Wedding Rehearsal

May 13, 2016

It was less of a rehearsal and more of a family meet and greet.

Thanks to Atong, we had a perfect location to host our wedding rehearsal. We were pretty sure that we wanted an informal get together and the rental space in her apartment complex was a great venue to a meet and mingle.

Also a big thank you to Michael’s parents, Gregory and Caroline, for their generosity towards dinner.

Although this was not the first time our families were meeting each other, not everyone had met before so it was a nice opportunity to get to know each other.

My bridesmaids were absolutely amazing with their help in making sure the night went smoothly. This even included buying and carrying cases of water and juice from a few blocks away. Believe it or not, we remembered to buy the alcohol but not the water!

My brother also brought names tags and markers, which I loved! Everyone had the chance to learn people’s names and their relationship to the bride and groom. I would highly recommend this idea to anyone with a huge family like mine!

For dinner, we ordered shawarma from… you know it… Shawarma Palace, the best place in town. Always a favourite for everyone! And for dessert, my sister made delicious lemon and s’mores squares, I made brownies.

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We took the opportunity to thank Michael’s parents, my mom and my grandparents for their love and support. We saved our gifts for the bridal party for getting ready the following day.

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Selfies took place… a lot of selfies.

Our 3 MCs: Elvin (and soon to be wife Jenn), Vinh and Amin

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3 of the 4 groomsmen! Bill, Matt, and Dan (4th is Michael’s brother Matt)

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My brother Andy and Kien’s (cousin) partner Samme

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Andy and cousins Janet and Justin

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With some of my family, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles!

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Photo with the immediate Brown family!

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Michael’s Aunt Patsy and her husband Uncle Dan!

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My sister Jenni and Michael

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Janet, Jenni and her partner Edward

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Being themselves 😛

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Justin… always ruining our photos!

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As you can probably tell by now, my family is… special 😉

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My grandparents, mum and aunt

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Cousins

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We even had props! Although mostly forgot to use them!

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(Note Samme’s name tag… see? Useful!)

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Like mothers like daughters

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Cousin love

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My mum!

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Somehow… Michael and I ended the night without a single photo together 😛 Thank you again to all our family and friends who took the time to attend, and for all their love ❤

It was hard to believe we were getting married the following day! After cleaning up, Michael and I then headed over to Four Points by Sheraton in Gatineau and called it a night. We even did a bit of much needed first dance practicing 😉 We would highly recommend getting away from everyone and spending the night before the wedding with just your partner – to have quality time together and reflect on exciting times to come!

Mother’s Day in Canada

May 08, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day!

We celebrated with the entire family, which is something I’ve missed while in Australia!

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Menu of the day consisted of egg noodles and lobster – delicious! (Courtesy of chef Uncles)

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Yay, all 3 of us girls home in Ottawa at the same time!

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My grandparents still looking great at 80+ years old!

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The tradition conditions with all of us presenting my grandmother with cards and gifts – from the offspring of her oldest to youngest children! My brother was working and unfortunately couldn’t make it.

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Family photos!

My grandparents and their 5 children

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With their 2 girls

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And with us!

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My aunt and mom!

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G-pa is wiped after dealing with all of us 😉 Love how he goes for the hammock despite a perfectly fine bed

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SEE ALL PHOTOS HERE

And of course, some late night selfies with our very own wonderful mother!

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None of us would be here today without her sacrifice, love, and dedication – we love you! ❤

Christmas Festivities

December 24, 2015

A quiet Christmas Eve together at home. And of course, Michael can’t do Christmas without some eggnog, rum and cinnamon!

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Also spent the night baking some of my favourite white chocolate & cranberry cookies to share on Christmas.

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December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

We slept in, which was glorious. And then we opened presents together… our 5th Christmas together, how I love this man!

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We agreed not to spend too much on each other for Christmas presents this year (around $150)… gotta save up for the wedding!

Some stocking stuffers from Mike – I think he got me the Toblerone because it’s his favourite and he knew I would share 😉

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A card from Michael’s parents

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Some of Michael’s stocking stuffers

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The Paediatric Ward did a Secret Santa gift exchange… I got some beautiful earrings and a notebook – thank you Santa!

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Gifts from my sister… all the way from Canada, thank you so much!

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Michael was so incredibly proud of his Christmas presents to me, and to be honest, I was amazed! He got me so many great things at such incredible deals, he stayed within the budget!

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I’ve always wanted a wicker picnic basket, and this one had 4 complete sets of stainless steel dinnerware and cutlery! And now that we have a beautiful island to visit, he’s bought me some fins to complete my snorkel gear. And a ground pad and inflatable pillow for camping (after getting me a sleeping bag earlier in the year!) And a girl can never have too many underwear – thank you so much my love!

Some of my gifts for Michael. Friends made fun of me for getting him a textbook but I thought as this is his current, most serious, decision in life – it would never hurt to have a good (recommended) reference book

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This was our first year away from family at Christmas, a little sad! But so kind of Nerissa to invite us to join for lunch with her parents (Aunt Neetha and Uncle Danny) visiting from Brisbane. We had a great time and it felt like having a family away from home 🙂

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Old man Jin helping with lunch

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Started with a fresh watermelon and prawn salad with feta, mint and proscuitto

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We were treated to a full home cooked dinner complete with a turkey! And even got to try a different styled stuffing with a base from chicken liver, something tasty we’ve never had before!

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We had no idea, but there was even a gift exchange, which was so lovely! Thank you so much to everyone for including us two Christmas Orphans!

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How cute are these two?

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Garrett mugs for everyone!

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A Corelle set from Jess & Jin, mug from Garrett, Spa kit + men’s set from Aunt & Uncle… thank you so much guys!

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Love you guys!

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Dessert

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With these avid fishers, once the topic of fishing came up… it didn’t stop 😉 Not only did they go down to fish in the evening, they also made plans to go fishing bright and early the following day 😛

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Thank you so much to our friends for a warm and beautiful Aussie Christmas celebration!

December 26, 2015

Family Christmas get together in Ottawa! Got to skype the g-parents the join the fam jam 😉

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Even from afar they think of us too ❤

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These two!

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A beautiful Christmas gift from Amanda – diffuser with mood lighting

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A few days later, a package came in the mail for us – from Michael’s parents!

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So many delicious goodies!

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And some beautiful Christmas cards from our friends ❤

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Putting up the Christmas Tree!

November 26, 2015

We put up the Christmas tree! Of course we didn’t care that it was not yet December, we would’ve put it up earlier if we could!

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Apparently, it was enough of a celebration for Michael to finally break into his Christmas present from me last year – a 21 year old Glenfiddich single malt scotch whisky. It was pretty tasty, even I (and I don’t like scotch) enjoyed a sip! Michael was a happy man!

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And he got to spend the whole evening with this crazy one…

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Ta da!

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Some our favourite decorations, mini-me graduation presents from Uncle Rick and Aunt Wendy! Not that the inscription is in any way true!

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Michael’s 36th Birthday!

September 21, 2015

Happiest of birthdays to you my love!

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Due to the fact that I was working and also preparing for my job interview on Michael’s birthday, we decided to hold off on celebrating until the following day.

Instead, we had a low key night at home. I made him one of his favourites – bacon and mushroom risotto – for dinner.

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September 22, 2015

The following morning, I had my job interview, which was over quite quickly (more about that in a separate post) and I soon found myself back home with Mike!

Luckily, he had the day off as well and we had planned a dinner date/celebration at Tsuruya – a well known Japanese restaurant at the Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon.

We still had the whole day to ourselves though! Always nice to relax at home together on the our days off, catching up with TV shows and just enjoying each other’s company.

Made another special for Michael – shrimp toast for lunch.

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I spent the majority of the morning making the components of Mike’s birthday cake. He requested a ‘German Chocolate Cake‘ because he’d had it before and it was so richly chocolate and decadent. I had never made a German Chocolate Cake before, and after reading its description, insisted that he was mistaken. But the birthday boy was insistent that’s what he wanted! 😉

We headed out to Yeppoon in the early evening for a stroll on the beach and to enjoy the sunset before dinner. Beautiful as always!

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Sculpture on Yeppoon beach front against the sunset

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Gorgeous sunset colours

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One last photo together before heading to dinner!

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I will talk about our awesome dinner at Tsuruya in the next post!

We saved room for dessert, birthday cake! It doesn’t look the prettiest, but I tell you, it was tasty! Turns out German Chocolate Cake is not German at all! Invented in the US by a man with the last name German. Chocolate cake topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. Despite the discovery of a new delicious cake, Michael eventually conceded that what he had in mind was, in fact, Belgian chocolate cake, the silly man!

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I also finally gave Michael his birthday present… a scavenger hunt with 20 clues, each one with money inside. It didn’t take him too long to solve all the clues but he loved it, yay!

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Got himself a nice golf club (60deg wedge) with extra birthday money leftover for other enjoyments! Happy birthday my dearest! Here’s to many more to come!

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.

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

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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

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

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

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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…

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

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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!

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

When my sister agreed to be my maid of honour 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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!

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Waiting in line at one of these huts…

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

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

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

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The food and service almost never disappoints!

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Lots of silly moments with my family

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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

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She look like a doll or what?

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

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

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

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

Saying farewell to our parents

December 27, 2014

Forever grateful for the time our parents spent in Australia with us…

Our time together can summed into a few words – family, fun, laughter, and delicious food.

Some more moments of our time together…

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One of my new favourite meals to prepare – grilled fish with tropical salad – delicious and healthy!

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It was a bittersweet farewell. But we were pretty excited. Excited to start preparing for our move to Rockhampton and beginning our careers as doctors in the new year. Sad to say good bye to our parents but we would be back in Canada in Feb-March for our holidays!

No time to diddle daddle, lots to do!

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014

I’m chuckling because I’m writing about our Christmas in April – better late than never?

My mom and I decided to stay home and relax on Christmas, but Michael and his parents braved the hoards to experience Christmas on the beach 😛 Weather was good and they had a fun time!

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How many Canadians can say they spent Christmas in this kind of weather?

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I was adamant I would be cooking Christmas dinner – letting my mom relax. Unfortunately, it was one of my biggest cooking fails – a raw meat loaf – so upsetting! The other dishes were good, including corn, potato wedges, prawn toast and salad.

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Our first Christmas tree in Australia

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Beautiful, love our colour scheme!

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Family photo!

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In previous years, our cousins have always had a bit of fun at family get togethers, like colour coordinating our outfits, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, custom made t-shirts, etc. Imagine my delight when Mike’s mom produced these funky Dollarama light necklaces – complete with 3 different modes and extra batteries!

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Had a glitch with one of them – ah, expected of Dollarama!

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Blueberry pie for dessert, thanks Caroline!

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Some more family photos before opening presents

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I look sort of like a monster here

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My love!

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Let me share some of the wonderful presents I received 🙂

Gorgeous ruby (my birthstone) and diamond earrings from Michael that nicely match a necklace he gave for Christmas in 2011

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A beautiful Ivanka Trump dress from my mom. I’ve received many compliments wearing it already!

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A nice leather Coach clutch from my sister and some delicious chocolate bars! Can’t find those in Australia!

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Presents from my brother…

A wine making kit. I haven’t used it yet, will have to soon!

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And an electronic measuring cup and ceramic knives – now staples in my kitchen 🙂

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From Michael’s parents, goodies from Canada!

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And a few items from his mom! The candle holders fit nicely in our new home in Rockhampton!

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Michael was very happy with my Christmas present to him – adding to his collection 😉

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It’s long passed, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your loved ones!

Graduation presents

December 21, 2014

After lunch at Wagaya, our families came back to our house to visit – a first time for my family from Perth!

In addition, our families took that opportunity to give us amazing, generous, graduation gifts – thank you so very much!

My mom gave us our gifts from my grandparents first – as they are the oldest and couldn’t attend in person – thank you Ong Ba Ngoai! We will put the money towards our future and wedding planning!

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I received a nice watch and card from Ong Ba Ba

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Thank you to Ong Ba Ut for their generous gifts – we will put it towards our relocation and setting up a new life in Rockhampton!

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A very special gift to Michael from his parents, a laminated card that his mom has kept safely for many years

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My mom is the best, as always!

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With the best card 😛

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She gave us each a Pilot retractable fountain pen

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Michael also got a beautiful dark purple DKNY tie from my mom, and I received 2 Pandora beads – thank you mom!

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Thank you to Di Loan for your lottery tickets! We were really hoping to win, but alas!

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Also a very special thank you to Ong Ba Hai (Ong Ba Ut’s best friends) and Nghiem for sending me cards and gifts!

Some family photos

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I also want to share the graduation gifts from Michael’s family! We received them on December 11, 2014, during our beach getaway at Noosa with his family 🙂

Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan gave us a generous gift to treat ourselves out to a celebratory graduation dinner – thank you! It was really too bad that our graduation date was changed to a week later this year compared to previous years. Unfortunately, they couldn’t attend but I’m sure they had a great time on their cruise!

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Uncle Rick and Aunt Wendy gave us the cutest Christmas ornaments. They definitely went on our tree and will be on our tree every year!

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Uncle Jim and Aunt Brenda gave us the novel “Breathless” written by Dr Todd – a thoracic surgeon who performed many of Canada’s early lung transplant operations.

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Thank you so much to everyone for all your love, gifts, and kind words! Treasured forever!

Mike & Meaghan’s birthday!

September 15, 2014

After a fiasco with booking our bus tickets to Kingston, we had to resort to asking Mike’s dad to drive up to Ottawa and get us. Thank goodness for him!

Today was a special family day, an early joint birthday celebration for Michael and and his sister Meaghan! Mike was turning 35 on Sept 21st and the first time he’s been home to celebrate with his family in over a decade. And Meaghan was turning the big 30 on Sept 26th.

Got to spend some quality time with the family, including Mike’s parents (Greg & Caroline), his brother Matt with his wife Jessice and 2 children, Jasper and RInoa, Aunt Patsy & Uncle Dan, as well as Uncle Jim & Aunt Brenda 🙂

Started off the day with a delicious lunch, thanks Matt – you make awesome grilled cheese! My mom sent a coconut lemon poppy seed cake that was fantastic and a hit with the family as well.

For dinner, Mike’s mum made meatballs, beans, caesar salad, and biscuits from Aunt Patsy – yum!

After dinner came the cake and singing! Caroline made 2 cakes, chocolate for Mike and vanilla for Meaghan.

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The vanilla cake provided lots of good laughs! It was supposed to be a lady bug 😉 … a pretty cute one!

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Look at that smile!

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Happy early birthday guys! 🙂

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Great to catch up!

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Aunt Brenda & Uncle Jim

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The birthday siblings

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With Uncle Jim

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The cute nephew, Jasper!

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Uncle Dan & Aunt Patsy – see you soon in Australia!

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Mike’s dad and his youngest grandchild 🙂

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Jasper excited for cake!

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Matt and his son Jasper. Cake and ice cream, what better way to end the night?

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And finally, some family photos!

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My last opportunity to spend time with Mike’s family 😦 Thank you for having me and can’t wait until we see you again in Australia!

Good food and dressing well

September 13, 2014

An early flight back to Ottawa from Halifax, thanks Matt for driving us to the airport! We can’t wait to see your family in Adelaide next year!

We got back to my house around 11am and went to lunch with Ruixi and Chris! Similar to last year, we were all craving Perkins, so breakfast for lunch was perfect! It was so nice to see them and catch up, especially since so much has happened since we hung out with them at Perkins last year, including a wedding and honeymoon! 😉

When my mom got home from work that evening, we ordered Shawarma Palace (of course) and joined my grandparents for dinner.

Shawarma chicken and beef platters… how I miss you!

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My mum and grandpa

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Family minus Jenni!

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Enjoying some Jost Maple Ice Wine, thanks Dan! He and Mike had a sports bet and he lost. The prize? A nice Canadian bottle of ice wine, which we shared with family 🙂

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Chicken, beef, rice, potatoes, garlic sauce, pickles, hummus, bread, salad… mmm

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My lovely grandparents!

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Always fun having dinner with my grandparents 🙂

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Some of you might know or remember that I’ve kept a coin collection since I was young. A very amateur collection, spurred by the release of the 1999 Millenium coins. Even now, my grandma will save new/different/fancy coins she comes across for me to riffle through and pick ones to save.

Here’s the collection of quarters she’s kept for me! Just going through them to see which ones I don’t have and can add to my collection, thanks grandma!

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My brother makes the best faces and takes the best selfies!

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September 14, 2014

The following day, my brother, Mike and I went on an ambitious adventure. Andy was going to photograph some engagement photos for us. He had a few sites picked out to visit and we had lots of fun, although I can’t say many of the photos turned out 😛 But when they’re ready I’ll share!

One fun aspect, we got to dress up a bit! My mom and aunt were going to come along as well, but unfortunately she had a prior engagement so mum and I took a few photos together at home instead 🙂

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Can you tell what we did on our photo shoot? 😛 So serious!

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Check out my brother, the “pro”

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Two hands mama!

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And what did we finish the day with?

Delicious home made Phở Tái (Vietnamese noodle soup with beef cooked rare) before addition of herbs and garnishes, thank mum!

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And of course, who can forget Benny! So cute, but he’s so camera shy!

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Only $1, what a deal! I missed having these, brought back memories from childhood 🙂

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Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary to my Grandparents!

On August 16, 2014, our family threw a party to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. It was held in the Winter Room at the St Laurent complex – where we also held my grandpa’s 80th birthday lunch last year.

It wasn’t a surprise event, so my grandparents were able to look forward to celebrating with family and friends. Here is a photo of them arriving at the venue, aren’t they so cute?

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Sitting down to lunch with family and friends

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The grandchildren took care of decor and setting up the venue and each family provided at least a dish for a pot luck feast – so much good food!

Wall decals created and put up by my brother. The huge spread of food!

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My mom made self serve taco salad and ‘Banh Lot’ a Vietnamese pandan flavoured dessert served with syrup and coconut cream.

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Mo Hai made green papaya salad with beef jerky, steam buns and veggie samosas

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Di Nam made fried rice and a veggie platter

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Cau Ba made shrimp spring rolls and pickled green plums

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Cau Tu made fish maw soup

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The uncles chopping up the roasted pig

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My beautiful grandparents!

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Grandma with some of her friends

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My grandpa giving a thank you speech after my Cau Hai’s emotional welcome speech

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My grandparents’ friends giving their congratulatory speeches and gifts

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Some group photos before digging in! Grandparents with their family/friends

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Aww!

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My grandparents with their 5 children

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Children and their spouses

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Family photo!

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Table decor

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Even had some party favours

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Good food and good times with good people!

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Ong Tia Ba Y (my dad’s aunt and uncle) sharing a laugh with my grandparents

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Ah, so cute!

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Cousins photo!

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More recently, the grandchildren try to incorporate something unique with each family get together. For today, we have hats that say “Born ‘X’ years after grandparents’ wedding”

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Oscar selfie in the making

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The result!

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After lunch came more family photos, presents, and cake!

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My present! Painted by a street artist I met in Brisbane

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Big homemade birthday card

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Photo with all the grandchildren minus two!

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And a normal one

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Thank you so much to my grandparents for the opportunity to celebrate this day with them! Wishing them many more years of happiness together and with their family!

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There are SO MANY more photos, especially of my aunts and uncles’ families. Please CLICK HERE to see the full photo album!

New family photos!

These were taken back on August 16th (I’m quite behind on blogging, I know!) before heading to grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary party!

As usual, we are a silly silly family 🙂 I have to say this is our best family photo (minus my dad) to date!

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But I think we can clean up nicely when needed, right?

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Girls in the family

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Sisters! I love this photo 🙂

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Look how big we can make our butts

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We are pretty attractive 😛

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Happy birthday mom!

Happy 52nd birthday mom!!

Her actual birthday was August 20th but we celebrated on August 15th 🙂

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Even though we celebrated a few days early, I was really happy our whole family was able to spend her birthday together!

Thanks mum for being our biggest support throughout our entire lives and for always encouraging us to be the best we can be doing whatever it is that would make us happiest. We love you!

My sister ordered a key lime cake with buttercream icing. Beautiful scroll work and sugar flowers – they looked so real!

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Mommy with Benny – her favourite now

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Proper and complete family photo!

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I don’t… know how my brother does it

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I think the best part of this photo is Franklin, the turtle

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My favourite 🙂

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Cutting the cake!

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Haha, I swear, we can normal

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So sweet!

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Franklin wants in too!

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Yum, so much icing!

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Presents and cards for mom!

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DHAL: July 02-03, 2014

Lowlights:

  • Yesterday I experienced the worst lowlight since starting DHAL. I was feeling quite down and sad regarding the anniversary of my dad’s passing and being alone at home made it even worse, I’ve never been alone on this day before. I cried many tears. But writing yesterday’s blog definitely helped me deal with my emotions, even if it brought back many many memories. Thank you to all my friends who sent me their love, it was very much appreciated!

Highlights:

  • Ran into Mabel after finishing my shift the past 2 days in a row! Nice to stop for a chat and a few laughs!
  • The flowers Michael sent me bloomed and are gorgeous! Thanks love!

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  • Even though I’m on afternoon and evening shifts this week, it’s nice being in emergency theatre when the rest of the operating rooms are empty and there are only a handful of staff on duty. Just nice and quiet… 🙂 Also, the tea room is always stocked with fresh bread (white and whole wheat!), butter, vegemite, and jams to make toast. A good pick me up when you’re feeling low on energy! Of course there is always coffee, tea, milk, juice and also a basket of cookies for some extra calories whenever you need it.

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  • Since coming to Australia, we have been buying the large tubs of yoghurt thinking that it was the cheapest option, especially when they’re on sale. Recently I learned that was a lie. And that regular priced yoghurt in individual servings is cheaper than large tubs on sale! Never again will I be buying tubs when I can be buying something cheaper, with more variety, and easy to pack for lunch!

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I know, my life is SO EXCITING! 😛

5 years without my dad

July 02, 2009 (Ottawa, Canada)

Today marks the 5 year anniversary of my dad’s passing.

I understand that everyone’s struggles and losses are different and cannot be compared. I know I’m very lucky to have grown up with a father. One who loved his family and worked hard, sacrificing a lot in order to provide for us. One who brought us up to be good people, one who taught us many valuable lessons and skills.

However, as the years go by and I get older, it pains me more and more that I lost my dad so early. He wasn’t even 51 years old and I was turning only 22. I was still living at home, hadn’t truly grown up, with barely any life experience under my belt.

Now 5 years later, my life has changed significantly. I went from living at home to moving across the world and starting a new life on my own. I am months away from graduating medical school and becoming a doctor. I have met the love of my life and we are now engaged. And I am upset that my father has not been by my side to see any of this happen! He never had the chance to visit Australia, which is where he wanted to retire and why I even looked into going to school here. He did not get to see my siblings and I finish school, begin our careers, and start our families. He never had the chance to meet Michael, although I’m sure he would have accepted him like his own son. He won’t see us get married and when we have children, they will never get to meet their grandfather, who would’ve loved them and taught them so much. There was so much in life my father did not have a chance to experience!

Sometimes I feel quite bitter. Life isn’t fair. But it’s always a reminder to live life to the fullest. Enjoy life and fill it with as much love possible… I miss you dad…

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I wrote the following back in 2012 but wanted to repost it in order to share his story again with you:

3 years ago today, a great father left this world – mine.

This man fled Vietnam by boat and survived years in a refugee camp during which time he nearly died – more than once.

When he finally made it to Canada, he met his daughter for the first time – me.

With literally the clothes on his back, he endured hardship and racism in a new country – without speaking the language.

But he laboured hard, lived meagerly and sacrificed – he made a living.

He embraced a new culture and nourished a growing family – built a strong foundation for a new beginning.

He bought a car and soon he bought a house. He educated his children well and took his family on vacations – accomplishments many take for granted.

Everything was going well. Then came life-changing news – the diagnosis of liver cancer.

Five years followed. Happy moments. Hard times. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Pain. Relapses. Hope. Family.

The father once so reserved now spent hours a day just talking with his children – he wanted more time with his family.

The dad who preferred staying in to save money now encouraged his children to enjoy the pleasures of life as often as possible – he had regrets.

The man who never liked being the subject of photography now wanted to be in as many pictures with family as he could – he didn’t want to be forgotten.

The husband who seemed so strong now often spilled his fears as well as tears – he was afraid to die.

The man who told us to share with him all that was in our hearts because he was going to die in 3 days – he foretold his death.  

The man who hugged us, who kissed us, who cried with us and wished he didn’t have to leave us – he accepted his fate.

The man who had to remain sedated until he passed away – hopefully he knew no pain.

The man whose breathing slowed until he took his last breath – died surrounded by a stronger, more loving family.

The man who has shaped the person I am today – my father.

Dad, I will forever miss you and love you. My memories of you and your teachings will have a permanent place in my heart.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post.

And thank you to all my friends who continue to give me their love and support. The meaning of friendship became most clear to me in the days leading up to and the weeks following my dad’s death. You were my pillars of support and I truly would not have been able to be there for my family if you had not been there for me. I love you guys.

Below are links to posts from previous years, I’m putting them all here so I can easily look back on them in the future:

Congratulations James & Kim!

On Saturday, May 17, 2014, we had the honour of witnessing our two wonderful friends get married.

James, so handsome in his navy blue suit, joined by Kim so breathtaking in her elegant dress, and together surrounded by their wonderful wedding party.

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Words really can’t describe what a beautiful ceremony it was, especially with such love and emotion so visible and felt by everyone present. The exchange of vows touched everyone’s heart and certainly brought tears of happiness to my eyes.

In a brief moment during the ceremony, a few raindrops were felt but quickly swept away by sunshine as if they had no business being there. I don’t know if everyone noticed, but a beautiful rainbow flew across the sky shortly after the ceremony ended. Additional beauty on this special day!

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While the bride, groom, and wedding photo went off to take photos, we nibbled and drank, catching up with one another. And of course, took some photos…

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A sweet moment on returning from their photo shoot, dancing under the skies.

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Gift table, I loved the cage for cards!

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Simple and elegant.

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Every single person’s speech during dinner… made me teary. It was really a privilege to be present and listen to their two families and friends speak about their love for James & Kim. It’s an indescribable feeling but I hope to be blessed with such company and love on my wedding day.

Cutting of the cake before heading to the dance floor!

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About to begin their first dance…

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Lovely!

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They even had a photo booth, how great is that?

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Unfortunately, Michael and I had to excuse ourselves early as Mike had an early flight to Canada the following morning. The night was just getting started and I’m sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves before sending James and Kim off with sparklers in the night.

Thank you again for letting us be a part of your special day… we love you and we wish you both all the happiness in the world! May this be your most exciting life journey yet… ❤

My pathetically long blog absence

Dear friends,

Where have I been? Here and there. Doing this, doing that. I’ve been terrible at including you, I know. I’m sorry!

Today has been a very difficult and emotional day for me. Michael, my fiance, is currently flying back to Canada where he will be completing his next two rotations (3rd – Critical Care and 4th – Medical Specialties) while I remain in Brisbane. It will be an exciting and scary journey for him rotating through a number of different hospitals, but I have no doubt he will fit in and excel. Fortunately, I will also have the opportunity to complete Rotation 4 (starting in two months) in Canada. During the last 4 weeks of that rotation, we will be only 1.5 hours drive apart so we’ll finally be able to see each other! I already feel so alone! Never in the years we’ve been together have we been apart or tested by a long distance relationship. I’m sure these next few months will not be easy but thank goodness for texting and video calling. I miss him so much already.

I have a number of topics to catch up and share with you on this blog, including:

  • Some happy moments with friends back in April
  • The MCCEE exam that I finally wrote on May 5th
  • What food have I been making?
  • My Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation that ended May 9th, including how the final exams went!
  • Our amazing one week vacation in Bali (May 10 to May 17) which was also our first experience with Club Méditerranée, commonly known as Club Med
  • The wedding of our 2 wonderful friends James & Kim on May 17th
  • My upcoming 3rd rotation in Critical Care

In addition, as I have found it very difficult to not only keep up with blogging but also find interesting things to write about during busy and full-on rotations, I have decided to start a new daily blog series project. Starting tomorrow, the first day of my 3rd rotation (Critical Care), I will be doing a Daily Highlights and Lowlights (DHAL) post. This idea was inspired by April & Justin whose daily vlogs I enjoy enjoy watching on YouTube. At the end of each of their videos, they share the highlights of their day. I thought this would be a good way to remember the happy moments, as well as the more difficult ones of each day. Hopefully when I look back at these posts, I will be able to see how I’ve grown from the positive and negative experiences on a daily basis.

Thank you for sticking around with me, I hope you enjoy the blog posts to come!

Michael & I are engaged!

And we wanted to share the happy news! 😀

Michael and I spent our week off, from Monday to Friday (March 10-14) on a beach getaway on Stradbroke Island.

We stayed at Allure Resort, in a lovely privately owned beach cabin (Shack 18) that you can read more about in this previous post

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First selfie after arriving 🙂

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Just 2 minutes walk from the beach

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With absolutely gorgeous weather

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We had brought all our own groceries so cooked and indulged in many delicious meals in our beach cabin. We had lots of private time, and enjoyed quite a bit of relaxation including catching up on our favourite TV shows, watching movies, reading novels, and playing Splinter Cell on the Xbox. Yes, we even brought our Xbox to the island. 😉

More importantly, we had lots of fun in the sun! Spent hours swimming in the cool, crystal clear waters and went for long walks on the beach.

It was actually during one of our walks on the beach, on March 12, 2014, that my wonderful partner of 3 years asked me to marry him.

Here is what Michael would like to share:

I had been contemplating for weeks how exactly I wanted to ask the love of my life to marry me. I opted for a simple plan that involved doing something that has brought so many days of fun together, asking her during a day at the beach. From our previous camping trip to Straddie, I recalled that there is an interesting area of beach with boulders and other various rock formations accessible at low tide as Deadman’s Beach transitions to Frenchman’s beach. So, with keeping the schedule of the tides in mind, around low tide I suggested we make our way towards Frenchman’s beach.

My plan was initially to double back on Sandra during our walk, hiding among the rocks in order to find a private spot to write my proposal in the sand. Luckily, as we were walking through the completely empty beach, Sandra suggested we stop so she could shoot a video of the waves and rocks. I immediately jumped on this, disappearing behind the largest of the rocks to quickly extract the ring from my backpack and write “Sandra Marry Me” in the sand. I really would have liked to put it in a question…but I was unsure exactly how much time I had before her recording was over, so I kept it to the point with just three words.

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Just as I finished the last letter, I poked my head out from behind the rock to see she was done and looking for me. I called for her to come around the rock to check out something cool. As she walked around the rock and her gaze shifted to the writing, I dropped to one knee, opened the box to display the ring and said, “Sandra, you are the love of my life, you make me so happy, I want to be with you forever. Will you do me the honour of marrying me?”. She said YES! We kissed and I proudly placed the ring on her finger 🙂 I’m a happy man.

Right after he put the ring on my finger 😀

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I thought Michael was hiding behind a boulder trying to scare me. Imagine my surprise to see his message in the sand and then down on one knee!

There was no hesitation before I said, “Yes!”  In the past 3 years, he has shown me what love for another should be by showering me with it. He has been immensely kind, caring, and supportive. He praises my strengths and accepts my flaws, encourages me and pushes me to be the best person I can be. He treats my family with love and respect and I am extremely lucky to have been embraced by his family from the beginning. Michael is my best friend and the love of my life. ❤

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We are very happy and extremely excited for what the future will bring!

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Here is a short video of our time on Stradbroke Island!

We have kept our engagement quiet these past few days in order to let our families and close friends know first. It was even harder to do because we had no internet service during our time on Stradbroke Island and had to wait until we were back in Brisbane. But now we want the rest of the world to know as well!

Family and friends have asked a few similar questions, so I will share my answers with you here.

1) Were you surprised or did you know it was coming? Well, Michael and I have talked about getting married for some time now. While we were back in Canada over Christmas, he surprised me by asking me to go look at rings with him. He had also asked my mom for my hand in marriage and received her blessing, so I definitely knew it was coming, but it was certainly a surprise when he proposed! Like I mentioned earlier, I thought he was trying to scare me. It never crossed my mind that he was about to ask me to marry him!

2) Did he pick the ring out himself? Yes he did! We tried on a few different styled rings together over Christmas to get an idea of what we both liked, but he secretly got this ring on his own. I love my ring! I especially like that it’s a Canadian diamond surrounded by beautifully delicate and subtle detailing.

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3) When’s the wedding?! Is it going to be in Canada or Australia? We honestly don’t know yet! There are so many factors that are out of our hand at the moment with regards to where we will be doing our medical training. So when we know, we will let you know too!

Whew, if you’re still here then thank you so much for reading and sharing in our good news!

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Valentine’s Day dinner

February 14, 2014

Although completely consumed with studying, we did put time aside for ourselves to celebrate Valentine’s Day. A slightly silly holiday, as you should be celebrating your love everyday, it was still nice to do something a little more special than usual.

I decided on getting ‘us‘ a ‘gift‘ – case of 12 bottles of wine, yay! I personally picked a mix of reds, whites, and sparkling – which we will be enjoying (hopefully if all my choices are good) throughout the next months!

Flowers, a card, and a delicious home cooked meal from Mike. We also cracked the first bottle of wine, a Kooks Shiraz 2012, given the stamp of approval from the both of us.

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Glazed beef tenderloin with walnut mash and grilled veggies. The walnut flavour was great and the beef so tender, so yum! Thank you dear!

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You can clearly see how tired and tired we are in this photo. 😛

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Someone might think, “Why not roses?” Because lilies are my favourite, they are large and beautiful, will bloom over days, and leave your house smelling amazing!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! What did you do to celebrate?

A last few get togethers in Canada

January 3, 2014

With my sister returning to BC the following day, we invited all the cousins over for an evening of food, board games, laughs and fun! Would also be the last time I get to see them before I head off on the 7th as well.

So happy all you cousins could make it! 😀

Enjoying the movie Ip Man first while having pizza and snacks!

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Board games!

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January 4, 2014

Lunch with Colette and her husband, Pete, long-term friends of my mum! A lovely Korean meal at Mu Goong Hwa, great food and wonderful service! So nice to finally have the opportunity to spend time together and catch up!

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And in the evening, my grandparents joined us in seeing my sister off back to BC!

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January 7, 2014

Our families finally enjoyed a meal together! Michael chose Perkins as he hadn’t had the chance to go this vacation, last breakfast in Canada!

Then back to our house for tea and some quick dessert before heading off to the airport.

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Time went by so quickly, soon we had to go to the airport 😦

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Last shot with my mum!

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My family watching us head off after passing through security

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Group photo!

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Thank you for seeing us off family! We miss you all so much already!

Last batch of random moments in Canada!

I made macarons that tasted like the ones you get at the store! Their feet weren’t as pretty but white chocolate green tea… how delicious does that sound? Unfortunately, I was only able to make them successfully 1 out of the 3 times I attempted this break.

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Some of the chocolate truffles I made this year as Christmas presents for family and friends. Flavours were: Cocoa covered dark chocolate wasabi, sprinkle coated hazelnut milk chocolate, and Toasted almond orange white chocolate.

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Shawarma Palace with Mike on Boxing Day! Could not believe that I ran into Jason and Max there as well, exactly one year ago I was in the same place having shawarma with them (and Amin)!

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“This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

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Walked out of my driveway one day to hear something hissing at me from above. I was concerned it might jump down and eat my face like a zombie.

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My mom made deeelicious deep fried choux rolled in butter and dipped in a mixture of salt and sugar. Haven’t had these since 2007!

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And later she also made choux crème. Baked with a custard filling, yummy!

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Mike and I got matching Sunskis! We are quite happy with the quality and service and can’t wait to rock them at the beach! Check out their Facebook page HERE

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My sister got me some amazing wild mushrooms from West Coast Wild Foods for Christmas. I used them and altered the recipe it came with (didn’t have all the ingredients it called for) to make some delicious cream of mushroom soup. So tasty!

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Blackberries with freshly whipped cream! And they were so sweet!

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I got my nails done for the first time, with my sister! Shellac, I quite like this… too bad I can’t afford doing this all the time!

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Promised I would make a quiche and I actually did! With mushrooms, bacon and onion… not bad, got the stamp of approval from my brother!

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Mmm, McDonald’s McGriddles for breakfast, I will miss you! Delicious combination of maple syrup pancake sweetness sandwiching egg and the saltiness of cheese and sausage!

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Saying farewell to Franklin who’s going to be living with Anthony for a few months! My mom will miss her ‘grandson’ quite a bit!

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The day after New Year’s, our furnace died, on one of the coldest days! The temperature in our house quickly dropped to a frigid 13.5C before we finally got running again. Apparently our flame sensor needed replacing – ugh!

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This bird has been sitting by our kitchen window for as long as I can remember. My dad brought it home one day and I thought a real bird had flown in and perched on our window the first time I saw it. Dang, it’s an ugly bird! But, memories 🙂

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And that’s the last of my random moments in Canada… I believe! 🙂

 

 

Happy Holidays

Hello friends!

I hope each and everyone of you had wonderful holiday celebrations with your loved ones! And may this new year bless you with much laughter, surround you with love, and leave you with unforgettable moments of happiness!

I felt very lucky not only to be able to spend Christmas and New Years home in Ottawa but also because it was filled with so much love and generosity from family and friends.

Unfortunately, my laptop has died on me, and even though my brother and I have been trying very hard… I don’t think we’ll be able to salvage it.

And so, I was already behind on blogging and posting photos but now it is even worse because well… I don’t have a computer at the moment!

What’s going on in the next few days?

– My sister is flying back to Vancouver this evening. She is starting a placement in Victoria on Monday so will have very little time to pack up and fly out to her next destination.

– Mike and I are flying out Tuesday night, Jan 7th. The holidays have flown by and although we are excited to begin our final year of med school, we have not been able to study for our Canadian exam (MCCEE) as much as we have wanted. And that exam is at the end of February. Starting to freak out a little.

– Need to finish packing.

– Hopefully see some friends but time is running out and still so busy.

– Back in Brisbane on the 10th. Have the weekend to settle in and get ready for a busy year ahead starting Monday.

Will try to keep you updated more, thanks for reading! 🙂

Back in Ottawa!

November 20, 2013

After an uneventful short-but-felt-like-forever flight, we made it to Ottawa just after midnight. And of course, greeted by both our families! ❤

She must be holding my hand because she missed me so much, right mommy?

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Even my grandparents came out to pick me up even though it was so late, thank you! 🙂

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My bro, always has his eyes closed in photos, “My eyes, they’re so sensitive!”

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And a picture with Mike’s parents before they headed off with a 2 hour drive ahead of them.

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Yay, finally home!

Being tourists on the Wheel of Brisbane

After Monty’s Chocolates, Mike and I walked over to South Bank to be tourists and ride the Wheel of Brisbane.

It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do and when we saw vouchers on sale ($6/person compared to regular price $15/pp), we had to buy!

It was much busier than we thought, who knew the Wheel was the place to be on a Friday night!

Waiting in line!

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Just loaded into our gondola! See the tourist excitement on our faces?

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Oh my gosh, we’re moving!!

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There is a recording that plays through out your ride, pointing out all the different locations that you can follow along with the booklet they give you. There’s even volume control and A/C control.

Derpy faces 😛

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View from the top!

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Premature sad faces after the second round and thinking the ride was already over.

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We were wrong! The ride was closer to 6 loops! Definitely worth the money 😛

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Ended the night with yummy Korean food at Madtongsan II with Xuan Ping. Lovely Friday night!

July 02, 2009

It’s been 4 years already… We miss you dad.

We’ve all grown up a little bit more in our own ways, pursuing our dreams and taking advantage of what life has to offer. I even met a wonderful man I’m sure you would approve – his Viet pronounciation is quite excellent. 😛

If you are looking down on us, I hope it is with a smile on your face and pride in your heart.

A breath away is not far to where you are… that’s how close you are to our hearts.

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Tina & Vinh’s Pre-Wedding Nostalgic Party

Vinh and Tina’s wedding is tomorrow – so exciting!

As an opportunity to reminisce the good old days, Elvin organised “Tina & Vinh’s Pre-Wedding Nostalgic Party” for this evening in Canada (June 21).

The event info:

In early celebration of Tina and Vinh’s wedding and also for the sake of good times and great friends’ company, join us for a fun time at Marion Common Room!

We it will be a pot-luck-style event with perhaps Pizza Pizza just like old times!

Please bring any food, games, activities and memories to share with the group just like we did in undergrad!

Think: juice boxes, meech, werewolves, card games etc.

It will be great times!

For those who don’t know, Marion is the main science building at the University of Ottawa… where we spent so much of our time in undergrad together – lots of great laughs and fun memories.

I’m so glad to have been able to hang out with everyone (via Facetime, woo hoo!) Brought back lots of memories, I can’t believe so much time has passed since we’ve last been in that room together. Many of us are all in different cities now, back in Ottawa especially for Vinh and Tina’s wedding. I only wish I could be there in person to watch these wonderful 2 get married tomorrow but I will live vicariously through everyone else 🙂

I took some screen shots during the game of Cards Against Humanity – so much laughter went on.

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Yo, check out Amin’s sunglasses 😉

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Group picture – Miss you guys! Thanks for including me in such a special night! 🙂

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Celebrating James & Kim’s Engagement

Last weekend, on February 9th, we were invited to the Toowong Bowls Club to share in the celebration of James and Kim’s engagement.

It was a gorgeous day and very lovely to see everyone, not mention our first time playing barefoot bowls!

Presents 🙂

Touching speeches from the couple and their families

Family and friends mingling

Group picture ❤

So happy for Kim and James! 😀

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

A few of my Facebook friends posted this today. I thought it was lovely and wanted to share!

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee…

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

It’s hard sometimes not to get caught up in the little things and forget the more important aspects of life. Hope you enjoyed the read!

Photo #150: My Man

July 28, 2012

Meet Michael, he’s wonderful and we have a by-the-book-corny story of how we met:

I had finally landed in Australia and had just arrived at my temporary accommodation complete with 3 large and 2 small pieces of luggage (don’t judge me). The receptionist declared I needed to see the facilities and meet the other Canadians who had already arrived. Michael was the first person I was introduced to (and Yoni). She then told Michael to help me upstairs with my luggage and the rest they say, is history… 😛

Sidenote: Today is my birthday! I’m a quarter century old, woo hoo! We took our family up to Sunshine Coast to visit Noosa Heads Beach – what a lovely day with beautiful weather! And I received such lovely gifts at the end of the day, will share more in a future post!

Photo #124: Our Last Family Photo

July 2, 2012

3 years ago today, a great father left this world – mine.

This man fled Vietnam by boat and survived years in a refugee camp during which time he nearly died – more than once.

When he finally made it to Canada, he met his daughter for the first time – me.

With literally the clothes on his back, he endured hardship and racism in a new country – without speaking the language.

But he laboured hard, lived meagerly and sacrificed – he made a living.

He embraced a new culture and nourished a growing family – built a strong foundation for a new beginning.

He bought a car and soon he bought a house. He educated his children well and took his family on vacations – accomplishments many take for granted.

Everything was going well. Then came life-changing news – the diagnosis of liver cancer.

Five years followed. Happy moments. Hard times. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Pain. Relapses. Hope. Family.

The father once so reserved now spent hours a day just talking with his children – he wanted more time with his family.

The dad who preferred staying in to save money now encouraged his children to enjoy the pleasures of life as often as possible – he had regrets.

The man who never liked being the subject of photography now wanted to be in as many pictures with family as he could – he didn’t want to be forgotten.

The husband who seemed so strong now often spilled his fears as well as tears – he was afraid to die.

The man who told us to share with him all that was in our hearts because he was going to die in 3 days – he foretold his death.  

The man who hugged us, who kissed us, who cried with us and wished he didn’t have to leave us – he accepted his fate.

The man who had to remain sedated until he passed away – hopefully he knew no pain.

The man whose breathing slowed until he took his last breath – died surrounded by a stronger, more loving family.

The man who has shaped the person I am today – my father.

Dad, I will forever miss you and love you. My memories of you and your teachings will have a permanent place in my heart.

Today, in his memory, I post the last picture we took together as a family – Jenni’s high school graduation on June 24, 2009.

Elderly couple of 62 years play piano

So this video is a little old, but I just came across it today and wanted to share with you!

“An elderly couple walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano. They’ve been married for 62 years and he’ll be 90 this year. Check out this impromptu performance. We are only as old as we feel, it’s all attitude. Enjoy! They certainly do”

Reminds me to not take the little things for granted and to worry less and enjoy more!

I love my siblings…!

All the little things they do and say that just make me smile and happy I have them.

Yes… I have been missing my family! 😦

My brother’s note in my Farewell-to-Australia card
(Yes, my sister and I really do call him ‘Brother’)

My sister’s birthday greeting this year that came with a chocolate bouquet
(I really did cry… and they were not tears of joy. They will never let me forget that)