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

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



My little girl is three months old

Dear Savanna,

I love you so much sometimes it feels like my heart is going to burst!

In the blink of an eye, you are already three months old.  Time just flew by.  You have grown so fast.  It made me a little sad having to put away some of your baby clothes.  But then it also excites me that you are becoming more interactive.  It makes me so happy when you smile or coo or giggle in response to something I do.

Having you is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me.  I look forward to every evening after your brother goes to sleep, because that’s my alone time with you.  I get to hold you, feed you, play with you all without having to divide my attention.  I spend so much of that time just staring at you and admiring you and being mesmerized by your beauty.

A year ago, I prayed and asked God for you.  I think he knew how much I wanted you and he said yes.  I remember going to the hospital for an ultrasound at 5 weeks because I started bleeding, thinking that I have lost you.  I bursted into tears when the doctor showed me on the black-and-white screen your little beating heart.  Even the doctor had a tear in her eye.  I had a good long cry in the car after that appointment because I was so relieved and so grateful.  Then I ate an entire BigMac meal, complete with fries, because all of sudden I was ravenous.

Waiting for you to be born was one of the toughest things for me.  My arms ached to hold you and my eyes longed to meet you.  You make the gloomy weather of winter irrelevant to how I feel inside.  That’s how powerful of an impact you have on me.  I can look at you and then all of sudden everything else doesn’t really matter so much, including the lousy weather and our very dirty floor.  I know it’s very cliche, but you are my sunshine.  The brightness of your eyes reminds me everyday that God answered my prayer.

I am loving every minute of holding you in my arms and snuggling with you.   I love how your head fits perfectly in the bend of my arms, and I love feeling the weight of your little body on my lap.  You’re my little baby, and sometimes I wish you would stay my little baby forever.



Three months old today.

Three months old today.

My monkey boy turns 2

Dear Joshua,

Some days I look at you with amazement.  It almost seems too good to be true that you’re in my life.  You are filled with spirit, and you inspire me.

You have made the last two years fly by so fast.  In the blink of an eye you’re two years old!  I am breathless trying to catch up to the speed of your growth and development.  Everytime I thought I finally figured out something about you, you’ve already made further progress and left me in the dust.

It seems like distant memory now those nights of waking up every 2 or 3 hours to nurse you, and the endless cycle of diapers and spit-ups and laundry.  You’re no longer a little baby.  You have now officially entered into the toddler stage of life.  In this past year, you’ve learned to walk, to run, to talk, and to use the potty.  Those are some pretty major milestones, and you made it all look so easy.

You sing, you do somersaults, you dance to music, you recite pages of books, you sometimes make a complete sentance, you love to laugh, you love to help in the kitchen or pretend to make coffee for us, love going for walks, love giving Sam hugs, know how to use your camera, and just about figured out how to use the running bike.

You have no fears, and you wear your heart on your sleeve.  You’re not afraid to show your emotions, and I truly admire that about you.  I see you run after your cousin because you adore him, or hug Darcy because he is your buddy, or throw temper tantrums because that’s what you feel like is necessary.  I wish I can be more like you.

You have taught me how to be more sensitive, be patient, and let go of control.  Those were not easy lessons for me to learn, but you are a great teacher.  You taught me these things by interacting with me and giving me chance after chance to change.  You always forgive me when I mess up, and you never hold a grudge.  You inspire me to let go of my worries and inhabitions, and just dance to whatever music that comes on.

You have taught me to slow down and enjoy life.  I have let things over-cook or burn on the stove so I can give you that hug you needed, or check over your owies and wipe away your tears.  I started keeping dust bunnies on our floor because I’d rather spend time playing with you than vacuuming.  You’ve showed me that there are things more important in life than making a gourmet meal or keeping a spotless house.

The next little while is going to be an adjustment period for all of us, with the arrival of Savanna in our lives.  Your first interaction with Savanna was so amazing that I cried tears of joy after your visit in the hospital.  I really think in the long run you will be glad to have her in your life, just like I’m glad to have your Uncle Grant in my life.  You will have so much you can show her and teach her, and I can only imagine how much she will adore you.  And because of her arrival, you and I will get to spend a lot more time together in this next year.  Isn’t that cool?

You are my firstborn.  That’s a very important and special role.  You ushered in a new phase of life for me, and taught me things I never imagined learning.  That is a role that nobody can ever take on other than you.

I am very grateful to have you in my life.  I wish you all the happiness in the world on your birthday.



Happy 1st birthday!

My sweet pea,

Happy 1st birthday!

Even though we had a big party to celebrate last weekend, your birthday is actually this weekend.  I really do work hard to confuse you.

When I look at your today, I sometimes forget the little baby placed on my chest a year ago when I was waking up from the anesthesia.  I was so groggy and bleary eyed, and your daddy put you in my arms.  All I saw was a full head of black hair, and a layer of soft, fine hair covering your back and arms.  The first words out of my mouth was “monkey hair”.  That’s what I call the hair on your daddy’s back.

You were the most beautiful creature I’ve ever laid my eyes on.  Your hair was crusty with blood and mucus, your nose was covered in white dots, you had no control over your hands and feet, and often you could only manage to open one eye.

You were perfect.

I instantly fell in love with you.  Laying in the hospital bed, I did not care about the soreness from the incision, or all the tubes and needles in me, or the lack of sleep from caring for you.  I smiled when I heard you cry because you were so full of life.  I wanted to hold you in my arms all day and all night.  I wanted you to open your eyes so I could tell you that I love you.  I kissed you a million times and it didn’t feel like it was enough to express my love for you.  In the middle of the night, I would hold you in my arms and cry tears of joy when I looked at your face.

We had some rough patches in the first couple of months, didn’t we.  I didn’t produce enough milk, so your weight dropped too much.  We started to supplement with formula, and your weight rocketed.  You slept little.  In the bassinet next to our bed, you grunted, cooed, made all sorts of noises, and woke often.  You developed very severe baby acne, eczema, and your scalp was covered with cradle cap.  But through all those times, I often reminded myself that it’s only going to be such a short time in your life that you need me to figure things out for you.  Soon enough you are going to be all grown up and won’t need mommy anymore.  I am so grateful for all the special time we spent together when you wouldn’t sleep.  I would hold you in my arms and stare at your beautiful face, and just let myself be amazed by you.

We went snowshoeing, swimming, took music classes, went for long walks, had play dates, and took thousands of photos.  When you were about 5 months old, we went to Maui and Taiwan for vacation.  You sat up on your own for the first time in Maui.  On the bed of the rental condo, you were only wearing a diaper, you sat and smiled and looked so proud of yourself.  You met your grandpa for the first time when we went to Taiwan.  He met us at the airport.  You smiled so sweetly at him and captured his heart.  Your great grandpa, great grandma, great aunt, great uncle were all so enamored with you.

When you were almost 6 months old, you were waking up 5 or 6 times a night.  Daddy and I never figured out if you were hungry or just wanted to be held.  But at this point, I hit a wall with the lack of sleep, and finally decided that some sleep training may be in order.  It only took you two nights to start sleeping through the night.  I was so proud of how quickly you figured out a new sleep pattern on your own.  Even through teething, you sleep through the night.  Thank you, baby.  You know how much I love my sleep.

You hated solid food for the first 3 or 4 months.  Well, you did love bananas, but nothing else.  You screamed at every meal, and often spit out whatever I fed you.  I was so stressed out that you wouldn’t eat.  Then at about 10 months, one day all of a sudden you just started eating.  Ever since then, you eat like a champion.  You were probably teaching me that it had to be your timing.  As your mama, it’s my job to give you the time you need, and protect you from everyone else’s expectations or demands.  This is hard to do because I’m a control freak, but I am willing to change for you.  I want you to know that you can always count on me to be there for you and be patient.

Before you came, I spent the majority of my time on building a career.  Maybe because that’s all I knew how to do.  Your daddy and I have done some cool things in our lives.  We traveled to many places, climbed a big mountain, and rode motorcycles.  We had a lot of fun.  But everything pales in comparison of having you.

You rock my world.

You love to laugh, giggle, climb on things, clap your hands, listen to music, crinkle paper, stick your index finger in holes, pet and hug Sam, bite my chin, pick daddy’s belly button, put your hand in Sam’s water bowl, and rub your face on my face.  You are full of energy and life.

Your daddy calls you Joshie-poo or monkey.  I like to call you sweet pea or baby.

You love eating gold fish crackers.  You love fruits.  You love homogenous milk.  You love drinking from cups.  You love to eat fish and tofu.  You always want to check out what’s on my plate or in my mug.

You are no longer the little peanut in my arms.  Your personality is beginning to develop, and I am so amazed by you.  I love getting to know you and trying to figure out what is going on in your head.

Thank you for being my baby.  You have softened me and humbled me.  You grew my ability to love beyond my imagination.

Happy 1st birthday, sweat pea.  I look forward to being amazed by you even more.  I wish you all the happiness in the world.

Love, Mama