Five year mega blog.

Its March 23ed again. We landed in America 5 years ago today.
No one complained that there was no 4 year mega blog (I was just back from the expedition), so I wonder about the value of these yearly summery blogs…. Just in case your a new reader and want some reference, you can see the one, two and three year mega blogs by clicking the links.

So lets just get right into it!

Truly doing a bit of everything (still).
Since our main person-in-front-of-the-camera, Alexi, has moved to Australia (we called it a prisoner exchange), I have moved from behind the camera to infront. Its interesting. The hardest thing is that we found the presentation is better when I am not reading off the teleprompt, but that requires I memorize the script…. Not something I am ‘gifted’ with.
Since we missed the 4 year blog, we have two years to catch up on…. In the past two years, Mary has (re) joined the team (after 2 years sunning herself in Hawaii). We call ourselves the wonder twins… Yeah, we will leave you to wonder about that…. Mary used to write the code that the Opto hardware runs on so she knows the stuff backwards from the inside. That said, she has never been a customer (user) of Opto, thats where I come in. We often have really animated conversations about the projects we work on. Most end something like this “I see your point, but disagree for the following reasons…..” Its been a great two years. We work on the forums, she writes video scripts and codes like its her first language. Unlike me.
Benson calls us his skunk works team. We do all sorts of crazy stuff with Opto, some of it flys, some crashes and burns.
The corporate video stuff has been cranked up a notch. We are shooting on a green screen now and then and have got some new cameras, LED lights should arrive next week, we are re-doing some of the studio and have some new mounts/controls for the cameras.
The web project we were working on has matured and has just launched. groov. Its pretty exciting to see it get released. Its going to shake up the industry and will open many new doors for Opto.
So yeah. Work is pretty cool. I’m in a whole different place now. It’s often hard long hours, but its “always” interesting.

Family Life.
Settling down in to a routine over the past year.
The dog is still a pain, but no where near as much as he used to be.
Amy is now driving (as is Terry) and is fully employed in SoCal as a ‘casual’. She works 6 days a week at a high end beauty supply store. Shes very good at it since she gets the chemicals stuff and also understands colors and peoples skin. The only downer is that she pretty much does not have a life as she works from 10am to 8pm most days.
Terry is doing 2 collage classes and two AP classes. He is holding up his end of the computer-for-grades deal and brought home a 4.5 GPA last report. At long last, he is doing homework pretty much every night. He will graduate in a few months. Then starts the whole getting him into collage thing.
His computer is pretty extensive, but I am sure it has been worth it. He gets the whole getting good grades thing now. The nice thing is that he will self regulate his gaming to ensure he keeps the grades up…. Both because he wants to, and because he knows I would still take his video card if he doesn’t.
Freddy is going well. Since Amy is hardly home and Terry is driving himself to school and back she has been able to spend more time locking the budget down…. We have not talked about it much, but I suspect once the collage thing gets sorted, she might start looking for some part time work, which would be cool as it would give her to the chance to meet more people. (We are both still ‘friendless’. ie, we know people, but dont hangout like we used to. This is a bigger deal for Freddy than me).

We have made no progress here over the past two years.
Its still an unanswered ‘question’ for me.

Still broken, but we only have about 8 weeks left and then we will get to see how broken the whole collage system is (dont bother, we already know. The cost to benefit ratio is way way way off the charts).

Freddy and I try and go for a Sunday drive once a month. I hope that we can keep that up.
The roads are still cool. I know most that are a days drive around Temecula. Not board with them yet.
Dont miss the Rangie because we still have no need to go off-road. The roads over here are amazing enough and so different from the ones back home that we dont feel the need to get off them to get that ‘getting away from it all’ experience.
Driving the Smart Car makes a noticeable change in the petrol bills as a result of commuting in that over the Rangie.
Really missing the Goldwing. That said, I dont think we will get another bike. I am so enamored with driving a convertible, I would rather spend the money getting the convertible I wanted. Freddy prefers the car over the bike, even if she does not let me put the top down as much as I would like.

Sugar. Say it after me. Sugar. Cut it out of your diet. Totally.
This means we eat totally different now than a year ago.
Paleo. Google it. We are not 100%, (a bit of balance goes a long way?) but feeling better as a result. Feel like we are eating about right. My weight is on a fine line between ‘ok’ and where I would like to be.
Hopefully we can get some sort of an exercise habit happening this year and tip the balance.
No matter what happens in that regard, we are happy to have the sugar cut way back.

Yep. Still mentally unsettles me just how consistently good it is.
That said, I am now able to relax a little and enjoy some of the nice days.

Getting the green card has helped us settle and make the necessary changes to try and dig in for the long haul.
Things like buying the Smart Car and commuting in that and driving the VW to church and back make a difference.
Tough to do, but results in a noticeably lower petrol bill each month which gives us a little breathing room.
In the next month or so we are going to try and refinance the house and hope that this results in a lower monthly payment.
We went to the Verizon (aka, Telstra) store and asked about mobile phone plans. After looking at all our options, we are still not able to upgrade Freddy and the kids plans to include minutes so we can talk on their phones. We also talked about TV, and again, decided to not get it so we can better make ends meet.
I think its a matter of it is what it is. Mistakes were made in this area when we first got here and its going to take time to get on our feet. Its also time to get over it, stop dwelling on the past and just make the changes to make it work.

Kid time.
5 years can make a big difference.
Amy is so tired and gets home so late that we have dropped date night.
Terry is driving himself to school, so he and I no longer have those 10 minutes every day.
We spend time together Friday night and Saturday mornings. Thats about it.
Freddy and I spend a lot more time together.

Mine is softening. I still get hassled about it. I still get teased when I drop in words that dont fit.
Its getting really old. Im not sure I want to be able to switch it on and off.
It is what it is for me.
Amy is gone. Her friends say she sounds little different at home, but she sounds SoCali to me.
Terry is pretty much there as well.
Freddy is more on than off.

For the past 6-8 months, if its not work related, it does not get done.
Really wanted to do a photography related 365 or even a 52 (weekly) project this year, so glad I didn’t. Just dont have time.
Guess you could say that going for a drive once a month is now our hobby.
I dont mind. So much of what I do at work is stuff that I am interested in that personal stuff just does not matter any more.
This year we start getting 4 weeks leave a year, this could change things a bit, so lets give it some time and see what happens.

So very very very grateful that the depression lifted November last year.
That single change has made such a massive difference in my life and my ability to cope with being here.
I think we are up for air. We feel like we are here, have most things sorted (Just this whole collage thing is the last real worry) and thus can start to live something like a normal life.
I think we are just about at the point where we are actually looking forward a little. We are no longer just getting smashed by wave after wave and are struggling for breath, but we are at the point where we can start to enjoy the water a little.

Those two questions.
Has it been worth it?
Am I glad I did it?
The answers to both no longer matter. They are not quantifiable. I no longer care about the answers.
You cant measure whats happen to us, its simply off every single chart we know of. Being ‘glad’ (happy?) has been redefined.

I think this is it for the yearly mega blogs.
Perhaps after 10 years we might revisit them… yeah, might think about doing something every 5…. might make more sense… Or not.