2018 Year in Review

For reference, previous years: 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012.

They say that time moves faster as you get older. Our 2018 proves it! We left Seattle, went to Europe for 5 weeks, got new jobs, and bought a house in Madison, Wisconsin.

Let’s recap. What say you, Samuel L. Jackson?

Goodbye, Seattle!

After 3 fun years in Seattle, we decided to move back to the Midwest to be closer to family. Living in Seattle was a (mostly) good experience for us, but in the end, it wasn’t Home. We recommend a visit if you’ve never been: Pike Place Market, whale watching, Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, and taking a ferry to a neighboring island are just the tip of the iceberg. I plan to write a “Seattle Guide” very soon by the way, in order to capture our favorite hiking spots, restaurants, and more. Can’t wait to share it with all of you!

It was hard to say goodbye to Slalom Seattle, the software consulting company I worked for during all 3 years of our Seattle tenure. I made lots of great friends and worked on some career-highlight projects. That said, having been in consulting-related roles for going on ten years, I felt I needed a change. The move seemed like a good time to call it quits. More on that…

It was a heck of a ride: I spoke onstage at Slalom Speaks, was “General Manager for a Day”, won a company hackathon, and put in long nights for the largest coffee retailer in the world 😉. I highly recommend working for Slalom (they have a Chicago office!) - one of the few companies out there that really practices the values they preach.

We completed a Seattle “bucketlist” of sorts, which included a weekend trip to Mount Rainier National Park, riding the Great Wheel, visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, and of course, stops at our favorite breweries.

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One of our final bucket list Seattle adventures takes us to Mount Rainier National Park. Our first alpine snowshoeing adventure in 13 feet of snow ended with breathtaking views of the mountaintops. What a perfect way to say goodbye to the Pacific Northwest.

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Move Planning

Shortly into 2018, we decided we were ready to move. That decision changed the course of the entire year! We made a game plan: sell everything, quit our jobs, drive directly back across the country, take a trip to Europe, then start looking for new jobs. While it overall worked out, there were many bumps along the way. For one, what we saved in furniture shipping costs, we traded for stress and time investments. Selling things one-by-one was… time consuming! Not particularly shocking, but boy does it wear you down. Then you throw in a plan to ship your remaining stuff via FedEx and… things got a little crazy:

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Finally reached my moving breaking point. Shipping out Lisa via FedEx Ground! 😂😂😂😂 1 week to go!

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Anyway… Given the stress of moving, saying goodbye to Seattle friends, and the challenging experience we had interviewing remotely for new jobs when we were moving from Chicago to Seattle, The Plan came together: Quit our jobs, move back, then figure out new jobs. We were fortunately able to swing it financially, but it was more than a bit scary - it felt like a leap of faith. As it turned out, things didn’t go exactly as we wanted. One night while on a packing break, I went on Twitter and saw this job posting:

I had casually followed Ionic for a couple of years and really liked what they were doing: a 5-year-old startup founded by two childhood friends in downtown Madison, they espoused similar values as Slalom, had a massive following (millions of developers), and in a technology space that I was passionate about: hybrid mobile app development (my iOS and Android apps are not built with Ionic - yet! - but also follow similar web technology approaches). Better yet: this role was a chance to bring my software development skills and business/consulting experience to a unique marketing role.


We were moving in only a few short weeks. I knew I couldn’t wait, so I started updating my resume immediately that night and applied the next day. I took more than one video interview from home in bed - pretty much the only spot to sit! As Tim Gunn says:

A week before hitting the road, they asked about flying me to Madison for a final interview. Fortunately, they were gracious enough to wait. We arrived in Madison on a Friday, I interviewed in person on Monday, accepted the position, then we headed to Europe on Wednesday. Wowza. Still can’t believe we pulled it off! Huge thanks to Ionic management for being OK with the trip.


I can’t begin to cover what this trip meant to us from a hard work, success, relationship, and spiritual standpoint. I’ve been meaning to post about it more, but as you can see 2018 was a bit busy. Fortunately, we did keep a daily journal so it’ll be easier to write about eventually.

Quite simply, it was incredible. If you can make a trip like this happen, do it. Life is short - act like it! That was our thinking as we planned this crazy trip to six countries. Everything about it is scary upfront: saving up, planning, packing, etc., but so worth it.

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Buon compleanno all'amore della mia vita! So happy to spend it here with you in Italy! From hiking the cinque terre trail to comparing each gelato stand (a necessity while hiking cliffside between towns), I know I will always have a partner in crime. :) @dotnetkow #iwouldtraveltheworldwithyou #cinqueterre #italia

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We traveled to France, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, and Germany. We only traveled via public transporation and lived out of only one backpack each - quite the challenge! We stayed in AirBnbs the entire time, providing us the best local experience. Lisa really enjoyed using Google Translate to communicate with the locals!

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A lovely day trip hiking in Mount Rigi, which was more complicated than we initially expected, but definitely worth the beautiful views. It is surrounded by georgous Swiss chalets, roaming cows (you can hear the cowbells as you hike), and endless mountain views of the alps and Lake Luzern. To get up to the mountain, we had to take a 1hr boatride from Luzern, followed by a 1hr cogwheel train up to the top of the mountain then we hiked around for a few hours then took a cable car back down followed by a different boat back! It was a full but beautiful day. #mountrigi #switzerland #lucerne #backpacking #notallwhowanderarelost

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To summarize: we’ll be back someday!


I had one full day back home before starting at Ionic right before the 4th of July. Not the most ideal, but hey, I can’t complain given their willingness to wait. Lisa started her new job at the VA as a Nurse Practitioner on the Orthopedic Surgery team and is enjoying the change of pace from Oncology.

Upon returning from Europe, we settled into Lisa’s parent’s basement. Talk about a change of living! #LivingTheDream. We are thankful to them for accomodating us - it made this hectic year a lot more bearable. Almost immediately, we began house hunting. The Madison area is growing, in no small part due to folks fleeing the insane cost of living on the west/east coasts! The Midwest welcomes them with open arms.

In August, we found our new home: a cute Cape Cod built in 1950 close to downtown. It’s quickly giving us a crash course in home ownership! Between it and getting used to the freezing cold weather again, I’m already looking forward to selling the house and moving to California when we retire in 2065.

Happy New Year!

And like that, it’s the week before Christmas. Whew - almost made it to 2019.

If you’re reading this, thank you. We’re fortunate to have you in our lives. Cheers to an amazing 2019. May our fortunes grow as large as this German pretzel:

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Happy Friday! May the beer floweth and the pretzels be as giant as the moon for you. Way behind on posting pics… this is our first biergarten visit in Munich. Back to reality on Monday; is it really almost over? 😢

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