Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
When I was between 10 and 14 years old, newspaper/flyer delivery was a major source of income for me.  First, I had a flyer route that paid $20/month for delivering 70 sets of flyers each week to my neighbors.  The job included assembling flyers from multiple stores into one package and then delivering them throughout my neighborhood.  Not every house got a set of flyers; those who subscribed to the Toronto Star would not be on my route, because they would get the flyers included in the newspaper.  So, I would bring a list of addresses with me during the delivery, making sure the right houses got the flyers.  Sounds pretty easy, but imagine doing this in -15°C weather in the middle of a blizzard.  Eventually, I memorized my entire route and could do this without looking at the list (I got to know the houses, instead of memorizing the addresses).  Then, when my best friend Michael moved to Pickering, I inherited his prized evening Toronto Star paper route.  The money was way better from a revenue to work ratio.  I only had about 10 houses to deliver to but the money was similar.

My brother, Eric, also had a paper route.  He delivered the Sunday Toronto Sun. He had around 60 houses on his route.  He was (and is) really smart; he somehow tricked me into thinking that it was a great idea for me to help him with collecting money from the subscribers.  Yes, this was a thing.  In addition to delivering the newspapers, we were also responsible for knocking on the doors of our customers and collecting the money that they owed the Star/Sun.  Every month, we would remit the majority of that money to our managers and retain our earnings.  If we didn't collect all the money, tough luck, we still needed to remit the money.  So, it was in our best interest to collect.

Back to the story, I had forgotten what Eric had paid me, but it was a small portion of his income, while the work was arguably harder.  If it wasn't harder, it was definitely more time consuming.  Folks weren't home all the time and so you might need to go back to the same house twice, thrice, five, eight times to collect the $5 that they owed.  In addition to that, I actually had to interact with people, some of whom were nice and always tipped, but others were miserable and was not afraid to let you know that it was not welcome to knock on their door during dinner time.  Who ate at 5:00 pm anyway?!?

There was one family on Hood Crescent in Scarborough that I would dread going to.  It was the house of a white family with 2 kids, a girl and a boy around my age.  The father would sometimes answer the door and was polite, if not pleasant, but the mother was always upset about something.  If she wasn't complaining about me coming at dinner time, it was something else.  It was always unpleasant with her.  One day when I was 12 years old, I rang their doorbell as usual and she opened the door.  Immediately, a frown appeared on her face.  As you know, I almost always carry a smile on my face and so, I told her, with a smile, that I was collecting paper money and she owed $5.  She mumbled something about dinner time and went back inside to get the money.  When she came back with the money, she said, and I will never forget, "I would rather give this money to a nice white boy."

I was shocked.  I didn't know what to say.  I just took the money and walked back to my bike.  I didn't know what to feel, except anger.  It upset me tremendously.  I rode my bike home, to be met by Eric and my mom.  I was shaking as I told them what the white lady had said.  Then, uncontrollably, I broke down in tears.

After that, I don't quite remember what happened.  My mom probably consoled me and life went on.  But to this day, I still remember that woman's face and more vividly, her words.  It definitely wasn't the first time I was a victim to racism; some stupid kids at school would call me a chink or would tell me to go back to Hong Kong.  This time was different; it came to me, a 12-year-old boy, from a grown up.  I had a very hard time reconciling that in my head. We were taught racism was wrong and not acceptable, especially in Canada, where people of various backgrounds live harmoniously.  Yet, this lady, who had kids herself, would inflict such pain on a 12-year-old boy.  How deep her hatred for people of colour must have run!

Almost 30 years later, as I reflect on this, I am saddened that racism is still such a real thing in the world.  All I ask is that we continue to pray for those who still bear hatred towards those of another race, and to continue to make decisions in our lives, from voting to educating our kids, that denounce racism.  Just like slavery, it will become a thing of the past only to be learned through history books.  I wish to see the day when 12-year-old newspaper boys only need to worry about whether it was dinnertime when knocking on their customer's door.

...wait, are newspapers still a thing? 😅

Yes, we have anecdotal evidence that the COVID-19 lockdown has started a baby boom!  Renee and I are pleased to introduce Baby No. 6!  Amelia is now two and a half years old so we're definitely overdue! LOL! This time, we're really going to fill the Odyssey and there will not be any spots for the grandparents! 😭 

The kids are very thrilled with the news and couldn't wait to tell their friends.  The oldest two are praying for a little brother and the younger three are hoping for a baby girl.  We do think it'd be nice for Athan to finally have a brother, and we are running out of "A" girl names as well! 😜

Baby's due date will be early December and I'm really hoping the pandemic will be over by then.  I really wish I will be allowed to accompany Renee during and after the delivery in the hospital.  All of our kids were on the light side and had to stay in the hospital for a couple of nights.  So, it'd be good to be able to be there with Renee and baby.  Please keep us in your prayers!
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!

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!
A few of you know that I'm currently in Hong Kong to say my last goodbye to my grandmother. She passed away on May 2.  This post is part trip journal and part tribute to her.

阿婆 On Our Wedding Day, August 5, 2006

April 28, 2019
I'm 30,000 ft in the air as I write this, on my way to Hong Kong. My maternal grandmother is in palliative care right now in Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon.  Her health has been in steady decline since she lost her ability to walk about 7 years ago, and started living in a geriatric home.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer about 11 years ago and had a mastectomy.  The cancer eventually spread to her bones and liver.

Memories from My Childhood
When I was a small child still living in Hong Kong, my parents would drop me off at pre-school, and later on, elementary school, and 阿婆 would pick me up at the end of the school day. I would then spend the afternoon with her until my mother came to pick me up after work. Those afternoons with her make up one my fondest memories of my childhood.

Before she moved to a more modern day apartment, she lived in one of the first public housing projects built in Hong Kong, in today's Lok Fu in Kowloon, which was also where my mother grew up. Her unit (#503 of block 17) was a small rectangular unit with no rooms, kitchen (she had a stove in the hallway/balcony outside), or washroom (a shared washroom was present on each floor), and was no larger than 200 square feet. Her entire family of 5 lived there for many years.  Life there was difficult, but also very interesting.

阿婆 loved playing mahjong, and in many afternoons, she used to play for several hours with me sleeping on her lap. I still have memories of curling up on her lap, looking at the bottom of the mahjong table and listening to the noise of shuffling mahjong.

Life Lessons
Throughout those formative years with her, I learned a number of life lessons.  One of the most vivid memories I had with her happened when I must have been around six or seven years old.  Hearing profanity at that time for me was not uncommon, except I had no concept of profanity.  No one told me that a certain word was a bad word, and so, one day as we were standing near the bus stop where my mom would get off to pick me up, I uttered some profanity in front of 阿婆, not really understanding what I had said. Immediately, her face changed and asked me where I had learned that particular word.  She then went on to give me a lecture on how only rude people would say those words.  I remember feeling horrible and more importantly, learned that one could get into much trouble by inadvertently saying something that wasn't appropriate.  I can't say that I never curse, but I hope most people will agree with me that only during intense moments do profanity come out of my mouth.

She also taught me, through her way of living, that it was ok to enjoy the little things in life.  I remember particularly enjoying cooking instant noodles on a kerosene stove with her, inside her little unit (recall that she had no kitchen inside).  From the lighting of the match, to the sweet smell of burning kerosene, to the wonderful taste of Nissin instant ramen, I loved every moment of this humble life.  To the chagrin of my parents, my afternoon life was often filled with cartoons and less-than-healthy snacks.  I would often get into trouble when my little stomach had been filled with snacks and wouldn't allow for much dinner shortly afterwards.  Now, as a parent, when my kids wouldn't eat at dinner, my first question to Renee or my mother would be, "Did they just have snacks?"

Public Housing in Lo Fu Ngam, Kowloon (circa 1960s)

As you can see in the picture above, the resettlement blocks (as they're called) had long balconies.  阿婆 lived on the sixth floor (don't ask me why the unit number was 503!) and we used to stand at the balcony, look down below and people watch.  One of the most anticipated moments of the day was when the 飛機欖 (an olive based snack) seller came by.  The name 飛機欖 literally means "airplane olive", and why it was called "airplane" was the way it was delivered.  The seller usually had a trumpet and when he came by, he would play it to alert the neighborhood, much like how ice-cream trucks play music in North America.  Kids like myself would then race to the balconies and throw coins down the balcony.  Once he received the money, he would then throw the 飛機欖 up to your floor.  As you can imagine, I loved this whole interaction.  However, I never quite acquired the taste of the 飛機欖 itself.

Another yummy food that used to be sold by street vendors in the neighborhood was 砵仔糕. yummy!  This post is making me hungry!

Now that I am reflecting on this, I realize it has shaped my own way of parenting quite a bit.  Whenever I have a 1-on-1 date with one of our kids, bringing them to Tim Hortons or McDonald's is almost a sure thing.  Perhaps when they're grown, they will remember fondly these little joyful moments with their father.

WWII Stories
In the years leading up to World War II, the Japanese occupied Guangzhou where she lived.  As a young girl, she had learned how to speak Japanese.  I believe she picked it up through working for either a Japanese family or company.  Although she was a bit rusty, she was still able to converse in Japanese well into her seventies.  My favourite dish that she made was Japanese omelette wrapped fried rice.  Although she had never taught me how to make it, I had watched her cook it many a time.  I'm not super great at it, but it is something I can make to impress my guests (or so I think)!  I remember that one year when she was visiting Canada, I surprised her by making the dish for her.  I was expecting her to say, "Oh, you did a good job making the fried rice even though I hadn't taught you."  Instead, what I got was, "The egg is kind of...thick.  Make it thinner next time."  That was a LOL moment!

Omelette Fried Rice Made by Me

The following is a story I like to tell my Canadian friends and it absolutely blows their minds.  If you had met her in her 70s and early 80s, you would agree she looked like one of those typical cute, old Chinese ladies - short in stature, a bit chubby, and has a nice permed hairdo.

Grandma at Adele's Baptism

I've been told when she was much younger and not yet married that she was very attractive.  This did not go unnoticed by a Japanese military personnel stationed where she was living.  Whether he was a lowly ranked soldier or a general is unknown to me, but it would seem that this was not a situation a young woman would want to be in during that time.  She learned that he would come by to where she lived and ask about her.  At that time, my grandfather was married to her older half sister (different mother).  After some discussion with her sister, my grandfather proposed that he marry 阿婆 as well, which would serve as protection for her.  Her attractiveness, I imagine, did not make this proposal a difficult one for my grandfather!  So, 阿婆 became my grandfather's third, simultaneous wife.

Grandma Holding Baby Uncle 志堃 (circa 1948)

This notion of polygamy seems unthinkable now, but if one looks into history, strict monogamy is taught by few religions except Christianity.  As the Western world moves away from its Christian roots, we are now seeing polygamy making a come back, at least in the form of serial polygamy (divorce and remarriage).  I can certainly see polygamy as a next frontier in the ongoing sexual revolution society has been undergoing since the 1960s.

May 1, 2019
Today is May 1, 2019.  It's 10:10 am in the morning Hong Kong time. 阿婆's condition has declined significantly since yesterday morning.  She was very alert and aware yesterday.  When we arrived at the hospital in the morning, she was already awake and stayed that way for a couple of hours. Mom fed her some liquid formula and she enjoyed it. She even managed to look at us and smile.  It was a comforting sight.

Then, at around noon, congee was delivered to the room and Mom tried to feed it to her. Since it was fairly thick, and 阿婆 wasn't able to really swallow, we added some water into her mouth.  That, however, was not such a good idea.  Since she had trouble with swallowing, the congee likely went into her windpipe instead of her esophagus.  She then had some trouble breathing and so, we asked the nurse to try sucking what sounded like phlegm, but was actually the congee, from her throat.  It helped a bit, but since this episode, her condition worsened drastically.  When the nurse came in to do a checkup, she wasn't able to measure her blood oxygen levels.  So, she put an oxygen mask on 阿婆 and turned the oxygen supply to the maximum setting.  The nurse also asked us to call all of our family as things did not look well.

By late afternoon, all immediate family was at the hospital.  My cousin, Ka Pong, who was away in Taiwan, also made it back to see 阿婆.  Renee and the kids also spoke with 阿婆 through the phone, as did my brother Eric and Joanne, his wife.  We all thought that 阿婆 was waiting for everyone to show up before passing on.  However, she did end up surviving the night.

May 3, 2019
阿婆's Last Day
After a quiet day on May 1, Mom and I went back to the hospital on May 2 at around 8:30 am.  When we got there, 阿婆 was awake and fairly alert.  We talked with her and she was sometimes able to respond by nodding or shaking her head.  However, her eyes had that glazed look that wasn't present a few days before.  Since it was just ourselves there at the hospital, we took it easy and relaxed in the hospital room.  Mom then remembered that my dad had not spoken to 阿婆 and asked me to call him.  We put him on the phone and he had quite a funny chat with her, reminiscing the days when they played mahjong with Uncle Paul and Auntie Loretta (Eric's in laws).  When he finished speaking with her, I walked outside and continued chatting with him while Mom stayed inside the room.  After about 5 minutes, Mom came out with a worried look and asked me to go into the room.  When I got there, I saw 阿婆 with an anxious look in her eyes and her mouth opened and shut repeatedly.  We had not seen that in the past few days.  I immediately called my uncle, 志堃, and my cousin Cindy.  Fortunately, Uncle 志堃 was already on his way to the hospital.  Within minutes, he arrived.  阿婆 continued to struggle and at last, closed her eyes and stopped breathing.

I went out to call the nurse and she came in.  She told us that 阿婆 still had a pulse and asked us to get as many family members here as possible.  At around 10:50 am, her pulse had stopped.  The doctor examined her about an hour later and her official time of death was 12:12 pm on May 2, 2019.  The cause of death was pneumonia.  She was 92 years old.

Farewell...But Not For Long
On Sunday, I will be flying back to Toronto.  I feel that this is one of the most important trips I had taken in my life.  My cousin Kelvin (on my father's side) gave me some really good advice when I was still deciding on whether to come back or not.  He said, "人生是一條減數 (Life is a subtraction)."  He recently lost his father and wanted to remind me that as we are past our mid-life, our losses in this life will continue to increase.  So, I thank him for putting things into perspective for me, which allowed me to make the right decision.  I do agree that that is the sad truth that we must all face.  However, I don't believe our bodily deaths are the end of our existence.  It is merely a transition to something greater.

So, 阿婆, farewell...but not for long.  In the face of eternity, what is another 30 to 50 years?  We'll meet again soon enough!
Read Further to See How I Can Afford This Thing!

In my last post, I talked about the family and what we were up to in 2018.  Today's post is about money.  As most of you will agree, raising a family requires a lot of resources, and money is definitely one of the important ones.  So, I'm going to tell you about one of the things I did on the money front.

Owning a Tesla for Free?
Back in late 2017, I read an article on Business Insider about a couple using a car-sharing app called Turo, to pay for their two Teslas.  This got me interested as I had reserved a Model 3 back in 2016.  At that time, Tesla advertised that it was going to be a $35,000 (USD) car.  With the savings in gas on my daily commute of 100 km+, that would not be such a heavy burden.  However, as 2017 progressed, it became apparent that the $35,000 car wasn't going to be in sight for quite some time (it's still not here yet).  So, having read this article, I have renewed hope that I was somehow going to be able to make it work.

In January 2018, I decided to buy a used Honda Accord with 2 things in mind.  First, my mom's old Toyota Matrix needed to replaced at some point.  The Accord could very well be it.  I could also use this car as a pilot vehicle to try out Turo and see if I could make some money.  That is exactly what I did.  At first, I listed it at around $40 to $45/day, but wasn't getting any rentals.  After joining a Facebook group of Turo owners, I learned that pricing will need to be tweaked to find the sweet spot.  After lowering it to low to mid $30s, I got my first rental.  It went ok but was only a 1-day rental.  Then, a couple who newly immigrated here from Brazil rented the car for a month straight!  I was ecstatic, as that meant I didn't have to do any cleaning, vacuuming, or really anything when the car was away.  Since then, my poor mother did not end up driving that Accord much! 🤷

Soon after, I replaced my aging 12-year old Prius with a 6-year old Lexus CT.  Since I didn't really need the car on weekends (we went everywhere in our Odyssey), I would put that car on Turo on the weekends as well. 

And soon after that, Tesla told me that I was then able to place the order for the Model 3.  There was really no choice in trim level or options at that point; only the long range battery with RWD and premium package was available.  The car with destination fees and taxes would be more than $80,000!  Up to that point in time, I had never spent more than $25,000 on a car.  That was a great departure from my usual frugal (...more like stingy...) self.  Seeing that the Liberal government had a fairly good chance of losing the election, I bit the bullet and ordered the Model 3, in hopes that it would arrive in time for me to take advantage of the $14,000 rebate.  In the end, I was able to submit my rebate application before Doug Ford ended it.  It still feels somewhat unreal that I now drive such an expensive car!

Thus far, the Model 3 has been able to pay for its monthly car payments.  So, Turo is kind of the real deal.  You can say it's the AirBnb for cars.  Some of you are wondering how I could even let someone else drive the Tesla without worrying to which I respond that I would rather own a Tesla and let someone else drive it once in a while than not owning one at all.

Some Details
I think some of you may be intrigued at this point and would like to know more.  So, I will give you some details.  With the Accord and CT, I have been able to net $300-400 per month.  This would be after all costs including insurance, depreciation, interests, maintenance, repairs, etc. etc.  The daily rate ranges from $28 to $40 (higher in summer months) and utilization is probably around 25 days a month, +/- a couple of days.  There are also extras like delivery, cleaning charges, late fees, etc. that boost my revenue.  Turo takes 25% of that, but provides full insurance coverage when the car is rented out.  So, if a guest crashes the car, it would not hit my personal insurance policy, and there is no deductible for me.  I get paid fully on the damages or value of the car if it is totaled.  This is also fully legit with my insurance company, The Personal.  Turo, in fact, partners with a bunch of insurance companies, including Belair Direct, Intact, Desjardins, etc.

As with any venture, there is no free lunch.  I do have to put in some work.  Most of it is cleaning the car after each rental, and occasionally, delivering and picking up from the airport.  It is, however, much better than driving Uber, in terms of time investment.  I would say I spend about 4 to 8 hours a week managing 4 cars right now.

Some have asked me if I were spending money paying for cars, why not buy a house and rent it out.  Renting out cars and renting out real property are two different business models.  Renting out a house is usually a cash flow negative business (i.e. the rent you receive will not be able to pay for all your expenses + mortgage), but you are hoping for the asset to appreciate.  That's where you would make your money.  Renting out a car has to be a cash flow positive business, because your asset is a depreciating asset.  If you're not cash flow positive, then forget about it.  As I mentioned at the start, I need money to raise a family (i.e. cash flow), which is why Turo is my kind of business.

As a host, I can certainly see how Turo is indeed the AirBnb for cars.  Like AirBnb, it provides such a good experience for both the host and the guest.  Like many people, I've rented cars from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, etc. and the experience pretty much is always sub-par.  First, you book a class of the car you want, but never know what car you will actually get.  Then, you are greeted by an expressionless customer service rep at the counter.  The paperwork usually takes 15 minutes, most of which consists of hard selling extras like insurance, prepaid gas, damage waivers and the like, before you finally get assigned a bland car that excites exactly no one.  Contrast that with Turo, there is literally no paperwork required and you can pick the exact car you want.  The review system gives you peace of mind that the host you're dealing with will likely provide you an excellent experience.  Lastly, Turo hosts will often deliver to curbside at the airport, just like how your friend would pick you up, except they leave you with their beautiful car.  When I was in Florida, I used Turo and preferred it over the traditional car rental places.

Shameless Self-Promotion
So, the next time you need to rent a car, take a look at Turo and see if it meets your needs. In fact, let me shamelessly provide you my referral link!  If you sign up using this link and rent a car, both you and I get $25 USD in Turo credit!  Also, check out my fleet; if you have guests coming into town, I'd be glad to help if they needed a car!
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 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!
First Time Ever Running the Half Marathon Distance (Ignore the Crazy Hair!)

The Fall has arrived and that means I have to complete my half marathon that I had committed to running.  Again, our family thanks you for your generous donations!

Initially, I had not planned to participate in any organized run/marathon.  As with most marathons that are organized, there is a fee that each runner needs to pay to be registered.  Since we were trying to raise money for the kids' school, I thought that I would simply commit to running the distance of a half marathon on my own and donate that money to the school instead...and I am still doing that.  Brother Gustavo and I and planning to do a 15 km run along the Burlington waterfront before the end of the year.

In fact, in my training, I was able to complete the half marathon distance (21.1 km), but not without great complaints from my knees!  I clocked in at around 2 hrs and 11 minutes at the 21.1 km mark.  My overall pace was 6'13" per km, but my last 3 kms were very painful...I actually kept a < 6'00" throughout the first 18 km, but hit a wall after 18 km.  There was a point when I had real trouble passing an old man walking along the sidewalk where I was running!  It was quite a hilarious scene now that I reflect upon it. But I persisted and pushed through.  When I checked my route on Google Maps the night before, I was supposed to end up near home, but due to a miscalculation, I was almost 1 km from home when I finished the half marathon distance.  I was not pleased to walk another 1 km home!

FLL Walk with God
Just this summer, Renee and a few other moms we've known from church got into raising Monarch butterflies (that's a story for another time).  They have now formed a team to do a 5 km walk for Fountain of Love and Life (FLL) on October 22 (this coming Sunday).  For those of you who are not familiar with FLL, it is a Chinese Catholic media organization, founded here in the GTA, which is doing great evangelization work.  It started off making TV shows but now also has a radio program and all sorts of other good things.

They're holding this fundraiser through the Scotiabank Marathon.  So, instead of doing the 5 km walk with Renee, I've signed up for the half marathon.  It's killing 2 birds with 1 stone!  I need to run a half marathon and FLL needs more supporters in their run!

So, here I am asking for more money!  This time not for the school, but for FLL.  Please hit this link to get to my page: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  Any donation $20 or greater will get you a tax receipt immediately.  Thanks for your generosity!

Last Request
I was actually a little reluctant when signing up.  Over the summer, each time I increased my distance on a run, my knees and ankles would complain after each run.  My muscles and cardio are not the problem, but my joints are.  I think this is a classic sign of age :(  So, about 2 weeks ago, my left knee really started complaining, even though I had not run that week.  It went away mostly, but when I did a short run just this past weekend, it became somewhat painful 1 km into the run.

Lucky for me, I have so many medical professionals in my family, Renee's sister, Rachel, who is a physiotherapist took a look and identified an injured lateral collateral ligament (LCL), a ligament on the outside of the knee.  It's likely due to my inactivity (prior to starting running) and lack of muscle strength that my leg is just not built for repeated impact.

Anyway, the only thing I can really do is rest it until this Sunday.  It was painful up until yesterday, but it feels pretty good this morning.  I hope I'll be back to 100% by Sunday.  This whole knee thing has me a bit anxious.  Last night, I had a semi-nightmare that I had missed the marathon.  So, my last request is simply a prayer for me that my knee will be in a good enough shape for me to complete the run.

Again, thank you so much for your generosity and for reading this (I actually can't believe the number of pageviews I get).  God bless!

Interview of Elon Musk at Code Conference 2016

When I wrote my post about my New Year Resolution, I mentioned that I had just listened to the audiobook of Elon Musk's biography.  Before reading the biography, I was vaguely familiar with this CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, but didn't really know very much outside of that.  But having read the book, Musk has become my inspiration.  What he's doing for humanity is certainly no fact, I would argue he has made a bigger impact in transitioning humanity from burning fossil fuels to using sustainable energy than any other one person.  However, that is not really why he inspires me so much.

How he truly inspires me is how he approaches life.  In the interview above (if you have the time, watch the whole thing!), about 13 minutes into it, he says, "Life can't be just about solving problems; there have to be things that are inspiring and exciting that make you glad to be alive."  I believe I'm the first person on the web to point out this quote specifically and hopefully, it'll be more widely circulated, because I think it's great.  Although I would have to say life is actually even more than just having inspiring and exciting things, I don't think it's too shabby from a secular perspective.  It's really about finding passion in the things that you do.

Ask yourself this, "In my work, am I just solving problems?  Or does my job inspire and excite me, and makes me glad to be alive?"  If the answer is "just solving problems", then maybe it's time to re-evaluate your career choices.  Throughout my not so long/short life, I've flip-flopped between the two ends of the spectrum.  On one end, work and career is really just a means to making a living; life is much more than that.  On the other end, work and career is a big part of my life and I should be doing what I'm passionate about.  I think I'm closer to the latter right now in my life.  It is true that without my faith, family, friends, etc., it wouldn't matter much what I'm doing, but at the same time, if I were stuck in a job I hated, that would be a fairly bad way to spend a quarter of my life.

Perhaps as I age and as my kids are starting to understand things of the world, I want them to be able to learn from me the value of hard work, to not be satisfied with status quo, and to know that they can do great things.  I'm still finding my way there and I pray that God grants me this wish.  I end with a quote from Pope Benedict XVI, "The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness."

Happy New Year!  Another year has flown by (sorry, a little cliche...)!  We are still expecting our little one to come, any minute now!

New Year Resolution
Last night, as we unceremoniously celebrated the new year, Renee asked me what my new year resolution was.  I gave it maybe five seconds of thought and then answered, "To exercise go to bed earlier..."  But I didn't really feel good about that answer, but I wasn't in much of a contemplation mood; so, I decided not to think about it too much.

Then, today, when I was at mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, as the father was saying his homily, my mind drifted (it never happens, I swear!).  I was thinking back to last night and then the answer came to me (it must have been the Holy Spirit).  As you have guessed, my resolution for this year, and probably for the rest of my life is the title of this post: "Live each day as if I had five years left to live."

It's really a spin on the almost cliche "live each day as if it were your last" motto.  I never really liked this motto, not because I didn't agree with it, but as a practical guy, it just didn't resonate with me.  I get it that the intent of this motto is for us to filter out the noise and live life to the fullest, but if one were to live this motto out literally, it would be quite disastrous.  First, if I knew I only had 24 hours to live, I'd probably call in sick, tell Renee to call in sick, take my kids out of school for the day, and just go have a good ol' time, before my time is cut short on this earth.  It wouldn't really work out if I did live out each day like that!

So, my version on this motto is really just to satisfy my desire to have more precision in the semantics.  And I do admit, it doesn't roll off the tongue quite as easily...

Why Five Years?
So, why five years, instead of two or ten or twenty?  Well, I didn't end up with five years due to any mathematical proof, but rather, I thought five years was a long enough time that I would have to continue with my day-to-day life, but yet, know that my days on this earth are limited, which is the more interesting part.  

This would change my behaviour drastically, because I know that in five years, my family would lose their primary provider.  Yes, Renee would be able to pay off the mortgage with the insurance pay out, but I would want them to be financially secure, even after that.  Five years is not a long time, but it's not a short time either.  I would work extra hard and in new ways to secure their future, in whatever form that may be.  Perhaps it's starting a business that can be continued even after I'm gone.  Or maybe it's taking some risks that I might not have taken were I to live to 85.

I recently listened to the audio book version of the biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.  It was an inspiring read...I've been telling a lot of people about it.  The one thing that I love about Musk was that after starting and selling 2 companies, with more than $100 million in the bank, what did he decide to do?  Start another 2 companies at the same time (SpaceX and Tesla), because he didn't want to just take it easy in life.  He wanted to do something great for humanity.  Perhaps I would aim to do something great for humanity as well.

What Else?
Of course, I would also love more fully.  Knowing I have only 5 short years to create lasting memories of their father for my kids, perhaps I would take my eyes off my phone when I'm with them. Maybe I would spend more time with them.  Or perhaps I wouldn't lose my temper so easily when they act like they'  Perhaps I would teach them more about God and about how one should live one's life.

Perhaps I would even tell my parents that I thank them and I love them more often (媽,爸, love you!).  Or visit my brother and his family more often.  Or take my in laws to dim sum more.  Perhaps, I would reconnect with some old friends and stay in touch with newer ones.

Lastly, perhaps I would love Renee more.  Instead of taking her for granted like I do all the time, I would appreciate all the little and big things she does for me and the family.  Perhaps I would take her out for sushi or go to see a romantic comedy at the theatres a little more often.  Perhaps I would love myself a little less and her a lot more.  Perhaps, I would start writing her love letters again.

And so, this is my new year resolution and maybe also my life motto...cutting out the noise and focusing on the essential.  It's really what is meant when people say, live life to its fullest.  Forget the useless office politics, toxic gossip, keeping up with the Jones's...and just live!
Today is a sad day for me.  I've been told that 9 years worth of engineering experience that I have under my belt is not good enough to allow me to obtain a license to practice engineering in Ontario. :(

As most of you know, I studied mechanical engineering at U of T, went on to a research master's there, and then worked for almost 8 years at ATS designing factory automation systems.  The job at ATS was a dream job for mechanical engineering grads, because it was one of the few jobs that actually allowed you to apply what you learned in university on your job on a daily basis.  There, I did cool stuff like designing high-accuracy placement machines, high-accuracy dispense systems, laser systems, vision systems, and applied engineering concepts like heat transfer, vibration analysis, dynamics, etc.  Today, I was told it wasn't enough.

Red Tape
It all began a few years back when I decided to go through the formal process of getting licensed in Ontario.  (I heard that one can get great car insurance discounts through Meloche Monnex when one is a member of Professional Engineers of Ontario!)  When I submitted my application, PEO had asked for official ID to verify my identity, which I believe included a Canadian birth certificate or a citizenship card.  So, I gave copies of my citizenship card.  My name on my file came out as "Kwok Tao Wong", which was my Chinese name, and I asked for it to be changed to "Felix Wong", which was the only name that showed up in a majority of my documents, including the citizenship card.  However, "Kwok Tao Wong" also shows up there, and therefore, PEO decided that it was going to be "Kwok Tao Wong" and nothing else, not even the other name that shows up on the same document.  Ok, so I decided I wasn't going to lose sleep over it, but my thought at that time was, "What am I getting myself into?"

It then took me literally a couple of years to finish writing my experience summary, which was meant to describe what engineering work I had done in my career.  When I submitted it for review as part of the Engineering-In-Training (EIT) program, the reviewers told me that the experience looked good, was applicable, but just make sure that more actual calculations were included.  So, after taking that advice to heart, I put in a number of calculations and I thought maybe I put in too much.  The summary was supposed to be 10 pages but I had 17, mainly because I held several positions and felt obligated to write a little on each position.  That turned out to be a fatal mistake.

I had worked at ATS for almost 8 years, nearly double of what I needed to obtain the engineering license.  I then moved on to Ainsworth, where I had worked mainly in project management and process improvement, which would not be direct engineering experience.  But because the 5 areas of engineering experience covered things like management of engineering, etc. I decided to write whatever was applicable.  The letter I got back from PEO said something to the extent of, "the majority of your work was in business operations and facilities management, therefore, we need to interview you."  My first reaction was, "Did you actually read my summary?"  How is 4 years at Ainsworth considered a majority of my work experience, compared to 8 years at ATS?  I was puzzled.

At that point, I had a bad feeling about the whole thing.  Ok, so the name thing was not such a big deal, but now, I need to go to the PEO office and make a defense of my experience.  I know of many people who have done much less actual engineering in their work and are walking around with "P.Eng." after their names.  Why was I selected to be scrutinized in this fashion?

Long story short, I presented at the interview a project I had worked on at ATS and shown my work including accuracy analysis, cycle time analysis, and a conceptual design for a cold staking station, but at the end, I was told that the type of work I presented was too elementary, like it was 2nd year engineering work, and did not have enough breadth.  My friends at ATS, please tell me what you do (and I did) is not 2nd year engineering work!  I felt outraged, but managed to keep my composure.  One of the gentlemen kept saying, "It's not enough to say I did this and that for 6 months, 8 years ago."  I corrected him, saying, "No, it's 4 years ago and I did it for 8 years."  Still, it went in one ear and out the next.

Alas, I think it was really my fault.  I applied for the license too late in my career.  The question surfaced at the interview and also at the EIT review, "You are not practicing mechanical engineering now, why are you pursuing a license now?"  It's a fair question for someone to ask, but it is not a fair question to ask when considering licensing.  I don't recall reading anywhere in the Professional Engineers Act or even in any of the documentation from PEO that the 4 years of engineering experience had to be current experience.

I feel that going into the interview, there had been some prejudice against me, because I was not currently practicing engineering.  Or maybe it's all in my head.  Maybe my written and oral communication skills suck and I wasn't able to convey that my work had indeed been engineering work.  Somehow, I doubt that...

Is There Meaning to This?
Is there any meaning to this episode of my life?  I don't know.  I just feel really agitated at the moment so much so that I had to rant here to let out some steam.  Do I really need a P.Eng.?  Hey, maybe not, since I'm not actually practicing engineering at this point in my career?  But I have this gut-wrenching feeling that I always get when I've been a victim of some unjust act.

There's a part of me that tells me there is a meaning to this episode, and I recall another instance earlier in my life.  During my 4th year in university, I had this great idea that I should apply to MIT for their master's program.  I had been at the top of my class and didn't think it was out of reach, but it was kind of an ego thing.  Wouldn't it be prestigious to say I graduated from MIT?  So, I went ahead and prepared for the GRE exam.  On the practice exams, I did absolutely great and had gotten really respectable scores.  Then, the day of the exam came around and as I sat in front of that computer terminal, I froze.  I couldn't get some of the answers in the test and got so discouraged that I didn't even choose to see my score.  Obviously, I gave up on those hopes pretty quickly.  Afterwards, I reflected on the whole thing and realized that the intention of applying to MIT was all wrong.  Maybe doing badly on the exam was God's way of telling me that that's not His way.  Perhaps applying for P.Eng. is a similar thing.  I really didn't need it, but boy, wouldn't it be nice to be able to finally call myself an engineer and to have a few more letters after my name?

For now, I think I'm going to say this is a conclusion of my attempt at getting licensed.  I have no desire to appeal the decision or to somehow obtain related experience in my current job that offers no such opportunity.  Perhaps, God will reveal the meaning to me in due time...

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, 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.
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