If you didn’t catch the title, Ryan and I went back to Canada! Writing this blog was like reliving all the emotions again…so just know that there are feelings in this blog! (ewww feelings, right?)
Our visit to Canada was awesome…literally full of awe.
One thing I’ve noticed since being in China is that I need to see my family. I love them!
I think I took my family for granted with always being so close to home. All through university I stayed at home; and sure I would stay away from home here and there, but home was never a 14 hour flight away!
I’ve been trying to think of times that I have missed my family. I remember when I was little, and my parents would send all us siblings to our grandparents for a week in the summer, and my mom asked, “Will you miss me?”. I thought pretty hard about this. In fact, most of my childhood memories I remember more of my thoughts than actual events; like ‘Does the teacher not know she has sweaty armpits? ‘ ‘Should I tell my tutor she has something on her face?’, ‘Why is that boy breathing with his mouth open?’ ‘I hate my little brother right now!” or the best one, “They need to all know that I’m angry! I will keep slamming this door until they hear my wrath!” I was little okay…luckily I’ve grown out of door slamming.
So when my mom asked me if I will miss her, I knew that if I said “No”, there was the chance she’d feel hurt, because who doesn’t want to feel missed?! But on the other hand, I knew she’d appreciate my honesty. She noticed me struggling with what to say and said “It’s okay if you don’t, I’m just wondering”. So I said “Maybe a little, but not really mom”, and she gave me a hug anyways. It wasn’t because I didn’t love her or didn’t want to be around her, it was just because I knew I’d be okay without her (and also, I was just going to my grandparents. Hardly a drastic change in my life!).
From my young age until now, I think the type of need for my mom (and family) switched (I would hope so anyways!!); when I was young it used to be about if I could function without my family, if I was okay to do things on my own. But now, it has to do with just having them around, having them be there for me, having them listen to my thoughts and opinions with or without judgement and dishing it back at me. Or, just laughing at something hilariously stupid one of us said or did, and joking about it FOR YEARS. Like the one time my dad sang “Deck the halls with Sparky’s ballies”…for anyone who is not in my immediate family, our dog Sparky at this time in our lives got fixed, which also happened to be around Christmas time. His poor balls. We did not deck the halls with his balls though…just to clear that up! I don’t know how we managed to have a recording device around at the perfect time; but we taped it on a cassette (yes a cassette!). I still laugh just thinking about it.
And this isn’t to say I don’t experience the ups and downs of family life with Ryan either; of course we laugh, fight, have a blast, joke around, listen to opinions (or pretend to)… BUT nothing replaces family; well at least not for me. It is nice though to be able to add in extra members to the family; like Ryan’s side of the family, or friends close to us. You can always make a family bigger!
I knew I would be okay without my family. Of course I would be! But after being in China for 6 months, I was dying to see my family again, just to be around them and talk with them. And I don’t think I expected this feeling to be as strong as it was. I think Ryan always knew I’d be like this…but of course it’s no surprise that he knows me better than I know myself at times.
Coming home in October was actually a complete surprise to us! When we first left for China we only expected that we would be home at Christmas. We then found out there were Chinese holidays for a week in October that happened to land on my mom’s birthday, Ryan’s birthday, an award for Ryan’s dad, our friends birthday and Oktoberfest! How could we not come home with so much going on?? We then started planning surprises for our families, who all thought we weren’t coming home until December.
But of course we needed some help to pull this off, and got the trusty mom’s involved: Sandra and Astrit (Ryan’s and my mom). They were in on the whole thing to help Ryan and I be part of all the events going on, but without anyone knowing. Sandra’s and my mom’s task of not having family/friends find out was increasingly difficult as time went on.
Sandra had arranged a barn party for all friends and family to attend to ‘celebrate the opening of their new barn’, or so she told everyone. Really, the reasoning behind this party was to keep Jim (Ryan’s dad) at home so that he could be surprised with Ryan’s arrival (instead of golfing for the weekend). Sandra also had to make it clear to the builders of the barn that she needed it for October 1, and not a day later! And of course, she had to get Jim in on the plans without him knowing the surprise (he didn’t understand the meaning behind the party in the first place)! It became even more difficult when Jim was asking for Sandra’s iPad, which had conversations between her and Ryan about coming home, and again when Jim was asking who was attending the barn party, and questions about the seating arrangement for at the award ceremony. Geez, so many questions Jim! Sandra seemed to experience quite a bit of pressure to have her stories together.
My mom’s struggle was more with herself; she kept feeling so excited that we were coming home that she felt like she almost let it slip a few nights during dinner conversation. My oldest sister ended up being part of the secret; she had to hold on to Oktoberfest tickets for Ryan and I, so that my dad wasn’t wondering who the extra tickets were for.
Since I was super excited myself; I almost let it be known we were coming home through Facetime conversations with Ryan’s parents as well as mine. I kept wanting to say “I can’t believe it’s ___days until we come home!” or “I’m so excited to see you guys!”. Or even just texting my friends or siblings and having to lie and say I’d be home in December sucked! So I can only imagine how tough it was for our mom’s!
Now for the surprises!
The first round of surprises began with my family. On Friday night’s we always host our traditional and delicious pizza night! It wasn’t difficult to make sure my family would be around for that. My sister had the job of making sure our close friends would show up by using the reasoning that “It’s my mom’s birthday soon, so it would be nice to celebrate with her”. Thankfully most people were able to make it!!
So after Ryan and I got dropped off from the airport (a few houses down just to be safe), we made our way to my parents’ house. BUT, as we were walking towards the house, we both noticed my dad rush outside, and of course he was on his way to go pick up the pizza. We thought ‘Shoot! He’s not supposed to be outside right now!’ But amidst his rushing, he looked up and noticed Ryan and I on our way up the driveway and stopped. “Well what the hell are you guys doing here?!” He said. “Oh my God, you’re here! Welcome home!!”Of course we hugged and kissed and then he rushed off to get the pizza. I mean, we can’t have pizza night without pizza!
(This next part I had to stop several times when writing it so I don’t look like an emotional mess in public)
Our next surprise was with the rest of the family, where we had Cristina’s boyfriend ready to video tape at a moment’s notice! I kept Brandan updated on our arrival, but I accidentally got his cell number wrong, so some stranger was getting updates on ‘Hey we just landed! On our way!”, “20 mins away!”, “So excited to see everyone, I can’t believe we’re here!”, “I hope no one has a clue!”, “Okay we’re here!”. I finally managed to contact him without messing up the surprise!
This next part has me wanting to cry just thinking about it: As we walked in all I remember is my brother Rico, literally jumping out of his seat and come give me a hug within 1 second of arriving, and his girlfriend Armina, right behind him. I had no expected reactions in mind when it came to this surprise, but my brother’s reaction was the best feeling. For some reason, maybe from jetlag or from shock that I was actually home, and even though Rico was crying (so cute!), I didn’t cry. But believe me when I say that every time I think of this memory, I tear up. This one memory I know I will never forget.
…and then there’s the memory of our close family friend Emma “OHHHH MY GODD!! WHATT!! YOU’RE HERE!!!’ You can see what I mean through this short video I posted on Instagram 🙂
My other sister Julia, showed up later after we had finished eating, and was also not expecting Ryan and I to be there. As she was taking off her jacket and scarf, made her way to the living room and saw us sitting, it sunk in that we were actually, physically there. She says, almost breathless sounding “What? What are you guys doing here?”, then makes a tiny squealing noise ‘Eeeee!” as she squeezes her arms up at her sides, and starts crying.
I go hug her and start crying myself! (maybe my shock finally wore off) Oh the emotions! Another amazing, priceless reaction.
Our next surprise was on October 1, the ‘barn’ party! While the plan was to surprise everyone arriving at the party, we thought it would be nice if Ryan could surprise his dad before everyone arrived, so that we could all catch up first.
The plan first began with Ryan’s sister, Jess, picking us up because Ryan and I were car-less (thanks Jess!). We stayed in communication with Sandra via text to find out a good time to show up at the house; a time when Jim would be free to open the door a see Ryan there. Prior to our arrival Ryan was actually texting Jim, telling him we were in Hong Kong for his birthday! Ryan was updating him on our landing and our ‘plans’ for that week in Hong Kong. We had suspected that Jim knew something and hoped this Hong Kong trip would convince him!
When we found out Jim was busy cleaning up the barn, getting it ready for the party, we decided to surprise him in the barn. As we’re walking over we notice the barn just abundant with windows! As we get closer, we decide to crouch down in hopes that he won’t look through the windows and see us. Luckily when we walk in, at the perfect time Jim turns around and sees us. He starts laughing, asking what we’re doing there! I think I saw Jim’s eyes tear up a bit…but you know, maybe he had something in his eye’s 😉 Finally the party made sense to him!
That night we surprised the guests who described it like: ‘I know I know you, but my mind had you in a different country! So I was trying to figure out who you were!”. It was really nice to be able to see everyone that we were able to, and we celebrate by playing some hilariously funny rounds of flip cup. The women won by the way!!! (We weren’t competitive at all….).
Thanks to our moms, all surprises were pulled off! We definitely could not have done it without their help.
The two week visit back to Canada were two extremely busy and fulfilling weeks! We managed to fit in seeing as many people possible.
But the most important visit back to Canada was with these two cuties!
For everyone that we were able to see, thanks so much for making yourselves available; even though you may have had no clue we would be there! And for those of you we happened to miss during out short visit, Ryan and I will be back in December/January for Christmas!
Coming up next:
Although Ryan lied to his dad about being in Hong Kong, we actually will be going in November!