Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

June dreams

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the word “dreams” and encourage people all around me to dare to chase their dreams every single day. I’ve worked with many people over the past 8+ years on dreaming, and I often see that people have a hard time getting started because they judge their dreams and then don’t take even the first basic steps to move forward. Some people get hung up on thinking they have to have huge “bucket list” dreams. Or they only focus on one area of their life (Matthew Kelly suggests twelve categories for dreams in his book The Dream Manager: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, psychological, material, professional, financial, creative, adventure, legacy and character). Or they don’t believe they can make them happen so they don’t ever say them aloud or take any steps.

I say just get started. Don’t worry about whether you think your dream is too big or too small. Don’t worry about whether you know how to measure it or not. Don’t worry what other people think. Or that you’re not sure how seemingly random dreams align with a life purpose that you haven’t found or embraced yet. Don’t focus on “dream” not being the word you would have chosen. Don’t get lost in telling yourself you don’t have enough time or money. Life is passing you by while you debate all the reasons why you disagree with this approach to dreaming. Just take steps every single day – the more steps you take, the more clear your dreams will become. Here are just a few ways that I relate dreaming…

This was a 3-mile round-trip walk to get coffee with Beth. Simple. Peaceful. Enjoying the outdoors. Finding time to talk. Creating space for conversation to happen. Time for just the two of us. Getting to be a bit of a foodie. Seeing more of our city. How many dream categories can you check off?

Rhubarb from our garden. Dreams like this first meant I had to plan and create a new garden. Creative. Physical. Financial. Material. Megan’s dream for 2017 was to “Grow at least 6 different edible plants in our garden”. Creative. Emotional. Adventure. Perfect. I get to bond with Megan while working in the garden. It gets us outside. We have to work hard. Legacy. Character. How many dream categories did this one touch on?

Some of my fitness related dreams this year were: to run two marathons; to finish these marathons with a smile on my face; and to not be saying at the finish line that I never want to do another marathon in my life. Running is very spiritual and reflective for me now. I think about so many things while running. I solve problems. I practice gratitude. I pray. It grounds me. And keeps me feeling good and mentally healthy. Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth is touted as one of the most scenic marathons in the country. Since I was born in Duluth, it was also special for me to run this one. We stayed in a small hotel near the University of Duluth, that also happened to be about 1/2 mile from a bus pick-up. You have to take a bus to the starting line…and it was a bit concerning that the day started out so humid and stuffy that I was already sweating just on the 26.2 mile bus ride to the start. Yikes. The weather really didn’t get any better from there…it stayed humid and got sunny & hot. The rain never came. Ick. I trained really well for this marathon and wanted to run a good race. At about mile 22 the hot weather was wearing me down, so I paused and had a conversation with myself. We decided that if my goal was to really finish this marathon with a smile on my face, and to not say “I never want to run another marathon”, then I had to slow down. So I slowed down. I walked a bit (ok, a lot). It was just too hot for me. It took me a few hours after the race to start feeling better…but I really enjoyed the experience. We had to drive home right after the race, but by the time we got to Hinckley I was ready to eat a monster meal at Tobies. Fantastic place!

My name on a car 🙂

My mom’s name on a wall 🙂

Unfortunately, Colleen wasn’t able to make this trip with us. But the rest of us had fun!

This is with probably 17 miles to still run in the race, and if you squint…you can just barely see the finish line down the shore of Lake Superior…almost there 😉

Lemon Drop Hill is really the only hill in this marathon. And it isn’t much of a hill. But what is unique is that you can see this hill from probably 1.5 miles away, and it looks massive from a distance…like a wall in the road. It’s an imposing sight, but the hill is just a blip and then you get to cruise downhill for a long time afterwards. I still had lots of company at mile 21…

Beth and the kids met me about halfway up Lemon Drop Hill. This was the first time I saw them all race…great to have people cheering you on. I didn’t know it, but a peer of mine at work was there to cheer on his daughter, so he found me 3 or 4 times throughout the race – that was some unexpected fun!

Part of my running journey is to spread awareness to suicide and mental health issues. I’ve made several shirts for my races, and I’ve raised money for other races too to support these causes. I get chills every single time another runner comments on my shirt. I’ve had some powerful conversations while running. This is a cathartic and healing journey for many people. As runner Lori Culnane says, “Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles”. You won’t understand that until you train for and run a marathon. Trust the journey.

My goal was to finish with a smile on my face. That looks like a smile to me 🙂

Finally I was starting to feel a bit better…beautiful day. I’m blessed to be supported by my friends and family. Dream categories: physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, creative, adventure, legacy and character. Boom. Thank you Grandma’s!

Many of my dreams focus on being a better parent, and spending time with my children. An area I feel I can always do better in. I took Megan to see Minnesota United place soccer on the 4th of July. Just the two of us. They lost but it was a good day. And Megan got a few early birthday presents…shirt and a ball…any maybe learned that when it’s just the two of us she brings more stuff home 🙂

Another dream in the works for a while. Creating an outdoor space that is mosquito free, private, a bit sheltered, where we can be near our pond and watch the backyard. It turned out great. Love it.

Brand new dreamy garden space. Close to the house. Sunny spot. This is Megan’s garden. She planted all sorts of things and was very active in keeping it watered and prepped. Having it so close to the house made it much more likely that we’d actually tend to the garden. Very glad we made this happen.

Fruits of our labor!

Marathon Pics

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Here are pics before, during, and after the big day. It was an awesome experience. Loved the journey and everyone’s support. I’m blessed to have so many people cheering me on – I know who you are and appreciate every word of encouragement and happy thought sent my way! You helped me make this happen!

I also fortunately had an article published online about my experiences:

Training. Kicking in the final stretch of the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon.



A note from me to my fan club.

IMG_2466sd copy

This is all that you need to run a marathon. Even this may be more than some people need.


I kept my body fueled like a finely tuned machine. Here is just some of what I ate the day before the marathon 🙂





Chilly morning on race day. Absolutely perfect weather for a marathon!


Breakfast of champions!


Fresh as a daisy. Ready to run farther than I’ve ever run in my life.


With Jen, my co-worker. We signed up on our own and only later realized the value of having someone else following the exact same training plan and going through all of the emotional and physical ups and downs as we hit new milestones week after week.


And I’m off!


Time for selfies with co-workers, friends, and family along the way.





You take a picture of me…


I take a picture of you.


Still enjoying things at mile 19




Official photos posted to Facebook by the race organizers. I saw most of the photographers, but I didn’t see this one.



Final hundred feet. I may just make it after all.





Post-race meal – time to recharge! Yes, that’s eggs and sausage on a pizza. Wow, was that good!


And of course a flight of different bacons, garlic knots, cinnamon rolls, and a pickled flight. Yummy!


This one was great but maybe next time I’ll try the flight of Bloody Mary’s!


My KCMO fan club was also out in full force on race day, cheering me on from hundreds of miles away!





Got home. Crashed for a bit…


And then went out and mowed the lawn while wearing my marathon finisher’s jacket. How come I don’t have life threatening “grass allergies” like everyone else? No fair 🙂


It was an awesome day. Great family and friends – couldn’t have done it without you. Hope to see you all at the next one!!! 😉





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 🙂


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 🙂


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 🙂


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 🙂


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 Café 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 🙂


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 🙂


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 🙂


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 🙁 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 🙂




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



Summer – Part III (Maryland)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

I think Megan’s face says it all. Swimming in Maryland is like swimming in Lake Superior.


I know, I know, I shouldn’t have. I’ll spare no expense for my parent’s anniversary. Happy Anniversary B & B!!!


Beach time!




Surf’s up!






Colleen walking down the beach trying to be as normal as can be.


Check out the mermaid! Name this movie…”New seashells?” One of my favorite lines from a Disney movie 🙂


Olaf gonna melt.



Serious face. Touching part of 911 destruction. We will never forget.


Poor Evinrude. Megan had this critter on top of her sand pile (look closely) but a wave came and swept Evinrude away. I didn’t see this part but Beth said Megan was chasing this disgusting soggy dragonfly in the water but she couldn’t catch it in the waves. A dad saw her chasing this and must have thought she lost her goggles or something so he put his hand in the water to grab what she was chasing. Beth said the expression on his face said it all when he picked up this nasty thing – ha! Serves you right to try to be nice and help my kids! 🙂





Beth chose the wrong seat at this meal. We went to lunch with Kate and had a fun time catching up with her. She chose a fun place to eat too!


On this trip we had crab dip, crab cake sandwiches, crab balls (those must have been some big crabs – yucka yucka yucka), crab soup (two kinds), and boiled crab. Yummy, yummy, yummy.


Learn English you dumbies. We’re smarter than you’re! Heh heh.


This is what I have written on my dream list for one of my recurring dreams, “See at least one sunrise per year. Sunrises provide a unique opportunity to show how the journey can be as fulfilling as the destination. This is about why I see the sunrise, and what I’m thinking about, and who I see it with, and the effort of getting up early and consciously doing this.” Colleen also wanted to see a sunrise this year. So…we made it happen! We got up at 5:30 a.m. and walked 100′ to the beach 🙂 The morning didn’t look so good at first.


Lots of clouds.


It’s early. Why did I get up so early?


And the sky wasn’t looking so good. Where are you sun?


But then things started to change a bit.


And then they changed a lot! This is what we got up early for! Boom!




Fort McHenry. Sod. Bricks. Big flag. Must have been cool to see that the flag was still there in the morning.





Inner Harbor.


It was really great getting to see Pam and Wally while we were on the East Coast. Fun conversation and cool seeing where they live.


Dragon boats.


What a depressing start to a journey across the country. Hey kids, only 2200 miles to go (on the SAME road!).


Megan using her new birthday gift for hundreds of miles across the country. Thank you B & B! 🙂


We always plan to order Chicago-style stuffed pizza while in Chicago. I was honestly really trying to be a good dad and order a fruit pizza from the menu. It sounded very fruity with fresh fruit and maybe a little healthy after a week’s vacation. So…I place my order and it was hard to hear from a cell phone in the hotel’s lobby. The lady read it back to me and I said to Beth, “I don’t see s’more pizza on the website but I think she might have said “s’more pizza”. I checked the web site again but didn’t see it so we chalked it up to me mishearing it. Uh…we definitely didn’t get a fruit pizza…and I ended up getting more votes in my favor for Father of the Year from the kids 🙂


Father’s Day

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I know I’m a day late, but in honor of Father’s Day I can proudly share the following that I learned from the best 🙂 I still get just the Saturday and Sunday newspaper delivered (can’t quite let go of this physical newspaper that I read – maybe I’ll go electronic soon enough), but sometimes before big holidays the Star Trib delivers an extra paper for free on Thursdays. I recently got a postcard saying (thanks for my loyal readership and…) due to costs blah blah blah they would start charging for those Thursday papers. You mean charging for the Thursday papers that are 100% full of holiday ads? So now I’m paying extra for delivery of a paper full of ads that I didn’t ask for? And the default option is to just start charging me? No no no, not on Father’s Day, I won’t stand for that, what would my dad do? Darn tootin’ – I told them where to stick those papers and ads. Happy Father’s Day dad – hope you’re proud!

This is from a while ago but I thought it was also a fun fathery-type of memory. For Valentine’s Day the teachers sent a note home saying Christopher’s class would visit a local assisted living facility. When he got home that night I asked him how his party was and his only comment was that it was fine but he had to share it with old people. Heh heh. That about sums that up.

I’m often asked what I remember most about Father’s Day growing up. I think for me it was all of us getting together and singing this song to show how proud we were of New England!

What? Nobody else remembers that? Something to remember for next year then, huh? Don’t let those traditions die before they even start. Dum, de, dum, de, dum, dum, da, dum, day. Oh New England.

Dad – if you get tired of your current job maybe you can join this dude, or start your own blog of ice cream in New England.

Who else finds themselves clicking the unlock button on their car remote repeatedly as they approach their mailbox or garden shed? Anybody? Just me? One of these days it will work like magic and you’ll all be amazed. Great idea for a Father’s Day gift for me next year.

Alright, enough, on with the blog. Happy Father’s Day dad! Thanks for everything over the years!

I meant to share this earlier – my blog has gone global!!! Thank you Susana 🙂


Speaking of Susana…Susana, do you remember that frozen waterfall we took you to? Here’s what it looks like after a wet and rainy spring! Big difference, huh?


Colleen and I got our picture in the paper for running a 5k to raise money to beat cancer. Don’t anybody show the picture in this link to Beth – I’ll be in trouble for sure.

Colleen and I are doing a streaking challenge. Using MapMyRun we are trying to run 1-mile per day for as many consecutive days as we can. My streak is 18 days in a row and counting! Christopher has joined us on a few runs too – fun stuff! We did a mile for Father’s Day. Had to run that mile to jog off the crepes from breakfast in bed! Did our usual pizza and ice cream, lots of jumping on the trampoline, and ended the day with a big camp fire and s’mores.

This is what we did on Mother’s Day. Zoo, burgers, and malts. Lucky for Christopher the bears weren’t hungry!


Megan’s first softball game ever was played on the field behind her. Do you see home plate? Look closer. See it now? Still can’t – look closer. See that huge puddle – home plate is under the water somewhere. Megan scored three times – I don’t think she touched home plate for any of those runs! 🙂


I love watching the kid’s soccer games. And I love watching Christopher’s football games. Basketball is ok too. But softball and baseball…no comment. I focus when Megan is up to bat. Her new technique is to let the kid-pitch balls hit her so she gets a base. Christopher and I have been bringing footballs (yes, more than one – how else can you knock the other person’s ball out of the air) and books to the softball games, and we alternate between playing catch and reading. But she is so cute in that catcher’s gear and her oversized bobble-head helmet 🙂 Some of the softball moms are psycho – haven’t quite let go of not winning their high school championship game I guess. They are 8 year olds and it’s just a game – settle down.




Guess how many of these turtles Megan caught?


Schooner Days! Wheeee!


Christopher and Megan passed their latest Kung Fu belt tests. What technique, huh!


I think this was the free form dance part of the kung fu test


And here they are with the new belts.


Paella…socarrat is getting better each time…this was our best attempt yet!! Yummy!!! Who’s coming for dinner?


We’re heading into 5 straight days of rain and thunder storms. Time to build that ark.

Spring is sprunging

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Christopher is camping all weekend. Beth and Colleen are at a dance competition all day today (and by all day I mean from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.). So today is a special day for just Megan and me. She was so excited for it and even said it was like her special birthday. I got up early to play racquetball and when I got back at 9:00 a.m. I had to laugh because this note was waiting for me from Megan…hey, it’s her special day 🙂


That’s my daughter – making lists! And checking things off – I love it! She chose this outdoor activity working together over going to the movies – how truly cool is that?!?!? So great. We bought seeds and planted them already. Carrots. Spinach. And peas. Not many other things to plant this early. She’s been working hard. We even thatched a bit (pic below). We got all the outdoor furniture out, and brought in the Christmas lights strung through all our bushes way up on top of the hill in back. We also bought fish – some for the pond and some for her fish tank. And we got donuts. Not sure what else she has planned for us today – can’t wait to find out!


We had a nice Easter. Beautiful service and nice day. And lots of awesome food from all grandparents – everyone must be worried we’re not eating enough 🙂







And look who came back? As I’ve said before – it’s my Tony Soprano moment. I love when my ducks come back. Now if only we could keep Orca from the pond! Megan and I had another special moment this week when we got to watch 2 or 3 daddy ducks “wrestling” with mommy duck to show her how much they want to be with her. I know it’s normal activity for ducks but it always is such a violent exchange. At least they were on dry land this time and not in the pond. Now we’ll wait 22-28 days and see what happens. And I’m glad they stuck around even after it snowed again – surprised them and us.





And look at the new pillow we bought. Colleen has been working hard in school, dance, etc – busy, busy, busy and making us proud every day.


We had a great trip to the Kalahari for spring break. It was a fun time with lots of activities that the Great Wolf doesn’t have (although it was a lot more expense and felt like they wanted more money every time we turned around). Colleen brought two friends which was a lot of fun for her (and all of us). They had a great hot tub that you could enter indoors and then walk outdoors. And really cool water rides. Fun stuff.









The Kalahari had a candy shop with all sorts of fancy treats. Theirs were fine but nothing compared to the cool ones the kids made when we got home out of marshmallows, chocolate and icing. Anybody want to place an order for their next party? 🙂


How much would you give for this tooth? I’ve got it for sale on ebay – keep your fingers crossed. Only a few silver memories remain in Megan’s mouth from that dreaded first dentist appointment 5 years ago when she had 20 cavities. I still don’t think it was a coincidence that Beth had me take Megan to that appointment (whatever, I’m over it…almost).


And of course the Leprechauns visited us again for St. P’s day. Turning all our food green – grrrr. Good thing Beth loves this holiday so much or I’d have to set some Leprechaun traps to take care of them once and for all.



Taking advantage of one last snowstorm of the season. After this the kids wouldn’t go out any more – they were tired of snow and sledding and ready to get their bikes out!!!


Colleen danced at another Timberwolves game. Look front and center for her. Some dork in front of us was wearing a big fuzzy wolf hat. I took some amazing photos but they all turned out like this one – heh heh. But you can still see Robbie Hummel (Boiler Up!) shooting a 3-pointer. Speaking of Boiler Up! – where’s my dollar from Aunt B for Purdue smashing IU on Feb 15, 2014 with a win of 82-64? Was the margin of victory so high that you’re wondering if you should send more than one dollar? Been checking my mailbox every day for months now.



This was the first week of April in Minnesota. I love the snow – won’t catch me complaining. But finally a few weeks later all of our snow is mostly gone – there are still big piles near parking garages where the snow was piled up way high.


Are we still looking for signs everywhere that Katherine or others are watching out for us or trying to send us a message? I’m still not sure if Katherine is channeling her messages through Orca but here’s a message that was left for us in the snow 🙂


Or instead if I paused longer to look at photos like this would I see hearts and other signs everywhere in nature…


Mmmm…Grandma T chocolate chip oatmeal cookies! I was busy with the kids a few weeks ago and baked up lots of yummy stuff. And…for Easter this year I FINALLY was successful making Grandma T cinnamon rolls. They have never really turned out but this time they were amazing and so close to what they always used to taste like. Fun memories eating all of her cinnamon rolls over the years!


Intense video game playing underway…


Beth and I went to see Kevin Breel perform at a high school about an hour from here for a group working hard to Stomp Out Suicide. Kevin is known for his Confessions of a Depressed Comic TED Talk. It was good to hear his message in person and meet him afterwards. He is from British Columbia and got his suicidal wake up call on Feb 26, 2011 – interesting coincidences with location and dates while at a suicide event. It was an hour drive on a Friday night and we ended up getting to this small town early…so we checked out a small town Minnesota bar. I love bars like that…miss the days of playing pool and drinking nasty light beer in small town bars. We walked in just in time to enter the meat raffle (Ha! So who has no idea what that is and is thinking odd thoughts now???) Not sure that Beth liked the bar as much as I did…but I took a picture of their flyer in case our memories fade…was hoping we’d make it back for the naughty toga contest 🙂



Ok…where’s Waldo? See if you can find Christopher…keep looking.


Give up? Here’s your hint…


Feed My Starving Children. Easy. Fun for the whole family. Giving back. Good, good, good.


And look what else Megan and I have been up to…I was a bit worried when our first YouTube instructional video that was 19 minutes took us over 2 hours to complete…but since then we’ve been on fire and cranking these things out. Guess what everybody is getting for Christmas! 🙂


Ok. Gotta go. Take care everyone!

My sign?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Since my last post I noticed after Orca finished eating she left this in her bowl. Was this the life changing sign and communication from the heavens that I’ve been waiting for?


Warning…maybe get your tissues for this next paragraph…

The mother of my Make-A-Wish child (Andres) that recently passed away posted this on her Facebook page. What beautiful words and a great reminder to us all that we will never forget but we must all always strive to make a positive difference every day going forward:

My beautiful baby. My beautiful boy. My beautiful young man. Today is one week since your beautiful service and my tears only grow larger and heavier as I continue to experience the beauty you brought into our lives through your amazing beautiful spirit we were so blessed to know. I will continue to thank God for each and every moment we shared because in all that we experienced I know you were teaching me how to love harder, stronger, and more actively than ever before. Because in the end we didn’t need to say goodbye because the love you taught me means I must SHOW you my love…not just speak it with words…instead ACT on it and DO it! Love with every ounce of energy from every cell in my body and that love, that real SHOW ME love will never die. My promise to you is to carry on your legacy by sharing, caring, and showing love in all that I do for the rest of my life so that your beautiful insight of SHOW ME LOVE will never be forgotten!!! All my love baby, forever, for always, for love, thank you for the honor of being your mom. Can’t wait to see your beautiful smiling face again!!!

Andres is at 2:05 in this video (he sneaks his gun out from under his covers) –

I love the video and the words/song…but now I hear this song on the radio all the time and it would get me down a bit…I guess I should use it for the positive as that reminder for all of us to let the light in and be brave each day.

Are there jigsaw puzzles in heaven?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

So who the heck is watching over me? Are there jigsaw puzzles in heaven? Too many distractions up there keeping my angels busy? I’m not sure how else to explain the complete lack of assistance I got controlling mother nature recently. Unless all of my angels are up there laughing at me – and I think that would be worse! I was less than 5 minutes away from having our 20’x10’ pool completely drained & towel dried, disassembled and ready to bring indoors for the season when the rain hit. This is the second time I’ve completely dried it this fall. I had Colleen and Christopher out helping me take the pool apart as fast as we could because I knew rain was forecast in a few hours. The sky wasn’t that cloudy, I had done my weather homework. You know how sometimes you feel a drop or two and then you get a gradual build up to a gentle rain? Or you know how sometimes the rain is warm and feels healing and soothing? Well…this was neither of those…it started as an instant burst of a cold downpour. At the point it dumped on us we had already taken out three of the four long support beams (Colleen & Christopher were holding each end up of the heavy last side) so there was no way I could set the pool back up to easily dry it again. I only needed 5 minutes to be all done. That’s all. This was the start of four straight days of rain…followed by cold Minnesota weather.

I should have at least three angels looking after me. I can understand how God is too busy to focus on everyone and to worry about little problems but what else do Katherine and Grandma & Grandpa T have to do up there? Finishing puzzles, going on bike rides, playing cards, and making fiber flowers & casseroles 😉 Help me out. Delay that rain just a few minutes. Create a dry pocket for me. Anything. A little help here. Are there rules for angel interventions? Do they only get a limited number? Do they have to learn how to use their powers? Do they save them for ‘signs’ versus actually helping us out? Can they team up and combine powers?

Or maybe I need to pay attention more. Maybe they help all the time and I’m too busy to notice. Or I don’t give them credit. Or I take countless mini-interventions for granted. Maybe they’re busy all day long saving me from car crashes, house fires and other life changing disasters. Maybe they’re helping out with an extended green traffic light every so often, or moving my car keys where I can easily find them. Maybe they helped me get to see one of my Make-A-Wish children one last time before he died. Maybe it was my angels who helped us when Megan started choking recently while we were out to dinner (I think my heart has finally settled back into a normal rhythm a few weeks later). Life gets so busy it’s sadly way too easy to miss these every day blessings.

Or maybe they’re watching and deciding not to jump in so that maybe one day I’ll learn once and for all not to sweat the small stuff. They’re giving me ongoing reminders about what really matters and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Who cares about my frustrations with this silly pool? It is a fun memory with the kids while the rain dumped on us and I made them continue to stand there holding the ends of the pool regardless of the futility of the situation. We were soaked in a matter of seconds and laughing while daddy was helpless against the rain.

Maybe they can’t change the course of things but instead can use their powers to send signs. And maybe I’m too busy to notice these too. Or I’m waiting for something so grand and life-changing that I’m missing minor miracles every day. Maybe someday this will all make sense to me. Or maybe not. Until then I’ll continue to wait for that special day when the orchid in my office blooms again and I find the last state quarter to fill my collector book.

“Help me today to enjoy every moment. No matter what I deal with today help me to walk with a smile and enjoy this moment. This time and this day. I will never see it again. I will be thankful!” -DL Watson