My hats

My hats

My family likes to make fun of me because I like hats. They say I have too many and give me a hard time when ever I go to buy a new one. I don’t really have that many and most of them serve a purpose or occasion.

Recently I made a deal though that I won’t buy a new one for a year so that I could justify buying an expensive set of earphones. That got me thinking of all my hats and thought I may as well share all my hats.

Basketball

Probably the biggest category of hats I have. Most are Toronto Raptors hats but there is a Michael Jordan Jumpman hat and a Basketball Canada one. As of this writing I don’t have the Championship hat it is still on its way.

WordPress

Most people who know me know I love my WordPress swag. Numerous shirts, pictures, backpacks, stickers, my laptop, and of course some hats.

Baseball

A couple summers ago we took in a Blue Jays baseball game during one of our trips and they are the only Canadian team in the MLB so I of course need one of their hats.

The red W hat is a Kentville Wildcats one which is Noah’s team he is playing for. We also go watch some of the seniors men Wildcat games so I needed a hat to cheer them all on with.

Running

I have two hats for running. While I don’t run much anymore I do plan to get back into it and they come in handy for other sweaty activities as well.

Brands

These are random ones that I just happened to like the hats. I don’t have much affiliation with any of these but they looked good. All but the Puma hat are pretty old and only usually get worn when out in the yard or if I’m going to get sweaty or dirty.

Local

These are hats from local businesses or groups.

One is from New Scotland clothing. Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland so a local company started up a brand of clothing around that which I really like.

TAN Coffee is one of my favourite local cafes and coffee roasters. They are the main coffee I drink here at home and used to drink a fair number from them directly before I got my own espresso machine.

The Acadia Axemen is the mascot for the local University. This is where I graduated from and we regularly go to watch the basketball teams play during the season.

There you go. That is all my hats. I don’t think they are that many. While I could likely downsize as some don’t get worn very often anymore I still like them all.

A close to home summer

A close to home summer

For the past few summers we have spent a lot of it on the road on a couple of epic trips. If you haven’t before you can read about those trips here, 2017 and 2018. This year though we’re going to stay close to home.

So far things have been a combination of busy and relaxing. Noah seems to be keeping things the most busy. He has baseball which is usually a practise and a game a week. So far it has been going really well. This is his first time ever playing and he’s getting better fast.

There is of course basketball. There isn’t any team basketball going on but he has I go out to the courts fairly regularly to play and he has been to a couple skills camps. The first one was put on by Danny Green who had just finished winning the NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors. Noah got to briefly meet Danny, get his autograph, a photo, and play a quick bit of one on one with him. While there Lindell Wigginton also came one day and Noah got his picture with him and autograph as well. Lindell is from Nova Scotia and just signed a contract to play in the NBA Summer League with the Raptors. We’ve been watching him play and hoping he ends up sticking with the team.

He also had a camp which was put on by a coach of one of our local high school teams and he had some of the Under 15 Team Nova Scotia boys come out to help. Noah was the youngest and smallest one there but he loved it and learned a lot.

One hilarious moment was during a three in three game Noah was team mates with one of them who is 6′ 6″ tall. Noah setup and took a charge against the other team attacking and drew the offensive foul. Earning some respect the boy came over cheering and went to help pick him but but instead lifted him right up in the air like he was going to dead lift him lol.

Caile and Ella have been dancing as usual but less so than during the season. Ella has been trying out Hip Hop style for the first time as well. She seems to have fun with it but not sure she will do it much more.

Each nice day so far Jen has been taking the kids swimming somewhere. I’ve only been a couple times just based on the times of day they’ve gone but they want to do it as much as possible and having a blast doing it. Usually some friends or family have come along too so that it is even more enjoyable.

Yesterday we went to Halifax and played a tourist in our own capital city. We started by taking the ferry across the harbour and walked up to Citadel Hill toured around there. It’s a really cool place and part of history and has some good views of the city.

From there we walked back to the water front and had some treats at Cows Ice Cream. Some of the kids also stopped at the Freaks Lunch Box to get some candy snacks as well.

It was a fun day and it is nice to get to enjoy our local city for things like that instead of the usual trips we make there which tend to be for shopping trips, dance competitions, or basketball, which all seem to be such busy trips. Spending leisure time with friends and family was just what was needed.

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.