Basketball

Saturday morning has becoming basketball morning for Noah and I. This is his second year signed up in the beginning levels of our local basketball program. He’s always excited to go, and I’m excited to go with him. He’s always enjoyed being active and has been involved in soccer, basketball, and now karate as well. He tells me basketball is his favourite sport though. This came without any real pressure from me but it does make me happy. Growing up I was never involved with sports much. I watched lots of hockey on TV and was into baseball during the early 90’s when the Bluejays were doing really well, but only really played basketball.

Basketball seemed like an unlikely sport for me to play too as when I was growing up I was always the shortest in my class for a long time. Memories also go back to early elementary school where we first started learning basketball in gym class. At first it wasn’t fun because I was terrible. My coordination was way off and I couldn’t even dribble the ball without losing control. I can still recall the frustration of looking around and seeing so much of my class appearing to do so much better. With these things in mind I never ended up trying out for basketball teams or playing in any sort of organized way, but I still played.

At home I turned a section of our yard into my own personal basketball court. It ended up being essentially a piece of plywood with a basketball rim attached. This was somehow connected to a tree in our yard. The lawn in front of it quickly turned into a large dirt patch, or mud depending on the weather. There were tree roots sticking out which made it even harder to dribble than just the packed dirt. Air balls were never any fun as they could roll into the backyard, down the bank, and into the river that was behind our home. It was a race to chase after the ball and catch it before it made it that far.

Our neighbours I’m certain hated me. The sound of a basketball bouncing from early morning to late at night. The sound of it hitting the plywood backboard and shaking against the tree. Though I don’t recall any direct complaints from them, I do remember scoldings from my mother to not be out there so early.

Later on as a teenager I didn’t play much at home anymore. But being out with friends we would often head to the neighbourhood court and play three on three half court games. Not sure how I’m not injured as most of the time I’d play in flat deck shoes, if you can remember them. We would play for hours at a time. In high school when we moved away it didn’t take me a long time to find friends and get us all playing at a near by schools basketball court most of the summers. Looking back it helped me make more friends and kept me busy  so I didn’t get myself into more trouble than I did anyway. It gave me an outlet to let out some of my teenage anger and frustrations.

There was one winter where we didn’t want to stop playing. We ended up making arrangements where a small group of us rented the gym at the town hall one night a week. There were times we ended up getting large groups of people showing up to play with us.

When I first moved and after feeling fairly confident in my skills from playing so much I thought maybe I’d stand a chance to join the high school team. It was a new school, no one knew me, I could break out and be different than the person I was at my last school. First day of try outs I walked into the gym, I didn’t even get my new shoes which were purchased for just this reason. Watching everyone play and run through drills who had obviously been doing it for years showed how little I really knew. Even though I felt comfortable with my skills on the neighbourhood courts, this was a different level and I didn’t fit. I left before even lacing up or talking to anyone.

It excites me now watching Noah play. Having him enjoying it and building the skills and techniques now so that if he does decide to continue on he won’t have the same barrier to entry I did when I finally decided I would give it a try. Who knows maybe he’ll get bored of it in the next while and never want to join his high school or any other team. But he’s having fun now and I want to try to make it something we can do together.

Our yard makes it difficult to find a place to put a net, but if I could find away to have one in our yard when I was a kid, I’m sure I can figure something out now. I can already picture summer time out shooting and practicing together, or looking out my office window and seeing him out there shooting over and over again.

Office Today

Today I was meeting with a friend I hadn’t talked to for a while to have coffee and to chat about working remotely. 

It’s not very often I leave the house to work so I decided I’d head down early and do some work from the cafe. It’s nice to get a change of scenery every once in a while. I decided I’d also try standing to work while I was there so I took my keyboard, mouse, and roost stand, with me. It worked out really well and I got to drink delicious coffee at the same time. 

I think my laptop could use a bit of a cleaning though. 

13 years ago…

13 years ago…

I wouldn’t be able to express things as well as Jen has here. I’m a very lucky person and am looking forward to what the rest of lives together bring us.

I Dream of Summer

Next month, February, Sandy and I will have met 16 years ago! I started working at the Call Center where he was already employed. My first shift out of training, we spoke and that was the first of many conversations for us. I was in an unhealthy relationship at the time and Sandy was in a relationship as well, but was unhappy. We developed a friendship over time by being able to share frustrations and emotions with each other. It was nice to vent to someone who was also struggling in their relationship. My relationship ended and I moved to on the dating world. We remained friends. Sandy was always someone I could speak to no matter what was happening in my life.

One day, a year and a half ish after we became friends Sandy showed up at work with as many of his belongings as he could fit…

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Last Day of Christmas Break

Today is the last day of Christmas break before the kids head back to school. We decided to head to the beach for a little walk. It was pretty windy and cold, but still very nice.

The last big wind storm we had changed the layout of the land. The bridge in one of the pictures below used to take you from the parking lot area onto the shore with a stream running underneath it. The stream doesn’t go under it anymore and you can just walk onto the shore.

Fundraising Advent Calendar

This year my daughter Caile inspired me. Throughout the year at her middle school they do exploratory’s. You have a choice of fun extracurricular activities to choose from. Some of them are crafts, art related, sports, all things things above an beyond the normal school day work. They last for a few weeks at a time and you get to choose from a number of options which are being offered. In November she started a new one called Tree of Hope. It was a fundraising option to help raise funds for a couple of local non-profits.

One of the organizations was The Chrysalis House Association. They are a local women and children’s shelter and outreach provider. A more full description can be found on their website.

Chrysalis House is a non-profit grassroots organization that provides shelter, support, counseling, advocacy, and outreach for abused women and their children. Services are available for women who have been psychologically, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused. We work with individuals, organizations and businesses in our community to end violence against women. Chrysalis House is located in Kentville, Nova Scotia. We serve the communities of Kings, Annapolis, and Hants County. Public education and community development are also important elements of our Association.

They provide these services 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The work they do is incredibly hard and important. It is also near to my heart. Had it not been for welcoming friends who were willing and able to help us out, our family would have been seeking services from an organization like The Chrysalis House.

Last year I donated to a fun online campaign and the idea was one I knew I could do. After contacting the person who ran the one I had seen and getting some tips I went to work. The idea was an online advent calendar. Each day, from December 1st to December 24th, you reveal a prize which has been donated by a local business. Then by promoting on social media get people to donate. For every $5 they donate they receive an entry to win all 24 prizes at the end.

The idea started pretty late but thanks to WordPress, and it being open source, I was able to quickly get a site up an running to organize and run the fundraiser from. From WordPress.org I found the Hemingway theme to use and with the help of a few plugins and customization I was all set. Of course I installed Akismet and Jetpack which go on about every WordPress site I create, the other main one I used was The Event Calendar. It was probably overkill for what I needed, but it is so well documented I was pretty easily able to customize it up to do what I needed. Instead of displaying events I wanted to display a single post I publish, from a specific category, for each day of the fundraiser. This is truly the beauty of open source. I had access to the source code, could see how it worked, and was able to change things up to meet my needs. Most of the changes came by creating a custom month view for the calendar. If you want to check out the code you can see it here.

With the site ready I contacted a bunch of local businesses explaining the idea and showing them the site which was setup. One of the lessons I learned if I am to do this again is to not wait to so late to approach businesses. Things went really well and I had quite a few businesses commit to donating a prize so I started the campaign and started promoting it on Twitter and Facebook. It was pretty stressful though as when it first started I still didn’t have enough prizes for all the days. About a week in I reached out to some friends who have good connections to businesses and they were able to put me in touch with more people to get the final donations needed. It was stressful for a while thinking I may have to go out and buy some gift cards myself for some of the days. But our local community once again came through and we had over $1000 worth of prizes donated.

On Christmas Eve I closed donations. I had set a goal for $1000 to be raised and we came in at $1070! Once things were closed and I gathered up all the names I was able to go to the Chrysalis House and with their Executive Director and other staff members we choose our winner and sent them off an email notification. After fees from GoFundMe, who I used to take payments, we were left with $973.56. To make things a nice round number I wrote a cheque while there for $1000 even as a donation to the association. It was an awesome feeling and I felt very humble to have our local area help me run with this idea.

Shortly after I arrived home the winner contacted me back and I was able to go and deliver all 24 prizes to her. That was also a very rewarding part. Even though all the prizes and money were donated by others I had the privilege of feeling like Santa by delivering the money and prizes. What a whirlwind of a Christmas Eve! It made up for some of the stress involved not wondering if it would all come together in the end.

Though it is all over if you want to see the site and the list of prizes you can still see the site at https://calendar.ourvalley.ca

Day 10 Christmas Note

Ella had another note for me today! I get a kick out of these. The kids aren’t that messy really, but if they do clean up after themselves a little bit more it wouldn’t hurt my feelings that’s for sure.

Dad Thanks for helping us clean up when I clean with you I love doing it and thank you for helping me trick mom.

I love giving her pranks I know it’s not nice but I love doing it. I know me, Caile and Noah are pigs and I’m sorry for that but thank you for helping mom to clean it up I’ll try and remember to clean my messes up next time (remember the next two days are for you and mom so you and mom can open it together)

Day 10 Christmas Note

Day 8 Christmas Note

For my day 8 note I have been given some circles I can check off to claim free things! I’m looking forward to some cuddle time, but I’m pretty sure I could have gotten this stuff without checking boxes 😀

Dad. Your so amazing I’m gonna give you free stuff put a ✓ in the circle if you use it.

Free Hug ⭕️ ← put ✓  here
Free Cuddle time 30 min ⭕️
Free cuddle time 1:00 hour ⭕️

you can split up the cuddle tiem for 2 30m instead of an hour. but anyway I hope you know how much I love you. I don’t know what I would do without you Your wonderful amazing FABOULOS! love you

From: Ella

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New .blog Site Address

New .blog Site Address

For many of my tech following readers may know Automattic, my employer, is behind the new domain extension .blog. The .blog domains were just recently released to be generally available to anyone who would like to register one. If you would like to, you can over at https://get.blog

Yesterday the activation was finished and I setup my new address for my blog here. Automattic allowed each employee to reserve a domain name and I thought long and hard about it. I came close to asking for sandy.blog because it’s nice and short. But I already have a pretty nice short domain name of sandym.ca which also redirects people here. So instead I opted for a more useful domain and received mcfadden.blog

This allows me to also create sub domains so that others in my family, if they wanted to start their own blog, could have a fantastic domain name too. Because I have access to mcfadden.blog I can now setup sub domains like https://sandy.mcfadden.blog/ which is the main address I’m using for this site now. Maybe my kids want to start blogging some day, I can then set them up with theirname.mcfadden.blog if they wish. Last night we switched my wife’s address for her site over so that it is now https://jen.mcfadden.blog/

I’m pumped to have this new domain for my blog, thank you Automattic!

Day 6 Christmas Note

Day 6 Christmas Note

Today’s note was pretty good timing as Ella and I just went out yesterday for our Christmas shopping date. We had a great time and it is obviously building good memories for her as we hadn’t had one yet this year when she wrote this note for me.

Dad. Thank you for taking us out on shopping dates I love spending time with you. I love that we have our weekends full with fun activities. Its fun to go around and spend time with our family. I thank you that you and mom plan out our weekend so we have something new and fun every day I love you so much ❤️ xoxo ❤️

Thanks for reading Sincerely Ella ❤️ xoxo

Day 6 Christmas Note