Took advantage of some amazing weather and went for a little walk this morning.
Back in August 2014 I had reached a big milestone after a lot of hard work. I was so proud of myself and swore I would never go back. At that time I reached my goal weight of under 180lbs after months of hard work and dedication. Things went up and down from there but for a long time I stayed in pretty decent shape. In March 2016 I ran my longest distance ever, 20km. Since then though I’ve been on a pretty steady decline health wise and really broke the promise to myself. I’m getting pretty close to having put back on all the weight I worked so hard to lose in 2014.
For the past bit I’ve been in a pretty big funk, not myself, unhappy. This is a big part of that, though there are other factors of course. Most of them are beyond my control, but my health is solely mine to control. How could I be so stupid and lazy?
Today I went on the incredibly demoralizing task of organizing my closet. Over the past few months I’ve been slowly buying new clothes that fit because I’ve gotten too fat for the ones I had. My closet was getting overrun with clothes because I still had all the clothes that I should fit in but they were making their way to the back of the closet. So today I moved everything out that I no longer fit in and put them into storage under the bed. Time for things to change, again.
Instead of just keeping up with a pretty healthy eating plan and exercise I reverted back to my old ways and now need to go through all the hard work again. Of course as I get older that will likely be even harder than it was almost four years ago.
Last time I blogged and shared on social media constantly about my progress, how far I ran today etc. I won’t put people through that again, especially because it isn’t nearly as meaningful the second time around, but I’ll work hard anyway. I’ve ordered myself a new Fitbit to help me track progress and keep my honest. Last time that sort of tracking was really motivational, I just won’t publicize it so much.
So I’m getting started, again, and hopefully I’ll finally be smart enough to get off this weight roller coaster I’ve been on permanently.
Noah and I have most of the day together. We’re off to play some basketball shortly but this morning he helped me carve my pumpkin.
He choose to paint his own this year, it has the first coat only so far, so not ready to share.
For a while I’ve wanted to try this kind of carving where you more skin the pumpkin, so I choose a fairly simple design. Maybe I’ll try something more detailed next year.
A few Grand Meetups ago some of my awesome colleagues started a new cool thing, Happiness Patches. For any team you have been on, or done a rotation with, you get a patch. There are a few fun patches as well and they’re expanding a bit. The idea is similar to merit badges.
Each Grand Meetup I’d collect new patches and then they would live in a bag in my office, I never knew what to do with them. The one main idea I had saw others do was to put them on a backpack. Backpacks wear out though and I didn’t want to lose these. Finally this weekend I did something with them and I’m really happy with the result.
While the kids were doing a craft at our local Michaels store I went and grabbed a shadow box to frame the patches in. Had I just been doing the patches a regular frame would have likely worked, but I had a few pins to throw in as well so needed a big more depth. It has now joined the Automattic wall in my office.
The wall started out with just the print based on the Automattic creed, then shortly after I added the three logos and it has continued to grow since then. A local business, who creates custom pillows, made the WordPress logo pillow for me. Jen wouldn’t let me use it in the living room so now it lives on the top of my bookcase. The next additions were the award I received at work, and the WordPress pennant. One of my previous team members brought me a big glow in the dark Jupiter sticker which made it’s way to the wall as well. Jupiter is our team name. Last night I re-arranged things a bit so I could make room for the new shadow box. The wall can still use some adjustments to fit things better, but I really like it and it makes me happy when ever I walk into my office.
Another Automattic Grand Meetup has come and gone. It is always such an amazing, overwhelming, stressful, fun, exciting, unique, and tiring experience. This year was no exception to that.
Shortly before the meetup the team I’m on added three new people. That is exciting, always fun to get to meet and hangout with more awesome Automatticians. However this made our team fairly big and with more people going to be hired soon we split our team in half. That’s the sad part 🙁 Some of this wonderful group of people I’ve gotten to know are now moving on to form their own team. They’ll certainly thrive as a team and individuals, but still tough knowing we won’t be working quite as close together and on the next team meetup they won’t be with us. Luckily we were still able to spend time together this trip.
Another first for this meetup is the first one Jen was coming along too. Getting to work and travel so closely with her is another one of the things I’ll never take for granted working with Automattic. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together because we are on different teams and the week is so busy, but we made the most of the time we did have. In the beginning we made sure our flight was in early enough that we were able to go visit the water front in Vancouver and made our way to a beach as well. The day before we had left home we went to the shore here and Jen put her feet in the ocean. We did the same thing the very next day except in the Pacific! We also got in some walks in the mornings, chats at night before we both exhaustively fell on our pillows, and with big group we took the gondola up to the top of the Whistler mountains!
We took most of my old team, some of Jen’s team, and one of my buddies from when I first joined the company. Couldn’t ask for a better group to share this experience with. We took the Peak to Peak Gondola trip which takes you up the mountain, then across to a neighbouring peak, then back down again. The views, the air, and the company were all 💯!
Getting to share meals, work, and a new home room concept with all my colleagues, allowed me to meet many new people I hadn’t yet. My Meetamattician score is at a high of 52% of the company being met. Some of those were pretty quick conversations though.
This year I was particularly nervous as we were trying to keep support open for our customers at a much larger scale than we ever had in the past. We had many Happiness Engineers doing their regular job for part of the meetup, and a whole host of others throughout the company join us as well. We started and finished the week in great shape thanks to all their hard work. It was such a cool experience having everyone pull together and work in person.
Being part of this company leaves me thankful just about every day. There are stressful parts, and parts that aren’t always so fun, but the people, the work, and the company all make it so worth while. Can’t wait to find out where we will get together next year to do it all over again!
My incredibly strong wife shares her feelings from a rough day 14 years ago.
I truly believe that each day we are alive changes our life somehow. Some days are big changes and other days, little changes. 14 years ago this morning our sweet Brianna Lynne was born and later that evening we said Goodbye.
For me this was one of those big change days. For me that day tore me apart and made me a new person, a better person. I think with each struggle, pain, upset we go through we have the opportunity to grow and become someone better or we have the opportunity to do just the very opposite. I promise you that I did not wake up that next morning feeling like a better person, or wanting to be one. I woke up instead a very angry person and I felt that way for quite some time.
Those next few months I have never prayed so much in all of…
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After driving through some of the more boring states and provinces on our way out west I decided I was going to have something to do while sitting in the passenger seat on the way home.
For a while now Noah has wanted a Rubik’s Cube so we finally got him one. I remembered as a kid wanting badly to figure out how to solve one but never putting in the time to do it. There was going to be lots of time on this drive home, so I picked one up for myself as well.
Thanks to the internet I was able to figure it out and can now solve one pretty quickly! I’ll not be going to competitions, but I’m just happy to solve one.
This the first time in a while I learned something not useful to me but it was still fun to do. Who knows, maybe someday knowing how to solve a Rubik’s Cube will come in handy for something.
Monday evening we wearily rolled into our yard for the first time in a month. It was early morning July 7 when we piled into our SUV and started out on our cross country road trip covering 5 Canadian Provinces and 15 US States.
What wonderful experiences and memories we made. Spending so much time in tight quarters during the long drives, staying in hotel rooms, and a small AirBnB, I was afraid there would be fighting and us getting tired of each other. Thankfully it was the opposite, I believe we are closer as a family now. On the last night of our trip we stopped at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire for an evening walk on our favourite beach and gave some serious consideration to spontaneously extending our trip.
This type of trip just wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Jen and I both working for Automattic. While we did each take two weeks off of work throughout the month, that left two weeks while we worked from the road.
Originally we were only going to have a three week trip out to Alberta to visit my sister, her husband, and my new nephew. When Jen, Caile, and Ella, received tickets to the NKOTB concert in Boston the weekend before we were going to leave, and with Jen starting the new job, we changed plans and booked an extra week at an AirBnB in Philadelphia. During this week Jen and I both got up extra early and worked, then spent the afternoons exploring the area with the kids, to come home and do a bit more work at night.
Jen took the next week off and did all the driving so I could work from the passengers seat while we made our way our Alberta. Jen then did the same type of schedule from my sisters house working early and late, and I started two weeks vacation. For the first time since I started at Automattic I removed my email and slack from my phone and completely disconnected from work, I didn’t even blog about the adventures as we went.
Thought I’d take the time now to highlight some of the fun adventures we had, I also kept a map showing the rough path we took and some of the main places we visited.
Hampton Beach, NH
We both started and finished our trip at this amazing beach. On day 2 we spent the early afternoon there and on our way home on day 31 we went for an evening walk before coming home.
NKOTB Concert – Fenway Park, Boston
Jen, Caile and Ella went on the night of day 2 to Fenway park and in the rain watched Boyz II Men, Paula Abdul, and the New Kids On The Block.
The Liberty Bell – Philadelphia, PA
On day 4 we explored some of the downtown Philadelphia area. We went through Spruce Street Harbor Park, walked up to the Liberty Bell, and then took the kids to The Franklin Institute.
The Jersey Shore
Jen found us an amazing beach at Strathmere, it was huge, beautiful, free, and not busy at all. We spent hours there and ate a picnic on the beach. We then on our way home I surprised Jen by mapping her to Atlantic City where we could walk the board walk and explore.
Fairmount Park – Philadelphia, PA
We spent a few days visiting the Delaware Museum of Natural History, Legoland Philadelphia, and the Academy of Natural Science.
Then on day 9 we explored Fairmount Park. We started out by going to to a community pool but it was crowded and the water was pretty cold. Instead we found Wheel Fun Rentals and rented a bike which fit us all and peddled around the park that way some.
Letchworth State Park, NY
As we started our driving again we stopped at the amazing Letchworth State at the advice of my friend and co-worker Chrissie! We met up with her, her husband, her mother in law, and our other co-worker Sam for some visit and a pizza lunch picnic. I’d never heard of the park before but it’s called the Grand Canyon of the East. It had some amazing views and beautiful water falls.
Niagara Falls, ON
Before we headed to our hotel for the night we stopped to check out Niagara Falls. We had been here when the kids were little but before Noah was born. It was like a water falls day for us, first at Letchworth then these powerful falls.
Marineland – Niagara Falls, ON
We met up with Tiffany and her family, and our friends from New Brunswick on day 11 to go to Marineland! Our plan was to explore the sea life, but the kids ended up having the most fun on all the rides.
African Lion Safari – Cambridge, ON
One of our favourite things last time we were in this area was the African Lion Safari. So on day 12 we got together with Tiffany and her family again and took everyone here. Driving through so close to these animals is really neat. Monkeys climb all over cars, giraffes cross the road right in front of you, rhinos graze on the grass right beside you. This was one of the main highlights of the whole trip.
Air Zoo Aerospace Museum – Portage, MI
Day 13 was a mainly driving day but we stopped to break at the Air Zoo Aerospace Museum. We didn’t get to spend much time here but there were many different old aircraft on display and lots of interactive exhibits to explore. Caile and Ella took a ride in a flight simulator and ended upside down for most of their flight 🙂
Mall of America – Minneapolis, MN
What vacation wouldn’t be complete without some shopping. This I could have passed on but we did get to play some mini golf and had a good time doing that.
Worlds Largest Buffalo – Jamestown, ND
A quick stop on our driving day. I get a kick out of these Worlds Largest type roadside attractions. All I can picture is a town council meeting with a bunch of people sitting around. “What can we do to bring people to our town? I know”, one would exclaim, “let’s build the Worlds Largest Buffalo!”
Sikome Lake – Calgary, AB
On our first full day with my sister Melissa and her family we headed to the lake in a part near their home. It was a warm day and was nice to get to spend some time in the water and just hang out with everyone.
Prince’s Island Park – Calgary, AB
By accident we ended up finding this park right downtown Calgary. We were going to head into the mountains this day but we ran behind and saw there was bad traffic on our way there which wouldn’t give us much time so we changed plans last minute looking for something to do closer. We made our way here and also walked around downtown for a bit to find a bit of an ice cream treat.
Telus Spark Science Center – Calgary, AB
On our way home we stopped in for a quick trip to this Science Center. It was close to closing time so we spent most of our time playing on a pretty impressive outdoor playground they had built.
Calgary Zoo – Calgary, AB
With Melissa and my nephew we spent the day at the zoo. So many cool animals to see. Zoo’s are one of our kids favourite things and counting the African Lion Safari this was our second of three zoos on the trip. The gorillas and penguins ended up being most everyones top pick from here.
Rotary Park – Whitecourt, AB
For day 20 and 21 we drove up north so we could meet with Jen’s Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin, along with her family. My mother in law had been visiting her brother in British Columbia and they drove over here to meet us. We spent a couple days in this park visiting with them with the kids playing on the playground and splash pad. This was the end of my mother in laws trip so we brought her back to Calgary with us and got her to the airport for her flight home.
Heritage Park – Calgary, AB
I had never heard of this place before this trip and Melissa and her family had never been. We could have spent a lot more time here as there was lots to see. It is like an old town with shops, a train, a farm, and even carnival rides which the kids loved. Our next visit out here this will be on the list for sure.
Parks – Calgary, AB
The last couple days we took it pretty easy. We did explore a couple parks, one huge off leash dog park where we could let my fur nephew run and cool off in the river. The other is the same park which had Sikome Lake in it which we went to early on in our visit. But this time we sent it walking along the river.
Worlds Largest Booming Prairie Chicken – Rothsay MN
We had some long drive days making our way back east and didn’t take much in the way of breaks. I had found this place on the map on the way to Alberta but we missed the exit, so we decided to indulge me and on day 26 we stopped here for a quick break to stretch our legs.
Chicago White Sox – Chicago, IL
Noah has badly wanted to see a baseball game for some time. I started looking for our time in Ontario to see if I could find a Blue Jays game we could attend there. Tickets were pretty expensive and nothing really worked time wise. I tried a few other cities we were in along the way as well. As luck would have it though the Blue Jays were playing the White Sox on our first day in Chicago and we were able to get there!
Navy Pier – Chicago, IL
On day 28 we went down to Navy Pier and started out our day with an Architectural River Boat Tour of the city. It was a really great way to see a bit of it and learn some of the history in a very relaxed way. Once we were done with the tour we went to get a different view from the Centennial Wheel. From almost 200 feet in the air you do get a pretty good view!
For dinner we tried some Chicago Style pizza, and this was certainly some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. It certainly beats NYC style pizza with no contest in my books.
Brookfield Zoo – Chicago, IL
One last zoo visit for our trip. It was a pretty chilly day and some of the family even wore jackets and sweaters for the first time since we left home. It was pretty nice though as the animals were fairly active. The kids also all decided to have caricatures of themselves drawn as a souvenir.
Huntington Beach – Bay Village, OH
Making our way back home we broke up our drive on day 30 by stopping at a beach just outside Cleveland. Unfortunately the water was off limits the day we were there, but we still had fun walking the beach and seeing the Cleveland skyline in the background.
This was an amazing trip and I only touched on some of the main things we did or places we saw. The only part that I wish I could maybe skip was the drive days through Saskatchewan and some of North Dakota. The running joke was about all the hay bales which were about the only things we could see.
Honestly the best part of it for me was getting to spend so much time without the everyday things getting in the way. There was no dance class, basketball practice, or any of the other things which breaks us up in a regular week. We spent time together. We spent time with family. We spent time with friends. We made many memories and so I just wanted to document some of it here to help job my memory if I ever start to forget.
So far we are having a wonderful trip. Getting work done while exploring some of a new area to us. The one downfall has been a lack of coffee.
Before we left I came very close to packing my aeropress coffee maker which is what I use at home. It packs up small and would have been easy to bring, but I figured hotels aren't going to have a kettle and our Airbnb is likely to have a coffee maker.
The second part was wrong. There is a kettle here at the Airbnb but not a coffee maker. There was instant coffee and I've been drinking it for days. I've been spoiled to be able to work at home and make a decent coffee just about when ever I want,
And I've been missing that.
Yesterday when everyone went into one store I ran across the street to Bed Bath & Beyond and bought a single cup pour over device. This morning was so much nicer! The $3.99 has made a huge difference.
The hotels will still likely either provide coffee, or have coffee makers, but this is small and easy to pack. I'll have decent coffee the rest of the trip now. Speaking of which, I think I could use one right now.
Hampton Beach, NH