Wrapping up 2020

I’m not sure what to say about this past year – I feel like so much has happened (especially around the world), and yet, not much happened (in our family in comparison). The kids have been quite resilient and quick to adapt, low-tech learning has improved, and we’ve connected with people online that we otherwise wouldn’t have done before this year. We wouldn’t have been able to do as much without technology, for which I’m grateful! This year was a year of loss in some areas, but we also gained a lot in others, particularly time together as a family. Amidst it all, God (was and is) with us.

Thankful that we stayed healthy (much less colds in this family this year) despite a scare that warranted an urgent trip to the emerg, where they cleared j.w. We had another scare when we learned that my father-in-law was enroute to the ER because his car had flipped over on the 401. While the car was totalled, we saw a miracle and the LORD’s protection as he was able to crawl out of the car and walk away with minor bruises. Our basement had another leak, with water coming in from another backed up window well, but thankful we discovered it early during a downpour.

We were just reviewing with some friends on what happened this year. While some people picked up gardening, bicycling, golfing, our household picked up:

  • Cantonese lessons over Zoom
  • Playing table tennis fairly regularly (finally getting some good use out of our ping pong table, courtesy of a good find on kijij and a generous health plan from BlackBerry!)
  • Baking fresh sourdough loaves and HK style pineapple buns, thanks to a local pizza place, who generously gave out free sourdough starter during the first shut down. We’ve gone through bags of Costco sized flour and more yeast than ever before, and have noticed a considerable taste difference using organic flour and rye flour. I can’t take any credit for this baking other than happily eating them.
  • Other than baking, the other hobby hubby’s picked up is making wooden shelving – perfect with all the books we’ve suddenly added to our collection, and with library fines being eliminated for the time being, we’ve found authors they’re enjoying other than Mo Willems (eg. Jan Thomas books, Buzz and Fly Guy series) and a read-aloud format of books called VoxBox.
  • The kids are reading more, with the oldest reading through her first chapter book and the youngest seemingly having little effort with keeping up
  • Listening to Veggie Tales songs and audio stories on Spotify beginning with tales by Robert Munsch in addition to described audio on Thomas TV episodes
  • While husband picked up practical hobbies, I found myself having more time to experiment with watercolours. I had bought a travel kit back when I was briefly employed with Smile.io as part of the $100 per month perk to support shops that used the loyalty program intending to use it with urban sketching, but then I had started taking watercolour lessons through the community centre which ended right before everything shut down. The instructor continued teaching online, with her doing it for free live over Instagram; I seemed to enjoy it more once I learned that the unpredictable flow of watercolours was part of the fun instead of being frustrating.
  • Getting lost in our backyard forest & exploring other trails in town, with the younger one seeming to fare better on longer walks than the older one. We’ve also seen more colourful birds that fly through the backyard forest, including some cardinals, woodpeckers and birds of prey. I’ve discovered the forest is especially scenic during the fall and when there’s snow on the trees and ground. Plus, no mosquitoes!
  • Cheering our kids on as they gained confidence in swimming independently and riding a two-wheeled bike. Being involved in the kids’ learning means that I get to see their progress and what interests them more.
  • Playing board games, video games, party games, and escape rooms with friends online. We also started playing more board games and video games as a family with the kids – sushi go makes a regular appearance, and we’ve resurrected the Wii and introduced them to Mario.
  • Regular video chats with family. I’ve seen my family more so than ever before this past year; we even opened Christmas presents over Zoom
  • Working from home, and juggling supporting our kids’ learning. Maybe hindsight is 2020 – the pace of my current job is busy but mostly flexible, with little to no daytime meetings I am required to attend so it’s easier to support the kids when they need it. This would’ve been impractically impossible in a 9-2 tech job. I certainly didn’t expect how my role would evovle when I first joined the team, but God was there to adequately prepare us; I feel like running ministry online still continues to be a stretching challenge, and I didn’t really realize how much I needed rest until this Christmas break.

Lost/dropped:

  • Our oldest passed another level of TKD over Zoom but once the Y dropped that offering, we cut it due to the ongoing cost. Our family isn’t getting enough exercise as a whole and I feel like they’re also not getting the benefits of extended time outside by not being at school.
  • The kids have been losing out on connecting with church, playing with friends and classmates, and my in-laws, though DS still says he prefers learning with mommy.
  • Travelling – this is probably the first year in two decades where I haven’t gone on a plane. I don’t really miss the plane ride or the stress of catching a flight itself, but the destination and seeing extended family. I am extremely thankful that my sister came with her kids this past summer when social bubbles were still okay. This is the first year where I had trouble using up my vacation time (two weeks, which is the least I’ve had).
  • The oldest lost two teeth, the first with accidental help by a brother who sat on her face, and one with the assistive yank from the dentist. Both teeth somehow managed to go missing afterwards (mistaken for garbage or washed down the drain?)
  • Our youngest finally outgrew regular naps and falls asleep faster at night and stays alseep until morning. However, he is still usually the last to fall asleep and the first to wake up. They prefer sleeping with each other and will keep each other company most mornings now, so we’ve gotten to sleep in quite a bit these days! (That’s one thing I will most definitely miss when they go back to school)

Coming up this year:

  • Piano lessons over Zoom
  • Virtual watercolour classes for the oldest as she’s enjoyed following along during my classes. She’s quite the creative type and enjoys fine arts.
  • Possible weddings, hopefully not virtual – both our siblings got engaged this past year!
  • Reattempt at joining BSF, this time virtually. Need some discipline in my spiritual life, well-being, and relationship with God…
  • A possible move!

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