Back to School

Tomorrow is the first day of school and Sushi is having first-day-of-school jitters.  I don't blame him.  He is going to a new school (Grade 5).  And he is riding the school bus for the first time.  Meanwhile, Sashimi is going to Grade 1.  He proudly says, "first day of Grade 1!"  Although unlike Sushi, he will be reunited with old familiar friends.

Come to think of it, I am the one more apprehensive about back-to-school for my boys. It's the start of another school year of bento-making, doing homework/projects, signing endless school forms, picking-up/dropping-off and juggling extra curricular activities with the daily mundane. And this time, with my boys being in separate schools, it will be a whole new circus in our logistics.

I remind my boys everyday to have fun in school.  It is supposed to be fun as it is a huge part of their life.  At the end of the day, school is not all Language and Mathematics.  It is a discipline of routine, a social exercise, a practice of responsibility.  Academics is one thing, but it's also life skills.

Have fun, boys!



Mother's Day

First, Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom.  We are half the world apart but there are still moments where I want to run to her – and only her – for approval and guidance.  I would not even be finished with my sentence but she already knows my heart. She gave me life and made me the person I am today. And for that I am forever grateful to her.

Also, thank you to my kiddos who gave me this title – Mother.  It’s been 10 years I am wearing this badge, sometimes I still have to pinch myself and cringe at being called Mommy.  It’s not always a walk in the park raising 2 boys.  Three, if you include Mr. Hotpot.  Truth is, every now and then there is a need to walk in the park… alone!  At the end of the day, I feel luckiest to come home to my boys and feel so honoured to be their mother.

I still look forward to the kids' artwork from school. But what I love most is how the kids explain their work to me.

The misspelled words are the best.

The older one gave me a coupon book. I redeemed one right away.

But he stopped at one pillow. Dang!

Lunch was good, courtesy of Mr. Hotpot!  My mom-in-law is visiting, so it was nice to celebrate Mother's Day with her as well. 
This is my favourite definition of my title.

A salute to all the mothers!  We are saints =]


Little Things Make a Big Difference

Never stop doing the little things for others.  Sometimes, those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart.


The Year of Hotpot

New Year’s Eve is one of the only two nights I would stay up for (the other is Oscars). We don’t do anything grandiose.  Dinner is simple and easy.  Kids are tucked to bed on their usual bedtime. The TV is on for the New Year Countdown in Time Square and Nathan Phillips Square. It is one of those moments I want to be awake for - the split second when one year ends, and another begins.

This year is our first full year in our new house (we moved on December 2012).  And a full house it has been!  Between March and July we have had a revolving door of guests, enough to forego the housewarming. One batch at a time, some overlap, and basement renovation in between.  While at it, we are getting on with the daily humdrum and also getting settled-in the new home ourselves.  It’s been very hectic but it was my pleasure to open our home to family and friends.

Our office also finds a new home, which cuts my commute by half. Though I miss the airport view, it has now been replaced by the very inviting shopping hub, Heartland Town Centre. I could easily make a quick stop on my way home – grocery shopping, buying dinner or “just looking”. So, pray this danger zone doesn’t scream my name whenever I drive by it, or Sorry, Mr. Hotpot! 

I still rise early each morning to make bento for my boys. They are now in the after-school program while I go back to full time hours. Although this has loosen some pressure at work, life took over on the home front.  My blog has gone to backburner.  I have not taken and shared as much photos as I had, but I have just as much special moments worth capturing, saving and sharing.  On the flipside, I have lived and relished in those moments as they are taking place. Check out my Instagram, for snippets of my everyday life. 

We took a raincheck on a big trip this year, but we’ve been out and about.  We’ve been to Mountsberg Maple Towne for maple syrup making, StonehavenFarm for pumpkins and corn maze, Crystal Beach, High Park and Niagara-on-the-Lake with our guests, Burlington Waterfront with my family, the Shrine Circus, Toronto Centre Island with friends, and Riverwood Conservancy for hike, among others.  I have taken Sashimi on his favourite train and subway rides in Toronto to a Jays game, Sugar Beach, ROM, and the new Ripley’s Aquarium. Sushi had a different birthday experience at the Raptors Game with his BFF. Meanwhile, Sashimi's favourite outing was the plane-ride to New Jersey. A nice 5-day break for me from the daily mundane to go eating and shopping with my sisters.

Back home, Dad is battling stage 4 cancer and has gone through 6 rounds of chemotherapy.  While this is to us terrifying and depressing, Dad is in good spirits.  Thanks to family and friends who are keeping him company regularly.  It is a good way of celebrating his life while he is still with us.  I am so grateful that he was able to visit me this year with Mom and my brother.   And I am going to see him in February in the new year.

This year marks our 10 years in Canada.  I am on the same job for 6 years.  Sushi turned 9, Sashimi turned 5, and I, another year older. In the winter I tried ice-skating for the very first time. Fearless like I was 5. And in the summer I was biking, with the determination of a 9 year old. One is never too old. And it’s never too late.  

I shall carry this on into the new year and there will be no deterent to try to new things. Be bold. Dream big. Believe I can.  Do something out of the ordinary. Go places I've never been. Take a different route to work. To the mall. Or to the gas station. Enjoy the drive. The everyday commute.  Because it is every day.

I will make new friends.  Be something to someone. Build extraordinary relationships. Love unconditionally.  Say thank you to the office cleaning lady. Or to the bus driver. Hug my parents.  And my kids.  Every day.  Live everyday like there’s no tomorrow.  Because life is short. And unpredictable.   

I will not sweat the small stuff. Rather, pick my battles. Take it easy. Appreciate the little things. Look at the sky. Wait for the rainbow. Marvel at the trees.  Stop and smell the roses. Value the ever day ordinary. 

“Write it in your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Wishing you a good Every Day in 2014!
From the Hotpot Family


What Santa Gives

The boys often ask me if Santa is real.  I tell them Santa is real and anybody can be a Santa.  While the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Christ, it is also a celebration of love in giving to others. Giving. Not so much receiving. And what comes with the material things that are given - no matter small or big - is the intangible gift of happiness.


Why I Watch the AMA

Drumming never looked this cool. Demons & Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

New songs to discover I now have on repeat. Story of My Life by One Direction

Dance Moves. Timber by Pitbull & Kesha

Visual Effects. Unconditionally by Katy Perry

And so I can PVR, and watch it over and over.


Dear Sushi,

You are turning 9 this month, but most times when I look at you, I still see that little baby that you once were. I still remember your first solids, first laugh, first swim, first steps… all your firsts. I never seemed to have missed any of it.

I was worried when you started talking late, but today you just wouldn’t stop. You can talk about anything from baseball statistics to U.S. Presidents, topics that bore kids. That’s why you love being with grown-ups who know what you’re talking about,

Even if it’s the first time you met them,

And even if you’re the only kid at the table.

You will read anything (that also bores me) - Time magazine and such.

You will read anywhere as long as there’s light - at a concert.

I was afraid you’ll be a nerd (like me), but not after I saw you shoot hoops,

And pitched a baseball at 32mph.

My favourite moments with you are when you are being silly with me,

Chatting in our hikes,

Sharing our birthday ice cream,

Sitting at the back row of the car, even if we both feel carsick, guessing if Roar or Royals made it to the Top20.

You thank me if I make sacrifices, and so you would always give me the best part, or the last piece, of anything. This is up on our wall at home because of you.

Your kind words surprise me, and your hugs for no reason. Oh, the privileges of being your Mom.

It makes me proud when I see you hold the door for the kids in your school. I trust that you will take care of Shoti with the same kindness.

Please don’t ever stop wanting to learn.

Keep on being helpful.

Go on with your reading - whether to a crowd

Or alone, and even until you wear glasses.

Don't be too serious.

Keep playing and enjoy being a kid!

I love you to pieces... to infinity... and beyond....

 XOXO, Mom

“The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born…. Your life, as you know it... is gone, never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”
- Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola


Happy Halloween!

Since we have more family now here to celebrate Halloween with. I hosted a Halloween party. We have also opened our door to trick-or-treaters. This is our first in our new home.



It's Hang Time!

Sashimi is so into superheroes this year. So for his birthday, we invited his school friends over and a special guest.
I got these balloons from the Dollar Store for $2 each.

I like how these balloons stand on its own. Instant party d├ęcor and went with the loot for the kids.

I didn't go big on decorations.  The paper plates and cups dressed up the table so easily. I only put out black and red fruits, gummies and chocolates.

Kids are hard to trick these days. They knew right away it isn't the real Spiderman.

Sashimi gets his Spidey cake as well.

Sushi is nowhere near the party. He thinks this is a children's party. What are you, Sushi?
I'll do anything for you, including get Spiderman to be in your party.
Happy Birthday, my little web slinger! Love you lots!


Dear Sashi,

This summer I had the privilege and pleasure of several days-out with you.  Much like me, you have always loved to ride the train, subway, bus, and streetcar.  I was able to fulfill your wishes with the help of my eager co-worker - thanks P! It was a joy ride. 

You were so easy.  You sat through 8 innings of baseball with Mom. I thought you wouldn’t even make it pass the 1st. 

You could spend hours entertaining yourself - with mist,

Or with sand.

That’s why I didn’t mind giving up this daybed for your play area.

You are so full of energy.  You could climb this huge rock endlessly.
And do an imitation with your toys.
You would try anything and do every thing - from hammering

to batting.

You're afraid of nothing - deep water,

Even the police officer.

And most recently, you biked with Mom farther than you ever had, longer than I would expect from you.  You never gave up.  You blew me away.

These moments are my best with you, doing anything or nothing at all.

Love every minute of it. Please don't grow up too fast. 
Happy birthday, Sashi!  High 5!