Planning a road trip (move) from St Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

Marti and I have been wanting to move to Portland for many years now and in the recent past, all of the stars aligned and we’ll be picking up and leaving FL early next year. I’ll be moving our belongings and vehicles across the country, so with many months to plan, I want to make sure that if I’m going to travel 3,500 miles, I’m going to make it the most enjoyable and beautiful road trip that I possibly can.

It has been our dream to move to Portland, OR for many years now. We’ve been waiting for the right time when my company was able to accommodate me in our Portland office so that I could stay with my company (whom I enjoy working for) and so that I would have a job waiting for me at the other end.

Sadly in my case, my company isn’t going to pay for the move because it is my preference to move there: they’re not requesting that I move for work reasons, so the financial burden is on me which I understand and accept. It’s just the price that we have to pay to realise our dream of moving out west.

So with that in mind, I now find myself in a position of trying to figure out how to achieve this. It’s quite a logistical operation, especially when you have a wife, two children and four cats. Continue reading “Planning a road trip (move) from St Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”

Another memorable Christmas

It’s been a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas this year. Ellie had her moments where the excitement got the better of her and her behaviour wasn’t up to scratch, but other than that, it’s been really nice spending some time with family, keeping it moderately low-key and playing some games.

Jack’s first Christmas

Ellie’s 3rd Christmas

We spent yesterday making a trip to Ikea getting a new bed frame to go with the new mattress that I got Marti for Christmas which was a lot of fun. While we ate lunch at the cafe (they have a lot of good vegan options!), we got this adorable picture of Jack:

IMG_2406-1

We ended the day by going to Hofbrauhaus in St Pete – a new German restaurant, which is a lot of fun. They have live music, vegan food (surprisingly good) and a lot of singing and dancing. Great end to the day.

My experience at 2015 WordCamp Tampa

This past weekend was WordCamp Tampa which was again a raging success. Despite being underprepared for my talk, it went relatively well and I can’t wait to come back next year.

This past weekend, I attended and spoke at WordCamp Tampa. It was the second WordCamp Tampa and was my third time speaking at a WordCamp (after 2014 WordCamp Tampa and 2013 WordCamp Orlando).

The talks

The sessions were not a letdown this year. I’ve yet to be disappointed by what I learn at WordCamps. Even though I bought a ticket to attend in person, I also purchased a live streaming ticket, so that I could watch the sessions I missed after the event (you get access to the videos for 30 days after the event).

In particular, Shawn Hooper’s talk on using wp-cli (similar to his WordCamp Columbus talk) was fantastic and made me want to start using wp-cli straight away.

My own talk

This year, I submitted a talk on Creating Custom Sites with Post Types, Taxonomies and Meta, which was accepted. I knew for about 6 weeks that I needed to prepare my talk, but could just never muster the time to finish it off. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t finish my slides until 2 hours before the presentation and had no rehearsals. Continue reading “My experience at 2015 WordCamp Tampa”

Don’t fret over a diagnosis of complete praevia

If you get diagnosed with praevia early on in your pregnancy, don’t worry. In the vast majority of cases, it completely resolves itself because the uterus and placenta are magical.

Last August, we found out that we were pregnant with our second child, Jack. To both get a better idea of when we could expect him and to ascertain his gender, we went for an ultrasound in November when we got a firmer due date and confirmation that we were expecting Jack and not “Maggie”.

What we didn’t find out during the exam, but which came later after the doctor had reviewed the ultrasound imagery in the days following the exam, is that Marti had complete praevia (previa – American English).

Praevia is a condition that means the placenta is covering the cervix. For those who need a basic biology lesson, the uterus (womb) contains both the foetus and the placenta which sustains the baby. The two are connected by the umbillical cord and the placenta is attached to the uterine wall, where it passes blood, oxygen and nutrients back and forth between the mother and the baby. Continue reading “Don’t fret over a diagnosis of complete praevia”

Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)

Today I turn 30, so it’s a great time to reflect on what I’ve done, how far I’ve come and what I want to do moving forward

30 years ago today, aside from the first ever episode of the most popular British soap Eastenders airing, I was born.

I absolutely couldn’t care less that I’m 30. I haven’t been dreading this day, nor do I attribute any sort of aging to it, any more so than any other day. However, a “n0” birthday is a milestone that only comes along once a decade so it seems like a perfect time for some reflection.

The last 10 years

Since February 2010 (the last 5 years), quite a number of things have changed in my life. I became a professional engineer, I became a father, I have another child on the way, I started my own business which is now thriving and I moved house 3 times.

In the last 10 years, even more has changed. In February 2005, I was in my second year at university, was single, living with my Mum in the UK and I was working for the NHS. Over the next 5 years, I would meet and fall in love with Marti, graduate from university, become a Christian, move to the States to be with her, get married 60 days later, battle 8 months of being unable to work before getting my green card, a job, my driver’s license, a car and our first apartment in the space of about 4 weeks.

Reflection on who I am

Me in December 2005 - the first time I ever visited Marti
Me in a decidedly emo pose in December 2005 – the first time I ever visited Marti

As I think about the man I am today, where I’ve come from and the boy I used to be, I’ve noticed quite a few specific observations about how I’ve changed in particular and more general observations about how we as humans mature (or don’t).

The first thing is that nothing is given. Not only is nothing guaranteed but you’ll change in ways and do things that you would have never believed, conceived or thought possible. Continue reading “Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)”

2014 WordCamp Tampa recap

2014 WordCamp Tampa was unquestionably a resounding success. I jotted down some of my thoughts, both generic to WordCamps and about this event specifically, as well as noting some the main points I got taught on.

This past weekend was WordCamp Tampa: the first of its kind, and I wanted to jot down a few takeaways, both as an attendee and as a speaker. Continue reading “2014 WordCamp Tampa recap”

My bucket list

My bucket list consists largely of activities and experiences: most notably, travel. I once read (and completely agree) that the gifts people most treasure and recall are ones that involve experiences rather than material possessions. As such, I have shied away from giving material gifts, instead opting for experiential gifts.

It is for this reason that my bucket list also centers around experiences: a whole list of things that I want to do before I die. I really don’t care to own things, but I’d love to experience these things. Continue reading “My bucket list”

My experience on Trial at Automattic

I recently finished my (unsuccessful) Trial at Automattic, but it was such an eye-opening experience, that I wanted to share it with the wider world to show what an incredible company it is to work for, and to see some of what’s behind one of the busiest websites in the world.

Last week, I finished my Trial at Automattic. While I wasn’t successful in my bid to work for a company that I hugely admire, I appreciate the experience and insight that I was able to gain from my few weeks working with them.

How it all began

I’ve been toying with the idea of giving up engineering as my career and moving into web development full-time, as I’m enjoying it a lot more.

My plan had been to do freelancing full-time, but to give up a steady professional salary and benefits for the uncertainty of freelancing is daunting. If someone could pay my salary for 6 months while I build up my workload and client list, I could easily earn well in excess of what I make as a professional engineer. However, I haven’t had any applications for someone willing to do that for me.

So when I read that my friend Dustin Hartzler had recently landed himself a job at Automattic, it turned on a light bulb in my head. I started considering whether I wanted to work for Automattic, and the more I read, the more I wanted to jump right in (I’ll explore the benefits of working for Automattic later). Continue reading “My experience on Trial at Automattic”

Our experience with Katrina Hollon, Holistic Maternity

We were very excited when we first met and hired Katrina as our midwife. She just fit our personality types very well (laid back, sensible, professional, nature-driven) and we knew that it was a good fit.

Well, here we are now, over 7 months later with a baby in our hands, so I thought I’d write a little about our overall experience.

Katrina was wonderful throughout Marti’s pregnancy. She was always gentle, informative, flexible and friendly. No question was ever too stupid, no concern ever too trivial and no need ever unmet. Continue reading “Our experience with Katrina Hollon, Holistic Maternity”

50 things to do before the end of 2013

This is my list of things that I want to do before the end of the year, to better myself, my family, my workplace and the world around me.

I’ve seen several of these lists in the past few years and I’ve always wanted to do one. And now that I have an appropriate place to do one, and the desire to be a better person, I decided it’s time to do one. I realise that the normal time to build this list is at the start of the year, but I’ve only just settled on it, so I’m doing it now.

I’m not sure how this year is going to pan out, because after June, time will be very restricted, because of the birth of our daughter, but I’ll try my best nonetheless.

Personal

  1. Deliver my daughter personally, at home.
  2. Discover more new music.
  3. Eat completely vegan for 30 days straight.
  4. Be more extroverted and work on my people skills.
  5. Take several “tech holidays”, each lasting at least 72 hours.
  6. Buy myself some new clothes and not feel bad about it.
  7. Lose the last 15 pounds.
  8. Stop biting my nails.
  9. Watch a film at a drive-in.
  10. Eat at a food truck.
  11. Try a cuisine I’ve never had before.
  12. Have a guys’ night.
  13. Care less about what other people think of me.
  14. Do more yoga.
  15. Go kayaking.
  16. Do more photography.
  17. Read ‘The Shack’.
  18. Keep blogging here regularly
  19. Go to at least two state parks that I’ve not been to before.
  20. Be less concerned about what others think of me.
  21. Eat less, more often – do better at snacking healthily.
  22. Watch the British GP.
  23. Watch England’s World Cup qualifying matches.
  24. Watch more British TV.
  25. Watch 5 classic films that I’ve never seen before.

Family

  1. Call my siblings once a month.
  2. Speak to my parents more regularly.
  3. Visit home and try and take Marti and our daughter with us.
  4. Spend time alone with my daughter at least once a week.
  5. Take my wife out for some proper dates.
  6. Buy more presents for my wife, for no reason.
  7. Write a letter to my unborn daughter to be opened on her 18th birthday.
  8. Be more present when around other people (leave mobile phone in pocket).
  9. Do more home-cooked meals and less prepared foods.
  10. Have a better NYE than in years past.
  11. Save more.
  12. Take lots of pictures of my daughter.
  13. Create a new family Christmas tradition.
  14. Write a love letter.

Others

  1. Give away at least $1000 on top of my regular tithe.
  2. Do a random act of kindness at least once a fortnight.
  3. Write letters to my best friends.
  4. Buy a scratch card and send it to someone randomly.
  5. Help a stranger.
  6. Tip a waiter/waitress 100%.

Work

  1. Blog more consistently across all my sites.
  2. Go to a WordCamp, or local WordPress meetup.
  3. Leave work at work, but work more at work (less procrastination, more action).
  4. Contribute to the WordPress core.
  5. Try to increase Alexa Rank to 40,000 or better.

Have you ever considered doing a list like this? There’s something about writing it down and checking things off (I’m a list maker) that makes it more like a game, especially as you move beyond the half-way mark and try to to narrow down the final tasks that will complete the list.