Looking Back at 2017

Definitely the biggest thing that happened for us in 2017 was the arrival of Baby Scotch. Its been awesome (even when things have driven me to tears) and I’m so excited about 2018 with him. Lots of other stuff happened in 2017 too but I’d say this year was about pockets of really awesome adventures, with long periods of boring, and sometimes frustrating, days in between. When I’m thinking about what I’d like for this new year that is definitely something I’m going to work on changing. But before we get into this new year, here’s some highlights from 2017.

Adventure

Between the start of the year and May we didn’t go any where. This was the first year we didn’t do something for spring break which turned out to be the best decision when I went into labour two weeks early. Luckily it didn’t take long for us to be able to head out again as a family of three with a day trip to Drumheller, a weekend in Edmonton and finally our two and a half week trip to California.

Beach time in San Diego

Jon and I split paternity leave so he was able to take the summer off with us. We went to the cabin at the start of July, spent some time in Victoria and capped off the summer with another trip to the cabin in August.

Hanging on the beach in Victoria

I went back to work in the fall which generally means no more vacation until Christmas but this year I had a spot at the indoor lawn bowling national championships in Vancouver so we spent a week at the end of October there.

Christmas was spent in the city but we made the long, snowy drive to the cabin in time for new years.

Around the House

Early in 2016 we started on some basement renos, knowing that we wanted to have a guest room down there with the baby room upstairs. We didn’t get to finish them but luckily my father in law came for a visit and wrapped them up for us. Jon also painted the main floor and bathroom and we did some landscaping in the front yard.

Personal and Family

Obviously, the arrival of Baby Scotch changed our lives and what we got up to. He was awesome as a tiny baby but is even more awesome at 9 months. Best thing ever.

Eating dried seaweed

Work for both Jon and I was/is super busy to the point where it is too much. Another thing that needs to be adjusted in 2018.

Fitness and Health

So the first part of the year was about maintaining a healthy pregnancy (success!) and then recovering quickly (success!) but the time after that which should have been spent regaining my fitness just never happened. I’ve lost all the baby weight (and more) but I wouldn’t say I’m fit. We didn’t make it much of a priority.

Outdoors

Prior to Baby Scotch’s arrival we actually got in quite a few outdoor adventures for being so pregnant. We hiked Fullerton Loop again, did a fair amount of cross country skiing and even went on a pretty epic snowshoe adventure at 32 weeks pregnant. I went for a big walk the day I went into labour and managed to be outside the day following (and even during labour I spent some of it outdoors).

Then there was a lot of city walking while we toured California and adjusted to life as new parents which remained the general pace of our outdoor adventures even as we got into summer. We did one camping trip, got out for some short paddles at the cabin and a few easy walks at Glenbow Ranch.

Out for an evening paddle

For the first summer in a long, long time we didn’t get into the backcountry at all.

We had a really warm fall/winter so there wasn’t much snow, then we did get a ton right before Christmas but of course the temperature dropped into the -20s so skiing has only happened twice.

Reading

I crushed the reading this year mostly because I spent a lot time reading when Scotch was nursing/napping. I read 61 books in 2017 which is probably the most I’ve ever read in a year. I didn’t have a favourite book this year but looking at my list I seemed to read a lot of murder mysteries – probably because there were easy and “mindless”.

All the Other Stuff

Lawn bowling was a big part of our summer. Both Jon and I were on the provincial team, and then each of us completed in different national championships in the fall.

I’m sure there was other stuff but my mind is drawing a blank. I didn’t blog as much as I usually do so I feel like I had a harder time keeping track of what we got up to on a day to day basis.

So much time was spent like this – not exciting but great anyways

So that was 2017 (or at least what I remember of it right now). While there was a lot of good in 2017, I wouldn’t say I felt particularly satisfied with how it all went. While I wouldn’t change things, we’ll certainly be looking at how we can make some changes moving forward in 2018!

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The 2017 MacDonald Family Christmas Tree Hunt (and Blogger Christmas Swap)

Read about previous years: 20162015, 2014, 20132012201120102006

It felt like Christmas at the beginning of November when we got our first snowfall, but the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having now hardly make it feel like the middle of December. While it wasn’t a winter wonderland this weekend, the warm weather made for an easy and enjoyable time to be out looking for our Christmas tree. In fact, it was so nice that we decided to spend all weekend out in the bush adventuring!

As we’ve been doing for the past few years we headed out to the Junior Forest Wardens’ lot in Jumpingpound on Saturday. It’s super easy but we’ve decided that next year we’re going to be more adventurous – particularly if the weather is as nice because everyone was out there and it was just too busy! Still, we managed to get a spot in the parking lot and headed out to find ourselves a tree.

E’s got his game face on – he’s ready to go get his first Christmas tree
Felt a lot more like a spring day than December out there

I don’t know if it was the weather or what but we really struggled to make a decision (sometimes it helps when it is really cold  – just cut something already!). We finally settled on a tree, chopped it down and hauled it out to the Disco. Then E enjoyed his first campfire (and watched us eat some hotdogs) before we headed home.

Post-tree success selfie

We had a to cut a little more off the tree before we could get it into the house but we were able to set it up right away since it wasn’t frozen. We decorated it after dinner and even though I think it is a little wonky, E’s excitement totally makes up for it.

I was more restrained in my decorating this year and didn’t insist that every ornament we own end up on the tree

Having the tree up meant that I could put up my new ornament that I got from Becky for the 2017 Christmas Blog Swap. I can’t wait to a take a photo of the little guy all decked out in his Christmas PJs to put in it! She also sent also some candy cane chocolates which I devoured immediately.

Just waiting for the perfect Christmas photo

Sunday morning we again loaded everyone up and headed out since it was just too nice to spend time doing chores. This time we headed north of the city to the area near Water Valley – a place I’ve never been – to hang out and help some friends with their Christmas tree hunt. We brought the portable BBQ and roasted hotdogs for lunch while we lounged around in the sun. Then we helped with the Christmas tree hunt, did a short walk and soaked up a little more sunshine before having to head back to the city.

Glad we chose outside over chores on a day like this!
Our perfect little hangout spot

We keep saying that we need to spend more time outdoors so it was nice to finally just do it (even if it means that my house isn’t clean).

What We’ve Been Up To – Summer 2017 Recap

We’re well into fall now and I can’t really believe that it is already halfway (or more) through September so this post is a little behind but I figure better late than never.

Summer always seems to fly by – this was my 5th summer off (thanks teaching job!) but I’m still amazed at how fast the time seems to go, even when you have every day as vacation. This summer Jon was off too and that gave us time for some big adventures (California! Victoria!), but we kept it pretty low key when it has come to the smaller adventures and seemed to do less than normal.

Lawn bowling kept us very busy – almost too busy. Both of us earned spots on our provincial team this year and while that cut down on the number of times we had to travel to Edmonton, it meant that we spent at lot of time on greens practicing. We’ve been pretty lucky that the lawn bowling community has basically adopted our child – he’s got grannies and aunties and sometimes strangers who want to cuddle and hangout while we bowl which makes it possible for both of us to play.

end_summer_08

Being on the provincial team meant we had the chance to represent Alberta at the Canadian Lawn Bowling Championships in Victoria, BC and spent a week competing there which took up a large part of August but was a ton of fun!

Our house always has at least one home repair going on and this summer we tackled some outdoor landscaping projects. They started quite small and grew into larger projects that we still haven’t finished. Luckily Jon is off this September and has been working to finish them! Then he’s got a huge list of indoor projects to keep him busy…

end_summer_02

After a disappointing start (I had to plant my bean seedlings three times before enough grew) our garden finally kicked it into gear in August and was overflowing the beds! While we have nothing like we used to have at the old house was enough stuff growing now that we had big leafy salads, fresh beans, herbs and lots of sautéed greens.

Our back alley raspberry patch and our sour cherry tree were also super productive. We managed to harvest almost all of the raspberries but our tree just has so many cherries that I wasn’t able to keep up. We definitely had some delicious raspberry pies and sour cherry cobblers more often than we maybe should have.

end_summer_01
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And what about that summer bucket list? We managed to do almost everything on it at least one but I would have liked to spend a little more time hiking and camping since we only did those once.

  • take the little guy camping – check! One night at Bow Valley was all we squeezed it but I’m still pretty happy we got out.
  • Go for a paddle – I’d hoped we get out for an actual trip but I’m still happy that we did lots of paddling at the lake this summer.

  • Go hiking – we did a very short hike while camping but that was it.
  • Use the smoker – and try something new (I’m thinking a smoked cheese?) – sort of since I did smoke a brisket (and it was perfect)  but not a new item
  • Play in the river – we did a little bit but it was often too hot to walk down
  • Get our front flower beds redone – nope
  • Finally chop down the rest of the apple tree – nope
  • Have a camp fire – while we were camping we managed to cross this off but then the fire ban sort of put an end to this one
  • Take another family vacation at the cabin – yes! it was lovely and relaxing
  • Have a picnic – finally! We had burgers and slurpies (see below) in the park by our house.
  • Drink all the slurpies – I had more this year than I’ve had in a while and my favourite was definitely this apple cider one from Sea Cider while we were in Victoria.

And while I’d hoped we do some more adventurous things, looking back we had a pretty fun time. I know next summer will be totally different (a mobile little one will make a few things more challenging) so I’m glad we all got to share this first summer together as a family.

A Start to Spring Break 2017

Spring break officially started on Friday and I am more than ready for week off! This is the first spring break since I started teaching that we’re not going anywhere – a total stay-cation – and while I’m a little bummed about it travelling anywhere at 37 weeks seemed to be pushing it. Staying home for break is never my ideal – it just becomes a lot of chores – but at least I can work at a slower pace.

Our big plans for the week are to work on the house. While we’ve made progress on the basement, there is still some work to finish off. I’ve also got the garage door opener to finish and some blinds to install. Patches and I are both booked in for hair cuts and I’ve got plans to clean the house. Not the most exciting spring break but I feel a little pressure to get some stuff done before life gets more complicated.

On a positive note the weather in Calgary has really improved which makes the day to day routines a lot easier. No struggling with bulky layers to take the dog out! We’ve only been out for one big walk (to Glenbow Ranch) but hopefully we’ll get out to enjoy some other “hikes” this week.

Take a Deep Breath – Basement Renos

It might come as a surprise but for people who do 99% of their own home repairs, I really dislike the process. And right now we’re in the middle of what seems like a major home reno but is probably very minor in the grand scheme of things. And I’m hating it. Oh, I know I’ll be very happy when it’s done but right now I’m dreading another trip to Home Depot or Rona and I’m sick of picking out fixtures and floors and ugh, I still need to choose paint colours. Combine that with my pregnant lady hormones and I need to constantly remind myself that all of the home repair mess is just temporary and will turn out wonderful and we will get through it.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing spouse who not only does the majority of our home repairs but also is very patient at dealing with a wife who gets cranky as soon as we start a project.

We (and I use that term loosely, these days I’m more of a support role than an active participant in the labour side of home repairs) have gutted the basement room including the bathroom and a few closets to create a larger space with a slightly more modern bathroom. With Baby Scotch on the way in somewhere around two months (!!) we decided that it was time to get the basement guest room and bathroom into a space where we could actually put guests.

Just after Christmas break the space looked like this:

New windows but still ugly carpet
Two closets – actually, as we found out when we took them apart, two mouldy closets
And our beautiful purple bathroom

And now at the beginning of February looks more like this:

Carpet gone, windows cut, closets out and on our way
A few extra feet of space
Goodbye purple fixtures!

While the majority of the work is in the basement, it affects the rest of the house (and my ability to maintain any sort of normality even in rooms that have nothing to do with it). Currently, things look a lot like this in the rest of the basement:

What comes out must go somewhere
And we’re using the game room to store everything that used to be in the guest room

and upstairs:

reports cards + home repairs = not a lot of time for dishes
Since the basement is full we have taken to storing extra items in the office too.
And we’re storing flooring, the new toilet, faucets and light fixtures in the living room

and even outside:

The purple toilet will some day really leave our house

Luckily (for my sanity) Jon has all the demo done and we’ve picked out everything that we need to put it all back (except paint). Not saying that we’re into the easy stuff, but we’re definitely moving into the putting stuff back in phase.