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!

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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!