Monday, March 16, 2015

Training Wheels

It's fitting that today I put the first set of training wheels on Alli's bicycle and tomorrow I start my new job.

I've had the last few days off (technically being unemployed) in between quitting The MIL Corporation and starting my new job at Good Done Great. I was able to get a few things done around the house and get a few errands handled that required me to not be working while everyone else was (i.e. - DMV for the golf cart permit and Social Security Administration office to get a replacement card mailed to me). The kids got to sleep in a little bit each day and lounge around in the mornings instead of having to run out the door before traffic gets bad, so they got a nice bonus out of the deal.

On Friday of last week, Mommy B found a bicycle that someone was selling online for cheap and we thought it was just Alli's size. The weather was gorgeous all weekend so naturally all Alli wanted to do was ride it. However, it didn't have training wheels on it which meant Dad-E had to hold the back to keep it upright while Alli tried to learn to pedal and steer. Needless to say, my back is killing me and Alli probably got more frustrated with me having to try and keep up with her. Regardless, she wanted to get back at it and go further and further each time we went out. I promised her that the first thing I would do on Monday after I dropped them off at school would be to purchase and attach training wheels on her bike so she could ride by herself. Given how smart she is, I think she knew what that meant... freedom!

So sure enough, after dropping them off at school this morning I went to Target and purchased one of the last sets of training wheels they had. I came home and put them on her bike, greased up the chain and other moving parts, and made sure that everything else was in good working order. I picked them both up from school and told Alli that I had a surprise waiting for her at home. I'm pretty sure she knew what it was, but she was still over the moon excited to see her bike with a shiny set of training wheels on it when we pulled into the driveway.

We strapped up her helmet and helped her navigate out to the street, then it was off to the races... and she didn't look back. Well, except to see if we were still watching her. I had a feeling over the weekend - she was trying SO hard to get the bike to go on her own, I just knew that the minute those training wheels were on, she was going to be gone. And boy, was I right. She rode that thing all the way through the neighborhood, with Mommy B close behind. Now all she needs to learn is how to stop.

And here I am, about to embark on a new journey, a new chapter in my life... just like Alli did today. Riding a bicycle by yourself is a huge milestone, almost like walking as an infant or getting your driver's license as a teenager. It can be a scary world out there, especially when you are starting something new for the first time. I know that I'm going to need some help from my new colleagues as I begin to navigate the unknown streets of tech startups... and I have feeling it'll be much like having training wheels on myself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


As I mentioned back in January, Mommy B and I are planning on taking more frequent, "smaller" trips this year so that we can include the kiddos and not break the bank. Well, we took our first one this past weekend... only the kids weren't invited. Don't worry, we have plenty of fun planned for them in the coming months. We decided to book a one-night stay in Savannah, Georgia with my younger sister (Aunt Bacon) and her boyfriend Gentry. The two of them have only been dating for a few months so we wanted to take the opportunity to get to know him a little better while taking a short break from real life. And the fact that I have a new job waiting in the wings gave us all the more reason to celebrate.

Saturday morning rolled around and I decided it would be in everyone's best interest to take the kids to SkyZone - or as they call it, "the jumpy place" - to get some energy out before turning them over to my parents for the rest of the day and night. So I packed them up in the car and took them to the indoor trampoline park while Mommy B did our weekly grocery run and packed an overnight bag for the kiddos. The kids loved jumping around with each other and with some of the other kids - but they mostly just ran around as fast as they could without tripping and falling. After everyone was good and tired, we headed home just in time to meet Tatsy at our house who then scooped up the kids and took them over to their house.

For the first time in a long time, the house was eerily quiet without any kids around yet both of us still there. I'm sure the dog was very confused. Once Bacon and Gentry showed up, we piled into her car and headed down the coast. The car ride was filled with good conversation and plenty of laughs - a staple in our family.

We arrived to clouds and some rain with the temperature hovering right around 50 in Savannah. We checked into our hotel room and immediately went searching for late lunch - food, another staple in our family. We basically walked into the first bar/grill we could find and ordered some adult beverages right away. While our food was being prepared, we loosely mapped out our evening's festivities. We had signed up for a haunted pub-crawl that began at 8pm, so we had about five hours to kill beforehand. The consensus was to walk around for a bit right after lunch then head back to the hotel to take it easy for a little bit before we ventured out for the evening. After a mediocre lunch of bar food and a somewhat rude server (he was basically running this dive bar by himself on a Saturday), we walked down River Street and took in a few of the shops and ordered some drinks to go. For anyone that hasn't been to Savannah, "to go" means the bartender will pour your drink into a plastic cup that you can then walk around the streets with. Kind of like Las Vegas, minus the casinos... and desert. We made our way back to the hotel and crashed on the beds for a bit to rest up for the evening's events. But it basically turned into a grown-up giggle-fest. We all took turns trading jokes and making each other laugh - even though Mommy B and Bacon were trying their darnedest to take short naps. This even included Gentry playing a song on his phone from inside the bathroom. Welcome to the family.

I decided that a nap wasn't going to happen, so I got up and started getting ready. Eventually the rest of the group joined me while I played music and sipped a Red Bull. Before we left Charleston and knowing about Savannah's open-container laws, Mommy B had stopped at Walmart and purchased four plastic "yard" cups with shamrocks on the bottom for us to use that evening. At first, I gave her a hard time because I thought everyone was going to make fun of us for celebrating St. Patrick's Day too early... little did I know that those cups would end up being the joke of the night. We finished getting ready, grabbed our cups and headed out the door. We took a picture by our room number so in the event things got really out of hand, we would at least have visual evidence of what room we were staying in. Lessons learned from Grandma C...

The meeting spot for the pub crawl was only a block away from our hotel, so we decided that we would head out a little early and get some drinks next door. While still in the lobby of the hotel, we were asked by two separate groups where we acquired our St. Patty's Day cups. We laughed off their curiosity and told them they could find them at Walmart for $3 each. On our way out the door, I had an idea - each time someone asked us where we got our cups we should take turns making up the craziest story about where to find them, and at the end of the night we vote on who had the best "fake" story. It was unanimously decided that's how the night would go.

We met up with our pub-crawl group and began our drunken trek around Savannah. The stories the guide told were great, but I really wish we could have actually gone into some of the haunted buildings he spoke to us about. Just standing outside being told about how "haunted" the building was didn't really do it much justice. However, with our large yard cups filled to the brim and plenty of inside jokes to go around, we had a great time. In almost every bar we went into, someone had to ask about our cups. We would tell them that we found them in this off-the-map, hole in the wall bar called Shenanigans. It was "like 10 blocks over and 3 blocks up... pretty far." We didn't even know if there was a bar in Savannah with that name, but we made it sound legit to everyone who asked. At one point during the pub crawl, a drunk guy walked up to us and interrupted our guide's ghost story to inquire about the cups. Now that we had the group's full attention, I told him the same story we'd told the rest and he bought it without even questioning us. I turned back to the group and told them that I had just completely made up that story, and everyone got a good laugh out of it. Even the tour guide applauded our quick-wit and had the group raise their cups to give us a "Cheers!"

We eventually made our way to the Wild Wings where Gentry was able to meet up with some friends he knew from his home state of South Dakota. As we walked in the door, a woman at a nearby table again inquired about our cups. Gentry blurted out "Shenanigans!" as we walked past her. The woman immediately pulled out her smart phone to access the maps feature and said, "Shenanigans, got it!" We hadn't eaten any dinner yet, so we decided that some late night munchies were in order. As we started plowing through our food, the in-house DJ started playing all our favorite hits from the 90's... all mixed together that had us in an endless nostalgic trance. We took a few videos of ourselves singing along to the songs that we hadn't heard in almost 20 years, yet still somehow remembered the words to. Well, most of the words.

That basically capped off our evening as it was nearing midnight. We tried going up the street to a karaoke bar because we had been promised that Gentry knows how to carry a tune. However, it was crowded with too many other white folks who thought they could sing. So after watching all the moms sing "Let It Go" in unison and about half an hour of waiting, we decided to just head back to the hotel. We made it back safe and sound with all of our belongings, which was a good sign. Once back at the room, we realized that we didn't have any bottled water. So Bacon and Gentry went down to the lobby and returned about 10 minutes later with about 8 bottles of water in their arms. They said, "Well, no one was around at first so we just grabbed these out of an open case that was there. We went to leave money on the counter for them, but then an employee showed up and said, 'You know those are complimentary, right?' So we took our money and came back up. Here ya go." Shenanigans.

We woke up the next morning not that much worse for wear, and treated ourselves to the complimentary breakfast in the lobby. Bacon was amazed to find an automatic pancake maker there, where all she had to do was push a button and a minute later two pancakes plopped out onto a waiting plate. It's the little things in life. After stuffing ourselves, we packed everything up and drove two hours back to Charleston in the rain. The kiddos were napping when we arrived back at the homestead, and Tatsy told us they were so good for them the entire time. We had received a few pictures from her throughout the course of the evening/morning showing us what a good time they were having without us. It's such a good feeling to know that we can both be away from them from time to time and trust they are being well-behaved. The more they are exposed to situations like that, the better off they'll be in the future if we decide to go away for longer periods of time. And of course, a big THANK YOU to my parents who volunteered to watch them for us while we spent some time acting like kids ourselves.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More changes

I'm so sorry for neglecting the blog for an entire month. I promised myself I'd be better at posting updates, but you know how life gets in the way. That's a good problem to have, I guess. Speaking of keeping busy, we basically have at least one thing planned for the next four months. But first, let me get caught up on things.

My parents finally closed on the loan to begin building their dream home. As with most home construction projects, they have already started on the foundation and are quickly working their way up. I was off work for President's Day so I took the kiddos over to the lot to watch the concrete trucks come pour the footers. They loved every minute of it - walking around in their mud boots, watching the big truck pump liquid concrete out into the trenches dug in the ground. We went back about a week later and the workers were already putting up the cinder block foundation. I can't wait to see it all take shape and get completed, I have a feeling it'll really be something special.

I took a half day off from work a couple weeks ago because I had a job interview that afternoon, so Mommy B and I decided to do a little "shopping" for ourselves that morning. The first thing we wanted to do was replace the carpet in our master bedroom. It was the original carpet from when the house was built in 2004, and I know the previous owners had small kids running around on it for all those years too. So I did a little research and we met at Carpet Wholesalers in North Charleston to check things out. Within 30 minutes or so, we were walking out having purchased and scheduled our replacement carpet installation - it was such an easy experience. We walked in, told the guy what we were looking for and compared a couple styles and before we knew it were signing the paperwork. They came to our house a couple days later, moved all the furniture, ripped up the old carpet and padding, put down the new and put everything back the way it was... all within a couple of hours. We knew we had made a good decision when that afternoon I caught Aiden sitting on the floor in our bedroom pulling his shoes and socks off. I asked "What are you doing buddy?" He looked up and said, "I want to feel the soft carpet!" The two of them played in our bedroom in their bare feet for the rest of the evening - it was adorable.

Another stop we decided to make that day was at a couple of golf cart distributors. A neighbor of ours had put theirs up for sale the week before, so we took a test drive to see what it was like. The guy had done some work to it - raised body kit, big tires, speed chip, etc. So it was in pretty decent shape, but when I stomped on the brakes to test them out I became extremely concerned. Let's just say it's a good thing it wasn't at an intersection with oncoming cars. So Mommy B and I decided to shop around and see if we could expect the same type of performance from other used golf carts. We weren't really dead-set on making a purchase that day... just wanted to do some research for if and when that time came.

So we pulled into a place off Highway 17 that we drive by all the time to test things out. Less than an hour later, we had purchased ourselves a 2009 EZ-GO RXV in Mommy B's favorite shade of blue. Once again, it was one of the easiest experiences of my life - we walked in, told the guy what we were looking for and he showed us the carts that matched our criteria. We took one for a test drive and noticed that not only was it plenty fast without any modifications necessary but also stopped on a dime. I was sold. We then went back to the shop where the salesman showed us a few of the add-ons we could have added to the cart before it was delivered. So we had two seat belts and a safety bar installed on the back for the kiddos, as well as two armrests/cupholders on the back as well. They also tossed in a rear view mirror and ensured that the cart we received had brand new batteries. They told us to give them a couple days and they would drop it off at the house... so I spent the rest of the afternoon after my interview cleaning out the garage. The guy called me the next morning and said it was ready. I came home from work that day to our new (to us) golf cart sitting in the garage with the kiddos playing on it... just waiting for me to get home so they could go for their first ride. They have loved every minute of it... especially Aiden, asking me all the time to go on a ride.The weather hasn't been great for the last couple of weeks, so we haven't been able to use it quite as much as we would have liked. But we know the spring and summer will be here soon and will be getting plenty of use out of it going to and from the pool and playground in the neighborhood.

In an effort to help fund these latest "splurges", I've decided to quit my job... and get a new one! That's right folks, after over two and a half years at The MIL Corporation, I've decided to accept an offer at a small software start-up here in Charleston called Good Done Great. Not only will I be making significantly more than I currently am at MIL, but they have also included 3,000 in stock options along with my salary package. This will be a great opportunity for me to bring my Project Management knowledge and experience to a small company that is looking to define their processes and form some kind of structure that they can use for their software implementations. I'm very excited to be joining such a cool company at this stage of the game. I have the opportunity to make a very big impact there and hope that my years of experience will suit their needs well. My last day at MIL will be March 10th, the day before my 31st birthday. I don't start at Good Done Great until March 17th, so it looks like I could be getting more stuff done around the house with a few days off to myself... we'll see what Mommy B had on her project list!