Year in Review 2014

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Time has the most amazing ability to run faster as one grows older. As I sit here writing, I can’t quite believe that another year has past. But it has, 365 days of growing and changing and learning have happened since I last typed a year in review. Downstairs my boys are playing, together, and relatively independently. This alone is a sign that time has past.

This year both boys have matured immensely. Although they will always be my babies, they are babies no longer. In September Lucas started Kindergarten. I was initially worried about the transition. After all, he was born in late fall (like his older brother). But, whereas, Ray started in half-day kindergarten, Lucas started full day, and it seemed a long day. I need not have worried. Though a few morning tears have been shed (his openly and mine concealed), Lucas is thriving at school. His grasp of letters and numbers is improving, he is writing his name and he can recognize a few common words. But what I love the most is his singing. Nearly everyday Lucas sings for us at the dinner table – songs he learned at school. Anyone who thinks that music is not an integral part of the educational system has not been serenaded by a four year old at dinner.

This September Ray entered grade 2, and within the first few weeks of the school year, his teacher knew that Ray’s verbal and social skills were excellent, but that was also a dreamer. Sometimes I look at him and hear my mother telling me, “You would forget your head if it weren’t attached to your body!” As usual, she is right, and Ray has inherited my absent mindedness. What is amazing though, is that he is already developing strategies to cope with it. Since the summer, Ray has been working hard to improve his focusing skills and we are all proud of his blossoming abilities and maturity. He was also active on the cross-country team and dabbled in soccer, karate and chess. Through his after school club, he wrote short a speech and performed it – without any help from us. Indeed, we sat in the audience with some trepidation as he walked to the microphone. We didn’t know what would come out of his mouth. The speech won him an award for confidence in public speaking.

Like his boys, Isaac was in school this year and his courses brought challenging assignments and exams. But Isaac pulled through and did pretty darned well, especially considering that he is the only one amongst his classmates, who is also juggling a family. He is learning things that I myself hope to learn one day – GIS and AutoCAD – some of his courses even required field trips. I must admit to being a bit envious as I sat at my desk at work.

As for me, I had a roller coaster of a spring. Within a few days I bounced between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, and I learned the pleasures of Porter cookies. For a few weeks I almost felt like a young and childless PhD student again – almost. In the fall, I started in a new role at work that allows me to use my data management and analysis skills and it is also providing me some exposure to financial forecasting. The work is high volume and the learning curve has been intense, but I love learning, and am happy with the challenge.

As parents, our main stress this year has been juggling our many commitments. We like to say that everything in our life is good – work, school, our parents, hobbies, wonderful children – but sometimes it can be too much at once. That was certainly the case as we struggled through the earlier part of the year with ice and snow piled on top of already overbooked schedules. But we made it through, and celebrated spring with a much-needed visit to see Isaac’s family. Though we Skype weekly, it had been nearly three years since the “abuelos” had hugged their “nietos”.

The summer brought much happiness and a wonderful resolution to Isaac’s quest for Canadian citizenship. Indeed, the highlight of the year for Isaac, and for the whole family, was his becoming a Canadian citizen. It was a long road that started with our first visitor’s visa application back in the fall of 2000. After 14 years Isaac is Canadian.

Beyond our trip south, 2014 brought smaller family outings. We had a weekend at Oxbow Lake near Algonquin Park, where we hiked, saw bears and heard loons. We also spent a few days at Niagara Falls. The falls really are a natural wonder, if you can peel yourself away from the carnival at Clifton Hill for long enough to realize it. Although I have been to the falls numerous times in my life, there was something awe inspiring about seeing it with my boys, as they saw it for the first time. That trip we christened Isaac’s Canadian passport by crossing into the USA – no visa needed!

I hope that 2014 has treated you well and wish you all the best for 2015!

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