Sunday, May 6, 2018

Hawaii Vacation & Some Thoughts on Family Generations: Looking Back and Looking Forward [Pictures Included]

With a brief break in our schedules, open seats on a direct flight from MSP to HNL (Honolulu), and gracious hosts--my family and I were able to escape to Hawaii for vacation.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fant
This was only my second time in Hawaii; the first visit played an integral part in my decision to begin flight training back in 2013.  So I'd like to say that Hawaii has become a place of much reflection and rest for us, and hopefully a place we can continue to fold into our family traditions over the years.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fant

During our last visit, I called my Grandpa from Diamond Head because I recalled how he had grown up on the islands.  In fact, as I spoke with him, I learned that my great great grandparents moved to the Hawaiian islands from Portugal.  "Hilo Grandma" lived on the Big Island (Hawaii--where all that volcanic activity is happening that you've heard about in the news). Her son, my great grandfather, was a Forest Ranger in the National Forest there.  We heard stories about how Hilo Grandma would make Portuguese Sweet Bread in a mud oven with giant banana leaves, and how my grandpa was caddying at a golf course on the Big Island when the bombs hit at Pearl Harbor.  They later moved to the island of Oahu.  When Sara and I visited in 2013, we stopped by the home to meet a few relatives and even ate an avocado from an avocado tree that my great grandfather planted!  Surprised and mostly unaware of all these family connections in Hawaii, I have greatly enjoyed learning more about the history of the islands and how three generations of my family called Hawaii home.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fant

This trip was not so much about career reflections as it was about faith and community reflections with our close friends who were a part of our Bible study when they lived in Minnesota several years ago.  My current seniority has made it difficult to get the weekends off--which as a result means I have not been able to be a part of a local church in the way I would like to.  The time in Hawaii and conversations with our friends allowed me to be reflective and leave with a renewed spirit to be intentional about the way in which I can bid for a schedule that allows more opportunities to be a part of a local church.

It was also a good "moment" for me to reflect on fatherhood.  My friend Jonathan asked me what I hope for my grandchildren and the question caught me off guard! I hadn't really thought of such a thing--even for my sons, other than your basic I hope they grow up to be good men and follow God.  Noble aspirations, but at least something I'd like to think more about.  His question has challenged me to think more deeply on these topics.

Our family has been through so much change in the past few years it has felt hard to think beyond what's happening next month, let alone a couple generations from now.  But I think that is what breaks are for... time and space to be reflective, maybe realize some regrets you have, but move forward and make changes, think more deeply on what you believe and how to align your choices more closely with those beliefs. And what a gift it was for us to do all that in Hawaii... thank you to our Hawaiian Uncle and Auntie Keizer for hosting us and good food and time spent with our friends, the Fants.

These photos became a fast treasure to our family from Jessica, and so I gratefully overshare with you a bit of the joy we had on this trip.

All photos by Jessica Fant, used with her permission

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We are Homeowners! [Before & After Flip Pictures Included]

After over seven years of living in different apartments, I am so proud and grateful to say that my wife and I are officially homeowners!

I cannot say enough about what a pleasure it was to work with Theo Sandburg of the Kris Lindahl team at Re/Max.  With the market having such a low inventory right now, we were so grateful to have a realtor who helped guide our offers and help us negotiate on our behalf.  

My favorite part of this process was the home inspection with Structure Tech.  No, seriously.  Our inspector Jim, made it such an educational opportunity for us... the inspection made me feel like now I am an expert on the property's condition and needs.  Shoutout to my brother in law, Ryan, for recommending them.  They are the highest rated home inspection company for good reason!

As a result of what we found during the inspection, Theo was able to negotiate on our behalf for a new sewage pipe and furnace! Grateful to move into a home in which we get to mitigate a ton of risk just by having new appliances, and strong bones.

I also would like to mention how grateful I was to work with John Hastings at Guaranteed Rate. We have met with John on several different occasions since being married... considering purchasing a home and each time we truly felt as though he was true to his tagline: looking out for our best interest! If you want a smooth financing process with someone you can trust... look no further!

We found some pictures online of before the flip, so although we can't take credit for the updates ourselves... who doesn't appreciate a good before and after look?

Before & After Kitchen Flip
For those who are familiar with my upbringing, home ownership has been one of my lifelong dreams... I have longed for a place to call home and plant roots and feel a sense of security.  My Christian faith reminds me that ultimately this world is not my home, but owning this home is a wonderful shadow of the joy that is set before me in the hope of an eternal home with Jesus Christ.

Oh, and my three year old is pretty stoked to have a playroom. 

We've received so much support and blessings in this process. So grateful for our families who have gifted us in different ways to make this dream a reality. 

Shoutout to my brother Aaron who is an extremely gifted woodworker... making us this dining table...

Farmhouse Table handcrafted by Aaron Studt
And to Tim for making sure our clothes will be washed by the best American made laundry machines out there-- a Speed Queen washer and dryer! Shoutout to my hometown company Alliance Laundry Systems of Ripon, WI-- who is best known for their commercial grade laundry systems you see in laundromats across the globe... we know that these are literally manufactured to last longer than anything you'd buy at Home Depot or Costco or Lowe's or Best Buy... oh yes and the man behind the design is someone who has counted me as a son and I could not be more grateful for him.

Speed Queen Washer & Dryer

Come on over sometime. Or help us move this week! :)

Update: Also want to thank my brother Brad...  he and his wife went to showings with Sara while I was out of state working and gave us a nudge on this whole thing.  By the way I only recently found out he is alive and well, but that is a story for another day.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Favorite Perk of Being a Pilot (It's not what you might guess)

CRJ 700

It's been one year since I became an airline pilot.  The past year has been full of change for me professionally and personally.  From Flight Instructor to First Officer; from Phoenix to Minneapolis; from one kid to two--there is much to be grateful for!

I've been reflecting on this new lifestyle that is a result of my job.  Previously as Teacher and then a Flight Instructor I worked very "normal" business hours.  Now life looks very different.  Just an observation! Of course, either way of life has its pros and cons. However there is one perk of being a pilot that I love the most...

My March Work Schedule: Dark Blue = Flying; Gray = Rest; Blank = Day off

My favorite perk is the time off.  

In my experience, each month my schedule has come with somewhere between 10 and 14 days off.  When compared to a typical 9-5, you could expect the weekends & holidays off.  To string together any greater amount of days may require using vacation time or taking a leave of absence.  In my March schedule, I have one week with 5 days off in a row and the next with 4... no vacation time required!

How I use this time is influenced greatly by stage of life.  Being married and having two young boys at home, we like to be intentional with our time. Here's how I try to spend my days off:
  • Low-traffic Outings: Whether its grocery shopping, playing at a park with my son, or going on a date with my wife... so many of these things we have the option of doing on a weekday, mid morning or early afternoon together when most places we go are like a ghost town because "everyone" else is at work. Like the time I took my son to see a movie on a weekday morning and one other family was in the theatre! Or a coffee date with my wife.
  • Weekday Getaways: Each month my wife and I sit down with our calendars and ask the question: where can we go?  Having flight benefits grants my family the opportunity to travel without the expense of airfare.  For now, we have tried to take advantage of this to visit close family or friends in other cities.  Our most recent escape to Phoenix provided a warm reuniting with old friends (literally, it was warm).  We sure miss the valley of the sun!
  • Daddy Daycare: Because my wife works full-time from home with a flexible schedule that sometimes requires her to work odd hours of the day, or not so odd hours, my schedule frees me up to be available for full days at a time to relieve her from watching the kids so she can work uninterrupted.
As our kids get older I look forward to more getaways with just my wife, just the boys, just me, or the whole family.  And as my seniority increases, each month I find that I am able to have more say in how my schedule looks.  Of course I hear dream stories from pilot friends that have moved on to work for the major airlines and have some nonsense of minimum 16 guaranteed days off a month... that will be the day! 

A final update to share is this map of where I've flown over the past year... I finally made it out of the country!  Canada is nice.

My Routes: First 12 months of Airline Career