Josh turns five

Dear Joshie,

You turned five this past weekend, despite how much I tried to convince you to stay at four. You didn’t think it was funny to remain small.

On your birthday, we surprised you with a trip to Legoland. I will always remember how excited you got when you found out where we were going. I love how quick you are to show your feelings and wear your heart on your sleeve.

You inspire me with your love and enthusiasm for life. You bounce out of bed every morning, with a positive attitude about whatever it is to come. You are cheery from the moment you open your eyes. Your enthusiasm is inspiring, and infectious. You always say hello to all our neighbors in the elevator, putting me to shame for being quiet. You have no problem striking up a conversation with any kid or adult at the park. You believe in yourself and your values, and you are never ashamed of sharing your thoughts. You let your tears freely flow when your feelings are hurt. You’re not scared of opening yourself up to share the hurt.

Seriously, Josh, I wish I can be more like you.

You’re at such a fun age right now, where you still think I’m pretty cool and you still want to hang out with me. Since you started school, I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about holding your hand or kissing you, especially when I drop you off at school. Whenever I ask you, “Can I hold your hand?” or “Can I kiss you?”, you always say with a smile, “Yes, you can hold my hand or kiss me anytime you want, Mommy!” And I will always treasure that video of you saying, “I love you, Mommy. I am going to marry you,” for the rest of my life. I know the good days won’t last forever, but I am so grateful for the time we have right now.

You love coming to my office with me on the weekends. You love going to run errands with me. You love going for a bike ride or go play at the park. You absolutely love going to parties or visiting with friends. You are a social animal.

During this past year, you have learned how to ride a bike. You love your swimming lessons. You love your kindergarten and the new friends you’ve made. You are learning to deal with conflicts at school, and slowly learning to give people their space. I look forward to watching you grow into the little man you’re becoming.

Being your mommy is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. Thank you for being my inspiration and my joy. I love you with all of my heart. Happy birthday, Josh. I wish you all the joy in the world.



From toddler to preschooler: Savanna turns three

Last night I asked Savanna, “You are turning three tomorrow. How about you don’t turn three? How about you stay my little baby forever?” She shook her head and said no.

Damn kiddo.

Today, she turned three.

Dear Savanna,

First thing every morning, you come to my side of the bed and whisper in my ear, “Mommy, I want an apple.” Every morning you eat an apple, or grapes, or banana, or blackberries, or whatever fruit we have. Then you’ll eat cereal or oatmeal. Then you’ll have some scrambled eggs, and finish up with some milk. Breakfast is probably your favorite meal of the day.

You love make-up and accessories. If I don’t put some eyeshadow on you when I’m doing mine, all hell breaks loose. And I remember your death-grip on the mannequin in the store because you had to have those necklace and bracelets. You are the girly girl that your grandma always dreamed of having.

Right now you are very much into Frozen. You sing “Let it go” out loud on a regular basis. You come and tell me, “Elsa froze my heart,” and collapse into my arms. You pretend you’re going to kiss me, pull away the last second, and say, “I’m Prince Hans.” You are so into anything related to that movie, that this morning Daddy and I slaved over making you an Elsa cake for your birthday.

You are a tough little nut. When we took you and Josh trick or treating, you climbed up and down stairs of all the houses we visited, block after block. Even when Josh was tired out and asked to go home, you kept trucking on without a word of complaint. If I took you out on foot, I never have to worry about you not being able to walk the distance.

I love how compassionate you are. Every time Josh gets hurt, you rush to him and say, “Are you ok, sweetheart?” And you pat him on the back or on the head. If I stubbed my toe or something, you’ll run to me and smother me with kisses.

You will try to do something by yourself without asking for help, get frustrated, and end up in tears. We’ve been constantly talking about using your words and ask for help. Lately we’ve seen some great improvements, where you would ask for help to zip up a jacket, or take off your helmet, or get a toy beyond your reach, then you would smile and say proudly, “I used my words!” Yes you did, baby, and I’m so proud of you.

You are not always the most expressive, except for when it counts. One time I came home after being away a whole week for work, you threw your arms around my neck, buried your face on my shoulder, and just chanted, “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” for a long while. When I put you to bed at night, sometimes I lay down next to you on your bed, and you always puts one arm around me and say, “Mommy, don’t go. I love you.” I am completely defenceless when you do that.

This summer we put you in swimming classes, but you didn’t like it. But even though you don’t enjoy swimming, I know you tried hard and endured it enough to finish the classes. I would never expect you to excel at everything, or enjoy everything. I want you to know that I am so proud of how hard you tried.

I see so much of myself in you, that often I have to remind myself that you are your own person. I love watching you play, explore the world around you, and grow into the little kid I have come to respect. Even though you are petite and still fit in 2T clothes, your personality is larger than life.

You have changed my life from the moment you came out of my belly. I am so thrilled you are my daughter, and I cannot imagine you being anything other than exactly who you are today. Happy birthday, my girl.


Mommy Svanna-2

How do you have time for all that?

Cliff and Savanna

Often when people find out what I do–tax consulting work, photography business, and two little kids–I get this question: “How do you have time for all that?”

The answer is simple: Cliff.

Cliff is the one I call when I have forgotten my wallet, my work security card, or my keys. He’s the one to do school drop-offs and pick-ups and snacks and baths. When I have fallen asleep on the couch yet again, he puts me in bed and plugs my phone in the charger. When I have forgotten to take my leftover lunch out of my bag and went on a business trip, he’d find the surprise days later and clean it out for me. He runs all my bank errands. He takes the kids to various activities during the week, so we can spend family time together on the weekends.

Early in our marriage, I learned that having him on my team is a good thing. Right now, while life is busy and the house is always messy, having him on my team is the only reason how I “have time for all that”.

Ice skating

When we first moved to Canada, I have never seen an ice rink before, let along skate. I added PE 11 to my class schedule, because I assumed it was mandatory like it was in Taiwan. In December 1992, our PE teacher took us to play ice hockey at the rink next to our school. It was my first time in my life putting on ice skates. I loosely tied the lace of the skates, grabbed a hockey stick, and got on the ice. I was super wobbly, and used the hockey stick as a crutch to inch along the ice.

The PE teacher told me to go right in the centre for face off. I took forever to get to the centre of the ice, the teacher dropped the puck, I tried to reach the puck with my hockey stick, and that’s when I lost my balance and fell. Because I had tied the lace so loosely, there was no support from the boot. When I fell, I twisted my ankle inside the skates, and the bones in my ankle shattered, sending a hairline split half way up my shin bone. I ended up in surgery that night, with a metal plate and 8 screws added to my bone to help hold my ankle back together.

Last weekend Josh had his first ice skating lesson. He was so excited about his lesson that morning. When I told him ice skating isn’t very easy, he said, “I think I’ll be very good at it.” I smiled and said nothing.

Once he had his skates on, the teacher asked them to all walk around on the rubber ground. He was wobbly, but managed to walk around just fine. He was still smiling and waving at me.

Once they got on the ice, the poor little dude was slipping and falling everywhere. Initially he was having fun and still smiling. But after a while, I can see his smile starting to fade. He struggled with getting up and staying up. My lips started to quiver on their own and my tears started to fall. I felt so bad for him.

Even after all these years of my incident, watching Josh fall on the ice just reminds me of the pain I felt. With each fall he took, my heart nearly jumped out of my throat. Good thing the lesson was only 1/2 hour. I wasn’t sure if I could endure any more.

Josh was no longer smiling when he came off the ice, but he was stoic. He said in a matter-of-fact tone that it was really hard, and he didn’t like it so much. I held him tightly in my arms, and told him I was so proud of him for working so hard and not quitting. As a parent, nothing makes me more proud than seeing my kiddo work hard and having a good attitude about it. And thank goodness nothing broke.Josh skates-2

Where did September go?

I don’t know where September went. Did you see it?

Between the kids starting school, me freaking out about school, and traveling for work, all of a sudden it is October. Many friends have asked how the kids are doing in school, so I figured I’d give a quick update.

Savanna, since day one, walked into preschool like she has done this before. She never had a moment of hesitation or separation anxiety. She runs in happily, and leaves happily. I hear she had one meltdown once when the teacher asked her to put a stick down. Aside from that, she’s always talking about her teachers, her friends, and her preschool. She is loving it.

Josh loves kindergarten. During gradual entry, he complained the days are too short. He comes home providing very little information about what he has done all day, so we just don’t bother asking generic questions like “What did you learn today” or even “How was school today”. His teacher keeps a pretty good blog about the class, so at least us parents know roughly what they’ve been doing each week. Most days he eats very little of his lunch and snacks. His teacher told us that he talks so much and gets so distracted that he doesn’t have time to eat his lunch or snack. Funny how he gets those genes from his daddy. Since starting school, he has falling asleep at night quicker. I think all the excitement of being in school all day wears him out pretty good.

As for me, I’ve been keeping up with running four times a week. Since June this year, I have run just over 400 km. For the first time in my life, I have started to enjoy running. I never thought this day would come. On the work front, I spent over 100 hours in August and September writing a tax technical paper, and presented it last week in Ottawa. The presentation was a little nerve wrecking, knowing that I was presenting to people who are experts in the field. October will see a few more overnight work trips, but nothing as long as being away for a whole week like last week.Josh and Vanna-2 Josh and Vanna-3 Josh and Vanna

J and K pod

whales-2 whales

A few weeks ago, we were watching a documentary about animals, and Josh told me he really wanted to see whales. We decided that a whale watching tour is in order, so today we hopped on a boat and went down to the San Juan Islands.

We got to see a single hump back whale in the Georgia Straight, and saw two pods (j and k pod) in the San Juan Islands. Both kids loved the experience, and Josh kept talking about he wants to do this again.

whales-3 whales-4

Disaster kit letter

Cliff told me that Savanna’s preschool requested us to put together a “disaster kit/earthquake kit” for her. The three items they asked for are:

  • A photograph
  • A toy
  • A letter from the parents to the child

Ok, I can come up with a photograph and a toy pretty easily. But a letter? A letter for the teachers to read to Savanna in the event of a disaster or an earthquake. How the heck am I supposed to write THAT? All I could think of is what happens if Cliff or I are dead? “Dear Savanna, if you are reading this, we’re dead…”

So Cliff started the letter, and I added to it. This is what we came up with. We’re trying to be reassuring and upbeat, and provide some distraction at the end. I just hope Savanna will NEVER need to read this letter!


To our sweetheart,

Something scary just happened and we know you may be scared. The teachers and emergency crew are going to take care of you. We know you will listen to your teachers and be helpful. You can ask them any questions you have. It’s ok to cry if you are scared. In the meantime, don’t forget to help your friends and your teachers, and be kind.

Mommy and daddy can take care of ourselves. We are on our way to come get you and Josh as soon as we can. Nothing is more important to us than you and Josh. We can’t wait for that moment of holding you in our arms. Wait for us patiently.

Mommy and daddy are so proud of you. You are growing and your own personality is shining through. We love your giggles and your kisses and your silliness. Josh loves playing with you and having you as his sister.

Hey, do you remember we saw Elsa at Kiera’s birthday party, and Elsa sang “Let it go” and put make-up on your face? How about this weekend we go see Elsa again, sing “Let it go” together, and you pick two eye shadow colors from mommy’s palette to put on your eyes? We can also do two pigtails with blue elastics to go with your make-up. That’ll be so much fun.

We are on our way to get you now. See you soon!


Mommy and daddy