We made it!  1/3 million kilometers!  This is my beloved 2006 Toyota Prius.  I bought it in 2010 when it was 4 years old with 90,000 km on it.  Since then, I've put more than 240,0000 km on it.  Many people wonder if it costs more to maintain a hybrid, and the simple answer is yes.  However, let me get into the details.

In the almost 8 years that I've had the car, there were a total of 4 repairs that I had to make.  First, the front wheel bearings had to be replaced at 163,000 km.  Then, the hybrid battery started failing at 232,0000 km, and I opted to have it rebuilt for $1000.  This was a mistake, because after a bit more than a year, it started failing again.  This time, I decided to have it replaced for $3000.  Around the same time, the front bearings went again.  So, in total, I spent around $5200 + tax in repairs.  Then, there were other regular maintenance stuff like brakes, 12V battery, etc.  So, the real difference between a non-hybrid car and my Prius would be the battery repairs of $4000.  If I had been smarter about replacing the battery, my hybrid repairs would have costed only $3000 (the battery is still going strong now).

That's the cost side.  Now, to the savings.  I had a Matrix before I bought the Prius.  So, if I had kept that car, let's see what the savings would be like.  On the Matrix, I believe I averaged about 8.5 L/100 km.  On the Prius, I averaged about 5.2 L/100 km.  So, after 240,000 km, assuming the average gas price is $1.20/L, I've saved a total of $9504.  This is compared to ~$4520 in hybrid related repairs.  The net is $4984 savings, plus whatever environmental benefits by burning 7920 L less gasoline or producing roughly 42000 lbs less CO2!  I'd say that's pretty good!

However, the cost of a hybrid is more than a similar non-hybrid car.  Luckily, I bought the car used and it cost me < $15000 (no tax paid due to a government rebate at the time).  I believe a Matrix of the same age would have cost around $12500 but I would have had to pay taxes on it, which would bring it to within $1000 of the cost of the Prius.  So, in the end, I've come out on top both financially and ethically!  I think this was a pretty good decision.

So, the natural next step for me would be to go full electric.  As some of you know, I have a reservation for a Tesla Model 3.  Tesla recently updated the delivery timeline and they are now forecasting mid-2018 for delivery.  It's been just some idea for the past 1.5 years but now it's becoming very real.  It's a bit surreal, in fact.  It will be the first new car that I will have bought (because I hate the depreciation of cars in their first 3 years).  However, the $14000 Ontario rebate is pretty darn good to pass up.  The fact that it happens to be quicker than a Ferrari Testarossa in 0-60 mph time is also pretty awesome!  Lastly, as well, I just want to fall asleep at the wheel! ;)

Good morning!  It is 10:15 am on January 24, 2018, exactly 22 hours after Amelia was born.  Both Renee and Amelia are sleeping right now (this is usually when I write these posts).  We are actually all well rested.  If there was one word that would describe this delivery, "smooth" would be the word!  We hope this continues to carry forward to the next few months, but now having said this, I've probably jinxed it! Lol!

Anxious Over a Blessing
Many of you know that we use the Natural Family Planning (NFP) method as a natural means of contraception.  It is the only way that is morally acceptable in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  I wouldn't actually call it contraception, because it's really not.  The way it works is entirely through abstinence (i.e. not having sex) during the days when the woman is fertile.  So, it's not like you're having sex and the method prevents fertilization of the egg.

NFP is highly scientific based and claims high success rate (95%+, similar to using a condom).  Basically, we have to monitor the vaginal secretions to determine when Renee is fertile and abstain on those days.  It's actually quite simple.  However, it turns out that we're not very good at it!  Lol!  With Adele, we successfully delayed pregnancy.  We got married in August 2006 and then only started trying to conceive in mid 2008.  So, it worked quite well for about 2 years.  However, I think it's always difficult for parents to have their first, and subsequent children seem to be easier, but that observation is entirely anecdotal.

Fast forward to the conception of Anne.  Her conception was, well, unplanned.  I don't think it was due to the failure of NFP, but rather on our part to adhere strictly to the method.  I'll be the first to admit that NFP is not easy.  Just like fasting during Lent, one needs to exercise self control and discipline.  Looks like we lack either or both! Lol!

With the conception of Amelia, it was also unplanned.  This time, we thought we had followed the rules, but perhaps we did not make our observations well enough to determine whether Renee was actually fertile or not.  So, for us, NFP has not worked well in the practical sense.  And reflecting on it, I can certainly understand.  Since both Renee and I are easy-going, carefree people, I can see how a method requiring discipline would not work well for us! ๐Ÿ˜…

So, when we found out that we were pregnant with Amelia, we were obviously very anxious.  Questions like, can we handle five?, can we afford having five?, how will we make it work?, etc., started surfacing up.  We were also worried about putting too much stress on my mom, who is super-grandma and helps us in so many ways.  It was never a question about whether we wanted more children.  We love them to death; it was more about our ability to support them.  It is again, at this time, that I needed to read and re-read Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?"

Over the course of the entire history of humanity, a new life has always been seen as a blessing.  It is only in the last century that children have become a burden, rather than a blessing.  Actually, I want to be a bit more precise in my wording.  I believe it is actually the thought of a new life that is a burden to families.  Eight months ago, both Renee and I were so anxious after having found out that we were expecting.  Now, all we can feel when we look at Amelia is joy and gratefulness.

Go ahead and ask any parent out there who have children who were unplanned this question: do you wish that you had never given birth to your unplanned child?  I'm willing to make a serious bet that you would not find one parent who would answer with a "yes".  Sure, it's not easy raising a kid.  Sure, you would have to make countless sacrifices.  But to me, bringing any one of my children into this world was truly my greatest achievement in life.  Raising them up to be good, kind, and responsible adults will be my second greatest achievement.  Would you be surprised if you heard further good news from us?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Back to the Story...
Amelia's due date was January 24th.  Both Renee and I are natural procrastinators.  We had largely gotten ready with one exception: Amelia's crib is a large storage bin currently.  That's a small thing, but at least, we were somewhat successful in clearing some of the stuff that have accumulated in our room over the past 2 years.

On Monday, the kids had a PD day.  I was planning to work half day and then take them skiing in the afternoon.  However, once I was in the office, meetings became more meetings and I didn't end up leaving until 3:30, which was essentially a full day after having started at 7:15 in the morning.  Anyhow, Monday was a very, very foggy/misty day.  Visibility was about 5 meters in Milton when we went skiing.  Coincidentally, we were planning on naming Amelia ๆ›‰ๅต, or literally "dawn mist".  When we left for the hospital at 7 am, it was very misty as well.  So, I think God is telling us that He likes the name as well.

Interestingly enough, when Adele was born, we wanted to name her ๆ›‰ๆœˆ, or "dawn moon".  The morning we left for the hospital, the sky was very clear and we saw a setting full moon.  I think God likes that name as well! ๐Ÿ˜„

No Walking Required
Renee's contractions started intermittently at 8 pm on January 22, which became more consistent at around 3 am.  By the time it was 6 am, they were occurring about every 7 minutes, with some shorter and some longer.  When Anne was born, we almost got turned back home because Renee was only 2 cm dilated.  So, we took our time this time.

Once we got to the hospital, we walked up to the birthing unit.  Before getting to the desk to sign in and get admitted, Renee had a contraction in the hospital hallway.  A nurse asked how she was doing and what baby number this was.  When we said five, the two nurses freaked out and asked us to go into the delivery room just beside where we were standing.  I asked whether we needed to get signed in first and she said, typically yes, but since it looked like she could pop any moment, we would go into the delivery room first.  When the nurse examined Renee, she was already 7 cm dilated!

The nurse who ended up helping us was Louise.  She was a middle aged lady who was very assertive and just funny overall.  When she learned that Renee was tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep infection), she got very anxious.  Since antibiotics needed to be administered at least 4 hours prior to birth, she was afraid that it wouldn't be enough time.  If there was not enough time, Amelia would need to have bloodwork done and potentially stay longer for monitoring.  Louise was determined to delay the birth as much as possible.  So, she ended up not examining Renee at all, as to not inadvertently break the water.  Getting to 12:30 pm would get us to 4 hours.

This ended being a relatively easy labour (sorry, I know that's an oxymoron).  Renee was instructed essentially to lie in bed and just try to delay the birth.  Once she was in bed, the contraction slowed down and averaged around once every 10 minutes.  The strength was also quite bearable.

At about 11:45 am, Renee's water broke by itself.  After that, the contractions started getting significantly stronger.  It was apparent that the birth was imminent.  When it was around 12:10 pm, Louise was fairly sure that Renee would deliver soon.  She said that it was ok to give the 2nd dose of antibiotics 15 minutes early.  She got that all set up rather quickly and administered the dose.  About 1 minute later, Renee felt a lot of pressure and Louise got to work, asking her to push.  At that time, the OB, Dr. Liao, was in the operating room doing a C-section and was not available to deliver.  A resident doctor, Dr. Maude was just on her way in.  There was also a medical student who was helping out, but it was Louise who delivered the baby...and with one hand, because she didn't even have time to put on both gloves.  Louise was our hero!  Even with the resident and medical student there, Louise was commanding the room!  It was quite a sight!

It was quite a smooth delivery.  Renee only needed to push once and there was no tear.  Amelia was born at 12:15 pm and weighed 6 lb 2 oz at birth.  She was about 100 g shy of the passing mark for weight, and like all of our previous kids, she has to stay in the hospital for 36 hours for monitoring of blood sugar levels.  This means we'll be going home Thursday morning.

So Far So Good
The first night went very well.  Amelia has been a good eater and sleeper.  She latched on well immediately after birth and has been eating well.  Also, she has been sleeping quite well.  I actually feel well rested after last night.  Her blood sugar levels have been consistently well above the threshold.  We're really hoping this continues!

If you wonder why we had chosen the name Amelia, here is one of the stories of St. Amelia.  We think that's a pretty awesome story!  The name also means "industriousness" or "defender".  Donna was Renee's late aunt's name and we named Amelia in memory of her.  In my limited time with Aunt Donna, she was always so caring and generous.  I distinctly remembering her taking us to a restaurant (ๅคงๅนณ้คจ) in Hong Kong, which was famous for their invention of their "Swiss Chicken Wings"  We pray to the Lord that Amelia will grow up bearing the traits of her patron saint and great Aunt!
First Time Ever Running the Half Marathon Distance (Ignore the Crazy Hair!)

The Fall has arrived and that means I have to complete my half marathon that I had committed to running.  Again, our family thanks you for your generous donations!

Initially, I had not planned to participate in any organized run/marathon.  As with most marathons that are organized, there is a fee that each runner needs to pay to be registered.  Since we were trying to raise money for the kids' school, I thought that I would simply commit to running the distance of a half marathon on my own and donate that money to the school instead...and I am still doing that.  Brother Gustavo and I and planning to do a 15 km run along the Burlington waterfront before the end of the year.

In fact, in my training, I was able to complete the half marathon distance (21.1 km), but not without great complaints from my knees!  I clocked in at around 2 hrs and 11 minutes at the 21.1 km mark.  My overall pace was 6'13" per km, but my last 3 kms were very painful...I actually kept a < 6'00" throughout the first 18 km, but hit a wall after 18 km.  There was a point when I had real trouble passing an old man walking along the sidewalk where I was running!  It was quite a hilarious scene now that I reflect upon it. But I persisted and pushed through.  When I checked my route on Google Maps the night before, I was supposed to end up near home, but due to a miscalculation, I was almost 1 km from home when I finished the half marathon distance.  I was not pleased to walk another 1 km home!

FLL Walk with God
Just this summer, Renee and a few other moms we've known from church got into raising Monarch butterflies (that's a story for another time).  They have now formed a team to do a 5 km walk for Fountain of Love and Life (FLL) on October 22 (this coming Sunday).  For those of you who are not familiar with FLL, it is a Chinese Catholic media organization, founded here in the GTA, which is doing great evangelization work.  It started off making TV shows but now also has a radio program and all sorts of other good things.

They're holding this fundraiser through the Scotiabank Marathon.  So, instead of doing the 5 km walk with Renee, I've signed up for the half marathon.  It's killing 2 birds with 1 stone!  I need to run a half marathon and FLL needs more supporters in their run!

So, here I am asking for more money!  This time not for the school, but for FLL.  Please hit this link to get to my page: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  Any donation $20 or greater will get you a tax receipt immediately.  Thanks for your generosity!

Last Request
I was actually a little reluctant when signing up.  Over the summer, each time I increased my distance on a run, my knees and ankles would complain after each run.  My muscles and cardio are not the problem, but my joints are.  I think this is a classic sign of age :(  So, about 2 weeks ago, my left knee really started complaining, even though I had not run that week.  It went away mostly, but when I did a short run just this past weekend, it became somewhat painful 1 km into the run.

Lucky for me, I have so many medical professionals in my family, Renee's sister, Rachel, who is a physiotherapist took a look and identified an injured lateral collateral ligament (LCL), a ligament on the outside of the knee.  It's likely due to my inactivity (prior to starting running) and lack of muscle strength that my leg is just not built for repeated impact.

Anyway, the only thing I can really do is rest it until this Sunday.  It was painful up until yesterday, but it feels pretty good this morning.  I hope I'll be back to 100% by Sunday.  This whole knee thing has me a bit anxious.  Last night, I had a semi-nightmare that I had missed the marathon.  So, my last request is simply a prayer for me that my knee will be in a good enough shape for me to complete the run.

Again, thank you so much for your generosity and for reading this (I actually can't believe the number of pageviews I get).  God bless!
© Felix Wong. Powered by Blogger.