Just Finished School

Well, that’s it. Tonight I turned in my final project and have completed the entire curriculum for a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Information Technology with a Concentration on Application Programming. It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to writing this post, mostly because it signifies the end of a big chapter in our lives. When I started this process of getting back into school, Jessica and I were living in Pacific Beach, working as bartenders, and hoping that maybe once I finished school I’d be able to get a decent job as a web developer. Jessica was pregnant with Ava, and the simple fact that we were going to become parents made me feel like a change in professions and lifestyle was in order.

There was no way we could have expected things to take off the way they did. By the time school started I already had my first real tech job. I was a production developer at Scrollmotion in La Jolla by day and a student by night. I remember coming home from work those first few nights after school started with a sinking feeling in my stomach because I knew that I had several hours of homework awaiting me. Over the last few years I’ve grown so accustomed to that reality that the concept of coming home now and not needing to work on anything feels very foreign.

The fact that I was able to get the job at Scrollmotion before finishing school was a surprise, but there’s no way we could have seen Amazon coming. I’m still shocked at how that all went down, and honestly had I known the path I would have to take and how low the chances of it working out actually were, I wouldn’t have gone for it. We were more than happy in San Diego for the time being and wouldn’t have been interested in taking such a giant leap of faith, especially with Jessica then being pregnant with Elise.

Again, its crazy that all this was going on while I was in school. Obviously my school and career path was nowhere near normal, but worked out due basically to determination and blind faith. I don’t want to make a big deal about the achievement of finishing school or switching careers, but I do want to use my experience as a lesson to my kids on how not to do things. You’re going to hear me say this plenty of times in the future so we might as well start now: Go to school when you’re young. Don’t wait until you’re in your 30’s like me, with a family and career to balance. Study something you love without regard to money and profession. You’ve got the rest of your life to figure out what you want to do, so study something that makes you happy.

With the girls getting bigger it’s been getting tough to watch them and do homework at the same time, so it’s going to be nice not having to worry about that anymore. I’m mainly excited to get to spend more time relaxing at home with Jessica and the girls, although getting to study stuff that I want to study, and getting to work on cool freelance projects, are also things that I’ve been looking forward to. I probably won’t end up with nearly as much free time as I initially expected, but right now it all looks really good.

I’m so thankful for everything Jessica has done throughout this whole process. There have been so many nights where she took on all the kid duties because I was busy doing homework. She deserves a break more than anyone and I’m glad I can start doing a little more to help out. Right now the changes related to being done with school are hypothetical because tonight is just like any other night after finishing an assignment, but when coming home from work this week, or trying to make plans, it’s going to hit me that I no longer have to deal with this huge time commitment.

There were a few times where I thought about not going through with school. Not because it was too hard, but because it just didn’t feel necessary. This especially became an issue once I secured a full-time spot at Amazon. Although I have no doubt that getting my education had a positive effect on my career, it was tough to justify at times. Ultimately it came down to setting the right example for my kids. If Mommy and Daddy could do it, so can they.

In addition to learning more about my profession and industry, school taught me a lot about myself and how to be responsible. I learned that I am fully capable of teaching myself anything related to coding and web development. I wasn’t much of a lecture guy in school and preferred to study the material on my own and figure it out. I also learned that I thrive under pressure. A lot of good things have happened to us while I’ve been in school and the common denominator amongst it all was staying busy and working hard. I learned that I like learning, and that I picked a profession that requires you to stay current with technologies, meaning that I will probably always be in ‘learning mode’. Finally, I learned that I like to stay busy. The older I get, the more I can’t stand laziness. I seriously don’t do well when I have nothing to work on or obsess over. I’m just glad that I now get to focus the intention of that work or obsession to things of my choosing. My new favorite thing to obsess over is the house, and our yard. I’m already starting to become one of those yard guys and it kinda freaks me out.

In one of my software engineering classes during this last quarter we were instructed to choose a project we had worked on, either in school or elsewhere, and use it as a basis for examining a variety of topics related to software engineering and development. For no reason other than familiarity and accessibility, I chose to use the Family Recipes application I did last year. This meant that throughout the quarter I’ve been revisiting and writing about that application quite a bit. Although I never could have planned it this way, when it came down to the final paragraph of a 35 page report I had created on that application, and the reality that this was my final paragraph to write in a school paper set in, I found myself not really writing about anything technical, but instead about family, food, and recipes. Probably not exactly what my professor had in mind but it felt like the right way to go out.

They say today is the first day of the rest of your life, and corny as it may sound, it has never felt more true to me than right now. Jessica and I have been talking about the future, and me being done with school, for a while now, and it’s weird that we’re finally there. Just in time for Summer too. With Amy coming out for an extended stay in July, Jess and I are going to make a point to get out and do stuff we normally wouldn’t do. Gotta take advantage of this freedom when we can. The fact that we’re in our own home now as well makes it pretty surreal. I’m not trying to sound like Phil Jackson here, but its so easy to set your mind on a particular time or achievement that you forget to enjoy the journey and the moment. Nana and my Mom always said ‘Life is what happens when you’re making plans’ and I never really understood what they meant until I got older. School was a good experience for me, which I will relate to the start of my family and my career, rather than early adulthood and drunken debauchery like most. It represents the greatest time in my life (to date), but I’m now more than ready to see what the next chapter has in store for our family.

Happy Father’s Day

Yesterday wasn’t exactly what I would call a good Father’s Day for Michael but I think that he would spin it more positively. He did not get to sleep in, or get breakfast in bed. He was not taken out to a nice brunch or even given a card. Instead he got up with the girls and I, too early for a Sunday, got dressed and headed to Costco. We bought steaks for dinner and ate hotdogs for lunch. He came home and spent the next 4 hours (maybe more) doing yard work in drizzly weather.

The night picked up a bit for us all and we had a great dinner and watched the Spurs crush the Heat in the Final basketball game of the season. The game was a great way to end the day but even that was a little bitter sweet for Michael because he hates this time of year when sports are in a lull until the end of the baseball season.

I felt bad all day that he wasn’t celebrated properly on this one day. He is always doing so much for our family and rarely takes time out to do something just for himself.

When I met Michael almost 7 years ago, I could never have imagined the man and the father that he would become. He has surpassed all of my expectations and has been the most patient and selfless partner. He works hard for all of our futures and is always there to offer love and support. I am incredibly blessed to have him by my side, and the girls and I, are so lucky and proud that he is “ours.” Happy father’s Day Michael. We love you so much.

To all of the Dads in my life (especially my own) thank you for your love and support. I am thankful for you today and every day.

Getting Settled

Well, the long weekend has officially come to an end. The last few days have been a whirlwind and it’s taking everything I’ve got just to stay up and write about it. Thursday we both signed our names more times than you could possibly believe, then Friday we got the keys. Amy, Tom, and my Mom all arrived on Friday and helped us get things in order for a big day on Saturday. I made a couple trips to the new house on Friday night just to get a head start on things, but Saturday was by far the biggest day of the weekend.

I’d be lying if I said it all went smoothly, but with the help of family and friends we got through it unscathed. I think we each had our own difficulties to face; Jessica was coming at it from the stress of having things organized and prepared point of view, Amy and my Mom were coming at it from a ‘Wow those little girls are really fast and hard to keep up with’ point of view, and Tom and I from a ‘Please let that be all of the furniture to move’ point of view. However we were so fortunate to have the help of my sister Dana, her friend Michelle, Michelle’s son Connor, and last but certainly not least, our good friend Laurel. I seriously can’t thank all of you enough for everything you did this weekend. We couldn’t have done it without you and are so appreciative for all the hard work. I definitely owe some favors and will be expecting a call next time some help is needed for any of you.

Sunday and Monday were all about getting things organized. Although we still have a long way to go, I’m so pleased with where things are at. My Mom and Amy were so helpful with getting things organized, and of course Tom was a huge help getting things put together / fixed. I’ve already made 3 trips to Lowe’s in my first weekend as a homeowner and I can see its not going to change. I’m eager to learn how to do stuff around the house and have jumped right in to the best of my ability. In addition to putting up all kinds of storage hooks in the garage, I have pressure washed the North side of the house (where the moss grows), mounted our TV on the wall, and learned how to hook up a washer and dryer. I bought a weed-wacker today and am planning on getting a lawn mower later this week.

I have to give special thanks to my Mom, who in addition to treating us to Chinese food on Saturday night, made filet and lobster on Sunday night, plus got us a Keurig coffee machine, a new toaster, and a really cool hybrid barbeque that has a charcoal grill, a gas grill, and an infrared side pan. I’ve never owned a grill before and can’t wait to try it out. Putting it together was a bit difficult but it was fun working with Tom on it. I still have a ton of work to do in terms of putting clothes away and organizing my office, but considering this is only our third night in the house I couldn’t be happier.

My Mom left today, and Amy and Tom leave tomorrow, however Jessica is working tomorrow night so it won’t be until Wednesday that we have a normal family night at home with just the four of us. To be honest this still all feels a bit surreal. Every once in a while it just sort of hits me that we’re in our own house and can do anything we want to it. I’ve never cared at all about personalizing my home before this but now it’s all I can think of. Hopefully by the time Rick comes out to visit for the 4th of July we’ll have everything looking good. We’re going to have a lot of visitors throughout the summer so I can’t wait to get everything put away.

Plenty of new updates coming soon, but for now here’s a couple images of our farewell to the Bellevue house. Also, another big thank you to Carol and Julie for all their help throughout this process. It really was a pleasure.