Seasons Greetings! 2011 Holiday Letter

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Getting Ready for Santa
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our friends and family! Here's all the major happenings! Enjoy.

What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
Jessica: I successfully relocated us to Vancouver in a relatively short amount of time. We felt a huge relief when we finished the house and put it on the market. However we couldn't relax just yet. Having a showing nearly everyday with Milo was exhausting. We had to keep the place extra tidy and constantly put away his toys.

We donated 10 carloads of stuff, clothing and furniture locally to fit in a 2 bedroom apartment from a 3 bedroom house. All our hard work and that of our friends too, helped us sell the house before we boarded the train out West. We are living simple now and shake our heads when we think about all possessions we had and held onto. We didn't need that and hope to never own that much stuff again. (Since moving, we have donated another 2 carloads of household items and 6 bags of clothing!)

Mark: For me, there are two. Moving to Vancouver (which includes getting the house ready to be sold and then selling it), and getting a job I've always wanted.

As you all likely know, we spent a lot of time remodelling and adding on to our house in Ottawa several years ago. Well, as of early this summer, it still wasn't done. I spent several months this summer working on the house and coordinating contractors so we could get it done and list it. It was a great feeling to see it all done (though it did feel weird -- it didn't feel like our house any more!) and then sold.

Next, it was a huge accomplishment and great moment to get a new job in the industry that I have wanted to join since high school. I am now working in the animation and visual effects industry. I'm on the technical side near the bottom of the ladder. We moved to Vancouver with the intention of downsizing so both Jessica and I could find professions that we love. I'm now in it!

Tell us the best moment of 2011 so far.
When we arrived in Vancouver after 4 days on the cross-country train ride, the Service Manager says to us, "Welcome to Vancouver!" It was a perfect movie-like moment. Milo immediately turned to look at the uneventful train station platform and building only to say, "I want to go to Vancouver Mommy!" It just wasn't what he expected at first. We had a good laugh about that.

Mark: In April of this year we took a trip to Vancouver to scout it out (we didn't know we were going to move here yet). Because it was April in the Pacific Northwest, we got rain. Shocking. While at the Vancouver aquarium, Jessica bought Milo his first umbrella. I was outside waiting with some friends. Milo came running out underneath a fun umbrella festooned with all kinds of aquatic life. He saw me and ran up with the biggest smile on his face. I bent down, picked him up, and gave him a big hug! His pure joy in that moment was unforgettable!!

What was the biggest challenge you’ve overcome this year?
Leaving my job with grace. After 7 years in Ottawa, I made the difficult choice of leaving Deloitte to do something more fulfilling. I'm thankful for all the great advice and support that I received from friends and family. It was the right thing to do but certainly had me second-guessing myself since the people at my job are so wonderful. It's one of those jobs that when it's good, it's like our team can do anything. I left on good terms and also left the door open to reconnect should I change my mind or consider working at the company in a different capacity.
Mark: Leaving our friends and our house that we worked so hard for in Ottawa. Leaving our friends was the hardest of the two. Uprooting your life isn't just a logistical headache. Emotionally, it is very difficult. While we won't be seeing them quite as often, we know that we have made life-long friends. While it was extremely difficult, we know it is worth it so we can be close to family.

What’s the best advice you have to give others?
At lot of people have asked Mark and I how we could just relocate across country. I think we both are really connected to our gut feelings and listen to them. There's nothing scary about starting over when you believe in yourself and each other. We moved cross-country with no jobs and an apartment we found on Craigslist. If you get that achy feeling like things need to change, then I think they need to!
Mark: To not be brought down by "failure" and to always believe in your dreams and to pursue them with conviction. While it was painful to realize that it was going to take me too long to start my company and that I wouldn't be able to do it, that realization opened up a set of possibilities which I thought had closed behind me long ago. Ever since high school, I have dreamed of entering the animation and/or visual effects industry. Now I have. I recently started a job at Digital Domain - one of the premier visual effects companies in the world. From there, I will be able to build my second (third?) career into what I always wanted. If you believe, work very hard towards your goal, and don't give up, it is never too late to make your dreams come true.

What will you miss most this year?
I will miss being in the heart of festivities on Canada Day. Maybe we'd go to brunch, but then stay home while friends traveled in to visit. We'd grill or make burritos and serve margaritas practically all day. There is such an electric feeling on Elgin Street and so much red! We even saw the Queen a few years ago on Parliament Hill! It was such a tradition to have people over, that I will really miss it.
Mark: Our friends in Ottawa. We will miss everyone there. Though we know that we will see them again before too long. It will be much harder to go to their houses, to go to the pub, or to go on an impromptu outing. And Milo will miss his friends as well!

What are your goals for next year?
Driving towards a career I am passionate about. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and while this shouldn't come as huge shock - consulting and IT are not it!

I need more creativity, more meaning in my work and above all, I don't need to work under extreme pressure and expectations. I already put high expectations on myself, so choosing to step out of a challenging career makes sense to me at this point in my life. Taking care of my family and myself is more important than any job, however I know that I can find a good career that satisfies my goals.
Mark: To settle down in our new life in Vancouver and to get in the swing of things. That means spending lots of quality time with Jessica and Milo (the two of them are the most important things in my life!), successfully starting Milo in Montessori School, working a reasonable set of hours every day, to prove myself in my new job, and to see our family and friends in all parts of North America as often as we can. Life is about experiences. It is the small ones with the people we care about that we remember most. So my goal is to open my eyes and experience the environment we have made for ourselves and to enjoy the people we are with.

Milo's Corner (favorite words, phrases and ever growing vocabulary, age 2 1/2). Lots of full sentences, but these are uniquely Milo!

Oh crap. (luckily only said this for a few days!)
Don't touch my trains. They're delicate.
You gonna organize it Mommy?
Papa/Mama is in trouble.
Big Machines
Pantalones (Spanish for "pants")
Zapatos (Spanish for "shoes")
Oso (Spanish for "bear")
Despacio (Spanish for "slow")
Circle Bread (English muffins)
Play trains "wit" me
Truck has blinking eyes (hazard lights)
Watch "Light-Ming" McQueen
Watch Max and Ruby
Santa going to bring me lots of presents and the other boys and girls will be sad.

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