Friday, April 24, 2015

Who Is WilCo Dad?

Since I'm launching this blog to reach a new and hopefully broader audience, I thought it might make sense to give a bit of my background.  My eventual goal for this blog is to comment on all things related to raising a family in Williamson County, TN.  These posts will be heavily dosed with my personal opinion on things, so, it might be useful to know my background that informs that personal opinion.

So, lets get into some history, shall we?

I grew up on a farm in North Georgia.  I grew up on Transformers (1st generation, baby!), GI Joe, and NES/SNES.  I had a great family life.  My Mom and Dad are still happily married and I had grandparents and an aunt close by.

Even though I grew up on a farm, I've always been a nerd.  I was good (but not great) in school... with the biggest struggle being my own laziness.  Procrastination remains one of my biggest weaknesses.

I went to college at a small school in Oklahoma to study mechanical engineering.  While there, I met the lovely Wilco Mom (aka - Mandy) and we were married in 2001.  After graduation, I got a great job with a company called Battelle in Columbus, Ohio.  

We decided to buy a home right away in Columbus and set about trying to find a place.  This was when Mandy and I first noticed a distinct different in our tastes in residences.  Mandy grew up in the middle of Dallas-Ft. Worth.  She's perfectly comfortable being right in the middle of the urban jungle.  Although I was never much of a "country boy", I found that urban life wasn't my thing.  I need grass and trees and fields.

We eventually settled on a good compromise in Canal Winchester, OH.  Canal was a suburb of Columbus.  Close enough to all the "big city" things, but, on the outskirts enough to allow me to see a corn field from time to time.  Canal was a great community with a good small town feel.  It had a legitimate historical downtown, complete with an old-school barbershop.

In 2005, WilCo Son1 (aka - Tyler) was born to much fanfare.  The first grandchild on both sides of our family, he didn't touch the ground for the first 6 months of his life.  I will admit that I was a bit leery of the prospect of being a father, but, after our first ultrasound appointment, I was all-in.  For her part, Mandy was a natural mother.  She taught me the finer points of swaddling, bottle feeding, and diaper changing.  I would like to think that I was (and remain) a very engaged father -- I think I did as many late night feedings and diaper changes as Mandy did.

In 2007, WilCo Son2 (aka - Logan) arrived on the scene.  He was greeted with equal enthusiasm.. but less pictures.  The burden of being the second child, I suppose.  I actually managed to screw up the video of him as a newborn in the hospital.

We found ourselves quietly living out the typical suburban family routine.  Tyler started kindergarden in the Canal Winchester schools.  The school system was very highly rated, but, we really never got to experience much of it.  Why?  In 2011, I took a position with my company that moved us to Tampa, FL.

Mandy did the research and found that the best intersection of good schools and affordability was in a Tampa suburb called Brandon.  We found a great place to rent there and settled in.  Both of the kids were school age and we dove into all the things that parents of elementary students do - practicing reading, soccer games, pool parties, birthday parties with 15foot albino pythons.. you know, the usual.

Brandon didn't have quite the same vibe as Canal Winchester.  There wasn't really a "downtown" Brandon.  The town was basically just laid out in a grid of neighborhood and businesses.  Nothing to really establish a real community feel.  In hindsight, I think the reason for this is because a lot of life in Florida revolves around the beach and the outdoors... that's where people spend most of their time.

Through our church, we made some fantastic friends that really helped us establish a social circle for ourselves and the boys.  Because we had such easy access to some exciting places - The Beach!  Disney! The Beach! - we also found that our families were willing to come visit us quite regularly.  But, it brought to light the major drawback of living there -- we were 9 hours from my family and 18ish from Mandy's family.  Further than we wanted to be.  We knew in the back of our minds that we probably wouldn't settle down in Tampa and would eventually want to find a way to move back closer to family and put down some roots.

One interesting aspect of my job was that I was able to travel quite a bit and see a lot of unique places.  I visited Hawaii, England, Italy, California, and exotic Bloomington, Indiana.  It was exciting work too -- I was helping make submersible for Navy SEALs.  But, that would also be part of its undoing.  In 2013, when Congress went through its little budget crisis I realized that I was one bad day in Congress away from not having a job.  If my program got killed, I would be scrambling.  We decided it might be time to start looking for the next stage of our lives.

In the summer of 2014, I took a job with HCA -- a large healthcare company.  Submarines to healthcare, you ask?  How does that work?  Well, my most marketable skillset was my ability to manage projects.  And managing projects has a lot of commonality no matter if you are making toys for SEALs or managing IT Security projects for a large healthcare company.

I initially wanted to find a place close to my office.  I'm hoping for a long term career with HCA, so, a short commute would be beneficial for me.  Mandy started doing the research again and quickly realized that every place that was 15 minutes or less from my office would be in Davidson County (metro nashville).  If you look up those public schools on , they are all rated 3s and 4s (out of 10).  It seems most folks in Davidson county put their kids in private schools.  HCA pays me well, but... not that well.

We also learned that we had some friends from Ohio that had moved to Williamson County a few years prior to this.  When Mandy pulled up Williamson County, all of their schools were 9s and 10s!  When I was interviewing with HCA, Mandy took a tour of Nashville and drove down through Cool Springs and on into downtown Franklin.  She was hooked.  The night after my interview, she told me that if we moved here, Franklin was where she wanted to be.

I realized that my kids education was more important to me than a short commute, so, we settled into the Franklin area.  It's got pretty much everything both of us want in a hometown.  A great small town feel with a strong sense of community.  Easy access to just about every modern thing you could want.  Fantastic schools.  I even can see fields and trees and horses (and buffalo!) if I want.  We've only been here for 8 months or so, but, so far we absolutely love it.  The schools have lived up to the billing (more on that later) and the community is great.  Being closer to family has already been more than worth it too.

So.. that's the geographical history that forms my basis for comparison.  Let's see - what else should you know about me in terms of my background?

Politically, I'm a conservative.. a real conservative.  Meaning I don't care for the mainstream democratic OR republican parties.  I have pretty strong libertarian leanings, meaning I generally want people to be free to do what they want as long as it doesn't interfere with my freedom to do what I want.

For entertainment, I'm still a nerd.  I enjoy gaming, both video and tabletop.  I like to read when I can find the time, with fantasy being my usual genre of choice.  I'm a huge Song of Ice and Fire fan.  We've got a crazy weimeraner named Cinder that keeps us pretty entertained too.  I also enjoy cooking/BBQing from time to time, with my Big Green Egg being my primary tool of choice.  My Dad and I try to go on a fishing trip once or twice a year and I would like to get my boys into fishing too now that they are getting older.

I think that about does it.  Hope that gives you a feel for who I am and where I came from.  Now we can start talking about where we are going!

Thanks for reading.

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