Trying baseball

Trying baseball

If you’ve been following along at all you’ll know that basketball has been the main sport for Noah. He loves it and constantly wants to be playing or watching it. He’s tried other sports before when he was younger but none that stuck.

For a while I’ve been wanting him to try something else again if for no other reason that maybe it will make him not burn out or get tired of basketball. He had a few friends from school and basketball starting out with baseball this year so he agreed to give it a try.

We’ve been practicing for about a month now and it’s been up and down. Some nights he seems to enjoy it, others he is finding it slow and a little boring.

His team had their first game tonight, and while I think basketball will always win out in his mind, he had a good time and seemed to enjoy it. They won the game and he was up to bat twice and was walked both times. He was really excited about stealing bases and using his speed and he managed to steal second then third.

So far throwing and catching seems to be coming along pretty well but hitting needs some work. We don’t have a tee, and we have not a lot of backyard to hit in so I put together a ball on a rope for him to practise hitting. It seemed to work pretty well. You can hit it standing still so it is sort of like a tee, or you can toss it out and let it come back to you to hit a ball moving towards you.

He seems happy to keep working on it which is great. Gives us something fun to do while basketball season is out. Though there are still some basketball camps that he’ll be attending over the summer too.

I’m glad that he’s trying other sports, but also glad that basketball is still his number one.

Toronto March break vacation

Toronto March break vacation

We’ve been waiting since Christmas to take this trip. This year we surprised everyone with tickets to see a Toronto Raptors game over March Break. This may just become new tradition. We haven’t really done anything big for March break before, but this ended up being a great vacation.

We debated for a short bit about flying but just too expensive so we did our usual road trip. We broke up the drive over a few days and were able to see friends along the way. We drove to Northern New Brunswick the first night and stayed with friends there who we don’t get to see nearly enough and we stayed on the way back as well. Next we headed to Montreal for a night.

Montreal

In Montreal we were able to meet up with a couple co-workers from my team Jupiter! They met us at the Montreal Science Centre which was fun and a good way to stretch our legs for a while.

Since we were in Montreal we figured we should have some real poutine as well. The locals humoured us and came along too. There were so many other people that I’d love to have seen a long the way but our dates and plans were kind of up in the air until the last minute. One of the benefits and downfalls of working in a distributed company, you know people everywhere, but on short trips it can be a challenge to take advantage of that.

CN Tower

Though the main point of the trip was to see the Toronto Raptors play when in Toronto for the first time as a family we had to do some of the other tourist things a well. We spent pretty much the whole day on Monday in Toronto and first hit up the CN Tower. There were some impressive views. Noah was pretty hesitant to go up and buried his head into me the whole elevator ride up, but once we were there he loved it. Even out on the glass floor jumping up and down. Caile and I on the other had almost didn’t go out onto it. Last minute right before we left we finally went out, slowly and tentatively.

Ripley’s Aquarium

We had heard from many people that the Aquarium was a must see. Everyone has really enjoyed on all the ones we have visited over the years and this one is right up there for sure.

Toronto Raptors Game

After the aquarium we walked to get something to eat at Jen’s favourite restaurant Wahlburgers. The burgers are pretty good, but it’s her love of Donnie Wahlberg and NKOTB that makes it for her.

Timing the whole day worked out really well and we made it back to Scotiabank Arena with just a bit of a wait before the doors opened. While in line we saw two people from here in Nova Scotia going to the game a well. Earlier on our way to the CN Tower we ran into one of Jen’s friends from school as well. There were other people of we knew of who were at the same game as us but we didn’t see them.

The game ended up being fantastic, though not really suspenseful. They beat the Knicks 128 – 92. Seeing an NBA game live regardless was a lot of fun and it was great to see them win.

Going into the game we were a little nervous. There were a bunch of players that we might not be able to see play. It was the second night of a back to back game which meant we were pretty sure Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t play and that was right. Serge Ibaka was out due to a suspension and both Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet had been out some games due to injury so we were hoping they would be back. Thankfully they both played, though Kyle was re-injured in the third quarter and hasn’t been back yet.

Danny Green and Pascal Siakam are both favourites in our house and being there early we were able to get down close and see them both warming up before things got underway. One of the other big highlights for me was seeing Fred VanVleet get his first ever NBA double double. He’s one of my favourite players, if you’re not familiar with him this is a great article written last year.

Everyone had a lot of fun and is looking forward to our next opportunity to see a game, maybe next March break again.

Escape Room

One of the things we talked about on the drive to do an Escape Room. I’ve done a couple on work trips, but no one else had. We tried to find one to break up one of our drive days but it never worked out. One day after shopping at the Eaton’s Centre we intended to head to the Ontario Science Centre but realized it was too close to closing time. So we were trying to find something else to do and Ella thought of an Escape Room. We found a good family friendly one we were able to book last minute.

It was a Christmas themed one where we had to help an elf save the Christmas Spirit. It was a lot of fun solving all the clues and puzzles. Everyone was involved and together we escaped the room and ended up with some snow on us as a result.

Toronto Zoo

The whole trip we were watching the weather both for our drives and because we knew we wanted to go to the zoo. We timed it well because we had a lovely day for it. It was the first day of Spring and it even felt like it.

There was weather in the forecast for our scheduled drive home though so we called the trip a day short. We hit the zoo first thing when it opened and pretty much had it to ourselves. Once we were done we hit the road on our way home.

When you find something you like, buy two

That at least seems to be what some hotel and Airbnb decorators think.

On our summer vacation in 2015 we stayed in a shifty hotel just outside of New York. I found it funny to find two pictures the exact same beside each other.

We arrived at our Airbnb last night, everything is really nice about it, but I still found it funny to see this on the wall.

That proud teary eyed feeling

Tonight I was digging through Noah’s backpack looking for his homework book that goes back and forth between school. It wasn’t there, but I found a little piece of paper buried underneath his snow pants.

Apparently a few weeks ago as part of a smaller group of the class they did an exercise where they each said something nice about the other people in the group. Some of the things written made me feel so proud and to tear up a bit.

He likes including everyone.

He’s kind and makes people happy when they’re sad.

On a scale of 1 to 10 if someone is below a 5 he brings them up to 10.

It’s incredibly nice to hear that others see the kind thoughtful boy that I see and know.

Snow day repair

We had another snow day today. It started out snow and then switched over to freezing rain. Thankfully we didn’t have to go anywhere for work and with school canceled it was later in the day before I went out to shovel.

By the time I got out there the snow was pretty heavy and there was more of it than I thought. Thankfully last year we bought a snow blower for days just like today. We haven’t used it a lot but love having it when we do.

I managed to get about half way through when it stopped throwing snow. That’s your job snow blower! We finished off with shovels.

I’ve never had to do this before but I was pretty sure it was a shear pin that broke, but I didn’t think I had a spare and was too tired to deal with it. Later on after a coffee and digging through the manual I realized it had come with spare ones, so Noah and I went out to try our hand at fixing it.

Quickly saw there was one of the shear pins was missing which made me feel good. They are designed to break to prevent bigger damage. There was part of the old pin stuck and that took about the longest to get out. We put the new one in and tested it out. Still no throwing snow.

Maybe things are iced up because I didn’t clean it out after finishing earlier. So I tried clearing out all the snow but couldn’t get it all. A kettle full of warm water helped clear things out and the lab I saw the real issue. A little rock had wedges in between the body of the machine and or if the rotating pieces so it couldn’t move. I had to beat it out with a hammer. After that it was throwing the snow like new. Already for the next snow.

Snow blower repair
Old shear pin, new shear pin, pesky rock

Nick De Palma is a class act

Tonight was the final home game for the Acadia Axewomen and Axemen. These student athletes are such great role models. They have come to help run practices, run camps, and really help foster his love for basketball.

Tonight was a bit of a sad night as this was the last home game that Noah’s favourite player Nick De Palma would be in. This is his fifth year so he’ll be moving on, we will miss him, but wish him the best of luck. His kindness and willingness to help Noah and other kids is really impressive.

When helping out at camps he would stay late and play with Noah. He’d indulge him in shooting threes and even half court shots. I was never a student athlete but I remember how I was at that age and I wasn’t thinking much about other people especially other peoples kids. When I went to Acadia myself, I wasn’t a student athlete I was a mature student. Being a student itself is busy and hard, add in the responsibilities and work of being playing University sport and it is all the more impressive the time he dedicated to spreading the game of basketball.

The game tonight went into overtime, it was getting late and way past Noah’s bedtime but it was an exciting game and hopefully he’ll sleep in tomorrow. At the end of the game the Axemen came away with the win and while cheering Nick came over and asked us not to leave for a minute. He ran out back and brought out a signed jersey for Noah. He was about as proud as I’ve ever seen him. The whole way home grin ear to ear. He told me he wants to hang it on his door so when ever anyone comes they see it right away. This is after I got it off of him to get him into bed. For now we have it hanging from the TV where he can see it from bed and will be about the first thing he sees in the morning.

I’m certain this is something he’ll never forget, thank you Nick.

Ode to coffee

Ode to coffee

For Christmas this year I got a combination of presents that are my most favourite ever I think.

It is a new espresso machine and a bean grinder! I use this multiple times a day to make delicious coffee.

I made this video the other day and my brother in law suggested I added a little Ode to Joy to it, which seemed fitting.

Work, family, basketball

Work, family, basketball

Seems like a lot of the posts I end up writing these days are either about work, family, or basketball. That makes a lot of sense because that is basically my life and I’m happy with all of it.

There is a really nice balance with everything right now that hasn’t always been present. I’ve written about this elusive balance a few times over the years and I believe it’s helped me get to this point. Starting back in the summer of 2014 when I really started looking for and going after what I wanted. Then in the fall of that year when I was in the heat of it, essentially working two jobs in an attempt to get there. Then the summer after I started my new job, life and work seemed to occupy the most time still. 

For a while I had running. That was my dedicated time for myself where I was spending hours every week with just my thoughts and the trails, but as I fell out of that habit any free time I had, I filled up with less productive things. I still need to make time for my health and make that a habit again, but I’m so happy with the overall aspects of life right now.

My job is fantastic, family life is busy but full of love and happiness, and I have found a hobby that I enjoy, is fulfilling, and I can share with my family, basketball. It’s funny Jen wrote a bit about it this morning as I was thinking over the ideas for this post. Noah’s love for playing basketball has really gotten us all into it. For me it is back into it, but everyone else truly enjoys it now as well.

For many years I stopped following basketball but as Noah got more and more into it, and I started helping coach the two teams he plays for, we started watching more. We go to live games at the local University watching the Axemen and Axewomen play. We follow the Raptors pretty closely, but even if they aren’t playing most nights I find some game to watch. 

It’s entertainment yes, but working with Noah and his team and helping them develop it is also very fulfilling. I played a lot of basketball when I was growing up, but never in a real team environment. So being involved in a team sport and seeing the importance of everyone working together, even at their young age, really helps me see connections to this and work.

Having a strong team means helping everyone develop their individual skills, but also having them work together as a team to make each other stronger. Each team member has a role to play and it will likely change over time and situations. As a coach or team lead you help the members develop their skills and to find their role in the team.

Noah plays on two teams and his role is different on each team right now. On our club team, seeing this is his second year at the U10 level, he has more experience than others, a strong drive, and can score. In yesterdays game we were a couple people short and needed someone to score. Noah ended up scoring 27 points out of teams 48 for the game to help the win. On his other team, everyone is pretty much at the same level. Lots of people can score and others have more advanced ball handling skills, but Noah with his speed and determination can play darn good man to man defence. So in those games he may not always score as many points but instead prevent the other team from scoring while his teammates get the baskets. 

With my recent role change at work, and the team changes that happened in conjunction with it, I’m still trying to see where my role is with my team. We have a solid group where everyone has areas they are really strong in. We work together and help each other with problems which helps everyone learn and get stronger. Some people are really great with domain names, some with CSS, and some do a great job at staying up to date with new products or changes and help everyone else learn about them. I’m one of the more experienced on the team because I’ve been with the company longer than most. My recent experience leading a team and the skills and knowledge I learned there can be a strength. Maybe my role is that of a player coach, where I’m doing the same work as everyone else and using my experience to help others on the team continue to grow and develop.

For now, I’m really happy with all aspects of my life and seem to have found the balance I was chasing after for a long time. Life has a way of changing things up and causing things to rearrange but like always we’ll roll with those changes keep making things better. 

Four years at Automattic

Four years at Automattic

Today marks four years since I joined Automattic full time. 🎉As I mentioned last year this is the longest time I’ve ever stayed with a company and now we’re just extending that record.

There was a point this year where I briefly thought about looking for a move though. For over two years now I was in the role of Team Lead where I learned a lot, had some good success, but also had some areas I really struggled as well. It is a busy role that has a lot of responsibility and I’m not sure I was ever successful in all aspects of the role at the same time. There was much of the role that I really enjoyed. Working with my direct team and trying to help them grow and get better was by far my favourite. Being surrounded by the others in the lead group was also such a positive thing. They kept me honest, helped push me, but were also always there for support as well.

Automattic has grown a lot and as that happen things change and roles change. For the last while it felt like I was needing to spend more of my time on the aspects of the lead role that were not tasks that I derived energy from and that caused a drain.

Thankfully I didn’t have to look elsewhere. Automattic doesn’t see the lead role as a promotion, it is simply a different role. That means when I went into the role I didn’t get a pay raise and so, while there were many factors I weighed and went back and forth on in my head when looking at my options, salary and pay didn’t have to factor in. It made it much easier to focus on where I wanted and where I could best spend my energy. 

In the end a few months back I talked with my lead and let them know I’d like to start making plans for me to step out of the lead role. It was a relatively painless process for me, though it did accelerate a couple other organizational team changes internally. Now I’m still on Team Jupiter, but it looks a bit different, there were a few folks I had worked with before came back to the team, some people who were on the team went to another team, and there were some new folks added to the mix. Though the people have changed it is still a great team.

My days now are spent once again directly helping customers for the majority of time. Though differently than when I was a lead I can still help others grow and get better at the Happiness Engineer role. When I come across a conversation with a customer that I may have handled differently, or where it seems to have hit an area someone is not as familiar with I can share that feedback directly with the other person involved. In turn I can get the same type feedback and improve myself. 

The past two months have energized me again. Working with customers is something I really enjoy, but I also still have time that I can contribute and work on other projects as well. One of the things I loved most about the lead role is I felt like I could have a big impact in that role. That hasn’t changed with the new role. I still see so much I can do to help myself, our customers, my colleagues, and the company be successful. 

A tale of two sisters

A tale of two sisters

We woke up to find out that schools are closed again today, the third day in a row, due to snow and road conditions.

Noah was up first can came to check if there was school and was excited about the news and delivered the news to two of his sisters. He came back to let us know how they took it describing and acting it out at the same time.

Ella, in a depressed voice asked, really? Then hung her head in disappointment and walked back into her room.

Caile, excited with a smile, gave an approving nod of the head and declared, good I’m going back to bed.