Been another long while since I did a post on our kids! So, lots of pictures in this update post. I think we’re blessed in that both Hannah and Peter’s birthdays are in the month of June – which nicely coincides with the stipulated school holidays in the public school calendar. We celebrated both their birthdays at home; with friends in Hannah’s case, and with our larger family for Peter. Hannah is of course at an age now where she recognizes the significance of having a birthday, and that it’s not just about having more presents and toys to play with. Peter on the other hand was completely nonplus about it and probably wondered what all the fuss was about when the family all gathered around him for the celebration song.

Hannah just turned five!

Hannah just turned five!

And received from us a Nikon compact camera as a birthday present.

And received from us a Nikon compact camera as a birthday present.

Hannah admiring her just taken-selfie, while Peter looks bewildered at the bounced flash that just triggered to take this picture.

Hannah admiring her just taken-selfie, while Peter looks bewildered at the bounced flash that just triggered to take this picture.

We haven't bought Hannah a lot to swim in the new main pool @ Minton, given that our weekends have been quite packed with activities. She's been taking swimming lessons too at school, so is more comfortable now in the water.

We haven’t bought Hannah a lot to swim in the new main pool @ Minton, given that our weekends have been quite packed with activities. She’s been taking swimming lessons too at school, so is more comfortable now in the water.

We've started letting Peter have his tidbits of food with us when we eat out of home. Necessary method of engagement, otherwise he'd just bawl (out of boredom?!).

We’ve started letting Peter have his tidbits of food with us when we eat out of home. Necessary method of engagement, otherwise he’d just bawl (out of boredom?!).

Peter more interested in his birthday cake than the singing.:)

Peter more interested in his birthday cake than the singing.:)

Peter is nearly able to stand unsupported on his own now. At the moment, he can keep his balance for a few seconds, but he's getting there.

Peter is nearly able to stand unsupported on his own now. At the moment, he can just barely keep his balance for a few seconds, but he’s getting there.

We went by The Minton over the weekend for a meeting with a curtains/blinds maker we’re interested in engaging. This particular contractor is based in Johore Bahru, but commutes to Singapore every day for work. He was a particularly jolly fellow and we like him, though at times he was chuckling at his own jokes! There’s no lack of curtains/blinds makers in Singapore of course, but for those of us on a budget, the contractors who’re located across the causeway are possibly a more affordable alternative. For our home, we’re looking at day and night curtains for the living/dining room, blinds for the bedrooms/study, and frosted films for the master bathroom windows, and hopefully we’ll receive a quotation from him soon enough as to how much it’s gonna cost us for all these.

Rectification work has also started for the long list of defects we forwarded to the Developer too last midweek. A good number of chips and cracked lines along the wall edges at the front balcony and also bedrooms have been rectified, though others at the back balcony and kitchen have not been touched yet. Workers were also sanding down the parquet flooring on Saturday, and during a follow-up visit on Sunday afternoon, the same floor had just been varnished too. A couple of residents were reporting that the defect rectification team have (accidentally) caused a few more defects when they did their patch-up work – we’re hoping that that doesn’t happen too much for us. We wouldn’t want a continual cycle of new defects caused by rectification teams!

Sunday mid-afternoon yesterday was quite cloudy, but there was some brief direct sunlight, which allowed for for this picture - bubbles reflections against sunlight @ the cascading waterfalls. I'd forgotten to bring ND filters, so will probably redo this picture again soon.

Sunday mid-afternoon yesterday was quite cloudy, but there was some brief direct sunlight, which allowed for for this picture – bubbles reflections against sunlight @ the cascading waterfalls. I’d forgotten to bring ND filters, so will probably redo this picture again soon.

Asymmetrical lines between Block 10A and 10B. The bright sky would have killed most of the shadow details, so some post-processing was necessary in Adobe Raw.

Asymmetrical lines between Block 10A and 10B. The bright sky would have killed most of the shadow details, so some post-processing was necessary in Adobe Raw.

The flora in The Minton is thriving, and I went all nuts with the m4/3s macro setting on the 12-50mm lens.

The flora in The Minton is thriving, and I went all nuts with the m4/3s macro setting on the 12-50mm lens.

We visited a friend whose staying at Block 10B and facing Fun World. Here's her level 10 unit looking down at the Grand Clubhouse. We don't get this view from our unit.

We visited a friend whose staying at Block 10B and facing Fun World. Here’s her level 10 unit looking down at the Grand Clubhouse. We don’t get this view from our unit.

Flowerbed just in front of the Badminton Dome. Very pretty!

Flowerbed just in front of the Badminton Dome. Very pretty!

Hannah finally at the slide at the Children's Treeouse @ Tranquil World. She's been pining to try this out for months now ever since spotting them in visits last year!

Hannah finally at the slide at the Children’s Treeouse @ Tranquil World. She’s been pining to try this out for months now ever since spotting them in visits last year!

Mommy and Hannah trying to attract the attention of the Lily Pond's kois @ Tranquil World. These are the mega-sized monster kois we see elsewhere - hopefully they'll grow over time.

Mommy and Hannah trying to attract the attention of the Lily Pond’s kois @ Tranquil World. These are the mega-sized monster kois we see elsewhere – hopefully they’ll grow over time.

At the contemporary bridge. Peter is more interested in the bridge's wood decking.=)

At the contemporary bridge. Peter is more interested in the bridge’s wood decking.=)

More pictures of The Minton flora here.

Part two of pictures taken at our keys handover day. There wasn’t many persons about, but once most residents have moved in, the scene will probably look quite different.

Deck chairs beside the main pool. Just a few weeks ago, strong winds during a monsoon storm blew one of these into the lap pool.

Deck chairs beside the main pool. Just a few weeks ago, strong winds during a monsoon storm blew one of these into the lap pool.

Main pool BBQ pit.

Main pool BBQ pit.

Structure of steel, glass, wood and stone.

Structure of steel, glass, wood and stone.

Back view of the Grand Clubhouse.

Back view of the Grand Clubhouse.

The chess set pieces I saw in an earlier visit weren't on the chess board this time round.

The chess set pieces I saw in an earlier visit weren’t on the chess board this time round.

Hannah is going to adore the children's water playground.

Hannah is going to adore the children’s water playground.

One of the several gazebos at Fun World. They look like little wedding tents!

One of the several gazebos at Fun World. They look like little wedding tents!

After months of wondering if topiary was ever going to get a head, it finally did.

After months of wondering if topiary was ever going to get a head, it finally did.

The cascading waterfall. There was a very strong chlorine smell from the water though. Not enough for you notice while you're in your units, but obvious enough when you're walking right past the waterfall.

The cascading waterfall. There was a very strong chlorine smell from the water though. Not enough for you notice while you’re in your units, but obvious enough when you’re walking right past the waterfall.

The library. I think residents are going to use this place more as study areas than anything else!

The library. I think residents are going to use this place more as study areas than anything else!

From just outside the library.

From just outside the library.

Lots of landscaping touches, like the large series of steps going down from the Clubhouse to the Chipping Green.

Lots of landscaping touches, like the large series of steps going down from the Clubhouse to the Chipping Green.

The beams supporting the contemporary bridge. The bridge looks awesome from below.

The beams supporting the contemporary bridge. The bridge looks awesome from below.

The lap pool, as seen from a low angle.

The lap pool, as seen from a low angle.

Amazonian Lily Pond at Tranquil World, where our block is. Ling laments though that the lilies are baby size - hopefully they'll grow over time.

Amazonian Lily Pond at Tranquil World, where our block is. Ling laments though that the lilies are baby size – hopefully they’ll grow over time.

The contemporary bridge. After taking pictures of it from the outside for nearly a year, I finally got to actually step on the bridge LOL.

The contemporary bridge. After taking pictures of it from the outside for nearly a year, I finally got to actually step on the bridge LOL.

The lap pool stretches for quite a distance.

The lap pool stretches for quite a distance.

About nearly 2 years 4 months after we made the big decision to buy a new condo apartment near the school we are hoping to enroll Hannah into in a few years’ time, we finally got the newly minted keys to our new home at The Minton this morning.  The place was pretty much crawling with estates security personnel. I was stopped by the guardpost, and had my reported appointment checked against their morning schedule. Drove to the foyer just a few meters away where my appointment was checked a second time, followed by directions where to park at the basement 1 carpark, where I’d be met by a third security person who’d let me through into the lift lobby. Gosh. And only when I was let into the ‘inner sanctum’, was I finally directed to the appointment room where the keys handover was to take place. And later in the morning when I was wandering around taking pictures, I was approached by more security persons wanting to know who I was, taking all those pictures!

The actual keys handover didn’t take long. The Developer representative ran through quickly each of the several dozen documents – forms to fill-up, declarations and indemnity forms for moving house and renovation, warranty statements – then the sets of keys and access cards themselves.

To be fair; lots of residents have expressed disappointment for a variety of things about this condo – though observing my other friends who’re making similar purchases at other places, Singapore home buyers are a really tough bunch to please – but my first impressions of the completed Minton was actually quite positive. Words can’t quite describe how large the compound is, the amount of space in between blocks, and how landscaping and elevation has been used to good effect to make the numerous amenities look more spread-out than they really are.

I’ve got lots more initial impressions to share, so will break my visit into three parts; the first of which are panoramas I composed to give a sense of how big The Minton compound is.

Blocks 12 and 14 has seen from my balcony.  Our unit overlooks the cascading waterfall and Amazonian lily pond. There's lots of space in between opposite blocks too.

Blocks 12 and 14 has seen from my balcony. Our unit overlooks the cascading waterfall and Amazonian lily pond. There’s lots of space in between opposite blocks too.

Blocks 10 as seen from across the huge main pool. No one was swimming at this time in the morning.

Blocks 10 as seen from across the huge main pool. No one was swimming at this time in the morning.

The calm water in the main pool provided very pretty reflections of Block 10B. Doesn't look like it - but this is also a stitched panorama.

The calm water in the main pool provided very pretty reflections of Block 10B. Doesn’t look like it – but this is also a stitched panorama.

The footpath adjacent to the cascading waterfall.

The footpath adjacent to the cascading waterfall.

Blocks 2, 6 and 8 from the other side of the main pool.

Blocks 2, 6 and 8 from the other side of the main pool.

 

The Minton finally TOPed last week on the 29 November. Though now comes the real wait – keys collection, and since the project is so large with so many apartment units, we’ve been hearing anywhere between 3 to 6 months for key distribution to complete. Our block though is among the first phase of blocks to get keys – not that it really matters that much to us now though, since whether we move in January or June next year now doesn’t make any difference to school and nanny arrangements for Peter and Hannah.

Still – we swung by the project site on Saturday morning to see if kaypoh residents like us will be allowed in for a walkabout. Taking long shots for the last 24 months from the surrounding HDB blocks was interesting only up till a point! No such luck though – the compound was still secured, and with estate and security guards now whom as someone remarked, looked like they meant business. Or maybe it was just the newness of their new postings.

Just a couple of pictures this time. Since we’re all receiving keys soon, I’ve only posted pictures of interest than the usual establishing shots.

Walkabout going on at the dome.

Walkabout going on at the dome.

Units at Block 10C facing Tranquil World at Block 10C Tranquil World getting cleaned.

Units at Block 10C facing Tranquil World at Block 10C Tranquil World getting cleaned.

There was very loud hacking/drilling sounds going about this unit at Block 10. I think. Not sure if this is because the unit has commenced renovation work already, or because the developer has had to replace major bathroom fixtures.

There was very loud hacking/drilling sounds going about this unit at Block 10. I think. Not sure if this is because the unit has commenced renovation work already, or because the developer has had to replace major bathroom fixtures.

The same unit. The balcony wall has been covered by cardboard - renovation impending?

The same unit. The balcony wall has been covered by cardboard – renovation impending?

The two kids have been at home with Ling over this December holiday stretch, and that’s given them plenty of opportunities to interact and know each other. Ling was remarking that Peter especially seems to enjoy Hannah’s company, possibly because Hannah has a way of making him laugh with her antics. Though come to think of it, Peter hasn’t quite learned how to laugh out loud. His version of laughing is, at the moment, a wide open-mouth grin and silent laughter of sorts!

Weekday morning pictures with the two. Ling still finds the E-PL6 a little too complex, but thankfully the full-on auto mode of the camera is able to handle shots like this, with face-focus tracking enabled.

Weekday morning pictures with the two. Ling still finds the E-PL6 a little too complex, but thankfully the full-on auto mode of the camera is able to handle shots like this, with face-focus tracking enabled.

We sure hope that Hannah's love and affinity for her baby brother isn't a passing phase! Both of these two pictures were taken using the 17mm, and shot wide-open at f1.8.

We sure hope that Hannah’s love and affinity for her baby brother isn’t a passing phase! Both of these two pictures were taken using the 17mm, and shot wide-open at f1.8.

Peter chews his fingers a lot more than Hannah did at this age. Taken using the 45mm, and wide-open at f1.8. I'm still getting a handle of this short telephoto lens, and frequently to stretch myself as far as I can when shooting over a dining table. The lens is wonderfully sharp in its image center.

Peter chews his fingers a lot more than Hannah did at this age. Taken using the 45mm, and wide-open at f1.8. I’m still getting a handle of this short telephoto lens, and frequently need to stretch myself as far as I can when shooting over a dining table. The lens is at least wonderfully sharp in its image center.

Post breakfast activities @ Coffee Bean. She's been drawing a lot - so much so that I'm seriously toying with the idea of buying her a Galaxy Note tablet. Taken using the 25mm and at f1.8. Hannah was seated right beside me, so this required quite a bit of arm contortion for me to put both her drawing, her crayon on her right hand, and part of her face into the frame!

Post breakfast activities @ Coffee Bean. She’s been drawing a lot – so much so that I’m seriously toying with the idea of buying her a Galaxy Note tablet. Taken using the 25mm and at f1.8. Hannah was seated right beside me, so this required quite a bit of arm contortion for me to put both her drawing, her crayon on her right hand, and part of her face into the frame!

Hannah showing off her artwork. She's improved her drawing abilities by leaps. Taken using the 17m and wide-open at f1.8.

Hannah showing off her artwork. She’s improved her drawing abilities by leaps. Taken using the 17m and wide-open at f1.8.

Peter on the weekend morning, and laughing thanks to Hannah just to my right. With the 45mm and wide-open at f1.8. again.

Peter on the weekend morning, and laughing thanks to Hannah just to my right. With the 45mm and wide-open at f1.8. again.

 

Every year at about this month I’d do a post on how our kids have grown and changed each month. The last such post was in November a year ago here – here’s the updated one from when Hannah has gone from 3.5 to 4.5 years old. Appearance wise, she doesn’t seem to have changed as much as she did when she was between one to three years old. That said, she seems to be ever-so looking less chubbier around her cheeks since the last few months.

3 Years 5 Months old in November 2012, and playing with Ling's NTUC member card (she's custodian of the card whenever we're at the Fairprice checkout lanes).

3 Years 5 Months old in November 2012, and playing with Ling’s NTUC member card (she’s custodian of the card whenever we’re at the Fairprice checkout lanes).

3 Years 6 Months old in December 2012, and during an outing with Daddy using public transportation. Pluto is her constant companion, as one can see from other pictures here!

3 Years 6 Months old in December 2012, and during an outing with Daddy using public transportation. Pluto is her constant companion, as one can see from other pictures here!

3 Years 7 Months old in January 2013, and when she'd just got the Swampy plush toy from Disney's "Where's My Water" game. Regrettably, Swampy has since got passed onto the less-frequently played toys bin!

3 Years 7 Months old in January 2013, and when she’d just got the Swampy plush toy from Disney’s “Where’s My Water” game. Regrettably, Swampy has since got passed onto the less-frequently played toys bin!

3 Years 8 Months old in February 2013, and after her first ever hair-cut. We decided to try the $10 10 minute haircut options, and thankfully took quite well to it. That's lots of money saved for Daddy/Mommy - at least until she grows older and wants her hair done properly.

3 Years 8 Months old in February 2013, and after her first ever hair-cut at the salon. We decided to try the $10 10 minute haircut options, and thankfully took quite well to it. That’s lots of money saved for Daddy/Mommy – at least until she grows older and wants her hair done properly.

3 Years 9 Months old in March 2013, and wearing her faux pearl necklace given to her by her maternal grandmom. That necklace has gone through a lot of abuse though, and finally broke apart irreparably earlier this month.

3 Years 9 Months old in March 2013, and wearing her faux pearl necklace given to her by her maternal grandmom. That necklace has gone through a lot of abuse though, and finally broke apart irreparably earlier this month.

3 Years 10 Months in April 2013, and munching on strawberries. Like Mommy, she loves fruits that Daddy doesn't enjoy (that includes tomatoes, grapes, kiwi and strawberries!

3 Years 10 Months in April 2013, and munching on strawberries. Like Mommy, she loves fruits that Daddy doesn’t enjoy (that includes tomatoes, grapes, kiwi and strawberries!

3 Years 11 Months in May 2013, and at one of our favorite hangouts - Old Town White Coffee @ City Square Mall. They whip up fabulous Nasi Lemak sets there.

3 Years 11 Months in May 2013, and at one of our favorite hangouts – Old Town White Coffee @ City Square Mall. They whip up fabulous Nasi Lemak sets there.

4 Years Old June 2013. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cafeteria at Greenwich Village became our weekend brunch/breakfast places.

4 Years old in June 2013. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cafeteria at Greenwich Village became our weekend brunch/breakfast places.

4 Years 1 Month in July 2013. The cup sleeve at Coffee Bean is a toy too.

4 Years 1 Month in July 2013. The cup sleeve at Coffee Bean is a toy too.

4 Years 2 Months in August 2013. We've still yet to find out who's been teaching her how to do this! Probably from her boy friend classmates in school.

4 Years 2 Months in August 2013. We’ve still yet to find out who’s been teaching her how to do this! Probably from her classmates in school.

4 Years 3 Months in September 2013, and munching on chocolate-flavored buns for lunch.

4 Years 3 Months in September 2013, and munching on chocolate-flavored buns for lunch.

4 Years 4 Months in October 2013, and looking very grown-up during her year-end school concert performance. Dread the day she's going to bring home a boy. The horror.

4 Years 4 Months in October 2013, and looking very grown-up during her year-end school concert performance. Dread the day she’s going to bring home a boy. The horror.

4 Years 5 Months in November 2013. Next year she's going to K1, and we'll have to start worrying about her Primary One school placement.

4 Years 5 Months in November 2013. Next year she’s going to K1, and we’ll have to start worrying about her Primary One school placement.

The pictures here were taken on the E-M5, excepting the November 2013 (taken using the E-PL6) and that of September 2013 by her school’s event photographers. I’ll also have to start doing a similar series for Peter soon enough too next year once she’s grown a bit more.=)

It’s a sure sign of old age – in the last week, my back experienced intense pain after carrying Hannah up. On the first occasion last weekend, and because I’d forgotten that I have a bad back, I lifted Hannah up high past eye-level, and the second occasion just this morning, even something as normally minor as lifting Hannah up into the NTUC Fairprice trolley cart caused an immediate ache.

An ongoing discussion about lenses with a blog visitor reminded me that the Olympus 45mm and Panasonic 14mm haven’t been receiving much love since the 25mm and 17mm have become the two mainstays on the E-M5 and E-PL6. The 45mm is still regarded as one of the m4/3 systems finest primes, and though the 14mm isn’t quite in the same league optically, it was picked up for really cheap and a wonderfully small pancake lens that I can use very discretely in public places. The 45mm will be especially tricky out of the house though given how much subject distance I’ll need just for an upper body portrait.

The 45mm with the E-M5, and 14mm with the E-PL6.

The Olympus 45mm with the E-M5, and Panasonic 14mm with the E-PL6.

The first round of pictures using the two lenses weren’t so good – I’d gotten so used to the 25mm/17mm that I misjudged depth of field for a couple of pictures I took of Peter and Mommy shot wide-opened (basically, Mommy looked great right down to her facial pores, but Peter’s skin textures were all lost). Below are a couple that turned out alright. The first one’s using the 14mm, and next three with the 45mm – all shot at maximum aperture.

A quick picture at Hougang One's Fairprice. The price of putting Hannah into the trolley seat was a backache for the afternoon.

A quick picture at Hougang One’s Fairprice. The price of putting Hannah into the trolley seat was a backache for the afternoon.

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Showing how she cooks fishes. The plastic container was her stove.

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Say cheese. The living room is a little dark – we are so not going with warm lighting in the new house.

Hannah in a dancing dress after her evening bath.

Hannah in a dancing dress after her evening bath.

Two more pictures, but going back with the 17mm.

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This was a fun picture at Coffee Bean. Hannah is getting really good interacting with Peter and trying to make him laugh.

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Photos like these are usually preceded by Ling calling out “Dear, come quick with your camera!!!”

It’s been another 3 weeks, and The Minton has still yet to reach temporary occupancy status. No one seems quite certain what’s the cause for the hold-up, but at this point and how long we’d been told key distribution will take, it looks increasingly likely we won’t be starting our renovation for the new home this year at all now, and it’s even a stretch if we’d be able to move in around Chinese New Year next year. It’s a bit of a dampener, since after all the effort we took to get renovation quotations back in September, we’ll have to get updated quotations now by the probable time we get the keys.

Oh well. I swung by for another visit in mostly cloudy weather again. As expected, there wasn’t any real development going on nor changes observed, apart from placement of new exterior furnishings, and what looks like minor touch-up and rectification works still going on.

Life buoys have been placed at all three pools.

Life buoys have been placed at all three pools.

Newly placed chairs for lounging around at the Library Patio.

Newly placed chairs for lounging around at the Library Patio.

Very quaint looking tables and chairs at the Croquet Lawn. Perfect for tea-time.

Very quaint looking tables and chairs at the Croquet Lawn. Perfect for tea-time.

Movable wood stumps and boulders have been placed at the Checkboard Area - making it finally clear how the game will be played by kids.

Movable wood stumps and boulders have been placed at the Checkboard Area – making it finally clear how the game will be played by kids.

Seating space for 10 at the Dining Cabana.

Seating space for 10 at the Dining Cabana.

This was odd - a worker cleaning up debris near the Main Pool. It looked like the tiles had been removed, and now need replacements.

This was odd – a worker cleaning up debris near the Main Pool. It looked like the tiles had been removed, and now need replacements.

The heated pool still looking ever as inviting.

The heated pool still looking ever as inviting.

As before, do check the Flickr Album for the large-sized pictures.

Both Ling and I posted little stories to share about our ongoing interactions with Hannah. First one from Ling:

Hannah was showing us her dance in the living room just now…
H: “And shake the hips gently this way…”
H: “Cannot shake too hard otherwise the hips will spoil.”
Mommy: “Who told you that?”
H: “God.”
Mommy: Huh???? You sure about that?”
H: “Ya. God make our hips and so we cannot spoil them. *demonstrating gentle shaking of hips again*
Mommy: *I want to laugh!*

And mine:

Motivational Theory for Four Year Old Girls

Daddy: “Hannah, time to brush your teeth and go to bed.”
H: <<Silence>> “mmgghhmmm”

Or…

Daddy: “Hannah, time to drink your milk!”
H: <<Silence>> “mmgghhmmm”

But then…

Daddy: “Hannah, time to get dressed to go out. What do you wanna wear?”
H: “DADDY, COMING!!! Wait for me in my room OK???”

Hannah has also learned how to roll her eyes. Oh my. Now we’re gonna have to find some way for her to unlearn that LOL.

Took a whole bunch of pictures taken this morning while at brunch with grandparents too, with the E-PL6/17mm and E-M5/25mm interchangeably.

Hannah had a heyday telling everyone on the table "The water-tap is on!"

Hannah had a heyday telling everyone on the table “The water-tap is on!”

Peter has been experiencing a bout o facial rash, caused by his drool constantly collecting on the bed and getting into persistent contact with his cheeks. We've been trying out different ointments to try to alleviate the condition.

Peter has been experiencing a bout of facial rash, caused by his drool constantly collecting on the bed and getting into persistent contact with his cheeks. We’ve been trying out different ointments to try to alleviate the condition.

Mom has discovered taking grandchildren photos on her handphone, and sharing the joy of her empowerment with Hannah.

Mom has discovered taking grandchildren photos on her handphone, and sharing the joy of her empowerment with Hannah.

Hannah has quite taken to games of Scissors-Paper-Stone. Here's mommy and her in one such round. Score according to Hannah was 10-1 in her favor. This evening's round is with Daddy.

Hannah has quite taken to games of Scissors-Paper-Stone. Here’s mommy and her in one such round. Score according to Hannah was 10-1 in her favor. This evening’s round is with Daddy.