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!
Goodbye, Prius!

It's been a good run! As you may have remembered, my 2006 Prius recently crossed the 1/3rd millionth kilometre. I decided that I will let another lucky guy enjoy its great fuel economy and awesome reliability.  The real reason for selling it was that I felt the car was about to require some major repair. For example, the engine has been burning oil and the ride has become very harsh. If anything broke, I wasn't going to sink anymore money into it. If it were to break down, it'd probably go directly to the junkyard, and I'd get maybe $500 if not less for it. So, I thought I'd try my luck selling it and see if I can get a decent sum for it, especially since it has a newish (2.5 year) hybrid battery.

So, last month, I finally cleaned the car after something like 5 years!  See the pics below. I thought I did a fairly decent job! Finally, after some hours of negotiation with a potential buyer, I was able to strike a deal for $1900. Initially, I was hoping for $2000,but after the deal was done, I reflected on it and realized that I got a pretty darn good deal.... $1900 for a 12-year old car with 345K km on it!

I know there are some who are still skeptical about the economics of hybrids, nevermind EVs. So, here, I will compare the total cost of ownership between my 2006 Prius and a hypothetical 2006 Matrix, bought in 2010 and sold in 2018.

The calculations as as below and are fairly straightforward.  Let me explain a few things.

  1. When I bought the car back in 2010, Ontario had a PST rebate for hybrid cars and at that time, when you bought a used car through a private sale, you only had to pay the PST, and not the GST.  With my purchase, I got the 8% PST back in the form of a rebate.
  2. Maintenance, repair, and parts costs racked up to $9780, with almost half of it being a rebuild of the hybrid battery at $1130 and then a replacement of the battery at $3400.  In hindsight, I should have just replaced the battery the first time it failed...could have saved $1130.
  3. I assumed the maintenance and repair costs of the Matrix to be the same as my Prius minus the hybrid battery repairs.
  4. As you can see, gas savings for my kind of driving came in at around $7900 over the 8 years I had the car.  This is no small feat!  I saved the environment 15130 kg of carbon dioxide in the process.  Fuel savings, $7900...clear conscience, priceless! :)

In the end, the total savings weren't astronomical.  I saved around $2323.  If I had not had the battery rebuilt, the savings would have been $3453.  That would have been a 7% savings in the total cost of ownership.  Not great, but still better than $0 savings!  And again, helping the environment is a definite benefit, that has not been factored into this purely monetary analysis.

I'm sure if the comparison was done against a Yaris, the Prius would probably have been more expensive to own/operate, but that would not be an apples-to-oranges comparison.

TCO Comparison
Compare Total Cost of Ownership Between Prius and Matrix
Distance driven (km)253000
Years owned8
Average gas price per L$1.20
2006 Prius2006 Matrix
Purchase Price$14,650.00$12,000.00
Taxes (PST)0$960.00
Insurance cost per year12001200
Fuel economy (L/100 km)5.58.1
Selling Price$1,900$1,250
Total Maintenance/Repair/Parts$9,780.00$5,250.00
Car Cost$12,750.00$11,710.00
Insurance Cost$9,600.00$9,600.00
Gas Cost$16,698.00$24,591.60
Maintenance/Repair/Parts Cost$9,780.00$5,250.00
Total Cost of Ownership$48,828.00$51,151.60

Goodbye, Prius...Welcome CT!

You might be wondering what I'm driving she is!  2012 Lexus CT200h.  It's pretty much a Prius with a Lexus flavour.  Bought it for $11700 +'s definitely not a new car with 145K km on it, but it's in decent condition.  After owning it for a few weeks, it's really growing on me.  The interior is 5 times better than the Prius, and it's just a cooler car.  Only down side is it's a smaller car, but since it's my commuter, I'm usually not subjecting anyone to the smaller interior.  It's still a very comfortable car, just not as roomy and practical as the Prius.

The previous owner was a it still has some smoke smell.  Airing it under the sun for a few hours has definitely helped, but the smell still lingers.  Any suggestions?

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!
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