Thursday, July 28, 2011


AAAAGGGGH!  I have plenty to blog about and yet I haven't been able to because my laptop got a virus!  To make a long story short, it has been devastating- it wiped out all my picture files, my school files, my computer programs, my internet links, etc.  We took the laptop to the Geek Squad at Best Buy and they told us it'd cost close to $400 to backup the files that are recovered and to remove the virus.  My sister's friend kindly agreed to look at it for us and we just found out earlier today that there's not a whole lot he can do unless we had an external hard drive for him to back up the files...  Ours is, of course in Fresno.  So... nothing can be done to it until we return to Fresno.  That means I won't be able to blog or do any school work until next week.  AAAAGGGHHHHH!  I'm so upset!  :(

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kid in a Candy Store

This is somewhat of a silly post, but I had to share about this place!  My sister took us to Bulk Barn this past week and I was like a kid in a candy store!  It is a Canadian chain and it sells (over 4,000 products) in bulk form- that includes everything from soup to nuts, candy to snacks, health and natural ingredients, and my favorite section- baking ingredients! My creative juices were freely flowing as I walked down the aisles- "Oooooh, I could make ________ with this...." or "I wish I had these readily available in Fresno..."  Love, love, love this place!  We left with a ton of candy and snacks!  My sister and I hope to do some baking before we head back to Fresno so I'm sure we'll revisit the store for some baking stuff!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

THE Mall

We had the chance to visit my childhood church this past Sunday: the Edmonton Vietnamese Alliance Church.  It was great to see so many familiar faces and quickly get a catch up.  Afterwards, we went for Vietnamese food at Pho Hoa.  It is actually a Vietnamese restaurant chain that started in San Jose!  There are locations all over North America- we went to the one in West Edmonton Mall.  Of course I loved it- I had my usual bowl of pho and Jason had his usual vermicelli bowl with spring rolls.  After lunch, we spent the afternoon at the mall; THE Mall: West Edmonton Mall!  I've blogged about this place every year it seems, but that's because it's one of Edmonton's biggest tourist attractions.  It still claims to be North America's largest mall (based on square footage, I think).  There's so much packed into one space- after all these years, I still think it's pretty neat.  After leaving the restaurant, we strolled down a few aisles of T&T SuperMarket... It's this HUGE Asian market that has every possible Asian thing you can imagine!  There is just no way for me to put into words or even take enough pictures to give you a good sense of what I'm talking about!  If Fresno had a store like this, I'd have no excuses as to why I don't cook Vietnamese food more often!  The store leads into the "Chinatown" section of the Mall.  We stopped to pick up some bubble teas.  Jason tried a new flavor today- blueberry- he really liked it.
Grace & Jeremy sharing their mango slush bubble tea. They love it!
We got the chance to wander around and do a little shopping.  In all our years of visiting THE Mall, we've never seen this: the Sea Lions' Show!  We just happened to be walking by and saw the crowds forming.  It was a pretty cute and decent show (if you don't think too much about the fact that they're animals being kept for entertainment- Jason and I are strangely beginning to have some opinions about that).

The kiddos with Di Dao (pronounced, "yee dow," ow as in ouch)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fun at the "Lake"

Yesterday, my sister's friend, Scott, took our family to Summerside, a recreational lake community in Edmonton.  Basically, it's a residential development that centers around a man-made lake.  Only residents and their guests have access to the lake.  There's a clubhouse there, along with a sandy beach, playground, tennis courts, etc.  The developers even stock the lake every year with fish so its residents can go fishing.  Residents also have full access to kayaks and paddleboats.  The weather was just perfect!  Our kids had so much fun playing in the sand and splashing in the water (Jason says it was a little colder than when we were at Shaver last weekend).  Later in the afternoon, Scott took our kids to the pier to do some fishing.  He found a school of perch off the pier and showed the kids how to fish.  Between all of us, we caught 16 perch!  The kids loved it (of course, the fact that they caught the fish so easily helped- if we had to really fish and wait patiently for a fish to bite, I doubt they would've enjoyed it as much as they did). 

Jeremy wanted to go out on the lake, so along with Scott, Grace, and Jason, they went on a paddleboat.  Scott decided to cool off by jumping off the paddleboat, and soon the others followed (they learned later on that's not allowed).  After they returned to the shore, Jason and I laid on the beach and read while the kids played in the sand and water.  Thanks to Scott for his time with us at Summerside!  We had so much fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

And Here We Are!

We're here in Edmonton!  Our travel day was this past Wednesday.  We drove from Sacramento to San Jose and stayed overnight at Darren and Julie's home.  They're good friends of ours and it seems like the only time we see them is once a year when we're in town in need of a ride to the airport!  Joking aside, we value them so much and we always enjoy hanging out with them.  Grace and Jenny reconnected very easily, and Claire was very excited to have a new "best friend," though it took Jeremy quite a while to warm up to everyone. 
Darren was able to call up some of Jason's childhood friends to join us for dinner.  We got to see Jon and Sarah and their new one-month-old son, Ben, as well as Jason's former roommate, Rob. 
The next day, Jason wanted to visit Los Gatos, his hometown.  We headed to his favorite park growing up, Vasona Park (Oak Meadow).  He has fond memories of the Wildcat Railroad and wanted to let our kids experience riding the train.  They loved it (though Jason says it is quite different going there as an adult)!   Afterwards, we walked around a little and let the kids roam the play areas.  We ate lunch at Armadillo Willy's, one of our favorite places to eat in San Jose before Darren dropped us off at the airport.
Waiting at the airport with a really goofy kid!
For the first time in a long time, it was an uneventful trip to fly from San Jose to Edmonton.  The kids did great (no throw-up, no running away from the Immigration line), there were no delays, and we didn't upset travelers for holding up the security check at the airport with all of our stuff (most notably, our 2 laptops and 2 portable DVD players- they all had to be taken out of each of our carryons and checked individually).  When we arrived, Jeremy and Grace immediately went up to both of my parents with big hugs (I had been worried that it'd take Jeremy at least 2 weeks to warm up to them).  Since then, we've taken it pretty easy, which means I don't have a whole lot to blog about.  We've slept in, watched tons of cable TV (we don't have it at home, so we watch a lot of it while we're up here), gone to several nearby playgrounds, eaten a lot (food will have to be a blog post all on its own!)...  

On Thursday, we went to the public library here to check out some books.  We always do a lot of reading while we're up here.  Jeremy wanted to check this book out... but we decided to leave that one behind!

This morning, my dad took the kids out for breakfast (that's a big deal- I was worried they would misbehave, but he said they were great).  Earlier, Jason and I were able to have some alone time- we headed to Whyte Avenue, a wonderful little neighborhood with unique businesses.  We got a chance to talk, walk around, browse, and even went for our first bubble teas of our trip!  A very nice and relaxing start to our trip!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 World Masters Track & Field Championships

The BIG race!  Jason has been training since December to participate in the 2011 World Masters Track & Field championships.  However, due to injury, Jason had to drop out of his first event, the 100m, on Friday.  We didn't head to Sacramento until Monday morning.  It was a good choice because he felt pretty good heading into his 200m race.  Part of this was due to the extra few days of rest for his recovery, but part of it was also due to the help of our friend, the Yamashitas.  These wonderful friends now live in Colorado.  In one of my emails to Jessica last week, I had shared about Jason's injury and how that affected our plans for the week.  That same night, Brent (who is a physical therapist) called and left Jason a message- he had set up an appointment for Jason with one of his friends who has a private practice in our area for the very next morning.  His friend worked with Jason for over an hour and the results were fantastic- Jason felt loose and much more flexible.  He wasn't at the top of his game, but he felt good enough to race.  The actual championships included athletes from all over the world.  For example, just in Jason's event, he ran against athletes from France, Russia, Australia, Grenada, Denmark, South Africa, and Great Britain... How exciting it was to see Jason's race!  
I was so nervous for him that I was feeling sick to the stomach.  I was so relieved when he crossed the finish line- his time was 23.91 secs, fast enough to qualify for the semifinals. The best part was that he didn't reinjure himself or make it worse!  The semifinals took place the next day.  His time was 23.51 secs (13th out of 30).  Unfortunately, he didn't make it into the finals, but regardless, we are incredibly proud of him!  He has worked so hard, has been very dedicated to his training, and determined through injury and all.  Great job, Jason!!!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jelly Belly Factory

We drove up to Sacramento on Monday morning, but since Jason's race wasn't until later that night, we decided to take advantage of being in the Sacramento-area by heading to the Jelly Belly Factory inFairfield (45 mins. west). We waited in line for a tour and learned all about how jelly beans are made.  One funny memory: during the tour, we were given samples of jelly beans in different stages.  When our guide came to give us some samples, she accidentally dropped some on the floor.  All of us said to Jeremy, "Don't eat those, Jeremy!"  He didn't...  Instead, he innocently picked them up and... put them back into the guide's basket.  She looked at us, and said, "Um... Ok... I guess we can't use those anymore!"  She had to go get another basket of Jelly Bellies.  It was so funny- I guess he was just trying to be helpful!

There was a gallery of artwork made entirely of Jelly Bellies like this one of President Reagan.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Plan B

We had been planning to head to Sacramento for Jason's big track meet on Friday this past weekend.  Unfortunately, Jason hurt himself during a practice track meet the week before.  As the race approached, he agonized over what to do- should he drive up and race even though his body was clearly not at the top of its game?  Or should he drop out and give himself as much time as possible to recover? Added to this dilemma was the fact that his whole family and the Wiens family had planned to drive up to watch the race and support him.  Sadly (but wisely), he made the decision to drop out of his first race to increase his odds of running faster for his second race and limiting the chances for reinjury.  We felt so bad about having to change everyone's plans!  Thank goodness everyone had a Plan B for their weekend!  The Wiens family ended up going camping with some other families from our church.  Jen & Dan and their family, along with Jason's mom were able to spend the weekend at our family's cabin at Shaver Lake.  We decided to join them for one day and since it was so nice, we spent quite a bit of time at the lake.  
We decided not to stay at the lake over the weekend so that we could rest up, pack, and get our house ready for our departure. 

The Greatest Show on Earth

Can you believe that in all my years, I have never been to the circus?  I'm sure that they must've come through our city when I was growing up, but this past Thursday was my first time, as it was for Jeremy and Grace, too. We were very excited!  We got there during the pre-show to see some animals and acts up close.  I don't know if it was because I had read Water for Elephants last month (I totally recommend that book, by the way), or if it was because of the protestors out front with signs protesting the treatment of circus animals, but Jason and I definitely enjoyed the human acts much more than the animal acts.  I loved the tightrope walkers, Jason enjoyed the acrobats, Jeremy liked the elephants, and Grace loved the tigers.  It was a very enjoyable evening for our family, though I'd definitely be ok if we didn't go to the circus again for a few more years.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I'm a person who really likes tradition- it's kind of strange to think that we don't have any 4th of July traditions!  In fact, for most years, we're not even in the country.  This year, it dawned on us that we'd actually be in town, so we decided to have a get-together! 
It was so hot with triple-digit weather, so most people spent their time relaxing in the pool (even I got in- that's a pretty big deal).  I think this was the most people we've ever had in our pool at once! The kids had so much fun playing with each other and we enjoyed having some time to visit with friends.  Later this week, we'll be heading out-of-town and won't be back until August.  This happens every summer, and unfortunately, we miss out on a lot of opportunities to hang out with friends here.  This get-together allowed us to see a lot of people all in one night!
After a great dinner (in which everyone brought something to share), we enjoyed cookies, 2 kinds of fresh fruit cobbler, and homemade ice cream before heading to the front yard for fireworks.  This was our family's first time doing fireworks.  The guys lit the fireworks and placed them in the street to try and give us a show.  Jeremy kept saying, "Why aren't the fireworks in the air?"  The fun part was when sparklers were handed out.
Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July!  We sure did! (Check out our album on the right for many more pictures)!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cars 2

Yesterday, we treated Jeremy to his first movie experience at a theater. He's watched plenty of movies, just never in a theater. In fact, one of his all-time favorite movies is Cars, and since Cars 2 was just released last week, we thought it'd be the perfect movie for his first theater experience. We decided to invite other families who have kids around Jeremy's age to join us. The kids wanted to sit together (or was it that the adults wanted to sit together?), so the kids sat one row in front of us. Jeremy did great during the 2 hr. movie (plus the previews)- he was completely focused, turning back once to give me his empty popcorn bag, and the second time to ask for some water. He loved it... and since our kids did so great, that means we will definitely have more family movie dates throughout this summer!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dinner for a Canadian on Canada Day

So much has gone on that Canada Day was actually the first night that the whole family was able to get together to celebrate my birthday (which was 2 weeks ago). I had insisted that it wasn't necessary to celebrate my birthday, but in the end, it ended up being a good excuse to get together. It was such a hot day that the kids (and grandma, Jason, and Uncle Dan) spent much of their time in our pool. Jennifer and I were able to sit and chat, catching up about what's been going on, talking about their wedding, and of course, their recent family honeymoon. For dinner, Jason's sister made an incredible Chicken Carbonara and then for dessert, Jason's mom made a delicious tiramisu cake. It was a fun, relaxing day- thank you to the whole family for making this particular Canada Day so special!