Day 125 – Thankful for the First Cut Being the Deepest (& Ugliest)

Ahh…  the feeling of being a beginner at something…  It can either be magical or torture, and it’s always up to each of us to decide which it will be.

Tonight I finished tuning up my new bandsaw and decided to take a stab at what I’m assuming will become a favorite hobby of mine, making puzzle boxes.  There’s something incredibly exhilarating to me about taking a vision of a concept from my imagination and then creating it with my own hands.  This activity does just that, pulling ideas from many different places to help me create new boxes that have to be taken apart like a puzzle and may contain a secret compartment (or several) if poked and prodded and twisted in the right way.  It’s a combination of imagination, engineering, mystery, happiness, and the unknown all rolled into one.  That’s the dream, anyways!

Today began the reality and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I got the bandsaw ready more quickly than expected so I thought I’d try my hand at making the cuts that look oh so easy in the book I’ve been reading.  As I started running the blade through the 4×4 pine for the first time I could feel a little frown on my face as things weren’t going nearly as smooth as expected.  As soon as I felt a little frustration I smiled…  I was making progress!  Who cares about failing the first time, I was actually doing it the first time and that felt AWESOME!!!


As I kept cutting away it did start to become easier but it still looked like something you would find on Pinterest under the category of “FAILED IT!”  Even though it turned out horribly I am still smiling about it as I write this.  I’ve taken the first step, I’ve made the first cut, I can only get better from here and I can’t get to where I want to go without starting.

The boys had a little fun playing around with the ugly and sloppy little butchered woodblock.  Gavin had some ideas to help me out with it and Dominic jumped in to remind him to be nice to me.  I smiled, thanked Gavin for the constructive feedback, and reminded him that I’d love any help to make it better the next time.  It was fun seeing them smile while playing with something that was about the worst prototype of anything I’ve made in a long time and it reminded me of one of the reasons I want to learn make these.


Today’s success certainly won’t be seen in the block of wood I was working on (I might have to burn it to put it out of its misery!), but the success is definitely seen in the smile on my face.  I’ve started something.  I’m not good at it now (I’m actually pretty terrible), but very soon I will be better at it.  Eventually I will be very good at it.  When that day comes I’ll look back to the memory of this first block, remember the first cut, and smile.  This is when I began.  I’ll also be glad that they don’t look this bad anymore! 🙂


Day 124 – Thankful for Being Able to Grocery Shop Without the Boys

I really love spending time with my boys, I really do.  Last night I blogged about snuggling with them.  Today I had a lot of fun playing games with them.  I really love spending time with them.

That said, while Becky and I were at the grocery store together I saw something that just made me smile.  We left the boys at home as we’ve done occasionally and it was just the two of us walking through the produce aisle.  In front of us was a family pushing two carts and had one of their kids seated in each of them.  As they caught my eye I saw Mom looking stressed, the daughter looking a little tired, Dad was a little frazzled, and the son had just thrown his toy on the ground and was crying for his dad to pick it up for him.  I couldn’t help but smile.  As we wove through the aisle our paths crossed a few times and I saw the son throw/drop the toy at least two more times.  You could see the combination of frustration and focused concentration to get the shopping done as quickly as possible on the faces of both of the parents.  As I smiled and went by them I let them know that we left them at home and their life will get easier.  The mom semi smiled and, I think, looked a little hopeful.

As Becky and I talked about it we thought back to how crazy difficult it was to go grocery shopping and how thankful we were when we found out that Festival Foods had a daycare we could drop the boys off at – it was AWESOME!!!  For the longest time we had a standing date night on Friday.  We’d go to Festival, drop the boys off, and slowly, ever so slowly, traipsing down every single aisle, consuming as much time as we could, having peaceful conversation and escaping the real world.  Yup, date night at the grocery store…  How’s that for romance?  Stay back ladies, I’m taken! 🙂  In our own way it was so peaceful to have a little time to ourselves as opposed to the chaos of our lives following us to the grocery store.

So today I am thankful for being able to grocery shop without the boys.  They love the freedom (and the ability to play video games without us being home), and we also love the freedom of having a little alone time.  If you have small kids and you see me smiling, I’m not laughing at your frustration, I’m enjoying the memories and thankful that we can go grocery shopping without the boys.



Day 123 – Thankful for My Boys Still Being Snuggly

Earlier today I was chilling on the couch and Gavin bounced up and over me and insisted that I read the great book he had just read.  After some negotiations we ended up snuggling up and reading the book together (in fairness, it was pretty excellent!).  I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time snuggled up and relaxing with him.


At church tonight we sat in our typical Kreiling formation, Gavin on the left followed by Becky, me, and Dominic.  Part way through the mass I noticed Dominic starting to snuggle in on my right.  That lasted through most of the service, at least until we got into another Kreiling tradition…  the little elbow pushing and foot stomping that takes place at the end when we’re all getting a little stir crazy from sitting still.  I would have taken a picture of Dominic and I snuggling, but Becky instituted a “No Photos, No Autographs” rule after I sat next to former Brewer Damien Miller one Sunday. 🙂   Regardless, it was great cuddling up with him.

I know that there isn’t much snuggle time left, they’re both getting older and they’ll both be too cool to do that soon, so I’ll soak up every single moment of it that I can, and I’ll appreciate every snuggle.


Day 122 – Thankful for Remembering to Assume People Have the Best of Intentions

Maybe you know the feeling?  You prep for a conversation and as you do you realize that maybe the other party is out to get you.  Maybe they want to start a fight or have unrealistic expectations.  

I’m sad to admit that as I prepped today this is immediately where my brain went.  Thinking about the worst case scenarios I got myself all types of worked up, and then dreamt up even more elaborate plots!  It was terrible!

At one point I paused and this insight flashed in my brain…  maybe it will go very well…  maybe we are going to work this out…  as I contemplated this I went through the positives I could expect from this encounter.  Maybe they weren’t “out to get me,” and we’d have s very positive conversation.

As I began the conversation I was very calm and optimistic.  I was assuming the best, and I had already prepared for the worst should it come to that.  And guess what?  The conversation went fantastic!  Had I started from assuming the worst I truly believe there would have been a very different outcome.

While it’s good to prepare for the worst I know I still need to work on assuming the best as my first response.  That’s definitely a gap between who I am and who I want to be.  All that said, in very thankful that I remembered to assume the best of intentions, it truly served me well today.


Day 121 – Thankful for My Left Eye

Earlier this afternoon my left eye started to burn a little bit.  It was the second time in  a week that I felt the old familiar sting.  As the afternoon continued, so did the slight tingling.  Once I got home it started to flare up even more.  It wasn’t until the main event of Yoga Date Night that it finally subsided.  While it never really hurt it was mildly annoying.  Regardless, I am very thankful for my left eye today


So what gives, why am I thankful for a burning tingly left eye?  It’s my early warning system, my Check Engine light.  When my stress level goes up a little higher than normal for an extended period of time my left eye starts to flare up.  It starts as itchy, tingly and burning, but if I don’t take a deep breath soon it fires up into a full blown eye infection that requires a couple of doc appts and a couple of weeks with glasses and no contacts.

The past couple of weeks have been jam packed, definitely not all bad or stressful, but it’s been pretty much non-stop.  There’s a handful of projects piling up that I need to take care of and a couple of other things adding some extra challenges to my plate.  Fortunately, it’s all in the short term and as of next week I have some slack time built in to get caught up on my projects.  This weekend has some things to get done, but nothing too crazy.  Slow it down for the weekend, hit the projects hard next week, and I’m right back on track.  I’ve got the game plan all laid out and ready to roll, life is good.  By tomorrow morning when I wake up my eye will be back to normal…  as long as I remember to keep a little slack in my schedule.

One of my mentors, some crazy long haired dude who is often found in cargo shorts on a beach in Belize, taught me a while back that it was important to build some extra time into my schedule and not jam up every free moment with stuff.  While I normally remember and respect that lesson, I’m thankful that my left eye reminds me of it when I try to forget it.  Without that tingling eye I’d probably end up burying myself too deep and get off balance.  Thanks Left Eye!


Day 120 – Thankful for Loosening My Grip and Shifting My Focus

While driving home today I had a great conversation with my mom and was listening to Marlene Chism’s audiobook Stop Workplace Drama.  Filled with the ideas from talking with Mom and intermingling them with a concept Marlene brings up about growth and the occasional fear of it I had a vision pop in my head.  It was so insightful that I had to pause the audiobook and think on it for a while.  No, I wasn’t having “a vision” so much as I saw a visual of a metaphor from a while back.

In one of Jim Collins’ books he shares a rock climbing experience in which he is trying to make a climb on his first attempt.  As he works his way up he gets to a point where he gets stuck and the rock is a little loose and crumbly.  His adrenaline pumping he does the natural thing and grips harder…  which tires him out and causes more rock to crumble.  He gets more nervous and grips even harder onto the evermore fragile rock.  It feels right, its the natural reflex.  In reality, the best move he could have made was to relax, loosen his grip a bit, drop down a little, and determine a new path.  The end goal is still the same, the route to it needs to be changed slightly.  He should have loosened his grip and shifted his focus.

Photo from

This story has stayed in my brain many years and it is what I try to visualize when I need to pause and take a deep breath.  When something isn’t going as planned I pause and think, “should I loosen my grip and shift my focus?”  This thought usually helps me to take a deep breath and usually make the right decision.

Today this story hit me for a different reason.  As I think about how much I’ve grown professionally over the past year and how much further I have to go I’m starting to realize that this story will be in my head a lot.  While I hate to think it I know I can be a micromanager and I like to see things get done the way I want them done.  The past six months have been filled with one lesson after another of successes when I’ve loosened my grip and shifted my focus.  This past year I’ve been focusing more and more on our vision and values.  As I’ve shifted my focus slightly it means that I have to loosen my grip.  My team members have proven time after time that they will not only be successful without me, they are showing me just how much I’ve been in their way!  Just today there were several times I so badly wanted to jump in and do it “my way,” but held back…  and then smiled as they did something better and greater than I would have.  It was AWESOME!!!

I’ve wasted so much time trying to do everything, it’s amazing how I can let go and my team takes us further.  I know, I know, that is pretty much Leadership 101, but I can be a slow learner.  Had I only taken Jim’s advice more seriously, where would we be now?Better late than never, right???

There’s another level to it.  How often in life do I try to take control in a situation?  How often to I grip tightly onto what I’m used to as opposed to relaxing and shifting my vision to a different route to my goal?  With the boys do I hold them back too often when I should give them more freedom?  Pretty sure I need to keep this lesson top of mind, there are many times it might help.

Slow as I might be, forgetful as I am, today I’m glad that I remembered to loosen my grip and shift my focus.


Day 119 – Thankful for One of the Most Awesome Natural Experiences of My Life 

One of the things that I hold closest to my heart and being is going out to experience the natural world and all its wonders.  Fortunately I’ve got the best travel buddy in the world, Becky, and we’ve worked hard to set ourselves up to experience some pretty awesome things.

Four years ago today was one of the most awesome natural experiences I’ve ever had in my life…  we hiked across the lava fields and found a spot where lava was slowly pouring into the ocean.

It was so amazingly beautiful!  I’m so thankful that I took it all in so well that when I close my eyes and concentrate on it I can see it crystal clear and smell that uniquely wonderful lava smell.  

Ahh…  Hawaii…


Day 118 – Thankful for a Little Extra One On One Time with Dominic

When I got home tonight Dominic and I were the only two Kreilings who hadn’t been sick in the past 12-24 hours.  While Gavin wasn’t able to go to Scouts tonight Dominic said he’d go with to help out with the pack meeting.

As soon as I got home I grabbed Dominic and we were off!  Before Scouts we had to run to Walgreens.  After a short wait we found out that we had gone to the wrong one so we picked up some snacks (Warhead Worms and Hot Tamales!) and drove to the other Walgreens.  From there we headed to Scouts and had fun helping a little bit here and there.  After Scouts we shot over to Home Depot to pick up my new bandsaw and had fun with the crew as they loaded it up in the car for us.  After we got home Gavin and Becky went to bed and the two of us just chilled for a little while.


The activities of the night itself wasn’t overly exciting, but I wouldn’t trade the time with him for anything.  We didn’t get into any deep or serious conversation, we just shot the bull about what we’d done for the day, what he was learning in school, stuff like that.  The little stuff.  The stuff that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Often I try to build something up and make it a crazy plan (see the “Weekend of Pizza” from previous posts).  More often than not I need to remember to appreciate these little pockets of one on one time with him.  I still look back fondly on times like that with parents when I was growing up.  Not everything has to be a huge ordeal or an elaborate plot, sometimes the best things are the most spontaneous and normal moments of our lives.  I really just love spending time with Dominic, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, it just matters that we are doing it together.


Day 117 – Thankful for Encouragement of Weekends with Friends

Nope, we’re not in Hawaii, this just popped up from four years ago today while we were at Hapuna Beach on the big island and I like the picture of us as a couple.

As this weekend winds down to a close (just like the Packers’ season) I had to pause for a moment to be thankful for the way that Becky and I both encourage each other to have more weekends with our friends.  I’m very appreciative of not only her willingness to let me head out of the town for the weekend to hang with my friends, but she also encourages me to do it often.  She’s been incredible that way and it’s helped me to do the same for her.

We both love our time together, take a look at the smiles on our faces in the pic above, but we also both appreciate just how important it is to have our time apart with our friends.  Every weekend like this I don’t say it enough, I really am grateful for the way we encourage each other to spend weekends with our friends.


Day 116 – Thankful for Reliving the College Years

Oh yeah, the weekend of reliving college years is in full swing!  I’m typing this at a table filled in pizza boxes, empty soda cans, several varieties of chips, and a lot of geeky gaming supplies as my friends are strewn across the living room watching each other play video games.

True to many a weekend while in college a short 18+ years ago we started out with a lively day/night of going to breweries, eating and having a couple of drinks at one of our old haunts, and staying up late talking in a bar.  As was the norm back in the day today has been relatively chill as we all recuperate.  In the past it was usually a little bit of a hangover holding me back, now at 40 it’s due to my body not liking the short night of sleep and total change to diet I’ve had in the past 24 hours.

This afternoon and evening we’ve gone back to our typically nerdy ways and have been playing a ton of games and chilling while talking some smack, though significantly less than yesterday.


In many ways it feels like I just went back in time a couple of decades.  We’ve jumped right back into our old jokes and traditions just like it was the late ’90s.  Back in the day I thought that we were almost living the dream in a weekend like this.  Today I realize that while I am having a blast and enjoying the time with the guys it is a welcome respite to reality.  I’m having a lot of fun but in the back of my head I’m missing Becky and the boys. There’ll be plenty of time for me to spend with them soon, but as compared to wishing weekends like this would last forever I’m realizing that I now love them as a chance to spend a moment with my great friends, my brothers.

Soon I’ll be home and back to my reality, one that I truly consider living the dream, but for these past couple of days it has been awesome to go back to living the college days with my friends (and kind of feel like I’m living in an episode of Big Bang Theory!).