Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts


1-day Old at the Hospital

When we found out that our 6th child will be a girl, one thing that we knew was going to be difficult was naming her.  When we named Athan (Athanasius is his actual name, which is that of one of the great Doctors of the Church, and means "eternal life"), we weren't purposely planning on naming all our kids with "A" names.  Once we started the trend, it was difficult to stop and so after Adele, Athan, Audrey, Anne, and Amelia, it was starting to be hard to find a name that suits both our liking.  My rule had always been traditional, Christian but yet not too common.  We had a shortlist of names: Andrea, Alicia, Arya, Agatha, amongst others.  Up till the day of Andrea's birth, we had pretty much settled on Alicia.  As you have guessed, that was not to be!  More on that later...

Ill Prepared
If you've known Renee and I for a while, you'll know that we're pretty chillaxed people.  We tend to go with the flow and are easygoing in general.  Sometimes that's good in keeping harmony but we also tend to underestimate the urgency of know, things like giving birth!

About 2 years ago, we had a flood in our basement (a story worthy of another post on its own) due to a burst water line.  Insurance would cover the damage but I procrastinated and procrastinated until this past summer dealing with it.  It wasn't until the claim deadline of 2 years from the date of the flood was approaching that I finally submitted all required documents and had the claim approved.  Our contractor also did not have any opening until late in the year, and in the end, he could not come to complete the repair/reno until after Andrea would be born.

So, we ended cleaning out 7 years' worth of junk out of the basement a month or so ago, with lots of help from my father.  We must have donated about 20 garbage bags full of stuff to Value Village and threw out another 10 bags. We also moved a bunch of stuff from the basement to the main floor and our hallway on the second floor, and also our bedroom.  In short, our house was a mess and was not in the best shape to receive our newborn baby.

We had a false alarm on November 26, when Renee felt some pain in her tummy, thinking that they were contractions.  It turned out that she was just experiencing some pain after having stood up for a prolonged amount of time that day.  Then, early in the morning of the November 30, Renee's mucus plug came out.  She told the kids that the baby might come that day.  I kind of brushed it off, saying to myself that for one of the pregnancies, she gave birth a full week after the mucus plug had come out.

November 30 was a Monday and I recall that I was in the middle of a team meeting at around 11 am when I was rudely interrupted.  Renee came barging into the bedroom and pushed me aside.  I gave her a look and she just said, "I'm going to take a shower."  Usually, when I'm in the middle of a meeting, she would not tell me such inconsequential things and so I paused and said, "Ok.......", waiting for her to give me a reason.  She then said, "I'm having contractions."

"What?" I thought to myself, suddenly snapping out of it.  I soon ended my team meeting and realized the gravity of situation.  Given that Renee was tested GBS positive, she needed to be administered antibiotics 4 hours before giving birth.  For Amelia's birth, we took our sweet time and Renee ended up having to slow down her labour to keep Amelia in for the required 4 hours.  I began sweating because I was 100% not prepared.  I immediately began packing up stuff for the hospital stay including my personal stuff since we were going to be there at least for a couple of days, and also everything that we would need including the car seat, stroller, etc.  By 1:45 pm, we were heading out the door even though Renee's contractions weren't that strong yet nor were they 5 minutes apart, which was the typical frequency at which one would leave for the hospital.

Wide Awake!

Feast of St. Andrew
A few days prior to that day, Adele was protesting that she didn't like the name Alicia.  She just didn't like the sound of the name, but both Renee and I liked the name.  Interestingly enough, Alicia came from the German name, Adelaide, which is related to Adele.  Lol!  Maybe Adele wanted to be the only Adele in the family!

Adele liked the name Andrea, but pronounced on-DREY-a, instead of the more commonly pronounced AN-dree-a.  I preferred the latter because it would be such an annoying thing when people would read your name and be constantly pronouncing it wrong.  Renee told Adele that if the baby was born on November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew, we would name her Andrea instead of Alicia.  I laughed, because this was the exact thing that I was hoping to happen with Adele before she was born.  Adele was born on May 10, but if she had been born on May 13, which was the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, she would have been called Fatima.  Since this didn't happen to Adele, I didn't think it would happen with this birth....I guess I was wrong!

So, Andrea was named Andrea because she was born on November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew.  It is pronounced AN-dree-a as well! ๐Ÿ˜ 

Her birthday is also quite easy to remember.  It's exactly 2 weeks after Renee's and 1 month before mine!

At the Hospital
We arrived at Trillium Health Centre (Mississauga Hospital) at around 2:15 pm. With the current COVID situation, I would only be allowed into the hospital after Renee was admitted to the birthing suite.  So, I dropped her off at the hospital and she proceeded to the birthing unit to be assessed.  Luckily, Renee's OB, Dr. Kim Rogers was also on duty that day and she would be the one to deliver the baby.  Upon assessment, Renee was about 2 to 3 cm dilated (out of 10 cm), which would normally have been early, but since she needed to be on antibiotics for 4 hours, Dr. Rogers commented that it was a good time to be arrive.

I drove to the nearby McDonald's to grab a coffee as I waited.  Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Renee was getting admitted. She first got tested for COVID, followed by some bloodwork. There was a young nurse in training at that time and that nurse attempted to take some blood samples.  Also at the same time were two student doctors who were asking Renee questions about her pregnancy.  As the nurse stabbed Renee in the arm with a needle, she burst Renee's vein and blood quickly splattered down her arm.  As this was happening, the student doctors continued to ask Renee questions as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.  The young nurse froze and her accompanying nurse quickly covered Renee's vein with a piece of gauge and stopped the bleeding.  Sadly, I wasn't there to witness this hilarious moment, but Renee said she had a drop of sweat run down her face. LOL!

After some time, Renee messaged me and asked me to come to the birthing unit.  I got to the hospital at around 4 pm and was promptly screened at the entrance.  The hospital staff informed me that my cloth mask was not acceptable inside the hospital and handed me a surgical mask.  They also phoned the birthing unit and asked if I was permitted to go in.  I'm glad they're doing this level of screening to prevent any outbreaks at the hospital.

Big(ger) Baby
When I got into the birthing room, I found Renee with two nurses: Jas and Mei Ling.  She was fairly comfortable and was having a nice chat with the two of them.  The contractions were still not quite 5 minutes apart and not very strong either.  We would normally have been still at home at this stage, but we didn't want to have the same experience as with Amelia's birth where Renee had to really slow herself down to keep Amelia in!  Renee was administered the anti-biotics at 3:15 pm and so, we would want to wait until at least 7:15 pm to give birth.

From, 3:15 pm until around 6:45 pm, the progress was slow and we were ok with it.  At 6:55 pm, Renee was still only about 3 cm dilated.  Dr. Rogers decided to break Renee's water to speed things up.  With our past experience, breaking the water definitely increased the pace of things.  By 8:00 pm, Renee's contractions started to become more painful.  By 8:45 pm, Dr. Rogers was in the room getting ready to deliver the baby.

At one point, the contractions were so painful that Renee squirmed around and almost kicked our nurse!  Bless Dr. Rogers, she calmed Renee down with a pep talk and from that point on, we made really good progress.  With Amelia, Renee pushed a couple of times and Amelia was born, but with Andrea, she was determined to stay inside mommy's warm tummy!  I think it took about 6 or 7 contractions and lots of hard pushing until Andrea was born at 9:10 pm.

When Andrea came out, she looked almost exactly the same as Anne when she was born!  She was 50 cm long, with a head circumference of 33 cm, and weighed in at 6 lb and 11 oz.  She was the heaviest of all of our kids, which probably explained why it took quite a bit of effort to get her out!  Andrea was also the only one who was born within the band of birth weight where we did not have to stay for 36 hours to have bloodwork done.

Almost a Vacation
We had a fairly good first night at the hospital.  Since bloodwork was not required, the nurses came by much less frequently than for our other babies.  We did get some rest at night, although there were a couple of hours where Andrea needed to be held.  So, I held her and walked around the room until she eventually fell asleep in my arms.  Since she wouldn't stay asleep when I put her down, I had to hold her while I sat (and fell asleep) in a chair.

We slept quite a bit the next day as well and only really woke up to feed Andrea or ourselves.  When the lunch delivery lady came by to collect Renee's finished lunch, Renee told her that it was delicious.  Her eyes widened and she was speechless for about a few seconds.  Then, she said to us, "Nobody likes the food here!"  We laughed, but to be honest, the food was very comforting (yes, I had some too LOL)!

We even bought a dessert crepe at the crepe place downstairs in the hospital.  It actually did feel like a vacation.  Since no visitors were allowed, we were there by ourselves with 1 child, as opposed to the normal 5 kids!  Meanwhile, my parents were the ones slaving away at home, keeping the kids focused on online learning and bathing and feeding them!  Thanks to Susanna and Hilton for their constant help!

Clearly Strong!
Andrea's full name is Andrea Claire Hiu Ying Wong ้ปƒๆ›‰็€…. Andrea (or Andrew) means "manly" LOL...but also means strong.  Both the names Claire and ็€… mean "clear", with ็€… specifically describing the clarity of water.  I'm somehow drawn to French names if you haven't noticed (Renee, Adele, Audrey, Anne) and have always liked the name Claire.  ็€… was Renee's idea but I did secretly like that name as well (at least the sound of the character), but never really suggested it as Chinese is not my strong suit.  On the day Andrea was born, it was raining quite a bit, and it seemed like God gives us his blessing on the name we've chosen, like He had done with Adele and Amelia.

And so, I ask the Lord to bless Andrea with strength and clarity in her days ahead!

Good morning!  It is 10:15 am on January 24, 2018, exactly 22 hours after Amelia was born.  Both Renee and Amelia are sleeping right now (this is usually when I write these posts).  We are actually all well rested.  If there was one word that would describe this delivery, "smooth" would be the word!  We hope this continues to carry forward to the next few months, but now having said this, I've probably jinxed it! Lol!

Anxious Over a Blessing
Many of you know that we use the Natural Family Planning (NFP) method as a natural means of contraception.  It is the only way that is morally acceptable in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  I wouldn't actually call it contraception, because it's really not.  The way it works is entirely through abstinence (i.e. not having sex) during the days when the woman is fertile.  So, it's not like you're having sex and the method prevents fertilization of the egg.

NFP is highly scientific based and claims high success rate (95%+, similar to using a condom).  Basically, we have to monitor the vaginal secretions to determine when Renee is fertile and abstain on those days.  It's actually quite simple.  However, it turns out that we're not very good at it!  Lol!  With Adele, we successfully delayed pregnancy.  We got married in August 2006 and then only started trying to conceive in mid 2008.  So, it worked quite well for about 2 years.  However, I think it's always difficult for parents to have their first, and subsequent children seem to be easier, but that observation is entirely anecdotal.

Fast forward to the conception of Anne.  Her conception was, well, unplanned.  I don't think it was due to the failure of NFP, but rather on our part to adhere strictly to the method.  I'll be the first to admit that NFP is not easy.  Just like fasting during Lent, one needs to exercise self control and discipline.  Looks like we lack either or both! Lol!

With the conception of Amelia, it was also unplanned.  This time, we thought we had followed the rules, but perhaps we did not make our observations well enough to determine whether Renee was actually fertile or not.  So, for us, NFP has not worked well in the practical sense.  And reflecting on it, I can certainly understand.  Since both Renee and I are easy-going, carefree people, I can see how a method requiring discipline would not work well for us! ๐Ÿ˜…

So, when we found out that we were pregnant with Amelia, we were obviously very anxious.  Questions like, can we handle five?, can we afford having five?, how will we make it work?, etc., started surfacing up.  We were also worried about putting too much stress on my mom, who is super-grandma and helps us in so many ways.  It was never a question about whether we wanted more children.  We love them to death; it was more about our ability to support them.  It is again, at this time, that I needed to read and re-read Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?"

Over the course of the entire history of humanity, a new life has always been seen as a blessing.  It is only in the last century that children have become a burden, rather than a blessing.  Actually, I want to be a bit more precise in my wording.  I believe it is actually the thought of a new life that is a burden to families.  Eight months ago, both Renee and I were so anxious after having found out that we were expecting.  Now, all we can feel when we look at Amelia is joy and gratefulness.

Go ahead and ask any parent out there who have children who were unplanned this question: do you wish that you had never given birth to your unplanned child?  I'm willing to make a serious bet that you would not find one parent who would answer with a "yes".  Sure, it's not easy raising a kid.  Sure, you would have to make countless sacrifices.  But to me, bringing any one of my children into this world was truly my greatest achievement in life.  Raising them up to be good, kind, and responsible adults will be my second greatest achievement.  Would you be surprised if you heard further good news from us?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Back to the Story...
Amelia's due date was January 24th.  Both Renee and I are natural procrastinators.  We had largely gotten ready with one exception: Amelia's crib is a large storage bin currently.  That's a small thing, but at least, we were somewhat successful in clearing some of the stuff that have accumulated in our room over the past 2 years.

On Monday, the kids had a PD day.  I was planning to work half day and then take them skiing in the afternoon.  However, once I was in the office, meetings became more meetings and I didn't end up leaving until 3:30, which was essentially a full day after having started at 7:15 in the morning.  Anyhow, Monday was a very, very foggy/misty day.  Visibility was about 5 meters in Milton when we went skiing.  Coincidentally, we were planning on naming Amelia ๆ›‰ๅต, or literally "dawn mist".  When we left for the hospital at 7 am, it was very misty as well.  So, I think God is telling us that He likes the name as well.

Interestingly enough, when Adele was born, we wanted to name her ๆ›‰ๆœˆ, or "dawn moon".  The morning we left for the hospital, the sky was very clear and we saw a setting full moon.  I think God likes that name as well! ๐Ÿ˜„

No Walking Required
Renee's contractions started intermittently at 8 pm on January 22, which became more consistent at around 3 am.  By the time it was 6 am, they were occurring about every 7 minutes, with some shorter and some longer.  When Anne was born, we almost got turned back home because Renee was only 2 cm dilated.  So, we took our time this time.

Once we got to the hospital, we walked up to the birthing unit.  Before getting to the desk to sign in and get admitted, Renee had a contraction in the hospital hallway.  A nurse asked how she was doing and what baby number this was.  When we said five, the two nurses freaked out and asked us to go into the delivery room just beside where we were standing.  I asked whether we needed to get signed in first and she said, typically yes, but since it looked like she could pop any moment, we would go into the delivery room first.  When the nurse examined Renee, she was already 7 cm dilated!

The nurse who ended up helping us was Louise.  She was a middle aged lady who was very assertive and just funny overall.  When she learned that Renee was tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep infection), she got very anxious.  Since antibiotics needed to be administered at least 4 hours prior to birth, she was afraid that it wouldn't be enough time.  If there was not enough time, Amelia would need to have bloodwork done and potentially stay longer for monitoring.  Louise was determined to delay the birth as much as possible.  So, she ended up not examining Renee at all, as to not inadvertently break the water.  Getting to 12:30 pm would get us to 4 hours.

This ended being a relatively easy labour (sorry, I know that's an oxymoron).  Renee was instructed essentially to lie in bed and just try to delay the birth.  Once she was in bed, the contraction slowed down and averaged around once every 10 minutes.  The strength was also quite bearable.

At about 11:45 am, Renee's water broke by itself.  After that, the contractions started getting significantly stronger.  It was apparent that the birth was imminent.  When it was around 12:10 pm, Louise was fairly sure that Renee would deliver soon.  She said that it was ok to give the 2nd dose of antibiotics 15 minutes early.  She got that all set up rather quickly and administered the dose.  About 1 minute later, Renee felt a lot of pressure and Louise got to work, asking her to push.  At that time, the OB, Dr. Liao, was in the operating room doing a C-section and was not available to deliver.  A resident doctor, Dr. Maude was just on her way in.  There was also a medical student who was helping out, but it was Louise who delivered the baby...and with one hand, because she didn't even have time to put on both gloves.  Louise was our hero!  Even with the resident and medical student there, Louise was commanding the room!  It was quite a sight!

It was quite a smooth delivery.  Renee only needed to push once and there was no tear.  Amelia was born at 12:15 pm and weighed 6 lb 2 oz at birth.  She was about 100 g shy of the passing mark for weight, and like all of our previous kids, she has to stay in the hospital for 36 hours for monitoring of blood sugar levels.  This means we'll be going home Thursday morning.

So Far So Good
The first night went very well.  Amelia has been a good eater and sleeper.  She latched on well immediately after birth and has been eating well.  Also, she has been sleeping quite well.  I actually feel well rested after last night.  Her blood sugar levels have been consistently well above the threshold.  We're really hoping this continues!

If you wonder why we had chosen the name Amelia, here is one of the stories of St. Amelia.  We think that's a pretty awesome story!  The name also means "industriousness" or "defender".  Donna was Renee's late aunt's name and we named Amelia in memory of her.  In my limited time with Aunt Donna, she was always so caring and generous.  I distinctly remembering her taking us to a restaurant (ๅคงๅนณ้คจ) in Hong Kong, which was famous for their invention of their "Swiss Chicken Wings"  We pray to the Lord that Amelia will grow up bearing the traits of her patron saint and great Aunt!
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!

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 (ไฝข่ฉฑไฝขๅ””ๆ’ˆ)!  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 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, 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.
Happy to be Going to School!

Wow!  Thanks to all who have donated, we have now surpassed the $1000 mark or 20% of our goal!  Looking at the contributions just opens our eyes to your tremendous generosity!  You have donated without expecting anything in return.  For this, we're deeply grateful!  Thank you!

For those reading about this for the first time, we're raising funds for the kids' school again this year!  Read about it here.  To up our game, we're doing a 5 km walkathon this coming weekend and I'll be running a half marathon in the Fall.  If we reach our goal of $5000, I will also be shaving my legs and head again...but these don't seem to be enough as some of you suggested.  My coworker and generous donor, Keith, has suggested that before I shave my head, I should wear a mohawk to work.  It may be a career-ending move, but if this is what it takes to get to our goal, I'm game!  I will also take a picture of me and the highest ranking employee in the company as proof.  (I work in the same office as the President.)

So, please keep those donations coming!  Thank you!

Donate Here:
It's me again!  Thanks to all those who have so generously donated, we have reached 8.2% of our goal in just a couple of days!

For those of you who may have missed it, I'm running a half marathon this coming Fall to raise funds for the kids' school!  It'll be a good challenge for me as the farthest I have ever run to date is around 8 km.  In addition, if we reach our fundraising goal, I will shave my head again this year!  Please help me make this happen!  Thanks so much in advance!

Donate Here:

See me like this again!  Donate today!

Hi Everyone! It's been a while since I've posted on this blog.  GDI (Ainsworth's parent company) decided to buy another company and merge us together.  It's been a grueling few months going through the transition and still feeling the effects.  Hence, I've been fairly quiet.

Didn't Know I Loved Running Too!?
As some of you may remember, our family raised funds for the kids' school around this time last year through a Walkathon.  With your support, we beat our goal and as a result, on top of the Walkathon with the family, I also shaved my head and legs!  This year, I am humbly asking for your help again!  On June 10th, the families of the school are participating in a 5 km Walkathon.

While shaving my head and legs were not on the top of list of things I had planned to do, they weren't terribly difficult things either.  To make things a bit more interesting this year for both you and I, I would like to ask you to sponsor me to run my first ever half marathon (21.1 km)!  Running has always been something that I liked to do, but it's not always something that I actually did.  I guess this was mainly due to laziness.  Just this spring, however, I started running more regularly, in anticipation of the fundraising event...that was until around the end of March, when my work hours just went out of control.  Things are getting a bit better now and I will resume my training again.

I'm aiming to do a half marathon in the Fall, around September or October.  I haven't chosen the actual event that I will be running at, but there's no shortage of them.  I'll keep you all posted.

Ok, It's Not All About Me!
Sorry, actually, the universe actually does not revolve around me!  Let's not forget the young ones that this fundraiser is all about!  Adele is finishing grade 2 and Athan will be graduating from Kindergarten!!  Lastly, since Renee returned to work in January, Audrey has been attending the pre-K classes.  They all enjoy being at school so much, but I think the most important part of all is the safe and caring environment that the school provides.  The teachers are all excellent and dedicated, and all of the students are so well behaved.

One of the things that, as a parent, we're afraid of is bullying at school.  I'll have to confess...there was a time when I was in grade 6 that I played the role of a bully.  It wasn't because I was intentionally malicious, but it was because a number of kids had been mean to this one kid, and that I somehow thought that being mean to him was acceptable and somehow in a twisted  And reflecting back to that, it was partly because the school culture did not promote a safe environment for the kids, where kids cared for each other.  We're fortunate that Guiding Light and the Heralds of the Gospel (the school and the religious order which co-runs the school) focuses a lot on the virtues of faith, hope, and most of all, love.  Renee and I would occasionally ask Adele if kids are mean to each other or if there are bullies at the school, and each time, she would reassure us with a confident "no".

Audrey's First Day of School...a Little Nervous!

Just a few weeks ago, when we were having pho with another family from the school, the kids spontaneously held hands and sang a grace before meals, without any reservation.  Thinking back to my days as a kid or even not so much as a kid, I would feel embarrassed to even make a sign of the cross in a secular setting, never mind break out in song.  I was so proud to see them as witnesses of the faith, much more so that I ever was.  Athan has also recently started genuflecting when he enters a church, without us ever teaching him to.  It's great to see the kids grow in faith and love!

Please Help!
We need all the help we can get to support the school and the Heralds of the Gospel in continuing to provide the education that will develop the Catholic leaders of tomorrow!

Our goal this year is $5000.  I'm sure with so many generous folks out there, this is absolutely an achievable goal.  But to give you some enjoyment, on top of just doing a 5 km Walkathon and running a half marathon, the following are the things I will be doing as we get closer to the goal:

$3000 - I will be shaving my legs again and posting a video of it on Youtube
$5000 - I will be shaving my head again and posting a video of it on Youtube
Other? - I'm open to suggestions to make things more interesting!  Leave me a comment!

As usual, you will be getting a tax receipt for any donation $20 or greater.  You get the receipt no waiting till tax time.  With most of you, you will be getting back around 40% of your donation through tax credits.

Thank you so much for your support!  Salve Maria!

All Saints Day Celebration - Even Renee and Anne Dressed Up!

As promised, here is the video of the kids shaving my head!  It was fun, except for the moments when I see myself in the mirror!  Thank you all for getting us to our goal of raising $2000 for the school!

As promised, for reaching our fundraising goal of $1500, I have gladly shaved my legs!!  Enjoy!  Thanks once again for all of your donations.  It means the world to us!

We're only $240 from our goal of $1500!  We're truly humbled by your kindness!  Your generosity is proof of many things: i) how fortunate we are to have friends and family who time and time again have lent a helping hand, ii) the world is not such a bad place after all when there are so many great people like yourselves!  Please accept our sincere thanks!

For those of you who don't know what this is all about, we're raising funds for Adele and Athan's school.  Read more here.  If we raise $1500, I will be shaving my legs, and $2000, my head!  If you're able, even a dollar would help!  Any donation $20 or above will get you a tax receipt.  Donate here:

Thank you once again!  We love you!

Wow!  Thanks to all those who have contributed!  It's not even a week and we're at more than 40% of our goal.  My leg hair is trembling now!!  We are so grateful for all of your generosity!  Truly, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).  May God bless you and your family!

For those of you who missed my previous post, we're raising funds for Adele and Athan's school, and if we reach $1500, I'm shaving my legs!  Help make that happen!!

Donate here:
The Best Friend of a Parent with Toddlers!

For those of who had toddlers, you likely know what the above contraption is.  If you are not a parent, then you can move on and skip this post (unless you really like learn about pee and poop).

What's That Smell?
As I walked into my bathroom this afternoon, I caught a whiff of very concentrated pee.  What the?!?  I swear I was aiming this morning!  Not to my surprise, I found 2 used diapers in our waste basket.  (How many times do I have to tell Renee to put used diapers in the Diaper Genie?!  Apparently, not enough...but this post isn't about her, it's about money.  And I guess I can thank her for attempting to save me money by using the waste basket instead of the precious plastic in the Diaper Genie refill, at the expense of making our bathroom smell like a McDonald's bathroom.  I digress.).

So, after transferring those 2 diapers into the Diaper Genie, I realized that we were on our last refill at the moment and I was thinking of picking some up soon.  Checking the Walmart website, I found that a pack of 3 refills was $22.93 + tax.  We use maybe one a month.  So, that translates to $103.64/year.  Then, I wondered why I hadn't already tried finding a cheaper solution.  We're on our 4th kid, but it's never too late!  So, I googled and within minutes, I was on my way to saving about $100/year, thanks to this website.

Essentially, you can replace the refill with and elastic band and some off-the-shelf recycling bags that can be bought for $5.  A box of 40 bags would last you for the most part of the year.  Without further ado, check out the video below.  Now, if you're thinking of how to thank me, I'd like to point you to my previous post, where you can get a tax receipt and a chance to see me shave my legs/head!  Wow, sounds like an awesome deal!

(Bad Photoshop Job...but at least my face looks OK on Brad Pitt's Head!)

All Joy and No Fun
Many people ask me, "Is it hard to take care of four kids?" I usually half jokingly answer them, saying, "it gets easier once you realize you no longer have your own life."  For those of you considering parenthood, I'm sorry... What they say is true...sleepless nights, dirty diapers, dinnertime nightmares, etc. Renee and I average about once every quarter when it comes to going on dates, most of which is to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.  There's very little spontaneity as we need to plan ahead of time for most outings.  Luckily, my mom stays over on weeknights.  So, after the kids go to bed, we may sneak out to see a movie or grab a drink, but that only happens if neither of us have already collapsed into a coma after dinner.

But then again, for those considering parenthood, I'm also glad to tell you that yes, it's true too that having kids is perhaps the most meaningful and important thing you can do in your life.  A couple of years ago, I read a book by Jennifer Senior, called All Fun and No Joy (I recommend that all parents and parents-to-be pick up a copy).  Senior tells us that we can be pretty sure we're going to lose much happiness in our lives after we've had kids, but along with it also comes joy and a sense of meaning in life.  I think that's not a bad tradeoff.  One can really only enjoy so much fine dining, traveling, and other niceties that come with a childfree life.  Of course, this is coming from a guy who's got 4 kids... Maybe it's a bit of self consolation! ;)

Guiding Light Academy
As some of you know, we're sending Adele and Athan (and probably Audrey and Anne in the future) to Guiding Light Academy, a Catholic private school in Mississauga.  The name of the school was formerly Lumen Veritatis Academy.  It's somewhat a long story, but in short, the school was originally run by the Heralds of the Gospel (brothers in that religious order), but they are now partnering with Guiding Light Academy for a number of good reasons.  Lumen Veritatis is still very much alive, where the brothers are teaching religion and also helping establish a deeply Catholic culture at the school.

When Adele was three years old, we were deciding where to send her for daycare purposes.  We could have chosen a daycare centre, a Montessori, or even a home daycare, but it made the most sense for us to send her to Lumen Veritatis.  The tuition was very affordable and it was the environment we wanted her to be in.  I recall the first time we visited the school, Brother Gustavo, the principal at the time, brought us to the various classrooms.  When we went in, the class would stop whatever we were doing, turned to us, and said, "Salve Maria!" (literally "Hail Mary", but used as a form of greeting).  The students were so respectful and well behaved.  It brought back my childhood memories of schooling in Hong Kong, where respect was demonstrated by all at the school.  Renee and I were sold right there and then.

Picture of Guiding Light Academy students at Saviour of the World Church After Their Christmas A Performance

On the first day of school for Adele, she cried her head off (and did so for the rest of the week).  It sounded like she was pretty freaked out that day, but from what we learned that evening, many of the older students were trying to make her feel at home.  We received a few pictures and the one below was one of them.  I don't remember who the student was, but her act was the embodiment of the culture at the school, that of love for your neighbor, regardless of who they may be.  We knew we made the right decision putting her at the school and have never looked back.

Adele's First Day of School

Deep Roots
Putting Adele and Athan in a private school is one of the "No Fun" parts of "All Joy and No Fun".  I could quickly come up with many ways of spending the equivalent of the cost a compact car every year in tuition.  That compact car will grow into a midsize car pretty quickly when Audrey and eventually Anne enter school age.  However, this is one of the sacrifices that we've decided to make for the kids.  Some might think we've put them in the school for better academics, and sure, it is making a visible difference on many fronts (Adele just finished Little House on the Prairie in one sitting last weekend - I don't think I can even read that fast), but our main reason is that we want them to have a solid foundation in our faith.  In today's world, where the government is passing legislation that undermines traditional values every year, we believe that it is of utmost importance that they start developing deep roots from the beginning.

Help!  I Need a Reason to Shave My Legs!
Lumen Veritatis is helping out families by fundraising through various events.  On May 14, we'll be participating in a walk-a-thon along the Oakville lakeshore.  Our whole family will be participating in this 5 km walk.  We'll only bring 1 stroller, so there will be a lot of walking for the kids!  They're very psyched about this, because it's their first walk-a-thon.  This is where Renee and I humbly ask for your help.  Please help us reach our goal of $1500 by making whatever contribution you are able to make.  You will receive a tax receipt for any donation $20 or more, and you can be assured that all of the proceeds will go to helping us directly.

Donate here:

To raise the stakes, here's what we're going to do.  If we reach the goals below, we, as a family, will:
$1500 - Felix will shave his legs and post a video on Youtube
$2000 - Felix will shave his head and look something like the picture at the top.  He will also make a video of it and post it on Youtube.  Renee did ask that I do it after her sister Rachel's wedding? (Why?  I think I'd look pretty good with no hair in a suit, don't know?)
$2500 - Athan has agreed to shave his head
$3000 - Adele has agreed to cut off at least 8" of her hair and donate it to the Cancer Society
$4000 - Renee has agreed to cut off at least 8" of her hair and donate it to the Cancer Society

If you're not able to contribute, we understand!  Do consider "liking" my post on Facebook so more of our friends see this post on their activity feed!

We gratefully thank you in advance for your generosity!  God bless!

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!

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 (ๅชฝ,็ˆธ, 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 was Adele's swimming class.  It's her first time swimming since our trip to Cuba.  Naturally, she was a little nervous when she went into the pool.  In one instance, we had to lay the toddlers on their backs to do back floats.  So, I tried laying Adele down and she started squirming and screaming, because she didn't like the sound of water in her ears and she was also afraid of drowning.  These days, we're trying to get her to stop whining and screaming when she wants something, because she can pretty much say anything now.  So, I told her, "Adele, just say, 'Baba, please don't let go.'"  She grabbed onto me, looked into my eyes and said, "Baba, don't let go, don't let go!"  I almost teared up right there and then.  I held her in my arms and whispered into her ears, "I won't let go."

Adele, I'll never let go!
Last night after dinner, Renee and I spent some time with Adele playing with Playdough.  On most weeknights, we try to spend as much time as we can with her before she goes to sleep.  Because she sleeps at around 8:30 pm, we only get to see her for a couple of hours each day.  We really miss out a lot and it's a shame, but that's the reality of life, I guess.  This is the reason why I think we need to invest aggressively (but safely) to have an early retirement, but that's a totally different discussion (see my other blog).

So, while we were playing with Adele, I walked away for a while, and immediately, she cried out to me, "Baba, play Playdough, play Playdough!"  I then walked back and said, almost not thinking about the words, "Yuet Yuet, one day, you will grow up and not want to play with Baba anymore."  Immediately after those words, a feeling of melancholy came over me.  Those words are probably going to come true at some point in time.  The saddest thing is that there are times now that I wished Adele would not require so much attention from me.  I have different things to do like watch TV, surf the web, write blogs...How ironic!  When Adele grows up to be an adolescent, I can just imagine that we would make a switch.  I'd want her to spend time with me, but she would rather hang out with friends, etc.

That is life...and so, I'm going to consciously maximize the amount of attention I give to her, while she still wants it.  Sometimes that's more easily said than done, but every time I find myself doing something else when I can be spending time with her, I'll be sure to correct myself!
Poor Adele Waiting to be Seen by a Doctor

I just turned 32!  I can't say it's one of the best birthdays I've had, but it'll definitely go down as one of the most memorable.  The last time I wrote, we were in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, because Adele had a fever for about 4 days.  It's been 2 days since that and Adele has been getting better.  The doctor couldn't really diagnose what was wrong that night, because Adele kept on crying and so he couldn't hear her breathing very well.  He also couldn't look inside her ear to see if there's any infection because there was too much ear wax.  Because she wasn't very calm and was moving about, he couldn't really clean her ears either.  Anyway, he prescribed some antibiotics just in case it was a bacterial infection.

Since then, she's gotten a lot better.  Before, she was sleeping something like 22 hours a day and wouldn't eat anything.  The past 2 days have been better.  She's been moving about, playing, talking, and eating some solid food.  So, there was definitely progress.  Today, we brought her over to Joanne's (my sister-in-law) mom's place to play with her cousins.  Everything was going swell until we gave her one of grandma's oatmeal cookies.  She probably inhaled bits of it and began to cough every 2-3 seconds.  This continued for about half an hour.  We gave her milk, patted her back...essentially did everything we could think of, but the coughing was still the same.  If you are a parent, you would know how heart wrenching that would be.  So, we left and drove back to my parents' place where we're staying.  We thought maybe we could do something there.  We tried putting her in a steamy bathroom and hope that the humidity would help...nope, didn't work.  We tried giving her more fluids.  We googled for other remedies, but to no avail.  At about 1.5 hours after she started choking (we'll call it that), we decided to bring her to the emergency room.  (Parents, imagine...1.5 hours of non-stop coughing...I want to cry just thinking about it)

So, we went to Grace Hospital again.  A pregnant lady (she claimed 6 weeks) was with the triage nurse, complaining about abdominal pain.  When the nurse saw Adele coughing incessantly, she kicked the pregnant lady out and began admitting Adele.  I was parking the car at this point, so I found this out from Renee afterwards.  No wonder when I walked in, there was this nervous man who kept walking into the triage area. Anyway, the nurse helped us bypass the waiting room outside the emergency room and routed us to the inner waiting room.  Rewind a few minutes and the triage nurse was weighing Adele.  Adele cried at the top of her lungs because she really wanted to be with mommy.  I think that 30 seconds of crying helped her dislodge the cookie from her airways.  So, after sitting down in the waiting area, we suddenly realized that her coughing had stopped completely.  It was like a light switch...cookie in, cough on...cookie out, cough off!

Renee wanted to leave at that point because she thought we were wasting the hospital's resources, but I wasn't going to take any chances.  So, we agreed to have the staff take an x-ray of Adele's lungs.  It must have been terrifying for Adele, because to get her to be still during the x-ray, the technician had to put her in a "fixture". She had to sit on a bicycle seat and then her arms had to be held high.  Then two curved polycarbonate sheets closed around her body.  She was crying her head off at first, but I was there to reassure her.  I was kind of surprised that she stopped crying after about half a minute and was only making whining noises.

The doctor then finally saw her and confirmed that she had pneumonia from the x-ray.  This doctor wanted the pediatrician who was on duty to take a look at Adele just to be sure.  The pediatrician was very good.  She was an older lady and was very experienced by the way she handled Adele.  She sat down beside us and  just asked us all the background questions, until Adele was calm and started to fall asleep. Then, she listened to her breathing and did the other usual checks.  She explained that Adele's case of pneumonia was not very severe, but was present, nonetheless.  Since it was less than 2 days from when we first started giving her the antibiotics, it was a good idea to continue it.  By the end of tomorrow, her fever should go away.  She also thought that Adele's resumption of activity was a good sign that she was already recovering.  So, she sent us off with another prescription, in case Adele's fever was still there after tomorrow.

We got home around 11:30 pm and Adele went to bed very quickly and very soundly.  It's 1:40 am now, but I'm still kind of worked up and don't feel too sleepy.  The good thing is that I haven't heard her cough at all since she fell asleep.

So, my birthday was quite eventful.  It was not the best birthday I've ever had, but then again, it was not the worst either.  Things could have turned out much worse than they did.  I'm just grateful things seem to be better now.  We've decided to cancel the New Year's Eve party that we were planning to have at our place tomorrow, but it's no big deal.  As long as Adele gets better, we really couldn't ask for anything more.  Actually, I can...Renee also started coughing about 2 days ago.  I pray that it wouldn't get any worse.  For those of us who are healthy...seriously, don't take it for granted!  And for you parents who have gone through this as well, you know our pain, and we know yours too!  And for you yet-to-be parents (especially our friends on whom we cancelled our party), please forgive us even if you don't quite understand.  It's one thing to be sick yourself, and quite another to see your child sick.  I would prefer the former, without even a thought!
It's been 4 days since Adele has had her fever.  We've been giving her Advil and she's still a little hot at 101 degrees F.  We were going to bring her to the doctor's in the morning, but she was flopping around in bed during the night.  Afraid that her condition was getting worse or there was some other more serious condition (e.g. meningitis), we took her to the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital (we were at my mom's).

We were greeted by a nurse in a pretty bad mood.  It almost felt like we were at fault to be there.  She was absolutely not gentle with Adele when measuring her weight and giving her Tylenol.  I'm glad I'm getting top notch service for my tax dollars.  After waiting for about an hour, we were called in from the waiting room to a second waiting room.  This second waiting room was really just a hallway and there weren't enough chairs.  So, our friendly nurse decided to kick me out. That explains why I'm writing this while sitting in the first waiting room.

Ok, enough ranting.  Adele seemed to have improved since we woke her.  On the way here, we had Christmas music in the car and she sang along when we played Jingle Bells, which is her favourite Christmas tune at the moment.  I really hope it's just a normal cold or flu or some viral infection.  We had plans to go to Niagara-on-the-lake with her the day after tomorrow, along with Lai Chuen and friends.  We rarely get to spend time with her during our normal work week.  So, that would be fun for all of us.  But those plans may fall through now.  Oh well, there's really nothing we can do to change things.

For now, we'll continue praying...
This December has not been good in terms of health for our family.  I was literally sick for 3 weeks, starting at the end of November.  Then, about 4 days ago, Adele came down with a fever and a cough.  Since this happened over Christmas, there were some mandatory family events that we could not miss.  So, we dragged her with us to a couple of parties, and even to my own birthday party (which was a surprise, by the way...but more on that in another post).  This is the 4th day that she's had the fever and we're starting to get a little worried.  My brother, Eric, who's a family doctor, took a brief look at her and thought she was not in too bad of a shape.  But he didn't have his "tools" (what are they called anyway?), so he couldn't properly examine her.  In any case, she's just constantly tired and is sleeping probably 80% of the day.  It sort of worries me what infection she's got.

Her cough is also not helping.  Because she's so young (almost 20 months), she doesn't really know how to control a cough.  So, for the past couple of nights, she's gagged herself during coughing and threw up in bed.  It's the most painful thing to see...the poor little girl going through all this pain.  I never understood why my parents always hassled me to see a doctor when I was sick, but I guess now I do.

To make matters worse, Renee seems to have contracted the infection from Adele.  She's feeling dizzy and has a headache and a sore throat.  They're now sleeping upstairs.  And what can I do to help?  I just feel so helpless and useless.  I remember reading or hearing somewhere (believe it's originally from St. Bernard of Clairvaux...after some googling) that there are 4 degrees of love, in ascending order:

  1. Loving self for self
  2. Loving other for self
  3. Loving other for other
  4. Love self for other
The least selfless love is loving the self for the sake of the self.  E.g.) I buy an iPad for myself because I want to own an iPad.  The second degree is loving another person for sake of self.  E.g.) I love my wife, because I feel good when I love somebody.  The third degree, often thought of as the highest degree, is loving the other for the sake of the other.  E.g.) I love my wife and sacrifice for her so that she would be better off.  However, that is not the highest degree.  The highest degree is loving the self for the sake of others.  And here is where it applies to my situation.  I must love myself (i.e. take good care of myself) for the sake of Renee and Adele.  Since they are both sick, I need to care for myself first, because if I also become sick, then that would do them no good.  So, the love of the self is in fact, a selfless love.  It is the highest degree because it may be most difficult, but yet, the right thing to do.  The direct application in "real" life is during an airplane safety video, "when the oxygen masks drop from the overhead compartment, put the mask on before helping others with their masks..."

So, I'm going to go to eat some fruits, take a nice hot shower, shave (yeah, I shave in the evenings...weird!), and go to bed early tonight, because I need to love myself!  And to all you caregivers out there, please take good care of yourself too!
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