Feeling Bummed

My dancing daughters are heading out to their last dance competition of the season. Last one I missed as I was traveling with work so was really looking forward to our weekend away and getting to see them dance again.

Plans changed quickly this morning when Noah woke up really early not feeling well. We were going to push through though as we figured he was mostly tired from lack of sleep. After breakfast though he was sick all over so that confirmed it. We’re going to have a father – son weekend, though not a fun one. 

I realized that I never wrote about our last one a few weeks ago when we went to see the Globe-trotters. It was an awesome show and we were able to hang out for the whole day. 

At the end Noah was getting some autographs on his basketball and we caught a couple pictures. Ace was our last person to see and he was excited to have her sign his ball. He then turned around so I could take a picture and I could see his face change. She thought he wanted his shirt signed and signed the back in sharpie! He was not super pleased about it. He was scared we were going to be mad about it because writing on our clothing isn’t a normal thing for us 🙂 I convinced him that it was cool but it wasn’t until Jen told him it was cool that he was really at ease.

Jupiter in Lisbon

Jupiter in Lisbon

Our team at work, team Jupiter, recently got together in Lisbon Portugal for almost a week to socialize and work together. This is our first meetup as a team and since the last company wide Grand Meetup our team has grown by four people so this was our first time meeting in real life for a good portion of us!

We have such an awesome and diverse team it was such an opportunity to get together and build better bonds with everyone. We have two team Brazil, two Spanish team members, one from Spain and one from Bolivia. Two Americans but one has been living in the UK for some time. Three people living in Canada, though I’m the only native Canadian. There is also another from the UK but they weren’t able to join us on the meetup. Our team is evenly divided with five women and five men. Four of us have children. Though I don’t contribute to this I believe I counted about 17 different languages known on our team.

The main purpose of the trip is of course to work. We did a series of skill building workshops which members prepared and put on, the main focus was around feedback and giving and receiving it. We have some good followup work as well which we can do async now that we are back to our respective homes.

When we first booked our meetup we had a fair amount of extra space in the deal we received for our accommodations so I helped convince another team to join us as well. Independently another team booked their meetup in Lisbon which overlapped ours by a few days. This allowed us to interact with a couple other teams as well and do a bit of work together.

In the evenings especially, and one day which we set aside, we were able to explore Lisbon and take in some fun activities. Just walking around the city was an experience itself. Such neat buildings many with beautiful tile work, the roads and walk ways done with stone. The city is pretty hilly so we were up and down hills and stairs on our walks. There were trolley cars in some areas which would take you up and down. There was live music being played in many areas by street performers. One day we had a parade right outside our co-working place which we took a few minutes to go and see. On a walk home one evening in the square right in between our accommodations and co-working place there was a group swing dancing. So many little cool moments.

One afternoon we last minute signed up for an escape the room as a whole team. The concept was that we were to follow the clues and solve the puzzles to show we were worthy to join the Illuminati. We were pleased when we finished the room the host came out with a stop watch showing us that we had beat the record in the time it took us to solve it. What great team work!

One of the highlights for me was a pastry cooking class we did together on the morning of our activity day we set aside. One of Lisbon’s famous treats are Pastel de Nata which are a delicious custard pastry. Since I’ve been home I’ve made them twice to rave reviews. There were a couple others treats as well but these were my favourite by far.

We made our way to São Jorge Castle as well. Many of the team ended up here at different times. When I went there were five of us together. We timed it to go up just before sunset so we could have some light but also watch the sun set  from the great view the castle provides. Walking around the castle grounds was impressive, but it was when we made it up on the castle walls where I had to stop and take a few minutes to take in the the whole situation. So thankful!

At home I missed a dance competition where Ella and Caile did awesome. Ella was offered an invitation and scholarship to do a dance tour and experience in either Barcelona or Paris. Unfortunately even with the scholarship it isn’t meant to be. It’s fairly expensive and we wouldn’t feel comfortable sending her on her own so at least one of us would have to go with her. Though it sounds like an amazing opportunity. Maybe another year she’ll get a similar chance and we’ll be in a different position to do it.

Dance Competition Dad

For the past two weekends our family has stepped into the world of dance competitions for the first time. All three of our oldest daughters have been involved with dance at some point. Alexandria no longer does as horse riding has become her main activity. Although Noah loves to shake it around the house hasn’t been interested in following his sisters when we’ve talked with him about it. He’d rather soccer and basketball.

Caile still takes one dance class currently, it’s a musical theatre class as she really enjoys drama and this gives a good mix of that with dance. Ella though I’m pretty sure would dance all day everyday no questions asked.

This year we put her into a dance troupe within her dance company Dance Conxion. They have been practicing and rehearsing a bunch of dances this session and last weekend was the first of dance competition season.

If you had of told me not many years ago that I would be spending my weekends driving to and watching dance competitions I would have called you crazy. So fast forward and seeing the fact that I am actually enjoying myself very much is a shock to me.

I’ve always known dancing is hard and takes a lot of skill, strength, and memory, but these weekends have really blown me away. Watching all these dancers perform dance after dance and pretty much nail it every time is so impressive. At such a young age to be able to do the moves they are doing, remember all the steps for all the songs, and do them in sync and in precision timing, has just blown me away.

I’m still not sure at my age that there is anything in this world I’m as good at as they are at dance at their young age.

Even if Ella and the rest of her fellow dancers weren’t raking in the awards and medals I’d still be proud of what an awesome job they all are doing. I’m very thankful for the dedicated, kind, and creative instructors who have choreographed some wonderful numbers and helped get them to this level.

Noah and I

Yesterday Jen took all the girls to Moncton on an overnight trip so they could watch the So You Think You Can Dance tour which came. They all love the show and love dancing in general so it was awesome this opportunity came up for them to go.

This left Noah and I home alone for the evening and night though! As they were having a fun get away we decided we would have our own fun here. Instead of coming right home after school we decided to go get our selves a little treat. I had an awesome coffee while he had a peanut butter brownie treat. The weather was awesome for this time of year so we decided to make use of it and head out for a walk around the marsh as well.

By the time we were done it was pretty much time to eat. Noah had a few different ideas for what he wanted for super, but finally decided on going to Boston Pizza. He worked hard on the activities in the kids menu until his food arrived and even beat me at a few games of X’s and O’s.

It couldn’t be all fun and games though. Once we were home from supper we quickly did the things around the house that were needed for the next day and did his reading homework. With those things out of the way we had the rest of the night to relax with each other. One of his favourite things is to play Go Fish using the Jetpack cards I picked up while at the Grand Meetup for work. While we were playing he made me laugh. I’ve obviously set some different expectations in him by my past actions. He asked me if when I change jobs if I would have to give the cards back to work :-). He remembers cell phones and other things I had to return previous employers. Not this time little man. For one I have no intentions on going anywhere, and I’m pretty sure they’ll let me keep the cards.

We finished off the night with a bit of a snuggle on the couch with some carrot sticks as a snack and then off to bed.

I had a rough night sleeping, I’m sure from a combination of not used to sleeping alone and being worried about over sleeping or not waking up if Noah needed me in the night. As it turns out he slept all the way through. I told him in the morning Mom would be mad because he slept all night. He was confused and asked mad at me or you? At you I told him. She’s going to say, how come when Dad is here you sleep all night for him, but when I’m here you get up and come see me in the night? His response was, Dad you told me to stay in bed all night. HAHAHA!

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

Today I started out a little bit on the cranky side. There was no real good reason for it except that I knew it was going to be a busy day and I was feeling rushed already. Before I had even finished my morning coffee I had to start hurrying so that we could get out the door to Noah’s basketball practise. Throughout the day though it didn’t take too long for my mood to start to turn. It’s hard to be cranky when you’re watching your son have a blast and trying hard at something he really enjoys.

When we were done we headed straight to what has become our traditional upick Christmas Tree lot. The weather was a little drizzly, but it wasn’t too cold and we were able to find the tree really quickly. Pretty sure we didn’t spend more than 5 minutes until we had one we all liked. In years past we’ve had some long adventures roaming through the trees in snow and cold weather. So coming across something we all agreed upon so fast was more of a treat than the hot chocolate and candy canes we enjoyed in the cabin with the wood stove keeping us warm.

Once the tree was in the house we figured we would leave it wrapped for a bit while it dried out. The rest of the family were having an early lunch before some of them headed off for a birthday party, I took the opportunity to go get a wet run in. The past couple weeks I pushed it to the last day of the week to hit my goal of 25km. Today I had to put in an almost 9km run to get there. Despite the rain, that at some points was feeling pretty hard, the run was very enjoyable. Such a good time to think and just clear my head.

While half the family as off at the birthday party Alexandria and Caile started decorating the artificial tree that we put up in the kids play room. Just the harder things like the lights and the sinamee. The rest the other kids will help with another day.

After supper Caile and Ella were in a Christmas parade with a bunch of other kids from their dance studio. We were able to get together with friends and family and watch the parade with my girls dancing past.

Once home we untied the tree and straightened it up a bit so Jen could get started decorating. The kids were drinking some hot chocolate, I put on my favourite Christmas album while having a sort of cafe mocha. Now sitting here with the Christmas lights, the smell of the tree, the sound of Meaghan Smith, and the taste of the warm drink there is no denying the Christmas spirit has arrived.

Automattic Dance Party

This Grand Meetup which I just returned from has been a bit of a roller coaster for me. Really my emotions leading up to it, while I was there, then coming home have had me all over the place. Realistically I’m still processing a lot of what I learned, what I’m going to take away, and how I’m going to incorporate these things into my daily life. There was one particular event that after talking to others and reading more thoughts I think really sums up what kind of environment Grand Meetup and Automattic is. That is the Automattic 10th Anniversary Party on the final night.

Honestly after dinner I was really thinking that it was going to be the end of my night. Before the party though I went and had a nice quiet conversation and coffee with a couple of co-workers. After talking with them I gave in and said I’d at least go give it a chance, I am so glad I did.

The party started with different groups of Automatticians taking the stage and rocking it hard. They only played together for a week and kept switching people up after each song. It really blew my mind. We are made up of such talented people in so many ways and this was just one of them. It really turned my mood around listening and watching these folks get up and perform for us. So I grabbed a drink and turned to party mode.

What happened later on still surprises me and shocked my wife, but I actually was up and dancing to our special guests The Jane Doze who flew in to take care of music for us. For many people this isn’t a big deal and something they do all the time, for me I haven’t done it since elementary school. That’s because at my first dance, where I thought I was with friends, I was laughed at and made fun of enough that it caused me to run away crying and leave. Since that time I haven’t danced ever except for a few slow songs which was basically just me moving in circles with someone else.

It would be pretty easy to simply thank the whisky I had been drinking for my new found bravery, but that isn’t it, at least not completely. Over my teenage years there were plenty of times that I was in the position to get up and dance being fully lubricated with alcohol but still didn’t. It also wasn’t only me. There are at least two other accounts that I’ve heard of where people got up and danced and it wasn’t something they normally do. In fact it was one of them who helped convince me to give it a try.

The real reason that I felt comfortable enough to do this was because of the atmosphere of acceptance and friendship I felt from everyone I encountered. It really felt like a safe, fun place to let my guard down. Chances are my dancing skills were every much as bad or worse than that time in grade school, but I never heard anyone laughing or pointing at me. That said, I still hope there isn’t any video evidence, but there very well could be.

Readers of this blog are likely getting sick of hearing me say things like this, but I’m so happy and thankful for the opportunity that I have to work at Automattic and with all the people who make it such a special company. That really starts right from the top with CEO Matt Mullenweg, right down to one of the newest members on my team Alicia Henry and really everyone in between who I was able to meet. So thank you to everyone! I haven’t listed all the names, but that could take me a long time and I don’t want to leave anyone out by mistake.

I’ll end this post with this pitch, if this sounds like the kind of place you want to be a part of, go to our work with us page and contact our obviously super human hiring team.

Labour Day Long Weekend

This past weekend was Labour Day weekend. In past years it was always our last little get away for the summer. This year though the kids started school a couple days before and we had a few getaways this summer already so we didn’t take off. We did have lots of fun though. It was also a little sad though too because it was my sister and brother in laws last days here with us before flying home yesterday.

Saturday we did a trip around the lower part of the province.

trip

Sunday we went to the shore to celebrate my brother in laws birthday with a bunch of people. We cooked wieners on the beach and had some s’mores and other treats. It was a nice relaxing day on the beach.

Monday Caile and Ella were in a parade for their dance company. They danced their way through the whole parade even though it was a really hot day. They’re not scared of some hard work. Once the parade was done we headed out to a lake with everyone to cool off and spend some last time with our visiting family.

Dance Class Parent Participation

Yesterday in the morning I didn’t end up getting out for a run as I had planned. Getting out of bed wasn’t my problem this time. I actually ended up with lots of sleep because I went to be early. 5:30 am didn’t seem so bad at all. Just as I was getting ready to head out the door though one of the kids came down upset because they had a bad dream. So instead I stopped and we cuddled on the couch for a while instead.

Later on in the afternoon was going to go out for a run, or maybe pull my bike out and see if I could go somewhere on it without it falling apart or it break down. When I went outside it was just feeling to warm and I wasn’t in the mood.

It actually turned out to be a good thing because I gained a new found respect for dancers. Not that I didn’t have one before, because I’ve always realized they can do things I can’t do. Since having my kids in dance though and going to their recitals you really see what some of these people are capable of first hand.

This week is parents participation so I went to Ella’s Jazz and Tap tech class. It is a brutal class and those 8-9 years old are so strong. The exercises they had us doing wore me out, I was sweating in no time. They even took it easy on us parents and allowed us just to watch some of what the dancers had learned so far. It impresses me that they can go for the full hour and fifteen minutes and still have energy afterwards.

While I was going I was very happy I hadn’t run and killed my legs in the morning so that I could at least not look like a total flop there. It made my work out in the evening pretty rough as well. It was a lot of fun though getting to be with her though and see all she can do. Having her teach me how to do things for a change was an awesome dynamic. She was so supportive and telling me how good I was even though it was very clear I wasn’t. What a sweet kid I have.

Drama Camp Talent Show

All week Caile and Ella have been in Drama Summer Camp at Centre Stage Theatre. They’ve gone a few years now and love it. The camp is very well done and I love watching their play at the end of the week. 

This year they did a play called The Worn Slippers. I wasn’t able to record it as the had a professional team come in to do it and sell the DVD’s afterward.

Yesterday though they had a talent show. Together with their cousins they choreographed a dance routine. They love being on stage and performing.