Dear Aria

Dear Aria,

At this time – 8:03AM – 6 months ago, you were born. Happy half-year. 6 months is both a long time and a very short amount of time in your perspective of the world that you know today. In the grand scheme of things, it’s short in the sense that we hope that you’ll grow old and happy, and find someone that treats you with the same respect that you demand of yourself. You’ve barely even scratched the surface of life – but here we are – celebrating the milestone you’ve completed. On the other hand, it’s a long time in the sense that we have been through more with you in the last 6 months than we have in the last 14 years together… Or at least it feels that way. We like to think that we’re good parents – we do everything in our power to make sure that you’re as happy and safe as can be, and at the same time, we’re also starting to believe that you like to test that.

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In the last 6 months, you’ve tested our patience, our love, our mental and physical capacity to function on as little sleep as possible, our strength as a family, our stress, and just about every other emotion we know – you’ve tested it all. One of the most important things you’ve shown us is how strong Mom and I can be together – and that is significant. It’s significant because it has the power to make us question how strong one half can be without the other, and it can break us down very quickly if we let it. Thank you for showing us the importance of togetherness and the work it takes to be a good parent and partner. You’ve shown us how much weight we can hold when the string is thinning. There have been nights where we’ve both collapsed on the bed after you’ve fallen asleep and muttered “we did it” while preparing for the next round of whatever you decide to throw at us. Thank you for making the experience rewarding and worth working for.

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Thank you for showing us how great it is to dance together again. We sometimes find ourselves in the endless circle of ‘you clean the toilets, I’ll clean the sinks. You cook dinner, I’ll wash the dishes. You rub my back, I’ll rub yours.” I won’t be the one to always change your diapers, and Mom won’t be the one to always rock you to sleep. At the end of the day, you will always find Mom and I there to support you together, for everything. We will always be willing to dance with you – no matter the dance, no matter the time.

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We’re more than ecstatic that you’re a part of our lives, but more importantly – we’re actually just a part of yours. Thank you for teaching us discovery again – an ideal that we’ve carelessly left behind in our youth. We will help guide you and help craft your imagination. We’ll delve into your world and play in it the way you want to. We want to turn your intangible sounds into physical feedback and emotion. The tools and weapons required to walk through the dark and dangerous dungeons – we will equip you with and meet you at the end. We are the sole providers of your experience and we swear to fight anything and anyone that tries to hold us back from giving that to you. You are as much a part of our lives as we are yours and when you giggle in your sleep, we can’t help but wonder what kind of dream you’re having, but we know everything that we’ve done up until this point has been right.

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We hope that the next 6 months is as amazing for you as the last 6 months have been for us. We hope that you become a strong, independent, and respectful person – no matter how small you are. Thank you for being one of the best things that has ever happened to us and for filling the gap we never knew we had. You are the reason we try to better ourselves each day and the only person we want to make proud. You’ll get kisses from us at 6 months whether you like it or not, and you’ll get kisses from us at 18 whether you like it or not.

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And thank you Diana. Thank you for being Aria’s mom and thank you for being our superhero. Any husband that denies that they are also another child to their wife is a liar. The amount of strength it takes to care for a grown man and a needy baby is beyond Superman’s. When I need to know where my lucky teal underwear is, I need to know now and when Aria needs to eat, she needs to eat now. We both want it now and somehow, you can do both. Now. Thank you for shouldering the both of us and for having the energy each day to smile. Thank you for having an overdrive button that never runs out whenever I’m struggling to fix mine. Thank you for letting me join you on this journey – I’ll be right beside you with my lucky underwear the rest of the way. Here’s to more milestones and adventures with Aria. We love you!

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Drum Roll Please!! Welcome Aria Hoang

It’s been quite a few days and I’ve been more detached from social media than I am used to, but for good reason. The last 9 months have been of me posting about when this baby is coming or why I’m too busy to do anything because baby has been on my mind. I honestly thought this day was never going to come – 9 months is a hell of a long wait but at the end of that 9 months, you realize very quickly that it’s worth all the time and money and preparation and everything else you do to bring a life into this world.

Skip the jargon if you just care about pictures. I’m getting into story-telling mode.

Her story begins on Friday, September 2nd at 8PM. Diana’s contractions had been starting almost a week ago, but she never felt they were strong enough to warrant going to the hospital. There were a few times we almost packed up and went but held off a little longer. This time, they were stronger than they’ve been all week and as they say – if you can’t talk or walk through them, it’s time – and it was that time. Fast forward to 9PM and we’re in triage waiting monitoring her contractions and baby’s heart beat. 9:45 comes and the contractions get slightly weaker, and the time between them starts to get longer. “We’re going to get sent home”, we thought to ourselves. It’s kind of disappointing because you want this kid to come so bad and we came all the way here only to get sent back and monitor at home.

10:15PM comes and *pop*. The next half hour goes by quick – her water breaks and we’re quickly put into the labour room where it’s only a matter of time before baby makes her grand entrance…

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Within a matter of minutes, Diana is laid in bed, tubes poking in her and monitors strapped to the belly to make sure everything is OK. A nurse stays with us the whole time only ever leaving to get something. It was a nice experience knowing that someone is there to make sure Diana and the baby are OK until the time comes.

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You can’t tell here, but Diana’s contractions are hitting 12 out of 12 on the graph. What I witnessed that day is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I don’t know, but labour pain is probably the most torture you willingly put your body through. It’s hard not to respect every Mom that has gone through this because it is truly something amazing.

Of course, in order for baby to make her grand entrance, she’s going to make us wait and she made damn sure that Diana was going to work for it too. Well, 6.5 hours of labour brought us to the last stretch. 2.5 hours after that, Aria decided to finally come and say hi.

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And just like that – all the pain, all the waiting, all the tiredness we have felt in the last 12 hours suddenly goes away. You get a second wind, and every emotion decides to surface. If there’s one thing I’ve never felt before, it’s tears of joy and happiness. Until she came, I thought the love Diana and I had for each other was unconditional love – the best and purest I have ever known for the last 14 years. Nothing got between Diana and I and this baby was going to be a +1.

Boy, was I wrong. The second I saw her come out, a new kind of love just overwhelmed me. You get this flash of the past, present and future – how we got here, how great this moment is, and how every second of this baby’s future will be as perfect as I can possibly make it. I’ve got a selfish personality – everyone that knows me well knows this. Suddenly, I’m willing to give every ounce of my world and energy to this little person that doesn’t even know me.

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Hopefully not too NSFW, but those words are expressed here when Diana got to hold Aria for the first time.

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They quickly took her back just to make sure everything was good to go.

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She came in at 6lbs 8.5oz. A lot bigger than we were originally expecting since she was measuring small even at 37 weeks in the womb.

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And those 9 hours that Diana grudgingly fought through just melted away. Nothing matters at this moment.

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The cutest alien-being I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

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A few hours later, we got admitted to post-partum and we relaxed for the next 24 hours. I use the term “relaxed” very loosely – it was one of the most painful 24 hours we’ve ever endured. A hospital room can make you go crazy – the air, the environment, the smell… We needed air to feel like we weren’t in an insane asylum. Added on top of that, we were going on about 50 hours of no sleep. Adrenaline ran out, energy levels were at the lowest I’ve ever experienced but you look at your baby and you know you’ll go till you die.

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She started to get colour back in her skin and she was chubbing it up.

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Finally at home and we’re loving every second of it.

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I would like to introduce everyone to her ‘milk coma’ face. Without fail, she gets so tired that she can barely hold bottom lip closed. It’s the best lol.

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And so it ends there… Whether I’m having the worst day or I’m just feeling blue – this face keeps me going. It’s what makes me get up at every squeak and cry, it gets me moving, and you know how people have things that make them want to be a better person? This is my thing.

Baby… The 4-Week Countdown

Oh man… It’s as dead as it’s ever been around here… But as you all know, we’ve been preparing for the baby’s arrival. We’re literally on the home stretch now with 4 weeks left exactly today. Technically she could come any day now – and we’re both hoping for sooner rather than later. I know Diana – more so than me – is pretty much ready for her to come. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights (for her), uncomfortable days (for her), quick fatigue (for her), and some weight gain here and there (for me). I guess I know where the term “dad bod” came from…

Anyway, we decided to head out and take some true maternity photos while she was at 35 weeks. All my practice in the previous weeks paid off I guess… And I was able to get myself into the shots as well. Overall – pretty stoked on how these turned out!

I got some actual content to post soon too – a Maserati Quattroporte, BMW 750, and coverage of illmotion Sunday School coming up this weekend. I just haven’t really been in the mood to pick up my camera for the last few months. Nothing inspiring for me right now… Someone help!

I won’t post them all because – let’s face it – you probably have seen enough of baby posts. Lifewithjson is really turning into just that! haha

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Probably my favourite shot from the shoot. The weather cooperated with us nicely that day.

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Diana really looking ready to pop!

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And one more just cause!

I’ll post the Maserati and BMW soon!

Diana’s Baby Shower!

The day has finally come and gone! It’s like we were waiting for this for so long and our first baby shower has flashed by. We had to split it up into three different parties because we didn’t have enough room in one house for friends and all our families and we didn’t want to rent a hall either. It’s nice to get together in smaller groups so we can spend time talking to everyone.

My sister, Julee has been spending a TON of time working and planning these baby showers over the last few months. She went to Europe for three weeks and got back 3 days before this first party and immediately got to work. Thank you a million times for putting this together for us – it couldn’t have gone any better!

Anyway – I took as many pics I could throughout the day… Thought I’d post it up and share with everyone. Almost 7 weeks to go! Time sure flies!

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Some pics of the decorations Julee put together…

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Julee and Thy painstakingly cut every shirt out and taped them toΒ  string so perfectly. I definitely wouldn’t have had the patience to do this…

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They even cut out napkins and tied cutlery into each one perfectly.

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To the side was a treat and gift table with tons of cool stuff.

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Some mini cupcakes from Pretty Sweet Co – she made the same cupcakes for us during the gender reveal. Three flavours this time – red velvet, coconut and marble. Delicious and highly recommended if you ever need some sweets!

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Everyone had the option of choosing a take-away. Either a box of candies or some cool seedlings of several different types of purple flowers Julee put together.

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The boxes

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And all the flower seedlings

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Rice Krispy Donuts!

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Diana baked her infamous chocolate chip cookies and chocolatey brownies.

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Awesome banners put together by Julee.

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At the front of the house, some extra things set up…

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Everyone could choose to sign their name on a wooden heart to drop within a 3D box or write some advice on a piece of paper to hang on a ring.

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One of the games of the day was to have 3 pins once you came in. Every time someone caught another saying the word “baby”, they took their pin. The winner was the one who collected the most pins at the end of the party.

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Kris putting some decorations up

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Julee putting the finishing touches on

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Setting up the infamous poop smelling game… With chocolate of course πŸ™‚

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Berry Punch and Peach juice.

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Smushing the chocolate in there good…

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LOL nasty…

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The gang chillin

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The gifts and treats!

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We headed outside to start some games. Luckily for us, the weather held out for us and we actually got some blue skies and a little bit of sunshine. It was perfect to play on the new lawn too!

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Diana playing with Emily. She’s still wondering who this lady is… LOL

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Everyone getting into position for the first game…

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Emily and Diana watching from up top

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3 teams go head to head…

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The point of the game was to put a balloon in your shirt as if you were pregnant, place a quarter in-between your knees, walk across the yard and drop the quarter into the container as quick as you can. Run back and let the next person go!

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Starting off slow…

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Aldo got right into it, hopped the whole way there and popped his belly at the same time

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Soon, everyone caught on and used the hopping method. Team 2 lost some time because their quarter dropped somewhere…

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Back at it… Punit taking it easy

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The rest of the team looking on anxiously…

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Unfortunately team 3 was the last to go… Gopesh taking the walk of shame for the team… He also unfortunately missed the container too LOL

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Next game! Each team has 1Β  minute to create the best diaper they could with toilet paper.

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Everyone rushing to make diapers.

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Not sure what was going on with JC but we’ll see…

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Aldo getting something…

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It looked like they were trying to create some sort of shorts for JC rather than a diaper…

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Aldo still somewhere in between a diaper and a dress.

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Chloe getting a pretty good looking diaper of the three teams…

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Next person was up and Gopesh seemed to want a Sumo-type crotch band-aid…

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Aldo having some sort of bungee harness-looking diaper LOL

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They finally moved onto the next person…

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Here is the comparison of the teams…

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Aldo was pretty damn proud showing off his diaper

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Gopesh and Chloe ended up redeeming themselves with near perfect diapers – possibly even functional!

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The behind also showed attention to detail… Although Chloe may have some leakage LOL

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Cleaning up…

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Meanwhile, Emily chillin in her outdoor highchair minding her own business.

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Next game – diaper smelling! Punit somehow trying to guess the smell on the outside of the diaper. Nat is trying hard not to call him out on it…

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Oh, Punit seemed to realize he needed to open the diaper LOL

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Emily doesn’t care – she’s just relaxing

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While the gang was smelling poopy diapers, Diana and Julee were up top measuring out the guesses everyone had of the circumference of Diana’s belly. I hung all the losers out for shaming…

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The winner ended up being Chelsea! It was actually PERFECT to the millimeter. Crazy.

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Checking the answers…

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Still analyzing the poop

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Gift opening! I won’t caption it all… but I will say that it’s weird to see myself on the other side of the lens lol. Thanks to JT for taking pictures while we opened gifts!

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Chelsea knitted this awesome blanket for us over the last two months in Diana’s favourite colour. It took her almost 50 hours to complete this for us – amazing.

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JC’s awesome tri-story wrapping. It was almost too nice to open!

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And a final pic of the haul… We spent the next few hours after everyone left just unpacking things and putting it all away. All awesome additions for baby! Thank you again to everyone for coming and spending the afternoon with us and spoiling baby! She will love all the gifts! Love you all!