One of the things I love about being part of a Chinese family is that I have this great excuse to wait until the Chinese New Year to send out our family newsletter. And since the holiday is based on the lunar calendar, it changes every year and no one really knows if I'm late, early or right on time. It's fabulous. I also get to work on it after the holiday craziness has simmered down. So, without further ado, I give you the Cheung family 2014 year in review:
We've had a lot of good things happen in the past year. Despite the rough times, we've had some very cherished and memorable moments to keep us going. I'm so grateful because without them I may not have made it through. Here's what's been keeping our hearts pumping and our legs moving this year:
- MARRIAGE #1: My brother Mitchell was married in January and I'm proud to say that I was there in attendance. Alex convinced me to go even though I was deathly ill. I may have puked all the way there and all the way back, but I was there! Mitch and Maddie are the cutest together and I'm glad Alex convinced me to go.
- SEMINARY: Alex continued to volunteer teach our early morning church seminary class without me through the end of the school year. He was such a champ and he loved our students. We miss them.
- BABIES: My sister-in-law Tiffany had her fourth, Eleanor; my sister Natalie had her third, Asher; and my sister-in-law Beth had her first, Ethan. Babies all around!
- WORK TRIPS: Alex traveled several times this year to meet with and interview clients for their life stories. Despite all the hardships in our family and his numerous responsibilities, he has continued to work so hard and keep Antho going. I've helped when I could, but he is the fire in the engine that keeps things moving forward.
- WE MOVED: Not very far, mind you, but I'm so glad we did. We now have a lovely view of the Space Needle and downtown Seattle and Jonah has his own room. Come for a visit!
- JOINING WEWORK: Moving was also in part because we got our first office space at WeWork and we wanted to live close enough to walk to work. We LOVE WeWork. Great co-working space, great networking, great people. Alex thrives in that environment and I love how happy he is after a productive day's work.
- MARRIAGE #2: My other not-so-little brother Mike was married in August. I'm also proud to say that we were there to support them. Luckily, Jonah was born a week early, which made our attendance even possible. His wife, Angel, truly lives up to her name in every aspect.
- UTAH FOR THANKSGIVING: Last minute planning landed us in Utah for Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family. We needed it. We had so much to be grateful for and it was therapeutic to visit Michelle's grave.
- CALIFORNIA CHRISTMAS: It was a joy to be surrounded by family and visit so many friends over the holidays. We particularly enjoyed the sunny weather and stay at Pismo Beach.
*Click photos for larger images.
It's also important to note the sad things that have happened this year. I'm not going to sweep them under the rug or skim over them. They were real. They were painful. They were a huge part of our life.
HYPER-WHAT?: This time last year, I was deathly ill (hence, the reason why you didn't get a newsletter from us). I was pretty much in bed all day long due to something called "Hyperemesis Gravidarum." Yes, it's as awful as it sounds. I was lucky enough to be in that 1-2% of pregnant women who get "severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and electrolyte disturbance." Basically, I dried up like a skeleton, had to receive multiple IV's and got to eat yogurt and ice cream for months. Alex was my caretaker and champion, even though I couldn't stand the smell of him (due to hormones) and was completely helpless most of the time.
THE LOSS OF MY DADIO: After a two year battle with a rare form of liver cancer, my father passed away on March 27, 2014. I am still learning what it means to grieve his loss and how to function without a father. I don't recommend it and now have great empathy for the fatherless everywhere. He continues to inspire my life and help me in ways only possible as an angel father. I'm grateful for that, but I'd still rather have him here in the flesh.
BLOOD CLOT: If my hyperemesis wasn't enough, I decided to add a nice life-threatening blood clot to the mix. I landed in the ER while visiting LA in April. I was then required to take two injections a day for blood thinners for the entirety of my pregnancy and for all future pregnancies. The bruises, pain and fear of needles were all softened by my loving husband, who faithfully administered each one for me because I just couldn't do it myself. Gotta love that man.
THE LOSS OF MY SISTER MICHELLE: With the pain still fresh from my father's loss, we suddenly said goodbye to my sister on June 4, 2014 due to complications with a brain tumor. Sometimes I feel like she is still here and just a phone call away. The shock of her death is still reverberating in my soul. I don't understand it and I probably won't ever know how or why and that's ok for now.
*Click photos for larger images.
In a lot of ways, it seems like this last year felt like we were going through hell. Fortunately, we were given a gift from heaven in the midst of it all. I think this was mostly to remind us that life was still worth living and that God was mindful of us and what we were going through. He knew we really needed a pick-me-up. After my miscarriage last year, I spent most of my second pregnancy worrying that it wouldn't end well yet again and I'd have another loss to add to my miserable year. Luckily, this was not the case and Alex and I were blessed with an extremely healthy, incredibly adorable, although rather large-headed baby boy.
We named him Jonah Randal Cheung. Jonah because, hello, Sleepless in Seattle. Randal because that's my dad's name. And Cheung because, you know, that's our last name. Actually, we really named him Jonah because we found a very large, very cute, stuffed animal whale in a baby store that Alex said I could only buy if his name was Jonah. I still need to go back and buy that whale. Not commonly known is that his name means "dove" and his Chinese name means "great peace." It's perfect. He has brought so much peace and happiness to our family during turbulent times. Every time I see him smile or hear him belly laugh, I remember that even though I'm still grieving the losses of the past year, there is still joy in my life. And even I can be joyful and smile and laugh. Sometimes I really don't feel like it, but I just can't help it when I'm around him.
Jonah is an unusually happy baby. His happiness radiates from every fiber of his being. You know he's happy when he flashes his wide, gummy smile, kicks his legs and waves his arms as if it were a natural reflex of his pure joy. He loves people. He loves adventures, especially going outside whether it's rain or shine. He's extremely observant, focused and calm. This all may change in the next few months as we near the "stranger-danger" period of babyhood, but for now, we are reveling in it. He is so much like his father and lights up with giggles each time he comes home. He's obsessed with staring at his hands intently, moving his fingers back and forth and then pondering the universe, no doubt. It's as if each time he sees them is like seeing them for the first time. Adorable in every way.
His sleeping skills tend to oscillate between amazing/consistent to horrendous/unpredictable, depending on the month. We take credit for the good months and deny any responsibility for the bad ones. He also loves to squeal and make very loud and sometimes inappropriate noises at inopportune times (like motorboat spitting in church during the most reverent and quiet part of the meeting). He rarely cries, but when he does, pull out your ear plugs because velociraptor baby is here. He's impatient for food, adamant when he doesn't like something and usually gets his way when he wants to be snuggled or held. He's only snuggly for so long, so I'm going to squeeze in as many hugs as I can before he turns into a squirmy worm. And yes, he has a very large head. He's been above the 90th percentile at every check up. His height and weight, comparatively, have tapered off since he was born, giving him a very disproportionate baby bobble-head look. We love it.
He recently started eating solid foods, rolling all over the place and I think I can see his first tooth coming through. No signs of horrible teething yet, except his incessant drooling. If that's his way of teething, I'll take it! Basically, we love him and no longer need any other form of entertainment. We could literally just sit and stare at him all day and make annoying googly faces and sounds like I never thought I'd do as a parent. It's the best. You can follow our adventures with Jonah on his very own Instagram account: @jonahcheung. Yes, I'm that mother and wouldn't have it any other way.
*Click photos for larger images.