Lil Sis and BIL have been coming to Vancouver every year for several years now. She visits me in Vancouver and then they are off towards Interior BC to visit his family. It was just the most gleeful news to learn BIL has family here. They may have been visiting annually in the summer since 2014 and definitely since 2015 when the babies were born (kiddo and BIL’s sister’s first child were born a few weeks apart). Each time, I put a lot of pressure on myself to line up activities new to my sister/BIL and show them different aspects of this city, as if I’m trying to sell them the city, if they were even thinking of “buying”. Even after kiddo, I had the freedom to leave him with NPY for any number of hours and whole-heartedly get into an activity or meal with Lil Sis.
This year, their annual trip was timed to visit a new addition on my side and – coincidentally – BIL’s side, too. I remarked to Lil Sis that their trips have (devolved to) watching newborns sleep and playing with toddlers. This year, they’ve stated that they will move here next year so when they are making observations, it’s with more weight, that this will be their home base too. I’m so nervous about this and almost my breath until it happens. Quite possibly, this is the last time they are in Vancouver as visitors/tourists.
After baby’s appointment at the hospital, I did airport pick-up and whisked them to Aberdeen mall where we could each select our own meals from the various food stalls. BIL got Hainanese chicken from Cafe D’Lite while Lil Sis and I got soup noodles from Bubble Waffle Cafe. Because without NPY and kiddo around, I could order “wild” selections like Macanese curry soup base with fish puff stuffed with cheese. We stopped at Kam Do to pick up bakery items and to show Lil Sis what here is similar to Lucullus in Richmond Hill. Because I couldn’t park in a Kam Do parking spot, and because it was that time of day, BIL patronized Faebrew whose parking spot we occupied. I dropped BIL off at his cousin’s who popped out to say hi – a whirlwind conversation that underscores the enthusiasm we have for our common interests. Lil Sis stayed with me so we could get ice cream at Rain or Shine (Malted Milk Chocolate Honeycomb!) and refresh before our special activity: liquid yoga. Liquid Yoga is an hour-long yoga session on approximately twin mattress-sized mats in the pool of the Westin Bayshore. The class started at 7:15 and it was still light outside. Trees surrounded the pool and you could see the North Shore Mountains. The hotel tower and a nearby condo tower looked over the pool as well as a hotel restaurant patio. It was a lovely chill class where our stability was constantly tested – to the point I was getting fatigued by the stress of concentrating on not losing my balance. We were guided into our positions carefully to enable that we shift our weight slowly and constantly know where our center of gravity is. Standing positions like the warriors were actually done on our knees. We had a few near wipe-outs during the class but it was after the class was over, after we rose from savasana, when the teacher asked if we wanted to try some standing poses, where the other attendee fell in and when I tried to get into eagle, I fell in shortly after! I half-heartedly tried to get back onto the mat but I was completely soaked already and the water was warm and I just laughed and couldn’t stop laughing and the way it sounded like loud sounds bounced between the towers and echoed throughout, I couldn’t stop laughing. Lil Sis, BIL and I went to late dinner at Nook, a walk away, before I took them home.
While kiddo was at a swim lesson and I stayed home – we didn’t get organized fast enough for me to go as well – Lil Sis and BIL went for dim sum at Sun Sui Wah with one of his cousins and his family. We eventually made it out painfully slowly and had a low-key brunch at De Dutch near by. I relented to chocolate on his pannekeok because I read about it in a parenting book that it’s a traditional Dutch breakfast for kids but while adults can get hail, the kids menu offers sprinkles. Nonethess, kiddo is such a bad eater he doesn’t even want chocolate sprinkles! Lil Sis made her way to my place and I introduced her to Stephos which is one of our take-out mainstays. We didn’t order desserts from Stephos as I had Natrel mochi ice cream and Chapmans ice cream sandwiches in the fridge! I’m such a great host lol.
Since it was just a walk around and kiddo wasn’t taking a bike, NPY declined to join me and Lil Sis for my planned mural walk. Vancouver Mural Festival’s Mount Pleasant party took place the day before and it looked like an excellent time but just not the right timing for us yet again. I had seen on Instagram and in person murals in progress during the week before and looked forward to seeing in person pieces highlighted on Instagram and others I didn’t know to be in the hood and would be delighted they are. First, we went to Purebread which Lil Sis thought was “purebred” until she saw the name. She was adequately impressed by the display but refrained from making a selection. I ordered a Morning Glory and a savoury bun. We walked up Ontario and I kept in touch with my cousin who would be joining us while Lil Sis updated BIL who found us on the streets. We walked through 7 1/2 lane and down Manitoba. I’m happy that there are some nice new murals on Manitoba so close to my place. I wanted to go to Heirloom but we were a bigger group and it was primetime on a Sunday so we went to Cafe Gloucester who are just fantastic to a group like us – respect given and received. Another of BIL’s cousins took them to dinner – they originally intended to go to Down Low but ended up at new-ish Chinatown BBQ.
Lil Sis is a good granddaughter who knows it’s her filial duty to look up our paternal grandmother however I am the one making the arrangements. NPY thinks it’s weird that I make the arrangements for Lil Sis’ visit in Vancouver and for myself when I visit Toronto. Maybe it’s that I’m the older sister. Or I’m the planner. Anyhow, I made the arrangements. Our grandmother suffered a fall outside her church and was recovering at home from some stitches at her mouth and bruising on her face. We picked up congee, noodle and assorted items from nearby East One and were pleasantly surprised to see Uncle Three dropping by with food for grandmother, too – the more the merrier! It was a mostly happy visit because of presence of a new baby and knowing another baby was on the way so there was no pressure on me to have a second or on her to start having kids. After winding down the visit to grandmother, we got coffee and some treats to nibble on from nearby Yama Cafe. I helped them pick up a gift for kiddo’s birthday – a scooter! – and dinner was a good sampling of the best dishes from Phnom Penh. It was delightful to see kiddo enjoying their famous wings.
So, let’s just say upfront that I screwed up on Tuesday. I was both cheap and unsure who/when we’d get to Deep Cove for kayaking that I did not make a reservation. My naive interpretation based on last checking on Saturday, was that there was sufficient supply for us to walk up to the counter and get a couple of double kayaks. We arrived at Deep Cove Kayaks around 10:30 and learned that to get one tandem kayak and two singles, we would have to wait until 12:45 pm. I had left the baby with grandparents for the first time and was on edge that they would have her (be stuck with her) for too long. If we had to kill two hours of time and then be able to kayak, well, that might also make Lil Sis and BIL late for dinner with cousins. So my cousin – whom I feel most bad for having convinced to make the trip – quietly supported that I throw in the towel. Kiddo, Lil Sis and BIL had never been kayaking before and so I commited to makeing sure kiddo will get to kayak before this summer is over (and we will, within a week). Dining establishments in Deep Cove tend towards being mediocre and tourist traps so upon my cousin’s suggestion, we had a nice brunch at Douce Diner. Sure, we had lunch together just two days before, with NPY and another child present, but it was nice for it to be just cousins. I dropped Lil Sis and BIL off at the house where they were staying and bid them goodbye – the next day, they would be off to BIL’s hometown and spend the rest of their BC trip there.
For a long time, I’ll be a little upset that I messed up the attempt to go kayaking (last time, I messed up the attempt to get Lil Sis to a row class) but I have to take it in stride and look on the positive side that before too long (but seems long), they will be here to stay. And that is the best development ever – once it is finally in motion.
View this post on Instagram
And just like that, Lil Sis and BIL’s whirlwind trip to Vancouver is over and I’m left with that empty and quiet feeling after a tornado hits (although it regularly LOOKS like a storm hit our place). It’s a hopeful feeling that we’re in the order of counting down months (and not years) until low-key meals together aren’t necessarily selfie-worthy moments, when they live in the same city as us and we no longer miss each other’s lives’ moments, big and small (although we’ll miss one of the biggest later this year). #famjam #sisters