Saturday, January 18, 2020

nikita van dop

When we started this blog in 2006, one of the first posts had the same title.  Now, we have come full circle with this post.

We said goodbye to our dear, dear Kita-pup today.  It was a heartbreaking and beautiful experience at the same time - for all of us to be able to be there with her and surround her with our love and McDonald's french fries.

Mixed with sadness is peace and relief.  Relief that she no longer has to degrade herself to daily incontinence.  Relief that she no longer needs help standing on her four legs.  Relief that she no longer lays on her bed day in and day out, staring into the air because she can't do anything else.  We want to believe she is in a better place than all that, even in the midst of our incredible sadness.

We've known this day would come for awhile now.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've been putting together photos of her life as a means of therapy and healing.  It was actually quite cathartic and therapeutic!  (I've put the photos together in a slideshow here.)

It reminded me of the puppy we picked from Pepsi's litter 14.5 years ago.  The little girl we could carry in our arms.  When we thought we might have the only Labrador Retriever that couldn't swim...and then the never-ending pursuit of water that followed!  In addition to her love of water, the photos also reminded me that she was happiest when she was chasing that orange and blue Chuck-it ball.  All these passions she has not been able to pursue for awhile now.

Last week, we took her for one last walk at McDonald Beach by YVR airport.  As we pulled off Hwy 99 over by Tim Horton's and Costco, her head popped up (she had been laying laying down in the back of the truck).  She knew.  We hadn’t been to McDonald Beach in awhile and she’s mostly blind and deaf, but she could smell Mcdonald Beach from that far away!  She started pacing in the back and she was walking all over the kids’ feet and breathing her panting dog breath in their faces.  The kids expressed their disapproval with “Nikita!”, but we were all loving her sudden burst of energy.  As we drove along Templeton, she started making her anticipatory crying noise, like when she knows the beach/water is nearby.  It was so GREAT to see her full of energy, even though she couldn't enjoy the beach the way she used to.

There are also things that the photos don't show me that I will always remember - how anytime I was sad, she would rest her head on my lap, telling me, "I know you're sad and I love you"; how anytime Brian and I would try to hug, she'd get all worked up and try to get between us! How we never had to clean our floors because she always made sure it was always licked clean (when the kids were little, she knew to stand guard by their high chairs because food was always coming her way soon!). How anytime I'd sit on the floor, she would curl up between my legs; and how anyone that was lucky enough to meet her loved her playful spirit and kind and gentle nature.

We have been so lucky to have been Nikita's "pack" for almost 15 years. She has shared her unconditional love with us her whole life. She has been with us since her beginning and we are honoured we were there with her at her end. We will miss her and always love her.

Good-bye 'Kita-pup. Thank-you for the loyalty and love you brought to our lives.

Sunday, March 31, 2019


(also supposed to be posted in June 2018)

In addition to graduating from elementary school, Josh has seen some drastic changes in this past month!  Here are some before and after shots!

Hair - before
Hair - after
Teeth - before
Teeth - after

Saturday, March 30, 2019

the graduate

(this was supposed to be posted in June 2018)

In truth, I don't really think of Grade 5 as a graduation.  (Possibly because I didn't graduate until Grade 8?)  But I needed to take a moment to commemorate this milestone.

I'm so incredibly proud of Josh as he goes from elementary school to middle school.  He's gone from a little kid who once said to me in Grade 2 that he hated school, to a big kid who told me that he is both nervous and excited to start middle school.

We've definitely had our share of ups and downs so far in his academic journey.  But I mostly wanted him to be able to read this when he's a bit older and can process what I'm saying and know that as difficult as it may have seemed at the time, it was all for a good reason.  I don't think we would have gotten to this point without going through this journey.

From Arnold to Kumar to Danica to Liu to Prunier, we got to see Josh grow and learn the entire way.  Not only did we have to navigate the academic challenges, but we had maneuver through social and behavioural challenges as well.  Is this seriously elementary school?!  This is supposed to be the easiest part!

I recall a particularly pivotal meeting I had with Josh's principal in Grade 2.  She said to me, "I know that we have done our jobs when you can come and talk to me and NOT cry.".  Wow, was she ever right!  I didn't know what that looked like back then, but I'm sure glad I do now.

Having said that, my most important take away from this journey is this:  Brian and I are the only ones who will advocate unfailingly for our kids.  It's no one else's responsibility but ours.  As Josh goes into middle school, then high school, we take this knowledge with us - the knowledge that we have the power to advocate for him.  Our under-resourced school system has measures to help kids who need support.  But they aren't always able to be the ones to say "your child needs help".  Once we can accept this fact and take the first steps to getting that support, the rest will fall into place.

So, I'm going into the next stages of Josh's academic career with cautious optimism - feeling a bit better equipped to deal with what may come, but still aware that the road ahead will have ups and downs.  I said earlier that this is a journey.  And we want to be sure that Josh knows that we are all taking this journey together.

Congratulations on this milestone, Josh.  You deserve to celebrate it!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

my fashion critic

Wearing my shirt on the stripey side.

(Full stop.  She really didn't need to say anymore.  I was ready to turn my shirt inside out.)
Y: What?!
A: Is that a new shirt?  (Hahaha.)
Y: No, it's reversible.  I usually wear it on the other side.  It's grey.  Should I turn it the other way?
A: (without pause) Yes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

50th celebration

My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary this year.  In keeping with tradition, Mom let us all know that she wanted to go on a cruise as a family to celebrate.  So, after alot of planning and coordination, we managed to get all 23 of us to Florida this past August to hang out for a week on Marco Island and then hop on the Harmony of the Seas for a family cruise.

I am very thankful for the dynamic we have in our family.  I'm not sure how the rest of my siblings felt, but I don't think that I can be the only one that, after 2 weeks together, felt sad that the trip was ending!

For our first week on Marco, we rented a house a stones throw from our family's condo.  The house had a pool and the condo had beach access, so it was perfect!  A subset of us even managed to throw in an overnight jaunt to Orlando and spend a day at Disney's Animal Kingdom.   This is where I lost a child the first time 😳 (the second time I lost a child was at the outlet mall).  Believe it or not, it's much less stressful losing a child at a Disney park than at the outlet mall (and, yes, those were the only 2 times Brian wasn't with us!).

Some family couldn't join until the cruise, so it was a big reunion once we boarded the Harmony of Seas. Our stops were on St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and Royal Caribbean's oasis, Labadee, on Haiti.  There was also a plethora of activities on board the ship too!  The kids managed to decorate cupcakes, go to the spa, make sushi, go skating (!), play mini-golf, participate in a volleyball tournament, zipline across the ship, ride the waves, slide down slides, carousel and sing karaoke (take a breath!).  Not to mention the endless gobs and gobs of self-serve soft-serve!  

There were also the typical cruise stuffs - shows, themed dinners, casinos, shops, etc.  A never-ending supply of entertainment for 5000+ passengers 😱!  The only place we didn't "manage" to spend time was the pool.  The number of passengers divided by the number of pools on the ship made it a bit too "germ-friendly" for our liking!

In the end, it was the quality family time that we enjoyed the most.  Getting to see Josh and Aves hang out with their cousins was heartwarming.  And getting to spend some time with my siblings was pretty priceless too!  Thankfully, we all get together more than just once every 10 years, but we sure are grateful to be able to all vacation like this together.  Thanks for a wonderful vacation, family!  And Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad 💖!  (Full photos can be found here)

Monday, June 25, 2018

a memorable dance season

Showtime 2018!
Falling behind on posts already! 😩

This past weekend, Aves had her end of year dance recital.  Every year Boswell Dance Academy puts on a pretty big production!  This year, they decided that the finale would incorporate the Disney dance performance.  Aves usually isn't in the finale (reserved for dance grads and competitive dancers).  But since she was in Disney Dance, she was able to take part.  There were 2 shows and as I watched the finale of the second show last night, I felt a bit nostalgic and weepy for all the time that went into Disney dance (perfect segue into a post that I've been meaning to post for the past month!)...

Toward the end of May, we headed to Cali with Aves' dance group so they could perform at Disneyland!  When the opportunity came up last summer, Aves said she wanted to do it in a heartbeat.  I was excited for her - what an opportunity to dance at Disneyland!

It was a tough 8 months working hard to get the production ready.  The practices started last October as 2 hours every other week, but by the beginning of this year, they ramped up to 3 hour practices.  As the date got closer, they added extra practices, dress rehearsals and it all generally took time to get everything ready to go.  The girls, the dance coaches and parents all worked hard to make sure we were ready and organized for Disney.

Well, the hard work paid off.  I'm pretty sure everyone in our group of ??? would agree!  (There were just under 45 dancers.  So, with family and friends, our BDA group was pretty big!)
BDA Disney Dance Group outside the Hollywood Studios backlot
Early in the year, I canvassed family and friends to see if anyone wanted to join us at Disney for a May long-weekend vacay.  So, in addition to our BDA dance group, our friends PLD decided to come along, too!

It was truly a blast going to Universal and Disney with friends.  It helped that PLD were pretty laid back and were willing to follow the itinerary put together by the BDA parents group!

I loved seeing Aves in this moment, too.  There was a mix of excitement and anxiety that I think she handled amazingly!  I'm not going to say much about it because I have 150+ photos that captured our memories.  But I wanted to share some photos here that showcase Aves, along with the dance group.  I hope she will remember this for years to come!  (P.S.  The last upload here is the video of the performance that Brian captured.  He tirelessly held his phone stable for 22 minutes while trying to make sure he could watch the performance IRL, too!  Please watch his labour of love! 😘)
Listening to performance-day instructions
A dream is a wish your heart makes...
Try Everything!
Here I stand!
Happiness is a journey, not a destination

The rest of the photos can be found here:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

dreaming stuff up

A: I have a joke.
Y: ok.
A: What did the sushi say to the bee?
Y: uhhhh...I don’t know.
A: wasssssup bee? (Think: wasa-bi)
Y: (laughing) That’s a good one Aves. Did you make that up?
A: (completely serious) No, someone told it to me in my dream.
Y: (bwahahaha!) Ave, that means you thought of it, because the stuff in your dream comes from you!
A: (still totally serious and a bit exasperated by me!) No, I said someone told it to me in my dream!