Ben & Spring's

Friday, October 14, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving

Top 10 things to be thankful for this year:

10. One day after loading the girls into the van, we put our keys on the van's roof and drove away! Miraculously, the keys were caught by the automatic sliding door as it closes... so we were able to pull over and recover them.
9. ALL of the gift cards we've accumulated were dropped in a parking lot! A nice lady picked it up and called us (she got our number from Tessa's hospital bracelet that we happened to have left in the bag)
8. Loving friends who truly share our burdens and joy
7. The grandparents are always there to help with babysitting, giving us opportunities for date days/nights
6. Spring and Tessa survived a food poisoning episode weeks before Tessa's due date
5. Tessa escaped all the severe symptoms of Hand Food Mouth disease, despite Ellie's infection
4. Ellie's egg and milk allergy is gone!
3. God's intervention in steering us toward a new investment strategy, right before the market crash in September
2. Ben took 3 months of paternity leave. The 4 of us spent precious family time together
1. Ellie and Tessa are getting along! We thought Ellie would totally dominate, but as it turns out, she's very considerate and protective of her little sister.

September 2011

Wow, stressful month! First, Ellie had hand-foot-mouth disease and that was HORRIBLE! I feel bad because at the beginning, I accused her of being a picky eater when she refused to eat the iced blueberries she requested. Then I realized she had a 1cm by 3mm sore on her tongue AND multiple sores inside her cheek (at least 6)... We took her to walk-in clinic, and the doc said just give her Vitamin L (love). The next day, she was still refusing to open her mouth to eat / drink anything, so we went to the Children Hospital. The doctor didn't prescribe any meds, only painkillers, but he was able to tell us it was HFM, which means it's highly contagious and very painful! Poor Ellie... she was in so much pain and she was so sick for a few days. She refused to open her mouth because any movement would hurt the sores. We had to clamp her down and syringe in the painkiller and water/juice into her. The only thing she said in those 2 days was
after I clamped her down to give her some water, she tearfully cried out "媽咪,你甘樣唔岩ga!!". On top of worrying about Ellie's recovery, we had to disinfect the toys and did our best to isolate Tessa. I would change my clothes every time I nursed her. We knew our efforts wouldn't make a big difference, but we did out best. At the end, Tessa and Ben got HFM but only very mildly and they only had blisters on their hands and foot.

I was glad things could go back to the routine after Ellie recovered. She could go back to preschool, attend BSF, go to church, have swimming lessons. Then it was the stress of sending her to school... She was fine for the first week, then after missing a week of school because of HFM, she now dislikes school. She would nag and cry and keep telling me that she doesn't like school. It's like a battle every time I drop her off.

We learned to be very thankful for being able to carry out the routine tasks.

August 2011

It's a month full of milestones for Tessa! At 7 months, she's teething, able to sit and started to crawl. It's feels like she's a big girl all of a sudden. She's still a very smiley baby and also
wants to be part of the action. So adorable because she always gives a huge smile! She'll give you a hard time if you try to exclude her from conversations!!

When Ellie tried to dry her hands after washing them, she "accidentally" pulled too hard on the towel rack and ripped it out. There's now 2 big holes on the wall. We patched up the wall and
instead of painting it, we hung 2 art pieces (by Ellie) to hide the hole. We love this house because it's comfortable yet we can trash it!

Praise God that none of he kids got sick this month!!

Michelle and Fu came visit this month. We had a very enjoyable gathering and we are just thoroughly thankful for these boundless friendships in Christ. Ellie loves them too and gave them a stuffed animal to take back to HK. A few days later, Ellie still remembers them and made some crafts to show her love for them.

July 2011

Spring tries to take the girls out to the playground whenever weather permits. Spring, for some reason, loves going to the playground so we playground-crawl on the weekends (trying out new playgrounds and sometimes going to more than one playground in a day). It is exhausting taking both girls out everyday but it's fun to interact with them and to see them interact with each other.

Tessa started solid food this month and this girl kept pushing the food out with her tongue!

June 2011

Praise God for healing Ellie's allergies. She got to have ice cream for the first time in her life :)

Tessa and Ellie definitely have a special bonding going on. Ellie is such a good sister and Tessa adores her big sister too. Whenever Tessa fusses, Ellie would come over to comfort her, it's so sweet! Tessa always talks to Ellie by cooing at her.

The Hungs were here and we spent so much (still not enough) time together! Annette is such a sweet, kind-hearted girl, and Ellie and her get along so well together.

May 2011

Yup, Ellie is not exempted from the natural law of regression!! She is now unwilling to do anything on her own - so much more work for Spring!

Nothing much happened this month so life is just boring but BUSY! Ellie was sick a couple of times this month. Only one month into looking after 2 kids on her own, Spring is already longing for a vacation where we could get away and have fun as a family! It's that complex emotion where she wishes a holiday with the 2 girls yet don't want the hassle that comes along with it. Oh well, Tessa's too little to do anything at this moment anyways. We should start saving up for a holiday when Tessa's maybe 2 or 3, just to the States, somewhere easy & kids friendly.

April 2011

Selling a car is such a headache! After several time-wasting test drives, we decided it's time to auction the avalon! We were discouraged when the auction says our asking price is way too high. After lowering it by almost $1000, it's sold right away! Headache GONE, yeah!!!

Of course, the big change is Ben going back to work in April. Spring is now on her own and so far she's doing quite well! Praise the Lord for strength and patience!

March 2011

Another eventful month!! The usual activities of grocery shopping, going to the library, playing in the snow etc. are so much fun when we do it as a family. It's amazing how busy life is. Ben's going back to work in mid-April. Hopefully, Spring, Ellie and Tessa adjust to the change well.

God has been so kind to us and has been actively speaking to us through our circumstances in the past 12 months. First, God convinced Spring to stay at home to nurture the kids in Summer 2010. Then God reminded Ben to re-prioritize his focus through his health issues in Fall 2010. Recently, God pointed out our negligence in preparing tithing. Through a series of events since January, we were reminded by God that we had failed to live up to our commitments. God is kind. His reminders are gentle compared to what we owe Him. We're also thankful that God reminded us in the perfect time. Right before we head into our single income years, He gave us a reality check and now we're more prepared to spend wisely in our "lean" years.

February 2011

We didn't celebrate Chinese New Year because Tessa was still very small. Ellie represented our family to attend Chinese New Year dinners. We have been so thankful that Ellie had been so sweet to her little Tessa - Praise God there's no jealousy!

Ellie also started going to an English un-parented class school once a week - she seems to be adjusting to it quite well considering she didn't speak English. She also started toddler classes at church where there was structured story, craft and singing time. Hopefully, these changes get her more ready for preschool in Sept :)

Parenting is such a tough task. Ellie can be very angelic one day then becomes very demanding and insistent the next. On the days which she's a little brat, she leaves us exhausted and very

January 2011

Although Spring gained almost 10 lbs in the first 3 months of her pregnancy, she ended up just gaining a bit under 25 lbs by week 35. Doctor asked her to have an ultrasound to make sure baby's at a healthy weight. Turns out baby is already 6 lbs and will likely be at 7 lbs if she reaches full term.

Shortly after the ultrasound, Spring had either food poisoning or stomach flu. She vomited and had diarrhea every half an hour from 10pm to 5am morning and couldn't keep any fluid in for the next 24 hrs. Spring lost 3 lbs from that! Because Spring vomited pretty hard and quite frequently, we were worried that the baby would be hurt.

On Jan 19, Tessa was born at week 39 at 6 lb 13 oz. Spring asked for epidural as soon as she got to the hospital just in case this gets as traumatic as Ellie's birth. But epidural was not an option this time because the anesthetist was in the OR. Turns out it was a dream labour! Nothing was used to relieve the pain because it happened so fast! We arrived at the hospital at around 9:45pm and Tessa was born at 11:35pm. Ben's so proud of Spring and thought she reminded him of Hebrew women (Exodus 1:19), haha! Although it was very painful, we are thankful for such quick and smooth delivery. Praise God that it was short, Spring wouldn't know how she could bear the pain of almost non-stop contractions if it was longer.

The rest of the month is also full of God's blessings. Tessa learned to latch soon after birth, has a normal jaundice level and has been a calm baby so far. Ellie's adjusting to her little sister well, no signs of jealousy yet. The fact that Ben can stay home for 3 months is the biggest blessing of all. We're all enjoying our family time together.

December 2010

It's Christmas month but our focus is not so much on the festivity.

There are a few changes in life that all seem to come together at the same time... notably, there's an weird situation arosed at Ben's work, it's Spring's last month of work before she puts her career on hold for a few years, the anticipation and the nervousness on the arrival of our new daughter, our last month of youth ministry, a possible development of a casino near our neighbourhood. It's almost like God's "uprooting" us. Things that used to hold us in place are all on shaky grounds now. God is working in our household, we're not sure what this is all about yet, but we're seeking Him on that.

November 2010

Wow, seems like the month flew by... Ellie turned 2 this month and on the weekend we planned to throw her a birthday 'party', we ended up seeing a doc for her fever... We postponed her party to the next weekend. Because it felt like her birthday dragged on for 2 weeks plus she was sick, it felt like we had a really busy month. Shortly after her birthday, Ellie was introduced to her new room and her new toddler bed and she adjusted to her new surroundings very quickly - we're so proud of her! But now she would play for almost an hour by herself before falling asleep. Spring talked to her one night and explained that she needs to get rest after she tucked in. Hopefully she gets the message and understands that bedtime is not playtime.

We had 2 dates this months and they were so enjoyable!! They were so sweet, just like when we were dating - priceless!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 Thanksgiving Post

Time really flies and it's the fifth year of our marriage! This year is a little different from the previous four. This year, we experienced God's love in a "bitter-sweet" way.

Perhaps God thinks that we need to experience Him in a deeper way than simply giving thanks in good times. Spring and Ben both experienced God's "teaching" in different ways this year. They are tough lessons to learn with worrying moments... however we both came out of our experiences just a little wiser. :)

For Spring, it is the continuing theme of learning to let go (a project that God seemed to have started since her university years). Spring has a career that she loves (a rare gift as not many people would say they "love" their job). Against all odds, God slowly "brewed" an idea in Spring and Ben's mind over the first quarter of 2010. In May, even though we were still unsure about the life adjustments it will bring, we finally submitted to God's calling for Spring. It's such a tough decision. It was a big deal for Ben to give up his Hi-Fi "expansion plan" and vacations. It was an even bigger deal for Spring to give up something she loves. Those who are close to Spring including her parents and sister, can all attest to the fact that her decision was nothing short of a mini-miracle. As Ben saw Spring's tears over this decision, he knows without a doubt that it was the right one. But bitter indeed.

Praise the Lord, exactly one week after our submission, we found out we were pregnant with our second baby! The due date is January 23, 2010. The timing turns out to be perfect.

As for Ben, well, the years of invincibility is OVER. First, he blown his back when he opened a door at work. It was not pretty, but quite funny. Then in the summer, Ben started developing a nagging cough and irregular heartbeat. After our trip to HK in August, Ben began seeking help on many fronts. So far, it has involved three Chinese doctors and a family doctor.

However, this adversity prompted Ben to really ask the basic questions of our faith again.

Who is in control?

What does it mean to call Jesus our Lord?

What are the important things in life?

Where is God in times of suffering?

From September through November, Ben wrestled with these questions. Ben expressed frustrations with God, even questioning His love. Through these tough questions, God made Ben realize that he had not been living the life of a living sacrifice for a long time! It's so hard to be a living sacrifice when you are healthy, capable, feeling like the world is in your hands. Somtimes it takes sickness for us to realize that we need to be a living sacrific again. The ironic thing is, at that point, are you a "living sacrifice" or a "dying sacrifice". :)

Ben is thankful for his encounter with God. It has rejuvenated him spiritually, and his symptoms have been subsiding in recent weeks.

Ellie is turning 2 in a week! She acts so mature sometimes now. Today when she got home, I watched her sat down on her chair, took off her jacket, took off her shoes, put her shoes on the shelf, seated herself at the high chair and demanded noodles! I thought to myself, "She is one purpose-driven 2 year old!". After dinner, it was time for Ben to drink the chinese medicine we'd brewed for the last hour (it's so bitter!). Ellie said in broken Cantonese,

「Daddy 食藥,病呀因為。幫Daddy祈禱啦不如。天父求你醫Daddy, 奉主名求,啊門。無事喇!」(English translation: "Daddy is taking medicine because he's not feeling well. Let's pray for Daddy... Heavenly father, please heal Daddy, pray in Jesus name, Amen. Now you're ok!").

While I'm not sure how much Ellie understood what she just said, it really warmed my heart.

September 2010

Ben's health turned south then headed back north again this month. Fortunately, his emotion continues to head upward despite his fluctuating health situation.

My goodness, our 5th year anniversary seemed to have gone by unmentioned and uncelebrated! Well, life is hectic enough so nothing-ness is good :)

Olivia was in town with her family for 2 weeks. Ellie behaved surprisingly nice to Annette... there were initial worries that Ellie would snatch away toys and boss Annette around, but that did not happen! It's so cute of Annette to say "Ellie, Ellie, Ellie" whenever they meet. Ellie wouldn't respond back, but she would show her kindness by sharing her snacks, toys and stickers with her.

Spring started having pelvis and hip pains... hopefully, the pain remains bearable for the remaining 17 weeks...

August 2010

Bad coughs... Heart problems? Lung problems? What is it? Ben's been having coughs since July and they're not going away. Spring suspects they are caused by stress… Ben's quite worried that he has hidden health issues… all the "what if's" are popping up in his head, making him more stressful!!! Hopefully the EKG report would give some indications of what could be wrong.

HONG KONG, here we come to conquer you!!! As a family not very fond of travelling to HK, this trip is a mission. We are not afraid despite of all the hassles and hectic-ness! We basically went out every lunch and dinner to meet up with family / friends. But the trip turns out to be very satisfying. It was really great to have Ellie meet her extended family. She loves them, and they all love her (at least we think they do). She had TREMENDOUS fun living with her Churn Gong and Doo Por. She enjoyed her first "swims" in outdoor HK. She went on her 1st cable car ride. She just did so much and met so many relatives. It turns out Ellie's the most Asian out of the 3 of us.
She did not whine about the humid heat when we're walking outside and could even enjoy hot congee in a non-air-conditioned environment (while sweating!!). Her skin is even softer in HK!

Ben describes the trip as an achievement, Spring calls it hectic but worthwhile because we got to spend some quality 2 weeks together as a family and created some fond memories for Ellie.

Shortly finding out that we'll have another girl, Ellie passed some nasty germs to Spring. Ellie recovered quickly but Spring was left with diarrhea and couldn’t keep any food inside her. In a way, that slowed down Spring's weight gain - so far, she's just gained as much as when she had Ellie at this stage.

July 2010

1st camping trip with Ellie and it was C-O-L-D at night!!! We bundled Ellie up really well but Spring was still worried Ellie would freeze to death at night. Ben on the other hand, kept checking to make sure she had not suffocated. For the first time, Ellie made friends. After the trip, Ellie always mentions Dan gor gor, Tim gor gor, Noah gor gor and Nicole jair jair. So cute. Ellie got stomach flu for a week. She was still was happy and had so much energy that we didn't think it was a big deal. The stomach flu went away on its own and Ellie got bad diaper rash.

Spring doesn't feel bad for Ellie when she gets vaccinations, but boy, poor Ellie gave 2 tubes of blood at 21 months. Spring felt so bad when she had to clamp her tight while she tried to break loose and cried so hard... Sob sob... OUCHIE!!!!

YEEEEAAAAHHH - HAAAAAAAAAAAA~ Ben finished his MEng! We're both so excited that this is finally over!!!