Showing posts with label Amelia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amelia. Show all posts
If you haven't read Part I and Part II, please do!

How can a 2019 review be complete without talking about the kids?!

Mommy/Daddy and Kid Dates
We have been asked whether with so many kids, the younger ones get less of our attention.  Answer is definitely a yes.  How could it not be so?  Am I worried about it?  Not really!  Think about it this way.  Sure, they get less attention from their parents, but they have so much more interaction with their siblings that I think their social skills are greatly improved as a result.  Imagine that you have 4 other siblings living with you...would your negotiation and communication skills not be much better? Would you not be much better in navigating through conflict?  I think that's a yes.

With the coronavirus lockdown, the benefit of having many siblings is obvious.  Our kids did not once complain that they were bored in the past 4 weeks of staying at home.  In fact, it's pretty much business as usual for them.  With 7 people in the house, there's never a quiet moment!

Now, having said that, we do recognize the need for attention from us parents.  So, last year, we started a new tradition of 1-on-1 Mommy/Daddy and kid dates.  Renee or I would take one kid out on a date and just spend some 1-on-1 time with them.  We use this time to let them know that they're unique, special and are deserving of our undivided attention.  Both of us actually really enjoy it because it's rare that we get to spend some quiet time with each of them.

We don't do anything too fancy.  Sometimes we got out to the mall.  At other times, we go and grab some food or spend an hour or so at Chuck E Cheese.  Some outings are more extravagant, like one time I got a couple of Leafs tickets from work and went with Athan.  The point is that we spend some quality time together.  Before the lockdown, we tried to do a date once every week or two.  It means each kid gets to go on a date with either of us every month or two.  I would recommend that you parents try something like this with your kids!


Adele


Adele turned 10 last year.  She continues to do well in all her endeavours and plays the role of big sister perfectly!  She requires very little attention from us and in fact, helps out with her little brother and sisters.  We're so grateful to have Adele's help as always.

Last year, I started to introduce some programming to Adele beyond what she got at school.  I first got her to take some online HTML/CSS courses, which she had completed, but I felt it was still a bit too advanced for a beginner at her level.  Eventually, in 2020, I found a really good program created by MIT called Scratch, which is very age appropriate and teaches programming fundamentals.  I recommend this to kids 8 or older.

Adele competed in her first triathlon in the summer.  She did very well and I'm so proud of her.  I hope one day, the two of us can run in a race together!  I'm too weak a swimmer so it'll have to be a run or a bike ride!  Sorry, Adele!  Lol!

Adele Running Past the Finish Line in Her First Triathlon

Daddy and Adele Date - Enjoying a Cold Drink at Starbucks


Athan

Athan had a great year last year!  He turned 8 and also had his First Communion this year.  He reminds me so much of myself when I was young.  I was a very playful kid and by that, I mean all I wanted to do was play!  I would moan and whine at the thought of doing homework or studying.  This certainly drove my parents insane, especially during my earlier years in Hong Kong where grades were everything.  I certainly didn't ask for this attribute and now know that's just part of how kids learn, through play.  As a result, I give Athan some leniency in this area.  I encourage play but try to direct him to productive playing (that's a term I just invented).  Instead of letting him just stare at the TV or play video games, I try to switch things up and encourage creativity in the things that he deems fun.

He has matured quite a bit in the past few years.  We no longer need to ask him if his homework is done; he just knows to complete it himself.  He is doing well in school and loves to play soccer.  He's been taking Karate lessons since he was 4, but his interest doesn't seem to be there 100%.  We will be re-evaluating whether to redirect his time and energy elsewhere once he completes his red belt (about half way to black belt).

He's also good help with his little sisters.  Although he loves to taunt them and make them scream, he is more than willing to read to them before going to bed.  He's a fun brother to have around and without Athan, things would just be a bit on the dull side.



Audrey 

Audrey entered Grade 1 this year and turned 6 years old.  Both Adele and Athan started reading fairly proficiently in SK, but Audrey had struggled a bit in SK.  Since she's an October baby, we weren't too concerned.  In September, I asked Adele to help Audrey with her reading.  I'm glad to report that at the moment, Audrey is reading at a Grade 2 level (thank you Adele)!  Her penmanship is also superb.  I look at her handwriting and am a bit ashamed that it looks much better than my own! In fact, she has the best penmanship out of all her siblings!

She took a year of ballet and had her first recital in June.  As you can see below, she was adorable in her little costume!  When September came around to re-enroll, she actually asked not to re-enroll in dance because she wanted to take up visual arts, which is where her real strength lies.  I think she gets it from mommy!  You can see a sample of her work below in Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church's calendar.  Thanks to Grandma for enrolling Adele and Audrey in the competition.  Adele's drawing also made it on the calendar!


Audrey's Drawing Featured on Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church Calendar

Anne
Anne turned 3 in 2019 and this will be her last year at home before she starts JK.  It turns out that the more fair-skinned kids in the family are more rascally than the others! Lol!  She has quite the character and is at the same time lovable and deserving of reprimand!  She's definitely the life of the party!


She started ballet lessons in September and is absolutely enjoying it.  Whenever we have some music playing at home, she would start dancing to the music.  It is really by nature and not nurture that she has this interest and talent.  Since we have more data points in the number of kids (lol), we can confidently say that their interests and talents are usually not due to what we want them to be, but rather, are gifted by God.

Anne also really knows how to tearjerk with her words.  There was one occasion where she was over tired during dinner and was not being cooperative.  I reprimanded her and after dinner when I was changing her into her PJs, she said, "Daddy, I miss you all day (when you are) at work!"  Upon hearing it, I suddenly choked up and was full of regret about how I had reprimanded her earlier.  She's a smart cookie, maybe a bit too smart with her words!



Amelia
Amelia turned 1 last year (2 years old now) and is growing really quickly!  She's running around and talking in full sentences.  Of all five kids, I think she looks like me the most!  She is always smiley and loves to participate in all family activities.  It is really easy to make her cry - just tell her it's nap time or bedtime and she will immediately start whining or be on the verge of crying, because she doesn't want to be left alone in her room; she wants to be part of whatever is happening.

Being the youngest, she's definitely the loudest with her screams and cries; she needs to get the attention!  She's not to be bullied and she uses her voice to ensure that.




We are so blessed to have our wonderful kids!  Is it tough to parent 5 kids at the same time?  You bet!  But boy, do we feel privileged to be their parents!  We hope we're doing an ok job!
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!

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! 😅

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?! 😉

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 曉嵐, 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 曉月, 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! 😄

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 (大平館) 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!

Hello World!  Renee and I are pleased to introduce to you our newest addition in the making!  We and the kids are super excited and can't wait to meet little A5!  She is due January 24th, 2018.  We just went for the 20-week ultrasound yesterday and yes, it will be our 4th girl!  Athan was a little disappointed that he wasnt going to have a littel brother, but Audrey was very pleased! Lol!

Grandma (my mom, Susanna) said, after Anne was born, that if we have a 5th, she would quit (佢話佢唔撈)!  But so far, she seems to be quite pleased as well!  Lol!  I guess we don't have to make any decision quite yet, but Renee turning into a stay home mom is quite possible.  Perhaps a hiatus from work for a few years, until all kids are in school, would make sense.

I've always thought that Renee's artistic talents are somewhat going to waste...so if she does stay home, I will be encouraging her to paint regularly and sell her paintings.

A Car Has 5 Seats
When we had 3 kids, I remember thinking to myself that it was quite nice to have 3 kids and it was because of a very silly thing: seating in a car.  We wouldn't need a minivan if we only had 3 kids.  So, now that we have 4 kids and a 8-seater minivan, I always joke to whoever asks how many we're going to have that we can now have 6 kids!

Further, here's another idea.  I've got a Tesla Model 3 reservation, and in a year or so, I should be getting it.  It's eventually going to be capable of self-driving, which means I actually have 8 + 5 seats.  I can be driving the van and the Model 3 can be following from behind (or in front)!  13 seats = 2 of us + 11 kids?!  LOL.  Ok, that I'm really kidding!

After 3, It's All the Same
One thing that I also get asked is, "People say that after 3 kids, it's the same amount of work.  Is it true?"  So, for the record the answer is....yes and no!  Is it the same amount of work when you have 4 versus 3...no, there is more work (for sure).  Unless your oldest is a teen and is super helpful, being able to take the load off you, there will be more work.  However, the experience that you have is that it is not more work.  Why is that?  It is because that the incremental amount of work becomes less.  Going from no kids to 1 kid is the biggest change, but going from 3 kids to 4 is at most a 33% increase.  Furthermore, it's now your 4th kid, it's safe to assume that you've learned a thing or two about taking care of kids.  Lastly, your "care" level with your 4th kid inevitably drops as well (sorry, Anne!).  When your first picks up a piece of dirt and puts it in her mouth, you go crazy, but when your fourth does the same...oh well, she'll spit it out on her own.

So, in absolute terms, yes, it's more work, but experientially, you could say it's the same...or even paradoxically less?!  For you considering having more, go for it.  "After three, it's all the same"....except the happiness you have increases exponentially!  We, as a society, need to see kids as a source of joy rather than a burden.
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