Archive for the ‘Birthday’ Category

April 2017 – Indiana, Rafting, and Puppy Butts

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

We started April off celebrating Chris being Student of the Month. Colleen is still a bit miffed and befuddled that this is the first time anyone in our family earned this award. Beth and I have been waiting years and years for this day to come 🙂 Ha! We are proud of ALL of our kids, and we were especially proud of Christopher as we got to get up early before school to enjoy prepackaged breakfast treats in the school cafeteria with him – makes you want to win this every month, huh?

Not many people out jogging with me on many winter days. They are missing out! I love running through fresh fallen snow on a sunny day. Definitely wakes me up and helps me appreciate the beauty in nature each day! I have a whiteboard in a hallway at work where I write messages and questions each week for everyone to see. We’re currently on Day 4 of a 10-day series on happiness tips. Today’s message was about appreciation, and we asked the question, “When do you stop and take notice?” My favorite answer that someone wrote on the board today was, “When Dave tells me to start appreciating what I have.” If people don’t figure it out on their own then I’ll definitely help remind them! 🙂 Here’s a great 5 minute video that is a great reminder for all of us to appreciate what is around us every single day – I encourage you to watch it (outside is my recommendation) as often as it will bring you energy and happiness.

Absolutely! Nothing is stopping my girls! Try to put them in their place – they will rise again even stronger! I sincerely hope some of our leaders are taking note. Treating everyone around us with respect is all of our responsibility.

Speaking of no one stopping my girls…for anyone who still believes in science, scientists, and the data/evidence they produce…here’s my mad scientist at work! Changing the world and impacting lives! This is where she’s at when she’s working “in the hood”. Her happy place 🙂

It’s one thing to have pictures of puppy butts on cards, but it’s a whole other thing to actually create a “Puppy Butt” card section. Is this that popular of a section that people ask for it and they need to categorize these cards? I wonder what occasion or anniversary is celebrated with puppy butts? Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to find out someday.

It was a big year for car purchases. First I got a new car. That let us turn my old car into “the family car” (for Colleen now). I started with a 2007 grey Mazda 3. I told the dealer I wanted the same thing but newer…so I left with a 2014 grey Mazda 3. And then (Beth’s plan all along I’m sure), since the minivan was a 2005, we dumped that and got Beth a new car too while we were there – so now we’ve somehow got three Mazda’s! The minivan was great for us…but Beth sure didn’t shed any tears saying good-bye to it

This past year went fast. We were driving back from the Boston Marathon a year ago when we heard that Prince died. A movie theater in Chanhassen (home of Paisley Park) painted this huge mural of Prince. Pretty cool to see it up close! Maybe I didn’t appreciate Prince enough while he was around, but it’s energizing to see all those out here who were touched by him and his music.

I also often jog under the bridge leading up to Paisley Park. People have written so many message to Prince there. They even have buckets of chalk out so you can add to it. Here’s Colleen adding to it.

I guess it’s not too surprising that life caught up to Aunt Beth sooner than any of us wanted. But she lived her life the way she wanted to and wouldn’t have it any other way. She was amazing at striking up a conversation with just about anyone – always with a smile on her face and could make any situation funny. It was sad of course, but it also brought our family together in Indiana. It is always great to see my parents, plus so many other relatives, and I’m very lucky to still have some great friends from college nearby who made the trip to Rochester. Aunt B made her home a welcome spot for all of my friends while in college and beyond – she was their aunt too! Here’s a short message I posted on Facebook at the time, “Rest in peace Aunt Beth – you are loved and will be missed. For over 25 years I bet her $1 for every Purdue vs IU football or basketball game, mailing the same worn dollars back and forth. I remember her picking me up at college one year during the Old Oaken Bucket game – I never had so much fun loudly singing the Purdue fight song in her car as Purdue stole a win that year! I think she’s the one that taught me how to swing a baseball bat, helped me pick out my first car, and I likely had my first beer with her – heh! She watched out for me in college and beyond – always with love and open arms. I will forever miss the fun rivalry of her poor choice in Indiana sports teams 🙂 Love & miss you Aunt Beth.”




I’m always glad when I happen upon a “sign”…did Aunt B have anything to do with this April cloud???

We saw Mixed Match at the MSP International Film Festival. One of Beth’s advisors in her PhD program (Dr. Jakub Tolar) is key to the efforts highlighted in this film. He was there for Q&A in the theater after the film, along with one of his patients who stars in the film, and he gave a shout out to Beth in the audience – and to researchers everywhere. He is always very driven, and he challenged all of us to sign up to be possible bone marrow donors and to raise awareness to the genetic complexities in ever growing mixed races. We can all save lives (the pic is of Beth doing a simple cheek swab for the registry).

Chris had his birthday party and invited a bunch of boys over to help celebrate. They decided to play all sorts of games after dark while running through our yard (and maybe the neighborhood). It rained recently, and I know I warned them about a few very muddy areas. It made me laugh so hard the next day to see these very deep footprints in the mud! Apparently one kid even lost his shoes at one point – ha! Fun times! Boys will be boys 🙂

Shoe tags arrived in time for Colleen and my 1/2 marathon, and my full marathon! I love that my mom found these before my Boston marathon…I buy them every time now for doses of inspiration!

Here’s our family at Easter. The best picture was when we had that blue fan perfectly centered over Chris’ hair. I think our wall changes as much as we do over the years!

I’m no expert on rafting, but I’m not quite sure they are doing this right. Something seems to be missing…

I’m glad they figured out their problem and actually got out onto water. The river was high due to lots of rain and snow melt…made for a fun day for them! Chris loves all of the activities with his troop…rafting and then Sea Base (off of the Florida Keys) this year, and dog sledding early next year. Fun!



Almost December???

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Argh – two months later on this site, and I still haven’t found my posting rhythm again. In a bit of my defense, I did post a few times to DreamyDream and/or Facebook. But I need to get regularly posting family pics again!!!

I took Chris and Megan to play Foot Golf near the end of summer. I don’t know how this “sport” will ever last – especially if they are trying to attract soccer players. It is expensive (because it is at golf courses and uses the same fairways) and relies on the softest touches because the ball rolls and rolls on hilly fairways and greens. You would never use these same light touch moves while playing soccer. It was still great to be outdoors and we had fun – and I got a hole in one on one of the holes when I couldn’t even see the cup.



One of Megan’s dreams this year (actually, the past few years) has been to paint her room. We settled on a color that wasn’t near as dark as what she was originally thinking – but she loves it now. Sadly we painted over the stenciled pattern that Beth did so many years ago for our little babies.


I brought the kids with me to Des Moines when I did a quick trip to run a 5k with my college roomies. It’s on my dream list to do a 5k with at least one of them each year. West Des Moines treated us well – Fong’s Pizza (and Tiki Bar) was awesome – I definitely recommend it! And on the way back we stopped at the Iowa State fair for several hours. It wasn’t near as cool as Minnesota’s state fair – not even close (sorry, don’t get mad at me east side desmoiners). But we still managed to leave there with full tummies.


Megan and I did lots of biking over the summer and into the school year. On this trip we came across several fawns (although they started hiding behind their parents when we stopped and got the camera out). It was cool to see them walking about all covered in white spots – lucky us!


Yikes – and here we are away from fawns and instead near trucks! I love the gloves that Megan got with a birthday gift certificate – so cute! (but don’t tell her I used that word).


Colleen and I went to the Stomp Out Suicide 5k again this year. I think I’ve been just about every year that they’ve had it – either with Colleen, or with Kristin. We put a picture of Katherine on their memorial clothesline. Way too many photos on display. They take tons of pictures each year and somehow they’ve never ever captured me on film. Maybe next year – if they’re quick. We also released balloons in memory of Katherine. They have turned this into quite the event away from the metro area – it drew a big crowd even in rainy weather this year.




Found this little dude on our garden fence. The wind would make him sway back and forth but he never released his grip or moved. Megan kept checking on him. Stayed there all day…but was gone by morning. We’ll just keep telling ourselves that he flew away to a warm, happy place.


Minnesota State Fair! These two love this ride – and also the swings way up in the air. Christopher wasn’t so lucky with the water gun race game in the midway this year. But I’m sure he’ll bring more money to burn next year 🙂


Skol Vikings!


The girls were supposed to be in the chair behind Beth but someone on a roundtrip ride didn’t get off…so they’re back there somewhere.


This is always our favorite stop on the way up to Grand Marais. The New Scenic Cafe consistently turns out high quality food – love their mission fig appetizer – yummy! Plus a decent beer selection doesn’t hurt anything 😉 This helps ease our transition from city to up north living. And then, of course, we hit them on the way back home a few days later.



And then our favorite stop up in Grand Marais – the Angry Trout Cafe. Fresh veggies & fish, amazing chowder, great salads & pasta for the kids, just enough of a beverage selection, and focus on being environmentally friendly – love it every year!


Another stop on our way up some years to Grand Marais…Gooseberry Falls. It never gets told to climb and crawl over this rough and wet terrain.



Monkey see…



It’s hard to tell but they are way off the ground in this picture – hope those old skraggly roots hold fast!


Our first night back up in Grand Marais…and a quick trip to Artist Point…and dipping their toes into the chilly water.


Peace. Remember to take time for yourself and dream.


Here’s Chris over the devil’s kettle. No one knows where the water goes – some say straight to the devils kettle!




A day on Two Island Lake





Megan looks surprisingly calm considering neither of Colleen’s feet are touching the ground 🙂


And of course our trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop to take our annual picture of the kids. I think it’s been raining the past two years as we’ve done this on the way home. Still a great quick hike to end our trip!



Still not quite complete in this picture…and the basketball hoop wasn’t up yet…but here’s a glimpse at the new patio that we are loving!!!


Apple picking with Chris and Megan, followed by a stop at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store!


In its first year Megan got to pick apples from her tree. Yummy! And another dream from her list!


Happy Sweet Sixteen Colleen! Super yummy Nothing Bundt Cake!


I’m back

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Ok, I’m back. I was posting to for months while I trained for the Boston Marathon and raised $20,000 (thank you once again for all of the incredible support from everyone). What an adventure! Amazing! But now I need to share pics on this site from the past many months. Sorry for the overload now…and most of my comments are short…just got to get this posted!!!

Check out slick with his birthday cake 🙂 The day he turned 13 was the same day he first started wearing gel. He’s a great kid – if anything, he’s offering to help out MORE as a teenager!


Colleen spent a week in Kentucky working on houses with an ASP (Appalachia Service Project) trip with our church. Here she is learning how to use a saw. It was a good trip for her. I still find it odd and a bit frustrating that we send people to Kentucky instead of working to help people in our own state, but I’m glad we help regardless.


Us, and the sky, in St. Louis.


Megan loves playing her saxophone. She is great at it and got invited to play in this special concert. Amazing how much better these instruments sound when finally one of our kids actually practices! Looks like Megan will be our first band kid.


Something bigger than a bunny was in our yard. Fox? Coyote? Wolf?


This is only a few days after planting our seeds. Amazing that this is how a 1000lb+ pumpkin starts!


The universe listens so be careful what you ask for (in my case, I asked for just enough money for a fire pit and somehow Great Uncle Bill responded from beyond). You were a great man Great Uncle Bill – thanks for your service to our country and love to our family!


Our garlic crop/harvest was our best yet this year. Here’s the Megs with a scape.


And here’s our full harvest drying to be used later!


Happy Marathon to me! I made a little poster/tribute with mementos from the race. Cool that my name is on the poster!


I said just one bite…wonder who they learned that from?


I’ll do a future post on Beth’s 3-minute-thesis. After she gave her most recent presentation, we did a quick trip through the science museum where she was presenting. Lucky (?) for us the museum staff said we just happened to be there on a rare occasion when they had the “vaults” open that are filled with tons of things rarely on exhibit. How could we miss that? We followed a path through their storage area and suddenly weren’t sure we had made the right decision. They had things in jars (e.g., deer fetus), all sorts of bones and dead things, and we even had the opportunity to put a clothespin on our nose and skin our own rat. How fun!?!?! Especially before our “date night” dinner. The best part was how excited the museum staff were to show off their crazy displays. Ick.








See what happens when you put things on your dream list? Megan’s apple tree 🙂


Happy Mother’s Day from the kids. She got this, and on Father’s Day I got Colleen coming back from a week away at ASP.


My favorite part of this pic is trying to figure out where the soccer ball is following the penalty kick, and wondering how it got there. Guess we’ll have to work on our wall 🙂


Ahhh, foaming. Rabies?


We had a great time at Niagara Falls. Our timing was perfect – 2nd to last boat of the night – it was mostly empty so we could go wherever we wanted. The boat was fun, but the cave of the winds walk and hurricane deck were even better! So glad we got rain coats and shoes for this 🙂 We’ve been talking about doing this for years on our trip – glad we FINALLY made it happen. And only one of us got pooped on by the seagulls – not bad (nope, wasn’t me, keep guessing).






One of our favorites – Parker’s Maple Barn! And fun to have Sarah and Rose with us too. Yummy maple everything (including the coffee)! Except no fresh maple donuts for Beth this time 🙁


We stopped by my sister’s best friend’s house – so great to see Heather and her family. Their house is hundreds of years old and the type of place where you feel like you could just hang out on their porch all day while your worries blow away in the breeze. Heather feels like such an important piece of my sister’s history and life – words never quite express everything wrapped up in that. Always so great to see her – hopefully we get to see Mike again at some point too!

Our visit to New Hampshire involved lots of chipmonk catching, escaping, transporting and releasing. Seemed like we were in a roadrunner cartoon at times. The best was when the first chipmonk ran in the cage, ate most of the food, and for some reason wasn’t quite tripping the door to shut on him. Fun times.

Rockport, MA is one of my favorite little artsy towns to visit. It was a beautiful day for a quick trip there, lobster rolls, chowder, a local beer, and then off to Wingaersheek beach.




Two pics are jammed into this one. The bottom half is the girls staring at their reflection. The top half is what they are giggling at.



Blueberry picking in Hollis, NH. I think we ate twice as much as what you can see in the first picture. Yummy!



Throw Colleen’s name in the hat for one more person who wants the Cougar 🙂 Except we don’t have a garage big enough to fit it.



Merrimack Brewery. I swear those aren’t all mine 🙂

Well…we got almost everybody to cooperate for this one. Man those Clydesdales are big!!


Love me some strawberry rhubarb pie on my birthday!

And here’s the newest addition to our house. We have two Axolotls now. I call them Axel and Ottle, but Megan has other names for them that I can never seem to remember. We feed them each 10 salmon pellets every other day. But you have to get their attention and then drop the pellets right on their head so they can suck them down. But don’t get your fingers too close or they’ll try to suck that down too. And if they are still chewing or not ready, then you have to reach into the tank to pick up the old pellets and try again. Any volunteers to feed them the next time we’re on vacation?

Chris in the spotlight

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

It feels like I often don’t have as many pics of Chris…this time I couldn’t seem to avoid taking pictures of him 🙂

This one’s going to give me nightmares. We were moving the entertainment center – Megan was my wire monkey, disconnecting and connecting everything in tight spaces.


We lost power for no apparent reason – perfect time to get out the lantern, hat-light, etc and play apples-to-apples.


I loved the picture of this tree during our snow storm. So cool. Chris and Megan helped me shovel, and then we created some forts.


it made me smile that the kids made a path for Orca so she could run to her favorite spots.


I went with Christopher and his scout troop to remove wreaths from graves at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Look how many green dots you can see in that first photo – it looked like an insane amount of work when we first showed up. But dozens of scout troops made quick work of this in just a few hours. What a special day and service project.



Here’s Orca’s impersonation of Colonel Sanders. She swore to me that she wasn’t the one who tore the stuffing out of her stuffed animals. Not sure that I believe her.


Christopher kept getting better and better this season in basketball. By the end, he was grabbing lots of rebounds and scoring more. His team had a rough season, but he had fun and didn’t seem to mind. We kept hoping for that first win of the season. Their second to last game, the other team only had four players for the whole game. This was our chance! They kept it close and even got the lead. One of their four players wore glasses, and in the second half his glasses fell off and got stepped on. Megan and I were keeping score that game so we could hear his conversation with his coach. He said he could sort of see without the glasses but had trouble seeing players coming at him. Great – now they were down to 3 sighted-players. Well…despite the other team doing everything they could to help us win our first game…it went to double over time and then the first team to score wins. We sent them to the foul line…and they scored – oh well, it was still a fun season for Christopher and he learned a lot.


Breakfast of champions! This is what Christopher has most days 😉 Mmmm – Patrick’s.


Yikes – how did 2015 escape me without birthday questions!?!?! Here they are for all of 2016. I laughed that the ‘what would you do tomorrow?’ question was so real-time (and…today we did get Chris a haircut, we made a huge brunch at home, and Megan & I went outside and played soccer!).

My favorite food is…Chocolate ice cream, frozen peas, and apple sauce
My favorite book is…(haven’t been reading)
My favorite song is…Imagine Dragons
My favorite possession is…phone and Orca
My favorite thing to do is…dance
My favorite color is…yellow
When I grow up I want to be a…scientist
It would be a really good year this year if…we make it to state on varsity dance
My favorite restaurant is…Punch Pizza
My favorite video game is…(no favorite)
My favorite movie is…(no favorite)
My favorite holiday is…Christmas
My favorite season is…fall
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…go out to breakfast before church

My favorite food is…Sticks & Stones ice cream, pasta, and Punch pizza
My favorite book is…Legend
My favorite song is…I get a Feeling; Radioactive (Imagine Dragons); Polarize (twenty one pilots)
My favorite possession is…Orca
My favorite thing to do is…read
My favorite color is…teal
When I grow up I want to be a…scientist
It would be a really good year this year if…I win a basketball game
My favorite restaurant is…Chipotle
My favorite video game is…Black Ops 2
My favorite movie is…Hobbit
My favorite holiday is…Christmas
My favorite season is…spring
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…get a haircut

My favorite food is…Mommy’s macaroni and cheese
My favorite book is…Everest series by Gordon Korman
My favorite song is…One Direction; Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
My favorite possession is…Boo – stuffed dog and saxophone
My favorite thing to do is…play Minecraft when Chris and Colleen play
My favorite color is…blue
When I grow up I want to be a…farmer with really big farm and tons of animals
It would be a really good year this year if…don’t have any more (Spanish) presentations
My favorite restaurant is…Noodles
My favorite video game is…Minecraft
My favorite movie is…Harry Potter (all – 8th if had to pick)
My favorite holiday is…Christmas
My favorite season is…spring
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…play soccer outside

Summer road trippin’

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

This was the view from our back patio. Under attack? Preparing to handle the protesters-who-can’t-logically-express-what-they-are-fighting-for at the state fair this coming weekend? Blocking streets near your own neighborhood is one thing. Trying to disrupt 100,000 drunks who just want their cheese curds could lead to a riot of epic proportions. Sigh, just wish I’d hear a reasonable, civilized argument in between all the news showing crap burning and neighborhoods getting shot up.

The bucket of water that was meant to put out the fireworks took one for the team. Uh…safety first.

Our firework technicians at work. Boom!

Here’s the dance team. Freshmen in the back. Seniors up front. Lots of rules like that. Tradition? Hazing? Do the right things for the right reasons and all will be well.

Look who else made the dance team. Hmmm…I don’t remember trying out.

And she didn’t think she’d ever be a “dance mom”. Somebody could use a ProSpangle Bling Machine for Christmas!

Birthday pies for daddy!!! Stay away. Mine.

How many bunnies do you see in the picture? Seriously??? Laying down??? You’re too fat, lazy, and confident to even stand up to eat under the bird feeder now??? That’s right next to our patio – Orca obviously isn’t doing her job!!!

Mom – did I ever thank you for the birthday glasses? No? Good. Heh heh.

We have a bumble bee hive in an old stump in our backyard. Bumble bees are everywhere. I looked online and it said that bumble bee hives are very rare and that we should consider ourselves lucky. We are! They are awesome to watch bumbling around.




Colleen has been busy painting signs. Megan is going to wear this around her neck all year at school I think.

Megan asked for EVERY one of the different swimming fish in this series for the pool. It’s insane in the pool when she turns them all on at once. Things are attacking you from every side!

Wonder where she got her love of pies from? We kept getting so many berries from the garden, along with our rhubarb, that Beth couldn’t help but keep making super yummy pies 🙂


On our road trip to Kentucky for Beth’s mom’s side’s family reunion, we stopped in Iowa. Our typical rant about Iowa involves hitting deer or getting stuck in snow storms. This time we drove on back roads, gravel roads, windy roads, roads through small towns, etc – and we loved it. I had an urge to drop everything and become a farmer. So close – but we kept driving. It was beautiful. Our first stop was at the Field of Dreams. We watched this movie as a family a week prior to the trip (we must have set the bar so low describing this “old” movie to our kids and how boring it would be that they all said they actually liked it – hee hee). The baseball field is exactly how you’d picture it from the movie. It was the perfect stop to get our trip started. And it’s surprising how popular it is 25+ years later (and they don’t charge admission – awesome!).












The start of me and my minions!!! Watch out world – here we come!

Just passing along this picture for anyone looking for ideas on remodeling their kitchen. Is this what they call Kentucky charm???

I’m very secure in my urges toward quilting. Are you?

So much to do outside the Quilting Museum we didn’t even see what was inside (maybe on our next trip to Paducah)?

Dam sign

Dam trash cans

Dam daughter

Dam son

Christopher showing off his new glasses. What are you lookin’ at.

This is my story to sum up Kentucky. I’m standing near the 6-pack of Kentucky Ale in the liquor store and the clerk was right there. I wanted to know if that beer was popular down there so I asked him, “Do people drink this here?”. He turned to me, 100% serious, and said (as if I was the dumb one he needed to educate), “Sir, you can’t drink in the liquor store.” Uh…huh? I didn’t even respond. Maybe this is a common daily question he gets. I just bought ma’ beer, said “See yinz later”, and I burned rubber leaving the parking lot like everyone else does down there.

Months ago when I asked Christopher what was on his dream list this year, he said to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky. He got to eat lots of Kentucky-fried chicken (because that’s what the buffet had in the one spot that we could all eat each night at the reunion). The reunion was 20 miles from the big city of Paducah, but we did find this KFC on our way out of town. Livin’ the dream!

We stopped in Bloomington, Indiana to see Leanna w/ her kids, and to walk around IU’s campus. We all ate lunch at Mother Bear’s Pizza. Not that I would ever judge or compare schools in Indiana but this shows the quality of an education in Bloomington. We ordered the right amount of food for lunch – 3 huge mistakes (including a repeat mistake) later by the “morons in the kitchen” (as our waiter called them) and Leanna had a pile of food taller than her! We would go back there in a heartbeat. Order something slightly different from what is on the menu and you’ve hit the jackpot of free food. Our problem was how to get them to stop making mistakes in the kitchen so we could just leave the place. Guess you’ve got to be good at something, huh? Campus was beautiful as I remembered it – we keep wanting to show Colleen schools that we pass.

We had an awesome quick visit in Indy. Amazing hosts as always! Great to catch up with everyone and to see all of the kids – wow how they’ve all grown!!! Thank you Egolds!!!

Don’t think for a second that Beth had any better luck than I did.

Pizza with Phil and Pat. Great to see them and to see Aunt Pat up and about and looking great. Always great to stop and catch up on things in Rochester.

It is hard to not think about Rochester and “the flag pole” but this little trailer and VW Bus served the best ice cream we’ve ever had in Rochester. Too bad that the flagpole is putting the flagpole out of business. This new place is easy to miss as you drive by but I recommend that you stop there!

We must have caught Dave and Beth on laundry day – why else would you wear those t-shirts? Aunt Beth sounded like she’d love a Purdue blanket from us – not sure what she would do with it but she said we could send her one. It was great to see Aunt Beth and Uncle Dave, and to see that Aunt B is doing well. We are thinking of you all the time and continue to send happy thoughts and prayers to everyone in Rochester. Boiler up!

Hail, hail to old Purdue! All hail to our old gold and black!

Harry’s Chocolate Shop near campus.Home of the world famous Baltimore Zoo.

The next pictures in future blog posts won’t be so small of our cute little pumpkin (weeks later she’s already past 100 lbs – more to come next month).

And here’s the start to our cute little pumpkin’s vine.

A beautiful arrangement of buds from the cute little pumpkin’s vine.

Is there such a thing as a free donut?

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

One final Scrambler picture from Schooner Days. I love these pics with the two of them smooshed together. These two went on this ride over and over and over and over.


It’s June – so time to celebrate Christopher’s birthday, huh? Dirt cake, of course!


No backyard is complete is without zombie and monster shooting targets (hopefully this is as close as we get to the real thing but you never know with zombies these days)!


Followed by trampoline, rope course, laser tag, etc. Remember that scene from The Matrix when NEO is dodging bullets? Here’s Christopher’s reenactment of that.


Kids are crazy – I don’t know how they throw their bodies around like that.


Colleen earned the President’s Award for Educational Excellence. Woohoo – so proud of her and all of her hard work and focus this year. There is so much going on with school and dance, and staying organized, and she does wonderful with all of it. You go girl!!


Megan’s soccer season just ended. She had a great year – started out wanting to play defense, but finally is realizing the front line is more fun and rewarding (we know goals and sometimes assists, earn the family ice cream, but we never quite figured out a consistent way to measure ice cream awards on defense – scoring is where it’s at!).


Receiving her medal – way to go Megs!



Coach bought ice cream for the girls after our final game. It’s hard to believe that sometimes we can’t fit two kids on our couch without a fight, but somehow the entire team fit into one booth!


While Megan, Colleen and I were eating our ice cream, just 20 minutes away our house was under the darkest little blip on this map and they were getting some big ol’ hail. Crazy how isolated those summer storms can be.


Christopher has also been busy with sports. He tried a flag football league for the first time this spring. Something to keep him busy in the off season. He had fun doing it and had an amazing last game. He scored several times including the last 2 or 3 scores of the game. This summer he is taking a strengths training program put on at the high school by the football team. His first ever bench pressing and squats. Way to go hulk!




These pictures crack me up. I love the serious faces. Leave us alone, we’re not messing around dad.





How cold is your water straight out of the hose? Yep – ours is that cold too. I don’t know how she did it but Megan was swimming as we were filling up the pool. It felt like ice water. Brrrrrr!


I went for a jog over lunch one day at work and came across these three little dudes wandering around by the side of the road. Little bundles of fur that weren’t even as high as the curb. Cracked me up. Cool little dudes that will turn into masked trouble makers.



I ran a 10-mile course last weekend for Break the Stigma. It was a beautiful cross-country course through Whitetail Woods Regional Park. I’m not one to ever brag about going for a “PR”. I don’t even ever really say “PR”. But you’ll have to check out this link to see my Personal Record for a 10-mile course ( Yep, that’s me – averaged 6 minute, 53 seconds per mile. Wow – that is insanely fast for me. How could it be? Maybe because this course did so many loops and twists and crisscrossing of paths and doubling back that most people ended up taking a slight wrong turn and only ran about 8.24 miles (according to my phone). I bet a ton of people got their best times that day if they also got credit for running all 10-miles 🙂 I probably would have finished about 8:45 min/mile, regardless, it was a beautiful course, for a great cause. Here are some pics from the course – sorry they are blurry (that’s due to my blazing speed!) – took them while running over bridges and trails and past turkeys (or are those raptors?!?!).




On Father’s Day we hit the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. There was one person in front of me and there was only one person working. I had only been in line for about 10 seconds when the dude behind the counter, who was waiting on the only other customer, gave me a wise-ass remark that he’d be with me in about 20 minutes. Without missing a beat I said right back something like, “Glad you’re improving, that will be quicker than last week.” He started laughing and bought me this donut. See mom, being a smart ass does pay off. Nah nah.


Beth and I went to the final Wits show of the season. It was a great show – funny and with great guests. I wrote a small post about something Cary Elwes said if you’re interested. Before the show, and at intermission, you can tweet and they will show some of them on the big screen while people are mingling. Got mine posted just in time!


Early summer is here! I’ll call this piece, Scapes & Berries. Megan left me strict instructions to pick berries each day while she is in St. Louis. This was my first day’s harvest. And I ate every single one of them (the berries, not the garlic scapes – well not yet at least)!!!


Hot Cold Hot Cold

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

What a crazy month it has been. Sunny one day and snowing the next. 70F one day and then 20F the next. My snow tires are gone, the ducks are back, and green stuff is sprouting everywhere! We have been busy, even for us. In one week in April all of the following happened: Christopher had a birthday; Beth’s parents came to visit; Beth flew to Washington DC to present at a conference; I interviewed at a local college for a certificate program; Colleen tried out for & then made the high school dance team; and Colleen had a dance competition. Everyone was crazy and running around except for Megan 🙂

Happy Easter!


The first thing Megan does every morning is spritz all of the plants in her room and then feeds her fish. She loves growing things. She has a grow light, heating pad, etc in her room. I have a friend who grows GIANT pumpkins (e.g., > 1000 lb pumpkins). He gave me some seeds (check out how big just the seeds are!) and Megan & I are going to try our luck at growing a State-Fair-winning pumpkin. We filed our seeds. We soaked our seeds. We planted our seeds. Now we wait 🙂


Megan and I found some recipes from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes book. The Frobscottle didn’t taste so bad (I think Beth and I enjoyed it more than the kids) and thankfully didn’t have the intended gassy results as happened in the BFG book!


Colleen’s #1 dream for the past few years has been to work very hard and do everything that she could to make the Eden Prairie Dance Team. Tryouts were this month and she made all of the teams that she tried out for. So she’ll be dancing at all high school football and soccer games this fall, and doing competitions this winter. She is crazy excited about this. Way to go Colleen! This is the big time – Eden Prairie has won the state title in football the last 4 years straight and our coach was national coach of the year in 2014.


Not quite sure what this logo is, but the kids tried to get me to sit on this bench first – stinkers 🙂


We spent a beautiful morning picking up trash around Purgatory Creek. Megan found two amazing treasures – one was a pacifier and the other was a small statue of the Hindu god Ganesha still wrapped in bubble wrap. She even took that one in for show and tell to show off her trash treasure! We had a fun morning and picked up lots of stuff. We were supposed to meet up with the scout troop but we got there late and never quite caught them. Funny how we followed where they had been and still managed to pick up tons of things – interesting 🙂



Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt were in town, guess what that means…


Colleen and I were shopping at the running store and I found a few things with “Brooks” on them…I’ll show you which one I bought when you visit!


This was right after my 18-mile run. I ran 8 miles with a co-worker and we timed it just right to then start Goldy’s 10-mile run right as that race started. It went great (way better than my 19-mile run two weeks later for some reason). This race ended with us running into the Gopher’s football stadium and stopping on the 50-yard line. Hopefully my 20-mile run coming up goes smoothly – and then that’s my last long run before the marathon on May 31st. Crazy how far I’ve come in just a few months (and that the farthest I ran total in 2014 was only about 4 miles!). I’ve lost some weight while training (I’m intentionally watching what I eat) and my clothes aren’t fitting the way they used to. It seemed odd when my underwear also starting fitting kind of funny – they weren’t baggy but instead it seemed the waist was sitting lower (did Beth buy me sort of new hip-hugger, low rise weirdness?). I kind of shrugged it off but it took us a few weeks to realize that Christopher and I have to start doing our laundry completely separately or we’ll never keep our underwear straight!


I’ll have to do Christopher’s birthday questions next month. We had cake but he hasn’t had a party with friends yet – hopefully we can pull that off in the next few weeks. He’s thinking one of those sky-zone type of places followed by a sleep over.


The day before and the day after were beautiful and sunny (in fact, the next day was when I did my 18-mile Goldy’s run). Out of no where it started snowing like crazy for just a little while – just about everybody in the building had their noses pressed to the windows staring out dumbfounded.


I want to see this snowman try to shop for clothes that will fit!


Sad picture. Poor Frosty. See you next year.


I know I’ve written before about how much I love trampoline pictures. Always crack me up. The kids jump every day but they are always doing things to make it even more fun (dangerous?). Dog? Balls? Craziness!





Medusa hair!





The ducks are back! They stop by the pond several times each day. Not yet sure if they’ll lay eggs near our pond again but it’s always fun to have them visit so much and be so comfortable there (despite Orca’s behavior toward them – bad doggie!). We’ve also been hearing pheasants again. We haven’t spotted them yet but they are hiding somewhere in or near our backyard.



Do you recognize her with glasses? Can you believe we already received mail making us aware of when driving classes start!!!!


Spring break. The pictures are backwards but we first went to Chicago and then stopped at the Wisconsin Dells for 2 days on our way back. These are the bar stools in Wisconsin that Beth wants in our house some day. And some big animal heads on our wall too!



We had an amazing time in Chicago. I got to run several days (I always love running through the city streets early in the morning as everything wakes up and the city comes to life). It was windy along the shore for a 13-mile run but I made it. Funny – as I was running I started seeing more and more people with race #s. I eventually came to the start of a 16,000 person 8K run that was happening. Had I planned ahead I would have signed up for that possibly. We bought City Passes which made it so much more enjoyable to see the Field Museum (natural history), Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and the John Hancock Tower. It was a whirlwind tour but we saw tons of places and also got to eat so much great food. Beth and I ate at Alinea again – absolutely amazing. The best meal of our lives. Wow was it great!!! It was only 16 courses the night we went but somehow we still got enough food (plus the 11-wines in my wine flights).

Should we have been scared that this was by our night stand in our hotel? Having lived downtown Chicago for many years we aren’t surprised by noises of the city.


The kids had more fun in the lobby of the John Hancock (throwing rubber bouncy balls in an empty lobby late at night) as they did at the top of the building.





Watch out – here come the dolphins right behind you!





Check out the next two pictures – only a few difference in the past seven years 🙂




Chris and Sue!







One dessert is never enough…so we ordered four! This was at Topolabampo. It is a restaurant that Rick Bayless runs (he’s there nearly every day). Rick has three restaurants and this is his most upscale of the three. It was ok but we would never go back for the price – instead we would go back to his Frontera Grill in a heartbeat every single time instead. It has wonderful food. Live and learn. Glad we went there but once was enough.



Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Everyone else has opinions, I have data! I give partial credit to Watts S. Humphrey and W. Edward Deming for that one. I met and spoke with Watts on several occasions at Carnegie Mellon and am still influenced by his dedication to metrics and improvement. I know, data & metrics, sounds boring – I’ll try to keep this fun.

In 2014 I completed over 25 items from my dream list. Some big, some small, but I kept moving and focused all year long and had a crazy great year with so much to be grateful for. I have a list of dreams in 2015 that is just as long – and this time next year I’ll have another 25 things completed. What’s the secret? I keep this list visible, look at it all the time, share it with others, know when to adjust it, and constantly keep moving forward knowing that small steps are better than being paralyzed by not knowing exactly what the big picture or long-term plan is. I have smaller, repetitive items on my list. And I have some big, scary items on my list for this year. So what’s big and scary this year? Under the assumption that I stay healthy…I plan to run my first marathon in May. Want some data for why this is scary?

I started using a FitBit last year and also started tracking my runs with mapmyrun. Looking at all the data for 2014, my average run was 2.03 miles and my longest total run in 2014 was 4.23 miles. Yep, 4.23 miles. That’s it. I ran 85 times for a total of 201 miles (including 30+ days of “streaking” at least 1-mile as part of a challenge). Since I typically ran over lunch I just went out and back real quick. Please don’t do the math and tell me how much further I have to run to complete a marathon. I used FitBit for a good part of the year too. Fitbit tracks all steps and said I went 1,668 miles and took over 3.6 million steps when I was wearing it. Sweet. Fun data.

I’m not sure what changed but for some reason a marathon (which has never even sounded close to being a good idea), doesn’t seem that daunting. Funny, given that only just today I finished the official “Week 1” of the 18-week training plan. I’m sure I’ll soon be faced with reality but it’s fun to think “I got this” for as long as that will last. I set out to prove something to myself last week since I had never ever run a total 26.2 miles in the span of one week before. I intentionally slowed down my runs (I still need to slow them down more) and was relieved when the week’s summary came back showing I ran a marathon in just under 4 hours – divided up by 6 nights of rest 🙂

marathon week

But you can’t trust all data. Christopher’s team played basketball a few weeks ago and they must of had dads from the other team keeping score. Before the first half was over they had the score at 111 to 6. And it didn’t seem to bother them one bit. At least they were consistent, when we should have gone to double digits at 10 they also gave us an extra one-hundred points, so the final score for a 28 minute game was something like 126 to 115.


I got my chance to keep score this morning. My early days with the HeathKit prepared me well for the intimidating user interface of the Daktronics 3000. I think the “3000” stood for how many years old the score keeping system is.



Ready for more data? How many plows does it take to remove an inch or two of snow from the highway in Minnesota? One? Two? Three? More? Looked out my window at work and I almost missed their parade! I now have a data point showing where traffic jams start.


How about this for data…an hour or so of work at Feed My Starving Children, packed enough food for hundreds of meals. Genesis helped us and we packed enough food to feed seven people, every day, for an entire year (or, hopefully help feed their family and village throughout the year).


Colleen collected lots of data over the past few months while working in Beth’s lab. She wrote it all up and created an awesome presentation for the science fair. She did a fantastic job preparing for the science fair and ended up winning first place for her age and area (8th grade Life Science). Nice work!!!


We’ll have to continue to gather data but it appears that the rule is they only let one person win each year whose name either doesn’t contain a ‘v’ or start with ‘s’ 😉 (the other winners were: Spicher; Syed; Varun Saini; Smrithi; Verma; Anvi; Voehl; and Janvi Shah)

Speaking of Colleen…I realized that I asked her a bunch of birthday questions last year but never actually put them on my blog (oops). Here they are:

Colleen’s 14th Birthday

My favorite food is…apple sauce
When I grow up I want to be a…scientist (not sure which kind)
My favorite restaurant is…Punch Pizza
My favorite possession is…phone
My favorite color is…yellow
My favorite song is…Imagine Dragons
My favorite book is…The Selection
My favorite movie is…Fault in Our Stars
My favorite holiday is…Christmas
My favorite season is…Fall
My favorite thing to do is…dance
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…hang out with friends
It would be a really good year this year if…I get on the dance team

Some data is more subjective. Here’s Megan simultaneously using and loving her Christmas gifts (she requested not to be shown in this picture). She’s baking cookies and also making candy from her Candy Chemistry set. There’s a big jar of blue sugar water in front of her to make crystal candy (4 cups sugar to 2 cups water – ick).


Here’s data showing what happened to our backyard when I accidently left the hose on overnight. Yikes. I hope the neighbors don’t notice.


Ice Castles came to Eden Prairie this year. They were cool to see but not quite as neat as I was hoping. We had a fun time and got some good photos.


Megan chose to stay home so we replaced her in this photo 🙂



One down, eleven to go 🙂 In theory you’re supposed to travel all over Minnesota to find these scavenger hunt items, but it would be great if more of them come to Eden Prairie instead.


Here’s a data point showing that Genesis will be in trouble when she is ready to fly back to Venezuela. She arrived to Minnesota carrying two bags…when she brought everything up from the basement to move into the new host family’s house in January it took over 10 ten trips and was about 20 bags of stuff. Uh….good luck with that. We were all shocked. The other host family was worried they would have to go home to get a bigger car…but we packed it in and still had room for their kids too!


Not sure if Megan was going to go bowling or finish the snowball fight with Christopher based on the size of that mega-snow-ball she was building.


Christopher proudly made Tenderfoot in scouts (psst, don’t call it Stinkyfoot or Tenderheart – both are close and possibly accurate, but not quite correct). He actually had it all done months ago but due to football, wrestling and basketball we haven’t been able to make the meetings. Congratulations Christopher!


And here’s some data from Lumosity. Who knows if I’m really getting smarter and if these charts will go up and up regardless of what I do. But I do like that it asks about sleep and happiness. When I first started it I was grumpy most days so that has improved over time (I really needed those two and a half weeks off at Christmas). I also still am reminded that I need to get more sleep…got to make that happen. My favorite thing to do is compare my stats to the age group that mom is in to see how I compare 🙂


Summer – Part IV (b-day)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Megan’s 9th Birthday

My favorite food is…Mommy’s mac-n-cheese
When I grow up I want to be a…person who makes people have babies (which we clarified to be a nurse who helps deliver babies and helps take care of the mommies
My favorite restaurant is…Noodles
My favorite possession is…Pengui (penguin stuffed animal)
My favorite color is…blue
My favorite song is…Hunger Games I Wanna Go
My favorite book is…Spirit Animals
My favorite movie is…Catching Fire
My favorite holiday is…Christmas (because of presents)
My favorite season is…winter (so we can sled)
My favorite thing to do is…play video games
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…go to the north pole and meet Santa!
It would be a really good year this year if…I met Peeta and Katniss

Hard to have a birthday any more without a dirt cake. It turns out that Megan didn’t even want a dirt cake but asked for it because a girl at her party last year asked her if she was having a dirt cake again. Megan says she doesn’t like cake…she’s realizing it a lot earlier in life than I did…pies is where it’s at.


We had an outdoor beach ball themed party. Here are the girls running through the yard on a scavenger hunt.


And in the pool. And then to the trampoline. And then to the hammock. And repeat, repeat, repeat. We had an absolutely beautiful day for the party!


Look who showed up at the party. The girl that found him and was playing with him remembered about half way through eating her cake, etc that she had been holding him a lot. Hee hee. You ate frog germs.


Dogs don’t belong on couches, laps, or hammocks. Not in my house. No way. And don’t give me that look.


Megan loving her legos.


The ducks didn’t make a nest in our yard or around our pond as far as I know but momma duck proudly marched her ducklings through our yard so we could see them. Thanks momma duck!


On the kid’s dream list for the summer…sleep on the trampoline! Check that one off the list!



Dandelion Soup

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

I said I would stop saying life is crazy because crazy is normal, unless it truly is crazy and out of control, which it feels now, so I guess I’m back to saying life is crazy. The last of the monster snow piles finally melted completely away a few weeks ago; American Idol finally finished (we started watching it when Susana was here so it’s been a long time!); and now we’ve got soccer, track and field, and soft ball going along with all the things we were already doing before (swimming, kung foo, scouts, dance, etc).

Here’s a hint at my craziness. A week ago I spent all day Friday volunteering at an event for the Metro CISM team. We had speakers come to Minnesota from 9/11, Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, and the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Powerful stories and lessons learned related to providing support for first responders. Beth’s parents came up that same day. Then on Saturday I spent 6 hours volunteering at the Make-A-Wish ball (the highlight of the evening was watching > $120,000 get raised in about 10 minutes – which was after so much other money had already been donated throughout the night) – great amounts of money going to a great cause. Sunday morning started with two soccer games; then I revealed Make-A-Wish wishes to a set of twins (they each get their own wish); and then rushed to back-to-back dance recitals for Colleen (Megan and I snuck out after the first recital), followed by dinner out with everyone of course. Crazy or normal? I’m not sure any more.

It’s soooooo nice to have a 3-day Memorial Weekend with absolutely nothing on the calendar. Watched the Indy 500 today (wow – awesome race and ending) and have been out working in the yard most of the weekend. Megan wanted to plant even more stuff so we went crazy with a bunch of old seeds. Spring is definitely here…ducks are frequent visitors, saw our first humming bird today, Beth & Megan made dandelion soup (yep, for real), and we even saw a beautiful white swan in the marsh while we were on a walk tonight.

Here are answers to questions I asked Christopher just a bit after his birthday…sure sounds like last year, and the year before, and the year before for him, huh? 🙂

Christopher’s 11th Birthday

My favorite food is…ice cream cake (and pasta)
When I grow up I want to be a…scientist
My favorite restaurant is…Noodles
My favorite possession is…Xbox
My favorite color is…teal
My favorite song is…I Have a Feeling (almost said Radioactive)
My favorite book is…Dragon Champion
My favorite movie is…(no clear favorite…likes a bunch of them)
My favorite holiday is…Christmas (because it’s Jesus’ birthday and I get lots of presents)
My favorite season is…spring (because of my birthday)
My favorite thing to do is…read
If I could do anything tomorrow I would…have my birthday party!
It would be a really good year this year if…I had fun the entire year

How come on the one day of the year that Beth asks me to drive the girls home from cross country they decide not to actually practice running on the track but instead they decide to all do running belly flops down a huge muddy hill in the rain? Hmmm…coincidence? I think not.


In the past we’ve had up to 15 girls come over for Colleen’s birthday parties. They get a bit wild at times but nothing too insane and they calm down pretty easy. For Christopher’s party we had five boys over. Just five. Not fifteen. Five. Each parent who dropped off their sons would say “Are you sure you can handle this?” and then run as fast as they could away from our house before waiting for our answer. Absolutely insane! Bouncing off the walls! Up late, up early, non-stop energy and talk and goofiness and physical playing and crazy ideas. Thankfully Christopher’s got a great set of friends. What a fun time! 🙂



Is it wrong that the last words I heard in this photo (before I ran in the house without looking back) were, “This is a game called stick wars…first everyone needs to find a big stick…and don’t hit each other too hard…”?







Megan got to pick her country 3rd in her class and was thrilled to get Spain! She was really excited to do this because of Susana.


What a good big brother. We went to the zoo for Mother’s Day and Megan was worn out.


Nothing better than breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day! 🙂


Megan’s soccer team is off to a great start. They played in a tournament last weekend. Their first game was 21-1. Megan’s coach had them passing several times before they could score but even that didn’t help. It was ugly. We felt bad clapping for our girls after a while but the teams were a complete mismatch.


Megan’s teammate’s expression says it all – your leg is not supposed to bend like that!


Getting ready to juke the goalie!


This picture made me laugh just trying to figure out which way the ball is going and how everybody’s legs got so twisted.


We went on an Arbor Day walk and they had some beekeeper attire to try on. I love that girl’s expression as she looks at Megan.


And with a prop 🙂


I asked Megan if she wanted to wear a ponytail at her next soccer game. This was her answer…