2019: A Year in Review - Part I: Year Overview

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I had tried starting this post before the coronavirus outbreak, but did not get any progress until now.  It's April 11, 2020 and I've been home since before March Break, which would make this the start of week #5.  Not sure if this is affecting anyone else, but I feel especially lethargic from a work perspective, having to stay home all the time.  But I will push through this lethargy and complete this post today!  If you see this on April 11, you'll know I succeeded!

In general, 2019 was somewhat eventful, but it really went by like a blur and nothing stuck out as a highlight.  Perhaps it wasn't the greatest of years as you'll soon read about.  Or maybe, it might be because I didn't have any newborn this year! ;)  But I'm glad I'm going through this exercise of looking back.  Otherwise, the year would have passed and I would not have reflected more upon it.  And isn't being conscious and being able to reflect on past events what separates us from other creatures in this world?

Annual Tradition - Gambling & Eating Steak

This has become a bit of an annual tradition.  It started way back in 2008 (?) when the Great Recession was running in high gear and it seemed like everything was on discount.  Hotels were not the least affected and had some pretty great deals that winter.  Kelvin (Lai Chuen), my cousin and I would enjoy the packaged deals from Four Points Fallsview to stay for a night, get some "free" chips from the casino and coupons from local restaurants (which lowered the cost of the highly priced food back to normal prices).

Isn't gambling not allowed for Catholics?  Well, no, that is not entirely accurate.  Gambling, in and of itself, is not a sin.  However, gambling definitely leads to sin; which is why gambling is often shunned.  I know this first hand.  Many years ago, I lost around $200 at a casino and I lost it and threw a fit like an uncontrollable toddler.  It was an ugly sight.  $200 is not a huge amount but it was enough to turn me into a different person.  "Know your limit" so goes the OLG saying.  Now, I know my limit!  So these days, I get the "free" chips from the casino and play enough so I can cash it out.

Anyway, back to our trip to Niagara.  Kelvin's birthday is in January.  So, we decided to take advantage of the hotel deals again.  But this time, I had a few surprises for him.  I picked up the tab for his stay and even organized a surprise for him.  He thought that it was only the 2 of us + family, but there ended up being around 20 people, including my parents, his in-laws, Jit team.  It was a fun trip...and to spoil next year's "2020 in Review" post, we did it again in January 2020!


Selling the Matrix

This section is quite inconsequential...but thought I'd document this for posterity.  Lol.  Just before Renee and I got married, we bought our first car together.  It was a used 2004 Toyota Matrix.  Over the years, it had served us well.  When we went down to one car after Adele was born, we gave it to my dad to drive.  He eventually got a BMW and passed the Matrix to my mom.  My mom then drove it for probably 6 or 7 years.  Finally, after 15 years of good service and almost 300,000 km, we decided to retire it.  I think we even sold it for $1200 (if I recall correctly).  It was such a practical and reliable car!  It had not broken down once and all repairs were of a minor nature.

For this, I love Toyotas so much!  They're just engineered and manufactured so well and last forever.  However, I'm terribly worried about the company.  They are like Blackberry in 2008...not quite sure what I mean?  Well, the iPhone was announced in 2007.  Everyone knew it was the future, but people like Steve Ballmer just mocked it (you gotta click on this link if you haven't seen the video).  I think you know where I'm going with this.  We know electric vehicles (EVs) are the future.  How can they not be?  But Toyota is just so obstinate!  I don't get it.  They practically started the EV revolution by pioneering hybrid technology.  Why do they have such a pathetic EV roadmap?  When they talk the game, what they mean by EVs are hybrids, and not zero-emissions EVs.  This would have been fine 20 years ago when they came out with the Prius.  They've gone from leader to laggard.  It's truly disappointing and sad.


Mom's Surgery
My mom, Susanna, has been my nanny, cook, educator, and Instacart shopper (lol, this last one is a joke) for the past 10 years.  I'm tremendously grateful for her help.  Without her, I don't think we could have gone past 2 kids!

Last year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was actually not her first diagnosis of this terrible disease.  10 years prior, she was diagnosed with the same and had her first mastectomy.  Her recovery back then was not great.  I recall it probably took her about a week before she was able to get out of bed.  Even then, she was not very mobile.  So, this time, we were very worried about what this would mean.  She was going to get another mastectomy, but she was now 10 years older.

To our surprise, while she had the same surgeon and had the surgery done at the same hospital, the surgery went exceptionally well.  She was also able to have a one-night stay at the hospital instead of a day surgery.  That helped tremendously as well.  By day 3, she was up and about and even cooked lunch (nobody can stop her when she's determined)!  We were really relieved!  She fully recovered in 2 to 3 months.  It's been over a year since the surgery and she's been back to her old self.  Thanks be to God!

We also thank you all for your prayers and kind thoughts during this time!

It is important to note...while mom was off on sick leave, Renee did a great job taking care of kids and myself.  She did lose about 5 pounds in this period though! :P


Grandma's Passing and Trip to Hong Kong
In mid April, mom called and told us that she was well enough to come back the following week.  We didn't mind that she took more time off to recuperate but knowing mom, she probably felt it was her responsibility to come back to help when she was able.  That's mom...always going above and beyond!

As fate would have it, on the following day, she got a call from my uncle in Hong Kong informing her that Grandma had been hospitalized.  The situation was not good and so, she booked her flight to go back.  I followed shortly after.  I was glad I did because Grandma passed while I was there and I got to spend her last few days with her.  I wrote about that last year when I was still in Hong Kong.

Not only was I able to spend time with Grandma, I also spent some time with my cousins, whom I had not seen in quite some time.  In fact, it was really my first time interacting on a less superficial basis with my younger cousins, Ka Yue and Ka Pong.  They were born after we had immigrated to Canada and I was glad I was able to get to know them a bit better.  Guys, if you're reading, thanks for your hospitality last year.  It was great connecting with you guys!  I was also fortunate to connect with a few other relatives and old friends, which is always great.  It was too bad I was only there for 1 week...








This trip was also the only time I spent any meaningful amount of time alone with mom.  The last time was probably in 1989 when again, the two of us went to Hong Kong together (wow, some 30 years ago)!  After grandma's passing, we did some touristy stuff in Hong Kong, went shopping, and enjoyed the rest of our time there.  I guess this was the silver lining of the trip.



Family's First Baseball Game

Ainsworth's (where I work) family event this year was a Blue Jays game.  It's been about 30 years since I've seen a live Jays game.  The last time, the Rogers Centre was still called the Skydome (which is what I still call it).  It was a superb game to watch with something like 7 home runs during the game!  Free game, free food - what a great day!  Thanks Ainsworth!


Enjoying Friends' Company
Honestly, God has blessed us with so many good friends that we're so grateful.  I have to say I'm terrible with keeping in touch.  It's never been my strength.  Thanks to all you kind souls; that hasn't kept you out of our lives!

One wintry day, we had a great time with Matt, Jessica, Sophia and Sam at the Science Centre!  They gifted us a membership many years ago and after losing it for a few years, we finally found it.  We gladly invited them to join us.  It was a bit of a hectic and chaotic day, with adults terribly outnumbered (mainly my fault), but we had a blast!

And for all those of you who don't know, the Science Centre has a great reciprocal membership program with other museums.  Within a 8 hour drive radius, you probably have free access to around 10 different museums in Canada and the US.  Definitely keep this in mind!



In 2019, I was also a godfather again!  I'm the proud godfather of everyone in John's family except Joanna!  Their second, Oliver, was baptized and I was so honoured to be godfather again!  Godfather Part III...lol!


In July, we threw Matt (Tsang) a surprise birthday lunch.  The surprise was so good...Matt Siu and I hid in Lai Chuen's pantry and when Matt came over, thinking he was putting up some furniture for Lai Chuen, we scared the heck out of him when he found 2 screaming dudes in the pantry!  We definitely had a good laugh at his expense!


Calvin, Aggie, and their girls Abbey and Alley visited from Hong Kong in December.  We had a great time reminiscing about old jokes like "I...I...I was just saying..."  It was a great way of celebrating Christmas with great, old friends!  Watching Dennis and Calvin shuck oysters was also amusing! :)



Other Highlights
Watching Canada Day Fireworks at the Local Park 

Renee's Grandma Visiting in the Summer 

Starting of a New Family Tradition: A Real Christmas Tree!

Thanks for dropping by!  Stay tuned for more!


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3 comments :

  1. 2019 had been a good year in terms of bringing friends and family even closer. Add Oil!

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  2. I didn't know you are god father to everyone in John's family except Joanna. And we did (and still do) have a good laugh at Matt's expense. Great post and glad to be part of some of it.

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    Replies
    1. I should have posted the gif of Sao! LOL

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