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Christmas Letter 2020

From John, Willie, Irina and Mike Simpson


2020 has been a tough year and I thought it would be nice to reach out with a traditional card and note from us, telling you a bit about our year and lives.

Now before I get to 2020 updates, let me tell you we are all safe and sound. Thank goodness. We sincerely hope you and yours are too!

Also, before talking about our year I want to briefly describe the best thing to happen to us recently was our last trip. In August 2019 we went to London and Russia. We had a stop over in the UK for a few days and a trip to see Irina’s family in the Rostov countryside. The boys enjoyed playing in the village and mom and dad enjoyed exploring London. That was very memorable. Though we haven’t travelled since we look back at this as our most recent and fond adventure.  

Of course until mid March we all normal lives didn’t we?

Here’s some shots of us with grandpa at the CN Tower for Willie’s birthday in early February. It was good fun – especially watching grandpa joke around on the glass floor!

At the CN with Grandpa for Willie's birthday (Feb. 2020)

At the CN Tower with Grandpa for Willie’s birthday (Feb. 2020)

A Local Year in the City

I thought I might share a little about what we have been up to in Toronto throughout 2020. Of course prior to March we would get downtown on occasion, but we do spend most of our time in our neighbourhood, High Park.

This year we didn’t travel outside the city, but we made the best of our time by hitting the parks and walking and cycling around the neighbourhood. We have been very good social distancers! We didn’t have a bubble of friends or family and we kept to ourselves. 

We did have one nice visit in summer from Bob and Sondra for Mike’s 50th birthday. That was a fun outdoor meetup! We also met with Uncle Jeff in High Park. We do Skype with Grandpa and Babushka regularly so we are happy to be keeping up with them via video calls.

We hope sometime soon we can travel again and visit family abroad or throughout Ontario. Regular contact with everyone is greatly missed.

Willie John biking at "The Circle" behind out building

Willie John biking at “The Circle” behind our building

Biking and Walking

Back to what we get up to! Willie, 6, and John, 4, like to play outside. Our apartment neighbourhood has some sweet spots for little bike rides: the circle below our building, the pigeon forest across the other block and trips to the vacant lot, a huge empty space near Keele station – all places we can play alone, and often with diggers and other toys.

We otherwise take lots of walks here near Bloor and High Park, or venture into High Park and down to Sunnyside Beach at Lake Ontario. The guys have enjoyed visits to the beach well into fall/early winter. Mild days we hit the beach just before sunset. It’s a 40 minute walk so good exercise for Dad/Mike who often pushes both guys and toys in the double stroller!

Willie and Irina share desk in home office

Willie and Irina work together and share a large desk in the home office on weekdays

Virtual School and Working from Home

The big news is that since September we have been doing virtual grade one with Willie. We opted to unenroll John since the jk version was not as fulfilling. Dad plays and runs errands with John and works part-time on tutoring, web and social media, while Willie spends weekdays with mommy in the home office between 9 am and 3 pm. Willie is enjoying his e-learning. Great teacher so we’re happy about that. With any luck both guys can return safely for September 2021.

Irina has been working from home since the big shutdown in March. She celebrated a milestone this year! 15 years with Blakes is quite an accomplishment. We have our master bedroom set up with a large desk and chairs and it’s a decent workspace. She sometimes misses the office but is happy to have more time with the boys. 

Bob and Sondra visited for Mike's birthday in August

Bob and Sondra dropped by for a visit in August

A Few Special Visits and a Milestone

We were lucky to have met with Uncle Jeff in the summer and Grandpa and Sondra for Mike’s 50th (yes I hit that milestone!).

 Take care and stay safe!

 Wishing you all a warm and happy Christmas and New Year!

 John, Willie, Irina, and Mike

Mike's 50th Birthday

Mike’s 50th Birthday

Irina John Willie at Humberside Collegiate

Irina and her guys sit for a minute by Humberside Collegiate, summer 2020

Irina John Willie at Humberside Collegiate
Willie John and Irina in High Park

Irina walks behind the guys as we walk in High Park, summer 2020

Mike John Willie in High Park (photo by Jeff)

Mike John Willie in High Park (photo by Jeff)

Halloween 2020 - Irina Willie and John

Halloween 2020 – it was certainly different! We went our early to avoid people, quite a few people shelled out in various safe and creative ways, and the boys enjoyed themselves!