Year in Review 2015

20151206NathanPhilipsMenorahXmasTree

This year’s review begins on a note of sadness and gratitude. The two people who first inspired me to write these reviews – Paul and Louise Herzberg – both passed away this year. Louise passed at the end of September at age 78 and Paul followed her, only two months later, at the beginning of December at age 79. They lived full lives and they both had a huge impact on me. I am grateful to have known them, and though I am sorry to have lost them, I am consoled by the fact that, even this year, they are together for the holidays.

Within our family, the boys are growing immensely: physically, intellectually and emotionally. Lucas is a confident senior kindergartener and, although he remains reserved at school, he is always quick to help others. He is incredibly kind and fair. If he has something, he makes sure that others get some too. He loves patterns and counting and he remains our little geologist – always collecting and organizing rocks. He is also starting to read by sounding out simple words. In the pool, a pair of good goggles helped him to overcome his fear of putting his face in the water. He is now an avid explorer of the underwater world. If 2014 showed us his love for singing then 2015 showed us his love for dancing. Wherever we went he found a dance floor: the stonework in a cabin in Algonquin Park, the dirt around a campfire, even surrounded by adults at the closing dinner of a conference in Iceland. He showed us how to dance with unembarrassed rhythm and joy!

Ray shot up physically this year and several times we looked at him and wondered, “Where did he get those Capri pants?” (They weren’t capris; he’d just grown two inches.) He remains our pensive one – always thinking and feeling deeply. He is an incredibly sensitive and compassionate child. Now in grade 3, he has worked hard to improve his reading (which has become much more fluent). He is an articulate speaker and is exploring ways to express himself in writing to the same extent that he can when using spoken words. He has also become quite the cyclist, even able to do tricks with his dad. In the pool, 2015 brought the success of passing the deep end test. I am incredibly proud of his persistence and perseverance and I hope he is also proud of himself.

Like his boys, Hubby was in school for part of this past year, juggling parenting while churning out a steady stream of assignments, reports and exams. In October the hard work paid off and he graduated from Seneca College with an Environmental Technician diploma. He also gained valuable experience working as a bike mechanic at a high-end shop in downtown Toronto during the height of the cycling busy season. Hubby wins Super Papi points for singlehandedly managing the kids and work while I was away in the Arctic for three weeks in June. He is a bit of a legend at the Canadian Wildlife Service. Apparently most mothers aren’t as lucky as I was, though – social commentary here – generally fathers are. He also gets kudos for making the whole family Halloween costumes from scratch! We went as characters from Star Wars Rebels.

For me, this has been a year of highs and lows. On Jan 1st 2015, I found myself walking alone on the Leslie Street Spit feeling contemplative. The cold rain and strong wind matched my mood. The winter and early spring were stressful with many challenges at work and at home. In contrast, the summer and early fall brought amazing opportunities for travel and adventure: the Arctic in June, outback Algonquin before Labor Day and Iceland in early October (I still owe you a chronicle for that one). Indeed, this was my biggest travel year since 2006 (pre-kids) and I still love it. My wanderlust hasn’t abated a bit. Travelling on my own this year reminded who I am. Travelling with my family showed me that the kids are now old enough to share my wanderlust with them. The question for 2016 will be how to integrate the adventurous researcher/writer with the settled and breadwinning parent. Working together, rather than in conflict, these parts of me could bring my children stability, flexibility and wisdom.

For us it has been a year of travel and opportunity, but also a year of exhaustion and soul searching. We hope that 2015 has treated you well and wish you all the best for 2016!

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