30 December 2012

December wrap-up

December was a very busy month, filled with Christmas festivities, Christmas shopping, trip preparation, and my birthday celebration.

Christmas festivities included a visit to Stanley Park's Bright Nights light display with our friends, the Van Dops, Blommesteins, and Vangie & Skye.  We braved the rain to enjoy the train ride through the light display, visit Santa at his "house", enjoy some face painting, and take photos with the mascots walking around.  Sophia enjoyed everything, except for getting too close to Santa.  I was hoping to get a photo taken with Santa but Sophia would not go near him.  Oh well.

I also attended Navarik's Christmas party, held at the Vancouver Aquarium.  It was really nice to see my ex-colleagues again, as I do miss them.  Knowing that this will be my last Christmas party with Navarik (I changed jobs last October) made me feel nostalgic.

To celebrate my birthday, Ed and I both took the day off work.  I wanted to spend a grown-up day with Ed so we dropped Sophia off at daycare then headed to downtown.  We had brunch, did a bit of shopping, then watched the James Bond film, Skyfall.  Afterward, we had a snack, did a little bit more shopping, then it was time to pick up Sophia from daycare.  The time went by so quickly.  Later that evening, after Sophia went to bed, we went out for a fabulous dinner at Les Faux Bourgeois.  I had a great time with Ed and really enjoyed every minute of my birthday.  It was definitely a happy day.

On Christmas day, we all slept in then had some bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Then we took some photos in front of the tree, before opening our presents.  Sophia doesn't really get the Santa-coming-down-the-chimney thing yet so we just mentioned that Santa gave her some presents.  She seemed happy enough with that much information.  That evening, we hosted my family Christmas dinner.  My mom and sister's family brought the sides while we prepared the main dishes.  Ed slow roasted some pork shoulder and it was super delicious.  It was a big hit!

With Christmas over, my attention turned to preparing for our upcoming trip to Trinidad.  So much to do, so little time!  I quite enjoyed December but now I look forward to having some down time while in Trinidad.  I need a break from errands and running around like a crazy woman.  While I was packing, Ed says to Sophia, "Mommy is packing like a maniac".  Sophia then comes upstairs and asks me, "Mommy, you packing a mani ack?".  Too funny.

22 December 2012

20 years in Canada

This past week marked the 20th anniversary of my “landing day” in Canada. 20 years ago, my dad, mom, two brothers, and I got off the JAL airplane in YVR and officially became Canadian landed immigrants. It was a very cold day, I remember, and coming from the tropics, we were all pretty shell-shocked by the temperature. My first glimpse of Vancouver from the airport entrance was of the snow-capped North Shore mountains. I remember thinking how beautiful the view was.

Canada has been very good to me and my family. Thank you, Canada, for welcoming us with open arms. Thank you, Papa and Mama, for uprooting your own lives so that your kids can live in a place with better opportunities. Your sacrifices have not been for naught and I appreciate them every single day I get to enjoy the life that we have been able to build here in Vancouver.

20 December 2012

28 months

I am really enjoying Sophia nowadays. Yes, her “terrible twos” moments make it more challenging but her increased ability to articulate her thoughts and feelings allow for more interesting and enjoyable interactions with her. Her personality and sense of humour are coming out more and more, and she makes us laugh all the time. Her cuteness is overwhelming, sometimes. Hey, I’m her mom, I’m allowed to be biased!

“Mommy not angry anymore.”

“Don’t wipe my tears.”

“No, daddy not exercising. He at work.”

“Mommy no go to work. Sit with me first.”

These are some of the things she has said to me lately. Sophia’s vocabulary is growing everyday. She is quite chatty and asks many questions. She loves to read and we’re regular visitors in our local library. When checking out the books, Sophia scans the books by herself. She sometimes cracks jokes and laughs at them the loudest. Too cute.

As for the terrible twos moment, I am learning more tricks and techniques for how to deal with these situations in a more calm and patient manner. And these new skills have really helped make my time with Sophia more peaceful and gratifying. Less stressful for me, too.

One of my favourite moments is when Sophia asks if she can tie up my hair. She has me sit on the floor and she stands behind me. She sweeps up my hair with her hands and forms a pony tail (well, a messy one). Then she attempts to put a hair tie on but of course, she’s not able to do that yet. So she releases my hair and starts over. I just love feeling her little hands through my hair and she has such fun fixing mommy’s hair. These moments, I just wish would never end.

30 November 2012

New MacBook Pro!

The MacBook Pro with Retina display that I ordered last Friday (Black Friday) arrived today. And I am writing this blog post using my new laptop!

It was on sale last Friday ($101 off) and that was all I needed to make the purchase. My six year old MacBook Pro has finally given up (I think it over heated and fried some components). We have another MacBook (also six years old) that is still working fine but using it to edit photos was getting painfully slow. It’s funny how our threshold for “slow computing” gets lower and lower as time passes.

This is my first ever computer purchase, which is pretty amazing. Work has always provided me with a machine to use at home but my work laptop now is a Dell and I am not interested in using Windows at home. I’ve been using Apple laptops since 2004 and all my stuff are too embedded in the Mac. I love, love, love this new laptop. It is super light and fast and the retina display is stunning. I’m very happy right now. :)

23 November 2012

Black Friday purchase

I didn't go to any mall but I still spent money.  Just ordered a 13" Mac Book Pro with retina display. Apple computers don't go on sale very often and I have been contemplating buying one for a few weeks now.  Finally, with Ed's prodding, I placed the order. And as typical behaviour for me when making a big purchase, I feel guilty about it. But also very excited to get the laptop and start using it. Is the retina display worth the extra bucks?  I sure hope so.

16 November 2012

The moose and the canoe

Julia, Sophia's daycare teacher, shared this story with me yesterday.  During their circle time, Julia read a book that was new to the kids about animals in a canoe.  I guess the canoe starts out empty and each animal takes a turn getting into the canoe.  The second to the last page shows the full canoe and a moose waiting to get on.  Sophia then pipes up, "They won't fit". She was the only one who said anything like it.  Sure enough, on the last page, it shows the canoe tipped over.

Julia was pretty impressed that Sophia made the connection before seeing the last page.  So am I!  She's a logical thinker, which is not a surprise given her parents are both logical thinkers.  Julia's story made me so proud.  That's my girl! 

9 November 2012

Pumpkin patch, Oct 2012

Pumpkin patch, Oct 2012, a set on Flickr.
A week before Halloween, we went to Aldor Acres to get a pumpkin and visit the animals. This was our first visit to a pumpkin patch and Sophia seemed to enjoy the experience. It helped that her friends were there, too. This definitely made Halloween more fun for me.

Above are some photos from our pumpkin patch adventure...

Halloween #2 with our little monkey

We got a monkey costume as a hand-me-down from friends (I love hand-me-downs!) and so Sophia got to be a monkey for Halloween this year.  The kids at daycare got to put their costumes on after their afternoon snack, then they visited the offices in the building for some trick or treat fun.  The kids looked so cute all dressed up in their costumes.  They each took home a goody bag, as well.  As we were leaving the daycare, I was able to take one photo that wasn't too blurry while Sophia was still in costume.

It was pouring that afternoon and Sophia's monkey feet got wet when we walked to the car from her daycare.  Once we got home, she took off the monkey suit so that I can dry the feet.  Then I announced that it was time to put the costume back on so we can go trick or treating around our complex.  No.  That was Sophia's response.  Don't you want to go trick or treat? No.  Don't you want more candy? No.  So that was that.  It was raining hard so I got over my disappointment pretty quickly.

I found other ways for her to do some Halloween activities. I got her to help with lighting the pumpkin (she handed the candle to me, then I lit it) and we went outside to place it outside our door.  We also put up a "Happy Halloween" sign on our door.  She quite enjoyed this part.  What she didn't enjoy too much was coming with me to answer the door when people knocked.  She found the costumes and masks scary.  Oh well.  Hopefully, next year, we will actually make it out the door to go trick or treating.

26 October 2012


Starting last Monday, my work email now ends with @dell.com, instead of @navarik.com.  I was with Navarik for 12 years, seeing and helping it grow from a little start-up to a mature, stable company.  I was Navarik's employee #1 and the decision to leave was not an easy one.  But it just felt like the right time to go try something different somewhere else.  I am certain I will miss Navarik and my friends there for a long time.

It certainly is different where I am now.  Navarik has less than 50 employees, whereas Dell has over 100,000 employees in I don't even know how many countries.  The team I joined is a product team that develops software for modernizing legacy systems and my role involves product management, business analysis, etc.  My role is similar to what I was doing at Navarik but the products and users are quite different from what I am used to. I was looking for change and I definitely got it.

It is Friday now and I survived my first week at Dell.  It was overwhelming and scary but it was also good.  Change is good, right?  Right???

16 October 2012

Renovation experience

We’ve have been enjoying our new kitchen and bathroom for a month and a half now and it really is about time I post something about the whole renovation experience. We hired Dean Plesko (nuspacekitchen.com) to be our contractor and he does not go by the time-and-material model. He gave us a project cost, based on the materials we chose for the cabinets, sink, toilet, plumbing fixtures, lighting, etc. The items that would make that project cost go up or down are added or cancelled features or requests. Dean supplied most of the materials, except for the kitchen appliances. I liked his model because of the comfort it brought us knowing how much the project would cost right from the beginning. In the end, we spent about $1500 more than the original cost because we added work for Dean, like beefing up the insulation above the ceiling, and installing heated floor in the bathroom. Dean was easy to work with and communicate with. He guided us in our decision-making and made the whole process quite manageable. The project schedule was delayed for 3 weeks (almost 40% of original duration) because the countertop manufacturer, Cambria, couldn’t deliver the material to the local fabricator. Luckily, we didn’t have a fixed move out date for the basement suite we were staying in. And in the end, I believe we got a granite counter that is more beautiful than the original quartz counter we had chosen. Plus it gave Sophia more time to be with Ed’s aunt (she lived upstairs from us). It all worked out for the better.

The most stressful part of the experience was making decisions. We didn’t hire a designer so it fell on me and Ed to decide on the colour scheme and choose the design for the tiles, countertop, backsplash, cabinet handles, plumbing fixtures, and lighting. I found it stressful because I would have to live with my design choices for years to come and I felt that there was no room for error. I would email my girlfriends for their advice when Ed and I couldn’t agree on something, like staggered versus stacked floor tiles. And it wasn’t only the visual design we had to decide on but also functional design, such as, how far apart should the pull-out drawers in the pantry be or where to install the microwave or the garbage can. Dean provided a lot of guidance for the functional design, thankfully.

After a month and a half, I am happy to report that I love our kitchen. Visually and functionally, I think we got it right. The only thing I can complain about is the splashing the tall faucet causes. That’s minor. All the appliances are performing well and there haven’t been any “oops, we shouldn’t have picked that” moments. I love the eating bar (we finally bought stools a couple of weeks ago) and we use it quite often now. The kitchen is just soooo different from our previous kitchen that it’s a totally new experience for us and makes the whole house feel different, too.

As for the bathroom, I really, really like it but it’s not the “I am in love with it” feeling that I have for the kitchen. The bathroom is functionally not much different from our old bathroom so the impact of the renovation has not been as significant to us as the kitchen. I do love how it looks. Functionally, there are a couple of things that have given me the “oops, should have done it differently” moments. One is the shower valve. It is the type where I can only control the water temperature but not the volume. I didn’t know Dean was going to install a valve like that and I didn’t know to ask, either. I just assumed it would be like our old tap where I can control both volume and temperature. Oops. However, it is really only when the water is coming out of the tap that it bothers me. Once I have the water going out of the shower, then I love that the volume is full blast. And I love how our tub is roomier than before.

Overall, the renovation was a good experience. Ed and I worked well together, I thought. It was stressful and busy but very much worth it. I am so glad we finally got it done!

Here are some photos of before and after…




More photos at our Flickr site...

5 October 2012

Band aid MIA

I think Sophia swallowed the Dora band aid we put on her thumb last night. The band aid is a way to discourage her from sucking her thumb and it worked the first night. Last night, however, she reverted to sucking her thumb even though there was a band aid on it and this morning, the band aid was nowhere to be found. Uh-oh.

4 October 2012

26 months

Sophia is now 26 months old. 2 years and 2 months. Time is just zooming by.

She is well into her terrible twos. She is asserting her independence every chance she gets. “I do it” or “Phia do it” is frequently stated. And when she does not get her way or can’t communicate what she wants, a little tantrum ensues. She has not displayed a big tantrum yet (oh, I dread the day!) and we have managed to calm her down quickly by asking her to use her words or to show or point to us what would make things better. The challenge when she uses her words is we don’t always understand what she is saying. I understand she feels frustrated but sometimes, it’s really difficult to keep my cool and not lose patience with her. Finding that balance where we let her assert her independence and encourage her to explore her world, while not indulging her too much, is a big challenge. Plus, I don’t always have the luxury of time to let her do it on her own pace. I am already late for work, dammit! Sigh…

It is very fascinating and fun to watch her personality develop. I love listening to her use new words and surprise me with new antics everyday. I was looking for one of her books the other night and was muttering to myself, “where is that Jillian Jiggs book?”, as I flipped through the books on the shelf. Then I hear Sophia say out loud behind me, “Jillian Jiggs, where are you?”. She made me laugh and I thanked her for helping me find Jillian Jiggs. Too cute.

She enjoys going to daycare and playing with her friends all day. Sophia still loves to sing and dance. Her daycare teachers commented on how musical she is and how she loves to just belt it out. Yup, that’s my girl! She is also a fast runner. This presents a challenge when I am carrying groceries and I need to run with her on the sidewalk. But she loves it.

Mealtimes are usually peaceful but sometimes stressful. I would say Sophia is a picky eater fifty percent of the time. Some days she eats a lot and some days she hardly eats. She has recently started eating grape tomatoes, nectarines, and strawberries. I even got her to eat a little bit kale and couscous recently but refused them the next time I offered it to her. And when she’s not in the mood to eat, she starts palying with her food and dumping it on the table and floor. Then I get mad and take her off the chair, then she gets mad because she wants to keep playing with the food. Yeah, sometimes it’s a battle. It’s up and down. When the mealtime passes peacefully and she eats well, I always say a thank you prayer that we got through that without any battles. I just take it one mealtime at a time.

Sophia is a source of joy, happiness, laughter, frustration, anger, self-doubt, and a myriad of other feelings. And I am starting to appreciate that as long as I am a parent, this is how it will be. And as somebody who has always been able to compartmentalize emotions, having this big ball of feelings all squished together throws me off-kilter. But that is the big challenge - how to just let it be and embrace it as my reality. How come they never mentioned any of this in those ‘what to expect’ books???

27 September 2012

Bridgeport WA camping photos

Bridgeport WA, Aug 2012, a set on Flickr.
Our first group camping with the kids. It was a lot of fun!