2017 – our year in review
Last December, the kids were making a Christmas tree out of popsicle sticks and green tissue paper on the floor of my aunt’s house, as our Christmas tree was in storage along with the rest of our main floor. I can’t believe that our home overhaul is finally over. What started as a casual conversation with my mom in my car a few years back, about my parents moving in with us, is becoming a reality. Due to health issues that arose in the past with my parents, spurred on this initiative.
In Nov 2016, we took our basic necessities & moved into my aunt Grace’s home while on the same day, she was catching a flight down south to stay with my cousin for 5 mos. It was a huge blessing to have a place to live during our renovation but a huge responsibility to keep her place in the condition she left it while she was away especially with creative kids who can come up with some crazy ideas sometimes.
It was exciting at first to see the weekly progress during the winter months as the foundation crew moved quickly to get the concrete footings in place while the winter weather remained cooperative.
When framing was going up, we could see it all coming together…UNTIL we ran into our first delay with our exterior siding order which prevented us from insulating the walls. By the 5th month when we thought we were close to moving home, we ran into more delays with HVAC. Our contractor & us TOTALLY underestimated the scope & scale of the project. We did our best to keep calm & carry on, for our own sanity & especially for our 12 going on 13 year old, who’s patience & need for her own space was running thin. Our 6 year old on the other hand, had a blast.
My aunt came home April 2017 & there we were…living together for 3 months. Living with aunt Grace was refreshing; we were able to see how well she took care of herself & allowed us to live the way we were used to without imposing her ways on us. We ate fresh food from her garden & she showed me how to pick dandelion in the field for health benefits. During the last 2 months of our project, we had to move to my parent’s house as my cousin’s family came for a visit & needed to stay with their mom (aunt Grace). It was challenging having to move our things again & having the 4 of us share the one bedroom I grew up in, as well for my parents as they were also in the process of packing in preparation for their move.
We finally moved back to our unfinished home on Labor Day weekend right before the kids started school. Since then, we have been enjoying the new open space & sharing time on the main floor together.
In the past year, I have truly learned that home is truly where the heart is. Whether it was at my aunt Grace’s or at my parent’s, we were blessed to have love around us despite the changes & stressful living arrangements at times. This grade 4 student says it all of what we have learned in terms of the true meaning of home.
Top 10 things that would make you want to slit your wrists with a plastic knife
- changing contractors at the last-minute
- dealing with the city
- managing a 13 year old’s hormonal meltdowns (hopefully the boy is better)
- keeping the trades mindful of our neighbors
- keeping my aunt’s home the way she left it
- satisfying my parents wants & expectations
- cutting our neighbor’s phone & cable line … AGAIN
- another unexpected surprise with construction
- another unexpected cost
- realizing our debt also has a retirement factor of 90
At 13, Jaclyn is teaching me about parenting a teenager – how to be real, current & relevant. This has been one the toughest year for all of us as we adjust to her changing hormones & growing independence.
Thanks to her, I have honed my social media skills, especially Instagram stories which I enjoy & have been advised not to take selfies as it’s not cool to do so at my age (ha ha).
Jaclyn has grown to be a more caring big sister & is often the ‘go to’ soother for her brother when ‘pillow’ is not around or we can’t take his whining. She has been more helpful around the house when ‘asked’ (which needs more work this year).
She still continues to dance competitively & training on now on Pointe shoes; we can’t wait to see her dance in the Spring.
She is still the more expensive child in the family (i.e. braces, more phone data, after school food, etc.). We hope when she graduates from grade 8 this year, she will learn the meaning of hard work & making a living.
At 6, Aaron finally discovered that the spoiler alerts on Cars 3 were true. Thanks to Cars 3, he is STILL heavily into Disney cars. He continues to love art – drawing, painting & creating new customs inspired by Disney cars.
He started swimming classes & he hates going but seems to still like hip hop classes; we think it’s more to hang out with his buddy after class than the actual dancing. We hope to expose him to some more hand/eye coordination activities this year.
Aaron has gotten used to Unique Chinese School & developing his mandarin & math skills. He is shy in sharing what he learns but his most recent report card tells us that he’s not doing too bad at all. Phew.
We thought we were done with ‘pillow’ (aka, his toddler security blanket) that is now molting but instead, Aaron has added A LOT of new stuffie friends for pillow on his bed.
We didn’t have the opportunity to venture too far from the city the past year due to potential surprises with the renovation project but we did manage to squeeze some summer camping with good friends & outings together as a family.
Paul was busier the past year, taking home more work due to organizational changes within the IT Risk department at his company while I experienced being a witness at arbitration with the college. I am not looking forward to being cross-examined this month. We have been absent from attending church this past year due to mostly fatigue & hope to overflow our cups this coming year.
As we reflect on 2017, we are so thankful for the constant love & grace we have experienced during a very difficult year. To the kindness & love of my aunt Grace & my cousins, my parents, Arnold Chan for helping us jump start our renovation project, & the patience & support of our neighbors who made this project a whole lot more bearable, we want you to know we do not take your kindness & love for granted.
As we start the new year, may you all be resilient, always move forward, always seek to learn from your experiences, always recognize your blessings, always be kind to one another, & always, always know the true meaning of home.