Thursday, December 31, 2020

Reflecting on 2020 :: Planning for 2021

2020 - Where do I even begin? A year full of unforeseen challenges, hardship, grief, adapting and learning. Just like many of us, we are as full-time working parents trying to navigate homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kids and the dog between meetings for the past 9 months (and counting). It's exhausting. There is no doubt about it. Stress takes a heavy toll on physical and mental health. 2020 is finally coming to an end, I want to take a few moments to look back, reflect on the past year as well as set our goals and intentions for 2021.
2020Recap_SydneysFashionDiary (1)
{Outfit details: Jumpsuit | Chanel WOC | VCA necklace}
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly created unique opportunities and new habits for our family:

1. Courtney got a job: Courtney is currently tutoring a 4th grader twice a week. The pandemic has created this unique/perfect job for her. She is able to earn some extra cash, develop a sense of responsibility, learn basic work ethics and most importantly, still able to concentrate on studying.  

2. Spend more quality time with my family: A true fact - Before the pandemic, I rarely got to walk Madelyn to the bus stop. My husband and I left for work early and couldn't stay with the kids until the bus arrives. My in-laws watched the kids before and after school. Since I am working from home, I am able to walk Madelyn to the bus stop 3 times a week for the past 9 months. I truly appreciate and enjoy the little things.

3. Fall in love with baking and cooking: While I have always loved baking, I didn’t develop such a passion for it until this past year. I love spending time in the kitchen and enjoy baking/cooking for friends and family. The past few months, I really took time and tried more complex recipes. Cooking/baking is definitely a therapeutic experience for me.

4. Learn how to slow down: Another true fact - Before the pandemic, I rarely sat down and watched a movie. I am always on the go. I like to stay busy and active. The pandemic has certainly forced the world to slow down. I am now embracing a slower life. We watched many movies, played lots of board games, took countless walks and bike rides together as a family.

5. On board with the idea of working from home permanently: Before the pandemic, I wasn't a fan of working from home. I wasn't as productive when I was at home (too many distractions with the kids). Even though, my team was working from home regularly, I never did. I like to be in the office and interact with my co-workers. Since March, I had no choice but to work from home. It took me 3 months to get used to being 100% remote. Then I started liking the idea of having more time to sleep, eliminating the daily commute (1.5 - 2 hours every day) and most importantly, having flexible schedules. After the pandemic is over, I am hoping for a hybrid-working model.2020Recap_SydneysFashionDiary (1)I know many of us have been severely impacted by the virus. I personally know people who tested positive, have lost their loved ones, lost their job, got divorced and/or struggling with mental health all due to the virus. The virus affects us all. Everyone's struggling with it in one way or another. We are eternally grateful that the pandemic hasn't affected us as severely as it has for other families. Looking back at the past 12 months, we have a lot to be grateful for.

  • Career-wise: I shared in this post that hubby took a leap of faith and made a career change from his job of 11 years. His first day was the first day of lockdown. I remembered asking him - Did we make the right decision leaving one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S for a start-up company? Starting a new job during a global pandemic is a scary ordeal. Thankfully, the company is doing exceptionally well. As for me, my job/company is also doing fantastic during the pandemic. The shares scored a new record high of almost $1500 per share earlier this month (it was less than $400 when I first started working there). Who would have thought the bonus earned during the pandemic is the biggest one in my career? The company that I work for has earned the best company workplace culture awards 2020 by Forbes (top 50 large companies). The last 9 months have been a dream workwise. Because our jobs are secured, we are financially stable. For that, I am forever grateful.
  • Travel: One of the things that I probably have missed the most in 2020 was being able to travel freely. The BTS concert in Chicago was canceled in June but I am so happy that we were able to take 3 road trips this year with the kids. Trip to Michigan, trip to the Great Smokies, trip to West Virginia.
  • Physical and mental health: I wanted to run 1000 miles in 2020 but unfortunately, I did not make the goal. I did really good at the beginning of the pandemic but fell off the wagon towards the end of the year. I ran the most in May (81 miles) and April (70 miles). I am setting this goal again for 2021. During the pandemic, mental health is even more important than physical health. I am thankful that my kids are adjusting well. They don't complain much but I know it's really hard on them. We decided to let them continue playing sports. I know the risk of potential exposure is higher but team sports can do wonders for their mental health. Tennis season is over but Courtney is back to practice this Spring. She is currently taking tennis lessons at a local tennis club to improve her skills. Madelyn is back to competitive gymnastics. She is practicing 6 -8 hours every week to get ready for her competition in February. 
  • Home projects & purchases: During the lockdown, we got to finish Courtney's room (which we put off off for awhile). We also purchased a Tesla for hubby last year. It might not be an exciting purchase for some of you but living in a small town, it was exciting for us. I only know one person who's driving a Tesla in my circle of friends. 
  • Financial goals: We are thrilled to achieve our financial goals for 2020. This is a huge accomplishment for us considering 2020 feels like the worst year ever. We scheduled a Zoom call with our personal financial advisor next week to go over some numbers for the new year. I am quite optimistic and wanted to set even bigger goals for 2021.
  • Our health: The thing I am most thankful for is the health of my family. My Dad turned 80 years old last November. I will do whatever it takes to protect my parents from getting the virus.
{Abrams Falls - Taken during our trip to the Great Smokies}

What's next for 2021? 
There are still a lot of unknowns for the coming year. Thank goodness, the vaccine is here. I am hopeful that things will be back to somewhat normal by June. Below is our to-do list and plans for 2021 (based on what we know for now)

Continue to work/study from home:
  • I will continue to work from home until the summer of 2021. It could be longer but that's the plan for now. There are still so many unknowns at the moment so I am going to take it one day at a time.
  • Courtney will continue to do 100% online learning and Madelyn will continue with the hybrid model. Again, we are going to take one day at a time. These schedules work for everyone in our household so we are going to keep it that way
  • Hubby started going back to the office twice a week for some important meetings but since the company is so small (only 25 people), the risk of potential exposure is low.


  • We are supposed to take the kids to Japan this coming Spring break. We planned it for awhile but had to postpone due to the pandemic. I wanted to wait until everything is back to normal so that we can fully enjoy the experience. However, I did book the first international trip somewhere else instead. Fingers crossed that things will start looking up soon.

Planned medical procedures:
  • I am scheduled to get a LASIK enhancement in the next couple of months. It's been 11 years since I got my first LASIK procedure. Still have to go through several appointments before the actual procedure. Hopefully, my vision will reach the 20/20 level after the correction.
  • Madelyn will be continuing with her dental journey. She wasn't blessed with a perfect smile and I don't mean it in a negative way. It's fine, just needed some work done on her teeth. It's a 2-year journey that requires multiple phases. She started her first treatment last month. She now has 2 expanders in her mouth - one for the upper jaw and one for the lower. It breaks my heart to see how uncomfortable she was at first but she's getting used to it. I know it will be worthwhile in the end to achieve a picture perfect smile. I took this picture last month to document her "before" smile. Having straight teeth and a beautiful smile will boost her confidence and self-esteem. I'd rather get it done while she's still young.
{Madelyn's "before" smile}

Planned home projects & purchases: 

  • We finished Courtney's room so this year, it's Madelyn's turn. Hubby has some amazing ideas for her room and I can't wait to see his vision become a reality. 
  • Another item on my list is a couple of raised garden beds for my backyard. I know someone locally who can build this type of garden bed. My Dad has a green thumb so I for sure will get lots of tips and help from him. I can't wait to grow my own vegetables. 
  • Another item on our this year's to do list is replacing the carpet for the entire house. We held off another year to make sure the puppy stage is over. I can't remember the last time Finn had an accident in the house so I think we're ready.
  • Last item on our to-do list is to finish the dining room. I wanted to replace the builder-grade chandelier and also add some finishing touches to the the room.
  • Courtney will be driving this year (I can't believe it) so getting her a car is also on our purchase list. Her car probably will be the most expensive purchase this year for us.
I am going to wrap this up. As always, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for (still) being here with me. This is no longer just a fashion blog, it's my online journey. I love documenting and sharing bits and pieces of my life with you. Even though 2020 has proven to be a very tough year for everyone, it has taught us all valuable lessons. I am excited to see what's ahead in 2021. Happy New Year, everyone! Let's welcome 2021 with love and gratitude.

No comments: