Category Archives: Storytime

An argument to tear apart our family: Scenes from a household

Now let me begin by telling you that I titled this post in jest; the argument I’m about to describe is not really threatening to tear apart our family. What is so amusing though is how vehemently both sides are sticking to their point of view.  Here’s the story:

Our family was heading to dinner at a restaurant with Auntie T’s family, travelling in two separate cars. We pull into the restaurant parking lot, and after parking, one of my daughters asks, “Where did Auntie T park?”

You would think such an innocuous question would be easy enough to answer. You would be wrong. I refer you to this picture here:  I’ve marked where we parked in relation to where Auntie T parked. The question I ask you, dear reader, is “How do you describe where Auntie T parked in relation to your own car?”

I’ll give you a moment to ponder your answer.

My answer to my daughters query? “Two cars over.”

My husband’s answer? “One car over.”

We looked at each other like we each had two heads growing from our torso. How can two people who see eye-to-eye on practically every other thing in world describe this simple scenario so differently? (“It’s like I don’t even know you anymore!“) We debated this point the rest of the evening, at least until T injured himself because he was preoccupied with the argument.

My daughters betrayed me and also described it as “one car over”.

We then polled family members and friends, to see if popular opinion would sway the other to see the light and come to the side of reason. To no avail. I realize now is there isn’t a standard agreed way to describe this situation. Or if there is, I never got that lesson. It continues to this day to rear it’s head as a topic of light-hearted contention today. We’ve agreed to disagree, and love each other regardless.

So, are you a one-car-over or two-cars-over kind of person? Inquiring minds want to know. =)

~Jen

 

A decade of married love

It’s been 10 years since Tai and I held hands in front of our family and friends, and said the words, “I do”. That moment formalized something that I already knew for years – that Tai and I would journey through the rest of life together, hand in hand. jandt_yorkville

A decade of married love later, we are still best friends, still kindred spirits, and still deeply in love. We may have added a couple of kids, a few pounds around the middle, and a lumbering mortgage to the mix, but I still feel the same way with him now as when we first started dating all those years ago in university. I fall in love with him over and over again as he keeps demonstrating his character. Tai encourages me to challenge myself. He supports my different endeavors and schemes, and props me up when I am down. He laughs at my jokes and makes me laugh. He respects all of who I am, even the silly and frivolous sides of me.  He is an equal partner in parenting our two girls. He pays attention.

In short, Tai is a shining example to our two girls of what they should expect from any potential suitor in their future. Winning their love should not be easy. And to illustrate this point, I share the following story from our wedding day.


It’s a Chinese wedding tradition for the bride’s side of the wedding party to put the groom through some various obstacles before he can retrieve the bride to marry her. Because the bride is loved too much, her family and friends will not let just anyone cart her off. He must prove his worthiness to be her husband.

My beloved bridesmaids devised a series of challenges. They did not let me in on what their plans were. As Tai and his groomsmen successfully completed each one, my bridesmaids would let them come closer to finding me. One involved trivia questions about me and my friends. Another involved creating and performing a cheerleading stunt along with a cheer. Yet another involved bribes of cash payments in hong bao (red envelopes). Tai and his groomsmen breezed through these with good humour, until the final challenge: eating a package of nattō, or Japanese fermented soy beans.

Tai had never tried eating nattō before. He was quite aware of nattō though, particularly since he helped organize an Amazing Race-style fundraising event the year prior. The eating challenge station, that he manned, consisted of this particular item. I participated in this race with Team Buns on the Run, and Tai was there encouraging me while my teammates and I struggled to eat the stuff. The taste, texture, and smell all combine to be a truly horrible experience for the uninitiated. But he never did try it himself.

Until our wedding day.

It tastes like f33t and smells like @$$.

The entire time while Tai was going through his challenges, I waited in the bedroom of my parents’ condo, with no idea of what was going on. I could only hear groans and cheers and laughs, and some slightly worrying silence. I stood  in the room, pacing the floor in my white wedding dress, with equal parts of boredom, excitement and worry.

Finally there was a big cheer, and Tai burst into the bedroom, a little unsteady on his feet, the wedding party crowding in after him. He gave me a beany kiss, (ugh) and claimed his worthiness to be my husband! My hero vanquished* the nattō beans! Then after a few words, he went off in search of a toothbrush. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the merriment of our family and friends.


Tai, I love you more than my words can adequately describe. I’m so excited to face the next decade with you, hand-in-hand.

~Jen

*Well, technically he had help from his close friend and groomsman Cort, but details, schmetails. 

Daddy has the Magic Touch

We were just starting our drive home from our regular Sunday dinner at grandma’s and grandpa’s house.

E1: “Do you think we’ll get stopped at Hood Road again this time?”

Our route home takes us through the intersection of Denison and Hood Road, and it feels like we get faced with a red light 95% of the times we pass through going west-bound. It is particularly frustrating because A)it is approximately 100 meters from another set of traffic lights at Warden; B) it always seems to turn red seconds after the lights at Warden turn green, giving you the initial false hopes that you can pass through; and C)stays red for an inordinate amount of time, especially considering at 9pm on Sundays there is zero traffic driving on Hood Road. I had made enough comments and complaints about it on our drives home that E1 and E2 both knew the location and to look for the light.

Denison_and_Hood_Road

This week was one of those odd occasions where T was driving. I pulled my neck a few days earlier and couldn’t really turn my head well, so we all agreed it was safest to have T drive.

Me: “Well, we can only wait and see when we get there. Daddy does seem to have better success at getting through Hood Road without getting a red light though. I always seem to get stopped.”

T: “Probably because you drive way more than I do.” I laughed.

E1: “Well Mommy, I remember on Thanksgiving you got a green light.”

Me: “True, but that’s like the only time I remember.”

E1: “Daddy must have the magic touch.”

T, chuckling: “People have been saying that about me for years.”

E2: “So why does Daddy still get stopped sometimes with the red light there?”

Me: “His magic for Hood Road must be depleted and I guess it takes a while before it gets replenished.”

T: “That’s called mana. My mana must be depleted each time I get through Hood Road without a red light. You guys know what mana is?”

E1: “Yeah! Like the magic in our Magic Quest wands. Before we got them activated again, it kept saying to us ‘Your wand’s mana has been depleted’ when we tried to use the wands at Great Wolf Lodge.”

E2: “What does ‘depleted’ mean?”

Me: “Depleted means used up, drained, finished.”

E1: “Ahh, I don’t talk about it right now, or else Daddy’s magic will go away!”

T: “That’s called, ‘Jinxing’ it.”

We drive along Denison and get stopped at the red light on Warden Ave behind several cars, one light away from the infamous light.

E1 cranes her head to check out the Hood Road light situation. “Oh no! The light is green! That means it’s probably going to turn red by the time we get there again!”

E2: “Oh no oh no oh no!”

The light at Warden turns green and we drive the 100 meters towards Hood Road. Amazingly, the light stays green.

Me: “Oh my gosh guys! We’re going to make it through Hood Road! The light is staying green!”

All in the car: “Yaaayy!”

E2: “Daddy really *does* have the magic touch!”

~Jen

Nostalgia for some books of my childhood

I recently finished rereading Anne of Green Gables. It is E1’s copy of the book we gave her for Christmas, and when I read the first few chapters aloud to her, I got hooked again. In the evenings, as she slept, I borrowed the book to read furtively onward. A smile was likely on my face the whole way through to the end, delighted with the character of Anne and the “scrapes” she got herself into.

It’s also delightful seeing E1 also getting taken up in not only the characters and the story of Anne of Green Gables, but of many of the books she’s reading. I look at her and I see myself at her age. I am nostalgic for the books of my childhood and early teens, and for how they made me feel, the childhood memories they invoke, or the lessons I still keep from them. Here are some of them. (Unfortunately, I am terrible at remembering plot details or character names, so please don’t expect a synopsis of these books!) Continue reading Nostalgia for some books of my childhood

E1- a budding Sherlock Holmes in the house

The days of me thinking that I can fool my girls is clearly in the past now. Here’s a story about E1 – a budding Sherlock Holmes in the house.


Me: “Ooh, girls. I got a text from Daddy and I think Daddy is going to come home with a surprise. I bet you’ll never guess what it is.”

E1: “Oh! Is it another bike?”

Me (chuckling): “No, it’s not another bike. But considering the past few weeks, that’s an excellent guess.” (In reference to the one day at the beginning of November where we came home to find that he has bought a new road bike for himself, and then picked up two girls bikes that were sitting on the curb in the neighbourhood with a “Free” sign on them.)

E2: “Is it dinner?”

Me: “Hmm. Another good guess, especially since we are getting hungry. But no, that’s not it.”

E1: “New winter boots for us?”

Me: “Hmm, we do need to get you those. Sorry that’s not it either. I’m telling you, you’ll never guess what it is.”

The girls kept guessing during the walk home. They were unsuccessful in guessing correctly, as I predicted.

We got inside the house and were taking off our shoes when E1 looks up at me with a spark in her eye. “Wait! You said that Daddy texted you. I can go upstairs and look on the tablet to see what Daddy said to you.” She took off up the stairs. A minute later I hear her talking to E2. “Oh! I think Daddy got a new car!”

Me and E2: “Whaaaaaaaat?” We were shocked for different reasons.

E1: “Yeah, Daddy wrote something about a Lexus, and I think that’s a type of car.”

Me: “Yes…uh, you got it, sweetie! How, um, did you figure it all out?”

E1: “Well, I remember sometimes when we’re on the tablet watching Netflix or playing a game, i sometimes  see the messages you and Daddy send to each other on Hangout. So I tried to find it.”


This kid blows my mind. Critical thinking skills = +20. Thinking back, I look all the pieces of information she assembled in that 7-year old brain of hers:

  1. Realized guessing blindly was not getting her anywhere, so she thought of an alternative method to get more clues.
  2. Picked up during our conversation the information that Daddy sent me a text message
  3. Remembered that she has seen our text messages on the tablets at home, in addition to our phones
  4. Remembered the name of the app that holds our messages, and how to find it on the tablet.
  5. Somehow remembered that Lexus is a manufacturer of cars, even though noone in our family, or our extended family, owns one (until now, that is).

So she’s on a good track to becoming a world-renowned  consulting detective, right? Or a super spy? I just hope she uses her powers for good, and not evil.

~Jen

Scene from a household: That time E2 got a hamster stuck on her head

I was trying to not laugh too hard in her face. This is one of those parenting moments where your child faces some sort of misfortune of their own doing that is as hilarious to you as it is embarrassing to them.

It was near the end of our bedtime routine. E2 had already finished brushing her teeth and was in their room. I left the bathroom and rounded the corner to the girls’ room, E1 hot on my heels.

Me: “E2, why do you have a hamster on your head?”
She turned and looked at me with wide eyes. Continue reading Scene from a household: That time E2 got a hamster stuck on her head

Scene from a household: E2 practices her powers of persuasion

It was a warm day this week when I picked up E2 from her summer day camp. Her group had been outside all afternoon at a Blue Jays game, and she had a sweaty look to her face.

E2: “I’m so hot… It’s so hot outside,” she lamented dramatically. After a pregnant pause, she states, “I think we should go get some gelato to cool down, Mommy.”

Me, with one eye cocked: “Oh really? You’re that hot?”

E2: “I’m *super* boiling. I think ice cream will be perfect to cool me down. So cold, and creamy…You look like you’re pretty hot too, Mommy. I think you would enjoy some gelato too!”

Me: “I dunno, that would be having dessert before dinner…” I had to admit to myself that some gelato just then did indeed sound like a pretty great idea.

E2: “It’s like a snack! I promise I’ll eat my dinner, and I will only have fruit for dessert after.”

Me: “Well, let’s go pick up your sister and then see.”

E2: “Couldn’t we go get gelato first, and just not tell her?” She smiled a cheeky, conspiring grin.

Me: “E2, that’s not nice, you know how you’d feel if you found out I took E1 for gelato without you.”

E2: “But I won’t tellllll… OK, OK, let’s go get E1,” she concluded, somewhat reluctantly. “But then we’ll walk straight-away to Hollywood Gelato.”

And wouldn’t you know it, we did indeed have gelato that afternoon *before* dinner.

~Jen

Bananas got no bones! Or, my trip to St. Vincent

I’m going to set the mood for this trip down memory lane by playing the song that featured heavily on the soundtrack to our trip. It was a big hit and we would break out singing it repeatedly:

It was August, 1998. I just finished my hazy, languorous summer term that most U Waterloo coop students know affectionately as “2B”, and I was in a Caribbean island that I had no knowledge of just 2 months earlier. My travelling mates were my close friend and roommate C, and a newish friend S that I’d only met 3 months earlier. S asked us in June, “Hey, you want to come to St. Vincent with me after the term is done?” C and I looked at each other, shrugged, and said “Sure, why not?”

[Aside – one of the most wonderful thing about the university experience is how quickly deep relationships can form. Lots of free time + collective stress periods of papers and exams + frequent social events + a generally more open attitude to connecting with new people + relative isolation from the rest of the world = great friends!]

Somehow one of us got the brilliant idea to join a guided hiking trip up the extinct La Soufriere volcano. Continue reading Bananas got no bones! Or, my trip to St. Vincent

Scene from a household: If T was a dance costume designer

E1:”Guess what our dance costume is this year! ”

All across the dance-studio land, dancers and teachers are gearing up for the end-of-year recitals. The girls’ studio was no different.

T takes a pen and starts sketching on some paper. :”A hamburger! “ dance_costume_sketch_burger

E2: “Noooo! It is a circus theme!”

E1:”I’ll give you a hint. I’m an animal.”

T: “Hmm, ok, I got this.” He draws some more. “Are you a giant squid?”dance_costume_sketch_squid

E1: “That’s not a circus animal! Squid live in the oceans. Be serious Daddy.”

He sketches a new costume. “I know this is a circus animal, am I close?”dance_costume_sketch_dog

E1: “No! The animal I am is a big cat.”

T: “OK, I got this then!” He draws some more. “A big cat! And look, I gave you a nice fish accessory too.” dance_costume_sketch_catThe girls whine their protests about it not being right, all the while trying to suppress some giggles. I am outright Laughing Out Loud.

T: “Ooh, is your dance a jazz number? I add this top hat to the costume, that’s very jazzy.”

I mean, *that’s* entertainment. Who wouldn’t be entertained by a group of 12 dancers prancing around on stage in this getup?

~Jen

My parents don’t work: Scene from a household

Background context: A couple of weeks ago, E1 was the “student of the day” which meant she could bring in something for show and tell. We decided to bring in a bunch of coins from different countries, since many kids probably haven’t seen money from outside of Canada or US. We had different denominations of Euros, yen, British pounds/pence, and even a rupee.

E1: Wow, how did you get all this different money?

T: Well, you know how I sometimes go on business trips to other countries? This is the change I get when I buy things in those countries.

E1 and E2 both nod understanding. “That’s cool, Daddy.”


Fast forward a few days.

I go to pick up E2 from school, and her teacher greets me with a little smirk.

Teacher: We were having a circle-time conversation today and E2 announced that “My parents don’t work.” I asked her to clarify more, and she just simply said, “My Mommy and Daddy don’t work.” So I challenged that a bit, saying that they must work, otherwise how do they get the money to buy food, and clothes and pay for other things?

“My Daddy just flies to other countries, meets with people, and then they give him money.”

Well…she’s not wrong.

Have a safe flight, honey, on this Valentine’s day as you travel abroad. Go and get that money from those people you’re going to meet while you’re not working. We have swimming lessons to pay for. 😉

~Jen