春曉 - 孟浩然

If you're 25 years or older, I'm sure you will agree that time appears to pass ever more quickly as you age.  I'm 36 years old now and half my lifetime ago was about the time I started university.  Seriously?!  I still remember those days so vividly that it must have not been more than a few years back, right?  As I write this, I still cannot fathom how quickly the latter half of my life flew by.  The first 18 years of life felt terribly long.  If I were to give it a subjective ratio, it would probably be somewhere around 3:1, where the first 18 years felt about 3 times as long as the last 18 years.

Long Summer Days
I will bet that all of us remember those long summer days as kids.  The 2 months of summer holidays just seemed to last forever and ever.  I have fond memories of my brother, Eric and I, playing endless hours of video games (was it Zelda II?) when it was too hot to go outside.  How I reminisce those carefree days when our biggest problem was figuring out how to get past those stupid armored knights in the game (if you're wondering, the trick is to have full health, jump and shoot a dagger out and then attack his feet at the same time...but I digress)!  Nowadays, summer is almost over, and I still haven't gotten used to writing the year "2015".  I remember sometime last year, I accidentally wrote "2012" in my notebook...I kid you not!

Spring Morning
So, to the Chinese poem that started this post.  If you're Chinese and have studied this poem, read on.  If not, see this link for a rough translation.  Having moved to Canada when I was 8 years old, I'm impressed I can even read all of the characters in this poem!  Aside from the content, this poem exemplifies how efficient the Chinese language is.  The poem is made up of merely 20 characters, and yet, there is so much depth.  I guess this is why this poem made it into the famous "300 Tang poems".

I don't claim to understand this poem fully, but I think I've got the jist of it.  It is a little funny, however, that most sites I visited talks about the poet's love for nature and springtime.  My interpretation is much different.  But as my English teachers of the past tells me, there's no right or wrong in literature...so, please don't correct me if I'm wrong! :)

In any case, I think it captures perfectly the subtle melancholy that I feel when I reflect on the passage of time.  When we are young (springtime), we see no need to treasure the time that we have here in this world (waking up after daybreak).  We're captivated by the busy-ness of this world (birds singing).  Before we know it (storm in the night), years have passed and we find ourselves spending the last days of our lives (flower petals on the ground).  How very sad!  Let this poem be a warning for all of us of the brevity of our lives.

I also found this video below.  It's beautifully made and similarly, it captures the melancholic feeling very well.  Note the duration between the candles.

There's Hope
There's a saying about parenting, "Don't blink or they'll grow up!"  I've surrendered to the fact that yes, my kids will grow up too quickly (maybe that's why we keep having them).  It is simply a fact of life.  I try hard (maybe not hard enough) to create as many memories for my kids as possible, but it's almost a lost cause.  Between the day-to-day obligations and activities, it leaves little time to really enjoy each other.  I always feel rushed to get here, go there, buy this, do that...I'm simply a hamster on a very intricate wheel!  But alas, there is hope.

What hope is there?  There is always but one source of hope and it is our Lord.  He tells us, "In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be" (John 14:2-3).  It's not in this life that we will ever have enough time to spend with each other, but the next.  The day I welcome my kids into the gates of heaven (God willing!) will be the day when they truly get the time they deserve of me.
Hello World!

We have started to inform our family and friends, but it's never official unless it's published on the Internet, right? Thanks be to God, we are expecting our fourth child!!  He/she will be due early January.  I'm writing this as I'm sitting at the Ultrasound clinic, waiting for my turn to see the little guy/gal inside mommy's tummy.

First or Last to Know
For all of the older three, we've found out what the gender was since Renee didn't want any surprises.  I wanted to keep it a surprise for Adele but Renee said to me, "You can either be the first or last to know, your choice."  I really didn't have a choice, did I?  Now, she wants to keep it as a surprise whereas I don't.  I have a feeling I  will have no choice again.  ...I'm now back home and the ultrasound technician said it was difficult to see between the legs...LOL!  So, it looks like it'll be a surprise after all.

Story Behind This Story
There is actually a story (well, there always is).  About half a year ago, we started discerning whether 3 was it.  So, we started praying, asking God for a sign. He was kind and gave me two signs.  The first one came from Father Terry Fay.  I had met Father Terry from my time doing my now abandoned Master of Theological Studies program at U of T (maybe when the kids are older, I'll resume).  He would occasionally say mass at Chinese Martyrs and I'd say hi to him every time.  One Sunday, he was there again, and when mass was over, he came over to say hi.  While Father Terry was asking how many kids I had now (and I said 3), fellow parishioner, Ricky, came by and said, "He should have more, right?"  Father Terry didn't even answer Ricky, turned to me and said, "Three is a sacred number," and walked away.  I was like, "no way...".

So, the unbeliever in me prayed to God that night and asked, "Lord, I'm not sure if that was a coincidence or not, but if it's not offending to you, please give me a second sign to confirm the first."  Then, a little while later, while Pope Francis was in the Philippines, I read this article, and it talked about how he didn't think Catholics needed to "breed like rabbits" and "said population experts advised three children per family."  Go read the article yourself...I don't make this stuff up!  Anyway, I was floored when I read it.  If these were not clear signs from God, I don't know what is!

Are Not You More Important Than They?
Well, as you already know, God has a sense of humour!  At first, both Renee and I were somewhat anxious.  My mom already helps out a lot with the kids, and it's definitely not an easy task.  She really is a super (grand) mom!  Would having a fourth mean Renee have to stay home?  It's not easy to get by with a single (or even double) income these days.  But it would be entirely unfair to just toss this burden at my mom.  She already drops off and picks up the kids to/from school and cooks.  So, after Renee's mat leave is over (still 16 months away from that), we're planning to enroll them in before/after school care.  Renee would drop them off in the morning and leave work late, where I would go to work early and pick them up after school.  I can probably take up more cooking duties as well since I'll be home with them early.  This summer has been a trial run (parents were in Hong Kong for a month), and honestly, it's not bad.  Or I might win the lottery sometime in the next 16 months and all will be fine!

This other thought did come to mind.  If Father Terry had said, "Four is a sacred number."  Or if Pope Francis had said "population experts advised four children per family," would I be as concerned or anxious?  Obviously now, having (at least) four kids is God's will, why am I anxious?  Just because I thought He said three doesn't change the fact that four is really what He wants.  I think I might have fallen prey to confirmation bias.  Perhaps I was looking for signs of "three" and ignored other signs telling me to have four kids.  So, naturally, when I heard "three", I  clung onto these "signs" and gave them more prominence than they had deserved.

All of this anxiety has actually passed and we're now very excited about our new addition.  The house will be crazy and that's all good.  In this day and age where people look at you like you're crazy when you have even just three kids, we will be "the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14).  I'm excited that we can be an example for the world that kids are wonderful and they are the greatest blessing that we can receive!

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? (Matthew 6:26)
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