Day 460 – Thankful for An Epic Year

Day 460 – Thankful for An Epic Year

As the last hours of 2017 are upon us all I can do is smile in wonder, gratitude, and joy in what an epic year it has been.  Yes, there was quite possibly one of the lowest lows I’ll ever experience in my life (losing Dad), but when I look at all the year brought, it’s been truly amazing.

This year included the following:

  • A trip for Becky and I to San Francisco
  • Making puzzle boxes
  • A couple of 40th birthday parties with friends
  • Our 15th wedding anniversary and a trip up north for a long weekend
  • Dad’s passing
  • A family trip to Washington state and Canada
  • Time on our boat
  • A solar eclipse
  • A family getaway in Eagle River with Nick, Mom, and their families
  • A trip to the aquarium in the Mall of America
  • A trip to Colorado so the boys could climb a mountain
  • Several scouting events
  • Many family gatherings and get togethers
  • A family trip to New Zealand
  • and so many other incredible memories!!!

It was wild last night, we started going through all of our pictures from 2017 and we didn’t even make it halfway through the year before bedtime!  There were so many memories, laughs, and smiles that we kept pausing and enjoying the time together.  It was pretty amazing.

2017, dude…  Thank you for blessing my family and I with so many positive moments and memories to help balance out losing Dad.  I can’t imagine if we would have lost him without having so many other moments to bring us joy as a family.  I’m so grateful for this epic year.



Day 459 – Thankful for Making Progress on My Book

Today has been a very productive one!  As we get closer to our next vacation I’m working on getting at least half way through my book so I can shave my beard (in case you missed it you can find the reason for my beard here) so I can snorkel without having a leaky face mask!

Earlier this morning we went as a family to Caribou for coffee and to chill.  Becky read a paper for her PhD program, the boys were reading books, and I was typing away on my book.  Later in the day the boys were playing and then reading, Becky ran a couple of errands, and I was typing away on my book.

At this point I’m about one half of a chapter from being halfway done, my progress tripwire to shave this thing off my face, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be past halfway by this time tomorrow.  The progress itself feels great, but there’s been so much more that I’m thankful for with writing it.

As I go through each day it brings back memories, happy and sad, about my dad as well as many other loved ones.  Typing it is helping me wrap my brain around losing Dad and it’s helping me learn and grow.  Obviously I miss him, but as I type I can’t help but smile and feel joy in the memories I have with him.

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 8.54.57 PM.pngIt’s also been rewarding as I think of everyone who’s helped me on this stretch of my life.  Today in particular one of the chapters I worked on was focused on my little brother, Nick.  As I typed I was smiling and looking back to so many of the memories we have and the fun we’ve had over the past 6 months or so.  It was awesome!

Today progress was made, tomorrow more will be made.  It feels great to be working towards this purpose and I can’t wait to shave this scratchy thing off my face 🙂


Day 458 – Thankful for Making Lists for the Boys On a Day Off

Day 458 – Thankful for Making Lists for the Boys On a Day Off

The boys were home alone while Becky and I were at work this week. On Thursday morning Becky called me before I left home and asked me if I’d make the list of things for the boys to do while they were home.  She’d been making the list for the past few days and Thursday was my day to tag in.

It was so much fun!!!  I kept brainstorming all of the crazy stuff that they like to do but might not think of and wrote down some fun things for them to do…  in addition to the chores that they needed to get done.


Part way through the day I called them to see how the day was going.  They were having a lot of fun and checking things off as they went.  When I got home they showed me all of the cool stuff they’d made.

Seeing how much fun it was I started their list for today last night as I had a couple of new ideas for them.  Throughout the night and this morning I continued to add new ones to their list.


When I called them part way through the day to make sure they were good Gavin went on and on about how much fun they had with their new rules in Boss Monster.  As soon as I got home they showed me how cool their new boxes were decorated and their 38 1/2 inch tall Lego structure (I’ll have to have them go for 60″ next time!).


It was pretty cool hearing how much fun they’d had during the day while they were working and playing at home alone.  I remembered back to when my mom used to make lists for my brother and I.  We had fun going through them and it was great to have a little nudge to be productive and not just veg out in front of the TV all day.  Helping the boys have fun made me smile huge!


Day 457 – Thankful for An Incredibly Well Thought Out Christmas Present from My Teams

Today has been pretty damn awesome.  So many positives that it’s tough to even figure out where to start.  Being told by a teammate that I “blew her mind” with some training, helping someone stranded on the side of the road, going to yoga for the second time in three days, looking back on some wonderful memories from last year, and having an excellent conversation with another teammate all are things I was thankful for today.

When I got to the Eau Claire office today I was greeted with a surprise Christmas present from all of my teams – it was AWESOME!!!


The team all know that I am planning on taking a trip to Iceland one day and I’ve set a goal for myself of learning to speak conversational Icelandic before the end of 2018.  With that in mind they all chipped in to get me an audio learning program to learn to speak that crazy language!  Not only that, but they also got me a tshirt with the longest word in Icelandic written around the flag (Vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur – which surely everyone knows means “A keychain ring for the outdoor key of road workers shed in a moor called Vaðlaheiði”).  How awesome is that???

The Poo-Pouri still has me laughing out loud and I can’t wait to crack a cold one from the gnarly Leinie’s beer caddy using the Leinie’s wooden bottle opener.  On my way home I already started my first Icelandic lesson and learned how to say “talar þú ensku” – which means “do you speak English?”  It was one of the best rides home ever!

Today I’m so thankful for this gift from my teams, I can’t thank them enough for the thought they put into this!  Thank you everyone, I greatly appreciate it!!!


Day 456 – Thankful for My Son’s Enjoying the Same Dorky Strategy Games I Enjoy

While Becky was getting her haircut tonight the boys and I busted out a game they’d gotten a while back that we haven’t played in quite a while – Boss Monster. After a quick YouTube video primer on how to play we were off to the races… or should I say “dungeons!”

After dozens and dozens of heroes met their demise in our dungeons we were all smiling, laughing, and having a blast!

I’ve loved playing games ever since I was a kid, and strategy based games have always been my favorite. Knowing that the boys love playing the same types of games makes me smile huge… and gives me competitors to play with! We play with the intent of having fun, but we usually don’t hold back any punches. It’s fun watching how they each develop their own strategy and then see how they’re able snatch victory out of my hands just when I think I have it all wrapped up.

Win or lose, we always end up having a great time because we’re playing games and having fun together. Tonight was one of those moments when I was very thankful for my gaming buddies, I’m glad they enjoy the same types of games that love playing.


Day 455 – Thankful for Growth Mindset Primers

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” – Carolyn Dweck

Growth Mindset is one of my core values and one of the three values of my work team. While I hold it near and dear to my heart I don’t live it as fully and completely all the time as I’d like to. There are moments when my mindset slips to fixed and I need to take a deep breath and flip the switch back to growth.

A few years ago my partner Norm suggested that I watch for those moments in which I’m in a Growth Mindset and a Fixed one and look at what the triggers or primers were that helped to put me in that place. I’m certainly not perfect at it, but I’ve been more and more conscious of those triggers. As I’ve started noticing them I’m learning ways to help either keep me there or push me out of the wrong mindset.

Becky and I went to yoga tonight and our favorite yogi, Nick, was teaching. As usual he started off with a little story and something to keep in mind while we practiced tonight. Funny thing was that even though I hadn’t gone in well over a month I had what felt like one of the best yoga sessions I’ve had!

Everything flexed a little further. I was able to focus a little better. My muscles all felt stronger than they had any right to. As we cooled down and I took it all in I smiled and realized that much of the reason for feeling so awesome was that I was able to get into a Growth Mindset. I felt like a beginner, I trusted my teacher, I tried new ways without any fear of failure. Sure, I stumbled and tumbled a couple of times, but I felt awesome!

When I thought back to the beginning of the session I realized that Nick helped me tap right into the learner in me and judged me into a Growth Mindset. He started off class by telling us all of something that he learned from a friend of his recently. “If we don’t push against normal, what we’re used to, it’ll always be the same. We need to push a little, stretch a little, and see what else is possible.” As he spoke I nodded and took it all in. It triggered my mind to think like a total newbie and try what I hadn’t tried. Chance of failure? Bring it on! I was primed and ready with a growth mindset..

One simple phrase and my mindset was primed and ready, how crazy is that? The next time I feel the Fixed Mindset starting to sink in I’m going to think back to this story and smile. Sorry Fixed Mindset, but your way cooler cousin, Growth Mindset is here and I’m going to chill with her instead. We’re going to try some cool new stuff that may or may not work out, but regardless of the outcome ILLC be better off in the long run.


Day 454 – Thankful for “The Man and The Birds” Read by Paul Harvey

While I typically try to find something new that I haven’t been thankful for before, today’s focus is still near and dear to my heart.  As we drove home from church today my brain kept going back to it and we listened on the ride home.


Throughout my whole life I’d struggled a bit with the entire Christmas story.  It’s a nice story, but I couldn’t quite figure out why God would send His son to Earth.  I mean I get it conceptually, but there was just something that didn’t sit well with me from a logical standpoint.  I can closely relate to the man in the story as Paul explains him, I can understand where he’s coming from.

As the story goes on I keep agreeing with his actions and can feel his frustration.  It strikes a chord unlike any other hits for me.  When the story finally comes to its conclusion I can see the bigger picture and I get it.  Even today it still has the ability to bring a tear or two to my eye.

Hearing that story again was exactly what the doctor ordered, it helped me get my heart in the right place for the day.  We were greeters and gift bearers at church this morning and it felt great to help start people’s church experience with a big smile and a “Merry Christmas!”  That part felt great, the fellowship.

Even with that great feeling it still seemed something was missing.  I kept trying to figure it out and make the connection, but it wasn’t until as church was complete that it hit me.  I was missing one of the biggest pieces and I needed something specific, I needed to hear this story again to help me focus on the right thing.

As you wrap up your Christmas evening I hope this short story helps bring a smile to your face and some extra warmth to your heart.  Merry Christmas!!!


Day 453 – Thankful for Learning to Enjoy a Lesson Learned Months Ago

Over six months ago I wrote about learning to let go of the wheel.  It was a few days after Dad’s stroke and before he’d passed (here’s a link to that blog if you’d like to go back to it).  That day I’d had a conversation with Pastor Glenn that I’ll hold near and dear to my heart for the remainder of my life.  I’d love to tell you that I’ve learned from the lesson and haven’t made the mistake of trying to force the wheel in a certain direction, but if I told you that it’d be a lie.  Rather, I’ve noticed that in the intermittent times that I take a deep breath and roll with the punches I tend to find much joy in the way things work out.  Today was one of those days.

Our plans for this morning changed last night.  After about two minutes of thought I had an idea pop into my brain that didn’t quite feel like it was my own (I know, it sounds crazy, but does that ever happen to you too?).  It wasn’t what I had initially planned, but as soon as the idea went into my brain I knew it was the right thing and I was smiling ear to ear the more I thought about it.

This morning I headed up to Phillips early in the morning on my own from Becky’s parents’ house.  The alone time in the car was more needed than I’d expected.  Driving solo gave me a chance to think about time with my dad.  I’ve been so busy with work and the holidays that I hadn’t really thought about this being my first Christmas without Dad.  Having time alone gave me time to think, remember, and talk with Dad.  That time in the car was more helpful than I ever would have expected and it never would’ve happened had I followed my initial plan.

Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 4.40.33 PM

I was able to get to church before my Aunts Renee and Donna got to church and was able to talk with a couple of people before they got there (and also after church).  Once my aunts got there it felt so awesome to give them each a big hug and to spend time with them.  I am so thankful for that time that I had with each of them.  While I wasn’t with my dad, being there with his sisters helped me feel like I was.  One of the best parts of Christmas is time with family, and it was amazing to be there with them.

Pastor Glenn did a great job (as normal) with both his homily and his message for the kids.  I chuckled to myself as I quickly  realized his message…  sometimes we have to remember to let God’s will happen even though we don’t know why it’s happening and especially if it’s not what we wanted.  I’m starting to wonder if it’s by something a little more than just chance that I’ve heard that message from him multiple times…  giving him a big hug felt great, I’m so thankful for all of the help he was as I worked through dad’s passing.  He and his wife are family, I was thankful to spend time with them this summer!

By the time I was heading home my heart was so warmed, I felt great.  To keep with the family time theme I was able to talk with both my mom and brother for a little while on the drive.  It’ll be great to spend time with them in person in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime the phone call was perfect.

Back at Ken & Mary’s I was greeted with an already prepared hot lunch.  Afterwards we headed out to the woods on a handful of four wheelers to enjoy some family time outdoors.

None of this was scripted, the plan was supposed to be very different and I was very much looking forward to it.  When the new plan was shown to me I was nervous at first, but now as I look back I can’t imagine anything different.  The Big Guy Upstairs took the wheel today, and I’m glad he did.  He’s obviously a much better driver than I am. 🙂




Day 452 – Thankful for Sledding (Thums Style) & Enjoying the Winter Sunshine

Day 452 – Thankful for Sledding (Thums Style) & Enjoying the Winter Sunshine

When Nick and I were kids when we went sledding we would go to a hill.  We’d slide down for a few fleeting seconds and enjoy the rush and exhilaration of the ride, slow down, and then come to a stop.  Then we’d get up and start the seemingly endless climb back up to the top of the hill.  A few seconds of awesome followed by 5+ minutes of walking up a steep hill.  Even with that trade off it was well worth it.  If only there was another way…

Almost all of Becky’s siblings and our nieces and nephews came over to her mom and dad’s house for sledding this morning.  It was AWESOME!!!  Even though the weather was a little chilly the sun, heavy layers of winter clothes, and laughter kept us warm.  Whether we were being pulled, pulling others, standing around shooting the bull, or going for a walk, it just felt amazing to be outside to enjoy the fresh air, wintery smells, and sunshine.  Throw in all of the fun and laughter and it was pretty epic.

Here’s where it gets even better.  There really aren’t any hills by Ken & Mary’s house, so we improvise.  Who needs a hill when you have two four wheelers and a mule, plenty of sleds and saucers, and a lot of rope?  That’s right, we were pulling the kids (& each other) behind the four wheelers and having a ton of fun.  There was swerving, falling, dragging, and, most importantly, giggling happening constantly!  As time went on the sleds started to disintegrate a bit (pretty sure my body did a little too!).

As we started to wind down Becky and I laid down in a snowbank in the ditch, the shape was a perfect recliner.  The sky was perfectly clear and a beautiful shade of blue.  I just kept looking up and taking in the color of the sky contrasting with the branches and the pines, also taking in the smell of freshly cut logs blowing across the field.  It was one of those amazing moments of total relaxation.  In a way it kind of reminded me of yoga, starting and going hard for a while sledding and then having the cool down at the end to take it all in.  It was just so peaceful and made all the better by having Becky snuggled up next to me.

I had so much fun today sledding, it was like being a big kid.  Being outside and just playing felt so good.  No responsibility, no worries, just present in the moment chilling and having a blast.  What a perfect afternoon!


Day 451 – Thankful for Getting to Know Someone Better & Making Progress on a Goal

Today’s post is one that I’m not going to dive into in great detail for a couple of reasons, but that doesn’t take away from what I am thankful for today.

Earlier today I was able to meet up with someone that I’ve known for long time but haven’t really ever gotten to know.  That was remedied today and I’m thankful for getting to know them much better.  Spending time with the really helped me better understand where they were coming from and i now have a deeper appreciation for them.

To make our conversation even better we were working on a goal that I’ve had for a while now.  We were able to make some progress and prep some next steps.  There’s still  a good chunk of work to be done, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

I am thankful for the time the two of us got to spend together.  It was great fellowship and felt wonderful working together towards a goal that’s close to both of us.