Happy Holidays –

Another year has passed – [another December of dusting off the ol' HTML skills]

Seemed especially difficult this year in terms of our Holiday Card, as we try to avoid negative and overtly political themes. 2018 was a nasty year on every side all over, so our pool was thinner than years past. And, in the annual tradition, I re-learn some HTML to get the site in order for a few visitors. This year, I have been working on the photos section behind the scenes. We have migrated all of our photos to Amazon photos – free, unlimited, uncompressed. We pay for Prime … why not use it beyond the shipping? On that note, make sure you are also using Music and Video if you are Prime Member.

Seems we’ve kind of settled into the new house – there are fewer boxes in the house and more time was spent this year in ‘making it our own’. But we still have misc spots of crap that we either need to get rid of or get organized/put up.
We pulled the flooring in the casita and had it tiled. When Tina was pregnant with Elyce back in 2003, I was taking woodworking classes at Oregon College of Arts & Craft. But once Elyce was born, I stopped. Now that I have more time away from diapers and more space, I’m able to dabble a little more into it. Got some more wood-working hardware this year, and put much to use. Built floating shelves for TV wall in casita and built built-ins for my office. Tina was pretty pumped for the results and we are now starting to think a little bigger in terms of projects for the main house.

Elyce was a Sophomore this year at Cleveland High, Gavin in 7th at Mountain View Middle. Still trying to figure out where they got the ‘good grade gene’ from … we’re fortunate. We realize and greatly appreciate that.
With the basketball hoop and casita gaming area, Gavin’s friends hang out here more and more. Every day there’s a new face at the door. He is nearby and is having fun – we love that.

Elyce continues her ways as a bibliophile. Love that, too. It is fun to hang out with her and go to the bookstore on the weekends. She has become much more mature in terms of her interest in philosophy, politics, and social events.

For Spring Break we drove up to Durango, Colorado to go snowboarding at Purgatory. It was the kids’ first time. Tina and I had been together way back when we lived in the NW, but that was her last time going. She took the kids through the beginner classes, giving me some time to go to the top and get a few runs in. It was the last week of the season, so it was a bit slushy; however, it was fun to do as a family. The first day can be rough – and we did see some tears from the kids. Hoping they can look beyond that and want to go more regularly.

We were able to take our Mt Rushmore/Yellowstone trip this year (we had postponed the year prior due to the new house). We set off at the end of June driving up through CO, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. The idea of 40 hours of driving, when we were in the planning stages, seemed rough. No matter if you broke it down to 5 days or extended to 8, it was still a lot of driving each day. But in the end, it wasn’t bad at all. A few reasons for that:


It was pretty awesome as far as scenery, though. Northern CO, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah, etc. Very long stretches of road, but we had fun. We stayed in hotels through most of the journey; however, camping seemed the fit when were in Yellowstone. No regrets on that at all – it was amazing!

With a drive like this (long expanses, remote areas of the country), hotels (um … I have a lot of points from my work travel) became fewer and less modern as the drive got closer to west-Wyoming (Yellowstone camping). Our final stay prior to hitting Yellowstone was in Cody, Wyoming. I thought we could use AirBnB for that night – but Cody spots were limited. While perusing the selection, we came across a log cabin on the outskirts of town. Pictures looked good – made it happen.
Fast-forward 3 nights into the trip, and we arrived after a long drive (probably the most desolate leg of the journey – through upper-mid Wyoming) into Cody. Turns out the photography on the cabin was very well done. In other words, actual was not as necessarily sold.

The toilet in this cabin was not a flush toilet – poopers where obligated to use Cedar Chips in the effort of camaflouge the stench of deposit. Close-quarter lodging with cedar-chip poop smell just didn’t sound like a situation I wanted to experience. I didn’t use it – saved up for the next flush stop. I don’t think I was alone that night in that thinking.

Work? Still great – I love my job and haven’t felt this in a very long time. Yes, the retail landscape has been a challenge, but PetSmart is doing well. My area opened 5 new stores this year - growth is good. Company culture is outstanding and I’m very proud to be a part of that. PetSmart takes care of their people. Again – haven’t felt that since very early on in my career and kind of forgot how that felt. I continue to wake each day very happy to be a part of this and also feel appreciated and respected for the effort.

A few projects in the casita this year - built some built-in shelving in my office and some floating shelves in the tv area. We also removed all of the flooring in the entire casita, tiled, painted. Further, got a little bold with wiring and ran some 10baseT for blazing speeds, as well as some lighting in the shelving.

Near the pull-point for cutting the cords when it comes to home entertainment. We have used streaming for years, but I’ve been reluctant to cancel DirecTV simply because of sports. Did quite a bit of research over the summer and we now have our options at the ready. But I kind of wanted to also ensure we had a strong network to support prior to unplugging, as well. We upgraded to 1gig speeds over the summer, and recently I installed an Eero Mesh network (awesome, by the way). Next, we are ensuring all TVs, devices, etc are in the right homes with right connections (building the hardware network – upgrading as necessary). I have been wiring the casita where my office is and the home during off-time. Even doing some electrical work (new plugs). Of course, have also been fine-tuning the automation devices as well. At last count, we have 39 devices on the network.

Boom. Gavin finally cut his hair this year ... Lucy was a very frightening witch for Halloween The Three Amigos Lucy still has her nails done at the PetSmart Groomery ...
One more year for Elyce's Big 16. Ugh. Gavin wanted a skateboard for his 13th. Making it happen. Cruising the San Diego Bay for work dinner.

We do hope you have a solid '19, and as always - drop a line if you're bored.

Cheers -