Sunday, March 18, 2018

Visiting the Healthy Family Expo

I was so excited to receive an invitation to attend the Healthy Family Expo, which was held downtown at the Vancouver Convention Center. One of the perks of being a blogger is that I get invited to attend a lot of events and this one was right up my alley! We were encouraged to bring the whole family and spend the day exploring all the vendors and checking out the entertainment. My father-in-law also came along with us because he works in the natural health industry.

This year was it's 5th anniversary and I was so impressed at the wide range of exhibits that were there. There were over 200 vendors! They have everything that you would need, from teething biscuits to soccer lessons, from organic juices to wooden toys. They even had family doctors, dentists and chiropractors. It's a must-attend for any local family. We received so many samples of products and snacks (some were even full size!) and everyone there was so knowledgeable and great to chat with.

The event was very kid-friendly - featuring children's concerts, a toddler play area, and bouncy castles and trampolines. All of the vendors interacted so well with children.

Here are some pictures of our day:

We loved these Montessori-style wooden toys by Tender Leaf Toys!

So addictive!


Friday, March 9, 2018

Helping Children deal with the death of a family pet

Last year, only a few weeks before Veda was born, our beloved dog Ziggy passed away of a sudden heart attack at the young age of 6 years old. We were all absolutely heartbroken and devastated - but the worst part was telling Maya, who was 4 years old at the time.

We adopted Ziggy in 2010, right in the midst of our wedding planning. We had always wanted to have a dog together and we thought it would be good preparation for us for growing our family. Maya was born in 2012 and Ziggy was very much a protective older brother. They grew up together. When she was a baby, he used to lick her feet, cuddle with her, and watch over her while she was sleeping. Maya and Ziggy were very close. The last great memory that we have of him was spending Christmas together.

He died on our anniversary last year. We were planning to go out for dinner that night. Husband-ji called me hysterically from an animal hospital saying that he had died. I jumped in the car and drove as fast as possible. When I arrived, he was in one of the rooms, holding his body and crying. It was so terrible. We sobbed and sobbed. We asked the vet why it happened - how could it happen? He was only 6 years old! Apparently he had an underlying heart condition that developed quickly.

I can handle any amount of pain and hurt, but when you see your child experiencing it...well, it's hard to handle. We had no idea how we were going to tell Maya. Luckily it happened when she was at school, so we had some time. We waited 3 days to tell her and went back and forth on which way would be best. My mother-in-law thought it would be best to just tell her quickly and distract her. Husband-ji thought about telling her and then saying we could get a new dog. I thought it would be best for her to just grieve and let out her emotions, even though it would be hard to watch. We also went back and forth as to what time to tell her. Should we tell her in the morning? The evening? We didn't have the right answer.

After 3 long days, we decided to tell her in the evening one day after she got home from school. I told her that something happened to Ziggy and he died. She cried and cried and cried. It was terrible. She said she wanted him to come back, and I had to tell her that he wasn't coming back. I cried with her. My mother-in-law and husband-ji were very uncomfortable. My mother-in-law started trying to distract her, which didn't work. Husband-ji said "we can get a new dog!" to which Maya shouted, "I don't want a new dog, I ONLY want Ziggy!".

Then came the questions. Inconsolable, she wanted to know why he died. And where did he go? And why can't he come back? I explained that his heart stopped, and that he died at an animal hospital. And that they would bury him in the ground, under leaves. And that he has gone to Heaven now and is always looking down on her like an angel from the clouds. I explained that he has gone to join great grandma and great grandpa and they are taking care of him now. I told her that I had a dog growing up and Ziggy went to join him in Heaven and they play together. I said if she misses him, to just look up at the clouds. I told her that she was the best sister to Ziggy and he loved her so very much.

I am not a devout Catholic by any means, but I was at a loss of words at how to explain the concept of death and the angels that watch over us. Why is it that someone dies, all of a sudden? Those things even I don't have the answer to. Naturally, I thought of what my Catholic grandmother would have explained to me at that age. When it comes to parenting, she is my internal compass. The concept of Heaven seemed to comfort Maya a bit. We also found this really amazing book called Dog Heaven which I highly recommend.

I also said that it's okay to be sad about Ziggy, but it's our job now to take care of baby Veda who was coming soon. She thought about that for a while and tried to be brave.

Grieving was a long process for Maya. The first few weeks were really hard and she cried on and off, constantly. Despite Veda's exciting arrival, she was upset for months over Ziggy and still had a few cries about it towards the end of the year. I think she would have cried a lot more if it wasn't for Veda. Still, every once and a while, she remembers that he's gone and she gets sad. She has recently started again remembering Ziggy and missing him so she will draw him a picture. 

Towards the end of last year, we started talking about the idea of getting another dog in the future which Maya seemed open to. I told her she can help pick it out, name the dog, and help take care of it. We decided all together that we'd look into getting another dog after we move to our new place, and after Veda turns 2. Maya seemed to warm up to the idea since she had some space and time to grieve Ziggy.

One thing that I think I really did right about all of this was just to acknowledge her sadness and tell her that I missed him too. It's always been really hard for me to see Maya upset, so it was a struggle for me to fully allow her to be upset but I'm glad I did. In this situation, I think - there was no other way. Grief is really hard and there's no way around it.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Now Featured On: Masalamommas (8 Things I've Learned from Raising Mixed Kids)

I'm back with my monthly intercultural/interracial column on one of my favorite websites, Masalamommas! This time, my article is all about raising mixed kids and a few things I've learned along the way.

Click HERE to read it!

And do let me know what you think!

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