February and March 2018: Recap

What an unprecedented couple of months it has been!

I missed out on a recap of February, so I’m going to go ahead and lump February and March together here in one big list of bullet points.

  • Caught up with some friends, had some great lunch dates!
  • Had minor surgery to remove a mass (which wasn’t cancer, hooray)
  • Designed and piloted a new customer training program at work
  • Designed another training program on top of that (pilot to come)
  • Travelled to Holland to give a talk at LXDCon (which went fantastic)
  • Successfully completed the Escape from Casa Loma King/Queen of the Bootleggers escape room with 15 fab friends for a dear friend’s birthday
  • Delivered new training program to the first cohort of customers (~40 in all)
  • Worked with I4PL chapter executive to add a new member and plan upcoming events
  • Worked with a few fantastic professionals as a mentor
  • Worked on a new safety training program for a client

Now in April, and there’s a lot more to come! I hope your 2018 has been going well too!

 

2017 Year in Review

2017 was a good year for me personally and professionally, and as always, I learned a lot! Here are some stats and highlights from my year for reflection and preparation as I look into 2018.

If I had to sum up 2017, I would say it was a big-deal year. It felt like the importance of everything I’ve been doing has been increasing, and I’ve been jumping into more and more interesting and complex challenges.

Travel:

I enjoyed several opportunities to travel this year, taking three big trips! I had a quick trip to Omaha in May, then I travelled to Ottawa with my whole family in July, and then in August, got to go to Belgium and Germany. I learn so much when I travel, and it was great to get to visit these three very different locations. Aside from that, I did a quick trip into Toronto for an industry conference (more on that below).

I love Belgium, particularly Brussels. I am so fascinated by government and policy, and the EU Parliament has both in abundance. Köln had amazing history to see in and around the Dom. We also flew in and out of London, and I was reminded again how much I love that city. All in all, another great trip to Europe (our 6th!)

Below:  Me with the Palace in Brussels (which I loved!), my son with the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, and me with my best friend Summer and her daughter and her friend.

Work and Learning:

I did a lot of work with seven new-to-me or updated tools and platforms. These included:

I’d used some of these prior to 2017 but not to the degree I did this year. I got updated photos and did updates tomy website. I went to the Institute for Performance and Learning Conference (which I helped to program) and helped program 4 professional development events locally as well.

I completed a Marketing course on LinkedIn Learning (and have touched on a few more!) I checked out a few different MOOCs, and joined the xAPI cohort (though I haven’t started on a project yet). I started doing the DailyUI challenges, and haven’t looked back (I’m about a third of the way through, now, check out my posts here or on Twitter!).

I did high-level design and initial development for a two large learning programs with big audiences, some of which will be realized, some of which might not. I designed and developed three new eLearning courses, and updated many others. I took a new job with a fantastic co-worker and am jumping into bigger and better things there. I’m moving back into the world of customer experience and professional services, and it’s great to be getting back into doing what I love- helping people solve problems and do meaningful work using technology.

I re-certified as a CPLP and have sent in my recertification for my CTDP as well. It has been three years holding those credentials and the learning never stops! I’ll never have a problem hitting my numbers for PD hours

I’ve learned a ton about design, tech, and communication this year, which is fantastic.

Giving Back:

I made monetary donations to 12 different charities this year, along with ongoing volunteer work, fundraising, and a few blood donations (when I pass the hemoglobin screen). Giving back has become a bigger and bigger part of my life, continuing from the plans I started in 2016. While I may not be able to give as freely of my time as I once was able to, my monetary donations have increased to take up the slack.

Below: Economical Insurance Heart and Stroke Big Bike Team, I’m in the first row, second from the left!

Health and Wellness

I lost about 25 pounds this year, and really settled into my 3-times-a-week gym schedule. I’ve managed to make activity and health monitoring an easy part of my routine thanks to my Fitbit and my Aria scale. I got better at eating breakfast every day which seems to make a difference. My resting heart rate has been greatly improved over 2016 and I look forward to keeping things going in the right direction on all these fronts. Check out my weight graph below:

2017’s Thumbs Ups:

  1. This has been the year of fantastic coffee mugs. I had a great mug at work that made every day easier.
  2. I finally stopped being so lazy about my hair and now book regular hair appointments like a grownup. I found a cut that works and am sticking with it!
  3. I stopped answering the phone with “hello?” which has saved so much time in my life.

2017’s Thumbs Downs:

  1. I definitely did less reading books and more Facebooking than I would have liked.
  2. Still working on becoming more relaxed and even-keeled in general. Trying to balance excitement that keeps me engaged vs. excitement that makes me anxious is an ongoing effort.

More on 2018 goals in my next post.

Updates since my last post

I haven’t updated here since the post about Interlaken! After Interlaken, we went to Milan, which was busy and Italian and beautiful. We were a bit traveled out at that point, so we spent a good bit of time just hanging out at the hotel and only really saw a few important sights- the Duomo (which was breathtaking) and the Teatro alla Scala (which had a lovely museum, and really appealed to my theatre-side).

Duomo

Teatro alla scala

Anyway, came home after that, it was good to be home and to see Wesley.

Since then, I’ve also announced via some other methods that I’m pregnant. I’m around 20 weeks now. So that’s happening too.

Christmas has come and gone – we traveled to Texas for Christmas this year and that was nice as well. I got to meet my niece for the first time.

Playing on Christmas morning

Happy new year!

Interlaken

Headed out from Lucerne this morning to Interlaken. It’s a really pretty place! Alps all over.

When we got here, we checked in to the hotel, and headed off to get lunch. We found a place that, while having an italian name, served lots of Swiss things. I got raclette, and Trevor got a sausage and some rosti.

Walking across the city, we saw a bunch of paragliders coming down in a flat park area. It looked fun! But I wasn’t about to try it. 🙂

paragliding

After we ate, we headed to the train station to get tickets to go up to the Jungfraujoch. From Interlaken, you take three trains up the mountain and it takes two hours. The last train station is the highest railway station in Europe! It was a gorgeous ride, but in the last little bit, we wound up in the clouds, so there wasn’t anything to see from the top. We saw some nice views on the way though!

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going up the mountain

We walked around the tour area up there, and there’s a big ice cavern. Lots of ice sculpture!

Penguins

It was really cold up at the top. Snow and wind and everything.

We got the last train down, popped back to the hotel to check out our room (it wasn’t ready when we checked in before). It’s super nice, and definitely a far cry from the modern Radisson Blu we stayed in last night. We can get out on to a huge terrace fro our room, and the bathroom has a proper bathtub and two sinks, and there’s this big chaise longue that I’m sitting on right now. It’s too bad we’re not here longer than one night!

hotel

Tomorrow, kicking around town some more until our train to Milan leaves in the early evening.

Luzern!

Arrived in Lucerne this morning. Didn’t sleep all that well last night, so a little snooze on the train (a short, 45 minute ride) and being able to check into our hotel room when we arrived around 11 were both blessings.

We headed out right away because I was turning into a food werewolf.

dilbert comic describing a character who turns into a werewolf after going too long without food

I couldn’t last much longer so we hit up a Burger King in the train station and it was amazing. Nothing tastes as good as when you’re really hungry.

Anyway, after that, we had a little stadtbummel.

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We walked across the Chapel Bridge and did some wandering and shopping. It was nice and felt so flat after so much walking on hills in Zurich. We came back to the hotel for a brief rest before heading out again to catch the boat across the lake to the Swiss Transport Museum.

Transport Musuem

This was one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. Tons of exhibits, extremely well kept and large. We got our admission half-price because we were there late in the day, which was awesome. We saw lots of trains, and cars, and boats and airplanes. It was so awesome.

We came back and then headed out for dinner shortly after that, and wound up having mexican again, because it was the nearest thing that sounded good. It was better than the place in Zurich, and the food was good.

One more thing- I bought some new hiking shoes before coming on this trip because I wanted something that would hold up and be good for walking down mountains and my old running shoes were dying.

shoes

I cannot say enough good things about these shoes. We’re not doing a crazy amount of walking, between about 5 and 7 miles a day, but these things have saved my feet. I wore a different pair of shoes one day and it was so painful compared to these. They were expensive, but so worth it.

Heading to Interlaken tomorrow, where we will be heading up the Jungfrau and enjoying what looks to be a nice hotel. Will check in again tomorrow!

Montag- last full day in Zurich

Today we mostly took it easy. We went out shopping and walked around the Bahnhofstrasse and a little bit of old town, and bought a few things- A toy bus for Wesley (he is kind of obsessed with buses lately) and a really super hat for Max, who deserves all the funny hats for saving me and picking Trevor up from the airport in Buffalo a little over a week ago.

Hooray for crazy hats.

Anyway, after we’d pretty much walked our feet off, we hung out in the hotel room for a bit, and then went out to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was pretty good, but not great- though I didn’t really expect Switzerland to be a great place for Mexican food.

Yesterday I tried Rivella, which is a local soft drink made with whey or something? It is pretty weird. I’m glad I tried it, but I wasn’t about to go drinking the whole bottle. It’s like that other soft drink I tried in Berlin, Lift. They don’t taste alike or anything, but I didn’t quite get the appeal of that one either.

We grabbed some snacks from the nearby grocery and came back, and now we’re mostly packed up and ready to head off to Lucerne in the morning.

Sonntag

Today, we went up the Uetliberg, and then hiked down. We took an S-bahn train up to where it was only a 10 minute walk to the top, so we made the hike up easy on ourselves. It was really foggy and cloudy, so there wasn’t much of a view, but it was still nice to be up there, even if we couldn’t see anything.

Foggy Uetliberg

We stopped at a restaurant near the top for lunch, called Uto Staffel. We split a pretty big charcuterie board and that was really good.

Then, we hiked down. Holy COW that trail is steep. My legs were jelly just keeping me from rolling right down the hill. Only a couple of kilometers, but the grade made it tough. Still, we were done early in the afternoon, so we decided to go ahead and take the trip to Lichtenstein today. We got our train tickets and headed out, and got there just after 5pm.

LIchtenstein government building

I mostly just wanted to go so we could get a passport stamp, and so I could grab some souvenirs. We accomplished the souvenirs part, but the tourist office that actually stamps passports was closed when we got there, alas. Oh well.

Tomorrow we’re just going to hang around the town, do some shopping. Nothing too strenuous! We’re headed to Lucerne on Tuesday.

Saturday in Zürich

Today, we slept in a little (sorely needed!) and then headed out to the Swiss National Museum. That museum was way more than I expected! The collections were really amazing.

I liked the Swiss Furnishings collection, with cool exhibits of 20th century (and earlier) furniture!

furnishings

There was also the big wing of Swiss history. I was kind of surprised to learn that Switzerland didn’t join the UN until 2002! I was less of a fan of the arms and armor exhibit. There was also a big exhibit on Charlemagne- lots of stuff about writing reforms and religious reforms that went on during his reign. Some really amazing pieces there, including a couple of really cool manuscripts on purple vellum.

I thought we’d be able to spend 3 or so hours and see the museum, but we were there for nearly 5 and still didn’t see everything! After we finished up there, we looked around the train station a bit, then headed back to the hotel for a little rest before dinner.

Tonight we had McDonalds for dinner, because we like to try it in every different country we go to to see what the differences are there. Here, they have computer kiosks you can order on, and something called “barbecue fries” that were pretty good. Like spicy steak fries. Alas, I can’t find a picture of them on the Swiss McDonalds website. After that we wandered around the streets a bit and window-shopped some closed shops. Planning to do some proper shopping on Monday.

Tomorrow, we’re going to head up the mountain nearby (the Üetliberg) and maybe a boat tour. Should be fun! Am trying to get more photos uploaded, but it looks like I can only really upload on photo at a time on the hotel wifi. View this gallery for a couple more photos, and hopefully more to come!

Zürich Day Two!

Today, we went to the Zürich Zoo! Zoos are kind of my thing, I like to go to them anywhere I go. We saw some chameleons!

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Anyway, the zoo here is pretty wonderful, actually. It has a huge indoor rainforest with tons of species from Madagascar, and a bunch of other animals I’ve never gotten to see even in zoos before: a toucan, an anaconda, a shoebill, a bactrian camel, an anteater, and lots of other cool stuff! The zoo does a ton of conservation work too, especially with regard to tropical rainforests in Madagascar, so that was neat.

We spent a good chunk of the day there. It was a nice time to walk around and see all the animals. At one point, one of the giant tortoises was right up against the viewing are and a ton of little kids were patting it! I don’t know if that’s good for the tortoise, but those kids were nearly flipping out with delight.

Walking in Zürich

After that, we went to wander around the old town. Lots of churches and things to see, The opera house, and the river Limmat and Lake Zürich, and lots of nice stuff on the water. It was a nice walk!

Opera House

After that, we popped back to the hotel room for a bit, and then came back out for dinner at a restaurant called Zum Kropf, which was pretty good! I had a great wienerschnitzel, but Trevor had this chicken that was way way way more delicious than either of us expected. It was so good.

Now, back in the hotel room, watching enjoyable British television and so on. Planning a trip out to some museums tomorrow, the National Museum and maybe an art museum. Sunday, we’re planning to head up to Lichtenstein, just to say we’ve been.

Arrived in Zurich!

We’re here!

We traveled through the night and got here around noon today. Our flight from Toronto to London was on a 787, which I was excited about, and the plane was nice! Though, the seat I was in was definitely not the best in terms of comfort. Very close to the seat in front of it, and when that person reclined, it was extremely tight. There wasn’t much space under the seat in front of me either, leaving not much room for my carryon baggage or my feet. But we managed.

My first time flying through Heathrow, which I mostly liked, though the security process left something to be desired. They have a requirement there that all liquids have to be in their particular plastic bags, so everyone who was carrying liquids had to swap them over, and this caused all sorts of pain and consternation. Not for us, as we checked our liquids, but we got to be a near party to a bunch of complaints from others in the line.

Overall though, the trip was pretty smooth.

When we arrived in Zürich, we decided to take transit to get to our hotel instead of taking a taxi. The airport didn’t make it very clear how to get the S-bahn, so we went to grab a tram, but man, the ticket machine was a pretty tough experience. We were using it in German, which was fine, Trevor and I both have enough German to operate most kiosks with no trouble. But with this machine, in order to actually purchase the tickets, there were two big clunky spots.

One: it wasn’t very obvious how to add a second ticket at all, and once you had, there wasn’t much confirmation that you had done so. Thankfully you could see the total purchase price go up.

Two: to actually complete the transaction and purchase the tickets, there wasn’t an obvious “finish” or “complete” or “confirm”- basically whenever you had added the number of tickets and zones you wanted, you just shoved your credit card into the machine. And the thing to take cash didn’t make sense either- it was smaller than any Swiss Francs, so either you’re supposed to somehow fold your cash to put it in, or it doesn’t take paper Francs? It took us at least 5 minutes to figure this out, we thought we had to do SOMETHING to finalize our order before paying.

After we got that sorted and had a long tram ride down, we got to our hotel. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we headed across the street to an Italian restaurant for a late lunch. The kitchen was closed, but they made up some amazing pizza for us so that was awesome.

We got into our room after that and got settled/showered and had a nap before heading out to grab some snacks for the room. Our room, sadly, doesn’t have a fridge or an honor bar, so nowhere to keep cold drinks, but we have plenty of salty snacks.

Our hotel is near a football stadium, and there’s a game on tonight and we can vaguely hear the cheers floating in through the window, which is kinda nice actually.

What everyone says about Switzerland being expensive is definitely true. But so far, enjoying!