Out of Iowa

My Dad and his wife Chris are in town visiting for the weekend out from Iowa. We haven’t actually met up yet but I’m sure its going to be a great time. They landed last night and had some hotel difficulties so we decided to wait to meet up this morning. They are going to come over to the house and hang out for a while and then decide what the day holds. Of course, in true Northwest style it’s supposed to rain for the next several days. We haven’t had great weather the past week but it’s been dry. It figures that as soon as we have people in town visiting the weather would turn. We’ll do our best not to let it slow us down. We don’t have much planned for the time they are here other than dinner out on Friday night. We got a babysitter for Ava for the evening so that the adults and Elise could go out for a few hours.

This is the first time that my Dad has been here since our move so there is no doubt that we will have plenty to catch up on. I am looking forward to some good family time and a little father/ daughter fix it time. We have quite a few “little” house projects that we plan to work on together. Its set to be a great weekend.

My First Sounders Game

Today I woke up early with Elise and made breakfast for everyone. Last Sunday we decided that we were going to make Sunday morning breakfast a family tradition. It’s nice to get everyone together for a morning meal and there’s so many different directions you can go with breakfast. This morning I made oatmeal with brown sugar and French toast with maple syrup and powdered sugar. It was my first time making French toast and I was happy with how it turned out. I’m not sure how this never came up during the last 6 years but I found out this morning that Jessica hates oatmeal. She tried to eat a little of it but couldn’t do it. I love it and was happy to help out.

After breakfast the four of us headed down to Idylwood park in Redmond. A couple guys that I work with brought their wives and kids down to the park and we all had a nice time hanging out and playing on the beach. Ava wasn’t very interested in being a part of the group activities, which meant I spent the majority of the time there following Ava around and keeping her out of things. I was glad that Jessica got a chance to meet some of my co–workers wives and hang out for a bit. Elise drew a fair amount of attention today, including random strangers that came over to say hi and ask about her.

Since we had lots of fresh produce from yesterday I decided to make a nice dinner for Jess and I before I had to leave for the soccer game. Brenda showed me how to make kale chips in the oven yesterday with a little olive oil and salt, so I made those, plus some breaded cod and a warm corn salad with heirloom tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. It turned out really tasty and we were able to have a nice early dinner before Ava woke up from her nap.

Speaking of cooking, Jim had a great idea yesterday of doing a family recipes website that everyone could contribute to. I really love the idea of having a central location to share everyone’s family recipes and it sounds like a fun project, so I’m slowly going to start working on that in my free time. Obviously there isn’t an abundance of free time available right now, so the project will progress slowly, but it will be a lot of fun and more than worth it in the end. If you’re reading this and you have some great family recipes in mind be sure to write them down. We’ll be asking for them soon enough.

Going to the soccer game tonight is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I can’t believe its taken me this long to get to a Sounders game, but I definitely picked a good one to start out with. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we were playing the Portland Timbers, which is a big rivalry, and we’ve now got Clint Dempsey on our team, who is a true superstar in soccer. It turned out to be the biggest soccer game in Pacific Northwest history, with over 67,000 in attendance! Although I’ve never been to a college football game, I imagine that tonight’s crowd was more inline with that type of event than any other pro sporting event that I’ve ever been to. There was such an incredible energy amongst the crowd and surprisingly little tension between Sounders and Timbers fans.

Seattle ended up winning the game 1–0 on a corner kick header by Eddie Johnson. It was such an exciting play and the entire stadium went nuts. There were several close calls going down to the last minute, but we were able to hold out for the win. After the game I ran into an old restaurant friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was definitely a lot of fun and Sean seemed to have a great time. His birthday is a couple weeks away and he’s a huge soccer fan so this seemed like the best way to celebrate.

Time to call it a night and get ready for another busy week at work. This was definitely a great weekend that I will not forget. Looking forward to the company all–hands meeting this Tuesday. We do them every 6 months so this will be my second one. It’s pretty exciting to see all the cool new stuff that is going on throughout the company. Also looking forward to Rick and Chris arriving for their visit this week. We should be in for another good weekend with them in town.

A Great Day with Jim & Brenda

I’ve had a lot of great times with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Brenda over the years but today has to be right around the top of the list. Jim and I have been talking about going to the shooting range for a while now but today we finally went and did it. It was a treat for my birthday and ended up being so much fun. I’ve only gone shooting twice before, most recently a couple years ago with Tom in San Diego. I’m not going to lie, I’m mostly into shooting because I’m so into watching the Tv show Top Shot. Jess and I have seen every episode and its sparked an interest in shooting for me.

Jim brought a couple revolvers, most notably a Smith & Wesson Performance Center .357 magnum, plus he rented the Smith & Wesson .50 caliber revolver. This thing is an absolute hand cannon with a 10 inch barrel. Unbelievable gun. Most of the time was spent shooting Jim’s .357, and I’d say it was my favorite of the 3 we shot. That thing is so smooth and accurate… I totally want one now. We also shot a little snub nose revolver and surprisingly enough, that little gun hurt your hand way more to fire than either of the big ones. I definitely want to get back out there with them again sometime soon. I told Jessica this morning when we woke up that all I wanted to do was shoot a bullseye with the .50 caliber. Mission accomplished.

Not only did Jim take me shooting, but the three of us went to lunch at Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant in Des Moines. I designed and built the website for Arturo’s about a year ago when we were living in San Diego. Until today I hadn’t met him or been to his restaurant. We ended up having a great lunch and it was really nice to finally get to meet him. When it was time to go home Jim and Brenda sent me with a bag full of my favorite chocolate mint cookies, a red wagon for the girls, and a bag full of fresh produce, including sweet corn that was picked in the fields that morning. This was so nice and thoughtful of them and we all appreciate it very much. You’ve always been so good to me and it means a lot.

While I was gone today Jessica took the girls downtown for a visit with Laurel. They spent time walking around Belltown, Queen Anne, and got to go to the sculpture park. Jessica stopped by El Gaucho for the first time in quite a while and got to say hello to a couple people. It sounded like they had a really nice time. We had to try out the new wagon with Ava tonight so the four of us did an evening trip to the park. Ava ran over to the wagon the second she saw it and was more than happy to get in and go for a ride. I have fond memories of my Dad towing me around in a little red wagon so I’m glad to be doing it now with the girls. A wagon is one of those things that has to be a part of every kid’s life so I’m glad that Ava is so into it.

Tonight we’re going to make a nice dinner with a bunch of the fresh produce, then tomorrow we’re meeting some of my friends from work at Idylwood Park in Redmond. It’s a beautiful park on Lake Sammamish and its only about 5 minutes from our house. Several of the guys I work with have young kids so we thought it would be fun to get the families together before the summer officially ends. I’m not sure who all is going to show up but as long as the weather holds out it should be a lot of fun. Then tomorrow evening I’m taking my buddy Sean to the Sounders game for his birthday. I’ve never been to a soccer game before but I love watching the World Cup, so it should be a lot of fun. It’s a huge rivalry game with Portland and I heard they were expecting 60,000 people!

There a link down below the pictures to see my first shot with the .50 caliber. Here’s a few pics from today.

Ava loves her new wagon
Ava loves her new wagon

Guess which shot was last…

First time shooting the .50 caliber –– click here to see

Good-bye Eastside Birthcenter

Elise and I had our final, 6 week, appointment with our midwives (we have 3) yesterday. They have been an amazing group of women to work with. I truly can not say enough good things about our experience there. I am elated to be done with all of the doctor’s appointments but I will miss them. Should we decide to have any more children, I would want them to take care of us again.

As far as my appointment goes, I am still waiting to get back some test results about my blood work (they are checking iron, vitamin D and other such levels) but pending any bad news we are doing great. I am feeling really good and have started exercising. I feel like my entire torso is made of jello so it’s a slow start but I’m putting in a little time everyday. It was much easier to get “back on my feet” so to speak last time which is completely discouraging and frustrating but I know that if I put the time in I will see results.

Elise is doing really well. She is gaining weight at a steady pace, she’s more active and slowly she is spending more time awake and interacting with me during the day.

It’s been a fun week so far. Monday we spent a couple of hours at the neighborhood park and had it all to ourselves for the majority of the time. Ava loves the slide these days. Tuesday we headed to the beach in Kirkland for a kids concert. Ava wasn’t all that interested in the band after she discovered the water. We had a fun time splashing around in the shallow area and listening to live music. Wednesday we had a good friend, Penny, over in the morning for a visit. We have barely seen each other since the move back so there was a lot to catch up on. Michael worked from home most of the day so he got to see Penny as well. The 5 of us took a nice little walk around the neighborhood before naptime. It was great to get some quality time in with an old friend and fun to introduce her to the girls. Today we are justing hanging out at home. It was a little bit of a rough night with Elise last night so I am happy that we don’t have anything scheduled, just some nice quiet time with my girls.

It’s a busy weekend for all of us filled with soccer matches, picnics in the park, Seattle outing, the shooting range and more.

A relaxing weekend at home

Jessica and I both had busy weeks this week so now we’re enjoying a nice relaxing weekend at home. At this point I think she’s got it down watching two babies all day but it can still be challenging at times. I had a pretty crazy week at work, which I’m sure will resume tomorrow morning, but it’s all good. Although the novelty of my new job has worn off, I still enjoy the work and the people on my team very much. Having Garth, my web development mentor, join my team and become my direct co–worker a couple weeks ago is going to be very beneficial for my career. I’m already learning lots of new things just from being able to spend everyday with him.

Next weekend is going to be the opposite of this one, meaning that I have a lot going on. Saturday my Uncle Jim and I are going to the shooting range to fire a few different hand guns, then we’re going to have lunch at Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant. It’s about time I finally eat there considering I built their website a while back. Sunday night I’m taking my good friend Sean Beavers to the Sounders game for his birthday. The timing worked out perfect because Sean is taking a few weeks off work and there’s a home game that Sunday night. I’ve already got my Sounders jersey and am getting really excited. The only soccer game I’ve ever been to, other than ones that I played in as a little kid, was back in High School. I’ve certainly never seen professional soccer in person so it should be a great night.

Our little girls are both doing really well. I hate to compare Elise to Ava all the time but I’ve never spent much time around babies before having my own, so Ava is all I have to compare her to. Elise turned a month old this week and is doing great. She had a checkup with her doctor on Thursday and everything looked good. She’s definitely a bit more needy than Ava was at this age. By that all I mean is that she likes to be held all the time. She’ll be crying about something, then as soon as you pick her up everything is fine. I don’t remember Ava being that way as a newborn, although she’s a bit more like that now.

Elise is still officially the loudest baby I’ve ever seen/heard. She’s sleeping better at night, but she grunts a lot and makes funny noises. She’s definitely got a big appetite just like Ava, and she’s spending more time awake everyday. I think her vision is starting to improve because she stares at me now and seems to react a little when I change expressions. I haven’t figured out how to calm her down as easily as I did with Ava. For some reason I’ve always been able to soothe Ava and get her to stop crying easily, but that hasn’t been the case so far with Elise. I’m sure that will all change once she gets a little bigger, but for now there are plenty of times where the only thing that will calm her down is eating, or pretending to eat even when there is nothing left.

Jessica is doing really well in terms of recovery and is almost back to her normal self. We’ve been going on long walks again and she’s getting a little exercise in at home. We’re hoping to start exercising more frequently here pretty soon, it’s just always tough to find time. Generally I come home from work and have to jump right into homework, then make dinner. Doesn’t leave a lot of time for exercise or fun activities but that will all change when I finish in June.

Speaking of school, everything is still going smoothly. The second half of the summer quarter starts today so I have two new classes to focus on. I like how they split the quarters up in half, meaning that you only have to focus on two classes at a time, but at an accelerated pace. I got A’s in both classes during the first half of the quarter so hopefully that will continue on.

The end of summer is just around the corner and we’re honestly not ready for it. Ava is determined to go outside and play everyday and Jessica isn’t sure what she’s going to do once the rainy weather arrives. I guess that’s something the girls are just going to have to get used to growing up in the Pacific Northwest. When the weather is good here, it’s really good, and it never gets very cold or snowy, but we get more than our fair share of rain. It’s times like these where you can’t help but miss San Diego, but that’s okay. We love it here and are so glad to have moved back. I think Rick and Chris’ visit for Labor Day weekend will mark the end of our summer, but that mean’s that football is starting, so I’m good with that.

The girls have a fun week to look forward to, including visits with friends and possibly a trip to the zoo. Jessica is working on getting all of Elise’s nursery letters together. Hopefully we can put them up soon. I haven’t had to travel for work in a while and love being home all the time. Time to make breakfast and get started on some homework!

Elise's nursery letters

All checked out

Last night was a fun night out for us all! Ava got to hang out at Auntie Dana and Uncle Brad’s house. They went to the park and walk around the neighborhood and played all night. Michael, Elise and I went to a reggae concert in Marymoor park. We took a picnic dinner with a beach chair and blankets and Elise was bundled up in her car seat. It was of course a rainy, grey evening. We all toughed it out and enjoyed Matisyahu and Rebelution with another few openers. It was fun to get out and take advantage of the summer and mix up our week nights a bit.

Today Elise had her first pediatrician appointment with our new Doctor, Dr. Davis. She was given a full physical, with pokes and prods all over her tiny body. She took it like a champ and did not fuss one bit. She looked around the bright room and stared at the table side mirror while the doctor jostled her around. She weighed in at 9lbs 13oz and 21.5 inches; thats more than a 2lbs increase!

She received one shot for Hepatitis B, and took that with just a bit of a whimper and then snuggled in my arms as we checked out with the everyone. She is doing great now while we lay low at home.

Here are a few pictures that I took at home to start our monthly photo project.

Elise at 1 month old

Family photo from the summer picnic

Elise is 4 weeks

Today is Elise’s 4 week birthday! We are all doing really well, some days are harder than others but overall we are great. Elise is changing and growing everyday. She has outgrown most of her new born clothes already and seems to be on the tall (long) side just like Ava. Her personality comes through a bit more each day. So far she is an overall mellow little girl with bursts of moodiness and a little bit of drama. She is fairly easy to calm down, loves to be held (sometimes all day long), eats with enthusiasm and very frequently, and cries like a baby Pterodactyl when she’s angry. She’s still working on getting her days and nights straight as far as sleeping goes but I’m sure we’ll get there soon.

Wednesday marks our 1 month mark and I plan to continue my monthly photo tradition for the first year. I’ll make sure to post them each month around the 14th. We have our first official doctor’s appointment this week.  At this point she has only been seen by our midwife. She will unfortunately be receiving her first round of immunizations.  Those are never fun, I am not looking forward to it.

Ava is continuing to adjust to having a sibling. She is showing more interest in what Elise is doing and likes to keep her eye on her while staying busy doing her own thing. She is talking all the time and seems to be learning at least 1 new word everyday. We’ve been continuing to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the summer. Most days we just play in our own yard but have had a few fun outing since Elise arrived.

I am feeling very good as well. Although I don’t quite feel back to 100% I’m about at an 85%. We have started to get back into a family walking routine and Michael and I hope to start some type of work out regime, yet to be determined. Life with two kids is more than twice as hard as with one but I can’t imagine it any other way.

Ava strolling
Ava strolling at the picnic

Face to face with Dad
Face to face with Dad

Big stretch
Big stretch

Our 1st Amazon Summer Picnic

Today the four of us attended our first annual Amazon summer picnic. I’d heard that this was a really fun family event with games, shows, live music, and food, so we thought it would be fun to check out. This year the event was held at Century Link stadium, which is the home of the Seahawks and Sounders. There was a big stage with a band playing right on the field and everyone was welcome to go out there. They had games and obstacle courses setup everywhere so Ava and I ran around for a while. As a football fan it was cool to be out on an NFL field looking up at the stands.

There were games and rides, a toddler zone that Ava enjoyed running around in, and lots of different types of food to choose from. This definitely puts all other company events I’ve attended to shame. I think it will become a fun family tradition that we’ll look forward to every summer. I ended up buying a Sounders jersey at the team store so that I can wear it to the game Sean and I are going to on the 25th. I’ve never been to a professional soccer game and we’re playing Portland, which is a big rivalry, so it should be a lot of fun.

Both of the girls did really great all day. Ava didn’t get her normal nap but she was a champ the whole time. I don’t think we’d made it 5 blocks in the car before both of them passed out. Probably going to lay low for the rest of the weekend. Here’s a few pics from today.

Elise already loves reading
Elise already loves reading

Ava and I playing on the Seahawks field
Ava and I playing on the Seahawks field

Ava and I playing on the Seahawks field
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ava have this much fun

A visit from Jim, Brenda, Kristy & Madi

Today we had a visit from Uncle Jim, Aunt Brenda, my cousin Kristy and her daughter Madi. They came up to see us, meet Elise, and deliver lots of toys to the girls. I’m not kidding when I say lots of toys either. We’ve now got a Harley Davidson scooter, a bike, a drum, etch–a–sketch, toy phones, and so much more. Now that Madi is getting so big she’s decided it was time to move on from a lot of stuff and was so kind to give it all to us for Ava and Elise to enjoy.

Ava was a little out of sorts when they first arrived, mostly because she’s not used to having many visitors, but she quickly warmed up and we soon all found ourselves downstairs playing in the kids room. Of all the new toys in there Ava seemed most interested in the drum. I remember her playing drums on her high chair with plastic spoons, but now she’s got an actual little drum and two sticks to play with. The musician in me is hoping that she will take a genuine interest in any instrument, even if that means banging your head against the wall every now and then while they learn how to play it.

It was really nice having everyone over and I want to make a point to get together more often. Kristy and I live about an hour apart but Jim and Brenda are right in the middle so that helps. Jim and I were talking more today about going to the shooting range so I’m hoping to do that within the next few weeks. Madi was very excited to get to hold a baby and she did a great job. She held Elise 3 or 4 separate times and looked like a natural. Elise even fell asleep in her arms a couple times.

We’ve been getting spoiled by having so many family members and friends coming over to visit. Everyone has been so kind and thoughtful. We definitely appreciate all the love and support we’ve been receiving from everyone. Their visit was definitely the highlight of our weekend. We’re planning on just relaxing at home tomorrow and getting ready for another busy week starting Monday. It seems that we’re getting more regular traffic here on the site so I’m going to try to write more frequent posts. It’s always nice to hear that people are enjoying the updates. Here’s a few pics from today’s visit, as well as the ‘Happy Birthday’ message I was greeted with after work on Tuesday.

Ava and Kristy
Ava playing with Kristy

Aunt Brenda holding Elise
Aunt Brenda holding Elise

Madi and Elise
Madi did a great job holding Elise

Happy Birthday message from my girls
Happy Birthday message from my girls