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We started this month by taking one last road trip in the summer, and across the border to Rochester to visit the Museum of Play and some shopping. This is the third time/year that we’ve went so we also decided to spring for a membership. It takes 3 visits (days) to make the pass worth it, and we already did two days on this trip. So one more visit and we’ll be in the black! By going “later” in the year, it gives us a lot of time to plan a trip next spring or summer.

Apollo started his fourth new school in as many years this year and with that a new route/timetable for dropoff. His school starts earlier than last year so we’ve moved up his sleep schedule to accommodate, and surprisingly the night and morning adjustments have been pretty straightforward. Jovian also started a new school, and it actually feels like a regression because he’s only in his nursery school three days in a week! Fall programs had the first two weeks off (I guess to give everyone time to adjust to the day school routine first) but they kicked off in the latter half of the month.

After an August that felt like fall, we had nice weather (including a couple of days of Indian Summer) during September. Most days were t-shirts and pants, with an optional coat in the morning. Leaves are starting to turn yellow, which feels a bit early, but we’ve already gone Apple picking and farm season is most likely finished for us this year (unless we have a pumpkin trip in October, but I doubt it).

To cap off the month, I went over to Korea for a week. It’s only my second visit this year due to Katana being born and some other weird scheduling/cancellations.

Summer passed by really quickly this year, especially because we didn’t really take a vacation (ok we were in Boston for a few days at the beginning, but that was short). I felt like we didn’t end up doing much because we mostly stayed in the city and didn’t do many road trips. I guess we spent a lot of the time at run-of-the-mill festivals around the city, and went to Wonderland every other week (probably up to 8 trips this year).

But with the end of the month, we’re winding down and getting ready for the school year again. Yet again, both boys are starting new schools which means new routines and schedules. In fact, August was a new schedule too as Jovian stopped going to daycare and went to camp with Apollo (different class though). At least Katana didn’t have much change. She’s still starting on solids (cereal) and hasn’t graduated to other fruits and mashed foods yet. She’s more mobile now (rolling and rotating), but hasn’t figured out how to crawl yet.

The weather started getting colder halfway through the month (kids had to wear long sleeves to school) and it looks like things might stay that way. I was expecting to do some work travel this month, but the trips got cancelled/moved. However, I did end up dealing with a HDD crash at the end of the month and restoring all my data from backups/broken drive.

We started off summer with a quick vacation down to Boston. We had been debating where to go for the Canada Day/July 4th long weekend for a long time now. I did want to goto Ottawa at some point this year, but it would probably have been too crazy with the 150th birthday and 3 kids. So we decided to goto Boston for a few days. This ended up being Katana’s first bus, subway, boat, airplane and train ride of her life – much like how Apollo went through the same thing when he was about 6 months old.

We did the usual summer stuff in July. No programs so Saturday and Sunday mornings were free. We did a couple of trips to Wonderland and started going to farms at the end of the month. I flew down to NYC for a couple of days closer to the end of the month as well. After weird weather in previous months, the weather has been like you would expect in summer.

Katana is more than 4 months old now so she started eating solids. The first week was a mess, but once she got the hang of swallowing, it’s a breeze to feed her (10-15 mins max). She can also roll over both ways and has a lot of fun with toys. But I think her favorite activity is still to play with her brothers!

Well the last blog I made was the recap for May, and now it is June. I guess I didn’t blog at all in June.

It wasn’t all that busy, but I didn’t do anything noteworthy like travel though (so no chance to watch movies or anything). I did play some Hearthstone so is it surprising that I didn’t blog about it this month? Maybe I got stuck on a boss and couldn’t blog my progress? Nah, it was because I wasn’t playing PvE at all. Blizzard changed its rules and you can now finish quests against “friends” so I basically spent time to complete all my quests. I’m glad there’s a new way to accumulate gold but it’s still very difficult to get Epics and Legendaries.

June saw the wrap up of existing extra curricular programs and the school year. We started transitioning to summer schedule and new programs. My mom was in Vancouver for a family reunion for two weeks and we started skating again (once summer started??). We also started planning for a couple of vacations in the summer and later this year.

There was a lot of rain in June, which was unexpected and not normal. Lots of summer thunderstorms and just general overcast and cloudy weather. The temperature was warm enough for shorts for a couple of days, but it was back to long sleeves and long pants by the end of the month!

May finished really quickly. That means that Katana is almost 3 months old! She can now “chat” with us and turn her head to look around at all sorts of interesting things. Still sleeps a lot though. May ending means that June is on us, which means summer vacation is only one month away! Where the school year go?

I traveled down to Mountain View this month for work, although it wasn’t directly for work as I went to Google I/O instead. I’ve tried to get tickets for a few years but this year I was finally picked! It was interesting to visit and hear about all the new Google stuff that’s released this year. If I didn’t go to Google I/O, I would have gone to Korea instead, but fortunately they happened on the same week so I didn’t have to travel for half the month.

California was hot the last day I was there (30°C) and so was Toronto, but the rest of the month was mostly rain. The trees have budded and most are full with leaves, yet the rain keeps on coming. The Toronto Islands and some parts inland are flooding due to the accumulation of water – I don’t think you’re allowed to go to Centre Island until July at the earliest!

While we didn’t get a lot of time to go out and walk around in the neighborhood after dinner, we’ve started doing more outdoor activities and packing the weekend. This month we went to Wonderland for the first time this year, Doors Open, and the York Region Police picnic.

We started April by celebrating Katana’s full moon at our usual restaurant with family. Katana’s first month was uneventful but she seemed to be bigger than her brothers were at their full moon. She’s continued growing well through April and has been visiting parks and shops with the family.

I also went on my first work trip since Katana was born, going down to Dallas for a few nights. Dallas is pretty boring. I also went to a conference this month – FITC (Futurists, Innovators, Technologists, Creatives). This was mostly because 1) it was held in Toronto, and 2) work was the title sponsor so I was able to get a free ticket. It wasn’t the biggest conference I’ve ever been to, nor the smallest. The talks ranged from mediocre to interesting so overall it was pretty middle of the road. I did have to commute downtown for 2 days to attend though, so that was a retro experience.

The weather is nice now and we’ve been going biking (and park) every weekend. Apollo can ride by himself, although he still can’t use the brake properly and needs some motivation to ride without stopping (i.e., someone to chase). Jovian can spin his feet, but doesn’t have enough strength to really push himself on his tricycle yet. April also saw the beginning of a new set of extracurricular classes (for Apollo). This time it’s basketball, swimming and science classes.

I unpacked the patio furniture that was stored over the winter. Winter was not kind to it. Nor is the weather warm enough to really use it (it’s nice that it’s not winter – but not nice enough to sit around outdoors). Hopefully it will be near summer weather in May.

March was exciting because we welcomed a new addition to our family – no not a pet or a new car, but a sister for our two boys! Katana was a little late but she was born healthy and everyone is happy. As you might expect, most of the month was spent taking care of our new baby and everyone getting used to her being around the house now. The brothers seemed to have adjusted well and we’re starting to get into a routine again.

Last month was warm and March was pretty warm to start. But Winter reared its ugly head for one more week – ironically during March Break – and everyone was back in snowboots and sweaters. By the end of the month though, the weather was solidly in the positives. There were even some long days of rain, so Spring is here!

No travel this month due to the baby being born so it was relatively calm. I also tried out a lot of games on mobile since, for a large part of the month, I was just holding Katana while she was asleep.

Nothing much happened in February except that it became…Spring? Well that is strange. About halfway through the month, the weather got warm – several days in the teens, all the snow melted, and then it stayed that way until the end of the month. Will it last into March or will we see a return of winter? Who knows! Except maybe the groundhog who predicted that Spring would come early this year.

This month we also organized and signed up for what the kids have to do for March break and the summer. Summer seems really far away, but at least it is all done.

I played a lot of Hearthstone this month because they had a week and a half where you could complete quests while playing against a “friend”. I ended up playing a lot against my alt account and earned a lot of gold. That was very helpful because the next expansion was just announced and I don’t have nearly enough of the cards from the current expansion yet!

I started January with a lot of travelling. First, I went to Las Vegas to attend CES for the first time! That was exciting, but I only ended up breezing through the trade floor once, and didn’t attend any of the talks at all – it was all work meetings! Plus I was originally planning to go for 4 days to have time for the conference and maybe go to some buffets or shows, but I had to readjust my travel schedule and was only there for 1 night…because…

My trip to Korea that was original scheduled for last December was rescheduled for the week immediately after CES. So I cut short my stay, returned home for the weekend, and flew out again on Monday for the week. This was my first time in Korea in the winter, and it’s pretty boring. I had some time on my last day to go around but it started snowing a little, my running shoes were slippery, and I didn’t want the trip to the airport to be stuck in traffic; so I didn’t do much.

After that, January passed by quickly and was pretty calm. The weather warmed up significantly in January – no real snowfall and temperatures above freezing most days. There was more rain than snow in the month.

I tried to make December simple by doing all the Christmas shopping beforehand, but it turned out that it wasn’t simple at all! This year, Christmas was on the weekend so school went right up to Friday beforehand – and I was scheduled to fly out to Korea for a work trip that week. I would return back home the day before Christmas Eve, but miss out on the last week where we have to hand out gifts to teachers & etc. That meant that I had one less week to prepare everything and had to make sure all the gifts were organized, and cards written (by the kids, which takes a lot longer).

Next, the weather was really cold (-10 every morning + wind chill) so it was a pain to actually get the kids to school (at least they weren’t allowed to play outside). There was also one week which started with a winter storm (10cm) that dropped on a Sunday night. The main roads were clear for rush hour, but not the side streets. Then on the Thursday of that week, there was a surprise blizzard (how does the weather forecast miss this stuff) that dropped another 10cm right before evening rush hour (at least I was able to pick up the kids). Finally there was supposed to be another 10cm on the weekend, but that only ended up being about 2cm. In any case that was a lot of snow to shovel and guarantees a White Christmas.

The week after that, a stomach virus started making the rounds. First Jovian got it, then 5 days later (long incubation!), I got it. Apollo followed a day after me, and then Pauline got it 2-3 days after him. That almost overlapped with Christmas! Both Jovian and Apollo stayed home or had to picked up earlier a couple of times which made the scheduling hectic. At least through all this, my Korea trip got cancelled/postponed, so I was able to take care of the kids.

When the holidays hit, it started getting warmer. We did our usual dinners and family stuff. It was actually pretty light because I took the week between Xmas and New Years off and there weren’t THAT many dinners, so we did a lot of cleaning up around the house. Did some minor Boxing Day shopping (online) and then welcomed in the new year at home.

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

This year I travelled to a bunch of different places for work, and did a bunch of road trips. Next year, I suspect the trips will be fewer:

  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA
  • Mountain View, CA, USA
  • Orlando, FL, USA
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Rochester, NY, USA
  • Scranton, PA, USA
  • Langhorne, PA, USA
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Manhattan, NY, USA

Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14),

This year’s music listening consisted of new music from artists that I enjoy, and a smattering of top KPop and western Top40. At home, I had my usual iTunes music and we used a custom Spotify playlist in the kitchen. In the car, I burned KPop CDs but started listening to a bit of radio towards the end of the year as I didn’t keep up with new KPop releases as much and the music started getting stale. I noticed and am glad that Top40 has shifted to be more house and jungle oriented rather than Hip Hop.

Here’s my list for the year:

  1. 태연 (Taeyeon) – 제주도의 푸른 밤 (The Blue Night of Jeju)

    The Blue Night of Jeju is a cover of, I guess, a classic Korean song (many other Korean artists have covers) and it’s my favorite song from this year for a number of reasons:

    1. It’s by my favorite singer
    2. It’s in the sweet spot of her register
    3. The song and this particular arrangement is catchy
    4. Taeyeon’s music doesn’t typically have guitars so this is unique

    The only problem I have is that I can’t find a place to buy it. I believe it’s only digital, and I have to sign up for a Korean service (melOn) to download it. I’m almost at a stage where I’m going to do that!

  2. 아이유 (IU) – 스물셋 (Twenty Three)

    Pulling an “Adele”, IU wrote a song about her age. I don’t understand it because it’s in Korean, but it’s got a catchy hook. I bought the rest of this album, and this is heads and shoulders above the rest of the tracks; mostly because it’s a pop song, rather than in the style of her more recent albums (i.e., Red Shoes)
  3. Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

    This song has a great hook (and not much else beyond that), but that’s enough to make it a great pop song. It’s funny that Selena Gomez collaborated on this song because in a way it’s a lot like her songs – the same words repeated over and over again.
  4. 태연 (Taeyeon) with Dean – Starlight

    Taeyeon’s solo singles are typically in the R&B or soft rock genre, which is not a type of music I enjoy too much. This song is typical of those genres, there is no strong melody or beat, nor is it super catchy or showcase her voice (in fact I feel it’s mostly Dean’s song). However, like Rain, it portrays a feeling and so the song grew on me. I like the video as well.
  5. 태연 (Taeyeon) – Why

    When I heard about the title track from Taeyeon’s second EP, I was a bit disappointed because I thought it would be in a similar vein to I. However, when the song finally came out, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty catchy – it’s a dance track rather than R&B. I think this would be the song that epitomizes 2016 summer for me.

    I didn’t like the original video for this song, but the dance version is great. The choreography reminds of Michael Jackson dancing!

    It’s tough to pick the better song between this and Starlight from Taeyeon’s second EP. I like Why more right now, but I think Starlight will have more longevity – hence the ranking.

  6. Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – This Is What You Came For

    This song is good almost entirely due to Rihanna’s scat-ing, which I find funny because when Rihanna started out, I thought she was a weak singer with a small range.
  7. Justin Bieber – Lose Yourself

    This is one of the first songs that I noticed that started having the stripped down approach to songwriting. It’s not really acoustic, just that there is not a lot of instrumentation and it is focused on singing. I think it has aged pretty well since I heard it in early 2016.
  8. 티파니 (Tiffany) – Once In A Lifetime

    Tiffany had her solo debut album this year, and while I didn’t like her two singles, I thought this track was the standout track. I’m not sure if it’s worth buying the entire album though.
  9. The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming

    This song is so new that there isn’t a music video or even a good audio-only version of this song on YouTube. I didn’t like the first Daft Punk x Weeknd collaboration that much (see below), but when I first heard this song, I knew it would be great. It just sounds like Daft Punk, and their cameo in the bridge is perfect. What I missed is that The Weeknd is doing his Michael Jackson imitation, but when the radio mentioned that, it clicked and made a lot of sense. Because it’s so new, I’m afraid that it might not have that much longevity, otherwise it would have ranked higher.
  10. Just Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

    This is a happy song from a movie soundtrack – sounds like it’s repeating the success of Pharrel William’s Happy from 2013! Great pop song for this year, but I don’t think it’s going to have a lot of longevity.
  11. 세븐틴 (SEVENTEEN) and 에일리 (Ailee) – Q&A

    This is one of the only KPop songs which isn’t by artists that I like. In fact it almost doesn’t matter who sings it, the song is catchy and the singers are stepping over each other which makes it sound complex.
  12. 윤아 (Yoona) with 10cm – 덕수궁 돌담길의 봄 (Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway)

    This is a standard pop duet with a catchy hook. I think Yoona’s voice is under-rated (given that she is supposed to be the face of SNSD) but she’s trying to hard in this video.
  13. Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

    I guess Bruno is creating a new niche for himself now that hip hop & R&B are dying on top40. Instead of house or becoming a singer/songwriter, he’s continuing his Uptown Funk trend and becoming the leading funk singer of the ’10s. This song is really good when you first hear it, because every part of it is something different. But it falls off a cliff pretty quick once you hear it often. All the unique elements become regular.
  14. 태연 (Taeyeon) – Rain

    This song is an earworm for me but overall I didn’t enjoy it that much (again because it’s R&B/soft rock).
  15. The Weeknd ft Daft Punk – Star Boy

    The Weeknd and Daft Punk, two of my favorite musical artists collaborating on a track. This is going to be awesome! Well it turns out that it wasn’t that great. It’s not a turd, but the beat wasn’t as catchy as other Daft Punk tracks and The Weeknd doesn’t singing is not as melodic as it could be (although I noticed that most of The Weeknd’s singles don’t really involve singing like his early works).
  16. Selena Gomez – Hands To Myself

    I got Selena Gomez’ album for free last year as part of a Microsoft Groove promotion, but didn’t really listen to it (only listened to Same Old Love). Then I heard this song on the radio and added it to my playlist. The song is actually not noteworthy, except one line in the bridge that makes it worth it.

Typically I try and get ready for Christmas and the new year in November, that means doing all of our Christmas shopping before Black Friday (because the 2 day holiday gives us a long weekend to travel) and getting my year-end blogs ready. This year, I didn’t really get much of that accomplished in that order, but I think it’ll still be OK in the end.

We didn’t plan a trip over American Thanksgiving because Pauline is back at work now. However, I did end up travelling to NYC and staying overnight, except that happened as 2 separate trips to NYC (one overnight, and one day trip). Both were for work and because of the compressed schedule, I didn’t have much time aside from work. Surprisingly, I hadn’t been to New York for more than a year before these trips!

We ended up doing the majority of our Christmas shopping around Black Friday. There are still a couple of outliers but hopefully we can avoid the malls next month. We didn’t actually score much on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but most of the purchases were strategic to check off our Christmas list.

We didn’t go see any Santa Claus parades this year, but we put up the Christmas tree for the first time in a few years. The kids actually understand what it means now so it’s worthwhile – plus putting it up early means it’ll be around for almost 2 months.

The kids’ fall programs have begun finishing so we’ll have to find some more things for them to do during the next month. But overall, December looks to be calm and not as hectic since we did a lot of preparations in November. Hope it actually turns out that way!

Oops, it’s now well into November and I just remembered that I didn’t post a recap for October! Well here’s my recollection (which to be honest isn’t much different than trying to remember what we did in the month during the last week of the month).

I felt that this October was cold and the kids were in a flux of trying to wear their fall jackets, but layering a sweater under. Eventually halfway through the month, I gave up and just brought out their winter jackets. Luckily, the one weekend/day that we had to spend some time outside was decently warm – I’m talking about Hallowe’en of course. They were able to wear a sweater under their costumes and run around!

This year, we didn’t go to as many Hallowe’en events as before. Apollo was a lion (again) and Superman and Jovian was Elmo and a snowman. They both had a couple of other costumes which they didn’t get a chance to wear. Apollo is at an age where he enjoys Hallowe’en, but Jovian is scared of all things (skeletons, Frankenstein, spiders, witches, etc)

While looking around for Hallowe’en stuff in early October, I noticed they already had Christmas stuff in the stores! That’s pretty early – I wish we could be all prepared for Christmas already, but that’s still 2 months away.

September was tough. Just like last September, we had to start a new routine as a new school year started. Apollo went to a new school with a new schedule (5 days a week this time) and Jovian continued his daycare routine from August (also 5 days a week). Both kids are gone 5 days a week because Pauline is back at work now which means there’s less flexibility in the time. We also have a number of weekday evening programs and weekend programs (weekend programs aren’t that big of a deal yet). The time compression is the largest hurdle to overcome and I don’t think we’re settled in a routine yet – every day feels different, which is what is making it tough.

To make matters worse, I was gone for a week in September on a trip to Korea – meaning we had to involve the grandparents for school pickup/drop off. Oh and to make matters worse x 2, Jovian was hospitalized for a couple of nights before my trip so even if we had some semblance of routine, that got completely blow up in the middle of the month. Hopefully we can settle down in October!

The weather got cold quickly, and it’s actually in this inconvenient state where it is too cold for fall jackets (i.e., windbreakers) in the morning (for the kids) but not cold enough to actually wear winter-ish jackets. The AC was still running in our house most of the month though, but we finally switched to windows by the end of the month. I have a feeling that we’re not going to have many days of window weather this fall.

I had a really long birthDAY as I was in Korea for the week on business. My flight back was later in the day on my birthday, and because of the International Date Line, I arrived back in Toronto a few minutes before my flight departed – so my birthday ended up being about 36 hours! Seoul was really hot and humid so I didn’t do too much. Walking around side caused my arms to get all wet from the humidity and staying inside was a bit too cold (they like to set their ACs to 18°C).

Other than that, we did our usual August stuff, which was to start going to farms and orchards to pick fruit and vegetables. Both kids are now in daycare/summer camp so they have their own activities during the weekday. We used this month as a practice/transition month so that the kids are used to waking up early (and sleeping a little earlier) as well as being away from their parents for most of the day. Luckily, the transition seems to have gone pretty well.

The weather has been hot (basically everywhere in the world) so we didn’t spend too much time outdoors – unfortunately that means we didn’t use our backyard either. The summer Olympics in Rio occurred and there were no disasters so I didn’t pay a lot of attention. Hearthstone released a new adventure so I played that for a bit, but mostly concentrated on Star Trek Timelines in terms of game-playing.

We started off July on vacation. This year, I had Friday (Canada Day) and Monday (Independence Day) off so we went on a road trip for kid activities. We passed through Rochester to visit the Strong Museum again, Easton PA to goto the Crayola Experience and finally to Langhore PA to visit Sesame Place. The goal of the trip was to goto Sesame Place, which is like Disneyland for Sesame Street. We spent a full day there, which was sufficient to do all the non-water park stuff. If we wanted to do waterpark stuff, I think we could’ve stayed another day.

I had one work trip this month and it was to Dallas of all places. There’s a pretty big office there (~1000 people) and it was my first time visiting that office, Dallas or Texas. I only went for ~2 days but to be honest there wasn’t a lot of stuff to do there anyways. The weather was exceedingly hot (when I landed at 10PM it was still 32°C and daytime high was at 38-39°C – car thermostat hit 100°F) so I basically just went from car to office/hotel. I also went a week+bit after the shooting/killing of 5 Dallas police officers but didn’t notice a lot of effect from that (flags were half-staff). I ended up driving past the building where the shooter was cornered (still blocked off) and past the Kennedy sites (book depository and grassy knoll).

July was too hot to spend a lot of time outside, that means no parks or backyard play for the kids. In the middle of the month, Apollo started his summer camp so he didn’t get too antsy (plus at the beginning of the month there were a lot of new toys from our trips and Jovian’s birthday).

June started with a trip to Korea for a couple of days for work. Like the previous trip, it was pretty uneventful and short – I did get a morning of sightseeing in before having to fly back though.

This month, we tried to eat dinner a little bit earlier and then go out for walks & stuff afterwards. We didn’t do that as often as I would like but did go a couple of times. We also finished our backyard (more or less). Deck/fence has been stained and our patio furniture is assembled. That provides a good alternative to going to the park if we don’t have a lot of time – we can just let the kids loose in there. I think the only thing we need now is an umbrella. It’s also better to let them in the backyard as the weather gets hotter and hotter in the summer, they can quickly come back in for some A/C or a drink; although the drawback is they can’t ride their bike there.

June also saw the end of all of Apollo’s extra-curricular programs and pre-school. He’s on to his summer schedule (read: no classes) so gets to spend a lot of time around us now. Jovian celebrated his second year old birthday this month! He’s now older than Apollo was when Jovian was born – therefore, supposedly an independent toddler now!

Like the previous months of this year, the weather was crazy in May. It actually snowed on one weekend in the middle of May (no accumulation but there was a lot of flurries and hail). That was winter’s last hurrah though, because after that it was almost summer weather (with AC on). To celebrate, we started thinking about summer furniture – eventually we decided on a set from IKEA. I’m not sure how much we’ll actually use our patio set and it might get in the way of the kids when they want to play in the backyard. We were finally able to go to parks too and started the kids on their bikes again. Apollo still remembers how to ride but he still has to work on his strength (both in his legs and grip for braking). Jovian can sit on a bike, but his feet aren’t long enough to pedal yet!

I didn’t play a lot of Hearthstone this month once I got over the excitement of the new expansion (basically finished the quests to get the free packs). My game-of-choice is still Star Trek Timelines and I think I’m in a weird position where I’m starting to get a decent crew of max level characters and can do well in the events; but the difficult of the shuttle missions are starting to spiral so that my crew isn’t capable of finishing them. Even spending more money wouldn’t really solve the problem because if I have better characters, I would still need to spend a lot of time, resources and shuttle missions to get them to a usable level.

April was a non-typical month in many ways. First, I spent half of it away from home on two trips. The first was a multiple-family trip to Orlando to visit Disney World. We had 3 families and 6 kids in total under 4 so there was a lot of running around and crying at various points of the trip. We were there for a little over a week and visited all 4 of the Disney theme parks. Immediately the day after I came back, I was on another plan to Korea for a work trip. This one was short, only 4 nights, but I still had to spend a lot of time on the plane doing the cross-Pacific travel. Luckily, I had some buffer room at the beginning of the month and at the end of the month to be at home and have some normalcy.

The second reason that April was weird was that it was actually very cold. Unless it snows a lot in May, April will be the snowiest month this winter! The temperatures were under seasonal every day except the week that I was in Korea – there were even days, when we were in Orlando, where the high was below zero (thankfully, we were in +30°C…maybe that’s too hot though)!

I continued playing Star Trek Timelines this month and have a nice crew of max level characters now. I’m actually running out of things to do every day in that game because in building up my crew, I have a big stash of unused equipment so future characters don’t require too much grinding (until they are high level). This month also saw the release of Hearthstone’s Whispers of The Old Gods expansion and standard format. I opened about 25 packs so far and only have 1 legendary (+ the free C’Thun). C’Thun decks are pretty fun at the moment, but that might be a novelty factor.

The old adage that March comes “In like a lion, and out like a lamb” wasn’t close to the truth this year. We had a snow storm right at the beginning of March, and another one in the middle (more of an ice storm rather than snow). There was one nice weekend, but otherwise the weather was cold – not spring-like at all. It started raining a lot towards the end of the month with seemingly more rain/snow combos in April. And to think, they predicted one of the earliest Springs on record this year!

I was supposed to fly down to NY this month for some meetings but that got moved a couple of times before being finally postponed indefinitely. I might end up flying for work in April instead now. I spent most of my time this month waiting for slow reveals of the new Hearthstone expansion (Whispers of the Old Gods) and levelling my characters in Star Trek Timelines. I finally got a gamepad for my Gear VR so games are (a little) more interesting. Although, nothing I would pick up and play because its fun.

February started with a work trip to sunny California, although it ended up being almost as cold as it was in Toronto (Toronto had a heat spell with almost double digit positive temperatures). I brought a light down jacket down south with me and it was almost not warm enough. Thankfully there is heating in the hotel – who would have thought it would be that cold? My trip was the week right before Super Bowl 50, which means that 2 out of the last 3 years I visited the Super Bowl host city the week before the game (2014 was in NY).

When I came back from my trip, it was Chinese New Year. We did the usual family meals but there weren’t a lot of other activities for the kids (they had some carnivals at Chinese school too). After the Chinese New Year period ended, we actually made it out to playground (once) because it was decently warm. However, the typical weather was still pretty cold – this winter was really light on snow (only time we had snow around for a couple of days, kids were sick so couldn’t play outside) but the temperature varied wildly. By the end of the month, it looked like the winter was ending, but it actually sounds like it might snow a bit in March.

February was exciting in terms of the hockey season, because it was time for the annual selloff! At the beginning of the season, we signed a lot of expiring (and middling) deals and it was time to reap the benefits. There was one blockbuster (Phaneuf trade) and we accumulated a lot of draft picks over the next few years, so the management team got their job done. Now we’ll have to see what happens in the season because a lot of the regulars are on the IR/LTIR, or traded; and the Marlies are doing so well that you don’t want to disturb a good thing.

This winter was supposed to be light because of El Niño and January was half like that. There was very little snow, and when it did snow, it was followed by a day of warm temperatures and the accumulation melted away. One reason for the lack of snow might be El Niño, but another reason might be because the temperatures were fairly chilly (although not too chilly, it was typically above -10°C). Apollo had to wear snow pants to school everyday, but there wasn’t a lot of snow to play with (and not enough to build a snowman or go tobogganing).

There was one week where Apollo didn’t have to wear snow pants, and that was when we spent a week in Nevada/Arizona visiting Las Vegas & the Grand Canyon (although the Grand Canyon was cold enough for snow pants). The trip was alright, but not noteworthy. Otherwise, this month was a typical winter month where we tried to find indoor activities for the kids since they couldn’t go outside to play.

Apollo started skating this month. He didn’t attend classes but rather just hung onto our arms. He doesn’t have a lot of stamina to skate a long time, but is able to pick it up fairly quickly using us and pylons. He can stand and shuffle a few steps by himself, which helps our backs since we don’t have to hold on to him all the time. It’s going to take awhile before his cruising around the rink though.

I played a couple of games this month, mostly spending my time on Star Trek Timelines. It’s not a great game, but it appeals to the OCD collector in me.

We spent the first two weeks of December finishing up our Christmas shopping, wrapping and preparations that we didn’t get to do in November. It wasn’t that bad this year and surprisingly I don’t think we bought any gifts online! That meant the next two weeks were rather light until the actual Christmas festivities started. We didn’t book any trips over the break so I ended up working most of the days. There wasn’t a lot happening at work anyways, so that too was light.

The weather definitely started getting colder. We had our first snowfall the week before Winter officially arrived (although there was no accumulation). The random warm day(s) trend continued as Christmas Eve was in the double digits (a White Christmas was nowhere to be seen) and then there was a snowstorm (with accumulation) before the new year. Of course, it rained immediately after that so there was slush everywhere. I had a cough for basically the entire month as the kids caught something at school/class and they shared it with us.

Christmas break was not too crazy, we had dinners with the usual family and suspects and didn’t really partake in Boxing Day shopping (did some shopping online though). The kids didn’t get as many gifts this year as last (on purpose) but there was still a lot to open. Even with the reduced supply, I think there are too many gifts – Apollo still hasn’t really played with his presents from his birthday three months ago!