Welcome to the fifth edition of my year in review! (See 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019 for previous editions.)

This year was both intense and utterly wonderful. A bigger walking and talking Baby O turned 2! I had the opportunity to speak at six conferences on two continents. Our family traveled to new places including Newfoundland, Idaho and (new to the little one) London and Paris. We also spent a wonderful weekend with several of O's siblings in Buffalo, NY, and are winding down the year with our families in New York and Toronto.

Let's get started ▶️


The most notable thing that happened in January: Baby O said "I love you" for the first time. I've never managed to journal consistently, but whenever a "first" happens, I try to add it as a calendar event in my phone.

A few taps calls up a precious set of memories: the first time he used a spoon by himself; the first time he slept in a big kid bed (he transitioned from a crib at 18 months for height and safety reasons - do not recommend if you can help it 🥲); the first time he demanded toys in a toy store (I remember it well...)

Baby O and Ghost peering out the window

March: Brooklyn rendezvous

My friend Adelaide was engaged to be married in the spring and made the excellent choice of Brooklyn for her bachelorette party.

I put together a list of dinner spots and activities. We ate, we drank, some of us played the tambourine until our legs were bruised. (Shout out to the tambourines at Insa, the hardest working karaoke accessories in the five boroughs.) Above all, we celebrated the bride to be - congratulations Adelaide and Matt, we love you!

A printed list of karaoke don'ts framed on the wall of Korean BBQ and karaoke spot Insa, in Brooklyn. The last rule reads 'Don't
discover the tambourine hidden in your bag when you get home.'

June: another Canuck in the house

In June, O had his Canadian citizenship legally recognized, coincidentally on my grandfather's 95th birthday whose name O bears as a middle name. I was able to file online using a new paperless process - the artifact at the end is a simple PDF.

Our appetite for bureaucratic paperwork not fully sated, we then applied for his NEXUS card. NEXUS is actually a superset of the Global Entry program, and costs $50 instead of $100. The only downside is you have to do an in person interview at an enrollment center, but if you ever fly through Toronto's Pearson airport it's pretty quick and so worth it.

July: heading East

I have a bucket list like every good Millennial and Newfoundland has always been on it. I can't really explain why. In my early twenties, I dated someone who had lived in and subsequently moved back to Halifax, so I got to know a few Maritimers through my visits.

...if you're thinking "but Alessia, Newfoundland isn't part of the Maritimes!" there's like a 90% chance you're from out east. (Does anyone know this outside the region? I learned it while browsing /r/StJohnsNL for toddler activities and watching unsuspecting redditors get roasted.)

Now you know this bit of Canadian arcana, too: Atlantic Canada is the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI) plus Newfoundland. That and Newfoundland is both the only active time zone with a half-hour offset from UTC in the Americas and the home of the easternmost point in North America (excluding Greenland), Cape Spear.

Carla standing in the Salmon Cove
The craggy rock face of the coast of Newfoundland on an overcast day as seen from a boat on the water
A photo of a cliff on the coast of Newfoundland covered in puffin birds

The plan was to fly into St. John's (via Montreal where we spent a few days first at JazzFest), check out the Newfoundland and Labrador folk festival and travel around a bit.

It was the perfect destination to bop around with a toddler: we hiked through beautiful parks and coves, saw all kinds of wildlife including whales (a.k.a. Baby Beluga), met lovely people like Marnie, the owner of children's book publisher and store Running the Goat in Tors Cove which was an amazing find by Carla, had top notch dinners at places like Chinched and the biggest, most perfectly cooked piece of haddock at Portage. I'd love to visit more remote parts of the province and see Gros Morne one day.

Baby O nursing in St. John's harbor

Here's my google map of mostly places we visited and some we'd like to next time.

The folk festival was also a good call: O ran up and down the aisles during the sets pretending he didn't know us out of fear we'd cramp his style.

Butter Pot Provincial Park
Baby O sitting in the sand in Salmon Cove
Salmon Cove beach
Baby O walking around Qidi Vidi lake
Qidi Vidi Lake

August to November: conference szn

In August the year kicked into overdrive. A string of conferences began with React Rally in Salt Lake City followed by a trip up to Boise to visit the Arnolds' growing family (we missed the newest member by just a couple of months!).

Then in quick succession: GraphQL Conf in San Francisco, GraphQL Summit in San Diego, React Advanced in London (with trips to Cambridge to visit Laura 🐮 and Paris to visit Martin and Clémentine 🌰), React Summit US back in NYC and RVA.js in Richmond, Virginia. (All of the recordings are up on my speaking page for posterity.)

Baby O on a trail on the outskirts of Salt Lake City Alessia, Carla and a snoozing Baby O at the Louvre

Our trip to London in October marked O's first time in Europe and he was enamored with the various modes of transportation we encountered, including:

  • Subways of all colours and varieties (in Paris you can open the doors before the train stops moving!)
  • Double decker buses: this was a BIG one. O sang “wheels on the bus” on one memorable 45 minute bus journey back to Battersea causing a nearby passenger to not only put on her noise cancelling headphones but also press the cups against her ears until we disembarked.
  • The high speed Eurostar train from London to Paris which reached speeds of 295kmh (~185mph).
  • A charming-given-how-touristy-it-was open air bus pretending to be a train that took us on a sightseeing jaunt from Moulin Rouge to Sacré Coeur and back. This was also where O heard the Can Can from Orpheus in the Underworld for the first time, still a favourite of his.
  • The national rail line in London, which we took almost daily to connect to the subway as the nearest stop to us was Clapham Junction.

In addition, we got to meet one of O's siblings who lives in London! We were sick at the end of our trip so we didn't get to spend as much time together as we were anticipating, but it was still such a delight to meet R and mums. ❤️

O in a classic red phone booth in London

Jet lagged toddler explores London's phone booths at midnight

It was also so nice to spend time with Lenz and Jerel, two colleagues I work closest with and whom I rarely see in person.

Working at a remote-first distributed company means collaborating with some truly excellent coworkers across a nine hour timezone spread (GMT-8 to GMT+1) at the expense of IRL face time 98%+ of the year. The prep and travel were tiring, but being able to have a pint over some food after our presentations was all the sweeter for it.

Lenz, Alessia and Jerel on stage at React Advanced London

September: a sibling visit in Buffalo and starting preschool

Amidst the conferences, we made a trip back to Carla's ancestral homeland of Buffalo, NY and the next day O started preschool.


Having met a number of O's siblings and their families on our travels, a few families decided to get together for a weekend, some for the n+1 time and some for the first!

We rented an Airbnb with three big apartments under one roof. There were 9 kids and 12 adults in total (one family with young kids stayed nearby for napping purposes, a very smart move).

It was such a blast. With ages ranging from 3 months to almost 3 years, and three families bravely flying from California (dealing not just with toddlers or jet lag but the force multiplication of the two) we were all on different schedules, but we still managed to spend a lot of time together and make so many memories.

This was the first time that O had, if not conversations, independent interactions with his siblings and even an inside joke or two! Then there was the time I came down the stairs as we were getting ready to leave and O looked like he was hugging one of his brothers. My chest swelled with pride and emotion for a second, that is until I realized he was trying to steal A's Timbit... We can't wait for next year on the west coast!


As a newly minted 2 year old as of August, O's personality is on full display: he loves (perhaps not strong enough of a word... adores to the point of dreaming nightly about) his toy vehicles, being cozy with Mama and Mommy and, since starting "school", seeing his friends and teachers every day, all of whom he talks about with great excitement.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't give a special shout out to the cat we pass on our daily walk, Mish Mish:

Beloved neighbourhood cat Mish Mish

An ode to Carla

September marked my first time being away for four consecutive nights since O's birth. While I'm so grateful to have had these opportunities, work travel comes with a cost for the parent holding things down at home.

Carla has always had a busy work life as a lawyer running her own practice. This year was no exception: Carla won a federal appeal before the Second Circuit, was named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer featured in a magazine spread and still manages to pull off a bedtime routine after a long day (no easy feat for those who haven't faced down a strong-willed or even just average-willed toddler recently).

Carla: O and I love and appreciate you so much, not for what you do for our family—which is incalculable—but for your goofy, exuberant self and huge heart. We are so lucky to have you.

Carla carrying Baby O on a trail outside of Boise
Walking a trail on Boise's city limits

Year's end

We're rounding out the year with Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations in NYC and a coming visit to Toronto. None of this would have been possible without help from our families, particularly my mother-in-law Mary who helped us on numerous occasions when child care fell through, and the support of our friends. Thank you all for being a part of our lives, and sending our love and best wishes for 2024. 🥂

Carla and Baby O by the river Thames at night, a gleaming purple London Eye in the background between them