Monday, July 21, 2014


my dad would have turned 61 today.  it's been 11 years missing this vibrant smile.

11 years ago it was 2003.  this photo was taken with a film camera.  not a digital, a film camera.  my mom's 35mm camera that she used til the bitter end.  in a world where our phones have become our portable cameras, fully stocked with apps to crop, resize, filter, and customize photos of our daily meals or our feet in a pair of new kicks to share with anyone and everyone… i find it so hard to adjust to the fact that photos with my Dad ended in 2003.  there is nothing NEW and RIGHT NOW that i can browse through to share in my times of grief.  when i look back at what i have in terms of photos, there is so much less.  and it isn't because we didn't take a lot of photos, but we didn't take the excessive amount of photos that EVERYONE takes EVERY SINGLE DAY.  

click click click
email share post update

it's so easy.  it's so immediate.

looking back through the photos i have, also forces me to realize how much older i am getting.  i think this photo was from 2002.  this was my birthday, my last birthday with him as i chose to spend the following year with kevin instead, god knows i can't even remember what we did.  yes, it must have been 2002 because he passed away a year before i graduated from Kwantlen and transferred to Emily Carr.  plus, i had cut my hair into a bob with bangs and i remember him telling me how great i looked.

it's been a rough couple of weeks that i have not really discussed.  exhausted and overwhelmed but emotions.  my uncle, eldest brother of my mom's 6 siblings and father to my BFF cousin, was diagnosed with lung cancer back in October.  he passed away July 12 in the afternoon.  i had just spent 4 hours shooting the Khatsalano Festival and drove straight to the hospital when i heard the news.  i rushed to be with my cousin and her family but arrived late.  in my haste, i was not prepared for the reaction my body and mind would have when i entered the same ground level elevators that i took up to Palliative Care the morning my Dad passed away…

i sobbed uncontrollably.  my aunt, wife of my uncle, got on the elevator half way and i cried harder.  it was so hard to feel like it was happening all over again and my heart ached knowing my relatives were going through the very same pain.  

the family was fortunate to have my cousin's wedding ceremony in the hospital the saturday prior to his passing.  it was set to be the same day he passed with the reception taking place the day after.  the reception, as per his request, still took place following his passing.  it was a bittersweet day for everyone.  my cousin looked beautiful as ever.

the funeral took place this past Friday.  my sister flew down and after the burial, my mom, sister, kevin, the kids and I walked over to my Dad's gravestone to say hello and wish him an early Happy Birthday.  the kids painted pictures for him which we burned and sent up to him.

my cousin, the son, read a beautiful speech at the funeral mass.  he honoured his father and all the great qualities that he really respected.  i felt sad that i had not given a similar speech at my Dad's mass but at the same time, i was so young and still so volatile at 20 that i don't know if i would have had the same maturity as i do now to really vocalize how i feel now at age 31.  as my cousin touched on the many great qualities of his father, i couldn't help but think how different my uncle was from my Dad.  i would have focused and praised so many different things in my speech of who my Dad was as a person and who he was to me. 

what i remember most about my Dad was how well-loved he was by everyone.  he was so easy going.  he didn't let things rile him up and he never got into heated arguments over little things.  he let things go.  he respected that everyone was different and that nobody was perfect including himself.  whenever me or my siblings went on a rant about someone, he would always ask us if we were perfect.  he encouraged us to forgive others for their faults and shortcomings since we had our own as well.  he was great at letting us know when we had said or done something disappointing in a way that made us and continues to make me want to be better.  all my relatives loved him and i know they miss having him around.  he was so genuine, so funny and so easy to talk to.  you couldn't help but enjoy his company and so it doesn't surprise me that he also had a lot of friends.

11 years later, though my memories are foggy and my collection of photos is pathetic compared to the collection of photos i have just from this week, he continues to inspire me to be a better person.  i think of him often when i am trying to make a hard decision.  he told me many times during my many years of adolescent revolt and horrible behaviour that it didn't matter how much money i had or the success i achieved in my lifetime, it only mattered what kind of person i was.  what mattered was how i treated others, whether i liked them or not.  that is an ongoing challenge.

i'm sad he isn't here to enjoy his grandkids.  i'm sad he didn't get to dance with me, my mom and my sister at my wedding.  i'm sad he went so very very early in life and that he is missing out on so much love and joy that life has continued to shower on my family.  i miss his ridiculously goofy sense of humour but feel so grateful that it has been passed down not just to my brother and myself, but to the kids as well.  they love my mom and kevin's parents so much.  they have top billing along with my sister, but i can't help but think that my Dad would have been without a doubt inarguably NUMBER ONE in their books.  he would make them laugh like nobody could ever do.  he would crack Moses up like crazy and he would shake his head at how much Chloe is just like her mother.  we had Dim Sum this weekend with his family before my sister left, and one of my aunts translated for me that my Gung Gung (my Dad's Dad) described Chloe as being fearless and undaunted like her mother.  i can't help but think my Dad would have felt the same.

i'm afraid of forgetting.  11 years was so long ago.  i mean, how much do you really remember of your Dad throughout childhood?  how much do you remember of him through high school?  that's what i had and i am worried that with time, i won't have a lot left to hold on to.  i can't beat myself up about it, but i wish i had done what my cousin did, have my Dad tell me stories of his life and keep them written in a journal.  perhaps i need to tap into stories through my relatives...  

it's been a good year since his 10th anniversary last year.  the headshaving in his memory really helped to heal my heart and mind after many years of anger and regret.  i've finally made peace with myself and hopefully from here on, i can do my part to instill the same things in my kids that he instilled in me.  



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I love my MNM Family

Matt NéeNée + Baby Myla joined us for a DIY charcuterie dinner last week

they are set to uproot and give life a try in Amsterdam for a few years so this will definitely be one of our last times together for quite a while.  

no words can describe the joy i feel seeing our kids play together.

renee has been one of my closest friends for a long time.  we partied together back in the Glory Days.   and when i got knocked up with Moses, she and i became closer.  she massaged me throughout both pregnancies and was one of the first people to meet chloe in the hospital when she was born.  she came to the hospital with us and helped me through labour and brought me food the morning after.  she has been a true friend and i am overjoyed to see her happily married to one very wonderful and talented man, with a perfect little baby of her own.

Motherhood looks so good on this sweet lady

Myla, a true doll

Daddy Matt

it's going to be crazy to look back on these photos in 20 years

i've been converted.  this next baby is getting its own denim vest complete with patches and miniature pyramids.  god knows kevin has enough leftovers from his punk teen years...

kids practicing having a younger sibling

this face

life is so very very good

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kitty and The Count

My sister sent a package of goodies a few weeks back which included these super amazing Hello Kitty stick on nails.  Chloe's many requests were met with many broken (forgotten) promises, but finally, yesterday morning she caught me still waking up.  I figured I'd better do it.

they are ridiculous

at first she was pretty stoked

but realized very quickly that these insanely long nails were too impractical as every movement caused them to shift and hindered her ability to scratch an itch.

we had a very intense weekend, so yesterday was dedicated to mega chilling and recovery.  i have grown to love Mondays for this very reason.  these dedicated days of chilling also usually inspire me to spend a little more quality time with the kids doing more creative things...

like busting out the face paint.  

Chloe went for a purple kitty face

A perfect little Cheshire Cat if I don't say so myself!

Moses has been mildly obsessed with Vampires

I need to buy more as I run out of the white the fastest.  The brand I really like doesn't sell larger individual pots of white so I end up collecting palettes of colours with tonnes of red, blue, pink, purple and green with low quanities of white and black.

this cracked me up

and of course a few fun shots of the Summer Halloweenies together

the best part was by the time kevin arrived home from work, all moses had left of his make up were his gigantic eyebrows.

i love face painting.

Monday, July 7, 2014

16.5 weeks

finally, we did it.  it took 2 days to haul all the equipment upstairs and set up and have energy.

as usual, my lovely assistant was on hand to help.

Enjoy the first of many belly photos to come!

sweetness times a million

it's happening.  shit is real.  there is a baby inside me.

we had my doctor's appointment this afternoon.  kevin took time off work because i haven't driven further than Point Roberts for the last 8 days and i have still be struggling with cold/pregnancy.  the doctor said baby was moving a lot when finding the heartbeat!!!  i'll be feeling more flutters and movement in the next coming weeks.


Friday, July 4, 2014

State of Frustration

Constant State of Being is as Follows

1.  Coughing
a) headaches
b) lungs ache
c) peeing myself
d) inability to fall asleep or fall BACK asleep

2.  Congestion
a) constant nose blowing
b) red stinging sensation from rubbing tissue
c) inability to breathe creating dry mouth
d) facial discomfort adding to overall headache
e) inability to smell and therefor taste ANYTHING
(which I must admit has relieved me from all the horrible smells of the world, but i think after 4 going on 5 weeks now, maybe i could deal with smells…  and hoping that 3 weeks into 2nd trimester the smell intensities have simmered down)
f) not 100% sure, but i my ear has still been plugged up after the first two days of disorientation and sharp jabby pain

3.  Low Grade Fever
a) with only a rectal thermometer on hand, i've kept a stready 99-100 temperature since Sunday
(there is a first time for everything)
b) random overheating leading to panic stripping

4.  Fatigue
a) inability to be up on feet for more than 5-10 minutes at a time
b) has improved slightly in the last two days, can venture unto 20 minutes but definitely feel all the more exhausted and require longer resting time

I'm still waking up around 5am.  This morning was no different and I was unable to fall back asleep for 2 hours.  Thankfully, the children were at my mom's and I was able to sleep from 7-10am.

It's not the I have resigned myself to a lifestyle of living in bed.  I have tried to push myself.  I have tried to psyche myself out of it and just PUSH the same way I PUSHED through the first 2.5 half weeks of this preggo-cold combo.  I am just thankful that most of the nausea and hormone headaches of subsided with only random visits from these unfriendly characters.

I just received my 16 Week Update from Babycenter.

Your baby's about the size of an avocado by now. In the next three weeks, he'll go through a tremendous growth spurt. He'll double his weight and increase his length. In the meantime, he'll be playing with his umbilical cord and practising breathing. You're going through a bit of a growth spurt yourself. Your uterus has expanded so much that the ligaments in your belly are stretching to make room for it. If you feel any twinges of pain now, that's why. 

Can I just express how terrified I am?  I mean on one hand I was eager to get the hell out of First Trimester, but only to escape the nausea.  Being in Second Trimester means things are happening.  With zero appetite I worry that this baby is not going to get what it needs, especially during this "tremendous growth spurt" month.

My back is hurting so much already.  Having to sleep upright to ease congestion has not helped as I have been passing out in some twisted positions.  My gigantic rack is not helping and it seems more convincing that I have officially popped.  I say that because I haven't not eaten much this week and it's pretty shapely.  It was on my list to try to get a photo today, but it took me 40 minutes to empty the dishwasher.

I'm so afraid of this pregnancy.  I'm afraid because I know all the pains and discomforts from the past two pregnancies and it feels mighty early to be feeling this crappy.  I've read this is just the way it is with third pregnancies, everything happens faster.  I'm exhausted from 5 years of raising Moses and Chloe.  I have next to no energy compared to when I was pregnant with Moses.

And with all that said…  I could not have asked for a more supportive partner.  I wish I had the funds to send him on a mini vacation.  He needs it… bad.  He's been playing single Dad.   A hamster Dad, running to work and sweating his balls off in the excessive summer heat of a mechanic's garage, only to come home to a dishevelled house with his wife out of commission and his children hypnotized by the iPad.  Maybe he takes a shower, or he gets right to work trying to figure out what to make for dinner that aligns with the millions of food aversions I am suffering from.  He takes care of the kids, gets them to clean up, gets them through their bedtime schedule and reads them stories.  He then takes some downtime before attending to the dishes and laundry and maybe garbabe/recycling.  His downtime often creeps into 12:30am-1am zone before he's up at 7am to do it all again.

He's helping a few people on the side for extra cash after work and his radiator just broke this week.  Things are not working and fitting and the tunnel was closed by the time he was done at 8pm and had to go pick up a birthday gift at Toys R Us before closing followed by picking up the kids from my mom's.  They got home at 10pm.

These problems are great problems.  I know they could be worse.  We are just a little worn out these days and would really love a break.

Dear Cold,

Please vacate my body.  My family needs me back and there are a lot of clients I am not wanting to disappoint.   Also, I, MYSELF WOULD LIKE TO FEEL BETTER.  I know the end of pregnancy is already intolerable for me physically, it would be nice to get a few months break in the middle.

Phanie Pack
(Stephanie M Chan)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Someone Call the Wahmbulance

this cold is a joke

still spending most of my time in bed.  possibly a mix of pregnancy tiredness.  pregnancy headaches mixed with regular headaches exacerbated by coughs.

this morning i woke up at around 4:30am.  hacking my lungs out of course.  i don't know if this is just a new trend in my pregnancy, since fellow preggo friend had been having the same issues a month ago.  possibly just my body saying "you've slept too long without coughing and all your phlegm has built up and needs to get out!"  the one lovely thing about these early morning wake up calls is being able to see the deep orange of the sunrise hitting the blinds.  with nothing better to do, i took the opportunity to take a few shots.  hard to believe that 5 years ago, Moses was just over a month old and we were often up together watching the sunrise during those early morning feeds.

anyway.  i went to bed worried that my eye was a bit pink.  when i woke up i definitely had a few of the same white goops that Moses had a couple of weeks ago when i was taking grad photos for his class.

on top of that, i also now have chloe's random ear ache that she had last tuesday.  basically, it feels like airplane pressure, plugging up your ear with random jabs of sharp pain.  tylenol has been good to me.

thank god today was a holiday and kevin, once more, saved the day.

Happy Canada Day Everyone!

Monday, June 30, 2014

31 in a nutshell

these last 4 days have felt like a lifetime.

this cold hasn't let up, in fact it seems either 1) to have worsened 2) to be recycling itself every week 3) to be another cold caught by my weakened immune system from the previous 3 weeks of this hacking cough and cold.

friday, june 27: i turned 31.  what have i done in the last 365 days?  seemed more like 123 days if you ask me but i can't argue with the internet or the newspaper or my iPhone so i'll just have to take their word for it.

i woke up with my darlings.  happy birthday hugs and kisses in bed.  kevin had them decorate their gift bags for the little presents the night before.  moses coloured me a crazy rainbow birthday cake with a lot of candles.  he added a couple "31"s at the bottom of the bag.  chloe wrote MOM which i am very proud of.  she gets disheartened very easily about everything not being perfect that she refuses to practice.  still, she has improved!  yay! not sure if she wrote her own name on the bottom, it looks a little more like Momo's writing.

on the flip side we have a Mohawk family from moses and some confetti with the most awesome drawing of a cat that i have seen in a long time by chloe.  her people look insane, i couldn't believe she actually pulled this kitty out of her butt.  moses gave me a bag of cola bottle candies and chloe gave me a stick of pink Hubba Bubba and a hot pink nail polish.  CLEARLY she figured i would share ha!

 i should submit it to mini&maximus to get printed on a shirt

also, i don't know why these images did not get photoshopped to the brighter version i made.  my head is too heavy and my eyes are too hot to actually figure it out.  not that you cared, but it's bothering me.

presents were followed by breakfast in bed by Moses.  we all munched on a slice of toast slathered in coconut spread and strawberry jam and then huddled together to read a story.  best morning ever.

we met my mama at Sun Sui Wah for Dim Sum

her favourite "palallums" as she calls them
my filipino nicknames at home were "Panyats" which was short for "Panyatang"

my mom took the kids for the afternoon while i had some quiet time to put in orders for all the parents that ordered prints for their little preschool graduate. 

a million years ago, back when i was 15-18 in high school, my husband used to drive into Vancouver with his Dad SUPER early in the morning.  he would get to school at 630-7am with nothing better to do, so he would often pick through people's gardens and rollerblade from his school at Main and Broadway to mine at Granville and King Ed to leave a tiny bouquet at the bus stop where i would walk by and find them.  in memory of those olden days, he took note of wild flowers he saw on his test drives during work and made me a bouquet on his way home.  it's been years since he's done this, and it just added to the perfect and chill day i was enjoying.  yes, i know, they look sad, i just took the photo an hour ago, 4 days after the fact so use your imagination.

neither of us had any plans for dinner.  kevin had made my one birthday request: a crumble.  at 7pm with no plans and my mom waiting to come for dinner with the kids, we made the last minute decision to eat at Minami.  our reservation was for 8:45pm which although was super late, was just enough time for us to get ready and make the drive.  my mom met us there with the kids.

i couldn't find my flash as we ran out the door and it was super dark as usual so photos are yuck.

just when it felt like my cold was getting better, it got worse.  i woke up at 5:30am hacking my brains out an completely unable to fall back asleep.  i decided i would go to Emergency to get checked out since i couldn't sleep.  i would have at least 2 hours to spend at the hospital before having to pick up Em and Caela for brunch at Medina.  after 2 hours and an x-ray, i was sent away with "just a cold".  i drove to Em's and got ready.  i had packed my things, just in case i didn't have time to drive back home.  we grabbed Caela, and even 22 minutes after opening, we were given a 45 minute wait time.  my cousins Nik and Nat joined us.

i was stoked that we got to sit in the back room with the sun shining through the windows.

this was a bad photo.  what i should have done was faced backwards with the camera to get me AND everyone else.  the waitresses were much too busy with the morning rush, i didn't have the audacity to request they take a group photo.  oh well.  i guess we will just have to do this again.

my usual: La Santé
soft boiled egg, heirloom tomato, olive tapenade, avocado, prosciutto, grilled focaccia

2 poached eggs on spicy tomato stew and red pepper, merguez sausage, sun dried black olives, and cilantro

2 fried eggs on baked beans, duck sausage, bacon and andouille sausage, grilled focaccia 

and the delicious waffles.  we all ordered/shared one and with a few mistakes on the toppings, we got to try a bunch of different ones!  i went for the Fig Orange Marmalade

i coughed myself out of the restaurant and most of the ride back into Ladner, peeing myself a half dozen times.  i napped the rest of the afternoon having been up since 5:30am, until it was time to head over to my in-laws for saturday dinner.

we brought the Peach and Blueberry Crumble and ate it with Vanilla Coconut Bliss ice cream

i missed out on why the costume bin came out, but this was pretty hilarious.  apparently kevin's oldest sister made the costume in high school for halloween?  chloe looks stoked.

my flexible husband.

sunday, i was a wreck and spent the entire day in bed.
back to hacking up gobs of phlegm and filling up half a basket of snotty tissues

i am so so unbelievably grateful to the fantastic man that i married for taking care of me and everything while i was indisposed including cleaning the house, disposing our dead dishwasher and installing the new one he picked up, grabbing groceries and making dinner and reading the kids stories.

today has been mostly the same, although we did get out to Point Roberts for an hour to pick up a package and spend a little time in the sun at Lighthouse Park beach.  i have a little more energy today so i am praying it's on its way out FOR GOOD.  i can't take it anymore.  i'd like to get on with my life. i have managed to book a bunch of work even though i have pulled back and taken a break and i'd like to be well enough to deliver my usual standards of work.  

despite being sick and gross, this year's chill birthday was one of my favourites.
i'm so grateful for all the love from everyone, all my family and friends.