The Dilovely New Year Questionnaire for 2018

So, my lovelies. Happy New Year or something! It’s only January 16th. It’s a super-reasonable moment to post a 2018 questionnaire completed in time increments of 20 minutes or less over the course of three weeks.

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Me, Sean: Hiked Niagara Glen Trails in celebration of our 13th anniversary! Also visited some new wineries, had some chocolate icewine shooters, and saw Henry V, WWI trench-style, at the Shaw Festival (first Shakespeare EVER at Shaw! We thought it was well done).

The mighty Niagara River.

Me: Gave my first dose of insulin to my diabetic cat – and a least a couple hundred more since then. Also made vegan cheese. 

Sean: Saw Stephen Fry live! HE WAS AMAZING. Oh, and the diabetic cat thing too.

E, AB: Went to Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, Storybook Park, the Donkey Sanctuary, and Wild Waterworks. Also, GOT OUR OWN ROOMS!

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At Ripley’s Aquarium.
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At the CN Tower.

E: Became a Junior – Grade 4, what!

AB: Started Grade 1, and joined Sparks with my BFF!

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions?

Me: I was not exactly a PARAGON of calm in the mornings. However, I did do better after making the resolution. And when school started up in September, I made good on my threat promise to get the kids up earlier… and crazily enough, IT WORKED. We are way more calm in the mornings, because we are way more likely to be running on time.

Sean: I half-hit it… I am making strides with being more present and less on the internet. That internet never tires of wrestling with me, though. Not to mention pesky Apple vs. Google vs. everyone else.

E: My marks, it turns out, tend to be exemplary.

A: I did not get a horse. This still rankles.

3. What is your resolution this year?

Me: To spend more time in meditative quiet.

Sean: To be under 200 pounds, to pass four Open Ed university courses with at least 70% average, and to keep a neat and tidy house.

E: To beat the Ender Dragon in Survival mode, and eat thirty pounds of Life cereal.

A: To be a very good dancer at the big show, and to become the best student in my class. (I might already be the latter.)

4. Did anyone important to you die?

Me (and all): My sweet grandmother, Wina. She got to strike “turning 100” off her bucket list (if she had one), and died peacefully, with family, on New Year’s Eve. We are happy for her to shed her mortal shell, which was not in the best shape after a century of living… But she leaves a hole in our hearts.

Sean: A wonderful cousin who was gone too soon; and a friend and former coworker who was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

Also of note (and important in their ways, though not necessarily more so than the above-mentioned dear folk): Kofi Annan, Charles Aznavour, Sister Wendy Beckett, Arthur Black, Anthony Bourdain, Barbara Bush, George HW Bush, Aretha Franklin, Hubert de Givenchy, Stephen Hawking, Ingvar Kamprad, Margo Kidder, Stan Lee, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, John Mahoney, John McCain, Dolores O’Riordan, Burt Reynolds, Neil Simon, Kate Spade, and Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor.

5. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

Me: More sleep, and subsequently more energy. Actually I guess the thing I need is discipline – for the going to bed at a good time.

Sean: A competent president for the southerly neighbo(u)rs.

E: A Minecraft Lego jungle hideaway, and a dog.

A: A horse! Again. FOR REAL THIS TIME.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Me: Entering two groups of students (one English, one French) in the CBC Music Class Challenge (thanks for the inspiration, Skye!); facilitating birthday slime-making with ten excited Grade 3 boys (plus AB) and coming out unscathed. Also, I was pretty proud of this hedgehog rock I painted for E. (I was his Secret Friend at Camp.)

painted-hedgehog-rock

Sean: Went on the longest bike ride of my life!

E, A: Learning to swim for real, at Camp! No life jackets!

E: Finally beating the hardest level of Horizon Chase, and producing several (ongoing) literary works, including The Sheep (stay tuned for a sample).

A: Reading – and writing – chapter books.

7. What was your biggest failure?

Me: Failure to check the date on our passports. And realizing they’d expired a scant few weeks earlier and we couldn’t go to North Carolina, only a few days from our scheduled trek. (At least we’d planned to drive so there were no plane tickets. Sighhhh.)

Sean: Failure to lose the weight I wanted to lose.

E: Failure to fulfill my responsibilities without complaining bitterly.

A: Failure to come to terms with the fact that yelling as loud as I can does not get me what I want. One of these days, it’s going to work. It has to.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Me: I suffered my cat’s illness by cleaning up innumerable messes of various types (although Sean cleaned up even more of them, home alone while the rest of us were away).

Sean: Broke my left wrist for the third time in my life. Right before Christmas holidays.

E: The usual grievous injuries ALL THE TIME. I’m in pain 40% of my waking hours.

A: I was pretty impervious this year! (As Mummy knocks ALL the wood.)

9. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

MeSean: Trump; Doug Ford; Japan (reintroducing commercial whaling)… And ALWAYS Nestlé.

E: My sister, when she yells at me.

A: My brother, when he kisses my adorable face without permission.

10. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Me: My Grade 5/6 class, for being calm and awesome, even though they always come to me (for French or Music) at the very end of the day.

Sean: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for neatly shutting down every GOP troll who tries to invalidate her accomplishments.

E: Our cat’s, when he finally remembered how to pee in the box.*

A: Mine, when I found my Responsibility Button. On special occasions, I turn it on to “Full Power” and then I cooperate on EVERYTHING!

*{Actually, it was getting rid of the litter that seemed to be the key. You see, diabetic cats have more sugar in their pee and it makes the litter sticky… Then they have to whip their paws around to get the litter out of their claws, and then it sticks to the wall and many other random things. Bad for everyone. So we are using puppy pads instead. Painful amount of garbage, but maybe we won’t have to completely replace our floors.}

11. What did you get really excited about?

Me: Several cherished women I know – including both my sisters – getting together with loving partners! YAY!

Sean: Teaching the kids to swim… and of course seeing Stephen Fry. {insert googly-eyed love face}

E: My cactuses! Tall Joe, Short Joe, and Alfred.

A: That time I had the same tattoo as Mummy! And my birthstone ring for my sixth birthday, which is also a lot like Mummy’s… and our matching leggings for Christmas! (We know that matching Mummy will not be on the agenda for too much longer, so Mummy is relishing it while she can.)

dove tattoo

12. What events from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:

Me: Humboldt Broncos bus crash tragedy, Tham Luang cave rescue… because obviously. Intense human drama (that has undoubtedly already been optioned).

Sean: Doug Ford’s election, because TRAVESTY.

E, A: Our first Junior Camp, because we did so many fun things!

13. What political issue stirred you the most?

Me, Sean: Federal purchase of TransMountain pipeline, NAFTWO, carbon-tax squabbles… and for posterity, one must mention legal weed!

E, A: The sheer number of signs every time there’s an election. All those names bombarding us (which we feel compelled to read aloud whenever we’re driving somewhere)…

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Me: Blogging.

Sean: Even more cycling.

E, A: PLAY DATES.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Me: Picking up my phone for no good reason.

Sean: Falling off the wagon.

E: Missing ChromeBook time because my class was too noisy.

A: Waiting for play dates.

16. What do you regret?

Me: Please refer to biggest failure.

Sean: Time spent in rabbit holes (except maybe on reddit… those are high-quality rabbit holes).

E: Losing my Lego Minecraft Creeper. Also signing up to be a lunch monitor – those Grade 1 kids are noisy punks, and I don’t even like pizza (which was the reward party for lunch monitors… which might be why I signed up).

A: Not INSISTING upon horse-riding lessons.

17. What decision are you glad you made?

Me: Taking a two-day choral conducting course in the summer. Also, installing an amber lightbulb in E’s reading lamp. It really seems to help him wind down.

Sean: Sticking with The Starch Solution. And the purchase of the Instant Pot – not to mention the Air Fryer!

E: Going to Sherwood Forest day camp with my friends.

A: Getting my hair cut (and donating it).

We were afraid she would regret…
… but she didn’t!

18. How did you spend Christmas?

All: With people we love, all kinds of family. Lots of games, fun drinks, way too many snacks, general cocooning. So very fortunate. (Sean even shared our two weeks off, between shutdown and vacation days! Très exciting.)

19. What song will always remind you of 2018?

Me: Fireflies and The Verge, by Owl City.

Sean: Empire, by Sarah McDougall.

E: ALL the Flood Escape 2 songs, especially Sky Sanctuary.

A: Havana Ooh Na-Na. (By Camila Cabello. AB has never seen this video, BTW. Pretty entertaining! The song actually starts at 2:29.)

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Me: The Good Place, Bojack Horseman, New Girl.

Sean: The Good Place, Bojack Horseman, Voltron.

E: I’m not really into TV. I like to escape floods, build block facilities, and take care of pets and bee swarms on my screen time.

A: Home, Teen Titans Go, Puffin Rock (Mummy’s favourite because those wee British-kid accents are THE BEST).

21. What was the best book you read?

Me: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

Sean: Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari.

E: Wild Robot books by Peter Brown, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers. 

A: Harry Potter books (which Mummy has been reading to me all year long!) and Fairy Ponies #1 and 2 (by Zanna Davidson) – read between Christmas and New Year’s.

22. What was your favorite film of this year?

Me, Sean: Ant Man & the Wasp was funny and exciting, First Man was gripping and very memorable, Crimes of Grindelwald was gorgeous and entertaining… But honestly, for sheer viewing pleasure, for a movie you’re just glad you went to see… it has to be Paddington 2. 

E, A: Peter Rabbit, Paddington 2.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Me: 40, got sung to by the whole school (one of my coworkers broadcast the news at an assembly), had dinner with lots of family at a local vegan restaurant (plus sister-made pie options back at home).

Sean: 41, ate vegan pizza and chocolate cake, received and played “Snake Oil”; hilarity ensued.

E: 9, bounced sheep (aka balloons) around the rec room and made slime with 9 of my friends, got my own logo!

Designed by Auntie Beth. We painted it on our faces.

A: 6, had my friends over for refreshments and Auntie Beth’s magical face-painting, got my first LOL Doll and unicorn-poop slime!

24. What new thing would you like to try in 2019?

Me: Dance for Kindness.

Sean: University! Starting with Anthropology, doing great so far.

E: Indoor soccer, since I’m pretty awesome at outdoor soccer.

A: Horse-riding lessons. (Haven’t you been listening?)

25. Whom did you miss?

Always Sebastian.

26. Who was the best new person you met?

All: Uncle Agates! (It’s Alex, but this is his clan monicker, from which he will never henceforth escape.) (We were stoked to have TWO people we newly call Uncle this year!)

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:

Me: Leave more time than you think you need to get a large group of children to follow a beat and sing in unison. If you think it’s simple… you’re showing your newbie choir conductor pinfeathers.

Sean: Always corroborate your research, and watch out for spilled coolant.

E: Clothes-putting-away is not nearly as hard when you do it every day.

A: Having your own room (once you get used to it) is awesome, because you can have PRIVACY. More or less. For a few minutes, if you really slam your door.

28. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“Ladies all across the world, listen up, we’re looking for recruits / If you with me, let me see your hands, stand up and salute / Get your killer heels, sneakers, pumps or lace up your boots / Representing all the women, salute!” – Little Mix

***

 

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Happy (Chinese) New Year

Hi, folks. Looks like I (completely, by a long shot) missed posting this “new year post” at the official beginning of 2016. But hey – Chinese New Year was only yesterday! Gung hey fat choy! And since we did not manage a proper Christmas card this year, this must serve as our retrospective message. Time to get this year bloggily rolling.

  1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Me: Finally got rid of a lot of baby stuff (sigh), made my own Irish Cream on St. Paddy’s, performed with my dance troupe at the Pirate Festival, made Strata for Christmas morning.

Sean: Turned 38, bought a house while the wife was out of town, and sold a house – also while the wife was out of town.

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New house!

E: Turned six; learned to draw a minion and read in French (as well as English); got glasses; moved; got a new couch; lost two teeth!

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A: Saw aerialists performing on Canada Day, got to try silks myself at Family Camp… and have been aerialisting as much as possible since.

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  1. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Me, Sean: Who can remember? And you betcha! They’re epic.

E: Six-year-olds don’t need to resolve things.

A: My parents didn’t know it, but I resolved to ONLY wear things I DEEM CURRENTLY ACCEPTABLE. I kept this resolution as firmly as possible.

  1. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me: My cousins had a son ON MY BIRTHDAY! Yeah, baby! Also, congrats and love to Lindsay, Eleanor, Catherine, Jaya, Katie, and probably more…

Sean: See above.

E: Well, I did spawn thousands of pigs in Minecraft.

A: No, but I’m the mama of many babies, including Minnie Mouse. And a minion.

  1. Did anyone close to you die?

Me: Jonathan Crombie, a.k.a. Gilbert Blythe (sniff!), and Jurgen Gothe, a.k.a. my fave CBC Radio voice since I was a kid.

Sean: Leonard Nimoy.

E: All those pigs eventually died.

A: My Elsa crown got broken, which is about the same level of tragedy.

  1. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Me: Organizational skills, for real this time. And an extra dose of will power.

Sean: Discipline. Other than that, I want for nothing. OFFICIALLY.

E: More pages for my Pokémon cards.

A: A light blue stuffed dog that I can take for indoor walks.

  1. What countries did you visit?

Me: The exotic land of my garage. I cleaned that sh*t up.

Sean: Jakku and Takodana.

E: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States (in my virtual car-racing schedule).

A: Arendelle. Many times.

  1. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:

Me, Sean: August 27th – moving day; October 19th – goodbye Harper!; November 13th – terrorist attacks in Paris.

E: Visiting the Science Centre and the African Lion Safari.

A: Visiting the African Lion Safari and the Science Centre.

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Anything can happen at the Ontario Science Centre.

  1. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Me: That one kid-free day in October where I spent the entire day working my tail off and GOT SO MUCH DONE.

Sean: Making the perfect, harmonious configuration of apps on my phone.

Me and Sean: Ten years of marriage!! (Celebrated at Niagara-on-the-Lake.)

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E: Surviving another new school – and liking it. Also my earthworm diorama rocked.

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The earthworms are heading into their burrow. (This is before the addition of turtles, cows, and unicorns to the habitat.)

A: Dancing at Talent Night with my Grammie and my friends.

  1. What was your biggest failure?

Me: Major blog neglect, e.g. NaBloPoMo. Also, not managing to finish unpacking by 2016.

Sean: I did not manage to keep my bonsai tree alive.

E: I did not manage to convince my parents to move back to the old house again.

A: I did not manage to secure the title of Supreme Dictator of the New House. People keep thwarting my plans to be the OVERBOSS.

  1. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Me: Teacher immunity, baby. I just stave it off.

Sean: I get cut all the time at work, but I’m cool. Nobody worries about it but my wife.

E: Chest infection. Two ear infections. Stomach bugs. But worse than all those… The times I bit my tongue.

A: Stomach bugs, to match my brother’s, and a flu or two. (Remember that time we tobogganed at the big hill and I throwed up on the road?)

  1. What was the best thing you bought?

Me, Sean: New house! AND pretty area rug!

E: I earned myself a lot of virtual cars on the iPad – does that count?

A: My Elsa dress, even though *I* didn’t buy it.

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This is the part where she brings back summer.

  1. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Me: Last year’s students. Every damn day.

Sean: Donald Trump.

E: Mommy and Daddy, when they make me wash my hands. Like, ALL THE TIME.

A: Mommy and Daddy, when they don’t let me have and do EXACTLY WHATEVER I WANT.

  1. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Me: This year’s students! (Hurray for 20 kids in a class instead of 29.)

Sean: Trudeau’s, for being just such a nice guy, not to mention bringing everyone to the climate conference and fixing that Cabinet that was all crooked.

E: I got a sticker chart for doing my homework!

A: I got a sticker chart for dry mornings!

  1. Where did most of your money go?

Me, Sean: See #11.

E, A: In my piggy bank!

  1. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Me: Essential oils and diffusers.

Sean: Two words: STAR WARS.

E: My new zebra backpack!

A: Turning three!

  1. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Me:

Sean:

  1. Compared to this time last year, are you: i) happier or sadder?

Me, Sean: Not that simple, but working on happier.

E: Sadder. We can never live in our old house again.

A: Happier, but I wish I could go back to being two. I liked when I was two.

ii) thinner or fatter? Nope.

iii) richer or poorer? Poor in house-debt, rich in automatic dishwashing power.

  1. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Me: Writing.

Sean: Exercise.

E: Play dates with my best friend from my old school.

A: Wearing tights. Tights are LIFE.

  1. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Me: Raising my voice.

Sean: Spending money.

E: Putting my clothes away.

A: Wearing pants. Pants are for non-royalty.

  1. How will you be spending did you spend Christmas?

All: We were lucky enough to spend time with all the branches – and we all managed to be not-sick over the whole holiday! A Christmas miracle.

  1. What is your resolution this year?

Me: Go to bed earlier. Also, write 52 blog posts. I was going to aim for 100, and then I looked at this past year’s track record and realized I was setting myself up for failure. This is a one-post-a-week number, and I’m already behind, but tarnation, I’m going to make this one.

Sean: Five words: Joy, Patience, Humility, Discipline, Compassion.

E: Finish authoring a 90-page Pokémon novel.

A: Earn back my Pony tights (confiscated due to my bloodcurdling screaming habit).

  1. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Me: Yes, with a golden beet. So much so that convinced my Hubbibi to base our main-floor paint colours on them.

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Sean: I stayed in love. I think that’s better. (Direct quote! Aww. Points for you, honey.)

E: Not this year. In JK I was gonna marry Bronwen, but now I’m not planning on marrying anyone.

A: Why can’t I marry my big brother?

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  1. How many one-night stands?

If you count standing up at night to help a small someone go pee or feel better after a nightmare… then lots.

  1. What was your favorite TV program?

Me, Sean: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bojack Horseman.

E: I spend my screen time on Minecraft these days.

A: Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Dinosaur Train.

  1. What new thing(s) did you try in 2015?

Me: Rainbow Loom.

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Sean: Ulysses.

E: A waterslide!

A: Aerialisting.

  1. What was the best book you read?

Me: I’m working on a book post. Please stay tuned! In terms of appropriateness for my life, though, I loved The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

Sean: Game of Thrones is pretty exciting so far.

E: We read the whole Great Brain series at bedtime, and it was awesome.

A: My Princess Adventure storybook.

  1. What do you regret?

Me: Not investigating/fixing the sound-proofing in the new house before moving in. (Auntie Beth, unfortunately for her at-home noise level, is our attached neighbour.)

Sean: Several purchases…

E: Putting my tooth under my pillow. I would rather have my tooth than money. (We’re looking into a strategy to attract the tooth fairy back and offer a deal.)

A: Growing out of my favourite purple leggings.

  1. What decision are you glad you made?

Me: To continue working part-time.

Sean: To come home (again) to Apple.

E: Keeping my second tooth.

A: Being Elsa for Halloween.

  1. What was your favorite film of this year?

Me: Far From the Madding Crowd.

Sean: Ant-Man.

E: Minions movie!

A: Please. It’s always Frozen.

  1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Me: 37, went to the park with my family.

Sean: 38, cleaned up my daughter’s vomit, but on the bright side, had my favourite cake.

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E: I turned 6, and celebrated with an epic game of balloony-bounce with family.

A: I turned three, and everyone got to come to our new house, and I got pyjamas that match my cousin’s!

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  1. What new thing would you like to try in 2016?

Me: Driving to North Carolina for a family reunion – can’t wait!

Sean: Playing guitar and singing.

E: Wearing a watch (preferably Pokémon). Yes, I can tell analog time!

A: Whatever new food looks good.

  1. New fashion item in 2015?

Me: Barefoot sandals.

Sean: My interchangeable NATO Watch Straps.

E: My glasses are pretty fashionable. The arms have airplanes on them.

A: Do you even have to ask? Elsa + tights = ELSA TIGHTS.

  1. What kept you sane?

Me: Same things that drive me crazy: my kids and my students. Also: my Hubbibi, my co-workers, a week at OELC, and a week at Family Camp.

Sean: My wife and my Cipralex.

E: Well, it definitely wasn’t Horizon Chase.

A: I’m three. I reserve the right to be insane.

  1. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Me: It’s always James. And also James. And I didn’t fail to notice that our new PM is adorable, even though his name is not James.

Sean: Elizabeth Olson as the Scarlet Witch was pretty hot.

E: Bob, Stuart, and Kevin.

A: Elsa, Anna, and Rapunzel.

  1. What political issue stirred you the most?

Me: Syrian refugee controversy.

Sean: Harper government’s muzzling of scientists.

E: Equal access to my parents’ gadgets.

A: Being forced to go to the babysitter’s house.

  1. Whom did you miss?

Always Sebastian. Also, please see #4.

  1. Who was the best new person you met?

Me: New OELC staff and participants.

Sean: Our next-door neighbours, Dolores and Leo, are cool. (They use Nordic walking poles!)

E: My best friends (at my new school) Jesse and Alex.

A: Little Emily (as opposed to Auntie Emily. Not actually a new friend, but newly bonded).

  1. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

Me: Music really is the international language – no translation necessary.

Sean: Always keep an edge on your knife, son, always keep an edge on your knife, ‘cuz a good sharp edge is a man’s best hedge against the vague uncertainties of life. (Thanks, Corb Lund.)

E: I’ve (almost) learned to unpack my backpack and bring my lunch bag to the kitchen so the leftovers can go in the fridge.

A: Unwarranted bloodcurdling screams will get me in trouble.

  1. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Movin’ on up, movin’ on out, movin’ on up… Nothin’ can stop me!

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