Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in hindsight

2010 has been quite the year for us. In a good way, for sure.  Below is a summary of all the highlights of this past year.  I'll try to do it in chronological order, although sometimes the exact date is a bit of a blur.

The winter of 2010 was marked by an unusual mild weather pattern. The snow was gone by mid-March, and the month of April was the first on record that did not produce any snow.  We were able to go out snow-shoeing once, and even that one time we had to be careful not to hit any rocks.  Needless to say that the mild winter meant a really good winter for running! Not that cold weather or snow scares us too much, but it was definitely easier to get out the door.

In early spring, both our jobs started to get quite a bit busier. Nolan was getting used to the management position, but it also meant additional responsibilities, and at times longer hours. I had a few trips to Petawawa, and one to Sault Ste. Marie, On.  Besides those trips, I also applied for a job within my own group, and despite some stress and sleepless nights, and I manage to do alright, and got the position. So finally after many years of 'sticking to it', I got a permanent position with the government, but most important I got a job I really enjoy! For 2010, we were also in a different office building, while they are upgrading our main building. Our current building is much closer to our home, so I was quite happy with it. Most of the summer and fall I rode my bike to work, which was nice. We're scheduled to move back to our Booth Street building in April, if everything goes according to plan. The original plan was to move back before Christmas, but progress got delayed, so we're all curious to see when we'll be moving back. If it's up to me, they can wait until next winter ;-)

We went to Europe the end of April for just over two weeks. We spent a week with my parents, and then headed to Rome for a week, which really was our honeymoon. It was really nice, with gorgeous weather and so much to see! Since we didn't like the public transport (or any kind of transportation there!), we decided to explore the city on foot, and must have walked 20 km each day. Great way to somewhat stay in shape, while also enjoying the great food and wine! Definitely a place we recommend, and it sure felt like a honeymoon.

The spring also marked the beginning of our marathon training. We decided to sign up for a marathon earlier in the year, even though we remembered from last time that the time commitment was not to be underestimated. However, we figured this year would be different, since last time we moved into a new house, got engaged; so really a lot of other things happening in our lives as well. This year would be more relaxed, or so we thought....

Early in the summer, I also received a  letter from Citizenship and Immigration saying that I passed for the Citizenship Test I wrote in February. Not really a surprise, since the test was quite simple. However, it was still an honour, and I went to the ceremony in August. Now I'm officially Dutch and Canadian! I'm happy I can keep my Dutch, but feel very privileged to be a Canadian now as well.

Early July, we started talking about perhaps moving to a single family home. Not that we did not like our town home any more, we felt this could be a good time to start looking for a new home. Not really thinking too seriously, we were about to contact our realtor, when coincidentally she had sent us a message, seeing how we were doing! We saw that as a sign, and started checking out some houses with her. To our own surprise, we fell in love with a house fairly early on, and decided to put an offer in. It got accepted, and we agreed on a closing date 6 weeks later. A little tight, considering we still had to sell our house! However, that went like a charm, and we sold our house one day after putting it on the market! We're very happy with our new house, and are currently deciding what colours we want to paint, what reno's we might do at some point, but we are also really enjoying our house! It has so much more space, privacy, great back yard, very bright and the cats love it as well. What else can we ask for!

During the house hunting phase we were still training for the marathon. Since we were the only two of our running group training for the marathon, we did most of the training on the trails near our home. Even though sometimes early (more than once we got up at 5 am to start running at 6 to beat the heat), we really enjoyed just being out on the trails compared to the pavement. Funny was that despite everything else going on, we found the training remarkably easier compared to the previous marathon. Maybe the next one will even be easier?? The marathon itself was far from easy. Never knew Montreal is so hilly, and the fact that we had a strong head-wind most of the time didn't help either. We didn't reach our goal, but still finished, and both felt afterwards that we should do this again to redeem ourselves! But not in Montreal, that's for sure. Any good suggestions?

Less than a week after we moved into the new house, I left for Jasper for a week, to attend the Canadian Institute of Forestry AGM and Conference. It was very interesting and a great way to meet some great people! Even though I enjoyed the time there, at the end I was ready to go home and actually enjoy the house. A week later my mom and Annette showed up for a visit. Luckily both Nolan and I were able to take some time off to spend with them, and we had a really nice visit. It was Annette's first time in Canada, but it sounds like she might be coming back someday! Too bad the visit was only a week long. Time just seems to fly during those visits!
A couple of weeks after their visit I went back to Edmonton and Jasper for a week for our annual employee forum. I'd been pretty busy with the organization beforehand, and was happy that everything went really well. The forum included a field tour which was interesting, since the temperature dipped to -28... But leave it to some foresters to still get of the bus and listen to the talks (and especially lots of respect for the people giving those talks! Brrrr!!).

Once back home, we didn't have to wait long for our next guests. Gijsbert and Anouk came for a visit, which was really nice. We all celebrated Sinterklaas together, and just had a great time.

Since I wasn't busy enough with work and everything else in our lives, I was also asked to join (and did) the Executive Committee of the Ontario Woodlot Association, as well as the Chair for the Ottawa Valley Section of the Canadian Institute of Forestry. I need more hours in a day!! But they are both great organizations, and I like working with them.

So a lot of text, but 2010 was worth while reflecting on. We'll have to wait and see what 2011 will have in store for us, but Nolan and I are very excited about our future together.
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and we wish you all the best for 2011.

Katalijn & Nolan

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photos of...

To start the holidays with a bang (and because I had to clean up my computer...), here are some photos of the recent past.

This is the result of one month worth of facial hair. All for a good cause, but I have to admit I like him better without it!

Remember when Gijsbert (aka Max) and Anouk visited? Well, somebody got a hold of the camera and started taking some artistic photos...

 And below are photos of us snowshoeing this afternoon. It was a wonderful afternoon, and it was great to be out there, especially knowing that the rest of the world was still frantically trying to get those last groceries and get ready in general for Christmas. Christmas should be about peace and we definitely felt like that in the woods today!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It was the day before Christmas Eve...

It was the day before Christmas Eve… Yep, that’s today, 23rd of December. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, followed by Christmas Day on Saturday, and then stay-away-from-the-stores-day Sunday, also known as Boxing Day. I’m looking forward to the Holidays, that’s for sure. It will be nice to have a break from work, and more time for each other. As you might have noticed, the last couple of months have been busy for both of us. Work, house, running, life in general. Work has slowed down a bit in the last couple of weeks, but to be able to really get away from it for a week will be nice. Since work has been a bit more quiet lately, I was actually able to get a nice run it at lunch time today. And really, I should do that way more often! It makes you feel good, and helps with the energy level in the afternoon. New Year’s resolution perhaps? We also had a nice run last night, and it makes me realize that I miss not running more often, but life sometimes just gets into the way. Or do we let it get in the way? Maybe this year we can focus on doing more speed work and perhaps run some shorter races. It might help balance the time commitment...

Nolan will be starting a new job when he goes back to work on January 4. It’s still with the same company, but a different group. He’s looking forward to the new adventure and challenges, so he’ll start the New Year with a bang!

We’re hoping to take it easy the next few days. Try to finish unpacking those last boxes in the basement, get our snowshoes out (if there is enough snow that is), make sure we get our runs in, and just enjoy the season. We’ll be spending a couple of days in Brockville as well, which will be nice. Besides that, nothing too exciting planned, which is exactly how we want it!

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A little strange

Just to throw it out there, I don't believe in ghosts, spirits, or any of that stuff.  However... Ever since we've moved into this house, we've heard some strange noises, which we normally just blame on the 'newness' of the house, the wind or other elements, and we'll just get used to those subtle sounds. So really, nothing too crazy.

Today was slightly different. We came home, and the Christmas lights around our deck were on, which is normal. But we also have about half a dozen regular lights that were installed mainly for use in the summer.  In order to turn those on, you need to flip a switch outside, which is protected by an all-weather cover (similar to those covers that cover outdoor outlets). To our surprise, those lights were on! We haven't had those on in quite a while, and were quite surprised to see them on. Since there is snow on the ground, I went outside to see if there were any footprints. Perhaps one of the neighbour kids decided to turn them on? But no suck luck. The only prints that we saw (and that were in the direct neighbourhood of the switch), were prints of a squirrel. Now the question remains: do we really have a squirrel that is so thankful for all the bird food that we leave out, that it decided to turn on the lights for us? But if so, how was it able to lift the cover of the switch?
Or is there another explanation??

Friday, December 17, 2010

Canadian Tenors and so much more!

A while ago Ann asked us if we would be interested in going to the NAC (National Arts Centre) for their annual Christmas Concert, since this year the Canadian Tenors were special guests. Sure, why not! We like the NAC, tend to be there quite a bit lately (saw Nativity there last week), and it's always nice to spend a night out with friends. We were not familiar with the Canadian Tenors, but they are quite famous here and even appeared on Oprah (check here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAn3g-YfOsk). After last night, we can actually understand why they are well known. They were very impressive! Out of the four, two had really strong voices, but all of them were worth listening to. So yes, a great night out and it helped with the Christmas spirit as well.

This past Tuesday we got our first real touch of winter. Perhaps about 10 cm of snow, but the people were clearly not prepared, and everything slowed down to a crawl. I was lucky with my 45 commute to work (compared to 15). It took several people up to three hours to get to work. Nope, it's not just the Dutch that don't know what to do with that white stuff! It has been snowing now on and off all week, and we probably have about 20 cm now. I personally love the snow. It makes everything look so much brighter and lighter, and of course it makes for some nice pictures. I should post some soon.  Nolan and I went for nice walk after work today, and it's just so nice to see the lights, the snow covered grounds and soak up the fresh air. Makes you feel alive!

This week has actually been busy at work. You'd think that so close before Christmas things slow down. Well, that's what it looked like last week, but it really picked up again this week. I like to be busy, but I am also really looking forward to Christmas break! It will be nice to have some time off, do stuff around the house and finally get those last boxes unpacked!
What didn't help this week is that I was on the road all day Wednesday. First for a Christmas Forestry Seminar, which had carbon credits as theme. Very interesting, but I think they still have a long ways to go. After that I headed to Belleville for an OWA meeting. Before the meeting I had a chance to catch up with Candice, which was really nice and very much overdue! But overall it was a long day, especially since I did not get home until 11:30 at night...

Needless to say that with all this 'running' around, there was not an awful lot of time left to go running, especially in these winter conditions. But hopefully we'll be able to get out tomorrow, either running or snowshoeing, but we'll definitely hit the pavement on Sunday. I love running, but I can't wait to go snowshoeing again as well. I think we got out only once or twice last year due to a lack of snow. However, that made it a great winter for running. Hopefully, this year we can do lots of both!

One more week before Christmas. Craze how quickly time if flying by! And so close to the end of the year as well. I'm thinking of doing a quick overview of 2010, but that will be after Christmas. 2010 is not over yet, after all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This past Wednesday I worked from home, since a technician was supposed to come to fix our treadmill. Around noon I got a call saying that he had had an accident, and that he wouldn't be able to come. Nothing too serious, but it did mean we had to reschedule. Luckily another technician could come on Friday, and since my schedule was pretty easy compared to Nolan's, I decided to work from home again. I like working from home every now and then because there are so few interruptions.
Since I was at home anyway, I decided to go for a lunch-hour run before the technician would show up. We have a bit of snow on the ground, but the trails are still accessible. I was only about 2 km from home, when I saw something big crossing the path. It took me a second to realize it was a wolf! I had not idea we had wolves in the area, but they might be going after the deer, of which we have plenty. Funny enough, Anouk had just asked last week what kind of animals we have in the Greenbelt, and we told her that we have wolves out of the city, but not around here. How wrong we were! It was really impressive, especially since he was fairly close, although he moved at a pretty fast pace and was out in the woods in no time. There he stood and observed me for a second before he took off. I had one of the best runs ever after that. Not that I got scared, just really excited!

The technician was able to fix our treadmill, so on days like today, where it started with snow, then froze rain for 6 hours before it turned to rain, we can make good use of it again. Although, luckily we saw it coming, and decided to do our Sunday long run on Saturday this time. Smart thinking, especially when we looked out of the window this morning. It was just gross! We cleaned our drive way at the end of the day, so at least we got a bit of fresh air, but it wasn't really pleasant out there. I guess we'll be getting more snow in the next couple of days before it gets colder again.  Maybe winter will actually come??

Yesterday we also went to see Nativity, a coyote's Christmas. It was a play put up by the NAC itself, but we were not sure what to think of it. It was funny at times, but not very cohesive and seemed to be all over the place. Oh well, it's always fun to try new things!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Some days it feels that if you were to open up my head, you would see a whirlwind of thoughts, ideas, plans and feelings, all combined with so much energy that they're about to spill out.  Can you picture it?
Well, today my head felt like that. It started last night when I was restless, couldn't really sleep and even kept Nolan up. He asked me what I was thinking of, and we talked about some of it. But the 'business' kept rumbling in my head.
I also felt a slight hint of the 'empty nest syndrome' today. This morning, Gijsbert and Anouk took off to go  Montreal and Quebec to spend the remainder of their vacation their. I was working at home since we were supposed to get a technician in to fix our treadmill, so the quietness was really obvious when I was sitting at the table and did not hear any other sounds, voices and other noises.
So what did this lead to? Even though it was frisk outside (wind chill of -20 with a strong wind), I decided to go for a run, also because our treadmill would not be fixed today. It was the best decision of the day! The trails were slightly covered in snow, and a bit slick, but slowing down did the trick and it was just plain gorgeous. During the run I felt a great sense of being alive, and even though my head was a bit cold, it really allowed me to calm down the whirlwind in my head. After my run I had a nice hot bath, and I almost feel reborn! My body is calm, my head is calm, and I feel good.

Ok, enough Zen talk :-)

As I said, Gijsbert and Anouk spent the last few days with us, which was really nice. We didn't really do any exiting things, we went for a walk in the Greenbelt on Saturday and went for a drive through the city on Sunday, but spent a lot of time together and caught up.  And of course, we celebrated 'Sinterklaas'! We all had some gifts for each other including the poems, and there was (and still is!) and abundance of pepernoten and chocolate letters! Needless to say we had a great time!

Now the countdown to Christmas has started, and it's coming closer at an incredibly fast pace! November feels like a blur, and December is going into a similar direction. Luckily we both get some time off for the holidays, so we can recharge our batteries. Until then, we keep plugging away at it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life is a funny thing

Yesterday I was a bit overwhelmed with what life has to offer. But thanks to some great support, in particular by Nolan, l feel so much better now. Life sometimes throws stuff at you, but it makes you a stronger and probably better person.
I want to say thank you for all the nice words and encouragements. And just so you know, today my smile is back on my face!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In real life...

With everything going for me in my life, I really have no reason to complain. I am healthy, have a great husband, lovely cats, fantastic friends and family, good job, and just in general a really good life!

However, despite all this ‘goodness’, I have a really hard time feeling super happy (I certainly have those moments too!), and I can’t really put a finger on why I feel this way. I think it’s a combination of things. First of all, this week I was reminded that it is not always easy to be so far away from people you dearly care about. Nolan has been a great support, and I realize that if need be, I’m only 8 hours away, but still. I felt I should have been there to help out. Luckily things are going much better, and my task now is to support and make sure my mom doesn’t overdo it…
Secondly, it’s been raining and grey most of the week, the days are short and I haven’t been able to go for a decent run in almost two weeks. Sure, we did a nice 10k on Sunday, but I need more. Our treadmill doesn’t work at the moment, but hopefully they can fix that next week during a service call. Not running, or working out in general makes me feel sluggish and unhappy with myself, especially when you count in a lack of sunshine.
The fact that I am back in the office after a very dynamic week in Alberta might have something to do with it as well. It’s a good thing I have a pile of work to do to keep me busy, so I don’t have to look for something, but it almost feels like an anti-climax.

But as I said, I really have no reason to complain. We are doing really well, have everything we need, and my brother is coming for a visit this weekend as well! Maybe I just needed to vent? In that case, thank you for listening :-)