McDonald Christmas Letter 2015

McDonald 2015 Christmas Card FrontMcDonald 2015 Christmas Card Back
’Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse…

Because the cats that live in our garage got them all.

Actually someone was stirring. It was me (Kent) writing this unabridged version of the McDonald 2015 Christmas Letter.

Yes, I waited until the last responsible moment. (A phrase I use to avoid the word “procrastinate”). My excuse reason? I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to include as much up to date information as possible.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Furry McDonalds

2015 saw some changes in the four-legged members of the Prole McDonalds.  In May, we said goodbye to our dog Carly who had spent 16 years as part of our family. In July, we decided to add to our family by adding a new puppy – Chase (he’s the one with the black nose in our Christmas card picture).  Puppy is a little misleading. He has tripled in size since we brought him home (which is to be expected for a golden retriever, standard poodle, mastiff, great pyrenees mix.) and he’s not done growing. To get an idea of how much he has grown, here’s how big he was when we first got him.


Maggie (other dog) was excited to welcome a new brother who was a bit more active than Carly. The two of them enjoy playing all around the house, and now that we have penitentiary height fence, even in the backyard.

To help the dogs work off their energy, Paige and Beth do a great deal of training with Maggie and Chase.  Paige and Maggie showed at the Madison County Fair, the Iowa State Fair, and three AKC Shows, where they won their first title – Beginner Novice A.  They also worked with Chase and Maggie to get them named Canine Good Citizens.

The rest of the Prole menagerie includes four cats: Blackberry, Striper, Silver and Benton – a true scaredy cat; and three horses Lucky, Como, and Ally.


In addition to training Maggie, and to some extent Chase, Paige also continues to compete in Trampoline and Tumbling, where she has moved up a level in competition, as well as play volleyball.  Both those activities were put on hold when Paige broke a bone in her foot.  She has to wear a boot for about 4 weeks, which hopefully won’t put too much of a damper on the AAU volleyball season which starts at the end of January.

This fall, Paige started sixth grade at Winterset Middle School. The transition has gone smoothly for everyone involved. Paige has met a lot of new friends, and Beth and Kent don’t have to do as much driving as they were in previous years.  This  move also led me to rent an office on the square in Winterset at a new office/event space called Upstairs at Heartland Fiber. When I’m not traveling, I work at the “Winterset Branch” while Paige is at school.  When I do travel, Beth is able to work out of the office, and interestingly enough, every time I return to the office from a trip, some form of redecorating always seems to happen.


2015 was a year of milestones for Beth.  On December 16th, she ran the last 5 miles on her quest to run 2,015 miles in 2015. Along with this great running accomplishment Beth accomplished a professional milestone by gaining her Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) Certificate. Beth gained the experience needed to get that certificate through her work as a Project Manager at Businessolver. When Beth wasn’t working, running, or training Chase, she helped coordinate several different events to establish the Winterset Dog Park.


I had a major accomplishment in 2015 as well, but his took a little longer than a year.  After three years of working on it, I finally managed to release my first book as a solo author Beyond Requirements: Analysis with An Agile Mindset. It was three years in the making, but I’m fairly pleased with the result.  When I wasn’t putting the finishing touches on my book, I continued work as a product ownership consultant.

And I bet you’re wondering “just what is it that you do, anyway Kent?” Let me try to explain it this way.  When organizations need software to do something (or sell software to others), there are a lot of options of what they could do.  Teams working on these software projects need to decide what they are going to have the software do and not do. I play that role in an organization (right now it’s with the Agile Alliance) or I help organizations make those decisions more effectively (when I’m consulting).

National Parks Bucket List

We continued our ongoing quest to visit all of the National Parks in the United States.  You can keep track of our progress here (as well as see what we have left).  This year was about revisiting some parks we had visited prior to the beginning of the quest and a couple of new ones.  We also managed to work in some running events for Beth around the trips.

  • In February, Beth and I (along with Paige) celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary in Hawaii and visited Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • In June, we returned to Grand Tetons National Park where Beth ran a half marathon and did a two hour driving tour back through Yellowstone to collect those stamps.
  • In October, we visited Yosemite for the first time and worked in another half marathon for Beth.

Here’s hoping your Christmas was Merry and you have a happy and prosperous 2016.