Saturday, January 28, 2012

Charlie's First FanFest

After a little work at FanFest, Charlie and Kim made their way to Safeco Field and took in the sights and sounds of the wonderful event. Charlie got to go "behind the scenes" and met a lot of players, including Casper Wells, Jesus Montero, Danny Hultzen, Vinnie Catricala, Mike Carp, Brandon League and manager Eric Wedge. He was all smiles, even though it was pretty chilly!

Charlie's first press conference
Charlie taking in the sights of Safeco Field.
A day at work with Dad!
Charlie with the Charlie Brown statue in Eric Wedge's office.
Charlie finally fits in his Mariners hoodie!
Hanging in the dugout.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Checking Back In

Well, it has been a little bit since my last blog post, so I figured I would check back in with the digital world. For those keeping track, and I am sure there are not many, we finally did get power back after about 80 hours in the dark. I am thankful to my in-laws for hosting us for two nights, and the built-in delicious meals were a bonus!

Charlie is ready for Spring Training.

Work has been crazy busy lately (media guide, media day, radio interviews, FanFest, etc.), and I've been knee-deep in getting our department blog up and running. If you have time, check out The Voice of the Mariners. The MLB blog network uses Wordpress, which is a little different and a little more complicated at first than Blogger, but I got the hang of it pretty fast. It has been fun to work on something I've been pitching for a while, and it has created a new energy for me at work. Our goal is not to break news, but to drive our own content through social media, and so far it is working. In just over a week, we've had over 25,000 visits to the blog! I look forward to creating new content for the blog, and finding new ways for fans and media to follow the Mariners.

After the massive power outage, I feel like we are finally back to normal at the house, catching up on laundry, dishes and cleaning alike. My running routine has taken a massive hit this week, but I'll make up for it in the coming weeks. I am looking forward to getting back into half-marathon shape during spring training!

And now the most important part, an updated picture of my little man. Charlie seems to grow each day. During the work week I get to play with him in the morning, but when I get home from work he is winding down for the evening. I love reading him books at night and seeing him smile in the bath.

Charlie with his life-size spoon. More meatloaf Mom!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Storm Chaos

As most people know, since it has been on the local news 24/7, and even made national news, the Puget Sound area was hit pretty hard by a winter storm. Actually, whenever there is an inch of the white stuff, it is considered a winter storm, so this was pretty legit when it comes to storms.

We registered about 5 inches of snow at our house on Wednesday, but that as followed by about a half-inch of ice on Thursday, followed by another 2 inches of snow. Kind of like a snow-ice-snow sandwich. As I write this on Sunday morning, we are going on our 73rd hour without power (and my bet is we won't get power back until at least Monday). We have since packed up and head North to my in-laws, which has taken most of the stress of. And it has been a stressful week.

I won't go into too many gory details, but I do have a bit of a rant to share. It mostly involves our public transportation system and the communications system they have set up. Before I get into that, I want to say that I am a huge fan of public transportation, and use King County Metro (and sometimes Sound Transit) whenever I can to traverse the 16 miles to work each day. But like most things, especially in my business of public relations, I truly believe that you show your worth when you are faced with the biggest challenges. And in my mind, our public transportation system has a long ways to go to be above par in this level.

I'll start with Tuesday (Jan. 17), which was the first day after the Martin Luther King holiday. We had a light dusting of snow through the night, but during commute hours it turned to slush and the roads were bare and wet. I attempted to catch the 190 route at the normal time of 190, but was about 15 minutes early figuring they would be off schedule a bit. I waited, and waited, and waited...and no bus came. Not for an hour, and decided to drive into work with what was probably my easiest commute in the last two months. I never could figure out why the last two 190's never showed up, but that was just the start of my METRO nightmares.

Wednesday was a pretty easy day, and no rants. My work was closed, and we spent the day looking at 4 inches of beautiful snow. We even got to take Charlie outside so he could experience his first snow.

And then there was Thursday, the day that I will deem my version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I certainly did my best John Candy-Steve Martin impersonation. My plan was to catch an early bus outside our neighborhood (route 152). I walked the 1/2 mile to the stop...and waited about 30 minutes before I tweeted Metro asking if this route was operating. They graciously answered right back, telling me to call into Metro's operation center, which I somehow got through to, and they said the 152 was canceled. Determined to make it into work, I started the mile-or-so walk to the freeway station to catch the 190. About halfway there, trudging through a nice ice/snow mixture that makes walking fun, a 152 bus blows by me. You can only imagine the words that came out of my mouth!

Once I reached the freeway station, a lot of buses showed up, but no 190's. So I tried to outsmart the system, taking a Sound Transit 574 to the airport, and then catching LINK Light Rail into downtown. In theory, and on most days, this would have been a solid alternative, but not with my luck. I reached the airport really easily, almost too easily, and jumped right onto a train, but only one problem, that train was not moving. And it didn't move...for a long time. In fact, in 1 hour, 15 minutes, it moved 5 feet, and after those 5 feet and 1 hour, 15 minutes, I decided it just wasn't my day and I was heading home. I caught a 574 back to the 272nd freeway station, and then walked home. It was almost a blessing in disguise not getting into work, because it sounds like getting home may have been even more of a challenge.

I know there were a lot of challenges with the weather, and I fully expected to have delays, and I prepared for that. What I am most frustrated with is the communication play they have setup and the overall lack of information that is available. Here is my main point behind this rant. King County and the news stations stress the importance of staying off the roads for safety, and utilizing public transportation. But, when you can't rely on the public transportation system, what are you to do?

I know King County Metro has a funding problem, and there is probably no perfect solution, but just having a communication plan that points you to a website (where updates aren't even accurate) or an over-crowded call center is a start. Do they invest in a GPS system that is easy to track if your bus route is actually on the road? Do they improve the One Bus Away app that is available when routes are running normally?

So, that is my rant. And this is not just a one-time problem. I think I am 0-for-my-last-6 when it comes to using public transportation during winter weather. But I'll still keep my faith in public transportation and continue to use it as much as possible. But I really hope they get their act together when faced with their biggest challenges!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Charlie's First Snow

Charlie got his first taste of a little snow today, and didn't seem to mind the cold weather. Can't wait until we get to take him up to the mountains, and hopefully he'll want to learn how to ski.

Charlie's first snow experience.

Charlie and Kim in the snow.

At this point, Charlie was ready to head back inside to get warm.

Wednesday Snow Day

Well, the first snow day of the winter hit us today, with nearly 5 inches at our house before 9 a.m. There is something about waking up and seeing a blanket of the white stuff out your window that I can't really explain. Maybe it was the excitement when I was a kid, knowing there would be no school and we could go sledding. Along with nearly every school district in the area closed, my work also closed its doors. I am sure I'll get out in the white stuff at some point today, but I've got a lot of work to do to get this media guide done, so Pandora is fired up and the "home office" is in full effect.

Our house covered in a little over 4 inches of snow this morning.

For the record, I predicted 5 inches of snow by this morning, so almost there.

Not much activity in the neighborhood this morning.

Bath Time

After about 5 months of despising bath time, Mr. Charlie is one happy camper in the water. It is now part of his night-time routine.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chef Jeff: Chicken Enchilada Soup

I told Kim I would handle dinner on Saturday, and I found a recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup that was super simple (even for this guy) and was very tasty! The best part is I have wanted to use our crock-pot for a long time, and this was the perfect time to make a soup on a cold winter day (with snow in the forecast).

My wife has been great about creating a stockpile of items we use a lot (black beans, chicken, corn, etc), so this was the perfect recipe. We had never used chipotle chili's in adobo sauce, so it was fun to try something new. We also opted not to use avocados as they are a bit pricey this time of year. The chicken we had was more than the recipe called for, so I ended up adding 4 cups of chicken stock (instead of 3) and used most of a 15 ounce can of tomato (instead of 8 oz). I also added a bit more of the chili sauce than the recipe called for.

Here is the recipe I used:

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  •  15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, for topping
  • 3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • fat free sour cream (optional)


Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Pour into crock pot.

To the crockpot, add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir. Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.

Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste. Serve in bowls and top with fat free sour cream, cheese, scallions and cilantro.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Our PEPS Group

So, last night, we had our last "official" PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) meeting, a journey that started with a meeting of strangers back in September. For those that don't know, and I had no idea what it was when I was dragged to the first meeting, PEPS is kind of like for new parents (sort of at least).

When we first signed up, Kim told me we were joining a group of parents that will meet every Thursday night. I didn't know what to really expect, but I trusted my wife and was open to anything that would help us learn about becoming better parents. Little did I know how much fun, and how educational, this process has been.

I don't remember the exact date, but I remember walking into a strangers house and all of a sudden you were sharing some very personal stuff with them. It didn't take long to start laughing with each other and realize, these people were in exactly the same boat you were, and a bond was formed. From Mike's funny jokes, to Crystal's humor, to the leadership of Sarah, and of course the idea by myself to introduce some adult cocktails into the meetings, Thursday night's all of a sudden became a night I looked forward to.

I'll never forget when we first started going to the meetings, Kim told me a story about one of her co-workers. The co-worker and her husband had a long day, and they too were in a PEPS group. They had  long day of work and were on their way to a meeting, with a crying baby, and the Mom suggested they just call it a night and not attend the meeting. The Dad said, no way, we are making this meeting! At the time, I kind of laughed at the story, but three months later, I found myself in the same shoes. We were on our way to the last "official" meeting, Charlie was whaling in the back seat, and Kim suggested we just turn around. I was hell-bent on making the meeting, convincing myself once we got there Charlie would see his buddies Emerson, Mason, Jared, Ella, Lucy, Avery and Clark, and he would be back to normal. And I knew once I saw our friends, everything would be better.

It is funny how one group can make a difference. I've been able to learn from other Dads, learn how amazing Mom's truly are in all different capacities and be able to share so many great memories in a short period of time. We've shared stories about kids not sleeping, rashes, teething, and just about everything else. Heck, we even had a fun time sharing how all the parents met and proposed! And the great thing is, we'll continue to spend time together as a group. We've already formed a plan meet bi-monthly, and I assume we'll see each other even more than that. I have images in my mind of many birthday's in the future spending time with these kids and families, and that warms my heart.

And there is the best part of all. The group is pretty much running a half-marathon together. My most recent count has 8 of the adults running the Portland Half-Marathon in October. We (hopefully) plan on renting a house for a few nights and running the race together.

It has been an awesome experience becoming a Dad, seeing Charlie grow nearly everyday and just having the feeling of being in a Family, but being part of this group has made things even better. So, thanks to all of you guys/gals, and we look forward to many great times in the future!

The PEPS Group

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Welcoming 2012

As the calendar turned from 2011 to 2012, a lot of people immediately proclaim new an exciting resolutions. I like to wait a little while to put mine on paper, and when I do, I make sure to use pencil. A New Years resolution is more of something I want to work on, not something where if I don't accomplish it will make it a failure. Here are some things that I look forward to accomplishing in 2012:

1. Spend as much time as possible with my favorite two people (Kim & Charlie)!

What better way to ring in the New Year than with these two!

2. Run another half-marathon (already signed up for the Portland Half-Marathon in October). Part of this will be to keep a regular training routine with shorter runs during lunch at work, and longer training runs during the weekend.

3. Eat healthy (portions, portions, portions!)

4. No wasted days (you only live once, right?)

5. Stop and smell the roses (work can get pretty stressful during the season, but there is always time to stop, take a deep breath, and realize that everything will get done).

6. Be more patient (always a work in progress for me).

7. Continue to learn about becoming a better husband and a better father.

8. Put more importance on all the good things I have going on in my life, and don't put too much energy into worrying about what I don't have.

[Editors Note...the following have been added since writing my original resolutions]

9. Go for at least one long hike this summer.

10. Go camping.

11. Take Charlie and Kim to Pullman for a Cougar football game.

12. Continue to explore the Washington Craft Beer scene (safely and moderately of course).

13. Work on my posture!

14. Visit family and friends in Yakima...and taste hops and grapes!

There are a lot more things I look forward to in 2012. I would like to take the rust off my golf swing (and clubs), finish rehabilitating the fence in our backyard, continue to spend quality time with our new friends in the PEPS Group and work on some projects at my parents house to help them out a little more.

We are only 8 days into the new year, and I already feel great about what is ahead of me. Happy New Year!