Moments back in Ottawa

We had a few goals this time back in Ottawa:

  1. Spend time with family
  2. Plan our wedding
  3. Relax

Did we obtain our goals? Yes!

One of the things I was most excited about was seeing my grandfather. As some of you may know, my grandfather has been deaf my entire life. He had sudden loss of hearing shortly before I was born – I suspect the hearing loss was precipitated by a viral illness. He had contemplated a cochlear implant at that time but decided against it… until last year.

With the suggestion, help, and support of the family, my grandfather proceeded with a cochlear implant surgery on November 4, 2015. My mom sent me photo updates, including some very cute ones of my grandpa bundled up on the hospital bed before going into surgery. Unfortunately, I do not have those photos at this time.

I’m sure he was feeling quite anxious at the time, but what was even more prominent in his facial expression was optimism!

Yes, we are THAT family when a family member is at the hospital.


Here are some photos of my grandpa after coming out of surgery – smiling and hopeful 🙂 And aside from ugly stitches, he experienced no complications!



After a month of healing, his implant was then activated, tests were completed, and he started (and still continues) his audiological training, with help from my uncles. What started off as indiscriminate clicking noises and echoes eventually became recognisable sounds and words, yay!

Of course, there were frustrations. My grandpa described not being able to set the perfect program for his implant, often returning from his appointments with more background noise than before, sometimes feeling dejected and unwilling to train. The annoyance of having the external transmitter continuously fall off – the magnet is not as strong as you think! He has tried different methods of securing the transmitter but it remains an inconvenience.

Upon coming home, for the first in my life, I had (mostly) a verbal conversation with my grandfather! By speaking slower, enunciating well, and using shorter sentences, I was able to freely converse with him! My entire life I have always spoken to him via notes (piles of paper and books have amassed over my lifetime) which take considerable time to write – what a change! My written Vietnamese is at the higher level it is today thanks to the dedication of my grandparents to teach me and the numerous opportunities to put it to use when speaking with my grandpa. I am also quite lucky because my grandpa said my voice is easier for him to understand compared to other family members. Now we can just sit and talk, with an occasional written note, how awesome is that?

I’m surprised at the lack of photos from our trip back to Canada this time… but here are a few fun moments back in Canada!

Note: From March 05-12th, we went to Turks & Caicos for a one week vacation. It was amazing and will be have its own post!

Target was having their liquidation sales during our time home. The sales were actually terrible and the cash registers were always freezing. Here we are waiting in line forever!


We came home just after lunar new year. One of my favourite Vietnamese new year’s treats is Banh Tet (savoury glutinous rice with mung bean + pork or sweet banana filling, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed). One of the best things to do with leftovers is panfry the savoury mung bean and pork ones until its nice and crispy… thanks mom for the treat!


And belated new year red pockets from the family, thank you!


Having this little one so very excited every time you walk in the door. And constantly following you around and begging you for food at every opportunity. I miss Benny!





Forgetting how dry Canada is! Cracked, itchy, stinging skin even with moisturizer!


Enjoying some things you can only get in Canada, like ketchup chips, one of my favourites!


They have even come out with ketchup Doritos… although I am not a fan.



Regular stops at my favourite shop – Tim Hortons. I don’t drink coffee but dang do I miss the cheap, delicious, variety of donuts, pastries, and bagels. Now I want a bagel…



And of course, with Tim Hortons comes Rolllll up the rim to win! Probably one of the most Canadian photos I’ve ever taken…


Visiting my favourite bakery in Ottawa, Macarons et Madeleines, now at a new location! The best croissants, caneles, and macarons in town. Expensive, but delicious!




Officially asking these wonderful ladies to be a part of my bridal party!

When my sister agreed to be my maid of honour 🙂


Had to ask my cousin Janet over Skype because she’s studying in London


Catching up over food and having 2 of my best friends say yes to being my bridesmaids!


My sister went to Japan over her Christmas holidays and was kind to bring back some Japanese chocolates for us to try!


Limited free time but still catching up with friends! Sushi at Kiko Sushi Bar – expensive but tasty!


A visit to another favourite with Mike and Julia – Art Is In – where my brother now works! Amazing food and great atmosphere!



Ruixi took me to a hole in the wall (Hung Sum Restaurant) for the best dim sum I’ve ever had in Ottawa – literally!



Visiting my dad at Beechwood Cemetery for the first time in a long time!


My sister had bought my dad these ornamental dog figurines (representing us) for his garden when he was alive. We brought them out to his grave years ago and although a little faded, they are still around!


While planning a wedding, still making time to go on dates with my love! We did get a bunch of wedding planning finalised, but I will save that for another post!

A skate on the Rideau Canal for the first time in many years, all 16km – how we’ve missed it!


Waiting in line at one of these huts…


For some Beavertails and hot chocolate – not a visit on the canal until you’ve had this!




Of course, we had to have a lunch date at Play, one of our favourite restaurants in Ottawa.


Mike’s newfound love for beef tartare meant he had to have it at Play!


The food and service almost never disappoints!



Lots of silly moments with my family



Quality time with the family… delicious onion ring poutine and burgers at The Works!


Mom’s Com Hen (basket clam rice) – delicious broth, eaten with rice, ginger, shallots, alfalfa, pineapple, peppers, starfruit, mango, and basket clams!


My favourite brand (President’s Choice) of hors d’oeuvres! Just cannot find anything like that here


Can’t visit home without a trip to all you can eat sushi – a family favourite!




We didn’t have any family events when I was back home, but I did get a chance to stop by and see my Uncle 2’s family!


I also had the chance to see most of my other family members at different opportunities, which was nice!

A weekend out on Buck Lake to be with Mike’s family… always indulgent and fun!

Focus of attention on the newest member of the Brown family – Rinoa




She look like a doll or what?




But their cat… their cat is always trying to kill me. One day, I will need an epipen…


A last meal out with Mike’s parents, introducing them to play!


Our last photo together at the airport heading back to Australia – unfortunately my brother felt unwell and stayed in the car! 😦


Looking back now… what an unbelievably short trip 😦 Until next year!

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