2011, A Year In Review

I like long years. Really. Yes, I complain about when things seem to drag out far longer than they should, or if I’m busting my arse far harder than I think I should. That’s part of being human, no? In the end, though, I like long years because I get to look back and not worry about how quickly time has flown by. Time should never fly by quickly — it means I’ve missed something, and … well, darn it, I just hate missing things!
This last year was a big one for me in one major way: it was a redefinition of my professional existence. Since the end of 2009, I’ve transformed from a professional manager to a … hmm … well, my title (however formal it needs to be) is “Solutions Lead”, but that belies a lot of what I do every day, and just using “web developer” or “programmer” — even with a “Senior” prefix — completely understates the reality. This year was really about taking all the skills and knowledge I’d acquired as a leader, and merging that back into my day-to-day development practices.
And that, as the saying goes, was only the tip of the iceberg…
I did a LOT of work. I did so much, in fact, that my contracting business is gone. Doors closed, windows shut, lights off. Permanently. I had to make a very painful call to realise that I need to focus on the three most important things in my life: my family. (There’s three of them, in case you were wondering.) To focus on them means to remove all other distractions inasmuch as is possible, and still earn a paycheque along the way (helping to support said family, of course).
Add to that Alex’s return to work after nearly four years off as a Professional Mom, working evening shifts. That meant more time as a Professional Dad, whether I liked it or not. (And I like it, really. Except for dinner time. Suddenly, I have nothing but sympathy for my parents when I was a kid.) It’s adjustment, it’s growth.
As a result of all of this, many things suffered. My hobbies (what few I have) were shelved — even my desire to blog waned dramatically, with more than a couple of blogless months. My TV watching fell to an all-time low, and I can count on one hand the number of movies I saw in the theatre (coincidentally, also the number of movies I watched during the Christmas break at home through iTunes). My health has also been … unattended, with a noticeable increase in girth and an unhealthy increase in my beer consumption (since decreased, thankfully).
But if you were to ask me if I was “unhappy”, I’d have to say “no”. Every day, my kids remind me why I’m proud to be their dad. Every day, I get a challenge in my job. Every day, I enjoy life, even if it’s only for a few moments. To say I’m “unhappy” would be a disservice (if not an outright insult) to my daily existence, and those around me.
To that end, I can safety state that I’ve:

  • Been into Banff National Park on a few occasions — both warm and cold — but nowhere near enough for my liking
  • Picnicked as much as we could, but again nowhere near enough for what we could have done
  • Enjoyed the first brew from Calgary’s new Village Brewery
  • Did some renovation work in the kitchen (and planned more renovation work for this year)
  • Retaught myself the fundamentals of being a (web) developer, and merged that with the skills and knowledge of a technology director
  • Lamented as I saw Choo Choo seem to grow by leaps and bounds, going from my little baby girl to a walking, talking toddler
  • Finally accepted the truth, and got glasses
  • Came to understand my father in ways I never thought possible, and really wished that he could be here today to see how his son (kinda) grew up
  • Accepted the reality that I will only ever be a father of two beautiful girls — there will never be a third offspring
  • Watched in horror as Canada succumbed to fear mongering and elected a government that refuses to listen to its own people (a terrifyingly global trend in 2011)
  • Mourned the loss of one of Canada’s best politicians since Pierre Trudeau, the Honourable Jack Layton
  • Experienced my first general anesthesia to get my hernia repaired … boy, I do not want to go through that again!
  • Drank way too much coffee (yes, folks, that is possible)
  • Similarly, also drank too much beer (yes, also possible, though admittedly it tasted really good at the time)
  • Launched more projects in one year than I had launched during my busiest five years (combined) at my previous company
  • Took Monkey on the SUPER SECRET MONKEY SURPRISE — a short trip on CP 2816
  • Took Monkey to the Stampede, and realised to my delight (or possible horror, not sure yet) that she loves rides, especially roller coasters
  • Also got the Mother of All Headaches while at the Stampede…
  • Travelled to Ontario to visit with my family
  • Spent a lot of time swimming in the lake with Monkey and my nieces
  • Rode another steam train in Huntsville
  • Visited with some old and dear friends (especially Stuart and Therese)
  • Celebrated Monkey’s 4th birthday, and Choo Choo’s first birthday
  • Also rode on the Heritage Park steam train
  • Travelled to Red Deer to see the Backyardigans live (oh, the things parents must do…)
  • Travelled once again to the West Coast for post-Christmas and New Year’s celebrations

I’m sure there’s other stuff I did, but my blog was so light on content in 2011 that … well, I’m not sure. Sure, I can try to read Twitter, but I used that in lieu of my blog, so there’s a few thousand tweets I’d need to go over. That’s a little too much. So if I’m making any resolution this year, it’s to write more blog posts.