Hope You Had a Merry Christmas!

It seems like I've settled on writing once every few months, and sometimes in bursts. Life, as a father of five, as you can imagine, is busy, but that's no excuse for not getting things done. As the saying goes, "if you want to get something done, ask a busy person." (It is with great pride to say that people often ask me to do things for them.)  Prioritizing and extreme focus are keys to achieving goals in a busy environment. However, I sometimes lack either or both. So, while it has been an eventful year, I wish I had been more successful in doing the two things above.

This post has been greatly inspired by our friend, Stella, who has been very religious in sending us an annual update of their family during the Christmas season. I love reading them and thought it'd be a good idea to do something of my own here.  I hope you will enjoy this long one!

Let's start with the kids, shall we?

Amelia Was Born

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Of course, the biggest event of 2018 was the birth of Amelia in January!  She has been a wonderfully easy baby. Either that or we've gotten into the groove by now... Or probably both! :)  Her older siblings adore her and are so helpful in keeping an occasional eye on her while we cook, clean, etc.

Amelia is a happy baby. Anytime anyone speaks to her, a glowing smile would appear on her face and she would get so excited. She has been saying "mama" and "baba" for quite some time now. Also being very mobile, she's crawling and cruising everywhere and putting anything that's in her path into her mouth! Yikes!

Cutie Pie Anne

Look at Those Big Round Eyes! <3

Anne just turned 3 in January and has developed quite a vocabulary. She's pretty much fully bilingual now, but is still a bit more proficient in Cantonese. Our favourite phrase that she would say, when she can't find a book she's looking for, is "Perhaps Daddy donated it (可能爸爸捐咗)."  We couldn't stop laughing.  She said this because I'm constantly asking the kids to pick out some of the 2000 books they own to donate.  It's so cute to hear her speak in very coherent sentences.  When we went to take pictures with Santa, Santa asked her, "and what would you like for Christmas?"  As she shyly looked at him with her big round eyes, I wondered if she knew what he was asking. To my surprise, she answered with a short and sweet, "Princess!" I chuckled softly at that.

Audrey the Mischievous Girly Girl

In Front of Cinderella's Castle

Audrey is in SK this year. She's now able to read simple Seussian sentences like, "The hat is on the cat."  She started school as a very quiet student but now has warmed up in class. Being the middle child, she's very dramatic at times. She's a girly girl and wants to wear dresses all the time. She's also gotten the artistic genes from mommy and likes to draw.  Just last weekend, she received 2nd place in a colouring contest at Chinese Martyrs.  I feel like she'll grow up to be the girl that everyone wants to hang out with, because of her fun loving nature.

Athan the Maturing Young Man

His Tastes are Definitely Grown Up!

Athan has matured quite a bit. When he was 3 and was going to Montessori, the teacher once sent home a letter complaining how he would not listen in class and can't seem to keep his hands to himself. We were very worried and continued to worry about him until his SK year.  It has been a gradual but very visible turn for the better. He even got the All Round Performance award in his class last year! This year, he started piano and is enjoying it so far.  The most impressive thing is that he's often the first to wake up by himself on a school day, gets dressed and finishes breakfast before mommy is even out of bed (although the motivation is to play video games before leaving for school '-_- ).  We're really happy with his progress!

Adele the Big Sister

Little Young Lady

Without a doubt, Adele is the big sister.  She is super responsible and is always helpful.  "Adele, can you get your sister buckled?...Adele, can you look after Amelia for a minute?...Adele, can you brush Anne's teeth?"  These are often our requests and she would have no problem helping us.  We're so thankful for her help.

This winter, she got interested in Harry Potter and have been reading the set of books.  She has now far exceeded our reading speed, plowing through the 800-page novel in a day...how is that even possible??  Many parents want to encourage their kids to read more, but we're faced with the problem of Adele reading too much!  She would even walk up the stairs very slowly while reading a novel!  I recall when I was still doing my Master of Theological Studies at U of T that I struggled with all of the reading assignments.  Each week, we would be assigned hundreds of pages of readings and on top of that, write pages of reflections.  I'm sure she will be more like my fellow students, who had no issue with the readings, than me, who struggled to read half of the assigned readings!

Trip to Orlando

In September, just a week after school started, we took a week off to go to Orlando.  Why in the middle of September after school started?  Well, earlier I met up with my old boss, Michael, from ATS, and he told me about how he brought his wife and 7 kids (!!) to Orlando the week after school started and it was awesome.  If that man can recommend going the week after the start of school, who am I to question his wisdom!?!

Indeed, we had an awesome time.  Since September was still Hurricane season and school had just started, the crowds were so much smaller than at other times.  The longest line that we waited in was an hour at Space Mountain.  All other lines were under 45 minutes and sometimes, none at all, when using Fast Passes.  And in terms of weather - perfect!  The days were hot, but surely not as hot as in July and August, and it only rained for about 30 minutes the entire time we were there.  We did get a bit anxious seeing Hurricane Florence just miss Florida and made landing in the Carolinas instead.  But speaking with locals, they say that Orlando is actually very well situated; most hurricanes land either north or south of the area, which may be why Disney World and other attractions were built here.

Anyway, we won't go into too much detail about Disney or Universal here...but I did want to talk about how we got there.  I had been watching airfares for a better part of the year and was recently made aware of Frontier Airlines, which is a budget airline that flies mainly in the US.  There were some fairly good deals throughout the year, but for this trip, I found one that was simply unbeatable.  My first choice was to fly out of Buffalo for obvious reasons, but the flights were still not as cheap as I'd like them to be.  I then increased my search radius and that gave me 3 more airports to search from: Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, all of which were about 4-6 hours drive away.  Then I found it, the impossible fare!  I found a direct flight from Pittsburgh to Orlando for $40 USD round trip!  With luggage, we ended up paying $350 USD for the entire family - 7 human beings!  To top that off, my travel credit card gave me a rebate of $100 CAD for luggage fees.  In the end, we paid about $60 CAD per person.  So, go ahead and visit Frontier Airlines and send me a cheque for all the money you're going to save!

Lastly, here's a super funny video of "Meet the Raptor" attraction at Islands of Adventure.  It was so well done!

Meet the Raptor at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Surf's Up!

Battling Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios

Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure

Fireworks Were Worth Staying Late For!

My Favourite Attraction: Meeting Princesses!

Swimming at Resort

In Pittsburgh Just Before Flying Out

Stay Tuned!
There's much more to 2018!  Stay tuned!

Thanks to all you generous folks, you know who you are, we have raised $1980!  Today is our last day to raise funds for the school!  It does take a village to raise a child...and in our case, 5 children!  So, it takes a Metropolis to raise ours!  We're grateful for your generosity!

Click here to sponsor us!

Results of Last Year's Half Marathon 

Last year, I ran my first half marathon.  Relatively speaking, I was pretty slow, but I finished and didn't walk!  My goal for last year was to run a sub 2-hr half marathon, but I clocked in at 2:22 in the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon.  It was a challenging year for me last year as work had, and continues to, take over a good chunk of my time.  Including the drive, I'm easily clocking 12  to 13 hours a day.  Not complaining, but just putting some context (or making up an excuse) around this narrative...but this is not what we're talking about today.

Exercise and Me
What I want to talk about is the reason for me to run.  I have never been a runner.  The last organized race before the half marathon that I participated in was when I ran a 2 km cross country race in Grade 5!  I wouldn't say I wasn't an active person, however.  As a kid, I rode my bike everywhere, 365 days a year.  I had mastered the art of jumping off a bike and landing safely when I slipped on black ice.  It wasn't that I loved riding bicycles, but rather, it was out of necessity.  I had a paper route and as part of that job, I had to go to my customers to collect the paper money.  Riding a bike was way better than walking.

Growing up, I had trained in Karate for about 10 years, and so, was in relatively good shape.  Then university happened and things just kind of went downhill there.  I never really got fat, but was just not in great shape.  Two years ago, I attended a conference in San Francisco with Meredith, one of my staff, and on our last day there, we had a morning to sight see before our flight back.  She suggested that we rent a bike to see the Golden Gate Bridge and other parts of the city.  I wasn't thrilled about the idea especially when SF is a very hilly city.  It turned out to be a very difficult bike ride because it was either very hilly or very windy by the sea.  Meredith did just fine, but I was dying trying to catch up to her.

My Father-in-Law Johnson
When I first started dating Renee, I learned that her father, Johnson, runs the half marathon each year.  At that time, he was in his 50s and I was so impressed.  Eventually, his knee (like mine) would complain and he gave it up for less impactful activity.  I've never told him this, but a big part of what made me want to run a half marathon was seeing him do it year after year!  Great job, Dad!

So Why Did I Start Running?
As a lot of you were so generous in past years, you know that at least part of the reason for me to run is to raise funds for my kids' school.  I figured that to get you to part with your money, I had to give you a pretty good reason to do it.  Subjecting myself to unnecessary pain would probably not be a bad idea.  The year before last, I shaved my head to achieve that goal.  This coming Saturday, June 9, we will be doing a 5 km walk with the school while praying 5 x 5 decades of rosary.  I don't know, but I think the latter might actually be more difficult for the kids (and perhaps adults)!  I will also be doing a half marathon this fall, aiming to do it under 2 hours as I mentioned above.

There is, however, a deeper reason to my running.  It has to do with conditioning myself mentally.  For what?  I don't quite know.  I do know that pretty much half my life is now in the past, and while I've accomplished some things in life (marrying a wonderful woman and having 5 beautiful kids), I feel a calling to do more.  It's that primordial human desire to achieve more.

Over the years, I've come to understand better how to discern God's calling.  There are literally an infinite number of ways that one can live out one's life, but there are only a few, or maybe just one way that God is calling you to live.  How does God do that?  I don't think it comes from a booming voice from heaven, nor through visions like those experienced by St. Teresa of Avila.  Rather, it often comes as a deep and recurring desire and feeling that one has.  I was originally going to spend some time talking about my experience discerning the will of God, but that turned out to be a rather long-winded post. I will leave that for my next post!  What I want to say is that there is a deep desire within myself to make a greater impact to those around me.

I also recall one of my favourite verses from the Parable of the Talents: "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy" (Matthew 25:23).  In the same way, running for me is the "small matter".  There's nothing complicated about running, if you put in the time and effort to train, you will get faster and run farther.  It is as simple as that.  While simple, it is not easy.  However, if I cannot achieve even a simple task as setting aside time to train for a half marathon, how will I be able to achieve greater things?

So running is the beginning.  If I can't make a simple physical sacrifice, how can I make greater sacrifices for my family?  If I can't bear physical discomfort, how can I  be prepared for greater trials?  Therefore, conquering the 21.1 km is the first milestone of the second half of my life journey.  Hope you can be part of it!

Thank You for Your Generosity!
And so, I'd like to thank those who have helped in the past for your generosity.  You are "stor(ing) treasures in heaven!" (Matthew 6:20).  I humbly ask for your help again!

Perhaps you have other reasons to contribute to our campaign...Perhaps you're also a parent and you know the lengths you would go to make your kids' lives better.  Well, that's me doing that right now! :)

And perhaps you've enjoyed reading my blog posts.  My more popular posts have gotten upwards of 700 pageviews!  I'm grateful for your readership!

Our Family Thanks You from the Bottom of Our Hearts!

Wait!  The Government is Matching Your Donation!
Ok, so no, they're not matching your donations, but you can think of it this way: when you donate, say, $100.  You will get a tax receipt.  When tax time comes around, that tax receipt can get you close to 40% of your donation in tax credits.  So, in effect, when you donate $100, it's like donating $60, with the government "matching" it with $40 of their money!  Free money, who doesn't want that!!

So, please help us walk 5 km with 5 kids, saying 5 decades of rosary 5 times!  Our fundraising goal is $3000.

Click here to sponsor us!  

Again, thank you so much for your generosity!  God bless!
© Felix Wong. Powered by Blogger.