It's that time of year again - time for my once-a-year blog post about what happened to us in the past year. 2014 went by in a hurry. It's a little hard to believe it's already 2015! Anyway, let's get to what happened.
Diane and I were in Canada from the start of January. As I mentioned in last year's review, this was the first time we were home for Christmas since we moved to Ireland. Once the Christmas break was over, we went on a pretty busy couple of weeks of visiting friends before I had to fly back in mid January to return to work. Diane stayed in Edmonton for another month to continue to help her mom recover from her knee surgery.
The big event in February was the winter olympics in Sochi. We didn't go... but the winter olympics are always exciting as a Canadian - particularly for the men's and women's hockey tournaments. The hockey was excellent this year, with both the men and women taking home gold again. The women's gold medal game against the United States was a pretty memorable one. The men dominated the tournament with defensive play, and won without too much trouble (other than some scary moments when they ran into a brick wall of a Latvian goalie). Anyway, for the gold medal game against Sweden, a group of us Canadians ended up at the Woolshed to watch the game. The venue was a madhouse of mostly Canadian expats (but some Swedish ones too), and it was a good atmosphere to watch that game.
In March, our company put on its annual staff poker tournament. This time around I ran really well and ended up almost final tabling the tournament, busting in 10th place. My prize was a giftcard to Opium restaurant - which we would use later in the year. Later in the month, our hockey team was preparing for a tournament in France, so we got the chance to have a training session at the Odyssey arena in belfast. After the training session we hung around in Belfast to see the Belfast Giants play in the same arena we practiced in earlier. Finally, at the end of March, I attended a citizenship ceremony to become an Irish citizen! It's a little hard to believe that we've been in Ireland long enough already that this was possible.
Our office social committee took us to Jumpzone - which is a trampoline park where you can jump around a bunch and even play dodgeball on trampolines! It was a pretty fun day, but I was pretty sore for a few days afterwards! Our hockey team also made another trip up to Belfast to train some more before France as well.
On the second weekend of May, our hockey team made our trip down to France for a fun tournament. It was held in Strasbourg, which is lovely in May. Our team is a pretty recreational team, so we weren't really expecting to be very competitive. Still, we managed to eke out three wins out of eight games, which was a pretty amazing result for us.
After returning to Dublin from that trip, we then moved apartments again. Our Dundrum apartment we were living in before was alright, but we decided we liked another apartment better and jumped at the chance to get into one of these units. The move went relatively smoothly, although it isn't really ever very fun to do.
We returned to Sabor Brazil for another fancy dinner as kind of an anniversary dinner (it was a little late for our anniversary). It was a pretty lovely meal. The following night, we used another voucher for a cooking class on sauces and salsas. That was a pretty fun session actually - there was some hands on preparation, and plenty of samples from the demonstrations as well.
The company threw a summer party which was a pretty fun day. Mostly a day to enjoy some food and drink. The weather held alright although there was a little rain that ended up chasing us inside.
In August, our good friend Max had his stag weekend. Nick planned a really fun weekend away in Carlingford. There was bubble soccer which was pretty crazy. There was also an outing for some outdoor laser tag, which was pretty awesome actually. It was basically playing paintball but with laser guns. I actually much preferred this to paintball. It eliminated the pain and messiness part of paintball from the equation while retaining the strategy and outdoor theatre of paintball. In between the physical activity events, we had a fun night out in Carlingford as well.
Also in August, Diane's brother Eric and his wife Deanna visited us as part of their trip to Europe. The weather held out pretty well for their trip which included a lovely day out at Howth as well as some nice dinners.
September was a crazy busy month for us. Our good friends Max and Lisa had their wedding at Dunboyne castle. Diane and I stayed out in Dunboyne overnight and attended both the wedding/reception the first night and the afterparty the second night. It was a very fun weekend, and a lovely wedding.
Then, we traveled back home for another friend's wedding, this time Jeff and Kareena. September is a very nice time to be back in Edmonton (much nicer weather-wise than December!). Jeff and Kareena's wedding was a very nice day. The weather was gorgeous (it was HOT out!), and the ceremony and reception were both lovely.
The rest of my short trip was a whirlwind of jumping from social engagement to the next. One of my favourite bands happened to be playing Edmonton while we were there, and our visit coincided with our friend Rick's successful PhD thesis defence. So in CS tradition he had his department wide free beer, which was cool to be in town for. There was also department games party at Rob Holte's house, which was another really fun evening. It had been several years since the last time I was at a CS games party.
As with other trips home, Diane stuck around a little longer than I did into October to hang out with her family.
Diane was still in Canada for thanksgiving, but my friend Josh held a thanksgiving dinner at his house which was pretty great. He and his wife Kim put on a pretty fantastic dinner party, which I've been lucky to experience a couple times. Our team at work also had a night out for dinner which was a good time. We went to Yamamori, which is a great place in Dublin to get sushi.
Early in November, there was a friend in town so we got out for a steak night at FXBs. Diane and I also had tickets to see Lindsey Stirling that night as well, so we had our lovely dinner and then ran off to see a pretty fantastic show. For those who don't know, Lindsey is a YouTube star known for her dubstep inspired violin. Diane and I managed to score seats on the balcony which was an excellent spot to see the show.
Diane planned on returning to Canada to help with her mom's second knee surgery in as many years. So to spend a little time together before she left, we drove up to Westport and spent a weekend up there staying in a couple of nice getaway type hotels and just relaxing with some nice food.
Near the end of the month, Diane got her citizenship ceremony. It was down in Cork, which gave us an excuse to head down a day before and spend an evening there. It was a nice time, and it was good to get her ceremony out of the way before she went back to Canada again.
Soon after Diane left for Canada, I had an incident where my stomach flared up again. Over the last couple of years I've had trouble with what appeared to be random stomach pains. In most incidents it would happen late at night and would typically last for a couple hours before dissipating. This time, the pain started at 2am and lasted all morning and into the afternoon. I ended up in the hospital that afternoon and they admitted me for a couple days to monitor me and do some scans. They found out that I had gallstones, and because of my symptoms they recommended that I have surgery to remove my gallbladder.
I'm a little nervous about the surgery, but I'm actually awfully happy to have an answer to the stomach pains I've been experiencing. Hopefully everything goes well when the surgery happens in January.
The weekend after being discharged from the hospital, the company held the annual Christmas party. It was a pretty nice setup at the DoubleTree hotel in Dublin. There was a nice dinner and plenty of drink to have. I took it pretty easy though, since I was on antibiotics and under instruction to maintain a low-fat diet.
The holiday period has been pretty quiet for me. Max and Lisa held a dinner party and kindly made extra effort to give me a menu suitable for my dietary restrictions. Josh and Kim played host to me on Christmas day, and put on a nice menu as well that suited my diet.
Looking into 2015
Next year already has some exciting stuff setup. My surgery is scheduled for late in January, which hopefully goes well. In March, one of my favourite bands - Kamelot, is coming to Dublin. And in May, we're going to the Hockey World Championships in Prague, followed fairly quickly by another trip to Strasbourg with the hockey team. And I'd like to fit a skiing holiday somewhere in there as well!
I hope everyone had a good 2014 and that 2015 is even better.