52.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year. Our little guy has grown from a mere peanut to a full-on toddler. He laughs heartily, claps enthusiastically, and is curious about everything around him. He always tries to engage the people around him, luring them in with smiles and funny expressions. 

  
He has quite a few favourites these days. His favourite toys are his stuffies and his blocks. He doesn’t really like reading. Food wise, he loves peas, noodles, tofu, bananas, bread, and cheese. He enjoys going outside, climbing stairs, and watching the neighbours’ dogs play in the backyard. 

   

He also has quite a few things that he dislikes. Wearing hats. The end of meals. Getting strapped in his car seat. 

We celebrated his first birthday today with our immediate family, and I will hopefully get the post done by tomorrow. It’s been fun documenting Andy’s weeks on this blog, so here’s to 52 weeks of noticing big and little things about Andy. 

Happy birthday, little bug!

  

Hong Kong Top 5

So our Asian adventures have come to an end. Though I’m very happy to be home, I’m also feeling an inkling of sadness over having left the city of Hong Kong. Admittedly, Kelvin and I have both grumbled at one thing (people walking really slowly because they’re on their phones) or another (a general lack of service at regular restaurants), but there are also things that we really enjoyed about our time in Hong Kong. We loved the ease of transit and travel and the extensive underground and overground passageways. We marvelled at the baby changing facilities at some of the larger malls. We really liked our brief but wondrous car ride from Mong Kok back to Wan Chai. Beyond seeing friends and eating good food, these were the top 5 highlights from our time in Asia’s world city. 

  

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens 
Albany Road, Central, Hong Kong

Though known for its in fathomable density, Hong Kong actually boasts a fair number of parks. One such park that we really enjoyed was the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. Set on a hill just south of the Central MTR station, this little gem is home to a variety of birds and primates, including a family of orangutans! 

Visions 2050: Lifestyle and the City
Kowloon Park, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

We stumbled upon this completely at random. After lunch at Australian Dairy Company, we decided to walk through Kowloon Park to get to Harbour City. I’m drawn to all things related to urban design and architecture, so naturally the signage for this exhibit at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre piqued my interest. It was a small-ish but truly fascinating exhibit looking at all facets of life in Hong Kong’s past, present, and future. Through a whole slew of different media, individuals depicted the Hong Kong they know and the Hong Kong they envision. I could have spent double the amount of time there, but alas crying babies are not conducive to leisurely perusing. 

  

Hiking on Lamma Island

Kelvin’s one request for the Hong Kong portion of this trip was that he wanted to do a hike. We decided to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a slower-paced excursion on Lamma Island. We took the ferry from Central to Yung Shue Wan and embarked on a morning-long walk across the island. We saw beaches, pavilions, and even visited Hong Kong’s only wind turbine. There were very steep sections but also some very flat, scenic ones. We ended up at Sok Kwu Wan, where we ate our lunch of Chinese bakery foods before heading on the ferry for home.  

  
Hong Kong Museum of History

Museums are always a great option for us when we are travelling. What’s even better – this place provides free admission on Wednesdays! We loved learning about the history of Hong Kong from virtually the beginning of time until present day. It was amazing to see the quality of some of the exhibits! The Museum of Science is also right next door, which we will hopefully get to next time. 

Star Ferry

Last but not least, we loved taking the Star Ferry. Riding it at night allowed us to see Hong Kong in all its brightness and glory. Plus it made for such an easy (and cost-effective) trip from TST back to our hotel. 

We stayed at the Novotel Century Hong Kong the whole 6 nights we were there, as we did when we last went to Hong Kong. Kelvin is very fond of their breakfast (especially the pancake making machine) and we all love the location. If and when we return to Hong Kong, we will likely stay there again. 

  

13.

It’s so nice to see our little guy sleeping soundly again after a few nights of irregularity. Every morning, Andy will holler around 7 something to come into our bed (sometimes this is accompanied by a feed, sometimes it isn’t), then he will proceed to continue sleeping for as long as we will allow him to (usually an hour or so). We squeeze him into the space between our pillows for his post-feed nap, and have developed this habit of having a burp cloth under his head when he sleeps in our bed, because we never know when a stream (or fountain) of spit up will start flowing.

IMG_0643

At the beginning of the week (and again today) I attempted to commence a routine of sorts for when Andy’s taking the aforementioned nap. Normally, this is merely an opportunity for me to just continue sleeping, but now I’m trying to use that time to have breakfast, catch up on my feedly, and just spend time alone. On the days that I’ve had enough sleep to actually enjoy it, it has been glorious.

On a personal note, this was a weird week in that my courses are all finished and Andy’s increased alertness means I have less downtime without him. I found myself playing with him for hours at a time, and subsequently pondering the things I should be doing to stimulate his development and sense. We go on walks frequently, and he has a handful of toys (most of which he ignores), but like all parents, I wonder constantly whether I’m providing the best environment possible for my little guy to grow up in.

Despite all this, I somehow ended up reading three books (one on inquiry, one on questioning, and one just for my own enjoyment). I also spent a lot of time this week perusing the internet, and stumbled upon this blog on parenting, this blog by a woman whose goal-orientedness I really appreciate, and this article, which made me feel better that some of my days are just lazy, spent hanging out and exploring the world with Andy.

It’s family Friday, so I’m looking forward to eating out for lunch. Not sure yet where we will go. Perhaps I can convince Kelvin to go to Gananoque. Oh, and this afternoon is the annual midwife picnic, so we get to see some of Andy’s baby friends, plus his wonderful midwives again!

Last but not least, here’s something I’m really looking forward to going to next week.

Bermuda is not in the Caribbean

That is usually the first misconception people want to correct about Bermuda. Located just over 1,000 kilometres east of North Carolina, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda is clean, friendly, and home to countless “pink sand” beaches. Coincidentally, it was also our destination of choice for this year’s summer cruise.

My grandparents love cruises, probably because we all get to do our own thing, at our own pace, while still seeing each other for dinner every night. Claire and I can spend our days at sea by the pool with a good book, my parents can go to lectures and art auctions, and my grandparents can take naps whenever they need. We are slowly but surely moving our way up Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society levels, and it makes cruising with a different cruise line a difficult thing. This time, we headed aboard the Explorer of the Seas (our first time on this boat) for a 5-night cruise, sailing out of Cape Liberty, NJ towards King’s Wharf, Bermuda.

When we first arrived in Bermuda, we were blown away by how beautiful the place was. It docks right near the Royal Dockyards (used to be a British Naval Base, and is now – like many other such buildings – a shopping/arts and culture haven). Seeing as how it was our first time in Bermuda, we wanted to get a feel for the island on Day One, and there is no better way of doing that than by going on an island tour.

We went from tip to tip on our 5-hour drive with our wonderful driver, Eddie! We passed little inlets full of boats and moors, travelled over Somerset Bridge (the world’s smallest drawbridge, at a whopping 18 inches), stopped briefly in Hamilton (where we spent the majority of the time looking for swimming trunks for my grandpa…without success), ventured through Flatts Village, and finally arrived at St. George’s on the other end of Bermuda. The entire town is a UNESCO world heritage site (like Old Quebec).

My grandma got right into it!

We probably could have spent half a day in St. George’s alone, but alas, we had other places to see. There are all of four main roads in Bermuda (North, South, Middle, Harbour), so on our way back to the boat, we ventured along the South Road, passing through Millionaire’s Row, where tons of rich people own homes in Bermuda. We caught a glimpse of so many south shore beaches, stopping briefly at a few, and lingering a little longer at our last one, Sea Glass Beach, to pick up some sea glass to take home.

We boarded the cruise ship once again, to satisfy our increasing hunger pangs, and give our grandparents a chance to rest. Because it was already close to 3, our only real option was to venture up to Windjammer’s, where we proceeded to stuff our faces full of food we probably shouldn’t be eating before going to the beach.

After our meal, we took a taxi out to Horseshoe Bay beach, arguably the most famous beach in Bermuda, and got settled right as many of the other cruise ship passengers were leaving to head back to the boat for dinner. It was really nice to go at that time, because the beach was much less crowded, the sun wasn’t as hot, and the locals were starting to come out for the beach volleyball league.

There were these beautiful coves on either end of the beach, and we spent a lot of our time in those calmer waters rather than on the main strip. We took our new waterproof GoPro camera with us, which gave us really awesome wide-angle shots. Unfortunately, I forgot to download them onto my computer before leaving Toronto. Here are a few shots from my regular point and shoot, though.

My parents always had trouble keeping us from climbing things…

Once it started to get dark, we decided it would be smart to head back to the ship. Because all the taxis had left from the entrance of the beach, we had a long walk up the top of the hill to hail a cab. I love Bermudian taxi drivers – they all give you commentary on the area :) We learned lots about the place, including how many people work two or three jobs, how cost of living is so high, what the education system is like, why all the roofs are white and look like steps…

The next morning, sister and I had breakfast bright and early in the Diamond Lounge (we love that place), and headed ashore for our paddle boarding adventure! Again, most of those pictures are from the GoPro, so I do not have our action shots, but here is a picture of our boat dock. Yeah…that alone was super cool. It was actually not as difficult as we thought it would be to go paddle boarding. Once you get the hang of it, you can actually go pretty far, and the board itself is very stable. Because the rest of the party that came with us on our boat was going kayaking, Claire and I had our own little private paddle boarding tour. It was great! We stopped near the end at this deep pool area, where we did some swimming, some rock jumping, and lots of swallowing mouthfuls of saltwater (we always forget how painful it is to get seawater up your nose…)

Victualling Yard (I don’t remember what that means…)

We whiled away the rest of our afternoon at the Royal Dockyard, checking out the Glassworks and Ceramic Studio, the Bermuda Arts Centre (highly recommended because they have these working artist studios there which are so interesting), and the old buildings. We wandered through alleyways, and the workers there looked at us funnily because we were taking jumping shots and laughing really loudly. Sorry about that…

The main strip
I can’t stop climbing on things…
…and Claire can’t stop making faces like this

Needless to say, we absolutely loved our trip to Bermuda, and we will most definitely be back when we have the chance. Our father has already said that he will return and maybe rent a villa, or perhaps go on another cruise that stays over multiple nights in Bermuda. The place is magical, though insanely expensive, and you just can’t beat the friendly folk that live all around :)

Kingston: where the heart is

Growing up, my family went on a lot of vacations. Every summer, we would head away once, twice…sometimes many, many times. You would rarely see us in town for Christmas, March Break, Thanksgiving, or any long weekend for that matter. Now that I am living in Kingston, my travelling has decreased slightly (though somehow I am still managing to save up money to go on little trips here and there). Yesterday, I got back from my now-annual trip with Kelvin’s family for the KNA conference. It was a lovely time (post to come), but I also found myself experiencing a feeling that I don’t often feel when I am away on vacation. I felt a longing for home, to be back in my own bed, using my loofah, cooking my own food. It was a peculiar feeling, especially for someone who is constantly being bitten with the travel bug. True, this may have been in part due to my bout of tonsillitis, or my inability to keep up with my AQ course while travelling, but a more plausible explanation is that I am really starting to think of Kingston as my home. Looking back at the past few months here, I have narrowed my love for this city down to 5 main things:

  1. The perfect size: Kingston is big enough that it has all the amenities I need (though it could really do with an HK-style restaurant) while being small enough that I feel very comfortable becoming involved with my local community and staying active with neighbourhood happenings.
  2. The perfect location: Located in the middle between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, Kingston allows me to be close to major metropolitan centres and my family, while being a space all my own. Also, it is 2 hours to Syracuse (perfect for our US flights), and just over 7 to NYC (no further explanation needed :P)
  3. The perfect nod to nature: I love the lake, and to be able to be close to it is wonderful. I can go hiking when I want, biking when I want, and out on the water when I want (usually). I have my own little yard, and I can breathe easy with my windows open.
  4. The perfect community and solitude: To be honest, I was a little nervous moving to Kingston, with most of my friends in other places. However, we have developed some great friendships with people who live here in town, and we are still able to keep in touch with all the people who are important to us. Being away from the hustle and bustle, we have a chance to live a quieter life free from the expectations and comparisons of others, and more true to our own hopes and dreams.
  5. The perfect place to build our nest: With a look to the future, I want a place where I feel comfortable settling down and starting a family. Kingston has been a great place for Kelvin to grow up, and I’m looking forward to how we will continue to live actively in this city. As we settle into a new church community, move into the married chapter of life, and develop our respective careers, I know we will grow to love Kingston more and more.

sister time

apologies for being MIA for so long! it has been quite a roller coaster here in kingston, but i am hoping to start posting regularly again.

i had a wonderful time the past two days with my sister, and i thought it would be nice to share those times here. even though we live in the same city now, we rarely get to see each other because of our conflicting schedules (and her lack of transportation). as she finishes up her reading week, it was nice for us to have some shared R&R.

the most used item of the night was definitely the magic bullet. my parents bought it for me for christmas, and i only just started using it a few days ago. this little appliance is so versatile! we used it to grate cheese (in mere seconds) for our pizza. here is our pesto pizza creation with spinach, onions, mushrooms, and chicken. we made another one with a tomato base, which i think claire and i both preferred. must be the sauce :P

we also used the magic bullet to make delicious smoothies. we three in some frozen blueberries, apple juice, blueberry yogurt, and half a banana. they were so delicious we made them again in the morning! another thing i love about the magic bullet is that it came with all these cool attachments. we have these flip tops that we used to take our smoothies out of the house today (we were short on time…as usual). they really thought of everything!

aside from all our eating, we played lots of wii (claire and i are only mildly competitive with each other), watched 50 first dates, and finished off by cardmaking into the night. claire brought over her scrapbooking/cardmaking kit to get started on her march birthday cards, and i worked happily away at some thank you cards for work. though claire and i are very different, this is one thing that we do have in common!

all in all, it was wonderful, and hopefully we will have another fam jam soon! my parents are scheduled to come up at the end of march break, so i am looking forward to that :)

a weekend of birthdays

this weekend, i had the chance to head back to toronto to celebrate not one, but two birthdays! my cousin (who is really close to my sister and i) turned 19 on saturday, and my grandpa had his 80th birthday and dinner banquet on saturday night. as always, i love to exercise my creativity through the joys of cardmaking. here are their simple, but colourful cards.

birthday balloons!

 

circles and stitching

in preparation

i wrestled a little bit about whether to do this post, because it deals with a topic that is really personal. however, i felt that the lessons i’ve learned from this experience thus far have been invaluable, and i want to share them in hopes that you will be encouraged and challenged to think about how it applies to your life.

for the past two years and a few months, i have had the joy of learning and growing with kelvin. our relationship started off rather unconventionally, and it seems this trend will continue as we live life here in kingston. coming into this relationship, we both had our eyes set on the long-term. i think this is sometimes taboo for people our age, maybe because you don’t want to feel tied down, or maybe because you don’t even know where you’ll be in a few years and a relationship that requires planning and compromise just complicates things.

to delve even further into topics that may leave some people squeamish, we’ve been wrestling with how to determine whether we’re ready for marriage, and all that married life entails. as someone who watches a lot of slice and TLC, i have seen my share of wedding and newlywed shows. often, these can leave you gripping your wallet or bracing yourself for the 180 degree shift your significant other will seemingly take as you approach this milestone. however, most of these shows are focused on one day – your wedding day – shoving the rest of your married life together under the rug.

in all honesty, kelvin and i had no idea what to expect when it came to the life portion of married life, so we decided to seek out some answers. i am someone who loves workbooks, and i would say kelvin likes reading, so when i stumbled upon the book preparing for marriage, i bbm-ed him and we decided it would be a good investment. this was back in the summer. when i moved here to kingston, we committed to working through this book together.

on sundays, kelvin and i have our date night, and every other week, we set aside time to go through our answers from this book. we’ve only gone through the first chapter of this book (which has taken us over two months!) but already we have learned immensely and have struggled through the hard questions that nobody’s asked us before. these aren’t questions like “what is your SO’s favourite colour?” or how many siblings does your SO have?”. rather, it examines things like your parents’ relationship and how it’s affected you. it combs through your expectations for marriage, even down to things like household responsibilities, finances, sex, and how you will interact differently with your parents and in-laws. though it is a Christian book, it doesn’t just deal with your spiritual walks – it asks you to be candid about other aspects of your life as well – because in all actuality, you will be faced with those tangible things, and compatibility involves so many more facets than just how you both are before God.

something that really convicted me when we shared our answers yesterday was that one of the hardest things about marriage is figuring out how your two families become intertwined. for me, moving here to kingston was a big step, and already my relationship with my parents have changed. i miss them a lot and i wish i could see them more, but i know that God has called me to be here in kingston. however, all of these relationships will continue to be transformed as kelvin and i move into marriage and into the phase of life where we have kids. what interactions do we want for our children to have with their grandparents? how will we spend our holidays? it didn’t really hit me until yesterday that these things are going to change. i’m not always going to have the same relationship i have with my parents as i have now. further to that, my relationship with kelvin’s parents will be different. because of proximity, i will see them more. how will that affect my relationship with my own parents. and even now, i have had many more opportunities to develop my relationship with kelvin’s family than he has had to develop his relationship with mine. though he’s nervous about it, we need to work on this before we’re ready to move into considering starting our own family. many people may think that when you get married, none of this matters because you’ll be on your own, just the two of you, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. i’m thankful that we are realizing now just how pervasive the effects of those relationships are on our own relationship.

needless to say, i am really enjoying diving into this topic with kelvin, and as we focus more on looking at marriage throughout scripture over the next few months, i will continue to post my thoughts and lessons learned. so to end off, here’s to opening our eyes to life after the wedding day.