Year in Review 2017

25 December 2017, Toronto

Another year has passed and it is a pleasure to sit and reflect upon what has happened in 2017. I’m writing from Toronto this year and it is nice to be celebrating Christmas in the cold weather (for me at least). I’m delighted that we’re having a white Christmas too. As I write this the snow is falling thickly outside. What a change in weather from last year when I wrote from our visit to family in Panama.

This year we have a kid in double digits, my eldest is 10 and comes up to my chin. He is in grade 5 this year and has a teacher who understands him well. He’s in his second year in extended French and the program is very good for his strengths in oral language. He’s also been working hard on his reading and writing and has been making great gains. And we finally have a better idea of how to help him and are looking into strategies to support him at home and school to prepare for next year when he enters grade 6 and Junior High. He continues to be the most extroverted person in our family and I like to hear him tell me about the goings-on of his school friends when we chat at bedtime. Now many of the stories are about who “likes” whom. My little boy is growing up.

My youngest is 7 and comes to mid-chest on me now. He is in grade 2 and is thriving with an excellent teacher who manages to provide both structure and fun in the classroom. Now that he’s been at his new school for more than a year, he’s developed strong friendships. But he’s also kept old ones and we continue to have regular play dates with his best friend from his old school. He still loves dancing too and his repertoire is expanding. The big story this year was his discovery of Chinese lion dancing. He saw a performance at his school for Lunar New Year and has been hooked since then. Our living room now contains two large Chinese lanterns and an authentic kid-sized Chinese lion mask. That’s what he wanted for his birthday and I thank the internet for connecting us with someone who wanted to sell her now-grown-son’s mask. He’s been watching videos online to learn the moves and has performed for family, friends and even our co-op community.

It’s been a year of new sports for both our boys. In addition to the requisite swimming lessons and family biking, both boys were on the cross country team this year. In September, the whole family went out to run with the school Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I found it was a great way to wake up and it improved my mood for the rest of the day. It was also the first year our boys tried skiing and snowboarding. My eldest first went on a school trip, but on March Break the whole family had the wonderful experience of joining the Regent Park Reading Program for a day at Dagmar. We’ve also just started skating lessons and this year both boys started Aikido. They look adorable in their gis.

As for the adults, hubby rekindled his love for mountain bike racing this year and, even with some technical hurdles, still managed a few races. He continues to thrive working as a bike mechanic at Urbane Cyclist. It is close enough to commute by bike and it allows him to use his technical skills on something he is passionate about – getting people riding safely by building and fixing bikes. Though the job is still somewhat seasonal, but that seasonality has been a great help. It gives him time to set up our commuting bikes for winter, to get winter tires on the car, to get holiday shopping done, and to more safely pick up the boys in bad weather. Best of all, he has time for a new creative outlet – starting a Youtube channel – the Greasy Bench DIY!

As for me, professionally, I spent the year on a secondment doing data analysis around university research funding and intellectual property. There have been many opportunities for professional development including training in data visualization software and attending the CIRPA conference that was held in Toronto this year. I have learned an incredible amount, not the least because I have an amazing boss who has spent many years working with these data and who also knows the institution like the back of her hand. Best of all, she’s expanding her team. That means I’ll stay in this role even now that the colleague whose maternity leave I was covering has returned. I am looking forward to working in our little team of three next year and beyond.

Personally, I think we’ve all been a bit affected by news from the world outside our sheltered life. It has been a trying year to be watching world events. There have been many times this year when reading the headlines or listening to the news has made me feel like we’ve entered the apocalypse. And I am not the only one. At one point, with three hurricanes blowing in the Atlantic, the largest earthquake in a century in Mexico, wildfires burning, and the US and North Korean leaders threatening each other with nuclear weapons, my eldest asked if this was the apocalypse. I didn’t know what to say. It was easy to feel helpless and hopeless, but I didn’t want to pass all that to my child. Instead I admitted that it did feel that way, but also that we still had much to remain grateful about.

Despite world events it has been a good year for our family. The boys and I spent a lovely four days at a rented cottage in Oxbow Lake (near Algonquin Park). This is becoming a tradition for us and I love getting to spend that alone time with my boys, while hubby gets some time to himself in the city during peak cycling season. Also, my “little” brother moved to Collingwood and we spent a lovely weekend out there in August as a family. I imagine we’ll be spending more time up there in future and am looking forward to seeing it as a winter wonderful. Finally, we also did an incredible trip to Newfoundland (click to read the blog). The year has been good to us.

Wish you all the best for 2018!

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