Day 655 – Thankful for National Park #23, Voyageurs National Park

Today Becky and I reached National Park #23 for the two of us, Voyageurs in northern Minnesota.  I know, how crazy is it that one of the parks that is the closest to us is one that we hadn’t been too?  We were both a little nervous that it was going to be a little to similar to the areas we grew up, but we were both very wrong.  It is very different from some of our favorite parks, but it was beautiful and amazing in it’s own way.

Most of the park is accessible only by boat which makes it a little difficult.  Becky found an incredible guide for us who took the family out on a six plus hour ride through the majority of the park area we wanted to explore.  Bill grew up in the area (in the summers) and was a tremendous wealth of knowledge of the park.  He was very passionate about the area and this made for a wonderful trip.

The park was HUGE!!!  We put on over 60 miles while traveling on the lakes.  The views were amazing, the weather was perfect, and there were tons of various birds including loons.  It was quiet, scenic, and so pristine.  By the time we left we were all smiling big from the entire experience.

Thanks Voyageurs National Park – we had an awesome visit and are grateful for the experience!



Day 654 – Thankful for a Second Straight Giant Sized Second Friday of the Month

Day 654 – Thankful for a Second Straight Giant Sized Second Friday of the Month

We might have a new family tradition on our hands, albeit one that is going to be pretty difficult to keep alive.  For the second straight month we’ve spent at least part of the second Friday of the month enjoying something HUGE!!!

Last month on the second Friday of the month you may remember that Nick and I took the boys to see the “Snowshoeing Bishop” statue in the UP…


Tonight we ended up seeing not one, but two giant sized things…



Yup, a 26 foot tall Smokey the Bear and a larger than life Bronko Nagurski.  Special thanks to TripAdvisor for helping us find them both!

It seems as if I have my work cut out for me on Friday, August 10th.  I have a full day of work and we’ve got plans for early Saturday morning, that’s not a ton of time to head out to see something huge and giant sized.  If anyone has ideas that are within an hour drive of La Crosse I’m all ears.

I still remember seeing huge things for the first time when I was a kid, kind of like the giant Musky in Hayward.  Hopefully the boys have fond memories of seeing these crazy giant oddities when they get older.  Today I’m thankful for the opportunity to experience some crazy and silly things like this with them.


Day 653 – Thankful for My Boys’ Love of Malcolm in the Middle

A few weeks ago I happened across one of my favorite shows on Hulu and realized the boys might get a kick out of it…  Malcolm in the Middle.  As suspected they LOVED it!  While we don’t watch much TV the boys have been absolutely hooked on the show.  For me it’s been a walk down memory lane, only better…


When Becky and I started watching this show before kids we found it to be hysterical and thought we might be looking into a crystal ball.  Now that we watch it after all these years I realize that it hits way closer to home than we’d ever dreamt.  As the boys and I watch we’re sharing laughs over so many jokes.  I’m also laughing out loud at some of the jokes that are just a step over their heads.

The funny thing is that it’s actually provided several opportunities for some awesome father / son conversations.  The occasional serious one, and, more often than not, many humorous ones.  At the end of the day it’s added some pretty awesome moments that we’ll remember and joke around about for quite some time, and that’s something that I’m very thankful for.


Day 652 – Thankful for an Artist’s Palette Sunrise and a Reminder of Dad

A couple of days ago it was a sunset that caught my attention, today it was a sunrise.  While Becky and I were running this morning we had this scenic view in the background…


This is one of those times when I really don’t much to explain why I’m thankful for this view, the picture says it all.

Later in the day I had an awesome surprise pop up in Facebook.  On this day last year this was my blog post:  Day 288 – Thankful for an Incredible and Unexpected Gift from Dad

365 days ago I realized that I had a couple of voicemails from Dad saved on my cellphone.  When I fired them both up they were almost exactly the same as each other and like every other voicemail he ever left me.  It’d been a while since I had listened to them and I was smiling from ear to ear as I listened to them.  How awesome to have that gift, the opportunity to hear his voice!  I’ve got pictures and whatnot, but hearing his voice is something special.  Today I’m so grateful for those voicemails, they really filled my heart with joy today!


Day 651 – Thankful for Learning Vicariously Through Others

What can I learn from this?  How can I listen more intently and better absorb the wisdom I am hearing?  If I were in the other person’s shoes, how would I feel?  When I’m in the shoes of those who frustrate them how am I like the person who is causing the frustration?  If I was to take away one nugget of insight from this interaction what would it be?  As I observe these two people engaged in conversation what could I learn from viewing the conversation through each of their eyes?


These are the questions that have been going through my noggin often over the past week and change.  Ever since starting to re-read The Book of Joy that concept has been stuck in my head like a very positive sliver.  Once in a while throughout the day that sliver is bumped into something else and I am reminded of it.  Once I’m reminded of it the thought of it is the only thing I can focus on.

Over the past couple of days this has led to some very interesting and much appreciated insights.  I’ve started noticing things about myself, behavior, and thoughts.  Some are negatives for me to work on and others are positives that I need to focus on more.  Regardless, it’s been an eye opener for me and has already started to have some positive impact.

There have been a couple of moments today in which I’ve caught myself and proceeded with different actions and words based on the insights from asking those questions of myself.  I’m thankful for learning vicariously through others, it’s led me to a better today.


Day 650 – Thankful for a Morning Run with Tired Legs, Completely Losing Myself in a Great Song, and a Grandpa Lamping Sunset

Didn’t I just write about one of these types of days a little while back?  One of those days were there are so many things that stick out that it’s just too tough to pick out one thing.  So many events and happenings to be thankful for that I can’t help but write about them all…

Today started off with an early morning run on legs that were stiff, tired, and sore from yoga yesterday.  While on the surface it felt rough there was something about it that just felt great!  It meant my legs had been worked hard yesterday and they are getting stronger.  Sure, the run was a little more difficult and slower than normal, but I couldn’t help but think about how that pain meant that I was getting better and really pushing myself.  I stayed present in the soreness and didn’t shy from it, I soaked it in and enjoyed the feeling of improvement.

As I got onto I90 on my way home I fired up a song that just seemed right in the moment. The volume button on my radio slowly crept up until it was pretty much ear splitting loud and I was loving every minute of it.  Before I knew it the song was over and I was almost home.  In that moment I realized that I’d totally lost myself in the song for that moment.  I was bouncing my head around like a crazy person, hammering away on the air piano, singing along and just soaking it all in.  Nothing else existed, just me and the song (and of course the road).  It was awesome!

After our last night of yoga we headed out for a beverage with friends.  When we walked out we saw a glorious sunset that seemed about to turn into something I still have burned into my brain from when I was a kid…  a Grandpa Lamping sunset.  One time we were at my grandparents for a week or so in the Sumer there was this spectacular sunset in which the sun just got bigger and bigger as it slowly fell out of the sky.  I remember Grandpa going in to get his camera to get a picture of it and he was just soaking it in, totally in a state of childlike bliss like it was the first sunset he’d ever seen.  Even though I was only a young kid that moment sunk and I’ll never forget that sunset or the look of pure joy on his face.  While I wasn’t able to get in the right place before the sun had set this time, just seeing a Grandpa Lamping sunset rekindled that old memory and had me smiling from ear to ear.


While all three are very different there is a common theme now as I think about it.  In each of those moments I was completely present.  There was no little voice in my head, no brain chatter, just me in the moment and it was outstanding!  How much more joyful would I be if I could focus that tightly in the present more often?  That’s something I’ll have to keep working towards.


Day 649 – Thankful for a Hot Shower and a Wonderful Mix of Yoga Teachers at Root Down Yoga

The first part of today’s blog is pretty much straight forward…  How awesome is a hot shower???  Seriously, it’s definitely in my Top 100 favorite things in world.  Being able to clean off, enjoy the feeling of hot water, and the relaxing sensation it brings is seriously amazing.  I have the opportunity to take at least one a day and I’m grateful for each of them.

At yoga tonight we had Joshua as our teacher and he did a fantastic job of kicking my butt in a very positive way.  My favorite part about the practice tonight was that is was completely different form anything we’ve done in the past.  A new pose, a different order, and a very different focus than in other sessions.  That’s what got me thinking…

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I’m very thankful to have such a wonderful mix of yoga instructors at Root Down.  Very rarely do we have the same one twice in a row.  Each one is very positive and upbeat, combinations of awesome motivators and coaches.  They each have a slightly different style that bring a different feel to each practice.  Some are more cardio focused, others incorporate more stretching, and there are some balances between the two.  There are a few that give a motivational thought for the day, there are some that dive right in, and some that crack me with the very well timed joke.  The mix of so many different personalities is an amazing positive that I’m very thankful for.  Each time Becky gets us both signed up I’m checking to see who the teacher is and I have yet to be disappointed when I see a specific name, they are all outstanding!!!  I’m so grateful for the variety they bring, it makes the practice so much more enjoyable.