Tooth Fairy

Will lost another tooth tonight — his tenth, but still lots of tears and anxiety.

At bedtime (as he settled into Phoebe’s top bunk), he let me know that he really likes the notes that the tooth fairy leaves behind. He said he’s not as interested in the money, but the notes really make him happy.

So the TF gave him $10 for his tenth tooth at age ten.


The Tooth Fairy

The Sleepover

Sometime a little over a year ago, Phoebe started asking to have a sleepover in Will’s bed. We said sure, but only on weekends.

During Christmas break 2018, it started to become an every day occurrence. When school started again, they begged us to let them continue – promising, of course, that they’d go right to sleep.

And sleep they did. Phoebe didn’t sleep a night in her own room, save for a couple of nights when she went to her bed and he followed to sleep in her top bunk. The sleepover streak was alive.

But it was broken a few days before 2020 when Phoebe had an unrelenting fever and cough. As soon as she’s well again, they’ll go back to the sleepovers.

101 Carlsbad Memories

Life is short, life is sweet. Remember the little things.

As we prepare for our move to the east coast, the following moments, memories, and events are listed (mainly for our benefit) in no particular order – but should all be preserved and celebrated as some of the best times of our lives together. Thanks 6337 Paseo Aspada for the memories…

  1. Visiting the ‘tot lot’ a few times during the long escrow period during the winter of 2011-2012
  2. Peacocks in the back yard that started out as a novelty, but ended up as a nuisance
  3. The Rancho Carrillo community pool
  4. Bringing Phoebe home from the hospital
  5. Walking to “school” (Kindercare)
  6. Trick-or-treating
  7. Dancing, lots of dancing
  8. Bad DJs and cliche songs from the weddings / events at Carrillo Ranch
  9. Flippin Pizza (and dance parties)
  10. Playing ball, remote controlled cars, and riding bikes in the cul-de-sac
  11. Two-year-old Will chasing two pre-teen neighbor girls on their bikes yelling, “girls, wait for meeee!”
  12. Long walks with Lilly on the trails around the neighborhood
  13. Shorter walks with a less-than-trained Scout
  14. Hosting Christmas dinners with extended family
  15. Will’s 3rd birthday party at the community clubhouse
  16. Jumping around
  17. Living room dance parties
  18. Trips around the block in the “blue car” (Mustang)
  19. The HGTV backyard remodel
  20. Reading books in the bean bag chair
  21. Miguel’s, Casa de Bandini, Garcia’s, Norte
  22. Breakfast burritos from Roberto’s
  23. Will sleeping on his floor after a failed conversion to a toddler bed
  24. La Costa Coffee Roasting
  25. Trader Joe’s oatmeal, a million trips to Sprouts
  26. Impulse purchases from Costco
  27. Beach days – South Ponto, Carlsbad Village
  28. Night swims
  29. Santa photos at the Carlsbad Outlets & Forum
  30. Phoebe’s First Steps
  31. Phoebe’s Second Birthday party
  32. In-N-Out for easy dinner
  33. Cardiff Crack on the grill
  34. Growing our own tomatoes
  35. Favorite teachers from Kindercare: Ms. Danielle, Ms. Lauren, Ms. April, Ms. Shauna
  36. Date nights down to San Diego and La Jolla
  37. Playing with Will’s train table
  38. Pool time with Joe / Beth and family followed by grilling and dinner
  39. Cruisin’ Grand
  40. Vista Farmer’s Market: strawberries, apples from Smits Orchard, local honey
  41. Driving the 101 for fun
  42. Taking the long way home (101) so the kids could sleep
  43. Sleeping in on Saturdays (just kidding, that never happened)
  44. Day trips to Disneyland & Legoland
  45. Del Mar Horse Races (& more dancing)
  46. Annual passes SD Zoo Safari Park & SD Zoo
  47. Inflatable backyard pool redefining Sunday Funday (pre-drought)
  48. Catching bugs, lizards, and snails
  49. Keeping bugs, lizards, and snails out of the house
  50. Carlsbad Half Marathon
  51. Beach runs
  52. Yard work
  53. Kids Club at 24 Hour Fitness
  54. Driveway movie night
  55. Rich and Diane visiting
  56. Babicka and Dedicek driving from Texas
  57. Visits from Paul, Johnny, Kara & Mike, Ben & Dana
  58. Running the air conditioner in November and February (but not in June)
  59. Strolling Carlsbad Village
  60. Carlsbad Flower Fields
  61. The Great Mouse-capade (“you played field hockey, didn’t you?”)
  62. Spinning vinyl records in the garage
  63. Working on Mom’s ’67 Mustang
  64. Taco Tuesdays
  65. Playing acoustic gigs at the Belching Beaver
  66. Getting a pint (or two) at Pizza Port
  67. Soapy Joe’s Car Wash
  68. Will’s first movie in the theater (Monster’s U) – Edwards Cinemas San Marcos
  69. Will’s second movie in the theater (Big Hero 6) – Edwards Cinemas San Marcos
  70. Games, movies, and Netflix on the iPad
  71. Saturday morning jam sessions
  72. Football Sundays
  73. Karate class in Carlsbad Village
  74. Don’s Country Kitchen
  75. Reading the newspaper on Saturday mornings (sometimes)
  76. CBS Sunday Morning
  77. Binge watching Breaking Bad
  78. Finishing Mad Men (started watching when we lived on Dumas)
  79. Bath time conversations
  80. Finding Nemo, Toy Story (1 and 2), Frozen
  81. Octonauts, Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street
  82. James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl (Babi and Dedi stayed with the kids)
  83. Making movies with the GoPro
  84. Babysitters: Staci, Hannah, Danielle, Paige
  85. Alga Norte park and swimming pool
  86. Stagecoach Park
  87. Mariah’s Westwind for breakfast
  88. Eggs, tortilla, cheese, salsa, repeat
  89. Breakfast for dinner
  90. French toast for the kids
  91. Good times with the Szepes
  92. La Costa Pre-New Year’s Stay-cation
  93. Picnics in the yard
  94. Just another day at the kitchen table
  95. Sleeping with the windows open year round
  96. Great neighbors: Ginger & Mike, MS & Maria, Jose, Mike & Wa, Kevin & Martha, Mike & Tina, Jeannette and her dog Chloe, Travis & Indira, those people who we could never remember their names
  97. Toni & Wayne Kanakaris (who treat us like family)
  98. Playing with Myah, Sean, and the other neighborhood kids
  99. Sean’s dad Mike reminding us how short and precious life is
  100. Every day that we were healthy and happy
  101. Remembering that “Life is rad in Carlsbad”


Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. — John F. Kennedy

It seems fitting that I should find a quote from John F. Kennedy to help explain the change happening in our lives. We’re headed to JFK’s part of the world, after all.

After nearly 17 years in San Diego (8 of those with Danielle), we’ve decided to pack up and move east. We make this announcement with a mix of emotions: excitement, exhilaration, trepidation, sadness, and hope (among others, of course).

Some will ask why we’d ever want to leave sunny San Diego. We’ve worked hard to build our careers here, have a strong network of friends, and now have years of fantastic family memories. Every weekend is like its own little “staycation” with day trips to the beach and all the attractions that this town has to offer.

But a few things are missing. Growing up, both Danielle and I had the privilege of living close to our grandparents. I remember seeing my grandparents at nearly every school function – band concerts, football games, track meets – you name it. They were always present.

More importantly, nearly all special holidays were spent with family. Of course the big ones – Christmas, Easter, New Years – but for me, even a routine Sunday would typically involve time with our grandparents. Church, Sunday dinner, and watching the Cowboys play (and usually lose).

By contrast, in San Diego we’ve spent a lot of those special days on our own. We’re grateful for all the friends who have invited us to be with them and their families for those special times. We’ve spent countless holidays with the Johnson/Mestre/Renovales clan over the years – and we will always remember and appreciate feeling like a part of their extended family. We have fond memories of holidays and events with the Caffos (our next door neighbors in Point Loma). More recently, we’ve become very close with Toni & Wayne – our neighbors in Carlsbad who treat Will and Phoebe like their own grandchildren. And reaching way back – I remember “The Orphans” Thanksgiving Day dinner with Colin Farnell at Hennessey’s in PB, which morphed into a full-blown Thanksgiving once we were both married and had children.

So now it’s our turn to spend time with our family. This move will make a routine Sunday into a family event. We’ll be close to Danielle’s parents and sister (and her family). We’ll spend time in the places where she grew up. Our kids will learn to swim at the beach where she learned to swim (although Will has already done quite well in the Rancho Carrillo pool). We’ll reconnect with her childhood friends and know the feeling of being in a tight-knit community. We’ll be in a small town – something that Danielle and I know well from our childhood, and enjoyed as youngsters. Finally, we’ll be in a better position to visit Texas and spend more time with my parents and our friends and family there.

While we’re sad to leave all the incredible memories and close friends here in San Diego, we’re looking forward to a new adventure, exploring a new region, and spending time with family. And of course, Southern California will always be a part of who we are, how we found each other and started this great life together.

A few of the FAQs that we expect from those who know us best:

Are you crazy?
Yes, yes we are.

Do you know that they have real winters in Boston?
Yes. At least some of us are aware of this. Others, not so much. We’ll all have to adjust. L.L. Bean is just a click away these days.

Where are you headed?
Scituate, Massachusetts. A quaint seaside fishing town of just under 20,000 residents about 45 minutes south of Boston and 45 minutes from Cape Cod. Scituate is the New England town you see in the movies. A town full of history, full of stories, and less than 30 minutes from Plymouth Rock – where the Mayflower landed and the Pilgrims settled.

Scituate is the kind of place where they hold events for the entire town – Fourth of July Parades, Heritage Days, and a St. Patrick’s Day parade for the most Irish town in America. It’s also a place where (sadly) good Mexican food will be in short supply.

Why Scituate?
As most of you know, my parents still live in the house where I was raised near Dallas (very similar to Danielle’s situation in Scituate). Of course the topic of Texas vs Massachusetts was a big part of our discussion around leaving San Diego — and was one of the reasons why we’ve waited until now to make that decision. By leaving San Diego, we were in essence making a choice – a choice of one location over another, but also spending lots more time with one set of grandparents and still having to travel to see the other side of the family. While that part of the decision wasn’t easy, moving to either location will free up opportunities to see both sides of the family – and will hopefully lead to more holidays and vacations with everyone, including in-laws, together.

What about your house?
That one was easy. With the limited inventory in Carlsbad, specifically Rancho Carrillo – we put the house on the market and it sold within a matter of days. So fast that we actually had to work a rent-back into the agreement so we could stay through the month of July.

When are you leaving?
July 27 for the kids and Danielle; Aug 2 for John.

Are you ever coming back?
Only time will tell. I’m hopeful that we can be in a position financially to own a second home here someday. And there’s a chance that we may retire here when it’s all said and done. In the meantime, I’m certain we’ll work San Diego into the family vacation rotation on a regular basis. We’ll also keep our condo in Mission Valley that is currently rented, so we’ll have to come back and check on that as well.

San Diego will always hold a special place in my heart. I still remember the feeling I got when I first drove over the last set of mountains on Interstate 8 and saw the city limits sign (that was December of 1998) to take my first set of orders in the Navy. Those first few years are a blur now, but I also remember the feeling of coming back from deployment and reaching “One SD” – that’s the buoy that marks the entrance to the San Diego harbor. Sailing back into the Big Bay on a Navy warship was always a fun experience. My first apartment at La Mirage, a two year tour of duty in Coronado, my first house purchase in La Mesa, Vegas quick strikes, Skip’s Garage at Thruster’s, Pickford’s Party at the Mammoth Lodge and at RT’s Longboard (which then morphed into the machine known as Rock Out Karaoke), a two year shore duty in Point Loma, living three blocks from the beach in PB (where I proposed to Danielle), our first date at Cass Street Bar and Grill, our house on Dumas Street in Point Loma where we brought Will home from the hospital, our first home purchase together in Carlsbad where Phoebe joined our family, beach days, pool nights, cruising the historic 101 – these and so many others were all great experiences over the years.

A lot has changed since I first arrived in 1998, but my love for this town and its people will remain. Thanks for the support, thanks for the memories, and you stay classy, San Diego.

Will the Science Guy

Will’s favorite two shows on TV these days are Wild Kratts (PBS) and Octonauts (Disney Jr.).

Wild Kratts is a great show all about animals featuring the Kratt brothers. They open with a segment that includes a live shot of a particular animal or group of animals – then it moves into an animated piece for most of the show, returning to the brothers at the end. It’s what might be called “edu-tainment” where the kids are really engrossed in the story, but they don’t realize that they’re also learning. A lot from what I can tell.

Octonauts is a Disney show about an underwater group of friends whose motto is “Explore, rescue, protect!” They talk all about the different oceans, and what lives in them. Each episode goes in-depth on a particular species of ocean life.

Because of these two shows, Will has learned a lot about wildlife. He knows the difference between predator and prey. He knows how to draw a Humboldt Squid. He can describe a zebra fish. He knows so many facts about which animal is the fastest, most powerful, strongest, most clever. While we don’t watch excessive amounts of TV, I do like the fact that these shows are grabbing his interest on some pretty fun topics.

Tonight he wanted to walk over to our community pool for a night swim. I told him it was too dark. His response: “I’m nocturnal; I’m active at night!”

A Week of Firsts and Thoughts on “Lasts”

It’s been a week of firsts.

First, we took the front rail off of Phoebe’s crib, so it has now been officially converted to a toddler bed. She spent her first week in this new arrangement and did very well. The only difference is that she comes downstairs in the morning instead of yelling, “Dad / Mom, come get me! I’m done with my bed!!”

William also had a first on Sunday when we were at the pool. This was Super Bowl Sunday and we headed over around 11am and found a completely deserted pool on a day that was 70 and sunny.

Anyway, Will needed to use the bathroom, so he steps out of the pool and heads that direction. Instinctively, I head that direction too, and he stops, turns to me and says, “It’s okay Daddy, I can go by myself.”

He’s been going to the restroom by himself for a long time (at home), but this is the first time we can remember him going in public – especially at the pool.

Thinking about all the “firsts” that we’ve been through also makes me think of a book that Will has that describes all the “lasts” a child has growing up. It’s called, “Let Me Hold You a Little Longer,” and it’s written from the perspective of an empty-nest mother who is recalling how she wishes she would have noticed all the last times her son did certain things – the last time she rocked him to sleep, the last diaper she changed, etc. It’s a great story and incredibly sad in some ways as she chronicles all the things he does thru the years.

I keep thinking about some of the things that Will does that he may be getting a little old for. For example, we’ve done “Rock a Bye Baby” almost every night for the past 4+ years. It goes like this: I stand next to his bed as the very last thing we do before he goes to sleep. I’ll hold him and he puts his head on my shoulder, while I sing Rock a Bye Baby and sway back and forth. When he was a baby, I’d stand there for 15-20 minutes — until I could feel him relax and start to fall asleep. As he got older, the time would be shorter, but I’d still feel him kind of let go of the day just a minute or two into it.

These days, he doesn’t always request it – but we still do most nights. I keep wondering when will be the last time that I do Rock a Bye Baby for him. It makes me really pay attention now to each and every time, since you never really know when it will be the last.

Popular Tunes

For the benefit of everyone in the future who may read this, I’ll define Spotify: it’s a music streaming subscription service, where you can create online playlists of your favorite tunes and stream them to your phone, iPad, or computer for a fee (with no ads). I subscribe to Spotify for $10 a month, since I need to learn new tunes for Rock Out Karaoke, and I just like to have music with me at all times.

Anyway, I’ve created a playlist for Will; made up of songs that he has liked over the past couple of years. Sometimes, we’re flipping through the radio stations and he’ll ask me to stop on a particular song. Other times, he’s really quiet and will ask me at the end of a song what the name of it was. That’s usually my cue to add it to his list.

What’s interesting is the diversity of his tastes. He likes some of the high energy dance songs (Gangnam Style; I Like to Move It Move It), but he also likes to slow it down (True Colors).

Here are a few on the list currently:

Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammer
Riptide – Vance Joy (I’ll be surprised if this guy ever has more than this 2014 hit)
Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain & Tennille (don’t ask)
Drift Away – Dobie Gray
Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (this one goes in and out of fashion for him)
Ho Hey – Lumineers (this was a big favorite in 2012; not so much anymore but it’s still on the list)

Phoebe likes most of this as well – and actually shows a little more of an interest in music. She loves to sing. She may turn out to be our musician someday.

Playing Catch Up

Obvi, we haven’t been the best about keeping this blog updated. We have tons of photos and several videos from the past several months, but we haven’t captured some of the day-to-day things that make our lives fun / interesting / exhausting / frustrating. Here are a few fun facts:

Phoebe LOVES Frozen. Anything with Elsa & Anna. She got lots of this kind of stuff for Christmas, and it hasn’t subsided. She even wants her birthday party to be Elsa & Anna themed.

Phoebe is so nice and so very sweet to everyone. She hands out random compliments (much like Will does) to adults. Things like, “I like your shirt.” Or “I like your beard.” She tells me that she’s glad I’m home a lot. Sometimes she says she doesn’t want me to go to work. Makes it hard to leave. Often times we need “one more hug and one more kiss” on the way out the door – or even after I’ve reached my car. I’m always happy to oblige. Work can wait.

Phoebe is also surprisingly great at sharing. Will is not. So if Will wants to play with one of her toys, she may refuse initially – but she will usually hand over whatever it is that he wanted after a minute or two. She is so easy going, and is really nice to her brother.