Happy Easter, 2013

We were invited to Jim and Diane’s Easter Sunday party today, so the three of us went over and had a nice time. Ava kept busy running around outside and going up and down the patio stairs. We tried laying her down for a nap twice but there was too much going on for her to fall asleep. There were several kids over there so they had an Easter egg hunt in the yard. Ava didn’t seem very interested in hunting for eggs but was having fun regardless.

Eventually Ava wore down and needed to go home for a nap but we had a really nice time. Jessica is working tonight so Ava and I are relaxing at home. I’ve got another big week at work starting tomorrow, plus Jessica and I are celebrating our third anniversary on Wednesday night. I was about to say it’s hard to believe it’s already been three years, but when you consider the impending arrival of our second daughter it kinda puts things into perspective.

Yesterday Jessica went to Julie’s baby shower, which was being held at the big green house (BGH) we used to live in. She still hadn’t seen some of our friends that live there so it was good for her to go and catch up. Friday night Jess and I worked together at El Gaucho. I was expecting to bartend but when I arrived I found out that I would be serving a private 5 course wine dinner featuring wines from DeLille Cellars here in Washington. At first I thought they were kidding but it ended up being a lot of fun. I haven’t worked in El Gaucho’s dining room in a really long time so it was cool that Jess was there.

Here are a few pics of Ava today at the party:

A quick trip to Phoenix

Tomorrow night I’m flying to Phoenix with my manager and another co–worker to conduct an "Expert Review" on Monday of an existing software system in our fulfillment centers. We’re going to look at what they have been using and brainstorm some new ideas for a more modern, user friendly tool. I’ve never been to Phoenix before and it’s supposed to be 80 degrees, so I’m all for it, however it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing much sun while I’m there; mostly just warehouses and rental cars. We’re only in town for 21 hours so its going to be a little hectic.

All else is going very well. Just finished another quarter at school today and have a two week break. Only 15 months to go until graduation. Jessica is doing great in her pregnancy and seems much more at ease now that she knows what we’re having. I keep telling Ava that she’s going to have a little sister but it seems to be falling on deaf ears. Ava and I are getting an unexpected night at home together this evening because the private party that I was supposed to bartend at El Gaucho for ended up getting cancelled. This was a relief. I think we’re going to spend the rest of the night watching movies and trying to keep her play room clean.

Another big week

It’s been a really good, busy, week that was capped with receiving the news that we will be expecting another baby girl! While we had originally decided to wait and not find out until the birth, the agony of not knowing started getting to us, so we decided to have the doctor write at note during this week’s ultrasound and open it together that evening. I’m extremely excited about having another daughter and have pleasantly resigned to the fact that Bruno and I are the only boys in this house for the foreseeable future. I’m also very happy that Ava will have a sister so close to her in age. I’m sure they will be inseparable before too long.

This morning Grandma Amy left for Florida. Jess, Ava and Amy had a busy week that resulted in an updated playroom for Ava, including a toddler–sized table and chair set, a full play kitchen, shelves and a new dresser. It looks much nicer in there and Ava seems to love it. Based on Jessica’s latest ultrasound her official due date has moved up to July 13, so we’re well over the half–way point. I wish we could explain to Ava that she’s going to have a sister very soon but she’s still too young to grasp that. The good part is that she will never remember life without her little sister.

I can now tell after three full weeks working at Amazon that there will never really be what you would consider a ‘slow week.’ Things move at a very fast pace there, and I usually find myself wondering where the day went when leaving the office. This past week provided an unexpected opportunity for our team to redesign and develop the interface for a software tool created by one of our teams in India, then get a chance to test it in the field on Tuesday as a fully functional prototype. What makes this even better is that I will get a chance to observe the new Kiva Systems robots in action. Jessica and I watched a great piece on 60 Minutes about Kiva Systems warehouse robots, then I came to find out that Amazon bought the company last year for use in their own facilities. The robots are only currently being used in one location and that’s exactly where I’m going on Tuesday. Should make for an exciting day. I also attended Amazon’s "Making Great Hiring Decisions" course this week and learned so much about how to interview candidates at Amazon. It shouldn’t be long before I’m sitting in to shadow some interviews.

I ended up leaving the jiu–jitsu school I had recently joined. There were several reasons for this, but mainly it came down to me not having time at night to go to class, and since going at lunch wasn’t an option like it was in San Diego, I had to give it up, at least for now. I also wasn’t as big of a fan of the school here in Bellevue as I was in San Diego, but I’m sure it would have grown on me. It’s too bad I won’t be doing martial arts for a bit, but that allowed me to make time for guitar again. I always need to have something to obsess about but at least this is a hobby that doesn’t require me to leave the house. Its turning out to be a good thing though because Ava is drawn to the guitar when I play it, so hopefully it will help develop a music interest in her.

Next week looks just as busy as this one was, including a bartending shift at El Gaucho on Saturday night, then a flight to Phoenix the following night for work. I’ll be coming home the very next night but it’s going to a long couple of days.

Girls, girls, girls!

It’s been a great week with my mom here visiting, we have been busy as we always are on her trips with a mixture of all sorts of shopping and errands.  Today we took a break from the mall and did something even more special.

I had two doctors appointments this afternoon specifically scheduled so that mom could be there with me for both. The first was a standard checkup with my midwife to see how I’m progressing and things looked great. The second appointment was much more fun; it was an ultrasound appointment to see how the baby is progressing. I am happy to report that the baby is doing really well and in the doctor’s own words “that’s an adorable and perfect baby”. We were also able to find out the sex of the baby today if we wanted. I had originally said that I thought it would be cool to wait and find out in the moment but after putting probably way too much thought into it I changed my mind. I really couldn’t wait to find out and wanted to start being able to talk more specifically to Ava about her new sibling. I know that she is too young to understand most of it but I think it’s important to try and involve her as much as I can.

Michael wasn’t able to come with me to the ultrasound because of work so I asked the doctor to write down the sex of our new little bundle and seal it in an envelope for us to open later. We waited until just before dinner to open it up and see whats been cooking in my oven :).  I am happy to report that it is another beautiful baby girl! Ava has a little sister on the way. The images from the ultrasound were pretty amazing definitely much better than our ultrasound with Ava. You can see for yourself below what our little 1.5 lbs cutie looks like.

Baby E Ultrasound

A visit from Grandma Amy

Thursday night Grandma Amy flew into town from Florida to spend a week with us. She hadn’t been to our new house in Bellevue yet, and hadn’t seen us since helping us drive up here from San Diego in early December. She had a long day on Thursday flying from Florida to Baltimore, then to Denver, then finally to Seattle, but was lucky enough not to get caught in the east coast snow storms that basically shut down the New York and Boston airports. Since arriving she, Jessica and Ava have been having fun shopping and playing. Today the three of them are going to the Freemont Street Fair while I relax and home and watch basketball.

This past week was a big one for me as well, mainly because I had my first work trip with Amazon. I flew down to Ontario, CA on Wednesday morning with my manager and a co–worker. The purpose of the trip was to meet up with a few guys from our Toronto office and work on some new solutions for software applications to be used in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Since this was my first time visiting a fulfillment center my manager wanted me to get a tour of the place and watch the people working with their current software tools so that I could better understand what’s going on and what I’m trying to accomplish.

I must say that being in a fulfillment center is pretty amazing. Its about a million square feet, filled with products, it’s perfectly organized and so clean you could eat off the floor. I took a photo of the endless sea of products from up above but quickly found out that the only public photos of the inside of an Amazon fulfillment center comes directly from Amazon. They want to control exactly what the public knows about their internal fulfillment operations, so I’m not going to be able to post my photo here on our blog. What I can say is that you’re in a building that feels like its the size of about a dozen Costco’s, and it’s very secure.

After two very long days at the fulfillment center I came home around 9:00 on Thursday night and got to visit with Amy for a bit. Ava has been showing slight signs of a cold lately, and now I’ve got a sore throat, so we’re trying to take it easy in hopes that things won’t get any worse. She’s also constantly getting new teeth so its not uncommon for her to wake up once or twice at night. Overall she’s doing really well though and I can tell she loves being able to play with Grandma.

Yesterday Jessica and I attended a funeral for Aunt Carol’s brother John, who recently suffered from a freak accident and was not able to recover. The funeral was in Renton, very near where I grew up, so we went down to pay our respects. It was a great service. Afterwards I decided to take Jessica on a tour of my old neighborhood. We looked at the house I grew up in and visited my Elementary School and High School. It was pretty strange being back but I’m glad we did it. Soon enough we found ourselves at the Olive Garden in Southcenter enjoying endless soup, salads and breadsticks. Not exactly something we had planned on but it was fun. Last night was daylight savings so we’re getting longer days now and Spring is around the corner. I’m sure this week will fly by just like the last two have, and I’m particularly looking forward to taking Amazon’s "Making Great Hiring Decisions Class" on Thursday. Until then…

Thinking of Dad today

Although I generally think of my dad everyday, today being the 18th anniversary of his passing has me thinking of him even more than normal. It honestly feels like more than 18 years when I think about all that has happened in that time. Of course I wish he was here in person but since that’s not possible, I try to keep his memory alive through lots of stories and old photos. Like myself, my kids won’t ever have the pleasure of meeting their paternal grandfather, but that’s something I plan on ending for the future generations of this family.

I try to keep all of his old sayings in my mind, and do the things he would want me to do. He was full of wisdom, stories and experience. He always told me to do better than him. That’s not an easy thing to admit to when you’re talking about someone you idolize, but I think he would be proud of where I’m at today. I’m having a harder time than normal getting through this post because there are so many different things I could say about him, but when I think about the purpose of this site and what its going to mean to our kids when they grow up, I think it’s best to end with a quick story.

Anyone that spent time with my dad always made a point to mention how generous he was, and this story is a perfect example of that generosity. My mom bought him a beautiful silk tie at Nordstrom one year for his birthday. He loved the tie and decided to wear it out to dinner that night when they went to the Metropolitan Grill. While they were there they ran into an old friend of his who said “Elmer what a beautiful tie. I’d get married in that tie.” Without skipping a beat my dad took the tie off and insisted on his friend taking it as a gift. It’s one thing to buy someone a drink or take them out to dinner, but quite another to give them the tie your wife just got your for your birthday. I remember asking my mom once if she was upset that he gave away the tie but she explained that she couldn’t be mad because that’s just who my dad was, and it was one of the things she loved most about him.

RIP Dad, we love and miss you.

Dad and Aunt Norma
Dad and Aunt Norma

I’m there in case he misses a spot

Playing in the sprinkler with Dad and Dana

Dad and his little monkey

Dad as a young man. Not sure who he is with here.

My First Week at Amazon

Today marks the end of my first week in my new job at Amazon. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a week considering how fast it went by. Felt more like one long day than an entire week. At this point I’m up and running, with two projects already begun. I’m traveling to Southern California next week, then Phoenix a couple weeks later. Both trips are only one night, so that’s nice.

The organization I’m working in is called Amazon Fulfillment Technologies (AFT), and it’s all about creating new technologies to more efficiently fulfill customer orders. One of my new projects is expected to help the company save $40 million in its first full year, so it’s important work that will help me gain a lot of recognition. I found out this week that not only am I the only web developer on my team, which is the Human Centered Design team, but that I am the first web developer in the entire AFT organization! This is a big deal. We have plans to hire more in the future but this means that I will always have seniority in this field and will be looked at as a leader in this category.

One way to exercise leadership as the only web developer will be to take our "Making Great Hiring Decisions Class" in a couple weeks. I’m doing this because my manager wants me to help interview potential web development candidates. This is crazy considering that only a few weeks ago I was one of those candidates, but its a nice vote of confidence they have in me. In addition, I’ve already signed up in the mentorship program, where I will have a mentor that I work with every other week on advanced JavaScript. I’m also getting involved in a variety of the education programs Amazon has, such as the Friday Learning Series, Principal Tech Talks, and special interest groups like FEEM (Front End Engineers Meetup) and WebDevCon, which is a yearly conference put on by my old team that is dedicated strictly to web development.

Amazon has so much to offer in the way of education and career development. I’m definitely planning on taking advantage of these services and doing everything I can to become a leader in the AFT organization. I’m currently ranked as a level 4 web development engineer, which is the highest level of Web Dev 1’s. I should be able to get to level 5 this year, which would make me a Web Dev 2, so that’s my short–term goal. Web Dev 3 is the highest level of web development engineer at Amazon and we currently only have four of them in the company. Obviously this is a long way off but ultimately that will be my goal. This whole new reality is still sinking in and it’s a bit hard to believe. At this point I can confidently say that I found the perfect role for me and will be there for a very long time to come.

Here’s a couple pics from this week. The first is Ava being patient (get it.. patient?) at her checkup. The second is Jasper, one of my new "co–workers" at Amazon.

Ava being patient
Jasper the Husky