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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!

March

So I guess I am falling into a once-a-month routine with writing here. I think I’ll just embrace it. 🙂  So here are the updates for March!

Earlier this month, we got back from a week-long trip down to Florida (my first time visiting that particular state)!  Trevor’s parents were renting a house down there for the month, and invited us to come stay for a bit. It was a nice trip.

Wesley is not nearly as easy to manage on a plane as he was the last time we flew.  He was only 4 months old then, and he was awesome, mostly slept.  He did okay, but now he’s a big strong writhing ball of kiddo, and it’s harder to keep him happy in our laps for any length of time.  Next time we fly, even if he’s not 2 yet, we’re getting him his own seat for sure.

Southwest Florida is nice, but if the weather isn’t super hot (it was warm, but not beach-going-hot most of the time we were there) there’s not a lot to do. We did some shopping and did visit the beach, but mostly we stayed at the house. This was actually a good thing, though, because it was nice to be able to just sit and read as much as we did.  Going outside without coats on was a huge plus as well (and spring would do well to arrive here anytime now!)

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Work has gotten nice and busy the past few weeks!  Lots of exciting projects on the go.   That, combined with singing holy week services for choir means I’m looking at a pretty busy upcoming week, but it should be good.  I’m looking forward to the long weekend from work though. Also in the work category, a presentation that a co-worker and I proposed for a conference got accepted, so we’ll be doing a presentation in May! Should be good.

I got in touch with Family and Children’s Services about volunteering, and went for an interview there recently.  It’s a really amazing organization, and I’m kind of fascinated with their programs. I have to do some paperwork and training before I can be a proper volunteer, but I’m pretty excited.  I also got to see a presentation about another awesome local organization called Strong Start, and I’m really blown away by their programs as well, and hopefully will be able to help them out in some way. So many cool things happening here, if only I had unlimited time to volunteer!

Speaking of volunteering, I’ve been asked to be the costumer for a show that’s going up next year, so I’m pretty stoked about that. Hooray for costuming, my biggest theatre love! I might have to get a tuneup on my sewing machine- it’s been running pretty clunkily for a bit. It’s a really sweet workhorse of a machine- one of the older Singer school machines that have decent speed and are more heavy duty than what is produced now.

TedX is next week as well (falling during my busy week of busyness)! I’m really stoked about going, especially since I went last year and I know a little better what to expect. I hope that the talks are super inspiring!

New year, new routine!

Lots of changes for us in this new year- I’m back at work!  Wesley is in daycare full time. He seems to really like the opportunity to get to play with other kids and other toys, and seems to do well with it. All these things have meant some changes to our daily routine.  Overall though, things have been going really well.

I’m really enjoying being back at work. There has been a lot of growth and change on my team while I was on leave, but lots of things have stayed the same as well.  I’m working from home one day a week and taking some time off here and there as well to ease the transition, which is nice. I’m liking going to the office, I like my new desk (lots of growth means lots of moving around in our office space!), and I like having a reason to wear a lot of my nicer clothes and rock the corporate-Jenny look. 🙂 Here’s what my new desk looks like:

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The work itself is still super great.  I’m getting to know the new people on my team and trying to introduce some organization that we will probably need more and more as we become a bigger team.

In the evenings, we don’t get a lot of time to hang out with Wesley before it’s time to put him to bed- in fact, this past week, Trevor and I were so busy that our whole family wasn’t all awake and home at the same time for more than a a couple hours the whole week. This coming week should hopefully be a little bit calmer.  On evenings where we don’t have anything else on though, we all eat dinner together and then spend time playing  in the basement- playing blocks, watching tv, doing whatever.

In other news, I’ve decided to learn to cross-stitch. I made a little project (one that’s meant for kids, but it was the perfect size to start off with). I really enjoyed it! I am going to try making some bigger things next.  It’s pretty satisfying actually, pretty simple and not quite as fiddly for me as knitting or crochet. Here’s the little penguin I made:

penguin

Thursday

Tuesday, during naptime, I put up the Christmas decorations. The tree is in the basement this year, which actually makes the basement more cozy, I think.

Yesterday was Wesley’s first day at daycare. We’re taking him part-time in order to get him comfortable before he goes full time in January, when I’m back at work. A friend of mine does childcare at home, and she’s awesome, so I’m more than comfortable with him there, but still, it is hard leeeeaaaaaving my baaaaaby. I got to stick around for a few minutes while he got accustomed to the surroundings (and the attentions of three charming little girls) but tried not to hang around for tooo long.

He seemed to have a good time though, so I’m glad. I was home in the morning, waiting for a furniture delivery that never came (oh, The Brick, you fickle pickles). I called them around lunch and found out they weren’t planning on coming until next week, so I was understandably a little cranky about that, but glad to know I didn’t need to stick around for them. So in the afternoon, I went out all by myself and finished all the Christmas shopping and wandered around. It was good to get out- in the morning I went into Wesley’s room to hang up some wall clings and was like “He’s not heeere :(”

Christmas shopping is done though, so hooray for that! I even wrapped the last few things. I am on fire this year.

I’m back to work in less than a month now. We’re going to be moving into a new area of the building, so I’m excited to see that space 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.

February is the longest shortest month.

I think I’d like to write more often, and with a little more structure. So I think starting next week, I’m going to start writing a post each weekday. I’d like to avoid turning this completely into a mommy-blog, so I’m going to do my best to keep my baby/parenthood/omgpoops etc. related posts to one day a week. For now though, I’m going to do one last big roundup of what’s going on in my life, and then I’ll start fresh on Monday. 🙂

Work

I know what you’re thinking… Work? She’s not working right now! And I’m not. But I did just get properly in touch with people from my work team in the past week. I wanted to see how things were going, and get a few things that I left behind at the office, and also look toward planning a visit! It’s crazy, it’s not even been 2 months yet, and things are already seemingly quite different. There are several new people on my team, and a bunch of new projects, and I am already missing it. I am glad that I enjoy my work enough that I want to go back to it so badly.

Home, Life

Wesley and I (and to a lesser degree, Trevor) are all getting over what seems to be a second (and far worse) cold. Wesley and I were pretty miserable. I lost my voice completely on Sunday (not the best timing for that, since I was supposed to sing a service that morning) and have been pretty stuffed up. I think we’re finally properly on the mend now though. I had a couple days where I pretty much just set up on the couch or at the computer and didn’t do a whole lot other than do the basics to take care of Wesley, and he mostly slept.

Being sick has meant that I haven’t gotten back into the gym routine yet. I did find out how much child minding costs at my local gym, so I know now that that’s not at all cost-prohibitive. I’ll probably start taking advantage of that in the next few weeks.

Things are starting to get into a loose routine around the house, which is nice for me, since I like routine. I’m still not quite finding time for everything I want to get done yet, but (when I’m well) the days are a lot more enjoyable when they’re less unpredictable. I am sure once the basement project starts, there’ll be some upheaval, but we’ll get there when we get there.

Trevor got me flowers for Valentine’s Day, which was super nice. 🙂

Wesley

Wesley is 8 weeks this week, and he’s going for his 2 month doctor visit next Tuesday. He’s getting bigger! We took him in because of his cough last week (due to the cold) and he came in at 11 pounds (with clothes/diaper/cover on) so he’s gaining weight nicely, which is good.

With him being sick, I’ve become a snot sucking connoisseur. We had a bulb aspirator, which has been nice for cleaning out his mouth, but not really all that effective at getting snot out of his nose. So I got a Hydrasense nasal aspirator (where you suck on the one end to provide the suction, and the other end goes in his nose. It’s a ton easier to use (especially since you can keep the sucking end in his nose inbetween sucking) and really works well. There’s little filters that keep the snot where it should be. These type of aspirators are way better than bulbs for noses.

Okay, done talking about snot now. One thing that we need to do soon is get Wesley a passport- we’re planning on going down to see my family in Texas in a couple months, and he’ll need a passport by then. So that means getting baby passport photos. We haven’t done that yet, but hopefully will soon- should be an adventure.

Theatre

I haven’t actually done any theatre in ages, it has been 10 months now. I was set to work on a show this spring before I found out I’d be working on a newborn this spring instead, so I’ve been missing out on that. I just agreed to do costumes for a show in the fall though, so that should be nice. Costuming is my favourite, and it’s a little less structured schedule-wise than stage managing, which is good for someone who doesn’t always get to decide her own schedule anymore. I’m looking forward to it.

Things that are awesome

Christkindl Markt – I’ve been to the Christkindl Markt in downtown Kitchener for the past 4 years or so, and it’s awesome every year. This year, I didn’t have to sing there, which was nice. I got a funnel cake for lunch on Thursday when it opened, and it was delicious.

New desk at work – Our office is expanding, and everyone is moving around to best make use of new spaces. So my team moved down a floor, and I wound up in a pretty nice desk! I am pleased. I’m by the window, but not facing it, which is nice as I prefer to face the room anyway. Though I’m only at work for a few more weeks before my leave starts, it’s nice to spend them in a workstation I like. My keyboard tray is coming tomorrow too, so that will be good!

Trello – Over the past little while, I’ve been using a service called Trello to organize tasks for myself, and I’m finding it pretty nice. I was using Google tasks before, but this is nicer and has a lot more options, and it works nicely on my Blackberry. Check it out if you regularly make to-do lists!

Blackberry 9810 – I got a new Blackbery recently, with the new OS (OS 7) and I am a big fan! It has a better camera than my previous device, the navigation is nice, I still have the sweet keyboard, bigger screen… I dig it.

Accessibility Camp Toronto 2011, and Accessibility Summit 2011!

This isn’t something that I’ve written about in great detail here, but over the past year and a half or so, I’ve become kind of a web accessibility advocate. It’s something that I’ve been able to start bringing into my work, which is very exciting for me, and I’ve become something of the accessibility go-to person in my department. Even though I’ve gained a not-insignificant amount of knowledge that we’re starting to apply, I am always eager to learn more.

Over the past week, I’ve had some great opportunities to do just that. On Saturday, I attended Accessibility Camp Toronto, an un-conference designed to bring together attendees to learn and share in a more informal environment than the traditional conference. I was able to attend a number of really cool sessions- I particularly enjoyed the demo of FireEyes from Deque Systems, and the more informal presentation about HTML5/jQuery and the Fluid Project, from members of the IDRC and Everett Zufelt.

Even though I got some really useful new information, I think the thing I took away from the conference is just how much interest and excitement has been growing around this subject (It’s not just me!). There’s an amazing community of people that are driving huge amounts of improvement in websites, applications, and all sorts of information delivery, and it’s not just because the legislation is requiring it.

On top of that, today was Accessibility Summit 2011, which is an online conference presented by Environments for Humans. There were a ton of great sessions, from some big names in web accessibility. I was a little apprehensive that an online-only conference wouldn’t have the same amount of discussion/networking/collaborative opportunity, but looking at how many new people I’m following on Twitter, I think that worry was unfounded.

Glenda Sims‘ (again from Deque Systems- these people are pretty cool!) presentation about captioning, and Derek Featherstone‘s presentation, “Everything I Know about Accessibility I Learned from Star Wars”, were major highlights of the day for me. However, every single presentation was top notch, and the issues were few, considering that there were additional technical considerations to deal with to make the online delivery work.

So now, I’m pretty much buzzing with even more ideas and excitement than normal (and I have an idea train that is already hard to slow down). Watch out!

Weekend update

No Penelopiad rehearsal this weekend, though I did get to see a number of the cast and crew yesterday at the movies and then at a party later on in the evening.

This being a long weekend and with me having the Friday off work as well, it was different enough that I didn’t quite miss being at the theatre in Elmira for Taming of the Shrew.

My work office is moving this weekend, as of Tuesday we’ll be located in the Lang Tannery building. I’m excited about the new space! I hope the transition is extra smooth, too- I have lots of things to get done in the next few weeks!