Happy Birthday Mommy, Happy 3 Months Enzo

I just wanted to write a quick post wishing my amazing wife Jessica a very happy birthday! Not only is today Jessica’s birthday, but Enzo also turns three months old today, so that makes it even more special. Unfortunately I had to work today, but I’m looking forward to spending a nice evening at home with her and the kids. Although we weren’t able to spend the day together, I’m glad Jessica and the kids were able to meet with our friend Jodi (whose birthday was yesterday) and her son Miles for a nice lunch this afternoon.

Baby Enzo is doing great; getting past the three month mark with a newborn is a big deal because this is typically when they really start to show a lot of life and personality. It’s not uncommon to refer to a newborn’s first three months as the ‘fourth trimester’ because all they really do during that time is eat and sleep, but now we’re starting to get away from all that. Enzo is sleeping for longer stretches at night now, and spending more and more time awake during the day. He’s a very mellow baby and hasn’t had any issues other than the fact that he practically refuses to drink from a bottle, which makes it all but impossible for me to feed him. Hopefully we’ll get over that soon, but otherwise everything with him is perfect.

Ava and Elise are also doing excellent. They had a blast with Grandpa on his recent visit, and I’m sure they will love seeing Uncle Joel and Aunt Melanie in the next few days. Then after that they will get to visit with Nana, so there’s still a lot to look forward to in the next couple weeks. It sounds like Rick and Chris might be coming back out for the 4th of July, and then we have Amy and Tom coming right after that to help us with painting and new flooring. Can’t wait to get that done.

Last night I met my Godfather Pete and my good friend Michael Don Rico (who was my best man at my wedding) for dinner at Il Terrazzo Carmine for dinner. It’s my favorite Italian restaurant in Seattle and has been a night I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. As usual we had an excellent time filled with delicious food, great stories, and lots of laughs. My old friend Victoria, whom I worked with at El Gaucho for many years, was our server; she made sure to take extra special care of us, which includes putting up with Pete when he gets into rare form.

We enjoyed calamari and an antipasti platter for starters, then I had a cream of cauliflower soup while Michael and Pete split a tomato burrata salad. Although it wasn’t on the menu, I requested veal saltimboca for dinner (which is my favorite dish) and they made it for me. While enjoying my saltimboca I had to tell the story of the time my Mom and I had dinner in Rome near the Trevi Fountain. As usual, I had a pasta entree followed by a veal entree, which happened to be saltimboca that night. In this particular case the veal was the best I’d ever had, so when the waiter came back to ask to see if we’d like dessert I had no choice but to order the veal again. Yes, I literally ate three entrees at dinner that night, plus appetizers and dessert. Oh to be 21 again.

For dessert Pete and I shared a key lime tart (probably my favorite dessert) while Michael had their famous cannoli with espresso. Victoria was even kind enough to serve us a round of her homemade limoncello to wash everything down. It was a fantastic meal that was only outshined by the quality of the company we kept. I definitely need to make a point of setting these types of dinners up more frequently, as they always mean so much to each of us.

When I got home at 11:00 everyone but Ava was sound asleep. When she saw me she said “Daddy you’re back!” as if I’d been gone for weeks. I hung out with her for a little bit and made her promise me that she would say “Happy Birthday Mommy!” in the morning. I’m looking forward to finding out if she came through.

Today has been especially crazy at work due to a big developer conference we’re promoting tomorrow in San Francisco. Consequently it looks like I’ll be working on and off throughout the evening, but it’s okay; I’m just glad to have been able to leave the office at a normal time so I can spend Jessica’s birthday evening with her and the kids. Here are a few recent photos to enjoy.

Our little rockstar
Our little rockstar

Elise in her turtleneck
Elise in her turtleneck

Enzo at 3 months
Enzo at 3 months

Thank you Grandpa

This morning we drove Grandpa Rick to the airport after a short but very productive and fun visit. His trip began when Jessica and the kids picked him up at SeaTac on Wednesday morning at 11:00. The five of them headed straight to the Microsoft campus to meet me for lunch. I was excited to show them around my building and take them on a shuttle ride over to the main part of campus for lunch in ‘The Commons’, which is where the main cafeteria, as well as many other attractions, is located. It was Earth Day, so there was even more commotion than usual, but it made for an exciting afternoon. After lunch we headed over to one of the soccer fields to let the girls run around and burn off some energy. Not surprisingly, one of their favorite parts about the visit was getting to ride on the shuttle bus back and forth between my office and the main campus. Neither of the girls had ever been on a bus before so they really got a kick out of it. We all had a fun time so it was a great way to start off Grandpa’s visit.

I wasn’t around the house much for the next couple days due to my work schedule, but as usual, Grandpa got a ton of work done. He did a bunch of yard work in our front yard and installed a ceiling fan in our bedroom, however the main project for this trip was to build a sandbox for the kids in our back yard. The final product turned out awesome. He was able to reuse several of the painted boards from the headboard that he and Jessica made at our house in San Diego, and although it was a lot of work for us on Saturday filling it with nearly 1,500 pounds of sand, it received immediate approval from all the little ones. The project hadn’t been complete for five minutes before there were four kids playing in it and having a blast. The kids ended up spending all day playing in there, and although they trecked so much sand into our house you’d think we lived on a beach, it was still well worth it. I’m thinking this will be a ton of fun for all the neighborhood kids throughout the summer.

Friday night we were joined for dinner at our house by Butch and Carol. We ate oysters on the half shell, then enjoyed Halibut Picatta and vegetables for our entrees. Jessica and I love oysters on the half shell, and normally Rick does as well, but he must have gotten a bad one because he wasn’t feeling so well later that night. He was a trooper though and didn’t let it slow him down one bit on Saturday.

We started off Saturday morning by taking Ava to soccer. Unfortunately although last Saturday she had her best class yet, this wasn’t her best week. About halfway through the class she just decided that she didn’t want to play anymore and she totally disengaged. It’s tough from my perspective because I would never want to force her into anything, but at the same time I realize that she isn’t old enough yet to make rational decisions about what she is doing, so she needs to be coaxed at times. Its a bit of a fine line but we’re going to keep going for the next several weeks and see how it goes.

After soccer Rick and I got to work in the yard. As previously mentioned, we finished off the sandbox first so the kids could have fun playing in it, then I got back to work on my dog run project that I started a couple weekends ago. Having Rick’s help out there was great and I can’t believe how much we got done. Not only did we finish digging out all the sod, but we also were able to make a trip to Home Depot and pick up 800 pounds of paver stones to line the entire inside of the fence with. Basically what we did was dig a 4” trench along the inside of the fence, then set these 12”x12” cement paver stones upright inside that trench up against the fence. Once the stones were in place we filled it back in with dirt. The idea was to keep Bella from being able to dig her way out of there, and I think its going to work. Although the project isn’t finished yet, I’m extremely happy with how it already looks. The stones are a nice touch, and the remaining work will be really easy. Next weekend I’m going to put down landscaping cloth, then cover it. The only remaining question is what I’m going to cover it with. I was originally thinking gravel, then I was thinking about mulch, but I’m also considering some type of pet-friendly artificial turf. I’m going to research it this week and make up my mind by Friday. I can’t wait to finish this up on Saturday so I can move onto the next project, which will be to create a pathway from the back patio to the entrance of the dog run. I’ll definitely post photos once everything is complete.

After moving well over a ton (literally) of sand and bricks, we were pretty exhausted, so the remainder of Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing and watching basketball. Later that evening our new next-door neighbors invited everyone over for a Smore’s party around their new fire pit. Jessica, the kids, and I hung out over there for a few hours while Grandpa got some down time to relax and watch a movie.

This morning, after taking Rick to the airport, the five of us headed downtown to Pike’s Place Market. We got to look at ferry boats crossing the Puget Sound, then we saw lots of fresh fish, pretty flowers, and plenty of interesting people enjoying their Sunday morning. We enjoyed a bag of fresh donuts as we strolled around, then before leaving we stopped by my friend Bill Erickson’s shop so I could buy one of his custom made longboard skateboards. Bill and I used to work together at El Gaucho many years ago and have stayed in touch ever since. About seven years ago he decided to leave the food and beverage industry to follow his dream of building the highest quality longboards out of exotic woods and top quality components. In addition to building longboards, he also builds the nicest cutting boards I’ve ever seen. His company, Erickson Longboards, has received a lot of local attention, and his cutting boards were recently featured in the New York Times! I’ve been wanting one of his boards for several years, so I decided to use part of my fitness reimbursement allowance from Microsoft to finally purchase one. I ended up getting a beautiful board made from quartersawn White Oak with white wheels. Not surprisingly I was thrilled to get home and ride it all afternoon, but I was still able to get my chores (garage cleanup, quick Costco run, and fertilize the yard) done as well.

This evening we had a nice surf and turf salad made from leftover filet mignon, halibut, and fried oysters while catching up on the Spurs – Clippers game. Tomorrow night should be a lot of fun for me since I’m meeting my Godfather Pete and my great friend Michael Don Rico for dinner at Il Terrazzo Carmine’s. We did a dinner like this last year and had a blast, so we were long overdue for round two. Tuesday, of course, is Jessica’s birthday, so that is definitely something to look forward to. Hopefully we’ll be going out to dinner that night, but if not we will certainly be going out next weekend when Uncle Joel and Aunt Melanie come to town. I’ve given Jessica a couple options for her birthday present (which always seems like the safest approach to me) so hopefully it won’t be long before we can go pick something out. We should also be getting her wedding band soon. We had to custom order it so it’s taking a little longer than expected, but its certainly well worth the wait.

In addition to all this family fun, I was also able to get some work done this week in terms of web development side projects. Several years ago when I was first getting back into web development I built a website for my friend Dave Talbott, who is an amazing artist in San Diego. About once a year he contacts me with requests for updates to his site, so while I was recently working on one for him I decided that I wanted to rebuild the site. I wasn’t very happy with the quality of the code I had written back then, and it has my name on it, so I decided to spend several days on the bus rebuilding it. Although the finished product looks very similar to the old version, there are some subtle differences that take it to a whole new level. In particular, this new site is mobile friendly, and the gallery pages are a huge upgrade to the previous version. Check it out at www.DavidRussellTalbott.com.

As usual we’ve got a lot to look forward to in the near future, but I’m just glad that Grandpa Rick had such a nice time seeing his daughter and grandchildren for the first time since baby Enzo was born. It’s hard to believe he’s already about to turn 3 months old! Here’s a few photos from Grandpa’s visit.

Grandpa and his girls
Grandpa and his girls

Grandpa reading ‘Dragons Love Tacos’ (their favorite book) to the girls
Grandpa reading ‘Dragons Love Tacos’ (their favorite book) to the girls

Putting the finishing touches on the sandbox. See how the cover folds up into bench seating on both ends of the box? Pretty cool…
Putting the finishing touches on the sandbox. See how the cover folds up into bench seating on both ends of the box? Pretty cool…

Elise sporting another amazing outfit
Elise sporting another amazing outfit

Mommy after getting her hair cut
Mommy after getting her hair cut

Homemade Pizza, Birthday Parties, and more Yard Work

With the beautiful weather on our side, we’ve been enjoying another great weekend. We started things off Friday night by having our friend Laurel over for a sleepover and homemade pizza party. It’s been a few years since I’ve made pizza from scratch, so it was fun to do that again. I did my best to put on a show for the girls by tossing and spinning the dough up in the air; they seemed to get a kick out of it. More importantly, the pizza turned out really good and we all had a nice dinner together.

Saturday morning I took Ava to soccer class and I can say with confidence that it was her best class yet. This was her sixth week of soccer and the improvement she has made during this time is very noticeable. She’s doing great with her dribbling (aka ‘little kicks’), and her shots (aka ‘big kicks’) have been really impressive. They did a drill this week where there was an 8 foot tunnel setup about 8-10 feet from the goal. The objective was for the kid to kick the ball straight through the tunnel and into the net. Considering that it was nearly a 20 foot shot, it was really tough for most of the kids; in fact, most of them couldn’t even kick the ball through the tunnel, let alone hard enough to get it all the way to the goal. Most of the time the ball would be stuck in the tunnel and the kid would have to crawl through it to retrieve their ball before taking it over to the goal for a little shot.

Ava didn’t have a problem with this drill at all. The coach set up her ball in front of the tunnel and she kicked it so hard and so straight that it went rocketing through the tunnel right into the back of the net. I think only three kids were able to do this and she was the only girl. I was really impressed. In true Ava fashion, she still crawled through the tunnel though, just like all the other kids did.

I know I come off as a proud parent when describing this, and of course I am, but I honestly wouldn’t give her a bunch of false praises if she didn’t deserve them. In general I don’t agree with the entitlement culture that many modern-day parents are inadvertently creating, but Ava is doing really well with this. Ultimately all that matters is that she is engaged and having fun, but the fact that she has natural talent makes it even better. I would never force her into any activity, but I hope she continues with soccer. She definitely has a lot of potential and I love seeing her have so much fun.

After soccer I got back to work in the backyard on the dog run I started last week. In order to avoid making the same mistake I made before, I stopped by the hardware store and purchased a couple five gallon buckets. This way I was able to leave the yard waste bin in its usual location in our driveway and just fill the buckets with grass and sod. It resulted in several trips back and forth with filled buckets, and those buckets aren’t exactly light, but it was nowhere near the trouble we had last weekend. I wasn’t able to dig out the entire area because I eventually ran out of space in the yard waste bin, but I’m getting close. I expect to be done digging next weekend; then it will be time to move onto the next phase of the project.

I spoke to my Mom about it and got some good advice; I was originally planning on putting a tarp down and then spreading gravel over it, but she had a great point, which is that the tarp won’t allow any liquid to pass through, meaning every time Bella pee’s out there, it’s just going to sit there on the tarp and create a nasty odor. Her recommendation was to use something called ‘weed cloth’, which serves the same purpose as the tarp (not letting weeds grow through the gravel), but it’s made of a mesh-like substance that will allow liquid to pass through. Thanks Mom.

In addition to digging out the dog run, I’m also going to dig out a path from our back patio to the dog run and fill it in with paver stones. This way we will be able to take Bella back there without worrying about getting our feet/shoes grassy or muddy and then tracking all that stuff back into the house. We also want to expand the size of our back patio by lining it with big paver stones. The goal is to have a functional backyard that the kids can play in, and that we can use for gatherings. Right now that isn’t possible because of Bella, but it won’t be that way for long.

Once I’m done working on the backyard I’m going to shift my focus to the front yard, and particularly to the driveway. If you’ve been to our house you know that we have a long narrow driveway that curves towards our garage. Backing the van out of there while avoiding my car isn’t easy, and what often ends up happening is someone backs into our front yard and starts kicking up a bunch of grass and mud. Consequently the ground directly adjacent to our driveway is extremely soft and difficult to maintain.

Although I’m not 100% decided on what to do, the idea I’m currently leaning towards is to dig out about three feet of grass all the way down our entire driveway. Then I want to hire someone to come in and pour concrete in there to fill it all in, effectively widening our driveway by three feet. It’s important that I get someone who knows what they’re doing because the new concrete needs to match the exposed rock style of our existing driveway. Once the concrete has settled I want to build a little stone wall about two feet high all the way along the driveway. I think this will look really nice and give it some separation from the front yard. I just want to run that idea by a few people to make sure its a good one before breaking ground. I’m totally willing to do most of the work myself, but I need someone with lots of concrete experience for that phase of the project. There’s no way I’d be able to do that part of the job at a professional level.

After finishing my yard work and watching a little playoff basketball, the five of us headed south for a birthday party at the house of our friends Jamie and Melissa. Their daughter Ellie is turning two, and just like her party last year, we all had a really fun time. I met a guy who has been working at Microsoft for nine years and we ended up hanging out and talking for quite a while. We exchanged contact information and made plans to meetup for lunch sometime soon. It’s nice to meet someone with that much experience and tenure at Microsoft, and the fact that we have mutual friends in common makes it even better. The rest of the evening was spent watching the Mariners game, eating leftover pizza, and just chilling.

Today has been gorgeous out all day so I got the girls outside early to enjoy the weather. I set up cones and goals just like they do at soccer class and let Ava do a bunch of drills. Once again she did great and had a lot of fun. Unfortunately Enzo has been out of sorts all day, including a fever and several spit-ups. Since it’s so nice out we thought it would be fun to take the kids for a walk around the neighborhood. We hadn’t had our Radio Flyer wagon out since last Summer so we decided to throw the girls in there and head out. Enzo was strapped to Jessica and quickly fell asleep, and the girls initially loved riding in the wagon. Unfortunately that didn’t last for long.

About half-way through our walk the girls decided they wanted out of the wagon, which was fine. The problem was they both wanted to pull the empty wagon and had a hard time cooperating with each other. Eventually Elise got back in the wagon and let Ava pull her for a while, which was awfully cute, but Ava has a hard time walking in a straight line and Elise was nearly dumped over the curb into the street a few different times. After a while we put Ava back in the wagon and she threw a fit. She didn’t want to be in there and ended up screaming and crying all the way back to the house; so even though our intentions were pure, we ended up with a meltdown on our hands. I’m sure all of our neighbors loved hearing Ava screaming on a Sunday morning as we headed home.

We’re spending the rest of the day relaxing around the house. I’m probably going to take the girls back outside to play some more in a bit, then we’ve got our usual Sunday night bath routine to look forward to. Grandpa Rick will be arriving from Iowa on Wednesday, so that should be a lot of fun, then Uncle Joel and Aunt Melanie will be here right after he leaves. Shortly after that Nana will be out for a visit as well. Lots to look forward to in the near future. Here’s a couple recent pics.

He's a cool little dude
He’s a cool little dude

The beginning of our Sunday morning walk
The beginning of our Sunday morning walk

Tossing pizza dough for the girls
Tossing pizza dough for the girls

Friends, Food, and Yard Work

As the title suggests, its been a good weekend filled with good friends, good food, and a bit of yard work sprinkled in. Friday night Jessica and the kids picked me up from work, the the five of us headed out to West Seattle to the home of our good friends Leon, Jodi, and their son Miles. It was only a few weeks ago that they came to our house for dinner, so this time it was our turn to go and visit them. I was immediately struck by the gorgeous view of the water and found myself gazing up endless ferries throughout the night crossing the Puget Sound toward Vashon Island.

The kids all had a blast playing together, and of course Jessica and I always love spending time with Leon and Jodi. They are some of our absolute favorite people in the world and I always look forward to hanging out with them. Like myself, Leon is the cook in his house, and he certainly didn’t disappoint with dinner. We enjoyed barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and salad, then we finished things off with angel food cake topped with macerated berries, homemade whip cream, and vanilla ice cream. Definitely a nice way to start off our weekend!

Saturday morning I took Ava to soccer practice, and all I can say is that it was a tale of two halves. There was an obstacle course set up for the kids to dribble their soccer balls through, and for the first half of class Ava was the front-runner. She lead the whole team and was doing amazing. The at the halfway point she flipped a switch and told me that she was tired and that her stomach was “making hungry noises.” This was due to the fact that we got off to a late start in the morning and didn’t have time to eat breakfast before soccer. I was planning on making breakfast when we got home, but not eating didn’t fare well for her, and she basically disengaged at that point. It’s all right though; lesson learned. No more soccer without having breakfast first.

Later that morning I decided to get to work on the dog run. If you don’t know the backstory, last summer we fenced off the north side of our house so Bella could have a dog run, however it didn’t work out because Bella kept digging under the fence to get out. She has never had a digging problem before this, but apparently old dogs can learn new tricks. Since then we’ve had to keep Bella out of the dog run, ironically, and the whole area has turned into a disaster. That side of the house doesn’t get any sunshine, so its just turned into a bunch of moss and weeds.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to fix this area and I’ve finally come up with a plan. I started off by using the weed whacker to tear up everything back there. Once I ran completely out of wire (leaving my weed whacker useless) I decided it was time to start digging. I wheeled our huge yard waste bin back there, grabbed my shovel, and got to it. My plan was to dig everything up until the yard waste bin was filled. I knew I wouldn’t be able to dig up the entire area, but my goal was to finish half of it. By the time the bin was about 90% full I was exhausted. My arms felt like noodles, there were blisters on my hands, and my back muscles were as tight as an undersized wetsuit. The worst part, however, was yet to come. Although I have filled that yard waste bin with grass plenty of times, I completely underestimated how heavy it would be when filled with dirt. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it weighed at least 500 pounds. To make matters worse, the ground in our backyard is very soft, meaning the bin had already sunk a couple inches.

I put all my strength into it and it barely budged. I pulled and pulled to the point where my elbow started hurting and I was concerned that if I kept pulling I might dislocate it. I changed my form, got down deep and used my legs as much as possible, and then finally I was able to wheel it from the north side of the house out of the dog run over to the barbeque. I knew there was no way I could get it all the way to the driveway by myself, so I came to Jessica to ask for help. With her help we were able to get it to the south side of the house, but then we ran into our next obstacle, which was getting it through the narrow passage along the fence.

There wasn’t enough room for two of us to pull it through, so I was on my own again. The ground over there is ridiculously soft, so the damn thing started sinking again. Jessica went around to the other side with a shovel and did her best to prop the wheel out of there, but I just couldn’t pull the thing over the paver stones. Luckily my next door neighbor saw what was going on and came over to lend a hand. With his help we were finally able to get the bin up onto the driveway, and I learned a valuable lesson. Next week, when I’m digging up more ground over there, I’m going to use a big bucket, and every time I fill that bucket I’ll take it over to the driveway and empty it into the yard waste bin. It may involve more walking, but should be much less exhausting in the long run.

Once I’m done digging up all the grass I’m going to rake it smooth and spray Round Up all over the place in order to kill everything. Next I’m going to put down a black tarp, then fill in the entire area with gravel. Having the tarp there will prevent weeds and plants from growing through. Finally, I’m going to line the entire base of the fence with paver stones. This will make it look nice, and will prevent Bella from digging her way out (I hope). If this doesn’t work I don’t know what I’m going to do.. Could be the end of Bella 😉

Not surprisingly I was exhausted for the rest of the day and ended up falling asleep on the couch while watching The Masters. I woke up an hour later with my head covered in stickers. Obviously the girls decided to take advantage of my exhaustion by sticker-bombing me, but I was out so cold I never noticed a thing.

Later that evening our friend Laurel and her boyfriend Mark came over to our house for dinner. We had a great time visiting with them, and dinner turned out nice as well. We had salad, then I made a Shrimp Scampi pasta with tomatoes, capers, mushrooms, onion, garlic, bell peppers, and goat cheese. We washed it all down with white wine and champagne. It was a great night for all.

Today we’re going to relax at home and watch the final round of The Masters for most of the day, but we’ll be leaving slightly before it finishes because we’ve been invited to a barbeque at the house of one of my new coworkers. He and I have become friends in my short time there so I’m excited to get our families together. I know the invitation was extended to several of my teammates so hopefully a bunch of them will show up. Should be a nice way to finish off the weekend.

It won’t be long before Grandpa Rick arrives for his visit, then immediately after that Uncle Joel and Aunt Melanie will be here. Definitely a lot to look forward to, but for now here are some recent photos of the kids, including some from the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt last Sunday.

Ava being told she can’t eat any more Easter candy
Ava being told she can’t eat any more Easter candy

The girls in their new Elsa dresses
The girls in their new Elsa dresses

Our Fifth Anniversary

Today Jessica and I celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. Actually, to be more specific, today is our anniversary, but tomorrow night will be the celebration. More on that coming shortly. When I think about this being our five-year anniversary my natural reaction is to say “Wow I can’t believe it’s already been five years,” but when I stop and think about all the major life experiences we’ve had between now and then, it’s actually hard to believe that its only been five years. To drive that point home, here is a list, in chronological order, of all the major life experiences we have experienced together during our first five years of marriage:

  • Got married (04/03/2010)
  • Moved from Seattle to San Diego (05/2010)
  • I changed careers from bartending to software development (10/2011)
  • Ava was born (11/25/2011)
  • I enrolled in college (01/2012)
  • We moved from San Diego back to Seattle for my contracting job at Amazon (12/2012)
  • I was hired for a full-time position at Amazon as a Web Developer (02/2013)
  • Elise was born (07/14/2013)
  • We bought our first house (06/2014)
  • I graduated from college (06/2014)
  • Enzo was born (01/28/2015)
  • I left my job at Amazon and started at Microsoft as a Software Engineer (03/02/2015)

Needless to say this has been the best five year period of my life. Although Jessica and I certainly have many amazing years and life experiences ahead of us, it’s safe to say that we will never have a more momentous five year stretch than we did to start our marriage. How could we? The birth of our three children alone would have secured that for us, but when you add in all the rest, the case is closed. That being said, I’m ready for things to slow down a bit, however I think the joke’s on us because it’s doubtful that anything will be slowing down anytime soon. As the kids continue to grow we seem to find ourselves becoming busier and busier all the time. I wouldn’t have it any other way though.

So now the question becomes, how do we celebrate such an amazing five years? Well nothing we can do would come anywhere near signifying all that we’ve been through, so simply going shopping, then out to dinner, then catching a Sounders soccer game will have to suffice.

A few years ago Jessica made the comment that she would really like a diamond band to go with her wedding ring. To give a little back story, the ring I picked out for her (on television none the less) has two bands that fuse into one, and I remember the salesperson at the jewelry store saying that you didn’t really need a separate band with this ring, due to its design. When I presented Jessica with the ring she was thrilled and didn’t care about a band, but down the road she decided that it would be nice to have one. She wasn’t in any hurry to get it, but at that moment I decided that I’d get her a nice band for a special occasion. Well, this is that special occasion, so the first thing we’re going to do tomorrow afternoon when we head out is visit the same jewelry store I got the ring from and pick out a nice band to match it. She has waited much longer than necessary and I’m so excited to get it for her. She more than deserves it, and I love the symbolism of giving it to her for our fifth anniversary.

After that we’re going to walk from the jewelry store, which is in Belltown, down to Pioneer Square for dinner. I’m not exactly sure where we’re going to eat but we’ve talked about Il Terrazzo Carmine’s, which is one of our favorite restaurants in Seattle. It also happens to be where we had dinner for my bachelor party. Regardless of where we eat I know it will be great. No matter what we won’t have to deal with small children climbing all over us, or holding a baby with one hand while eating with the other. Eating out has always been one of our favorite things to do together, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.

After dinner we will walk over to Century Link field to see the Seattle Sounders game. I’ve only been to one Sounders game before this, and this will be Jessica’s first. Surprisingly enough we haven’t been to that many sporting events together. Up until now we’ve been to a few Padres games, an SDSU basketball game, and one Mariners game. That’s it. We tend to go to concerts more than anything, but there weren’t any good shows in town this weekend, so the soccer game seemed like our best bet. The last game I went to was a blast, so I have no doubt this will be the same. It’s a completely different vibe with a much more international feel than you’d get at most other sporting events. I’m just hoping for decent weather. This will be our first time away from Enzo, but we’re not worried. Everything will be fine, and we both very much deserve a night out together. I’m really looking forward to it.

I read an excellent book on the bus this week that I would encourage anyone to read. It’s called ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch. Last week I read a book on the bus called ‘The Council of Dads’ by Bruce Feiler, which was about a guy with young twin girls who finds out he has bone cancer. He assembles the Council of Dads as his ‘replacement’ should he not be around to raise them. It was a good book, and I’m glad I read it, but it wasn’t great (I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads). My plan after finishing that book was to switch back to another rockstar biography, but at the last moment I had a change of heart and decided to read ‘The Last Lecture.’

I must admit that I knew nothing about this book when selecting it. It had been recommended to me by my tattoo artist in San Diego (of all people) several years ago, and although he told me the premise of the book during one of our sessions, I was in too much pain to remember any of it. All I remembered was the title, so there it went onto my ‘to-read’ list, and there it has sat for over four years. Since I had a copy of it on my kindle, and I could see that it was a very short book that would only take me a couple days on the bus to read, I decided on a whim to read it.

I hadn’t gotten more than one paragraph into the book before I realized that the premise of this book was almost identical to that of the last book I read. Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University (the best computer science school in the U.S.) who was married with three kids, the oldest of whom was 5. He contracted a terminal case of pancreatic cancer and was only given six months to live. At that time, Carnegie Mellon was doing a popular series of lectures by various professors called ‘The Last Lecture.’ They were named that because they were the last lecture of the semester for a particular course, and were generally meant to be a little less academic and a little more inspiring. Well, Pausch knew his time was limited, so he decided to take that concept to another level, and literally give his last lecture, which was titled ‘Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’

I can only say that the book was absolutely outstanding. Certainly one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s a bit emotional, and I must admit that tears came to my eyes several times while reading it, but I’m so glad I did. From my perspective, whenever Randy mentions his wife and kids, I end up picturing Jessica, Ava, Elise and Enzo. We he talks about his kids growing up without their father, I can’t help but think about losing my own father at a young age, so there was a very personal connection there. The lecture he gives, and the subsequent book he writes, were his way of passing a bit of himself on for his family to hang onto. I couldn’t help but make the connection between what the lecture and book meant to him, with what this blog means to me. Considering that all the memories I have of my Dad are from my childhood, I have a deep fear that my kids will somehow end up going through that same experience. This website helps alleviate that fear by ensuring that my kids will know more about their Dad than I did about mine, for better or worse.

When I told Jessica about the book while making dinner one night this week she said “Wow you’ve been reading some sad books lately,” and on the surface I know it looks that way, but my response was that the book wasn’t sad, it was inspiring. There were so many life lessons in this book I can’t even begin to explain it. Just do yourself a favor and read it. You won’t hear this kind of recommendation from me often, but I promise it will be worth the 3-4 hours you invest in it.

Although I’m eager to get into another book on my bus trips, I’m going to pause for a few weeks to focus on studying some new programming languages we’re using at Microsoft. I love reading, but I actually really enjoy studying as well. I know that’s weird to most people, but I love the experience of gaining knowledge, and I must admit that I’m riding a wave of inspiration caused by reading Pausch’s book.

Speaking of riding the connector bus, yesterday was the first time in just over three weeks that I actually drove my car to work. In that time I had only put 50 miles on it, so the benefits of the bus are crystal clear. I drove to work because I had a dentist appointment at 5:00 and there was no bus schedule that would get me there on time. I actually had a funny experience at the dentist that I’m still thinking about this morning.

I was at the dentist to get four fillings on my lower molars. When the dentist greeted me I noticed that he didn’t have an assistant with him, which was unusual. He later commented on this by saying that his assistant called in sick today and he was working solo. Before he got started he asked me “When was the last time you took a nice vacation? I’m not talking about a trip to visit family, I mean a nice, relaxing, tropical vacation.” I had to think about it for a minute, but I told him it was the cruise Jessica and I took with my Mom’s company to Mexico. That was the only tropical vacation we’ve ever been on, but it was a ton of fun, and I even got to hang out with my all-time favorite baseball player Orel Hershiser. I told him a bit about the trip, and even specifically said “it brings back good memories,” but in the back of my mind I was wondering why he was asking me this. We chatted about cruises for another couple minutes, then he got to work.

He told me that the cavities I had were very small and wouldn’t require much drilling, so he was going to get started. I responded by asking “without novocaine?” He said “I don’t think you’ll need it, but if you feel any discomfort just raise your right hand and I’ll stop immediately.” Instantly I realized what his angle was on asking me about my last tropical vacation. He was trying to put me in a calming state of mind because he knew that he wasn’t going to numb my mouth for the drilling, and he also knew that I would probably be a bit anxious about that. Call it a sort of mini hypnotism if you will. I had to silently applaud him (since he was working in my mouth) for the mental trickery he had just played on me. I wondered how many times he had done this to other patients, and I also wondered how many other patients caught onto what he was doing.

As I sat there in the dentist chair I realized that the entire experience isn’t all that different from sitting in a tattoo chair, and considering that I’ve spent about 24 hours of my life in tattoo chairs, enduring the worst pain I’ve ever felt, I knew this would be no big deal. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so regardless of my dentist’s hypnotic intentions, I knew my own experiences of dealing with pain without moving would serve me well.

As it turned out, I hardly felt a thing and was actually relieved that he didn’t numb my mouth because I was hungry and looking forward to having dinner when I got home. More than anything it was a funny experience at the dentist (which doesn’t come around often) that I won’t soon forget. All that being said, had he struck a nerve in my mouth I would have been more than happy to raise my right hand and get the shot.

So, back to our anniversary. Here we are with our first five-year stretch complete, ready to begin our second. We’ve seen many of our friend’s relationships fail, or at least face significant trouble, but we’ve been one of the lucky ones. Jessica and I talk about this often, and we usually attribute it to the fact that we both came close to getting married when we were too young, but luckily we didn’t follow through with it and ended up waiting several years until we were truly ready. By waiting until we were older we were both so much more in tune with what we were looking for and what was important to us. Should one of our children come to us with the idea of getting married at a young age, I hope they will learn from our experiences and not rush into anything. I would tell them that marriage is one of those things that is much easier to get into than it is to get out of, so please don’t be in any hurry. There are too many life experiences you deserve to have before getting married. Hopefully you will each take your time and end up finding a person that compliments you as well as your mother compliments me.

Jessica, as I said at the beginning of this post, this has been the best five years of my life. Thank you for being the amazing wife and mother that you are. Thank you for your sensibility, for your responsibility, for your ability to stay calm in strife, and for you willingness to accommodate my ridiculous fascination and devotion to hobbies like playing guitar. You’ll never know how much I appreciate the way you not just let me, but encourage me to be myself, at all costs (both literally and figuratively). Here’s to many more good years and anniversaries, to countless good times as well as our fair share of tough ones. Our family means the world to me and I’m so grateful to be able to share our lives together. All my love.