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“The Ghost Ship” & “The Bizarro Super Powers… by Sidney_Tucker

This morning, looking out the window, I saw the tree starting to have little white flowers … a harbinger of spring, so to speak. And while the cold rain is still falling and we’re planning on going skiing again next week, it’s obvious that we are on the way out of winter.

So many things have been going on keeping us busy! Here is a brief update, in lieu of regular posts. But of course, those are found easily enough on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve signed up to assistant coach both Eric Anthony’s and Anya’s baseball and softball teams. William decided not to do tee-ball again this year … we’ll see if he wants to play next year. I get it … it can be a boring sport when you’re so little. He did great playing soccer, which was faster-paced and pretty simple. Run after the ball, don’t touch it with your hands, and get the ball into the net. They all played soccer this past season.

I am also now part of a local writers’ group – Magnolia Chapter One. We just put together a website (Thanks Raven!) and are meeting monthly, reviewing our writing projects and getting valuable feedback. I’ve been continuing to write my book, and have been loving the experience of researching the period in which it’s set. I’m also really lucky to have such a fantastic editor “in-house” so to speak. Emi has had great feedback, and is a huge help in getting the most out of the text.

Work has been going well for Emi, too … we are so glad we came to Seattle! She really likes the practice, and has been making lots of great relationships in the hospitals where she works. She just ran the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon, and has signed up for two more half marathons this year.

The kids are doing well. Eric Anthony and Anya have their first communion in May, and William will have his next year. They’ve all been doing Sunday School (lots of coloring pictures about what they see in church and hear about from Bible stories). I updated the website for Our Lady of Fatima parish, and have been talking with Father Phil about setting up a podcast for him to record and publish his homilies.

We’ve been taking advantage of living up here and have taken the kids skiing a few times this winter at Stevens Pass. We’ve all taken lessons, and the kids are already skiing the “blue runs” (intermediate level).

I’ve been doing a few contracting projects for work, which has been nice to continue as I’ve been writing. I put together and have been maintaining the website for Mortgage Compliance Magazine, and recently wrote an article featuring S.A. Ibrahim, the CEO of Radian. I’ve known S.A. since our days with GreenPoint, and it was nice to reconnect with him.

We’re excited that baseball is back, and have gone in on season tickets for the Mariners with some of Emi’s partners. Can’t wait to get back to the ballpark!

It’s also nice to have Emi’s parents living up here nearby. It’s so nice for the kids to be around their grandparents.

Other recent projects … I’ve done some other websites and design projects, including:

I’ve been helping my friends Tamura, Monica and Darnell from The Feminist Wire, and they’ve been doing a tremendous effort and getting great results on their website.

We’ve been continuing to work with the kids on music, and recently purchased two ukuleles … Eric Anthony has taken to it and has been making great advances. I walked by him practicing the other day and heard this great little picking pattern he came up with. Their new teacher is terrific, and thinks they’re ready to pick up the guitar again soon.

Let’s see, what else … I’ve been volunteering with a couple of local groups. I’m the registrar on the board for Magnolia Little League, and also doing communications on the board for the Catharine Blaine K-8 PTA, doing the weekly newsletter and email broadcasts.

So there we go! A quick update on life here in the beautiful pacific northwest. Long story short, we’re loving Seattle, and life is great. 🙂

I just realized I haven’t posted here for a long time! Here is a brief update on what’s been happening with me over the past few months …

  • I won the election for president.
  • I won Powerball.
  • I defeated the Taliban.
  • I won America’s Next Top Chef
  • I achieved Nirvana

OK, not exactly. But here’s a little update …

  • Eric Anthony and William are playing baseball! I am coaching Eric Anthony’s team (The Discovery Wellness Sluggers – a great little team of 8- and 9-year-olds) and I’m assistant coaching William’s KOM Consulting Green Machine tee-ball team.
  • Eric Anthony has been growing by leaps and bounds. Last night he tried his hand at catching!gunnar-EA
  • I kept up my quest to lose 15 pounds. I’m stuck at 10. But hey, it’s better than sitting around and eating Snickers.
  • I’m getting ready to go fishing on Thursday for trout at American Lake near Tacoma. I love Springtime!
  • My writing continues …
  • Emi has been having a lot of fun organizing and using our new Silhouette Cameo cutter and color printer. We’ve been labeling everything. Seriously, everything. My keyboard is now labeled. I’m surprised she hasn’t labeled my pants yet. (I hope she doesn’t read this and get the idea.)
  • We went in with Emi’s work group on Mariners season tickets … looking forward to opening day!
  • I’ve been working on a new affiliate site and have been getting some decent organic traffic. www.OfficialLicensed.com
  • Eric Anthony, Anya and William participated in their school’s Variety Show, and did a fantastic speed-reading version of John “Mighty Mouth” Moschitta’s Robin Hood. It was a riot!
  • Anya’s dance recital is coming soon … she’s been doing ballet and tap. My little beauty. 🙂
  • Anya and Eric Anthony are both taking weekly guitar lessons. The latest song … El Condor Pasa. Their instructor, James, is terrific!

More soon!

******************

OK, Anya just read the post. She came up to me and taped this to my leg. So yes, now my pants are labeled, too.

Eric Souza Pants

 

It was never a question of being too heavy when I was young. I was always riding my bike, running around the neighborhood, swimming, playing ball and doing other typical calorie-churning kid things.

As I’ve gotten older, my lifestyle isn’t nearly as active. I work at a desk. I’m no longer the fit little kid. I’m the dad that sometimes has a hard time keeping up with the energy of his three active little ones. And that’s gotten me a little frustrated.

A few years ago, when my wife, Emi, had our first child, I realized I needed to make a change, so I started paying more attention to how much I was eating. I started exercising more. I dropped a lot of weight and I felt great.

But here we are again. Years have passed and the weight has come back on. My eating discipline has slackened, and quite frankly, it’s been years since I’ve been to a gym.

So here it is … by writing this, I am publicly challenging myself to get fit again. Without getting into too many specifics, I am setting a public goal of dropping 15 pounds by the end of the year. That’s about eight weeks. If I can lose two pounds a week, that’ll do it, and I can reevaluate and set new goals. But one step at a time.

This year, we moved to Seattle. It’s one of the fittest cities in the U.S., and offers all sorts of opportunities for physical activity. Emi is an avid runner, and has been urging me to come for runs with her, but I always had found excuses not to. Aside from the fact that I’ve never really enjoyed running (another excuse), I didn’t really want to. Emi Ponce de Souza, Magnolia Running, Puget Sound Jogging

No more excuses. I went and bought a pair of running shoes. I set up new running playlists. And for the past two days, I’ve gone for runs with Emi.

The point wasn’t to try to keep up with her (she’s a couple of weeks away from running a 13.1-mile half marathon). It was to push myself and to get back out there. To do something for my body. Yes, she ran circles around me. Yes, I felt it in every part of my body. My lungs were stinging. My hips and groin were a little sore. I practically crawled back to the house today. But I feel good about it.

We ran along Magnolia Blvd., a gorgeous stretch along the Puget Sound, with views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains to the west of the Sound. Late autumn yellow leaves swirled and covered the sidewalk for a stretch near Discovery Park. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Here are some things I’ll be doing over the next couple of months to drop some weight:

  • If I have a couple of cups of coffee a day, I can drink it black and lose the sugar.
  • There are tons of great microbreweries in Seattle. I’m going to limit myself and just have a couple of beers a week.
  • Keep notes on what I’m eating. We don’t do junk food in this house, and rarely eat out, so it’ll really be a focus on portions.
  • Maintain activity. I want to go for a run three times a week. If more, great, but at least that.

That seems like a good start. Look out for updates!

I tried sending this on Twitter for @BastardMachine, but it wouldn’t let me … click image to see it as animated GIF (and yes, I know it’s not 1998).

Nate Silver Crowd Surfing at Obama Victory

Thursday, November 4, 2010. A gorgeous morning in Hondo, TX – one of those that reminds us of the oncoming winter. LiveOak Forks Ranch, Live Oak Forks Ranch, Hondo TX Hunting

At six in the morning, I arrived at LiveOak Forks Ranch, entered through the gate and parked at the barn, as owner Marion Pringle had instructed. I texted Mr. Pringle, a retired NASA engineer, to let him know I had arrived, and stepped out to take in the beautiful morning. The stars were exploding. A thumbnail moon sat atop the trees on the horizon, with the dark side standing out beautifully and clearly. There was barely a breeze.

I heard his truck in the distance, but then I heard something more disconcerting … his two dogs were racing straight at me from down the gravel road.

Not knowing these sprinting dogs, I quickly weighed my options. As they got closer, I firmly called, “Hey you guys, be nice. Nice.” And thankfully, they were very sweet and loving. One was a chocolate lab named Rowdy, and the other, a stocky older girl whose name I missed.

After getting some love from Rowdy, Mr. Pringle showed up in his Chevy truck. We made sure we had everything prepared (rifles, waiver, corn and a sack breakfast prepared by Mrs. Pringle).

We set off in his truck through the 470 acres of fields.

He explained that the ranch is set up in multiple zones, and that wild turkeys will sometimes scare the deer away. Also, any hogs were to be considered a nuisance and to be shot if possible.

I hoped this wouldn’t happen … this was the first day that I would be hunting at LiveOak Forks Ranch, and I was hoping to get a deer in the morning and be home in time to pick up my second-grade son from school. A hog would be great, but it would significantly reduce the likelihood of my taking a deer that morning. Mr. Pringle said it would be best for his program to take one of the culls and a doe from the herd. My hunt was expected to be for more than one day, which took away some pressure. And the dates were flexible, since I live nearly and we could arrange that.

We laced through the oak trees and over dry creek beds, slowly pouring out corn before he pulled into a perfectly-trimmed parking spot, carved into the foliage.

A brisk, quiet walk brought us to the blind.  It was still dark. A meteor flashed overhead shortly before we got there. It was set on the south side of a long stretch of field. From where we sat, the thick creek bed of Live Oak Creek gave us trees about 50 yards in front of us; and the meadow stretched endlessly in either direction. We had markers set at 100 yards to our left and right. It was like being set on the sidelines at the 50-yard line of some extremely long stadium.

After some nice whispering conversation, I realized the increasing light allowed me to distinguish between the trees and the brush line. It was still pretty dark, though.

Scanning the meadow, about 75-80 yards away along the treeline, there seemed to be a large black mass (would probably be the 20-yard-line to the right, if using the 50-yard-line description). We pulled out the binoculars and saw there were four hogs, silently chomping away at the corn we had poured out. I was surprised how stealthily they had come in … I’d expected hogs to be noisier.

The blood was starting to pump as Mr. Pringle suggested we try to do a “Two-Fer” — each of us would try to get a hog at the same time, on the count of three.

I lined up the decent-sized porker on the right, barely able to see his outline. However, Mr. Pringle’s scope on his “critter rifle” wasn’t cooperating, so we decided to give it a few minutes to get more light, and give it a try if they were still there. But after about five minutes, they started mulling around, and then sunk back into the brush along the creek.

I turned to my left and saw a tremendous Axis buck striding across the meadow at about 200 yards away. Flashes of white ran down his side and the light shined off his big rack. He seemed to be on a mission, though, and continued his steady pace away from us. Then a doe. A quick glimpse of another doe, and a large buck in the distance. Another doe to the left. And finally, my cull buck stepped out.

At first we didn’t know if he was an eight or not. We looked through the binoculars as carefully as possible, and both decided he looked like a large 6-pointer.Hondo TX Hunting Ranch, Texas Cull Buck, Texas Whitetail Hunting, Hunting in Hondo, TX

I lined up through the right window of the blind, and immediately found him, walking around and grazing.  Safety off. I focused on my breathing … but I could hear myself rasp a lot stronger than I wanted to. The adrenaline was pumping. Nice, easy breaths, come on … wait for his right foot to step forward for the perfect shot … THERE … stay …

… squeeze …

The .30-06 had a decent kick, and smoke filled my view as the rifle surprised me with its blast. I knew it was a good shot, and as soon as the smoke cleared, I saw him on the ground where he had stood. No kick. No jump. No pirouette. Just knocked straight down. My heart was thumping in my chest and in my head.

We waited about 15 minutes before stepping out of the blind, during which time Mr. Pringle shared a story which convinced me that it is indeed best to wait to make sure the animal is dead before approaching it. Besides – an extra 15 minutes in the blind … there are worse ways to spend my time.  He was a nice 7-pointer who could have been considered an 8 if his top left tine had been another quarter-inch.

An adrenaline-filled way to enjoy a crisp fall morning.

I am so incredibly proud of my oldest son, Eric Anthony. Tonight at a Mariners baseball game, he showed me how mature – and how good – a young man he is becoming.

We arrived two hours before the game so he could try to get autographs. This is something I enjoyed doing when I was little, and now that he is interested in baseball, he’s started getting into this as well.

He particularly wanted to get a signature on a ball from 21-year-old Angels phenom Mike Trout (this year’s likely American League MVP and Rookie of the Year). As soon as we entered the stadium, we saw Trout signing for some kids next to their dugout. Eric Anthony hurried down, but just as he got to the railing, he was crowded out of the way by some aggressive adults, trying to get to Trout first. Trout saw what was happening and left quickly to take batting practice.

We stayed by the field and the crowd thinned. He got signatures from catcher Chris Iannetta and hitting coach Jim Eppard. Other players passed by but didn’t stop to sign, and Eric Anthony was getting a little discouraged, but we decided we’d stay down as long as we were allowed. The usher was very nice, and she advised us she would “look the other way” as long as she could.

And finally, just before the National Anthem, Trout popped his head out of the dugout and started signing again for some kids at the other end of the dugout.

Eric Anthony hurried over to him, and a minute later ran back to me excitedly, saying he got his autograph! He looked at the ball … only to find it there was nothing on it.

His ball had been accidentally handed to another boy, also about 9 and wearing a Mike Trout jersey. Eric Anthony had been given back the boy’s blank baseball by the usher, who had been helping coordinate.

So Eric Anthony went to the boy and explained what happened, much to the child’s dismay. After explaining it to his father, the boy gave Eric Anthony back his ball. The father put his arm around the boy and told his son that they would try again another time.

Eric Anthony looked at his ball. For two hours he had tried to get it signed and had finally succeeded in getting his treasure …

… and he held it out to the other boy and said “Here, you can have this one.”

At first the boy said he couldn’t take the ball, but Eric Anthony reassured him that it was OK, and the boy absolutely lit up. His father was extremely grateful to Eric Anthony, and offered to buy us dinner, but that wasn’t the point … Eric Anthony saw how much it meant to the other boy. He saw how happy the boy was when he had gotten the autograph, and how sad when he realized it wasn’t on his ball.

And so Eric Anthony gave away the ball. It meant so much to the other boy (and to the father). I was so proud of him. And honestly, I think that blank baseball is an even better treasure than it ever could have been with the autographs on it.

It has been a whirlwind summer! Since I haven’t written any posts for a while, I suppose I should do a brief recap of the past couple of months …

At the end of June, we packed up and said goodbye to the great city of San Antonio, and headed west. We took our time and stopped at Disneyland and in the Bay Area, as well as in Arcata, CA, where I went to college. Then we drove up to Seattle, where we moved into a beautiful home in the Magnolia neighborhood.

Emi started her new job as a neonatologist with Pediatrix Medical Group, and has been loving her new practice.We had sold her old Minivan in San Antonio, and bought her a new red Prius. A great little car!

It’s been a beautiful couple of months, and we’ve explored a lot of the Seattle metro area. What a difference, being able to spend summer days outside. San Antonio has a lot of great things, but the kids have never known a mild summer.

I think we’ve visited every park in Seattle! The kids have all caught their first fish (big fat rainbow trout – Eric Anthony caught three, Anya hooked two and William got one) and I’ve pulled in four big King salmon doing some combat fishing on the Skokomish River. We’ve seen old friends, made new friends and have been enjoying a more social life than we’ve had in years!

We’ve been to Mariners games, waterfalls, lavender fields and the mountains. We’ve seen bald eagles, ospreys, harbor seals and otters. We’ve made pies from the raspberries and rhubarb in our garden. And almost every night, we’ve sat on our balcony overlooking the Puget Sound, often enjoying the sun set over the olympic mountains to the west.

Eric Anthony finished reading the Harry Potter series last week, and is eager to start the fourth grade. He misses his friends in San Antonio, and is looking forward to making new ones here. Anya has been reading a lot as well, and is planning her 7th birthday party – an “Alice in Wonderland” theme – in October at the Seattle Children’s Museum. She’s ready for first grade. And William is about to start Kindergarten! He turned five in July, and is as energetic and happy as ever. That kid will have no problems if he keeps this mix of positivity and courageousness throughout life.

Tito and Tita were able to visit last month, and Tita will be coming out again this weekend for a week. We’ll all be going to Philadelphia in late November for Tio Charlie’s wedding – very exciting for him and Maria Victoria! The kids keep saying “We can’t wait until December 1.” We can’t either!

More to follow, but I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t just leave this completely blank. I should be a little more free to post once the kids are back in school and schedules will become a little more established.

I had a blog post a couple of days ago about (wait, am I still on the hour count? We’re at 81 now) some of the reasons we’ll miss living in San Antonio. If we wanted to make it all about family, we could easily do that, but this is more about things that I will remember from this time in my life.

So, I will now continue with Part Deux (shameless Hot Shots! movie plug) of Things I’ll Miss About San Antonio

The Walkway

In 2007, my in-laws finally moved up from Mexico City. Carlos and Yolanda are great people, and I’m glad I have them as in-laws. With our third baby on the way, we were determined to get them to the U.S. Yolanda (who had been given the name “Tita” in recent years) will soon be taking her citizenship exam, as will Emi when we move to Seattle.

So when we finally were able to arrange this for them, the house next door to us became available from an elderly woman moving into a nursing home. So Yolanda and Carlos started renting the house, and then eventually purchased it. Within weeks, the house was transformed. It became theirs. And Carlos made a walkway / lawn path with concrete steps. For five years, it’s been a physical and symbolic link between the houses. The kids love that little pathway, and have worn it out with trips to Tita and Tito’s house. And when the kids get in there, they INVADE. Out come the toys: big, small, noisy, tall … and they all will get packed tomorrow. My guess is that’ll happen at about #hourcount 69.

The walkway will now serve more as a divider for sections of their lawn. It’ll probably never see the same attention as it’s received these past five years.

The Medical Center

When the babies were little, we didn’t want Mommy to go a day without seeing them. So that presented a logistical challenge, since Emi would sometimes be on call at the hospital multiple nights over a rotation throughout Med School, Residency and into Fellowship. So some days we would coordinate a window of time when we could visit mommy.

When she was in medical school, this sometimes included trips to a small park just outside the hospital. It was a great space for the kids to run around and play with us during the breaks Emi had from her grueling schedule. And med school was just the tip of the iceberg. Residency took grueling to a new level. Some people may complain about working too hard, but let me be frank: watching my wife go through 10 years of postgraduate training to get to this point, working 80-hour weeks (sometimes more) with 30-hour call nights, especially dealing with the stress of what goes on in intensive care settings of a hospital … I have seen what hard work is. Ladies and gentlemen, my wife. I am so freaking proud of her that she got this amazing job in an amazing city. Nine days until we’re in Seattle.

Emi Last Day in Medical Center, UTHSCSAMany of those nights were a quick kiss and cuddle but we tried our best to spend some time with mommy.

The Medical Center has obviously been a central place for Emi, but the kids and I will have lots of memories there. And while UH, UTHSCSA and Santa Rosa all have their unique memories, the things that happened at Methodist Hospital (three times) are the best things I will take from the Medical Center.

“About” San Antonio

I’ve already set the precedent for this piece in the first part of this post. I don’t mind expanding this list to towns and cities within easy driving distance from San Antonio. So I wanted to include mention of local towns and spots around town that we found in our regular daytrips.

There’s the Pipe Creek Christmas Tree Farm The University of Texas at Austin  … Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop in Austin … the Gristmill in Gruene … Poteet Strawberry Festival … Love Creek Apple Orchard and The Great Hill Country Pumpkin Patch AGS Cake Supplies … New Braunfels Children’s Museum (McKenna Children’s Museum) … Brackenridge Parkthe Zoo … the Witte MuseumSan Antonio Missions games with Ballapeño and Henry the Puffy Taco …

 The Teachers

Throughout the years, each of our kids have had amazing experiences with different teachers. We had the kids go through Rainbow Station Learning Center from 6 months until they got to Kindergarten. This was a great establishment (highly recommended) and we trusted them with our children for six consecutive years. When Eric Anthony was less than a year, we took him to a different facility with a teacher, Natalie, that we still fondly remember. Since then, he’s been lucky enough to have great public school teachers as well at Scobee Elementary. We give SO MUCH credit to Kathleen Gorsche, the Scobee principal who was a great advocate for the kids, and whom we always trusted did everything she could for the benefit of the kids.

Eric Anthony will start 4th grade at Blaine Elementary when we get to Seattle. Anya will go into first grade. She excelled with Ms. Cisneros, as did Eric Anthony. Donna D’Angelo was especially sweet as their GT teacher, and even brought Eric Anthony a complete set of World Book Encyclopedias (a development which enthralled him) to take home.

William will enter Kindergarten, but had great care of the Rainbow Station teachers, from Amanda in Gold Room to Ms. Tonya in the Satellite infant room. Tonya quickly found that as an infant, William was making rhythms. He was enthralled by making music and drumming.

At Rainbow Station, we also loved infant room’s Mrs. Anna Ihle, who every day would have “salon time” with Anya and would do her little tufts of hair into ponytails. Anna was sort of like my Yoda for helping me do something with Anya’s hair. There is no try. There is only hairdo.

And Last But Not Least …

How to wrap this up? I think what I will most take from Texas is not a specific memory of a time or place. But I will remember it as the time I learned how to be a husband and a father. I learned to work on my own and to be successful out of the gates. During these 11 years in Texas, we strengthened and developed. I will remember buying a home. Being let go. Adapting to the responsibilities that come with so many lives. I learned that I need to keep on learning and improving. Except for my Guacamole. That’s beyond improvement.

SO! There we go. There are 10 things that I will truly miss and want to remember about our ten years in San Antonio. Next stop Seattle … the journey begins soon. #hourcount 80

 

The kids love Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully are a couple of their favorite characters, and at Disneyland they love the ride (and get gleefully excited about what Ros might say to them at the end of it).

And now, the countdown begins for … Monsters University.

The images and trailer are from Yahoo! Movies.

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