2020: Thoughts so far

2020 has been an interesting year in a number of ways- from the global pandemic closing schools, offices, and other gathering places, to Black Lives Matter leading us to take to the streets in protest of ongoing racial injustice, the impeachment trial in the US, Brexit, developments all along the US 2020 campaign trail (though I live in Canada I remain a US citizen and am still able to vote in federal elections).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 2020 has been, objectively, a LOT.

And while all of these developments have affected me in various ways, there were so many lucky things about my particular circumstances that have helped me and my family manage through a year that could have sunk anyone. My husband and I were both already working from home and had figured out some ways for that to work well for us. Our house has a bunch of different spaces that we’re able to retreat to so that we’re not all stepping on each others’ toes throughout the day. I was able to work on some important work initiatives and do very well in the first few months of my new role. Our kids are young enough that school is still fairly lightweight in terms of study time and the activities were ones we were able to support. We were able to stay employed and even continue to save some money.

My masters’ program is already a fully online program so there weren’t any substantial changes to how my courses were being delivered or evaluated. I was even able to take on a couple of professional development courses outside of that, and am on my way to being a certified coach.

We had hoped to do some traveling this year, and that hasn’t materialized and won’t. We’re lucky that we went to Texas over Christmas and saw my family because it had been a while and we won’t likely see them again for a bit. We have been able to do window and outdoor visits with Trevor’s parents, which has been nice.

One thing I haven’t been fully focused on is my physical health- I haven’t been able to eat as mindfully or exercise as much as probably would have been best. But I also haven’t had as many colds, or gotten injured, or gotten COVID-19, so while I’m not in tip-top-shape, I’m managing.

I also haven’t been able to take on some of the home improvements I had slated for this year- I wanted to get everything repainted and get new window coverings throughout, but that has been more than we’ve been able to take on with everyone home all day every day. Maybe next year.

I have been able to donate to charitable causes- at the beginning of this year I had signed up for a few charity events that were canceled, but was able to turn those into donations instead, and have been able to take some of the money I would have spent on childcare and put it toward important causes.

Looking back at the goals I set at the beginning of this year- some of them just don’t make any sense any more. But despite that I still feel like this year hasn’t been a backslide or a wash- I still got to spend time with my family, do well at work, do professional development, and have overall stayed pretty healthy (even if I have put on a few pounds). We’ll see what 2021 might bring!

Reflections on a new role

A couple of weeks ago, I started in a new role- I’m now the Learning & Development Manager for US HR for Sun Life. I’m still in learning & development, but I’ve shifted to an entirely different part of the company and am now working in HR, which is awesome because it lets me have a bit of a broader talent development scope than I’ve had in some previous roles.

Now two weeks in, here are some of my observations:

  • I love working with the US teams. So far everyone I have met has been awesome and so many of their goals seem well aligned, which is awesome.
  • Working from home is pretty great. I’ve got everything I need to make things work well, even setting up a desk in another room so my husband and I can head to separate spaces for phone calls. It’s working well so far.
  • I’m still sorting out some of the changes in systems access and set up I’ll need- one of the things about internal transfers vs external hires is that it takes a bit longer to catch these things sometimes.
  • I’m super excited about every project I’m getting involved with so far! They’re all things I’m super passionate about which is great.

Overall so much positive! I’m loving the role I’m in and looking forward to a great year.


Hey everyone!

It’s been a while since I properly posted something, so in fine fashion, I will just sum up things that have happened in the past month. Lots of things have gone on! We’ve been going along with our routine with me back and working full time, and I’m finally starting to feel adjusted to it. I am finding I really miss out on Wesley-time during a full work/choir/etc/week, but I did get some really nice time off recently to top that back up, because…

Wesley and his Grandpa

My parents came to visit! They live in Texas, so they haven’t gotten to hang out with us much or see Wesley much, so we shipped them up here as a Christmas gift. It was nice! We didn’t do a ton of running around, mostly just cooking and playing with the baby and hanging out at home. We had a pretty big snow storm while they were here too, so that kept us close to home as well!  It was nice to be able to hang out with them and for them to get the chance to see Wesley. He misses them for sure!

We have a trip to Florida coming up in a couple weeks, so I’ll get some more family time then, but with Trevor’s family this time. Despite being from the US and having visited plenty of the states, I have never been to Florida, so I’m excited. We probably won’t get to do Disney World (another thing I have never done) but hopefully sometime in the future when Wesley is big enough to really appreciate it.

I got accepted to go to TEDx Waterloo again, which is nice. I’m really looking forward to going again, and having the opportunity to discuss things with my coworkers as well!

I pitched an article to a learning magazine this past week, and they asked me to write it! I’m all excited. I hope I do a decent enough job of stringing the words together. But I have some friends who will look over it, and I believe they have editors who help out with that bit as well. So if all goes well, that should happen in April.

Looking into some other professional development things coming up as well- I’m working on a certification this year, so I’m going to need to start studying for the exam for that, I’m in a creative learning MOOC at the moment, and I’m looking at a few other courses as well. Should be fun!


December started with a pretty big bang this past weekend! First, there was the Santa Pur-suit- a 5k race that’s done all in Santa suits. I signed up for it a while ago and it was a total blast. The weather was cooooold, but there was a little bit of snow, all stuck to the trees which made everything beautiful. The motorists who were waiting for the horde of Santas to pass didn’t even seem put out- they were just bemused at what was probably one of the more surreal events of their day. Everyone was a bit disheveled by the end but it was so much fun.

Later in the evening, Trevor took me to see The Nutcracker in Mississauga! It was a touring company that was performing it, and it was fun. The Living Arts Centre is a really nice venue, convenient to lots of restaurants and shopping, so we were able to wander around and amuse ourselves pretty easily waiting for the house to open.

Then, on Sunday, the Advent Carol service at church, which was really nice. It was super warm though, I was sweating buckets, but I really liked the music we did this year. Super pretty stuff.

Despite all the Christmas season kick-off stuff over the weekend, I haven’t gotten any decorations up yet. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon. 🙂

Swerving right into the oncoming holiday season

Plowed through most of of November already! I know lots of people like to hold off on holiday celebrating as long as possible, which is fine, but I’m already getting ready. I’ve done nearly all my Christmas shopping, we’re working on Advent music at choir, and we went to the local Santa Claus parade is this weekend!

Today is foggy and the sunlight looks thin and cold, though the temperature is going to be fairly mild. No notable snows yet, but those don’t usually come until the first bit of December.

Wesley and I both picked up a bit of a cold- He’s got snot from his nose to his ankles, and mine is more of a sore throat and desperate need for extra sleep so far. Hopefully we’re both all cleared up soon.

I’m getting used to the idea that I’m heading back to work soon. Nervous about the logistics and the transition, but excited to be working again. Lots of other things to look forward to in the new year as well- my parents are coming to visit in February, and we’re likely heading to Florida in March for a vacation with Trevor’s parents (as soon as dates and details are sorted out). I’ve never been to Florida (despite having been to most of the other states) so I’m excited about that.

End of October updates

We went to Fort Erie and Buffalo on Friday, so that Wesley could get his “interview” for his NEXUS card. Both Trevor and I have NEXUS cards, and they’re just plain awesome for crossing the border and getting through customs quickly. Traveling with Wesley though, he needed a card too.

As funny as it would have been, they didn’t ask him any questions. 🙂 They did ask us if we had any questions about the program, but since we’ve had cards for a while, we’re pretty well versed at this point. They asked me a few questions, including “Do you own a boat?” which was my favourite.

After we got the paperwork and so on sorted out, we had lunch and then crossed over to Buffalo for a little cross-border shopping. We managed to get most of our Christmas shopping for Trevor’s family done, which was nice and will hopefully make my December a little more relaxed.

Wesley continues to be a huge flirt. A number of different times he has totally derailed something someone has been doing (shopping, eating, etc) just by smiling at them and raising his eyebrows and laughing and generally flirting with them. At the grocery store, at restaurants, it happens all the time. The kid is cute, but distracting!

Hurricane Sandy is turning into a big storm, and we might get some remnants of it here. I’ve been glued to the weather because I find it all fascinating, and I’m also hoping everyone I know who lives on the coast is doing okay.


The weekend before this past weekend was Thanksgiving (here in Canada). We went to Trevor’s parents house for Thanksgiving dinner, on Sunday, and it was really nice! Wesley handled the trip better this time than he did the last time we went up, so that was nice. Also, he was able to eat thanksgiving dinner with us. He had potatoes and turnip and some bread and some turkey and all kinds of stuff.

Chris, my brother-in-law, has a great camera, so he has been taking photos when we visit, which is nice. Sometimes he lets me take a picture or two as well. For example, here’s Chris and Wesley!

I’m pretty terrible at photo taking, but it’s still fun to get to use something a bit more high-end than I’m used to. Plus, my kid is a pretty ready subject (when he can keep his tongue in his mouth).

Visiting the US Consulate!

Since Wesley is the child of a US citizen (me!) he is a US citizen himself. In order to claim that though, we had to file some paperwork, since he doesn’t have a US birth certificate. The paperwork is fairly simple, especially in comparison to some of the government paperwork I’ve filed in the past (Canadian Permanent Residence, I’m looking at you). One question, however, requires that both parents of the child list every period of physical presence in the US. Living close to the border, that was a fairly long list for us (and I never even crossed said border until 2004!). Still, we got it all sorted out the night before- the application for the Consular Report of Birth Abroad, the application for the Social Security Number (which I’ll need to file my taxes) and the application for his US passport (which will be his proof of US citizenship).

In order to file this stuff, we had to make an appointment at the US Consulate in Toronto. We made an appointment for the latest time they had available (10:30 AM) since we’d have to drive there and the morning drive into TO is a bit rough.

We got out of the house at 7:30, and after the drive and then the subway ride downtown, we barely made it in time. It was Wesley’s first subway ride! We took him in the Boba carrier because we didn’t want to deal with taking the whole big stroller and everything on the subway, and we didn’t know if we’d have space for the stroller at the consulate either. It worked really well for the trip.

Once we got downtown, we quickly hit up a Canada Post outlet to get a prepaid Express Post envelope (which you have to submit with your paperwork so they can mail you the passport and report of birth abroad). After that, we headed up to the consulate, which is on a shady sidestreet that is closed to car traffic.

MAN, was that place crazy. The line for visas was way out the door and down the street, and then there was another line inside, then another line after that. The people getting visas there had a long wait in front of them. We had an appointment so we were able to head in and up to a different area, but we had to throw away the ice packs we were using to keep the baby’s milk fresh, at security. Oh well. At least we didn’t have to waste any of his food (it was still good when it came time to feed him, shortly after).

After getting through security, we headed upstairs to the designated office. There were a bunch of windows, and we had to sign in at one, and they checked our paperwork. We had to fix a few things, and then wait to be called. After that, a second person checked our paperwork again, and we were told to wait again, and then we were called again, for our final paperwork check and interview. All told it was about an hour, which was a bit faster than we were expecting. We were the last ones out. The waiting area had a lot of children (naturally), and the washroom had a nice changing table and we were able to feed the baby there, which was nice.

All in all it was an interesting outing! We hope to get Wesley’s paperwork and passport in a few weeks, and his SSN sometime after that (it takes much longer). I’m glad we got it done now and not later when he would be harder to handle in a government office sort of situation. 🙂

Value of time…

Today, a boy of maybe 12 or 13 came to our door and asked if we’d like our driveway shoveled. I, of course, definitely did- shoveling is pretty much the last thing I want to do lately, and even though Trevor is home on the weekends, he was feeling pretty lazy too. So we jumped at the chance.

Here’s the interesting part though- he only wanted to charge us $3.

Now, our driveway is not huge, it’s maybe 20 feet by 40 feet or so tops. However, I think $3 is way too low for something like shoveling, even if it is a quick job- I totally would have paid $15 or $20. He wound up taking $10. I don’t like to see kids/teenagers undervaluing their time or their work- I think it just sets them up to let themselves be taken advantage of in the future.

Then I wondered- maybe I over-value these type of manual-labour services because I totally don’t want to do them myself? So I thought I would look at babysitting rates (a non-manual-labour type of odd job)- I figured, people probably pay babysitters about $10 an hour, right? Well, it seems not, because lots of places online seem to mention rates around $5-$7 an hour for this area.

Am I crazy? Are kids/teenagers doing these odd jobs not worth as much as I think?

Birth Story

The Weeks Before

ultrasound photoA couple weeks before the baby was born, I had an ultrasound to follow up on some previous concerns (size, etc). My amniotic fluid was low, so they sent me over to the hospital for a non-stress test. That was a bit of a surprise, but everything was ok, so they scheduled a followup ultrasound for a few days later. My fluid went up, so we were good. I was scheduled for weekly ultrasounds though, to keep tabs on that.

We took a first aid course on the 10th, which was pretty tiring, but good. I didn’t really fit in the desk, though.

So moving into the week or so beforehand, I was starting to get more and more uncomfortable. The baby had started to drop, which was supposed to make me more comfortable, and it did- for about a day. I was hugely swollen in the wrists and ankles, and at that point almost 0 of my maternity pants even fit comfortably anymore and my feet were so swollen I was wearing slippers at work all the time and braces for carpal tunnel. I had another followup ultrasound.

On Saturday, I went to the spa and used an awesome gift card I received from some work friends to get another prenatal massage, and a pedicure. It was really good! But I have small suspicions that that helped move things along a bit, because…
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