2016 is now over, yet whenever I see or write 2016, that number still has the “new year” feel to me. Usually that feeling only lasts a few months, but it feels really odd this year. I’m not stuck in 2015 though, seeing the year 2015 makes it feel like a while ago.

Late-night snack at the SLS Las Vegas in January

It’s not like 2016 was forgettable, there was a lot of stuff that happened. This was the year that…

  • Apollo started Junior Kindergarten (i.e., real school)
  • Traveled 4 times overseas for work
  • The Leafs got the #1 pick in the draft and picked their franchise 1C – Auston Matthews
  • Both kids are big into Paw Patrol and Lego/Duplo
  • Everyone had to re-adjust sleep and wake up schedules and figure out drop-off/pick-up routines – welcome to the next 15 years
  • Vacationed to Disney World, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sesame Place
  • Donald Trump got elected as the President of the US

Chinese New Year display at chinese school

One thing that did change this year was that I did a lot less development work. On the work side, my role has shifted and I’ve been spending more time on product/strategy/management and much less writing code. I probably only had a couple bursts of code writing this year, probably amounting to less than 2 months of the year. On the personal/hobby side, it was almost non-existent. I guess it was a combination of 1) nothing piqued my interest enough to build, 2) It’s too difficult to get mindshare even if you build something. I wonder if the dip in writing code is going to be a trend or just a blip this year?

Atop Twin Peaks in San Francisco in February

My work travel shifted this year. I rarely went to NYC (only twice, and in the same month) or Silicon Valley (only once). Instead, I went to Dallas once and Korea 4 times. The Asia trips eat up a lot of time (usually spend 2-3 days flying and 3 days at work) and I didn’t even gain status with an airline from it! I would have been fine with fewer trips overseas as it’s always to the same destination and you don’t get a lot of freedom when travelling for work. It was also difficult to organize the household when I’m travelling and Pauline’s back at work, so I want to do that less. At the same time, it’s almost at a point where the amount of travel will dictate my career path.

Sharing a book in Rochester

While I was travelling, one thing that kept coming up in my mind is that there a lot of parents with only a single child; and they are doting on them incessantly or being overwhelmed even as both parents handle a single child. Now that Jovian is older, I have more perspective with looking after two children at once. It’s another ballgame with more than one, but not because it is a lot of work. It’s a different experience for both the child and the parents when there is only a single child, the parents have more opportunity and ability to focus on them.

With Cars in Orlando

Both kids are older and more independent. Jovian has progressed to a point where he can play constructively with Apollo (instead of just pushing or taking things from him) and its heartening to see the brothers interact. While Jovian still takes advantage of Apollo, Apollo is genuinely willing to take care of Jovian. Both kids are now in school or daycare 5 days a week so they don’t spend a lot of time at home, and we’ve gotten used to doing dropoffs and pickups (welcome to the next 15 years).

Joking with Aladdin and Jasmine at Disney

Apollo is at a point where milestones are difficult to recognize and there are multiple tracks of learning between school, friends and family. He knows a little bit of math (no division), can struggle through reading (sight words and basic phonics) and is starting to draw recognizable scenes. We’ve spent less time with Jovian on the basics than we did with Apollo, but he seems to be doing OK – recognizes the alphabet, sings a lot of songs, and is a regular motormouth.

Having brunch with Winnie the Pooh & gang

This year, my life felt like a 80/20 scenario where 80% of the time, it’s driven by logistics around the kids. Then 20% of the time I’m travelling and it’s all about work. Now that the boys are older, I think they should be more independent and less clingy, but I feel the opposite is actually true.

Jovian’s happy that he has cake on his birthday

Since they are older, they are in less confined/controlled environments and can end up in more circumstances where they actively need our help (i.e., being sick, need to get to a program). One example of this is having to get them to school on time every day. A lot of time is spent figuring this out, and I don’t think it’s going to get any easier in the next couple of years.

Eating dinner with Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street friends

Star Trek Timelines was my go-to game for the entire year as it was on mobile and pushed my OCD buttons. I also spent time playing Blizzard games (Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and even a little bit of WoW to complete a quest). I tried a variety of other mobile games and board games on mobile, but nothing else really stuck. I powered up the XBOX360 later in the year to introduce Apollo to some video games.

Down at the harbourfront

It is between spending time on all the little things associated to kids, and existing hobbies like games, that I felt like I didn’t pick up any new hobbies or new experiences. It’s not that I was bored, just that on the year end reflection, it’s hard to identify what was unique about this year. In the past, the unique thing(s) would be travel but this year’s travel was “on rails” (for work) or to destinations that were of interest to the kids. What defines a year will continue to shift in future years to be more kid-oriented, but perhaps this was the year where I have self-consciously hit the inflection point.

On top of the Thomson Hotel

We got together with friends less this year. One reason is because a lot of us have kids now and it’s difficult to do large gatherings or events because they have to be kid friendly and have enough room for friends, partners, kids, etc. That’s tough to organize. Then we have to take into account schedules. Not just whether someone is busy, but when their kids’ programs or naps begin and end. That means a lot less of going to a person’s house and even going out to eat.

Fall & Hallowe’en in a single picture

We still see Apollo’s friends a bit, although not as much as before. Jovian doesn’t have his own circle of friends yet. Between these 2 group of friends, and our own adult friends, I was hoping to ensure that we have a meal with at least one family/set of friends every week. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution but just a general goal. I think I achieved this about half the time, but it’s difficult to juggle schedules and plan.

Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

At the end of the year, I had a couple of days to spend with Apollo because he was at home sick. Physically, he’s four – but when he is away from other kids, he looks older. And he’s at an age where he not only remembers what happens but why things are happening. I think the trend next year will continue to be focused on kids, and how to bring them up “in the right way”; but Apollo has sufficient life experience, communicative capability, and personal desires that he can see me as a role model and a friend, in addition to his parent. It makes our interactions more important and meaningful, and I hope that I can be more of a mentor than a parent to him.

Apollo loves Santa, but Jovian is still a little wary