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.

Just another day of practice

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…

In the early states of landscaping

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.

There were a few mornings where I ate sour cherry cobbler and yogurt for breakfast…
Our back alley raspberries were very productive this year
I don’t think the white ones taste as good as the red but they are all so pretty

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.
Sunset paddles
  • 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.

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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.

Weekend Update

I was going to update about the last two weeks of January (because wow – how can we be at the middle of the month already?) but I can’t really remember what we did. It was cold, and I went back to work (and I’m sure some other stuff). So, instead I’m just covering the weekend, which I can still remember.

Our weekend ended up being fairly booked up, so Thursday night we made a spur of moment decision to send Patches to doggy day care for the weekend and luckily his kennel had space. I dropped him off on Friday morning and knew that he’d get to play while we were out.

Friday evening we headed out to do something that neither of us had ever done – see an all male ballet performance by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo . I haven’t been to the ballet since I was little and Jon had never been so it was fun to do something new. The performance was interesting (even though most of the time I had no idea what was going on) and it was nice to be out since its going to get a little more difficult after April! We ended up staying out way later than I thought (I consider any arrival home after midnight late these days).

Saturday morning I had a quick visit to the chiro and then we headed out to Bragg Creek to ski. We arrived around 10 am and the place was already packed! Its been cold in Calgary since New Years so it wasn’t a surprise that everyone jumped at a chance to play outside now that the weather has warmed up. We skied about 5. 5 miles and I have to say my ski outfits and technique are certainly getting stranger the larger I get.

Putting my jacket extender to good use these days

We were home by early afternoon and I did school work before going out to pick up Patches while Jon tackled our basement reno project. We ate frozen pizza, watched TV and headed to bed early.

Project goal – be done by April

Sunday morning I woke up early (and hungry) so after I’d had first breakfast we took Patches for a walk. Then I had second breakfast, did a little work and headed out for my glucose screening test. It was not as terrible as I thought it would be (I’m getting so much better at blood tests – I was able to watch the needle go in and chat away while they sucked out vials of blood) and I didn’t feel terrible after. The rest of the afternoon was spent with chores, school work and finally meal prep for the week. Not the most exciting of days but I feel mostly prepared for another week at work.

This coming week is busy – and next weekend looks Iike I’ll need to spend lots of time doing school work so it was nice that this weekend was a bit more balanced! I did end it on a low note by grabbing the handle of pot that had been in the oven. It’s a long way from the heart but sure hurts! We’ll see how blistered it ends up tomorrow..

The MacDonald Family Christmas Tree Hunt and Blogger Christmas Swap 2016

Read about previous years: 2015,  2014,  20132012201120102006

We’re still having this terrible cold snap here in Calgary, which made for an interesting annual Christmas tree hunt last weekend. If it hadn’t been the only real weekend to get our tree we probably would have stayed snuggled up at home but instead we layered up and headed out to cut down a tree.

One of the advantages to it being so cold was that the tree lot was pretty quiet. We arrived around 11:1ish and were one of only a dozen vehicles in the lot. I was happy to see that even with the cold weather the JFW crew was out with their fire and hot dogs.

It wasn’t as cold as I’d anticipated it being so we were able to wander around for a quite a while before finally settling on a tree. There was fresh snow, and more was falling so it felt very Christmasy to be out on such a cold, snowy day.

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Patches eventually got tired and cold (he tried to head back to the car at one point) so we settled on a tree that had some potential (minus the first few feet). We cut it down and hauled it back to the Rover. Then it was lunch around the fire before heading home.

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Our tree was pretty frozen by the time we got home so we let it stand until the next day before we started decorating. I think we’re getting better and better at picking trees because this one is quite full for a scrawny bush pine!

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Having our tree up meant that I could finally put out the decoration I got in the Canadian Blogger Christmas Swap . My partner was Kara at She Write Words and you can visit her blog to see what I sent. There were two things I noticed right away about my package from Kara  – the beautiful box she had chosen to send it in and her incredible taping skills! There was no way that box was accidentally opening during shipping!

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Inside was a mug (with a cosy little mug sweater), some tea (and tea bags), some chocolate and an adorable dog ornament. I love that the ornament is soft so that I don’t have to worry about it breaking when we have little hands grabbing at our Christmas tree (and cats and dogs who run into things).

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It’s nice to have the tree up. I also bought myself some stocking anchors so I was able to hang our family stockings for decoration too. It’s feeling quite festive in the house – now I just need to get my baking and shopping done!