Cape Split

Cape Split

Today was the first day of my Sabbatical from work. Three months were a all my typical excuses are no longer valid. I have the time and ability to do a bunch of things I’ve been putting off.

I started today with one thing I’ve been putting off for a long time. Not really intentionally, just never prioritized it and fit it in. We live near Cape Split which is a great Provincial Park on the Bay of Fundy. When I was about 12, long before I moved to the Annapolis Valley I went on a hike there. It was a cold rainy day and I didn’t have fun at all. We never made it to the top either. Even though I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and we’ve gone on lots of hikes and trails, I’ve never been back to do Cape Split. This morning I biked to the top.

It is a little more than 6km each way and meant more for hiking then biking, but most of the trail is pretty good. There are a number of spots I needed to walk over some big roots that I didn’t think I’d make it over though. It was worth the trip and I’ll be going back and hiking it for sure.

This is just the start. I have a list of things around the house I’ve been putting off, but will now get done, and I’m going to continue building the good habits to get myself into shape. I’ve been doing well for a few months now in the last 80 days I’ve had 56 I’ve considered a success by getting enough exercise and eating healthy. There have only been 6 days that I consider a failure in that time. I still have work to do though and and will be putting in the effort.

Upcoming Sabbatical

One of the amazing perks that is offered by Automattic is after 5 years of work you can take a three month paid sabbatical from work. This still blows my mind really. It also blows my mind that I’ve been working here for 5 years already. This is the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere in my life.

My 5 year anniversary was back in December but I scheduled my Sabbatical to be during the summer when the kids would be off school. We had pretty big plans to fly the family across the country for a month to go visit my family. With the pandemic it has made us have to revisit that and adjust my plans for this time. This is pretty disappointing of course, but really it is minor in the scheme of things that have changed and the impact the pandemic has had on others lives.

I’ve been a little apprehensive about being away from work for so long. I started working pretty early except for a brief period as a teenager I’ve always worked or gone to school, many times both at the same time. As I’m getting ever closer though I feel nothing but excitement. I still love my job but having this time is going to do wonders.

There is a list of things around the house that I plan to get done. Nothing really major, but they will take time and will be a learning experience. There are other things I want to take the time to learn for myself as well. I figure there is still going to be lots of down time though especially now that we will be staying home.

After today though I can’t wait to be able to sprinkle more days like it into my life during the sabbatical. I had today off work and it was a really great day.

I work up late, a little before 7:00 am, but I stayed in bed and was able to read a couple chapters. My intention was to get up then, but then instead I relaxed some more and watched an episode of The Last Dance. After some breakfast and hanging out for a while with the family I headed out on a solo bike ride. Touring around for an hour and a half taking in the beautiful weather and views while listening to an audio book is my favourite way to get in some exercise.

After some lunch I hung around with the family some more, and played some video games with Noah. We then headed out for a bike ride just the two of us and were out for about another hour and a half. This was a bit of an easier ride, but with some great company.

After supper we went out and did a bit of work in the yard. Getting some gardens ready. We dug up a new little garden around a tree in the front yard and planted a couple of hostas and are ready for more planting as well. We’re now sitting down to watch a movie as a family.

With a little more than two weeks to go, I’m counting down until I can end up having many more days like today.

Isolation Fitness

Isolation Fitness

With the isolation going on I’ve been working hard on building the habits to become healthy.

I bought a new bike which I absolutely love. The weather hasn’t been the best but I’ve gotten out on a couple good rides. I can’t wait to ride a bunch more.

After a few recommendations I also purchased a book You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren. It has lots of exercises that you can do anywhere without any real equipment. One of the exercises is called Let Me Ups. They are sort of like pull ups except you’re lying down and your feet stay on the ground. You can use things like a table or anything like that.

I really didn’t have anything to use for these so I built something to use. A couple stands with a pole in between. They are really simple and cheap but does the trick.

I have been using them for the pull ups and seated dips. Excuse my poor form and pyjama pants.

I started a push-up program trying to get to 100 pushups. I’ve been doing them every day but took today off as things are getting hard. I’m up to 68 pushups and tomorrow it jumps to 78, so I took today to let the muscles rest and be ready for tomorrow.

I’ve also been running a lot. Mostly indoor on the treadmill. Usually 5Ks sometimes just going for 30 minutes.

It goes really well most of the time, but tonight I had a bit of a mishaps. I went to wipe my head and drifted a bit to the left. I hit the edge and slipped. I skinned my knee and I think I may have broke my big toe, or at least sprained it really bad. That takes skill let me tell you.

So far I’m building good habits again and while the scale isn’t moving I feel like I’m getting stronger. I think I’m in a good place and will be able to keep this up.

Building Habits

So often I’ve written these type posts, about getting started again when it comes to fitness goals and habits. This time I’m going to start at a different approach.

I’ve just started reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and I’m not far in but I’m already seeing benefits and advice I can take. One of the first items is about the different types of habits. There are Outcome based habits and Identity based habits. When it comes to fitness habits in the past I’ve always focused on outcome of goal based. One of them was an actual example used in the book.

Years ago I had a goal to be able to run the 10k race. I made it and ran the race in less than the time I wanted and then ended up not running for a long time after. That’s happened a number of times over the years. I reach the goal and then stop the good work.

The book says identity based habits are more likely to stick. The idea is you decide who you want to be and focus on habits that get you there. So in this case I want to be a healthy person. What things do healthy people do. They exercise regularly eat proper.

The section I’m in now for the book is talking about Implementation Intentions. You are much more likely to stick with a habit if you create a clear plan about when and how you are going to complete it.

This makes sense to me as I’ve had the most success when I’ve written about my goals and outline my plans. I’m going to combine these two concepts a bit and focus on being a healthy person and consistently write about my plans and what I’m doing.

Instead of overloading this blog with posts about that I’ve created a new blog I will post daily on with the habits I’m working on https://sandys.fitness.blog/ If you’re interested you can follow along, if not no worries this is mostly to keep myself honest.

New Car – Hyundai Kona

New Car – Hyundai Kona

For a while we’ve known it was getting close to time to pick up a new second vehicle. We have a large SUV, Chevrolet Traverse, which is an eight seater and our main family vehicle when we go anywhere all together. It is an all wheel drive and we use it most of the winter because of that.

We’ve been driving a Hyundai Elantra as our second vehicle for when there is just some of going. It isn’t the best in the winter though so if the roads are bad we generally don’t take it anywhere.

With Alex moving out we’ve been driving her and Ezra where ever they need to go so we thought it made sense to get something new that is smaller and easier on gas, but also all wheel drive and will do well in winter. We can then pass on the Elantra to Alex so we can be less of a taxi service 🙂

We did a lot of research and test drove a number of things. We were looking in the sub compact SUV kind class. At first I wanted to stay away from Hyundai but when I got thinking about it I’ve owned a number of them over the years and they’ve all treated us pretty well. Combine that with the deals they had on at the time, the good reviews of the Kona, the warranty, and how well it handled when we were out on the test drive, it won out.

It got me looking back a bit at the other Hyundais we’ve had. It started out way back with a 1987 Hyundai Excel. This was the family car I learned to drive on. We drove that thing so that they odometer read about 300,000 KM. It stopped working at some point though so we don’t really know how much was on it.

Next the first brand new car I ever bought myself was a Hyundai Accent in 2002. I’m really hoping that this new one doesn’t meet the same fate that one though. About three months after buying it found its final resting spot.

When Alex was getting her license and learning to drive our second vehicle was a Honda Civic which was a manual and getting pretty old. We figured an automatic was the best thing for her. We took over the 2008 Hyundai Elantra from my Parents-in-law as they were downgrading to one vehicle only, which happens to be a newer Elantra. We’ve been driving it ever since and treating us really well. Though it had its share of trouble in the past

It was all fixed up though and Noah recently learned how to change a tire on it.

We’ve already given the new Kona a pretty good workout. Had it out in some pretty messy weather, and found out it can hold easily hold twelve large pizzas in the trunk.

We opted for the Trend trim package because it came in this blue that Jen really wanted. It has lots of good features, and the 1.6L Turbo engine which makes it really fun to drive. Things like the heated seats, and steering wheel are both things I never thought I’d need, but going on in this cold weather, I really enjoy them. My favourite thing is when needing to pass someone on the highway, the turbo makes it pretty easy and fun.

New Mini Basketball Hoop

New Mini Basketball Hoop

With Alex moving out we’ve helped out with some of the furnishings for the house. One of the things was a smaller 32″ TV. When we built the house we had to inset outlets added to the walls where we intended to mount TVs. One in the then play room, and one in the then Alex’s bedroom. Since then the play room has turned into family / video game room. Noah and Alex ended up switching rooms and I don’t think his TV has been on more than twice since then.

The TV in the family room still gets lots of use, but with his not being used we figured it would be good to give to Alex. The only problem is this leaves the big inset hole in the wall and the wall mount which would leave big holes if removed from the bolts holding it up.

We talked about covering it over with a poster, or something similar but I came up with a different plan. I figured I could build a frame or cover that could get mounted to the TV mount and use it to put a mini hoop on the wall for him. That would certainly get more use than the TV.

He already had one in his room, but it is old, it sits pretty low, and it is busted up pretty good, but he still uses it a lot. It also has to hang on his closet door which is a bit awkward.

Not long ago my Father In Law got a new bed as the old one was not great, but we decided to keep the wooden slats that the mattress sat on. They were in good shape and should work perfect for this. So I did some measurements to figure out how big it would need to be to cover the hole / TV mount, and end up being about the same height from the ceiling as a door frame.

I’m lacking a bit in the tool department and only have a hand saw, but I measured out all the pieces I’d need and marked them and took them over to a friends who graciously let me use their saw to cut them all. I came home and put them together and it turned out pretty well I think.

To go with it we ordered him a new really good quality hoop to sit there. Check out the promo video for it.

The hoop arrived today and I think it looks pretty good. Excited to see what he thinks when he gets home from school.

Alex’s and Ezra’s Home

Alex’s and Ezra’s Home

On October 29th I became a Grandfather! My oldest Alex gave birth to a beautiful boy Ezra. When I first found out the news that our family was going to be growing it took me a while to come around as I know first hand how hard it is to be a young parent. Selfishly I also felt I was way to young to become a Grandfather. Once again, sorry Mom for having put you through the same thing. Things are going great and I love having a Grandson to snuggle with.

Alex has been living with us but we knew that wasn’t the best long term option. They would need a place of their own. Early on we found a place that was a good deal, was safe and close, and move in ready. We jumped on it. There wasn’t a hurry though as we wanted them to stay with us at least for a while to help out during the early days and help get a good routine and make sure everyone was doing well. Since we had time it was decided we would do some painting and repair work to make things even nicer and feel more like home.

Doing this type of work is not my strong suit. I have painted some, but am not great at it, and I’ve never done repairs like the crack fill and caulking that would be needed if we were going to do things right. The original plan was to do just the two main bedrooms, main bath, and leave the rest. However once those rooms were getting close to completion we decided to add in the kitchen and living room / hallway.

For most people it likely wouldn’t have been a big job, but for me it was. As we started getting closer to move in date the pressure was on to get things finished. I felt like for a while I was spending more time there than at home. I would put in my work day and then head over there to get to work. Thank goodness for the help of my Mother again. She came and did so much, I don’t think it would have gotten down with out her. Not only did she do a lot, she also taught me how to do things well. Together we managed to get things done. The quality of the work I know isn’t up to her standards, and there were parts I wish were better, but they are certainly good enough, and better than they were.

Things have been different in our house for the last week now that they have moved out and I’m missing being able to go pick him up when ever pretty much when ever I want. But they are doing well and settling into their new home and routine and I know I’ll still get to see them lots.

I didn’t do a great job of documenting the work as it was happening, but I figured I’d share some pictures to give an idea of what things looked like, before, during, and after the work we did was done. The before pictures are from the previous owners.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

Bathroom

Living Room

Kitchen

Fitness update

Fitness update

Back near the beginning of August I wrote about my fitness and plans to get back into a good routine and health. Today I hit a couple milestones so I thought I would give a quick update.

My main goals were to keep my physical activities varied and not only doing one thing. For both biking and running I set some minor goals for myself.

With biking my goal was to be able to make it from the bottom of our hill to the top without stopping. On September 1st I completed that though very slowly.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B14UMVaHhOR/

Since then I haven’t done a lot of biking as I’ve been concentrating on my running. My goal was to be able to run the Valley Harvest Marathon 5K race in under 30 minutes. When I started running again in August it seemed like a long ways away. That race was this morning and I did it.

Another fun milestone that came today was when I jumped on the scale I am now down 30lbs since April of this year. That is when I started but had a few big up and downs before I finally really buckled down in August.

There is still more work to go but I’m finally feeling like I’m back in a good routine with both my eating and activity levels.

Kentville Pumpkin People 2019

Our town has a fun tradition for the month of October. We have the Pumpkin People pop up all over. Each year is a different theme, but I really like this years especially. It is Toon Town, showcasing a bunch of classic cartoons.

This morning we got up and went apple picking again with family and friends and then everyone came back to our place to test out the BBQ on our new deck. Then we went out around town to check out the different displays.

Learning React

Since my last update about my #photo-album-project I’ve been busy gathering up learning resources and have started in on some learning.

A lot of the resources I’ve found are online. I’ve been scanning and bookmarking articles on MongoDB, Node.js, creating APIs and other things. A site I hadn’t come across before this is FreeCodeCamp. They seem to have a great mix of articles about all kinds of different topics. I have a number from here bookmarked to come back to.

Besides online, I also ordered a book for further down the learning road called iOS Apprentice from raywenderlich.com. It was recommended by my esteemed colleague Aaron Douglas.

For my first task I’ve decided to learn is React. I found a great course on udemy.com called Modern React with Redux. I’m about a third of the way through the course, it has over 40 hours of video lecture and activities. I’m to a point now where I could likely get started building the React part of my project, but I want to finish the course. Currently I’m at the point where I’m learning about Redux. It is just early on, but it is a bit of a struggle to wrap my mind around it so far. I could build my app without it pretty easy, but it is a common way to build complex React applications so I want to get a good sense of how it works and will likely end up using it even though it may be overkill.

The structure of this course really works for me. The instructor, Stephen Grider, does a really good job explaining what is happening and for me the right level of how things are working and why to use it, mixed with examples and activities to build little applications.

So fat things have felt pretty straight forward and I’ve been able to go through the lectures and activities with the playback speed at 1.5x, but moving into Redux, I’ve had to slow down and go back and re-watch some sections. I feel like it is starting to come together, and I think I as I go on in the course it will be even better.

Even though I’ve mostly been typing out exactly the code I’m shown in the course, it has been fun to code a bit and see the results show up on my screen. I’m excited to keep going.