture, and that she’d even ride a donkey if she ever got the opportunity to go, so as soon as she was told to describe her perfect day, she just put those ideas down. I could be completely wrong here, but that’s how informative this paper was.

Most Appealing

For this category I chose Rex’s piece. I found it appealing because he seemed to really use his imagination to draw a picture. You could really see  him waking up, eating breakfast, going to the gym, and later playing the most exciting game of basketball. I could practically hear the buzzer and the crowds cheering, and I’m definitely cheering for Rex on the job well done here 😉

Best Utilization of English and Grammar

Elie’s paper, Travel to Paris, was one of the very first I read and honestly, afterwards it was hard for anyone to hold a candle to her in the utilization department. She may have been talking about mostly French things, but I could barely find a fault with her English apart from some excess commas. If she continues to study English, I’m confident she’s going to excel.

Although reading papers while taking a break from housework isn’t exactly my idea of a perfect day, I did enjoy sitting down to read these essays about perfect days with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and a pen in the other. This specific batch of students may only be at level 1 (the other three classes are at level 2), but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been doing as good of a job when it comes to writing. Enzo, Rex, and Elie might have won here, but this entire class deserves some acknowledgement! Kudos, guys!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

A Letter to Logan

20 Jan

Dear Logan,

In just three days you’re going to be three years old. It doesn’t seem possible for so much time to have passed since your dad brought us home from the hospital. It doesn’t seem possible that you already know how to push my buttons yet turn my frowns upside down when said buttons have been pushed. It doesn’t seem possible that I can grow to love you more than I love you today, but if these past three years have taught me anything, it’s that I grow to love you more and more with each passing day.

My heart did somersaults when you said “momma” for the first time and it beamed with pride when you took your first steps. They say that “having a baby changes everything,” and that has included my heart. For someone so little, you have made a big impact on me. I can only imagine how much I will marvel at you in another three years.

You know how I’m usually playing on the computer whenever you’re playing with your trucks and tractors? More often than not I’m on Facebook talking about you! I put a bunch of statuses and pictures from your first two years in my post from last year, and now I’ll share with you some of my favorite Facebook statuses from the past year 🙂

May 25th, 2013:
“It makes me giggle whenever Logan says goodbye to his piggy bank after making a deposit. And it warms my heart whenever he says ‘you too, mumma’ after I tell him I love him.”

July 15th, 2013:
“Mr. Logan got complimented on his manners today. And his looks, but the latter’s nothing new.”

September 14th, 2013:
“You know it’s going to be an interesting day when the first thing your son does is grab his golf club and chases the cats with it.”

September 14th, 2013 Again:
“My day’s ending as funny as it started. Every time Gabe leans in for kisses from Logan, the little guy coughs &/or laughs as soon as his dad’s an inch from his face.”

November 23rd, 2013:
“Logan keeps pausing his dad’s show, claiming it needs to load. Gabe keeps telling me I need to entertain his son, but both the little one and I are already very entertained :-D”

December 26th, 2013:
“Logan insists on Gabe sitting on the floor with him as he plays tractors and trucks, but heaven help Daddy if he touches any of the toys!”

You, my dear boy, are definitely the light of my life, so I’m sorry for all the times I have raised my voice over the past few years, and if I ever made you feel like you were an inconvenience. Unfortunately I can’t promise you that this will never happen again, but I can assure you that I’m always going to immediately feel bad about it, making myself feel worse than I ever made you feel. You are my greatest accomplishment and I’m going to try my best to make sure you always remember that.

This past year has been a bit of a rough one with all of the dentist visits, and I know it must have felt like Daddy and I were being mean for making you go through that, but I promise you it was in your best interest even if you’re not going to see it that way until you’re older. We are always going to do what we think is best for you; you may hate us for it, but we love you more than you can possibly comprehend.

It doesn’t seem possible that so much has happened in such a short time. We love you and we’re so happy to have you in our lives! Happy birthday, Mr. Logan!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~ Love, Mommy

PS: A couple of my pen pals would like to wish you a happy birthday, too!

imageedit__7276458926

imageedit__4706865675

From Taiwan and Back Part II

15 Jan

If the title wasn’t indication enough, this is the second installment of a blog series of mine. For more details you can check out the original post, but in a nutshell, this post acknowledges the work of three of my mom’s writing students from her second class on Monday mornings.

Most Informative

I found Wendy’s paper, Compare to Accomodation and Commute, rather informative. She has commuted and has lived on campus, and so she was able to speak well of both experiences. I appreciated her explaining the differences when it comes to transportation and her lifestyle, and I also like that she included the difficulties she has faced. Someone who was trying to decide where to live could find this helpful as it gives them plenty to consider.

Most Appealing

Ruby’s paper, Difference between the movies The Time Traveler’s Wife and About Time, was very appealing. She started her essay by saying Rachel McAdams was her favorite actress and then proceeded to compare two of the movies she has been in that also regarded time travel. She talked about both movies as well as McAdams’ performance in each, and it wasn’t just pleasant to read, it also made me want to watch About Time since I haven’t seen it before.

Best Utilization of English and Grammar

Belle’s piece comparing the influence of books and music was very well written; I imagine if someone didn’t know English wasn’t her first language, they would think they were reading the essay of a native speaker. I would have to get really nit-picky to edit her paper, and though it will be revised, she is off to an exceptional start.

Congratulations to Wendy, Ruby, and Belle! You are doing very well! All of mom’s students are, really. My advice for the rest of the class is the same as it was last time: use your experiences to your advantage! The three ladies who won from your group all wrote about her experiences commuting, her appreciation for two movies starring her favorite actress, and her emotional connections to books and music. The extra details are what made their essays stand out so keep that in mind when you begin your revisions! Good luck, guys!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

This Labyrinth I Roam

13 Jan

I have a bit of a manic Monday going on today. There are a couple awards I want to accept and I have a few Music Themes to tend to so bear with me, please! I wanted to use “This Labyrinth I Roam” as this week’s title because in addition to it fitting what my Miscellaneous Mondays are about, the blogger who nominated me for the following awards uses it for her blog’s title 🙂

Late last year I was nominated for three awards by This Labyrinth I Roam: The Dragon’s Loyalty Award, The Versatile Blogger Award, and The Imagine Award. I already accepted the first award once before, but I thought I’d take advantage of this Miscellaneous Monday to accept the others.

versatileblogger111

The Rules:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Seven Things:

0361. Around this time last year I made SKuirrels and now I’m making these Chick Magnets for my pen pals:
2. The first letters I received this year were from Justine and Belle, and the first postcard via postcrossing I got came from Malaysia.
3. So far, the best thing to happen this year was dinner and a movie with Gabe, though this was split between two Saturdays– we had Red Lobster on the 4th and saw Frozen on the 11th.
4. The worst thing to happen this year has been needing some dental work. On the 2nd I had an exam done so on the 9th the broken molar could be taken care of.
5. Gabe is a volunteer firefighter and on Saturday we were supposed to go to a party for the guys and their significant others, but fortunately for me it got cancelled. I’m not a fan of these things, or the fact the guy who organizes them thinks my name is Kathy.
6. On the 19th the boys and I will be having a little pizza party in honor of Logan’s 3rd birthday with my grandparents and Uncle Doug’s family.
7. And of course it won’t be the little guy’s birthday until there’s a trip to Logan’s Roadhouse.

Fifteen Nominees (I’m going with 15 of the newest additions to my reader):

1. Snailmail is Still in Fashion
2. johnny ojanpera
3. The Snail Mailer’s Almanac
4. The Naked Envelope
5. treatmentofvisions
6. Angry Pear
7. Beer, Hugs and Ice Cream
8. Hallvi’s Nest
9. Your Mother is a Dirty Girl
10. The Ugly Volvo
11. Serious thoughts taken not so seriously
12. Knocked over by a feather
13. Have You Seen My Glass Slipper?
14. Letters, Postcards and a Cup of Tea
15. Miss Four Eyes

the-imagine-award

The Rules:

1. Copy and paste the award to your post.
2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog page to your post.
3. List 3-5 things about the nominator’s blog that you like (which you think are very creative).
4. Nominate 5 other bloggers/blogs which you think display a fantastic use of creativity and imagination.
5. Notify your nominees.
6. Copy and paste The Imagine Award to your blog page.

3 Things I like about The Labyrinth I Roam:

This Blogger is a great blend of insightful and random; I especially appreciate the latter 😉

First of all, this is the header of her blog: cropped-5

Second of all, this post of the Top 10 Holiday Cards is hysterical! Even if she didn’t make them, I love that she took the time to find each of them, especially the “Joy” and “Silent Night” ones.

And third of all, although it’s not pertaining to mail, she introduced me to the following video. I showed it to my friend Nicole right away but now I want to share it with you:

My Five Nominees:

1. Squirrel Tales
2. Line By Line
3. The Middlest Sister
4. PostSecret
5. Nerd in the Brain

Congratulations to all of my nominees! It’s now time to share my musical selections with my fellow themists and anyone else who is interested. Johnny, both a nominee and a themist, was just saying how he wanted more people to contribute so please consider joining us 🙂

Johnny’s Music Theme for January 8th: Contrast

My first reaction to this theme was that it is an AWESOME concept; thanks to my dad and brothers I am no stranger to light and dark sides, haha. My second reaction was recalling Eva’s “Old and New” post from a few themes back– I thought I’d take a Kate-friendly approach to that for this.

For starters, in the movie Down With Love, starring Renée Zellweger and my celebrity crush, Ewan McGregor, there is this sequence where they are getting ready for a big night out, while two versions of the same song play in the background.

Fly Me to the Moon- Astrud Gilberto/ Frank Sinatra
“Fill my heart with song and let me sing forever more.”

The other video I immediately thought of is one that blends a duet from the 60’s with its Glee cover…

Get Happy/ Happy Days are Here Again- Judy Garland & Barbara Streisand/ Glee Cast
“Forget your troubles, come on get happy. You better chase all your cares away.”

I wasn’t sure what to use for a third, but as I began to type “two versions of” into youtube’s search engine, up popped “two versions of a date” and I just had to watch that and I’m glad I did because I found it very amusing.

He Said. She Said. (Short Film Comedy)

. * . * .

Deborah’s Music Theme for January 13: Hobbies and Pastimes

I might have nudged my mom in this direction. Not only did I think all the themists could have fun with this theme since they each have an array of interests, I thought I could incorporate some songs that pertain to mail.

If you’re following this blog, you know that pen palling is my favorite hobby. What you may not know is that I regularly look out the window in case the car that just drove by was my mail carrier’s.

Please, Mr. Postman- The Marvelettes
“Deliver the letter, the sooner the better.”

In addition to letters, something else I enjoy doing is watching musicals, both on stage and on film. This next video represents both of these favorite pastimes.

All My Loving- from Across the Universe
“And then while I’m away I’ll write home every day.”

The next song is just a fun one that I had to include with a theme like this.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered- Stevie Wonder
“Here I am– signed, sealed, delivered– I’m yours!”

But wait, there’s more! I have a bonus video to tie both themes together! This video is the Glee cover of Stevie Wonder’s song, so not only is there a contrast between the performances, it’s also reflective of my hobby, too.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered- Glee Cast
“You got my future in your hands.”

I told you it was a bit of a Manic Monday… but in a good way, I think. This may only be my second Miscellaneous Monday, but I’ve been having fun putting these posts together. I can be pretty random and this addition to Sincerely Kate is a chance for me to express that aspect of my personality. I hope you enjoyed roaming this crazy labyrinth of mine!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

From Taiwan and Back Part I

10 Jan

Welcome to the first entry of a four-part series! I wish I could say I’ve been to Taiwan, but that’s not the case– the title’s more theoretical. As you may already know, my mom teaches writing (among other things) at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan. From when she started 4+ years ago I would offer to grade her papers for 25 cents a pop, and now she’s finally taking me up on the offer. Instead of grading anything I’ll be reading about 15 papers from each of her four writing classes. From each set of papers I will choose the one I found the most informative, the one that I consider the most appealing, and the one that best utilized the English language as well as grammar.

Below are the winners from her first class on Monday mornings. The second class on Monday will find their winners here on the 15TH, her Wednesday class on the 25TH, and Thursday’s on the 30TH. In addition to their recognition here on Sincerely Kate, my mom will also be rewarding all twelve winners.

Most Informative

I chose Christine’s paper, Different Experiences in Two Different Worlds, for this category. Christine seems like a natural storyteller and therefore really painted a picture about each of her experiences. I loved her description of the mountain that looked like chocolate cake with icing, and I enjoyed hearing about her ski trip– she has a very conversational style so the way she described these things was as if we were old friends, not leaving a single detail out.

Most Appealing

The paper I was most drawn to was the one written by Vicky regarding the differences between living at home and at a dormitory. Although I never lived in a dorm, I have had roommates so I could relate to what Vicky was saying. What really made this paper for me were the examples she used like how a dorm-mate will likely tidy the bathroom up after they shower if you ask them to, but a sibling will rarely bother no matter how much you ask. Her personal touch to such a public topic was very well executed as well as very appealing.

Best Utilization of English and Grammar

Teresa did an excellent job utilizing what she has learned so far in her paper, Physical Beauty and Inner Beauty. Sure, there were a few mistakes, but most of her punctuation was spot on. She really used her words to her advantage and described why inner beauty should be more important. Words I was happy to see used include seldom, artificial, cultivated, shallow, and abstract.

Congratulations to Christine, Vicky, and Teresa! I hope you’re as excited for these awards as I was impressed by your essays!

As for the rest of you, you deserve some acknowledgement, too. If I were to learn a second language, I doubt I’d be able to write an entire paragraph, let alone an essay. My best advice to you as you begin rewrites is to provide more examples or to share your own experiences– if you liked a certain movie, I want to know what made it speak to you; if you are comparing country living to city living, I want to hear about the time you spent out in the country and not just hear you refer to it as relaxing. Details can really make the difference between a good and a great paper! Good luck, guys 🙂

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

Miscellaneous Mondays

6 Jan

Last time on Sincerely Kate...

I will still be posting pen pal-friendly things on the same days I did last year (5TH, 10TH, etc.); these additional posts [Miscellaneous Mondays] are more for the “bandwagons” that pop up around WordPress like Daily Prompts, Challenges, and then the Music Themes I recently started participating in. I will likely start posting book reviews on these days one day in the near future, and I also plan to start accepting whatever awards I’m nominated for on them, too.

And now the continuation of Sincerely Kate

Back on Christmas, I participated in a Music Theme challenge. This may have been the first time I did a post all on my own, but I’ve actually been collaborating with my mom for the past few months on her challenges, earning me the handle Collaborator. Here’s a list of the blogs of hers I was involved with:

After Santa came and went I incorporated a few videos in my post from the 30th that fit that particular theme, and now it’s time to incorporate the new music theme, Dream, into this one. Remember, guys, you can find the other themists listed to the right side of this blog.

As a kid I had a pretty active imagination. I didn’t just have an imaginary friend, but I had an imaginary family (complete with two twin girls and a baby boy) and I owned and operated an imaginary restaurant, too. I may no longer imagine a pretend life for myself, but I do dream about the life I want my real family and I to have…

Better Life- Keith Urban
“There’s a place for you and me where we can dream as big as the sky.”

A lot has happened since I served imaginary people imaginary coffee. I went from dreaming about being a performer, to wanting to get into advertising, to pursuing a psychology degree, to being a stay-at-home mom who dreams about making her writing hobby into a career. There was probably more stuff mixed in there, but you get the idea.

Everyday I Write the Book- Elvis Costello
“When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote.”

And then, of course, I have dreams for this blog (however trivial). For example, I dream of finding a song from Glee that works with each of these Music Themes, haha 😉

Dream On- Glee Cast
“The past is gone. It went by like dusk to dawn.”

And now here are three other songs about dreams that I adore, especially the first. The movie Get Over It is a retelling of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, by the way!

Dream of Me- from Get Over It
“And sleep per chance to dream, so I can see the face I long to touch, to kiss.”

I Dream- Billie Piper
“When I close my eyes you are by my side, and I can picture us together.”

Once Upon a Dream- from Sleeping Beauty
“You’ll love me at once the way you did once upon a dream.”

I loved Sleeping Beauty as a kid and even as a teen, but it’s just now dawning on me that it was ironic for her, of all people, to be singing about dreams, haha.

And I find it fitting that Dream was the theme for my very first Miscellaneous Monday. Less than two months ago MMs were just a mere idea since my original blog rotation was so obsessive, but the compulsive part of me made that little nugget of a dream into a reality. On that note, I shall leave you dreamers with one last video…

Carpe Diem- from Phineas & Ferb
“Cause every day’s a brand new day, you gotta carpe diem!”

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

…And In With the New

5 Jan

Happy New Year, Bleaders! I thought I’d share some of my resolutions for this year this time around. Hopefully as you read Sincerely Kate throughout 2014 you’ll see these things as they’re resolved– in addition to the resolutions themselves, I’ll share just how you might find these things as the year progresses.

1. Be a better wife and mother. I will definitely be posting blogs about both of the guys in my life as their respective birthdays approach and I’ll acknowledge them again on my wedding anniversary. They’ll likely be featured here more than that, I just don’t know any other specifics just yet.

2. Continue to try new recipes. This is far from a foodie blog, but I know I’ll be making an exception towards the end of the summer for something my mom and I are calling The Great Breakfast Challenge (provided she gets to visit!) so who knows if there will be other exceptions.

3. Try to meet Kära since we weren’t successful last fall. Obviously meeting a pen pal warrants a blog all on its own.

4. Conquer at least one thing from my bucket list. Most of the things on my bucket list may also warrant their own posts, but solving a rubiks cube will probably wind up a footnote elsewhere.

5. Get and use a library card. I’ve mostly been using my Kindle to read as of late, but when I do make it to the library to check something out I’ll mention that fact when I post that something’s book review.

6. Work on a short story anthology that fell by the wayside early last year. Although this project is under wraps until completion (whenever the heck that is), another short story is to be shared here come either March or April in something I’m calling KaShoStoMo.

7. Be a good judge this month 😉 . On the 10TH, 15TH, 25TH, and 30TH of this month I’ll be posting the results from said judging here so stay tuned!

8. Strive to do my best with the other writing opportunities I (may have) recently acquired (that pay!). The writing opportunity is still a bit of a mystery to me, though as I begin to work on it &/or upon its completion I may have many a reason to bring it up. If it’s not worthy of its own post it may at least tie into another.

9. Do an intense clean on the house, even if it’s just one room per month (garage included), and then keep it clean. I highly doubt I’ll specifically write about this, but an update may occur as I talk about either of the boys.

10. Add Miscellaneous Mondays into my blog rotation. Considering this is an addition to my blog, obviously you can see these posts on here! They’ll occur on most Mondays, starting tomorrow. I will still be posting pen pal-friendly things on the same days I did last year (5TH, 10TH, etc.); these additional posts are more for the “bandwagons” that pop up around WordPress like Daily Prompts, Challenges, and then the Music Themes I recently started participating in. I will likely start posting book reviews on these days one day in the near future, and I also plan to start accepting whatever awards I’m nominated for on them, too.

1518131_10202577225972845_1763627824_nI have more than 10 resolutions (like getting Logan potty trained and getting myself to the dentist), but this looks like a pretty good list to me. Hopefully 2014 is a good year for me and the boys and for all of you, too. All the best, now and always.

Sincerely, Kate ~!~