McDonald Christmas Letter 2017

Happy Holidays

‘Tis the season to rack your brain to remember everything that happened over the past year and decide which of those things everyone else is interested in.

Otherwise known as the Christmas Letter.

Following the pattern of previous year’s we put an extremely abridged version in our actual card leaving all the details for online.

Does anyone else find it strange that you can convey more in a tweet than you can on a Shutterfly Card?


Perhaps I’m the only one who thinks of these things.


If I could sum Paige’s year up in three words, they would be volleyball, dogs and trampoline.


If Paige could play volleyball year round, she would. We’re close to accomplishing that. In the winter months, it was club volleyball. That season had it’s ups and downs but ended on a different up when Paige got the chance to play with her club’s 14U Team (that’s 14 and under in club sports parlance) at a tournament in Chicago.

If you’ve ever been to McCormick Place picture one of it’s huge exhibit halls filled with Volleyball courts.

If you’ve never been to McCormick Place, picture one big room with over 80 volleyball courts in it, each with a game going on.

Yeah, it was intense. And it whet our appetite for volleyball tournaments.

In the summer, it was ISU volleyball camps and a summer volleyball program with her club. One of the ISU camps was an overnighter – giving Paige her first taste of residence hall life.

In the fall Paige played volleyball for Winterset Junior High. The picture of Paige with a volleyball is her school uniform.

This winter Paige is back with the club team with practices twice a week getting ready for volleyball tournaments in early 2018.

Paige’s obsession with volleyball rubbed off on Beth and I. That obsession culminated in a trip to Kansas City in December to the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships. If you are a sports fan and you get the chance to watch a Championship game in person (I don’t think it matters what sport) take that opportunity.

The environment is especially electric if one of the teams playing is near the championship site. In this case it was Nebraska. It felt a little strange to cheer for Nebraska, but it was a little easier since they moved to the Big FourTeen


If you really want to know who runs the McDonald household, it would be Maggie and Chase.

Well… ok, Maggie. (Chase just seems to want to sit outside and watch the world go by).

Paige and Maggie continue to be a powerful team in the various dog shows and competitions, especially nosework. Beth and Paige have traveled as frequently for dog shows as for volleyball competitions. The ribbons they bring home have taken over the basement and are one of the reasons we’re finishing off the barn – so we have a place to hang them all. (Well, not really, but you never know.)

Paige got a chance to experience what work might be like as she helped out Tawnya our dog trainer this summer. Think of it as getting a jump start on internships.


Paige continued competing in trampoline, double mini trampoline and single mini trampoline at Winterset Gymnastics this year. We fit trips to trampoline competitions in between volleyball meets, and made a trip to Detroit this summer so Paige could compete at the AAU Junior Olympics.

Paige has continued her work on the trampoline and has already has one competition under her belt.


The dogs play a big part in Beth’s life as well. Alongside competing with Chase (and frequently against Paige and Maggie) in dog competitions, Beth continues to put apply the activator in her (it’s a StrengthFinders thing) to making the Winterset Dog Park a reality. We’re starting to see some real progress on that front as the land for the dog park has been cleared off and there’s grass there now! She also started helping out Tawnya our dog trainer by teaching some of Tawnya’s dog training classes.

Beth has had a chance to practice her ability to influence seemingly reluctant team members to get moving. In this case the seemingly reluctant team member was me and the project is converting our barn to a training center. (More about that below).

Beth’s big accomplishment this year was to become an official Booneville Bad Ass.

That required her to run 50K on Memorial Day weekend.

Yes, that’s 50K as in Kilometers. That’s a little over 31 miles. Running.

Beth’s running also took us to Glacier National Park so that she could run the Glacier Half Marathon and we could cross another National Park off the list.

A big change for Beth this year was a job change about mid year. She now works at Continental Western Group as a senior business systems analyst and as a result is about six degrees of separation from Warren Buffet (Continental Western is part of Berkley, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway). The pace is a little calmer and she hasn’t had to travel for work, which means we can travel more for fun.


I continued my role as “UberSherpa” – Uber for all the driving that I do to get Paige to Volleyball, dog training, school, and tumbling; and Sherpa for my support crew duties at tournaments and races.

I didn’t do too much traveling this year, apart from a trip to India in March to speak at Agile India, and Ottawa Canada to give a keynote at GOAT 2017. I guess I can honestly say I am truly an international speaker.

My main gig continues to be running and serving as content curator for Agile Alliance. Right now I’m on a short term contract gig at Hy-Vee, so my career has come first circle. Although I’m doing stuff a bit different than sorting returned bottles and stocking the diary coolers.

I am also – with a great deal of help from Ivan, Barb, Fred, and Lorie – finishing off the barn so it can become a training center. We decided to do the insulation and sheet metal ourselves. It’s proving to take a bit of time since we generally only work on it during select weekend, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be worth it.

Here’s wishing you and yours Happy Holidays, and a great New Year.