Showing posts with label Anne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anne. 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!


It's January 9, 7:10 pm and all is quiet in Room 370 at Trillium Health Centre, with the exception of the clacking of keys as I type this post.  Thinking back six and a half years ago, I was doing precisely the same thing, writing the chronicle of Adele's birth.  When Athan and Audrey are old enough to read and understand, they will be wondering why their father didn't write one about their birth.  Athan and Audrey, I apologize...I have no excuse!  But this doesn't give me a reason not to write one about Anne's birth.

Do You See It?
If you've had a child, you would know that you typically get 2 chances to see your little one before his/her birth.  The first ultrasound session occurs at around week 9 and the second at week 19.  The week 19 session is typically the one where the ultrasound technician would be able to tell if the baby is male or female.  Unfortunately for us, Anne was being shy that day and hid her important parts from view.  So, we didn't end up finding out what gender she was.

Then, a few weeks ago, when Renee went in for her weekly checkup, the doctor thought her tummy was on the small side.  It could have meant either of two things: the baby's head is down in the pelvis and hence, causes a the tummy to be smaller, or, there is some complication with the placenta that the baby is not getting enough nutrition, which could mean that Renee would need to be induced for an early birth.  So, the doctor referred us to a 3rd ultrasound.

When Renee went in, she told the technician that she didn't want to find out the gender but that I did.  So, when I was called in, the technician said she would show me.  I told Renee that she should find out at the same time, but the technician insisted that Renee didn't change her mind because of me.  So, she turned the screen towards me and asked, "Do you see it?"  Yes, I can see a screen with black and white patterns, but not much beyond that.  I did see 2 round shapes that looked like what I thought were testicles with a longish thing close to it (sorry for being graphic here).  So, I concluded that it could be a boy and I said to the technician, "Yes, I see a shape," hoping that she would confirm whether it was a boy or a girl.  However, all she said in reply was, "Ok, that's good."  So, we were about 70% leaning towards a boy.  And now, as we all know, I wasn't made to be an ultrasound technician...

Waiting and More Waiting...
Renee's due date was January 3.  All three of our kids were either on time or early.  So, I thought this time would be no different.  As the days approached, I started shifting more office hours to be at home in anticipation of Renee going into labour at any time.  As the due date came and gone, there was still nothing.  In fact, during the visit last Monday to the OB's office, Dr. Rogers said that there was still a bit of room between the cervix and the baby's head.  Renee was then scheduled for induction the following Monday, January 11.

Finally, on the morning of January 8, when I woke up at around 6, Renee told me that she had had contractions since 3 am that morning. This sounded pretty much like the previous births and I figured that this was the day.  Already at 6:00, the contractions were coming every 5 minutes and lasted for just less than a minute.  As every father knows, that's the signal to start heading to the hospital.  So, we both took a quick shower and got ready to leave.

That same morning, Adele woke up with a 39.5 deg C fever.  So, we didn't end up leaving until after 8:30 am.  Seeing that the contractions had not progressed, I figured it wasn't going to be a fast and furious delivery after all.  With Audrey's delivery, it took about 6 hours to get from 2 cm dilation to 6 cm dilation, and then maybe 2 minutes from 6 cm dilation to birth, after the water was broken.  So, we knew that the key to birth was breaking of the water.

We got to the hospital at around 9:15 am and Renee didn't get assessed until around 10:00 am.  The nurse, Natalie, found that Renee was 2 cm dilated, which was the same dilation that Dr. Rogers found four days ago!  We were told to get something to eat, walk around and would get checked in another 2 hours.  After much walking around, Renee got reassessed at noon and the result was the same.  The nurse spoke with Dr. Schuefler, the OB on call, and the doctor told us to go home due to the lack of progress.  It was kind of ironic, because for the first three kids, we were never asked to go home.  We knew that getting to a greater dilation would take long, but the actual birth would be really quick once the water was broken.  Renee asked if we could stay and since it wasn't a busy day, we were allowed to retain the room we were assigned.

Surprises All the Way
We did so much walking that day that we reached our goal on our Nike Fuelband activity tracker pretty quickly.  The contractions got closer together and also stronger.  Renee started sweating from the pain and from experience, when Renee started sweating, it meant it was getting close.  Finally, at 4:10 pm, Dr. Schuefler assessed Renee and she was 5 cm dilated, with a "+2", which I guessed meant baby's head was 2 cm pass the cervix (?).  Dr. Schuefler broke the water and I was asked to go to the desk to sign the paperwork to have Renee formally admitted to the hospital.

This was when I got a little bit nervous, because the last time Renee's water broke, Audrey was born after 1 contraction!  Luckily, Renee waited for me to get back to the delivery room.  We had a few nurses and a 3rd year medical student, Susan, help in the delivery.  Susan did a lot of the hard work, grabbing onto Anne's head and catching her as she was coming out.  At 4:28 pm, Anne was born!

I then took a quick look and saw that the baby was a girl.  I said to Renee in a rather excited voice, "It's a girl!"  We both laughed, probably because we just packed blue clothes to the hospital!  Anne, you're just full of surprises, right from the beginning.  You keep Mom and Dad guessing at every turn!



Running Out of "A" Names
We had settled on a name for a boy and a name for a girl.  If the baby were a boy, he would be named Atticus.  We toyed around with names like Augustine (a favourite saint of mine), Abraham, Aubrey (this was merely a joke), but we liked Atticus the most.  For Renee, she liked the sound of the name, but for me, I recalled the character Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.  I don't recall many characters from fiction books (Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye being the other), but Atticus Finch was one of them, because he was such a great protagonist.  We also found out yesterday that January 8 was the feast day of St. Atticus (yeah, a little freaky!).

Anne was the girl name we had settled on.  I have a few constraints that we had to work within.  Firstly, the name must be traditional or have some history to them; invented names like "Brayden" don't work for me.  Secondly, it must be a biblical or a saint's name.  Thirdly, the name can't be too common, at least at the present; "Aiden" or variant would be ruled out.  Fourthly, and most obviously, it has to start with an "A" (we hadn't planned on this, but when we named Athan, we kind of started a trend).  So, we didn't have a long list to pick from.  As time passed, the name "Anne" really grew on us.  In Hebrew, the name means "grace".  We thought it fit very well with the names Adele and Audrey, and it gives a nice, elegant feeling.  Elizabeth, Anne's middle name, was also a name we liked. It's very traditional and sounded elegant as well (if a queen's name doesn't sound elegant, I don't know what would!).  Lastly, Anne now has the names of the mother and cousin of our Lady, which is an added bonus!

The Lord is Wonderful
When we first found out that we were going to have a fourth child, things seemed a bit daunting and scary.  It's still scary now, but we've come to place our trust in the Lord, and would really not want it to be any other way.  Just today, Renee said, having just three never really felt complete (referencing how the Chinese preferred even numbers), but if I may, I'd like to kindly remind her that she was pretty happy with three before Anne was conceived. :)  I think this just goes to show that the Lord sometimes have greater plans for us, and when we do choose to accept His plan, He will help us not only get through the difficulties, but also learn to see the beauty in His plan...and we've only seen 2 days of that wonderful beauty that He had just sent us!
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