Self Portrait in Nantes, December 2013
Self Portrait in Nantes, December 2013

It’s the end of the year as we know it!

No party for us this time. The trip back from France has been pretty brutal: Feng is still dealing with his battle scars, it’s very cold and we lost our Internet connection and landline (thanks, Bell!). We are still unpacking and getting over the jetlag and Mark is très très cranky.

Yes, it sucks. All of the above.

The past twelve months have been intense—and that’s an understatement. Keeping up with my freelancing career while taking care of Mark and adjusting to motherhood was tougher than I had expected. Somehow, both Mark and my work turned out fine but Feng and I are exhausted and completely maxed out.

We did travel a bit, to Montreal, Toronto, the US and to Francetwice. We celebrated Chinese New Year, Bastille Day in France, Halloween and Christmas in France again (Feng and I also celebrated every time Mark actually slept).

Life has been busy. And interesting. But I think 2013 has been one of the toughest years so far. Caring for another human being isn’t as easy as it seems!

Writing helped me a lot through the year. Sharing the milestones and the good and bad times have been a catharsis. I am incredibly grateful to all of you, readers. Some took the time to give me precious advice, to share their experience, to provide support. Other made me laugh, cry or reconsider my positions.

I love you guys. Really.

I still can’t believe over 100,000 readers stop by every month to follow our adventures. This is pretty amazing.

This year, I—somehow!—published 215 articles.

The top 10 most commented articles were:

  1. 11 Foods Canadians Seem to Be Crazy About (And Strangely, I Am Not)
  2. Turning 30
  3. The “Itchy & Scratchy Show” And the Hotel From Hell
  4. What Does a Canadian, Chinese and French Household Look Like?
  5. The World Needs More Proofreaders
  6. My Son Is Not a Fucking Sumo Wrestler
  7. The Price of Fame
  8. The Day I Was Almost Denied Entry to Canada (Don’t Be Like Me!)
  9. You Know it’s Way Too Cold When…
  10. A Strange Cultural Difference (Or Feeling Unsafe in Peaceful Suburbia)

In terms of page views, the 10 most popular articles were:

  1. I trade you an Advil for a Tylenol Extra Strength—Welcome to the House of Germs!
  2. [Interview] Lou: Trading the UK and a Stressful Life For the Shores of Lake Ontario
  3. 5 So-Called Girly and Trendy Skills I Quite Don’t Master
  4. My 5 Website Pet Peeves (Or Why You Lost a Visitor)
  5. [Interview] Chiruza Canadiense: An Argentinian Stuck in Immigration Limbo
  6. [Interview] – Paco, A Self-Employed Designer Moving from Spain to Ottawa
  7. A Kid Friendly World—France and Canada
  8. 10 Great Resources to Improve Your Quebec French Language Skills
  9. Privacy Issues in a Big Scary World
  10. Paris doesn’t have to be expensive —Tips from a Former French

I wish you all a happy New Year, and I’ll see you in 2014 for more adventures!


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  1. Silvia January 1, 2014 at 8:23 am

    People stop because your posts sound fun, and wise, and interesting, that’s why. Thanks for letting us see Canada and a freelancer expat mum’s life with your eyes! Your blog is precious to me, to make me an idea of what life in your shoes would be 😀 I hope I’ll be able to wear those shoes one day, for the time being I’m on hold. Wish me luck! 🙂

    Happy 2014!

    1. Zhu January 1, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      I wish you luck and I do hope your dream will come true!

  2. Holly Nelson January 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Wow – congrats on the 100 000 viewers per month, that is such an achievement!! Have a wonderful New Year! Much love to you and your family xxx

    1. Zhu January 1, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      Thank you Holly, same to you!

  3. Dennation January 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    It’s a treat to read your posts. No really, when I see that you have a new post, I sit back with some chocolate and a cup of tea and enjoy reading.

    Sometimes you just need to stay home and relax while the others party. Nothing wrong with that. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what I did!

    Congratulations on making it through 2013 and here’s to another year of travelling, living abroad and blogging!

    1. Zhu January 1, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      You’re so sweet!

      Now can I have some of that chocolate? 😆 😉

      I wish you a great year, in both your personal and professional life!

  4. Christiane January 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm


    1. Zhu January 1, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Merci ma belle!

  5. Katharina January 2, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Wow, Zhu – that´s great! It’s ok to have a shaky and tough year, it wouldn’t be real if everything is always perfect, would it? 🙂 I’m impressed by how much inspiration and time you actually find to write – your ideas have no limits. 2014 will be brilliant!

    1. Zhu January 2, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Thank you for your wishes! Writing is a catharsis for me, I guess I don’t run out of ideas 😆

  6. Gail at Large January 2, 2014 at 7:24 am

    You had your hands full in 2013, I hope 2014 is kinder and gentler to you! Mark will be more independent, hang out with some toddler buddies, and give you more time to write freely 🙂

    1. Zhu January 2, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      *crossing fingers*

  7. Boeingbleu January 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Wow 215 articles while managing a toddler!

    Happy new year to you three!

    1. Zhu January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Thank you!


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