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

I am rich

Today, I turned 28 (for the 11th time). Har har.

When I look at my life today, I have nothing but gratitude for everything I’ve been blessed with. I’m married to the love of my life, we have a pair of healthy kids, I have family and friends who would do anything for me, I live in a gorgeous city, and have a great career and a business. My bucket is so full that it is over-flowing.

I don’t mind getting old. I feel like I’ve finally gotten old enough and comfortable enough in my own skin to own up to who I really am. I no longer try hard to impress or please others.

Today, I feel so rich.

Cliff made my fav--chirashi don.

Cliff made my fav–chirashi don.


After dinner, we hung out at the beach.

After dinner, we hung out at the beach.

Savanna picked out this iPod Shuffle for my birthday present. I love it!

Savanna picked out this iPod Shuffle for my birthday present. I love it!

Happy 4th birthday, Joshie

Dear Joshie,

You are 4 years old today.

You woke up this morning, with hair pointing every which way, eyes still bleary from sleep, but a big smile on your face and said, “It’s my birthday!”

I said, “Will you stop growing, please?

You stretched your arms out and said, “No, I’m going to keep getting bigger and bigger.”

I said, “But will you be my baby forever?”

You smiled and said, “Yes, I’ll be your baby forever.” And gave me a hug.

From the moment you were born, you’ve taken me into unchartered waters of parenthood. I had no idea that one’s capacity to love can be expanded in such a manner. You have taught me to be patient, to savour each moment with you, to give you space and time to grow at your own pace, and to enjoy learning the names of 60 different Cars characters.

You inspire me. You make me want to be better and to be more. You are trusting, compassionate, forgiving, loving, courageous, intelligent, talkative and confident. I want to be like you.

I love it when you sit with me while I edit photos. I love bringing you to the office with me on weekends so I have you next to me when I work. I love taking you to run errands because your curiosity about life refreshes me. I love going on our weekly dates with you. I love finding a new playground to test out with you.

Your favorite food include rice, noodles, tofu, salmon sashimi, and milk. You love to work on puzzles, paint, bake, measure rice for us to cook, play at the playground behind our house, and run up and down the hallway and visiting with neighbors. You love collecting rocks to represent everyone important in your life, and line them up according to their size.

You’ve now had two years of practice of being a big brother, and you are so good at it. You lift Savanna off beds and chairs, you bring her water when she’s thirsty, you share your toys with her, and you hold her when she’s sad. The way you adore each other is probably the biggest source of joy in my heart.

During this past year, we lost Sammy. It was the first time you had to deal with death. You kept asking me when Sam is coming home from the hospital. Eventually you understood Sam is not coming back, and it made you sad. You asked Daddy to put Sam’s ashes where we used to keep his bed because that spot will always be Sam’s spot.

When we visited Taiwan, you were the only person your great grandmother reacted to. She would actually smile at you when the rest of us cannot convince her to even look at us. In her advanced state of Alzheimer’s, you brought her rare joy.

I am proud of who you are, just the way you are. I do wish you would eat some vegetables, or stop farting purposely under my cover, but those things are so minor. Thank you for filling my heart with joy and my arms with your hugs. I wish you all the happiness in the world.



Happy 2nd birthday to my girl

Baby girl,

Today, you turned two. That means you have changed our lives for two years. That means you have made me the luckiest person to be your mommy for two years.

In the last year, you started walking. Once you started, nobody can stop you. You love to walk. You never complain when we walk long distance. You prefer to walk on your own without holding our hands.

You also started climbing the play structure at the playground on your own, and coming down the long slide by yourself. You do this over and over and over, and the big smile never diminishes when you’re speeding down the slide.

Your most favorite thing is fruit–all kinds of fruit. I think if we let you, you would just live off of fruit and eat nothing else. Mangos, grapes, apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon are all your favorites.

And you love condiments! Oh my. I’ve never met a baby like you. You scrape jam off your toast with your teeth, you suck the soy sauce off your dumpling, you lick off the ketchup from your fries, and suck the honey off your pancakes, leaving behind mangled food items with no condiments left on it. Kind of funny. Kind of nasty.

This past year, we spent a week in Whistler, two weeks on the Big Island, two weeks in Japan and Taiwan, and a few road trips on the west coast. We also took you camping for the first time this summer. You ate well and slept well enough everywhere we went. You’re already a pro traveler. I can’t wait till you’re older so we can go explore the world some more together.

You demand to use utensils. You randomly sing “happy birthday”. You put your own dirty clothes in the laundry basket. You bring your shoes to me and sit by the door waiting for me to put them on for you. You come by my bed in the morning and chirp, “Mommy, wake up!” You climb on my lap and asks me to sing “Row row row your boat” over and over. You touch my face gently and say “sawrry, forgive you” when you accidentally hurt me. You sleep through the night better than anyone else in this household. Every time we drive by my motorcycle, you always point to it excitedly and say, “Mommy, cycle!”

The joy you bring to my heart is hard to be described with words. You are brave, trusting, curious, tenacious, assertive, affectionate, and funny. You’re not afraid of wearing your heart on your sleeve, or telling me what you really think of something.

I am so grateful to be your mommy. I love holding you, kissing you, tickling you, and wrestling with you. You are so much fun to be with. Thank you for filling my soul with joy. I wish you the happiest birthday and the most adventurous year to come.




A year ago today



Baby girl’s birthday

For Savanna’s birthday, Cliff made her French toast with whipped cream and blackberries for breakfast.  Then we went out for pho for lunch.  For dinner, I made her favorite food: osso buco.  We ended the evening with a cake smash that wasn’t as messy as I was hoping for.

I spent the entire past year in complete contradiction: wishing she would grow faster and bigger so we can do more things together, and dreading how fast she was growing out of her infant stage and out of my arms.  For me, today was a day I slowed down and savoured this contradiction.  I guess this is parenthood.  This is the way things will always be for as long as I am her mother.  I will always feel that she’s growing too slow and too fast all at the same time.

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A little older

Today I got a little older.

To celebrate my birthday, Cliff kindly let me go back to sleep after I nursed Savanna around 8 this morning.  I asked him to wake me up in half an hour, and he didn’t.  It wasn’t till almost 11 am when I finally woke up, totally confused from that sweet, deep sleep.  Oh, sleep…delicious and elusive sleep.  THAT was the best birthday present ever!

Cliff then made me this totally kick butt Japanese meal (chirashi don) with all the stuff I like on it.  After Joshua’s afternoon nap, we went to Deep Cove and had a Honey’s donut.  It’s only the best donut in the city.

It was an ordinary day we spent together, but just looking at my family makes me feel so grateful for what I’ve been given.

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