Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

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 πŸ™‚ 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)!!!


Where did May go?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

What a good boy – bringing a flower to mommy on Mother’s Day weekend. Christopher has been playing flag football in the spring. It’s been fun for him but I think he’s ready for the real deal in the fall again. Next week he starts a strength training camp put on by the football team – I think I started playing around with weights about his age – great life long habit to get into. I think he’s doing anything he can to finally be able to beat me up πŸ™‚


And of course our standard Mother’s Day lunch at Convention Grill. Mmmmm,mmmmmm, goodness. Yummy burger, great fries, and all washed down by a super thick chocolate banana malt.


Sprinkler under the trampoline was a new one – kept him cool and wet but it makes it a lot harder to bounce.


Megan’s dream this year has been to plant an apple tree. You know I can’t resist supporting someone’s dream. So we planted two apple trees in our yard (the price was right, only $25 per tree from a local plant sale). Megan loves taking care of plants – she was a big help digging this hole! Now we just wait about five years for our efforts to pay off!


This is what spring soccer looks like mid-May in Minnesota – ha! Ok, it was unusually cold that day, but guess whose child only wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt while all the other kids had on hats, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and ear muffs? Even Megan was cold after this one.


So I see this big polyphemus moth (what, that’s not what you call them?) on the ground in the parking lot when I get to work. Not moving. And he’s in pretty much the same spot when I leave 9 hours later. Not moving. It is cold. There is no shelter or vegetation around. And we had a similar moth a few years back emerge from a cocoon in one of our bushes. So I pick him up and put him on my jacket in the seat next to me in my car and head home. About halfway home he starts moving a bit and then starts beating his wings a ton. I still didn’t think he would be strong enough to fly but before I knew it he took flight and started flying all around my car. It got me cracking up as I wondered if anyone in the cars next to me could see this enormous flying whatever going all around me and my car πŸ™‚


Some things haven’t changed at all in the past 35 years. Christopher’s buddies have all started solving the rubic’s cube so finally Christopher gave in and we started playing with it too.


Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool. This is a well deserved break. Grandma and Grandpa T hardly rested at all when they were here. I loved the visit and we had a great time staying busy working around the house, talking, see a soccer game, going out for dinner & ice cream, going to church, visiting the farmer’s market, sewing (thank you!), etc, etc, etc. Thank you for everything – it was great seeing you. Love you all!


Cheers at Maynards on the water while Grandma and Grandpa are in town!


Last time Grandma and Grandpa T were in town we got a new ladder because someone didn’t think my old $10 ladder from an estate sale was safe enough. It’s been laying by the campfire ever since so this time we burned it. And of course how can you resist not standing it up in the fire?


Christopher has been in a leadership club all year that culminated with a presentation to the principal and other teachers. I had to laugh when they sent a picture that night and he was wearing a skull shirt that day – and his buddy didn’t show up so he had to present alone. Fun times.


Grandpa forced us all to go to Freeziacs. Thank you Grandpa.


We changed the rules up a bit to play “speed monopoly” which ended up being a lot of fun for everyone. Everyone quit before we could declare me the winner (get your own blog if you don’t like how I summarize things – heh heh).


This first picture is what the water tower looked like the whole time Grandma and Grandpa were here. Grandpa kept saying they are painting the tower. I said that was dumb and that this was a magic show. And if not a magic show then one of those giant swing rides at the state fair. Grandpa insisted they were painting it. Uh…check out the 2nd photo…don’t you feel dumb now…it’s very obviously a magic show…and then look at the 3rd picture…ta da!




And it’s gone – totally amazing. It’s not painted – it’s just gone. That’s magic! How do they do that?!?!?


Rumor has it that when Christopher first showed this to mommy she thought it was a tank – hee hee. Don’t mess with us or we’ll send over our killer turtle tanks!


At what point do you realize your career is a bit off track when you are spending 241 hours putting 68,827 legos together to make a giant peacock for the arboretum. And whose job was it to count those legos? I swear I have never seen this kit at the lego store in the Mall of America. (note: Our local paper had an article on this a few days after I typed this post. Little did I know that there is an elite group of only 12 professionals in the WORLD recognized by The LEGO Group for their constructing skill and enthusiasm – and we have been blessed to see Sean Kenney’s work who is one of this elite group. I love it that they say they certify for not only skill but also “enthusiasm”. Dude, you got mad Lego building skills but for a 40-year-old you just didn’t show enough enthusiasm to the art – maybe you should stick with the kids jumbo blocks instead.)


We got to watch some turtle log rolling at the arboretum. Just when a few turtles would get balanced on this log, another turtle would come along and get the whole log spinning again. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.


Schooner Days came a weekend early this year so it beat Beth’s birthday by a bit. In the first picture if you look very closely and let your eyes focus on the right hand side (just below where those bars cross to make an “x”) you can see the carnies kid playing with his toys inside of the fenced in area (he blends into the background) – he was just feet away from the swinging cars of this ride. Insane. We couldn’t watch him – we were all afraid he would stand up or get distracted. And then check out Megan’s expression in the second picture – she doesn’t get that from me πŸ™‚



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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚



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 πŸ™‚




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.


2015 March Madness

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Up until today we have had no snow on the ground recently. Our biggest snow fall all year was only 4″. It’s been in the 50’s and 60’s the last few weeks. But today…March 22nd…we are supposedly maybe getting our biggest snow fall of the season at a whopping 5″. Crazy winter. It’s been so nice that just this week Megan helped me get out all of the lawn furniture and we setup the trampoline! Things changed fast today πŸ™‚


Christopher reads for an hour or two most nights and is always asking me to get books for him from the library (all of our kids are good readers but he’s been in “the zone” for a while). I helped him clean up his room this month. Every time I reserve books for him from the library they come with a little slip of paper in them. This isn’t even all of the slips we found (just in his room!). And most of these books are hundreds of pages.


With the spring thaw Megan was excited to see what the ice dams were making for her! Not sure if she decided this was a better treat to eat or weapon!



I’m glad the postman hasn’t figured out yet was is in the boxes we get from St. Louis around the holidays.


It was great weather for the Get Lucky 1/2 Marathon. I was just about the only one not wearing green. I’m in training – I ain’t got no time to mess around running 13 miles in a sports coat or carrying a pot of gold (note: this course was an out-and-back so I got to see this leprechaun several miles back and he was missing his jacket, and his pot of gold was no where to be found). Despite my strict training regimen, I did partake in the pizza and Finnegan’s beer afterwards πŸ™‚


Dang leprechauns visited our house again in the middle of the night. Nothing but trouble (and sugar).


Lightning is imminent? If I have the kids jump long enough on the trampoline, and I run a cable to our house, think I can generate enough power to cover some of the lights they never turn off?


I’ve been taking the kids out one-on-one with me to talk about their dreams for the year. Megan and I went to Yo Yo Donuts this weekend (Christopher was camping, and Colleen had dance competitions all weekend, so it was just Megan and me). We talked about some dreams, ate donuts, got a 99 cent tiny ice cream cone for her too, bought goo at the running store (she likes picking out the flavors – which I let her try before I run), looked at bike helmets, and I let her pick out an air freshener for my car. She’s been talking about buying a Christmas Tree air freshener for my car (not because my car stinks – but just because she wanted one). She ended up picking a purple tree (actually, a 6-pack of purple trees) that makes my car smell like a candy factory. Wow – those trees are powerful. I’m worried I’m going to smell like a big fruity lollipop every time I leave my car. Fun times.


She loved the size of this cone. Perfect!


We weren’t sure what this car freshener would smell like? I’m glad she didn’t pick that one!


Marathon Week 5

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

This past month has been a blur – I think this is the fewest pictures I’ve taken in a month in a LONG time. So…I guess this post will be more about me and my current dreams πŸ™‚ I have this recurring dream list item to post at least one blog update each month – I need to start making this happen before the last day of each month!!! But at least it’s happening – without my dream list these would rarely get posted.

Thirteen weeks until my marathon. 13 days until my 1/2 marathon. Ran 12 miles today. Crazy to think that the farthest I ran all of last year was 4.23 miles. And insane to think that just five weeks ago I was nervous and excited to run (and planned my afternoon around) just a 5-mile run. I’m following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 training plan as closely as I can – so far it’s working great for me. I only have minor aches and pains that go away within a day of my long runs – hopefully I continue to stay strong (physically & mentally). I started eating Gu on my runs…gooey yumminess to keep the energy up…I’ve been warned by many people that it will cause tummy issues but I’m doing fine so far. I just wish the weather would improve. I am trying very hard to run outdoors for all of my runs but I’m getting sick of the below zero temps on slippery, icy, snow covered paths. I did 3-miles on a treadmill at work which about drove me insane, until I followed that up with 42+ laps around an indoor track to get 6-miles in one freezing night. I likened that mentally to running my marathon – drove me crazy to keep going around and around. My phone app had no idea where I was running most of the time either – it couldn’t track my distance accurately and had me running in mid-air and outside the building – wheeee. Here’s the craziness it came up with:


While I’m training for my marathon I also have finally decided to focus on my dream of finding my 6-pack abs (they say we all have them but we just need to find them!). This is a great goal while I’m training for a marathon because you get back from running and feel like you can eat anything and everything you want. It’s an easy trap to fall into so being even more conscious about what I’m eating now is paying off. And get ready…once I find my 6-pack I’m showing everybody, all the time. Christmas photo – yep. Selfies – yep. Work meetings – yep. Stay tuned πŸ™‚

It was my 10th year heading out to Vail for a ski trip with the guys. The 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships were going on while we were out there so the Vail Village had extra energy and a lot more people which made for fun evenings.


Didn’t scare me one bit. Didn’t even think about it – I just crossed the line and left whatever happened next up to fate.


This is what Beth brought home last week. She got to grade that entire stack of papers. She is the TA and she found out which way the crap rolls. Shhhh – don’t tell anyone in the class – but many of their answers ended up being graded by a 9-year-old πŸ˜‰


Megan and I continue to have fun with the Candy Chemistry Kit. Not sure if we’ve figured out how to use the candy thermometer yet. It seems like we know what we’re doing but somehow all of our recipes end up looking and tasting about the same. Case in point, this picture is of our salt water taffy which looks a lot like hard candy πŸ™‚ Luckily it all tastes great.


Someone left a pillow on the floor and bad doggy decided it was for her.


Beth and Colleen are out of town at a dance competition all weekend (Fri – Sun). Christopher has a basketball tournament. They have won two games and lost one which means we get to play at least four games this weekend. Every time we get home it feels like we’re getting back in the car to play again. Our next game is tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8:30 a.m….if we win that one we play an hour later and then we’re done. It’s been a fun season – go Eagles!



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 πŸ™‚

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’ πŸ˜‰ (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 πŸ™‚



One down, eleven to go πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚


Out with the old

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

It’s a sad day in the Thompson household (ok, not that sad, but keep reading). I was in the bathroom upstairs and Beth yelled to me. I could hear the concern with a touch of sadness in her voice, so I hurried up and got downstairs as soon as I could to find out what happened. When you’ve been on the receiving end of a phone call delivering tragic news it seems you are always somewhat on guard for the worst possible news. As it turns out…after over 20 years of faithful service…our pre-wedding toaster-oven has finally toasted its last bagel. We could tell in the past few weeks that senility was setting in a bit as we’d choose one darkness setting and the oven would surprise us with some extra crispness. In the past few years we’ve lost our early 1990’s sandwich maker, curling iron, and now the toaster oven – I bet our original blender is starting to get worried, especially as we’ve recently been given a “bullet” and a fancier blender.


I got some year-end statistics from a tool I use when I write these blog posts showing the # of views I got by country in 2014 (not quite sure how this is calculated but I don’t really believe any of it is showing data I’d find relevant). I want to give a sincere thank-you to my faithful blog followers in Uruguay, Gaudalupe, and Finland. Your support this past year has given me the energy and inspiration to continue posting blog updates.




I’ve been off of work for over two weeks. It took me at least a week to unwind, and I’ve finally been able to spend some time relaxing, reading, playing, etc. This includes a few days working on a puzzle. When doing puzzles you can’t help but tell Katherine-puzzle-stories which always makes me feel closer to her. I plan to get another puzzle out tonight or tomorrow too πŸ™‚


This is the time of year when so many people focus on resolutions. I continue to achieve my dreams using a list I keep updated all the time (if anyone ever wants to know more about this or wants me to help them get started following this very simple framework don’t hesitate to ever reach out to me). I committed to at least one blog post per month (which I did). And another one of my dreams/goals in 2014 was to get 100 followers to my Suicide Survivor Pinterest board (that I created last year). I met that goal by July. I still continue to post pins and get followers. I always wonder about the story behind people that decide to follow my board. I hope the positive quotes and the comments I add are able to help people. I’m sure many are having hard times over the holidays. Just this week several new people started following me, including this person who hasn’t ever posted or liked anything else, and is only following me (her stats are in the first row) – the pressure’s on for me to post some good stuff πŸ˜‰


Genesis (with a bit of my help) made Pan de Jamon on Christmas Eve. It turned out amazing – I loved it. It was great hot that night, and also great cold (or warmed) for the next several days. Yummy! While we were making it (and not sure how well it was coming together – especially with my ham carving skills) I kept calling it pandejamonium which made me chuckle every time but I don’t think translated so well. Guess my comedy career may struggle in Venezuela (and probably here too).


Orca says thanks for the ridiculous antlers that make her the laughing stock of the doggie neighborhood. She’s been scorned – nobody has sniffed her behind all week. Sad doggie.


Christopher and Genesis out catching our dinner. The squirrels and bunnies have nothing to fear. Sigh.


This may have been Christmas night. Nice weather. No snow at all. I was fooling around with the camera when we realized my goofing off may actually create some fun effects. Ready for us to do your wedding photos???



And this was the next day – we got snow overnight!!! When are the next Olympics? Megan will be ready!


Here she is on her new Christmas sled. It lets you turn so she created a slalom course out of boxes and a watering can.


Woof! Woof!


We had a fun time with some friends a few days before New Years. They have a little birdy that likes to pick stuff out of your teeth (yuck). Here’s Colleen with Tater Tot trying to keep her teeth hidden (Tater Tot was especially eyeing her braces!).


And lastly, it was great to see my parents at Thanksgiving. So glad they could spend a week with us and we could catch up on things. Lots of fun that week. Look at that picture – is Megan taller than Grandma?!?!?


Global what???

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

The rest of the world had a record hot year while Minnesota has one of the coldest falls ever – really? Is that how it works? I still love the winter and our seasons – no complaining here. Bring on the cold and snow!

We graduated from running down the hill to jump in the leaf pile. Now you have to sit & balance on a tiny snow board and get dragged down the hill. Wheeeee!




Another fun night roaming the neighborhood. Christopher is second from the left, Megan is the werewolf, and Genesis is on the right. Christopher and his friend were gone for hours and ended up in another neighborhood with some friends…including a group of girls…first we heard of that happening with him and his buddies. And so it begins.


Colleen and her friends did an awesome job as Alice in Wonderland this year.


Love it. Now get to bed so I can eat all the good stuff!


Beth and I went out several weekends in a row to celebrate our anniversary…a few nice meals (La Belle Vie finally was one of our stops), went to Wits (with Weird Al Yankovic as a guest) and also did Prairie Home Companion’s every-few-years joke show).



We did the zoo on a nice, crisp fall day. This zoo is great for the animals (natural habitat surroundings and lots of land) which means it isn’t always so great for the humans, but this day we got to see several animals fairly close up. We even had a moose come right up to a fence which was fun.







My version of this is that I asked Megan to take the cattails from the pond and carefully throw them over the hill so that the seeds didn’t all land in our yard…I’ll have to write that down for her next year πŸ™‚


Remember that big rock that used to be right next to the driveway? You remember it. The one that didn’t used to be sitting in the street? We have cars crash into our yard every year – slight curve going downhill in a residential neighborhood – why wouldn’t everyone drive crazy fast and out of control? The lady who moved our boulder last week almost made it a 1/2 mile from her house. She also almost took out me, Orca and two of our kids. Hitting the rock deployed her air bag so I got to be first “on scene” 10 seconds after she crashed. Drive safe everybody!!!


Something about snow on pumpkins makes me want to take their picture every year. Going from scary teeth to old man toothless smile.


It seemed like a good idea at the time to leave the trampoline up for one snow storm. But then the weather turned and it looks like it won’t get above 40 until May the way things are going. Sigh.


Baby got back. Having fun at the intern festival for our school.


The snow chairs are back!


This snow man is going to need an all-over body waxing!


Gesundheit – Hammerblahblahblahgen

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Happy October! What an incredible fall! Beautiful every single day – this weather is amazing. Lovin’ it!

Genesis (accent on that first ‘e’) joined our family in August from Venezuela and will stay with us through January. It’s been great getting to know her and show off the area once again. Fall is such a busy time for us with school and sports but hopefully she isn’t feeling too neglected. I guess her culture is different from ours because we took her to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the first thing she did was start shoving Colleen around…



No rickshaw to be found so Colleen found the next best thing.


These three stink at hide and seek. Worst ever.


This is what happens when you send daddy to the farmer’s market alone with the kids. The lady told us they can live in your home and that they are pack animals so we’d have to take more than one. Duh – who would take just one to live in their home?


You do everything you can to raise respectable kids that won’t embarrass you wherever you go…and look what happens…whose kids are these?


Minnesota Harvest not only has apple picking, donkey butt coffee (I know this will be a shocker, but we tried it and it wasn’t nearly as good as it sounds), and a sunflower maze…but also is the weekend home of Cactus Willie (You don’t know Cactus Willie? Sometimes sings with Boxcar Bob and their latest album is “I Just Don’t Look Good Necked Anymore” – did that help ring a bell? I have to admit I really do enjoy that music while I’m there!).



Largest candy store in Minnesota. As long as a football field. Every kind of candy you can think of. Amazing. We limited the kids to $3 each and somehow that worked out just fine. I ended up spending $20+ on just myself though πŸ™‚


My Christmas shopping is done for all of you.


Dude at Don Pablo’s had Colleen stand on the bench wearing that monster hat and then he shouted at the top of his lungs “Attention everyone – it is Colleen’s birthday and we want you to help us celebrate…”. We were expecting the typical embarrassing song but none of us had ever heard anyone shout that loud in a restaurant like that before. It got everyone’s attention. Fun stuff.


This is what several of the windows in our house look like. Megan has been researching how to grow all sorts of plants. We’ve been buying new fruits and she carefully dissects the seeds and plants them just right. Some are in windows, some are in the freezer, some have dates on the calendar when they need to be moved, or frozen, or unfrozen, or whatever. She is really into it – still not sure how we’re really going to grow orange, lemon, and lime trees in Minnesota but I’m sure she’ll figure that out too!


This is an 8-minute video but way cool. Pearl Jam played a concert in St. Paul a week or so ago on October 19th. Eddie Vedder is the lead vocalist for Pearl Jam and invited Dr. Jakub Tolar onto the stage. Dr. Tolar is one of Beth’s bosses at the University of Minnesota and he does amazing things with pediatric blood and marrow transplants. You can watch the video and see the powerful connections that he makes – so cool! Here is what Dr. Jakub Tolar said at the concert (seriously – how many times do you go to a concert and hear a Dr. speak about transplants, genetic disorders, and gene editing?!?!?!):

VIDEO 1: Cause The Wave: EB Research Pearl Jam Xcel St Paul MN 10/19/14

“You have no idea how the 30,000 of you boil down to a single kid that Ed had in his hands in my hospital yesterday. He’s the real thing. When you listen to his music, his lyrics, you know that it goes to your brain, your heart, to your marrow. I am a bone marrow transplant physician and what I do for a living has lots to do with what he does for a living. What we both do is give people hope. And that is why almost immediately we understood each other because he’s the real stuff…When you go back home to your loved ones remember that this is a man who understands that the essential is invisible – it’s down, down here (heart & inside you) and he gets what we all need to know which is if you want to fight a disease like EB, you go to and you do something about it. You don’t just wait. Thank you!”

Here’s another video on this topic. As Dr. Tolar says…do something about it…don’t just wait.

VIDEO 2: Cause The Wave: Eddie Vedder and the EB Research Partnership

And while I’m talking about Beth’s work – here’s the window sill outside of her lab. I was a firefighter for 10 years and I’m still puzzled over this one πŸ™‚


Colleen and I did a few 5k races this year. This one was to support a nearby fire department. Cool how the fire department draped the flag over power lines, huh?


Christopher’s worst nightmare…not spiders, snakes, or heights…but balloons popping…


It was a busy month for me and Make-A-Wish. Two of my wonderful wish children went on trips. One went on a Hawaiian Cruise and the one below went to Disney World. Amazing kids and families. Do something about it…don’t just wait.


Pick on someone your own size 98 (Christopher did ok holding his own with this guy).


Can you believe that none of these shots went in? Camera angle (and not being able to tell ball direction) make it look so easy. Looks like a ninja is shooting on Megan in the first one!



We went to the St. Paul Farmers Market (and went to the Minneapolis Farmers Market the following weekend) and then walked across St. Paul to watch people finish the Twin Cities Marathon. St. Paul has several Peanuts sculptures. I’m not sure what Colleen’s deal was but she was mad at Lucy for picking on Charlie Brown all those years I guess. Somewhat related – Beth and I went to see Wits this past Friday night and one of the skits was Lucy and Charlie Brown having a conversation. Lucy was in complete denial about ever moving the football and instead turned the table on Charlie Brown and implied he was a bit delusional and crazy (e.g., a kite eating tree, a dog that thinks he’s a war pilot) and she even took it so far as to say that Snoopy had died many years prior. It was a funny skit and I may never look at Charlie Brown the same way again. Wits is always great. After watching the finish line to the marathon Colleen decided that she and I should run a 1/2 marathon next year – I’m very excited to make that happen! Will be a great time for us!



This is the lake I run around during lunch. Check out all the ducks last week – as far as the eye can see. They are enjoying the fall weather too!


We went to the fire open house again. They replaced the car burns with this sprinkler demonstration. It was very powerful and told a great story. No home sprinklers and you lose everything. Home sprinklers and your stuff gets saved. Are you listening?


Of all the cool trucks to get his picture taken next to at the city-wide open house (e.g., fire trucks, swat vehicles, huge snow plows) this is the one that Christopher chose. Made me smile.


The best part about this picture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is that we get scolded for being within 1′ of the sculpture. Uh, ma’am, please back up if you’re going to stare at the monkey butt. I see now that I had many security guards captured in my photo and yet they still caught us – they are good.




Arepas. Yummy, yummy arepas. Genesis has made these for us a few times now – you fill them with meat or eggs or salad or whatever (just not chocolate sauce – that’s where you draw the line we figured out). Yummy!




Hammerdrunkenwoodandnailgame! Beth and I went to the Purdue vs. UMN football game. We sat 3 rows up on the 40 yard line, right behind the Purdue bench. Great seats, beautiful day, amazing weather. We went to a few tailgate parties of people we knew. Hammerblahblahblahgen is what Boilermakers were made to do!






Our annual picture in leaves.


We went to the arboretum. Took lots of pictures. Had fun in the leaves and on the trails. Genesis’ dad is a professional photographer in Venezuela so she had tons of fun with the camera and showed off her skills.



15 years? Can you believe it? Selfie with mouth full of brownie.


Last race of the year. Way to go Colleen!


Colleen brought home special glasses so we could watch the eclipse. It was sooooo cool. Taking a picture from my phone through the glasses wasn’t nearly as cool. I swear the sun looked like a beautiful, well-defined crescent instead of a glowing blog through the glasses – oh well.


Megan’s green thumb still working this year. Our final harvest of carrots. Nice work all season keeping us fed with healthy food!!!


And this is how you do it!!!








Random randomness

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

It’s interesting (but not so much jolting now as it was a year ago) when a moment from the past with Katherine collides with the present. One of the great gifts she got me years ago was a trip to a local brew-your-own-beer place. I’ve been there 2 or 3 times to brew beer and am signed up for the newsletter. I’m not sure if I noticed in the past or if they are personalizing these letters differently now…but this is how the one from last month came to me:


I guess Katherine thought that was pretty cool because she sent me another sign via a sweating gin-and-tonic glass on my back patio πŸ™‚


Who’s on my dad’s team? Anyone wearing red, white, and blue!!! We heard that message loud and clear several times on our Washington, DC trip. I have a huge regret of not taking a picture of one of the first members of dad’s team we saw in Ocean City, Md – a nice young gentleman (picture Kid Rock but more strung out), covered in tattoos and wearing red, white, and blue socks, shorts, shirt, and bandana. We have had some good laughs finding dad’s team members spread out all over the country. The state fair also had some fun team members proudly wearing their colors – and again, I missed my chance to take pictures. So…when I came across this member of dad’s team I wasn’t gong to miss my opportunity again. He ran the State Fair Milk Run…and believe it or not…I saw him two more times that same day amongst the 100,000 people at the fair (how did I know it was him you ask?). I changed clothes after the 5k so I would be more comfortable all day at the fair…but he wouldn’t dare change out of his team uniform! Eyes have been blocked to protect the guilty – who would dare make a grimacing face like that just because someone’s silky running shorts are a little too short and tight?


Found some pictures on my phone from our summer trip to Grand Marais. We love New Scenic CafΓ© on the way up to Grand Marais. This is when we first relax a bit, sip a beer, drive along the lake, and have some tastes of absolutely wonderful food. Braised black mission figs, honey, walnuts, sage, bleu cheese. Yummy!


I recently read something about photo faux pas and that you shouldn’t ever post pictures of half-eaten meals…so here’s what this looked like before we started:


World’s Best Donuts EVERY morning in Grand Marais. Possibly followING a jog, and followED by a walk out to Artist’s Point.


Megan and I biked to Culvers. I ordered my turtle sundae with chocolate custard as always. I saw them making it with vanilla so I tried to stop them. They ended up giving that one to someone behind us in line for free. And then they gave me mine, apologized for making me wait (it was no more than 2 minutes and I could have cared less), and they loaded up my sundae with twice as much frozen custard as we usually get to say thank you to me. Thank you Culvers πŸ™‚


We saw a Minnesota Vikings preseason game played at the University of Minnesota’s stadium. Beautiful night for a game outside. Vikings won. We could see where Beth works from our seats too.


Find the one that isn’t a bobble head πŸ™‚


Yes, I know, I have many talents, including graphic art.


After the game Megan was struggling to express her emotions so I got to spend time with her while everyone else went to Beth’s lab for a quick tour. Her self-imposed punishment was to wedge herself into this newspaper rack and stay there a while. Ahhhh, fun times.


Remember the wrestler Bill Goldberg? Insanely overgrown trapezius muscles? Speared people and snarled at everyone? He has always been one of my heroes – been a member of his fan club for years and I have a poster on the back of my door. So…we’re walking down a side street at the state fair this year and there is a trailer with no line and they say you can meet Bill Goldberg. I look over and see what looked to be a tiny guy sitting there who kind of looked like him. But how could there be no line to meet Bill Goldberg? Insane – I know. We watch a video and then afterword sure enough this tiny guy wasn’t so tiny as he posed with us.




State Fair. Kristin, Tom and Big A (aka Boog) came up again to enjoy the fun and food with us again.



Funny that the person taking the group selfie (groupie? ussie?) isn’t in it. Was that by design?


Even I’m confused about who’s holding which beer…all I know is the beer was free because Beth has connections at the fair πŸ™‚


Megan loves, loves, LOVES the corn at the state fair. Sweet. Buttery. Yummaliciousness!!! Love this picture.


Megan got her wubbabubbaball. It is just like on the commercial – bouncy, wobbly, weird sounding…fun for a few weeks and then we had several families over to meet our intern and afterwards we found it popped and hidden under a pillow πŸ™ I sent it in to get repaired…which seems to be their plan.


First day of school for everyone 2014. I haven’t talked to Gen about posting her picture on my blog…I’ll make sure she’s fine with that and will maybe share some pictures with her in a future post.




Colleen’s cross country meet. It is rare to get a non-grimacing face from any runners this close to the finish line. Great job Colleen!


Christopher is having a fun season playing football. He’s #73 and has green sleeves sticking out in most of these pictures which makes him easier to find.


Solo tackle!!



I didn’t notice the names on the jerseys until I was looking at all of the pictures afterwards. How cute.


This is how Megan entertains herself with the water hoses while at the football games. Shocking that she’s the only one doing this, huh?


Megan is having a great season playing soccer. She scored two goals in this game. See the ball in the first picture below? Keep looking – you’ll see it. Straight past the goalie from far out and into the net!


Celebrating the goal. Probably asking her friend not to pick her up again πŸ™‚




Guess what happens next with this one? Let’s just say that Megan earned ice cream PLUS a topping for this game πŸ™‚