Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen:

Continue reading “Becoming an American citizen”

The logistics of a cross-country move in USA

It’s coming up on nearly three years now since our family moved from Florida to Portland, OR. I wish I had written this post a little sooner, but alas, we’ve been out exploring and enjoying our new home!

While this post is mostly about the logistics of a cross-country move, I have a separate post going over the route we took and the places that we saw over here.

Our move was very much a DIY move. We didn’t have any packers, no trucking company, no nothing. We did everything ourselves, and we learned a few things along the way, which I’d like to share with you to help you avoid some of the inconveniences and pitfalls that we hit.

Getting ready to move

Once you know you’re moving, some planning and organising can really help you out and help you to save some money.

We needed to have a good sense of how much this whole thing was going to cost, so we started looking at costs early on. In doing so, some of the bigger expenses were targets for finding savings. The most obvious of these in our case was the moving truck.

Continue reading “The logistics of a cross-country move in USA”

My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

It has long been me and my family’s dream to move to Portland, OR. Earlier this year, that finally happened. This post is about the 4,100 mile road trip that my Dad and I made to get from one corner of the country to the other and all of the places we saw (and avoided) in between.

I wrote another post about how the planning, the move, the driving and the logistics went in a separate post, so if you’re interested in that, you can read on over here. This post is more about the adventure.

Last autumn, me and my family finally got word from my company that the move we had long wanted to make (to Portland, OR) was going to happen.

We set an approximate date and started planning for it. Ultimately, we decided that it made the most sense for me to drive across the country and for Marti to fly.

Continue reading “My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”

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”